Competitive card games

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!

Six Decks To Watch This Weekend

Six Decks To Watch This Weekend

The most notable difference between the Fall and Summer HCT Championships of 2018 is the number of unique deck archetypes that were brought. With $250,000 and a qualification for the HCT World Championship on the line, we did not expect more than two or three decks outside the norm. However, we’ve seen six unique decks, three of which are in Hatul’s lineup! Comparing this to the Summer Championship, viewers will find more excitement in the remaining days of the tournament. Lets see how these six decks did in the first two days of the Fall Championship.


Hatul’s Spell Hunter

Hatul began his initial match against Trunks’ Zoo with his Spell Hunter, taking advantage of an Explosive Trap and Emerald Spellstone on turn eight to force a response from his opponent. After removing one of these wolves, Trunks was two health away from dying the next turn, but Hatul had Deathstalker Rexxar up at the time and rolled a charging Crackling Razormaw, taking the game 1-0.

Though we can attribute this win to the combination of Spellstone and Death Knight, it’s worth noting that Rhok’delar was another value draw that had the potential to pile on lethal amounts of damage. Having another late-game bomb like Rhok’delar makes Spell Hunter less dependent on Deathstalker Rexxar to win otherwise difficult games.

In his Winner’s Match, Hatul opened with Spell Hunter once again, but lost to BloodTrail’s Even Warlock. With neither a Deathstalker Rexxar or Rhok’delar drawn by the late-game, Hatul eventually ran out of resources and lost to BloodTrail’s wide board and efficient hero power.

Hatul’s Big Druid

Hatul was able to take game two off of Trunks’ Zoo with his Big Druid. Trunks was presented a critical turn, where he could either play around Primordial Drake or Swipe. He opted to respect the drake and not trade more of his fragile board into Hatul’s four remaining Scarab Beatles. This left Hatul with the opportunity to use his one copy of Branching Paths to buff their attack and remove the rest of the board.

Where Malygos Druid doesn’t play Primordial Drake and Taunt Druid being unable to use Spreading Plague, Hatul’s Big Druid forced Trunks to respect both, which arguably won this critical second game for him.

BloodTrail’s Malygos Druid prevented Hatul from taking another game in his Winner’s Match. Hatul took a risky line by leaving BloodTrail’s Dreampetal Florist up for two turns, which reduced the cost of both Malygos and Flobbidinous Floop. Despite the massive board of dragons, BloodTrail swiped the board for 11 damage with two Malygos’ up. Hatul was unable to recover, and fell to his group’s Decider Match.

Secret Hunter

Bloodyface opened his initial match with Secret Hunter against DacRyvius’ Shudderwock Shaman. From Secretkeeper with a trap on turn three, Flanking Strike on turn five, and a fully-buffed Emerald Spellstone on turn six, DacRyvius was forced to use both Volcanos. This opened up Bloodyface to drop Bearshark and Houndmaster on turn seven, which went unanswered and gave the American player a 1-0 lead.

In his Winner’s Match against Sintolol, Bloodyface was down 0-1 when he queued the Secret Hunter list against Sintolol’s Shudderwock Shaman. Deathstalker Rexxar generated a stealthed Vicious Fledgling that Bloodyface was able to push through Sintolol’s defenses, rolling the Windfury buff, then rolling Stealth, leaving Sintolol vulnerable with two health and no taunts. Bloodyface then tied the series 1-1.

It was Bloodyface’s only deck between both matches that did not take a loss on Thursday. We will see how much further the Secret Hunter can go on Sunday’s Quarter Final.

Cube Warlock

RENMEN had just tied the series 1-1 when he queued Cube Warlock into Islandcat’s first attempt to get a win with his Malygos Druid. Without silences in the Druid deck, RENMEN was able to generate large Mountain Giant boards with his Carniverous Cube. In response to Islandcat’s Alexstrasza, RENMEN made a strong read and copied his Ziliax with Prince Taldaram to remove the dragon, heal up to 21, and survive Islandcat’s 20 damage in hand.

