Here we are: Set 4, Fall of Argenport, is live and we just had our first competitive event with Markets. Congratulations to Aetherllama for taking it down with a sweet new Rakano Midrange deck featuring plenty of nifty new Set 4 cards!
Ladder is flush with new strategies and old stand-bys updated with sweet new tech. Almost every deck has the new Merchant/Market mechanic and no one knows which decks will rise to the top. What a time to be playing Eternal!
This week we’re going to be talking about markets and what you should be doing with your merchants and markets.
Look at various lists posted to Eternal Warcry and the ETS top 8, the established standard market consists of 1 Power, 1 Relic removal piece, 1 removal spell (or Carnosuar), 1 anti-control card, 1 value card (usually also good against control). I would heartily agree with how markets have developed. You want a good diversity of options available to you and most of the time, you want them to be reactionary, powerful answers. You can pack a copy of Shatterglass Mage in your market, something good but also played because it’s always useful, but why both fetching something mediocre when you can grab Bore or Disjunction? These cards are much more situational but offering a higher power level in those situations.
Now, the debate over which merchants are best looks to be settled with the ETS top 8 featuring 4 decks with Auralian (Time) Merchant, 2 with Ixtun (Fire) Merchant, and 1 of each Kerendon (Shadow) and Winchest (Justice) merchants. Going over the deck lists for the event, most non-top 8’ing lists chose to run Auralian or Ixtun merchants over their other choices. I believe this is because of two reasons: what merchants do when played and the stats of the actual merchants.
The merchant cycle did something interesting to the meta, it slowed the overall speed of the games down. Most midrange decks (even some of the aggro decks) spend their turn 3’s playing a random dorky unit and trading cards depending on the match up. These same decks used to try and play powerful 3 power units such as Whirling Duo, Unseen Commando, and Assembly Line. Right now there is less pressure to have a quality turn 3 because everyone else is taking time off to play mediocre stated units. Aggro decks can’t take advantage of this too well, because if they happen to have an aggro hoser card in their market, the aggro player has to play around it for the next few turns. And because this is generally accepted practice, people have stopped playing aggro as much as a result. What all this does is favor factions that have good quality value cards to grab. Time has Mystic Ascendant and Xenan Obelisk, Fire has Icaria and Flamestoker, Primal has Channel the Tempest and Eilyn, Justice has Sword of the Skyking and Icaria, and Shadow has In Cold Blood and Azendel’s Gift. As you can see from the two cards that I felt were the most powerful for each faction, Time gets the insane fatties for the match up and Fire grabs the same value units that Justice can offer in Removal Pile strategies. In Feln and Hooru control, Jennev (Primal) merchant offers more value with raw card advantage spells and the same units as their counter parts because the big powerful finishers share the same colors. This leaves Winchest and Kerendon in the dust as the more narrow but more powerful cards lie in the other factions their deck uses.
The other reason the Auralian and Ixtan merchants rank above the rest is simply the bodies. Auralian is a 1/4 unit that adds an additional power. I honestly don’t know what more I could ask for in a non-aggressive 3 drop I’m going to play. Something that lets you fix your hand, adds maximum power, and blocks well for you is just absurd for what Time wants to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if Auralian merchant is nerfed in the future; compared to to the others, it’s head and shoulders above the others. The Ixtan merchant is also just stated better than the other 3. It being a 3/3 with Overwhelm is the sweet spot for midrange decks. 3 power allows it to trade up into higher cost units, 3 health seems to be the baseline for the “midgame” units in Eternal, and 3 health lets it block the majority of the Fie aggro units. Playing a 3/3 for 3 on turn 3 that also sets up your game plan is a normal play in Eternal. The Primal merchant seems decent, 3/2 lets it trade up into units and aegis to make sure it sticks around, but 2 health means it trades down with cheaper units. I think this means it doesn’t make the cut as a good unit to play into the board. The options Primal has are good, Rain of Frogs and Channel, but outside of using Jennev purely for card advantage, I wouldn’t want to play this in my control decks.
