Created by Calebovitsch
Table of Contents
2. What does asynchronous drafting look like?
3. What changed from the previous draft formats
4. How to approach picking cards?
5. What should your deck look like?
6. How to play 5 the factions
7. What cards to look out for during games?
8. Any last words?
9. How to be Excellent?
This guide will be kept as current as possible with each new change to draft. There are many guides in many places, my last was on my Personal Blog. If you already know the basics, there are a lot of changes in the Archetype section (6). Also, remember to scroll down to the end – there is an excellent surprise there!
1. Foreword and forward!
Eternal Card Game is currently one of the biggest digital card games out there and is widely known as one of the best free-to-play ones. The amount of free content the developers are throwing at players is just enormous. One of the best ways of building your card collection in Eternal is just playing the game – usually either in Ranked mode or Draft mode. Given my long history with playing limited formats in Magic: the Gathering and later Arenas in Hearthstone and The Elder Scrolls: Legends, I am more familiar with the latter option.
As of writing this I have been playing Eternal since October 2018 and I have managed to free-to-play my way into the Master rank in constructed in six days and into the Master rank in draft in sixteen days. I have also managed to stay at #1 Master rank for a couple of days at the end of the so-called “set 4 drafts”. Now that Defiance (set 5) is upon us, things have been shaken up a bit. Okay – a lot! Many people – me included – are still scrambling to find the new winning strategies and to learn the game anew.
2. What does asynchronous drafting look like?
Let me tell you about the basics of drafting first. The draft is asynchronous, which means you are not drafting with other people in real time, and thus can take as much time as you need to pick your cards. You can read all of them, you can even watch a movie between picks – nobody is waiting for you to make your choices at that moment.
You will be presented with four cards packs, or rather sets of card packs. In each of those sets you will first see a whole pack – twelve cards, with one of them being a rare or – if you are lucky – a legendary, three of them being uncommons and eight being commons. You are going to pick one of those cards – it goes to your draft pool, i.e. the cards that you can later use to build your deck. Oh, and also – the card is yours. For your collection. You are welcome!
After you pick your first card you are going to see another pack, this time consisting of eleven cards. After each pick you are going to see another pack consisting of one fewer card until you pick the only card remaining. Then the second set of packs kicks in and once again you will pick one of twelve cards. Wash, rinse, repeat for four sets of packs and you will have 48 cards total, with the obvious option of adding basic Sigils to your deck as well.
Now, there are two types of packs (I will now use the term packs instead of sets of packs). Packs one and four (i.e. your picks 1 – 12 and 37 – 48) are the regular Defiance packs, just like the ones you can get in-game. Most of these packs were previously seen and drafted by other people. Picks 1 and 37 are from packs opened by you. Picks 2 and 38 are from packs opened by Person A and passed to you. Picks 3 and 39 are from packs opened by Person B, then passed to Person A and finally passed to you. Picks 4 and 40 are from packs opened by Person C, then passed to Person B, then to Person A and finally to you – etc. This means these packs are being given to you along the line of eleven other people.
Packs two and three (i.e. your picks 13 – 24 and 25 – 36), however, are the so-called curated packs – cards from sets 1 – 4 (not from the campaigns) that were chosen by the game developers to work well with the current set. You can see the whole list of cards available in the curated packs here. These packs are also given to you along the line of eleven other people, but these are not the people that gave you the Defiance packs, nor are these people the ones that you passed your Defiance packs to. Just eleven other random drafters.
There are a couple of implications of what I have written. First of all, the signals you will see in pack one will also be viable for pack four. The same goes for packs two and three, respectively. Another thing – there is no sense in cutting colors or hate-drafting like in real-time draft groups. You are not going to receive any cards from the people you passed your packs to, nor will you play against them. Well, there is a non-zero possibility of the latter happening, but you will never know. Also, each full twelve-card pack has at least one card of each color. This means if there is a color missing when you have your second pick, at least you know where the person passing you the packs is leaning towards.
