Win Twice To Win Once

Win Twice To Win Once

The three lanes of Artifact add layers of complexity that several hours to grow accustomed to. In draft, new players tend to gravitate towards “solutions” that require fewer decisions, or less resources to commit. These single-track win conditions run the risk of being too transparent, and force opponents into counter-play that could end up becoming more impactful, or game-ending. Depending on your opponent’s deck, there’s the very real risk of losing a game by committing your most substantial resources, including your hero presence, to a single win condition.

Within the first two turns, a player will see three lanes; the easy lane, the lost lane, and the contested lane. An Easy or lost lane can be “established” either by a simple combat arrow favoring one player, or playing an indomitable Red hero like Bristleback or Axe. A Treant Protector with Defend the Weak can make fortunately-positioned Roseleaf Druids difficult to kill, threatening power turns that will dominate the lane in the mid-game. Or a Black deck will have played Pay Day on the third lane after killing two heroes, and committing a Shield of Aquila to make neighboring creeps and heroes take little to no damage. Both you and your opponent are capable of swinging lanes in this way, and perform the same mental arithmetic in the deployment phase to calculate the odds of winning from these three lanes of Artifact. Why commit to three lanes, when two is all it takes?

It’s fairly evident what lanes we’re winning, losing, and contesting in this screenshot.

We will often fall into the habit of committing resources only to the lanes where we guarantee the tower’s destruction in the easy lane, look to fight in the No Man’s Land that is the contested lane in the later stages of the game, and find yourself dependent on a Town Portal Scroll or Blink Dagger making a much needed appearance. There are times we won’t have a choice, Spreading resources across three lanes can be difficult for decks that aren’t playing much draw (one of the reasons why Unearthing Secrets is so powerful, “rewarding” you with card draw when opponent’s hit the tower that improvement is established on). Easy and lost lanes grow with creeps as players are no longer fighting for those lanes, allowing melee creeps to populate these lanes, and damage to grow, threatening each other’s Ancients.

This game state can reward decks with Black heroes, thanks to cards like The Oath, Disciple of Nevermore, or Sorla Khan’s Assault Ladders, all of which would stack greater damage on these wider boards of lanes already won. A deck with Green heroes may drop a Thunderhide Pack on a lane they’re already winning to threaten the Ancient, promising 20 damage if uncontested. Receiving the damage equivalent of a Bolt of Damocles every turn is substantial, making this a worthwhile strategy. Emissary of the Quorum and Lycan’s Savage Wolf can also apply serious pressure with exponential damage. Red heroes can drop Ogre Conscripts, Bronze Legionnaires drawn in the later game, or the multiplying Red Mist Pillager to threaten the Ancient. Blue is one of the few colors that doesn’t have a reliable means of piling on this unit-oriented pressure in limited, which is one of the reasons why Blue will regularly find itself supporting more proactive colors. Kanna’s Prey on the Weak and a lucky multicast of Lightning Strike with Ogre Magi on the field are a couple of rarer, but possible means for Blue to apply similar game ending pressure.

Depending on what cards you or your opponent have, it may actually be in your best interest to follow this strategic template, and hope that your opponent didn’t draft any significant counter play. Blue is regularly equipped with such spells, using board clears such as At All Costs, Annihilation, Friendly Fire, and Thunderstorm to reset lanes they may have otherwise had no business winning. Divine Intervention can secure a lane in a key turn, and swing the whole game on a contested lane in a player’s favor. Phantom Assassin’s Coup de Grace can outright remove beefy heroes or key creep, and Black also has Gank and Sniper’s Assassinate to control the board across lanes.

Black and Green colors can be rewarded for this flow of the game in the later stages more easily, which is one of the reasons why we see these colors drafted more regularly in draft. It can take some experience before realizing that lanes you’ve lost a tower on could also be a tower opportunity if your opponent is pushing for an Ancient and a contested lane. The state of your board, hand, and available items can create opportunities to secure towers we may otherwise have no business taking down. Some of the most valuable cards in the game can create the means of doing so. Have an Annihilation in hand? Clear a lane, then deploy two heroes there the next turn. Found a Helm of the Dominator? Steal an opponent’s Thunderhide Pack or Incarnation of Selemene and push back on a lane. Spring the Trap on a lane that an opponent preemptively abandons, or who’s creep and heroes are weak enough to be taken down with four damage. Even lower tier cards with lower tier heroes can make it even harder for an opponent to close out a game on a contested lane, giving you time to deploy heroes to retake control.

The game state in the screenshot above is one example where we had the option to win twice instead of winning once. Our opponent deploys three heroes. Our sole Red hero can be deployed in the center lane to close the game, but could also be deployed in the left lane to remove the Debi and Farhvhan, or at the very least the Selfish Cleric and Farhvhan with Primal Roar, which was guaranteed with initiative. This would open up considerable damage on a lane we already lost, while the health on both our remaining towers were high enough to warrant the risk. In fact, the right lane was so low, that even though we were locked out of playing spells (thanks to The Oath), our opponent was more than likely deploying every remaining hero at his disposal to the center lane, not risking any one point of damage that would have won the right tower.

Our opponent opted to deploy all three to the center lane, but our Red hero was deployed in the center lane as well, falling into the trap of following the simpler formula to victory; hope he has enough heroes deployed in front of the Beastmaster in order to secure the game. We were more likely in a position to develop a considerable push on the left lane, while winning either the center or right lanes, forcing our opponent into a position where they were at risk of losing all three towers within the next two turns. The luxury of drafting two Lycans provided us this option, thanks to the mounting pressure of the Savage Wolves.

These are the kinds of strategic reads we encourage our readers to practice as they develop their drafting skills in preparation for the next wave of tournaments. If there is the option to force our opponent to respect two win conditions on two separate lanes, this will divide their resources and make controlling relevant lanes easier. Explore ways of doing so, from drafting the right cards to deploying in the right lanes. Artifact is a game that rewards patient, intentional plays. Opening yourself to the possibility of preparing two win conditions with the right hand of cards can expand your strategic understanding of the game, go farther in your runs, and farm more packs for your collection.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Four Decks From The Brawliseum

Four Decks From The Brawliseum

Our favorite Tavern Brawl went live the day after Rastakhan’s Rumble was released! This gave many players the opportunity to take their latest deck innovations and new tech to reap the greatest in-game rewards Hearthstone has to offer. Most pro players resorted to old favorites to earn the elusive 12-win run, while others took to revamped archetypes that took many by surprise, reaping the rewards for their ingenuity. In our first Hearthstone article of the new meta, we want to give our readers the opportunity to take some of these Brawliseum decks to the ladder while Rastakhan is still young.

Secret Hunter

Secret Hunter continues to depend on the Emerald Spellstone and a range of traps to develop a wide, game-ending board presence of Wolves by turn 5. However, it also received a huge swing card in the form of Zul’jin. Nothing else is different about the deck, yet the prospect of a second wave of Wolves and replaying as many traps as you have room for, was enticing enough for Meati to include it in his 12-2 deck in the Brawliseum. Flare also made an appearance in the deck, recognizing the power and popularity of trap-oriented Hunter archetypes. This success did not go unnoticed, as other community members found similar results using the list, and eventually led to many players using either Secret or Spell Hunter to capitalize on both the huge swing of Zul’jin, and the inevitability of Deathstalker Rexxar.

Control Warlock

Also going 12-2 was Zalae‘s Control Warlock variant using Doomguards. It has many similarities with the Cubelock archetype except for the addition of two Rastakhan cards. The deck appears to have dropped Carniverous Cubes and Dark Pacts in exchange for Shriek (a 1-mana, 2-damage AOE at the cost of discarding your cheapest card) and Soulwarden (a minion that recovers three-random discarded cards). Warlock traditionally doesn’t lack in removal, but the flexibility of Shriek makes the Odd Paladin match up more bearable in games where Defiles are hard to find. The ability to develop a board while casting such cheap removal has brought slower Warlock archetypes to new heights. Soulwarden also makes playing Doomguards from hand less punishing, and even presents the opportunity of getting multiple copies of discarded cards. If two Soulwardens are cast, a discarded Bloodreaver Gul’dan can become two waves of demons.

Togwaggle Hakkar Druid

Our first 12-0 deck by hi3_hs is Togwaggle Druid with the addition of Hakkar, the Soulflayer. For several months, Malygos Druid reigned over the Boomsday meta while occasionally including Togwaggle to contest pure control decks such as Odd Warrior. This didn’t stop players from also relying on Togwaggle Druid as it’s own archetype to climb the ladder. In fact, standard decks had a hard time beating the combination of King Togwaggle and Azalina Soulthief, aside from the rare Warlock playing Demonic Project. The addition of Hakkar adds another element of pressure to Togwaggle Druid, forcing an opponent on fatigue to take even more damage to close out games.

Once you’ve stolen your opponent’s deck, a Naturalize on your own Hakkar would add a Corrupted Blood to both your decks. Then your opponent would be forced to draw twice. The combination of damage and the multiplying effect of Corrupted Blood, along with fatigue damage, would force your opponent to take a lot of damage by the time they’ve drawn their next card. The Druid package remains incredibly strong, and Hakkar has now added more sudden pressure that Togwaggle Druid was lacking in the Boomsday meta. However, this does not change the fact that Druid struggles against tall, wide boards, so it’s not indomitable. Players can still evidently take advantage of the shifting meta landscape to make convincing climbs in the early December ladder season.

Kingsbane Rogue

The final deck we’re featuring the Brawliseum is Handerman‘s take on Kingsbane Rogue, which achieved a 12-2 run. Two notable additions from the Rastakhan set are Walk the Plank and Raiding Party. The former is a 4-mana removal spell that destroys any minion that’s undamaged, that has apparently replaced Vilespine Slayer in this list. The latter is a powerful addition to the archetype, which draws two pirates from your deck, as well as a weapon if the spell is combo’ed. That makes two Cavern Shinyfinders and two Raiding Parties, as well as the mulligan, to help you find Kingsbane and begin assembling a massive, life-stealing weapon that will end games.

Despite the substantial additions Rastakhan cards have made to the above archetypes, there remain Boomsday archetypes that have achieved successful 12-win runs in the Brawliseum without featuring a single Rastakhan cards. Malygos Druid shouldn’t be a surprise to most standard veterans as a strong performer, but Mecha’thun Warrior balances a strong range of survivability and cycling to achieve their Boomship, Mecha’thun and Shield Slam combo.

Any of these decks seem like strong candidates to carry players to the highest ranks of ladder, standing out as tools tailored against the majority of standard archetypes. We look forward to seeing how much further Hearthstone’s competitive ladder experience grows, especially in light of recent announcements regarding the competitive season. This extended downtime is a perfect opportunity for players to make their first legend, and for legend grinders to find their first #1 Legend.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Three Lessons in Artifact

Three Lessons in Artifact

Artifact’s complexity is as much a draw to the most ambitious card gamers as it is a challenge. The learning curve is steep, and can take up to 50 hours to get a feel for how the game plays out at a base technical level. As we mentioned in one of our earliest articles, Artifact rewards the patient player who’s able to recognize and respond to their own mistakes, but we want to take a moment to point out some of the more common errors you can begin overcoming now so you can proceed with your Artifact education. We’ve selected three of the first ones that, if you’re still finding trouble getting your first 5-win Gauntlet run, will be good places to start.

Or a 4-win draft. Progress is progress.

Keep in mind that these mechanics were learned specifically from Artifact’s limited format. Constructed is relatively young, and only gaining traction now as we’re wrapping up the group stages of WePlay’s $10k constructed tournament. We’ll look forward to bringing you a tournament breakdown to show you the latest and greatest in these first days of the game’s constructed meta. For now, let’s jump right in to some mistakes you can avoid making to get those 5-win Gauntlet runs faster.

Evaluating Signature Cards

In a format where it’s typical to only have one or two copies of any one card, Signature Cards are especially impactful in a draft run. So much so, that you can normally gauge the strength of a draft based on the heroes a player has. These can either be incredible cards with lane clearing/developing abilities, or have weaker, less proactive abilities that will find niche use at best. Two significant examples on both ends of the spectrum are Lycan and Lion. While one gives you three copies of a creep that’s great in the early-game and scales in value into the late-game (Savage Wolf), the other gives you a two-mana spell that, at best, can prevent a big card on a critical turn (like a six-mana Coup de Grace from killing a hero) when you have initiative (Mana Drain).

Eclipse clearing a lane. Definitely one of the better Signature Cards in Artifact, if Luna can stay on a lane long enough.

