Last week, we examined Warcry, a simple, elegant, and aggressive mechanic in Eternal. This week, let’s consider a more complicated mechanic that also only works in a digital context: Echo. Echo is a more complicated ability than Warcry, but most of the complexity is taken care of by the computer. When you draw a card with Echo, you draw a copy of that card.


Twinbrood Sauropod is a decidedly unexciting creature. A 5/4 for 5 isn’t exciting in Magic, and units in Eternal are much stronger than creatures in Magic. That said, two 5/4s for 5 in a single card ain’t bad.

In keeping with our format from last week, let’s quickly go over the reasons Echo is a great mechanic, and one of a very different sort than Warcry.


Echo is card advantage.

As in Magic, card advantage is valuable in Eternal. In addition to being strategically useful, drawing extra cards just feels good. The problem is that card advantage in Magic is usually reserved for controlling decks, or for tight play. Echo makes card advantage easy. Echo has the downside of its cards not being particularly efficient on their own, but you can laugh at 1-for-1 removal and trades when you’re outdrawing your opponent with echo cards.


Echo creates options.

In Magic, a 2/1 flying for 3 is . . . okay . . . in Limited. In Eternal, it’s bad. However, echo gives one reason to play cards that aren’t maximally efficient. This may sound underwhelming, but it’s good design. Games are more interesting when players don’t just jam hyper-efficient cards in their decks and call it a day. Echo gives players another direction to build their decks and creates a natural counter to removal-heavy or unit-trading decks.


Echo is exciting.

There’s something thrilling about drawing a card and seeing it duplicate itself. I know I mentioned this in card advantage, but Echo really is cool enough to consider on that merit alone. It generates a very different kind of excitement than that which Warcry elicits—Warcry is about delayed gratification, while Echo is a gift you gave yourself before the match even started.


Echo has massive combo potential.

This is the elephant in the room. Echo was designed to combine with other cards and mechanics. Echo was designed to do silly, silly things. Perhaps the most obvious of which is its interaction with Warcry (and cards that have the same effect as Warcry). Ornamental Daggers aren’t very good, but when you Warcry them once, you’re suddenly getting an extremely discounted pair of weapons. Get the benefit twice, and every Echo card you’re drawing is above the curve and duplicated.

Honestly, I could keep going, but I’m going to split some of the easier and distinct kinds of combos into their own sections.


Second Sight.

This one card interaction deserves its own section. Sure, there are other ways to put cards on top of your deck, but this card makes it incredibly easy to pull off shenanigans. You can set up a Warcry, which is level one. You can give an Echo unit in your hand Charge (Eternal’s version of haste) with Accelerate, put it on top of your deck, then draw two Charging copies of it next turn. You can give Second Sight Echo with Elysian Trailblazer and draw a ton of copies of it every turn.

Second Sight is a worse Brainstorm, but in a game where Echo exists, Second Sight is more than worth the investment.


Echo offsets card disadvantage.

As a Magic player, when I saw that there were ways to put cards back on top of my deck, I scoffed. Spending a card to essentially lose a draw step is almost never worth the cost in Magic. In Eternal, drawing a card with echo is card advantage, so putting an echo card on top of your deck is card advantage neutral. And if you’re getting value from doing so, like with Nesting Avisaur, you’re ahead in the exchange.



Because doing math is fun!


Seriously, every card with echo, from the lowly Yeti Troublemaker to the threatening Thunderstrike Dragon, is a beautiful puzzle to be solved, or a pair of presents (in a genre where players tend to draw only one card a turn). In game design, we use the word elegance to describe something that is both simple and deep. Elegance is hard to create, and most games succeed without elegance. Echo is an elegant mechanic: simple on the face, but possessing boundless possibilities. It’s a very different mechanic from Warcry, but another expertly designed one.


That’s all for this week, friends. Next week, we’ll close out the year, say goodbye to an eventful 2016, and look forward to a 2017 with more games and more spoilers!

And, as always, thanks for reading!

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer. He’s played Magic since 1994, he loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He quite enjoys Revolutionary Rebuff, since that card demonstrates just how insanely good Mana Leak and Miscalculate are.

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