Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A First Look at Eternal

Not too long ago, I stopped playing Hearthstone. There was so much I liked about the game, but ultimately, it lacked that special spark that made Magic the Gathering so unique.

But about a month ago, I received a beta key from joekewwl for a new digital card game called Eternal. Although it's still in closed beta, already it shows a ton of promise. In fact, I would say it takes the best elements from both Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone and creates something reminiscent of both, but uniquely its own. And now that the Non Disclosure Agreement has been lifted, I'm free to tell you about it.

There were three elements that initially made Hearthstone so attractive to me. First, that it offered, at least in theory, a free-to-play model, where you could enjoy the game at least semi-competitively without investing a dime, essentially investing time rather than money to advance. Second, that it offered some single player experiences, pitting you against AI opponents. And third, that it offered a Limited experience that was asynchronous - i.e., one that didn't rely upon having all the players go through a Limited tournament at the same time. And it is in these three areas that Eternal already shines.

However, it also offers a level of complexity and opportunities for tight play that Hearthstone in the end seems to lack. Like Magic, you have lots of complex card interactions. Like Magic, you have a mana system that requires the right mix and number of different sources. Like Magic, you have the opportunity to interact with your opponent on his or her turn. And like Magic, you have a true Limited environment that involves opening packs, passing them around from player to player, and crafting a deck as you go.

It helps, of course, that Eternal is being designed and developed by some of the best Magic the Gathering pros, including Luis Scott-Vargas, Conley Woods, and Patrick Chapin, along with a few others that I believe have done consulting for the game.

Although the game is still in closed beta, new players are being added to the beta somewhat frequently. If you're interested, I encourage you to check out their website and sign up for a beta key. I would also encourage you to check out this recent vod of LSV playing Eternal on his Twitch channel. Check it out, and if you get into the game, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Magic The Gathering has a kind of free to play model with Magic Duels. But sure it is buggy, you only have a limited set of cards and no draft mode.

    Eternal seems to be very good. Does it have a crafting system like Hearthstone? Hearstone's crafting system made me leave that game because I hate to have to spend endless hours to have useless cards I already had 100 times and crafting it for a too limited number dusts. That's I continue to play Magic Duels and Magic in general.

    1. The crafting system is very similar to Hearthstone, but you get a lot more of the dust-equivalent resource called shiftstones. Every prize includes a card, and every pack opened automatically adds some shiftstones as well (even if you open it in Draft).

  2. I played Eternal for a few days, but I didn't like it very much. It adds something more to the Hearthstone style of play but it is still very similar.

    I think you should try Spellweaver: it has all the 3 points that attracted you to Hearthstone, including one of the most generous free-to-play experienced in any game but lacking in the single-player mode while they don't implement campaigns (you can only play single matches against the AI). I find it a lot of fun and deep (while still nowhere near MTG levels, it has a lot going on with its mechanics).

    1. For whatever reason it feels very different gameplay-wise than Hearthstone to me. However, I can understand how it might still be too similar for you. I am sorry that it's not really to your liking.

      I will definitely look up Spellweaver and see what it has to offer.

    2. I tried Spellweaver yesterday (I am waiting to receive my Eternal beta key) and it looks very similar to Magic Duels with its simplified MTG mechanics and some part of the gameplay. Sure, it seems to be generous and will continue to give it a try.

      Thanks gwyned and rremedio for helping us to discover these two games !