Trail Stories: Sunyveil

The world outside of these campfire stories is an interesting one. Sometimes the people that forcibly silence you one day can sit down with you the next and do a super fun interview series. I can honestly say it was through my own sheer willpower alone that turned this relationship around. That and the fact that Sunyveil has a heart of gold much bigger than any Heart of the Vault. I mean that. 

Age: 28

Birthplace: Sunnyvale, CA (hah, get it)

Team Affiliation: Eternal Titans

Most Notable Eternal Achievement: Depends on your criterion, but it’s something between winning the S5 ETS Invitational last year, top 8ing ETS Worlds, being a partnered Eternal streamer, or being a member of ET. Personally, I’d put the S5 Invitational victory on top; it’s the only Eternal tournament I’ve won and came on the back of a deck choice I came to at 4am right before the submission deadline.

Around 11pm I was slated to play Feln Control, and skyped my girlfriend to show her the deck I was planning on running at the tournament. Then I lost 4 in a row, decided to go back to the drawing board, and five hours later decided I just wanted to max out on Rapid Shots and Impending Dooms.

The big deck at the time was Big Combrei, with 1-cost Protects somewhere in the 90 (this is back when we had sideboards), which was a great counter to Obliterate. However, I boarded out Obliterate every chance I could against Combrei, and my opponents were stuck with them in hand against my Rapid Shots and Impending Dooms.

Playing Since: April 2016. Before the NDA was lifted!

Hopefully this is good to share, if not too bad I don’t have any NDAs.

Do you consider yourself a Builder, Tuner, or strictly a Pilot: Is there an option for “Draft player”? I feel like at this point my game is pretty well rounded. I rarely take other people’s decks and play them card-for-card though, so I guess that makes me a Tuner?

Favorite deck Archetype: Aggro; I am terrible at playing control decks.

Favorite Card: Knight-Chancellor Siraf. A good body against aggressive decks, then some value later if the game goes that way. I miss the days where she didn’t exhaust herself to make the unit; she would get permafrosted early but then stick around to take over the late-game. Plus, if you have a premium Siraf, it’s like having premium editions of every Time and Justice unit out there!

Most disliked or damaging card in the game: I know it’s the flavor of the month, but I’ve been saying for a while now that Haunting Scream in its current form is going to have to be nerfed at some point — it should cost 3 with the same effect or cost 2 and work only for units that cost 3 or less. The existence of Haunting Scream severely limits what cards they can make in Primal and Shadow that cost 4 or less, and I’d rather take away some power from Scream than from all future units Feln can play.

I also think that Heart of the Vault is utter nonsense. I know it’s expensive and has strict influence requirements but it is both a card that has sick value and wins the game quickly if left unanswered. It doesn’t have much impact on things now because there are basically no other good Praxis cards, but if Praxis ever becomes good again Heart of the Vault is going to be everywhere and it’s going to be miserable.

Eternal wish: For Eternal to become really popular, because this game is sweet and this community is awesome.

Personal Mantra: Life is too short to be upset.

If you could have one custom Eternal card, what would it be:  

MantidMan: Suny, suny, suny… where to start? Oh, I know! Sorry-not-sorry about dropping a ban on you that fateful day. In the moment I felt terrible about it, but what has come from it has been a few weeks (at the time of publishing) of the most fun banter and the like I have had on twitter. All of that being said, I was a fan before and am more so now. But, alas, I do not know a ton about you outside of your accomplishments in Eternal. You were in one of the first batches of closed beta players, how did you find out about the game? What made you decide to stick with it? But, more importantly to me, tell us some about yourself offline, what are all of the pieces that make up such a glorious package?

Sunyveil: I found out about Eternal through LSV when he first introduced it to the world though a stream where he battled Patrick Chapin (Spoiler alert; Icaria was the win condition back then too!). I’m a longtime MTG player and in the earlier part of the decade I spent a lot of time and money traveling to tournaments and buying cards. The chance to play a card game with similarities to MTG without spending infinite money on it was enticing to say the least! I played pretty consistently until June 2017, when I qualified for the Pro Tour, by chance, and took a hiatus from Eternal to try to grind out a pro level (Spoiler alert #2; I was unsuccessful) and I returned to Eternal in full force in July of this year.

I was beyond relieved to be back to playing Eternal over Magic; the player experience is just so much more enjoyable, and playing competitively doesn’t involve flying all the way across the country just to get mana-screwed out of a tournament in the fifth round. So needless to say, I’ve been happy to be back.

Outside of Eternal, I’m a conservatory-trained musician. I play clarinet for the Silicon Valley Philharmonic and teach music lessons for a living. When I’m not streaming, I actually spend a fair amount of time on my piano. It helps me clear my head and get away from the responsibilities of everyday life.

For fun I play video games (predictably) and rock climb, although my status as a rock climber oscillates between “active” and “recovering from an injury”, and currently I’m in the latter state.

