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DeadEternal's Wisdom Corner: Important CCG Terms

Article by DeadEternal - May 15, 2020

Table of Contents

Welcome, dear readers, to DeadEternal's Knowledge Corner! This is my first article, and it is aimed at people being new to the CCG genre and everyone who wants to read a bit about some of the essential terms in this genre. It is also meant to be the prologue to an article about deckbuilding I am also writing at the moment, as I will be using some of these terms in there. So, take a seat and enjoy learning something!


Depending on whom you ask, you may get a lot of different numbers of archetypes. It ranges from "Everything can be described with Aggro and Control and the ratio between these." to "Aggro, midrangy Aggro, Aggro Midrange, Midrange, Controlly Midrange, Midrange Control, Control, Combo, Aggro Combo, Combo Midrange, Combo Control, Tempo, Tempo Combo, Tempo Control, Aggro Control." I for one mostly use Aggro, Aggro Midrange, Midrange, Midrange Control and Control. But for me, that's one of two parts. The other one is Goodstuff-Synergy-Combo.

The first part describes your overall gameplan.

Aggro mostly wants to be the proactive player. You ask questions, normally called threats, and if your opponent does not have the right answers, you win. Maybe you have some small answers yourself, oftentimes being burn-spells.

Midrange also has some questions to ask, and those questions are mostly harder to answer. But because those threats cost more, Aggro can possibly win before the threats of a midrange deck start answering the threats of the Aggro decks. That is why midrange also packs some answers. It tries to survive the early game, develop its board and win in the midgame.

Control mostly has answers. It does its best to answer the threats from Aggro and midrange decks while accumulating card advantage instead of board advantage. It may also play some resilient threats, mostly those that are not really disturbed by a boardwipe. Control tries to get into the late-game, where its winconditions are shining.

The second part describes how your deck is built.

A Goodstuff deck just plays the best individual cards in its colors and archetype. A good example is the old Winchest Midrange Control Goodstuff deck. This deck was build around the best cards in these colors, being for example Vara, Vengeance-Seeker, Rizahn, Greatbow Master and Xo of the Endless Hoard. Those cards are extremely good for themselves. The deck does not care too much if it has to kill its own units with a boardwipe, of which it had also packed some. It has more cards, and all of them are good. And cards like Xo or, in earlier iterations, Cauldron Cookbook provided the carddraw it needed to keep playing those cards.

Synergy driven decks play cards that play well together. Even though the cards on itself may be worse than the cards a Goodstuff deck plays, their sum can easily be better than those of the other deck. That's because their mechanics work together well. Decks built around a unit type are a good example for this. for example Rakano Aggro, being known to be one of the most budget decks in Eternal. It plays good units with low costs, some of them resilient to removal, and can take out opponents very quickly. But instead of going for the pure value of good cards, some players decide to build the deck around Onis. They miss out on some of the best cards in normal Rakano Aggro, but the synergy between their cards is able to make this deck even better. For example Jishu, the Burning Brush. She plays a +1/+0 overwhelm weapon on every Oni you play, making each of them better. She works especially good with Rakano Quartermaster, who draws you a card whenever you play a weapon, which is, in this case, whenever you play an Oni. But playing around synergies pays only off if you draw the cards that enable those synergies. If you never draw your payoffs, it is just worse than a Goodstuff deck.

Combo mostly wants to do a specific sequence of card plays that will win them the game in a very fast or interesting way, but almost always very flashy and spectacular. A Combo deck that never assembles its combo will most likely lose without ever threatening its opponent. A good example for this is Reanimator. It wants to get some good targets in its void, for example Azindel, Revealed, and somehow play Vara, Fate-Touched, either by reanimating her with Grasping at Shadows or just playing it from its hand. Once it accomplishes that, it is almost game over for the opponent. But until then, it is very vulnerable. That is because it is a subtype of Combo, Goldfish Combo. It sits there, durdling around and hoping to draw its cards. If it gets interrupted in its combo, it may also just die after comboing if its opponent has the right answers.

