Last week, I tried out another digital card game, Eternal. In the vein of my last similar post, comparing Hearthstone with Shadowverse, I will now try to do the same and compare Hearthstone with Eternal. The goal of this post is to expose players of Hearthstone and other digital card games to Eternal, if they are hesitant to starting the game. As mentioned, I just started playing Eternal, so I am likely covering very basic things, and nothing advanced in Eternal.
What is Eternal?
Eternal is a digital card game, released in November 2016 by Dire Wolf Digital, maker of other games like TES: Legends, and the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online. Dire Wolf Digital states on Twitter that it is an “independent game studio,” so they actually are a small indie company.
The real comparison
I’ll be honest, there are a lot of fundamental differences between Hearthstone and Eternal. It is a bit like when Gwent first hit the scene, and a lot of people want to pit the games together or were taking sides. They are very different games.
The same applies here, Eternal is a bit different because it employs the blocking mechanic. Coupled with resource generation through colored cards, the natural comparison to Eternal should be Magic the Gathering. A longer time ago, I compared Hearthstone with Magic Duels. Magic Duels has since become derelict content-wise. If I knew more about Magic, I could do something deeper. But Hearthstone is what I have played longer, and can make more points with.
Key differences between the games
Hearthstone has 9 different classes, distinguished by class cards and the 2-mana cost Hero Power. A deck is made up of class cards and neutrals.
Eternal is more like Magic, as there are 5 colors/classes, with multicolor/class cards, and colorless cards. You can play a deck with just 1 color/class or all of them. The hero you use is just a chosen avatar of a card, and has no special abilities or bearing on gameplay.
Fire (Red) – Aggressive color with cheap cards, and damage dealing. Has themes of machines, Western outlaws, and fire.
Justice (Green) – The Paladin class, with big buffs and weapons. Has themes of knights, honor, and armor.
Tribal (Blue) – Elemental energy class, specifically focusing on lightning and ice. Has themes of Shamanism, flyers, and animals.
Shadow (Purple) – Your dark magic class, with life drain and resurrection effects. Has themes cultists, witches, and all-purpose bad guys.
Time (Yellow) – A somewhat unique class that manipulates time, bounces stuff and silences stuff. Has themes of the Middle East, elementals, and mystique.
Strangers (Multicolor) – Multicolor cards are typically called Strangers, as they don’t belong to a faction. They are typically better than your regular one-color card, but don’t fit in unless you’ve built your deck that way.
In Hearthstone, you gain 1 mana crystal each turn.
In Eternal, you play Sigils, which are basically Lands in Magic. Your Sigils either are 1 of the 5 colors, or are multicolored. Your opening hand Sigil to card balance is big in determining how the game will go.
In Hearthstone, your taunt minions are the closest thing to blocking, but it is always mandatory. Every attack has an option to hit into a minion or the opposing hero.
In Eternal, your units are going face automatically, when you declare an attack. Your opponent then selects their units, which would block attacks from your units. Blocking is incredibly strategic, as you can assign anywhere from none to all of your units to block. Additionally, multiple units can block one unit. This blocking mechanic is almost identical to Magic the Gathering.
Unit healing and exhaustion
The counterpart of having a blocking mechanic is exhaustion. If your unit attacks one turn, it cannot be used to block during your opponent’s move for offense.
Also, units in Eternal heal themselves after the end of a turn.
In Hearthstone, weapons are equipped to the hero. They have an attack and durability. During your turn, the weapon is unsheathed, and can use a charge. On your opponent’s turn, the weapon is sheathed and cannot be activated (except for Misdirection situations). Weapons can attack hero or minion.
In Eternal, “Relic Weapons” are the hero weapon, while regular “Weapon” are buffs for units. Relic Weapon come with an attack and durability, except the durability is considered armor, which can be destroyed, rendering the weapon broken. Attacking into a unit, or getting hit by a unit will degrade the weapon. Relic weapons must attack units before the enemy hero. Weapon enchantments for units are basically spells, and don’t really have a durability factor.
Secrets are more secret
In Hearthstone, 3 classes have secrets, which are set with your turn mana.
In Eternal, “Fast Spells,” are like Instants, which can be activated from the hand. These combat tricks either affect units, deal damage, or negate activations. You must have leftover energy to play a fast spell. So having leftover energy could either mean you can’t afford stuff from the hand, saving something for later, or are setting up a fast spell.