MantidMan: That is very fascinating, we have had scientists, quants, and teachers on in the past, but never a classically trained professional musician. I must say that it shows through, watching your Stream is a performance in and of itself, I (as well as most of the community) thank you for that! On to your involvement in the game itself. Being one of the players in the closed NDA beta must have been very exciting to see this game essentially from birth. While you are a proven constructed player in multiple games, you have obviously gravitated towards and label yourself as a Draft player. Can you tell me a bit about why that is? What draws you to it, what are the parts about it that you like the best? In conjunction, how do you feel about the way the Eternal Team has built drafts and how would you like to see them evolve for future sets?

Sunyveil: Something that was fascinating about Set 1/2 drafts is that with the addition of Set 2, the evaluations of some Set 1 cards changed drastically. I can’t think of any good examples off the top of my head, but I remember thinking that some of the cards I had deemed unplayable in Set 1 standalone draft ended up being quite good in Set 1/2 draft because the environment around them had changed and slowed down. As great as new cards are, I’m a big fan of whenever you have to re-evaluate a bunch of cards you’re already familiar with because of a different environment. So, hopefully draft formats in the future will accomplish that. Set 4 had the benefit of curated packs, which is a sort of lazy way to go about tailoring a draft format with existing cards (the cooler thing to do would be to plan it out such that the new set works seamlessly with a previous set so that we don’t have this format that has a bunch of cards from a set but not all of them), but it worked out well and is probably better for the gameplay experience so I’m not complaining.

(Set 3 was a disaster, and as is often the case when a development team creates the format around tribal synergies. We’ve seen this in MTG a bunch, please make more sets like Innistrad and fewer sets like Ixalan)

As for why I like draft over constructed… I’ve been playing constructed formats long enough that having 4-ofs of all the most powerful cards in a format just isn’t as exciting anymore. I want the restriction of having limited resources and to be forced into scrapping together synergies for a functional deck. Some draft decks come together easily, but I have the most fun when I have to play some questionable cards (Jibbering Jackal, Spire Spellsword, Snowrager outside of Yetis, etc.) in order to make my deck function.

The number of different cards you see in X draft games vs. X constructed games is much, much, higher and I have a lot of fun trying to figure out how they all work with each other.

MantidMan: Fascinating take, I had not thought about the evolution of cards outside of their release status thought it does make a lot of sense once it is spelled out.

MantidMan: The next thing I want to touch on is a bit of a forced transition, but I am going to piggy-back on that “re-evaluation of cards” point you touched on, but do it from a constructed standpoint. In the first three sets we had ups and downs, we had complaints of decks and combos, and cards that had to be changed to smooth out the wrinkles in the game. But with the advent of Merchants and Markets a card that was very strong had its full power realized and it has a lot of people very upset. Talir, Who Sees Beyond is a card that has always existed and has never been seen as a problem until now. Many previous guests have expressed discontent with the card and I spoke with you briefly about it with you after the SunyveFremeny stream. Can you give me your take on the card and combo deck? I know your view is different, and I think it has a lot of merit.

Sunyveil: Yeah, that deck is not particularly good and it never was. Sure, it had some good matchups, but it had so little flexibility in its deck construction (the cards have to be overwhelmingly Time units) that it’s very easy to tech against once it’s a known quantity. If you build a deck around Territorial Elf and Thief’s Pick or Censari Brigand with buffs and evasion, you can win an absurd percentage of the time against them and they don’t have much flexibility to adapt to your strategy. There are also a multitude of other cards that popped up as answers to the deck (Citywide Ban, Rain of Frogs) and the deck doesn’t have a great way to combat a prepared meta. Furthermore, people tend to overrate decks that win spectacularly (Kennadins being placed as tier 1 comes to mind: And if they do ever get their combo off and draw their entire deck and gain a ton of life, J U S T C O N C E D E. Unless your opponent is a moron who screws it up or a madman that doesn’t have a win condition you’re going to lose (and it’s not worth finding out).

MantidMan: I like it, see everyone: the things you perceive as truly evil sometimes are not actually that bad! I like your assessment of Haunting Scream, very concise but it hits all of the points. Making pushed units in the future gets difficult with that card as it currently exists, though changing it now would potentially be problematic as well. I would like to touch on Heart of the Vault some though. We saw a time where Heart was a core part of the Meta for a while, I am actually not even really sure what pushed it out, though I have seen it gaining traction again recently. Do you really think that if Fire/Time or the combination in Praxis got some other cards we could see it make its fiery return to the top?

Sunyveil:Yeah, I think if Praxis had proper support we’d all be pretty sick of Heart of the Vault. Try to name the second-best Fire/Time card after Heart of the Vault. Purify? Alluring Ember? Diogo? Magus of Celerity? These are all fringe maybe-playables and nowhere near as good as the second-best card in any other faction pair. Rakano has Rizahn, but also Whirling Duo, Deepforged Plate, and Sword of Icaria. Skycrag has Champion of Fury, but also Vadius and Crunch. Currently the only thing Praxis has going for it in terms of multifaction cards is Heart of the Vault.

