Valve announces Artifact, finally jumps into virtual collectible card gaming


Ah. Yeah, that’s clumsily worded.


It seems to me Valve has made a bet on complexity with this game (it seems more complex than other CCGs), with the basis of having Dota 2 as an example of being really something more popular than people believed.

It isn’t only a CCG with the Dota 2 setting, they want it to be the Dota 2 of CCG.

I haven’t played, just watched a tutorial video, but from what I understood, apart from playing ‘three games at the same time’, which already sounds complicated enough, there is also another layer of rules layered on top. It will have a great game design space, but it also seems games will be long and it doesn’t feel… tidy, or having a tight design.


Definitely DotA then.


I’m honestly confused how someone who is as into card games as Tycho could come down so harshly on a game that I myself think is great. He couldn’t understand how the game works? He thinks there’s no innovation? I’m really surprised, not sure what to think about it.

In any event, I think this is becoming my favourite card game of all time (at least in draft). Having a free draft mode has really opened my eyes to the virtues of draft over constructed. I spent some time last night watching ‘esports’ Artifact and enjoyed it as well. I think it works as an esport much more than Hearthstone did, but Magic may be the perfect in-between of complexity for a viewer to watch. I wonder if Valve is going to have an Artifact tournament running alongside DOTA 2 at the International.


He didn’t finish the tutorial. How could he have any meaningful understanding of the game?


Free draft mode, you say? I’ve been obsessed with Hearthstone Arena for years, and recently I’ve graduated to MTGA drafting. A draft mode where I don’t have to spend time/money resources on sounds awesome and maybe I need to get this game. Is free draft as good as it sounds?


Free draft is pretty great. You just… draft as much as you want.

I guess theoretically, there’s an upper limit to the caliber of opponent you’ll be facing, since the “paid” phantom draft and the keeper draft are where the pros would be, but it’s not like I’m ever meant to be competing against them anyway.


Having a blast, here. I think this an excellent iteration on the Magic/Hearthstone formula.


Not sure what you mean by not having to spend time on it. A single draft + making the deck + playing the 4-6 games with the deck will take a couple of hours.

It works well and is a lot of fun. However:

  • It’s free draft after you’ve bought Artifact for $20
  • There will be no rewards and no meaningful stats tracking, so it really will be just a matter of playing for the fun of it.
  • The free draft is not one of the permanent game modes. It’s one of the “Gauntlets” that rotate every two weeks. Valve has said that this being in the rotating playlist doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily rotate out, but they also have no in any way committed to keeping it in.

This mode was only added in by Valve as a reaction to the pre-launch backlash, it’s killing their abusive monetization strategy (since it’s the only mode worth playing), and it’s implicitly going to be on the cutting block every two weeks. So it’s hard to recommend Artifact just for the free draft. It’ll definitely be there for the next 10 days. It’ll probably be there for the rest of the month. But it’s pretty clear that Valve is going to axe the free draft as soon as they think they can get away with it.

(That said, I’ve already got my money’s worth from the free draft. So I’m not saying it’s not worth it. But you need to be aware that there is no promise of this being available long term.)


I mean other games where you need to accrue a certain amount of in-game currency before you are allowed to draft. Spending time on playing other modes I don’t want to play so I can earn enough to draft.


Ah. Nothing like that. Just click “Start” on the “Casual phantom draft”.


I’m having a lot of fun. So far I have mostly been playing the Call to Arms event that is currently ongoing. You get to use a set of six decks made by Valve in a gauntlet against other players. This is a great way to get familiar with the cards without having to invest any money.


I am pretty optimistic that the free draft will remain, in one form or another. Yes, all the gauntlets rotate, but Valve says “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).” So maybe later there will be a free draft for the next expansion but not for Call to Arms, or vice-versa.

Also, the free tournaments include a free draft mode; that’s certainly not rotating out. We could create one here! You can create a tournament for as few as four players.

+1 to all this. The draft mode is just sooo fun. I just finished a 2-2 run, with absolutely nothing at stake but my pride, and my heart was beating as my last match came down to the wire. I’m about to start a new run. I do want to try the Call to Arms pre-constructed event, too; so far I’ve just run it against the bots (which are pretty good!).

