Hey this is Bryan “Veveil” Hohns with my first article for NumotGaming. I’ve played Magic for nearly three years, stopping along the way to try alternatives such as Hearthstone/Hex and was not convinced a better card game existed; that is, until I discovered Eternal. I am thrilled to be working with NumotGaming on providing content for Eternal and hope to produce only the best.
When I first picked up Eternal, all I did was draft. I drafted so much that I hit Master’s within about two days of playing. After an unsuccessful attempt at hitting Draft Rank #1 (I was #4 at one point!) I finally decided to take a break and put all the Shiftstone I acquired (over 90,000, for the record) to use in Ranked.
I had done some prior research on Constructed Eternal, and concluded that for my initial climb, I wanted to play the fastest, most linear deck. My desire was to get in as many games as possible in the shortest time frame. This led me to this beauty of a beast:
This was my first attempt at Queen Jito, built from scratch with what seemed like “obvious” inclusions at the time. I had looked up some decklists online but decided to try my own take to see if I could learn anything from the inevitable mistakes I would end up making.
Here’s a card by card breakdown of what’s in the deck and why:
These unassuming beaters are the heart and soul of the deck. Jito encourages you to play as many 1 drops as possible, and indeed, we are playing five full playsets of 1 cost units. This lets us maximize our aggression/potential for nut draws.
It is actually debatable if we want even more 1s in the deck! The first list I saw online had 4 Blood Beetles in addition to the above 20. I personally have been running fine without the Beetles, but certainly considered including them for more consistency. They are definitely worse than our other 1s though, as connecting with them on the draw can be difficult.
Torch is an instant 4-of in every Fire deck. We have this card in Magic (where it is arguably less efficient, in comparison to other cards) and it still sees almost automatic 4-of play. Torch is an absolute no brainer include that clears blockers, finishes off fat units, and can steal games where you have lost the board.
Rapid Shot isn’t quite as efficient as Torch, but it’s surprisingly good. It almost reads “Choose one: Destroy target blocking unit OR Deal 4 damage to your opponent” in this deck, which is just an absurd rate for 1 Power. The key to playing Rapid Shot correctly is having good timing (which combats are worth winning, when to use Rapid Shot for 4 face damage, and not blindly playing Rapid Shot into enemy Torches).
These cards are your main way to interact with your opponent’s board or close out a tight game. Both are mandatory 4 ofs.
Assembly Line and Shadowlands Guide both play well with the deck’s gameplan and synergize with Frontier Jito. Champion of Chaos is a card that has demolished me countless times in draft as a 3 Mana 5/5 Overwhelm/Deadly, and I was eager to play some games with it in Ranked.
Since you are trying to curve 1 -> 1/1 -> X as much as possible, running a good number of 3s makes a great deal of sense.
Going wide doesn’t add up to much without a reliable way to close out the game. Bandit Queen is an absurdly good card if you have a board, often leading to mass chump blocks and/or instant concessions. Rally fills a role as Queens 5 and 6, but isn’t a great card by any means; it is useless without a massive board, and can often be a win more card.
This is the true wild card of the deck, and not quite like anything I’d ever seen before in Magic. Sanguar is the card that makes your good draws great and your bad draws horrible. Going Grenadin Drone -> attack -> 2x Lurking Sanguar and 2 other 1s gives you 10+ power on Turn 2. Drawing 3 of these in your opener and no 1 drops almost instantly loses you the game as well. I like running the full 4 for maximum nut draw potential, but acknowledge the risk in doing so.
25 Power is the minimum for any deck in Eternal, and works fine for Queen Jito’s extremely low curve (we would probably play less Power if we could). Duals that produce Shadow/Fire mana are obvious inclusions, and 13 basic Sigils help turn on Seat of Chaos and cast our 1 drops. I wasn’t impressed with Seat of Chaos at first (and still don’t love it) but having both of your colors consistently is too important to make cutting it correct.
Queen Jito is a stereotypical Level 0 aggro deck. Games tend to be either embarrassing stomps or hopeless routs, and both types of games usually end in 5-8 turns. The deck has draws that are conventionally unbeatable yet also unable to ever beat a Lightning Storm. I’ve had 14 power in play on T2. I’ve also conceded on the second turn of the game. Queen Jito is as all-in as a deck can get, which is exactly what I was looking for (no sideboards!). As a bonus, finishing games so quickly can really rake in the Gold.
