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Artifact – Beginners Guide

Artifact is a card game that takes a lot of its base ideas from Valve’s MOBA, Dota 2. Combined with development from Magic: The Gathering’s Richard Garfield, Artifact has become its own beast entirely. If you’re looking for information on how to play Artifact, you’ve come to the right place.

Artifact is a deep and complex game, but it’s not impossible to learn, even for novice card game players. On this page, we give you a handful of beginner tips, tricks and strategies to help you on your journey to mastering Artifact.

Artifact Beginner Tips

  • Pick blue if you like to sow destruction from the sky. Blue has the weakest heroes but the most powerful spells in the game. If board annihilation, card draw and combat trickery is up your alley, then so is blue.
  • Pick green if you like playing a supportive playstyle. Green is about accelerating your mana, healing your units and providing various bonuses. Next to blue, green is the highest utility color in the game.
  • Pick red if you like to be armored to the teeth. Red has the strongest heroes in the game stat for state and the color is the king of combat. Who needs spells when you can empower enemies through sheer barbarism.
  • Pick black if “zerg rush kekeke” is still your favorite gaming meme. If red is here to kill units, black is here to kill towers (well, and units too). If you don’t care whether your army will live for more than a turn as long as it deals tower damage, than black’s for you.
  • The goal of the game is to kill two towers: either in two different lanes (80 total damage) or in a single lane (120 total damage). Know what your deck wants to do. Midrange decks will often try to win two lanes, while combo decks will focus on a single lane.
  • You don’t need to win all the lanes. In fact, trying to win all the lanes will often lose you the game, as you don’t have enough resources for everything and everywhere.
  • In general, it’s wiser to contest the first two lanes, since they are played first in a turn.
  • Place your high-impact heroes (Axe, Kanna, Treant Protector) in the early lanes and your weaker, but global heroes (Drow Ranger) in the late lanes.
  • In every deployment phase, have a mental check of where you need to deploy your heroes. Do you need to kill, defend, or avoid something? Do you need to cast a spell of certain color? Will your hero be “stranded” on a lane? Where will it have the highest impact?
  • You can only play cards if you have a hero of that color in that lane. Plan accordingly and save your heroes if you have important color turns coming up. For example, don’t put your blue hero at risk, if you want to cast Thundergod’s Wrath next turn.
  • Improvements can be played cross-lanes. Use that to your advantage. Playing improvements from the rightmost lane “upstream” is a great tactic to utilize the hero in that lane, without investing resources in the lane itself.
  • Units have 50% chance to attack straight and 25% to attack left and right. You can use that to your advantage. If there’s a battle at the edge of combat and you need a few more points of damage to kill something, placing a unit on the left/right could secure you this damage 25% of the time.
  • Modify effects are permanent. They will stay on the hero even when they die and respawn, which is why cards like Time of Triumph and Mist of Avernus are particularly powerful.
  • Learn to use the Town Portal mechanic. You don’t want to have heroes “stranded” in a lane, where they don’t do enough to warrant their presence there. Town Portal Scrolls will beam up the hero and allow you to deploy it on the very next turn.
  • Items have gold card backs so you can always see if someone bought something from the shop. If you don’t see any gold card backs, you don’t have to worry about unexpected healing or damage buffing effects.
  • If a good Secret Shop item comes but you don’t have enough money for it this turn, pay 1 gold to “hold” the item. It will reappear in the next shopping phase.
  • Do not underestimate the consumables that you can buy from the shop. Fountain Flask and Healing Salve are powerful hero-saving cards which are worth the gold investment, even if they are single-use only.
  • Track who has initiative by checking the top left box. Whoever has initiative will act first on the next lane, which means he can impact the board first. Sometimes you will want to be reactive and play second. Other times, however, you’ll want to wrestle for initiative so you can cast Gust, or Eclipse, or Thundergod’s Wrath to eliminate the enemy’s heroes.
  • On that topic, save your “get initiative” spells for key turns when you want to be on the play. Cards like Kraken Shell, Arcane Assault and Hip Fire are strong exactly for their “get initiative” effect.
  • If you have a reactive turn and want to conserve mana, play your items and unit abilities first. You might end up forcing your opponent to play a non-item card and expend a portion of his mana, leaving him with fewer options to respond to your own answers.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to lose heroes. Heroes respawn after a turn at the fountain and a lot of times, you will benefit more from re-deploying them on another lane. After all, a lot can change in a turn.

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