Created by Calebovitsch
Table of Contents
1. Foreword and forward
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. How to be Excellent
9. Any last words?
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”. In December 2018 Defiance (set 5) was unleashed upon us and things have been shaken up a bit. Okay – a lot! That is not the end of this story, though, as in early April 2019 – after the release of the Homecoming campaign – the draft metagame was changed even further into what I call Set 5.5 drafts or Homecoming drafts! Let me dig into that right now.
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 co-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. 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), are the regular Defiance packs, just like the ones you can get in-game. These packs are also given to you along the line of eleven other people, but these are not the people who gave you the curated packs, nor are these people the ones that you passed your curated 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 the Homecoming campaign was released, the draft also consisted of two packs from the most recent set (Defiance) and two curated packs, but the list of cards in the curated packs has changed a lot.
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). Although in Defiance drafts there were no more tribal synergies for Yetis, Grenadin, Radiants or Wisps, Homecoming drafts re-introduced some of these or other tribal synergies. Given that 267 cards were removed from the curated pool and 147 other were re-introduced to it, these are not the only changes.
The first and biggest difference that everybody saw was the absence of color-fixing Strangers. Given that we got back only the likes of Veteran Strategist, Common Cause and Diplomatic Seal – with only the first one actually being worth anything – it is going to be more difficult to successfully draft enough fixing to run smooth three- and four-color decks and you should honestly tone it down to running just two- to three-color decks.
This also means that the remaining color fixing is of more importance now, and should be picked higher! In Defiance I usually said that you needed at least five Strangers / Banners / Tokens / Bannermen in your colors to successfully run a three-color deck. Now that the Strangers are gone it will be much more difficult to get this amount of fixing. I also value Tokens much higher now, even if they are to be just bad Banners, i.e. if they are just used for two of their three colors.
Other changes include fewer good early game units being available, removal of a ton of Spellcraft weapons, the inclusion of Yeti, Gunslinger, Dinosaur, Sentinel and Explorer tribal synergies and more – all of which you can read about in my Homecoming Draft Primer.
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 three 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 some 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 some more fixing in the curated packs, with all ten Banners being present, alongside Seek Power, Veteran Strategist, Trail Maker and other cards that will help you.
In the curated packs you can be presented with a common problem of which Banner to choose. The usual hierarchy is: Banner with your main and splash color > Banner with your two main colors. This was more difficult back in Defiance drafts, when there were also common Strangers in the mix, but right now it is usually quite straight-forward.
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 Lethrai Hideaway. 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. What are the main archetypes?
The Defiance draft format had five main factions and thus five main strategies you could build your deck around. Going into non-sanctioned three color combinations usually meant you were sacrificing some of the consistencies and/or synergies that were available. One of the main messages from the developers of Eternal was that for Homecoming drafts they have added new synergies to the curated packs themselves, mainly Nightfall synergies and tribal synergies, i.e. synergies for unit types such as Yetis, Gunslingers, Sentinels, Dinosaurs and Explorers.
The Nightfall synergy part was a bit of a reach, to be honest. While there are cards like Rindra, the Duskblade, Agile Deathjaw, Darkclaw Ravager and also Entrapment for an anti-synergy … that is about it! Unless you count Inspire units such as Dusk Raider as Nightfall synergies – then you have … a couple more. As for the tribal synergies – they are present, to some extent. As one might suspect, Yetis are in Primal and Fire, Gunslingers are in Fire, Shadow and Justice, Explorers are in Time, Primal and even Fire and Shadow, Dinosaurs are in Time, Primal and Shadow and Sentinels are in Time and Fire. The highest number of these synergy cards are just Ally and Bond units, but there are some other boosts in there as well. The biggest problem here is with Justice, as it only has access to Gunslingers and does not provide any other tribes, while for example Time has Sentinels, Dinosaurs and Explorers and Fire has everything except for Dinosaurs.
So, here is where most people have a problem with the Homecoming draft format while I think it actually makes the format more interesting than the previous one. There are tribal synergies in the curated packs. There are three-color synergies in the Defiance packs. There are almost no synergies between Defiance and curated packs. Do not get me wrong, though. If you have a Serene Excavator you can pick up Sentinels in Defiance packs, and there are a couple of Empower cards in the curated packs. It is just that in Defiance you only had your five three-color synergies. Now in addition you have four more tribal synergies (as Explorers usually go with Sentinels or Dinosaurs). This increased diversity also means that you can safely go into other three-color combinations than the ones sanctioned in Defiance.
Now let us get to the thick of it. Below I will describe the five Defiance tri-color archetypes, the four synergistic tribes and a couple of other options.
Ixtun – Fire/Justice/Primal
This is the most aggressive 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 faction used to be easy to draft at the beginning of the Defiance format, but now in Homecoming there are fewer good early drops (goodbye Oni Ronin, Grenarender, District Infantry, Crownwatch Paladin and Tranquil Scholar) and fewer good weapons (goodbye Ruination Sledge, Welding Torch, Peacekeeper’s Helm, Copperhall Cudgel and Changeestik), which makes it a little more difficult.
A good base of an aggressive Ixtun deck starts its power curve with two to four 1-drops, with Oni Samurai, 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 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, 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. This archetype also synergizes well with the Gunslingers one, as the latter is also in these colors’ combination.
