At this point we have been playing Eternal for the better part of 6 months, with many decks going in-and-out of favor, and an incredible amount of creativity from a whole range of brewers! We have figured out every possible deck by now right? Wrong! I truly think there is a ton of room for innovation and progress still. In fact, I have heard both LSV and Patrick Chapin suggest there are decks available in the card pool that are yet undiscovered! Today I wanted to point out a handful of cards that I think are some of the best candidates that remain for brewing.
I have chosen one card for each single and double faction combo. This is hardly a full list, as there are many cards other than these that I think are worth working with. This is also not to suggest that none of these cards have been played before. In fact, there are some that have been built around before. I just think there might be more room to experiment. If you have a sweet list for a deck built around any of these cards, please send them to me! I might showcase your brew in my next article!
Fire – Calderan Channeler
Calderan Channeler is an unexciting body of 5 power to be sure. 3/2 for 5? That’s embarrassing. Obviously the action is in the summon effect. Most people originally think of putting her into a token style deck, but let’s be honest – she is just a worse Bandit Queen in most cases. Maybe a Praxis tokens deck could top out with this card, but I still don’t think that is interesting.
What about a Stonescar or Felnscar (FPS) Infiltrate deck? The little weenie infiltrate buddies saw significant play at the start of format, but I there are several Infiltrate cards at higher costs that look pretty saucy. Take Cabal Mastermind for example! Stealing the enemy hand is powerful, but how does a 3/3 ever attack connect? Some people may not know that Channeler’s summon effect causes infiltrate to trigger, so this is one of the best ways to get infiltrate units “through” without actually attacking. Now a 3/3 for 7 may be pure fantasy, but something a little more modest like Argenport Ringleader may be more realistic.
Honourable mention: Censari Brigand. Card is clearly powerful, but I feel like people have tried it and if it were actually great we would have figured it out by now. Card is playable in a dedicated burn style deck, but I just don’t think it has as much room to grow.
Time – Silence
But Neon, we already have great silence effects! How did you forget the noble Desert Marshall or Valkarie Enforcer? Why play this marginal effect over the same card that comes on a body?
Those are all great points, assuming you are playing fair. I am thinking of playing a bit more unfair. How does this sound for a game:
Me Turn 1: Infernus, attack for 5, Time Sigil, Silence my Infernus.
You Turn 1: Concede.
That seems possible right? Now I get the issue that this two card combo isn’t going to come up often on turn 1, but it seems worth trying. I have been looking for other creatures with serious downside, and there really isn’t many, meaning a “Silence Cheats” deck is hard to build. Only other card I could find was Magus of the Mist, and the probably doesn’t go in the same deck as Infernus. But the fact that the Infernus + Silence combo gives you free wins in addition to having other applications seems worth considering.
Honorable mention: Clockroach. I keep on saying it: this card and the associated decks still have more room for improvement. The core is powerful, but I just keep on thinking there is a piece we are missing. Check out my interview with Sunyveil that talks about his TPS version of the deck.
Justice – Hero of the People
I’m going to assume you know who Peppr is. If you are not familiar with Peppr’s work, I don’t know what you are doing wasting your time reading my stuff, as most of his work is much better than anything I’ve written. Once upon a time he went off the rails with a super sweet Hero of The People, Haunting Scream, Recurring Nightmare deck. From what I saw of it, it seemed fragile but incredibly powerful when it “went off”. I’m not sure if that is the best shell for Hero, but at the very least it proved the card had potential.
What I have been thinking about is a possible Combreilysian “Hero of the Roaches” deck. If she gets hit with a keyword from Crown she will gain +1/+1, and will obviously pick up the abilities of Clockroachs coming onto the field. Maybe throw in Accelerated Evolution? Who knows! Ceiling on this card is clearly very high, assuming it doesn’t get hit immediately with a silence.
Honerable Mention: Hooru Envoy. Ceiling on this card is high, but lets be honest. Its probably just bad. I’m willing to be proven wrong though.
Primal – Shamanic Trance
Primal was by far the hardest category to choose for. I could probably do a “Top 10 Primal Cards to Brew With” article, and maybe 2 multifaction cards would make the list. Half the reason I decided to make this article by faction is because if I just did a top 10 cards to brew with, almost the entire top 5 would be Primal cards. If you are looking to get creative with deck design, start by looking at the Primal cards. With all that said, what card from Primal won? Oh, just little innocent Shamanic Trance. Just 0 power reduce a spell cost by 1. What is so crazy about this?
If you don’t appreciate how exceptionally powerful this card has the potential to be, you haven’t played card games long enough.
