In my last article I discussed some of the broad strokes of Eternal’s draft format. Today I will be discussing each faction’s specific strategies and how I rank them based on my success with each. Don’t take too much stock in my rankings as I mostly used them as a tiebreaker to determine the order in which I speak about each faction. What is “open” is far more important than the order presented here. I certainly don’t advocate forcing any particular deck in draft. You should always aim to find out what is open in Pack 1 and head in that direction. Draft is self-correcting over time, what is under drafted right now will usually become the best option to draft and lead to people’s pick orders changing eventually.
Key Commons: Awakened Student, Bold Adventurer, Amber Acolyte, Xenan Guardian, Towering Terrazon, Finest Hour, Brightmace Paladin, Loyal Watchwing, Valkyrie Aspirant, Minotaur Grunt
Key Uncommons: Scorpion Wasp, Twinbrood Sauropod, Healer’s Cloak, Vanquish, Elder’s Feather, Gilded Glaive, Crownwatch Paladin, Auric Sentry, Silverwing Familiar, Crownwatch Cavalry, Fourth-Tree Elder, Valkyrie Wings, Desert Marshal, Combrei Healer, Vodakhan’s Staff, Karmic Guardian
Key Splash cards: Accelerated Evolution, Morningstar
Combrei offers some very efficient units thanks to Time cards to go with powerful Justice weapons and Warcry units. The Combrei multifaction cards are quite powerful, particularly Vodakhan’s Staff, and a big draw to playing this combination. Amber Acolyte can enable some excellent splashing opportunities as well. Both Accelerated Evolution and Morningstar are great additions to a Combrei deck if you have a few methods to fix your influence such as the Acolyte, Secret Pages, Banners, or Rakano/Elysian Strangers. Keep an eye out for splashable rare or legendary cards as well. You are far more likely to splash a Fire or Primal card rather than Shadow given how the factions overlap so be sure to prioritize fixing for those factions. Keep in mind that any straight Combrei fixing will enable you to play more off faction sigils or if you don’t end up splashing the fixing will prove valuable regardless to increase your deck’s consistency.
I have found my best Combrei decks to be the strongest draft decks that I have had. The issue with the combination is how much it is fought over in the draft portion. People have lost enough to Justice weapons that they get drafted quite highly, so it can be hard to put together this deck reliably.
Key Commons: Levitate, Yeti Snowslinger, Cobalt Acolyte, Flash Freeze, Wisdom of the Elders, Jarrall’s Frostkin, Serpent Trainer, Dark Return, Rapid Shot, Blackguard Sidearm, Lethrai Ranger, Execute, Xenan Destroyer, Gorgon Swiftblade, Trickster’s Cloak
Key Uncommons: Permafrost, Ice Sprite, Sapphire Dragon, Suffocate, Annihilate, Beastcaller’s Amulet, Desperado, Deathstrike, Horsesnatcher Bat, Feeding Time, Gorgon Fanatic
Key Splash Cards: Nightsworn Chieftain, Smuggler’s Stash, Accelerated Evolution
Feln offers some of the best removal in the draft environment along with powerful Infiltrate units that can grow out of hand if they connect. Lethrai Ranger and Gorgon Swiftblade put incredible pressure on the opponent to have blockers or removal as either of these two drops can run away with a game, particularly if they are carrying any sort of weapon like Trickster’s Cloak. While it should be obvious that the removal cards are high picks in this combination you will also often need to play some other cards to help your Infiltrate units to get through such as Cobalt Acolyte, Levitate, Flash Freeze, Jarrall’s Frostkin and Trickster’s Cloak which are all great cards to play for this purpose.
Rapid Shot ends up being a useful card as your opponent will often be incentivized to try and block your Infiltrate units and Rapid Shot can trade very nicely with opposing units. If you can pick up a few Gorgon Fanatics and/or a Direwood Beastcaller, then Haunting Scream becomes a very strong card for the deck. Without at least two of those cards it usually is not that playable, so don’t pick Scream highly unless you have those units. It is a fine card to speculate on early in the draft if there is nothing that will clearly make your main deck. Dark Return is nice in this deck as it will let you re-trigger Infiltrate on a dead unit. Xenan Destroyer is particularly effective in this deck as the weapons and Cobalt Acolyte help it take over a game.
