Trail Stories: Mulligan

AGE: ​36

BIRTHPLACE: ​New York, New York

TEAM AFFILIATION: ​The Great Parliament

MOST NOTABLE ETERNAL ACHIEVEMENT: ​Once in a while, I slip in the
backdoor of something like an ECL Invitational or the top 64 of some test
tournament Dire Wolf held where people were having a grand old feast. The
actual best thing was starting to stream Eternal on Twitch. The people that
come by during the stream to chill out and, more recently, after the stream
on Discord and seeing the community grow has been amazing to watch.

PLAYING SINCE: ​Closed Beta. More specifically, the very last month of
Closed Beta.

I still consider myself a brewer, but for the past few months, I’ve had
a desire to become a better pilot. So, I feel like I’m kind of in this weird place
right now where I’m stuck between wanting to brew, but also wanting to win
more games and get better. I’ve noticed that I’ve been brewing less and less
with each new set ever since Fall of Argenport came out.
I am wondering if the fact that I’m stuck between brewer and pilot actually
means I’m a tuner lol.

FAVORITE DECK ARCHETYPE: ​I love Armory. It stems from my love of
Control Warrior back when I used to play Hearthstone. There’s just this
amazing feeling of equipping a relic weapon and saying “you want
something done right? You gotta do it yourself”. Sadly, I don’t play it often
these days since Armory has been in rough times for a while now.

FAVORITE CARD: ​Whetstone. There are other cards I love (hey Flamestoker,
I see you there), but Whetstone holds a special place in my heart. It’s not
flashy. It’s not a giant win condition that costs 7 power or more like Xo. It’s
not a super-efficient unit with Charge and Warcry like Vicious Highwayman.
It’s just a little 1 power relic that pumps you relic weapons by 1 strength. But
that 1 strength has won me games I tell ya. That 1 strength has helped me
clear boards I tell ya. One day, it will be in the limelight. And everyone will
realize how wrong they were to call Whetstone a bad card.

MOST DISLIKED CARD: ​This changes based on flavor of the month lol. But
if I had to pick one card I’ve disliked throughout the history of Eternal, it’s
Temporal Distortion. I played Magic the Gathering during a time when
playing Blue was the best thing you could ever do and if you weren’t playing
counterspells and card draw you could play whenever you wanted, you were
most likely doing it wrong. Been there. Done that. Made some friends.
Bought the t-shirt. But I don’t miss that time. Temporal Distortion reminds
me of those days and not in a good way; like those (dark? lol) days of Magic
coming back out of the grave to torture its victims. It basically reads, “you
can no longer play the game. I will take my turn and then I’ll also take your
turn :)”. I’m on record saying that if you play Temporal Distortion, you can
play whatever other cards you want in any order because it doesn’t matter.
You’ll win anyway. I know I’m wrong, but I don’t care. I just hate the card that
much lol. I know effects like that are the wet dreams of some control players,
but I’m glad modern card design is the way it is now.

MARKETING. ALL OF IT. ​Seriously, I would still love for this game to “blow
up” if you will. It doesn’t have to be as popular as a game made by Wizards
or Blizzard. But I would like for it to be much closer to that than it is now. If
not, I hope, at the very least, that it continues to grow at a steady clip.

PERSONAL MANTRA: ​There are a few things I try to live my life by. I want
to always try to see the good in everything and try to have a generally
positive attitude about myself and things that happen in my life. Look for the
“silver lining” in all situations if you will. I’m a big believer in making sure you
look out for and do what you can for your fellow man. I feel like that’s
missing in our society. There’s plenty of people already out here that are
only in this life for themselves. They just want to make a lot of money, buy
that big house or whatever. So why add myself to that population? Make no
mistake, wanting those things are fine, but the older I get, the less respect I
have for people that are ONLY in this life just for themselves lol. What legacy
did you leave? Oh, you just got a great job and made a bunch of money?
Congrats (slow clap), you just happened to be fortunate in a world where so
many people will never get the opportunities you got, even if they tried to
make the opportunities themselves. There have been times in my life where
I’ve had plenty and times where I’ve had nothing. I’ve lived in a house with
an elevator in it and lived in places that were very low income where we
didn’t even have a bed to sleep on, depending on which parent I lived with.
People have had it worse than me for sure, but I feel like I have a pretty
unique take on life having lived on “both sides of the fence”.
Anyway, I’m also becoming a big believer in having balance in your life.
Having a passion for something is great. Spending nearly every waking hour
of your day working without taking time for yourself to relax, or worse, not
spending time with your friends or loved ones is awful. It’s just not healthy
even if you think you’re “fine”. Yes, you have to put a certain amount of time
and work into what you do. But, at this point of my life, I don’t want to
sacrifice time spent on myself or family just for the grind if you will.

