Hi! I’m Thomas “Peppr” Brun, Eternal fan, brewing enthusiast, and latest addition to the Numot Gaming Eternal team!
I’ve joined Eternal very early in the closed beta and have been playing the game every day since. I made my modest mark on the community by winning the second edition of Scion’s League with a home brew (which got nerfed shortly after) and by pioneering a few quirky not-quite-tier-one decks, notably Nightmare and Shimmer Party. My background before Eternal is mostly made of kitchen table Magic (peaking in the nineties with a few disastrous local tournament outings), then Scrolls and Duelyst. I’m a Johnny at heart; I enjoy weird combos and building around cards no one else plays.
But not to worry, this is not what this article is about! Today I’d like to walk you through your first few hours of playing Eternal. While doing so, we’ll be building a cheap, effective, flexible, no-nonsense deck to get your career and collection started.
This article is dubbed “Rakano edition”, because the deck we’re going to build uses the Fire & Justice factions, a pairing commonly referred to as “Rakano” in Eternal lingo. Note that this is certainly not the only budget deck you can use to get started; you can expect other editions of this guide to appear on this site soon!
Even is this isn’t actually your first rodeo in Eternal, I hope that the dissection of the makings of a Rakano Pants deck can be of interest to you.
For the purposes of this article, I actually went through the whole new player experience again myself to check that I wasn’t saying anything unrealistic (I used my old invite-a-friend beta key to make an alt instead of giving it to you. Sorry.). Thanks to that little experiment, I’ll be giving you reports of my own progress through each step, as a point of reference.
Taking your first steps efficiently
I strongly advise to use a custom deck to do your first few gold earning activities in Eternal, namely beating The Stranger to end the campaign (a task that can be surprisingly difficult with some of the starter decks), and doing your first Gauntlet run(s).
Turns out that at the absolute ground floor that is basic cards only (those available to you out of the starter decks), the strongest deck you can make is… not Rakano ! So much for this article’s thematic consistency, but the priority here is getting you out of the gate as smoothly as possible.
The deck I recommend to do those first few games with is the following: Baby Praxis (aka “the best basics-only deck”)
2 x Grenadin Drone
4 x Hellhound Yearling
3 x Initiate of the Sands
2 x Oni Ronin
1 x Pyroknight
4 x Bold Adventurer
4 x Oni Striker
2 x Pyre Adept
3 x Talir’s Favored
4 x Temple Scribe
2 x Granite Acolyte
2 x Outlands Sniper
1 x Shogun of the Wastes
1 x General Izalio
1 x Xenan Obelisk
This is a relatively straightforward token aggro list, which revolves around lots of cheap creatures and wide buffs such as Unlock Potential and Rally. It is based on a once-dominant deck called Praxis Tokens, which got pushed out of the meta by consecutive nerfs to Xenan Obelisk and Unlock Potential. But the archetype is still definitely good enough to get started with. It should defeat the Stranger and beat your first gauntlet run without too much trouble.
I defeated both the Stranger and Gauntlet on the first try in my test run. Fair warning : I was on the luckier end of the spectrum there. The Stranger can get some ridiculously good draws that the above deck will not be able to beat. Don’t let that get you down and just retry, it shouldn’t take long.
Using the free Forge run to get your Rakano deck going
Once you completed the quest to defeat one gauntlet, you’ll get access to a free run of Forge. Forge is like gauntlet, except you draft your deck out of a random selection of cards, in a fashion you will feel familiar with if you played Hearthstone’s Arena or Duelyst’s Gauntlet before. A key difference with the above is that in Eternal, you get to keep the cards you pick for your collection! Another important thing you need to know about Forge is that you will only be given choices from two factions, based on the first picks you make. This means that you can “force” the factions you need cards in. I invite you to do just that for Rakano, which also happens to be a strong faction pairing for limited formats anyway!
The makings of a solid Rakano deck (regardless of budget)
Before we actually start the Forge run, a few words about what the deck we’re aiming for looks like. There is more than one way to build a good Rakano deck. Today we’ll focus on the most common aggro archetype, commonly referred to as “pants” (due to its heavy use of weapons). It’s a relatively simple to play style of deck which is both very effective and easy to build across a wide budget range.
Without naming specific cards, and with of course a fair amount of leeway on the numbers in each category to accommodate for specifics and techs, the deck will typically break down like this:
8 to 12 one-cost units
10 to 14 two-cost units
0 to 6 three-cost units
10 to 14 one or two-cost weapons (“cheap pants”)
4 to 8 three+ cost weapons (“fancy pants”)
4 to 10 Removal spells, tricks, or relics
25 or 26 Power
As you can see, this is clearly an aggro deck, with a curve very low to the ground. It is built to make sure that you are most likely to fully utilize your mana on turns 1-4, quickly building a board of threats. Your opponent should immediately be on the back foot, and their slow draws will be punished hard. We play almost no cards that cost more than 3, so we can afford to play the minimum amount of power thanks to the mulligan rule (which guarantees you at least 2 power cards if you redraw your starting hand).
