A guest post by finkel (Eternal finkel, not Jon Finkel).
The latest patch brought some sweet new cards for people to brew, but what I really wanted to explore was the new redraw rule. A lot of people looked on how it changes the amount of power you can play in existing decks, but from another perspective it can create new archetypes. Running the maximum number of sigils can improve the consistency of very linear combo decks.
The new rule is great in the sense that should reduce the number of non-games. However, it is hard to imagine that it can’t be abused somehow. The main issue is that it disassociates the power that you have on your redraw opening hand with the amount of power that you put in your deck. So, regardless of whether you are running 50 or 25 sigils, you will have a 33% likelihood of getting 2, 3 or 4 power cards.
The trick to breaking the new redraw rule is to play 50 power in your deck. In this configuration you will have 25 non-power cards which will fill the 3-5 non-power slots in your redraw. Since the population of cards is greatly reduced in this setting, you can greatly increase the likelihood of having the card you want in your opening redraw hand.
Let’s say you put 4 Infernus in your deck. The likelihood of having at least one in your redraw hand is 52% with a 50-power deck versus 26% in a 25-power version.
Obviously, this comes at a big cost- your deck will be filled with power cards. In general, every 3 draws you will be drawing 2 power while your opponent will only get 1. Your first hand most of the time will suck. Also, running “fake power” cards (such as Seek Powers and Favors) becomes impossible, as it both takes away the strength of the added consistency and increases the likelihood of flooding even more.
Under these circumstances, the challenge becomes creating a deck which has an increased chance of drawing specific cards (that are good enough to win games) and can ignore (or take advantage) of the extra power. In this world your “biggest friends” are the monuments, which allow you to cheat and have more than 25 action cards.
The first place to look are comboish decks, where all that matters is getting a couple of specific cards that work really well together. In Magic, there are many famous combos which would fit this perfectly: Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle and Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths, for example. They are cheap, usually win you the game, but the cards don’t do that much without their respective pairs.
Eternal doesn’t have anything half as powerful yet (and probably will never have), but we do get two poor man’s version of the Stifle combo: Infernus + Silence and North-Wind Herald + Unstable Form + any other spell.
Doing some math will show that the likelihood of getting Infernus + Silence is around 24% on your redraw (+7% in your first hand). If you jam all these cards on the same deck you will get either combo over half of your games, only considering the cards seen on the opening hands. Another plus of this hypothetical deck is being able to run Elysian monuments, which are pretty acceptable cards by themselves. This is the version that I drew up, highly influenced by a normal 25 power brew that Truedawn was playing on stream:
After jamming loads of games with this deck, I reached the conclusion that the idea does work, you get the card pairs that you want a large majority of the games. However, neither combo is good enough to win games, Vanquish disrupts Infernus and Torch kills your Herald before blooming into an Icaria, and neither of those pose that fast of a clock. Another issue is that I filled 16 cards of the deck with these combos, but the last 9 slots are more or less random stuff that I am not that interested in drawing. To better exploit the 50-power paradigm, perhaps it would help to add another 2 card combo or to play Protects.
Another deck that I looked into was burn. If you compare with Magic, this is counterintuitive as the burn is all about low land count and running many 1-2 mana spells that do the same thing – deal 3 damage. However, in Eternal the good burn spells are high cost (Obliterate, Flash Fire and Flameblast) and don’t mind you flooding out. And, Infernus is a great incentive for higher consistency on your opening draws. Also, the red monument fits very well in this plan and after these cards there is a big drop on card quality – Censari Brigand and Illuminator are not cards you are actively excited about playing. So this is the list I ended up trying out:
Similar to my previous experiment, I did feel the increased consistency with 50 power. It may seem like you would run out of gas really often with this list, but overall I always had cards to cast. However, I often wasn’t fast enough, which probably means I went too top heavy with my deck. Also, beating recurring life gain is impossible- but that may just be the nature of burn.
One of the main issues with the decks that I built is that I have 0 experience with either of these archetypes. I could very well imagine that a good Burn player would think that the cards that I value for my 25 slots were not the best ones and a more balanced curve would be better or that I am missing some other cool combo that fits the Elysian + Infernus shell.
There are some other avenues which I considered trying and could be looked into:
- Kalis is super powerful when it gets its namesake card + enough cheap token makers. I just didn’t really test it because the metagame is super hostile against it- there are too many Assembly Lines on the other side of the board.
- Recurring Nightmare is a card which you can build around and that you really really need to draw on all your games. However, I have no clue how to build it.
- Elysian Midrange could be built with more power (but not as many as 50), using all its monuments. This would lead to a (slightly) greater chance of having Initiate of the Sands on your opening hand while still having a somewhat normal deck.
Overall, I don’t think there is a deck right now that can break Eternal by exploiting high power counts, but I do believe that for specific archetypes, such as pure burn and (especially) combo, that their best shells could be found by following this concept. Naturally, there is a world with stronger/non-interactive cheap combo cards that this new rule could become an issue (but hopefully DWD will avoid it). Maybe this idea will never actually work out in practice, but I thought it was interesting and crazy enough that it would be good to share. Perhaps someone else is more competent than me in exploring it.
4 Levitate (Set1 #190)
4 Silence (Set0 #9)
4 Unstable Form (Set1 #189)
2 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Infernus (Set1 #45)
3 Magus of the Mist (Set1 #233)
4 North-Wind Herald (Set1 #240)
17 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
11 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
4 Cobalt Monument (Set1 #418)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Praxis Banner (Set0 #59)
2 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
1 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Flash Fire (Set0 #6)
4 Infernus (Set1 #45)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
46 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Monument (Set1 #423)