Depending on how weak a Signature Card is, it will wind up just being dead in your hand. Mana is a precious resource in Artifact, where investing it wisely can make or break a game in a single turn. This will make cards like Viscous Nasal Goo remain in your hand to the latest stages of the game, as we can see in TidesofTime’s hand from a stream this evening. While it’s perfectly reasonable to draft two Bristlebacks when given the opportunity, a player should rarely have the opportunity to cast Nasal Goos regularly, if they drafted a good enough deck that respected the early-game push for control of the lanes.

TidesofTime, with two Bristlebacks in his limited deck, sits with 3 Signature Cards in his late game.

Lastly, the strength of Signature cards will have a fairly strong impact on their heroes frequenting the lineups of 5-0 Gauntlet runs in limited. We take the worst of these, Outworld Devourer, as a prime example of a weak hero. Astral Imprisonment stuns a hero, but in exchange, makes them immune. For 4-mana, this play either puts no damage on your opponent’s hero, or prevents you from playing cards, if this were to be used defensively. Artifact rewards proactive strategies, and Astral Imprisonment is the least of these.

Beware of being forced to draft heroes in the end of your pack.

The Role of Creep

Artifact stands apart from other card games for its automated combat system. It will take more time adjusting to the game for Hearthstone or Magic: the Gathering players, where either the attacker or the defender have the advantage in the combat phases

Some elements are similar. Vhoul Martyr is one multi-functional example; Use it as a blocker that provides an effect when it dies, and when it does, buff all your allies by +1 attack and +1 health. You don’t mind it dying because of these beneficial effects, and these buffs are permanent, making it especially effective on multi-hero lanes.

Three times the fun. 

Bronze Legionnaire can pile on the damage as a resilient, cheap creep, or be placed in front of a Melee Creep for a free trade. It can also curve on an empty combat position to finish eliminating an enemy hero, if rolling for that 25% chance for the right combat arrow is viable. Finally, having a cheap creep that is immune to Debbi’s No Accident (a common Black hero in limited) is fairly substantial.

Creeps have two principle roles; dealing damage, and removing other creep. If you’re playing against someone with Lycan in their hero lineup, you have the option to play Bronze Legionnaire in response to a Savage Wolf, especially when playing a deck that lacks in other means of removal. If you have initiative while playing a Black deck, dropping a four-mana Tyler Estate Censor can prevent a Savage Wolf from dropping on a lane with a Green hero for one more turn.

Creeps don’t always have to be used with finesse. They’re capable of just ending games, and that’s often more than enough.

So be flexible with how you use creeps. Rebel Decoy is among the best of these for Green decks, with the ability to switch positions with any unit, either removing a hero out of harms way, or lining up your hero to remove another. And Oglodi Vandal has strong stats and the ability to end games outright in the later stages of the game. In short, if they have a use in the early and the later stages of a game, those creeps will be among your strongest selections in a draft.

 

Respect Initiative

Ready to start the turn with Hip Fire.

Initiative is a powerful force in Artifact. While having far greater impact in the later stages of a game, using initiative can allow you to better control key lanes that will dictate the game. Cards that grant initiative are especially valuable, which is why Hip Fire makes a regular appearance among the higher end of tier lists; 4-damage to a unit, and either add a 3-damage No Accident to clean up a hero, or pass after a Hip Fire to have the first move in the next lane.

If you have a strong enough lead on the first lane that no longer requires further investment (for that turn), and your second lane is in jeopardy, you can pass the turn. Your opponent can either pass in exchange or play cards. Either way, as long as you’re offered the opportunity to go first, and decide not to play anything, you’ll have the ability to make the first move on the next lane, and Coup de Grace a green hero so your board doesn’t get silenced by Gust. Or cast a critical Annihilation that will clear the board, and provide your two heroes in the fountain an opening to push for control on that lane in the next round.

Smart players will anticipate these pushes from an opponent and look to make power moves against an opponent looking to retain their initiative. Force them to play a card and give up initiative. Cast a big creep (Thunderhide Pack), push a lot of damage that will require a blocker (Disciple of Nevermore), anything that will force an opponent to play a card, and you may be able to block that Gust or Annihilation by eliminating their hero.

Don’t just use initiative. Respect the possibility of your opponent making the most of initiative as well. We hope our introduction to these three key elements of the Artifact limited experience will help you in future drafts!

 


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

The Art of the Reversal

The Art of the Reversal

Few things stand out more to the gamer’s imagination than a successful reversal. Whether it’s deployment RNG, or combat directions being set against you, Artifact provides amble opportunity for a player to piece together the means of swinging a losing position into a sudden victory.

This was one such losing position I found myself in. After I made it clear that fighting both Drow and Bristleback in a lane was not in my best interest, my opponent sought to take advantage of that, piling on more of a board to threaten a kill on my Ancient! With my weaker heroes in the second and third lane, I wasn’t providing much of a threat to counter this sudden gambit.

So this was a two turn clock that I was going to need to beat. I lacked the pressure to do so via damage. Fortunately, I had Annihilation, one of the most devastating AOE spells in Artifact, and one of few S-tier cards in the limited format. Unfortunately, no enemy creep deployed in the third lane to kill my 1-health Luna. This would have provided me the opportunity to prepare an Annihilation in two turns to destroy everything on the first lane, before my opponent would have taken down my Ancient. So I didn’t have Annihilation available. This was very much a losing position. I had to take a while to consider what options I had.

I won’t pretend the Bracers of Sacrifice was an intentional, next-level investment from the previous Shopping Phase. At the time it was purchased, I saw +2 armor. What this made possible though, was the ability to condemn my own Magi, and prepare the Annihilation two turns later.

I was excited. I was more than likely going to have initiative on the next lane-one turn. Not only was this Annihilation ready to go, but my opponent committed a FOURTH hero to the first lane! I was already imagining it — the gold potential! The tempo swing! The prospect of four of my opponent’s heroes being stuck in the Fountain while I applied the last points of damage the turn after this board clear, with big weapons and a dominant board! I was giddy. Bracers of Sacrifice, an item rated in the Limited Tier List as worse than Short Sword, was going to win me a game of Artifact, and keep my 3-1 expert phantom draft run alive.

On the final lane before the turn ended, my opponent casted an improvement across the board, setting it in lane one. I read the following words;

“Whenever any unit enters this lane, stun it this round.”

I was devastated. One of the best cards in Artifact’s limited format, Annihilation, was countered by a D-tier card. A card that, according to Hyped’s tier-list, should not be put in a deck if at all possible. However, this was one of the best lessons learned from my drafting this evening; each of the cards we bring with us from draft have the ability to swing games. Some have more niche applications than others, but even ignoring the six-damage Bracers of Sacrifice applies to enemy neighbors when the equipped hero is condemned, it still proved to be a useful mechanic that gave me an out that would otherwise have not been possible.

This was one of the funner games of Artifact I’ve played since the beta began last week. And the game releases in less than two days! I’m eager to dive deeper into the game and show you, the reader, what’s in store.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Top Cards and Lessons from One Draft

Top Cards and Lessons from One Draft

For players who aren’t finding immediate success in Artifact drafting, or are looking for a preeminent assortment of useful drafting advice, we’ve compiled some miscellaneous tips that can be learned from a single drafting session by a pro player. In this case, we watched the drafting phase of Hyped, who has more play time than most two pro players combined. Rather than an article covering one element, we’re covering several as a handy article of brief guiding points to help you on drafting your first decks in Artifact.

  • Picking heroes for the signature card.

What makes Lycan one of the strongest heroes in limited is the addition of three Savage Wolves to your deck. It’s one of the best early game creeps in the game, with the ability to keep creeps for free, and can scale in power to threaten destroying an Ancient on a lane who’s Tower is already gone. This is one of the reason’s why Lycan will be an instant pick for most draft players.

Some heroes are strong enough to be picked despite weaker signature cards (like most Red heroes) and the opposite can also be true. This is often the case for Blue heroes who have weaker stats, but powerful Signature Cards (like Luna).

  • Furled Mantle for fragile heroes.

For Blue-oriented decks, these high-health items can be useful to preserve a lane where casting Blue cards is significant. The current standard of three Traveller’s Cloaks makes it difficult to argue the selection of expensive, high-health items over more proactive cards, but this will ultimately come down to the strategy of your deck.

  • Don’t pick heroes first.

Even if there’s the risk that they are worse on average, the opportunity cost of other picks in the pack will most of the time have greater value than the remaining heroes. We have to remember that the drafting AI is based on an algorithm with the input of players drafting in the alpha for several months. With this in mind, the later selections may have better heroes since people are more likely to commit early on average, leaving up stronger heroes as a reward. Some cards, like Lycan if we’re committed to draft Green in the later stages, can be a rare exception.

  • Creeps come first.

Often times a player will have the option to select Payday over Oglodi Vandal (a 4/4 Black creep that deals 4 damage), where the implied gold value makes winning off of big items a semi-reliable strategy. But Oglodi Vandal, and most creeps, are more proactive additions to the deck. Creeps are generally rated high on the current pool of tier-lists, so it’s good to have as many as possible. Spells have diminishing returns, even if they’re diverse, though Payday has the opportunity to come up in later packs, once enough synergies have been developed.

  • Expensive items as win conditions.

Committing to expensive items like Helm of the Dominator will mean picking more basics, so that people will be able to find it faster without having to go through other mid-priced items. This provides players the opportunity to find items like Helm of the Dominator more reliably. This can impact your ability to choose items in later packs. Something like Stonewall Pike, which isn’t the strongest item in the game, will be more preferable to Claymore, and it’s substantial attack buff, strictly because it’s a cheaper item, and making Helm of the Dominator more accessible.

  • Thoughts on Slay.

The 3-mana Black spell will always be a one for one, but can be good for addressing large threats like Thunderhide Alpha. This can leave players in the awkward position of having a Slay or two in their opening hand, without significant targets so early in the game. Without a mulligan, reactive cards like Slay can be difficult to use in the first half of the game. Be weary of picking Slay with a single Black hero. Because deck lists are public in Artifact’s limited format, an opponent may not commit large creeps to a lane with your Black hero, where Slay could then be cast.

  • The Art of Ganking.

Gank is a Black spell that allows you to select a Black hero and another unit in any lane (any unit). They then battle each other. While its cross-lane functionality is powerful, it’s difficult to splash with a Black hero that is on the weaker side. Lich, for instance, despite being insanely good, isn’t that great at ganking because of its low stats, and would require item buffs to have it survive necessary fights. This can also leave players the decision to draft Debbi as a second Black hero to make Gank work.

  • Offensive vs. defensive creeps.

Tyler Estate Censor or a Disciple of Nevermore? Where one is a stocky creep with a high health total that disrupts the opposing tower’s mana capacity by one, Disciple of Nevermore has the capacity of converting a wide board of fairly threatening creeps into a two-turn tower kill. Proactivity is valued in Artifact, but so is a cohesive strategy. In this draft-building example, Black cards were drafted on the basis that Lich and Chain Lightening were powerful additions to the deck. So this deck would need whatever help it can get to reach the later stages where 7-mana is most relevant, leaving Tyler Estate Censor a more optimal choice.

  • Committing to a color.

By the third pack, players can find it difficult to transition from the pick-every-powerful-card early stages to drafting towards color preferences. Finding powerful cards from earlier packs between three different colors can force players to consider splashing a third color. For instance, will initiative-granting cards from Red or Black make Green more effective? This isn’t traditionally the case, but for Blue, initiative can be especially relevant (board wipes, removal, etc). If initiative is less relevant, then will Red or Black complement Green powerhouses more?

 

While not the most comprehensive document of drafting strategy, this article seeks to help newer players think about their drafting phase with strategic intention. In our next article, we’ll go over some key strategies to making the most of your deck as you take it on your first games of Artifact!

 


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

 

Artifact’s First Lesson

Artifact’s First Lesson

With the inclusion of beta key holders from PAX West, The International, and giveaways, Artifact is now populated by eager players looking to familiarize themselves with the game and it’s vast range of mechanics. 40,000 more players joined earlier today as Valve allowed Friends & Family pass holders to join the beta, playing through the tutorial and eventually opening their first packs.

This writer was among those with a PAX West beta key. I hopped on yesterday once I returned from a poorly timed grocery shopping trip to find that the beta had been live for a couple hours. I finished the day’s work, booted up Steam, and got started. An hour on the tutorial and a night of Artifact later, I can summarize the biggest lesson new players should take from my experience.

Patience. I was a little too eager to get games out of the way. Too eager to commit to lines that won games faster. My strategic clock was set to the traditional 10-minute games of Hearthstone, where Artifact demanded more intention, planning, and time.