The power should include as many duals as possible (both seats and banners) as well as Diplomatic Seals when you get them, and possibly a few Monuments to taste. I personally like two copies of Emerald Monument.
In each category, there is a fair amount of leeway in what to use; the deck will function whether you have 4 copies of each best in slot rares (when there is even one) or a bunch of disparate commons, which is fortunate because we’ll have to do with the latter for a while.
The reason I’m giving you these categories and approximate numbers for them rather than simply decklists is that, while it is entirely possible to craft most of the lower rarity stuff you need early on, it’s inefficient in terms of growing a collection – so we’ll try to avoid it as much as possible.
Between the large packs, cards in chests, and limited modes letting you keep cards, Eternal gives out a whole lot of those low rarity cards. You’ll get full playsets of them very quickly! The flip side of that is that the crafting/recycling rates on them is very disadvantageous. With that in mind, I believe the best budget decks are those made out of whatever you have, rather than out of “cheap crafts”, which are actually the worst investment you can make.
We will get to crafting eventually, but only after getting as many “free” cards as possible to make a base deck out of.
Card rankings per category
OK, so now you are ready to start your first forge run to populate that future deck of yours. But what do you pick? You already know to make your first picks either Justice (green) or Fire (red), but which cards are good?
Well, here’s a handy table to answer that question!
Anything on top of each of these categories should be a priority pick. In Forge, you only get picks of similar rarity at any given time, so you don’t need to “rare-draft”; only go for higher rated stuff. The exception is you’ll sometimes be given the choice of a Legendary over rares; unless the rare is high up in this table and the legendary looks lame, I say take the legendary in that the case.
If you’re referring to this table in the context of drafting, it’s better to give some amount of priority to rares over C/Us. Common or Uncommon can be used as a tie-breaker in case you’re unsure between two picks, but should not matter that much otherwise.
I got lucky with being given two Shogun’s Scepter, which are excellent spoils. I also secured a couple of Rakano Outlaw and Brightmace Paladin along with a few usable weapons. I did not manage to go all the way, losing game 4 to mana flood and then game 6 to a crazy series of plays by Vengeance. Still, one gold chest is good enough, especially when you’re lucky like me and it contains a Sparring Partner (another score !).
First outing on the ladder!
Congratulations on now having a semi decent deck ! It’s time for it to leave the nest now. Click that “ranked” button and battle away ! Don’t worry too much, it’s okay to lose. Maybe you’ll win some too, but even if you don’t you’ll certainly learn some things. Depending on the timing, you might find yourself in “unfair” match-ups with high ranked players rocking well tuned decks, so sweating over losses is really unnecessary. On the other hand, don’t just dismiss those losses as irrelevant either – note what’s killed you and what you maybe could have done better.
The deck I was able to piece together for ladder looked like this: Baby’s First Rakano (example)
This ragtag pile managed a very respectable 3-2 record, losing only to a very potent Stonescar curve-out and a Party Hour deck that looked like it belonged in Masters (or possibly in Nerf-land, but that’s another topic).
After you completed your 5 placement games and collected your reward, you should have somewhere around 4,000 gold in the bank. You need 5,000 to buy your way into Draft, which is by far the most efficient way to grow your collection and also your next objective. I advise you to grind the last few gold coins you need in Gauntlet, as it’s an easier, less stressful environment to do so than the ranked ladder. It’s an opportunity to continue practicing with your deck too.
Once that’s done, it’s time for you to discover one of the best things about Eternal: drafting! It’s a limited mode somewhat similar to Forge, but PvP, and actual packs being passed along (just like physical MtG drafting but asynchronous so you can take all the time you want) rather than 1-out-of-3 picks. Drafting is an art that is worth a whole series of guides on its own, and I’ll leave that to people more skilled at it than I am. Know that while that’s not always the best option, you can also “force” factions in draft. You can’t actually influence what cards you get passed, but you can decide to pick cards in the factions you want. That’s not always optimal for a bunch of reasons, most notably possible signals that someone up the line is already drafting the same factions, but we can choose to ignore those in the name of strategically advancing our collection. Note that Rakano is a strong choice for draft anyway, so you’re not gimping yourself much either.