While the Feln deck will work just fine on its own, you can certainly bolster your deck’s power by splashing Nightsworn Chieftain, Smuggler’s Stash, or Accelerated Evolution. You will need to prioritize Banners, Strangers, and Seek Powerto turn on these splashes.
I have found Feln to be decidedly under drafted in the current environment and as a result my Feln decks have over performed lately. If it starts gaining in popularity, it will likely be harder to make the deck work as there are a lot of components to juggle. You need at least 4 solid Infiltrate units, ideally way more, and enough ways to punch them through either with removal or the synergy cards mentioned above like Levitate.
Key Commons: Oni Ronin, Torch, Ornate Katana, Granite Acolyte, Rebel Sharpshooter, Burn Out, Dark Return, Direfang Spider, Dark Wisp, Execute, Ravenous Thornbeast, Stonescar Magus, Combust, Obsidian Golem
Key Uncommons: Flame Blast, Grenadin Drone, Assembly Line, Oni Quartermaster, Outlands Sniper, Rebel Illuminator, Stonescar Maul, Slumbering Stone, Horsesnatcher Bat, Suffocate, Annihilate, Madness, Deathstrike, Soul Collector, Pit Fighter, Nightsworn Chieftain, Smuggler’s Stash
Key Splash Cards: Feeding Time, Sword of Icaria, Morningstar
Stonescar offers solid Shadow removal to go with Fire’s Torch and weapon subtheme. Together they also take advantage of the Entomb mechanic so that you can gain value with cards that sacrifice units as a cost such as Combust and Burn Out. Obsidian Golem is one of the keys to the deck as it is a great unit to sacrifice or trade off in combat and the weapon it provides can combine well with your Rebel Sharpshooter and any Oni Quartermasters you may have. With Direfang Spider and various Entomb units, Stonescar decks will frequently lock up the ground and can sometimes have a hard time closing out the game. It is possible to grind out the opponent by forcing them into ground combat with Nightsworn Chieftain or a large Ravenous Thornbeast, but an easier path to victory can be flying units like Horsesnatcher Bat or Worldpyre Phoenix. Dark Return is great in this deck as it can provide a lot of value with Entomb units. Keep a special eye out for Madness as it is fantastic to Madness the opponent’s best unit and then use a sacrifice effect like Combust to kill two of your opponent’s best units.
I have had reasonable success with Stonescar decks in draft and the keys were to have multiple Obsidian Golems and Combusts along with a number of the key Uncommons listed above. The deck really shines if you can pick a few large flying units or a Flame Blast to help close out the games. You also need to be weary of losing to flying units as most of your units are great at locking down the ground. Be sure to save your removal for fliers or units that get beefed up with weapons.
Key Commons: Bold Adventurer, Amber Acolyte, Towertop Patrol, Xenan Guardian, Towering Terrazon, East-Wind Herald, Lightning Strike, Cobalt Acolyte, Skysnapper, Wisdom of the Elders, Clifftop Rider, Jarrall’s Frostkin, Serpent Trainer, Jotun Warrior, Scaly Gruan, Flash Freeze, Pteriax Hatchling
Key Uncommons: Scorpion Wasp, Ancient Lore, Praxis Displacer, Healer’s Cloak, Elysian Pathfinder, Lumen Defender, Twinbrood Sauropod, Permafrost, Blind Storyteller, Ice Sprite, Avalanche Stalker, Cloudsnake Harrier, Sapphire Dragon, Windshaper, Accelerated Evolution, Storm Lynx, Psionic Savant, False Prince
Key Splash cards: Feeding Time, Vodakhan’s Staff, Karmic Guardian
Elysian draft decks are all about winning with Flying units. Pteriax Hatchling and Serpent Trainer provide quantity of fliers to go with Skysnapper and Clifftop Rider as the core of your threats at common. The rest of the cards in your deck are geared to slowing down opposing attackers or to locking down the ground. Bold Adventurer, Xenan Guardian, Jotun Warrior, and Flash Freeze all help a lot in this effort. The larger units like Towering Terrazon get a lot stronger when you have an Accelerated Evolution or two. Accelerated Evolution is a very powerful reason to be Elysian as it can turn your ground road blocks into flying threats. Amber Acolyte helps a lot to enable splashing, the best card to splash being Vodakhan’s Staff which is a game winner on any flying unit. Certainly keep an eye out for other splashable rares/legendaries along with the other cards listed above.
