As Eternal completes its sixth month of closed beta play, it’s interesting to look back upon the players and innovations that have helped shaped Eternal into what it is today. Modern Eternal decks look very different from those in the early beta, in part due to card availablity and changes, but also due to the development and innovation of archetypes. Many players have had a hand in the game’s development, I’ve taken it upon myself to present the five who’ve made the most impact (plus some honorable mentions).
Without a doubt, ThatOneGuy is the number one biggest influencer in the first two months of Eternal. A first wave player, he was the highest ranked player since the beginning, with twice as many points as the second ranked player. While he did not invent Rakano Warcry (I believe the first major player to promote a list was RikiTikiTaki) his forum article offering a solid budget aggro deck was the first of its kind, serving as a jumping off point for many new players at that time, myself included. He followed it up with a Stonescar tokens deck that offered a different flavor of budget Aggro, and two new decks, Armory and Flight School. Armory was an expensive, effective deck that saw many successors, while Flight School was a budget option that was so powerful and effictive that the budget list was the “fully powered” version. Despite the long time period and lack of innovation, Flight School remains a beloved deck to this day. Unfortunately personal responsibilites have prevented TOG from playing as much as he’d like in recent months, but his love for the game remains and he drops by from time to time.
Editor note: ThatOneGuy originally got the idea for Flight School after seeing Finkel play it, but he was the first to create a public decklist and cement it as an archetype. At the time of original writing it was believe that ThatOneGuy had the idea on his own.
Popularized: Unstable Form
Peppr is the Champion of Scion’s League’s second season, which happened to be the first ever Eternal content to be streamed by players. Peppr’s tournament winning deck, Unstable Feln, was popular for a few weeks and never caught on. However, it contained two important pieces of technology. The first, and most important contribution, was that this was the first appearance of Feln Stranger in a serious deck. Prior to this time, players mostly overlooked Champion of Cunning due to his high influnce requirements. With Feln Stranger powering him up and a revised power base containing both banners and seats in a two color deck, Champion of Cunning could finally be played at full power nearly on curve. This combination formed the basis for many modern Feln and Felnscar decks. His other piece of technology was Unstable form. A centerpiece of the Haunting Scream decks at the time, Unstable Form combined with Madness to tranform the stolen unit so that you didn’t need to give it back. Peppr’s deck showcased and popularized this interaction, and as a result it was changed in patch 1.9 to give the unit back again, a move that mostly killed the Haunting Scream archetype. Unstable Form also combined with the hitherto unused card Magus of the Mist to transform the Magus and sever his connection to the dragon, giving you two six drops for six mana. This combo was the centerpiece of Peppr’s deck but unfortunately has not found its way into a modern decklist.
Aside from the incredible influence of his tournament winning decklist, Peppr has proven himself a prolific deckbuilder and innovator. His Spicy Deck Tech’s series has produced three decks, The Nighmare, Shimmerpack Combo (a version of which was recently played on stream by LSV) and Xenan Killers, the best Xenan deck I’ve ever seen. In additon to spawning new archetypes for people to explore, Peppr has a series of budget builds called Getting Started that eases new players into the game with playable budget decks, picking up the torch TOG set down.
Invented: Bandit Queen
Popularized: Bandit Queen
The third slot on our list is kind of a tie, as two different players were heavily involved in this archetype. Xstrata was a Stonescar Tokens ladder player who was ambitious enough to try out an underused card, Bandit Queen. He quickly realized this card was ridiculous and pushed people to try running four copies in their tokens lists. Believe it or not, at the time players legitimately believed that Rally was the superior finisher due to its additional damage and fast speed. Darkhands took Xstrata’s exact ladder list, took it to the second Season of Scion’s League, and ended facing down Peppr in the finals. He lost, but people’s hearts were captured, and Xstrata’s deck became the predecessor of first Stonescar Queen decks, then modern Stonescar Jito. Queen decks were quite powerful at the time, and abused Madness + Combust/Devour/Burn Out to turn their opponents units against them. Xstrata and Darkhands combined to create a deck that proved too strong for people’s liking, as both Madness and Bandit Queen received nerfs in patch 1.10 and Burn Out got its cost increased in patch 1.11.
