Official artwork for Valve's card game Artifact showing Tusk vs Bristleback

After months and months of absolute silence, Valve has now finally spoken about their much-anticipated card game Artifact. According to the brief announcement Artifact has been designed from the ground up by Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic the Gathering, and as such is expected to be highly competitive and strategic. In order to prove this Valve will be holding a $1,000,000 tournament in the first quarter of 2019, though no specifics have been given just yet.

As for the actual release date, you can expect to see Artifact at some point in 2018. It will initially only be available on PC, though the iOS and Android versions are currently in development. On a somewhat different note, it is also important to mention that Artifact will not be a free-to-play game! There will be various game modes for you to earn extra packs, as well as the ability to trade via the Steam Market, but you will need to pony up some cash in order to get started. Naturally, the exact details haven't been shared, so I would recommend not stressing about the price just yet.

Artifact official card artwork showing Death Prophet and Lion fighting

In terms of gameplay, Artifact is not exactly your average card game. Instead of the action taking place on one screen, you will have to divide your attention across three lanes that each come with their own separate mana pool that is used to play cards. Your mana pool will refresh and increase by one each round (just like Hearthstone), so expect the general power level of cards to slowly increase as the match goes on.

Your goal throughout the game is to either destroy two enemy towers, each of which have 40 health, or to destroy a tower and the 80 health ancient that spawns behind it. In other words, you will have the option of either spreading your forces across the board, or just slamming all of the best ones on one lane in order to try and brute-force a win. Perhaps a little bit confusing, but still surprisingly accurate to Dota 2's gameplay!

Artifact official card artwork showing Pugna using a spell

Each lane phase is going to have the players exchange moves one-by-one (like Gwent) until both players have decided to pass. Once that is done all of the heroes and creeps will simultaneously deal damage to one another, as well as trigger some of their special abilities. Once all of that has been resolved the action will move to the next lane and the whole process will repeat. This alone is going to make Artifact quite tricky to learn, because trying to create a plan for one board is already difficult enough, but trying to do so for three at the same sounds damn near impossible.

Once a full round has been finished you will have a chance to do a little bit of shopping. Every creep (unit) or hero you kill gives you a certain amount of gold, gold which can then be spent on special cards such as teleport scrolls or items like Blink Dagger which let you hop between lanes. All of these special cards come from a small second deck you bring with you, and as such you're going to have to make a whole bunch of decisions before you even step into a match!

Artifact official card artwork showing Enchantress fighting Night Stalker

Much like Magic the Gathering, there will be a variety of colors (themes) to choose from. Red represents raw power and sturdiness, Green is linked with healing and buffing, Black is all about direct damage and mobility options, while Blue is all about weak units and powerful spells. Most of the cards you'll bring with you will have one of the above-mentioned colors, but in order to even use them you will need to have a hero with the corresponding color in that lane, otherwise the card will be completely inert. An interesting idea, and one that goes well with the Dota 2 hero themes, so at this point I think it's safe to say that Valve has me quite intrigued.

Speaking of heroes, each deck will be based around five them, all of which will represent one of the colors. At the start of the game three of your five heroes will be randomly positioned in the lanes alongside a single creep card. Some of the heroes will have passive effects, others will have buffing or healing spells you can play, but regardless of who they are, they are going to start off fairly weak and will need to be invested in before they become truly useful - much like Dota 2. What follows next is going to be a constant series of pushing and pulling between the two players in order to power up their heroes and bring down the enemy's.

That's pretty much the basic gameplay all covered, but if all of this sounds utterly confusing to you, just head on over to Youtube and check out some of the recently posted gameplay videos. They will help you internalize all of this information fairly quickly, though don't expect to learn everything as Artifact is quite the complex card game, and one that I can't wait to try out myself!

Artifact official card artwork showing Tidehunter's Kraken Shell ability

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