So, I’ve never been the type of guy to design a card. I’ve only ever made
one attempt at making custom cards ever. It’s just never been a big passion
of mine. BUT, if I could have one custom card, it would be something similar
to Millstone from Magic the Gathering. Like, maybe a relic in Shadow that
you can play that either discards cards from the opponent’s deck. Something
like this?

I’m not a card designer by any means, but one thing I wish this game had is
better support for alternate win conditions. I don’t consider myself a control
player at heart, but there are very specific cards/win conditions that are
interesting enough to get me to play control decks. Flamestoker is one. The
other is the possibility of just decking your opponent. The cards we’ve
received so far to support winning the game by “milling” the opponent has
been pretty poor. I feel like Dire Wolf can give us more powerful cards than
what we’ve had so far since it’s already harder to deck your opponent in this
game due to the 75 card minimum deck size as opposed to Magic’s 60
cards. The closest thing we’ve had to a working mill deck is using the card
Black Iron Manacles, which still wins by reducing the opponent’s health to 0.
Just like nearly every other deck in this game that wins with units.
Admittedly, there’s a small part of me that’s getting a little bored of winning
games the same way via units and dealing 25 damage to face. I just want to
see other ways of winning be supported without it being unfun of course.

MantidMan – Oh, it’s Mulligan… This interview is going to come off in a bit of a biased light for anyone who pays attention to where I am at. I spend A LOT of time following your content, and I have enjoyed it since the day you started sharing with the world. You are one of the most chill and humble streamers I have even had the pleasure of interacting with and I could not pass up the opportunity to have you join me by the campfire. Before we really get started with all of the hard stuff, we all want to know a bit about you. We have heard some anecdotes from time to time about what your real life looks like, but I want the whole thing. Can you tell me, and the readers, about what you do outside of Eternal? What brought you into this community? And of course, why you stay?

Mulligan – I’m glad I have at least one big fan haha. I wanna quickly say thanks for all you do as well, Mantid, and for the support you’ve given me too. You and others are what keep me in the community. As far as how I got into Eternal, a little background. I used to play Hearthstone and was in that community for about three years. For the most part, I was just a player and not really a content creator. In 2016, I was starting to really dislike the game. There was something I wanted in a card game that Hearthstone wasn’t and, in hindsight, could never give me. The gameplay was too simple and the class system didn’t allow for much freedom in deck building. It also started feeling like an endless grind as far as laddering was concerned and a money sink every time a new set came out. I actually found out about Eternal through Brian Kibler, who still streams Hearthstone to this day, but of course like many others, I knew his name from Magic the Gathering. I got my beta key towards the end of closed beta and jumped right in after seeing the gameplay. A few months later, I decided to throw my hat into the content creation space through YouTube. I got some good feedback for my first video and that started things off, eventually getting into streaming on Twitch.

I stay because I love that our community is pretty tight knit. Everybody knows everybody. The Twitch community in particular is very, very supportive. Everyone proved that a few months ago when I stopped streaming for about a month due to having to take care of my mother after a surgery she had until she could get back to doing things normally. I was starting to get worried during that time that if I came back, no one would care. When I did finally come back, everyone embraced me with open arms. It was like I never left. That’s when I knew this community was special. All the streamers in the community want to see each other succeed and we look out for each other. That’s what keeps me around.

As far as what I do outside of Eternal, unfortunately I don’t have anything else going on right now. I worked in finance for many years, usually in a job position on the lower end of the totem pole in that industry (retail banking stuff, sales etc.). Then, after trying for years to move to other positions, I got pretty dissatisfied with the culture of the department I was in. It didn’t end too well, but in hindsight, things started changing a lot after I left and it wasn’t for the better. So I ended up dodging the bullet. I’ve worked at other places in other industries since then, but nothing concrete and streaming is all I do right now while I’m “between jobs” if you will. I’m really looking to do something more geared toward passions I had when I was a kid. The work can be tedious, but I’ve always liked video editing/production and I’ve done it on the side as a fun thing for years now. It’s something I was first introduced to in high school, so if anyone out there reading this has any connections for a “freelance” guy like me, hit me up lol. Getting into IT is an idea I toy with from time to time (mainly coding). Obviously, I’d love to stream on Twitch full time, but I have to be realistic. I’ve enjoyed the ride though, through all the ups and downs.

