One of the big advantages (and tradeoffs) in online card games is that you don’t have to put the rules on the cards. In a paper card game, every line of code is printed right on the text, meaning that if you want to do something complicated, you might have to sacrifice readability and the ability to instantly understand or “grok” a card.
Paper card games cheat a little bit by implementing keyword abilities (what we in Eternal call “skills”) But they still usually have to put the rules governing those skills right on the card, as opposed to, say, in a handy sidebar that shows up when you hover over a card. In addition, you have to have a detailed set of rules set down, maintained by players and judges, just to govern how the weirder cards interact with each other. The risk of overwhelming new players is pretty serious, and as such, provides some unhelpful limits on the scope of design.
Eternal doesn’t have that problem – it teaches the game, mostly, through play, and can have some really elegant interactions come across with only a few words. All the code to the game is just that – code – and it’s governed by a computer that will naturally sort out all the weirdest interactions. But if your learning mechanism for these interactions is primarily playing a card and seeing what it does, sometimes you can miss all the little tricks and rules that might be going on behind the scenes.
For example, most new players don’t know that equipping a relic weapon with a battle skill like Deadly or Overwhelm gives that battle skill to all of your spells. Others might not get how Overwhelm, Deadly and Quickdraw interact with each other until they see them in action. Learning all of these little missable interactions is part of the skill set you’ll acquire as you get into Eternal – but it can help to have a list ahead of time!
Today I want to go over a quick list of interactions that you’re most likely to miss in Eternal, looking at them through the lens of skills. We’ll start with the listed skill description, then talk about specific interactions with other skills – things they will or won’t do. Many of these you might know, but even the veterans might find one or two to surprise them.
Aegis blocks an enemy spell or effect.
- Block your own spells (for example, Harsh Rule, or Finest Hour)
- Block an opponents friendly spells if you Aegis an opposing unit (the Aegis belongs to the unit, not to you)
- Block battle damage.
- Block an infiltrate effect that doesn’t affect you, like Gorgon Fanatic’s card draw.
- Block simultaneously triggered effects, like the multiple pings from Calderan Channeler or Wump, Party Starter/Scouting Party, or a bunch of Umbren Reapers dying at once.
- Refresh every time the unit is killed or returned to hand and then replayed, or if the unit is recreated via Mirror Image/Strength of the Pack.
- Block anything that affects your void, hand, or deck when protecting your avatar, including Cabal Infiltrator, Steward of the Past’s initial summon effect, and Subvert.
Weird Edge Cases:
Here’s a common early mistake: Cards like Protect can be cast in response to an enemy spell, but you can’t really respond to the Protect. This is a “stack” issue, and it’s especially tricky if you’re a Magic veteran and you expect it to work differently. If I cast a Deathstrike on your unit, then you Protect it, then I Levitate in response, the three abilities stack on top of each other and resolve in reverse order. First my Levitate hits, which doesn’t pop the Aegis because it doesn’t exist yet – then your Protect happens, then my Deathstrike. I don’t get an opportunity to order this stack of effects so that I can pop the Aegis with the Levitate, so your unit lives.
Ambush allows a unit to be played at two unique times it would not otherwise be able to: to block an enemy unit, or at the end of an enemies turn.
- Block the unit even if the unit is removed, preventing the combat damage (except in the case of Overwhelm).
- Block special attacks, such as relic weapons and units with Killer.
- Block unblockable units, or block a flyer if the ambush unit doesn’t have flying.
Weird Edge Cases:
Desert Marshal has two effects, a silence (which happens first) and an ambush. If you kill the Desert Marshal during the silence with a Torch or other spell as the silence is targeting, the silence will still go off, but your opponent won’t get a chance to block with the Marshal and prevent damage.
Gives the unit the ability to attack the turn it is played.
- Allow any attack based effect, like Warcry, to be triggered before the opponent is able to respond with a spell.
- Trigger with non-skill multiplicative effects, like Censari Brigand’s “double damage to players”
- Interact with Lifesteal, Overwhelm and Quickdraw as normal.
- Interact with damage dealing effects, like Umbren Reaper’s Entomb or the ping from Calderan Channeler.
- Stack with itself for 4x damage.
Gives the unit the ability to kill a unit with any damage.
- Divide damage smartly between multiple blockers, allowing you to put one damage on each blocker for each point of strength you have.
- Divide damage smartly on Overwhelm, meaning you will deal 1 damage to the unit and the rest as splash. (look out for Champion of Chaos!)
- Calculate damage smartly on Quickdraw, meaning you can kill as many units as you have strength on your unit before any of them can deal damage back.
- Trigger on damage from non-combat abilities, like a Stormcaller with a Venomfang Dagger.
