Artifact — image from Valve

Artifact — a thinking mans card game

Games are becoming more prevalent in this day and age, and as technology continues to expand our abilities and ‘enhance’ our comforts, games like Artifact continue to appear in new emerging subcultures of the gaming industry.

Artifact is an online trading card game, which lets face it, is a total oxymoron from it’s humble beginning (the original trading card game with physical cards that is), but the convenience of playing card games as a 30 year old man with a full time job is difficult, so this online emergence of card games such as Hearthstone, Magic, and Gwent, to name a few, gives me and players around the world direct and easy access to the game, to other players and to our cards, without taking up any major physical space storing the cards and traveling to tournaments to play with players.

I downloaded Artifact on my Mac-Pro laptop as that’s where I spend most of my time. I will likely install it on my PC too, and when the IOS version comes out ‘late 2019’, I will likely also download it there. I’d like to point out that my laptop is almost 5 years old, and even though I’m running the game on low settings, it runs quite well and is quite gently to my old Mac.

I’d like to quickly mention a bit more about how well the game is developed for lower end computers. My Mac runs a little hot playing Artifact, but otherwise I don’t have frame drops, even though the minimum frame-rates the game runs at is 60fps. Secondly, for us Mac users who are limited for space, the game only uses up 3.5gb and is only 1.8gb to download — this is incredibly thoughtful of Valve.

The best part is that Artifact does an incredible job of taking the fantastic and fun feel of dota, apply it within Artifact but give you an entirely different experience within the same world.

I think this is an absolutely intended outcome of the games development and one I highly commend Valve for. I took the liberty of dropping the settings to the lowest, and have seen very little loss in gameplay quality. The graphics are reduced down and compressed to ensure the older Mac’s don’t melt, so I didn’t really have any major issues playing, it does however chew through battery life, so likely best played on power mode.

artifact — image source

My initial reaction to the pace and style of game play is positive. The cards are interesting and interactive, it’s clear there is a lot to learn about ‘lane management’ and there are plenty of initial cards to learn on. You have to manage 3 lanes of game play rather than the one which removes linearity and above all else there are multiple ways to win without having to face the same boring old meta cards over and over (well from what I’ve seen so far). The best part is that Artifact does an incredible job of taking the fantastic and fun feel of dota, apply it within Artifact but give you an entirely different experience within the same world.

Now, before I continue, I would also like to mention that if you are not familiar with games like Hearthstone, Magic, Gwent ect, you should probably spend quite some time practising before playing the live version. For anyone who hasn’t played a game like this before, it can be overwhelming and difficult to understand the mechanics and flow and likely lead to a bad experience. Artifact gives you a training option. I recommend completing it and then running a few games with the bots under the “casual” tab.

There is one thing that irks me about Artifact currently however. My worry is that there is a live card market making highly overpowered cards fully available to “whales” or people who win game with their fat wallets. In my first casual live game after playing against some bots, I ran into a player who had incredible cards my basic deck couldn’t handle purely due to their function. I’m hoping this isn’t going to wreck the competitive scene.

Pro’s

  • Interesting Concept
  • Non-Linear Game Play

Cons

  • Potential for pay to win ruining the game

Overall, I will likely invest a large amount of time scaling this incredibly interesting and multi-paced card game. I commend Valve for breaking the linear single table meta and implementing multiple tables in which you have to battle it out in creating a dynamic and fascinating battle.