My initial playtesting (aka my climb out of Bronze) taught me some important things about my first build. Champion of Chaos is an amazing card in a vacuum, but was easily the worst card in the deck. Queen Jito is too fast for a 4/4 Overwhelm for 3, and with our mana base, Champion was often worse than that (it plays poorly with Diplomatic Seal). I wanted something with higher immediate impact.
Argenport Instigator seemed insane when played against me, so I decided to try it out. It’s a 2 mana 3/3 with aggressive upside (you’ll generally lose more life to the ability than your opponent will, but your life total is largely irrelevant). It dies to Torch frequently, but I’ve liked it better than the other cards I tried in its slot (Champion of Chaos, Piercing Shot, Annihilate, Obsidian Golem, etc).
I had Shogun’s Scepter in the deck for awhile but ended up cutting it. I liked the idea of the card (Heavy Axe + Oni Ronin package, good when ahead and with Jito) but in practice it was weak against all the fat blockers that are seeing currently play (Sandstorm Titan, Enlightened Student, Siraf, Valkyrie Enforcer, etc). Even with +2/1, most of your units will trade with commonly played blockers. As such, Shogun’s Scepter often played out like a 3 cost Oni Ronin, which is just as bad as it sounds.
Queen Jito is a fairly straight forward deck to play; I play and attack with every unit I can about 80% of the time. This is not a resilient deck, so don’t waste your time and win % playing around everything. There are some intricacies to the deck, however. For instance:
- You will frequently have multiple 1 drop openers with this deck, and there is often the question of which unit to play first. If you have no Lurking Sanguars in hand, my recommended order is Oni Ronin > Grenadin Drone > Knifejack > Pyroknight > Frontier Jito. Jito is ideally played on the same turn as another 1 drop to guarantee value. Playing Jito T1 (over another 1 drop) is often a trap, as you get 1 extra damage at most and can end up slowing down the rest of your hand if it dies to Torch/Vara’s Favor/etc.
- If you have Lurking Sanguar in your opener, lead on Grenadin Drone if possible. Going Drone -> Jito + another 1 drop essentially guarantees T2 Sanguar.
- Always kill off Grenadin Drone over the Grenadin it produces if you can. This way you can bring it back with Shadowlands Guide later for an extra 1/1.
- Lurking Sanguar’s cost becomes free even if it is the Void. This means that you can bring it back with Shadowlands Guide after attacking, as it will cost (0) post combat.
- Activating Pyroknight comes up rarely, but if it does get activated, keep in mind that you can bring it back as a 6/5 with Shadowlands Guide. It will then be able to Ultimate again, becoming a 10/9 Overwhelm. If you get flooded, this play offers your best chance for stealing a win.
- Play out your Sigils! You aren’t fooling anyone by holding onto a bunch of Sigils if you get flooded, so hold one at most. It takes 7 Power to play Pyroknight and immediately activate it (your opponent never gets an opportunity to Torch it this way). As such excess Power, while undesirable, still has its uses.
- Lastly, while not technically in-game advice, try not to get tilted when you lose games with this deck. Queen Jito is about as high variance as a deck can be; it has nut draws (11+ Power on T2), turn 4 kills, and plenty of games where you just roll over and die without really putting up a fight. There is also the heavy luck element of going first to consider, as the deck is much more effective on the play. Accept this, and try to focus on what you could’ve done better (if anything) in your games, rather than what could’ve gone better for you.
There are also matchup considerations:
- Aggressive matchups are all about making favorable trades and understanding who is winning the race. Knifejack is a great card in the mirror, as it’s one of the few x/2s in the deck. The extra point of toughness lets it attack/block Drones better than your other units.
- Be mindful of Lurking Sanguar in the mirror. It is bar none the best Torch target in the deck, but can also dominate a race if it doesn’t die immediately. Try to prevent your opponent from hitting you with 2 or more units if you don’t have a Torch handy. Also keep in mind that overzealous attacks by your opponent often signal a Sanguar (or Rally) and can be taken advantage of if you have a Torch handy.
- Against Rakano Aggro (which seems to be the most popular deck on ladder at the moment), your game plan is to go as wide as possible, and crush them with a big Bandit Queen turn. Avoid chump blocking/bad trades if you can. The usual way you lose the matchup is to a massive Aegis/Lifesteal/Endurance unit (my win rate against a resolved Righteous Fury is about 10%).
