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Artifact best decks: the decks to build for competitive play

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Artifact is at its best when you have decks that are part of a cohesive engine. Some decks excel at generating big creatures to smash through the enemy defences. Others rely on building stashes of gold to purchase powerful items. With the game now out for talented deck builders to compile the optimal decks possible, we’d thought we’d showcase some of the best decks you can make in the game.

Drow Ranger in the hero selection for deck building.

Artifact best decks guide

Once you’ve successfully made one of the decks below, or indeed an even better one should one arise, be sure check out our Artifact guide hub for more on how to play the game, as well as a rundown on the colours and the types of cards that you can play.

Current best decks in Artifact

As Artifact is an ever changing game, the best decks will always be in a state of flux. The game’s not been available for long, but already there’s a few decks that have emerged to disrupt the meta. Currently the best colour is Black as a lot of aggro/economy decks have the most success rates, while Red is also rather powerful thanks to its strong heroes and hero buffing spells.

Constructing the UB deck that Hyped won a recent tournament with.

“U/B Ramp Control – Hyped’s Deck”

Currently the hottest deck out there is the one that won the recent WePlay Tournament. Hyped’s blue/green deck takes control strategies to ensure your opponents can’t run away with the game, and combines them with mana ramping cards to cast key spells early to get a more dominant position. It fought through some steep competition, but it definitely made an impact. The current version of this tournament winning deck can be found here.

Hero choices

Your first three deployed heroes are Kanna, Treant Protector, and Zeus. Kanna’s stats make her a very healthy hero to place in lanes, while her Prey on the Weak spells prevent enemies from steamrolling you with dozens of units at one time. She also brings more melee creeps into her lane to ensure that the lane she’s in is well protected. Treant Protector grants you access to extra mana via the Roseleaf Druids, but also grants its neighbours +2 armour, assisting in your defensive efforts. Zeus on the other hand is there to ping enemies whenever a blue spell is cast, as well as zapping heroes with Thundergod’s Wrath.

Drow Ranger is the next one to come in and augments every allies’ attack by one, which is a big deal in a deck where early stat buffs is crucial. She’s mainly here for her Gust spell though, which locks players out of casting spells in that lane. Your final hero is Ogre Magi, who not only brings the Ignite improvement for blowing up enemies in that lane for one piercing damage, but is there to potentially copy spells that have been cast in the deck.

How to play the deck

Like most ramp control decks before it, the general idea of this one is to get a dominant board position early. This is done by using spells to gain cards in your hand while at the same time emptying the board of any threats. This also has the side effect of blowing up everything on your side of the board as well, but your items focus on moving your heroes between lanes, as well as bolstering their overall health with items like Leather Armor or Traveler’s Cloak.

Hyped gave a full interview about how he played the deck, in which he explains a lot of his more unusual plays. There seems to be a rather specific turn order or lane placement where he plays key cards. For example, he says that “nine times out of ten you should be going for Diabolic Revelation on [turn] one”. With Unearthed Secrets, he tended to play this improvement on lane three so that it’s not in the same lane as Kanna or indeed most of the heroes of the deck in order to maximise the card draw.

Card advantage is very important in games like Artifact, so having that risk-reward element mitigated is key to succeeding in your matches. The other key side of the deck is to control what the enemy does, locking them out of potentially game-ending situations where they flood the board, or just silencing all heroes in that lane with Gust so no more spells can be played. As for the ramp spells like Stars Align or , this is to get out cards like Emissary of the Quorum or Incarnation of Selemene to create impenetrable walls of death.

Other worthy considerations

Since this is a tournament winning deck, there’s not a lot to say on how best to improve what’s already winning. Perhaps the only one that I can think of that might assist in its mid-game of trying to keep things from dying is a set of Cheating Death – the improvement that allows allies to survive lethal damage or spells with one health point should they be in the same lane as a green hero. Combine that with Prey on the Weak and it could mean a typically defensive spell turns into a majorly offensive one.

A screencap of constructing the BG Pauper Aggro deck

“B/G Pauper Aggro”

An aggressive deck that uses some mainstays of the current meta such as Bounty Hunter and Phantom Assassin, combined with some green spells and creeps to put pressure on an opponent’s lane. This deck has gone through a few tweaks over the last few days which has allowed it to become more refined. The current version can be found here.

Hero choices

Enchantress is there to keep creeps and heroes healthy with regeneration. She also uses the Verdant Refuge improvement to bolster armour for all allies. Phantom Assassin is just a good stabber that when combined with Bounty Hunter’s Track spell can make the gold flow in.

Lycan is deployed in the second turn and is used to improve your allies’s attack, so is best plonked down in a lane where you have a lot of creeps punching the tower, as well as deploy Savage Wolves that increase in power every turn. Magnus meanwhile is just a strong hero that can be played to reinforce a lane where needed, thanks to his default armour stats being very defensive. His Empower spell also grants units extra attack stats and cleave.