One scenario that came up was pitching a Red Mist Pillager in front of a 2-health Ursa, then throwing an Ogre Corpse Tosser into the next lane, where it would attack the tower uncontested. So I missed an opportunity to get another copy of Red Mist Pillager from its effect, and I missed a value trade from a high-health creep into a weak enemy hero. I realized my error when the Corpse Tosser poked the tower for only two points of damage.

With the wonders of hindsight, there were several elements in that decision to block an enemy hero with a creep; what are the conditions of the following two lanes? How weak are the enemy’s towers and mine? What are the benefits of developing this creep over another? How should I commit my mana on this lane during my next turn? Am I desperate enough to take initiative the next lane and remove their Debbi, by giving up the opportunity to play a creep to trade into this weaker lane 1 hero?

Instead, I did the game a great injustice and considered all the potential variables with one question; should I play my red creep here? It didn’t matter which one, as I only asked myself a simple question, from which I had multiple answers. And in that moment, it was enough that there was more than one card to answer that question, so I picked one and flung it in the way of their hero, threatening its removal. I killed that hero. I wrestled control of that first lane and steamrolled my opponent. I won, but I lost points for execution.

I neglected to use my time as a resource as I was learning the game at a more personal level. A lesson pros have had more than ample time to learn, and for some, to teach to their viewers.

Below, we can look at a game ended by Hyped during his stream earlier today. Where one player had over 14 minutes of extra time banked, the Liquid Artifact pro player was down to his final three minutes. One could argue that chat interaction and his traditionally educational style of streaming contributed to how his time was spent, but we can’t ignore how comparatively fast Trockenmatt played, as indicated by the amount of time left over.

In Artifact, there’s the possibility that an opponent got lucky with combat directions, or rolled their late-game item faster, or drew stronger early-game creeps for those first crucial turns. Or all the above. And maybe there were strategic advantages to playing a 4-attack creep into a 2-health hero, and having a healthier creep in the greatly contested second lane. I won’t pretend these RNG components, or that turn, were planned for with much intention.

This is what makes the act of decision-making important; Where should I deploy my heroes? How strongly do I build my 3-5 mana base, and how many of them should be creeps? There’s a lot to write about in the days before Artifact’s official launch which I look forward to sharing with you, but none more important than using your time; Explore questions worth finding answers for. Consider elements of the game that may not come as obvious to you (as a Hearthstone player, I’m still adjusting to an opponent’s items as a possibility when planning out my turns). Pay attention to the cards you struggle to beat, and evaluate their strengths and cost (this one’s from Hyped).

In summary, I’ll be taking more time to plan moves, as opposed to making them. There are few situations where a timely top deck will solve mistakes in a game of Artifact. At least there are lessons to be learned in both our victories and defeats, if we take the time to identify them.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Four Artifact Streams To Watch Right Now

Four Artifact Streams To Watch Right Now

At long last, the first Artifact streams are live! We at TopDeck are on Twitch watching the latest tournaments, meta developments and evolutions of our favorite card games, and we’re excited for Artifact to be featured more regularly among them. Now that we are past the first hour, here are four streamers who are live on Twitch and have something unique to provide a viewer.

TidesofTime
We turned in to TidesofTime’s stream to find him playing matches with beginner decks, walking his viewers through the mechanics of the game. He responds to questions covering lane strategy and basic questions about what the colors mean to newer viewers.

While he’s only played for 40 hours, despite owning it for three months, we believe this stream will have great value for viewers looking to watch a pro-level card gaming veteran cultivate their understanding of the game, providing the viewers a more organic learning experience. Tides himself is a former pro in Dota for Dignitas, and a former Hearthstone pro for Cloud 9, so is one of the few players on the Artifact Twitch directory to have a deeper appreciation for the Dota card game. He’s currently Phantom Drafting a Black, Green and Blue draft, but traditionally leans more towards green.

“Red heroes are the strongest stat-wise, but their cards are generally going to be weaker. Basically you need a hero-specific color to be able to cast colors for those heroes. Its cards a more hero oriented than other colors.”

https://www.twitch.tv/tidesoftime

Xixo
One of the original ladder grinders from Hearthstone, he’s a German Hearthstone pro for SK Telecom T1 with several successful tournament appearances. In the earliest days of Hearthstone, he was renown for racing to legend at the beginning of each season, playing several hours at a time to achieve this feat. To do so required a wealth of knowledge unparalleled by most other professional players in the scene. Similar to TidesofTime, he also only began playing more recently, despite being in the beta for three months. Watching his stream, we’re getting to watch the earliest stages of a player who could be one of the top competitive grinders again.

Despite having fewer viewers, his interactivity is a welcome opportunity for competitively-minded players looking to learn more about the pro mindset. In fact, he’s preparing for an upcoming constructed tournament, which we’ll look to get more details on later. He most recently queued into compLexity pro player MrYagut twice in constructed already!

“Every sort of RNG increases difficulty, randomness isn’t a bad thing.”

https://www.twitch.tv/xixo

StrifeCro
A former Starcraft 2 pro for Evil Geniuses who currently plays Hearthstone for Sentinels. He’s known in Hearthstone for being In September, StrifeCro described how the board state dictates what happens instead of attacker (Hearthstone) or defender (Magic the Gathering) advantage, which made him especially excited for Artifact. His soft-spoken enthusiasm and constant stream of information is one of the reasons to watch him today.

StrifeCro was most recently seen queuing into Reynad in limited, talking through his methodical plays in each lane.

“We had some crazy strong constructed decks before the reset, so the goal is to play a lot of limited to get our cards back. People want to learn drafts too.”

https://www.twitch.tv/strifecro

DaneHearth
This Wild-format Hearthstone player recently placed among the Top 4 of last weekend’s limited-format Artifact Preview Tournament. While being among the ranking limited players entering the streaming portion of the Artifact beta, he’s also known for his deckbuilding. Despite Wild being the less popular format in Hearthstone, viewers would still watch his creativity and mastery of the game in action, also having won the History of Hearthstone Tournament and its contest of older metas earlier this year.

Dane was seen most recently queuing into former Gwent player and Artifact Preview Tournament caster, Swim. “If I couldn’t deal with the two Blues in that one turn, there was a chance he could upkeep kill the Beastmaster from the lane and deal lethal damage.”

https://www.twitch.tv/danehearth

 

While the beta key holders from PAX West and The International will begin streaming and playing on November 19th, we look forward to learning as much as we can in these next two days before diving right into the gameplay ourselves!


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Artifact Interview With Ekop

Artifact Interview With Ekop

We at TopDeck had the opportunity to interview card gaming veteran, Jan “Ek0p” Palys. Some of his most notable Hearthstone achievements include Top 4 at SeatStory Cup VI and 2nd place at Dreamhack Tours 2017. In Artifact, he has already won a constructed tournament (ArtifactShark Constructed Clash #1) and placed Top 30 in the major limited Artifact Preview Tournament.

Could you tell us about your history in card games?

I was first introduced to card games in around 1999-2000, when I played Magic the Gathering for the first time at school. Then it all went uphill from there. I first started playing on school playgrounds with friends, and eventually in 2002 went to my first Magic tournament.

What kind of tournament?

It was a local prerelease event. I eventually became pretty competitive in magic, but not at a professional level, it was just for fun as a hobby. So I never tried to go pro in Magic, I went to a couple of LANs, but I just never took the next step, into fully dedicating myself to this. Then I was introduced to the World of Warcraft trading card game in 2007, and that was the first game I played professionally.

What were some of the accomplishments that made you a pro for this scene?

I made Top 8 in a whole bunch of events, I won one here or there as well. Eventually it all culminated into me being crowned Player of the Year in 2009. That was a pretty cool achievement, being the best throughout the whole year. Then eventually Hearthstone came out, so the game died, but unlike many other players, I transitioned into Hearthstone and we got an explosive start into the Hearthstone scene. That was 2013 when the Hearthstone beta came out. September or so, that’s when I started playing Hearthstone and began streaming, and that all went pretty well. Five years later, I’m starting Artifact.

Could you tell us about your ESGN experience? That’s where most of the hs scene will have saw you first?

Sure, so ESGN was one of the first bigger things. Then came the first Seat Story Cup. At Blizzcon’s Innvitational, Artosis won because he prepared with me and a couple of my friends, so we provided him with the decks that helped him win, and he brought us on as a team for those ESGN Fight Night matches. Back then, that was a pretty big deal, but unfortunately ESGN failed because they were too overzealous when it came to investing money into this, and the payoff just wasn’t there because Hearthstone was still in the beginning. If they attempted to do this later, it might have succeeded, but ESGN was still a lot of fun.

It was supposed to be a TV-style production. So it was pretty high-end and involved a lot of tedious production things, a lot of retakes, but the end result was pretty cool to look at, and I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed it too. It was also fun to show some personality in those fight nights, where there’s supposed to be trash talk and banter, and give the impression that there’s a feud going on. So I fully went into that character, being the bad guy and trash talking my opponents. Which of course rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but the smart people would understand that it’s just an act.

Could you tell us how you went from ESGN to joining Cloud 9?

It was a smooth transition, went from being the makeshift team Dogehouse, which was basically a group of friends; me, Savjz, Gnimsh and some other people who we don’t know anymore, Artosis took us under his wing, set us up with ESGN, then with a talent agent who also got us the C9 deal. We just had a smooth transition, and we got Kolento and Strifecro in the same swoop. Kolento was also in one of the the Fight Night teams, except he wasn’t there himself, and Strifecro was one of our opponents at Fight Night from the first episode. The talent agent set us up with the Cloud 9 deal, and we gladly signed it. It was a good time at C9, happy with my time there for sure.

And now we have Artifact on the horizon. How did you get into Artifact in the first place?

Well I got the code from a friend, so he got me in.

Could you tell us about your Artifact experience?

It comes down to a little bit of luck to get a good deck with good heroes, and you don’t always get that guarantee. Whereas in constructed, you get to play with whatever deck you want and just go from there. I always generally prefer limited formats anyway since it requires a whole new set of skills like card evaluation and creating your deck on the fly pretty much, so I always liked those aspects in the limited format in card games. That’s why I always gravitate more towards arena in Hearthstone, booster draft in Magic, and the same in World of Warcraft’s trading game. Those were always my preferred gaming modes and in Artifact I’ve been jamming that nonstop as well.

What was the biggest takeaway from the closed beta tournaments? What would you do differently?

I wouldn’t do necessarily do much different except for of course play better, fix the mistakes I might have made in the games that I played, and try not to make those same mistakes again. There’s a lot of things you can do wrong in Artifact, especially with the three lanes and every lane having its own cards that you can play there. You just have so many options. It would seem like there’s not much you can do because you don’t control the combat, because the targets for combat are assigned automatically. For example, in Hearthstone, you’d be able to choose which unit attacks which unit at all times, and where to place those units as well. But you don’t really need that in Artifact. There’s so many things you need to decide for yourself in Artifact that makes it a very skillful game, because the more options you have per turn in a game, the more skillful the game becomes. So Artifact is definitely a very skillful game, and there’s still a lot you can do wrong and a lot you can improve upon every time.

You mentioned having a preference for limited formats in card games, where do you feel pro players will gravitate towards between constructed or limited?

The general feedback from what I heard from pro players is that they prefer limited more compared to constructed, and I would agree with that probably no matter what because of my general preference being in limited, but it’s nice to hear a lot of players that you would typically associate with constructed play in other card games are saying the same thing about Artifact. So I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Artifact goes from here with the limited format.

How did you prepare for tournaments?

I just played a lot! I got a little bit of help from the start by asking players for advice and spectating their games, talking about their plays, and I also chatted with the player who had the most completed run in limited, who was Hyped. I talked to Hyped and asked him for advice, and he also shared a tier list with me that he made. Based on that, I got a lot of help evaluating cards more accurately, but of course, as I kept playing, I also started giving cards my own evaluation and seeing which ones worked best for me, so it’s always important to know which cards fit which strategies the best, and which cards should just not be played, or only played in niche scenarios. Card evaluation is basically the most important thing.

StanCifka said that once you’ve evaluated your cards and built your deck, the most important element in building your deck was heroes. Do you agree with that, or is there another element of the game that would demand a similar amount of attention to yourself as a limited player?

Of course heroes are the most important thing in Artifact during the game play, it all revolves around the hero. You can only cast spells if you have a hero of the same color, and of course the hero would do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to dishing out damage right? Items can also only be equipped when there’s a hero on the board. So it all revolves around heroes; Their positioning, what lanes you put them on, deciding which spells you play on which lane, it’s obviously the most important thing during the game, but when it comes to building your deck, sure heroes obviously play an important role, but you need to pick the right cards for your heroes as well during drafting. So that’s also important. At the end, if you know what you’re doing during the draft, then it all comes down to how well you play, which can give you a huge edge over players. Even if you have a worse deck, if you just play it better than your opponent, you can win.

