Meta Monday – Eternal in Review

Since the year is ending and Howling Peak remains at the peak of the metagame, I though it would be a good idea to focus on the history of Eternal instead of talking about how good Xo is. And since the meta monday series only started in 2018, I thought it would also be a good idea to include 2016-2017 in this review. And the 31st of December also marks my two year anniversary with Eternal, so I thought that it would be doubly appropriate to delve deep into the history of eternal. Memory and documentation are sparse on some aspects of the Eternal history, but I do hope this will provide a comprehensive overview of how Eternal developed. Furthermore, as time passes, people drop out of the game, websites are taken down, and records fade. The best time to complete a project such as this is always yesterday, and as time passes, we have to settle with a less comprehensive record. First, we need to tackle closed beta, the records of which have mostly been erased after the Eternal forums got taken down. I had to rely on these three articles on RNGEternal to compile this. The first section of this article is shamelessly restating information provided by the wonderful folks at RNGeternal in a shorter format. I still heavily recommend reading their articles if you have an hour and a half to spare for a much more detailed and personal explanation of closed beta.

Eternal started closed beta in the April of 2016, and Rakano Warcry emerged as the first powerful budget deck. It still remains one of the best decks for new players even after nearly three years. But the winds shifted in May as Camel Control swept the metagame. It relied on Amaran Camel, combined with Excavate, which at the time gave health equal to the cost of the card that was returned from the void. This was combined with Harsh Rule for board control and Channel the Tempest for a recursive wincon which also gained 8 life each time. Excavate was quickly nerfed to always give two health due to the dominance of this deck. In June, two new archetypes would rise. The first one was the busted combo of combining Madness, which was 2 power at the time, with Unstable Form in order to keep the stolen unit, an interaction that has since been removed. The other deck built around madness only utilized Combust, Devour, and Burn Out. Burn Out also cost one less power, making that combination a very fast way to kill the opponent. Traditional Armory was invented in June, which would continue to be a good deck until half way through 2017. Another all star to come out of the early summer was Combrei Midrange, which players had now played for enough time to afford.

In July, the metagame became dominated by Stonescar Aggro for the first time. This would be the first in a long line of metagames dominated by the explosive power of Bandit Queen. Which was then a 3/3 unit, reportedly by accident. Queen decks also used the powerful engine of Madness combined with sacrifice outlets. This all led to a nerf where Madness started costing three power and Bandit Queen became the 3/2 we all know and some of us love. In the face of Madness, a new contender emerged in the poorly named Camelless Control. This deck ditched the Camels in order to protect itself from having any units stolen. The camel was supplanted by the then 4 power Strongholds Visage, a card I still love from the early days of open beta control. The deck also introduced another Set 1 classic, Eye of Winter, which functioned as a discount Icy Manipulator and was very playable in constructed. This was also the first time where the infamous Rock-Paper-Scissors metagame took place. In the early days of eternal, many metagames relied on one basic structure. Armory beats control, control beats aggro, aggro beats Armory. These were all fairly unfun times to play Eternal , but Eternal players persevered until these metas were replaced. Another classic from early eternal was created in this time period, Elysian Midrange. Although this deck hasn’t been consistently* tier since 2017, I still think of Cirso as a powerhouse due to how strong it used to be. Feln also started influencing the metagame in July since Champion of Cunning was a 5 power 4/4 that gave all units +1/+1 and flying for PPPPP and +1/+1 and charge for SSSSS. Combining it with the Feln Stranger made the influence requirements reasonable and led to some very busted interactions later down the line. Some Armory players started splashing blue in 4F Armory and Stonescar Midrange became a deck for the first time.

(*Elysian Midrange has been intermittently tier when it coasts off the power of Sandstorm Titan, but permafrost is usually the reason to splash Primal.)