How to play the deck

You’ll want to dominate lanes early on, so get a decent position by deploying Satyr Duelists and Savage Wolves where you’re winning. There are also buff spells that can bolster your attack for that extra burst of damage. You also have a fair amount of removal for pesky creeps or enemy heroes, as well as Track for filling the coffers. Items are relatively basic and none cost more than 10 gold, which coincidentally is the same amount of gold that Track gives you. It’s otherwise a rather simple to play deck that can easily steamroll unsuspecting players and is relatively cheap to make too.

Other worthy considerations

This deck is designed to be a cheap deck that is highly competitive, so there’s not a lot else that I can add that isn’t expensive. The only other spell I can think of that would effectively bolster all the creatures on the board is Cheating Death – an improvement that costs 5 that has a reasonable chance to make allies in a lane with a green hero in it survive lethal damage. Since this deck runs three green heroes, this would be a perfect fit, but the cards themselves are among the most expensive to buy in Artifact at £2.12 (or your regional equivalent) each at the time of writing.

RB Teleport deck in Artifact

R/B Siege

There’s multiple variations of this deck; a tempo deck that seeks to control the board position early with strong heroes and creeps that won’t die immediately. Once the position is secured, the key hero is Sorla as she seeks to quickly take down one of the three lanes before the opponent has the chance to reinforce it. You can take a look at the most highly rated version of the deck here.

Hero choices

The positioning of the heroes in the ranking is vital to the deck’s success. Bristleback and Axe act as the early-game heavies that shouldn’t die on the first turn, allowing them to potentially clear their lane of pesky heroes to allow for Sorla Khan to join them on the second turn. Phantom Assassin is the other hero in the first turn cycle, but she’s slightly less durable than the other two heroes.

Sorla Khan is the meat and potatoes of this deck. You’ll want to make her join the hero that’s done the most damage to the enemy’s board position, which is likely to be Axe or Bristleback, though it’s worth checking the creep spawns as well on this vital second turn. Your ideal scenario is for her to be on a lane that’s poorly defended and attacking wide, while at the same time having either Assault Ladders or Disciple of Nevermore in play, as this can allow her to take down the tower as early as turn three.

Legion Commander is the last hero to bring along and while she doesn’t have the raw power of Bristleback and Axe, she can still apply pressure on the board thanks to her signature card: Duel. That said, those looking to counter this deck may want to deal with the other heroes. If you want to counter this deck, then Sorla Khan is a viable target, while taking down one of Axe or Bristleback can turn the tide.

How to play the deck

Your first few turns will need a precise set of things to happen in order for you to be successful. Use the likes of Bronze Legionnaire and Stonehall Elite to apply pressure to the board, while at the same time getting a good position for Sorla Khan to quickly take out your first tower. The second will be a bit more of a war of attrition though as the enemy reinforcements will look to bolster their position. Mercenary Exiles can be great early on as by spending all your gold, you can buff them to take out creeps to make your money back and allow for the heroes to swing at the tower.

For the mid-game, there are a lot of cards that either focus on removal or bolster other lanes. Coup de Grace can be incredible, but it is also worth considering which targets are most worth going after. Others like Enough Magic! can ensure that your opponent can’t cast any more spells, allowing for you to go straight in for the kill with Siege damage. Finally, there’s other spells like Pick Off or Fight Through the Pain that want to gain you initiative; don’t be afraid to blow up your own units if the situation calls for it.

The items of this deck aren’t the most expensive, but since the deck aims to end games quickly, they can be cost effective for what you need. Phase Boots and Blink Dagger are essential to the deck’s success. Phase Boots allow heroes to swap positions with another hero if the situation calls for it, or Blink Dagger allows you to get your hero to swap lanes after the first tower has been destroyed. Red Mist Maul amplifies the siege potential.

Other worthy considerations

The only thing this deck is lacking is a bit more removal in the late game to deal with big threats. Slay can remove any big creeps, so it’s worth considering running a copy or two of it. Collateral Damage on the other hand can allow Sorla Khan to have even more Siege damage for the late game, or allow Phantom Assassin to do some work against the tower in addition to killing creeps. Finally, Escape Route can be a good improvement for moving your heroes around once the first tower is down. Another variant on this deck swaps out Pick Off for Hip Fire for the ability to gain initiative rather than being able to pick off a second target.

Mono-black aggro with Bounty Hunter as the highlighted card.

“Kozmic Black”

This mono-black deck is highly aggressive and will therefore accumulate a lot of gold very quickly. Its spells will do a lot of the work with clearing the board, while creeps and improvements focus on hitting things hard and fast. For a full breakdown of the cards in the deck, look to the deck list.

