Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Warcry in Eternal

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, by now you probably know about my enthusiasm for Eternal, a relatively new digital CCG by Direwolf Digital. Although I was a major Hearthstone fan for a while, I find that Eternal has all of the same elements that attracted me to that game, but does them better. And by better, I suppose I mean more like Magic.

So what makes Eternal special? Zachary Barash, of Hipsters of the Coast (whom I have quoted in this blog before), wrote an article this week highlighting on the key mechanics of Eternal called Warcry. Warcry is a relatively simple mechanic. Whenever a unit with Warcry attacks, the next unit or weapon in your deck gets +X / +X, where X is equal to the unit’s Warcry number. Unlike Magic, these changes persist even when the card is no longer in play, effectively permanently changing that card until the end of the game. Additionally, the top unit or weapon can get multiple Warcry triggers over the course of play, accumulating until you draw it.

Barash identifies four reasons why this is such a good mechanic:
  1. It’s simple. Warcry is easily understood. You attack, your next unit gets bigger. Since most units only have Warcry 1, each attack with that unit makes the next one have one additional power and health.
  2. It encourages attacking. All other things being equal, you want to be attacking. This mechanic gives new players the incentive to do just that. It rewards them for doing what they should be doing anyway, effectively teaching good playing habits.
  3. It provides advantage over the course of a game. Warcry is a great equalizer for aggressive strategies. Your units keep getting larger over the course of a game, making them relevant longer. And at times, this advantage is significant enough to even make it worth throwing away a unit on an ill-advised attack, simply because it will give a corresponding advantage later.
  4. It creates great moments. Often the fun in card games is the big, flashy moments. Warcry helps create those. There is something quite compelling about swinging in with a massive unit for a very cheap cost created by multiple Warcry triggers. It allows you to suddenly win out of nowhere, or win a game you were almost certainly going to lose.

Eternal is free on Steam right now. And while it’s still in closed beta, it’s quite polished, and well worth checking out.

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