There are also more resilient Combo decks. Let us look at Talir Combo for example. The Combo involves getting Talir, Who Sees Beyond on board and then draw Vodakhan, Temple Speaker. This is mostly accomplished by having him in the market and then playing a merchant. Because Talir grants Vodakhan destiny, he gets played as soon as you draw him, drawing you another card because of destiny, and as long as you can keep on drawing cards, every power card gets played because Vodakhan provides destiny to those, and every Time unit gets played because of Talir. If your board is full, it will just discard the units and draw you more cards. Then, finally, you win by somehow letting those units deal damage to your opponent, be it granting them charge, giving units with Overwhelm Killer or other flashy ways. But because most of its units are considerable threats on their own, the deck has an easier time before its combo goes off, and it can possibly win without ever playing a Talir, it is just very hard.

The more you dilute a Combo deck, the more its possibilities to explode shrink. Let's think about Reanimator again. People tried to play it with Vara, Vengeance Seeker and answers to survive until they assembled the combo. But the best iteration was the one that went all in on the combo, going even as far as playing Justice sigils only for Privilege of Rank which draws Justice sigils. It may seem absurd to splash a faction for only one card and this card does nothing except fetching power of its own color. But Privilege of Rank gave value for discarding it, this value being more cards to discard. And because Reanimator played a lot of "looting"-effects (drawing a card and then discarding a card), you had cards to discard if none of the cards in your hand where worth to discard.


It seems easy to talk about the different types of cards. Units make up your board, relics have a lasting effect on the board, spells have a one-time effect, weapons make things bigger, curses are negative things for your opponent, sites are good. But this is not all there is to tell about them.

Yes, units are the things on your board. But not all units are played because they are on the board. Some just have amazing effects when they enter the board. For example Evenhanded Golem. A 1/1 for 2 is a pretty bad statline, but it is his Summon ability that makes him good. Depending on your deck, you want to make sure your units do what your deck needs them to do. Another example of this are the raw stats of a unit. Consider a 3/1, a 2/2 and a 1/3, each one of them costing 2 power. The 3/1 is a good attacker. It forces your opponent to deal with it. This can also be by blocking it with a 1/1, but it forces a block, and most likely one where the units trade, even if the blocking unit costs more (in case of a 3/1, this is most likely at early turns). But when you use it to block, it will die against anything it blocks, no matter how small the attacking unit is. The 2/2 is balanced. It can be either used to attack or to block. It is unrealistic to trade it with higher cost units, but it is more flexible than a 3/1 as it is able to block 1/x units. The 1/3 unit is a good blocker. If you attack with it, it is very likely your opponent will either block it to no effect on either side or just let it through if he can't favorably block. But if your opponent attacks, it can block any 2/x unit without dying, even if it does not kill them. It just keeps you from taking damage.

Spells: Spells may have one-time effects, but that does not make them bad cards in and of themselves. They normally impact the game in a way only a few units are able to. Very important to note about spells is the versatility. A spell with more possible ways to use it is normally rated higher than a spell with less ways. For example Sear versus Torch. Both deal 3 damage. But Sear does so at fast speed, meaning you can use it to react to something. It can also hit more targets than Torch. That is why it is worth 2 power instead of 1 like Torch. You generally want to use fast spells in your opponent's turn unless you need their effect right now. Example Wisdom of the Elders: If you need the card draw right now, for example because you have not played a power yet this turn and do not have one in your hand, you play it in your turn. But if you have just three power left with nothing else to do, you should keep it until the end of your opponent's turn as casting it would give your opponent information.

Weapons: Weapons are buffs to your units. Because the buff is immediate, they work kind of like charge. That is why they are good in Aggro decks. But the drawback is that you need a unit to attach them to. If you do not have a unit, a weapon is dead in your hand. On top of that they are attached to the unit, so if the unit dies, so does the weapon. And, finally, bouncing a unit with an attachment destroys the attachment. Each of these possibilities make it easy for your opponent to 2-for-1 you.

