Epic Strategy #6: The Burning Man
Player A: 14 extra Life, board control, and 7 cards(Notice the burn master in the blue, that smile/stare usually only means one thing in a card game....)
Player A: 2 turns later
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Epic Strategy! Today we have a "hot" topic(Sorry obligatory pun or Wasabi will punish me) for you gentlemen to contemplate. Today, we are going to learn all about burn. I will come clean with you guys, I absolutely love using burn on my opponents to win. Being able to seal the deal and win with some clutch burn spells takes a lot of patience and skill, but the payoff is incredible. Fortunately, burn is quite balanced in Epic as you can quickly end up in a losing position if you cant pull off the kill. You need to realize that the most important life will always be the last hit point. The article today will be focusing again on the core set. I am going to keep with the trend and keep writing core set articles until we get the expansions on digital. To do burn right in a dark draft, you need to focus on the following
1) Valuation of each Burn card
2) Burn Card Synergy/Counters
3) When to Burn and when to wait
Burn Card Valuation
-Emperor Palpatine Star Wars Episode 6
An amateur mistake is to value burn cards solely based on their damage output. We must take into account the cost/damage/value potential of the card before making a correct valuation. While Flame Strike is great at eight damage, it obviously does not have a draw 2 or recall effect on it. Listed below is every burn card in the core set with a quick sentence on why I value it as high as I do(As always, there are exceptions based on each unique draft!).
1) Lightning Strike- This is the best burn card in the set. It is flexible at wiping tokens/Dealing direct damage or perfectly splitting up damage to kill two weaker champions. Recall makes this a great finisher.
2) Flame Strike- 8 damage is a sweet spot in the game. This kills some nasty things like Ice Drakes/Gold Dragons while doing almost a third of your opponents life in damage.
3) Flash Fire- I love having a token wipe in my deck as a safety net vs any build up on the board. I am usually not worried at all about the 2 damage to myself. It also has a draw 2 as backup. The zero cost on this card makes it incredibly good.
4) Fire ball- Another great zero cost card that can also be a 1 sided flash fire. It still has the flexibility to kill small things such as the plucker or muse with no harm done to you.
5) Rain of Fire- This card makes it a bit lower on the scale, as there needs to be several targets out for this to do work. However, most of the time I get great value out of this card. It kills two medium sized targets and deals 5 damage to their face.
6) Pyromancer- A great body(pun intended!) with 5/7 that has a consistent burn engine built in. She makes a great threat on the board if your opponent is super low as they need to deal with her, or give you the option to keep burning them down.
7) Fire Shaman- This card is incredible, but the problem is that it requires a good chunk of green to get it going. A plus 3 burn with any 1 gold green puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. She combo's super well with other burn as she turns most burn spells into a flame strike damage wise. She is also a nice little chump blocker.
8) Hunting Raptors- A great loyalty guy if you are committed to green. He really needs that blitz to be super effective. When you have the loyalty he is right up in the top 3. 8 damage and a 5/5 on the board. This guy really gets the tick tock noise stuck in your opponent's head.
9) Strafing Dragon- Another great card, but you lose the flexibility with the loyalty.
10) Forked Lightning- I often find myself not getting incredible use out of this card. 5 is an awkward damage point in the game. It doesn't kill much, and lacks the flexibility of Rain of Fire's draw 2 effect.
In order to melt someones face properly, you need to have a decently heavy burn synergy going. This lies in the inherent basic problem of your opponent starting with an abundance of life. Any burn strategy is going to revolve around the whittling away of HP, until the burn kill range is met. An ideal deck will have a high burn kill range. This will require you to have the highest burn spell possible in combination with a zero cost burn card. So if you have a flame strike+fireball in your deck the burn kill range is 11 and so on with the other card combinations. This brings us to the first synergy of burn spells which is.........
Burn Synergy #1: MO BURN!
Yes, it is pretty amazing to think that burn combos with itself. If your deck has 1 burn spell, it is super unlikely to deal the winning blow. However, if you have a lightning storm and flame strike in hand... You can deal 14 damage in just 2 turns! A lot of times this is a knock out as the opponent is immediately killed the second they try and swing in to try and finish you off after getting burned the previous turn. The issue further compounds itself as the core set is very limited on burn and life gain. So you can calculate and make some pretty solid assumptions about the burn that will take place in every single draft. If I got most of the burn, I can play much more risky and aggressive as I know he can not burn me for 8 if I have flame strike.
Burn Synergy #2: Blitz and Fliers
As I stated earlier, once you have drafted a lot of burn you are going to need guys like guilt demon to whittle the opponents health into the kill range. Any card with blitz or flying will be even stronger than usual if you have drafted a good chunk of burn. Small damage adds up fast in Epic. It only takes a few little guys and tokens to get your opponent down to that mid life range. Cards that have blitz AND flying are of exceptional value already, but they go even further with burn spells in your deck.
I am typically against counter picking in Epic. That necromancer lord is just one sad panda in my non-red deck, while they still got incredible cards that are breaking everything in sight. When it comes to burn though, you will see me edge more toward counter picks. The images above show the big 3 in the core set that deal with burn. This is where it is useful for you to keep scrolling through what has been passed and what has been burned. I am very worried about passing these cards if I have committed to a lot of burn cards and will value these to the next degree if that is the case. This is especially the case with Drain Essence, which is a great card for any deck.
When To Burn
In the opening story to this piece, we learned an important lesson. Your opponent is still alive if they have 1 hp. Burn is usually best served up when it is the final blow, not the first blow. A turn 1 flame strike is just awkward. Sure you smack them in the face and are technically "winning," but then when he draws 2 and sets up an incredible board you will have a hard time making anything out of your initial play. I will mull burn spells if I draw them in the opening hand other than the draw 2 ones or a Lightning Storm. It is also important to be very lenient with your zero cost burn spells when it comes to champion removal. If my opponent throws down a muse while I have a fireball in hand, 9/10 that muse is going to eat that fireball even if my opponent is at a relatively close burn kill range. For the most part, burn should be stockpiled into your hand as if it is firewood. Sometimes you have to give the wood back that you have kindled. If a gold dragon is coming at my face and I only have the Flame strike up to kill it, then I will not spare the dragon. It can be very easy to get too greedy and try to rely too much on the burn kill. As a player you should always be fighting over the board and card advantage in addition to burning your opponent out. It is usually a bad idea in the draft to focus on one threshold of winning. Be patient and relaxed as you whittle your opponent down. For the time to burn will come sure enough.
I have been out the past few days for a wedding and have a busy week catching up on work this week. You shall fear not, as the stream will be returning in due time! There is also a rumor of some two headed dragon that has been roaming the digital app and burned down a village by the name of Kinger! I am investigating the situation and will have more details in the future about this!