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. What are the main strategies and synergies?
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 at multiple occasions and sprinted to the Master rank in May 2019 in 6 hours 14 minutes. That is the Eternal resume of the person who is going to tell you all about Trails of Grodov drafts otherwise known as Set 6.5 drafts.
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 forty eight 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 regular Dark Frontier 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), are the so-called curated packs – cards from sets 1 – 5 (not from the campaigns) that were chosen by the game developers to work well with the current set. These packs are also given to you along the line of eleven other people, but these are not the people who gave you the Dark Frontier packs, nor are these people the ones that you passed your Dark Frontier 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 probability 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?
With the release of the Trails of Grodov mini-expansion, the developers of the game changed the curated pool dramatically. That change made a huge difference on what decks are being played. If you had been playing a lot of the Dark Frontier drafts or 6.0 drafts I will try to go over what is different in the Trails of Grodov drafts or 6.5 drafts (the name is here because of when the change to the format was made, there are no Trails of Grodov cards in the format, though – as is the case with all the campaigns, mini-expansions and promos).
The curated packs from the Dark Frontier format had been summarized as the worst in terms of card quality by many drafters. They had a ton of low value commons with a small variety, most of which were bad, vanilla units like Pyre Adept or Pit Fighter, with a ton of unplayable uncommons to follow that up, too. It was a format where I had to play a Direwood Rampager as a filler unit in my deck much more often than I would like to, for my sanity’s sake. All of this lead drafters to have a low amount of playable cards available in your two colors.
Not all of the 1/10 and 2/10 cards have been removed from this part of the pool, but one can see a vast improvement, anyway! Instead of Iceberg Frontrunner you get Grenadin Drone. Out with Excavation Assistant, in with Crested Runt. Goodbye Silverwing Familiar, hello Copperhall Cudgel. The list of improvements in the quality department is a mile long. All of this leads to drafters having an overabundance of playable cards after the drafting portion, which usually leads to many interesting decisions to be made during the deck building process as well.
The biggest thing people see when they go through the updated list of the cards in curated packs, though, is the overabundance of influence fixing we have received. Instead of ten uncommon Seats in the curated packs we now get ten common Banners, ten common Strangers, five common Tokens and a Bannerman to boot. This changed packs two and three from being lackluster to give you the sensation of And which colors will we be splashing today? Yes, the overabundance of influence fixing – if you manage to grab it, of course – is what changes the draft format the most. Just two colors? Puh-lease! Instead why don’t we grab all the good cards that we can get – color be damned – and just find some fixers along the way in weaker packs.
Right now you can easily draft a deck with one or two main colors and splash singular cards from all the other colors, sometimes even without having to put basic Sigils in those colors into your deck! Another option is that you can play a three-color deck with a double requirement in all the colors without much hassle – you just have to remember to pick at least five pieces of fixing on your way home.
Speaking of the color-fixing Strangers, there is another implication of having them en masse in the curated pool. Everybody has access to 2/2 factionless units for two power. That means this is the new norm – both players playing a 2/2 on turn two. It might not seem like a lot, but it changes the values of some of the cards by a lot. It is more difficult to charge out with Censari Dervish on turn three into a 2/2 wall. The 2/3 units you might get have an upper hand all the time.
In the Dark Frontier packs we have some themes and abilities from older sets, like Warp, Scout, alongside spell-matter and armor-matter cards. There are also three new mechanics in Dark Frontier:
- Twist is a unit-specific ability that lets you pay a certain amount of power and give a unit +1/-1 permanently in order to produce a specific effect. It is present on twenty four units.
- Onslaught is something similar to what we have seen in the previous sets in the Spark ability. This one produces a one-time effect when you play the card if you or at least one of your units attacked this turn (this includes using the Killer ability, as it is considered attacking). Onslaught is present on forty five cards.
- Shift is an ability that appears on units as an alternative way to play the card. If you have the required influence you may pay the Shift cost instead of the regular power cost. Shifted units cannot attack, block or be selected until they emerge – which they do after three turns. They also gain Unblockable for the turn in which they emerge. There are some cards that interact with your or the opponent’s Shifted units or benefit if you have any Shifted units. Some units also produce an additional effect when you Shift them. Yes, this is the most convoluted of the three new keywords.
