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.