Hey this is Bryan “Veveil” Hohns with my second article for NumotGaming. For today’s feature I want to touch on something in Eternal that shapes not only my current understanding of the game, but also offers a glimpse into the game’s future. I’m talking about Eternal’s color pie; the basis by which the identity of each of Eternal’s factions is shaped.
But before I get too deep into that, spoiler talk! A few weeks ago, GameInsider had a February issue that spoiled three cards that will be coming to Eternal with the next mini set. Here are the cards they previewed and my thoughts on each one:
Jekk, the Bounty Hunter
Summon: Stun and Silence a unit. (basically Summon: Rebuke)
Let’s start off with a strong one. Jekk passes the vanilla test (6/4 Quickdraw for 6 would be excellent in Draft with no other text) and has strong additional upside. While Rebuke sees virtually no Ranked play due to being an underpowered hybrid answer/tempo play, attaching the ability onto a well-sized unit makes Rebuke much more appealing. In addition, his 6/4 Quickdraw body is exceptionally well positioned at the moment, as Jekk survives Torch and can safely attack into almost any unit in the current metagame (Sandstorm Titan, Siraf, Scorpion Wasp, Umbren Reaper, Champion of Chaos, etc).
Jekk is somewhere between a finisher/utility unit, which puts him an interesting spot. I wouldn’t expect current ladder superstar Rakano Aggro to adopt many copies of Jekk; the deck runs only currently 4 5s and only 25 Power, and as such isn’t interested in too many high end cards, even good ones. Where I imagine Jekk earning his keep is in Armory decks. Jekk is a fantastic bullet for Rise to the Challenge and a strong late game card when drawn naturally too. Being able to run 2+ more Silences (4 Valkyrie Enforcer and 2+ Jekk) sounds excellent for Rakano based control decks.
I personally won’t be satisfied until I equip Jekk with Deepforged Plate. Attacking with an 11/9 Quickdraw/Overwhelm/Endurance after crippling your opponent’s best unit sounds like a great time.
Your units can Infiltrate any number of times.
To be blunt, Cabal Spymaster doesn’t seem like a particularly great card. It mostly passes the vanilla test (4/4 for 4) and offers a strange, win-more ability. It has the unfortunate weakness of playing poorly with two of the best Infiltrate cards in Eternal; Gorgon Swiftblade and Midnight Gale.
So if not those two, which units should you be pairing Cabal Spymaster with? Well, from a quick look at the game’s current cast of Infiltrators, I’d say that Direwood Beastcaller, Beastcaller’s Amulet, and West-Wind Herald likely make the best companions for it. All three have very powerful, potentially repeatable effects, and West-Wing Herald also has evasion/protection built in with Flying/Aegis.
Even if you build around it correctly though, I don’t have too much faith in Cabal Spymaster seeing play. Any situation where you are repeatedly connecting with units is likely already a good one for you, and if you are behind, Cabal Spymaster is just a vanilla 4/4 for 4. The West-Wind Herald pairing is likely Cabal Spymaster’s best shot at glory, but West-Wind Herald already has major issues that prevent it from seeing play (cough Relic Weapons cough).
I’m not sure how the new set will be integrated into Draft (1 pack of the new set instead of Set #1? New cards just mixed in? Nothing?) but if Cabal Spymaster is a Draftable card I imagine it will be quite solid there. Cabal Spymaster + Serpent Trainer sounds like a nightmare, and 4/4 for 4 is already decent for Draft as is.
You can play an additional Power card from your hand each turn.
Combrei gets an Azusa, Lost but Seeking variant! This is a very poor card in a vacuum, as 2/2 for 3 is well below average and the ability produces no card advantage. Combrei Emissary does have great synergy with Empower cards though, and can also help cast huge monsters ahead of curve. Combrei Emissary easily slots into any sort of Vodakhan/Marshall Ironthorn deck (Big Combrei) but otherwise shouldn’t see any play. I saw a few Vodakhan decks in the ETS I casted last weekend; maybe Combrei Emissary can help them be more consistent?
Anyways, back to the subject of Eternal’s five colors. it is more or less impossible to mention the color pie without bringing up Magic. While Eternal is by no means a Magic port, it has five colors just like Magic, and it is easy enough for the cynical Magic player to assume Eternal is just 1:1 porting the identities/forms of Magic’s colors.