- Don’t be afraid to Torch the throwaway units of Elysian Shimmerpack (Temple Scribe, Talir’s Chosen, Amber Acolyte, etc). Torch lacks too many other great targets and Xenan Obelisk will eventually make them into relevant blockers anyways.
- Against Feln Control/Icaria Blue, playing around Lightning Storm/Harsh Rule is a waste of time, unless you can sandbag lethal damage (Jito + units, Bandit Queen, etc) to play next turn. With the exception of Pyroknight, none of your cards scale meaningfully into the late game, so always try to push for lethal as fast as you can.
- Umbren Reaper’s Entomb trigger happens AFTER damage. If you have lethal against a blocking Umbren Reaper, your opponent will die to combat damage before they gain 5 (unless they Torch their own Reaper or something fancy like that). The same thing happens with Argenport Instigator triggers too.
As for mulligans:
- The perfect Queen Jito hand has 2-3 Power, 3-4 1 drops, a 3 drop, and a Bandit Queen sitting right on top of the deck. Don’t trick yourself into keeping poor hands with 1 Power, 4+ Power, or a poor curve. You’re looking to go 1 drop -> 2 1 drops -> 3 drop every single game if you can.
- Eternal will automatically give you a hand with 2-5 Power on your mulligan, so expect to redraw very frequently with this deck.
Simple straightforward keep to start us off. Doesn’t matter if you’re going first or second; this is about as good as a non-Jito draw gets. Has an easy curve out + Rapid Shot to eat a big blocker or push damage.
This isn’t good enough. The Power situation is just horrible; we can’t even play Knifejack on Turn 1. Assembly Line + Rally/Bandit Queen is appealing, but ultimately this gets shipped. I will note though that if this hand had a Fire/Shadow Sigil instead of one of the Banners I would probably keep it.
Not a perfect hand. I would toss this on the draw and keep on the play. Lurking Sanguar on the draw likely comes too late (as one of our 1 drops is getting blocked for sure on the draw).
Missing a color, going 1 -> 2 is nothing special for this deck. Snap redraw, even when going second. We can do better.
Easy keep. If we draw Power this is basically the nut draw, if we don’t, well, our opener was still about as good as it gets. Can’t ask for too much more with a deck like Queen Jito.
My ascension with Jito more or less ended at Diamond I. While I believe that there is essentially no better deck to quickly climb the lower ranks, the higher up on the ladder you go, the harder it becomes to win with this deck. I played about 50 games with Jito in Diamond, and found myself falling to Diamond II, climbing back, falling again, and then climbing/falling ad nauseum.
While the Rakano matchup felt favorable, I was losing left and right to Shimmerpack and Combrei aggro/midrange decks. Feln Control also made rare, dream crushing appearances, as Lightning Storm and Blacksky Harbinger utterly dominate Jito. In general, I couldn’t seem to win matches where I wasn’t going first, and was losing a fair portion of those as well.
After the fifth time I saw the “You have been promoted to Diamond I” screen, I decided to shelve Jito temporarily and explore other options. I ended up hitting Masters with a Statuary Maiden homebrew that was essentially half Tokens, half Control. Combust + Statuary Maiden is a hell of a turn, and Scraptank was surprisingly effective for me, both as a runaway X/X creature and as a 5 drop that gets a bit of value in the face of a removal spell.
I won’t derail the article by going into too much detail about the brew now, as that’s a story for another day (and there are plenty of changes I would make to the list anyways), but I will post it below in case anyone is curious.
Master’s approved jank.
I would highly recommend Queen Jito to anyone who enjoys a good beatdown. If nothing else, the deck is fantastic for farming wins/gold quickly, and could become much better positioned in the future (Shimmerpack is a popular and particularly problematic matchup at the moment). Thanks for reading, and good luck climbing the ladder!
Queen Jito is actually pretty budget friendly if you are willing to drop the Queens, as the deck runs no other Legendaries. Here’s a list for those among us who aren’t stacked with Shiftstone but still want to dish out some quality beatdowns.
There aren’t too many needed changes; cutting 4x Bandit Queen for two more Blood Beetles/Rally gives you a playable 75. Best of luck in game. Here’s to hoping you always go first!