Starting Artifact: A Beginner's Guide

Starting the Game


After purchasing the game and familiarizing yourself with the ArtiFAQ, first, you must complete the tutorial. This tutorial also unlocks the two starter decks, Red/Green Brawler and Blue/Black Control, and you play two games with them in that order.

If you’re playing Artifact, you might be familiar with terminology from Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. If you need extra help with the cards, check out our Card Keywords and Card List.Here is a  fantastic reddit thread that explains all of the detailed slang terminology, such as Aggro, Cantrip, Meta Game, etc.

Extra Tips

  • Pay attention to all informational text boxes

  • Always keep the win condition in mind; you need to deal 40 damage in two lanes to the opponent’s tower or 120 damage in one lane.

  • You don’t have to win the tutorial to progress, so don’t feel pressured to play the best. Make plays to help yourself learn about the game.

  • For the first battle, the beginning bit is scripted, but then you’re on your own!

Pick Your Packs

After that, you’re free to open your packs! But before you do, you might want to check out the Keeper Draft mode. By using 5 of the 10 packs from your initial $20 purchase(and 2 Tickets) you can play the draft mode that allows you to pick the cards from the packs you open! Theoretically, this allows you to control the RNG in your cards if you have a certain playstyle or decklist in mind.

There is an opportunity cost here; If you get less than three wins before two losses, there are zero rewards. In this way, the Phantom Draft mode is much easier to profit from, since it costs one Ticket rather than two.

Artifact Board Mechanics

  • Neighbors are an important term used in cards often to refer to adjacent allies or enemies. A card that can target neighbors like Cunning Plan can only target creeps or heroes next to the target, while cards that target enemy neighbors like Timbersaw’s Whirling Death affect up to 3 enemies.

  • Allies always have at least a 50% chance to target the space in front of them. There’s a 25% chance it will target left and right respectively, and if the ally targets a left/right space that is empty it will target the space in front.

  • When placing a creep on the board, you must place them in-between cards before you can place them on the outer edges of your board.

  • As explained in this Reddit thread, when you pass your turn, you go second in the next lane. So when you “finish” a lane and press the button to start combat, your opponent will have the first action.

Learning the Game


Casual to Start

Artifact’s inability to earn cards for free means that after your 10 packs, there’s a chance you won’t be able to craft a deck you’d like to play. However, there are plenty of ways to play without owning cards!

  • Casual Phantom Draft mode is free, you can create a deck every 30 minutes

  • Draft decks aren’t limited the same way constructed decks are; you can play up to all four colors at once and there isn’t a 3 copies-per-card limit

  • You play in a Gauntlet format(up to six matches, you need to win 5 before losing 2)

  • Playing two matches will likely be enough time to start a new draft, so you don’t need to worry about waiting unless you cancel a draft early

  • There are no rewards for winning Casual Phantom Draft

Featured Events & Solo for Testing

Call to Arms has 6 premade decks to battle with: Green/Black, Green, Green/Red, Red, Red/Blue, Blue/Black.In the Call to Arms event, you play other people using the pre-constructed decks and try to get as many wins as possible. Like Casual mode, there are no rewards granted for winning. Try playing at least three of the decks once to know what you’re going up against!

Solo Play is a simple mode to play matches against a bot, but something that's overlooked in this mode is you can choose to play against any deck, no matter your card collection. If you have a deck link in your clipboard like this one, you'll be able to let the AI use it against you!

Social for Fun

Social Play is a way to play with people on your Steam Friends List, and also in Steam Group Chats. The format selections are very robust; you can invite a player to a game or host an open game that anybody can join from your friends' list or group chats. Matches can have special deck restrictions like only commons, and anyone playing can share their deck with their opponent, allowing you to use cards that aren’t in your collection.

Tournament mode is another Social Play feature that allows you to play with friends or in public. There are many features available such as being able to pick draft or constructed, different matchup formats, and open tournaments that anyone with an auto-generated URL can join.

  • Matchmaking is not available

  • Use community tools such as the Steam client, Reddit, and Discord to find friends to play with

  • There aren’t any rewards or entry fees for public tournaments

Expert Play for Glory

Before touching Expert Play, be sure you know what you’re doing. There are actual stakes involved; each game mode is done in the Gauntlet format and costs 1 Ticket, which are sold in 5 packs for $4.99 USD. There are only rewards for getting at least three wins. Expert Constructed and Phantom Draft is a good way to earn free packs(if you’re skilled enough), and Keeper Draft can get you the cards you need to fill out your collection.