Valve last night announced Artifact, a new card game based on Dota 2. I can tell you that Artifact is coming in 2018 and sounds like it broadly simulates a game of Dota, with lanes to push and Dota heroes to command, but Valve haven't shown anything concrete yet. For a company that often sets trends, this does seem curiously late - the world is hardly short of digital card games these days, and this isn't even the first card game spun off from a MOBA (Smite Tactics springs to mind, for starters). But hey, I'm always interested in what Valve are up to and Artifact does sound quite different to the usual Magic: The Gathering 'em ups.
All Valve showed (and said, really) about Artifact was in this teaser trailer, revealed between matches at their Dota mega-tournament The International last night:
Thankfully, host Sean 'Day' Plott has played Artifact and gabbed a little on the stream:
"If you've played previous trading card games, it has a lot of similarities in terms of having creatures and spells that you cast onto the board but in this game, anything you see in Dota, it's here.
"There's not just one board but three boards. You control five heroes, deploy them among the different lanes, creeps spawn every turn, the heroes that you play in Dota, they're in the game. You can play as Bounty Hunter and cast Track on an enemy hero, killing it gives you extra gold, use the gold to buy item cards, equip them to your heroes. And I gotta say, it's a really cool experience because you really feel like the commander who's allocating the various resources amongst this entire huge battlefield, moving from lane to lane."
He continued a bit later:
"I will say it's a very different experience from playing Dota, of course. [...] In this game, there's a lot of really interesting cards and behaviours. Like there's these improvement cards where you can actually cast spells on the varying lanes and they continue to upkeep every single turn, so you can wind up like- I played a game where I was honestly getting my ass kicked in two of the lanes but I just kept building more barracks in the third, flooding my opponent with creeps.
"And it's really nice because often card games can be very complex, and if you've played Dota, virtually any question you would have about how the game works, there's a very clean and clear reference to Dota 2."
So Artifact is a card game but like Dota but not like playing Dota.