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Artifact: Deck building guide

How you'll build your decks in Valve's upcoming collectible card game.

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John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief, and is responsible for all of the Hearthstone news, features and guides content on the site.

Our Artifact deck building guide explains the suit, hero and ability systems in the game, and also details the mana system.

At some point in 2018 Valve will unleash Artifact upon the world. This intriguing new collectible card game has you battling across a total of three game boards in any given match, as you attempt to take down towers and emerge victorious by dominating the opposition with strategic use of your fighting forces.

In this article, we want to highlight everything that's currently known about how the deck building system will work in Artifact. In future updates - and once we've had a chance to play the game - we'll have insight for you on managing things like Mana distribution when designing your deck, and how to craft decks built around specific archetypes - tempo, control, aggro and so on. Although we've seen a fair few of the launch cards for Artifact now, there's still much more we need to learn before we can give that sort of specific advice.

Still, we think this should give you a decent primer on how deck building will function in Artifact, and we'll be expanding on this guide considerably in the run-up to launch and beyond. First up, here are the basics of building a deck in the game:

  • There will be 280 cards available in the game when Artifact launches towards the end of 2018.
  • Each deck will consist of a maximum 40 cards in total. Cards are recycled throughout play, and so it may prove beneficial to build smaller decks rather than larger ones.
  • Cards belong to one of four suits in the game: black, blue, green and red.
  • Within each suit is a collection of card types, including hero cards, abilities and spells.
  • You can make use of a maximum of five heroes in any given deck.
  • Keep in mind, however, that you can only use cards from two different suits in each deck.

Next, here's a quick FAQ that goes into further detail about the opportunities for deck building in Artifact.

What do the different Artifact suits mean?

Here's a very brief overview of the different suits. In a future update we hope to have detailed insight on the best suit combos to weave together in Artifact:

  • Black - These are your "assassin" class of cards, capable of launching surprise attacks.
  • Blue - If you like building up powerful magical offensive forces then blue cards are for you.
  • Green - These are your classic support cards, capable of providing buffs and heals.
  • Red - Highly defensive, melee-orientated cards that provide a beefy tank-like presence on the board.

Is there a card resource system in Artifact?

Yes, and it's a mana system which you'll be familiar with if you've played games like Hearthstone. Different cards have different mana costs, and you'll be restricted in what you can play at any given stage of a match.

The three lanes you play across each start off with three mana's worth of resources for you to utilise. As each round of play concludes though, the mana pool on each lane increases by one. Keep in mind that certain heroes and card will be capable of boosting a lane's mana pool.

As a result, it's important that you build a deck that allows you to make meaningful plays on all three boards from the start of the match. Once we've had some hands-on time with Artifact for ourselves we'll have a better idea of how best to manage planning out that mana curve.

Can I play any card on any lane?

No. In order to cast, say, a blue spell in the lane that's in play, you'll need a blue hero to be present and correct at the time of casting. Something to keep in mind is that certain heroes are able to interact with lanes other than the one they're currently in, but these interactions can be considered the exception rather than the rule.

More Artifact Guides

How do I get hold of new cards for my decks?

When you purchase Artifact initially you'll receive a number of cards as part of your starting set. These cards - and others you acquire - can then be traded via a yet-to-be-revealed marketplace. Our Artifact trading guide has more detail on how this system is likely to work.

How much will new cards cost?

This is the great unknown at the time of publishing. As mentioned above, cards can be traded amongst the community, but the precise economy is something that won't be established until launch. What we do know is that Valve is determined to ensure that a card's rarity does not necessarily determine its outright power level, and strong decks need not cost the earth.

Will my cards and my decks ever be rotated out of competitive play?

Unlike in Hearthstone, where the latest sets rotate out of Standard play after a couple of years, your card collection will never be made redundant in Artifact. It may come to pass that certain decks prove more competitive than others over time, of course, but the cards will always be playable. Don't forget either that you can always trade out your key cards if you want to upgrade to a different deck.

That's the end of the first edition of our Artifact deck-building guide. Once the game enters beta we'll expand on this article a huge amount, and will continue improving it well into launch and beyond.

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