Bouncing is less effective
In Hearthstone, returning a minion to the hand or deck will remove all buffs granted to the card.
In Eternal, units retain all of their buffs forever.
Some keywords just exist since Eternal is a blocking game. Endurance is a keyword that lets a unit not be exhausted after attacking. Flying exists, which makes a unit only blockable by other flyers.
There are a few other keywords that exist in Eternal. Aegis is a shield that allows a unit protection from 1 spell/unit targeted effect. Infiltrate is an ability/effect that occurs when a unit attacks the hero for the first time. Killer is an ability that lets a unit apply damage to an enemy unit, without attacking. Quickdraw is a conditional ability that lets a unit kill another enemy unit without losing health. Destiny allows a unit to be played for free when it is drawn, and allow another draw.
Hearthstone’s Ranked system has the ranked floors for every 5 ranks, and then Legend. You move up and down stars between each tier.
Eternal’s Ranked system is more like that of other digital card games, where you move up and down a points bar, and you get promoted after filling the bar. Compared to Shadowverse though, losses are more punishing in Eternal.
Eternal has a Gauntlet mode, which now makes sense, given it is the same company that made TES: Legends. But you play a constructed deck in an elimination mode against 7 enemies.
Hearthstone has Arena, where you draft 30 picks, picking 1 out of 3 cards each time. You play until you get 12 wins or 3 losses.
Eternal has two limited modes, Forge for PvE, and Draft for PvP. Both end at 7 wins or 2 losses. Forge is more similar to Hearthstone arena, in that you draft 25 cards, and 1 out of 3 cards. You are limited to 2 classes/colors, which are picked from your first picks in the draft.
PvP Draft mode is unique. First, you pick cards out of simulated packs, which gives you an option of 1 out of 12 cards to begin with. This pack dwindles to a smaller amount, until you start picking out of a new pack. Then, out of 48 cards, you dwindle that to 45 cards.
Hearthstone packs cost 100 gold, which contains 5 cards, and additional value in disenchanting.
Eternal packs cost 1000 gold, which contains 12 cards, is guaranteed 100 crafting resource, and additional value in disenchanting.
Eternal has a Gem resource, which is the “p2w resource.”
Eternal Forges cost 2500 gold, but in addition to the winning prizes, you get to keep all 25 cards you draft. The same is applied to Draft, except in a much bigger scale, as you pay 5000 gold for entry.
Eternal Gauntlet is free, and appears to be the best resource-generating valve for players.
Quests are more generous in Eternal, as you are given many packs for quests and first wins. You can even win preconstructed decks in some quests.
I last compared digital card games when I compared Hearthstone with Magic Duels. I’m going to do a similar thing with a digital card game I recently started playing, Shadowverse. Because I am enjoying my time playing Shadowverse to a big degree, I expect to be blogging more about the game down the line. This is meant to be a more general comparison between the games, for Hearthstone players who are interested in trying Shadowverse.
What is Shadowverse?
Shadowverse is a digital card game, released in June 2016 by Cygames. I cannot name another game Cygames has made, so one can assume they are a smallish indie company. Apparently, it is the most popular card game in Japan.
Getting past the boobwall
This may sound absurd, but I didn’t play Shadowverse for a while because of the artwork. The artwork is anime/manga styled, and features a lot of female characters with absolute cleavage, and partial nudity on a few followers. It even led to the Runecraft Leader, Isabelle, getting “nerfed” in the US version.
While I have no issue with the art being the way it is, I thought this fanservicing concealed what the game had to offer, and that the game would be all smoke and mirrors. This turned out to be a horribly erroneous line of thought. This game is extremely thought-provoking and challenging. Just with a lot of boobs around.
Key differences between the games
The hallmark of Shadowverse is Evolve, a function that allows you to promote your followers on the field. Typically a follower gets +2/+2 in stats, and gains Rush, the ability to Charge and attack an enemy follower. Other minions have more powerful abilities that come with Evolve, like deal damage or gain Ward (Taunt).
Evolve gives the game an extra layer of complexity, as you get to charge and buff a minion of your choosing, allowing you to get rid of summoning sickness. This ability can be used offensively, to add face damage, or trade on a minion. It can also be used defensively. Also, you either get 2 or 3 Evolves per game, so knowing when to use these charges is key.
In Hearthstone, each of the 9 classes are distinguished by class cards, and the 2-mana cost Hero Power. Certain classes have multiple workable archetypes, while other classes are stuck with one type of deck.
