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.