Hero choices

Your starting lineup is Bounty Hunter – who randomly gets a temporary buff each round, Tinker, and Phantom Assassin. Phantom Assassin wants to stab enemy heroes in the face, while Tinker’s laser ability disrupts any hero item strategies that can impact on your tempo. Bounty Hunter’s signature spell “Track” when coupled with a Phantom Assassin can make for a very interesting turn where enemies can haemorrhage gold for you to spend on more expensive items.

Sorla Khan’s mostly there to apply pressure on the tower and should be deployed where the board is quietest – even after taking incoming creeps into account. Finally, Sniper’s focus is on remote removal with his ability or the spell Assassinate.

How to play the deck

You’ll want to be as aggressive as is physically possible with this deck. Kill priority targets or a lowly creep with Track in order to maximise your gold output so that you can afford one of the ten gold items. Claszureme Hourglass disrupts your opponent’s tempo by delaying their ability to play drawn cards for a turn, which can make all the difference, while Red Mist Maul is just a very good offensive weapon that synchronises well with your heroes.

Should things get into the late game, you’ll want to kill off any heroes threatening to break through your towers with spells like Coup de Grace or Assassinate. Apothesis Blade may be expensive, but it can wipe the board of threats and improvements. Horn of the Alpha meanwhile can summon a hulking Thunderhide Pack to steamroll through your enemies defences and potentially take down a tower.

Other worthy considerations

If you feel there’s not enough gold generation, then Revtel Investments may be worth considering as it gives you four gold for each charge. That said, Track is a far more efficient gold generator, so your mileage may vary. Path of the Cunning can also bolster any potential for siege, which since your deck runs only black cards can give that little nudge needed to break down the tower. It is a random effect though, so it may not always work in the ideal way. A second Claszureme Hourglass may also improve your tempo by disrupting theirs.

“UB Econ Control”

This blue/black control deck is focused on making money really quickly while at the same time trying to restrict what the opponent can do at any given time. You can click through to this link for the Full deck list.

Hero choices

The point of this deck is to stall progress made by the enemy until you can cast powerful spells like the Bolt of Damocles or equip high-cost items like Horn of the Alpha or Apotheosis Blade. To do this, it runs Bounty Hunter – a competitive black hero that comes with the track spell and some great base stats. Luna is also a mandatory pick thanks to her Eclipse spell charges and her high early HP.

Phantom Assassin couples well with the Gank spell for aggressive killing of enemies, while Lich has the best signature in the game currently: Chain Frost. If you want to consider one hero to change for variety, then Skywrath Mage is only really there because of the hero spell Mystic Flare, clearing the path for the other heroes. A good candidate for this would be Ogre Magi as Multicast randomly copies a spell, which can be good if you copy a Bold of Damocles.

How to play the deck

Early on you’ll want to maximise your monetary output. Iron Fog Goldmine, Payday, and Track are the methods for getting the most bang for your buck. Keep heroes and creeps at bay with some of the early spells like At Any Cost, as well as purchasing a Traveller’s Cloak to keep Luna alive. You can also use Gank to redirect Bounty Hunter or Phantom Assassin’s aim to another target and get some more cash.

Coming into the mid-game, you’ll want to use your spells to blow up the enemy’s board, so Eclipse, Mystic Flare, and Chain Frost are good methods for causing destruction to the opponent’s side of the board. At a pinch, you can also go nuclear with Annihilation. Items like Blink Dagger or Vesture of the Tyrant should be the ones you seek out in the shop, while …And One For Me is good for copying equipment to stick on other units.

When you get to late game, you should be in a commanding position, so buy and equip items like the Horn of the Alpha and Apotheosis Blade to put big creatures and siege damage onto the board. You can also just concentrate a spell onto the towers that are left with Bolt of Damocles.

However there may be games where the opponent still has some decent units on the board. A decent strategy would be to allow the opponent to get a board presence for a turn, have a Town Portal Scroll in hand along with Annihilation, then simply bring your strongest hero back before blowing up the entire field. You’ll then be able to dunk that hero back down into the lane of your choice and swing for victory.

Other worthy considerations

This deck seems rather refined compared to the others, but two cards I reckon could bolster this deck are Aghanim’s Sanctum and Incarnation of Selemene. Yes, they’re expensive, but when used at the right moment they can give that extra fuel of mana that you desperately need.

Those are the top picks for the moment, but as living card games are subject to change, the meta be turned upside down the instant a better deck is discovered. Check back regularly for updated deck lists, but in the meantime, why not have a look at our Artifact deck construction guide for details on how to build a deck of your own? Who knows, you may find that next big deck.

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Dave Irwin

Guides Writer

As guides writer for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, it is my privilege to understand how to play certain games well, so that newer players can understand the more complex things about them.

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