By Mark “Petrify” Fittipaldi – 1/10/2018
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If you’ve seen any of Artifact’s gameplay, you know that as far as card games go, it’s unique. Given its uniqueness, you might be wondering which skills you can bring to Artifact from other card games.
Global skills are considered to be ubiquitous across all card games, and Artifact is no exception as far as the following skills are concerned:
Card advantage. Anyone who has played card games before is well aware that having more cards than your opponent is always a good thing…unless you’re playing Uno, in which case you’re out of luck here. Early indications, from my experiences in closed beta, suggest that card advantage is quite important in Artifact. However, it isn’t as important as in some other games.
Card advantage in Gwent, for instance, is the be all and end all: If you have more cards, you win. In Magic, card advantage is extremely important in some matchups and formats (Limited and control mirrors). However, there are some cases in Magic where having board control and health advantage is much more important (aggro mirrors). Artifact falls somewhere around Magic as far as card advantage is concerned—extremely important in some matchups and unimportant in others.
Another reason card advantage in Artifact isn’t as important as in other games is because you draw two cards per turn, which lowers the value of a single card in comparison to, for example, Magic, where you draw only one card per turn. This dynamic importance of card advantage is a reflection of the level of complexity within Artifact and is certainly a good thing.
Board control. Board control is a global concept in CCGs, and in Artifact it can be translated to lane control. The key difference is that Artifact has not one board but three. The average game of Artifact will see you controlling one lane heavily, losing another, and then fighting over the remaining lane. This has led me to use the phrases P1 (priority one), P2, and P3, in that P1 is the lane about which you care the most in terms of investing your resources and P3 is the lane about which you care the least.
Alas, we’ll release an article in the future with more in-depth discussion of lane management. For now, all you need to know is that the concept of board control does exist in Artifact, and you’ll be able to apply this skill. Personally, I feel that knowing how to control a board is arguably the most important skill in Artifact currently.
Tempo. Tempo is an interesting one, as the concept can mean different things in different card games. It usually translates to being a step ahead of your opponent when it comes to spending resources. For instance, in Magic, tempo-oriented cards are ones that do things like unsummon a minion from your opponent’s side of the board, thus delaying the opponent for an extra turn, making her spend her resources again, and giving you time. In Hearthstone, tempo is more associated with the momentum the match is taking. The player attacking first generally has a tempo advantage because he’s able to force unfavourable trades, and this is often associated heavily with board control.
In Artifact, tempo is hard to define, and I don’t believe it has a commonly accepted definition yet. I would define it as spending your mana more efficiently than your opponent in a way that gives you momentum in the lane you’re in. For instance, let’s say your opponent uses two spells on a hero to set up a kill on one of your heroes when the combat phase happens. After the second spell, you play Coup de Grace, which randomly discards an important card. On paper, you’ve both traded two cards; however, you now have a tempo advantage in that lane because your opponent has spent two cards’ worth of mana but hasn’t achieved anything, and now you control that lane.
These tempo-type plays are extremely common in Artifact, and it’s important to know when you could get “blown out,” as it’s difficult to recover from situations like the one above.
Constructed deckbuilding. Much like most card games, Artifact requires you to build a deck of cards based on the available pool, so I don’t believe players of any specific card game will have an advantage in Artifact. Deckbuilding is rather unique in Artifact because of the lack of a mulligan ability, but this shouldn’t affect most card game players, as they’ll be familiar with deckbuilding principles, such as considering your curve and win conditions. We’ll release a more insightful article on deckbuilding skills and traps in Artifact in the future.
Magic: The Gathering Skills
Card evaluation. Magic players will undoubtedly be at an advantage when it comes to evaluating what cards are good and what cards are bad. I believe this is because Magic players have a strong ingrained set of heuristics when evaluating cards and have been able to do so for a long time over multiple formats with different keywords. I anticipate that a lot of the best decks at the beginning will be built by Magic pro players who have a good understanding of how a curve develops and what cards are stronger than others.
