My name is Gao Nan and while I’ve been playing Eternal for quite a while (since the start of open beta) I only recently found that Draft is where I shine. Unlike most people I had no experience in other CCG Limited formats, so everything I have learned has been since I started playing Eternal.
As for credentials, I was the 29th ranked Drafter in season 9 and am currently in the top 100 in season 10 as well. I consider myself a “hardcore casual” player, which means I enjoy talking about, playing, and consuming all sorts of content about this game, and my seasonal goals tend to top out at hitting Master in both formats, but you won’t usually find me at the end of the season trying to grind out those last few ranks.
Since this is my first article I wanted to give a high level overview of the new archetypes, specifically the “enemy” faction pairings, that were introduced with the addition of Omens of the Past. In each section we will discuss the hallmarks of the pairing and some of the premium commons and uncommons you should be looking to pick up during your Draft. This will not be as detailed as the data driven analysis that JankJunction has been doing, but rather a primer of sorts.
If you’re new to Eternal, returning after the addition of the new set and curious what you should be looking for in the “enemy” faction pairings, or you’ve been struggling in the post-Omens Draft format, this is for you! If you’ve been hitting Master every season in Draft, this will just give you insight into another high level Drafter’s perspective of what post-Omens drafting looks like.
Before hopping into talking about the new enemy faction pairings, let’s cover two items pertaining to Drafting post-Omens: We Draft from two packs of each set instead of four packs from just one of the sets: the first pack is Omens of the Past (set 2), the second is Empty Throne (set 1), then back to set 2, and closing on set 1.
I won’t jump into how this impacts the format now (i.e. players mainly drafting set 2 factions over set 1), but it is something to be aware of when making picks because you might find that you can get very valuable set 1 cards very easily (think Pteriax Hatchling
The addition of the “enemy” strangers and “enemy” banners being available in Omens of the Past packs allows players to more easily splash a third color. Even though we are just going to examine the “enemy” faction pairings in this article be aware that you may want to keep an eye out for opportunities to splash powerful cards. How to splash and when to splash and what to splash could be something we cover in a future article.
The five “enemy” faction pairings we will review today are:
- Argenport (Justice + Shadow)
- Hooru (Justice + Primal)
- Skycrag (Fire + Primal)
- Praxis (Fire + Time)
- Xenan (Time + Shadow)
Argenport (Justice + Shadow)
Argenport is one of the stronger archetypes in the post-Omens Draft scene mainly because it has tons of removal, strong fliers, and great combat tricks. Additionally, Argenport’s main mechanic is Revenge, which can result in extra value out of individual cards.
Revenge itself has not impressed everyone in Constructed, but in Draft where games tend to go longer and board stalls can be frequent, getting that extra value out of a single card can be the difference between winning and losing. However, keep in mind that you pay a premium for Revenge and if your opponent puts so much pressure on you that you aren’t able to get that added value, it becomes a liability.
Argenport has the strongest unconditional removal spell in Slay
in addition to some other strong conditional options like Extract
and Talon of Nostrix
. And this is just in Set 2! Don’t forget we still get the opportunity to see amazing removal from Set 1 like Execute
And one of the best things to do with this strong removal suite is clear the skies for your fliers to take over the game. Some of the notable fliers in Argenport are Roosting Owl
and Valkyrie Denouncer
. And don’t forget about our favorite Justice flier from Set 1: Fourth-Tree Elder
Finally, Argenport (and more specifically Justice) gave us a couple of great combat tricks to blow out our opponent: Strength of Many
and Victor's Cry
. Both of these resemble Finest Hour
from Set 1 and are very powerful. And we still get the shot to pick up Rapid Shot
in Set 1 as well.
These are not the only valuable cards in this faction however because there isn’t just one winning formula. Some other strong cards include (in no particular order or grouping): Minotaur Oathkeeper
, Emerald Ring
, Minotaur Duelist
, Longshot Marksman
, Auric Bully
, Streetwise Informant
, and Rolant's Choice
Hooru (Justice + Primal)
Hooru shares the Justice cards from Argenport so there is definitely some overlap in strengths. However, Hooru stands on its own as another solid archetype because it too has strong fliers, benefits from both Spark, actually a Skycrag mechanic, and Mentor, the main Hooru mechanic, and has strong removal at both Common and Uncommon.
Mentor can be very powerful, but can also cost you valuable tempo if you use it at the wrong time. Sometimes it is better to continue to put pressure on your opponent rather than taking a turn off to give one of your units +1/+1 with Sparring Partner
Moving into other units, I won’t go over the fliers we already covered in Justice, but some additional strong fliers in Hooru are Stormcrasher
, Skyrider Vanguard
, Highwind Glider
, and Skywalk Instructor
. Skywalk Instructor provides you with two fliers, assuming you take the tempo hit and Mentor another unit to give it Flying. Skyrider Vanguard shows off the Spark mechanic, which can allow you to really speed up your clock in the air. Oh and while we are talking units I would be remiss if I did not mention everyone’s favorite dinosaur, Adaptive Predator
. This guy is higher on the curve and has reckless, but don’t be fooled, he can win games on his own.
Finally Hooru also has strong removal, specifically Eilyn's Choice
, Duelist's Blade
(who would have thought face aegis and one more attack would make Mithril Mace
that much stronger), and Dragonbreath
. One of my favorite things to do with Dragonbreath is using it on cards like Highbranch Sentry
which results in it growing by +1/+1 and dealing an additional damage to the target, NEAT! Additionally, Set 1 has strong removal in these factions as well with cards like Permafrost
, Lightning Strike
, and Vanquish
Some other strong cards you should be on the lookout for include (but are not limited to): Jotun Cyclops
, Aerialist Trainer
, and Swindle
. Spellshield Architect
is also nice for protecting your win conditions from removal.