In August, people realized how good Deepforged Plate was, as it was a 4 power 4/4 weapon at the time. It was quickly combined with Silverwing Familiar for the Rakano Weapons deck familiar to everyone who started playing Eternal very early. This deck also marked the time when people started realizing that Seek Power was actually an amazing card and ran it consistently. The core of this deck was soon nerfed, but it would re-emerge undeterred. After these nerfs, the kind folks at Direwolf Digital introduced a promo and subsequently broke the metagame. This promo was the original iteration of Scouting Party, which only cost 5 power. On top of that, Witching Hour counted power cards. Combining all of these factors with Champion of Cunning lead to a mess where Witching Hour could be played on turn 6-7 and all of the horsemen would have Charge. Around this time, Rakano Weapons also sprung back as the un-nerfed Gilded Glaive was a weapon with powersurge that added attack and health equal to the power spent. For anyone who joined Eternal after powersurge was removed, it was a mechanic where cards cost 0, but used up all of your available power for an effect. This means that cards like Flame Blast, Charchain Flail, and Copper Conduit were actually good, since they used to cost 1 less than they do now. Another great card was Sparring Partner, which was then a 1 power 0/3 that got +3 attack when it was equipped with a weapon, this is completely unrelated to the Sparring Partner we have now.

In September, witching hour was nerfed and the metagame was no longer fronted by a busted combo deck. Rakano weapons moved to a mostly Justice based list which used Mantle of Justice to run additional Glaives. Another deck that arose from the ashes of 4F Armory was Icaria Blue, which has remained a playable deck to this day, even though the Icaria nerf will prevent it from being tier in the foreseeable future. In fact, Icaria Blue was the first deck I ever saw. A very early Open Beta video featured a match where an MTG pro (whose name I forgot) was playing Icaria Blue against a field of aggro. This deck was powered by players realizing how good Seek Power. The first inklings of Big Combrei, Stonescar Jito, and Stonescar Midrange also started forming in September.

October was marked by one of the most hilarious decks in all of Eternal history, Felnscar. This deck aimed to reach the influence requirement of FFFPPPPPSSSSS to power both Champions of Cunning and Chaos. It accomplished this by running plenty of strangers. 4F control was also being developed, which ran all factions except for fire. However, the power of this deck got the early version of Secret Pages nerfed, and the deck became fringe and unplayable. For those who don’t know, Secret Pages used to be a strictly better version of Find the Way as it did not deplete the power. And Find the Way is already a fine card in heavy control archetypes. This was also the time where Echoscavate was born, a complicated control-combo deck that relied on a complicated chain of giving spells echo, reducing their power cost, redrawing the spells, and recursing Harsh Rules until your opponent concedes or you launch off a chain of Static Bolts for endless damage. This is my favourite deck of all time with absolutely no contest. It was never even a good deck and I’m still upset about the nerf. Another legendary deck from this time was Serial Killers. This was a Xenan deck that utilized a lot of very cute interactions to get an overwhelming early game advantage. It centered around Beastcaller’s Amulet, which could be combined with Friendly Wisp, which resulted in a dominant hand and board on turn three. The other option was using Argenport Instigator, which cannot be chump blocked and could not be outmatched by stats at that time. This means that if you played it on the play on turn two, and had a Beastcaller’s Amulet in hand, the opponent would have to remove it or you would have a 5/5. This was because when an enemy unit died, Instigator would do damage to the opponent and infiltrate would trigger. Many who were unaware of this still chump blocked Instigator, which led to too many shame scoops to count. The deck also kept dark returning Copper Conduit to create an extremely powerful unit. Its midgame was provided by Sandstorm Titan and Impending Doom. Xenan killers always retains a soft spot in my heart as it was the first deck I actually crafted. To this day, I  remember pulling my third Sandstorm Titan in a lucky forge run.