And how much of that limited format meta is settled at this stage? Is it definitive which heroes or cards happen to be the best ones or is that pretty subjective at this point?

Well on average it’s always going to be this way, where every hero is a little different in power level on average right? Some heroes obviously have niche applications which put them over the top compared to stronger heroes, but typically there is a tier list every time and there are amazing heroes for specific colors, and there’s going to be some very bad ones. So this is where the luck factor I was talking about earlier comes into play. Sometimes you just get the heroes you really want, and sometimes you don’t get any of them, so sometimes you have to put up with bad heroes that you have.

So if a player drafted a worse green hero than you, and if all other elements being more or less the same, would that player most definitely lose because they have the worse hero?

Not necessarily. At the end of the day, the heroes can still carry their weight, and of course some heroes are weaker in terms of stats, but they typically have all the same stats compared to their counterparts in the same color. In that case, it all matters how you perform with the spells that you combine with the heroes that you’re given. Some heroes can really shine if you have the right deck for them even, if they’re bad heroes.

How about your constructed experience, have you been playing much constructed on the ladder or have you been mainly focusing on limited?

I’ve been playing more constructed recently, but I have to focus mainly on limited because I like the format more, and second of all because I felt like learning the game would be easier in limited, learning all the cards and how they interacted. In constructed, you get way less variety, so I wouldn’t learn the game as well I imagine. But now I recently started playing a little more constructed, and yeah it’s been interesting to say for sure. I started by building one deck and just constantly tweaking it around to reach the level of power that I’m satisfied with, and then that deck is good enough, I’ll move along to the next idea that I put in my head and try to perfect that as well. I’ve been having reasonable success in the test games that I’ve had so yeah. I’m pretty happy that I at least know which cards are pretty decent in constructed.

What decks? Are there any particular style of deck you happen to be enjoying more or finding the most success with?

I’ve been playing Blue/Green, which has the possibility to spawn a bunch of dudes and buff them, so that was the strategy that first came to my mind and I’ve been working on that one.  You overwhelm one lane faster, then your opponent will be on the other two lanes that he’s trying to push down. Of course there’s great counter-play to those strategies. Any strategy you have in Artifact, it feels like there’s some kind of counterplay in it. You just have to play the right cards obviously.

And there’s no three decks or small number that are defining the meta, you can play any half-decent deck of any combination of colors and have it do somewhat well?

There’s a lot of cards being tested by people, so there’s no established meta game yet I’d say, but I’ve already seen a couple of lists that look pretty refined to me pop up here and there, and players using those same lists as well, so there’s already been a little bit of a meta game with some established deck lists people copy paste and test them out themselves. Which is a little worrisome to me, especially in the early stages of the game, but we’ll see how it goes. After all, we’re just a small group of testers, and once the flood gates are open, there may be a whole lot of light shed on what a good deck is going to be.

What similarities can you draw on from the closed Hearthstone beta to the Artifact closed beta, and these early stages of what could become a major game?

Well, the updates to Artifact and Hearthstone in the beta phase are somewhat similar in frequency, what’s getting introduced and stuff, but of course since nothing is set in stone in Artifact yet, it’s still an even earlier stage than in Hearthstone because it was already being streamed when I got into it. Hearthstone was a much more finished product at that stage, and Artifact is still a work in progress. You can see when you play the game that there’s some fine-tuning, but it’s almost getting there. Basically when it comes to the beta experience, once it’s in phase 2 and more players are playing, Artifact is going to be pretty hype, especially once people are streaming it. In Hearthstone there was the problem that the hype wasn’t there as much as it will be for Artifact I imagine, since for Hearthstone there was nothing before that gave card games an online presence. There was only Magic Online, but Magic was always known for not being spectator friendly. It was just tedious to watch. And Hearthstone was the first card game that nailed it right away, so obviously with that came large popularity online. Of course, being a mobile game helps too, but obviously that came later.

In Artifact, because of the success Hearthstone and other digital card games had, the hype is going to be even larger I would say, mainly because a lot of people are already talking about the game whereas not many people were talking about Hearthstone when it first got started. You would argue that all the card games had the issue that they didn’t have a big studio or franchise behind it, like Blizzard or Warcraft, but Artifact has the Dota franchise and Valve studio, and those are some big names and some big shoes to fill, so people are going to have their eyes peeled on this game. They’re anticipating it for sure I would imagine, they’re looking forward to anything that has the name ‘Valve’ in it.

What about the spectatorship of the game? Will there be enough understanding from an audience standpoint to provide the early kind of streaming presence that Hearthstone had?

It can be a little bit much at the start to completely grasp the whole concept of the game, but if you spend time to get to know the ins and outs of the game, all the rules and what’s happening, getting to know the flow of the game… it takes two or three days to get to know the game I would say, before you can really start appreciating it while watching. As a new viewer with no idea of what Artifact is about, then you would not get anything out of spectating Artifact I would imagine, because there’s so much stuff going on and you wouldn’t know where to look or what’s important, so it just takes a little big of time. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, much like with Dota, which has the highest learning curve, but once you understand it, it’s easy to follow.

What would you anticipate stand-out Artifact streams being like in the next phase of the beta? What would be more definitive qualities of successful Artifact streamers?

There’s different factors that have to be considered to figure out who’s going to be more popular. You have to have a constant flow of content, a consistent streaming schedule or weekly/daily uploads on Youtube, and basically grow your viewership and audience from there, and of course mixing up the content always helps as well, not only focusing on one thing. Just try to provide different kinds of content so you can appeal to pretty much anyone from the Artifact audience I imagine. It’s going to be interesting for sure, it’s going to be bigger than the Hearthstone opening stage, because there’s so many people who want to get their hands on the game. In Artifact people have high expectations, whereas in Hearthstone people had low expectations in the beginning. Especially when you see a lot of people switching from Hearthstone to Artifact because they just don’t like Hearthstone anymore, obviously it’s a big sign that this game is going to be big.

Will we be expecting regular Twitch and Youtube content from you?

Oh yeah definitely, but I’m going to switch it into German because there’s going to be so many English speaking streamers and it’s going to be hard to thrive in that environment, so I’m going to fill the role of “local German guy.”

Until you win a big Artifact tournament in the next phase?

We’ll see, we’ll see, I might just go bilingual as well, I still haven’t decided yet.


Ekop can be followed on https://www.twitch.tv/ek0p and @Ekop

TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

The Preshow’s Comprehensive Introduction to Limited Artifact

The Preshow’s Comprehensive Introduction to Limited Artifact

Most viewers of last weekend’s Artifact Preview Tournament will remember the dense gameplay and discussion during the first day’s broadcast; It became clear that there will be a steep learning curve for new players when building their first decks. We at TopDeck believe the pre-show discussion had a substantial amount of information that was relayed to the audience, which was likely to have been missed, yet still has great value for those spectating tomorrow’s streams.

This article will breakdown and elaborate on what was discussed by four of the game’s most prominent personalities. These include the casters David “Luminous” Zhang, Sean “swim” Hguenard, Karen “fwosh” Li, and the competitor Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy. Topics you can find below include veteran insights on the drafting phase, expectations of high level limited, and anecdotes that will shed more light on what six months of Artifact’s alpha experience looks like.

The Limited Format
The pre-show began with players exchanging their general experiences in the limited format.

“It’s absolutely fun to play,” Lifecoach said. “The Gauntlet format is nice because you can make your picks, determine what cards you like better or less, and are able to play those. So you’re in full control of what kind of deck you want to play.”

Swim responded with a key point; “It’s different every time. It tests your ability to leverage cards that are less good and to make the most out of bad situations.”

Luminous called the drafting stage a small gamble each time, particularly when determining what color you’re going to be drafting. The example we got was a player choosing to draft the strongest cards for a Red/Blue deck, then seeing Drow Ranger, arguably one of the best limited format heroes in Artifact. “Should I be picking up Drow Ranger,” a player may ask themselves, despite the commitment to Red/Blue made up to this stage.

He also revealed that even six months deep into the alpha, with the beta about to be unleashed, Artifact players still have lots of various ideas on different topics surrounding the game and its best strategies. An evening before the tournament, Lifecoach and Joel were debating on these various topics, so Luminous took this opportunity to ask how normal it was for two of the top players in the game to have different opinions. Lifecoach said that in the beginning there’ll be differing opinions on topics, “but better ones still exist.” For instance, Lifecoach addressed whether it’s better to play triple color, two colors. Lifecoach himself likes tri-color decks in limited, and good three-color decks can happen. “A few months or a half year from now, we’ll figure out what the better lines are.”

Color Preference
The casters then discussed their color choices. Fwosh was quick to say Blue (“absolutely blue”) despite being the hardest and weakest to play in draft mode. Nevertheless, her drafts skew towards Blue in her earlier drafts, then as the games go longer during drafting sessions leans more towards aggressive colors (Red/Green, Red/Black) throughout her time drafting, as “no-brain” color combinations.

Luminous said when he drafts Blue/Green, he can expect games to go for a long time, and how Red/Black matches go much faster, which he felt personally gravitated towards in his drafting.

Swim then described how, with the newness of Artifact, even the top players have very different opinions. Joel (the winner of the tournament later that day) feels Red is worse than Blue in draft. This was one point Lifecoach agreed with, and assumes Blue is the weakest too. “Its heroes are especially bad, and can’t carry as much weight than in other classes.” It’s of the utmost importance to get strong heroes to get more gold to get big items, and “items can protect heroes and make them snowball, if you set them up in the right way.” Without them, and with weaker heroes, you’re the one that ends up getting snowballed.

Limited Strategy
What makes Artifact fun, Luminous said, is how the players were all learning the game under the same general rubric while learning the exceptions (a hero that returns immediately in the next round, cards that give you back initiative when they’re played, etc), and an opponent can make a sequence that “can challenge everything I learned.” Even after 10 hours of play, Luminous would come across a new interaction that would expand the possibilities in Artifact, especially when playing against top level players. For people looking to pick up the game for the first time, the first 20 hours are “gruesome” and result in a lot of losses, but afterwards you get to see what it’s really all about.

Swim said there are “many nuanced tactics you can learn in this game,” and that the complexity this game offers is larger than any other card game by a pretty wide margin. Another part of the game’s complexity Lifecoach addressed (explicitly for the limited format), is the ability to press a button to see your opponent’s deck, and have the ability to make plays in reaction to your knowledge of your opponent’s deck, to “readjust the entire gameplay and reaction… and it’s a completely different form of complexity.” Some players (like fwosh and Luminous) don’t use it to make the games more “fun”, to “get hit by the unknown.” But for serious games, it’s a valuable resource. “Once you open it, you can’t close it.” Part of what makes Artifact a great game in Swim’s opinion is the visibility of decks having the ability to change fundamentals. “You’re not just playing your deck, but you’re playing your opponent’s deck too.” This is a significant part of the reason why he believes Artifact draft is better than constructed.

Luminous cracked how the couch consisting of Lifecoach and Swim was the “try-hard, Blue/Green side” and how the desk of Luminous and Fwosh was the “Red/Black, simple decks” side. With Lifecoach having his draft broadcasted after the pre-show, Swim asked about his drafting style, and how he sees his drafting technique compared to others, overvaluing specific cards, etc. Lifecoach said, “I’m very Black/Red, so I’m drafting Black/Red.”

Swim, like Hyped, favors tri-color decks, and how most of the top tier players favor tri-color more than 50% of the time, “which isn’t what you see in constructed.” Luminous finds it hard to navigate personally, so will traditionally draft duo-colors. “It’s easier to navigate in the draft and the game itself… You can only cast a certain card of a color if you have that hero in the lane. So Crystal Maiden in a lane, as a Blue hero, can let you cast Blue cards there.” He described his deployment phase as being a little weak. “Sometimes you put the wrong hero in the wrong lane when playing tricolor, and have one less hero of the color you need.” At this stage before the tournament, the meta preference by the game’s top players was tri-color decks, but no specific combination was specified.

Broken Combos
Luminous then veered the conversation towards broken draft combos, and asked “how many Double Drows we were going to see today.” The hero was so strong that Valve made her rarity higher to prevent players from drafting her more regularly. It didn’t appear rare enough to prevent Luminous from suggesting that with 128 players drafting twice, there was the possibility of being able to draft two of her (or even seeing two Double Drow decks). Double Luna was also seen as still being pretty scary. Readers of our first article will remember Stan Cifka taking one of his earlier losses to a Double Luna deck played by MrYagut in the October $10k draft tournament. “Lucid Beam (Luna’s passive ability) can still stack charges on three copies of Eclipse, but more Lunas are nuts since she can stack even more charges than Eclipses would normally have.”

