Eternal June Balance Changes Review
To many players' surprise, Direwolf Digital announced an Eternal Balance patch earlier today which you can read about here. Many players expected to see changes to some of the newest cards such as Jekk, Mercenary Hunter in this patch, but Direwolf Digital explained that they wanted to still give many of the new cards more time before making changes if they are needed and still need to see how they perform with the release of Argent Depths. Of course, many cards did get changed so lets go over each of them and give my first impressions of the changes.
Tota Pioneer: 1/2 -> 1/1
It took awhile for this card to catch on, but as of late Tota Pioneer has helped revolutionize many fire decks. Midrange fire decks such as Expedition FTS Machinations used it as both a way to gain excess power and as a late game power sink, while Throne decks such as Mono Fire used it to compensate for Fire’s weak 2 cost units, while gaining excess power off of it via Granite Waystone and Emblem of Shavka. Tota Pioneer is still a powerful card, but now dying to Condemn and Blightmoth will be problematic, and will likely push this card's popularity down. Despite being easier to kill, Tota Pioneer’s power level still remains intact and will still enable certain Fire archetypes due to its strong upside.
Thunder Of Wings: Creates a 4/1 Dragon instead of a 4/2
Fire Aggro decks have been loving Thunder of Wings for awhile now, as a way to get past tough enemy blockers and allow situations where units such as Oni Patrol are upgraded for a turn, hitting for 4 damage instead of 2. Condemn is one of the few removal spells that can kill this dragon that couldn’t before, but players will need to be more careful with attacking. This dragon can no longer attack into units such as Blightmoth and Mother of Skies, but will still serve as a card Fire Aggro decks look to if they are playing 1 cost units.
Phoenix Stone: Now costs 1F to play and 3 power to activate. Was 2F and 2 power.
Pyre Elemental: Cost is reduced by 3 if you’ve played a spell this turn instead of 4
I’ve combined these together, because up until this point both of these cards have only really seen play together in markets supporting Blazing Salvo. Blazing Salvo is already a card that’s received nerfs, but still helped push Fire decks over the top, especially in Expedition. One issue with Blazing Salvo was that players usually started constructing their market with both Phoenix Stone and Pyre Elemental in them, limiting the diversity of the possible options. With the Etchings Cycle announced, this is a push towards more market diversity and should make these more interesting. Both cards are weaker now, but Condemn markets receive an upgrade with access to Phoenix Stone now while Pyre Elemental may struggle to find a new home.
Rolant’s Honor Guard: Now a 6JJJ 5/5, was 7JJ 6/6
A terror in draft, Rolant’s Honor Guard received a minor rework this patch. I’m not sure how this card will stack up in limited due to its heavy influence requirements, but this is a buff to it for constructed. It’s possible this helps out as a market option for justice decks or maybe as a top end in some Expedition archetypes, but this card isn’t going to be groundbreaking.
Shield of the Line: Now pay 3 to activate instead of 4
Shield of the Line has struggled to make an impact, coming down as an unimpactful body with an expensive ability. This buff should help Shield of the Line feel more reasonable to play, as it both requires a large power investment and to have units in the void, but I am not convinced this card is good enough yet. The best place I can see for this card currently is in some sort of Crownwatch Press-Gang deck that wants a charging finisher to go along with it’s value orientated gameplan.
Ixtol’s Pendant: 1T was 2T
A sweet build around card, Ixtol’s Pendant received a big buff this patch allowing players to get this card down on the first turn. Although this card does require a lot of work to make playable, opening up the option to Warp expensive units in to play or begin activating abilities a turn earlier is very good. I’m not sure if the tools exist yet to make this card worth building around, in the future this buff is going to be relevant for many brewers who discover how powerful ramping to 4 power on turn 1 is.
Fencing Master: 2/3 was 2/2
Fencing Master isn’t a card that’s seen much play even in draft, due to its poor body and difficult to activate ultimate. This buff is welcome, but this card is likely not impactful enough before the ultimate to be worth playing. I’m also not even sure if the upside of a 5/6 unit is good enough to be building around currently. This is a nice buff and may make it better in draft, but you should probably keep this away from your constructed decks.
Minsod, the Peerless: Cost 7J, was 8JJ
Minsod receive a large buff this patch, making him substantially easier to cast. Any card with Bond getting buffed is usually worth looking into as Bond is one of Eternal’s most powerful keywords, but Minsod likely requires too much power investment for current constructed formats. Right now in Eternal, formats about being efficient and with how much power goes into this card including having a unit on board already to Bond him, this card is not about the efficient game. If Unseen become popular again at some point, I suspect players would instead play Zelia, the Vain and potentially play this card in the market.
