Unlike most digital CCGs out there today, Artifact comes from the world of physical card games. Designed by the legendary Richard Garfield, Valve’s newest property has had growing paints trying to exist as a more traditional experience. One of those traditions was the way balancing cards work. In a game like Magic: The Gathering, you generally avoid changing how cards work. It’s difficult to communicate changes to players since the cards they own aren’t going to magically shift to the new text. Of course, since this is a video game, Artifact cards can do just that, and Valve is correcting to a model more familiar to players of Hearthstone and Gwent.
Valve explained its reasoning in the most recent Artifact patch notes. Going forward, the developer will rebalance cards as necessary rather than banning cards and releasing replacements in future sets. While the studio initially thought that players would value static cards, it found overwhelming demand for making the entire game more fun rather than retaining any particular block of text. For players who purchased a changed Artifact card recently, Valve has implemented a buyback promotion on the Steam Marketplace that lasts for two weeks.
Update incoming! Skill ratings, leveling, and card balance changes.https://t.co/gxOGoF6jHG
— Artifact (@PlayArtifact) December 21, 2018
In addition to the card changes, Valve is also taking a few steps to curb criticism that Artifact is a “pay to win” title. The team has added account level progression that hand out card packs and event tickets once you gather enough XP. You gain XP by participating in matchmaking, and this should let players customize their deck a bit more without dropping real coin.
While Artifact still has a healthy player base in the thousands as of this writing, the number is significantly below where it was at launch. The game is also sitting at “Mixed” reviews on Steam, meaning that the developer still has a way to go before the Dota card game can truly compete with the big boys.