MantidMan – You seem like you are a big fan of slipping in under the radar. The last month of Closed Beta, a few sneaky higher finishes in top tier events. Coming out of nowhere and getting the community hyped for Face Cam reveal. Secrecy and sneak seems to be your style and I love it. Another thing that I really enjoy is something you talked about in your Mantra answer, and that is silver linings and knowing what it is like on all sides. That resonates with me for sure. The last things, for now, that we both share is a love for big shiny relic weapons. With the way the game is shaping up in the new set, do you think that armory could make a comeback, do we only need one or two cards to really make it a factor again?

Mulligan – Haha yeah staying under the radar has always been my preferred style for as long as I can remember, but when I came back from my brief hiatus a few months back, I felt it was finally time to do the face reveal. A lot of that was overcoming fear at the end of the day, but I’m glad I did it.

As far as Armory goes, this set definitely brought it closer to viability again, in my opinion. If Armory does end up making a comeback, though, I think it will mainly be due to the card Avigraft. Being able to target “tokens” like Grenadin sounds small, but it’s huge for a deck like Armory, which is notorious for not handling go-wide strategies very well since they need the board (almost) clear for their relic weapons to have maximum effect. Armory has had to use stuff like Devastating Setback to handle those types of decks in the past (and still might need to). I have a love/hate relationship with Avigraft and I have the same concerns about it that other players do too. It can definitely create “feel bad” scenarios if you’re on the receiving end, but it feels amazing when you’re the one playing it. But, I’m afraid for it to get nerfed because of what I said earlier about it being key to any chance Armory has of coming back. The deck might still be a few cards away from viability. It’d be nice if we got another solid relic weapon similar in power level to Auric Runehammer at the very least, since we haven’t had any really good ones since the initial set. But I do also think we should keep an open mind about different ways to do Armory and not just stick to tradition. I’m really just saying that for myself, but I’ve been more and more intrigued by what my teammate Erik9099 was doing with Armory in recent months that focused on Molten Fist, gaining armor and recurring Molten Fist with Reforges. That might just be the new normal, we’ll see.

Or maybe there’s a 4 faction build that’s possible?

MantidMan – Let’s talk a touch about your marketing wish. Believe me, I have the same wish just like a lot of other people. You are a cool guy so I feel like you can handle being put on the spot: you want DWD to do marketing , are you willing to offer any idea for what kind of marketing you would like to see? What do you think would be the best approach?

Mulligan – Man, I wish I could give DWD suggestions, but I can’t think of any other than big elaborate things like TV commercials, which I’ve definitely seen for Hearthstone and even Magic if I recall. But, they aren’t Blizzard or Wizards. They don’t have that kind of marketing budget. At least, I assume they don’t. But, maybe an ad here or there on an internet website other than Facebook (I haven’t seen any ad space taken up by Eternal for any website I visit). Actually, one thing I can think of is that if they can do it the right way, they should push the lore of the game in their advertisements. I feel like historically they’ve pushed gameplay, which isn’t bad, but people love storytelling and learning about fantasy worlds even more. At least in my opinion.

Side note: maybe they can learn from a book of Oaths that I’m sure you’re familiar with wink

MantidMan – There are absolutely a lot of opinions about that, and I tend to agree with you, pushing the story a bit more could bring a crowd in, we know the game play is good, but we need to attract before we can hook them, chum the waters so to speak Since we are in the “hot takes” mode right now, I want to hear more about this Whetstone love. What do we need to happen, either in the meta, or in card design, for me to see you drag a Whetstone deck into the top 16 of the next Eternal Championship Qualifier? WHO DO WE HAVE TO CORNER TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

Mulligan – I absolutely NEED a 2 cost relic weapon that does 3 damage with no other upgrades to start. If it does anything else, it’s icing on the cake. Also, I would probably want these FJS/Winchest midrange and control decks to just go away as they’ve really been stealing Armory’s thunder for quite some time and they only steal more of it with every new set. Also, it would probably be nice if token decks and decks that bring back stuff from the dead weren’t good in the meta.

