Scion's School: Basics #3 - Valuetown


Not all cards are created equal.  In fact, they're made for an abundance of different reasons: some cards are there to create fun situations or spark ideas for interesting decks.  Some are designed to show off story moments or tutorialize a mechanic.  Some are designed to balance out modes like Draft and Sealed, some are designed for weird combos, some for tempo.  

But sometimes, you just have to ask the question: is this card good or bad?

A central metric we use to determine this question is the principle of Value.  Value is a measure of how much a card gives you in relation to its cost. It isn't the only metric of success in decks, but it's a great place to start when determining what cards to use. For example, here is a really high "Value" card:

Heart of the Vault.png

Heart of the Vault costs 6 (and a hefty threshold of influence).  That's a steep price - not so steep as to be unreachable by most decks, but enough that you will have to play a lot of power in your deck to effectively pay for its value.  However, with what Heart of the Vault offers in card and board advantage, it's very worth the price:

  • First, Heart of the Vault is a competitive unit for 6.  Most 6 drops don't go higher than 6/6 in statline, which means that Heart of the Vault can scrap with other cards of its cost.
  • Second, Heart of the Vault has an added effect that *draws a card*.  This means that you never lose card advantage by playing it - it replaces itself.
  • That effect also deals 2 damage to an enemy, which can kill a small unit and remove a card from your opponent's side of the field.
  • And finally, it has Warp, which means it can be played off the top of your deck.  This effect is not a guarantee, but if you do that, you didn't spend a card from your hand, effectively netting you one more draw.

So, in absolute ideal conditions, Heart of the Vault provides you with a 6/6, two cards for you, and -1 card for your opponent: 12 points of stats and 3 cards of value.  

It's that "+3 cards" that really makes the value equation important.  Most cards in Eternal do not have the ability to draw or replace themselves.  They get played, they go onto the board, and hopefully they neutralize one or more of your opponents cards (which is why the size of Heart of the Vault matters - can it trade with another 6 drop?  How about 2 3/3s?).  Remember that 1/3rd of the cards that you draw are power, and that as time goes on you will be able to play multiple cards per turn.   If you play only cards that have 1 to 1 value, (or 1-0 value, like, say, Oasis Sanctuary) then when the game gets long, you will suddenly find yourself out of cards to play.

This is called Topdeck mode - you can do one thing each turn, and that is draw and play the top card of your deck.  Being in topdeck means you are essentially out of resources to execute your plan. In any slow game, going into topdeck mode before your opponent puts you into a very precarious position. 

If you've been playing our Basics #1 deck, you've probably gone into topdeck mode any time your opponent successfully managed to keep you from killing them.  That's fine: Aggro decks rarely care about value, because they don't want the game to go long.  However, once your decks start getting slower and bigger, into Midrange, value cards and units matter a lot.  Midrange decks are defined by their big, value creatures and the slow, favorable trades that they make.

Let's try another one:

Twinbrood Sauropod.png

Twins!  With the echo ability, Twinbrood Sauropod is at least 2 cards of value, making a copy of itself every time that it's drawn (including from cards like Twinning Ritual, Dark Return or Second Sight).  The 10/8 worth of stats is a somewhat pricey 10 power, but because you get to distribute that over multiple turns, it's a little easier to pay for than Heart of the Vault. In ranked, the statline is not terribly competitive with other units around its cost, which is Twinbroods major downfall - but value wise, this card does great. A deck with four of these is going to have a hard time running out of big monsters to play each turn.

And one more:


Ah, the trump card. When played on a unit, Channel the Tempest is 4 cards worth of value: the three cards it draws, and the card that it kills on your opponents side.  Welcome to Valuetown. 

Of course, sometimes you just need 12 damage to the face to win the game, in which case the amount of value Channel has is meaningless compared to the damage it does.  Remember, when putting together your deck, the question of whether a card is good or bad relates not just to how many stats it has, or how many cards it draws, but how well it serves your plan

But if you plan to win the resource game and get your opponent into topdeck mode: learn to evaluate Value.

Til next time!