Artifact gets a leveling system and Axe has been nerfed

Artifact's latest hefty update fixes a lot of the community's problems with the game

Artifact imp

After the initial burst of interest, Valve’s digital card game Artifact has struggled. Valve added chat in its first update last week, but its second – which has just gone live – is far meatier, and addresses some of the main concerns players have had about the game.

Excitingly, there’s a progression system now. Playing matchmade games will grant XP, which goes toward earning levels. Reaching certain levels will unlock special portraits, while others will grant both card packs and tickets. There’s a cap of fifteen packs or tickets this season that you can earn in this way, which is sensible, as granting unlimited free card packs would harm the value of cards in the market. Protecting this has always been one of Valve’s core goals.

It’s for that same reason that Valve had wanted to avoid rebalancing cards – if you dropped $15 on Axe, it would kinda suck to see him nerfed, right? But that’s what’s happening. He’s losing a point of attack and a point of health, dropping to 6/2/10 from his previous beefy stat line. Valve say that “in the end, we struggled to see the benefits of immutability outweighing the numerous downsides.”

Axe isn’t the only card getting rebalanced – another high-priced hero, Drow Ranger, has had the scope of her signature spell pared back, while Lion, Timbersaw, and Bloodseeker all get buffs. You can read the full details here.

Happily, Valve is offering “a one-time buyback” on the eight cards that are rebalanced in this update, for those of you who feel that their new stats no longer justify the price you paid. The buyback period begins today and will run until January 4 at 16:00 Pacific – the cards must be sold back to Artifact before then. Axe’s buyback price is $9.98, while Drow Ranger’s is $7.18 – these values were determined by the cards’ peak market value in the 24 hours before the nerfs were revealed. Further details are here.

Artifact also gets skill ratings. These will be “specific to a particular time period” – a season – and game mode (draft or constructed). They will range from 1 to 75 and, interestingly, will not decrease once earned. Every matchmade game outside of the Call to Arms featured event will contribute to your SR.

Read more: Tempted? Here’s how to play Artifact

Personally I love Artifact’s design and have thoroughly enjoyed every game I’ve played, but each game is demanding and lengthy, and the only takeaways are lessons in deck construction and strategy. This is great as far as it goes, and I’m not sure when I started needing games to offer something more – all I know is, without something more tangible to show for each game, I haven’t kept up with Artifact as much as I’d have liked. Hopefully this update can pull myself and other lapsed players back in.