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On the finals day of  WePlay Artifact Mighty Triad: Strength Invitational tournament we had the chance to talk to Miguel “Mogwai” Guerrero, one of the event commentators.

A few weeks ago Mogwai, who is a professional Gwent player, now transitioning to Artifact, made it into the grand finals of the Beyond the Summit Preview tournament from November. He is now at his first Artifact casting job, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to discuss the game with him from both perspectives, professional player and caster.

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Hello Mogwai, we reached the finals day here in Kiev, at the WePlay Artifact tournament, and before we talk about the game, I’d like to hear your opinion on how was this event overall.

I am pretty impressed by how WePlay organized the event. I’m not at my first casting experience, I’ve worked with ESL for instance in the past, and I know it’s not easy to keep an event going on point with the schedule, without major broadcast problems and so on. This event went pretty smoothly and the games were fantastic from my perspective. This tournament really highlights how intense and how dynamic Artifact can be.

You’re coming from Gwent, what made you change the game, how did you get hooked on Artifact?

I’m a card game enthusiast and that’s pretty much the only genre I play. I’m kind of an addict if you want to look at it that way. Definitely, what caught my attention at first was the fact that the game was designed by Richard Garfield and of course the game being announced by a company as big as Valve was something extremely exciting. So, I knew about Artifact ever since it was announced, I knew it’s gonna be a thing and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.

I wanted to get a beta access as soon as possible, but unfortunately, I got a key only in early September, so it took me a while to join all these other people in the beta.  But, once I got in, I got absolutely addicted to the game. I kept playing up until 5 in the morning every day, I barely got any sleep and I spent most of my time trying to absorb all the knowledge and improve as much as I could.

You were in the grand finals at the BTS Preview tournament a few weeks ago and we were expecting to see you competing again at this event. Why did you choose to cast it instead?

To be completely honest with you, I’m casting this because Impetuous Panda asked me to. Me and Panda cast together in Gwent, but I was looking to compete in this tournament. However, he recommended me to the WePlay guys and as casting is something I also enjoy doing, I was happy to take this opportunity. Of course, I don’t want the same thing to happen to me as it happened in Gwent, where when I became a caster I was not allowed to compete anymore. So, yeah, I do really want to avoid the same thing to happen to me now because I do have big aspirations for the competitive part.

Mogwai and Panda

Alright, when or where are we going to see you competing again?

I have not signed up for any tournament yet. I was a little bit disconnected, I’m not the greatest at finding these things, but, as soon as I hear about one where I could be a part of, then I’ll surely join. In the meanwhile, I got a lot of training and a lot of practicing to do. I feel like there are a lot of aspects on which I can improve as an Artifact player, so I’m not rushing it. I’ll focus on my streams and on my videos and on improving as a player.

I’d like to talk to you about a few things we saw in this tournament, like for instance, the mono-Black deck of Vladislav “SilverName” Sinotov.

It certainly was something interesting, but I wouldn’t label it as a truly optimized mono-Black. It had some questionable cards such as Assassin’s Shadow among others. Apotheosis Blade, for example, it’s not item level of the likes of Horn of the Alpha or Vesture of the Tyrant when it comes to high-end items that cost a lot of gold, so it was a weird deck. It was a weird deck to analyze, it was a weird deck to cast, but it was a clear indicator that SilverName, unlike many other competitors, built a deck from scratch himself. He planned it completely himself, he didn’t copy it or got inspired by anything, he just designed that list, which is cool.

Let’s talk Cheating Death because I feel like it’s the card that everyone is a bit unhappy with it.

I don’t think that Cheating Death is OP, I think the card is rather toxic towards the gameplay. I can see the idea behind it and I know that it’s not that as game-deciding as many people tend to believe right now, but it adds a lot of unnecessary randomnesses that doesn’t even feel good from a gameplay perspective. And I feel like it does hinder the competitive quality of the game.

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and I think he made a valid point by saying that one of the main problems with this card is that the randomness occurs after you interact with it, as where all other RNG aspects in Artifact happen before you get to act.

I couldn’t agree more and I saw so many comments on the Artifact RNG. So far there’s been a lot of criticism on the game RNG, and I find all these comments unfounded. I think they come from people who don’t really know what they are talking about by any means.

Saying that Artifact is an RNG fest is very, very wrong. Very few Artifact games are ultimately decided by RNG. One of the nature of card games is adapting to chaos. We have card draw, we have attack direction, but all this information it’s given to us earlier, we see it and then we react to it. Cheating Death breaks this rule. With this card, the RNG happens when you try to interact with it which is why I am vehemently against this card. I personally despise it. I think it does not belong in the game and In my opinion, it’s the only card that really is out of place. But, I know Valve is going to be very conservative when it comes down to changes on anything and I don’t think there’s anything else major that has to be addressed.

In regards to heroes, some colors are more balanced than others and an example for it is the Black color which I think is extremely well balanced. The number one hero that’s being played right now and it’s considered a staple for most Black decks is Phantom Assassin, which also happens to be a common card, so it’s very easy to access by everyone. In regards to a second or third hero from the Black color, you have a tremendous variety available. You have Sniper, Lich, Bounty Hunter, Sorla Khan, you have Tinker, so there are many options and they all provide strengths and weaknesses.

A color that is not so well balanced in my opinion, is Red. We’ve seen throughout this tournament the prevalence of Axe and Legion as the duo hero to go for. The argument behind why this is a core set is very strong and the concerns that this looks like a very rigid meta is because of the fact that the card pool is rather small right now. This will obviously change with the upcoming expansions. I’ve seen in other card games in the past an attitude of overnerfing cards and that can be extremely damaging towards the game. You strip away mechanics and you take a little bit way of the essence from it so, I’m not an advocate of nerfing cards, I’m more of an advocate of buffing other cards to kind of equalize the power levels.

Another card that I think it could be problematic for the upcoming game design is Incarnation of Selemene from Blue. It’s not that this card is overpowered as of now, but it concerns me of how limiting it can be designing future Blue cards because you always have to take that card into consideration. So, yeah, I would say that Incarnation of Selemene is another card that is worth to be looked at as well. But, overall, I’d say that we just have to be patient, give the meta a few months and wait for expansions because I feel like expansions will really change things up.

Alright, I know you have a few things to do in preparation for the finals broadcast today, so I won’t take too much of your time. At the end of our interview, I have one last question, who do you think will win the tournament?

I think it will be Frederik “Hoej” Nielsen, even though he is going to be facing a mirror match against his training partner Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert. I might be wrong, but I do believe that Hoej’s deck is the most powerful and the most effective. I’ve also been impressed by Hoej’s play. I’ve seen very few misplays from him, I think he has an amazing ability to read his opponents in regards to the deployment phase, and I expect great things from him. And even if he doesn’t win this tournament, I do think he has a very bright and promising future in competitive Artifact.

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More interviews from WePlay Artifact Mighty Triad: Strength Invitational

– Swim: “You rarely feel that’s out of your control although it’s a lot of RNG”
– Hyped: “It feels like every game you lost, you could’ve won with a different line of play.”
– Naiman: “Draft is so awesome. I think right now the power balance is way better there.”
– Hoej: “My main focus will always be Hearthstone.”

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