This weekend is the “There Can Only Be One” event in Eternal, a mode where you bring your own deck but can only have one copy of each non-power card. These types of formats, often referred to as “Highlander” formats, are very popular in other card games and always a blast to play. Deckbuilding can be intimidating for many given the number of choices, but luckily, these formats tend to have trends that we’re sure to see emerge here in Eternal. Today we’ll look at those trends and strategies, discuss some general deck building tips for the weekend, then talk about what cards will likely be very strong this weekend.
Common Trends in Highlander
1) No Aggro. Without multiple playsets of the best 1 and 2 cost units, aggro decks become fairly difficult to run. In general, only one copy of any given card means consistency tends to go down a little bit and games become slower. Heavy Fire-based decks may still get to exist here, but they certainly won’t be on the back of Turn 1 Oni Ronin. Given the lack of sweepers in this format, I expect it to be mostly shades of midrange. Speaking of…
2) Sweepers are amazing. Harsh Rule is definitely one of the best cards in this format, with Leave A Witness probably not far behind. Premium removal is scarce, so anything that can reset the board is very powerful. Even Plague is likely to be fairly strong to give your side of the board a big advantage.
3) Tutors are your friends. “Tutor” cards are anything that searches your deck for a specific card. Think Rise to the Challenge and Celestial Omen. Getting your best card to end the game or finding that one answer you need is one of the best tools to have available to you.
4) Recursion is even better. With only one copy of every card, being able to play your best ones twice with Dark Return or Excavate is very powerful. While not recursion, clone effects such as Mirror Image also get better for the same reason.
5) Expect board stalls. With limited removal, slower decks, and almost no board wipes, battlefields can get clogged up with both sides unable to safely attack. Being able to finish off your opponent and stop their own evasive threats is key to any winning strategy.
The small selection of cards and standard deck size may change some of these trends this weekend, but I don’t expect it to be too different. Knowing these things, here are my biggest tips for building strong decks for this weekend:
1) Play lots of power. I think about 32-33 power sources is probably a good starting spot, with cards like Seek Power and Amber Acolyte counting for slots. It’s quite likely that playing three or more factions is the way to go give you access to the largest number of strong cards. Even if you choose to play only two factions (or one if you’re really brave), making sure you hit your power drops will be important.
2) Use “second-rate” removal. Cards like Unstable Form, Challenge By Law, Entrapment, Deathstrike, Flame Blast, and Bury the Past are all good choices for this weekend. They aren’t as strong or as efficient as other removal spells you know so well, but they’ll get the job done. Some of these cards, like Challenge by Law and Bury the Past, will be especially good thanks to their power and versatility in slow metagames like this one. Depending on your deck, you may even dip into even worse removal options, such as Execute and Burn Out. Removal is removal.
3) Think about how you will win the game. The most simple way for most decks will involve playing big evasive units, but given that they’ll have those too, it might be harder than you think in some games. If you’re newer to the game and don’t have as many of these splashy legendary cards, hordes of small flying units and big overwhelm units can be found in all rarities and will still be able to get the job done.
With all that out of the way, what cards are likely to be good this weekend?
Nightmaw, Sight Unseen
In a world of board stalls and bad removal, Nightmaw, Sight Unseen gets dramatically better. Given that there are about three Fast-speed Silence effects, dropping Nightmaw with a few units on board should usually win you the game on the spot.
Eilyn, Clan Mother
Giant evasive unit? Silence? Board Wipe built in? This mom is everything you want in this type of event. While she isn’t impossible to remove, being able to win by herself while also silencing and wiping an enemy board is a lot for one card to boast. I’m guessing she will be one of the best cards in this weekend.
Icaria, the Liberator
I think Icaria will be a bit worse than normal given that everyone is likely to play big flying units that can block her, but given that she is currently one of the best units in the game, “a bit worse than normal” still leaves her better than most cards.
Marisen, the Eldest
This format is just slow enough that Marisen may finally get her time to shine. Without an immediate answer, Marisen will quickly take over the game with a flood of small desert critters.
Spirit of Resistance
Twelve power doesn’t seem that unreasonable in this format at first glance, so clearing the board and having a 10/10 might be one of the better things you can do.
Strength of Pack
Between your bomb and your opponents, you may not be able to push through. So, how about two bombs, except now they’re both bigger? Casting this will probably send your opponents packing.
Bartholo, the Seducer
In addition to being an evasive threat that will win the game if left unchecked, Bartholo’s ultimate may actually be very useful in this event. Notable targets include Relic Weapons such as Sword of the Sky King and The Last Word, Moondial, and Flamestoker.
I’ve listed a lot of awesome legendaries and bombs, but what about non-legendaries and other support cards?
The Influence Strangers
The cycle of influence strangers seems great to make sure you can play all your cards while also tangling up any small units in combat.
Value units like Furnace Mage are excellent in this format. With a wider variety of cards played and a slower pace to the game, attachment removal will have a lot more targets to hit.
Like with attachment removal, negate effects will have a lot more targets and a lot more time to target them than normal. Get excited, Primal scions.
Cobalt Waystone is already one of the best cards in the game, but it deserves a special mention because it’s a Power, meaning you can play four copies. I can already feel the sadness taking over knowing my Flameblast finishes are going to be thwarted by this card.
I wouldn’t play a Time deck without Moondial this weekend, and I’d consider going into time just to have Moondial.
Thunderstrike Dragon is probably the best non-legendary bomb in this format, capable of beating Icaria one-on-one and giving you two huge threats. They also work extremely well with Dark Return and other recurrsion cards that you’ll likely want to play in this event.
There are many more cards I didn’t name here that are sure to be powerful this weekend. What will you be playing this weekend? Be sure to check out the Reddit post or leave a comment for me on my Twitter!