The Winchest merchant seems really close to good for me. It has a 2/2 body and a relevant keyword in flying, but outside an aggressive weapon based deck, I don’t see it having a home. Justice has the strongest market options – Harsh Rule, End of Days, silence effects, that sweet Citywide Ban card, and powerful relic weapons – but unfortunately, the boy of the merchant does not lend itself to a defensive game plan. A 2/2 of any kind hopes to trade and most of the time ends up chumping a larger unit. And grabbing a Harsh Rule after playing a 2/2 is a nombo. If it’s body was a 2/2 with Lifesteal, I’d be ecstatic, but my judgement is harsh. I do have hopes for it, just not in the current midrange focused meta. Lastly, the Kerendon merchant is probably better than Team Rankstar’s impression of it, but sadly the way games are playing out, the 2/1 Lethal body doesn’t hold up. Here’s why: Shadow’s strength is removal and disruption, not playing to the board. In order to keep the body around, you need to be playing better units to remove and have the 2/1 left over so you can trade it off or stall the board. If you game plan is to remove something turn 1 or 2, play Kerendon merchant on 3, and hope to trade with it/continue removing stuff, you haven’t played something for their Torch or Permafrost to go on. They may just ignore it until they need to start sending later but a 2/1 body isn’t enough pressure to force them to play to the board or trade with it. Also Shadow’s market options are medium with Gift being the best narrow but powerful card. The Shadow merchant is one of my favorites and I’m hoping someone breaks it later.
Because of these reasons, I order the merchants best to last: Aurulian, Ixtan, Jennev, Winchest, and Kerendon.
Lets talk briefly about some of the existing decks and possible markets for them:
Icaria, the Liberator; Rizahn, Greatbow Master; Bore; Deepforged Plate; Rakano Banner
This is basically the same as Aetherllama’s market, but they’re a fantastic deck builder and obviously there’s no room for improvement. I kid, I kid. Icaria generates so much value and creates a giant headache that people have been using it as a control finisher for 3 years now. Including it serves as a sweet value card and an anti-control card. Rizahn is kind of a pet card for me, but Rakano specifically has plenty of threats that eat up removal before Rizahn comes down and he immediately stabilizes the board for you against aggro. Deepforged Plate lets you break open board stalls and crush races. Creating a “Voltron” unit is also an easy way to beat time; especially if it flies.
Jennev: Channel the Tempest; Rain of Frogs; Hailstorm; Black Sky Harbinger; Feln Banner (Unseal works but I am not a huge fan)
Kerendo: Azindel’s Gift; Burglarize; In Cold Blood; Black Sky Harbinger; Feln Banner (I also like Devastating Setback)
Primal: Channel the Tempest is the best card advantage spell there is and having access to an additional copy lets you cement leads in grindy games. Rain of Frogs is one of the best ways to disrupt your opponents, the card is objectively bad in 80% of match ups, but can just win the game on the spot. Hailstorm, and also for the same reason Black Sky Harbinger, is in the market because somethings you need 7 copies in your decks and the merchants enable finding the second copy whenever you need.
Shadow: Gift is an insane anti-control card and has been maindeckable for years. I wound’t leave home without it, because even in match ups where it should be bad, the situation could arise where it steals the game. Burglarize is the sweet new way to deal with relics in Shadow and stealing a Xenan Obelisk is on my bucket list now. Black Sky Harbinger is usually pretty good in most match ups and an extra, searchable copy is never bad.
I’m lumping these together because you should just be suing Aurlian merchant and they should all be super close to one another.
Disjunction; Carnosuar; Xenan Obelisk; Praxis Displacer; Power
So I wouldn’t change this for whatever flavor of normal Time midrange I’m playing (Vodacombo doesn’t count ;)). Disjunction is so good when you care about their relics and have your own valuable relics to grab back. The flexibility while being so powerful earns it a permanent spot for me. Carnosuar isn’t always great, but when it’s good, it’s insane. This is exactly what we’re looking for in a market card. Praxis Displacer is a free turn in the Time mirrors and is a good removal spell in most match ups. It’s an okay card with a ton of upside and is criminality underrated.
