On Monday, Valve outlined in a massive blog post how some mechanics in Artifact will change with the release of the revamped version. This includes initiative and mana, combat direction, card acquisition and more.
Initiative in Artifact 2.0
How did it work before: In original Artifact, lanes were played in succession, from leftmost to rightmost. In each lane, the player holding the initiative token got to act first and the flipping of initiative went from lane to lane. Unless any card that take initiative are played, Player A would act first in left lane, Player B in mid lane, Player A again in right lane, Player B in left lane on the new turn, and so on.
How will it work now: In Artifact 2.0, individual lanes are no longer their own rounds, but are shared. This means that initiative is flipped between turns, and not lanes. Player A acts first on Turn 1, Player B acts first on Turn 2, Player A acts first on Turn 3, and so on (barring no “take initiative” cards being played, of course).
This makes the system more similar to Riot’s Legends of Runeterra, with the added option to seize initiative. It should also make planning initiative easier for newer players (beforehand, Artifact would require you to think several turns ahead just to track initiative in key lanes), while also keeping the mechanic in the game.
Mana in Artifact 2.0
How it worked before: Each lane had its own individual mana pool, starting at 3.
How will it work now: There is now a single mana pool, starting at 3. Furthermore, mana costs are lower for early and mid-game cards, but late-game bombs and win conditions have remained expensive.
Additionally, “each action costs at least 1 mana”, Valve say, including passing initiative over to your opponent. “You can no longer delay turns for free” while waiting for your opponent to go first — this game of chicken now costs resources.
Card acquisition in Artifact 2.0
How it worked before: You basically paid for everything, be that packs or individual cards.
Hot will it work now: Players will unlock cards by playing the game and no cards or card packs will be sold on the marketplace. This will remove the “pay to win” (or “pay to get the best deck immediately”) mechanic and will make the experience more similar to how Legends of Runeterra was in the beginning, where you could only buy a few cards each week, and the rest had to be unlocked by playing the game and leveling up your weekly vault.
To not completely freeze the competitive scene, however, Valve promise custom tournaments with whatever card restrictions organizers want to impose, including having the full set unlocked for players who want to get the true competitive experience.
What do we say about these changes?
To be frank, these are all steps in the right direction. Simplifying initiative might disagree with the hardcore audience, but hardcore audiences are not what makes a game popular and successful. Valve are trying to find a middle ground for their most complex mechanic and it might just work.
As for card acquisition, we’ll have to see how fast players unlock cards. If the progression is too slow with no way of acquiring cards through purchases, this might irritate players who want to build a certain deck but have to wait until the right cards drop.