With the new curated card pool a lot more old mechanics came back. In Dark Frontier drafts the developers of Eternal went in with a slightly subdued approach and just fed us some necessary mechanics in a larger quantity. All cards with Scout were there, all cards that gave you additional Armor were there etc. Right now the things might be a bit more overwhelming to some of the newer players, because we also have Pledge, Renown, Empower, Amplify, Lifeforce, Tribute, … All of this also means that the synergies that glued our decks together are partly replaced by cards that are powerful on their own.
I will talk about current strategies and synergies later in the guide.
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 is one still 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 color or 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 or two main color in packs one and four, but be open to other possibilities 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 forty eight 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 forty five 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 forty five card deck that equals eighteen 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.
- If you have at least five Scout effects that cost one or two power, you should decrease your 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 influence fixing, you should increase your power count by one – especially if you need double influence from all three colors.
- If you have at least three Pledge units, you should decrease your total power count by one.
- If you have a lot of power sinks, i.e. effects that make you use your power over and over or Amplify cards or you have a lot of looting effects, i.e. effects that let you draw and discard cards, you should increase your power count by one – as you will either be spending or discarding your excessive power.
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 the most influence-demanding cards. Although there are only five Insignias in the Dark Frontier packs, the curated packs offer you a plethora of ten common Banners, ten common Strangers, five common Tokens, a Seek Power and a Bannerman to boot, with five Cargos and ten Crests in the rare slots as well. If you are playing Time you also have the option to pick up Trail Maker, Learned Herbalist and Bulbous Humbug.
In the curated packs you can be presented with a common problem of whether to pick a Stranger, a Banner or a Token. Which one to choose? Let me explain.
Usually you want to get a dual card with your main and splash color, that is more preferable than having a dual card in your two main colors. This way you might not need to get any basic Sigils from the splash color, which is the preferred way to go with splashing. Tokens are worse than Banners if you are using them for just two colors, but if they are fully unlocked for your deck than they are at a similar level of quality. Another implication of going more than the usual two colors is that Insignias will usually be just worse than Banners right now, and their value decreases … slightly. It is the other way around for Seek Power – that card was not necessary for the success of your two-color deck in Dark Frontier drafts, but now it comes back to its Defiance draft format glory days.
Let me give you an example. You are playing a Fire-Justice deck that splashes four Primal cards. You are presented with a pack of all the fixing options. The value of particular cards should be something like this:
Seek Power > Ixtun Cargo > Hooru Stranger / Skycrag Stranger > Token of Honor > Crest of Fury / Crest of Order > Hooru Banner / Skycrag Banner > Bannerman > Rakano Stranger > Crest of Glory > Rakano Banner > Jennev Cargo / Winchest Cargo > Token of Ambition / Token of Instinct > all other non-Xenan Strangers
When you are figuring out your power requirements, remember that 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
There is a fringe case to be made for the Dark Frontier cycle of quintuple-influence legendaries with Warp, i.e. Ghodan, Undefeated, Xumucan, the Surveyor, Sediti, the Killing Steel, Rost, the Walking Glacier and Tasbu, the Forbidden. Their requirements are very restrictive and unless you are running a lot of sources of that color, you might be in trouble. To use statistics – if you are running 10 Shadow Sigils and a Tasbu, you have a 4% chance of being able to play him on turn 5, a 10% chance of playing him on turn 7 and 23% chance of playing him on turn 10. Let me roll out the math even more:
- with 11 sources these numbers rise to 7%, 15% and 32%, respectively,
- 12 sources – 11% / 21% / 42%
- 13 sources – 15% / 28% / 52%
- 14 sources – 20% / 36% / 62%
- 15 sources – 26% / 44% / 70%
- 16 sources – 32% / 52% / 77%
- 17 sources – 39% / 60% / 83%
- 18 sources – 46% / 67% / 88%
The addition of all the Banners and Strangers makes this equation a lot easier on yourself, though. If you are lucky enough to open one of these cards in the first pack just remember to pick all the multi-faction power sources that include this particular color. You should even pick up all the Strangers that support this color, even if you are not using the second one.
