Artifact is an upcoming TCG from Valve based in the Dota universe. Right now the game is in beta testing and is slated to come out later this month. Right now you can prepurchase the game on Steam and it is currently the best selling game on the platform. It's a bit unclear what will be included with the purchase of the game but player will be required to buy additional cards if they wish to complete their play sets. As far as I know there won't be any system to get bards for free. The model is a bit different from their competitor Hearthstone but I think it's important for games to find ways to distinguish themselves.
This weekend I got to watch my first ever Artifact tournament. The game plays much different than Hearthstone and right now looks like it's going to have a fairly strong competitive scene. I'll be interested to see which streamers and professional players move over from Hearthstone or attempt to play both games.
The structure of the game is split into three lanes, similar to the lanes in Dota 2. The goal of the game is to defeat two enemy towers. Each lane has a tower that starts out at 40 health. Once a tower falls in any given lane, it exposes the ancient which has 80 health and if defeated leads to victory. Players have heroes which they can assign to each lane. From there plays moves through each lane where players have an opportunity to use resources from each lane to cast spells and improvements. Improvements are a unique part of Artifact that augment individual lanes to make them stronger.
Artifact seems very intriguing. There is a little bit less RNG than Hearthstone and they game has a much more strategic feels to it. You aren't just trying to win your lane but also need to manage resources other lanes. You can't over commit to one lane because it will expose the other two lanes. The concept seems to work much better than i would have expected for a card game.
The game can be a bit tedious for viewers since each game is like watching three separate Hearthstone games all at once. I found myself losing track of the overall picture of the game as we constantly moved through the three lanes. Only one lane is active at a time so it's not like I was missing any of the action but there is just a plethora of things happening all across the game all at once.
I will at least be buying the base game because it does look very fun and I think the viewing experience will be a bit more enjoyable if I had an intimate knowledge of the game. I've got the basic concepts down, it's just a bit awkward watching when I don't know what anything does.
It will be interesting to see if Artifact can pull a big chunk of the TCG audience away from Hearthstone. I think the release of Artifact likely puts an end to my Hearthstone career, the game is just too random for my tastes and I'm just more interested in Dota than Warcraft overall.