The first large update for the new card game Artifact was released Friday, Dec. 21. With the first Artifact patch, there were massive changes all around. The game’s player numbers had been dropping steadily since the release of the game, reaching a low of 3,100 active players online at one point. The patch covered everything the community requested and then some. The active player base more than tripled overnight as the new patch brought a lot of players back to give it another try.
The developers of Artifact previously stated that they did not want to change any cards once the game was released, but this philosophy changed with this patch as some of the strongest cards in the game got nerfed. To combat the community outrage about these changes, Artifact will be offering a one-time buy-back of the now nerfed cards for the highest price the cards had been in the past 24 hours.
The first of the nerfed cards was Axe. Axe was, and arguably still is, the strongest red hero. Axe’s signature card, Berserker’s Call, and strong base stats make him a must-include in many midrange and aggressive-style decks. Unsurprisingly, the change of 1 less base attack strength did not reduce the value of Axe by too much. The card has dropped around 10 percent in value, which is nothing compared to the other cards changed this patch.
The second hero card nerfed was Drow Ranger. Drow Ranger was by far the strongest hero card of green. The signature card, Gust, was a card that would stop any of your opponent’s cards from being cast for one turn in a lane. This was way too powerful and didn’t leave options for counterplay, which is something Artifact is created around. The value of Drow Ranger has dropped quite significantly, losing about 25 percent of its value now that Gust only silences a unit and its neighbors rather than the entire lane.
The third important change was to the card Cheating Death, an improvement that allowed your allies to have a 50 percent chance to survive death if an allied green hero was in the lane. Now, the card gives a Death Shield for the round when an allied green hero is in the lane. Cheating Death was by far the most complained about card among the community. The first time players requested a change to Cheating Death was back in the closed alpha, but Artifact decided against changing it then. The card should have been changed a long time ago, and now that it has, we can only hope to not see something like that be printed back into Artifact again.
There were some small changes to some of the worst Artifact heroes that are unlikely to impact constructed much. For the draft format, however, these changes could be massive. Lion, Outworld Devourer, Bloodseeker, and Timbersaw have all had their passives or stats improved and are now likely to move up in the community tier lists.
The last improvement of this patch is to a forgotten item, Jasper Daggers, which has now become one of the best items in Artifact. Jasper Daggers previously had the effect of +2 attack and Piercing. (Piercing allows the equipped hero to ignore the opponent’s armor). Now, however, it reads, “Equipped hero has +2 Attack and Pierce. Equip Effect: Purge your opponent’s effects from equipped hero.” This is something we haven’t seen before now. Purging opponents’ effects such as Silence of Drow Ranger is something Artifact missed before. As an extra bonus, Jasper Daggers have been reduced in price from 7 to 5 gold, making it much more accessible.
Progression is something that Artifact missed at launch. This patch was the first step to introduce progression features into the game, starting with “Skill Rating.” Skill Rating will be used to adjust the strength of your opponents in either the draft or constructed format. As of now, there are no benefits to having a higher skill rating, but this is likely something we will see added in the future.
The second thing added to make players feel like playing more is the introduction of Account Levels. The main way of gaining experience is through the first three wins of the week. This weekly event gives a massive experience bonus. As you gain higher levels you will be rewarded with event tickets and card packs. This is a step towards making the game even more accessible for players who wish to play free-to-play.
For more coverage of Artifact, check out how the Artifact player base has developed since the full launch of the game.
I’m Arend Zijdenbos, from the Netherlands. Gamer for as long as I can remember. My current focus is further improving at esports journalism. Currently, I write for Daily Esports and PCInvasion. For more of me, find me on twitter @Azijdenbos.