Last updated on September 29, 2023
Endless Swarm – Illustration by Jeremy Jarvis
Before y’all accuse me of luring you in with a click-bait title, just know that the list you’re about to read through is all about the cycle of epic sorceries from Saviors of Kamigawa. If you came here for some of the raddest, baddest, most mind-blowingly “epic” cards in Magic, check out these cool cats instead.
Alright, still with me? I’ve got a bizarre set of cards to rank for you today, with one of the most all-in, risky, and downright bizarre mechanics ever made.
Hold onto your seats! This is about to be epic.
What Are Epics in MTG?
Neverending Torment | Illustration by Thomas Gianni
The epic spells are a cycle of expensive sorceries from Saviors of Kamigawa that each have a somewhat powerful effect but lock you into casting that spell over and over. When a spell with epic resolves, you’re no longer allowed to cast spells. Not just until end of turn. For the rest of the game. Instead, you copy the epic spell at the beginning of each of your upkeeps, and that’s your plan for the rest of the game!
They’re all designed to be inevitable wincons that build up some sort of advantage as each turn passes, but being locked out of casting other spells is obviously a substantial downside. That means a deck needs to be almost entirely built around an epic spell before including it at all.
#5. Neverending Torment
You know that “Call an ambulance, but not for me!” meme? That’s what Neverending Torment probably feels like. You intend to mill your opponent out over time, but you end up being the one tormented by your own spell, unable to do anything else for the rest of the game.
Torment might win a prolonged game, but the problem is that there are plenty of other mill cards that don’t shut you off from interaction. I can’t recommend it, and I’m not even willing to say it’s a cool design. 0/5 stars. Wouldn’t Torment again.
#4. Undying Flames
Undying Flames is almost exactly the same as Neverending Torment, just with bursts of damage instead of mill. At least this one can target creatures and hopefully keep the board clear while you… do absolutely nothing else.
#3. Endless Swarm
Did anyone else notice these cards all have roughly the same name? You could stick Everlasting Gobstopper or Infinite Bad-Thing on the list and I wouldn’t even notice. Anyway, Endless Swarm is only slightly less bad than the previous two, and that’s not a compliment.
It can win a prolonged game, but your entire plan is telegraphed and your opponent can adjust accordingly. If they have an answer to a swarm of 1/1s, there’s nothing you can do to stop it or shift gears. At least this one gums up your defenses while it builds up towards an Inevitable End. Sorry, not part of the cycle, but same naming convention.
#2. Eternal Dominion
Eternal Dominion charges 10 mana and then crosses its fingers and prays that the opponent has cards that can win the game for you. It’s like spending $100 at a fancy restaurant that doesn’t tell you what they’re going to serve and hoping the food that comes out is satisfying. Risky, but adventurous! I like that it can steal a land. What am I gonna do with that, cast another spell?
It’s glitzy and fun, and it’s satisfying beating players with their own cards but still not really worth it. Omniscience exists for this exact mana cost, so….
#1. Enduring Ideal
Enduring Ideal is far and away the best of the cycle since you can craft an entire toolbox of effects around it. Constructed decks using Enduring Ideal include cards like Form of the Dragon, Dovescape, and Sandwurm Convergence to disrupt opponents in various ways.
It’s still a volatile strategy that revolves around resolving a 7-mana white spell, and a single card like Opposition Agent can stop it dead in its tracks, but it’s the most reliable of the epic spells. That’s a lot like being the rock that sinks the slowest in a floating contest.
Best Epic Payoffs
You want to supplement epic spells with cards that circumvent the downside of being unable to cast spells. Channel and cycling are abilities you can still use to have an effect on the game without actually casting anything.
You can also work around epic by finding effects that copy spells without casting those copies. Something like Isochron Scepter doesn’t work because you have to cast the copy, which epic won’t allow. However, the activated abilities on cards like Geistblast and League Guildmage let you copy spells without having to cast them. Of course, you’re only copying your own epic spell, but if it’s in your deck in the first place, surely a copy is something you’re interested in.
You could also combo any epic spell with Hive Mind, forcing your opponents to copy whatever epic spell you cast, and putting everyone in lockdown. From there it’s a race to see whose epic spell wins first, leading to some good, clean, chaotic fun. Prepare to have everyone target you first.
Can I Cast an Epic Spell if I’ve Already Cast Another Spell with Epic This Turn?
Once you resolve a spell with epic, you can’t cast any other spells for the rest of the game. That includes other spells with epic, even if it’s the exact same spell you already resolved.
Do I Have to Choose the Same Target for the Epic Spell’s Ability Every Time It Triggers?
You can change the targets of the original epic spell every time you copy it. Note that you must copy your epic spell every turn if possible. If your opponent has hexproof or you’re somehow the only legal target of Neverending Torment or Undying Flames, you’re forced to target yourself.
Tidy Conclusion | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme
And that’s the scoop on epic. It’s a very strange mechanic that’s never resurfaced and has more pitfalls than an old-school Mario Kart level, but it’s the type of ability that makes you stop and think. It feels like a predecessor to legendary instants and sorceries in a way, though the epic restriction is much worse.
Have you ever cast an epic spell? Did it live up to the name? I want to hear about it whether it worked out for you or not. Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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