Lifecoach responded by saying how Double Drow, despite being the first example of a broken combo provided by Luminous, was not that good. “The first Drow gives good leverage with good cards that undermines an opponent’s plays, but it’s a specific card you use in a specific situation, and having six means you can sometimes draw three dead cards, which can really hurt.”

Tinker
Luminous shifted the conversation towards Tinker, the last hero and one of the last cards to be revealed before the tournament, and called it one ofthe best draft heroes. When asked if Lifecoach would prefer Tinker over Drow or Luna, he said definitely. “It’s insane for draft, because the Signature Card is completely insane.” There’s a Blue card that provides the same effect (Tower Barrage), but March of the Machines deals that two damage to all enemies three times with one card, and is only slightly more expensive.

Swim added to this explanation by describing how Tinker provides an opportunity for AOE for Black, which is something that’s locked for Blue. Cards that give colors tools that are traditionally restricted to another color are powerful. “It is great in draft.” AOE traditionally requires getting Blue heroes and Blue cards to access. “Every time I look at Tinker, I ask ‘why isn’t this hero Blue,’ since he does Blue things as a Black hero. Even it’s active ability, Laser, is a Blue effect (disarms a unit and deals three damage to it), he’s going to be kicking some butt today.” Fwosh expected Lich or some other hero to be better, but it’s great that March of the Machines provides the same value as Conflagration, even if only three times, and mentioned how games for Black end by 8 mana anyway (three turns after getting the opportunity to play March of the Machines on five mana)

The Length of a Game
Luminous explained it ultimately comes down to the type of deck one is drafting. The game can end by when a player reaches 6-8 mana with an aggressive deck, or 10-13 mana on rare occasions. Lifecoach responded and said that players should be drafting for a game to end by around 8-9 mana, “but it depends on the strengths of your opponent’s deck. You can’t exactly go face in Artifact, and your opponent has creeps and blockers you must attack. If the opponent has a good defense, then this same game that could have ended at mana 8 can go to mana 10.”

The time a game takes to end can also scale depending on the player’s skill, according to Swim. Games can go longer when two top tier players face against each other, whereas a weaker player will be at a disadvantage against a stronger player, who can exploit the skill difference to close out the game faster. From his time in the alpha, Swim’s seen a lot of draft games going to 10-11 mana. Luminous said “It can also depend on how aggressively players are looking to defend their tower.” He recalled how on his second day playing Artifact, he faced against a Bristleback and gave up on the lane completely. Then he realized giving up on the lane wasn’t a great play and began overcommitting to defense. “It’s always a very interesting dynamic, between how much you commit to a lane and how much you don’t.”

Drafting Tips for Beginners
Luminous closed the pre-show asking for any quick tips from the couch for newbie drafters looking to build their first decks in less than two weeks.

Frosh; “You have five packs to go through, and you don’t want to align yourself to any particular color in the early packs. Pick strong cards from the first two packs, then you will know which colors to skew towards. It’s sometimes a trap to pick a hero early and force yourself into a certain color.”

Swim; “There’s a lot to think about with draft, and need to keep track of what part in the draft you’re in. The most important thing is to keep in mind the deck you’re building halfway through, reassess what you have, if you have no items then you have to start picking items, or have too much of a curve late end and you want some earlier cards.”

Lifecoach; “In the first pack you probably want to pick the strongest cards, and from packs two or three, you begin to see how your deck is forming and can already make a game plan. We talk about the first hero deployment, where you have three early-game heroes, so this means that the earlier the heroes are deployed in limited, the stronger you want them to be. So if you already have three strong early game heroes and you get offered a fourth one, you may not want to pick that one because you still need a late-game hero. You may pick a late-game hero based purely on what you want your deck to do.”

Luminous; “Open Axe and Time of Triumph, and you’ll do fine in the draft.”

Ideal Combos
He then asked what combination of cards you’d want to see when opening a pack that’ll make you feel like this was a good draft.

Fwosh; “Time of Triumph, if you see that first pack you know you’re going Red for sure, or at least splashing it. She likes Green too, its a solid draft color that keeps things alive, likes Mist of Avernus, it’s a super good improvement, so she’d like to see that and Drow.”

Swim; “Mist and Drow is a really respectable answer. Otherwise, likes Black heroes, and Black as a wide range of top tier heroes. Phantom Assassin, Lich, Tinker, Sniper, they’re very good and flexible heroes. Black and Green are the most flexible in terms of having a high diversity of good cards. Red is often a singleton splash, but can find a place in a duo. So I like picking strong Black heroes.” It’s worth nothing that Joel Larsson would win the tournament with a Black/Green deck.”

Lifecoach; “I love Red, I believe it’s incredibly strong, because without finding proper heroes in your packs you can fill them with basic heroes. The base hero in Red is among the strongest early game heroes you can pick (Keefe), so you don’t lose much in the draft when forced to use the Red basic hero, and it’s worse when forced to pick the basic hero for other colors. If I had to choose a hero and card, I would pick Axe and Mist of Avernus. It’s extremely strong, and I would try to find a way to fit Mist of Avernus in the deck.” Fwosh said you can even pick up Farvhan (the Green basic hero) to make splashing Green work.

Basic Heroes
Luminous was surprised by Lifecoach calling Keefe one of the strongest earlier game heroes. Though it’s stats are among the strongest, Luminous personally felt the least happy to play Keefe among all the other basics. Debbi (the Black basic hero) for him is probably number one, and he’s a big fan of Farvhan. “Even J’muy draws you a card. I just don’t want to be in a place where I’m playing Keefe.”

Swim likes Keefe over J’muy at least, and Debbi is also his top choice among the basic heroes. Farvhan is probably a hair above Keefe. Karen likes Debbi too, as her favorite of the basic heroes. She explained how Keefe feels bad to select when you have Fighting Instinct in your hand, wishing it was any other card. Remember that you have access to all three copies of each of the basic heroes for your draft deck. Luminous suggested that a bold man could put in three copies of Keefe. “Say if Lifecoach doesn’t have the necessary hero to pair with Time of Triump. At that point, you’d put in Keefe, and that can be a good play, if you have strong enough Red cards to justify playing the basic Red hero.”

Basic Items
The other thing about drafting is that you have access to all three of the basic items; Leather Armor, Traveler’s Cloak, and Shot Sword. You need a minimum of nine items in your deck, and though you can pick up items during the draft, you have these three as well. Luminous feels that Traveler’s Cloak is broken and shouldn’t be a basic. It’s always good to put in your deck. Fwosh said it’s a cheap item, three gold, and sometimes you want to get them to make finding those more expensive items easier.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Joel Larsson Announces Move To Artifact

Joel Larsson Announces Move To Artifact

“I hadn’t missed a Pro Tour in seven years,” Joel Larsson said in his post-match interview, “but with Artifact being this fun, I’m going to give it a chance and see what happens.” This was Joel’s second Artifact tournament win in the limited format, establishing himself as the current player to beat in drafting. “The game surprises you so much with how many levels there are.”

Joel Larsson swept through the Artifact Preview Tournament with a 10-0 record, winning Artifact’s first broadcasted tournament without dropping a single game, and earning $4,000 of the $10,000 prize pool. Hosted by Beyond The Summit, this weekend’s tournament was the first opportunity for viewers and future players to see new Artifact gameplay since PAX West two months ago. The 128-man bracket included decorated players from various titles, from Hearthstone, Gwent, Magic: the Gathering, and even the captain of The International 2017’s Dota 2 champion team, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi.

The 27-year-old Swedish MtG pro is no stranger to top tier competition himself, having reached the Top 8 of several Magic tournaments in the past, and having won both a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour. He met F2K’s Gwent content creator Miguel “Mogwai” Guerrero in today’s grand final. The last game of the day ended in peculiar fashion, with Mogwai passing the turn. This may have been a mis-click or the timer running out while he considered his options. Joel punished this by using his Keenfolk Musket to remove one hero, and casting Intimidation (which he had just TopDeck’ed that turn) to remove another from the lane, pushing 24 damage out of the second tower’s 22 remaining health.

Joel told the casters in his interview that he originally thought Mogwai was going to have to choose between saving the Phantom Assassin or using the ability from Chen (Holy Persuasion: Gain control of an enemy creep), which Joel was ok with either. He planned on winning the lane either way, preparing for a scenario that gave him the best chance of doing so. Then Mogwai passed the turn, casting an unexpected Hand of God, which provided Joel a lethal opportunity that he took.

After being asked what would be next for him, Joel responded. “It’s going to be more Artifact for me. I also started studying, and I can’t do all that and a social life. I’ve done Magic for a long time.” Joel opted to pass on the opportunity to compete in this weekend’s Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica tournament, whereas Lukas Blohon (October’s $10,000 Artifact limited-format tournament winner) did the opposite, and skipped the Artifact tournament to compete in the Pro Tour. “I’m not going to abstain from all Magic my entire life.”

And he has only improved since his last tournament win. “At first you think a meta game is solved,” Joel said. “Then you realize a card or strategy is good and everything becomes way more complex all of a sudden. If that’s strategy good, it can be applied to other places. This way of playing the game is a thing and that enables strategy… The more you understand the game, the more you understand how to build decks and draft.”

Prompted by Savjz, Joel revealed plans to take the next steps in his Artifact career, expressing interest in streaming and finding a sponsorship (“which works very differently for content creators than in Magic”).

It’s a new world for Joel Larsson, but one that’s off to a strong start.

The NDA drops next week, allowing alpha testers to begin streaming and producing content for Artifact. He’ll be attending Beyond The Summit’s Artifact House Party, going live on November 17th, 4pm PST. This will be broadcasted from https://www.twitch.tv/btsartifact.

You can follow Joel Larsson at @JoelLarsson1991 for announcements and more.


Images courtesy of https://www.twitch.tv/btsartifact

TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

The Artifact Preview Tournament’s Top 8 Players

The Artifact Preview Tournament’s Top 8 Players

The Top 8 is live, with players competing for their share of the $10,000 pot in Artifact’s first broadcasted tournament! This single elimination tournament will test the drafting ability of these card gaming competitors, with backgrounds in multiple titles. Below is a brief introduction to these players to give readers an idea of where they’re coming from as competitive players in this weekend’s Artifact Preview Tournament.


Joel Larsson is the only undefeated player at this stage of the tournament. A Magic: the Gathering pro who’s won both a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour, and lifetime earnings of over $170,000, he’s no stranger to the highest levels of card gaming competition. With eight Top 8 appearances in Grand Prix tournaments alone, he will be playing in the Semifinal after taking down Naiman in the first round.

Chris “Feno” Tsako found success as a Hearthstone pro player, earning over $30,000 in his career and winning the most recent Hearthstone Championship Tour in Orange County two weeks ago. Recently a free agent after departing from F2K, he was only defeated by Joel Larsson in yesterday’s last round. As the #2 seed in this Top 8, he may find himself challenging Joel again in the Grand Final.

Dane “DaneHearth” McCappin is a Hearthstone content creator for F2K, best known for his innovative decks and demonstrated mastery of , having won the History of Hearthstone tournament hosted by Tempo Storm earlier this summer. He’ll be playing against space_loner later in the day.

Raffael “GameKing” Iciren once played Hearthstone under the F2K banner, competing against prominent players in the community such as Tom60229, Ostkaka and Ek0p. He won the International e-Sports Federation 2016 World Championship, then after making other Hearthstone tournament appearances, transitioned into Gwent in 2017, where he placed 2nd in Gwent Slam #1, and 1st in Gwent Slam #2. He most recently placed Top 4 in last month’s Gwent Open. His first opponent in today’s Top 8 will be KuroKy of Dota 2 fame.

Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi is a pro Dota 2 player for Team Liquid. Leading the team that won The International in 2017, he’s found success in this weekend’s tournament reaching the Top 8 of Artifact’s first broadcasted tournament, which is especially notable considering the stacked playing field of 128 players, most of whom coming from extensive card gaming backgrounds.

Space_loner is the least public presence among this Top 8, but will have established himself today as placing in the Quarterfinals of the Artifact Preview Tournament.

Miguel “Mogwai” Guerrero is a Gwent Player for F2K with a Pokemon background. He’s mostly known for his content creation, with a Youtube channel of over 45k subscribers featuring game play and matches against pro players such as Lifecoach. In Artifactshark’s Constructed Clash #1 tournament, he was the #2 seed after the swiss rounds, but was eliminated in the Top 8 playoff stage by AudienceofOne.

Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov is a Hearthstone player who had a strong 2017, placing first in the StarLadder Ultimate Series in 2017 after beating StanCifka in the finals. He’s earned over $78k in Hearthstone and once played for Virtus Pro, before the team disbaned in February 2018. Naiman’s most notable appearance this year is a Top 8 finish in HCT Germany this January. While he wasn’t able to take down Joel Larsson in the first round, Naiman has established himself in Artifact’s limited format.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

The Artifact Preview Tournament: Viewer’s Guide

The Artifact Preview Tournament: Viewer’s Guide

Beyond the Summit will be hosting Artifact’s first streamed tournament today! Pro players and card game enthusiasts have been eager for any broadcasted gameplay, but we’ll soon get the opportunity to see competitive draft play by some of the beta’s strongest players.

What You Need To Know

Format:
Today, up to 128 players will compete in seven rounds of Swiss in best-of-3 matches. They will draft once before Round 1, and again on Round 4. Players will get 4 minutes in their time bank, with one extra minute per turn (players lose if they use up all their time).

The top 8 will move on to tomorrow’s single-elimination playoffs, drafting once more before the quarterfinals.

Prize:
1st place earns $4,000, 2nd place gets $2,000, and 3rd-4th earns $1,000.

Schedule:
The first day begins on November 10th, 9am PST/6pm CST, and at the same time tomorrow on November 11th.

Streams:
Streams will be cast in English and can be viewed on the BTS Twitch channel and Artifact’s channel on SteamTV.

Casters:
David “Luminous” Zhang (Product Manager for Beyond the Summit), Sean “swim” Hguenard (Artifact player and former Gwent meta snapshot author and personality) and Karen “fwosh” Li (Dota content creator and PAX West 2018 Artifact caster/host).

Analysts:
George “hyped” Maganzini (Team Liquid Artifact pro and former Hearthstone pro)
Joel Larsson (Artifact player and Pro Tour MtG winner)
Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy (Artifact player and Evil Geniuses Gwent pro)
Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen (Artifact player and Team Liquid Hearthstone personality).

All four will also be competing in today’s tournament.

Notable Known Contestants:
StanCifka – Artifact player and 3x closed beta constructed winner
rayC – Panda Global Hearthstone pro
Forsen – Former Hearthstone pro and Twitch streamer
noxville – Statistical Analyst for ArtifactionGG
Hoej – SKT T1 Hearthstone pro and the most recent closed beta Artifact tournament winner
crokeyz – F2K Gwent streamer
Ostkaka – Hearthstone World Champion 2015
Freddybabes – compLexity Gwent pro
Bloody – F2K Artifact player and SmashGG tournament coordinator
Muzzy – Tempo Storm Hearthstone pro
Ekop – Artifact Constructed Clash #1 Winner
Nostam – Hearthstone caster and Artifact Constructed Clash #1 2nd Place
RobAJG – Team Liquid Artifact content creator and Podcast Host of “Potion is Knowledge”
HotMEOWTH – Panda Global Hearthstone pro
SylvanHunter – compLexity card gaming personality
Mryagut – compLexity Hearthstone pro
Petrify – compLexity card gaming personality
StrifeCro – Sentinels Hearthstone pro
Frankinabox – Endemic Hearthstone coach

We also had our eyes out for Lukas Blohon, MtG pro and winner of October’s $10k limited format Artifact tournament pro, but he’s currently competing in Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica and is currently at 6-2, so will be unable to make today’s tournament.

We wish all the competitors the best of luck in today’s tournament!


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Your First Artifact Decks

Your First Artifact Decks

Pre-order goes live in just less than three hours as of this article, along with the first publicly streamed Artifact tournament hosted by Beyond the Summit (one of Dota’s largest Twitch channels) on both SteamTV and Twitch. Viewers will be noting the game’s mechanics and exchanges the limited format, eager to begin building their own first decks on November 28th. Drafting in the Gauntlet will be available at launch, as well as two starter decks for constructed play; Red/Green Brawler and and Blue/Black Control. These will be your first two decks when the game goes live;

Red/Green Brawler

The brawler has a strong red emphasis, looking to capitalize on the early dominance of red heroes while supplemented by green’s beefier creep. It’s effectively a midrange deck that scales from with threats the longer the game goes on. The longer creep like Savage Wolf and Satyr Duelist stay on the field, the more stats they’ll gain, as each gains more attack (and health for the wolves) after each combat phase. Red creeps are no slouches either, with Bronze Legionnaire having the ability to outright remove Melee Creeps without suffering damage, thanks to the two armor it comes naturally equipped with.

We’re also equipped with support that synergizes with the board-control emphasis fo the deck’s mid to late game. A couple examples are spells like Arm the Rebellion that modify creep with both additional attack and one armor, and creep like Hellbear Crippler that modify any hero or unit they battle with -1 attack. Crippling Blow can also be cast to reduce the attack of any hero by two. Even Ursa’s passive ability shreds 1-armor away from any unit it deals damage to. Remember these changes are permanent with the keyword ‘modify’, and devastating the longer the game continues.

The heroes themselves also scale in power, with card’s like Sven’s Signature Card, God’s Strength, which modifies a hero with +4 attack, or Avernus’ Blessing, which modifies any unit (not just heroes!) with +2 attack. Fighting Instinct, Keefe the Bold’s Signature Card, will modify a red hero with +1 attack and +1 armor for 5-mana. While the cost would leave most players doubtful of it’s value, it’s an investment that will scale in value the more battles the hero fights, and the longer the game goes on for, thanks to the -1 damage it receives. With three of this spell, we can expect red heroes to become harder to kill.

As discussed in one of our first Artifact articles, red heroes are also really good at killing creep and enemy heroes in the early stages of the game, generating gold to buy items such as the deck’s only copy of Barbed Mail, which equips a hero with +1 armor and +2 Retaliate (deals two damage to any unit that deals battle damage to it). Reliable gold generation is one of red’s advantages, and should be taken advantage of to acquire one of our biggest late-game bombs, Ring of Tarrasque, which at a hefty 12 gold equips a hero with +4 health and +6 regeneration (heals by that amount during the combat phase, applying before death).

Strategy:

Overwhelm the opponent with strong heroes to generate gold, acquire items that improve their survivability, and establish strong lane control with beefy minions. Optimal board positioning, and well-timed investments of mana alternating between creep and buffs, will distinguish the strongest brawlers in the Artifact arena.

 

Blue/Black Control

This control deck operates differently enough from the Red/Green Brawler deck to introduce a future champion to alternate styles of play, especially for those oriented towards directing the flow of a game with more than a lane full of creeps. While it’s missing our favorite mechanic, Lock, one element of the game Blue/Black Control will teach players is using improvements.

In this starter deck, we have strategically-direct improvements like Trebuchets that can be established on a lane for 1-mana, and deals two piercing damage to the enemy tower before the action phase (where cards are played that turn). While the damage won’t be immediate, it can whittle away a tower slowly but surely while you committing larger forces to another lane. This pairs well with Lightning Strike, which can deal 6-damage outright to an enemy tower, and can potentially end games against an unsuspecting opponent. Ignite, Ogre Magi’s Signature Card, is another improvement that deals regular damage before each action phase, but as one piercing damage to enemies. No amount of armor will be enough to deny the damage either of these improvements will build up over time, especially with more than one copy on a lane.

We play fewer creeps than the brawler, but they’re able to hold their own on the field of combat while the Trebuchets lay siege to the enemy’s towers. Relentless Zombie is a cheap 2-mana creep that when dying, will resurrect with 1-health, making it very durable and good for blocking damage. Assassin’s Apprentice has an active ability that allows the black creep to choose it’s own combat target, making this ideal for removing threatening heroes who are hanging on with three or less health. We can deploy three Melee Creeps to any lane that’s lacking support thanks to Dimension Portal.

While the deck lacks stats, it can make up for this with removal. Paired with Ignite, Debbi the Cunning’s Signature Card, No Accident, can deal 3-damage to a unit. We have one copy of Slay that can outright remove any creep, even the biggest of them for only 3-mana (so long Ogre Conscript!). Necrophos’s Signature Spell, Heartstopper, can modify a black hero with the passive ability of dealing 2-piercing damage to it’s enemy neighbors before the action phase. With enough stacks, it can constantly remove creep or deal significant hero damage at the beginning of each round. Our biggest spell is Mystic Flare, Skywrath Mage’s Signature Card, that deals 12 damage evenly divided among a unit and it’s allied neighbors. Against three units, it will deal four each, and against two, it will deal six each! Paired with the Mage’s active ability of removing -2 armor from a hero and it’s allied neighbors for a round, this spell is one of the strongest AoE spells available in your first games of Artifact.

Strategy:

Control the board while dealing incremental damage against the enemy towers with spells, improvements and creep (Oglodi Vandal deals 4-damage to that lane’s enemy tower when played). Foresight and threat-recognition will reward the player with the means to survive consistent pressure long enough to win the game with inevitability and cunning.

 

As starter decks, both will be effective in teaching players Artifact’s flow of combat with different color combinations and styles of play. As packs or being opened on November 28th, consider what replacements could be made to these decks to make them more effective at executing their strategy.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

 

Lock And Load

Lock And Load

The blue card pool of Artifact has an eclectic toolkit, ranging from board wipes (Annihilation) to temporary mind control (Friendly Fire), and that’s only naming a couple. However, no mechanic stands out more than Lock. In short, each “Lock” placed on a card (chosen by various degree of randomness) prevents an opponent from playing it until that many rounds have passed. It’ll be a unique effect for most digital card gamers to get used to, especially for those transitioning from Hearthstone.

As for why we’re excited about Lock, manipulating an opponent’s hand has been limited in Hearthstone to either adding cards to their hand, or increasing their mana cost (Mana Wraith for minions, Loatheb for spells). This former manipulation inspired the mill archetype in the game’s earliest days, with players using cards such as Naturalize, Coldlight Oracle, Dancing Swords and Grove Tender to force an opponent’s hand to the maximum of 10, and burn more cards into fatigue. Only recently have we seen more styles of manipulating an opponent’s hand enter the Hearthstone design space, such as with the introduction of Demonic Project, now the only viable non-mill means of combo disruption in standard, unless details from the new expansion say otherwise.

But Artifact does not have a hand limit. And not only that, but it’s launching with a mechanic that outright prevents an opponent from playing random cards in their hand. It’s a “freeze” to random cards of an opponent’s hand. Blue spells like Buying Time or Lost in Time are effective in reducing a player’s options, especially against archetypes that struggle with card draw. With four cards in your hand, and a player casting Lost in Time, you’re down to one card plus whatever you draw the following turns. This potential swing in resources (casting one card to deny three) can offset the steep mana cost of 6-mana that’s not otherwise being used to develop a critical lane. This is especially the case if it provides the possibility of preventing your Annihilation from being cast on a lane they’re already ahead on.

Cards like Fractured Timeline take this disruption in another territory, where as an improvement, it randomly locks one card for one round each turn before the lane’s action phase. We expect to see this played on the left lane to disrupt an opponent’s hand to provide a stronger result, giving the Lock a chance to land on a key card that may have swung a lane in their favor, or cemented a victory by destroying a tower.

Lastly, we have the item Claszureme Hourglass. At a hefty 10 gold, it not only grants a hero +4 health, but also locks any card an opponent draws for one turn, no matter what lane the equipped hero is on. For an opponent struggling to find answers or secure victories, the devastation such an item can inflict can be game-winning.

Reviewing these four cards, we’re left wondering whether or not the mechanic is only a tool that helps a player “win harder.” We have to remember the power-level of other cards in Artifact to get a feel for what Lock is actually accomplishing, such as Annihilation, which condemns all units (in a lane), or Gust, which silences enemy heroes in the round it’s cast. In each case, a player could either lose all their units on an overcommitted lane, or lose the ability to cast colors of all the heroes that were silenced that round. While it’s technically possible to play all three in a deck, the scenarios where a Lock spell would be better to cast than these other two are mostly ones where Annihilation or Gust are being held for a more effective turn, and occasionally against key mana or gold turns. In fact, Lock may only be as effective as the popularity of single-card bombs that are prevalent in a given meta, which can win games on their own simply by being cast. So on an opponent’s big gold turn, Lock may be primed to prevent an expensive item (as a possible game changer) from being cast for one to three turns.

