Hello everyone! Magnnarot here once again bringing you another Eternal Card Game (ECG) article. This time I will be addressing the main differences and similarities concerning Magic: The Gathering (MTG) and ECG. As introduced in the previous article, Eternal is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from MTG, be it in its deck-draw dynamic, resource or combat system. This piece aims to help people trying to get into ECG that have experience in MTG.

So, where to begin? Lets highlight the most basic rule differences first:

  • Victory Conditions: Players start with 25 health and you win by either making your opponent hit 0 health points or having no cards left in his deck at the end of any given turn (yours included). While MTG has players lose to drawing while having no cards left, Eternal takes a more conservative approach and often easier to hit win condition for the mill player.
  • Starting Hand: You draw an initial hand of 7 cards, the game uses algorithms to give you a minimum of 1 power and a minimum of 1 non power card. Mulliganing is allowed up to two times, the first is a complete redraw and the second has you going down to 6 cards. On mulligan the algorithm changes and gives you a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 power, on both the first and second ones.
  • Deck building: Your deck has a minimum of 75 and a maximum of 150 cards, a third of which must always contain power (Eternal’s equivalent to lands) or non-power cards. The part about having a minimum amount of real cards is very important, as there have been decks abusing the mulligan system to get specific draws in order to combo.
  • Power vs Lands and Influence vs Mana: Mana is an expendable resource that you produce by tapping lands in MTG. In Eternal, Power cards add “maximum power” regardless of what it does, you might be unable to use it the same turn you play it, similar to tap lands, or it might just add power with no Influence like lands that have no color in MTG. Influence works similar to a threshold, you add it and it doesn’t ever get spent (expect in rare exceptions). If you had a card that needed double shadow influence and a card that needed two shadow influence, but only two influence available, you could play both in the same turn, provided you had the power to pay for it, as an example.
Sword of Icaria costs 3 power and you need to have 1 fire and 1 justice influence to be played.
  • Maximum hand size: the maximum amount of cards you can ever have in your hand is always 12, any cards you draw over this limit are instantly discarded. At the end of the turn, you discard any cards going above a 9 card limit.
  • Maximum unit limit: Players can only have a maximum of 12 units (ECG’s synonym for creature) on the  board, trying to play a new unit after hitting this limit results in a prompt to sacrifice one of your units, be it one already on the board, or the one you are trying to play. Summon effects (Eternal’s “enters the battlefield”) still go through even if you sacrifice the new unit.
  • Stat alterations: Unless stated that they only last a turn, stat alterations and text box inclusions are PERMANENT, even as they change zones and go to your void (Eternal’s graveyard) or deck.
  • Game pacing: Different from MTG, the game has more flexible turn phases, but less interaction allowed during your turn, a player can’t play spells or any fast effects (Eternal’s jargon for ‘instant speed’) in response to a player going into the battle phase (similar to MTG’s combat phase). If you play a unit that has effects on attack your opponent HAS to kill it during their turn or you have a free attack trigger happening, provided you don’t try to interact with the opponent in any way during yours or modify your units with spells. That said, as long as you fulfill the conditions above or try to end your turn, the opponent is indeed allowed to play his own fast spells.This last rule works for anything related to interacting with the opponent during their turn, as a rule of thumb unless your opponent is trying to interact with your cards or trying to modify their own with spells there is no window of interaction. This doesn’t apply to some cards such as weapons (ECG’s equivalent to Enchant Creature – Aura… not actual artifact weapons).
  • Counterspells: Spells are something much less univeral in Eternal. Only cards with the type Spell are considered spells. This means the game doesn’t allow for unit counterspelling, cards with the text “Negate an enemy spell” only negate exactly that, a spell.
  • Sites: They are pretty much Eternal’s planeswalkers with some major differences. A player can only ever own a single site, be it the same site card or a different one, playing a new site destroys the previous one. Sites have their own health pools that can’t be healed and can be attacked or dealt damage just like players (different from players, some burn spells can’t hit sites). When a site is on the field, a player must choose to either attack a site or the player, you can`t assign attacks on the avatar and site at the same time (berserk is a caveat here, but more on that later). A site has three key parts: a passive effects, an agenda and the finished agenda`s unit. When you play a site and every start of turn afterwards you get to pick a spell contained in its agenda (which always has three spells) and use it, player`s can`t choose the same agenda spell multiple times. After all the agenda spells are depleted, the site agenda`s unit comes out and the site stays there providing its passive effect until destroyed (by your opponent`s units or you playing another site over it). As a last note, Sites always count as two units while on the board.
A site, its agenda with an used spell and the agenda’s unit.
  • Relic weapons: Are an unique type of card in that they allow your avatar to interact with the board directly by attacking, be it your opponent’s units or their own avatar, but not sites. Similar to unit attack and health relic weapons have their own attack and armor values. Armor is a stat similar to health, but it is always the first to be hit when you take damage and is added to the current relic weapon if you have one or added to your new one as you play it, conversely, a relic weapon being destroyed strips you of all your armor.
An equipped relic weapon ready to hit.
Armor and health.