Just like with forge earlier, I invite you to peruse the previous table as a guideline. Prioritize picks on top of each category. Technically it would be better to use a draft specific picking guide (and you’re welcome to do that if you have one handy) but since we’re also trying to get cards for our deck the above will do just fine. There are however two things not in that table you should look out for :
- Legendaries or good rares(even off-color) : just pick those. You draft more cards than can fit in your deck, so you can afford to dedicate a pick to scoring a card you want for later.
- bombs and removal : (yes, BREAD) draft is often a slower format than constructed, so relatively high cost, high impact stuff will definitely win you games. Notably: rares like Rolant’s Honor Guard and Silverwing Commander, or a few lower rarity cards like Fourth-Tree Elder or Renegade Valkyrie. Yes, all of those have flying and that’s not a coincidence. As for removal, there isn’t that much of it in our factions, but you should always pick Torch or Vanquish if they come up (unless there’s also a legendary in there).
Once your picks are done, take the best 28-29 cards out of there, add 16-17 sigils – assuming you went by the above, your curve should be low – and get out there!
It took me 2 gauntlet runs to get to 5,000 gold for the draft run. Once in there, it became clear relatively early that Justice was closed in pack 1/3, but not Fire; so I focused on that. Luckily Justice was open in the other packs and I was able to score a Silverwing Familiar, which turned out to be the clear MVP of the run. Other notable picks included a Censari Brigand and no less than *three* Sword of Icaria.
The run ended at 6-3, closely missing the full 7 win run. Along with the diamond chest reward for the quest, that’s 4 packs and 7,000-something gold back in the bank ! None of the packs contained rakano-relevant rares, but one did have a Reality Warden in it, which is nice. The gold was enough to start a second draft run right away and could even fund a second Forge run too.
At this point, go back to your constructed deck and enrich it with the spoils of your draft run(s), still using the previous guidelines. This should make a fairly solid deck insofar as no crafting has happened yet.
You’re now sitting on about 3,500 Shiftstones just from early rewards (and drafting). On top of that, you can relatively safely destroy some of the cards you received from the campaign. Notably, Kaleb, Uncrowned Prince and Rolant, the Iron Fist are two legendaries that essentially never see constructed play, so I wouldn’t feel bad about getting rid of them for stones if you so choose. That would bring you to almost exactly 5,000 stones.
With that, now would be a good time to craft the things your deck most sorely lacks. Efficiency be damned, we postponed it long enough, go ahead and craft commons and uncommons you couldn’t find on the way if you really miss them. Do however refrain from crafting full sets, as you’re likely to open 1 or 2 soon enough. Crafting two uncommons you have zero of is definitely reasonable. Rares are fair game, as those are much slower to acquire and are fair investments, but still avoid crafting the full 4. Murphy’s Law dictates you will open a fifth as soon as you do.
For ideas on what exactly you should be crafting, refer to the next section for actual top-level lists.
Here is my deck, with zero crafting, after 1 draft: Baby Rakano grows up so fast (example)
Removal / Tricks
One of the most glaring shortcomings of this list is the lack of Crownwatch Paladins as well as the low number of Elder’s Feather and low drop weapons in general. I chose to craft some of those, plus a Valkyrie Enforcer and a Pyroknight, both all around excellent cards that see play in other decks too.
Here is what I end up with, after spending 3,200 shiftstones (no destruction necessary): Not really a baby anymore (example)
2 x Shogun’s Scepter
Removal / Tricks
This is a list I’m confident about taking to the ladder. I expect it will bring me to Gold division without a hitch, probably even Diamond, and by then I’ll probably have enough to make a list that’s close to (if not exactly) one of the top level lists below.
The endgame : Tier 1 Rakapants
Let’s just ignore budget completely now and look for optimized lists. You’ll quickly notice they are actually very close to the budget versions! Differences will mostly be in the presence of playsets of rares (Pyroknight, Sparring Partner, Champion of Glory, Shogun’s Scepter, Valkyrie Enforcer being the most common) and sometimes a couple of copies of Deepforged Plate, the only legendary that sees play in Rakano pants.
Here is the list I personally favor for ladder play. I use this one when I’m tired of my weirdo brews getting their nerdy little heads smashed in repeatedly and I just want something that wins. It does that job admirably, and it does it fast too.
And here is Wafflez’s tournament list, which went 3-1 in the latest Swiss tournament, second only to our own Peter “Babam” Golightly.
4 x Torch
2 x Sword of Icaria
4 x Vanquish
3 x Warhelm
1 x Justice Sigil
You’d need to ask her about optimal tuning of the mainboard for ladder and/or budget restrictions, but I’m sure it would work great as is (or with pretty much whatever you feel like in place of the Plates).
With this, you should have all that you need to take yourself from Starter to Master – now get out there and do it!