3. What changed from the previous draft format?
Before Defiance was released, the draft also consisted of two packs from the most recent set (Fall of Argentport) and two curated packs, but the list of cards in the curated packs has changed a lot. Also, some of the Fall of Argentport cards went into the curated card list for Defiance drafts.
Some of the older mechanics were removed to make way for all the new goodies. There are no more Tribute, Spark, Inspire or Lifeforce mechanics (with a couple of small exceptions, mainly on some rares and legendaries). There are no more tribal synergies for Yetis, Grenadin, Radiants or Wisps. There is less common removal with the likes of Torch, Extinguish and Cut Ties being taken out from the format. This means that tricks are more relevant and that it is easier to assemble just a single big unit wielding multiple weapons.
More often than not you will draft a three or more color deck, but fortunately there is a lot of fixing to go with that. There are five three-color Token power cards and in the curated pool there are, among others, ten Banners and five color-fixing Strangers. Having a deck with one or two basic colors and a couple of splashes is very possible and viable.
Your drafts decks will also have two groups of cards that synergize with each other. Depending on your color combination it will be e.g. Empower units and ways to cheat more power cards into play (i.e. Powerbreach Sentinel) or relics and cards that are better when you have relics in play (i.e. Honeypot).
4. How to approach picking cards?
When you look at a new potential pick always take a look at the rare or legendary first – if there still is one available. These cards usually have the potential of being the biggest bombs in the game. On the other hand never skip over the remaining cards, because you might just miss that 10/10 common card that is the cornerstone of your archetype. Usually in the first picks you should focus on very powerful cards. They do not need to be in the same color – in fact, I advise you to go as wide as four colors early on. Obviously if you are thinking between two cards at a similar power level you should pick the one in your current colors, as that is the one you are more likely to end up playing.
Throughout the rest of the first pack try to read the signals that are coming your way. This means look for good cards that you are getting in picks 7 – 12. If there are multiple signals for a specific color or color combination, this means that you are probably going to get a lot from these colors later in pack four.
By the end of pack one you should have an idea of which colors are you going to play. In pack two try and pick the cards in these colors, but remember that the signals you saw previously will mean nothing in this and the next pack. The ideal situation is for you to pick cards from one main color in packs one and four, and for your second main color in packs two and three.
By the end of pack three you should have most of your deck ready. Do a final card count and unit count, take a look at your power curve. Picks from pack four should mainly smooth out your power curve and replace filler cards.
5. What should your deck look like?
By the end of the draft you should have a pool consisting of 48 cards, each and every one of them ready to be played. Let me now tell you how your end build should look like in general. There are four main tips I am going to give you and they regard power, influence, units and overall curve.
Oh! Always play a 45-card deck! No exceptions! This way you can maximize the chances of drawing the best cards from your entire draft pool. Now, let us get to the less obvious things.
When it comes to power the base line is usually 40% – by that I mean around 40% of your cards should be power cards. In a 45-card deck that equals 18 power cards. Simple? Yes, but wait – there is more to it. Some cards help you by providing more power, more influence or the other way around – can make use of any spare power you might have. You also need to remember that if you do not have a lot of influence fixing, i.e. ways of providing yourself with enough colors to play the cards you have, you might need to play more power. To sum up, just follow the math equation given below:
- If you are playing Seek Power and/or Cargo cards, you should count each as a power card, up to two.
- If you have at least three Pledge cards, you should decrease your total power count by one.
- If your power curve is low, i.e. you have less than three 5-cost cards and no 6-cost cards or higher, you should decrease your power count by one.
- If your power curve is high, i.e. you have more than three 6-cost cards or higher, you should increase your power count by one.
- If you are playing three or more colors with almost no color fixing, you should increase your power count by 1 – especially if you need double influence from all three colors.
- If you are playing at least five Amplify cards, you should increase your power count by one.
Obviously there are more scenarios than I described above, but generally the more power your cards are consuming, the higher your power base should be, and vice versa.
