I'm enjoying how all the headlines around Artifact's upcoming comeback are about what it won't do. It won't sell you cards, and it won't make you play on one lane at a time. 'It won't die in a fire like it did before', promise.
We now know a lot more about how the revamped game will actually work. Random deployment is gone, with creeps spawning in predictable positions while Heroes can be plopped wherever you like. The infinite board is gone, too, as each of the three lanes can now only fit five units. This seems... promising?
Valve explain the changes on their blog. Here are the basics:
"The board still has 3 lanes, but each lane is exactly 5 slots. The slots also have a fixed position, so adding units on either end of the lane doesn’t shift the positions of any units. There are some rules for deploying on top of units if the lane gets too full or if there’s just something in your way, which you’ll find at the end of this post."
Those rules include destroying units by playing new ones on top of them, which is interesting. I'm immediately thinking about how that's different to Legends Of Runeterra, where I've occasionally filled up my board with crappy spiders and had no way of removing them.
The real big change, though, is that you can now deploy heroes to specific locations. You used to just pick a lane and hope they didn't go head to head against something that could kill them. It still involved mind games, but with a big dollop of chance. You're now asked to make much more specific predictions, which is enticing, and you deploy to one lane at time. (This is a bit confusing: previous blog posts suggested you'd have access to all lanes at once, but we now know deploying to lanes is done sequentially rather than all at the same time. Presumably the "all lanes at once" part kicks in when you start playing non-hero cards.)
There's a specific order to this, and I won't attempt to recap how it all works when you could just look at Valve's useful diagrams. I do like how they present situations and talk through a hypothetical player's reasoning, because that reasoning sounds familiar and appealing. As my Artifact review will tell you, I liked old Artifact a lot. These are the kind of decisions I was already making, but they don't involve weighing up odds.
I've always liked just how much Artifact has going on, because in other card games I wind up playing decks without really thinking about them. Outside of constructed mode, Artifact matches tended to feel like they were won or lost based on how I played my cards, rather than which ones I had access to. The proof will be in the playable pudding, but it looks like that might be even more true of Artifact 2.0.
Valve still haven't said when they'll start letting people in, but I sure hope it's soon.