This about wraps up the “basic” rule differences between Eternal and MTG. A rather extensive topic is how battle skills have obvious and not-so-obvious parallels betwent ECG and MTG. While in MTG keywords only exist in creatures (unless you are playing some joke sets), Eternal allows its spells to have battle skills. The following table is an attempt at covering the similarities and differences between most ECG battle skills and MTG keywords:

Eternal Battle Skill MTG Equivalent Description
Aegis Hexproof While Aegis serves the same purpose as hexproof in the form of stopping spells, it is fundamentally different. Aegis stops a single effect of any type, spells, curses, unit abilities are all stopped by aegis (even board wipes!). The caveat is that aegis only works a single time until refreshed by something that gives aegis or replaying the unit. Players can also have aegises, which work as a “preemptive” counter spell of sorts.
Berserk No equivalent Berserk allows a unit to attack twice ONCE if you want it to by spending itself, this comes with a demerit though, as it makes the unit reckless (more on that below).
Charge Haste Same functionality. A difference is that all eternal units can be exhausted (read tapped) even if they don’t have charge the turn they come into play, if you have a card that requires you to do so or the unit has na ability with that requirement.
Deadly Deathtouch Exactly the same
Double Damage Double Strike The unit deals double damage, but doesn’t get the first strike. Not actually two hits.
Endurance   Vigilance   Very close, the unit doesn’t need to be exhausted to attack. Additionally, it cannot be exhausted or stunned by enemy effects (tapped and doesn’t untap during its next untap step).  
Flying Flying No differences. Just watch out for scarves otherwise.
Killer Fight While they look extremely similar at first, killer has some major differences going on. Killer allows a unit to attack any unit an opponent controls at any time by spending itself, this is treated as initiating combat and will trigger any on attack (for the unit with Killer) or on defense abilities (for the unit being attacked).
Lifesteal Lifelink Exactly the same.
Overwhelm Trample Exactly the same.
Quickdraw First Strike Only on attack. No creating board stalls with a single 3/1 first strike!
Reckless Attacks each turn if able. No keyword equivalence. Is usually a byproduct of an unit going berserk.
Revenge When the unit dies for the first time it is instead placed randomly among your top 10 cards and it gains Destiny (cards with destiny automatically play themselves and draw you a card).
Unblockable No keyword equivalence, but is the same as “[cardname] can’t be blocked”.
Warcry When this attacks, the top unit or relic weapon of your deck gets +1+1. Can be stacked and can come in increments, like Warcry 2 (grants +2+2 per attack) or more.

Those are all the battle skills Eternal currently possesses, while there is the possibility of more being added in the future, the game still has a few more non battle skills to go through (the difference does matter, as eternal has some effects that only work if a unit has a set amount of battle skills) and are truly unique to it:

Eternal Skill MTG Analogue Description
Ambush Flash Close to MTG’s Flash, but not quite the same. You can ambush in response to attacks (unit’s or relic weapon’s) or end of turn, but not spells, relics or unit summon effects. In addition, a unit that ambushes into a killer or a relic weapon attack will replace the original attack target.
Destiny When you draw a card with destiny, it plays itself and draws you another card. If you draw a unit with destiny while your board is full, it discards itself and draws you a new card instead.
Echo When you draw a card with echo, you draw a new copy of it, this doesn’t draw you a new echo copy. Effects that would change the card on draw work somewhat unreliably and there isn’t a real fixed rule for it.
Fate When you draw a card with fate, it does something. This can vary from drawing you a new card, placing a card on your deck, or doing something for free.
Warp You can see cards with warp on top of your deck and play them as if they were in your hand. Your opponent doesn’t get to see or know if a card with warp is on top of your deck unless you “warp” the card.

