Five cards with a new mechanic were spoiled yesterday, and wow are they something! The Market mechanic introduced by the cycle of merchants is going to have a huge impact on every level of Eternal, and building the best Market for your deck is going to be an important skill going forward.
First things first, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock or incapacitated: your Market is a selection of five different cards you create alongside your deck when you add a merchant to your 75. Cards in your market count towards the 4-of card limit, so you can’t play 4 Xenan Obelisk in your deck and another one in your Market. When you play a merchant, you can swap a card in your hand with a card in your Market (markets always remain 5 cards as of now – I could certainly see cards than manipulate the Market in the future).
My bold prediction is that every deck that isn’t hyper-aggressive or fairly aggressive and Justice-based (since every Justice faction pair has at least 12 excellent 3 drops for attacking already) will play some number of merchants, and decks based on tutoring out a specific card like Mask of Torment or Calderan Cradle will play two sets. Ubiquity like this isn’t a problem when the cards play out so differently based on context and require interesting decisions and planning to use most effectively. I love contextual and difficult-to-play-well cards like this, and I’m excited to play with merchants!
I think the most common Market setup will be something like:
-A power to lock in 4th or 5th power drop when necessary. Probably a Waysone since you want undepleted, but could also be a Banner or Crest for power fixing in 3+ faction decks. Yes, powers count as cards of their factions. If you trade in an expensive card for a power on turn 3, you can still get it back later with another merchant. So versatile!
-Two situational answers, such as attachment removal, hand disruption, situational sweepers like Devastating Setback or Aerial Battle, or counterspells.
-A key card in the deck you want seven effective copies of between three actual copies in the main deck and four on-faction merchants.
-A late-game bomb to swap a power for when you have plenty of power in long games.
The power of being able to swap situational answers, mitigate power screw, search up key cards, run an effective 7 (or even 11 if multi-faction!) copies of an essential card, and trade excess power for game-ending bombs late game is not to be underestimated. There’s a lot of options and a lot to think about, and I have been brewing up Markets since the Dire Wolf Digital article spoiled them yesterday. Here are some initial takes:
Shimmerpack has been a non-factor for many months, but with more-consistent access to Xenan Obelisk, I could see it roaring back! Games where it has Obelisk and games where it doesn’t are night-and-day, so having an effective 7 copies is a game-changer. There will be more relic removal around with merchants everywhere, but you can cheat the “only one of each card in the Market” restriction with Disjunction to pull back a destroyed Xenan Obelisk.
Access to Shimmerpack off of a merchant means you don’t need to play an 8 drop in your deck to have access to its board stall-breaking power, which is another huge upgrade. The Market is rounded off by a removal spell, since interaction with units has always been a problem for Shimmer.
Kerendon Merchant, the Shadow merchant, seems like a better fit for FJS than the Justice or Fire merchants. Justice has the weakest body, and Rise to the Challenge does most of the tutoring it you want it to do (Having all four Harsh Rule in the main deck seems best since you often won’t have time to Market before turn 5, and Leave a Witness is often too slow). Shadow has a much better defensive body than Fire, as well.
It might be too difficult to support the double Shadow of Devastating Setback, but having a sweeper for small units or a discard spell is super strong. Stonescar Banner was chosen over other power options because FJS is generally a Justice-based deck, so it’s more likely you need another Fire for Icaria than another Justice. FJS has so many removal options that a 4th Slay in the maindeck isn’t a necessity, so it can easily go in the Market If it turns out you rarely need to Market for a removal, it can go back in the main and another narrow card can go in the Market, like Steward of the Past, Vicious Highwayman (excellent against opposing Kerendon Merchants), or Tavrod.
Feln/Other Primal-based Control Decks Like JPS or Icaria Blue
Vision of Austerity
Channel the Tempest
Polymorph/Permafrost/Unseal/Rain of Frogs
Champion of Cunning/Thunderstrike Dragon/Knucklebones
Primal has some really strong Market options – Cobalt Waystone is the best power to get because of the utility of Aegis, Vision of Austerity is the most powerful relic removal spell since you’re using the merchant on your own turn and can’t take advantage of fast speed anyways, and Channel the Tempest is one of the best flood mitigators and late game game-swinging cards. The last slot in this Market varies based on deck, and is a powerful card that can take over games when you aren’t quite at Channel the Tempest-levels of power. If you’re feeling spicy, the Channel slot could even be Scourge of Frosthome of Aid of the Hooru!
As a 3/2 for 3 with Aegis, Jennev Merchant has the best body of the merchants, and I think even unit-light or unitless decks will want him. A 3/2 for Aegis is a fine blocker on curve against aggro, and against removal-heavy decks a 3/2 Aegis is actually one of your best cards since all of your removal does nothing anyways. It’s at its weakest against midrange decks with larger units and a smattering of removal, but those are your best matchups as hard control anyways, and being able to Market up some more removal or card advantage is probably worth playing a card your opponent can interact with.
