Trail Stories: Nrausch1

AGE: 34

BIRTHPLACE: Napoleon, OH. Small town about 30 minutes SW of Toledo.

TEAM AFFILIATION: Team NickJason, but that’s just my friend and I playing together.


PLAYING SINCE: August 2018

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A BUILDER, TUNER, OR STRICTLY A PILOT: Builder, I guess? Most people would probably consider me a builder but I enjoy the whole process of building something new and tuning it.

FAVORITE DECK ARCHETYPE: Aggro to Mid range. Really anything that’s proactive and has a linear game plan.

FAVORITE CARD: Dusk Raider. Everything about the card is perfect. The extra card draw combined with the inspire, the incidental damage to the opponent, it’s just awesome.

MOST DISLIKED OR DAMAGING CARD: Initiate of the Sands. There is no more infuriating card to see your opponent play on turn one when you are on the draw.

ONE ETERNAL WISH: More players. The game is soo good and deserves to succeed.

PERSONAL MANTRA: In life: Just be a good person. Basic human decency goes a long way.  In gaming: Play the game you love, and love the game you play. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong.


MantidMan: Nick, can I call you Nick? I’m going to call you Nick… In the Unexpected Results podcast this week, we talked about the severe beat down you put on the tournament with, frankly, a budget Skycrag deck.Some players have said you are on “A whole other level” because of your unorthodox usage of Merchants and the Market mechanics. Before we get into all of that, the people have asked and I have to deliver: What can you tell us about yourself? You have only been playing the game for a couple months, do you have a background in TCGs or CCGs? Did you manifest yourself by sheer will from Fire and Ice to bring the word of Skycrag? What has led you here, and who are you?

Nrausch1: Thanks for having me! Like most card floppers, I grew up playing Magic: the Gathering. I started playing that in 1996 and never looked back. While I never reached any crazy heights like the Pro Tour or a GP top 8, I did consider myself a somewhat competitive player. I had a handful of PTQ top eights and won an SCG Legacy Open in July of 2011 (with a very unorthodox deck, lol). That year at GenCon my then girlfriend, now wife, and I tried out the World of Warcraft TCG. We both enjoyed the MMORPG so it looked like a card game we could play together. We fell in love with the game and I got the competitive itch. We played in the State Championship tournament a few weeks later and I placed 2nd (with another unorthodox deck. seems to be a recurring theme). Through that event and several other local events, we met some great people who invited me to join their team, Daily Metagame/RIW. I had no idea that I was going to be working with some of the most successful and high profile players in the game. Over the next year, I cashed several Darkmoon Faires (think M:tG Grand Prix level of play) including a finals appearance, won a Realm Championship, placed in the top 10 in the Player of the Year Race, and top 4’d Continental Championships. Unfortunately, the game died due to Blizzard wanting to make their own game. From that point on, I dabbled a little bit in Hearthstone, the new Vs. System 2PCG, and Magic but mostly gaming took a backseat to focus on my career of owning a game store.

This past August, I tried out Eternal at GenCon and really liked the game. With the Twitch Prime free 32 packs, it was a no-brainer to give it a shot. 4 Months later, here we are. My work keeps me from being active in the community tournaments like the ECL and ETS, which is probably why most people may not recognize me from Eternal, but I am very active on ladder reaching Masters in both Ranked and Draft each of the last 4 months and in the top 100 the last two. When I do get a night off, if it doesn’t coincide with my wife’s night off, I like to stream Eternal on Twitch. It usually ends up being a couple days a week.

MantidMan: Oh, ho ho, my friend, I am very familiar with the WOWTCG, I was a co-host on the Question of Gluttony Podcast, cashed plenty of high-level tournaments as well, and partially credited with creating the Monster Hunter meta toward the end of the game, but that is neither here nor there. I am glad other people remember and think so fondly of the game. You have quite a storied history that I am sure everyone, including myself, is glad to now know. Now, for some real meat. First thing I would love to hear about is your Qualifier runs, you put up some crazy numbers, how did you do it? How did you decide what the meta could be? What did you play to do so well, and do you have any recommendations for players keeping their cool and doing well in the next ECQ? (Do not worry fans,the next question is why-oh-why did he build his T64 deck the way he did)

