Basic Guide to Deckbuilding (Constructed Decks)

Hello everyone, aReNGee here. There’s been a fair amount of questions recently regarding the correct way to go about building decks, adding power, and choosing cards, so I’m writing an overview of how I build decks and how I think you should go about building your first decks. Everything in this article is going to be very broad and general – I’m not going to tell you how to build the next killer deck, just how to start putting together decks on your own.

Step One: Assume Full Control

Before we can build custom decks, we’re going to need full control over the contents of those decks. Open up the settings menu with the “ESC” key or the gear in the upper right corner of the screen, select “Gameplay” and check “Enable Advanced Deckbuilding”. With this checked, you’ll have full control of the power makeup of your deck. Without this option checked, the game will automatically add sigils to all of your decks.

advanceddeckbuilding

Step Two: Deckbuilding Restrictions

Before we can build decks, we need to understand what a deck must contain. These are the basic rules that ALL decks must follow:

  • A deck must contain a minimum of 75 cards
  • A deck cannot have more than 150 cards
  • A deck can contain any number of Basic Sigils
  • Other than basic sigils, a deck cannot contain more than four copies of a single card (premiums count alongside their non-premium versions)
  • At least one-third of the cards in your deck must be power, and no more than two-thirds of your deck can be power. For the average 75 card deck, that means you may have between 25 and 50 power in the deck.

While not strictly deckbuilding restrictions, these tips are useful to know.

  • A deck must contain at least 10 cards of a faction to be considered a deck of that faction. Power, even basic sigils, do not count. That means that if your deck has nine fire cards in it (or Rakano or Stonescar cards, or some combination) it will not be considered a Fire deck for the purpose of quests and the Fire symbol on the deck will be transparent.
  • You can only have a maximum of 88 decks at any one time. Delete your excess decks to make room for more!

Step Three: Begin with a Plan

In order to deckbuild effectively, it is important to begin with a plan in mind for what sort of deck you actually want to build, otherwise you’re likely to add cards or even factions that don’t help you accomplish your goal. A plan can be as simple as “I need an Elysian deck to finish a quest” or it can be as complex as wanting to find the optimal five flex cards for an established deck in the current metagame. Whatever it is, it will help focus you and guide your choices throughout the later stages of the deckbuilding process.

For most players, you’ll likely start with a faction pairing, a card you’d like to explore, or even a basic archetype. For example, “I’d like to make an aggressive Hooru (Justice/Primal) deck” is an excellent starting point! You’ve already decided on your factions and basic strategy, so now you just need to pick cards that complement those choices. For more advanced players or those that are familiar with established decks, you may have the plan to build a variation on an established deck or archetype, which will give you even more information to work with.

Step Four: The “Power Last” Strategy

Some players like to establish their powerbase before going any further, so they know what kinds of cards their powerbase can support before they choose them. Personally, power is always the last thing I put into my decks, so that’s the strategy I’m going to teach you. You will need a very good reason to play more than 75 cards in your deck, so you’re going to need at least 25 sources of power. That means you have 50 cards to choose now!

For a deck built around a single card, a good way to start is with 4 copies of that card and then browsing the collection to see what complements it. For a more basic strategy based around factions and a basic strategy like aggression, I like to sort my collection down to those cards, then browse through my collection and add cards that catch my eye to the deck. This is only the first draft, so you don’t need to worry about numbers – you’re going to review the deck later.

After I’ve chosen all the cards that are interesting to me, I then go back through my list and check for synergies. Some cards will fit my strategy well – I want four copies of those! Some are situational – only one or two copies are required! Removal spells in aggressive decks often fall into this category. Finally, some cards may have seemed like a good idea, but on second examination don’t fit the deck particularly well or support a different strategy. These cards get cut entirely. Once you’ve got your basic numbers fleshed out, its time to check your total cards – sometimes you’ll be over 50 cards and need to trim down further!

Step Five: Advanced View and Power Curve

exampledeckbuilding
Provided for example purposes only. Use at your own risk.

The “Advanced Deckbuilding” button (I don’t know the actual name) is the big button with numbers 0 to 7+ underneath the deck name. Clicking it will bring you to the screen pictured above, which is full of useful information. You can add or remove cards in this mode by clicking on the number next to the card to add additional copies, and on the card name to remove copies.