Curses: Curses are debuffs you play on enemy units. Like weapons, they are attached to a unit. That means depending on the curse, you don't always want to kill the unit it is attached to. If your opponent has the ability to sacrifice units, he will most likely choose one of his cursed ones as it gets rid of the curse. If he bounces the unit: your curse dies. If he does not have a unit: Your curse is dead weight in your hand. Special cases are cursed relics which are attached to the opposing player and affect him negatively.

Relics: Relics are attached to you. They normally have some beneficial effect. These effects can be activated ones, where you have to pay some power to use them, or static ones that just do what they do all the time. As they need special removal, relics are normally more resistant to being destroyed than units. But with markets and Saber-Tooth Prideleader, Relic Removal has become a bit more consistent. It is still not as usual as unit removal.

Relic Weapons: Those are weapons you attach to your avatar. The armor works as health for both you and your weapon, it absorbs all damage that would be dealt to your health, but if it goes to zero, the weapon is destroyed. Relic weapons are good because they can act as both removal, in some cases even repeatable if you can keep your armor up, and as a kind of win-con. Just watch out for ambush units as ambushing a unit causes the attack to be redirected to that unit, just like killer-attacks.

Sites: Sites are amazing cards because they generate card-advantage over time. They provide a static effect and play a spell each turn for three turns, starting with the turn you play it, and on turn four they also play a unit for you. On top of that they also kind of protect your health as your opponent has to choose if they attack you or your Site with all their attacking units. All this considered, it is worth to protect a site.


Another thing you want to keep in mind when building a deck are the different types of advantage you can generate, being card-advantage and tempo-advantage.

Card advantage is generated by different things. When you can answer more than one card of your opponent with only one card, you generate card advantage as you have used less cards than your opponent. Making sure you have the better cards of your deck in your hand is also card advantage. This can be achieved by, for example, looting. A spell saying "Draw a card, discard a card" on the first look seems strange. Why should I draw a card, just to discard one? It costs me two cards and I get only one! But you discard the worst card in your hand. It ups the overall quality of your hand. A similar thing is scouting, making sure you do not draw a bad card.

The last possibility is raw card advantage. Wisdom of the Elders draws you two cards and costs one card. Now you have a card more in your hand. The problem with card advantage is that you need to convert it. You may draw as many cards as you want, if you don't use them to win the game, they don't do anything for you. It is mostly talked about as "X-for-Y", telling how many cards you won compared to how many you lost. A Harsh Rule killing two of the opponent's units is a 2-for-1. Also killing one of your own units would make it a 2-for-2. That's where you need to consider the card-quality. Killing two 1/1 Grenadins of your opponent and your own Sandstorm Titan would be bad, but killing an opponent's Vara, Vengeance Seeker and a Sandstorm Titan while hitting only a Hidden Road Smuggler on your side would be good.

Tempo advantage means you do more things on the board with the same amount of power compared to your opponent. This may be achieved by, for example, cheap removal. If your opponent uses 4 power to play a Sandstorm Titan, and you use 4 power to Vanquish it and play a Grenadin Drone, you have generated some Tempo. The most archetypical example are bounce-effects. Bouncing your opponents unit does not take it out of the game, it may come back the following turn. But it costs your opponent one turn. Example: You have a 4/4 and your opponent has a 5/6. You bounce the 5/6, attack and play a 2/2. Your opponent then plays the 5/6 out again. He has effectively lost a turn compared to you.

Generally speaking, most ways to generate one kind of advantage also generate disadvantage of the other kind. Wisdom of the Elders generates card advantage, but as you do not affect anything with it, it also generates tempo disadvantage for you. Bouncing the opponent's cards generates tempo advantage but also card disadvantage, unless you bounce a unit with weapons attached. Bouncing your own cards costs you tempo, but it may create virtual card advantage by preserving an important unit that is worth more than your bounce. That is why cards like Evenhanded Golem are amazing. He generates card advantage while also developing your board, as such not generating tempo disadvantage.

