Trail Stories: ManuS

AGE – 32

BIRTHPLACE – Near Saarbrücken Germany

TEAM AFFILIATION – Eternal Titans

MOST NOTABLE ETERNAL ACHIEVEMENT – ECQ Dark Frontier Champion

PLAYING SINCE – Early Closed Beta (Spring 2016)

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A BUILDER, TUNER, OR STRICTLY A PILOT – Builder and Tuner with more strength in tuning than coming up with super original new ideas.

FAVORITE DECK ARCHETYPE – Aggro Control

FAVORITE CARD – Shakedown. Not one for favorite cards but this one is pretty sweet and powerful deceptively doing a ton of work.

MOST DISLIKED OR DAMAGING CARD – I don’t really have one but Palace might be the closest to obnoxious and too good.

ONE ETERNAL WISH – Hopefully the games keeps growing and expands its competitive support with major tournaments and price pool like the ECQ circuit. And I hope the games moves away more from the “battle cruiser” style game play we currently mostly see into a more diverse style of play and decks. (I know it is technically two but oh well.

PERSONAL MANTRA – Life is a game, Play harder go pro!

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE CUSTOM ETERNAL CARD, WHAT WOULD IT BE – (A NOTE: ManuS had a hard time coming up with a card he was comfortable pushing out to the world, so there will be none this week)

MantidMan – ManuS, arguably one of the most colorful members of the community, and I am not just talking about your hair. First of all, congratulations are in order and deserved. Taking down the final ECQ is no small feat, especially with relatively limited time and info with the quick turnaround from Homecoming. Before we get into all of that, we always like to know as much as we can about the person behind the name. Can you tell us about how you got into gaming, what you do outside of games, and anything else you want to share about yourself and your life?

ManuS – I got into card games in around 1998 when I discovered Magic the Gathering in school with some friends at a local shopping mall and we got a starter and started diving into the game. And even after others had stopped playing and I took a longer break the game kinda stuck with me. Eventually I reconsidered it gave it another shot and never looked back playing on and off competitively ever since. I took longer breaks here and there but never actually intended or decided to quit for good. Ever since I have been a fan of similar games and played HS for a few years and I discovered Eternal for the same reasons.

I study English and Philosophy for way too long now.

I occasionally work student jobs. In fact, I am just about to start a new one as a tour guide currently.

Aside from that I occasionally DJ at goth club nights (started our own club night in Berlin with a friend last year which is currently on pause trying to find a new venue) and spent time with friends or watching tons of TV Shows if I am not streaming, playing Eternal, MTG or Apex Legends with friends or making YouTube content.

MantidMan – Normally I try to stay away from the other card games, but you have a storied and fantastic journey in Magic: The Gathering from what I understand. Can you tell us about that and how it led into Eternal?

ManuS – Well as already explained above that’s how it all started. I played my first Grand Prix back in 2004 in Mirrodin only Sealed and played a lot of GPs over the years with my biggest accomplishment being a Finals at GP Lyon in 2012.

I also managed to qualify for 5 Pro Tours in my life between 2010 and 2014 including one Top 16 finish at Pro Tour Gatecrash 2013.

I learned about Eternal at the time from Conley on FB posting about it and applied for the closed beta.

A lot of skill and experience and also theory from MTG is more or less directly applicable to Eternal and made a transition into it fairly easy.

MantidMan – Do you feel like finals at the GP in Lyon or the Pro Tour appearances were on par with, above, or below being the ECQ Champ for Dark Frontier?

ManuS – Definitely above. The competition in MTG at these levels is noticeably tougher. Those 2 are still my proudest gaming accomplishments. Winning the ECQ feels more like winning a PTQ in MTG to me which is still a proud accomplishment and one I only managed 3 times.

MantidMan – Let’s get into Eternal now. Of course, the ECQ is on top of everyone’s minds, your return to form for sure. How did you prep for it? Can you walk us through the decision points and how you practiced and prepared? Can we shed some light on the process and show the fans all over just how it is done?