Before we go any further, its important to discuss your “curve.” This is a somewhat complex topic, but one that is covered in almost every card game out there, so you may already have a basic idea. Your curve reflects the number of cards you have of each cost. Naturally, higher cost cards are more powerful than lower cost cards, so you’d rather play a 5 cost card then a 4 cost card when you have 5 power available. In contrast, however, you can’t run too many copies of high cost cards or you’ll find yourself drawing copies without the power to play them. In essence, having a good curve means spreading out the cost of cards in your deck so that you don’t have too many cards of any one cost and can play your cards efficiently. If, for example, you had twelve or even fourteen 4 cost cards, you would probably have overloaded the four slot of your deck and would be wise to cut some four cost cards for cards of other costs.

However, curves do not always progress 1 to 7 and are almost never even. Aggressive decks will rarely play any cards that cost more than 5 power, and will sometimes play twelve or more 1 cost cards! That’s because for aggressive decks, using their power efficiently is a secondary concern to pressuring their opponent, and they need many one drops to ensure they have early plays. In contrast, control decks may play only four or fewer one cost cards, but also play mass removal spells in order to recoup lost board position later in the game. While players most frequently overload on high cost cards and neglect the bottom of their curve, be aware of the reduced deck power of playing lots of low-cost cards. Your late game top decks are going to be weak one drops compared to your opponents possible powerful six and seven cost cards.

Your curve should always be dictated by your strategy – aggressive decks usually want a low curve, control decks have a higher curve with some early game plays, and midrange decks usually end up with a more balanced curve focusing on 3, 4 and 5 cost cards. If you have a section of your curve overloaded or neglected, you’ll run into problems while playing. Ditto if you have the wrong kind of curve for your archetype. Take the time now to review your curve and adjust your deck!

Step Six: Deck Stats

Deck Stats is a powerful overview in the top left of the advance deckbuilding view. It shows you your ratio of units, attachments and spells. Often you’ll only confirm that your deck has a fine ratio of cards, but the deck stats can review some glaring problems. If you’re an aggressive, unit based deck, but you find that you have more spells than units, that’s a problem. Similarly, if you’re a deck that likes to win by suiting up units with Weapons (like a Rakano deck might) and you find you have more attachments than units, or very few attachments, that’s a problem! Embarrassingly, in the example deck shown above, a quick glance at deck stats will reveal that the “Armory” deck is only playing 9 relic weapons, which is not enough to get good use out of Rakano Artisan. What the deck stats can reveal depends on your particular deck, but it also shows your total power count at a glance, which is very useful when deckbuilding.

Step Seven: Adding Power

How much power?

By now you should have selected all the non-power cards that you want for your deck and reviewed them. You may end up changing a few during this step, but the core of your deck is more or less complete. It’s time to add the power to fuel it! First, we’re going to start with a little conventional wisdom, stolen adapted from Magic: the Gathering.

In order to have a good ratio of power and non-power cards, you want about 40% of your deck be power sources.

Please DO NOT follow this advice blindly without reading the next section! This advice holds true for Magic: the Gathering, but in Eternal things are a little different. The redrawn hand guarantees you between two to five power in your starting hand, so you’re always going to be starting with at least two power. Because of this, most aggressive decks play the bare minimum of 25 power. However, higher curve decks need to do a little bit more thinking.

Because of the guaranteed starting power, you don’t need quite as many power – rather than 30 (40%) you’re usually fine running 27 to 29 power sources. However, running this many actual sigils leaves you prone to topdecking a basic sigil or five in the late game, diluting the power of your deck. This is where power SOURCES comes in handy.

Nonpower Power Sources

Seek Power: The most basic power source of them all, it fetches you power without taking up a power slot. While a staple of 3+ faction decks, it sees play in two faction decks as a way to ensure that you reach 6+ power without overloading on sigils. Seek Power prevents you from drawing more power in the late game by removing a basic sigil from your deck when you cast it, reducing your bad draws. If Seek Power was instead a basic sigil, you’d still have an additional sigil you could draw left in the deck! 4 Seek Power and 25 actual power gives you 29 sources of power, and is a very common setup for two color midrange decks looking to reach 6 power but worried about flooding out and drawing too many sigils.

