Eternal: Shadows of the Spire full set review
As of today, May 4th, Shadow of the Spire has joined the Eternal card pool, bringing with it 23 new cards. These cards will be legal in both the Expedition and Throne format, and can be purchased in a number of different ways outlined here by Direwolf Digital. Now that the set is released and all the cards are available, let’s take a look at each one to see which one’s will make the biggest impact.
Jekk, Mercenary Hunter:
Jekk makes his fourth appearance as a card, and it’s his best one yet. Although Jekk costs 3, it’s all about making use of his summon ability which gives a bit of reach, ways to deal with the board and potential card draw. Jekk’s body and influence requirements are on the weaker side, but he looks to be worth the downsides. Expect to see Jekk showing up in Mono Fire or mostly Mono Fire based aggressive builds, including incentivizing cards such as Kaleb’s Persuader to show up more as they pair well with him. Over the last few expansions, there have been a number of strong Gunslingers released and it may finally be time for this kind of tribal to shine.
A clear push towards Mono Fire, Jekk’s Takedown offers a repeated source of direct damage without you having to invest more resources into it besides power. This spell is likely to slow, but could pop up as a market option for aggressive fire decks, but not hitting units makes it to weak from behind.
Another build around win condition, Archmagister’s Prophecy requires a hefty investment to the board and may be a win more card. If you already have 12 units on the board, usually the game is already over, but that doesn’t mean this card doesn’t have a home. Prophecy also serves as a repeated source of life gain, that does more than just gain life. Although a higher investment then Ancient Bauble, this allows life force decks to repeatedly gain life while making their board more durable. The downside to this, is that you require a unit in play in order to activate this, making it potentially worse when trying to ultimate something such as a Mask of Torment.
One of the more difficult cards to evaluate in this expansion, Clocktower Sentinel offers a unique repeatable effect that some archetypes may find desirable. When he is on the board, he may serve as a board stall breaker, and if he survives for a few turns will rapidly take over the game. The more interesting part of this card is when this card is in the void, as this effect will happen every turn and is very difficult to interact with. This makes this card a powerful option for decks trying to bring units back from the void, such as Haunting Scream strategies. Decks such as reanimator don’t need to increase the size of their units very often, but buffing units for Haunting scream can often lead to combo kills. Players have experimented with scream decks that try to bring a unit back, play multiple pump spells on them and kill in one turn, but Clocktower Sentinel may allow those decks to play less pump spells that don’t offer anything except during the winning turn.
Another push towards Mono faction, Silverblade Intrusion offers a Protect like effect with upside. Although this doesn’t protect against non-damage removal, many decks are relying on damage based removal currently and that’s when this card will shine. This is a powerful option for many decks, and comes with a strong upside as the game goes longer. It’s worth mentioning that sometimes this card can just be played in order to get the Valkyrie Denouncers when you aren’t looking to protect any units. Expect to see this card pop up in quite a few strategies, as a potential market option or possibly in justice based main decks.
Lada, Svetya’s Advisor:
Lada is one of the few cards we’ve seen that interacts with sites, in this case both buffing sites and helping complete agenda’s faster. This card has a lot of potential now and in future sets, as it can be combined with sites who are either reliant on its agenda completing for its power such as Den of Ordeals or sites with only 2 strong modes, such as Regents tomb. Although I’m not sure where this card goes yet, it’s a powerful option to exist that players will be experimenting with for a very long time.
Mother of Skies:
Mother of Skies offers a powerful option for decks such as Elysian flyers who attempt to generate a mass amount of flyers in order to overwhelm the opponent. This card comes with both a strong body, and a powerful ability and will likely push players into including more multifaction units in flyers deck in order to capitalize on this card. Currently, there is concern that there aren't enough strong multifunction flyers but some exist and as more cards get added to the game, the stronger this card can be.
Turn to Seed:
One of the cards that accidentally got leaked early, Turn to Seed offers primal decks a way to permanently deal with problematic units without making them ignorable. Although the Little Seeds take awhile to come online, once they do there’s a new problem on players' hands to deal with, meaning players are going to need to close games out quickly or remove the seeds as well. Expect Turn to Seed to show up in markets, and potentially in some primal based control decks.
Dizo, Cabal Racketeer:
Dizo returns, this time stealing units instead of the opposition's cards. Due to his flexibility, and the push to mono shadow in Expedition due to Eternal’s newest promo, Eremot and the newly resurrected Icaria expect to see this card easily find a home in Expedition. In Throne however, cards like Dizo are less powerful since players are doing more efficient and powerful things faster, and it’s hard to justify spending 6 power to steal a Argenport Instigator. Throne does have a strong target for this card though, Auralian Merchant. Although Auralian Merchant isn’t always popular, when it is, getting it stolen on turn 3 can be back breaking.
The Valkyrie have staged a comeback this expansion, including this new anti-control card. Although a medium quality statline, Silverblade Menace serves as a tool for shadow midrange decks to fight back against decks such as unitless control who fill the void with spells in order to stop the Valkyrie. This card isn’t an all star, but may serve as a market threat that sometimes makes it into main decks when the meta slows down.
Icaria, First Reaper:
The clear most powerful card from this expansion, the infamous Icaria has risen again, this time to kill your units and discard your spells. Although extremely difficult to cast, Icaria is nearly impossible to ignore and will serve as top end in decks such as Mono Shadow or almost Mono Shadow, similar to the previous Expedition format’s Argenport Tasbu. Icaria is also a massive upgrade for Keelo decks, who don’t care about Icaria’s influence requirements. Some of these decks previously played Jekk as a 6 cost kill a unit, but Icaria does that with a lot more offered, including being able to sacrifice Icaria to Keelo, get Vara, get back Icaria.
