Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Learning How To Play Your Artifact Deck

Learning How To Play Your Artifact Deck

If you’re reading this then you must’ve already read my beginner’s article on the basics of Artifact. This time around I’ll be digging into the other important details of the game that I’ve learned from playing these past few weeks. I’ll be helping us chip at the age old question, “How do I win?” and “What is my deck supposed to do?” Well today I’m going to help you with that by using the decks in the gauntlet that you can use in Artifact's featured event Call To Arms as an example! These decks will be available until December 13th and are entirely free to use! The aforementioned gauntlet will be pitting us up against six different decks. Death and Taxes (Sacrifice Midrange), Green Machine (Midrange Ramp), Trench Warfare (Debuff Midrange), Ascendancy (Big Buff Hero Aggro), Out of Control (Going Wide Aggro), and Upkeep Killer (Control). These decks will be used to explain and understand the archetypes.


At a high level, there are three three main categories for decks: Aggression, Midrange, Control. After that, we'll take a look at some more specific types of decks in those archetypes.


You’re here to apply pressure and never let your foot off the gas and make sure your deck curves out. A mistake I see people making is adding a bunch of slow cards and only thinking about the payoff in the late game, but let’s be honest….there shouldn't be too much of a late game. Not saying that if you haven’t killed them by round 5 your deck is bad because in Artifact there will always be a late game, but they should be near death by the time the late game rolls around. Look to cards like Time of Triumph to close the door or a surprise Double Edge if you own Centaur Warruner. Typically aggressive decks can be found in Red and Blue. An important thing to note is that blue is the color with all the burn (direct damage spells) in Artifact!


Your deck functions best at the midway point of a game typically around round 5 to 6. Your threats are usually powerful enough on their own like Ravenous Mass or you have a value engine like Cheating Death. Another style of midrange is to accelerate your mana to play huge threats, thus dominating the midgame. There's a midrange deck in every color but usually black and green is involved for the best midrange decks.


Your gameplan is to control the pace of the game and get to the late game as that is where your deck shines. You’ll usually be able to see the late game when your deck plays cards like At Any Cost and Annihilation. Control decks can be found in blue, black, and red.

Examples of Archetypes

Big Buff Heroes (Aggression)

So if you remember from my last article I had mentioned the colors and what they do well. Well, red heroes have one thing going for them, they’re very well statted and have insanely powerful abilities. I believe Legion Commander’s card Duel is one of the best signature cards. The Ascendance deck gives you a nice look at a “Buff my hero” to ridiculous levels kind of game plan. As you can see, God's Strength modifies a red hero with +4 attack so at any point your hero will become buff to insanely buff! If you’re a fan of this type of archetype, Ascendance is a deck to build towards, but the issue with this archetype is that a token deck or anything that can go too wide will block your heroes forever. Other cards and heroes I'd recommend are Rising Anger and Time of Triumph. Time of Triumph is usually a closer for this style of deck.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Going Wide(Aggression) 

In Artifact there is the ability to go wide and maybe you’re familiar with them from Magic: The Gathering... there are Token and Weenie strategies where we just try to flood the board and beat the opponent’s tower and ancient. From the gauntlet event, Out of Control is the closest to that archetype if you’re into that. In Artifact you have powerful cards like Dimensional Portal which can synergize with Ogre Magi as you have a 25% chance of getting another copy back into your hand, which can allow us to constantly create little creeps which not only walls off the opponent from hitting your tower but allows you to immediately close out the game from one alpha strike. Also a few useful heroes for this game plan would be Kanna and Venomancer. If you wanted, you could drop the Red for Green, which will give you access to cards like Arm the Rebellion, Vhoul Martyr, and team buffs like Rumusque Blessing ! 