And from what we’ve seen of Artifact so far, there’s not much of a shortage of power cards to keep Lock from being irrelevant in this context.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Rastakhan’s Rumble: Five Blizzcon Takeaways

Rastakhan’s Rumble: Five Blizzcon Takeaways

The latest Hearthstone expansion to emerge from Blizzard is Rastakhan’s Rumble! TopDeck learned a lot by attending Blizzcon 2018, and we want to breakdown some of our takeaways as we approach this month’s spoiler season;

1. Overkill’s been worked on for a long time

The new mechanic has not been released yet, but Team Five has been developing Overkill since Blackrock Mountain. It was originally meant to showcase the power of dragons by applying left over damage from killing a minion to the enemy hero, but game designers discussed how this did not present Hearthstone players many interesting options. Overkill was also explored as a possible addition to the Witchwood as splash damage applying to random enemy minions, but  Over three years later, and we’ve seen the likes of Sul’thraze and Baited Arrow revealed at Blizzcon.

Overkill will have a wide range of effects that will change how players approach minion damage in the new expansion. With Hearthstone’s emphasis on the attacker’s advantage, combat changes caused by Overkill may be significant.

2. Rastakhan’s team-oriented theme 

Nine Loa were selected by Team Five to represent each of Hearthstone’s nine classes in the expansion’s gladiatorial theme. Peter Whalen described how each of the class cards were designed (mechanically and artistically) to emulate the Loa themselves, from the feral raptor Gonk to the board-swarming Hir’eek. We can expect each of the Loa’s to force new archetypes into the Hearthstone meta space or to redefine current ones, regardless of how viable these decks may become.

Similar to the Death Knight effect from Knights of the Frozen Throne, known decks could end up being worse if a Loa isn’t included.

3. Independent Champions

Though only one troll champion was revealed, designers revealed that most of them will be mechanically independent from the late-game set up of their respective Loa. Meaning that most champions won’t be needed to make their Loas better, and vice versa. Malacrass was revealed to place a copy of your opening hand back into your hand in the mid-game you may draw it. As for how independent this ability is from the fiery Amani lord of dragonhawks, Jan’Alai, that has yet to be revealed, but the ability is strong enough to warrant seeing experimentation in the earliest days of Rastakhan’s Rumble.

For now, it’s safe to assume that there will be similarly unique champions for each Loa that will have more flexibility to be placed in decks of their respective classes, requiring less building around than the Loas themselves.

4. Loas need Spirits

Spirits will directly complement the set-up of each Loa, the mighty legendaries who are “great in the right decks.” From what was revealed, the Spirit of the Bat captures this strategy best, rewarding players who trade, kill or sacrifice their own minions to buff random minions in hand. We’ve seen the success of Saronite Chain Gang and Val’ynyr in the pre-Call to Arms nerf version of Even Paladin. Now we can see a Warlock archetype make use of Doubling Imp as well as the great swarmer Hir’eek. Team Five made Spirits especially resilient and mana-flexible, with none costing more than four and all having stealth for one turn. While the Loa may not see play without Spirits, the same can’t be said for Spirits needing the Loa to find use in the coming meta.

For decks with a Loa, expect Spirits to occupy one or two of those deck spaces as well, potentially forcing players to remove what were once considered key cards in exchange for the power a Loa may provide.

5.  Warlock’s class identity

The reveal of Void Contract completes the destructive trio of Gnomeferatu and Demonic Project, all recent cards that grow a greater distance from past additions to Warlock’s discard mechanic. Now a player can have six cards of their deck be composed of a combination of hand and deck destruction. In Blizzcon’s Hearthstone press conference, designers Peter Whalen described how destruction-oriented cards like Gnomeferatu and Void Contract fit the “evil” identity of Warlock, while also saying that it’s a style of card they look to release in great moderation. 8-mana is steep for a card that has no impact on the board (from what we know at this stage of the reveal), but it leaves us curious about what decks we may expect to rise that would warrant the introduction of such a card?

This can give Gul’dan a possible role as the designated anti-control class of the upcoming meta until Hearthstone’s in a phase where more combo prevention becomes available across more classes.

 

 

These are only some of the discussions being had about what to expect in the coming month, but we’ll keep a look out for troll champions, the godly Loa, and most importantly, the sleeper card of the set.

 


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Take Initiative!

Take Initiative!

Across the board of Artifact, players alternate between going first and second on each lane. The exchange of spells, effect activations and creep summonings lead up to a single moment where all the units clash, which marks the end of that round, then proceeds to the next lane. Initiative moves from player to player, granting each the opportunity to make their move first, but a select few cards have the added bonus of allowing you to take back initiative in the next lane along with the action! This effectively gives a player the ability to take control of the game and make the first moves!

The strongest example of this idea is the black common spell Hip Fire. As a color identity, the black card pool comes especially equipped with disruption and damage-dealing effects. Hip Fire presents any player using black cards the opportunity to do both, not only eliminating basic creeps or low-health heroes, but giving you the ability to take initiative in the next lane. While the mana can be daunting in the early stages of the game, drawn out games can reward players with greater mana.

Imagine a mid to late game scenario where you have a black hero on the first lane, and a red hero on the second, where you’re pushing for your second and final tower. Hip Fire is used to eliminate an enemy hero. Then our opponent plays a card, the action returns to us, and play continues until the units clash. We move to the center lane, where on turn 1, we shut down any opportunity to remove our bulky red heroes with the red spell “Enough Magic!” This ends the exchange and forces both players to move right into the combat phase, proceeding to the final lane.

The biggest takeaways from this hypothetical late-game exchange was our ability to protect our units and to play more cards with less exchanges. Power plays like these can provide the necessary bursts of power to press multiple lane advantages to close out the game. One-mana red spells like Kraken Shell (“Modify a red hero with +1 armor. Get initiative) and Fight Through The Pain (“Give a red hero +2 armor this round. Get initiative) complement this strategy with their mana flexibility and durability, allowing you to employ this pressure earlier in the game, while increasing your red heroes survivability in key turns.

Black also has Chain Frost, a 7-mana signature spell from the Lich that deals three damage to a unit, then repeats seven times randomly against its left or right neighbors. We’re then rewarded with retaining initiative or getting it back. Splashing red and combined with Enough Magic! or further disruption, it may provide late game options against a board full of weaker creeps to end the game, or farm more gold for the next shopping phase.

We expect to see similar cards to Hip Fire and Fight Through The Pain become regular features in decks that rely on the success of their combat phases highly. In a game where initiative can dictate the fate of a lane, the case for adding spells to take initiative and perform these power turns is convincing in the pre-release stage of the Artifact. It’s also worth noting that Tidehunter and Lich are the only heroes at this point who have signature cards that give initiative.

 


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Three Big Improvements

Three Big Improvements

Big cards with big effects are one of the many draws for a card game enthusiast to pick up a new title. They pack a punch, provide huge recovery, or fulfill niche roles to a massive scale. What’s not to like about spending all your mana in the later stages of a well-fought game, closing it out by hurling 20 damage at an opponent’s tower? While some of these heavier-costed cards will develop into viable center-pieces of relevant metas, others may remain in the collection binder, rarely to be seen on a major stage.

Today, we take a look at three of the most expensive improvements currently known at this point of Artifact’s gradual reveal. They may not be the flashiest kind of card in the game, but casting an improvement to a lane can pave the way for gaining precious resources and swings in tempo. If we’re casting six or more mana on a card, surely the effects will be worth the investment. At least, that’s the hope. Let’s break down each of them and see if this is the case.

 

6 mana, Blue, Glyph of Confusion

Whenever any unit enters this lane, stun it this round.

First, Stun should not be confused with Disarm (prevents a unit from dealing battle damage) and Silence (prevents a unit from using active abilities). Rather, it’s both! Stun is especially important for dictating hard fights at key stages of the game. For an improvement to inflict this status effect on any unit is a big deal, and well worth the big mana.

However, it’s a slow card that reaps no immediate benefits, having no immediate impact on the round its played. Its also worth noting that this improvement affects ANY unit, including your own, so there’s a greater risk of surrendering lane-control unless it can be followed up with by big spells like Annihilation (a six-mana blue spell that condemns all units).

That being said, this card could shine as a means of locking out an opponent from recovering or defending a lane we may already have a significant lead on. Where an opponent may have a weaker board, mana and abilities from two lanes can be used to remove them, then a Glyph of Confusion can be placed to secure the lead, and another turn’s worth of damage with our units there. Stun is especially valuable since it disables a player from using that hero cast spells of its color, securing greater control of the afflicted lane.

We may also see this card in archetypes that are more spell-oriented and less creep/board-dependent to secure games. This is an acceptable range of niche use for us to expect this card making appearances in Artifact, but whether Glyph of Confusion will be a reliable means of securing lane leads at the expense of stunning our own units entering that lane, will depend on the meta.

 

7 mana, Black, Steam Cannon

Active 1: Deal 4 piercing damage to a unit in any lane.

This improvement will pack quite a punch, having enough damage to outright remove basic creeps, or deal the finishing damage on heroes or large units. With an automated combat system, we can expect unit damage to have greater relevance in Artifact, and with piercing damage, there’s greater relevance in adding the big guns to a deck targeting armor-oriented heroes.

That being said, the cost is once again a factor to consider. The black card pool of Artifact is especially equipped to dish out damage and remove heroes outright, especially with cards like Assassinate (Deal 10 piercing damage to a unit in any lane) and Coup de Grace (Discard a random card. Condemn a hero), providing the decks with black cards a semi-reliable gold-farming strategy. On turns where you’d have mana to play spells with such huge swings, we’d be making the decision to play Steam Cannon instead, with it’s four piercing-damage that turn that may not be enough to remove a hero or threatening unit.

There’s also a cheaper alternative to the Steam Cannon in the form of Keenfolk Turret, a four-mana improvement that has “Active 1: Deal 2 piercing damage to a unit.” The main distinction between the two is Steam Cannon’s ability to target a unit in any lane.

In short, the card may see niche use, but an archetype using this improvement would need enough survivability to guarantee a return on this investment in the first place.

 

6 mana, Red, The Omexe Arena

Draw a card after a hero dies

That’s right. Any hero. As discussed in our previous article, the red card pool of Artifact has beefy heroes and a wide toolkit that helps to keep them on the field, dishing out damage and removing opposing heroes. This also has cross-lane functionality, where a hero dying on any lane would trigger the card draw effect. With spells and improvements that are more on the cheaper and weaker end, what better way to compensate than by having more to choose from?

As said by Xixo, red’s early game emphasis on high hero stats, and low cost creeps make it more vulnerable in the late game, but The Omexe Arena can single-handedly change that late game weakness under the right circumstances, turning board-control swings into resource generation to win them back.

This may be one expensive improvement we see on the regular in more aggressively-oriented decks who would otherwise struggle to maintain momentum on key lanes. With the number of heroes dying throughout a longer game of Artifact, we may expect this card to become a reliable draw engine in decks that can semi-reliably remove heroes.

 

 

The more a player’s understanding of the game grows, the more likely they can grasp the difference between a late-game bomb and a filler-card. Spotting these cards will be easier for long-term CCG enthusiasts, but the thrill of experimenting with new cards, from the cheapest to the biggest, are all part of the fun. Between board control and resource generation, improvements are among one of the most anticipated elements of Artifact we’ll be exploring vigorously upon release. We’ll be releasing articles in future covering which improvements specifically we’ll be keeping an eye out for.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Red: More Than Aggro?

Red: More Than Aggro?

Of the four color archetypes in Artifact, red cards give the impression of being beginner-friendly. It presents itself as a straightforward strategy that takes advantage of beefy heroes and creeps to control lanes, and that being more or less the game plan. The smaller spell toolkit confirms the combat-oriented style of the color, and with an automated combat system, this would encourage new players to adopt a strategy that rewards combat and attack bonuses. Upon reviewing the set in it’s current iteration, this was a first impression that was easy to fall into. Too easy in fact.

To better understand the color, we take a look at a few key cards to determine the red game plan in a vacuum, and how it best complements the intricate ecosystem of Artifact. Here’s a recently revealed hero.

Timbersaw has an impressive health pool with a passive that rewards combat against multiple smaller creeps at a time. Against two basic creeps, Timbersaw would take no damage that turn, and combined with Whirling Death, this can mitigate the damage of less attack-oriented hero to zero. consider the addition of New Orders that would assign a new combat target for a target ally. More than a large swing in lane-presence paired with Bristleback, which becomes modified with +2 armor when a blocking enemy hero dies, it can also improve the survivability of Timbersaw in a turn where an opponent would look to deal with the mobile lumber-miller once and for all. Whirling Death, Timbersaw’s signature spell, gives the player an opportunity to give an allied red hero pseudo armor by reducing the attack of enemy neighbors by two.