Skycrag (Fire + Primal)
Next we move into the faction that is best suited for aggression, Skycrag. As previously mentioned, the Skycrag mechanic is Spark, which provides an additional effect if you previously dealt damage to the enemy this turn. This is similar to Feln’s Infiltrate mechanic because it too lines up with what you want to be doing to win: dealing damage to your opponent. What’s not to love? I’m killing you and making other cards in my hand stronger so I can keep killing you? Seems good.
The premier Spark card is Clan Hero
. Even if you can’t Spark this guy, he is still a 3/3 for 3 which is nothing to scoff at in Draft. If you can get him Sparked, your opponent can not let him run free or he will run away with the game before you can say “Striped Araktadon.” Don’t even talk about if you can give this guy flying with Cobalt Acolyte
or his slower big brother, Skywalk Instructor
Being in Fire has the added benefit of gaining burn spells that can pull double (or is it triple?) duty as removal (and a trick) and reach. Obviously we all know how powerful Torch
is by now, but Mortar
was a welcome addition in Set 2 that continues to prove its worth. Even though Gun Down
can’t pull double duty, it has also proven its worth time and time again. These burn spells help keep the road clear for your Clan Heroes and Quickdraw units.
Other cards that are worth mentioning in Skycrag are: Cannonbearer
(better suited in Praxis in my mind), Blinkwolf
, and Hunter's Harpoon
(which is EXTREMELY satisfying if you ever get to put it on a Yeti Snowchucker
, not that I think this as the best use of it).
Praxis (Fire + Time)
Another strong archetype post-Omens is Praxis. The main Praxis mechanic is Warp, which allows you to play the Warp card from the top of your deck as if it was in your hand. We all know the Constructed nightmare of Heart of the Vault
, but in Draft we have to settle for a little less value: Cannonbearer
. This 1 damage on summon doesn’t seem like much, but it can serve multiple purposes: finish off a unit, activate Spark (way late game obviously), or even get you to lethal.
The only awkward thing about Warp is if you find yourself in a situation where you want to make a play other than playing the Warp card off the top of your deck. This results in you losing out on the value of Warp, which sometimes can cost you the game when you are looking for that one card in your deck that can win you the game.
Moving on, you are probably tired of hearing about how great removal is in Draft and Purify
is no exception. Other removal in Praxis stems from Fire, so it doesn’t have nearly the options that Argenport has, but that isn’t necessarily a problem because Time has some very efficient units including cards like Archive Curator
, which is soft removal and a tiny Towertop Patrol
all in one. Other notable Set 2 units include Sand Viper
, Striped Araktodon
, Awakened Sentinel
, and Plated Goliath
. And we cannot forget Set 1 cards like Ageless Mentor
, Xenan Guardian
, Towering Terrazon
, Twinbrood Sauropod
, and Pillar of Amar
On paper this faction doesn’t scream powerful, but I think many of my strong decks since Omens have fallen within this pairing. Cards with Quickdraw like Audacious Bandit
and Rebel Sharpshooter
really put your opponent in an awkward spot especially when backed up with combat tricks (blowing out a desperate opponent with Viper's Bite
on a Sparked Audacious Bandit is fun).
Additionally, we all know that Time has the best fixing due to cards like Amber Acolyte
and to a lesser extent Amaran Archaeologist
which allows us to play more greedy decks that splash other colors to play more powerful cards. To be greedy or not to be greedy, that is a question we will ask another time.
Xenan (Time + Shadow)
The final faction we will cover is Xenan, which in my mind is one of the harder archetypes to pull together mainly due to its main mechanic, Lifeforce. Lifeforce means that when you gain life other cards have an effect either immediately or at the end of your turn. In Draft this means that not only do you need to have cards that are going to gain you life, but you also have to have a good payoff for doing so. Unlike Spark this plan doesn’t necessarily line up with the objective of killing your opponent.
As far as the cards you want to be looking for if you are going down this road: keep your eyes out for Extract
, and Xenan Cupbearer
for enablers from Set 2 and Umbren Thirster
and Cult Aspirant
for payoffs from Set 2. Obviously if you get Katra, the Devoted
or Beckoning Lumen
they can quickly run away with the game, but I prefer to talk about cards that you have a higher chance of seeing. As for Set 1 you want cards like Sanctuary Priest
and Xenan Destroyer
However, Xenan decks are not required to use the (Life)force. This faction can still be strong because they have big bodies from Time, the potential for great fixing, and they have the strong removal of Shadow. One of the hallmark cards from Set 2 in Xenan is Shadowlands Bonepicker
. This card is great in board stalls because it just keeps getting bigger and bigger until you are able to find your Minotaur Lighthoof
to finish off the game. Also, Blistersting Wasp
is great at blocking all those 2 cost 2/2s in the early game to give you enough time to get to your top end.
Wow! We covered a lot of ground today, but there is so much more to talk about as far as Draft goes. I hope that this article has shown that all of the new faction pairings are viable options with different strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, you might have noticed a sub-theme of which cards I focused on in each faction: removal and evasive threats.
Anyway, if you made it this far, thank you! If there are specific Draft topics you would like to hear more about in the future please let me know. You can share your thoughts below or on Reddit. You can also reach me on Twitter
Finally a special thank you to Stevercakes and EternalWarcry for publishing this article.
Until next time