Today I’m going to write a different kind of article that’s not about Magic, but Eternal. Believe it or not, from time to time I play other games than Magic as a way to relax, or a to kill time when Magic is too inconvenient—say at a train or bus, for example.
What is Eternal?
Eternal is a new online card game created by Direwolf, a gang of bright minds from Magic’s pro scene, which also created The Elder Scrolls: Legends. The easiest way to describe Eternal is a crossover between Magic and Hearthstone. It has kept the deep skillful gameplay of Magic, while making it smoother and faster to play, similar to Hearthstone. You can download it here to both mobile and computer devices for free!
Why is Eternal Great? Why Should I Play It?
- The game is just great. I was hooked immediately when I first tried it back in Beta testing. Eternal is incredibly smooth and crystal clear. Eternal is very similar to Magic, but like Hearthstone, it skipped different phases and priorities besides ending your turn and combat, with a few exceptions for fast spells (instants) or creatures with ambush (similar to flash). The smooth gameplay lets you play your games faster, even though you may play a game with the same amount of turns as a game of Magic.
- It’s convenient in the way you can choose exactly how much time you want to spend playing it each time, without locking yourself down for one game at a time. Whatever mode you are playing, you can stop in the middle of it whether it’s in ranked mode or even in the middle of a draft pick!
- There are way fewer ways to fizzle!
- You’re a Magic player. I mean, you are reading my articles after all! And since you are a Magic player, you will learn this far quicker than anybody else and will enjoy the gameplay you’ve learned to love from Magic in Eternal.
Quick rules that differentiate Eternal from Magic:
- Together with power cards, units, spells, relics, etc. you construct a deck of minimum 75 cards and a maximum of 4 of the same card.
- You win by reducing your opponent’s life down to 0, starting at 25, or at the end of the turn when they have no cards in their deck.
- The different rarities of cards are common, uncommon, rare, promo, and legendary.
- Whenever you draw your opening hand of 7 cards, you may redraw or keep. If you redraw, you get a new hand with between two and four power (land) cards. You may then take one more redraw, where you only draw 6 cards, again with two, three, or four power guaranteed in that hand.
Collection and Resources
Similar to Hearthstone, there’s gold that you use for entering game modes and buying booster packs and shiftstone (dust), which you use for creating new cards you don’t have. You receive shiftstone from deconstructing cards you don’t need.
There are daily quests where you get different kind of chests that, depending how premium they are, give you everything from gold, cards, or even booster packs. Whenever you open a chest, you have a small chance of opening a better chest within that same chest. Each game mode gives you different rewards to boost your collection, which I will go through for each game mode.
The Different Types of Cards
Eternal, like Magic, has five different colors of mana, each one being a different faction. In addition to single factioned cards there are multifaction cards, which are basically multicolored cards. The different factions are:
White = Time
Blue = Primal
Black = Shadow
Red = Fire
Green = Justice
Instead of lands, there are “power” cards that create mana. Each power card played increases the amount of mana you can use each turn. The color of the power card adds to the total color (influence) pool which makes you eligible to cast cards. Once you’ve met the color requirements of a card, the card is basically colorless. For example, you’ve been missing on your red mana and have only drawn three white mana, stranding you with four red cards that all require one red power to cast and 1 mana to cast. If you draw that red sigil, you can cast all of those cards the same turn since you’ve met the requirement for the cards to be cast, while in Magic, you could only cast one of them.
Attachments are relics, relic weapons, curses, and weapons. Curses are a harmful aura you put on your opponent’s creatures, like a pacifism.
Spells, Fast Spells, Units
Spells are sorceries, fast spells are instants, and units are creatures. Fast spells are almost exactly the same as instants in Magic. They can be played on your turn, pre- and post-combat, when your opponent attacks, after blockers before damage, at end of your opponent’s turn, and in response to abilities that target you or your units as well as fast spells and spells. But relics, weapons, relic weapons, units, and power cards doesn’t give you priority, meaning you cannot respond to them.
With Eternal being a digital game, no judges or staff are needed for a game to played versus each other. A lot more possibilities open up for new abilities and the way the game works. For example, whenever a creature is returned to your hand in Magic, all of its previous keywords, buffs, etc. are removed, since when it changes zones in Magic you can’t for sure know that it’s the same creature. In Eternal, the game remembers, which is an exciting tool being used well by its designers, which you will see from some of these keywords.
This means that the unit is flying or unblockable, duh!
This is an enters-the-battlefield trigger.
Since you don’t tap lands for mana in Eternal, whenever you play an “x spell” it empties your remaining power and makes x that amount.
Transmute means that when you reach a certain amount of maximum power, this card becomes something else.
Whenever a unit or weapon attacks with warcry, it increases the stats of the top relic weapon, weapon, or unit for that amount.
Trample! But even damaging spells and relic weapons can overwhelm in Eternal!
You can play warp cards from the top of your library as if they were in your hand. Value!
Entomb triggers whenever this permanent goes to the graveyard.
Quickdraw means first strike, but it’s only applied when attacking.
This permanent has to attack every turn.
This card gets an additional effect whenever you deal your opponent damage this turn.
A unit with killer can exhaust (basically tap) to attack another unit directly, like fight. But killer can only be used once as long as it doesn’t change zones, such as going to the graveyard and being returned or bounced to your hand.
Some cards stun units. A unit that’s stunned is exhausted until their turn after this one, meaning it can’t attack or block.
A unit with endurance readies at the beginning of every turn and can’t be exhausted or stunned by spells or abilities. Think vigilance with a cherry on top!
Remember that a unit is exhausted whenever it attacks or blocks, which is relevant for some units, to use their abilities that cause them to exhaust or spells that affect exhausted units.