Shadowverse has 7 classes, with individual class cards as well. But each class is completely different from each other, based on the class trait, and class cards which work with the trait. For example, the control class, Havencraft, has pretty much no way of becoming an aggro class, as the card rely on anti-tempoing early on for big gain later. The Bloodcraft class is all about playing the game at 10 life, to empower all the other cards. Dragoncraft will always be a ramp class, as there cards rely on getting to (Mana) 7.
While both are digital card games, there are some key mechanical differences that influence gameplay. Hearthstone is a 30 life, 30 card game, while Shadowverse is a 20 life, 40 card game. Drawing to fatigue seems impossible in Shadowverse, while they happen often in a Reno mirror game in Hearthstone. With 20 life, your character seems to be in peril easily. Given that the Bloodcraft Class thrives on 10 life, every game must be a thrill.
The baseline minions in Shadowverse are weaker than those in Hearthstone. Typically, there aren’t good Turn 1 plays, and a 3/2 costs 3 for example.
The Evolve mechanic encourages trading, given that the Evolved minion can only attack minions on the first turn. With the 20 life cap, trading could be more important in Shadowverse than in Hearthstone.
Turn planning is extremely complex in Shadowverse, seemingly as complex or more complex than Miracle Rogue swing turns in Hearthstone. Forestcraft cards for example, have cards that require at least 2 cards to be played that turn for an effect to trigger. You just have to make a ton of turn planning decisions on playing cards for tempo or effects, holding onto cards for reactive moves vs tempo, etc. Just so many decisions to make, which vary by class.
Hearthstone has weapons, which gets the hero directly involved on the board. From what I can tell, the heroes in Shadowverse are just there to look pretty, throw out threats, and get hit.
Shadowverse has Amulets, which serve as the card that isn’t a minion or spell. Amulets are best defined as things that have effects, but can’t attack and can’t be attacked. Given Shadowverse also only allows 5 things on the board (vs 7 in Hearthstone), the Amulets take a bunch of board space.
Oh yeah, like any other card game, Shadowverse has less RNG than Hearthstone. The Forestcraft has a bit of RNG like Avenging Wrath, but some classes, like Runecraft, seem to avoid it entirely.
Going 2nd possibly balanced
There are well-known splits in Hearthstone of the 1st player winning games over the 2nd player by a decent margin. A common topic of discussion is how The Coin just isn’t enough to make up for it.
Shadowverse gives the 2nd player 3 Evolve charges (1st player gets 2) and lets the 2nd player draw 2 cards on Turn 1. I don’t know if this makes things completely even, but I personally have felt getting 3 Evolve charges is well-worth going 2nd.
Shadowverse appears as a very free-to-play (F2p) game. Upon completing the tutorial, you get 10 free packs per set (30 total), a bunch of vouchers, and resources. There are additional rewards for leveling up, gaining achievements, etc. While you get continual rewards in Shadowverse, it appears that decks require a lot more investment of resources to play. Really good decks require about 18,000 vials (dust) to play for example. These rewards may just be scaling to 40 cards per deck.
Hearthstone has a handful of achievements, listed below. There is constant criticism about the game being anti-F2p, or not being friendly to new players. But unlike Shadowverse, there are relatively cheap decks that can be competitive in Hearthstone.
Hearthstone’s Ranked Mode, which was created back in Open Beta, is known for being Levels 1-25, with a Legend rank above that. The devs recently have acknowledged the community’s frustration with the “grind” it takes to level up in Hearthstone.
Shadowverse has a point system, which drives you through tiers of ranks. It is similar to earning experience on a quest, and leveling up that way. So far in the D ranks, I typically earn a lot of experience when winning a Ranked game, while losing only a few points when losing. There may also be implications, where not conceding is the better route in salvaging experience, but I am not sure if this is true. I won 16 Ranked games to get from Beginner 0 to D1. Not bad.
One (Steam) server
Hearthstone is known for having separate servers: NA, EU, TW/KR, CN, with different server reliabilities. Shadowverse appears to have all players in the same Steam server. When playing my first few games of Shadowverse, I encountered a number of players with Asian characters as their battle names. This is not unexpected, given Shadowverse is a Japanese game.
Given everyone is on one server, there could be many disruptions, resulting in disconnects. I actually got my first Unranked, Ranked, and Take Two wins in Shadowverse via disconnect.