So, a lot has to happen lol.

(in my Italian mafia voice) I dunno who we have to corner to make it happen, but when I do find them, I’ll have my top men on the case. NO ONE escapes The Don Mulligan’s grasp. I’ll find ’em and make ’em an offer they can’t refuse, yeah? THE DON MULLIGAN HAS SPOKEN!!

MantidMan – I would love that addition, just give me a beat stick that is something along the lines of a 3/1 relic weapon for 2 and I would also be pumped up about it.

 So, we know what you like, what you dislike, and what you want to see in the game. I would love to know a bit about what you foresee in the game in the coming months. Without knowing balance changes, and promo cards coming, do you have any inkling of which way the meta could turn with all of the Peaks decks running around right now? What do you think the first ECQ will look like coming up on Jan 11th?

Mulligan – Unfortunately, I think the meta will remain exactly the same as it is now up through the ECQ on Jan 11th. I think they’ll take a wait and see approach regarding where the meta is at, using the tournament as an example. Of course, I’ve been wrong before and they’ve made changes to cards right before ETS events. Part of me hopes that happens, but part of me understands that some players would be upset if all their preparation was thrown out the window with card changes. My hope though is that Howling Peak is nerfed in some way. It doesn’t even have to be a major nerf. Even its health/durability being reduced to 4 is OK with me. I don’t think Hojan is necessarily a problem. It’s funny though because (and I know I’m going off on a little tangent here) I feel like the control players want Hojan nerfed and the aggressive players want Peak nerfed lol. DWD has done a good job regarding buffs and nerfs in the past. I don’t think it’s much of a prediction because this seems to be their philosophy on buffs/nerfs, but I think that the next major patch will bring the strongest factions more in line with the rest, while buffing the weaker factions so everything is closer to the middle. Midrange is the weakest right now overall, with only one truly good deck (FJS/Winchest) with Time being perceived as the weakest faction, but if it actually is, I don’t think it’s far behind the other factions. I don’t see too much changing in the more immediate months since the ECQ is in full swing outside of what we’ve been used to: another campaign being the next release, maybe more than 1 patch with buffs and nerfs etc. However, I DO think a rotation of some type is IMMINENT. And I think it will happen at some point this year, maybe after the World Championship which I’ve heard other players in the community allude to.
EDIT: I secretly want Direwood Slasher to be buffed to a 2/1 in the next patch. I think that would make it Constructed viable

MantidMan – So you are in the camp of “Howling Peaks is too strong, please help” right now?

Mulligan – Absolutely. I like the mountain range, but too much of anything is not good. Especially if mountains do things like make howling noises….

MantidMan – Let’s put you on the spot again. I would love to see what you think the biggest mistake Dire Wolf Digital and the Eternal team have made is. Do not worry, not only will I ask the opposite question next, but I will make sure I maintain that you do not speak for the community on this, it is more of a Mulli Hot Take. Care to dive in?

Mulligan – Oh yeah. A lot of people have their own opinions on why this or that card got nerfed (shout out to my teammate IlyaK regarding Champion of Chaos – I still think she could’ve been a 4/4 when fully powered up instead of nerfing her to a 5/3). But, to this day, I cannot for the life of me figure out why they removed Powersurge from the game. Powersurge, for those new, was a mechanic on certain cards where you were required to spend all remaining power you had left during your turn to play the card and get it’s effect. Copper Conduit, Flame Blast and, once upon a time, Gilded Glaive were all Powersurge cards. More specifically, I’m talking about Flame Blast which used to read “Powersurge: Deal damage equal to your power spent”. At the time, Flame Blast was considered the most powerful Powersurge card in the game. Fire-based aggro decks had a solid way of finishing opponents off if their units could no longer get through opposing blockers. A lot of people thought it was oppressive and maybe it was. But why in the world would you get rid of Powersurge? Give certain cards like Flame Blast a minimum cost of 2 before it’s effect would scale (which honestly is even more confusing than Powersurge was) when you had cards coming out in future sets that dealt with the “burn problem”. Cards like Cobalt Waystone and the litany of cost-efficient units with Lifesteal. Things like Ayan the Abductor, Whirling Duo, Unseen Commando, Rizahn and the new Vara from the Into Shadow campaign. We’ve been given a cost efficient Lifesteal unit nearly every set since the Flame Blast nerf. Hell, even Defiance gave us Hojan and Hidden Road Smuggler for what it’s worth.

