Welcome to Eternal! The following is a guide to help get you on your way to building a collection and competing on the ladder (Ranked) as well as an introduction to the AI modes of Eternal (Gauntlet and Forge). While a rudimentary knowledge of CCGs in general is helpful, I will cover the basics extensively.
This guide assumes you have completed the tutorial, and have all the modes of play unlocked.
Your first step should be to play Gauntlet and Forge until you reach Master rank in both. Because this is your first time ranking up, the decks you face will be a little easier than they will be for future play. Both of these modes will get increasingly difficult over time. We have an entire subreddit devoted to both of these modes, and are very welcoming to new players. Check it out at reddit.com/r/AIEternal and players are willing to help with coming up with budget lists as well. For Gauntlet, I generally suggest starting with a Justice-based aggro deck including multiple combat tricks. All of these terms will be explained later in the guide, and you can reference back.
You have now achieved Master rank in both Gauntlet and Forge, and are likely sitting on a nice pile of gold and shiftstone (used to craft cards) as well as new cards. You can continue to play these modes as long as you like, transition to the PvP modes (against human opponents), or some combination of both.
The remainder of this guide will cover CCG principles including the basic archetypes, some of the popular faction pairings for those archetypes in Eternal, some basic strategy, basics of powerbases, and how to build on a budget. Please note, I cover campaigns after the section of each archetype so I don't always feature a campaign card in the sample cards. In that section I will mention which campaign cards are core for each deck.
The first archetype is aggressive decks, also known as aggro. These decks want to close out a game in the first few turns, and apply enough damage to win before slower decks can exceute their (more powerful) late-game. You will find low cost units, efficient spells, some single unit removal, and charge units. Aggro decks are almost exclusively Fire-based because that faction includes all these elements. Here are a few of the core cards in the various Eternal aggro decks:
A note on Praxis Tokens. While this deck can close out a game very quickly, it also can reload very well even after the mass removal (board wipes) of the control decks, making it different than the other aggro decks. Control decks and that archetype will be discussed further in this guide.
General Fire Aggro
These cards don't see play in every aggro deck, but these are solid options for many of them.
In addition, Torch is a four-of in every single aggressive Fire deck, and just about every deck in the game that runs Fire (there have been almost no exceptions in the history of Eternal). Always run four.
While the three damage can go face to close out a game or knock off a relic weapon, most of the time you are going to use it to kill an enemy unit. Take advantage of the fact that it is a fast spell. You may be able to set up a situation where using Torch mid-combat can be better than pre-combat. For example, if you have a Quickdraw unit, you can damage a blocker mid-combat which will let your Quickdraw unit kill the enemy unit without trading.
Remember to ration your removal. While it may be tempting to kill an opposing one drop against other aggro decks, you may need it for stronger turn two or three plays. Against Justice midrange decks or Rakano aggro, you will want to have it to beat Unseen Commando. Being a Fast Spell, Torch is also considered a combat trick.
Finest Hour is an important combat trick for Rakano aggro. As with Torch, you will want to use it to get through would-be blockers, to surprise block a larger enemy unit, and sometimes to push damage through to the player to close out the game. This is one of the best tricks for any Justice-based Gauntlet deck as well.
Now that you know about two very common combat tricks, consider how your opponent may use them. If your opponent makes what looks like a bad attack or presents trades that are not advantageous to them, anticipate that they may have one of these tricks and are looking to trap you. Consider how to proceed against these tricks. Maybe that means not blocking, or holding up a removal spell to beat the incoming trick. Sometimes double- or triple-blocking a unit is the safest course of action. Do your combat math carefully, and you will find the right line of play.
Some additional options to consider for your aggro decks are the Standards. These are depleted power, which will make you miss early plays sometimes, but after five power become a useful trick. As such, generally stick to around two or fewer copies. These also have the benefit of helping if you draw too much power.
Diplomatic Seal should be a four of in all of your aggressive two faction decks. While the card won't help with needed mid-late game fixing, it is very powerful in your opening hand.
Do not run Seek Power in your aggro decks! You should not need that much fixing, Diplomatic Seal, Seats, and Banners are enough and you want to minimize depleted power.
Overall, aggro is a great archetype for ladder. It is quick and great for grinding out gold and ranking up. There is a lot of strategy to playing these decks well, so always consider your decisions carefully and don't just A + space blindly. I have had the most success lately with Skycrag aggro and have played a lot of Stonescar aggro recently as well. If you want help with those decks, either building on a budget or strategy, feel free to message me on discord at FallenChameleon#0596.
