Draft is a fun and important format for Eternal. It is usually the best way to spend your gold in the game as you spend an extra 1000 gold (versus just buying four packs) for the ability to keep the cards you draft from the four packs and for the chance to win prizes: additional packs and gold. Given this, it is pretty important to be able to compete effectively in draft. Today I want to provide some big picture thoughts on the Eternal draft format – what wins generally, what you should be prioritizing in the draft itself, and some game play tips. Next time I will discuss some of the specific faction combinations and their strategies.
Let’s begin by discussing what wins in draft, in order of most frequently occurring:
#1: Large, preferably evasive, units.
The most common way to have one of these units is to combine smaller units with weapons such as Vodakhan’s Staff or spells like Accelerated Evolution. Unconditional removal is hard to come by in draft and thus if you can build up a monster of a unit, it will often run away with the game.
#2: Flying Units
Flying units are generally hard to block, so if you can lock down the ground units with defensive ground units like Jotun Warrior, you can use a number of smaller fliers to win the game. Sometimes you can just play a large number of fliers with little ground defense and race your opponent using stun effects or other removal.
#3: Hyper aggression
This is not my preferred style to play, but it is possible to draft mostly one and two power cards, play fifteen total power, and try to run over your opponent in the early turns of the game. It is a bit of a gambit because you need to focus your draft on these cheap units and the spells that go well with them, pump spells and cheap removal, but if you don’t get enough relevant cheap units your deck won’t function.
#4: Bomb cards
These are the 4.5 and 5.0 cards from my set review. If you have a few of these they can swing a game pretty hard. Often they meet #1’s criteria all by themselves. The strategy doesn’t rank higher because they are harder to come by than the first two strategies. One very interesting thing is that most people will rare draft any legendary they open because the shiftstone values are so high and people are often drafting to help build their collections. Thus, you will rarely get passed a bomb legendary card.
#5: Card advantage
If you draw more cards than your opponent, and find the time to play all of your cards, you should end up ahead in the game. A card like Staff of Stories will definitely run away with most games if you can protect it. The problem is that it is hard to count on this strategy because most repeated card draw effects are rare or higher in rarity. You can gain incremental card advantage with Echo cards,Words of Wisdom, or Entomb cards. It is possible to draft a deck centered on card advantage, but they can be harder to win with than the above strategies.
Given these strategies, what are the most important things to target in the draft portion itself?
#1: Bomb Legendary/Rare cards
Keep your eye out for any 4.0 or higher rated Legendary or Rare cards as these can be some of the best cards to draft.
#2: Premium Removal
In my opinion, premium removal spells are the most valuable cards after Rare/Legendary bomb cards. Look at the #1 thing that wins in draft, singular large units, often built up with weapons. If you can Deathstrike such a unit, not only does it remove the biggest threat to your survival, it puts the opponent way behind on cards and gives you a chance to mount your own offense. You will find that it is hard to end up with too many unconditional removal cards in your draft decks because people draft them highly. Given this, you need to be very careful with when you pull the trigger on using these cards in the game. Most of the time you should save your premium removal for units that actually pose a threat to winning a game all on their own.
#3: Premium Weapons
If there are no solid removal or fliers to draft, you should be on the lookout for premium weapons. Anything rated 3.5 or higher in my set review, such as Elder’s Feather, Whip Chain, or Valkyrie Wings would be great things to take.
#4: Evasive Units
I would next be looking for evasive units, often fliers, which contribute to strategy #2 but also are the best things to target with weapons and thus are also great in strategy #1.
#5: 3.0 or better rated cards
Check out my set review to get a sense of what a 3.0 or better card is. These are all cards you are happy to play with and ideally your deck would have nothing in it rated lower than 3.0. In reality, sometimes drafts go sideways and you have to play a few lower rated cards to fill out your deck.
Power Curve Matters
A critical consideration to make while drafting and deck building is your Power Curve. Your “Power Curve” means how many plays you have at each power threshold: 1-2, 3, 4, and 5+. You want to make sure that you have at least seven relevant 1 to 2 power plays and probably more like eight to twelve in a perfect world. 2/2’s for two or cheap removal are important to have so that you don’t get run over in the early game. You also want to have the ability to get off to a good start against a stumbling opponent.