In the Winner’s Match, RENMEN was up 2-0 until he struggled to seal his Winner’s Match with Cubelock against Tyler. The series almost looked like a reverse sweep until Tyler’s King Krush and Katrina Winterwisp were unable to punch through RENMEN’s Voidwalkers and Ziliax to remove lethal. The magnetized Spiderbomb was unable to remove enough of the threat on board, winning RENMEN the series and his placement in Sunday’s Quarter Final.

Control Warlock

GoeLionKing lost to Sintolol’s Even Warlock and Taunt Druid before taking a win against Shudderwock Shaman, but lost the series when his Control Priest was unable to beat the Shudderwock combo. From the interview desk, Frodan relayed Sintolol’s comfort against LionKing’s line up, believing it would be a cruising victory.

It may even have seen that 3-0 had it not been for a miraculous Gnomeferatu. Demonic Project and Gnomeferatu will have to put in work tomorrow against a nearly identical line-up, but with DacRyvius playing Malygos Druid instead of Taunt Druid.

With better targets for Demonic Project against two combo-oriented decks, it’s likely we may see the Control Warlock get another win.

Odd Warrior

Hatul’s Warrior was banned in both matches by Trunks and BloodTrail. After his victory against Trunks, Kibler would tell Frodan how he loved seeing unusual deck building decisions being rewarded. This Odd Warrior was forced to be banned by Trunks to have a chance with his aggro-oriented line up, and by BloodTrail for his Even Warlock and Malygos Druid to have a chance.

We’re likely to see it banned again in the Decider Match if LPTrunks eliminates lnguagehackr on Day Three, but hope to see it in action at some point this weekend.


In a game where bringing the right line-up can make or break a tournament run, players are often tempted to bring the most objectively powerful decks. This weekend’s 2018 HCT Fall Championship is no exception, with nine out of the 16 players bringing Malygos Druid, nine bringing Odd Rogue, and five playing both.

This strategy has had it’s successes in the past, especially in last year’s Knights of the Frozen Throne meta. Highlander Priest, Tempo Rogue and Jade Druid saw regular appearances as the unholy trio of Hearthstone for many months, both in tournaments and on the standard ladder. However, in contrast to the results above, bringing two of the most popular decks of the tournament did not provide the strong start nearly half of this weekend’s players were looking for.

Of the five players to bring both Malygos Druid and Odd Rogue, four of them (each from separate groups) lost their initial matches, and are at risk of being eliminated from the championship tomorrow. Only Bloodyface from Group A won his first match, as well as beating Sintolol to qualify for Sunday’s Quarter Final! Of the four players to bring a unique archetype, two of them qualified to Sunday’s Quarter Finals (Bloodyface and RENMEN), one is competing in Group C’s Decider Match (Hatul), and the other is at risk of being eliminated from Group A (GoeLionKing).

These results give the appearance of more creative line-ups being a success factor in tournaments, but a fuller analysis will have to wait for another day. For now, we’ll be watching Day Three to see if GoeLionKing and Hatul will be able to take their unique deck choices to Sunday’s Quarter Final, and if Bloodyface and RENMEN will be rewarded for their line ups on Sunday with a guaranteed spot in the HCT World Championship.

Decklist images courtesy of hearthstonetopdecks.com


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!

StanCifka Enters The Gauntlet

StanCifka Enters The Gauntlet

The Artifact closed beta saw some of its best players compete in last weekend’s $10,000 limited format tournament. Among these top contenders were Magic: The Gathering’s all-time earner Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, Hearthstone World Championship 2017 finalist Frank Zhang (Fr0zen), and Stanislav Cifka, who entered the tournament following a three-win-streak of Artifact constructed single-elimination tournaments.

While this was not the first limited tournament to be hosted by Valve, Stan told TopDeck there was a greater interest with a higher prize pool. This attracted the mentioned players, as well as other notable personalities who are among the few hundred to test the game as Valve prepares to release the second round of the closed beta.

Two of these players reign supreme in the limited format.

