Torching the Paradigm: The biggest change in Eternal's History
Since Eternal has been available to the public, certain cards have been as constant as water being wet and the sun being hot. Cards such as Sandstorm Titan, Seek Power and Annihilate could be found in the vast majority of archetypes playing the appropriate factions to cast these cards, and often pushed out other cards who filled a similar role. Many players believed we would never see changes to these cards, as they served as the games pillars. But this week, Direwolf Digital shocked the lands of Myria by changing 4 pillars of Eternal, including the untouchable, most popular card of all time, Torch. Without further delay, I'm NotoriousGHP and today I'll be going over my thoughts on Eternal’s most impactful patch, potentially ever.
Torch: Eternal’s most popular card, was surprisingly changed from being a fast spell, to a slow spell. Torch has defined the metagame and being a fast spell helped deal with a lot of problematic situations. The biggest ones that come to mind are the ability to answer Charge units before they get to deal any damage and the ability to make a come back on the draw, as being on the draw can be extremely punishing. Torch is still going to be a powerful card after its change, as it still removes a huge chunk of the format. But, with it moving to slow speed, it should be slightly less omnipresent, but only slightly as this card is still going to be a format defining card. With cards such as Teacher of Humility and Dusk Raider existing, there will always be a home for Torch as these cards must be answered right away and on the draw there isn’t a ton of other options without being in another color. The decks that care the least about this change is aggressive decks, as they tend to use all there power in the early turns anyways, meaning they usually couldn’t utilize fast speed torch until later on in the game, and the biggest losers here are controlling decks not playing defiance, as they will struggle against charge units.
The real question is, should Torch have been nerfed? After playing a bit after the patch and hearing others' opinions, I currently feel like it is a welcome change, but more cards should have, and likely will be changed to adjust for their increased power level. Without other cards being adjusted, it seems that being on the draw is too punishing currently, and although Torch is still widely played, it makes it much harder to get a tempo swing back in your favor since you have to use this power on your turn, instead of at the end of your opponents turning allowing you to start your turn and develop a threat onto the board. Cards that currently worry me are anything with Charge, Teacher of Humility, and Hojan, as all of these cards are harder to interact with now and unanswered, Teacher Of Humility and Hojan close the door almost instantly in many matchups. But Torch wasn’t the only card changed, and the rest of the metagame will also be shaken up by the rest of these.
Auralian Merchant: The once 1/4 merchant received its second round of nerfs this patch, going from a 0/4 to a 0/3. Auralian Merchant has been an incredibly impactful card, offering a body that can stone wall aggro, and survive Hailstorm and Torch while also ramping you. Ramp has always been a powerful thing in Eternal, and having your merchant also serve the role of a ramp unit likely shouldn’t have ever existed. With these changes, Auralian Merchant gets a lot worse, especially now that you can’t play it and then cast hailstorm with the intent of keeping your merchant alive, but just like Torch, this card isn’t going anywhere. A lot worse isn’t saying much when the card did so many things, and realistically this card is primarily played to be able to go to the market, while also ramping, both of which weren’t affected. Of course, decks like mono time are basically forced to play this card if they want a market, but I think decks that wanted to be able to ramp still play this card as if nothing ever happened. And with torch being nerfed, it’s possible that now dying to Torch isn’t as big as it sounds. This was a good change, and hopefully this is what it takes to put Auralian Merchant back in line.
Heart of the Vault: Speaking of cards to help put Auralian Merchant back in line, Heart of the Vault received the same nerfs predatory carnosaur received a while back where it cost 1 more, and gained one attack and one health to compensate. It turns out, six cost units seem to keep getting nerfed in Eternal. But, Heart of the Vault made it very hard to want to play a midrange deck not containing the fire and time factions, as Heart of the Vault generated absurd amounts of value and a warped heart ended most games. Many players, including myself, were sick of Heart of the Vault, and with these changes it should see quite a bit less play, although will likely still exist. The deck that feels this the most is FTJ Midrange, as this archetype used Heart as a value engine and helped fill in the curve, but that deck was already playing 8 seven cost cards, and I doubt people are going to play 12 of them now. With that in mind, FTJ likely just needs to be rebuilt in some way, but this change should help make other midrange strategies viable again, while also showing some diversity in the six cost slots.
Desecrate: Our last card for today, Desecrate really caught myself and the community off guard. This card was extremely good, and played in basically every shadow deck as a cheap, unconditional removal spell. Usually, the cost of 3 life wasn’t a big enough downside to make players play 3 cost removal instead, such as Slay. Desecrate received a mini rework, both costing one more but being fast now, making it much more comparable to cards like Slay or Banish, and allowing the player to choose if they want to have their downside be 3 life, slow speed or only hit units that cost 5 or less. Of course, Banish and Slay are multi faction cards, and so decks like Stonescar will likely need to choose if they’d like to run this card, or play cheaper conditional removal. Desecrate is a card that certainly flew under the radar when it comes to just how many decks it was played in, but I’m not sure this Nerf was needed. With time decks receiving a Nerf, the need for unconditional removal decreases since most units are much smaller than what time is currently offering. This card does offer some interesting play patterns being fast though, most notably pairing nicely with Eclipse drake and its + 3 power, and although you can no longer play torch at fast speed with this power, casting a Desecrate doesn’t seem like a bad place to be. Desecrate will still be showing up quite often, but I don't think it’ll be omnipresent in shadow decks anymore, and will allow players to make more decisions on exactly what removal they want to bring to battle.
That’s all for this patch breakdown, and I hope you enjoyed it. This changes have massively shaken up the Throne meta game, and as players prepare for the upcoming Eternal Championship Qualifier, things are turned on their head and this event should be very rewarding for those who brew and figure out the meta game. Speaking of, good luck in the ECQ and I’ll see you in the queues.
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