Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne Review: Combines Head-to-Head Card Battles With Deck-Building

Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne is a fun, fast-paced deck-building game that centers on direct combat rather than the accumulation of victory points. The new tabletop game, by Dire Wolf Digital, is inspired by the studio's digital Eternal game, a popular digital card game that was first released in 2016. Eternal carved out a niche while competing against the likes of Hearthstone by focusing on accessibility and a low-cost entry (players don't have to put in nearly as much time and money to have a competitive deck in Eternal), as well as mechanics that streamline play rather than complicate it. The digital game still has an active community and fan base three years after launch, so it makes sense that Dire Wolf would expand on their Eternal franchise with a physical game. While Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne uses the same background and characters as its digital namesake, the game itself is not a physical remake of Eternal. Instead, it's an innovative blend of deck-building and head-to-head fighting ⁠— a mix of Dominion with Magic: The Gathering.

Like other deck-building games, players in Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne each start out with a deck of identical cards. Each side also starts off with 25 health, which serves as their hit points in the game. Players purchase cards from the Forge ⁠— a public pool of cards available to both sides ⁠— and then place them in their discard pile. There are three types of cards: spells that grant an immediate effect and are then discarded, relics that remain in play and provide benefits every turn, and units that form the physical backbone of a player's army.

Units act as both attackers and defenders in Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne. Once played, an opponent must either counter that unit with a unit of equal or greater strength or take that damage directly. Blocking a unit is usually the safest move, but occasionally it's beneficial to take a low amount of damage to put your high strength unit on the attack, thus forcing an opponent to immediately go on the defensive. Once a unit either blocks or attacks, the unit goes into the discard pile, so players are continuously shuffling their units on and off of the field.

Like other deck-building games, there are ways to build devastating chains and combos. Most cards have an influence symbol that unlocks abilities on other cards. Other cards also gain abilities when the Throne card ⁠— a card hidden under a stack of "Seek Power" cards that can be purchased at any time ⁠— is revealed. Some cards have unique abilities that also suck the life out of opponents and restore the health of a player, or can avoid most blockers. There's a lot of strategy involved, and enough cards with variant abilities to satisfy veteran card players.

What I like about Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne is that it provides players the fun of figuring out strategies like in Magic: The Gathering but in a quick and contained setting. Players don't need to buy tons of card packs to enjoy a magic-filled battle pitting fantastical creatures against each other. Instead, everything you need is contained in one box. If you're looking for a cheaper, easier to access alternative to a traditional card battling game, or enjoy deck-building games with a bit of a twist, give Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne a try today.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Eternal: Chronicle of the Throne is available at local game stores and online retailers.