Valve’s Artifact: A Guide to the Dota 2 Card Game

Our Artifact guide contains everything you need to know about Valve’s new project, the Dota 2 card game. This includes release date, as well as all the other confirmed details, plus rumours, speculations, and more. 

Valve first officially announced Artifacta card game based on Dota 2, to the rest of the world back in The International 2018 last August. But, from then until the March 2018 press event, there were very few details about Valve’s foray into the card game genre.

Luckily, just a few weeks ahead of The International 2018, Valve has finally decided to shed more light on Artifact. This includes need-to-know details about the game, including price, when it will be first made available, and more.

Below, we’ve got a complete overview of the Dota 2 card game, from background to gameplay mechanics, release date, business model, and more.

Expect this guide to receive regular updates as the launch date draws sooner, after which we will start working on our own guides for Artifact. 

Artifact Guide: Gameplay


Similar to Dota 2, the core gameplay of Artifact will revolve around the three boards, namely top, mid, and bottom. (Valve)

Artifact will feature as many as 44 heroes at launch with as many as 280 core cards where players will manage as many as three boards, similar to the three lanes of combat in Dota 2.

Each board contains a tower with 40 health points. Taking one tower down reveals the opposing player’s Ancient, which has 80 health points. Destroying that ancient nets a win. Players can also win the game by destroying a total of two towers.

Players can fit up to five heroes to use per deck, where the first three will be split across all three boards. Minor units known as “creeps” will accompany each hero in the board. A pair of extra creeps will spawn randomly in any one of the three lanes after each round of play.

Each round rotates between the three lanes, starting from the top, then mid, and finally, bottom and so on. While the boards are independent of each other, there are certain heroes that whose abilities can influence other boards.

Each board has a Mana resource pool, with three points at the beginning of the game. Each player then receives one point per turn throughout play. It is also possible to use certain cards to speed up Mana pool gain.

Combat in Artifact is largely automated. Although this adds a random element to the game, Valve has reiterated many times that they have tried to limit the RNG elements in the game.

Players will also be able to play as many minions as they can in any of the three boards and they can scroll left and right to view any obscured information.

Artifact Guide: Heroes


While Artifact will have a few unique heroes that will eventually be added to Dota 2, the majority of its heroes at launch will be staples in Dota 2, including Axe. (Steam)

As already mentioned earlier, players will have access to 280 core cards and 44 heroes at launch in Artifact.

Here is a quick overview of the different types of hero, otherwise known as “suits”:

  • Black — Heroes whose abilities revolve around affecting other boards.
  • Blue — Mage-like heroes and spellcasters who become more powerful as the game progresses.
  • Green — Support heroes whose abilities revolve around helping other combat characters recover or empowering them to be more effective in combat.
  • Red — Heroes designed to fight enemies head-on.

When you first start out constructing your day, you can choose heroes and cards from two suits, and you can have as many as five heroes in every deck.

Much like in Dota 2, hero death in Artifact is not permanent. Heroes return after one turn, after which you can re-deploy them in any of the boards. However, green heroes have a special ability to return faster, allowing you to put them back into play without having to skip a turn. This ability should come in handy.

Artifact also has a so-called “land” system which prohibits heroes from casting their own spells unless you have a specific hero in place. Of course, as is with card games, there is a way to circumvent this mechanic. There are cards that can affect the other game boards that allow players to cast spells even if the corresponding hero is not in place.

Hero’s and Item Slots

Like in Dota 2, the heroes in Artifact will have their own item slots. They’ll have three in total, one for weapons, another for armour, and last for accessories, like health boots, and so on. Also, don’t be afraid to buy items for your heroes. They won’t drop or lose them. Even if they die, they will retain all of their equipment once they return and you redeploy them in the board.

Players can buy new items for their heroes after every turn of play. A purchasing window will pop up after every bottom lane turn, during which time players can purchase whatever they want and can afford. Destroying creeps and killing heroes will net you currency that you can use to buy more powerful items. Also, just like with the Mana pool, certain cards will increase the rate at which you gather Gold.

Artifact Guide: Decks

Based on details recently divulged, we now know the following things about building a deck in the Dota 2 card game.