Influence and fixing
Fortunately there are a lot of ways to help you play even your most influence-demanding cards. In the Defiance packs you can get three-color Token power cards that are decent even if you only use two of these colors in your deck, Bannerman that give you an influence of your choice and a cycle of common cards that give you additional influence as part of their effect. There is even more fixing in the curated packs, with all ten Banners and five of the color-fixing Strangers being present. There is also Seek Power, Trail Maker and other common cards that will help you.
In the curated packs you can be presented with a common problem of whether to pick a Stranger or a Banner. The usual hierarchy is: Stranger with your main and splash color > Stranger with your two main colors > Banner with your main and splash color > Banner with your two main colors > Stranger with your splash color > Stranger with your main color. So if you were going to play Ixtun in a build that was mainly Rakano and just splashed Primal, the hierarchy would be:
There are obviously exceptions to this rule, for example if you already have a lot of 2-cost units, you might want to pick Banners higher than Strangers.
The number of influence sources for your colors should be:
- 3 – 5 for a small splash color that needs max one influence
- 5 – 7 for a medium splash color that needs up to two influence
- 7 – 11 for your main color / colors
Always include more Sigils and Pledges in the colors where you have your 1-cost units.
There is also a great web-based power calculator that can math out all of your probabilities and demystify all secrets woven by many math-magicians. Feel free to at least give it a try!
When it comes to the unit count, you should have at the very least 15 of them, more preferably 16 to 19. Obviously you should count cards that create units or turn into them as units, e.g. Araktodon Egg or Wurmstone. This leaves around 9-10 spots for attachments, spells and – if you are lucky – sites. These numbers are obviously not be-all and end-all to draft deck building, but they are a start.
Power Curve is the number of proactive cards (that means usually units and some relics) that you can play out on your turns, given you always play a Power card. Now, if your deck is aggressive, you should have two to four 1-drops (1-cost cards), six to eight 2-drops, no more 3-drops than 2-drops, no more 4-drops than 3-drops etc. If your deck is more midrange or controlling, you can go down to as few as five 1- and/or 2-drops total, five to seven 3-drops, no more 4-drops than 3-drops etc. In the Auralian (or Elysian / Xenan / Feln) relic-matter decks you can count some of the early relics as units, i.e. you can play a couple of Araktodon Eggs and count them as 1-drop units … that just need some time to grow.
6. How to play the five factions?
In the current draft format there are five main three-color combinations that focus on specific mechanics. These constitute also the main tactics of drafting in the current format. There is also an option of just going with two colors, but with one of the faction synergies in mind, i.e. going into Elysian and building on the relic-matter mechanisms of Auralian, or even going with one main color and splashing all the others.
When it comes to the tempo of the game – and your deck – there are two main ways of getting things done. One of them is going aggressive, mainly on the back of a Rakano or Skycrag base. The other – more common – is going midrange or even controlling. Given that some of the game mechanics either give you access to more power (i.e. Pledge) and others make use of that power (i.e. Amplify or Empower) you are better off with having some more explosive heavy hitters.
Now let us get to the thick of it.
Ixtun – Fire/Justice/Primal
This is the most aggresive of the Defiance factions, and the main one to go full-on aggro. The mechanic behind this faction is called Renown and it is an Ultimate-kind of keyword that triggers once when you (not the opponent) play a weapon or a spell on your Renown unit. Sometimes the cost of the weapon or spell also matters – with higher being the better. Also remember, that Amplified buff spells such as Mighty Strikes or Bottoms Up have the maximum cost on all relevant units, while Spellcraft weapons only count the cost of the weapon. This has been the easiest faction to draft for me at the beginning of this format – it has a very high density of decent-to-good quality commons, and all the two- and three-color cards are good or very good.
A good base of an aggressive Ixtun deck starts its power curve with two to four 1-drops, with Oni Ronin (aka Good Oni), Oni Samurai (aka Bad Decent Oni), Unmoored Valkyrie, Mischief Yeti and Grenadin Drone being the best of the lot. It then runs seven to nine 2-drops, some midrange units and tops its curve with the awesome Kosul Beastmaster. This color combination also has the access to most of good tricks and weapons.
