Friday, February 1, 2019

Eternal Analysis 016—Spark

Spark is Eternal's bloodthirst/spectacle mechanic, opened up to do anything when your opponent has taken damage. What it does most often is suck.

Look at Sparkbot. I'd only play this in Draft, and only if I was really desperate for three-drops. Spark is asking for me to be attacking aggressively, but neither the default effect of this card nor the bonus support that strategy. Even if the bonus were automatic here, you'd still never catch me playing Sparkbot over Grenadin Drone. Spark Hatcher is better here, but doesn't actually have spark!

Audacious Bandit is actually Limited-playable, as is Crafty Yeti and Jotun Cyclops, but spark isn't really bearing the load there. Iceknuckle Jotun wouldn't be good enough if it's spark ability were automatic. Clan Hero's good for Limited, but it's got to be as a multifaction card.

Going up to uncommon, we get a so-so ritual, a relic weapon that's almost strictly worse than Sword of Icaria at the same rarity, a 5/1 for four with an irrelevant bonus, a little two-for-one, a flying lord, and a weak draw spell.

At rare, we get a better two-for-one (that I've never seen anyone play), and our first legit-good card: A 6/6 for 4 that shuts down life gain? Yes, I will accept the humble challenge of dealing any damage at all in the same turn to my opponent. Even if you can't spark it, it's still a decent body and it still serves its main purpose.

Finally, at legendary, we get a decent flyer that's trash when you can't get spark, and an 8-cost 6-influence dragon that's obviously pretty great, except that Fire and Primal aren't great at getting to 8 power.

What happened to spark? Is there a reason there could only be 1 really good spark card? Bloodthirst didn't suck. Spectacle only sucks a little. A big part of the problem is that it's very easy to deal 1 damage to your opponent, and so that reward can't be very big. We can artificially inflate the difference between the card's base function and its bonus by making the base weaker, but that makes for some unappealing cards.

That said, there is room in implementation to make solid cards that have spark, even if spark isn't what makes them all solid. Sparkbot could've been Limited-relevant as a 2/3 or Constructed-relevant as a 3/2.

I see how delivering on spark was a real challenge, but I still can't explain why it got printed looking so bad.

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