Let’s also take a look at Heroic Resolve. It modifies a red hero with +2 health every time you play a cheap card, as long as it’s not an item. While red spells are lower in power-level, at this point in the reveal, there are more spells in the red arsenal that cost two or less than the other three colors (11 cheap red spells so far, compared with the 16 among the three other classes combined). This includes signature spells of other heroes in the same colors. We can consider a scenario where you already have Heroic Resolve active on a red hero. You play Fight Through The Pain, that gives a red hero +2 armor this round and grants initiative. So you get to perform another action, then play Enough Magic! This moves that lane to the combat phase, effectively ending that turn and proceeding to either the next lane or round. Now you have a sturdier hero that took less damage while denying your opponent’s ability to respond further on a potentially critical lane.

Our biggest takeaway from the red set is the durability of red heroes, which does two important things; it retains control of lanes, and it denies your opponent from efficiently mining gold from killing heroes. Acquiring the +5 gold from killing red heroes can be especially grueling if their armor and health pools keep growing, especially with cards like Timbersaw that have passive armor that responds to fluctuations in lane pressure, or Heroic Resolve that both heal and increase the total health pool of red heroes. There’s the potential to starve your opponents of their economy while using the combat-oriented red cards to bolster offenses and eliminate creeps and enemy heroes with stronger ones, while using weaker spells to greater effect.

Red is certainly more than aggro. But its lane presence is dictated more strictly by the creeps and heroes already in these lanes than the spells or improvements available in the red arsenal. Don’t lose lane control, then eventually dominate the late game with a greater economy and mightier heroes under your command. It’s a straightforward strategy, but not as simple as first impressions may suggest. As for how the red card pool complements dual-color decks, that’s an article for another day.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

What Payday Taught Me

What Payday Taught Me

The new player experience is an opportunity to come face-to-face with a card game’s personality. This introduction takes many forms, but can also leave singular first-impressions that any seasoned CCG player can sympathize with. In Hearthstone’s current cycle, this can be your board of low-cost minions getting Spreading Plague‘ed for the first time by a Druid opponent. In Magic: The Gathering’s Guild of Ravnica, this can be a field of small creatures getting obliterated by the Green/Black (Golgari) spell Find/Finality. Both are examples of a straight-forward strategy receiving a one-card, powerful response. Such a response can leave a new player with their first budget aggro deck bewildered or excited by a game’s possibilities.

This was the case at PAX West last month when I first came across Payday.

Entering the convention hall, I had a very basic understanding of how Artifact worked. In fact, I didn’t anticipate even getting to play the game that weekend with how packed the crowd was around the booth. This changed when I found myself in the right place at the right time, and was pushed into the most valuable line that weekend. There was excitement and disbelief on my part, enough so that of the two hours I waited in line, I was talking with other similarly-excited fans of the game, while making many attempts to load the announcement on twitter; I was going to experience Artifact first-hand!

And I had no idea how to play.

That other hour was dedicated towards learning as much about the game as I could. Without a stable internet connection from that corner of the convention floor, this was reduced to watching the broadcasted games from the overheard screens, which doesn’t translate much to a new player aside from an appreciation for the sheer number of moving pieces that go into Artifact strategy. Once I was in, after a game against an AI, I had the opportunity to play against my first real opponent. If I won, I could continue playing in the booth. This was more than enough incentive to play my best.

My opponent played the Economy/Ramp oriented Green Black deck while I was given the more straight-forward Armor/Cleave Red Green deck. At the time, I only knew them by their colors.

In the early stages of developing and trading Heroes and creeps, I was spending whatever gold I had for the best items I could find at the time (reduced at times to basic items), never waiting more than two turns for a better one from the shop. I was aggressive, taking whatever kills I could with whatever Heroes and creeps I had available. It was only after these early stages did I realize my opponent was not being nearly as aggressive with their gold spending as I was. Not because I was mindful of their gold in our exchanges. But from the sudden surge of gold they gained with a three-mana spell cast from their mid-lane.

When Payday was played, I could only think to myself, “What happened?”

I was bewildered, and frightened. I saw enough of the stream to know what bigger items could, well, be in store. This drew me to commit whatever Heroes I was deploying the next turn to finishing off a Tower on a weaker lane before my opponent could maximize the potential value of their shop items. I applied pressure, looking for any advantage I could muster from the turns my opponent was more conservative with their gold. In taking that first Tower of the game, I ignored a minor detail; You can’t play spells, creeps, or improvements of a color unless you have a same-colored Hero occupying that lane.

This left me defenseless, and my damage output from that committed lane was not enough to threaten a kill on their Ancient before losing my other two less-defended Towers. In hindsight, it was an expected follow-through to an economic superiority they gained, and a Hero superiority I allowed to happen. Defaulting to habits from other card games under pressure, I got to witness first-hand the differences Artifact is establishing.

I lost thoroughly, and was left excited for the game’s possibilities. It was a valuable first lesson.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

 

Four Plays That Qualified Four Players To Worlds

Four Plays That Qualified Four Players To Worlds

Four months of high-level Hearthstone later, eight of the top players qualified from the HCT Fall Champion group stages to the Quarterfinals. With one match standing between each player and their chance to compete at the World Championship, it’s likely these will be the most definitive matches of their lives until January. In this article, we break down the winning move that showed TopDeck why these players deserved the win that day.


Bloodyface vs. Caimiao, 0-2

Odd Rogue vs. Zoolock

Of the two reverse sweeps Brian “Bloodyface” Eason would make that day, the match against Caimiao was the critical one, and his Odd Rogue needed to find the win against a wide Zoolock board to kick things off. With six mana, Bloodyface had the opportunity to combo a recently drawn SI:7 Agent with Tar Creeper to remove a buffed Lightwarden and prepare a defensible position. With 10 health, this was the line we expected. Instead, Bloodyface would combo his agent with Vicious Fledgling. He was able to take apart most of the board, and remove Caimiao’s Fungal Enchanter with his Hench-Clan Thug, leaving it as a 5/2 against only a librarian on the other side of the board.

What made this play so strong was Bloodyface acknowledging the inevitability of the Warlock hero power, and choosing to take a line that had a chance to end the game rather than prolong it. This decision was made easier by a Myra’s Unstable Element in hand and a weaker Zoo board, as well as seeing one copy of Saronite Chain Gang discarded by a Soularium from an earlier turn. Nevertheless, this play represented a classic case of prioritizing winning the game over surviving the next turn. The following turn, he removed Caimiao’s Tar Creeper with his Poisoned Dagger and SI:7 Agent to pile on the damage with his Vicious Fledgling, ending the game two turns later.

 

BloodTrail vs. Tyler, 0-0

Shudderwock Shaman vs. Deathrattle Hunter

The first game of the series had reached the late game phase; Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang’s turn began with a Hagatha online and a Grumble ready to receive the Zola treatment, with Tyler ‘Tylerootd Hoang Nguyen standing by, poised with a King Krush and Carniverous Cube full of Devilsaur Eggs. At a precarious 13 health, BloodTrail was equipped with the tools to swing the board back in his favor; an Earth Shock for the one-health Cube, and Hex for the 8/8 King Krush. With Keleseth-buffed Lifedrinker, Grumble, Glacial Shard, and room for Zola, BloodTrail even had the option to begin making serious dents in Tyler’s life total, with the possibility of ending the game before Shudderwock became relevant.

Instead, BloodTrail traded his 8-attack Grumble into the King Krush, holding on to Hex for a crucial turn. He recognized that there was the potential for another wave of big threats Tyler could use to deal the remaining 13 damage. BloodTrail was able to respond to Tyler’s top-decked Kathrena Winterwisp with a Hex and a Bloodlust from Hagatha to regain board control. This put Tyler in an even more precarious position than taking eight damage the previous turn, forcing him to either draw Deathstalker Rexxar to close the game against an opponent who had board control. Against a developed board state like BloodTrail’s at this stage of the game, Deathstalker Rexxar was seeing diminishing returns as the only remaining win condition. In the final turn, all Tyler had were a Hunter’s Mark and a Carniverous Cube in hand, with five cards remaining in his deck against BloodTrail’s Grumble-occupied board and a hand full of Hagatha spells.

The conservative line was rewarded with a replay on the stream between games, with Admirable highlighting how holding on to that Hex for the next turn’s Kathrena Winterwisp was what earned BloodTrail this decisive victory, setting him on the path to a 3-0 win and a well-deserved qualification to the HCT World Championship.

 

Justsaiyan vs. Sintolol, 0-1

Malygos Druid vs. Odd Rogue

David “Justsaiyan” Shan’s opening hand of two Wild Growths and Nourish propelled him to a 9-mana turn against Thomas “Sintolol” Zimmer’s Dire Mole, 5/5 Hench-Clan Thug, and a recently played Giggling Inventor. In response, Justsaiyan had the opportunity to coin out the Ultimate Infestation to remove the greatest threat on the board, while developing a threat of his own. At 16 health, this would also have gained him a comfortable amount of armor to invest mana into cycling for greater removal options. A greater amount of armor could have been gained with playing Malfurion the Pestilent, which presented favorable late-game options.

Instead, he opted to play Spreading Plague, buffing two of the Scarab Beetles with a banana each (courtesy of an earlier King Mukla by Sintolol). What this accomplished was Sintolol removing Scarabs while whittling down his own board, to a point where Swipe would have represented a huge swing to Justsaiyan’s favor. It’s likely that Justsaiyan anticipated the buffed 6/6 Hench-Clan Thug swinging into the 2/6 Scarab, presenting the best Swipe target while further reducing Sintolol’s board integrity. By holding on to the coin, Justsaiyan was able to pair the Swipe with his Death Knight, opting to summon two Frost Widows (poisonous spiders) to further threaten any chance Sintolol had to develop a substantial enough board to end the game. The spiders also gave Justsaiyan more freedom to cast Ultimate Infestation the following turn, safely closing out the game with his health and board superiority.

These factors, along with the fatigue damage after casting Myra’s Unstable Element and a lack of Leeroy Jenkins, forced a concede from Sintolol, thus tying up the series. Losing this game would have otherwise meant Justsaiyan facing against Shudderwock Shaman up to three times, which despite being favorable Justsaiyan, would have prolonged Sintolol’s opportunities to win the series.

Ultimate Infestation has enough impact to force big swings on its own, but Justsaiyan resisted this temptation and set up a line of play that more effectively shut out Sintolol from the game. The ability to consider a wide range of options and identify the most strategically advantageous play is one of the qualities Hearthstone audiences will expect to see more of from World-class contenders.

 

Languagehacker vs. RENMEN, 2-1

Shudderwock Shaman vs. Malygos Togwaggle Druid

Mihai “Languagehacker” Dragalin had five cards remaining. Among them were the critical Grumble and the second Saronite Chain Gang draws that would have made his Shudderwock combo more likely to go off. Zola the Gorgon and a Saronite from earlier in the game were the only means of keeping his combo alive. Though he sat at a comfortable thirty health, RENMEN had both a Ghoul Infestor from an Ultimate Infestation and an Arcane Tyrant, as well as one durability remaining on his Twig of the World Tree. Languagehacker faced the possibility of either getting bursted down for an incredible amount of damage with Malygos and RENMEN’s board state, or lose the most relevant combo piece in his deck the following turn.

With 11 cards remaining in RENMEN’s deck, Languagehacker took a game-winning risk and played his Shudderwock. What made the move rewarding were the two Glacial Shards that were also played from earlier in the game, freezing both the face and the Ghoul. This denied the Twig of the World Tree from activating that turn, which may have otherwise allowed RENMEN to steal Languagehacker’s Grumble and very likely bring the game to a 2-2. Had this been the case, Languagehacker would have been forced to play Shudderwock Shaman against RENMEN’s more favored Deathrattle Hunter.

The ability to recognize what plays had to be made in a given game state was one that Languagehacker demonstrated a mastery over with this critical, calculated risk.

 


There were some big developments following this weekend’s tournament. The HCT Fall Championship crowned Justsaiyan as the second ever 2-Star Master, and the first representing the Americas region. BloodTrail will only need four points to achieve 2-Star Master to do the same for the Asia region. With the October Balance patch launching on the 18th, we can expect to see a shake up of the competitive meta leading up to next weekend’s HCT Oakland. Regardless how pro players adjust to the new meta, we can look forward to seeing Bloodyface, BloodTrail, Justsaiyan and Languagehacker competing on Hearthstone’s biggest stage as the most recent four players to have qualified for the HCT World Championship.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!