If Eternal is your first card game, it is going to be hard to explain quickly why this kind of effect is so busted. If you are a Magic player, have you every seen/played Storm in Legacy or Vintage? This card would fit well into those decks, being similar to a Lotus Petal or Dark Ritual. Have you every seen/played Miracle Rouge in Hearthstone? Trance is kind of like a mini-Preparation, but can be used to decrease costs of larger spells.
The crazy thing about Trance is that it may even be better than those totally busted cards. Trance causes the cost to be reduced permanently. If you are storming off in Legacy or Vintage you feel great casting a Dark Ritual off a Lotus Petal, but if you start casting spells from your graveyard using something like Yawgmoth’s Will or Past in Flames and the first Dark Ritual costs 0 you will feel filthy. Trance can also trigger any “spells matter” synergy cards for free (I’m looking at you Eilyn).
As of right now, there are no spell based combo decks heavily utilizing void recursion that I have been able to come up with, but that may just be because building decks like that is very hard. Maybe they just don’t exist yet. It is possible we should be looking at some Echo based combo deck? One way or another, I will bet right now that this card is going to be involved in a degenerate combo deck at some point in its life span. This card may look innocent, but it is actually a monster just looking for something to break.
Honorable Mentions: Unstable Form, Cloudsnake Harrier, Hatchery Raider, Icebreaker, Deranged Dinomancer, Magus of the Mist, Eilyn, Queen of the Wilds, Mirror Image, West-Wind Herald, and Whispering Wind. Like I said, primal is deep. Most of these cards would beat out any other card on this list. All of these cards represent powerful and/or unique effects that each deserve to be investigated. Given that there are so many, I’m not going to really discuss what they are up to. Some of them have already been built around to some extent, but I think there is more room. Others I don’t think have been considered too seriously. There is just a lot going on here.
Shadow – Subvert
Eternal’s developers have deliberately pushed a range of “digital only” mechanics, such as Warcry, Echo, and Siraf’s activated ability. One of the few that hasn’t really broken through as being a powerful “digital only” mechanic has been the “stealing” effects, with Feln Bloodcaster being the only possible exception. Subvert is very slow, and it doesn’t effect the board, but this actually represents card advantage! This is like a Mind Control effect except you need to pay the power for the creature rather than the opponent. Maybe this is the kind of card that has actually been designed for sideboards. If I were in a Feln Control Mirror and my opponent cast this and was able to grab a win condition, or a key card draw effect, I may concede on the spot. Even hitting a Sigil in that situation isn’t terrible, as control mirrors are often about hitting power drops all the way into the ultra-late game. Still, what if there is some burglary deck we are missing? Seems potentially sweet.
Honorable Mention: Venomspine Hydra. Hydra + Devour = kill all your opponent’s creatures. That’s just math, and you can argue with math. Seems really strong if your opponent has no silence, and may still be fine if it is silenced. It is probably just a bit too expensive though…
Rakano – Coup de Grace
Rakano was the second hardest after Primal to select for, although for the opposite reasons. Almost every card in this faction is a dude or weapon with straightforward applications. Even the expensive legend of the faction has seen tons of play, and doesn’t exactly need to be built around any more than it already has. All that being said, like Primal, if I am being honest with myself, I think there is a clear winner.
Who sees Coup de Grace coming? No one. Obviously you could say that for lots of cards, so it doesn’t mean it is actually good. “No one expects the War Elephant, therefore it is great” seems like suspicious logic. Still, imagine you set up a massive board stall, the kind common in Combrei mirrors. You send in an alpha strike, and your opponent blocks in such a fashion where they do not die, chump block many of your biggest dudes, eat some of your smaller critters, and plan to kill you on the crack back. Then – suddenly – Coup de Grace! Seems pretty likely you can kill your opponent on the second try, given that their blockers are all exhausted. It is important to note that a slight mechanical difference between Magic the Gathering and Eternal is that creatures can only block once, as the blocking creatures become exhausted. This might combine well with blinding burst, as I have no idea how you lose in a Combrei(ish) mirror if you are able to set up a board stall and then cast these two cards in one turn. Still, this could all be too cute. Shout out to LocoPojo, who I know has played around with card a bit already.
Honorable mention: Renegade Valkyrie. Double Damage on a flyer is no joke, but a 1/2 for 4 after it is silenced certainly is a joke. This seems like the only other interesting candidate in Rakano to even consider, but I doubt it has the chops to make it into constructed.
