Eternal, the new go-to game for a number of us here at GamingHistoria, is trying to find a way to buck the sideboard trend. Before going further, this new take on things is not going to change the way that high-level tournament play is handled. Sideboarding is still key there. But in a digital client, that often doesn’t offer a best of three format, and organized play coming soon, something needed to happen to ensure that players had options. Right now, when you are playing Woldbearer, TF Tokens, or facing off against Praxis Midrange, if you don’t have the right deck, you are in for a big uphill fight.
In my time playing casually, I ran into a number of decks that I simply could not handle. There have been multiple games where I faced a recurring Inquisitor Makto deck, with no real way of silencing him to slow the steamroll that the deck was so good at starting. Now, you can argue that I should have built a deck that had answers, but if I try to have an answer for every card in the game, I can’t really build a deck that I want. I just needed a Passage of Eons and Harsh Rule to clear the board, but some of my decks weren’t set that way. Granted, I haven’t run into Makto too much recently, but the example still stands.
So how does a game like Eternal, where you play against a player without any knowledge of what type of deck they are running beforehand, allow you the flexibility to play the deck you want but still have access to the cards that you need to answer specific outliers in the current meta? That is a great question and one I couldn’t answer until now.
Let Me Visit the Market
In traditional, or should I say, non-digital card games, best of three with a sideboard was the norm. This meant after you played your first round in a match, you would have the option to replace cards in your deck with cards from a 15 card sideboard. This made it much easier to face off against difficult matchups.
I just played against a deck I had not seen before. It was pretty damn creative and used a number of relics to build up a board state that I couldn’t handle with my main deck. But in game two, I would have had answers. Since that isn’t an option, I need the ability to find answers during that particular match. That is where the market enters play.
First, a little primer about the market itself. You choose five unique cards, which can not exceed the four card limit of any particular card in your deck. So if you are playing four Passage of Eons in your deck, you can’t put a fifth in your market. Instead, the market is designed as a mini-sideboard that you can access during the game. This allows you to add answers to specific weaknesses your deck has. But how do you access the market and what is the cost?
As is the case with any market, you need Merchants. This is a unit type (so far) that will be introduced when the fourth set, Fall of Argenport, for Eternal launches. Each color has a merchant, though we may see more cards with market access revealed in the future. Essentially, the first five cards have an ability that is relevant to their color, and when summoned they allow you to trade a card from your hand and swap it with a card in the market that is relevant to their color. The card you trade can be anything, including power cards.
So, for example, let us say that you are playing a Time-Primal deck and you are facing off against a relic heavy deck, or that Inquisitor Makto combo I mentioned earlier. You may have a few options in your deck, but if you play, the Auralian Merchant, you can just grab a Passage of Eons from your market, tossing your extra power card into the market for it, and have the answer you need. This also works for multi-faction cards. As long as the color is in the casting cost, you can trade for it.
How Heavily Will This Impact Play?
Honestly, this is an unknown, but deck building is going to be more flexible and thoughtful going forward. Of course, you don’t have to play any merchants, but I think the options are so robust that you would be foolish not to include a few cards that give you access to the market. Ultimately, I think this is going to create a wider net of decks that are making up the meta. Since the game has become fairly control heavy in certain parts of the climb, and very agro heavy in other parts, it will give you the ability to have the answers you need on the side. If you are playing an aggro deck, but need something that lets you go long, through Rolant into your market. There is no way you would put an 8 cost card into the main 75 in a Justice Fire deck, but if you can grab him from the market in a long game, it may give you the reach that you need.
The market is going to impact the game heavily and shows just how much design space Eternal still has to explore. Built from the ground up as a digital-only game, you can expect to see things that you would find in competitors, like Magic Arena. This is an exciting start for the next set, but keep your eyes on GamingHistoria as we will cover even more as we get closer to launch.
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