This includes things like:

— Players can also have 40 cards max per deck.
— Each deck can only have 5 heroes max.
— Each player can only have three copies of a single card per deck. It has not been confirmed if this includes hero cards, although it’s probably safe to assume that duplicate hero cards are not allowed.

Is Artifact Going to be Free-to-Play?


Artifact will see for $20 once launched in November 2018, with players receiving 2 pre-constructed decks and 10 sealed card packs per purchase. (Wykrhm Reddy)

Unlike Dota 2, Valve’s venture into the card-game genre based on their premier MOBA game will not follow the same business model. Instead, players will have to buy the game, and spend more to buy card packs to flesh out their decks.

As of August 1, 2018, Valve has announced that Artifact will sell for $20 at launch. Upon purchase, each player will receive two pre-constructed decks which contain five heroes, nine item cards, and 40 other cards each, for a total of 54 cards per deck.

Additionally, players will also receive 10 sealed card packs upon purchase, with at least one card guaranteed to be of Rare quality. Each card pack consists of 12 random cards and will cost $2 each to purchase.

Players will also be able to purchase and sell individual cards directly from the Steam marketplace.

It’s safe to assume that Valve is keen on emphasizing the word “trading” in the trading card game genre of Artifact instead of merely using it as a placeholder.

How Will Competitive Tournaments in Artifact Work?


Seeing that the first tournament will be handled by Valve, we can expect to see an annual tournament for Artifact in the same mould as The International. (Valve)

Seeing that it is based on Dota 2, we can expect Valve to implement the same Compendium or Battle Pass system in Artifact where a portion of the revenue generated from the in-game feature will be added directly into the prize pool, or probably even the entire scene as a whole. However, it is entirely possible that Valve will funnel the money directly from each pack purchase instead.

Either way, what we do know is that Valve intends to learn from tournaments in their other games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to build the competitive scene of Artifact.

Valve has also unveiled that they will be responsible for the first official tournament for Artifact, which will have a prize pool of $1 million USD. Additionally, Valve promised automated tournaments for all skill levels along with several professional-level tournaments.

Similar to Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, spectators will be able to see live stats, flip through each player’s decks, and so on.

When Will Artifact Be Made Available?


Players will be able to purchase and play Artifact on November 28, 2018. (Wykrhm Reddy)

Thanks inadvertently to the Dota 2 caster, Treephob ‘Xyclopz‘ Tiangtrong, we now know that Artifact has been in closed beta for quite a while, with many Dota 2 personalities having already had hands-on experience with the game, along with other professional players.

As for a public beta, Valve has yet to confirm or deny that it will happen. But, since we already have a release date — and that it’s sooner than expected — we probably won’t see that anymore.

Yes, you read that right, Artifact has officially received a final release date.

According to Valve, Artifact will release on PC / Mac / Linux on November 28, 2018, with the information having already been added to the game’s Steam page since the announcement.

Valve will also unveil Artifact to the public for the first time at PAX West 2018 between August 31 to September 3 in Seattle, Washington, where attendees will have a chance to play a playable version of the game and even receive a free copy of the game.

Is Artifact Merely a Dota 2 Card Game?

Yes, and no.

Technically, it isn’t. According to Valve, Artifact “isn’t a Dota 2 card game” and that it just so happens to “use the Dota 2 word because it happens to be the most useful”. Even so, however, Artifact takes heavy inspirations from Valve’s premier multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, as both games apparently share the same lore and that many of the unique heroes added to Artifact will eventually find their way to Dota 2. 

Final Thoughts

Having already referred to Artifact as the “best card game we (Valve) can build” and with Richard Garfield — the same guy behind Magic the Gathering — as its lead developer, we can expect great things to come from the game.

Just as Dota 2 has risen to the top of the MOBA genre, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise if Artifact ends up beating already-established rivals like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering.

Having said that, you can expect us to keep you updated with all of the latest happenings in Artifact, especially once the game finally released.

What do you think of Artifact? Do you think Valve’s latest baby has what it takes to take the lead in the trading card game genre? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on your favourite Esports titles.