This about wraps the list of skills Eternal currently has, but we are nowhere near done with the mechanics the game has. Without even going into specific card abilities or such, the game still has specific ability “archetypes”, some of which have magic comparisons and some which don’t, such as amplify and multikicker. Last but not least, a glossary of all terms that the above tables missed:

Eternal Terminology MTG Counterpart Description
X Ally Tribal ability that works similar to Ultimate, but its only triggering requisites are that you have another card with its designated tribe in play at any point this card is on the board (before or after entering).
Amplify Multikicker Card with amplify let you pay their costs any amount of time to do something equal to the number of times you paid for them.
Bond Convoke or Bond Another tribal ability. Similar to convoke in that you tap units to reduce cost, but you can only bond a single unit of the same tribe and uses the unit’s attack to reduce card cost by that much.
Depleted Tapped A power that enters play depleted doesn’t provide power during the turn it is played if it is a power card.
Empower Landfall Exactly the same in both games.
Entomb When [cardname] dies Pretty much the same with some minor interactions from other hosers that prevent it from working.
Infiltrate Another Ultimate type ability with a narrow trigger. The activation conditions are damaging the opponent’s avatar with the infiltrating unit, not necessarily via combat.
Inspire If a card with Inspire is on the board and you draw a unit, the unit you drew gets a boost, be it a battle skill or extra stats.  
Lifeforce When you gain health, this card does something.
Market Similar to a sideboard that can be accessed during the game. While Eternal has no sideboarding, it has the capacity to bring situational cards on the very first match through market cards. Your market can only have up to 5 cards normally and when you play a card that allows you to market a card you swap a card in your hand for one in your market (it can be marketed back to your hand later). This mechanic is likely the most complex in ECG and warrant its own section at a later date.
Mentor/Student One of the weirdest mechanics ECG has come up with (and least successfuly ones). Mentor cards let you exhaust a unit you have on the board as they come down in order to do something (their Student). So far a parasitic mechanic only present in Eternal’s second set and its campaign.
Nightfall A rather unique mechanic. When a card with Nightfall is played for the FIRST time during a turn, it becomes Night. When a player starts a turn during Night, they take 1 damage and draw an additional card, this applies to both players. The Night ends on the turn of the player with the last played Nightfall card. When a card with Nightfall is played and it is already Night it extends this state by a turn. Some cards have effects that only work during the Night.
Onslaught Raid Exactly the same as raid. The two differences are that Killer and Relic Weapons allow your Onslaught to take effect.
Pledge A card with Pledge can be played like a Sigil (a basic Power card) of of its colors during your first turn instead of your normal power drop.
Renown Ultimate yet again! This time you need to play a spell or weapon on the unit. This only works with your spells played on your units.
Scout Scry Exactly the same
Silence Completely removes a card’s abilities. It only keeps its stats and cost. This is irreversible.
Shift/Emerge Suspend While close to its MTG counterpart, Shift always take 3 turns to come out unless modified somehow. A shifted unit is considered on the board for the purposes of passive abilities, board wipes and such, but can’t be targeted by anything like a single target kill spell or buff. When a unit leaves its shifted state it is Unblockable as it Emerges for the turn.
Spark Pretty much Summon with the condition that your opponent has taken damage during this turn.
Spellcraft   Kicker   Cards with spellcraft are all exclusively weapons. When played you can pay its spellcraft cost to play another card attached to it (only once).
Stun Doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step OR
Doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step
Any unit without endurance can be stunned. A unit that receives endurance after it has been stunned temporarily doesn’t instantly become unexhausted, while a unit that receives endurance after it has been permanently stunned does.
Summon   When [cardname] enters the battlefield   Basically a term used to save on card box space. Makes things easier for the eyes.  
Transmute X   –   A card with transmute transforms itself into something completely new if you ever hit X amount of MAXIMUM power at any point in the game. This process is irreversible.  
Tribute Another conditional Summon ability, this time you need a unit to hit your own void (either by dying or discarding) before you play your tributing unit.
Ultimate An one time pay/do this and get something. Costs and benefits vary wildly between card to card. The only way to refresh an ultimate is to replay the card.
Voidbound Cards with voidbound can’t ever leave your void again, unless they are silenced.

I hope this article sheds some light to anyone who has interest in Eternal or even just a slight curiosity and has played MTG before. Both games are great and I maintain that instead of choosing one over the other, they are both their own unique games with unique designs.