It is just as important not to run too many expensive cards. You probably can only afford to run 3-4 four cost cards and 3-5 five or more cost cards. Most of your deck will reside in the two to three cost range. If you have important expensive cards, you will need to make special deck building considerations to ensure you can cast them. Here are some guidelines for how much power to play in your deck:
A “normal” curve: If you have 7-12 one to two power plays, 5-9 three cost cards, 3-4 four cost cards, and 3-5 more expensive cards, you will probably want around 18 power. Cards that search up sigils can count as half a power, so if you had two Seek Power, you could play 17 total power in this sort of deck.
An “expensive” curve: If you have important 6+ power cards in your deck you will want to run at least 19 power, or even 20, but you will need to make sure you have plenty of early plays to ensure you survive to the late game. Card draw like Wisdom of the Elders also help to get you to enough power throughout the game. Cards that are relevant early and late, such as units with Ultimate abilities, are especially desirable here.
An “aggressive” curve: Mostly two or less cost plays, with a handful of three cost cards and maybe one four cost card could run 15 or 16 power. These decks can be hard to draft, but they really aim to take advantage of the redraw system that guarantees at least two power for your redrawn hand. Due to this, it is very beneficial to have a huge number of solid two cost cards so that you will have plenty to do if you never draw the third power.
I touched briefly on how to use your premium removal earlier, and I could write a long series of articles getting into the nitty gritty of things you should be doing in draft games, but I want to mention a few broader concepts here.
#1 Every card matters
You need to treat each of your units and spells like they are your most valued possessions. If you have to lose one, you need to make sure you obtain maximum value for its loss. Remember that at least a third of your deck is power cards so you can’t count on drawing a relevant card each turn as you progress to the mid and late game. Your cards that impact the board are a valuable resource and you need to make sure you make the most of them. This can mean that you try and negate two of your opponent’s cards with one of yours or using your Torch on a three health unit versus using it to kill a one or two health unit.
There is a balancing act between waiting to obtain max value and falling too far behind on the board by not casting spells. This is where it takes a lot of experience to build up the intuition about how best to play your cards. If you are new to these sort of considerations, try to err on the side of maximizing value to start. You might lose a few games due to being too patient, but you should notice that you are winning more in general.
#2 Know your role
In a game of Eternal players assume one of two roles most of the time: the aggressor or the defender. Usually one player’s draw will line up to be aggressive, perhaps they don’t have any late game cards in hand, and so their plan is to try and deal as much damage as possible early on in hopes of winning before the opponent’s late game cards come online. The player on the defensive in this case will be more likely to want to block and trade units, cast cheap removal early on, and generally make plays that will keep their life total high. If their late game cards are powerful enough, doing whatever it takes to get to those cards can be the winning strategy.
It is important to know that your role throughout a game can change rapidly depending on what is drawn and what the board looks like. Maybe you were able to take the initiative early on but then drew your bomb 6 cost flier. You might slow down and try to make sure you can prolong the game until you can cast your bomb. It takes a lot of experience to know when you should switch roles and even when to switch back. Your deck build can guide these decisions, but even a slow expensive deck will eventually need to become the aggressor if they hope to win.
How do you use this knowledge to your advantage? If you can identify which role you are supposed to be, you can make game winning decisions with your cards. If you decide to not block and try to race the opponent when you should have blocked and taken the defensive stance, it can be a disaster. Or if you have no ability to punch through in the late game, you might need to make some aggressive attacks and not make a seemingly obvious block in order to be able to keep the pressure up to avoid getting to the late game.
Things get weird when both players decide they should be in the same role. If both think they should be aggressive, you end up in a crazy race situation where it is unclear who has the slightly more aggressive draw. This could work out well for you if that person is you, but it is very risky if you are wrong. Similarly, if both players think they have a superior late game, they both might play defensively to get there. At some point there will be a showdown to see who really does have the best late game, and you better hope it is you if you took that stance!
So far I have spoken in generalities regarding strategy but it will be useful to talk specifics when it comes to the faction pairings and what some of their particular strategies might be. To be continued with my next article!
Thanks for reading,