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The E-Sport That Turns Gamers Into Millionaires Now Has A Card Game Spin-Off. And It Looks Hard.

Artifact is Valve’s new online trading card game based off Dota 2, with Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, being the lead designer. Artifact has players facing off against one another on three separate game boards—like the three lanes in Dota 2. 

Dota 2—the free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Valve Corporation—will be getting its very own card game. The digital card game launches for PC on November 28 and will be available for mobile at a later date. The game is designed by Magic: The Gathering’s creator, Richard Garfield.

The upcoming trading card spin-off borrows heavily from both the original Dota 2 game’s story and gameplay mechanics. Artifact’s card battles take place across three lanes, with players drawing five hero cards at the start of each match to do battle against one another.

In-Depth Look

If you’re familiar with how HearthStone, Magic: The Gathering and Dota 2 is played, you will be able to pick up Artifact in no time. Just as how Dota 2 is played across 3 lanes, Artifact will be played across 3 different boards.

You win by either destroying two towers in different lanes, or by destroying one tower which summons a higher hitpoint “tower” which is similar like the ancients in Dota 2 and then destroying it too. The first tower is every lane has 40 hitpoints and once that tower is destroyed the next tower has 80 hitpoints.

Each turn has you playing across all three lanes in order; the strategy comes in figuring out where your focus is. Do you let one lane go in order to press the attack on another? You and your opponent are essentially playing three card games at once, though drawing from a single deck.

Card And Deck Play

Like other Collectible Card Games (CCGs) out there, the cards are sorted by different colours: red, blue, green and black.

Each colour represents different aspects: red focuses on stronger heroes, black is all about strong single target damage and trickery, blue focuses on spells and green cards are focused on more supporting characters. You will always need a hero in the lane in order to play any spells or creep cards and you will be limited to playing cards that match the colour of that hero.

Currently from the gameplay footage that is available, we only know that there will be 2 decks to choose from. Firstly there is the Green/Black deck, which helps you to gain mana and gold very fast. Each player will start with 3 mana per turn and will increase by 1 every turn and players get gold by destroying opponent’s creeps and heroes, exactly 1 gold per creep killed and 5 gold per hero killed. You will be able to use gold to buy items after every turn.

For the Red/Blue deck, the cards are focused on damage, health and armour. For this deck it’s strong in the early game as red cards have powerful summonable creeps but will be less effective in the late game, however blue cards balances it out as it has strong spells which costs more mana to cast.

An Overall Look

I have not played Magic: The Gathering before but I have had experience with Hearthstone and I can say Artifact looks totally different in terms or gameplay and design. However, the mechanics are the same in terms of health, armour, attack and mana with slight variations in how it works.

Other than that, if you think playing one board is enough you now have to play on three boards and the cards on different boards can interact with each other in more than one way. Thus, you will have to be careful with each card you play as playing a card on one lane might look like a good idea, but it could be even better somewhere else.

As one of the first players to try the game, Tom Marks from IGN said, “Artifact isn’t an easy game to solve because it’s fundamentally a game about trade-offs—maximising your power in one lane means diminishing it in another, which could either be a cunning play or a grave oversight if you aren’t careful.”

Only a few select people have been able to get their hands on Artifact, mainly thanks to Valve being more open to communicating with the community. They have been very active on Twitter, releasing cards and their abilities on the account and also updating the community from time to time with how the game is progressing.

Artifact’s beta begins in October on PC and will officially launch on November 28, it will come to IOS and Android in the middle of 2019.

The game will not be free-to-play as it’s been announced at USD20 for the USA, and international pricing has not been announced yet. It will also be similar to Hearthstone with players able to buy packs and it will be integrated into the Steam Marketplace.

If you would like to know more about Artifact, you can keep up to date with their Twitter here.

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Feature Image Credit: IGN Youtube

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