The next archetype is Midrange decks. This deck type can be the aggressor against control decks, and play defense against aggro decks. Their early game is weaker than aggro's, and late game is weaker than control, but these decks thrive specifically in those middle turns and are generally strong choices for various metas. A meta is a (constantly changing) pool of decks that you typically face on ladder. Midrange decks are flexible and can be tuned to beat aggro, control, or other midrange decks depending on the meta.
These cards are often found in Argenport Midrange, a grindy deck that also runs a lot of removal.
Heart of the Vault is a card that is specific to Praxis Midrange, a deck focused on playing the strongest units from two to six power.
Here are some cards for Xenan Midrange aka Killers, a deck that uses Killer applied to recurring units as removal to grind out the game—particularly against control.
TJP midrange is a solid deck based around flying threats and efficient removal. This is another deck you can ask me about on Discord as it's a deck I played frequently in August.
General Time Midrange
Here are some core cards for Time-based midrange. Time is a faction packed with big units and ramp to play those units earlier and more reliably. These units generally have better stats than other factions units.
Midrange decks (and control) generally want to run Merchants and Crests, for example:
These cards are going to add a lot of fixing for your decks and greatly help with consistency.
Control decks are slow decks that want to generate card advantage, and survive to win with a powerful late game. They can be tuned to beat aggro, midrange, or other control decks. They run single unit, as well as mass removal to survive against units. Here are some example archetypes:
Feln Control is a two faction deck, and one that can be tuned to beat aggro—especially go-wide decks like Praxis Tokens—as well as midrange decks. It typically struggles against other control decks and can be hard to tune for a varied meta. It's still a great deck for starting out if you like the idea of playing control, as it doesnt need many legendaries.
Black-Sky Harbinger is your mandatory craft as far as legendaries.
Icaria Blue (often simply "iBlue") is an FJP control deck that aims to control the early game with sweepers and finish with a late game Icaria.
FJS Control ("Removal Pile") has a plan similar to Icaria Blue, but is better at beating midrange decks where Icaria Blue has a better time with aggro overall.
Armory decks are designed to be nearly unitless, focusing instead on clearing the field and then using relic weapons to push through damage to your opponent.
TJP variants such as Temporal want to follow a similar gameplan to FJP but instead of getting to Icaria, their lategame is Channel the Tempest.
Temporal Control runs this as its namesake card, which helps gain an insurmountable advantage.
As with Midrange decks, Control decks usually want to run Crests and Merchants as well. Power bases are more complex with three faction decks. I would suggest netdecking lists for now until you get comfortable building your own decks.
Campaigns are absolutely vital for moving into the tier one decks. Here is my breakdown on each campaign. These are well worth getting, either with gems or saving up the gold. Note that this is the best use of gems in the game as it is a substantially discounted rate, and the $30 will get you into constructed faster than saving the gold. This is a generous F2P game though and saving gold is of course, an acceptable option.
Overall, Jekk's Bounty is the least important in terms of key cards. Here's my breakdown:
Quarry is an all-star that is great in Stonescar Grenadins and FJS control. Bailiff is strong as a anti-aggro for Gauntlet, but hasn't been in constructed for quite a few months.
These all are acceptable, but not particularly great options. They are not in the meta now but have been in the past.
These are the meme cards, that are a lot of fun but just aren't very competitive. Dinosaur decks are generally inferior to standard Elysian midrange, and Nostrix + Porter is not a particularly great deck, but it is fun. Nicto is a cool card but five faction is not consistent.
The Tale of Horus Traver
This is the second-most important campaign overall, here are my breakdowns:
Auric Interrogator is a staple in Argenport and Xenan Midrange. Cinder Yeti is strong in Stonescar aggro, and can be used in Skycrag as well. Crimson Firemaw sees occasional play in Praxis Midrange. Tavrod, Auric Broker is the single most important card to play in Argenport Midrange, and has seen some FJS control play in the past.
Devoted Theurge is an option for Xenan lifesteal decks, or Time decks in general if you are facing a lot of aggro. Overall, not a great card, but decent. Power Stone can be used in general Time based ramp decks. Vision of Austerity is a card for your markets to beat opposing relics like Xenan Obelisk. Yetipult is an option for beating decks with lots of X/1 units, but currently sees little to no play.
This last one is really fun if you enjoy Stranger decks, but those are not very competitive.