Combrei – Safe Return
Here is an actual scenario that happened to me in a Ranked game (I don’t recall exact numbers, but that is beside the point). Classic Combrei mirror board stall type situation. My opponent is at 20, and has an assortment of random units in play, including a couple X/1s. They are powered down after a Siraf activation. I have a 8/8 Copper conduit, and am on 10 power. I cast Predator’s Instinct on my Copper Conduit, and attack down an X/1, putting my opponent to 13. I then cast Safe Return on my Copper Conduit, and play it again as a 17/17 (8/8 on original body, +1/+1 from Safe Return, and +8/+8 from Summon). Killer is reactivated, so I attack down another X/1 leaving my opponent at -3. Killing your opponent from 23 on 10 power through blockers seems pretty great.
Xenan Serial Killers is already a deck. Maybe we would rather ditch the shadow and double down on the Killer synergies in a more conventional Combrei shell (see BadGuyTy’s article for some ideas)? We could include some cards like Killasaurus (AKA Predatory Carnasaur). Maybe we just want to retrigger Summon effects. I’m thinking of Crownwatch Cavalry or the silence dudes keeping things simple, with some weird Elysian Trailblazer/Pathfinder combo deck on the more exotic end.
Honorable mention: A New Tomorrow. This is another card LocoPojo has worked with a bit, and is clearly super powerful, but is probably just a bit too expensive to work in any traditional shell. Maybe we want to out it combine it with Cloudsnake Harrier or something to reduce its cost? Seems pretty easy to win a game after resolving this card.
Elysian – Call of the Ancients
Getting 6/6s for 2 power with Aegis and Endurance is silly. Like not even close to fair. The issue is obviously that this card represents card disadvantage, which is usually the opposite of what we want to do with our decks, but maybe there is some way to get around this? I am thinking of some deck with very aggressive digging effects like Herald’s Song and Push Onward to find the Titans? Not sure, but if you can think of some way to enable these under-costed bruisers, the deck could be very powerful.
Honorable Mention: Gemini Ritual. Once again, a shout out to LocoPojo for some work he has done with the card. People have also worked this into Eilyn/West Wind Herald combo style decks. Probably needs a bit of innovation to get this to the next level, but it certainly has promise.
Feln – Haunting Scream
This card has been built around in the old Screaming Weenie decks, which feel out of popularity once people figured out how good Desert Marshall was, and had enough Shift Stones to craft a set of Darudes. I am not really thinking about that kind of deck. That is a little too fair for what I am interested in. I mentioned above that Hero of the People is a combo with this card, which is true, but what about other cards outside of Feln that we could bring back? Like recurring Praxis Displacer seems like a pain. Are there other cards in other factions that work with this? I once built a Felnlysian (TPS) deck using Gorgon Swiftblade and Predatory Instinct to turn Haunting Scream into the most convoluted and disruptable version of Deathstrike you could imagine. Let’s just say the deck needed more work….
What I am most interested in is actually pairing this with cost reduction effects. If you Push Onward or Cloudsanke Harrier into an Umbren Reaper, you could recycle a deal 10 gain 5. That sounds filthy. If we are taking all of that into consideration, we would be considering all units under 6 cost in all factions, which is a very wide range, but the pay-off could be bananas. On possible combo is actually our next card which is…..
Honorable Mention: Cabal Mastermind. Card is powerful but over-costed. See Calderen Channeler comments up above.
Stonescar – Slagmite Swarm
Wow, Dire Wolf really went out of their way to make this card as bad as they could. If it cost 4, it could be hit with Haunting Scream. If it were a 5/1 or even a 4/2 it would be a lot more interesting. Even 2/4 would mean it could eat a small unit and survive, and wouldn’t be vunerable to Torch. Imagine it were even a 0/1 for 2! At least then you could combine it with Rapid Shot or Weapons on turns 3 or 4. All that being said, the text on this card is super powerful, and needs to be enabled some how. If you can it would be sweet!
Any deck playing Swarm would probably needs some number of Dark Return, Smuggler’s Stash, and probably some Rapid Shot. Combining this with Venomfang Dagger allows it to kill anything, which can grow the Swam. Obviously the 7 power, slow speed, two card, easily disruptable version of Deathstrike isn’t exactly remarkable, but in combination with Dark Retun, we could probably Killer down anything we like later in the game. I still haven’t figured out how to “cheat” with getting the Swarm to kill units outside of Killer.
Honorable mention: Stonescar Leviathan. Entomb effect seems powerful, but I wonder how often it actually represents an increase in life for the opponent. Maybe some deck that plans to devour a Leviathan into a Flambalst could be good. Seems thin though.
Those are my top picks people! Thanks for joining me. I would love to write about your crazy brews built around any of these cards. So much sweet stuff left to build with. Hope you all enjoyed! Let me know if there are any that you think I missed!
Reddit: NeonBlonde Soundcloud: Neon’s Eternal Cast