Nrausch1: I wish I could give you some galaxy brain reason for the answers to these questions, but I can’t. Simply put, I played the best deck that I was most familiar with. I played the exact same 80 cards in the qualifier run as I did in the top 64 and went 22-6. I put very, very, little stock into trying to metagame. “oh, am I supposed to play the level 1 deck this week, or the level two? well what other people play the level 2 deck I need to be on level three, but if that’s true then shouldn’t I be on level 1? Uh,Uh, what do I do?” Fuck that. Just play what’s comfortable. Maybe change a few cards depending on what’s hot, but by and large you will perform much better just playing a good deck you are comfortable with. That being said, I believe skycrag aggro was in a decent position. The rise of Feln and other removal heavy decks pushed many of the time midrange decks off to the side.Temporal Control has started to see a little bit of resurgence. Haunted Highway was on the decline. So many of the decks that can prey on skycrag weren’t around. Still, I 100% would have played skycrag no matter what the perceived metagame was. As far as keeping your cool, I’m going to be totally cliché. It’s a game. It’s meant to be fun. Just relax and take it one game a time. The more comfortable and relaxed you are. the better you will do.

MantidMan: With all of that, why-oh-why did you BUILD the deck the way you did?

Nrausch1: If you want a full in depth look at my build ofskycrag, you can check out my article on Eternal Titans here, but I’ll give you the quick rundown. Merchants in Skycrag Aggro is nothing new.Players have been doing that as long as I’ve been playing the game. Builds that have included either the Fire or Primal merchant have popped up from time to time, and there are merits for choosing one over the other. One of the common and most powerful plays in Jennev Merchant’s arsenal is to grab Mirror Image and copy the merchant. This fits the curve perfectly giving you your turn 3 and 4 play and continues to add pressure to the board. This is exactly what an aggro or midrange deck wants to do, not only to apply pressure in the mid game,but also to go wide in the late game and rebuild should your initial onslaught of units get wiped. Just apply that same logic to Ixtun Merchant. You can’t grab Mirror Image with the fire merchant, but you can grab an addition copy of himself. Again. It fits the curve perfectly, mapping out your curve and continuously applies pressure.

The rest of the market is built around this. Aggro decks don’t want to be reactive so you won’t see things like Bore, Ruin, Kaleb’s Choice, Backlash, etc. You want the market to accentuate your game plan, not be the complete opposite. Your curve is 3 drop into 3+1. The permafrost is your 1 alongside Jennev Merchant and Warhelm is your 1 alongside Ixtun. The final market slot is Mortar. This is just burn to help you close out the game if it goes late. The benefit of Mortar over a card like Obliterate is it can be gotten by both merchants. The 7-merchant plan also has other benefits. It mitigates flooding. It lets you run 15 one drops without having to worry about them being dead after turn 2. You can stash away a card and never not be able to get it later. Ixtun into Ixtun and stashing and re-grabbing units has synergy with Dusk Raider. You don’t have to run a ton of 3 drops to make sure you have a turn 3 and 4 play because each merchant takes up both those turns with a single card. The deck was built the way it is because I think it’s the best way skycrag can be built. The merchants do EVERYTHING you want a card to do for you in the mid to late game.

MantidMan: Obviously, this all makes a lot of sense. Considering how well you did this past weekend. It is a fresh way of looking at the build and how to approach the game. Another thing that is really interesting to me is your most disliked card. Normally I have a really good grasp on why someone dislikes something. I mean, I get hating that your opponent could be even further ahead of you, but can you break down your dislike for such a staple lady?

Nrausch1: As an aggro player, being on the draw is already a significant disadvantage. That becomes exacerbated when your opponent gets to continue the game 2 turns ahead of you instead of one. It completely warps how you have to play the game from turn 1 so much so that the game is likely already over. Take Skycrag for example. You’re on the draw and your opponent goes turn 1 Initiate. You have a couple of options:
1) If you have no removal. Well, GG. All you can do is ignore it and try to apply pressure anyway. This is likely futile as your opponent can start playing their mid drops like Auralian Merchant, SST, Siraf,etc. a full turn earlier. All of these mid drops outclass your stage 1 plays,start bridging the gap into stage 3, and you’ll still stuck in stage 1.
2a) If you have a torch or another 1 cost removal spell, kill it. This isn’t great because you aren’t enacting your stage 1 plan of applying pressure and the end result of using the torch turn 1 is a tempo negative play. You have to hope and pray that your units and reach can overcome this loss of tempo down the road.
2b) If you have a torch or another 1 cost removal spell, don’t kill it. This lets you enact your game plan a little better as you are making your stage one plays but like in option one, you are likely to get outclassed. Initiate even gets to trade with your stage 1 plays once the ramp is less relevant. Here you have to hope and pray that saving the removal spell will help you trade up and overcome the opposing units.

