Valve’s card game is having a makeover

Valve adds new mechanics to Artifact

Artifact mechanics

Debbi the Cunning in Artifact. (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Artifact is still Valve’s biggest flop but it seems the company is working hard to change that. Most recently, the game received some big changes.

Valve surprisingly quick to act

Communication from Valve is something rare, even less so on a weekly basis. The team behind Artifact is here to break that mold as they gave the community an update at the end of March and another one the other day. With it, the card game is introducing some changes which vary from reworking old mechanics to introducing brand-new ones.

The most notable old mechanics are Initiative and Mana.

The initiative rules haven't changed much, but the implications are different due to the round being shared across lanes. Players still take turns performing actions until both players pass in a row, and then you go to combat. This sequence continues across rounds, so while you can't control initiative across lanes you can still do so across rounds. There are more rounds per game, although each round is shorter. And "Get Initiative" spells still exist, although they have been renamed to "Quick."

There is now a single Mana pool that starts at 3 and increases by 1 per turn. Some cards and abilities are crosslane, but in general cards only affect the lane that they’re being cast from and you need a hero in lane to cast a card of their color.

Previously, mana was available on each lane but now it’ll be combined for the whole round. While many of the cards might have received a rework already, this will no doubt slow down the pace of the game and the average number of rounds will increase.

Debbi feeble

Debbi's new passive and feeble. (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Armor in the old game caused some issues – early in development we ended up doubling all stat values to compensate for how dramatic the impact of a single point of armor was. It also added a lot of math when you had multiple damage sources. Now each point of armor can block one point of damage and is refreshed at the beginning of the round.

These used to be dependent on the unit being blocked to function. Now they are active all of the time.

Feeble is new to the game, but we wanted to talk about it anyway so we could show off one of the basic hero reworks! Each unit attacking a feeble unit will deal excess damage to the tower instead. For example, if Debbi (4/3) is blocked by a unit (1/3), and uses "No Accident" leaving it with 1 remaining health, 3 damage will be dealt to the tower and her passive ability will trigger.

One of the main complaints about Artifact was that the game was too complex and niche. Another issue was the fact that players were forced to pay for pretty much every action in the game along with the lack of a progression system. The team is trying to resolve all of this in one sweep by simplifying some of the more confusing game mechanics, adding random card drops into the title, and polishing out the progression system. You can check out the full log of changes as we haven't included all of them.

Artifact steam charts

Ever since the updates, Artifact has gained some players. (Image credit: Steam charts)

Will this be enough?

While the overall feedback to the Valve statement was mostly positive, some fans were still concerned that many of the people who bought the 1.0 version of the game still felt cheated out. The Artifact team will probably add some founder benefits to address that and thank players for their support but that’s still not confirmed.

A single-player campaign is reportedly in the making, similarly to Gwent’s Thronebreaker which was a great success. Dota 2’s lore was already expanded upon with some of the Artifact comics and it looks like we’ll see more of it in the future. In any case, there's still a lot of work to be done on Valve's flop.

What’s your take on Artifact? Have you played it, will you play it in the future, or is it a hard pass? As always, for more news check out EarlyGame.

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