This week on Full Force things are going to look a bit different. By popular request I’m covering a draft in Eternal, not Magic.
First, I should explain a little bit about what exactly Eternal is. Designed by the team at Direwolf Digital – a veritable who’s who of Magic pros – Eternal is a “Free to Play” style card game available on steam and mobile app stores that will be at once familiar and strange to a Magic player. The gameplay is very similar to Magic, with blocking, instant speed spells, and a mana system. It differs from Magic Online a lot in visual style (it has one) and the user interface (it works). Visually and in card collection it is more like Hearthstone or other similar digital card games. For a more complete rundown of the differences in gameplay and how to play Eternal check out the primer by Peter Golightly, I highly recommend trying it.
In this Eternal draft I attempted something I already did to great success on stream – Strangers. Since playing it on stream I’ve been eager to try the archetype again and see if it’s actually good. I recorded a very similar video to this final version, with slightly more success (went 3-3), but there were unrecoverable audio problems with the recording. The good side of that is it gave me a little more experience with the archetype and I think I learned a bit about attempting this.
The first thing you’d need to have to even consider running this kind of draft is a first pick Stranger “lord”. My personal recommendations would be – in order – Soaring, Enlightened, and Ferocious Strangers. Further down would be lords like Mercilous, Determined, Fortunate, and Ruthless. I probably wouldn’t consider trying this on a first pick of anything else; Grim Stranger and Hair-Trigger Stranger could be great additions, but aren’t good enough on their own. After attempting this three times now, Soaring Stranger deserves to be singled out here. It’s fine on it’s own, it’s single colour, and it is easily the best way to make every Stranger you draw a threat. 4/2 Strangers from Ferocious Stranger are cool, but they’ll often just trade for 2/2s or other similar small creatures. Soaring just makes them all threats and if you can then give them a boost like Ferocious, you’ve got a deadly combo on your hands.
The Stranger lords aren’t the only important piece of the puzzle, however. You will almost certainly be going into four colours to try and fit in every Stranger you can find which has the advantages and disadvantages that every four or five colour deck has in Magic or Eternal draft; Powerful spells, but bad or inconsistent mana. The advantage for this archetype is that Strangers will help to fix your colours while also feeding into your game plan. The disadvantage is exactly the same; You rely desperately on hitting Stangers to fix your mana and provide pay-off for your Stranger lords and sometimes you just don’t find them. I would be tempted to say that missing out on the common Strangers in this draft was just a fluke and that generally you’ll find them to provide your fixing and Stranger base except that the other recorded video had the same deficiency. The Strangers aren’t amazing cards but later in packs most people will pick an on-colour Stranger in hopes for splashing or covering up a lack of two-drops and it eats into your ability to play this archetype.
So is this an archetype? Is it possible? It’s definitely possible. I’ve done it. However, it requires a fair bit of luck and a great starting pick. The deck I won with had Fortunate Stranger, Ferocious Stranger, Mercilous Stranger, and Soaring Stranger. Most decks don’t seem to be able to put all those together. I’d love to recommend it as a fun meta pick (nobody knows what you’re doing) if you see an early Soaring Strange, but I actually think it’s just too inconsistent to be anything but a challenge. I’ll certainly try it again, just to try and recreate that perfect storm, but if you’re trying to win you should keep away.
Next week we’re heading back into Magic with the Modern Cube!