I’d planned to write a piece on Magic: Duels this week, but first the game started crashing on me.
Then, Wizards announced that Duels is no more.
So let’s talk about an excellent, new online Collectible Card Game instead. Let’s talk about Eternal.
Eternal is Magic meets Hearthstone, simple as that. It blends the simplicity and polished UI of Hearthstone with the interactivity and intricacy of Magic.
I’ve played Hearthstone, but it never hooked me. Some of my ambivalence stemmed from the game’s grueling reward system, but what really dissatisfied me was the inability to interact with my opponent on their turn. I love Instant speed nonsense in Magic. Plot Twists were my favorite part of the original VS. System. To truly grab me, a card game must give me the ability to mess with my opponent’s plans right as they’re trying to enact them.
Eternal does that. Fast Spells and creatures with Ambush can be played at certain times on your opponent’s turn, allowing you to catch them unaware. But watch out, because your opponent can play Fast Spells of their own, resulting in stacks as big as any you’d find in a Limited or Standard game of Magic.
While Eternal’s rules and mechanics are somewhat similar to Magic, they are definitely not the same. Dire Wolf Digital (the company behind Eternal) utilizes the digital nature of the game really well, layering in mechanics that could exist only in an online CCG.
For example, when you draw a card with Echo, you also automatically draw an exact copy of that card. That mechanic itself is cool and unique, but it also leads to other interesting interactions that you’d never find in a paper game. To continue the example, if you put the card with Echo back on top of your deck and then draw it again, you’ll draw another two copies of the card.
^^^The above combo is sweet but kinda bad. I’ve tried it.
I’ve been playing Eternal for about a week at this point, and I’ve had a decent amount of success with the deck below in Ranked games.
There’s a very similar, tuned version of this deck, called Rakano Plate, that I might begin accumulating cards for. But the most fun part of Eternal is that it feels like the Wild West, where anything goes. There are a ton of established and very good decks, but not everything has been found. And a new set goes live very soon (spoiler season began yesterday).
Eternal also has a very good Draft mode, in which you build a Limited deck from the equivalent of four booster packs. The price per Draft (which is paid via in-game currency) is very reasonable, and the games themselves are quite fun. You can check out my first streamed Draft here! I’ll also be streaming another Draft later this week (likely Wednesday night at 6:00 PST).
I’ll dive a little deeper into Eternal sometime in the future, but next post we’ll be talking all things Modern. Be back here in two weeks for my thoughts on why if you can’t beat ’em, you should join ’em. Or maybe you shouldn’t.
‘Til then, may your online card game not be unceremoniously yanked out from under you.