In November, Stonescar burn was developed and the game moved to open beta, where it would stay for the next two years. This transition involved a lot of card changes, and completely revamped the metagame when people lost their collections. In Open Beta, Stonescar burn dominated and Rakano Weapons was rebuilt from the ground up. In December, Shimmerpack was also discovered as an actually good card after the changes it had endured through the transition to open beta. I remember this deck very fondly as it was the boogeyman around the time I started playing, and I was able to afford it only a few weeks in. And at that point, it was very fun creating absolutely dominant hands and boards with Wump and Scouting party, but that only happened later in December. At this time, combining a lot of small units with Xenan Obelisks and Shimmerpacks was a very effective strategy, as it would invariably make your board multiple times better than whatever your opponent had going on at the time. Shimmerpack would be picking up speed all throughout January, only opposed by Burn Queen, the deck that got both Flame Blast and Soulfire Drake nerfed to oblivion, even though everyone knew that Obliterate was the real problem card. January was also the time where the Withering Witch/Black Sky Harbinger plan was firmly cemented as a solid base for control decks, which it would continue being for a fairly long time. But then tragedy struck, Direwolf Digital nerfed Shimmerpack, for good reason, but also tragically and cruelly struck down Excavate by giving it voidbound. This is a move that still makes me sad to this day as there has never been another deck as fun to play in any card game ever made. This move was cruel and unwarranted and I have never recovered from this tragedy. Some promo cards were also released.

February included the first full expansion to the game in Jekk’s Bounty. Looking back on the campaign, it’s full of clunky cards and clunky lore, the latter of which does not match up to the rock solid worldbuilding that DWD has exhbited since then. However, at the time it was the first way to get a bunch of new cards and nothing would keep me away from those sweet, sweet Nictotraxians. Nictotraxian control ended up being a sisyphean effort for me all throughout the history of Eternal, as I repeatedly tried making it playable to no end. This campaign mostly included janky build-arounds and was definitely more focused on creating fun fringe strategies. Every expansion to come after Jekk’s Bounty included plenty of powerful cards, but Jekk’s Bounty primarily only had Quarry. However, Quarry would help power the resurgence of Armory combined with Throne Warden, a promo card that was introduced to the game in January. Quarry was also a vital tool for Stonescar. With those January promos, TJP control became a more viable option with the printing of Find the Way, and the metagame returned to rock-paper-scissors again. This was the second time it would do so, and followed exactly the same pattern that it had the first time. Find the Way also birthed Vodakhombo, another one of my personal pet decks that I will always keep trying to build. February was the time where Jito got really busted, Jito himself was only 1 power at the time, which made for a very explosive early game. A few bright individuals had found out that introducing Justice to the deck made it even better. At the same time, the more popular Jito Queen build got more and more refined. Lurking Sanguar provided a very explosive way to fuel the earlygame, and the speed of this deck would not be matched for a year and a half.

March started off with nerfs that removed Champion of Chaos from it’s seat as the best card in the entire game, both conditions used to give it +1/+1 at the time, instead of the +1/+0 that it gets now. Jito was also nerfed with its power requirements doubling to 2 instead of 1. Soulfire Drake ate up it’s first nerf for the crimes of Obliterate, and the metagame moved on. The third nerf was to Withering Witch, which meant that it could no longer form a wall to block every small unit as it lost it’s 1/4 body, and Staff of Stories, another early control superstar became significantly less playable when it was moved from 0/5 to 0/4. This metagame was also the first time Praxis Tokens emerged as a top tier archetype, since at that time Arcanum Monitor was the push it needed to be playable. Combining Grenadin tokens with Xenan Obelisk had been a known strategy for a really long time, however, adding a powerful late-game card meant that this deck became very powerful very fast. It also started a worrying trend of people running Praxis Displacer and making their decks worse for it, which would continue until Displacer was nerfed in order to save people from themselves. Furthermore, there was a significant redraw change around this time, which made all decks more consistent. Even though I was a redraw optimist at that time, the change has made the game so much better. Before the redraw change, you could expect as many games to suffer from power screw as you would when it comes to Magic: The Gathering, however, after the change very few games suffered from this issue. Obviously managing power will remain a key aspect of the game, but it was no longer a matter of randomly losing to a bad opening hand. Vodakhombo became a staple deck in March, and would continue to be a significant part of the metagame for a very long time in different iterations.