Snowdrift Delver: 2/3 was 2/2
A fun build around card, Snowdrift Delver had a major issue of having poor stats without immediate upside. Usually, 2 cost units that don’t have an extremely powerful effect such as Tota Pioneer want to have 3 health to be able to block more effectively and survive certain removal spells such as Blazing Salvo. This buff is welcome to help make it more reliable and easier to experiment with, even if it won’t be overly prevalent.
South-Wind Herald: Now a 3/3 that makes a 10/10, was a 3/2 that makes a 9/9
A lot of players have tried to make the four Wind Herald deck work, to little success. This has been due to the quality of the Wind Herald’s being poor individually, and the Avatar of Winds that is being created isn’t always worth the pay off. These buffs are welcome to make this combo better, but the individual quality of the Heralds is likely to be low in order to facilitate a hard to pull off combo deck. One major issue with the Heralds is due to how many Heralds you need to play in your deck, the plan B of this deck beyond getting Avatar of Winds is going to be subpar.
Skyward Seer: Costs 3PP instead of 4PP
Skyward Seer is one of the bigger buffs, as it can now more easily be curved into by cards such as Blightmoth and Mother of Skies. This is a powerful tutor effect, but consistently getting Spark isn’t trivial. This card is worth keeping in mind now, but no longer being able to be gotten from a Transpose Market which would guarantee Spark is a bit of a nerf in its own right. I’ll be experimenting with this card from time to time, but I don’t expect to see it becoming popular.
North-Wind Herald: 4/2 instead of 3/2
This is a nice buff for players trying to use North-Wind Herald as an accelerator, but I don’t think it helps the Wind Herald deck much. In the past players have tried to power this card out with cheap spells and then unstable forming it the next turn to quickly play large units, and with this buff those decks get better, especially when you aren’t planning to transform the Herald.
Lunging Wisp: Now costs 1S instead of 2S
Ambush units typically need to do something powerful besides having Ambush, such as forcing your opponents into awkward play styles or abilities like Damara, Deft Saboteur. Lunging Wisp doesn’t accomplish either of these things, and without a powerful ability just a 1/2 isn’t going to change much despite costing one. This buff is welcome, but I can’t see this card ever being good in its current form, even in dedicated Ambush decks.
Noxious Wyvrach: Costs 6SS instead of 7SS
A sizeable buff, Noxious Wvrach has already seen some play in Expedition decks including an ECQ winning one. This was a solid dragon forge target that now gets even better, and I expect to see this showing up in most shadow dragon decks as a one of moving forward. This card may also manage to creep into other shadow decks, likely as a market option with the upcoming Etching’s for both Expedition and Throne, as a way to develop and clear boards.
Harga, Armory Warden: Now costs 2TJ instead of 3TJ
Harga is a weird card to evaluate, as his ability doesn’t strike me as a desirable one. That being said, this is now a 2 cost 0/8 and that’s invincible. I don’t think this card is going to bring Minotaur’s into the meta, but I like seeing this card get a buff and offer Minotaur’s a better early game while also granting Combrei decks an absolutely massive brick wall that not even Jekk is getting through. I can see Harga seeing play in decks such as Combrei Relics in Expedition as both a Gentle Grazer target and an anti aggro tool if Expedition remains similar to its current form.
Aamri, Dragonbane: Now costs 5TTTJJJ instead of 6TTTJJJ
Aamri is a sweet card serving as an anti dragon tool and a way to re-trigger mastery. The issue with this card is both the heavy influence requirements, and the mastery ability is very win more as you’ve already gotten likely multiple attacks in to activate mastery. The best home for this is Expedition Combrei midrange who may want to re-trigger Intrepid Longhorn to ramp even further, but in general this card is mostly a hard to cast stat ball. Amari could be a powerful option for future Expedition meta’s depending on how the rest of Combrei looks along with how popular dragons are, but this buff probably doesn’t push it to much closer to playable due to steep influence requirements.
With Argent Depths approaching, Direwolf went for a more reserved balance patch and instead buffed a lot of fun build around cards. Will Jekk and friends still be problematic, or will this set shift the focus elsewhere? There’s been a lot of debate over this balance patch so far and we’d love to hear your opinions so let us know on Reddit or on the official Backlash Twitter!