No matter what option you choose, you are not in a good position. You just have to try and contextualize your hand, something that is very difficult with only 1 turn’s worth of information, and try to pick the best option between 2a and 2b.

Compare this to the ramp from a card like baby Icaria. I may be stretching here, but I think it’s closer that people think. Baby Icaria costs 2, requires 2 influence, AND costs another 3 power to ramp. That’s 5 power and 2 additional turns for nearly the exact same ramp that Initiate gets you on turn 1. Initiate also gives the power bonus just for being there. You don’t have to exhaust, you don’t have to have any certain condition met. Hell, it can still attack and block! You don’t have to make a choice of whether you want it for the fact that it’s a unit. You get both. The turn you decide to cash it in either in an attack or block, you still the get the power out of it. It’s absurd.

MantidMan: Look, I’m not here to judge, so I cannot tell you if you are wrong, or if you are right. Someone in the comments will I am sure. I am simply here to explore. So, in that vein I want to talk a bit about your experience as a newer player. What did it take to get up to the level you are at? Did you have to spend any money or are you strictly F2P? How much have you had to play, regardless of expenditure, to get up to here? AND, finally, do you have any advice for newer players, maybe something you wish you knew a couple months ago?

Nrausch1: While, it’s true I haven’t been playing Eternal for very long, I do have 22 years of experience playing various strategy card games under my belt. Many of the skill sets learned from those games crossover into Eternal. Deck building, card evaluations in a vacuum, card evaluations in context, reading opponents, theory of fire, who’s the beatdown, tempo, yadda yadda yadda. All of that learned over the last 2/3rds of my life can still be applied to this game. As far as money is concerned, I’ve purchased 3 of the campaigns and spent maybe another $20 to do some drafts. I also paid my entry fee for the ECQ event with real world money. That’s it. Do I believe I had to spend that money on the game? Absolutely not. I personally just wanted to enjoy the PvE mode of the campaigns and learn about the draft format. You can still experience all of that content without spending a dime, I just chose to spend a little bit of money because the content looked fun. How much money you spend on the game (or any game for that matter) is not a direct correlation to what your results will be. What it takes to get to the highest level is, I know, cliché answer again, hard work and dedication. Put in the time to learn the game, learn the cards, learn the decks, and the results will come. Advice for newer players?Enjoy. Have fun. In the end, that’s all that matters.

MantidMan: See, I knew there was a reason I interviewed you. A purist when it comes to advice. Now the wrap up, your time to talk about something you are vested in, something that is high on your passion scale. It does not have to be related to Eternal or even gaming. This is a chance for people to see whatever side of you that you would like. So, Nick, what are you passionate about? What would you like to share with your platform here?

Nrausch1: I’m a pretty simple man. I have a wife and two cats. I have a small but very close-knit group of friends. I work. I stream and play Eternal. That’s pretty much it.

I do have a cause that I have championed recently. Earlier this year, my sister gave birth to twins 14 weeks premature. It was a very difficult and trying time for the family with travel to and from the hospital,ups and downs in the babies’ health and what not. The local Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC) stepped up and helped. For those that don’t know, the RMHC is a national charity organization that finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. They provide a place to stay right at the hospital for families in need and in some cases, even provides financial assistance. Nearly 90% of the money donated to the RMHC goes directly into the programs and services it offers. For my family specifically,they provided what was essentially: a home away from home. We had a place to stay nightly, food and drink including hot home cooked meals, laundry services,all sorts of things, all free of charge, to relieve some of the financial burden and make us feel as comfortable as we could be in our time of need.

This coming February, I will be doing a 24-hour charity stream to benefit the RMHC. It’s my way of giving back to something that gave so much to my family. I’m still in the planning stages but I’m excited about the prospect of what will happen. I’m going to have special guests, be playing all sorts of wacky decks, ranked play, draft, maybe even a viewer tournament; all sorts of fun stuff to help raise money for a great cause. As we draw nearer to the event, I will be releasing any information as it becomes available. You can find that information on my stream or on my twitter.

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