In April, Big Combrei split from Vodakhombo for the first time in a long line of intersections, mutations, and recombinations. Basically, Big Combrei took all parts of Vodakhombo and got rid of Vodakhan to have a more consistent gameplan. Even though the combo finish was powerful, many players thought that it was not worth making a clunkier deck. Cirso decks also reached the peak of their power around this time. And people got over their post-nerf aversion to Shimmerpack and discovered that the deck was actually still fairly good, despite how much it had been affected by nerfing Shimmerpack. The core that it had was a powerful package as Xenan Obelisks are good no matter what, and Temple Scribe is a decent free blocker. Both armory and control decks were starting to be phased out, and Obliterate still powered the dominant Burn Queen shell.

May of 2017 heralded a new paradigm for eternal, it started off the reign of Chalice in what a lot of people perceive as the most cancerous metagame to date. Even though some insignificant promos were released at the start of the month, the true champion was Crystalline Chalice which started an impenetrable reign on ladder. Every game would take more than 15 minutes, and there was no escape. Tempests were Channeled, and I quit playing the game for a month and a half. As sad as it is, the game was getting stale for me and I had lost my motivation to play around this time. May of 2017 would be my first and final full month of not being in Master since January. When I returned to the game in June, another insignificant promo was released and Chalice was no longer top dog, being replaced by another rock-paper-scissors metagame, and this was by far the worst it ever got. This metagame was completely dependent on matchups with barely any player agency. In short, it wasn’t a great place to return to. Armory, Feln Control, and Rakano Weapons were completely evenly matched against the rest of the metagame. Armory always beat Feln Control, Rakano always beat Armory, Feln Control always beat Rakano. The rest of the metagame didn’t have a decent match-up against the top three, and the reign of competitive rock-paper-scissors would be harsh and unbreakable. Rakano had fully embraced the skies and become a list completely oriented around its fliers, and it made Rakano a much more considerable threat than it was before, however, it still died to Feln’s toolbox that included enough removal to get rid of whatever Rakano was trying to do. But Feln could not hold a candle to the might of pre-nerf Charchain Flails and Smuggler’s Stashes. This was also around the time where the wider eternal community started realizing that running 1 and 2 ofs in a 75 card list was usually not worthwhile, and the standard deck building became putting as many 4 ofs in your deck as possible. Gone were the days of tinkering with obscure cards, if a card was worth running, it was usually worth running as many copies as possible.

But July brought the end of this metagame with the launch of Omens of the Past. This was the time where most of the decks that we now consider staples emerged. First, Skycrag Aggro became a deck with Champion of the Fury and Vadius being printed. There hasn’t been a month since August that the first few days of my month aren’t focused around playing Skraggro on ladder instead of doing more worthwhile things with my life. This deck was an obvious powerhouse and many people at the time realized it. What they didn’t realize was just how good Heart of the Vault was. Praxis still immediately became the best deck in the metagame, and it would keep eclipsing itself with every single subsequent week of the metagame. Even though praxis midrange has fallen out of favor in the last few months with some crazy twists and turns in the metagame, it was a dominant force for more than a year. Bartholo was printed but didn’t become a nuisance for a solid while, and all was well in the game of Eternal for a fairly long time. We had only had a single set and adventure up until this point, and getting a massive expansion revitalized the game for a lot of people. Brews were flying in the air and people were innovating every week.

However, another nerf struck Eternal players to their core in August, Armory was nerfed out of existence. Inspire and Smuggler’s Stash were made much worse and Charchain Flail became a non-card, taking down both other powersurge cards with it. Skycrag Aggro also resumed its rightful place at the top of the ladder alongside Praxis Midrange. But around this time, Chalice was on a significant upswing. Chalice couldn’t reliably be better than Skycrag or Praxis, but it could grind out every other deck in the metagame. Staring down a Chalice now became a significant threat with its variety of early game board stalling and late game grinding. And this was also the time where everyone was trying to play some variation of a Sandstorm Titan deck if they weren’t on Chalice or Skycrag Aggro, and it made sense. At the time there were no better cards in the game. We now have quite a lot of contention on that point, as many powerful cards have been printed since set 2, but at the time there was no proper competition to Sandstorm Titan and it made no sense not to run it if you weren’t playing aggro or control.

