Hello again and welcome to Funstable Brews! Today we’re getting some Scion’s School in our brew. I want to talk about a strategic resource unique to Eternal – that of recursive advantage. First things first, a quick primer:
In every game of Eternal, we are looking for ways to leverage particular advantages against our opponent. These are strong indicators of who is ahead, but what kind of advantage a person has can vary based on their deck plan.
The most important indicator is typically card advantage, which is a measure of who is drawing and in some cases playing the most cards. Card advantage increases your options, improves your late-game situation dramatically and often leads to other types of advantages. It can be gained by good trades, simple card draw effects, sabotaging your opponent’s hand (and not even just with Sabotage) and playing board-sweeper effects that deal with multiple cards at a time. Health advantage (just directly comparing each player’s health) tends to be the least important in comparison – but not for burn or aggro decks that force low-health players to make bad card advantage plays and have spells to turn that advantage into an instant victory.
Tempo advantage measures the amount of overall resources each player is putting out on the board and the speed and efficiency at which they are doing it. It can be the clearest indicator of who’s ahead until one of the aforementioned board-sweepers wipes things clean or a player hits a bomb card that simply can’t be dealt with, which represents a significant swing in tempo.
These are typically the big three, but there are many other metrics. Size advantage involves playing bigger cards than your opponent, meaning better trades, more damage, and occasionally complete stops in your opponent’s aggression. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many cards your opponent is playing if they can’t get around your 6/8 Sandstorm Titan! Meanwhile, the width of your board matters in a deck like Stonescar or Rakano Jito, who are specifically looking to press Numbers Advantage and force through damage.
All of this brings us around to today’s topic, which is the idea of Recursive Advantage. Recursion is what happens when a card repeatedly returns to the board through an effect or spell. Let’s look at Dawnwalker as a specific example.
Now, Dawnwalker is a powerful card, but for reasons that don’t fall strictly into any one category of advantage. It’s decently statted for its cost and influence but not so much that you’d play it without its trademark ability. But, when you play Dawnwalker back from the void, something kind of magical happens – you gain card advantage (and tempo too). Not only have you played your Sandstorm Titan for the turn, but you’ve also drawn and played a second card for free, meaning your opponent has one more card they have to deal with. A basic Elysian Midrange deck can capitalize on this effect a dozen times over a long game, leading to a dozen free cards in exchange.
Now, if you’re a Xenan Killers deck, you have a very specific goal with Dawnwalker. You want to give it Predator’s Instinct so that it has Killer. Why? Because, unlike other card games, any changes to your card remain on the card when it changes zones. On top of that, abilities like Killer and Ultimate refresh when the card is replayed – so a Dawnwalker with Killer goes from being a free 4/1 to a free removal spell. Every turn you recur it (after it readies) it can take out something on your opponent’s side, typically doing damage to your opponent in the process with your own mini-Obliterate.
The point of this is that you’re not just recurring Dawnwalker anymore, but also Predator’s Instinct, meaning you are essentially playing two free cards with every five drop. Give it an Augmented Form, and you’ll effectively recur that too, turning what was a large annoyance into a game-ending threat.
This is the root of Recursive Advantage – the idea that repeatable card effects can leverage card changes and buffs multiplicatively. Here’s a deck based around this idea:
4 Copper Conduit (Set1 #66)
4 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
4 Predator’s Instinct (Set1 #75)
2 Protect (Set1 #132)
4 Safe Return (Set1 #330)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Devour (Set1 #261)
3 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
1 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Hooru Envoy (Set1 #155)
4 Madness (Set1 #267)
4 Order of the Spire (Set1 #149)
1 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
3 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
1 Augmented Form (Set1 #182)
7 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
The key cards here are our eight Returns: Dark Return and Safe Return. These cards allow us to repeatedly replay our units, all of which have significant recursive advantage or a useful summon effect like Desert Marshal’s Silence. Copper Conduit is the biggest star in size: it produces an on-curve body with its summon effect, dies or gets safely spirited back into your hand when targeted by removal, then comes back more than twice as big by layering its summon effect on top of itself. Order of the Spire only buffs while in play, but constantly dodging removal with Safe Return and reviving it from the void can lead to truly enormous sizes.
That isn’t to say that our units are the only thing we can be recurring. We can also steal our opponents! The four Madness in our deck comboes with twelve cheap cards in our deck that allow us to put the cards in our hand or void – Devour, Safe Return, and occasionally Predator’s Instinct. Stealing an opponent’s card robs them of tempo while netting card advantage, and puts powerful threats into our void for later fun.
Because the unit count is fairly light, we’ll typically pick one or two creatures to be our advantage engines. These ones get to be the target of our buff cards, Predator’s Instinct, protect and Augmented Form. These are powerful cards in their own right, especially on huge units with Overwhelm, but on units always ready to hop out of the grave, they can reap crushing advantages.
We fix with Seek Power and Find the Way – keeping regular power drops is handy both for big conduits and big Order of the Spires.
Tricks and tips
The most important trick to remember with this deck is that you want to maintain a power for Safe Return when you can. Typically, this means playing Copper Conduit BEFORE you play a power, allowing you to bank it in reserve so you can nullify a removal spell and buff your conduit. Quarry is also spectacular for this – hitting either Return spell allows you much smoother turns with Conduits and can mean a world of difference in tempo.
Conduits with Killer end games very, very quickly. Instinct a Conduit, hit a tiny unit for Overwhelm splash, then Safe Return it and play it for its Killer again – it’s a massive damage proposition. Remember that a silenced Conduit costs 0, so if it’s big enough, you might consider returning it anyways as a cheap tempo play.
Be careful with your Forms and Instincts – try to use them at times where the opponent is unlikely to have a removal spell handy, as getting them off is key to accessing your advantage engines. Expect silences from Combrei and hide your major combos from Desert Marshal. Against Shadow, look to silence Steward of the Past as often and early as possible, and consider Protecting yourself against the initial summon effect if it saves something critical in your void. If your opponent is running Stonescar, look to steal cards with huge entombs like Soulfire Drake and Umbren Reaper for a game-ending swing in tempo.
On the side, consider cards that have useful summon effects or cards that increase your ability to recur from the void. Dawnwalker makes a decent include in this deck if you can keep the 5-drops coming, as does Ephemeral Wisp if you can find good ways to buff it. Paladin Oathbook is especially strong here for its constant buff effect, but a little slow in comparison to Order of the Spire and Conduits exceptional boosts. The most straightforward recursive value card proposition, Xenan Cultist, loves this deck and makes a decent swap-in here for Hooru Envoy.
A secondary list runs in four colors and includes Jekk, Righteous Fury, and Pyroknight, with Shadowlands guide to fetch back Knights and silenced Conduits. Righteous Fury makes a hell of a kicker card, even better than Augmented Form, but this versions a little more finicky and complicated.
That’s it for today! You can return Safely and/or Darkly next week for another Scion’s School. Good luck, have fun out there!