Drafting. This should come as no surprise to anyone, but Magic players will certainly be the kings of the draft formats. Magic players have competitively drafted for years. As I’ve suggested above, they’re also great at card evaluation and at deckbuilding, which is the most important skill in drafting. I can’t talk too much yet about the draft format. However, I do believe it will strongly favour Magic players.
Navigating complex situations. The ability to navigate a complex situation is certainly not a skill unique to Magic. In fact, it’s an ability any card game player should have. The reason I’ve included this as a Magic skill rather than a global skill is because Artifact is more complex than the previously most complex game, which, in my opinion, is Magic. I do believe there are board states in Magic and situations with the stack which are unbelievably more difficult to navigate than Artifact, and I don’t think any other game will ever reach that level of complexity. An example of this is the Krark-Clan Ironworks decks, which I won’t even attempt to explain.
On average, I would say Artifact requires more planning ahead than Magic and leads to more “If my opponent plays X and I play Y, but then he plays Z and I play A…” situations. As such, I believe Magic players will be better than others at navigating these complex scenarios on average—but there will be other CCG pros just as capable.
Handling a marketplace. Little is known about the marketplace in Artifact. All we really know is that it has one, and it’s on Steam. Artifact is a trading card game, which is fantastic for Magic players because the hardcore will be used to knowing when to buy and sell cards and how to build a collection via trading.
Managing randomness. This isn’t me trying to be cute or funny by bringing up the fact that Hearthstone involves a tonne of randomness and that Hearthstone players will be good at managing it in Artifact. Artifact has lots of RNG, which I’m sure will be to the disappointment of many when they first start playing it—especially given the existence of one card that hasn’t been announced yet. The important thing about most of Artifact’s RNG is that it’s highly controllable.
I truly hope most players stick with the game to realise that things such as random placements aren’t actually that impactful the better at the game you get. Hearthstone players will be able to manage the odds when playing cards better than anyone simply because they’re more used to dealing with this aspect of the game.
Controlling initiative. Managing initiative is without a doubt the most important skill in the late game of Artifact. There are situations where you may have to sacrifice playing a card in a lane to get first say in a more important lane. Top-level Gwent players will nail this skill, as they’re used to knowing when to give up a round in order to gain an important advantage in the later more critical rounds. The difference between Gwent and Artifact in this respect is that in Gwent, you often want to have the last say, whereas in Artifact, you want to have the first say. I don’t anticipate this taking much time to adjust to, though. I can foresee many Gwent players doing well in Artifact just because of the ability to know when you need initiative.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
Managing resources across multiple lanes. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t played much TESL, so I’m not fully familiar with how important it is to manage both lanes. However, it stands out that this is the only popular card game other than Artifact which has the concept of multiple lanes. As such, I expect TESL players will be able to warm to the idea of three lanes rapidly.
Reading your opponent and bluffing. I’ve grouped reading your opponent and bluffing together because I believe they’re highly similar skills. Demonstrating the ability to be empathetic and understand what your opponent is thinking also leads you to know what to falsely represent to her. Poker players are the kings of reading their opponents’ hands and “putting them on” something. Of course, all pro CCG players can do this, but I think poker has a unique advantage because bluffing is extremely rare in other CCGs.
In Artifact, bluffing is common. You can often bait a resource out of your opponent that he normally wouldn’t spend simply by choosing not to play something. For instance, it’s not uncommon in the early and mid game to pass without playing something in a lane and pretend not to have any plays just to respond to your opponent’s play with a blowout.
The exciting thing about Artifact is that it requires a tonne of skills that can be transferred from a wide variety of games. I’m personally excited to see which of the card games has the most top-level players once we head out of closed beta. Will it be the veteran Magic players, the Hearthstone kings of randomness, the perfect Gwent passers, the multi-lane stars from TESL, or even the bluffing Poker card sharks?