Key success factors are aggressive redrawing your opening hands to contain your 1- and 2-drops and knowing when to play your tricks and when to let your units die in combat.
One last note is the 1-drops vs. Pledge units. Generally you want both kinds of units in the same color. If you have a Fire Pledge and a Justice 1-drop in hand, you either do not curve out, or lose a Pledge option.
A sample good Ixtun deck can be found here.
Kerendon – Time/Justice/Shadow
The main mechanic that gives this faction power is … Empower (badum tss!). This revolves around having units with Empower, i.e. getting buffed when you play Power cards, and cheating more Power cards in play. Both sides of the combo are important. The upside of this strategy is that when you do get flooded and keep drawing Power in the late game, each of those cards is worth something. If you do not get many power cheats you might also think of playing an additional power card in your deck.
Good cheap cards that can get you ahead are District Infantry, Araktodon Egg, Resolute Monk, Kerendon Steward and Lethrai Intimidator. Cheating more Power cards into play comes mainly in the form of the otherwise-lackluster Packbeast, Powerbreach Sentinel (aka Beach Boy), Awaken the Ages, Amaran Archaeologist, Lost Scroll, Penitent Bull, Siraf’s Beacon or the tricky Display of Vision. And on the topic of the Kerendon Display – while overall this is the weakest of Displays, it is also one of few options of cheating Empower into play mid-combat. Another one is Secret Pages, a card that in any other draft format would be long forgotten.
Key success factors are starting the beats with the early Empower units and having a very good midgame. The fact that you usually get additional Power cards into play means you can play a higher power curve and that you are less likely to draw power cards if it comes to a late game topdeck battle.
A sample good Kerendon deck can be found here.
Winchest – Fire/Justice/Shadow
The main mechanic here is just going wide, i.e. playing as many units on the board as possible and giving them all buffs. This faction also has the benefit of using cards that are lackluster to other factions, because they depend on you building your board. Notable examples are Strength of Many, Mob Rule and Blaze.
As with all two-part synergies, going wide is supported by producing a lot of cheap units via Grenadin Drone, Firemane Lioness, Scavenge or just 1- and 2-drops. Payoffs include Hordeleader, Shingane Forge, Warband Skald, Siraf’s Beacon, Rallying Banner, Lethrai Intimidator, Bear Arms, Display of Ambition, Jekk’s Choice, Mob Rule, Clan Huntcaller or the new Captain cycle.
Key success factors include doing math, which this time is for attackers. By that I mean you should know the moment when you can start attacking despite losing weak units to blockers.
A sample good Winchest deck can be found here.
Jennev – Fire/Time/Primal
In theory the main mechanic behind Jennev is Amplify, but the fact is that this is usually a ‘Big Time’ deck, i.e. ramping up via Eternity Core, Awaken the Ages and Trail Maker to play out more expensive Time units and Amplify cards.
Another card of note is Dune Painter. She reduces all your Amplify costs by 1, to a minimum of 1. The best impact of that card is honestly on the low amplify costs, such as Bottoms Up, Firemane Lioness or Iceberg Shineefinder. Reducing Amplify 2 to Amplify 1 can be just gamebreaking.
Key success factors are just having cards that are flexible and can be put to good use both early, mid or late in the game. Even if you would like to leave your Carnivorous Sauropod until you can Amplify it, playing it on curve on turn three also has a high impact on the board.
A sample good Jennev deck can be found here.
Auralian – Time/Primal/Shadow
In Auralian relics truly matter. While the relics themselves are usually underwhelming, you need to play at least a couple 2-drops such as Frost Talisman or Porcelain Mask to enable cards such as Acantha’s Outrider, Sirocco Glider, Heirloom Seeker, Consuming Greed, Lethrai Courtier, Honeypot and Tumbling Sloth. This color combination also hosts one of the most deceptively aggresive Elysian openings in Araktodon Egg into Acantha’s Outrider.
