Defiance is here, which means it’s time for a set review! For the first pass, I’ll only be rating cards on their ability in constructed (Ranked ladder and 75+ card tournament play.) I will also be doing a limited set review organized in a very similar fashion, which will have links below once finished. For this review, I will assume you know what the mechanics work. However, I will talk about their impact when it matters (expect a good discussion on the first Site card.)
This is my rating scale. It is highly similar to other set reviews from other card games, with considerations for Eternal. Note that cards intended mostly for market usage see a rating comparable to normal cards due to how frequently Markets are accessed in normal games. For the constructed review, I won’t talk about cards that are obviously bad for constructed, meaning no draft cards. Lastly, number ratings don’t give the full picture. Be sure to read the full explanation for the rating.
Card Rating Scale
5.0: Format warping card. The most powerful cards in the game. (Valkyrie Enforcer. Torch. Merchants.)
4.0: Powerful cards used in multiple decks. (Haunting Scream. Cauldron Cookbook.)
3.0: Good cards that will show up in many decks or be very powerful in a few. (Sherriff Marley. Dusk Raider. Shakedown.)
2.5: Roleplayers that help certain decks but aren’t quite mainstays. (Quarry. Nocturnal Observer.)
2.0: Niche or fringe playable card, especially in the Market, or generally just a “maybe”. (Cloud of Ash. Back-Alley Delinquent. Unstable Form.)
1.0: Extremely narrow usage. (In set 2 metagame, I played a Magma Javelin in my Skycrag sideboard specifically to hit a Silverwing Familiar as I otherwise had no reasonable way to kill it if I was on the draw and it got a weapon played on it, because they nerfed Charchain Flail. I still stand by my decision.)
I think there are better options for just killing a relic, such as Bore, but if there is ever a time where being free matters (which is actually quite a bit), then this will be the card to go to. It could also be nice in a Market alongside Bore if you really need two Relic removal options, as I expect people will start commonly play cards like Disjunction to ensure their destroyed relic comes back.
Urn of Choking Embers
This shuts down haunting scream quite hard for only 1 cost. In other matchups it’s also good, slowing down aggro, popping Aegis’s, or clearing the way for your units to enter. That’s more than enough things to make this card worth putting in your Market.
This one definitely deserves an explanation. Aggro has been at its best in the past few months when capitalizing on small windows to deal huge amounts of damage, whether that’s been the various iterations of Blitz, or Praxis tokens, which often wins with one alpha strike. Notorious Scoundrel plays very well into this, giving you access to +4 damage on demand. Casting a Gift of Battle on him gives you 12 damage into an empty board, for starters. The downside of the Wanted Poster doesn’t matter if you kill them the turn it gets played or shortly after. Card advantage doesn’t matter when you’re dead, and this is something the scoundrel knows all too well.
I wanted to discuss this card because there was some buzz around it. The power input for the effect out is just too low. The obvious signal for this is in Praxis tokens (or some new FJS tokens deck), and while it certainly combos with Xenan Obelisk, I do not think it will work with how the deck often wins. Once you have a critical mass of units, you often are required to hold back your Obelisks (or Rallys) until you’re ready to alpha strike to help save you from being blown out by cards like Bore. If you’re spending that power on the attack, then you can’t spend it making a bunch of cats. As for other decks, it’s hard to see it showing up.
Since Nika is our first Pledge card, let’s take a brief moment to talk about the mechanic. For constructed, I think Pledge will only be particularly strong if the card itself is already fine in at least a handful of matchups. In your matchups where the Pledge card isn’t as good, you can simply convert them when you get the chance, and market-away the later ones if you still don’t want them. More expensive Pledge cards will probably end up having a slight edge over low-costed ones as you’ll be more prone to want to play them to develop your board, but not always. In general, I’m not sure they’re worth putting in your deck unless your deck can really make use of the card, since they’re only power on turn 1 and no other time. It’s a nice incidental bonus to smooth things out and nothing more.
Nika does a lot of nice things but doesn’t seem to be all that amazing. The damage-on-cast will be very relevant against any deck not packing a lot of lifesteal, and even more threatening if the player using Nika has ways to defend her to repeat the damage. However, the heavy fire restriction and the threat of big lifesteal units prevents me from giving a card with a somewhat slow and linear gameplan a good rating.
This strikes me as only being playable in some sort of tokens or dedicated burn strategy. I don’t see it being good in tokens, and I don’t see burn being viable. In the event that either of these are true, this gets closer to a 2.5 rating, though it’s more likely that this is a 1 or 0.
The power level isn’t absurdly high here, but it works very nicely vs. control. Losing it automatically at the end of turn (if it survives) is both a blessing and a curse, giving you an on demand 4/4 Charge Flyer but also losing your board presence. I think it could be fine in Markets if the metagame calls for it or in any deck that cares about Relics.
This will easily make 1 power per turn and probably 2-3 per turn with the right tools. Alongside Combustion Cell, sacrificing one Grenadin produces 3 power! It’s hard to say where it belongs right now, but it definitely looks capable of some powerful shenanigans.
This thing has a few interesting things going for it. First, in addition to hitting with the Bladerang for double damage, it having double damage means you have double damage. While you hold it, cards like Torche hit for 6, which is some pretty big game. It is, however, backed behind a 4FFFF cost and a small 1/3 body. There might be a deck capable of taking advantage of it, but otherwise I think it’s a pass. A sad scenario, as it possesses three of my favorite things in Eternal: being a Relic Weapon, having double damage, and having way too many influence symbols in the cost.
A fire card that can beat Titan? What sorcery is this?
The stats here are obviously bonkers. The abilities are where it gets more interesting. Dropping it and killing a relic puts this into “insane” territory, being one of the best units on the board that also killed a card in the process. Playing it without a relic to kill is a much riskier proposition, as losing it can give them an Auric Runehammer or other key relic that they need to stabilize. You probably want this in more aggressively inclined decks, as otherwise there are better things you can be doing at 4 which have more utility. It’s comparable to Sandstorm Titan, and Darude has really been going out of style for a lot of reasons. Still, if you’re in the business of playing midrange 4-drop midrange units that can lay down the hurt, this is a good card for the job.
Xo of the Endless Hoard
The Fate is what really makes Xo such a sweet card. Access to a cheap cantrip gives you flexibility in your turns and can get you out of games. The unit itself is unexciting but fairly strong, presenting a reasonable threat as a 6/6 flyer and threatening to draw a lot of cards if it gets to attack. Fire was lacking both expensive cards to ramp into and ways to use some of the excess power it’s been getting from cards like Yushkov, and this gives both. Xo could also be a decent grab out of the Market, giving you a Treasure Trove on demand.
Fire actually got a lot of sweet things this set. Notorious Scoundrel, Siege Breaker, and Xo offer nice threats at every part of the curve, and cards like Urn of Choking Embers will be powerful market options. Next up is Time.