ManuS – Sure. I knew with such an abundance of buffs coming for Stonescar that it was likely that some form of midrange-y Stonescar deck with a proactive disruptive plan would be good so that was the thing I wanted to try. After brewing the first version of the deck on stream the day of the balance changes, it quickly showed promise and Ilya and HomeboddyOddity managed to make it into Top 64 with this initial version despite its shortcomings.  I kept working on it, testing various iterations until the last day basically with some minor feedback here and there from some teammates and mostly some direct testing with my friend, Patrick Dickmann, and discussing some options and card choices in the last days before the ECQ knowing this is what I am going to play. RrbbTT was responsible for making me switch back to Maiden main over Highwayman on Friday due to expecting even more Praxis than we already did which paid dividends. So yeah, after about 150 games with the deck between ladder and against Patrick with a win rate of over 75% we settled on the final list we played and I ended up winning. If you want more details on the specific list and card choices and how it evolved I recommend my Deck Tech on it here.

The deck simply felt extremely strong, smooth and well-rounded not particularly afraid of any match-up I expected facing and that’s roughly how the Top 64 felt. I just rolled over my opponents’ decks like an unstoppable train not losing a single game. Sometimes it all comes together and you find the perfect deck for the right moment and manage to get a particularly huge edge and it feels great. It was just kind of the perfect storm. Praxis was the deck To BEAT but I had found the perfect deck TO PLAY.

MantidMan – Were there other decks you considered playing? Now that it is all over, what was the worst matchup you felt, and what are your plans to prep for the championship?

ManuS – Not really. Praxis Pledge or Hooru/TJP Midrange I guess were sort of the fallback plan if SS somehow looked horrible vs what we expect but chances for that and I didn’t really work on anything else once it started crushing for me and also felt good. So, all I cared about is finding the best 80 for it and roll with it.

IDK TBH of the decks we expected to be a bigger part of the field and tested against none of them (Praxis Pledge, other SS variants, Hooru midrange and control variants and Jennev). We didn’t expect a lot of Winchest, but had reason to believe it could be problematic. But, after how the finals felt I am not sure if it just looks worse than it is (not because I won but because of how the games went and felt) and given that we didn’t expect it to be more than a minor popular Tier 2 deck at best we didn’t even specifically test games against it outside of the few times facing it on ladder with mixed results.

As for preparing for the championships, nothing special. Just test until I have a deck that I think is good and performs and a smooth version of it. We don’t even know when Worlds is and what structure and so on so we will have to wait until we have more info first, anyway.

MantidMan – I love the purity in that answer, not that I expected anything more complex. My next question is a sideways compliment as well…

Most of the “top end” players have many cards they complain about, and never struggle to decide on one, whereas you didn’t really have any to complain about and only sort of settled on Palace. Do you just think that everything is pretty well balanced and maintained, or is it more that you don’t feel the need to have any complaints? Or something else?

ManuS – Yeah I am not much of a complainer about cards. I take the cards as they exist and take it as a challenge or puzzle to figure out. Only if something egregiously stands out and kinda warps and dominates the metagame in a problematic way I start raising complaints.

I think the majority of balance changes this game has seen are more about cards that are a bit too good and could be toned down or about managing unfun play patterns like Talir combo which wasn’t even THAT good rather than actually broken dominant decks most of the time.

I think card games are about the challenge of making the best of what you are presented with so complaining quickly and all the time is kind of focusing on the wrong thing.

Also, some of the most dominant decks we have seen don’t do anything particularly broken or have a clear card that makes them so dominant. Look at Praxis Pledge. I don’t think any specific card stands out as the card that makes the deck good. Sure, Glasshopper and Gun Runner are really strong but they are also the payoff that makes it a deck so if you cripple those the deck just falls apart.

There is also the fact that the community is fairly small and there is a lot of people mirroring a few especially if it comes to something like and ECQ. So, a single person like Sunyveil or me, for example, can have a huge impact on what is widely played on ladder or even tournaments. Therefore, I am a fan of being patient and giving things time to shake out and balance and if it keeps being the same way for a longer time take action. Winchest was a good example. It kept being dominant for a longer while and DWD addressed it until it wasn’t anymore. Overall, I am fairly happy with the balancing of the game, I think. And DWD using balance patches as an additional tool to shake things up and keep the metagame in flux and fresh isn’t the worst thing.

MantidMan – Explain to me, and hopefully others who do not know, what “battlecruiser” style gameplay means when it comes to your wishes for Eternal moving forward. What could DWD do to move away from this style once you explain it?