In September, players realized that Burn Queen is still a good deck, since the nerfs only took out some of the lategame and were otherwise to replaceable cards. Thus, Burn Queen became the dominant force on ladder once again. This was also the timeframe where Cabal Countess was an actually good card, as a 6/1 with quickdraw outmatches a sandstorm titan, which everyone else was trying to play. In tandem Chalice and Burn Queen rose to the top of the metagame. Kothon was being discovered as a really good card, and became the “Training Wheels” for chalice and the core of the Hooru Fliers gameplan. This was also the only time in Eternal history where I was playing Hooru Fliers instead of losing to it. The early build relied on a lot of janky synergies for an overwhelming advantage, instead of trying to play midrange in the air. But the playerbase had become complacent, and the metagame was about to become all about cows.

Every Eternal player remembers the October of 2017 and the week after the release of the Tale of Horus Traver. The core of the issue was Tavrod, an unnerfable card born out of the depths of the second campaign. And this is no exaggeration, there was no way that DWD would set a precedent for nerfing campaign cards and Tavrod would climb up to the top of the metagame in multiple different iterations, and the only thing that could be done was to nerf everything around Tavrod. The actual issue was twofold, the first problem card at the time was slay. The issue with slay was extremely simple, if you wanted to answer Argenport midrange, you should play Slay and Vanquish. However, if you were playing Slay and Vanquish, you should be playing Argenport midrange. Another big issue was how good Bartholo was. A bogle with unblockable is very concerning due to the amount of weapons that can be stacked on it. Bartholo could almost always survive a turn and carry a Lethrai Falchion to victory when it did. It got even worse when you got powered up weapons out of your deck with Tavrod. However, it’s not like the Tavrod powerhouse was built in a day as players were still confused about what makes Tavrod good. The early builds of Tavrod all focused on jamming as many weapons and minotaurs into a deck as they could. This was soon reduced to just Auric Interrogator and a small weapon package, as those were really the only necessary weapons to get with Tavrod. Auric Interrogator also brought back Xenan Killers with the wonderful synergy it had. Having a source of easy card draw in Xenan Killers made it a much better deck, but the rest of the metagame was caught up in the fight between Tavrod and Heart of the Vault.

November began with Bartholo getting the ax and taking a massive nerf when its cost was increased to 4. This shut down the original game plan for Argenport Midrange, and made it descend back into janky lists for a few weeks. This time allowed Xenan and Praxis to contest with each other as old-fashioned honest Sandstorm Titan decks. Bandit Queen again claimed the best deck spot. But the most interesting things happening were all behind the scenes. This was the time where one of the most glorious decks in eternal history were being developed, Echo Makto was being forged into something other than a niche combo deck, it was becoming a symbol of combo in eternal. And slowly began it’s creep to notoriety, with a tragic end that all of us are aware of. But the metagame was settling down once more, we had emerged from the Cow Hell, and were about to experience a new set.

In December, the Dusk Road was released, and every eternal player was happy, for a single day. Tavrod was back in a big way. Even though Bartholo was gone, the deck now had Unseen Commando to fill the spot left unoccupied by the very seductive man. Having a single busted three drop returned Argenport to its status as the tian it once was. And that was not the worst to come. Feln decks scrambled to use their removal to counter the horde of Cows, and the metagame stood at a sandstill. Burn Queen was still firmly planted at the peak, which would ultimately be its own demise, this continued into January. The game would be relatively uneventful and mostly consist of slamming cows into each other. However, various Vara Reanimator decks would rise up as janky combo decks around, and everyone who liked janky combos had both Echo Makto and Vara Reanimator to play around with.