I just want burn strategies to come back at some level in aggro decks. It keeps players honest in my opinion. Otherwise, you get these meta scenarios where the greedier player wins, which is where we’re at now in my opinion. Something I’m not a fan of. Maybe there’s some burn deck out there waiting to be discovered that we’ve missed for several sets now, but I don’t see it. I’d like to think someone would’ve found it by now though.

MantidMan – Devs and others keep hinting that there is stuff out there no one has thought of, maybe we are all just big dummies, who knows?

Let’s get the flip side, you are standing in front of the whole Eternal team, you are given one shot to tell them the best damn thing they have done with or for the game, where does your head go?

Mulligan – They gave a LOT of players the card game they didn’t even know they were looking for. I feel like I got into Hearthstone initially with the hopes that it would scratch that old MTG itch back in 2014. At least, that was my story. I was grinding Hearthstone in 2016 burning myself out, knowing the game wasn’t satisfying me anymore. But, I didn’t know why. I got caught up in the thinking that “this is the only good digital card game out there” which was a lie. There are many. I found this game and I rediscovered a lot of things that I was missing so much of without realizing it. The ability to do things on your opponent’s turn, not just your own. Combat where the defender controls where damage goes, not the attacker. All things that I overall enjoyed when I played Magic, despite some of my ranting earlier lol. And, unlike Magic, games flow SEAMLESSLY.

They’re not perfect. No developer is. But they made the best damn card game I’ve ever played. And because of that, I’ve found the best community I’ve ever been a part of.

MantidMan – Now my favorite part, your passion. Does it have something to do with Eternal? Not necessarily. Is it something that occupies your mind on a regular basis, or that you find yourself bringing up more often than not? Almost assuredly! What is that the Mulli-man has in his head, in his heart even? What are you passionate about my dude?

Mulligan – Oh man, here we go. I could say that I want to be the very best Eternal player like no one ever was. And part of me wants to since I can be very competitive at times and I feel like that’s been coming out during my stream more often in recent months, though I hate to admit it lol. I think I just want to prove to myself that I’m as good as anybody else that’s been successful in tournaments or what have you. But, I’m actually very passionate about what I’m doing right now, despite me being pretty mellow and chill during stream when I’m not doing hot takes or being salty. In my heart of hearts, I want to do content creation full time. When I was doing banking stuff, I would do YouTube videos on other games I was passionate about and that went on for several years. I’ve done hundreds of YouTube videos at this point. Even during times when I wasn’t doing it, I would think about it all the time. I’ve come to the point where it’s pretty obvious to me that this is what I want to be doing – streaming and just content creation whether it’s gaming or otherwise; anything that I’m passionate about really (it’s just been primarily gaming so far). I’d like to think I’m pretty open with my viewers when it comes to what I’m doing despite me having a tendency to keep a low profile. I just want to be honest when asked this type of stuff. But, as I said before, I have to remain realistic and not get caught up in the glam of making a living being a full-time streamer on Twitch. Going for your passion can be scary and sometimes dangerous depending on your life situation. Sometimes you can “make it” at some level where maybe you’re not a super popular streamer but you’re doing enough to where you can make a living, pay your bills, etc. But it will take you time to get there. So, if I had to choose a “next best thing”, it would be making a living doing video editing/production at some level.

There are other things that cross my mind on occasion. I wouldn’t necessarily call them my passion, but more like things that I wouldn’t mind doing for a living. I mentioned IT earlier, specifically coding/learning a language. Again, I don’t think that’s a passion of mine, but something that would be cool to learn and do if I could just wrap my head around it.

And no, I absolutely WILL NOT tell you about any old YouTube channels I’ve had lol. Those videos suck anyway. You don’t wanna see them, trust me.

MantidMan – Mulligan, thanks so much for coming on, it was a blast and you are, as always, such a bro. Thanks for kicking off 2019 with a bang!

Mulligan – Definitely. It was an honor to be part of this and I was glad I could start off the new year for this series.

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