There is also the matter of the Coins cycle. While the Amethyst Coin is pretty bad in most decks, the other four are quite good on their own. I go even a step further and say that you can play a max of two off-color Coins in your deck and treat them as half a power card each if you are running a two-color or a three-color deck with enough influence fixing. For example, you might want to run two Cobalt Coins in a defensive Xenan deck with a lot of beefy units, just to make your opponent’s medium-sized units run into yours during a ground stall. Obviously you should be running Coins when they are on-color – and remember that they are great to splash a color with – but remember not to have too many, otherwise you could get behind on tempo – and you need that tempo to trigger the Coins’ Onslaught abilities!
Please remember that there is 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 fifteen of them, more preferably sixteen to nineteen. It occurs more often than not that you might get a very low unit count if you do not pay attention to your card pool while drafting and I have played a couple of decks with fewer than fifteen units. Also do not go higher than twenty units as it is better to have some tricks or even weak warp cards than an overabundance of mediocre units.
Obviously you should count cards that create units or turn into them as units, e.g. Manufacture. This leaves around nine to ten 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.
There is also a side outcome of having tons of influence fixing Strangers en masse in the curated pool. Everybody has access to 2/2 factionless units for two power. That means this is the new norm – both players playing a 2/2 on turn two. It might not seem like a lot, but it changes the values of some of the cards by a lot. It is more difficult to charge out with Censari Dervish on turn three into a 2/2 wall. The 2/3 units you might get have an upper hand all the time.
Another thing – if you have too many 2-drops and they all show up as your only plays, you will just have to scoop to a Corrupted Behemoth or even an Awakened Sentinel if you do not have anything to back the small guys up.
Power Curve is the number of proactive cards (that means usually units) 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. Remember that if your curve is lower you can get away with playing one fewer power card and if it is higher you will have to play one more power card. Also remember that units with Shift have usually two different costs and should be treated for your curve as both.
6. What are the main strategies and synergies?
The Defiance draft format had five main three-faction strategies which you would usually build your deck around. Homecoming draft format added some tribal synergies with Gunslingers, Yetis, Sentinels, Dinosaurs and Explorers mattering more. In Dark Frontier you chose two colors max and prayed you got some at least half-decent cards in the curated packs. Right now things look different, but also the same… Let me explain.
Think back to the times where you just picked the best cards in any colors and added abundant influence fixing. Three-, four- and even five-faction decks are possible right now and that has a couple of implications. In general you should go for the most powerful cards early on and do not look at the influence too closely – you can sort it out later. Literally later, because in packs two and three if there are no true bombs, you should hoard up on Strangers, Banners and other fixers. Even if you have a choice between a card that you will not play and an on-color off-color Banner, you should go for the Banner. I do not mean that you should gun for playing all the colors, but that it is a possibility. It is obviously much safer to go a three-faction route.
You should also forget your previous biases against some cards, as Dark Frontier (and all synergies held within) shines a new light on previously unplayable things, even as mind-numbingly awful as Staff of the Arch-Magister. On the other hand there are much fewer relic-matter cards right now, which makes many previously fringe-playable things such as Porcelain Mask straight-out bad. There are also a lot of 1-health units (especially if you Twist them too much) and ways of dealing with them.
Now for the mechanics and synergies themselves, I will start with a couple that we already know. Warp has been with us almost since the beginning, but now it is more present than ever as far as drafts are concerned. What started as a straight-out Praxis mechanic is now available for all factions. The obvious thing about these cards that you can play straight from the top of your deck is that they usually cost about one power more than if they did not have Warp. If they are overcosted by more than that, i.e. Winnow or Hold Under, they are usually not really playable. If you are really low on playables or you need / want to go mono color, you might consider playing some lower cost, almost meaningless Warp tricks as filler, e.g. Heist or Brenn’s Scrying.
There are some cards that synergize with the Warp mechanic itself, but they are few and far between. The best known from these is Cloudsnake Matriarch – a Primal flier with good stats that would have been playable even without its abilities. There are two more Warp payoffs, i.e. Ancient Clocktower, which makes all your Warped units much bigger and Terror on the Mountain, which stuns a unit each time you Warp. Workshop Forge and Trickster Mage make your Warp cards cheaper, but that is usually too much setup for what it is worth.
