Monday, December 17, 2018

Eternal Analysis 013—Infiltrate

The first deck I built centered on Infiltrate, Eternal's saboteur mechanic.

The first time a unit with infiltrate hits the enemy, it triggers some juicy effect. An infiltrate deck wants to play a number of good saboteurs and a bunch of ways to help them get through, whether that's Shadow's unblockability or kill spells, Primal's flying or stun spells, or Fire's ping effects or exhaust spells.

Infiltrate was introduced with the first set and got a boost of new cards with the fourth, and it's not hard to see why it came back. The challenge-reward loop is great fun. Being an A•B mechanic isn't ideal, but most CCGs mechanics are anyway: The point is combining cards.

I think this'll be most fun walking through the three major infiltrate archetypes.

Most common is the Shadow-Primal control deck built around Gorgon Fanatic. Paired with Haunting Scream, this little gorgon makes for an amazing draw spell. Every Shadow deck is legally obligated to play Vara, and once you notice that the skills Scream applies to a creature outlast the life it grants, Dark Return becomes inevitable. You might spot some Direwood Beastcallers, or a singleton Argenport Ringmaster, but the deck quickly gets filled up by Feln staples: Rindra, Black-Sky Harbinger, and Jotun Feast-Caller—one of a few cards with an upgraded version of infiltrate that triggers with every hit, rather than just the first. It's weird that doesn't get a keyword and so is unrelated. It's often hard to justify as a trailing C to Infiltrate's A•B-ness, but Cabal Spymaster is awfully tempting. Ice Sprite is useful in less expensive builds.

Next up is the all-Shadow infiltrate deck which is more tempo-oriented, looking to threaten early with Lethrai Ranger and maybe Blood Beetle, then keep the enemy backpedaling with Desperado and Direwood Beastcaller. His Amulet might show too. You will definitely see Minotaur Lighthoof or some other Shadow cards that make your creatures unblockable here, like Thief's Pick. You'll also see a lot of removal (Suffocate, Annihilate, Extract on up) as that's a decent way to prevent blocking, y'know.

Finally there's the Fire-based infiltrate deck, usually Fire-Shadow, but sometimes Fire-Primal or Fire-Primal-Shadow. This deck doesn't worry as much about attacking and uses Iceberg Scattershot and Calderan Gunsmith to trigger infiltrate directly (and maybe Hellfire Rifle or Hotbarrel Revolver). Memory Dredger may find a home here, especially if you Magenta Wisp instead of Suffocate. (Fire has no relevant infiltrate cards of its own.)

It's really not an infiltrate deck, but Time has one very relevant card we have to mention: Teacher of Humility. It's a 3/3 for two that draws you (and your enemy) a card when it hits, but more importantly it casts a free Disciplinary Weights on them, which can decide a match against a deck drawing extra cards.

I love infiltrate. Making it single-use increases the allowable size of effects. Needing to hit the enemy player is something we want to do anyhow, but this challenges our opponent to stop us, changing the tenor of games, as well as our own deck-building priorities. I wouldn't change infiltrate at all. I might label when-you-hit triggers as a variant, like 'unlimited infiltrate' or 'infiltrate forever.' I'd like to see more infiltrate effects that help facilitate other units' infiltration, like "Infiltrate: Another unit gains unblockable."

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