Silence removes all text from a unit, but the bonuses from a weapon or for example warcry aren’t removed.
Whenever a card with echo is drawn, it creates an exact copy of it and adds it to your hand.
To get additional mileage from echo, manipulating your hand and library with Brainstorm-type effects can create a lot of value.
A creature with ambush can be played as if it was a fast spell. This is extra powerful when it comes to a unit since you can’t respond to units with fast spells, meaning that you cannot stop it, from, say, blocking a relic weapon attacking an important creature or a big attacker. It can be killed before damage, but then the unit or your life total is protected—at least for a turn!
An ability that triggers whenever you gain life.
Whenever this card is drawn, even in your opening hand, it gets revealed and the fate ability triggers. You can create additional value from cards with fate in the same way as echo.
Whenever you draw this card, you play it for free!
Ultimate is a triggered or activated ability that can only be used once as long as the card doesn’t change zones. These are usually great mana sinks, with a decent unit that has an expensive ultimate ability.
Aegis is a protective shield against any type of negative effect that occurs to it, but is broken after it’s targeted once. Aegis is a great way to protect your buffs or weapons.
Whenever something with revenge goes to the graveyard, instead you put it somewhere in the top 10 cards at random and it loses revenge, but gains destiny. Quite the powerful ability!
Whenever you play this card, you can exhaust one of your units to gain its ability.
Infiltrate triggers whenever this card deals combat damage to an opponent but can only trigger once unless it changes zones.
Merchants allow you to swap one card from your hand with a card in your Market, which is a selection of five different cards you chose before the game started. Your Market functions similarly to a sideboard, except that you can access it during any game as long as you draw a Merchant. There is one Merchant in each faction.
Campaign versus AI
Starting off, you get to play the campaign. You get to battle against a premade deck of each color, and after defeating them you get a premade deck for each color you defeat. I recommend you start out by doing this to kick start your collection.
Gauntlet versus AI
In the gauntlet, you get to use whatever Constructed deck you have to battle against the AI. You get to battle against different premade decks, up to seven matches until you lose once. The seventh match is against the final boss, which usually shakes up the game rules to benefit the AI’s deck and can lead to some pretty exciting games. The more matches you win before you lose, maybe even all seven, the better the rewards. This might be the best way to grind gold for a collection since this game mode is free to play!
Forge versus AI
Forge is similar to Hearthstone’s Arena and costs 2,500 gold. You make 25 picks where each pick is between three different random cards of the same rarity chosen. After you’ve grabbed a card of a second color, you will only receive cards for those two colors. Once done, you deck will automatically fill with power distributed depending on your faction according to an algorithm. Forge is a good way to hone your card evaluation against an AI before jumping into draft.
Casual and Ranked versus Players
Here you can either climb the ladder in ranked play with your Constructed deck through the leagues or play casual with your Constructed deck. The ladder has different leagues and a master leader board, making this mode able to net you free chests for game wins as well as bragging rights.
Draft versus Players
As many of you already know, drafting is where I’m at when it comes to Magic, and Eternal is no different. The draft mode is built to enchance convenience while maintaining the illusion of drafting against other players.
A draft costs 5,000 gold, which is a steep price, but you get to keep every card you draft, as well as some potential great rewards. Once you’re finished with the draft portion, you can play up to a maximum of seven matches, similar to the gauntlet, but after three losses, you claim your rewards at your current record.
You draft four packs with 15 cards in each pack.
After you first pick a card in the first pack, your remaining pack is saved in a database to later be used as the second pick for another player that plays at a later time. That means that you will receive packs from the same person in pack 1 and 3 and another person in pack 2 and 4, creating a virtual enormous circle of you drafting beside other people, since the person sending their pack to you also gets a pack from another person that picked a card out of a pack saved in the database and so on.
Drafting this way is brilliant. Since you’re drafting next to a big circle of people and not against AI, your draft skills of reading signals and adjusting to a Magic Draft will help you draft your seat the best way possible. But since your neighbor’s packs are saved in a database, ready to be sent as soon as you made your pick, you have not only infinite time to make your pick, but you can quit the program in the middle of a draft and continue whenever you wish. The convenience of drafting in Eternal lets me draft whenever I wish, whether I only have 5 minutes before the bus or even sitting in the bathroom! Great, great, great!
Here’s a deck I played frequently in Ranked constructed.
Some tips and tricks to gain an edge:
Remember that your Constructed deck won’t have a sideboard. The more reactive your deck, the greater the range of reactive cards you have to play. For example, ways to kill attachments, similar to having disenchants in your deck in Magic, will be important since you have no way of dealing with them as a sideboard option. This means that reactive decks has to dilute their decks more with situational cards to protect themselves from such situations. If you are more proactive, this is less of a problem because you try to enable your game plan as well as possible, meaning that you will have to care less the faster you are since there’s a higher chance you will defeat them before those type of cards are enabled.
By playing, you learn how you use your fast spells, especially removal spells and bounce spells. Since you can’t respond to a weapon or unit, sometimes it’s correct to use a torch to kill a 3/3 on your turn instead of waiting for them to make a move. If they have that weapon to make it bigger, all of a sudden, your torch is ineffective and that easily-dealt-with creature crushes you. But against other decks, they may have fast spells and removal to change the outcome of a combat, meaning it’s better to save your removal spell for a such a situation. Knowing the metagame and your opponent’s deck will help you perfect your timing and increase your win rate by a significant margin.
Good luck, and I’ll see you on the ladder!
Disclaimer: This article appears as part of a paid promotional campaign from Dire Wolf Digital. Further, our Vice President, Luis Scott-Vargas, works as a senior designer on Eternal.