However, february would start with Elysian Pathfinder being knocked down a peg and having its influence cost raised to TT, a change that made the already bad Echo Makto deck even worse. But we persevered, we kept playing our jank and we kept having boards full of Makto that could never be ended by any mere mortal, that is if we could survive the 15 turn setup the deck needed. As some buffs took place, people were discovering that Wanted Poster at 1 power was good and that stonepowder alchemist at 3 as a 2/2 was also good. The draft changes made at the beginning of the month were about to completely overtake Argenport Midrange as FJS control was raising in notoriety. Soulfire drake had assumed its position as a finisher in Rakano Gunslingers, and Bandit Queen was taking a backseat as Whirling Duo and Champion of Fury became the premier charging units. But tragedy soon struck again, with Elysian Pathfinder being nerfed to 7TTT and Echo Makto being erased from the game. Taking it from an unplayable jank deck to an unfun jank deck. It’s understandable that DWD’s design philosophy requires a counter for every deck, but Echo Makto lost to itself far more than it won, so it functionally countered itself. Another casuality to the DWD nerf train was Vara, which formed the core of a deck that aimed to chain reanimation targets. Even though it was a very resilient combo deck, it was wildly inconsistent and not even moderately good, this was a double blow to everyone who loves combo. However, the Vara nerf is completely understandable as it was a very powerful deck that had no answer. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk as DWD also nerfed Wanted Poster, Stonepowder Alchemist and Protect. In this colossal nerf, Soulfire Drake finally died for Obliterate’s sins, it’s mana cost was finally increased to 6, and it lost it’s status as a wincon for aggressive decks. This was bound to shake up the metagame, combined with the impending release of Dead Reckoning, the third campaign. However, until Dead Reckoning released, we had to endure another month of Cow hell, but this time with Icaria Blue as a solid contender for the second best deck.

In March, Dead Reckoning gave Feln the most tools, creating a control renaissance like no other. Hailstorm was and has remained the core of control since it was released and for good reason. A 3 power spell that can wipe out any early-game units is instrumental for having a healthy control presence. In Cold Blood also deleted every cow in a deck for the price of one, so Argenport was once again on a downswing. Hailstorm also created my favorite archetype. As much as I love echoscavate as a deck, it pales in comparison for my undying affection for JPS as an archetype. Whenever there’s a chance to play a deck with both Hailstorm and Harsh Rule, I will take it. However, the original versions of JPS were under a degree of delusion in purposefully excluding all units from their decks, which would not be a good choice in the long term. Although loading your deck up with removal and relying on Channels and Sword of the Sky Kings, alongside the occasional Last Word, is a good idea in theory, it doesn’t hold up. Blanking your opponents removal is only a good idea in match-ups that rely on removal. And when it comes to those match-ups, Sword of the Sky King already cannot be removed. Furthermore, the opportunity cost to putting in a solid unit package is almost non-existent, as the early versions of this deck ran total jank like Duelist’s Blade and Extract to fill up slots. However, drawing enough copies of Channel the Tempest is good enough so the deck remained as a tier 2 contender for a long time.

April was to set the pace for the rest of the Dead Reckoning metagame, with the triumvirate of Skycrag Aggro, Praxis Tokens, and Argenport Midrange assuming their positions as tier 1. April also introduced the Sealed Leagues. I have only played in three of them, and only sign up for the card backs, but I hear that sealed is a fun format once you get into it. April was also a time of innovation, as three faction decks that did not rely on Icaria were making a big entrance. The early version of TJP midrange was becoming fleshed out and FTP moment was becoming a very viable ladder choice. A third three faction deck was also being developed in the form of Temporal Control. Players were starting to realize that a lot of cards can be beaten with a single Scorpion Wasp and that Temporal Distortion could provide a better endgame than other control decks had. Another three faction deck that was being developed was Haunted Highway, although its rise to power would still take quite a bit of time. April ended with a significant buff to Jotun Feast-Caller, which was about to resurrect the heavy control presence of early 2018.