Adrian Koy (Lifecoach) and I are the only players who have over a 50% chance to go 5-0 when we enter the Gauntlet,” Stan told TopDeck. “So it feels like me and Lifecoach are the strongest players.”

Axe, a rare Red hero of Artifact

Some of the challenges players faced in the Gauntlet are familiar to Magic players; For each of the five rounds, you select two out of 12 cards, then the pack “rotates,” presenting 10 cards, then eight, and so on. Each round will allow you to select a hero, items, creeps and improvements. After a selection of two cards, the algorithm removes the two best cards you did not select from appearing again. Stan says the dwindling quality of remaining cards in each pack is very realistic. You’re ultimately left with 60 cards (not including hero signature cards) to build your 40-card deck.

What makes Artifact unique among other games with limited formats are heroes. Though each round of selection only comes with one hero, you’ll always be offered a random basic hero among the last two cards if the one you did not select was removed by the algorithm. Each deck will only ever have five heroes, and their deployment mechanic guarantees that heroes will see play regularly in one of the board’s three lanes.

“Let’s say you draft an amazing card in another game,” Stan said. “You can draw it or not. But if you have an amazing hero, it always hits the board and always gives you a benefit.”

In fact, 15 of the 40 cards in your limited deck will be the three signature cards that are accompanied by each of the five heroes you select, taking up more than a third of your cards. This effectively leaves you with 25 spaces from your 60-card draft to build your 40-card deck. Having good heroes can make or break a draft.

Eclipse, Luna’s signature card

For example, one of the losses Stan took during the limited tournament was against compLexity’s Tugay Evsan (Mryagut), who drafted two Luna’s in his deck. “I felt like such an underdog in that match, thinking it would be impossible to beat,” Stan said. The addition of two Luna’s provided six copies of Eclipse, a spell that deals three piercing damage to a random enemy, and repeats with each action phase that’s passed while a Luna is on the board. Remember the consistent board presence heroes have in Artifact due to the deployment mechanic. Each of the six Eclipses can receive many stacks late enough into the game, providing inevitable bursts of damage and board clears.

The potential for large differences in deck quality leads Stan to prefer constructed over limited, but he says it’s still possible to maintain a strong winrate. Stan was able to take a game off Mryagut before losing the match 1-2. At this phase of the tournament, he was still in contention for a top 8 finish.

The emphasis on heroes leads players to making the most of their remaining drafting decisions based on what heroes they’re offered, and the signature cards they come with. Knowing how to build decks around each combination of colors you draft (two most of the time), and knowing how to complement your hero’s aggressive or control emphasis, will make the most of your draft.

Practice sessions by Stan revealed the importance of adding support cards to a limited deck. If you need more attack on a hero, you can add Short Sword, and if you need more defense, you add armor. At the next level, if you have a certain strategy and you need to win with specific, expensive items, then you can attempt to draft certain cards like Payday to better guarantee having a strong enough economy for the card to see play. Stan reveals that most of the support that items offer can be achieved with basic items, so remain focused on finding good heroes.

Payday, a black common spell

With three constructed wins, these practice sessions, and a high win rate in the limited format, Stan drafted his deck and faced the competition in last weekend’s tournament. Despite his loss to Tugay, he reached the final Swiss round before falling to Lifecoach. “I had a way weaker deck than Lifecoach. I had good heroes, but had extremely bad cards.” Bad cards can be a result of not drafting playables of certain colors, resulting in cards with weaker power levels needing to be added in the deck-building phase.

“I felt like Lifecoach played super good that last game,” Stan said. “I also felt like I played fine, but in the end, I was missing creep to chump block a hero to save a lane… he pushed the lane I turned over, he was up one tower, and I was unable to defend the second lane.”

TopDeck asked if this third game loss was a direct result of the RNG nature of the creep deployment mechanic.

“The RNG mattered, but I was lacking the creep because I didn’t have enough creeps as cards in my drafted deck. I had too many bad situational cards and I would simply play these types of cards but I was lacking these type of effects, so I wouldn’t consider my deck that great because I was missing chump blockers for these kinds of situations.”