Bore; Jekk, Lone Gun; Vicious Highwayman; In Cold Blood; Stonescar Banner
This one is pretty close to Paradox’s sweet, sweet Stonescar list. I like Paradox’s inclusion of Combust, but I don’t believe it belongs in a lot of markets. It triggers Tribute easy enough, but I’d rather be jamming some maindeck Madness Combust. Bore is just an insane market card and belongs in every Fire market. Jekk just takes over games. He’s so strong in the right deck and situation, but not every one, so I believe he belongs in the market. Plus being able to have 4+ copies with the merchants means you can always find one when the time’s right. Vicious Highwayman is one of the best tools in the game for racing against aggro. It also stacks up pretty well against control and is worth grabbing from your market over an extra power or something. In Cold Blood for all those pesky Icaria decks running around. ICB is a pretty medium removal spell by itself and isn’t worth maindecking in my opinion.
Jennev: Channel the Tempest; Eilyn, Clan Mother; Hailstorm; Vision of Austerity; Hooru Banner
Winchest: Sword of the Sky King; End of Days; Vision of Austerity; Eilyn, Clan Mother; Hooru Banner
Hooru has access to a lot of the same cards in either of the merchant factions. In Hooru, where drawing cards is easy, I prefer Winchest merchant. Both have their 8 drop game enders, but Justice can grab an unconditional board wipe where Hailstorm isn’t always great. Eilyn takes over games when you can get her to stick and deserves a spot.
Icaria Based Control (Icaria Blue, Camat0 Pile, Icaria Gold):
Ixtan: Icaria, the Liberator; Rizahn, Greatbow Master; Bore; Flamestoker; Power
Similar to the Rakano market from above, the Justice options don’t compare to Fire’s utility. I personally think Flamestoker is where to be if you can’t draw a ton of extra cards. Easy enough to grab and sit back on. The rest of your deck should be removal spells, so your merchants won’t live, but they find you your win conditions. I’ve have moderate success with this same market in FJS value piles.
Fire Based Aggro decks:
Ixtan: Obliterate; Bore; Cloud of Ash; Faction Unique Legendary (Bandit Queen); Soulfire Drake
I don’t believe aggro is going to need to fix their draw with power, so we have an extra slot. I believe Souldfire Drake is a good pick up. It fell out of the meta after the nerf because it was really only playable against control at 6 power. Now you can grab it after the game goes long! Obliterate lets you steal games by trading in your 6th power for 6 points of face damage. Could of Ash is Crystalize in Fire and can just end the game then and there. “Faction Unique Legendary” keeps it general in an example but I would pick Deepforge Plate for Rakano, Bandit Queen for Stonescar (bonkers btw), and Vadius seems good for Skycrag but I don’t play aggro decks. I could just see more damage in Skycrag.
Wow, what a write up. Now I know who to speak to when I want some collaboration on my upcoming merchants video.
I’m going to keep it short this week as so much as been covered in this weeks article.
This weekend I was a little bit stuck for choice on what to play with so I did the old classic of filter by legendary, filter by Mono Time. I’ve been really impressed by the mono time and this set really gave it a shot in the arm, I guess if Skycrag and Argenport are duking it out Time is allowed to grow uninterrupted.
4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Power Stone (Set1002 #4)
4 Teacher of Humility (Set4 #67)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
3 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
4 Auralian Merchant (Set4 #70)
4 Dawnwalker (Set1 #86)
1 Moondial (Set3 #70)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
2 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
3 Alhed, Mount Breaker (Set4 #87)
3 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)
4 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
3 Thundering Kerasaur (Set4 #93)
23 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
3 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
2 Crest of Impulse (Set3 #251)
1 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
1 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)
1 Thundering Kerasaur (Set4 #93)
1 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
Teacher is a real threat and perhaps a reason to not torch the Initiate of the Sands if you can’t deal with the weight of her infiltrate. Alhed has been a huge wall and really helps you in going to the market as their inspire ability will trigger letting you grab a 12/12 who will really be able to take a bite out of crime. *chomp*
Kerasaur has been super impressive too and it really makes your opponent sweat if they were trying to play durdle spells like strategise to try and find a removal spell.
Maybe mono time is the new wallet Combrei now we have so many tools and just get to be the best Dawnwalker deck in town!
Thanks for reading, see you next week
Dunklewerk & Thatresolves
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