Five years after Valve’s last major game release, they’ve managed to take up the gauntlet once again and rise to make even more amazing things! As a Dota 2-themed digital card game, Artifact may not be what we were expecting, but it sure does something that Valve is well-known for; picking an established genre and make it different and exciting for everyone! Valve has pushed the envelope of what Dota 2 is as Artifact pushes the intricacies of the card game genre to the forefront. This should be quite a treat for both long-time fans and newcomers alike.
What is Artifact?
Artifact is a Dota 2-themed card game, though knowing the ins and outs of Dota 2 is not necessarily required for players to enjoy the game. It’s the newest game made by Valve who are the owners of the Steam platform. While the game is only available on PC, it is due for a mobile version release as well. The game can be a complex but ultimately rewarding one that asks you to navigate an ever-changing strategic landscape. Artifact is highly interactive compared to its contemporaries that are oftentimes decided by narrow judgment calls and mind games than pre-planned combo-building.
What Does Artifact Bring to the Table?
Artifact sets itself apart from other card games that find their roots in Magic: The Gathering –which is a game that Artifact’s designer, Richard Garfield, created way back in 1993. It brings something new to the table by splitting the playing field into three lanes and having players pick five persistent Heroes that get stronger and re-spawn throughout the match whenever they get eliminated. While playing cards and dealing damage might be familiar to Hearthstone and MTG fans, the way Artifact executes it is fundamentally unique.
How Does the Artifact Work?
The goal of the game is to defeat your opponent by using your heroes and cards in the most strategically sound manner possible. Instead of simply trying to kill your opponent, you need to win two of the three lanes by destroying their towers. Players will be going back and forth in a lane, taking a single action until both do nothing and pass. It’s after that when combat occurs and you move on to the next lane to do it again. Artifact forces you to thoroughly think about every move you make. Just because a card can be used effectively in one lane doesn’t mean it can’t be more effective in another!
Heroes are the defining element of any Artifact match. You get five heroes per deck, and three of them start on board—one in each of the three lanes. During turns, you’ll get to choose which of the three lanes you want two of your remaining heroes to deploy in. The Heroes come in four colors: red, green, blue, and black.
Each color has its own unique play style and is broken down as such:
Red – Usually have the strongest stats
Green – Helpful for getting more mana to play huge unit cards called Creeps
Blue – Have the best access to powerful AoE spells that can obliterate your towers
Black – Can generate tons of gold to buy Item cards that buff your Heroes mid-match
Each of these colors has a lot of strategic options that you can dive into and there’s plenty of room to find a personal preference here.
Is Artifact Easy to Pick Up & Play for Beginners?
While the multitasking that’s initially required may be headache-inducing at first, it’s never overwhelming enough for even novice players to not have a go at it. There’s a huge amount of things you need to keep track of, but you’re essentially still only doing one thing at a time, then letting your opponent respond.
The game distributes the decision-making strategy one at a time, similar to digestible bite-sized chunks, all the while allowing an insane amount of strategizing once you’ve perfected the basics. Overall, Artifact’s learning curve can be a bit daunting at first, but the in-game tutorial that it offers is surprisingly effective. The tutorial guides you through two guided games with two different decks with different strategies, allowing you to both learn the raw mechanics and get a sense of exactly what kind of game plan you want to build your own deck around.
Is Artifact Worth Giving a Try?
While Artifact costs $20 on Steam, the value that players get more than compensates for its price tag. You get two complete decks, ten booster packs, and five tickets that are used for playing competitive modes. This alone is worth more than the $29 value it commands, especially considering the booster packs alone are worth a lot and that tickets also cost money.
Artifact is for people who enjoy deep, innovative, and complex card games that have a flair for unique mechanics. It’s for people who long for a card game that breaks many of the conventions that have come to be expected of the genre. While Artifact can be a tad bit intimidating for first time players, it can be also intensely rewarding whenever you out-play your opponents through well-planned strategy instead of sheer luck alone. Artifact still has a lot of room to grow since it’s been out for only a short while, so hopefully, future updates will reel in potential players to give the game a shot as it continues to improve.