One more curated card is worth a mention here. Nesting Avisaur puts one of your cards on top of your deck. While usually that is just card disadvantage and would be considered a large drawback, that drawback is neutralized if you can Warp said card from the top of your deck without losing a card draw.
Scout is a well-known and liked mechanic that allows you to filter through your deck. Prior to this draft format it was used just for that, with an after-thought that Scouting a card to the bottom of your deck half the time means you are not drawing a dead card half the time, thus drawing a card that was deeper a turn ahead. Long story short, it is usually treated as drawing half a card. Kind of. Sort of.
Aside from the obvious benefits of Scouting, Dark Frontier brought also a couple of payoff cards in Fire and Primal for when you Scout. The best two are Clodagh, Loyal Advisor and Peaktop Trekker – both grow permanently each time you Scout. If you combine it with machine-gun Scouting from Blureechaser and other repeatable sources, you got some real killing machines. Clan Barracks offers a good way of building a control Skycrag Scout deck as well. The other Scout payoffs are Needlespitter, Zuberi’s Longbow, Spy Glass and Murderous Flock.
It is very difficult to build a Scout deck per se. You would need at least three or four of the bigger payoff cards, but even then it is just an added bonus to decks that should be functioning otherwise. To sum up – there are some smaller or bigger synergies, but I would not call any of them build-arounds, as usually the cards with Scout are good on their own and you would be including them in your deck anyway. Obviously as far as the multi-payoff cards like Peaktop Trekker go – the more Scout cards you have in your deck, the higher the value of the Trekker is.
Twist is a new and very interesting mechanic that has a couple of implications on the draft play. First of all, Twisting your units always produces beneficial effects which are good on their own. Next you have a way of sinking your excess power into gameplay situations, meaning you will not go wrong with having more power (a bit similar to Amplify in Defiance drafts). Last, but not least, it presence of this mechanic changes the value of cards that enable Twisting your units additional times, from great global buffs like Xenan Obelisk, Horn of Plenty or even Snowfort to previously garbage-tier cards like Crystal Dirk. Some of the newer cards also enable extra Twist uses, e.g. Aggressive Ursine, Arcanum Elite, Furnish, Withering Touch or the very re-usable Scarecrow.
There are a lot of implications for Twist units even being in the game. The biggest one is that people want to maximize their Twist usage and do something I call overtwisting, i.e. leaving those units at one health. That, alongside many other good or decent units having just one health, means that cards dealing one damage are much better in Dark Frontier drafts – I mean things like Granite Coin should find their way into your deck.
There is only one card that specifically interacts with the Twist mechanic and that is Stained Honor (not Horror). Paying one less for Twisting your units is not a game-changer … which means that a Twist deck is honestly just having some decent units with this ability (as most of them are good anyway) and ways of buffing their health.
As I have mentioned previously, Shift is an alternative way of playing units by paying the cost specified on the card (you still need to meet the influence requirements, though). Shifted units appear on the battlefield but cannot attack, block or be interacted with – neither you nor your opponent can play spells or weapons on them and if someone has only Shifted units, that player can be attacked with relic weapons. After three turns a Shifted unit emerges and gains Unblockable for the turn – which is a big thing as it provides players with some inevitability. Additionally, some units produce an additional effect when you Shift them. Side note, apparently if you Shift a unit via an effect like Phase Out, Remembrance or Reweave if produces all the effects it would if you played it for its Shift cost.
There are some cards that strictly combo or interact with Shifted cards. Ruins Guide and Expedition Leader benefit when your units emerge. Muck Crawler and Tantrum get better if you have a Shifted unit. Nikos the Unifier makes all Shifted units emerge – which is beneficial for your units as they get to attack immediately, while nerfing your opponent’s Unblockable effects at the same time (i.e. they end at the end of your turn). Potion of Alacrity speeds your units’ emergence by a turn, Frost Elemental delays your opponent’s units by a turn, Tinker Ennervator de-powers them the turn they emerge while Inevitable Horror just straight-out kills all Shifted units.