In the current meta, this is the highest priority campaign. Here are my breakdowns:
Equivocate is an all-star and is run in many prominent decks, particularly TJP Midrange and other decks like Elysian Midrange and sometimes TJP Control lists as well. Hailstorm is a mandatory four-of in any control deck running Primal: TJP, FJP, Feln. Hooru Pacifier is a very strong card to run in TJP midrange and Icaria, Valkyrie Captain sees play in Rakano Valkyries which is a very solid deck now on ladder.
Ripknife Assassin is a solid card for Xenan Killers as well as Argenport Midrange. It is an option for Stonescar Aggro as well. Sower of Dissent is a solid role-player in Rakano Valkyries and Pokpok, Rockpacker is a role-player in Skycrag Yeti.
Bore is an essential market card to beat decks that run a lot of attachments. Daraka, Queensguard is an option for a slightly off meta deck, Hooru Midrange. In Cold Blood can punish Justice units but its play has dipped in the recent meta as the card is comparatively slow and clunky.
Inquisitor's Blade is a reasonable choice for Argenport Midrange as well as a more weapon focused Combrei deck (one that would run Jaril, Amaran Ghostblade). Venom Rider has seen some past play in aggressive combrei decks as well. None of these are in top meta decks at the moment.
These are the meme cards, Memento Mori to support five faction, and Mitotic Wisp and Oni Dragonsmith for tribal decks.
Sealed and Draft
Now I will briefly discuss the other modes of Eternal, Sealed and Draft. Note that I will not recommend Casual. It's not a mode for beginners as it has no MMR pairings, and is mostly players testing Ranked decks or daily quests. Ranked will better match you with equally-skilled players.
In this mode, you will open packs over the course of four weeks. Each week you play ten games and additional games as tie breakers to improve your leaderboard. If you start late, no problem. You can play all forty of your games in the final week if you wanted to. But you do miss tie breakers from past weeks.
This mode is great bang for your buck, with generous packs as prizes at the end of the month. A disadvantage is if you don't like your pool, you have to wait until next month or re-roll. But re-rolling is not a good idea as the prizes rarely make up for spending the extra gold. This is a fun and challenging format. Be sure to check out the Sealed section of the Eternal Discord for any help you need!
In this mode you will open four packs, and try to draft a coherent strategy. For example, an aggressive Stonescar deck, or a Hooru Fliers deck. Take your time in card selection and be sure to consult with Flash's Tier list if you are unsure on relative card strength.
Draft has the advantage of immediate prize winnings (just play to your seventh win or third loss), and the ability to pick whatever cards you want. As a new player, you might want to grab every rare or legend that gets passed your way to build your collection faster. Draft is the best way to convert the gold that you have earned in Ranked and Gauntlet into Shiftstone to craft the cards you want.
Both of these are known as a "limited format" rather than Ranked which is called a "constructed format". Experience is key to becoming a solid limited player but it also has the advantage of being on equal footing with players with larger collections as you draw on the same card pool for draft.
You can also play a Draft over the course of a long time. I have in the past gone through stretches of several months only playing a couple games as my attention was focused elsewhere. Your deck stays the same regardless of new set releases.
The Draft section of the Eternal Discord is a fairly helpful community.
Events are periodic short-term, weekend gameplay with a leaderboard structure and payouts. They can have special rules or sometimes just be constructed events like ladder. You access Sealed from the Event menu, and soon organized competitive play as well.
This next section will focus on building on a budget and deck-building resources.
eternalwarcry.com is the best resource for finding top decks from the community, as well as fun casual decks too. This is the easiest way to succeed in any of the PvP modes or Gauntlet starting out as a newer player. You can use the search function to find specific decks. Lets say you want to find a recent Fire based aggro deck for ladder:
If you register for a free account, you can import your collection which will let you see what cards you need to craft various decks:
Be sure to check out the resources section as well: https://eternalwarcry.com/resources
Building on a Budget
The definition of "budget" varies from person to person, and is also much less relevant after a week or two of playing. At that time you likely have a decent amount of shiftstone to craft decks, especially if you got the Twitch Prime Bundle or purchased one or more of the campaigns or starter decks. A budget deck could be built with nothing higher than Uncommons, or it could be a dozen or more rares with a few copies of a legendary.