Customization, UI, and more
Hearthstone definitely has the more solid user interface, with things being where they should be. It is simple with not too much going on. The UI for Shadowverse is a little discombobulated in comparison, with cards in hand either being oversized or undersized. The emoting system is also more challenging to use, but they do limit you on 3 emotes a turn!
Shadowverse has a lot of avenues for customization. You can set custom emblems, flairs, and even a country flag for national pride. Emblems are awarded through achievements, or when you get a legendary card. Further you can actually customize things like turning off emotes entirely. This request has long been desired by the Hearthstone community.
There are various leaderboards for public viewing in Shadowverse, and various stats about your wins and experience. Replays as well!
Overall, Shadowverse is different from Hearthstone primarily through the more complex gameplay and turn-planning. There is also a lot more customization from the game, possibly borrowing from feedback that Hearthstone players desire. On the downside, it suffers a little just by being a smaller company, and being a lesser-known quantity (no real lore ties), and having less polish in the UI holding cards. I must say I am very impressed with the game, and will continue playing it.
A holiday of sorts is coming this Sunday here in the States, as it will be Super Bowl Sunday. Though the National Football League only has their teams run 16 games each season, American Football remains the biggest sport in America, and the biggest moneymaker. And Super Bowl 50 is a particularly hyped affair, given the 2 quarterbacks leading each team.
Hearthstone is a bit of an emerging entertainment sport, as are all eSports. While firmly entrenched with gamers and other shades of nerd, Hearthstone is trying to branch out to the everyperson to get more players.
While there isn’t much in common between Hearthstone and football, there some similarities. Let’s try this futile exercise!
Decks/Teams have distinctive qualities
The Super Bowl this year features the Denver Broncos vs the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos are a team that rarely scores 20 points nowadays, and is known for a smothering defense, which wins its games. This is basically what the Grinder/Freeze Mage decks do, persist forever, while hiding behind a tough exterior defense. Control Warrior is another good comparison for the Broncos.
The Carolina Panthers are solid defensively as well, though somewhat leaky. They are known for controlling their attack, and can be quite explosive, with good burst. Ramp Druid?
Easy comparison here. In football, teams take turns playing offense and defense. In Hearthstone, one player is making moves each turn, while the other is waiting around.
Fun to watch
Football is not my favorite sport, but it might be the most entertaining/exciting to watch. Hearthstone happens to be watched much and often on Twitch, and is a very watchable video game.
MCT = Turnovers
Turnovers happen in football when the ball is intercepted or fumbled (typically). Though losing the ball is never good, some turnovers are a lot worse than others. Losing the ball on your opponents side of the field is a lot better than losing the ball on your side of the field. Losing the ball with a big lead is not as bad as losing the ball in tie game. MCT is the same. Your 1/1 could be stolen when your opponent is nothing on the board. Or it could steal your 9-drop, with no clear board advantage on either side.
Brawl = Fumble scrum
When a ball a football is fumbled, there is a mad scrum to fight for the ball. This is basically what happens when Brawl is played, all the minions fight in a mad scrum. Also the side with more players is more likely to win possession of the ball/board.
Aggro Decks Blitz
A blitz in football is a defensive play, in which you try to take the quarterback down quickly, by sending more guys than your opponent defense can handle. And usually guys who blitz can run fast. Imagine your last loss to a face deck. Yeah looks like staring down a blitz.
Cam Newton plays his whole hand on lethal
The Panthers’ quarterback, Cam Newton, is a polarizing figure. Outside of being a freak athlete, he celebrates everything, from big time touchdowns, to just getting a first down. This rubs a lot of people (not me) the wrong way, who believe he shouldn’t be showboating all the time. So, Cam Newton is the guy who just plays his entire hand, when he clearly has lethal on the board.
Playing all your cards on lethal is more like bat flipping in baseball. I have heard from Asia-server Hearthstone players, that playing the whole hand is more acceptable, to show your opponent what you had. Obviously in the NA server, this is seen as annoying and other disrespect. In baseball, bat flipping (showing off after a home run) is common in Korean Baseball, and in Latin Winter Leagues. In the MLB, bat flipping could get you hit with a fastball next time.
Extraordinary things happen in football. Unbelievable comebacks, missed extra points, Hail Mary’s. Extraordinary RNG happens in Hearthstone. Rag’s hitting face for lethal, the perfect Confessor Paletress spawn, getting that Sinister Strike in a miracle draw…