Fight or Kite: Eternal Card Game puts a real focus both PvE and PvP


This week in Fight or Kite, I’m taking on Eternal. It’s another dueling card game that at least on the face of it doesn’t throw much caution to the wind. Like its fore-cardgames before it, Eternal runs you through duel after duel chasing that perfectly drawn combo.

So I’m returning to the card game gauntlet I threw myself into months ago. Eternal was not one of the games I initially had on my radar to play. In fact, I hadn’t heard of it at all until fellow MOP writer Tyler mentioned it to me. He even gave his impressions in a NSM column recently, which was really enlightening for me as well! I thought by now I’d have played Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering, having played many of the other popular games, but I’m a big proponent of supporting the smaller titles and games out there, so I can’t help but move them up in my queue and push the big ones back down to wait.

Gameplay doesn’t stray too far from its predecessors

Like many of the games in this genre, Eternal focuses its gameplay on one vs. one duels. It also plays as a collectable card game, so be prepared to earn lots of cards. As I loaded up for the first time and began to play through the tutorial (to which I give passing marks for smoothly beginning the game’s campaign), the familiarity of drawing, playing, and dealing damage with cards fell right into place.

Play consists of using your deck of cards to add heroes into your play area and cast spells to ultimately kill your opponent. As in Faeria, each player has a health pool holding 25 HP. However, there isn’t a game board to play on here. Instead, this is more similar to your typical MTG-style duel. Players will play their heroes to have them available and spells for immediate effects.

Each turn, players can play only one power card but as many other cards as they have power to play. You always begin with 0 power, so it’ll take a few turns before you start to really get into the action. The mechanic is somewhat of a blend between Shadowverse and Faeria. When I played Shadowverse, I gained a new power point every turn, and they were generic. In Eternal like Faeria or MTG, they are elemental, so some cards will require their element powers to have been played before the card can be used.

I think the most unique aspect of the combat is that the opponent gets to choose whether or not to block an attack with a hero she’s played (that isn’t exhausted/tapped). In fact, the defender even gets to choose which card she blocks, which gives it a bit more back and forth feeling to the combat than many other games. In this case, the defender really needs to be tactical about which card she blocks or allows to damage her directly. Same with the attacker: If you’re not wanting your attacker to die during the attack, you might just hold him back – or you could even hold him back so that he can defend. Of course, there are skills and spells that let the player directly attack a certain card, but the general flow of battle gives the defender some control too.

As mentioned, there are all sorts of different statuses and effects a particular card can have or gain. From activating when played to quick actions to lifesteal and so much more. In the deck I played primarily in Shadowverse, I felt as though it was very common for cards to perform an action when played. In the deck I’ve played here, it seems less common, although not rare either. It could simply be because of exactly that, though: The decks I’m playing just don’t utilize that ability as much. Regardless, I really felt that the abilities in Eternal were more impactful or maybe just more fun. It’s one of those hard to describe experiences.

Of course, the effects are abilities, and on initial impact, the concept is the same between games. But something about they way they land just feels better. In Eternal, you can feel where you are in the match as the turns play on. When I was in Shadowverse, most of the decks built a slow culmination to a huge explosive turn that would end the match. There are a lot of different ways to build your deck and abilities to focus the deck around of course. So I’m sure there are some that land like the Shadowverse ones did – it’s just that in Shadowverse it seemed much more central to play than in Eternal, or at least up to my newbie level in Eternal. Hopefully, long-term gameplay doesn’t veer too much into the one big explosive turn too often.

The reason I don’t like the “explosive turn” twist so much is that it ends up feeling nearly like getting ganked in an MMO to me. The player who wins is the one who got the right cards to pull up properly and in time so that he is able to unload first. It’s like trying to balance the pace of combat in an MMO: Too fast and players ragequit over unfair conditions. Granted, the whole point of some decks is to stack up power to unleash the devastating attack that obliterates your opponent. So maybe I’m just a big baby. I’ll take my ball and go home.

Game modes give the PvEers plenty of action as well

In what seems like the majority of these card duelers, the primary focus of the game is to PvP against other players. Gwent relegated its PvE to basically just the tutorial. Eternal, on the other hand, really leans into some PvE modes. It’s quite refreshing, really. As in Faeria, there’s a whole lot of content to keep you occupied while you earn and build up your deck.

On the PvP side of things, you’ve got typical casual and ranked one vs. one modes wherein you can play with your chosen deck. I haven’t discussed the actual deck building side of the game, but there is a whole slew of tools available. I especially appreciated the ability to import a deck from one that you’ve copied down. It really helps out a noob (or a lazybones) like me. Additionally, there’s a Draft mode, which emulates the style of tournaments where players would open packs and play with what they’ve opened. The upside is that you actually get to keep the cards you’ve drafted; the downside is you have to pay to play this mode. So I guess that makes it a wash.

Flipping it to the PvE mode opens up the game a little bit more. We have both a Campaign and a Chapters mode. I’m not really sure what the difference between them is exactly. I think if you’re an active player, you’ll get access to the latest ones for free, but you need to buy past ones you’ve missed. Or perhaps new players just get to play a single one for free and the others just have to be bought regardless. The tutorial was basically one of these that walked you through five different short stories (about five battles each). Each used a different style of deck, so it gave me a taste of the different flavors I could play with.

Then there are the Gauntlet and Forged modes. These also pit you against the AI in a series of battles. The Gauntlet is fairly self descriptive in that you have to win a series of matches; the more you win the better your rewards. Forged is basically the same, but instead of picking a deck you’ve got, you get to do a sort of drafting round to build a deck. Unfortunately, I think you typically need to pay to play the forged mode, same as Draft in PvP.

The last mode to address is Puzzles. When I played Shadowverse, I thought this was a really unique and cool concept. I stand by it being a cool concept, but I suppose it’s not as original as I thought. That’s fine by me, though. As in other puzzle modes, you’re dropped into a designed end-of-game match, and you have to find a way to make the perfect play and win in a single turn.

The downside to all of these PvE modes is that you can’t play them without an internet connection. Boo! Hiss! I can imagine the reason is the paid Forge mode, and maybe there would be other ways to game them for unlocking cards. It’s still unwelcome, though.

Monetization isn’t too overt – unless you want to play more campaigns

I can’t call this one quits until I’ve at least made mention of the different ways Eternal looks to get you to open up your wallet. Nothing really surprises me anymore with efforts to turn a free game into a paid one. I already mentioned paying for Chapters and Campaigns, but there are also the drafting game modes. Those are likely the worst offenders here because if you just prefer that type of gameplay to building a deck the old fashioned way, you’re going to have to pony up or spend some time earning in game credits.

According to MOP’s Tyler, you can earn and buy most things with the in game gold, not just IRL cash. And I did earn at least one Forged pass, which let me play the mode without buying in, but I would suspect those are few and far between. Also with a CCG such as this, you can expect the option to buy specialized decks and other customizables.

Eternal is a game that honestly took me a little bit of time to get into, but once I made it to the Gauntlet mode, it really started to click with me. It doesn’t really change the format or turn your expectations upside down, but it does the CCG card dueler genre justice. Plus, it’s nice playing a game that isn’t entrenched with so much history that you necessarily feel way behind the curve when you’re playing. At least the solid PvE modes made it feel that way. It’s free-to-play on mobile, so if you’re out there looking for something familiar but also not, give it a shot.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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