Thursday, 23 May 2024

Artifact: A Refreshing Strategy Card Game

I recently had the opportunity to demo Valve’s upcoming card game, Artifact. As someone with a love for strategy games, I was skeptical about how the three-lane structure would work. But after several games, my concerns vanished. Valve has managed to create a game that is both simple to understand and incredibly complex in its strategy.

A Unique Blend of Dota 2 and Card/Strategy Gameplay

Artifact draws inspiration from the Dota 2 universe, using its lore and characters. However, it’s not necessary to have any knowledge of Dota 2 or other MOBAs to enjoy the game. At its core, Artifact is a card/strategy title that appeals to players of Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, and Gwent.

In each game, you play with five heroes across three lanes. These heroes have unique passive and active abilities that mirror their Dota counterparts. For example, Earthshaker can stun enemies in his lane, Crystal Maiden provides additional resources, and Lycan buffs up his allies. On the other hand, heroes like Axe have no abilities and serve as powerful “stat sticks.”

The objective is to either defeat the enemy towers in two lanes or take down an ancient, a formidable opponent that appears after a lane’s tower is destroyed. Accomplishing this requires careful planning and execution, as well as a focus on lane dominance or a specific strategy.

A Complex Yet Rewarding Gameplay Experience

Getting used to the gameplay mechanics of Artifact takes some time due to the multitude of moving parts. However, this complexity adds to the game’s appeal. It allows players to plan moves ahead of time, make resource allocation decisions, and carefully consider the order and timing of each card played.

At first, games can take longer compared to other digital card games. But as you become more familiar with the mechanics, the gameplay time decreases significantly. On average, a game of Artifact lasts around 20 minutes.

The gameplay revolves around taking turns playing cards or passing. This reactive nature of the game requires strategic thinking. For instance, if you have a healing potion, it’s best to use it early in the turn to heal your injured hero before your opponent can play a damaging card. Additionally, all cards are “color coded,” meaning you need a hero of the corresponding color in the active lane to play a specific spell. This discourages stacking all your blue characters in one lane, as it limits your ability to play blue cards in other lanes.

Apart from your hand, the item deck plays a crucial role in the game. Knowing when to spend your money and purchase powerful items is essential. However, hoarding coins can lead to being overwhelmed and outmatched, resulting in an early defeat. Balancing resource management adds to the strategic depth of the gameplay.

Constant Analysis and Shifting Strategies

As the game progresses, players must constantly analyze the game state and make decisions accordingly. Should you focus on the lane where your opponent has invested the most resources, or should you go all-in on another lane? The correct decision can shift rapidly as more heroes and items come into play.

Artifact introduces another layer of strategy through the ability to play certain cards from one lane into different lanes. For example, you can use heroes in a lane you’re already winning to play cards that damage enemies in another lane or draw additional cards. This allows you to leverage your advantage in one lane and support your efforts in the others.

A Fast-Paced and Engaging Experience

Despite matches being longer than other card games, Artifact never feels slow-paced, especially when both players have a solid understanding of the game. The gameplay is a fast back and forth, with significant decisions to be made at every turn. The three-lane structure is surprisingly effective, offering compelling strategic options.

With a variety of fun and powerful characters and cards, Artifact caters to various playstyles. Even with the pre-constructed decks I had the chance to play with, it was evident that deckbuilding considerations would play a significant role once players have the freedom to build their own decks. From economic ramp strategies to board control and powerful buffs, there will be a strategy for everyone.


  • Q: Can I enjoy Artifact without any knowledge of Dota 2 or other MOBAs?
    A: Absolutely! Artifact is primarily a card/strategy game that draws inspiration from Dota 2. You don’t need prior knowledge of the MOBA genre to appreciate the gameplay.

  • Q: How long does a typical game of Artifact last?
    A: While games can initially take longer to grasp, the average game time is around 20 minutes. As you become more familiar with the mechanics, the gameplay becomes more streamlined.


Artifact manages to strike a perfect balance between simplicity and complexity. With its unique three-lane structure and strategic gameplay, it offers a refreshing experience for both casual and seasoned card game players. I can’t wait to play more of Artifact, and with the beta release scheduled for October, the wait won’t be too long.

For more information about Artifact and to stay updated on its release, visit Wqaindia.