In summary, Lifecoach flooded the board while preventing his opponent from doing the same, setting himself up for the lethal turn. “I had very strong heroes and good ways to buff them,” Stan said, “or make dangerous threats by buffing the attack and having a lot of combat tricks, but I was lacking a way to set up a big board with a lot of creeps… If you’re lacking creeps, it’s difficult to fight back if your opponent goes wide with their own creeps, and that’s what Lifecoach, did so that’s why he was doing well.”

Axe impressively buffed by items

While Stan went over the details of his final match against Lifecoach, a stream clip by Octavian Morosan (Kripparrian) was trending on the Artifact subreddit where Octavian expressed concern for newcomers when the game launches, and how they would be able to compete against beta-testers with seven months of experience under them. As of this article’s publication, the video has over 27,000 views and is among the top three posts of the week. TopDeck asked Stan how he would respond to the issue.

“I feel like there’s so much space for improving that I guess in a couple weeks or months after release, the mass (of players) will be way better than we are now.” Stan believes that the millions of hours that will be invested by the gaming community when the game is public, will reveal more of what’s possible in Artifact than the hundreds to thousands of hours under the belts of other beta-testers.

The winner of last weekend was Lukáš Blohon. He had only played Artifact for four days before entering the limited tournament.

After practicing a bit together (discussing what heroes were good for the limited format and more), Lukáš attributed his success in the tournament on twitter to Stan’s mentorship. It’s worth mentioning that Lukáš is ranked 44th among the all-time earners of Magic, and is no stranger to competitive card games. However, against a field as stacked as the $10k Artifact Gauntlet tournament, and considering the amount of time Lukáš had to play the game compared to other contenders, his victory was an impressive feat.

“Lukáš had to practice very hard for the tournament,” Stan said, “but it paid off for him. So I think when the game’s released, everyone will have this opportunity.”

Luna, a common Blue hero of Artifact

The complexity of Artifact leaves most wondering about the game’s future as an esport, and whether it will also enjoy the same level of competitive diversity as Magic, with both constructed and limited opportunities to break out in the scene. In response, Stan felt that it was because of the game’s greater complexity in limited that the Gauntlet is even more competitive than drafting in Magic. “I can see there would be the highest level of competition in the limited format very easily.”

Proficient players will naturally gravitate towards tournaments with large enough prize pools, regardless of the format, but the dependence on heroes in the limited format may have most players default to constructed. “It will be about your ability to predict the meta game and queueing the right match ups,” Stan said. “There’s no luck aspect in terms of what cards you get because all pro players will have access to all cards.”

That being said, the Czech card slinger’s time in the Gauntlet left a strong impression on his Artifact experience. “In the beginning, I felt it wouldn’t be great, but every game was different… it was a great feeling to discover new cards and new mechanics, so I really like Gauntlet for this.”

In the next constructed tournaments, Stan said he’ll bring new ideas from the Gauntlet, which showed some hidden gems that are going to do well in 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!

From the Editor: What is TopDeck?

From the Editor: What is TopDeck?

We are a group of card gamers who have collectively been involved in the industry for many years; as players, content creators, tournament organizers, and more.

What we have in common is our belief in the positive influence content can make on a gamer. From personal experience, we know reading a well-written guide can be their first step towards winning a game night. Or a local qualifier. Or a championship.

Our goal for TopDeck is to provide deck guides and strategic updates from our team of knowledgeable and passionate card gamers to you, the reader. We plan for TopDeck to grow as a platform for players to cultivate skills, share knowledge, and grow their card gaming communities. Follow @TopDeckGG to stay tuned for these updates.

Check out our first Artifact article, an interview with StanCifka where he shares his impressions of the Gauntlet, and its potential for competitive play. We will also release Hearthstone content covering the HCT Fall Championship over the weekend.

As a casual gamer or future champion, we thank you for reading TopDeck!

Glen Tokola, Editor in Chief

glen@topdeck.gg


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!