Legacy Lore 008: Epic Actions
Epic Actions were an interesting wrinkle introduced with the Lord
of the Rings sets. They were a special class of action that activated
“Epic traits.” Many of these epic traits functioned almost like a
Feat attached to a character. So let's begin by looking at the rules
for Epic Actions:
Epic Actions - When your build total is 400 points or more, it is called an epic battle and each player is granted one epic action per turn. An epic action is a type of power action that can only be used to activate an epic trait ability (indicated by the symbol on a character card). Unlike a typical power action, an epic action does not count against your action total.
So, you only get these if the build total is 400 points or more (which means you didn't see Epic actions in large scale competitive events). It's still a power action (or POWER, in modern verbiage) so you're giving up the character's costed action for the turn. BUT, it didn't count against your action total. So, if the build was 400 points, you could take four costed actions with other characters and still take an Epic Action.
Here's an example of a few Epic Traits:
Heart of the Fellowship: Give Frodo an epic action and choose up to one adjacent friendly character per 100 points of the game's build total. Until your next turn, the chosen characters can use Willpower.
Hold Your Ground!: Give Gimli an epic action. Until your next turn, Gimili and up to 1 other friendly character per 200 points of the game's build total (each of whom must be adjacent to Gimli and/or at least one other chosen character) modify their defense values by +2 and may choose to ignore knockback.
An Army Worthy of Mordor: Give Saruman an epic action and choose up to 1 character per 200 points of the game's build total. If that character's attack roll this turn is 9 or higher, the damage dealt by that character is penetrating damage.
So, you gave the characters an EPIC POWER action (sorry, I just wanted to type that) and you got the effect. Which is where we start to see one of the problems with Epic actions. A lot of them dealt with math. “Per x hundred points” shows up in a lot of these traits and while it's not an incredibly confusing concept on its own, Heroclix always rounds up. So people would often think you just rounded up.
Them being limited to larger point games was a fun idea, and an "Epic Battle" was also an interesting idea, but because they were almost exclusively used in sets that were never Modern it also limited people's exposure. And people learn the rules by using them and playing with friends. So if your friends preferred Modern or smaller games, you didn't really get to use these. As well, they never got used outside of Lord of the Rings or Mage Knight sets. So, if your friends only dug the comics and video games sets, you really never saw these.
And a lot of them tried to do too much. Gimli is a good example of that. Assume it's a 400 point game. You give Gimli an EPIC POWER action and choose two friendly characters who have to be adjacent to each other or Gimli. And for all that, they get a +2 modifier to Defense and can choose to not be knocked back.
Versus Saruman, where you pick a friendly character (or two in a 400 point game) and if their finalized attack roll is 9 or more, they deal penetrating damage for that attack. Simple, effective.
I wouldn't mind if Epic Actions came back in one form or another. Tying powerful team effects to a character is better than free Sideline elements, in my opinion. And can lead to more interesting strategy and synergy. That said, they'd have to be legal in all games and not siloed to any one license.
Of course, we've seen a lot of advances in design since Epic Actions existed. We have shared traits now that tend to accomplish what Epics were going for in a more efficient and clear way.
I guess if anything, I'd rather we have another go at “Epic Battles.” But that's another article for another day.
Thanks for reading. If you have an older effect that you're curious about feel free to write into email@example.com and maybe we'll cover it in a future Legacy Lore.