Valve announces Artifact, finally jumps into virtual collectible card gaming


Oh, so would I. But those kind of games aren’t CCGs any more, they’ve lost the collectible part. In the digital world, there’s not much of this kind of thing to choose from. In the physical game world, I do play various of the Living Card Games from Fantasy Flight that have tried this approach, and they’re generally lots of fun…if you can find people to play with.


There’s not much, but there is Artifact. It’s also why I prefer Duels of the Planeswalkers to actual Magic.


I’m confused, I thought you could only play that “phantom draft” mode with the $20 outlay. Getting all the cards for constructed requires a bunch more money. Am I missing something?

So did I, before Arena came out. Arena is much closer to Duels than the old MTGO model (or physical cards), largely because of the daily gold rewards.


Yes, but as I understand it, all the cards are in phantom draft. I don’t particularly care about constructed. For me, the fun of these games is in how a particular match plays out, not in the theorycrafting.


Ah, gotcha. Yeah, if you only want to draft then Artifact doesn’t seem to want any more money than the initial outlay.


I’m interested in it but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I’m a very casual CCG player and not willing to put in time or money to really excel, or I’m just not smart enough. I’ve never minded being under 50% win at Hearthstone (my only other CCG except for minor efforts at a couple others) and I don’t really care about ranking. I care about having fun, fair matches with cool plays.

There’s rumors that Valve could just eliminate the phantom draft? Plus it seems like this game could easily fall into a spiral of paying to win, losers unwilling to pay more losing interest, so even if I was willing to spend $10-20 over time I’d still end frustrated.

Thoughts? Maybe overthinking it and I should get a few months of enjoyment out of the base game…


Gosh, I see a lot of complaining about the price scheme, but I am really enjoying myself here. I think maybe it’s designed just for me, since I really don’t care about constructed, and that’s the only real limitation vis a vis price.

Just for funsies, I bought a group of 5 heroes I didn’t have, and it ran me a dollar. I just had a really enjoyable match against the AI using a couple of them. Meanwhile, I have a phantom draft deck that’s 1-1. After that, I’ll play again. Drafting is a great time!

I really don’t feel robbed at all, and I don’t have to grind for anything. I’m sorry Valve seems to be getting burned for this, but I guess my preferences are just outliers here.


In theory I suppose they could, since all their modes regularly rotate, but they tweeted: “This doesn’t necessarily mean that the gauntlets rotate out, or go away - it’s just setting the expectation we may tinker with the formats periodically (new/updated modes, etc).”

You and me both. Free draft is great, and it’s also fun to play solo games against the bots. They’re not pushovers, especially on the higher difficulties.

Count me as another outlier. I love not having to worry about daily quests and timers and grinding and all that free-to-play stuff. I just play Artifact when I feel like it, and I always enjoy it. Just wish it had more PvE content.


I watched the Reynad video and am not too worried about most of his complaints, but I’m not thrilled to hear about the heavy handed RNG elements. Is the RNG as overbearing as he makes it seem, or is it a minority of cards that only pop up every once in a while? (In draft, I don’t care much about constructed)


I just got 3 more heroes for 30 cents. This is great! I gotta jump on getting the cheap stuff I want before the mass outcry somehow ruins my fun :P


The single most RNG things for me are: 1. The initial set up determining whether certain heroes live or die and 2. One card that stops death for dudes 50% of the time.

The game offers many ways of dealing with both in your deckbuilding, though, and the cards that work against them are not silver bullets.


Yeah, the most egregious RNG is Cheating Death, an improvement that prevents units from dying 50% of the time. I hate that card. At least it’s a rare, so you don’t see it often in draft. Unlike most RNG in Artifact, you don’t know in advance how the Cheating Death coin-flip resolves. In most other cases, the game tells you in advance how the coin-flip resolves, and you get a chance to react.

Yes, the initial placement of heroes is also random, but I actually like this feature. It means games play out differently. It also makes you think about which three heroes to place in the “flop” (the initial deployment phase). I also like the semi-random way in which unblocked units attack: 50% hit the enemy tower, 25% attack an enemy to the left, 25% to the right. To me, that simulates the command-and-control challenges of battle, and I like it. Also, there are cards that allow you to override it.

In theory, I see risk-mitigation as an essential skill in a game like this, but I do wish Artifact had a bit less RNG. Still, it bothers me a lot more in Hearthstone than here; the RNG swings in Hearthstone seem larger to me.


I do think it’s a little too RNG although the only case that really makes me rage is the unblocked unit behavior. It’s not just the randomness there (which is not explained by the tutorial, either) it’s that most cards will not allow you to reset a unit to attack straight (at the tower) so short of killing the enemy unit it insisted on targeting outright there are too few options to get the tower damage that feels stolen by dice.


Right, even when trying to assuage people’s fears that the mode will rotate out, the most they could say was “it’s not guaranteed to rotate away on the very first opportunity in a couple of weeks”. As far as commitments go, that’s some weak bullshit.

The free draft after the $20 buy-in is great. It should be the selling point for Artifact. And the game really needs a selling point, as it’s tanking pretty hard (the concurrent player graphs are not pretty). But Valve is totally unwilling to capitalize on the mode that players love. Why would it be? I can’t come up with any reason except that they are desperate to kill the free draft ASAP due to it invalidating their whole card-trading business model.


I feel that’s one instance of RNG that adds to the strategic layer of the game, if anything. Depending on what colours/deck you’re running there are many ways to change a units attack direction. Blue has a number of cards that directly do this, or you could always kill whatever it is curving into before combat using certain red/black cards.


No, you can’t change attack direction, you can change attack target to another unit. I only know of one card in the game that will make your units go back to straight without killing the diagonal target.


Oh yeah. I guess killing the unit is the best way. The system prevents consistently winning the game using single creeps/heroes, to guarantee a high damage creep will hit the tower you need to be wider on the board than the opponent.


Yep, I agree. It’s really fun. I really doubt they’ll remove it, partly because they’d have a big backlash on their hands, but more because I think it helps them sell cards indirectly. People like me try a new card in free draft and decide on impulse to buy the thing on the market, then try it against the bots, etc. Or people like me get hooked on free draft and decide to start spending their five free tickets on the expert draft (as I plan to), then get hooked on that.

Also, free draft is one of the options for tournaments. I can’t imagine they’ll remove that. If I were Valve, I’d be marketing tournaments more too. To me, constructed is the least appealing thing about this game, and yet that seems to be what the marketing focuses on. E.g., the big launch event was a constructed event, not a draft tournament. Why not show off the mode that combines the most fun (draft) with the gameplay feature that most distinguishes it from Hearthstone (tournament)?


If I can make a recommendation, go ahead and buy the super cheap mana spells that can move your folks around, taunt, change targets, etc. The black one that lets you zip a hero to another lane for 2 targeted damage is cool too. Having these spells both opens up a lot of tactical flexibility and helps defend against losing valuable guys early. Moreover, it is my experience that they continue to be useful throughout the game.


I’ve been monitoring the price of a full collection, assuming this site stays accurate.

Once the total cost of a full collection drops to about $30 I’ll bite ($20 base game + $30 to fill out the rest).

Currently a full collection costs about $215, and with no way to grind gold or anything, I’m not too interested in buying in just yet.

I have ~12,500 constructed wins on ladder in Hearthstone, and only 7 in Arena (HS draft mode, and these were earned with a free ticket). Draft just isn’t a mode that does anything for me on any level, so the free draft Artifact offers isn’t an incentive for me.