My success with Elysian has often come down to how many Accelerated Evolutions and Vodakhan’s Staffs I’ve been able to play. If you end up with a large number of flying units, cards like Windshaper can also be a game breaker. If you have a number of Primal fliers and start seeing the powerful Time cards, certainly don’t hesitate to move in to Elysian.
Key Commons: Oni Ronin, Torch, Ornate Katana, Granite Acolyte, Rebel Sharpshooter, Magma Javelin, Finest Hour, Inspire, Valkyrie Aspirant, Crownwatch Longsword, Minotaur Grunt, Brightmace Paladin, Loyal Watchwing, Stalwart Shield, Crownwatch Deserter, Renegade Valkyrie
Key Uncommons: Flame Blast, Piercing Shot, Rakano Outlaw, Oni Quartermaster, Outlands Sniper, Frontline Cyclops, Stonescar Maul, Gilded Glaive, Elder’s Feather, Crownwatch Paladin, Vanquish, Auric Sentry, Silverwing Familiar, Crownwatch Cavalry, Fourth-Tree Elder, Valkyrie Wings, Sword of Icaria, Morningstar
Key Splash Cards: Vodakhan’s Staff, Nightsworn Chieftain, Smuggler’s Stash
Rakano draft decks are all about weapons and Warcry units. Two key units are Rebel Sharpshooter and Brightmace Paladin. If you can pump either of these with Warcry or with weapons after deploying them, they can each run away with a game. Renegade Valkyrie is also a key unit to pump with Warcry effects or weapons later on. There are a number of great Warcry units and powerful Weapons at Uncommon that will be key to your success with Rakano decks. Finest Hour is particularly great in this deck as your opponent will want to block your Warcry units as soon as possible to stop you from repeatedly powering up your draws. Warcry is especially powerful with Relic Weapons, so if you should try to draft Relic Weapons highly if you have a number of Warcry units. As with Elysian, Vodakhan’s Staff is a fantastic card to splash in your Rakano decks. You just need to prioritize Combrei fixing as you don’t have Amber Acolyte at common to help you splash. Smuggler’s Stash can also be a quite nice card to splash as Rakano decks often play with a number of weapons that you can bring back. Remember that any Warcry bonuses you accumulate will persist as units/weapons hit the void.
While Rakano technically ranks last in my rankings here, it is still a very playable deck. Early on in the beta, I had a lot of success with Rakano due to some of the powerful weapons being commons, but after the rarity shifts and folks drafting the Justice weapons a lot higher, it has been harder for the deck to come together in a very powerful way. If you get enough of the key uncommons to go with Brightmace Paladins and Rebel Sharpshooters, it can still be a potent deck.
Strangers are a special subtheme that your Time decks can sometimes delve into. Determined Stranger is the key card to determine if you are going to prioritize Stranger synergies. If you can grab a few Determined Strangers, it then incentivizes you to draft more of the common two cost strangers that provide influence. If you find yourself in this situation, I would prioritize drafting the following strangers if they can be splashed or are in your main factions:
I have found a Stranger subtheme to be quite powerful if you have enough Determined Strangers, but it is not without risk. Most every draft deck will have at least a few of the influence producing Strangers and it can be a pain to negotiate combat with the opposing Strangers. Still, if you have at least 8 Strangers you should be able to overwhelm the opposition.
Additional Bonus: Off factions
While it is possible to draft off faction decks like Primal/Fire, the multi-faction cards are so powerful that it can be hard to avoid the five main factions. I have definitely seen some unusual tri or quad faction decks centered on a non-supported faction, and these decks can work but they have a high risk of ruin if you don’t end up with enough influence fixing.
One of the keys to drafting in Eternal is reading the signals in pack one to determine which factions are open. Don’t try to force a faction based on what you read here, but be ready to move in to any of the combinations discussed if you see some of the powerful cards coming later in the pack. In a future article I will be taking a look at some of my seven win draft decks and breaking down what made them tick.