- Kill a unit if you deal 0 damage, with cards like Detain or Rolant.
A card with destiny plays itself for free when drawn, then draws a new card to replace it.
- Play all summon effects on the unit
- Trigger twice for Echo units, drawing two cards.
- Trigger fate effects and Crown of Possibilities before playing the unit.
- Trigger Powersurge, emptying your power pool to fuel the unit cost.
- Trigger on a card that specifically says “Draw”, like Dark Return.
- Trigger on a card that returns the destiny unit to your hand, like Teleport or Praxis Displacer. This isn’t technically a draw.
- Trigger on a card that “plays” a card, like Grasping at Shadows or Secret Pages.
Empower cards do something when power is played.
- Trigger on double power effects from Marshal Ironthorn.
- Trigger at fast spell speed as part of Secret Pages.
- Trigger with any power card, including Seats, Seals, and Banners.
- Trigger in response to a Strangers influence fixing effect.
Entomb effects do something when a unit dies.
- Trigger if the unit is silenced or transformed as it goes into the void, like with Steward of the Past and Statuary Maiden.
- Trigger if you die (even if you would have lived if that Umbren Reaper had gained you life)
Special edge cases:
A silly entomb interaction to miss is Steward of the Pasts interaction with an enemy Magus of the Mist – the Steward silences the entomb, preventing Magus from dragging his dragon pet down with him. Alternately, you can transform the Magus with Polymorph or Unstable Form, removing the entomb entirely…
Endurance units will ready a unit at the end of each turn, and prevent them from being stunned or exhausted by enemy spells.
- Completely prevent casting of stun spells and effects like Permafrost on this unit, even to pop Aegis.
- Slough off existing Permafrosts and other stun effects instantly when granted, discarding the attachment and readying the unit to attack.
- Prevent the silence portion of Rebuke.
- Stop the unit from being briefly exhausted by blocking, being blocked, or using an ability that exhausts it.
Weird edge cases:
If you have an Execute and you need to kill an Endurance unit (a common draft scenario), you can attack into the unit and hope that it blocks. If it blocks, it will exhaust until the end of your turn, allowing you to Execute.
Echo creates a copy of a card drawn.
- Trigger on any draw effect.
- Trigger all Fate and Destiny effects twice.
- Copy any modifications made to the card, like the +1/+1 from Dark Return or the additional skill from Crown of Possibilities.
- Trigger multiple times if either copy of the echoed card is placed on top of your library, like with Second Sight.
Fate effects trigger on card draw.
- Trigger on any draw effect.
- Show the enemy the card you drew (if it has any effect that your opponent can see, like Curiox’s Eye being shuffled into your deck).
- Show any modifications to the card that have been made (such as Crown of Possibilities skills)
Weird edge cases:
Jotun Hurler won’t show its fate effect, since the extra card can be reasonably assumed to be an Echo unit. In general, the rule is – if something happens that your opponent can see, they get to know why it happened.
Flying units can only be blocked by other units with flying.
Weird Edge Cases:
If a Sandstorm Titan says that units “can’t fly”, they still have flying. You can, for example, Levitate Sandstorm Titan, and then Violent Gust it twice to kill it. Just for the irony.
Infiltrate units trigger their abilities when they deal damage to an enemy.
- Refresh every time the unit is cloned, returned to hand and played again, or killed and played from the void.
- Trigger on Overwhelm damage.
- Trigger on damaging effects that specifically say the unit does the damage, like Calderan Channeler, Wump, Party Starter, and Hellfire Rifle.
- Trigger through armor.
- Trigger if it has no valid way to do so (an Argenport Ringmaster on an empty void, or a Desperado who has nothing to kill). The infiltrate will instead be saved until there IS a valid target.
- Trigger if a relic weapon attacks the unit, causing damage to the player with the relic weapon. This one is more a quality of life change than a sensible interpretation of the text.
Weird edge cases:
If a Gorgon Fanatic has Overwhelm and kills itself, but still does damage to the enemy player, it won’t trigger the Infiltrate. This is because Fanatic’s infiltrate requires that it sacrifice itself, and the Fanatic is already dead.
Killer units can be exhausted one time to attack any enemy unit.
- Work on the turn a unit is played, unlike a regular attack.
- Refresh when the unit is cloned, revived or replayed.
- Ignore Aegis and any offensive abilities like Quickdraw.
- Calculate all battle skills on both cards as though the unit with Killer was attacking and the unit being killed was blocking.
- Give the opponent a moment to respond with a fast spell or ambush unit like Scorpion Wasp. Killer units will switch their attack to Ambush units when played.
- Ignore Deadly or Invulnerability to Damage.