Key success factors are having a good ratio of relics to other cards and knowing how to combine all the effects and synergize them. Also, not playing a lot of otherwise-unplayable relics, just the ones that have an impact on the game.
A sample good Auralian deck can be found here.
In a format brimming with three color decks, one might think going old-school with just two colors might be a mistake. Quite the contrary. If you are able to stick to a color combination that is represented in two three-color factions, you should have enough good, synergistic cards coming your way. I think the biggest shoutouts here go to Rakano and Elysian. I have found that it is fairly easy to shake the third color off and make a good, aggresive deck in both of those factions.
Well, we have three – why not four? And the answer is: why not? Going for one more than usual should be fairly easy if a) you have a lot of influence fixing, i.e. Strangers and Banner and b) you are basing yourself in max two colors and just splashing bombs and removal from the other ones. The biggest advantage of this strategy is that you have access to more powerful cards you can put in your deck, like Displays. Just remember to cut all cheap and generic units from the splash colors and you should be fine.
Going for broke with five colors is hard to do, but it is possible. It would work just like I described in the paragraph above, just with even more Banners, Strangers and Tokens. Your two-drops should consist mostly of Strangers and these would be usually midrange or even more often controlling decks with expensive stuff to play later in the game. Just don’t include double-faction requirements in your non-main colors.
7. What cards to look out for during games?
Just a quick side note here – remember that the curated packs have twice as many cards available in them than the Defiance packs. This means that you are less likely to see the rares and legendaries from ye olden days, despite them being available.
Now, during the draft games themselves you should always have in mind all tricks the opponent might play in any given situation (especially with the current stop system, but that is another topic). Here is a list of the most impactful fast spells and ambushers from both Defiance and curated packs. And Bloodlust!
8. Any last words?
To finish this lengthy monologue I would also like to point out one obvious strategy – the so-called rare-drafting. Yes, I think you should pick that premium legendary. Even if it is not playable in constructed, you can turn it to shiftstone and craft yourself any other legendary. When a new set comes out it is well within your right to draft the cards you also want to see played in your regular decks. And, obviously, when the last picks of a pack come around and there is no card you are going to play in your deck, just picking an unplayable rare still means you are getting some additional shiftstone all for yourself. Also – remember to have fun!
I truly hope you found this wall of text useful and that it will make you better at drafting in Eternal Card Game.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can leave a comment below or you can find me on one of my streams. My current schedule can be found there in the information tab.
9. How to be Excellent?
Well, you have managed to get this far, My Dear Reader. Congratulations! As a reward, I will bestow upon you the knowledge of numbers, also called tiers or ratings. That is right, below you can find a link to a spreadsheet containing knowledge more vast than that in Vault of the Praxis. But that is not all! Not only will you find ratings for all 750+ cards – those don’t always work in a vacuum. You will also see ratings of those cards inside the specific three-color factions! For now – enjoy! You will thank me later.
A couple of notes. Given that drafting experiences may vary, these are just my personal thoughts about the power level of cards. I have not weighed the (sometimes massive) influence requirements because if you are to open a 10-rated card in your first pack, you will most probably just take it and try to work it into your deck (or your deck around it). If you open it in your second pack, you will probably still be flexible enough to include it. Packs 3 and 4 are more problematic and you might have to pass a Xo if you open him in pack 4 while playing Auralian (especially if you are playing to win and not legendary drafting). Although remember – that card is still powerful.
Also, please remember that these numbers are not be-all and end-all of making good drafting choices. You should have the final build of your deck in mind when choosing cards. If you are lacking 2-drops you are better off getting a 2-cost unit rated a 4 than another 4-cost unit rated a 7. Also – especially in the beginning – you will be presented with a lot of choices between cards with similar power level. My advice is usually to go either with the lesser influence requirement or just with your personal preference.
Quick rating reference guide:
2 – Borderline playable or playable in the Market (if you have one), e.g. Mass Entomancy
6 – Good cards, e.g. Fireheart Recruit