Popularized: Plate Rakano
Here we move into a much less well documented area of our list. Chrno was not a major force in the community, he didn’t write a major article or have a well known tournament result. What he did have, however, was a realization that Deepforged Plate on Silverwing Familiar was nearly unbeatable. Chrno’s Rakano list shot him up the ladder to #1 and was instantly copied by dozens of players, all with their own varients. Rakano proved to be such a powerful deck that the strategy many players employed was to also play Rakano. At its height of popularity, Rakano made up nearly 50% of ladder decks during patch 1.10. In patch 1.11, Rakano was determined to be too powerful and a record setting four cards got the nerfbat – Morningstar, Fearless Nomad, Rakano Artisan, and the Deepforged Plate itself. While not otherwise influential, being indirectly responsible for one of the most dominant decks in Eternal’s history and the nerfing of four cards certainly earns him his spot on the list.
Popularized: Praxis Tokens
This name should need no introduction, Babam is a prolific writer on Numot Gaming and a longtime tournament player. His most well achievement is adaption of TOG’s original Armory list into a powerful 4F Armory list, which was a popular and powerful choice in a metagame filled with Queen decks. At its height of popularity, six different players entered a tournament with Babam’s exact 75. His earlier “Blue Jund” deck was the first major list in FPS and set the groundwork for modern day Felnscar lists. The absence of powerhouses Champion of Cunning, Permafrost and Scouting Party can be easily excused as the Feln Stranger tech to enable cCunning had not yet been discovered, Permafrost was not a played card at the time and Scouting Party did not exist. Finally, his article on Praxis Tokens popularized the deck for a few weeks and set down a standard list, although the deck fell out of favor after Unlock Potential had its cost increased in v1.10.
Honorable Mention: Jaffa
Jaffa was an innovative deckbuilder who unfortunately does not get the credit he deserves due to his preference for sharing his creations via PM rather than an article or video. However, the two articles that he did write were fantastically popular. Jaffa created Combrano Ramp by porting the combination of Rise to the Challenge plus Icaria into a Combrei Ramp shell. The deck’s success inspired him to try that combination in many other decks, unfortunately none of which he set down in written form. However, his larger contribution was the modernization and popularization of the Felnforge archetype. He updated the list with modern staples like Seek Power, Permafrost, Feln Stranger, Champion of Chaos, and Champion of Cunning, then pushed it hard within the community. The deck is both popular and successful even today due in large part to Jaffa’s efforts.
Honorable Mention: Tess
Invented: Tournament Play, Deckbot, the Tier List
The leading lady of Eternal, Tess’ contribuitons are far longer lasting than a single piece of technology or deck. Tess single handedly created and runs the Eternal Tournament scene, giving players a place to cut their teeth on serious play. She has experimented with several tournament formats and even subformats like Pauper to bring her players the best experience possible. In addition to her efforts on the tournament front, Tess built and maintains the Deckbot card and deck resource, which was invaluable when the game with under NDA and still often referenced today. Finally, Tess created the original community created Deck Tier Lists that told people what was going on in the metagame that week.
Honorable Mention: Neon
Invented: The Eternal Cast, Eternal Shoutcasting
Promoted: Basically everything
The voice of Eternal, Neon has been responsible for casting nearly every Eternal tournament, often singlehandedly. In addition to his efforts on the tournament front, Neon’s podcast series The Eternal Cast interviews all sorts of players and brings their creation to light. With the except of ThatOneGuy, Chrno and Xstrata, Neon has interviewed every other player on this list. It was he who first publically highlighted the new technology to be found in Darkhands and Peppr’s tournament decks. In adition to his podcast, Neon has written a number of strategy articles and is a writer for Numot Gaming. Finally, Neon works tirelessly on Twitter, Reddit and Discord to promote the game as much as possible and assist newer players.
Phew, that was a long read! Thanks to those of you who stuck it out until the end! I hope you enjoyed this article looking back at some of the driving forces behind Eternal’s development. If you feel that I missed someone, give them a shoutout in the comments!
- Jaffa (Honorable Mention)
- Tess (Honorable Mention)
- Neon (Honorable Mention)