White = Time
Blue = Primal
Black = Shadow
Red = Fire
Green = Justice
Sounds about right? Well no, not really. I would advise the cynical Magic player to modify their head chart to look like this:
White = Justice
Blue = Primal
Black = Shadow
Red = Fire
Green = Time
This describes which Magic color each Eternal color most closely resembles. This is not, however, the full story, not by any means. Let’s examine each of Eternal’s factions in detail.
PRIMARY TRAITS OF FIRE: Charge, direct damage, efficient spot removal, Exhaust, Grenadin, Overwhelm, Reckless, Relic Weapons, Warcry
SECONDARY TRAITS OF FIRE: limited card advantage, Quickdraw, sacrificing units, struggles against large units, Weapons
Of all the Magic color comparisons, Fire -> Red is easily the most accurate. Like Red in Magic, Fire is the most aggressive faction in Eternal. Its key mechanics (Charge, Exhaust, Overwhelm, Reckless, Warcry) are all based around attacking, and its suite of direct damage options is unmatched in both depth and efficiency.
The primary difference between Fire and Red is that Fire does not have any damage based sweepers. Relic Weapons, which Fire has many of, are also exclusive to Eternal, and help reinforce its identity as the best faction for killing small units individually. Fire’s weaknesses include few card draw options, the life loss that comes with using Relic Weapons, no sweepers, weak answers to high toughness units, and a general inability to play effectively from behind.
PRIMARY TRAITS OF TIME: Ambush, big units, bounce, Destiny, Echo, fixing, Health gain, Killer, poor removal options, ramp, Silence
SECONDARY TRAITS OF TIME: answering Attachments, Deadly, Empower, Endurance, Fate, Fliers with low Attack, Overwhelm
Time is the faction of dinosaurs and deserts, of big beaters and even bigger beats. It is the only color in Eternal that can bridge you into other colors, has the biggest units on average, has the most Silence cards, and is the best at gaining Health. Time also has access to Decay, which is one of the few ways in Eternal to answer problematic attachments.
Where Time falls short is interaction; Time relies on bounce and the Killer mechanic to deal with enemy units. If you need something dead, Time is arguably the worst faction in the game. Time is very similar to Green in Magic in this regard, and has many similar strengths to Green as well (fixing, ramp, sizing, etc). Time is also the only faction without any Relic Weapons.
PRIMARY TRAITS OF JUSTICE: Aegis, Armor, buffs, efficient units, Endurance, Empower, Harsh Rule, Warcry, Weapons
SECONDARY TRAITS OF JUSTICE: debuffs, drawing Sigils, Flying, limited spot removal options, poor card advantage, Relic Weapons, Silence
Justice is easily the faction that is most at odds with itself. Most Justice cards encourage you to play aggressively, and Justice has some of the best early beatdown units in the game (District Infantry, Crownwatch Paladin, Valkyrie Enforcer, etc) and some excellent Weapons for them to wear (Hammer of Might is particularly gross).
However, Justice isn’t just a straightforward beatdown color; it is also the only faction with access Harsh Rule, Eternal’s sole unconditional sweeper. Justice offers Control decks some additional tools in the form of Vanquish and Relic Weapons too. This duality allows Justice to play many different roles in Ranked decks, although in Draft Justice is usually an aggressive color.
PRIMARY TRAITS OF PRIMAL: card draw, copying units, direct damage, Echo, Fate, Flying, inefficient units, negating Spells, Stun, transforming units
SECONDARY TRAITS OF PRIMAL: Aegis, Infiltrate
Primal has the most Flying units, typically better card draw than other factions, additional card advantage in Echo, and Stun (which is similar to “tap and doesn’t untap in Magic”, a Blue/White trademark) as a primary offensive/defensive mechanic. Primal is also behind only Fire in dealing direct damage, with many great burn spells ranging from the trusty Static Bolt to the ridiculously over the top Channel the Tempest.
Primal most closely resembles Blue from MTG, but is distinct in one important way; thanks to Primal’s suite of burn spells (especially Lightning Storm) and Polymorph, Primal is very capable of directly killing enemy units. Blue, on the other hand, is notoriously poor at directly dealing with threats. Blue generally must rely on bounce and/or counterspells to keep the opponent’s board clear, and as such can struggle immensely if it falls behind.