And yeah, I’ve also been watching the WePlay tournament. These top players think more strategically than I do. For me, Artifact is still a tactical, move-by-move game. I’m just starting to think ahead.

Edit: All that said, I wish there were more PvE options. For whatever reason, I get stressed out playing humans! I’d love to see an option to play a free draft mode against the bots.


I mean, that’s not a plus for the game overall. If someone who loves CCGs can’t get through your tutorial before just giving up, that’s probably a warning sign.

Even people who understand the game really, really well have some big issues with it.

At this point I get it from watching streams, but I also never think “Man, that’s something I really want to get into,” either. The free draft tempts me a bit, but I’m fairly sure I’d get tired of it.


Reynad’s bottom line is generally positive, or at least upbeat about Artifact’s future, though it’s true he spends most of the video pointing to what he sees as flaws in the game. I agree with some of his critique: e.g., the “feel” of playing cards in Hearthstone or Gwent is a bit more satisfying to me. Not a deal-killer for me, though.

As for the tutorial, I personally am glad it wasn’t any longer, lol. I got the idea after the first tutorial, really.


His point on RNG in the game is valid, but I feel like it’s only really a problem for a handful of cards like cheating death. These cards are also OP, so you see them ALOT in competitive constructed matches, which is why it might seem like a big problem for these pro players. Comparatively, it’s rarely a problem in draft.

His bad experiences with the gold deck also makes sense. The gold deck is so inconsistent, but if you get lucky hand draws the first two rounds you can make it almost impossible for the opponent to win. The game just needs a balance patch or two to expand the range of competitive heroes/cards.

He also talks about how it’s sometimes not clear whether a decision you made was a good one or not. I think I understand where he is coming from, but I strongly disagree on a philosophical level. It’s the difference between checkers and chess. Why is it such a bad thing that sometimes, in particular situations, it might actually be more beneficial to let your hero die or to not kill one of your opponent’s heroes? These things happen when a problem is more than one dimensional. Perhaps he generally prefers card games that are simpler and rely more on memory and precision to do well, but then at the start he said he liked the intricacy/complexity of the rules. Oh well.


No, I don’t think so. There is nothing particularly complicated about the tutorial. It’s only sins are being unskippable and a bit slow, but the same things seem to be true for the tutorial in every game in the genre.

The concrete criticism Tycho had about the tutorial was that he thought the game should have been taught first with just one lane, and then expanded to multiple lanes to show what that adds. It’s a utterly moronic idea, about as smart as first teaching MtG without the concept of mana costs, and then adding the costs in after a few game to show what it adds to the game.

Yes, I also have issues with the game. But that doesn’t magically make Tycho’s opinion derived from based on not playing even a 10 minute tutorial match any more informed.


RPS review, it’s fairly positive

I’ve seen it described as “three games of Hearthstone at once”, but that’s a little misleading. Units face off against each other, but there are distinct phases rather than to and fro turn-taking. It’s also far, far more fiddly. Think a little bit Magic the Gathering (creator Richard Garfield worked on Artifact), a little bit Hearthstone, and a whole lot Dota 2.
Every decision is based on a dozen factors, the weight behind any given choice varying based on the specific state of the board. You’ve got to worry about items, gold, mana curves and lane improvements. You’ll have to learn hero abilities, positioning, mind games, prediction and card knowledge. Most of all, you’ll need to master lane management.


Depends on how you feel about pay-to-win, because that article basically said that’s what it is. For now, anyway. I’m not going to bother with Artifact until that changes.


If you’re only interested in constructed, then yep, you gotta buy cards to be competitive. The constructed meta also doesn’t look that interesting to me. Everyone runs Axe, it seems.

On the other hand, casual phantom draft is entirely free, once you pay the $20 to get the game – and you can sell cards if you want to make back some of that $20 purchase price. I feel I’ve got my $18 worth (I sold one rare card) from the phantom draft.

But as I said earlier, the main item on my wishlist is more PvE options, as I stress out in online play. I don’t think PvE is a big priority for Artifact (or indeed for any of these online card games).