You want to make sure the kind of advantage your cards generate are supporting the overall theme of your deck. Controlling decks want to generate card advantage by drawing cards and by using those cards to do multiple things at once, for example wiping a board with more than one unit of the opponent with a single spell, Aggro decks want to get tempo advantage and use it to bring the opponent's health to 0 before he can use his card advantage.

Value: Cards generating value are often cards which generate both card-advantage and advance your board. A good example is Heart of the Vault. Not only does it generate card advantage if warped from top of your deck, but it does also deal two damage and draws you a card with its costs reduced by two. Especially cards with Summon effects can be good for value, as you can be sure you get the effect.

Metagame: The metagame describes the state of the overall game. The closest explanation of the Old Greek word 'meta' would be 'beyond'. So, the metagame is the 'game beyond'. It analyzes which decks are played and why. When you learn to read the metagame, you will start to be able to tell which decks are good at the time and which decks you should play if you want to maximize your chances to win.

The Powerbase describes what power cards and other cards that provide you with additional power/influence you play. This is important as you want to build your powerbase in such a way that you can reliably play your cards. This leads to two other important terms:

Fixing: Fixing describes the process of getting additional influence or influence of your choice. A Sigil provides you with one influence of its kind. Seats and other two-faction power cards provide you with an influence of each of two factions. The Tokens provide you with one influence of one of three factions, which you decide when you play it. Other ways are either units that provide you wit influence as you play them, the best example being the Fixing Strangers, meaning for example Skycrag Stranger, which on summon gives you a Fire and a Primal influence, but no additional power. The last possibility are cards that let you draw additional power cards, best example being Seek Power. As you can choose which faction to draw, you can draw the one you need in the sitiation. It also ensures you to play more power as it not only fixes but, drawing you a power card, also means you can play that power.

Ramping: This term describes the action of getting more power than you should have in the turn you are on. This can be either: 1. temporary with cards like Kindle, which boost your power for the turn, 2. bound to a unit or attachment like Initiate of the Sands or Power Stone, which ups your Maximum Power for as long as you control that card, or 3. by playing additional power cards, like Icaria, Valkyrie Captain, which is the most permanent way of ramping. Ramping is normally used to play your top end cards earlier than you should be able to, allowing you to go higher with the costs in your deck than your opponent.

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Caladynus2 Eternal Version: 20.05.15
So, there are some things in this article that are simply not true. First off, we shouldn't include looting under card advantage. It is not card advantage. It is filtering. It is basically getting deeper into your deck. Also, you were way off the mark with this remark: "Wisdom of the Elders generates card advantage, but as you do not affect anything with it, it also generates tempo disadvantage for you." Wisdom of the Elders does not affect tempo at all as tempo revolves around improving your boardstate in relation to your opponent's boardstate. No clue where you come up with the idea that it is tempo disadvantage. The card is tempo neutral, because it neither reduces your opponent's boardstate nor improves your boardstate. Also, tempo has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of power you spend to create an advantage. Tempo can be card disadvantage or power disadvantage. It simply has to do with improving your board state versus that of your opponent. Wisdom can be considered giving up on tempo for a turn, but it is not purely tempo disadvantage.
DeadEternal Eternal Version: 20.05.21
Sorry for the late reply.

As far as I understand looting or filtering in general, it ensures you have the better cards of your deck in your hand. Which does mean you do not create card advantage in quantity but in quality. Sure, I could have added filtering as an additional sub-point. This could have been better. But I stand with my point that card-quality is also card-advantage.

And Wisdom of the Elders? Taking a turn off generates tempo disadvantage by allowing your opponent to generate tempo unhindered. Even if he plays only a Grenadin, he generated more tempo than you. That is why cards like "Anthem to Grodov" are also considered a tempo-loss. If your opponent does not use his turn to generate any tempo, sure, then you come out even.
PandaBroPound Eternal Version: 20.05.15
Very thorough on terms that aren't game mechanics. Thank you for writing!