Studying the Tape

Well, look who wandered in… Hello and welcome to The Misplay! This is the next installment of the article series that accompanies act two of the podcast.

On our last show, we discussed how to use spectating to get better at Eternal. We covered the different ways you can spectate and what kinds of questions to ask – or things to look for – when you spectate. Keep in mind that this type of spectating is more akin to studying than it is to zoning out and watching TV. Today I will recap that discussion and share a few games that are worth going back and studying from this past competitive season.

Ways to Spectate

On the show, we talked about three ways to watch people playing Eternal: watching a friend in-client, watching a stream on Twitch, and watching a YouTube video or Twitch VOD. Each method of watching provides a different perspective, with its own set of pros and cons.


The advantage of watching a streamer is that you get their perspective of the game they are playing in the moment. You can see the way they develop their game plan over the course of the game through their narration. Chat is another perspective to take in, though be wary of the legendary “chat lethal.”


Watching a tournament broadcast gives you a different perspective to follow. Instead of hearing the thoughts directly from the featured players, you get the commentary team’s thoughts about the game. Watching commentary is an excellent model of how to discuss game decisions with a partner. In some cases, you get the bonus perk of seeing players’ hands due to the magic of production. There’s a slight downside to seeing both hands. It can trick you into making assumptions about plays that a player who couldn’t see both hands might make. It’s easy to play around that one-of Backlash when you know the opponent is holding it. If you can’t catch a tournament live, the VOD archives are a goldmine of matches to watch at your leisure.


Watching a replay comes with its own perks. The big upside is being able to pause and rewind while mulling over a turn or sequence. Having a little bit of extra time really enables a deeper level of reflection than watching games live affords. Replays also give spectators the most flexibility when setting aside the time to study the tapes. Conversely, spectating and discussing lines with friends takes the most upfront coordination, but – in my opinion – is the most interesting, helpful, and fun way to watch.


Spectating and talking games through with friends was the last way we discussed to watch Eternal. In my opinion, it’s the most fun in that it’s like doing your homework with your friends. You can capitalize on the in-client chat or a voice chat app to talk about plays in real time. The only real downside is that your discussion of a specific turn is only as long as the turn timer allows. The game won’t pause while you and your buddies LOUDLY discuss what to do with that combat trick. Be nice, be kind, and try to keep playing at a reasonable pace.

It’s All About Asking ‘Why?’

When the stars align and you find some friends to dive into the spectating wurm-hole with you, the most important question to be asking constantly is ‘why’.

Pick a line any line, why’d you do it?

Gato Sujo:

On the play, I just played an on-curve Jennev Merchant against Xenan Reanimator. I’m thinking about either grabbing the Royal Decree or Honor of Claws. My hand is a little light on action. I think it’s better to take the Honor of Claws and craft a way to win in the early part of the late game before they go off or start playing Azindels.

Find out what a friend would do and why they would go that route

Robot Mark:

I would take Royal Decree and hope to snipe Katra. Your plan doesn’t work if they ramp to 6 or 7 going into turn five. If you miss on Katra maybe you hit one of their haymaker units. That buys you enough time to find a way to win the game through their stronger late game.

Compare the plans and make a decision

Xenan Reanimator has a way stronger late game than my deck so we agree that we need to find a way to win sooner rather than later. Royal Decree is a tool that fights combo strategies and decks that are all-in on a small subset of cards. The cost on Royal Decree is that it’s tempo-negative and might mess up my curve on turn four. I don’t think that Xenan Reanimator is so all-in on one card that it folds to Royal Decree the way that Feln Reanimator or Amplify combo do. It might be a good enough speed bump if I hit Katra or Icaria. It is likely that you get the onslaught trigger from this position so it is a safe play to make. It is not always guaranteed depending on how hard the person plays around Royal Decree.

Honor of Claws is also tempo-negative, but it puts me up on cards instead of down a card. The big upside is that it might let me sculpt a game plan that wins the game, since my hand is light on impactful action. It looks like I’m not in a very good position in this game and so I probably need a series of fortunate draws to win here. Honor of Claws gives me the best chance to hit enough impactful draws to hopefully find a way to steal the game.

When you go through this process make sure to try to talk about the merits of the plays. Be open minded to your buddy’s perspective. As imsobad told me on stream this weekend, “It isn’t about who is right or wrong more of the time. It’s about finding the plays and making the decisions that give you the best chance to win the game.” You can take this kind of discussion to the video room or work with friends in-game and in Discord for further practice.

Practice Time

Here are three high stakes and interesting games played by some of Eternal’s top players:

As you watch the games, make sure to play along as the game progresses. I recommend watching the game on mute. Try to avoid looking at the opponent’s hand. You can refer back to it later. When you get to a moment where you would do something different than the on-camera pilot, pause the video. Think about why you wanted to make your play. Then try to come up with the reason the pilot made the decision they did. Then go back and rewatch the turn or sequence with the audio. It will give the commentator’s perspective on the second round. Compare your rationale to the commentator’s. If learning this way works well for you, there’s a ton of archived footage on Twitch to assess and study.

Thanks for stopping by. If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to check out the podcast episode featuring imsobad. He’s entertaining and the discussion about spectating on the show will have some different details and key points to take away. Happy spectating and hopefully time in the tape room helps you on the battlefield.