The best case scenario for Auralian Supplier is a 3 cost 2/2 with charge that draws 2, and it’s worse case is a 3 cost 2/2. This difference likely pushes this card out of the meta in exchange for more consistently powerful options, but Praxis aggro may have an interest in an additional 3 cost charge unit. Aggro decks also often have less cards then the opponent, and less cards in hand making it the most likely deck to consistently get high value from this card. Is this Aggrohanded Golem?
Scavenger is intended to be a top end that picks up a weapon, instead of using a card such as Dragon Forge or Rise to the Challenge. This additional cost, lack of weapon buffs and potentially not finding the weapon you want makes this card appear weaker then traditional weapon tutor’s. This card may seem some play, either from the market or in the top end of something like Rakano Midrange in Expedition, who play a large number of weapons and don’t have many options at 6 power.
Edge of Uprising:
Anytime cost reduction is on a card, it’s worth looking into. Edge of Uprising encourages players to flood the board with things such as Grenadin Drone in order to discount this quickly, granting a large weapon and filtering draws. Although this card needs a specific kind of deck to be powerful, this is a card players may want to look into building around this powerful weapon.
Talk about a card that wants players to end games quickly, Open contract is built for ultra aggressive decks. This is also a massive upgrade to Condemn, another market option that is under played due to the lack of 1 cost cards decks want. The most interesting part of this card is that if you target your own unit with this card, it will decrease the cost of your own units in your deck, an effect we haven’t seen much of in the past. This is an effect that could open for new archetypes. Expect this card to show up in a wide mix of decks, as the downside of this card will often be outweighed by the efficiency.
Combrei gains a new relic weapon that both ramps and can kill units, while also offering a powerful invulnerability. Although this weapon may be playable due to its ramp, it is all about the invulnerability allowing combrei to ignore cards like Hailstorm, or completely stop a spell based lethal such as one’s seen from Skycrag Control. Although cards like Stand Together are likely strong for beating cards like Hailstorm, this grants a faction pairing that has always been weak vs combo decks a strong tool against them. It’s not clear if this card is main deckable yet, but expect to see this popping up in markets depending on how much damage based removal and combo decks there are.
A clear upgrade to any dinosaur strategy, Spikeback offers dinosaurs the opportunity to generate card advantage while still developing. Any card that will always replace itself should be looked at, and although it may not see play now, it should in the future if dinosaur’s become viable. It’s possible this card is strong enough for a Expedition Elysian midrange deck, without dinosaur synergy.
Another build around card, Spire Shadows offers a unique but powerful effect, letting players potentially cheat out expensive units. Some of the first things I’d like to try for this card is Elysian Pathfinder, 0 Cost Auralian merchant or being able to draw any attack unit with Crownwatch Pressgang. This is a really powerful option to exist in Eternal, and although it may not have a home yet, it’s a card worth exploring because there’s likely something very strong already out there.
Vorlunk Corps may be the weirdest type’d unit in the game, Paladin Dinosaur. Besides it’s type, this offers Hooru decks a way to develop while interacting, although this unit's statline is lacking. Due to being invulnerable on your turn, I expect players to toy with this card treating it as a 5 cost removal spell instead of a major threat. If anywhere, expect to see this potentially bring a Hooru deck back the Expedition meta, but it is unclear if this will be stronger then the curse matters theme that already exists.
The Nightmare Gates:
Although a heavy influence requirement, The Nightmare Gates is an extremely powerful card that will swing games instantly. Some players will experiment with this card for combo decks, but the real stand out for this card is in a Argenport focused control deck, especially in Throne that can clear the board while developing Stormhalt Knife. A potentially free 10/10 weapon will end games, especially after a board clear and that’s only the most obvious application. This card is one that will take awhile to figure out, but one that will be worth it once people figure out what to do with it.
A deceptively powerful tribal card, Counterfeiter has the ability to enable entirely new strategies moving forward. Although this article only scratches the surface of it’s potential, this card can be combined with Vox to grant every unit that enters play +x/+x equal to the number of units in your void, since everything is a nightmare. Another option is making Counterfeiter a dragon and casting Volatility, drawing all 5+ cost units in your top 10 cards. It’s hard to figure out immeditality what to do with this card, but it opens up a lot of new strategies worth exploring.
A boost to factionless decks, Worldhaper’s Staff allows factionless decks to push ahead on the board, and still draw a card once your unit is removed. There isn’t enough tools for factionless decks currently to be viable, but this grants them an option to close games quickly. This may also see some play in mono faction decks which would create a 5/5, but it’s yet to be seen if that’s worth the investment.
Wrath of Caiphus:
An extremely powerful spell, Wrath of Caiphus offers a unique effect for combo decks. Cards like this are hard to judge, as if you play this card and then pass the turn, giving your opponent the first chance to use this card can be a disaster. Instead, discounting this card or playing it with cards like Brenn, Arch-Magister can allow you to play this card and then use the cards on your turn, going for a combo kill. I’m not sure if this card has a home yet, but it’s terrifying.
Thanks for reading the first Eternal expansion breakdown here on Backlash. Shadows of the Spire looks to be one of, if not the most powerful expansion yet and it’s going to be an exciting few weeks while players figure out these new cards. What decks did you try first? Would you like to see more content like this? Let us know in the comments or on the official Backlash twitter.