Most of the above-mentioned interactions are not really build-arounds, except for the first two categories. Even then I would not call them build-arounds per se, they just get better the more Shift units you have in your deck. For example, you could compare Ruins Guide to a vanilla 2/2 unit that sometimes grows and attacks for a lot more. On the other hand Expedition Leader is a fragile Wisdom of the Elders effect that is mediocre when it triggers once, but starts being amazing if you can get more triggers in. Oh, Leader works best when you play Phase Out or Remembrance on it!
There are also cards that benefit from Shifted units being played for less power than they would otherwise – for example Blurred Stygimoloch. It takes into account all of your units – including the shifted ones – and that is what makes it quite good in the current format.
Onslaught is the easiest new mechanic from Dark Frontier … or is it? I mean, the mechanic itself is the easiest, but the implications are much larger than you would expect! Okay, so this ability is most similar to Spark, but here the one-off ability triggers if you or at least one of your units attacked this turn (this includes using Killer) instead of the opponent being dealt damage that turn. The biggest difference is that it is much easier to trigger Onslaught than Spark and – having that in mind – much harder to stop your opponent from triggering it.
The best way to trigger Onslaught is with relic weapons (because their attacks are targeted) and evasive units, with Flying and freshly emerged, Unblockable units coming to mind. Another good example is Steadfast Paladin – you can always attack with him, as he is invulnerable to damage on your turn. It is what I would call a free attack and – especially if you are holding up power – your opponent will just let that through more often than you might think! Curve considerations also come to mind – if you have a couple of Svetya’s Faithful in your deck you might think about getting some 1-drops like Warfront Missionary. If you have a Roosting Warhawk you might want to invest in some evasive 4-drops etc.
Onslaught is a good and reliable mechanic. You usually want to trigger these abilities whenever you can. This leads to more interesting combat situations than in the previous formats. In Defiance drafts when people attacked they usually had something to back up their play. Bluffing was almost non-existent. Right now the situation is more blurred – and for the better. Is the opponent attacking because they have a trick, or do they want to finish your big unit with a removal spell, or is it just pawn sacrifice in order to trigger Onslaught? Given that the latter situation is akin to just straight-out bluffing, these come into the mix as well. To sum up – right now combat takes much more finesse than raw power – and I love it!
Also remember that just like other one-shot abilities (Summon, Ultimate, Killer and Infiltrate coming to mind), Onslaught can be re-used if you return said card to your hand – usually units from the void via Dark Return or Umbren Voidbringer or from play via Burdenbearer Wisp.
Armor matters / relic weapons
When someone mentioned to me that armor matters in Dark Frontier drafts I thought that yes, there are a few cards that benefit from you getting or having armor. Curated examples are Molten Fist, Shieldsmith, Valkyrie Bodyguard, Horngrinder and Kosul Bladebarrier from Dark Frontier.
That is just one half of the puzzle, though. Armor in and of itself is okay, but if you combine it with relic weapons, the world is your oyster! At the beginning of this draft format I thought that cards like Twin Sai or Bandit’s Flail were mediocre at best. When you combine them with additional armor, though, they tend to get re-used and provide you with some very delicious card advantage. Also please remember that if you play a relic weapon while you have armor or gain armor while you have a relic weapon, that amount is added to the weapon’s statistics permanently. It is a very important note because there are some ways of retrieving these weapons back from your void via Reforge, Blademaster Daimyo and Auric Reclaimer.
For a successful armor matters / relic weapons deck you need to have between four and six relic weapons, with a couple of earlier ones (usually with two attack) like Iron Hook, your main stays (usually with three attack) like said Bandit’s Flail or Twin Sai and your premium ones with high attack, such as Unseen Ghostblade or even Improvised Club. These decks also tend to be more controlling and run fewer units, even as low as thirteen to fifteen of them. Another thing is that these decks tend do be Justice-based, with Argenport being the main faction in Dark Frontier drafts, and Rakano slowly taking its place in Trails of Grodov drafts.