MantidMan: Alright, now on to the good stuff, Positivity!
Normally I get a good sense of how or why a custom card would get requested. With yours I am at a bit of a loss; can you help me out here? What kind of thing could you envision with this card? How would it be impactful? It cannot even steal an Azurite Prixis because it gets played immediately!

Sunyveil: It’s open-ended for sure, and I like card designs that don’t funnel you into a particular direction. It can be used as an alternate win condition of a deck that is able to generate a lot of power and gain a lot of health, or it can be used to deck the opponent in a long control mirror. It could be used as an enabler for void-based strategies, or that part of the card can be totally ignored. It doesn’t have a ton of potential to be busted as the ability costs both power and health and can be kept in check by attacking the player’s health total. Finally, it is a card that takes advantage of Eternal’s unique rules and cost restrictions!

MantidMan: I think it would be cool to see what people came up with that included it. Lots of interesting things to accomplish for sure, even if it was just information on use of cards like Strategize and the like.
So, if I am being totally honest, I did not know about you before you made your triumphant return to playing and streaming. Did you stream or produce content before your hiatus? What kind of content do you enjoy producing the most? I can honestly say the SunyveFriends streams are a blast, having watched and participated in them. Is there anything you are looking forward to doing as the game gets more popular?

Sunyveil: Yeah, I would stream and I had a few tutorial videos up around the time that Eternal went into open beta. Honestly, it’s mostly the same kind of stuff that I do now (though much worse, both in content and production quality). SunyveFriend Saturdays are definitely my favorite part of content creation — having a new personality on with me each time keeps everything fresh and fun. Beyond that, I like making draft content (obviously), whether it be a “What’s the Play?” or just a run through a draft. Of course, I’m hoping the game gets more popular so that my content can reach more people; what content creator wouldn’t? One thing I’d really look forward to is talking to other people about their approach to draft, because two different people can be successful with vastly different approaches to the same format. It’s always interesting to hear somebody else’s take — even if I strongly disagree with it! — because it causes you to look at something you think you know from a different point of view. Hey, it’s like there’s a theme here!

MantidMan: I agree with all of that, I would love for there to be more people for so many reasons, we are in exciting times of growth. When the Community does explode there will be a lot of people who dig up content that already exists. At least 3 of them will find Trail Stories and this interview in particular. What would you say to those people who stumble across this interview while they are downloading the game and going through the tutorial? What would you say is the biggest thing for new players to take away from this?

Sunyveil: “Skip the tutorial” lol. Also, check out the Puzzle section.

But aside from that, I would tell new players to just focus on having fun on the game. Competitive players can get in the mindset of “I need to win” all the time and I think that trickles down to the common player. One great thing about Eternal is that there is so much room for nonsense that you don’t need to win to be having fun. You can be playing Crown Roaches and it’s worth all of the games you get rolled just for that one game where you set everything up just right to have an endless supply of gigantic destiny roaches. Even if you are playing to win, you’re usually in a mode where the monetary investment isn’t high enough that you are automatically emotionally invested.

Finally, if you’re playing against a slow control deck and you are losing, you can always concede and hop back in the queue.

MantidMan: Perfect. Now is my favorite part, where you get to go crazy! The floor is yours and you can talk about or promote anything you like. Some people promote themselves, others talk about things they are passionate about in the real world. Even yet, others talk about NOTHING and send goofy gifs. What will YOU talk about or put out for the world to see with all of this new-found power?

Sunyveil: I already have a platform for my own Eternal content, so I’ll limit that part to this: If you haven’t already, stop by my stream! I’m live HERE four times a week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the aforementioned sunyveFriend Saturday at 5pm Pacific every Saturday! Furthermore, I make (lots of) content on the Eternal Titans Website along with my awesome teammates, so you don’t want to miss it.

This is unrelated to anything I’ve said above, but it’s something I feel strongly about and want to spread the word. Don’t support football, professional or otherwise. CTE is one of the worst things I could imagine going through, and the organizations in charge have long turned a blind eye to the severely negative effects that their athletes suffer. To get an idea of what CTE is, check out this NYT article:

A Football Player’s Descent Into Pain and Paranoia

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, who played four seasons in the N.F.L., was found dead at age 30 and later diagnosed with C.T.E. He left behind a paper trail of his struggles dealing with the injuries caused by playing the game he loved.

Sorry to be such a downer with that last part, but I really want to spread the word. Thanks for having me on!

MantidMan: No, it is perfect. I know we are all passionate about Eternal, that is why you are here. Seeing the other things that drive you is one of the main reasons I do this. Thank you so much for your insight into cards, your style of playing the game, and your passion for this subject. Suny, I don’t care what your teammates say, you’re good people! Thanks again.

Sunyveil: Wait what do my teammates say?

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