Svetya, Orene of Kosul

May continued with the rule of the triumvirate, however, the release of Svetya created a whole new paradigm. The early part of May had been full of control decks, as Jotun Feast-Caller was good and other various control archetypes were highly playable. Dropping a Svetya with enough Mirror Images shut down the game before the opponent was able to do anything else and ended up creating a complete standstill. This allowed the triumvirate to reluctantly accept a contending deck in TJP midrange. It was still different from the old paradigm, and remained the fresh new face for about a month, at which point it was the most frustrating tier deck simply due to its raw power. In my opinion, TJP midrange was the first time Eternal had a real streamlined midrange deck that relied on intentionally generating value instead of overwhelming the opponent with card advantage. Haunting Scream also started to make waves and got winrates far above any other deck. At the start of June, Eternal was completely unplayable on mobile due to a buggy rollout of a new client. And this also started the period where I got really into eternal. And the late Dead Reckoning metagame had three big players. TJP midrange, the triumvirate, and the alliance of control decks. But two new forces were awakening. The first was Haunted Highway, which rolled over the entire metagame up until the Fall of Argenport. But the week before the Fall of Argenport rolled out, I had finally finished a deck I had been cooking up for a long time, which was Green Feln, a non-unitless JPS control variant. In the final week of the set, my build of JPS constituted around 10% of the decks I saw in high masters, and got me to the fifth place. This is by far the biggest impact I have ever had on the Eternal meta, and it was gone in just a week when JPS was completely outclassed by the Fall of Argenport.

And in late June, the Fall of Argenport came out. I was unable to play a lot during this time, even though I still got in as many games as I could. The metagame started off with the infamous monotime dominance, which quickly turned into Praxis Dominance, which led to the most turbulent metagame in the history of eternal. This might be bias from the fact that this is in recent memory unlike all of the past eternal metagames, but it was extremely strange with unprecedented developments seemingly happening weekly. We all know what the Fall of Argenport entailed, the merchants changed the fundamental game play of Eternal and the expansion provided a lot of what we would now consider to be the staple base of cards for Eternal. My personal conspiracy theory is that the reason why the Fall of Argenport feels more unique than a lot of other expansions is that this was the first time DWD started building a set with rotation in mind, but this is completely un-backed by any evidence and might just be a tinfoil moment. But after time midrange had made its waves, Big Rakano was the new deck to beat with Rizahn providing a good 6 drop.

Divining Rod

July evolved the previous metagame even further, with Big Combrei once again becoming a reasonable choice, and Charge Rod becoming a deck to beat. Charge Rod had always been in the periphery of viability, as its fundamental combo was often worth the cost. When combined with Answer the Call, the chains that could be created were insanely dominant. To add more factors to why Charge Rod was so good, Merchants were introduced, with the Auralian Merchant providing both ramp and the ability to have Divining Rod itself as a 7-of in the deck, while Winchest Merchant could get additional copies of Answer the Call. Rizahn also played no small part in the success of Charge Rod, as it made the fundamental midrange game plan into something more viable in the same way that it did with Rakano Valkyries. However, the developments in Icaria decks would not end here, as three more archetypes were quickly found. The first one was just Icaria Blue with Fall of Argenport cards, it was good before and it remained good afterwards, it traded off tribal synergies for control cards. The second was was Rakano Valkyries simply using Answer the Call to get big cards with more consistency instead of relying on any combos. And finally, FJS valkyries was also a fairly good deck, combining the power of Icaria with efficient removal. The dominance of these Icaria decks over a long period of time led Icaria to eventually be cut down (don’t want to rise up TOO hard). However, Icaria was not the only deck that became dominant after mono time, TJP Blitz was another cornerstone of Eternal history. It was the fastest deck to ever be built, and it also had a good long game with Alessi backing up Rilgon’s Disciple. The deck could consistently kill the opponent on turn 4, which is an absolutely insane pace for an eternal deck, and that alone would have made it one of the strongest decks ever. However, it’s long game was nothing to sneeze at either and when it reached turn 7, it was as deadly as it was early on. In my opinion, this makes TJP Blitz the best deck in the history of eternal, although it might not have been the most proportionally dominant at the time.