There is a number of cards – both in Dark Frontier and curated packs – that benefit from you playing a lot of spells. Aside from Alessi, Combrei Archmage herself, there is a new Shift version called Spellstrike Sorceress and a Smuggler version called Pearl Abbey Smuggler that permanently grow each time you play a spell. Some cards count the number of spells in your void, like Inner Might, Unseen Ghostblade, Staff of the Arch-Magister or Rolant’s Memorial. There are a lot of cards that trigger when you play spells as well, with the likes of Softfoot Burglar, Fevered Scout, Scalechannel Sorcerer, Wildfire Censari, Ashen Snakepit, Learned Herbalist, Initiation Bell, Wurmstone, Spire Spellsword, Kosul Battlemage, Geomar, the Steel Tempest, Kenna, Shaman of the Scale, Locust Hatcher, Pioneering Aviator, Kosul Curator and the constructed-worthy Svetya’s Sanctum.
The best way to squeeze a lot from these cards is to include a lot of spells in your deck – usually ten or above. In order to do so, you either have to play fewer units and attachments or use some spells that work as other card types, e.g. Seek Power or Cargos instead of power cards, Training Ground or Manufacture instead of units etc. There are also some ways for you to get more spells to play, like Temporal Adept giving all your spells Warp. Speaking of Warp, if you are running a ton of these spell-synergistic effects, you might also want to run some weaker but also cheaper spells with Warp, just as filler i.e. Heist or Brenn’s Scrying. You also want to re-draw your starting hands containing these filler spells obviously!
This is probably my favorite part of the changes to the curated packs – mill strategy is actually viable for the first time in an Eternal limited format! I am not saying that it is any good, because you would have to pick up some higher rarity cards from the curated packs for this to work, but I think all the cards that mill are here for
my your delight. Fallen Oni, Spitefeeder, Dreamsnatcher, Mournful Deathcap, Banished Umbren, Sadistic Glee, Solitude and even Umbren Occluder are here! Vicious Rumors might end up higher in my ratings just by this vision.
To be honest it is impossible to force a mill strategy, because all of those cards are available as early as pack two. I mean, if you are picking Shadow in pack one you usually want to get all those Eviscerates, but the true face of mill will show itself later on. I think the single most important card for this is actually Sadistic Glee and you having options to replay it a couple more times by either returning this to your hand from play with Burdenbearer Wisp or Safe Rutnrn, or from your void with Dark Return and Umbren Voidbringer.
7. What cards to look out for during games?
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 graphical representation of all fast spells and Ambushers from both Dark Frontier and curated packs!
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 ~700 cards – those do not always work in a vacuum. Aside from the general ratings I have put some additional notes, as some cards tend to be better if you have other things that synergize with them. 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. There is also a great difference between card value in pack 1 and pack 4 – at the beginning you are just looking for the most powerful cards and judge them on their raw value, at the end you tend to fill out the holes in your curve, deck composition and you know how many synergistic cards you have, e.g. those where armor or the number of spells you have matter.
Some cards are very good when you have one copy in your deck, but are not great in multiples. This happens for cards that you do not want to have two copies of in your hand. A good example is Maddening Whisper – it is a great finisher, but if you draw a second one it is usually quite dead. That is why I would rate it as 7/10 for the first copy and 3/10 for the second copy. This does not matter as much for decks that can filter through or loot through your cards with the likes of Gustrider coming to mind.
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. Sudden Stampede
2 – Borderline playable or playable in the Market (if you have one), e.g. Refreshing Waters
3 – Worse filler that might end up in your deck, e.g. Warfront Missionary
4 – Better filler, e.g. Belligerent Yeti
5 – Okay medium cards, e.g. Displaced Oryctodon
6 – Good cards, e.g. Valkyrie Accuser
7 – Very good cards, e.g. Devotee of the Sands
8 – Great cards, e.g. Blurreechaser
9 – Superb cards, e.g. Keen Saddleback
10 – Overpowered bombs, e.g. Minotaur Platemaker
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.
Don’t forget, you can play your games with your style with Inkedgaming.com. Use code TRS12 at checkout for 12% off your final purchase total!
Make sure to follow us on our socials and check out our sponsors: https://linktr.ee/teamrankstar