Valve continues to share its progress on Artifact, its briefly popular card game that ultimately became, according to Gabe Newell, an “interesting failure”. In thlatest deep dive, Valve’s Eric Tams shows off how deployment has changed, though it’s still not clear when players will be able to check out the changes for themselves.
Artifact’s MOBA-like three-lane system has been preserved, which makes sense given that it’s one of the main things that sets it apart from the many, many card games it’s competing with, though not everyone in the comments is happy about it. Now the lanes have five slots each, however, instead of giving players room to plonk down an unlimited number of units. The slots are fixed, so when you add a new unit to the board the other units don’t move.
Where the original system randomly deployed the first set of heroes and creeps, the new one strips out the RNG and gives players back some control. Before each round, a melee creep is deployed in the first open slot in each lane, left to right, and then you can start deploying your heroes. These cards are placed in three stages during the first round, each focusing on a different lane.
During the first stage, both players deploy their first heroes in one of the three middle slots, with these choices being revealed simultaneously. That’s followed by off-lane deployments. One players flings their hero into the first lane, while their opponent tosses them into the third lane. “This hero will be the most vulnerable since the enemy will be able to respond with full knowledge,” Tams warns. In the final stage of the round, heroes are deployed in the leftover lane.
This structure is ditched in other rounds, letting both players place cards wherever they fancy, and you’ll still get an extra hero to deploy in the second and third rounds. Tams also revealed some more rules on how you place cards. Deploying a hero on top of another hero will put the old hero back in your hand, letting you deploy it the next turn. If you plonk one down on a creep, however, the creep will be destroyed. Playing a creep on top of a unit, meanwhile, will destroy the unit. You also have more control over where you place creeps, as you can choose where to play them right down to the slot.
Finally, armour now apparently works differently from the original version, while tower health is now dependent on the game mode. How those changes will impact the revamped game hasn’t yet been explained, but you can expect more updates breaking down how Valve’s overhauling Artifact down the line.
It’s hard to gauge how the community is embracing these changes from the comments, especially since they’ve not been seen in action yet. Getting rid of the RNG seems to have gone down well, at least, but many have expressed concerns about the limited slots in each lane.
Valve is still combing through feedback from its last update, apparently, but if you’ve got thoughts on this one, give the studio a shout.