August started off with removing Levitate and Accelerated Evolution from their previous stature as the cornerpieces of TJP Blitz, which functionally killed the deck. It was still playable and decent, however, it was not worth playing. Answer the Call was also nerfed. This led to the most open metagame in Eternal history, absolutely everything went and there were no clear best decks. However, Alessi found herself a new home in Combrei Grow, where she fed off various spells that generated value, was fetched with Crownwatch Press-Gang, and was returned to hand with Safe Return if anything went wrong, this was combined with a great shell that also included Stand Together for additional Alessi protection. Combrei Grow became the best deck in the metagame for a fairly long time, competing with various Icaria decklists. Skycrag aggro found Longbarrel to be a great card to flesh out the archetype even more, and became a staple of the metagame once again. The brewers also discovered that Mask of Torment was surprisingly good with Auralian merchant and Talir, and started bringing this deck to actual tournaments, to varying results. Aggressive decks that use nightfall for powering Feln Aggro became a mainstream stable, but didn’t put up many amazing results. But in this wide open space, a new deck was arising, one which would change eternal for the following months. This was partly a result of the nerfs suffered by Teacher of Humility and Combrei Grow. Temporal Control was born again.

Genetrix Irel IV

In September, two decks were on a massive upswing, Combrei Aggro, and Temporal Control. Combrei Aggro relied on two cards to assert its dominance over the tournament and ladder scenes. It used both Sword of Unity and Genetrix Irel IV to have small units far exceed the size that they should have and push their relatively aggressive gameplan over smaller aggressive decks and through midrange decks. Praxis Midrange was also a staple of this particular metagame, although it had been good since the release of the Fall of Argenport. Icaria was still a staple of the metagame, albeit not in the most explosive form since it was much harder to cheat her out now that Answer the Call cost 7. However, Baby Icaria and Bulletshaper still led to many games where she came down on turn 5 or 6. This established a good core tier 1, Temporal Control, Combrei Aggro, and Rakano Valkyries. However, Temporal Control was quickly rising to be the most dominant deck of them all.

Which is why it was swiftly nerfed in the beginning of October alongside Icaria. The metagame was once again wide open, with no real contender for the best deck, it seemed like the meta could go anywhere. And with Vara’s Journey being released, the possibilities were endless. Instead, we got Haunted Highway for the entire month. Nothing could really beat haunted highway and no one was really trying. Instead, they were playing haunted highway or decks that lost less hard to Haunted Highway. This was the time where we got a new adventure in the form of Vara’s Journey. FJS midrange became a top contender in the metage in spite of the Icaria nerf due to the powerful new tools introduced to it in the form of Cookbook and Vara. And Azindel found a place for himself in a reanimator shell. However, the end of October would bring a definite realization that Vara herself is a really good card and should be played more, even in shells that were not FJS. In November, Eternal was finally brought out of open beta after two years, but meta wise it was mostly more of the same. Except for the rise of Feln Midrange, which was previously an almost entirely unheard of deck. This deck combined recursing Vara with Caiphus, and created a massive splash when it came out. It was the most powerful deck in the metagame for a few weeks, but was outshadowed by Defiance, which was now less than a month away.

Animated GIF

And as December is ending, we can also quickly recap everything that happened this month. Feln Midrange remained really good, and then Defiance was released. For the first few days of Defiance, Hojan was rampaging around ladder, but that stopped pretty soon after only Rakano Aggro could make the best use of his abilities. When Hojan was done, FJS resumed its place as tier 1, and became the de-facto top dog of the metagame. But a week after Defiance was released, people found out that Howling Peak and Xo are just much better than any other lategame card, and that’s where the metagame is as of writing this article. This has been Isochron, and I hope you enjoyed 141 mondays worth of the metagame, and everything that 2019 has to bring.

3 Comments » for Meta Monday – Eternal in Review
  1. James says:

    Your time table is a touch off. I did not play Eternal for most, if not all of 2017, and was actually living in a different state when Omens hit. I believe this occurred in 2016.

  2. Marcolino99 says:

    When the new metà?

  3. Laurent says:

    Great article!

    Thanks a lot!

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