The Favors: This cycle exchanges Seek Power’s lower cost and flexibility for an additional effect. All of them are now seeing play, albeit in vastly different archetypes. Kaleb’s Favor sees play in aggressive Fire Decks to help turn on Champion of Chaos and Flame Blast. Talir’s Favored sees the least play, but is played as an early blocker/body in slow time decks like Shimmerpack. Rolant’s Favor sees play almost exclusively in Armory, where double Justice is almost as greatly desired as the armor. Eilyn’s Favor saw only fringe play as a way to protect The Last Word until players started Flame Blasting face a lot, now it sees some play in Primal control decks. Finally, Vara’s Favor is considered to be an excellent early game removal spell against X/1s. All of these bear consideration when you want more power sources without overloading on power.

The Others (Amber Acolyte, Secret Pages, Privilege of Rank, Spire Chaplain): Amber Acolyte and Secret Pages act as additional copies of Seek Power by helping to fuel 3+ color decks, while Secret Pages also ramps you to five power. Privilege of Rank sees play mostly in JPx decks that can discard it and play it for free. Spire Chaplain isn’t very good and doesn’t see much serious play.

Two Faction Decks

In a bit of a departure from the norm, I’m going to discuss your options for power cards before I actually talk about how many sources of each influence you will need. That’s mostly because building the powerbase for two faction decks is fairly simple once you’ve chosen how many total power you want.

Seats: You’re playing four copies of the relevant two faction seat.

Diplomatic Seal: If you’re an aggressive deck with one drops of each color, you want 4 Diplomatic Seals. If your deck has 0 cards that have more than two influence of a color, you should usually play 4 Diplomatic Seals. Otherwise, you should play no copies of Diplomatic seal.

Banners: If you have heavy influence requirements, or are playing a lot of units, you should play four banners. If you’re trying to activate a Champion, you want four banners. If you’re playing Diplomatic Seal in a slow deck with few units, you probably don’t want banners.

Monuments: You probably don’t want monuments unless you have a very low curve (4 or less) and you usually don’t want four. If you find yourself running out of gas but are already on the minimum amount of power, you probably want a monument or two. Exception: If your deck is built to handle it, its fine to run four copies of Amber Monument. Just be aware that four of your power are actually cards you want to cast!

Faction Balance

InfluenceBreakdwon.png

The Influence breakdown graph tells you the exact counts of the number of cards of each faction in your deck. Multifaction cards are counted as a card of each faction. What the graph doesn’t tell you is how much influence your cards need in order to function. If you’re playing The Witching Hour, you’re going to need six shadow influence. That’s a ton of influence and definitely something that needs to be addressed in deckbuilding!

You should already have approximately eight power chosen in the previous step. For most decks, it’s enough to simply fill the rest of your deck with basic sigils evenly, giving the final sigil (if there is one) to the faction you have more cards of. If you have a ton of influence required of a single faction, you may have a 7-9 or 7-10 basic sigil split, but you’ll almost never want to go beyond this.

Three Faction Decks

Quite frankly, I’m not sure of the optimal way to build four and five faction decks, and as a newer deckbuilder you probably shouldn’t be building four and five color decks, especially since Secret Pages, the best enabler, has been changed. That said, I do know how to build a three faction power base.

Step Zero: Play four copies of Seek Power.

Seats: You’re playing four copies of each seat that has two of your three factions (twelve seats total).

Diplomatic Seal: Don’t play Diplomatic Seal.

Banners: Usually you don’t want to play banners because they don’t work with seats, making most of your power come into play depleted.

Monuments: You don’t have room for monuments and should have a powerful enough deck not to need them.

Faction Balance

Faction Balance for three faction decks can be pretty tricky. Usually you’ll be running one of your factions as a splash color, and can run only a single basic sigil of that faction in addition to your Seek Power’s and seats, but sometimes it’s more complicated than that. In those cases, spread your basic sigils somewhat evenly, giving precedence to the faction that you need early or need multiples of. Something like a 5-4-3 split isn’t unreasonable.

Secret Final Step: Playtesting and Review

By the end of all of these steps, you should have a working deck! However, the deckbuilding process stops there for many players, while in reality it continues on forever. Only by playing with the deck can you determine if the card choices you made in deckbuilding were good ones, or if the power balance is correct. If you made a mistake, not to worry! Simply change it for the next game. If you want to try out a card, also don’t worry! Simply slot it in and see how it does. Truly great decks are only found after months of refinement, often by tons of players. Decks I design look very different two weeks later once the main playerbase has got their hands on it, played it, and tuned it a little. You’re not going to get everything right the first time, and that’s okay. Hopefully you’ve at least accomplished your goal and learned something, and if this deck isn’t doing what you want, its time to build another one!

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