ManuS – It refers to what we mostly see right now: Good stuff, unit driven, midrange decks with a bunch of over-statted powerful units backed by some efficient removal and generally powerful cards. Not much synergy driven decks, combo, tempo or aggro control, not even any actual aggro right now and one real control deck. Midrange good stuff piles of cards. Fairly one dimensional and more a collection of individually strong cards than cards that all come together to form a larger whole.

I hope see more diversity in play patterns and deck styles in the future and a bit of a move away from individually overly powerful cards towards more synergy. Various flavors and sizes of midrange being more or less the only archetype gets old fast. I think the best way to improve it is having a rotation finally and shift the second standard format of Eternal on different things to keep it fresh. It’s fine if one format is like this and then you get a new format with a different texture but we have had this for a long time and it gotten worse and worse with more of these individually powerful midrange threats and efficient removal being released. We basically saw the death of aggro and to an extent also control in the process. Currently, we have a decent Hooru Control again that we have not seen in a while, so that is nice. But, it seems to struggle to keep up with the midrange power of decks like SS and Praxis Pledge for example, and normally Control is and should be the natural predator on a sea of midrange but it just doesn’t seem to be as powerful as them.

MantidMan – With the newest set just out, I would love to know which cards you are most hype on? What are you most excited to build with, and of course, what do you predict making the biggest splash in the meta landscape?

ManuS – Insignias, Sediti, Eclipse Dragon, Ghodan, Cryptic Master, Tocas to name a few that stand out so far. they all look pretty powerful and will likely significantly impact the new format. Master is the most speculative but still pretty good and exciting to try and take Auralian Relics into new and hopefully more competitive directions than it already is currently. The others look like future staples mostly.

MantidMan – Yeah, there is a lot of good stuff in this little package. It will be cool to see what come of it all over the coming weeks and months

You put out some great content in the past, with all of this new material so you have any plans for what comes next? Can you give us a sneak peek into what you and Eternal Titans have on the horizon?

ManuS – Well I will do my comprehensive card by card review for limited and constructed in the coming days with one part covering 12 cards a day if possible. And then we are off to potential deck techs depending on what I have to share and can share in regards to the still upcoming tournaments. Other members of my team will likely write or record their own brewing and review content but you can find all of that over at Eternal Titans in the coming days and weeks.

Otherwise you can occasionally catch me live over on Twitch messing around with the new set.

And we will, of course, prepare for the remaining tournaments and upcoming worlds as well as we can to hopefully get at least one additional teammate in (looking at you camat0 with your staggering 18 ECQ points for example)

Aside from that there are no major plans for the near future in regards to myself or Eternal Titans as of now. We will keep competing and try doing our best to stay on top of the competition.

MantidMan – And you all will assuredly keep succeeding. I do enjoy rooting for, and sometimes against you all!

For my last question, it is my favorite, your passions in your life. This one does not have to be about eternal or gaming or anything like that. Some people have been really passionate about helping others, some about movies and art, even more about equality. But, we all want to know what you are passionate about. It has been a great time talking with you, and this is always a great way to wind it up don’t you think?

ManuS – I at least hope so!

I guess the things I am most passionate about are basically competitive gaming especially card games like Eternal and MTG and the like. It has always kept challenging, engaging and occupying me in a good way.

Then food. I am a hobby cook for quite some time having swallowed everything educational from Gordon Ramsay and others (cause like in gaming I care about doing it as well as I can by learning from the best) and how to cook the homecooked food I loved as a kid from my grandma. I really love eating and making good food.

Another thing I have always been passionate about has been relationships/love (and also friends, really) as cheesy as it might sound. I am definitely a relationship person and just generally very passionate I would say.

The other big passion in my life has been the old-school goth subculture and music and the things related to it. Basically, the emotional counterpart to the more rational competitive gaming. I go to parties, festivals, and gigs where I can collect and, since last year, recently spin music (either at our own party started last year or otherwise if given the chance) and so on. Some might have seen me share some pictures of how I look all dressed up when I go out or on my recently for that purpose established IG account for their entertainment.

And, I guess, to add something more abstract and conceptual as you mentioned things like equality: I am also probably most passionate about fairness/justice and truth.

I also really love and watch way too many TV Shows when I am not streaming or something, but I wouldn’t call that a passion. There you go those are my biggest passions. One could say I am, overall, a very passionate person I guess.


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