As someone who has spent 4,000+ hours playing Dota 2 (help me), I often question what compels me to so willfully invest such a significant portion of my time into just one game? Surely by now I could’ve mastered the art of professional cuddling or fortune cookie writing, had I not spent half a year chasing the euphoric and hypnotic synergy shared amongst five players-unified by a singular purpose. Between each momentous victory and crushing defeat resides a seemingly infinite layer of depth and progression. The ever-evolving state of the game fuels my compulsion to learn from prior mistakes and continue to grow as a player, spectator and critic. While the notorious “steep” learning curve associated with Dota may be enough to dissuade some, it’s also what makes it such a rewarding experience for players seeking develop their skills.
That being said, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Valve’s upcoming Dota based digital card game “Artifact,” revels in its complexity, in contrast to the accessible simplicity of Blizzard’s Hearthstone. Until now, a worthy competitor for Hearthstone’s market dominance has yet to come forward, despite CD Projekt’s attempt with Gwent: The Witcher Card Game and Bethesda/Dire Wolf Digital’s attempt with The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Fans of Magic The Gathering will be pleased to hear that veteran MTG designer Richard Garfield, has been working with Valve to develop Artifact since 2014.
The general gameplay elements of the game will incorporate three lanes, or three separate board games to manage. Every match will begin with one designated hero per lane and multiple ally creeps (weaker but more plentiful units) in play, forcing opponents to begin developing their strategy immediately. Each respective lane will contain two towers, one to attack and one to defend, similar to the order in which most MOBAs layout their objectives-typically destroying towers in each lane to advance towards the ultimate goal of destroying the enemy base. Each tower will start with 40 health until destroyed, triggering the tower’s transformation into an Ancient with 80 health. Destroying two of the enemy’s three towers or one Ancient, nets you a victory.
The crux of gameplay revolves around players taking turns playing cards from their decks, consisting of a minimum of 40 cards and five heroes, with up to three copies of each card allowed. For every card put into play, your opponent will have the opportunity to respond with one of their own. Alternatively, the option to pass is available, however, Minions will only attack once both players have passed their turn without playing anything. Once this phase has ended, combat commences, and players begin attacking whatever enemies are directly in front of them. After combat is completed in one lane, the process repeats in the next lane, until all three lanes have been played-thus concluding the round. Similar to Dota, once combat has ended, each player will be able to spend gold accrued from each kill on items to equip heroes with during a shopping phase. Players will also be able to draw two additional cards from their deck at this point in time.
The base set for the game will consist of over 280 cards and 44 different heroes, including some taken directly from Dota. Unlike Hearthstone‘s class system, Artifact attributes one of four colors to each hero and spell: red, black, blue or green. For players to cast a particular spell associated with one of these colors, they must have a corresponding hero on the same board. Similar to Magic The Gathering, players will have the option to build a deck consisting of all four-color types or form their deck around one or two specifically.
According to IGN, while you’ll be able to purchase card packs on the Steam marketplace, the base game itself will not be free. While there is no official price as of yet, players will have the ability to trade and sell their cards on the marketplace. Similar to Dota 2’s workshop, players will have the ability to submit their own content with the potential for it to end up in the game.
Artifact will be available to the public by the end of 2018 on PC, with the first tournament slated for Q1 2019. Valve intends to have the iOS and Android versions of the game released by mid-2019.