Valve have announced plans to launch Artifact, their digital card-battling adaptation of wizard management simulator Dota 2, on November 28th. That’s the plan. That’s what they say now. Valve’s first big game since Dota 2 in 2013, Artifact turns the MOBA into a card game where players build decks to make wizards fight across three ‘lanes’ of the table and murder the other wizards’ base. Unlike Dota 2, Artifact won’t be free-to-play, costing $20 to buy in with starter decks – and more for more cards.
That $20 will buy you two pre-built decks of 54 cards plus ten of the booster packs which each contain 12 random cards, Valve’s Doug Lombardi told Ars Technica. Extra booster packs will cost $2 each. The base set will have “more than 280 cards”, Valve say, and expansions are planned too.
Artifacticians will also be able to buy and sell individual cards through the Steam Community Marketplace, which runs on store credit and where Valve take a cut of every transaction. You’d hope players will also be able to do swapsies through Steam’s trading?
If that model sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the sort of thing made famous largely by Magic: The Gathering – whose creator, Richard Garfield, has worked on Artifact.
Austin Wood told us all about how Artifact works after he played a preview version earlier this year.
“You not only have to think about your opponent’s deck based on the heroes they choose and read their hand based on the actions they take, you also have to predict where they’ll place their heroes. A hero moving from the middle lane to the left lane can be game-changing, as I learned when an enemy red hero did just that and bulldozed my aforementioned dude army. At the same time, this system prevents you from getting mana screwed, the classic Magic wet blanket. If you don’t have access to the right colours, it’s because you didn’t choose, place or protect your heroes correctly. Here again, Artifact is more complex than Hearthstone but more direct than Magic, and I love that about it.”
He also took a more in-depth look at how it stacks about against other deck-builders, saying “Artifact’s biggest strength is that it takes lessons from trading card games like Magic as much as it does collectable card games like Hearthstone.”
Artifact is coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam on November 28th (with Android and iOS versions to follow in 2019). Before then, it will be playable at PAX West later this month.