Primal’s main weakness (which it shares with Blue) is that it has awful sizing on most of its units. Just compare Jotun Warrior to Towering Terrazon; both are 5 cost Commons for Time/Primal, but Towering Terrazon has 3 more Attack and dominates Jotun Warrior in combat! This and Primal’s reliance on direct damage removal can leave Primal cold to massive units, especially ones with Endurance. Additionally, transforming a unit will not remove attached any Weapons; ever died to a Frog equipped with Deepforged Plate before? It’s as embarrassing as it is painful.
PRIMARY TRAITS OF SHADOW: -X/X effects, Deadly, discard, Entomb, Infiltrate, Lifesteal, Quickdraw, removal, stealing from the enemy, the void, Unblockable
SECONDARY TRAITS OF SHADOW: direct damage, Flying, Relic Weapons, self damage, smaller units, Weapons
Shadow is one of the most diverse factions in the game. It has more primary mechanics (Deadly, Entomb, Infiltrate, Lifesteal, Quickdraw, etc) than any other faction, and also has the best straightforward removal. Between Suffocate, Annihilate, Plague and Deathstrike, Shadow has a potentially great answer for almost any unit-based problem. Shadow rewards itself for keeping the opponent’s board clear with the Infiltrate mechanic, which promises a payoff if you can connect with various undersized units.
I see Shadow as arguably the best faction in Eternal, or at the very least the most versatile. Shadow does have below average sizing on most of its units, but there are several exceptions to this (Argenport Instigator, Impending Doom, Steward of the Past), all of which have seen significant Ranked play. Shadow mostly tends to have issues when it cannot line up its answers properly (i.e. Suffocate against Titan, Annihilate against Siraf, Deathstrike against Frontier Jito, etc). Aegis can also present Shadow with problems, as Shadow has fairly limited counterplay to Aegis (Vara’s Favor mostly).
I will be interested to see how Dire Wolf Digital handles Shadow in future expansions. Black in Magic pays for its versatility by using Life as a resource, but Shadow only currently does this with two cards (Knifejack and Impending Doom) neither of which are especially punishing. Shadow’s sibling color also struggles heavily with artifacts/enchantments, whereas Shadow is currently one of only three factions with counterplay to attachments (via Sabotage). I’m not saying that Shadow is completely broken in its current state, but I believe that it could use some focusing in future sets.
That’s enough for now. In my next article, I’ll be covering Eternal’s primary multicolor pairs (Rakano, Combrei, Elysian, Feln, Stonescar) as well as taking a look into the potential identity of secondary multicolor pairs (Praxis, Hooru, Argenport, Skycrag, Xenan) for when Set #2 comes around. I hope this was an enjoyable read for you, and encourage you to check back next week for the followup.
I haven’t exactly hit Master’s with this one, but it’s still something I’ve been working on, and thought it would be fun to share. This is basically Feln Cauldron.dek, and showcases the type of madness that can emerge when boredom and Shiftstone collide. Privilege of Rank is really sweet with discard, and Harsh Rule has natural synergy with durdling. And there is no card in Eternal more durdly than Feln Cauldron. Add all that together and you get this:
3 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Herald’s Song (Set1 #196)
4 Sporefolk (Set1 #262)
3 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Feln Cauldron (Set1 #380)
4 Privilege of Rank (Set1 #157)
2 Scheme (Set1 #213)
3 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
4 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
3 Snowcrush Animist (Set1 #384)
4 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
7 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
2 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
I’m fairly sure on the core of the deck (7+ Sigils for Privilege, 10-12 Grasping at Shadows targets, minimum 12 discard outlets) but the 8-10 spot removal slots are highly customizable. I’m currently running 2 Scheme over 2 potential removal spells for added consistency, as this deck is a combo deck first and control deck second.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend spending 12,800 Shiftstone on Feln Cauldrons or anything, as the deck can be pretty inconsistent (and is fairly vulnerable to Steward of the Past, which can cripple us even if removed), but there are undeniably some sweet things going on here. Or that could just be the durdler in me talking. Who knows? Either way, it’s been a blast to play around with. I’ll likely be covering this deck (or whatever it evolves into) in a future article.