Weird Edge Cases:
The most common mistake I see newbies tend to make with Killer is dropping Predatory Carnosaur into Cirso, the Great Glutton. Cirso’s ability triggers on attacks or blocks, so the Carnosaur turns into a pig – and then Cirso eats it.
When something with lifesteal does damage, you gain that much health.
- Save you from lethal damage, as Lifesteal is calculated at the same time as damage is dealt. You can go to negative numbers and then come back.
- Work with Double Damage and Overwhelm to steal as much health as damage dealt.
- Work on spells and abilities that deal damage, like Spirit Drain, Black Sky Harbingers 1 damage to enemies, or Infernal Tyrant’s 2 damage to allied units.
- Steal health if the opposing unit has quickdraw or the unit is killed before it can deal damage.
- Gain life when popping aegis. For example, it you cast Black Sky Harbinger, and your opponent responds with Stand Together, you will only gain the life from the Harbinger hitting your opponent’s face.
Fun Edge Case:
Lifedrinker gives temporary lifesteal to your spells! Lifedrinker+Lightning storm is a pretty hilarious way to gain a ton of health very quickly.
When something with overwhelm kills an enemy unit, leftover damage hits the enemy player.
- Interact smoothly with all combat skills, and calculate damage smartly with Deadly (dealing 1 damage to each blocker and the rest to the player).
- Deal FULL damage when the blocker is removed (e.g. Torching a Scorpion Wasp)
- Trigger on allied units. Sorry, no Obliterating your 1/1 for style point lethal.
When a card with Powersurge is played, it will spend all of your remaining power to increase its effect.
- Trigger any time a unit is summoned (including Grasping at Shadows, Destiny, Mirror Image and Siraf)
- Stack any permanent effects on top of each other (for example, a Charchain Flail cast for 6 and then returned with smugglers stash will stay a 6/1, then add an additional 6 if you cast it for the same amount of power.)
When cards with quickdraw kill blocking units, the blockers don’t deal damage back.
- Smartly divide Deadly damage to kill as many units as you have Strength.
- Work correctly with Killer.
- Prevent lifesteal from enemy units if the unit is killed.
- Pierce invulnerability to damage.
- Trigger on defense. This is a pretty common mistake!
Reckless units must attack when able.
- Require the unit to attack if it is exhausted or stunned, like from using a Killer effect.
- Require the unit to attack if it is silenced.
- Give an ability or +1/+1 to Hero of the People
Stun exhausts a unit, and it can’t attack or block next turn.
- Prevent the enemy unit from blocking for two turns if used on your turn.
- Remove a unit from combat when used as a fast spell, making double block situations into single blocks.
- Allow effects that would only trigger on Exhaust, like Rimescale Draconus or Execute.
Ice Sprite and Permafrost stuns are different from a basic stun effect. If the Ice Sprite or Permafrost is removed, the unit becomes able to attack immediately.
Additional Note: Look at the number of circles on the stun to determine how long the stun is going to last. Each circle represents one turn.
Silence removes all text from a card and its attachments.
- Remove stat buffs from cards, like those granted from Augmented Form.
- Remove cost changes to a card, like those made by Slow.
- Remove stat buffs or cost changes from cards if they are granted by the cards text, like Hero of the People or North-Wind Herald.
- End all stun effects on a unit, allowing it to attack immediately.
- Silence attachments on a unit, including the void effects of Vodakhan’s Staff and Steelfang Chakram.
Summon effects do something when played.
- Trigger on any “cheat” method of summoning a unit, including being created by an effect (like Siraf), being resurrected from the grave, or being given destiny.
- Trigger every time a unit is summoned.
- Trigger on a transformation, like Unstable Form. Technically, the card already existed.
Ultimate abilities can only be used once, for each time a unit is summoned.
- Refresh any time a unit is replayed through being returned to hand, killed and revived, or transformed.
- Allow a response window for spells if the ultimate affects an enemy unit or player (e.g. Feln Bloodcaster stealing a card)
- Allow a response window for spells if the ultimate does not directly affect an enemy (e.g. Pyroknights buff)
When something with Warcry attacks, the top unit or weapon of your deck gets +1/+1.
- Trigger on the attack, before the opponent has a chance to play fast spells and before blockers are declared.
- Hit units that are not on top of your deck if the cards on top are power or spells.
- “Stack” the effect on the top unit or weapon of your deck and continue this stacking until the unit or weapon is drawn.
- Maintain that units position on top of your deck even if you search your deck in some way (there is no shuffling in Eternal)
And that’s it for now!
I hope that was a helpful intro into the many edge cases of Eternal. We’ll be back with more Scion’s School two weeks from now, and a new Funstable Brews next week!