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. Jennev also benefits from most Sentinel, Dinosaur and Explorer synergies being in these colors.
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 aggressive 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 apply their synergies. 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.
The first and most aggressive of the tribal synergies I would like to talk about are Yetis. These little critters hail from Primal and Fire, with Yeti decks in general being usually Primal-heavy. Aside from these two colors you can safely splash one other, which for me was usually either Justice for some fast spell tricks like Barrel Through or Finest Hour or Shadow for removal in the likes of Extinguish and Mob Rule.
The synergies themselves come from the curated packs alone, but you can pick up some Mischief Yetis, Iceberg Shineefinders and an occasional Chunk Chunk from the Defiance packs as well as other Yeti units. As for the synergistic cards themselves, they are – in their relative rating order – Iceberg Warchief, Jotun Punter, Slope Sergeant, Yeti Windflyer and Slushdumper, as well as a couple of rares and legendaries.
Key success factors are being aggressive and pushing through for as much damage as possible while also keeping a lower curve. Once you take control of the early game and keep the opponent on the defensive, it usually takes one well-played card to finish the job.
A sample good Yeti deck can be found here.
Gunslingers can be found in the Fire, Justice and Shadow colors – the same ones as the Winchest go wide strategy. To be honest you can treat them as a sub-section of the Winchest archetype, as the synergies here are in my opinion the weakest among the four main tribes (Explorers are just a support for two other factions). Also please note the fact, that Justice has only one tribe synergy going for them and that is the abovementioned Gunslingers.
The biggest synergy card are the rare Hotbarrel Revolver and Hideout Pistol, both being weapons and decent removal in one, but among the commons you can also find Steady Marshal, First-Shot Rioter, Final-Shot Rioter and Triggerman.
Key success factors are similar to those of the Winchest faction, although you can also make a decent Gunslinger deck by using two of the main Justice/Fire/Shadow factions and just splashing either Time or Primal. A sample good deck is also similar to the abovementioned Winchest one, with just a substitution of some of the units for the abovementioned more synergistic Gunslingers.
Sentinels / Explorers
The Sentinels and Explorers tend to go well together as their synergies might suggest. They appear mainly in Fire and Time and are easily meshed into a subtype of a Jennev deck, but you can as well ditch Primal for another third color, such as Justice (for tricks) or Shadow (for removal).
The main synergy cards here are (in no particular order) Temple Raider, Gear Master, Serene Excavator, Timeworn Sentinel, Intriguing Ancient, Ancient Defenses, Amaran Shoveler and Scourstone Sentinel. Also please remember that there are some good Sentinels in the Defiance packs as well – Surveilor, Ancient Excavator, Infused Guardian, Moonstone Vanguard, Powerbreach Sentinel and Stoneshell Walker! From among these Surveilor plays an interesting role – because it’s Attack is higher than it’s power cost, it actually can ramp out Scourstone Sentinels that much faster!
Key success factors are building an early defense and winning later on via big Time dudes! If you can get your hands on some more Scourstone Sentinels remember that playing one off another costs just two power and can lead to some serious boardstate swings!
A sample good Sentinel / Explorer deck can be found here.
Dinosaurs / Explorers
You know what else goes well with Explorers? Dinosaurs! These can be found mostly in Time and Primal, with some creeping in the Shadows as well. Despite its Auralian color similarities, the actual theme of this deck is usually more up Jennev’s alley.
There are a lot of synergies with these two tribes, but most of them are just not worth it. The notables include Evelina, Horizon Seeker, Scaletender, Fishing Dinoch, Foraging Sauropod, Bellowing Thunderfoot and Surveying Mantasaur.
Key success factors are similar to those for the previous synergy – going for big units and building body advantage on the battlefield. The main difference is that here you go for Elysian instead of Praxis as your main color combination.
A sample good Dinosaur / Explorer deck can be found here.
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. Banners or Tokens 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 very hard to do, but it is possible. It would work just like I described in the paragraph above, just with even more Banners and Tokens. You should usually focus on two main colors and splash the others, with most of your units coming from them. These decks are usually defensive and controlling, with a lot of bombs, tricks and removal splashed into them. Just try not to include cards with 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. 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 630+ cards – those don’t always work in a vacuum. Aside from the general ratings I have put them also in context, with the tribal synergies and three-color factions characteristics, i.e. going for Relics, going big, going fast, going wide, and Empower in mind! 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 3 while playing Auralian (especially if you are playing to win and not legendary drafting). Although remember – that card is still powerful.This means that while you may have some 10s in your draft pool and be playing the colors of your bombs, it does not always mean you are going to play that card. If it is in a splash color and has a triple color requirement, you might want to cut it. In other situations, you might end up splashing for some double-influence cards with ease. This is very case dependent.
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:
1 – Unplayable, e.g. Borrowed Violence
2 – Borderline playable or playable in the Market (if you have one), e.g. Mass Entomancy
3 – Worse filler that might end up in your deck, e.g. Runic Protector
6 – Good cards, e.g. Fireheart Recruit
7 – Very good cards, e.g. Locust
8 – Great cards, e.g. Araktodon Egg
9. 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.