Feln/Other Shadow-based Control Decks Like JPS or Big Xenan
Azindel’s Gift/Devastating Setback/Sabotage
The Last Word/Touch of the Umbren
Stray Into Shadow
In Cold Blood/Feeding Time/Cruciation/Deathstrike
The crazy thing is that as ridiculous as Jennev Merchant and the Primal Market cards are, Shadow might be even better! Kerendon Merchant has a weaker body offensively, but it is a stronger blocker against midrange and aggro due to Deadly, and Shadow has its own set of powerful, narrow cards. Finally, just waht everyone wanted – a reasonable way to play Azindel’s Gift on ladder and have it on turn 7 frequently.
Azindel’s Gift is game-ending against certain decks, and if you can’t support a 7-drop or triple Shadow, Sabotage or Devastating Setback are also solid hand disruption. Touch of the Umbren and The Last Word are wonderful finishers that generally don’t make the cut into your 75, but there are matchups where they are insane bombs. You can even Market up the Gift/Word lock with two merchants!
A sweeper in the form of Stray Into Shadow and a removal spell round out the Market, to ensure you always have a good option to draw.
Auralian Merchant is a huge boost to Chalice – finding the first Chalice is super important, so you get an effective seven copies, and then further copies that are relatively useless can be bartered for powerful cards form the Market. She’s even a ¼ who can be buffed by Chalice and ramps you to Chalice + activation on turn 5!
Merchants are going to mean that opponents have more access to relic destruction effects, but you get to run the Disjunction trick to get back destroyed Chalices or blow up Omen of Austerities so you can get another Chalice down. Lumen Defender is health gain and a Chalice target, and Lumen Reclaimer is a card that you never want to draw except in certain situations where she wins the game instantly. The Market is the perfect place for a card like that.
Mask of Torment
Black Sky Harbinger
The Last Word
A New Tomorrow
For those of you worried that Chalice is coming back and taking over, at least you can get consistent turn 4 Mask with 11 effective copies by running both Kerendon and Auralian Merchants! Having Mask on time was the difference between 3f or 4f Mask firing on all cylinders and overpowering opponents or sputtering and dying, and now you can almost guarantee it on turn 4 every game. Will that be good enough to catapult it into the upper echelon of competitive play? That remains to be seen, but it’s going to be fun to try to figure out! A Xenan hard removal spell or big finisher would be nice to consolidate a few slots in this Market for use by both Time and Shadow merchants, but it should be okay as-is.
Crown of Possibilities
I like Jennev Merchant over Auralian Merchant in Clockroaches because the ramp isn’t that important, and Primal’s Echo unit options are much better than Time’s (Thunderstrike Dragon > Twinbrood Sauropod). You don’t want Clockroach in your Market since it won’t grow from Clockroaches you play prior to bartering it out of the Market, and a 2/2 in the late game is pretty worthless.
Clockroaches definitely gets some nice consistency out of the Market, as it can fetch power, Crown, or either half of the Echo units + duplicators combo. A removal spell rounds out the Market, which is preferably Equivocate, but can be Permafrost if all four Equivocates end up fitting into the main 75.
Flame Blast/Obliterate/Soulfire Drake
Stonescar doesn’t have a great 3-drop beyond Cinder Yeti and Champion of Chaos, so I would not be surprised to see it adopt Ixtun Merchant to help its curve and flood issues. She can fetch a powerful 4 drop, a late-game finisher, or a utility spell, and Stonescar aggro has more cards it wants to trade than most – a 5th or 6th power or a 1 drop are pretty useless on turn 3. A 3/3 Overwhelm body isn’t spectacular, but it isn’t THAT much worse than Auric Interrogator or Cabal Countess, and I think you want more than eight 4-drops. The utility could very well be worth it. Fire even has some strong Market options – Flamestoker is just game over against many decks, for instance.
Crimson Firemaw/Diogo Malaga
Praxis has a huge gap at 3, and Ixtun Merchant and Auralian Merchant might BOTH make it in in some numbers. I think Fire has more impactful Market hits, but Auralian Merchant is a better unit. If you choose to play Auralan Merchant instead of Ixtun Merchant, the Flamestoker and Crimson Firemaw would have to become weaker options like Mystic Ascendant and Xenan Initiation, although you do get access to absolute house Predatory Carnosaur. The Firemaw slot that’s there to guarantee a curve-out could easily become Praxis Displacer or Diogo Malaga. Diogo might even be better in the Fire Market, as he is a great Market hit at 8 power against decks where Flamestoker isn’t spectacular.
Vodakhan, Temple Speaker
In Combrei, there’s no question – you play Auralian Merchant. This might even herald a comeback for Vodakombo, who benefits from the ramp, defensive body, and Market effects of the merchant. Slow is pretty low-impact and might not make the cut over cards like Xenan Initiation or even Mystic Ascendant, but being able to see your opponent’s hand before committing to a play and effectively discarding an expensive card like Harsh Rule might be worth it. It could also be that you want a strong 5-drop like Worldbearer Behemoth to curve into on turn 4 with Auralian Merchant. Only playing with the cards will be able to answers these questions.
Merchants and Markets are the most exciting development in Eternal for a long time – they will completely revolutionize the way we build and play decks. I’m super excited to try these cards out. What ideas do you have for Markets? What decks do you thin stand to benefit most? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, may your Market always have the answer you need.