As a general rule, aggro decks will be the easiest to build on a budget. Lets take a look at AhornDelfin's Stonescar deck and see how we might reduce the shiftstone needed without sacrificing too much of the deck's strength:
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
4 Territorial Elf (Set4 #210)
2 Cinder Yeti (Set1002 #1)
4 Ixtun Merchant (Set4 #21)
4 Shogun's Scepter (Set1 #26)
3 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
10 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
2 Cabal Standard (Set4 #193)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
4 Ripknife Assassin (Set1003 #13)
3 Longbarrel (Set4 #5)
1 Mindfire (Set4 #6)
1 Factory Quota (Set4 #17)
1 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
1 Vicious Highwayman (Set3 #275)
1 Combust (Set1 #392)
For this deck, the most essential rares are Ixtun Merchant and Shogun's Scepter, then Longbarrel, Pyroknight and 1 Factory Quota for the market.
Because we are constrained by shiftstone, we will craft just the playset (4 copies) of Merchant, Scepter, and 2 copies of Longbarrel, plus the Factory Quota. We need a substitute for Pyroknight, and Ruthless Stranger will work in a pinch. It isn't as good because Overwhelm is useful from Pyroknight but it does add up in multiples. Two Strangers will both be 3/1 for example. Because of the effect working in multiples we want a 4x Ruthless Stranger which is why we'll use four rather than dividing between 2x Pyroknight and 2x Ruthless Stranger.
Being campaign cards, you may need a substitution for Ripknife Assassin, Cinder Yeti, and of course Bandit Queen can break the bank when just starting out. Using Eternalwarcry's card search feature, we search Fire, Commons/Uncommons, two cost and unit and decide to use Bladekin Apprentice.
Repeating the process for the Cinder Yeti substitute at three cost gives this card as a nice option:
If you are a bit less budget constrained, or have the Stonescar quest deck, you may already have 2 copies of Champion which you could use as well:
Now we need to subsistute for the Bandit Queen main deck copies. This is the iconic legendary for this deck, and it's a vital card to the strategy as curving one drop, two drop, three drop, Queen is devastating for many decks. For that reason, we are keeping one copy for the market. It's a compromise but will help your win rate significantly. Add the other copies when you can. For the main deck copies, there aren't many good options at uncommon. One possibility is this card, because we have eight quickdraw units and it can help push damage through a blocker:
Another possibility would be to just add some Ornate Katanas which are nice because they replace themselves (cantrip - some effect plus a draw, more commonly refered to spells such as Levitate or Inspire) and are low power cost:
If you do have extra shiftstone you could try Impending Doom:
These are just a few different approaches and these lists are untested. But they illustrate the principle of how one can approach building on a budget. Try to find units at similar power costs as the full version. Think about the purpose of each unit, spell or weapon and prioritize (ask other players if unsure) what to craft first.
As a general rule, craft some rares for your first deck, but then save up for your key Legendary. For Stonescar that is Bandit Queen. Skycrag wants Vadius, Clan Father.
Be patient as far as playing Time Midrange, it plays a ton of key legends. There is no good substitute for Sandstorm Titan.
When you see this card on ladder the first time, you will be shocked, wonder how it gets to be that good. Great stats, shuts down fliers, can't be stunned! But, learning to beat the card is vital to your journey to Master's rank.
There are a number of answers. Justice decks can play removal such as Vanquish, or Silence it from Valkyrie Enforcer and fly over or punch through with Finest Hour. If you see a lot of Time decks, you can add Annihilate to your Stonescar lists. In Argenport you get access to Slay, and Elysian has Equivocate.
Skycrag Aggro has a hard time with Titan. Permafrost is useless and we don't have silence. What we do have are Charge units, weapons and combat tricks including Torch. Look to get in as much damage as you can early, build up weapons on a Quickdraw unit—especially Vadius because it has Aegis—and punch through blocking Titans by Torching before damage is assigned. A smart opponent may anticipate this and set up a double block so check your math and run that scenario to see where your attack is. If you have to spend 2 Torches to kill the Titan, do it. You have Permafrost for many units and can hopefully win the game with your charge units. Skycrag isn't favored against Time decks, but the matchup isn't as hopeless as you might think. If there is a ton of Titan on ladder, play a different deck, like Stonescar aggro. Titan rarely gets too overplayed on ladder because the meta adapts to punish those decks if they become to common (every deck has good and bad matchups).
Avoiding tilt is about manging your emotions when playing. Sometimes you draw too much or too little power, you draw badly or opponent draws great. You will go through big win and losing streaks because of natural variance at some point. My personal worst is nine losses in a row and best is eleven wins in a row. Take a break if you get frustrated, your ladder progress and peace of mind will thank you.
That's all for my new players guide!
Thanks for reading,