Argent Depths Spoiler Review: Etchings
The Argent Depths spoiler season isn't pulling any punches! On the second day of previews we already have a new way to access the market: Etchings. I don't even need to see the rest of the set to say Etchings will be hands down, no competition, the most impactful cards from Argent Depths.
There are 5 nearly identical etchings; 1 for each faction. The Primal one reads:
1P Primal Invocation, draw a primal sigil from your deck, PPPP: you may exhaust a primal unit to exchange a card from your hand with a card in your market.
The other factions just replace Primal with their respective influence.
Unlike previous cards that access the market you have to jump through a few hoops for Etchings. There are three requirements: you must be mostly focused on one faction, you must play a lot of units in that faction, and you must want to play at least 29 power. It's also difficult to play cards like Seek Power alongside Etchings unless you are running a lot of power.
That said, Etchings are the most efficient way to access the market and will revolutionize how market are built. Long gone are the days of prognosticating when you market on turn 3:
Because Etchings cost 1, you can build a largely reactive market and wait to access it until you need an answer. Before now, markets were built to account for the power cost and tempo loss of playing a Merchant but now, you can afford to play a wider range of cards in your market.
Merchants took up unit slots and the first bunch of market spells took up spell slots, Etchings take up power slots! You're no longer running sub-optimal cards in your deck just to market. Merchants were below rate and market spells did close to nothing except market. This meant you were begrudgingly playing a card for market access. Etchings are power when you need it and a card from your market when you don't. They even provide a card to trade to the market! Decks that want more power can even choose to keep the power and trade something else to the market. It's hard to overstate how flexible the Etchings are.
In the past I've written rants... er articles about market spells but let's make one thing clear: I love Etchings and can't wait to play them. They are perfectly balanced between the factions and don't involve card disadvantage, they allow players to play more power which means less non-games from power screw while not leading to flooding in the late game, and they may be even better designed than Merchants which is not an easy task.