$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Midrange: A Place In Between

So when people ask what midrange is, there's always a split answer from multiple people, but in my opinion (technically all my articles are in my opinion, haha) midrange performs best at the mid game point — so around rounds five to six are perfect. These decks are always looking for good value in all their threats and usually have some kind of insane card advantage engine to shut the door on aggro and to make it so control can’t stabilize, and I think the deck that best represents this is Death and Taxes. But there's also the ramping game plan that is trying to just accelerate their mana so by the time you hit your round five or six, they already have 9 mana or so and then they drop a bunch of big creatures and overwhelm you that way. Best way to do that is the Green Machine.

Sacrifice Decks (Midrange)

You can build decks revolving around your own creatures dying because you have cards like Lich and his ability “Sacrifice” condemns another ally and draws a card. If that ally has six or more attack then you draw two cards. Why would you ever want to sacrifice your own things? Well let's consider that your creep is about to die. I'd rather draw a card or two and take a hit on my tower. Please note that the opponent still gets the bounty for whatever you sacrifice. You can also use Lich and Ravenous Mass ability to sacrifice Rix as he has rapid deployment so you can use these sac outlets as a way to either draw or in a way heal your Rix and if you need a hero in another lane this is kind of like having a Town Portal Scroll. In this style of deck I'd highly recommend you play Revtel Signet Ring to reduce the amount of gold your opponents will get. It's these types of value engines that make this deck the perfect midrange deck that can grind and let's not forget the infamous Cheating Death! That card will often times exhaust the resources of a control deck as they may have to kill multiple things multiple times.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ramp (Midrange)

The ramping play style relies on cards like Selemene's Favor and Stars Align to accelerate your mana so that when you get to the midgame, you're playing a bunch of crazy bombs like Thunderhide Pack and Thunderhide Alpha. The game plan allows you to overwhelm your opponent's from having a bunch of pumped up minions and big bombs like the dinosaurs that most of your opponent's heroes and creeps fold to.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Control Decks (Control)

In any kind of card game, the general idea behind a control deck is for you to use your health as a resource and block a few hits with your face, so don’t be afraid to get hit! I see too many people killing things right away! Also a thing to note is that in most games you’ll be playing from behind because your early game is usually pretty weak, but it’s when we get to the late game that we dominate. It’s all about controlling the board in this game and nothing does that better than a bunch of tower improvements like Ignite combined with Conflagration and card’s like Thundergod's Wrath. All of these cards hit a widespread amount of threats as opposed to a single target, although it is nice to have Phantom Assassin so you can have  Coup de Grace as a hard removal spell to completely cut a lane off of a color. In using these tower improvements that can hit a widespread number of targets at the beginning of every turn, you don’t have to use your initiative on some improvements thus allowing you to cast a more important spell and they also make it so your opponent is only feeding into your lane and giving you free gold when entering that lane.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00


Do I need to spend all my mana in a turn?

In other card games, not spending all of your mana each turn is wasted resources. However, in Artifact, passing the turn without doing anything means gaining initiative in the next lane. This offsets the “wasted mana.” Initiative management is one of the most important aspects of Artifact, so it’s often correct to not spend each turn.

Abandoning a Lane

When you look at a lane and noticed it’s “too far gone” because there are too many creeps and too many heroes, I’ll withdraw from that lane or sometimes I’ll purposely deploy things into that lane a few turns prior to trick an opponent this way, while I lock a hero into that lane. 

Locking Up A Hero 

This tactic is best when you have a hero like Rix or a Town Portal Scroll so you can deploy into one lane even though you know you’ve clearly lost that lane but you deploy there only to bounce it back so this way you can make sure their hero is stuck in a dead lane like in Lane 3 of the images down below. They now have to find a Blink Dagger or a Town Portal Map to return, which can buy you enough time to set up the win. Usually this line of play takes set up a few turns prior but a lot of this game comes down to guessing where your opponent and you will be deploying. This tactic is something I’d focus on when you’ve logged a few more hours.

You're Going To Lose... A lot

This is my final tip for this article. You're going to lose a billion games before you get better but every time you lose, try to take something away from that loss. Don't get discouraged. I lost so many games because a lot of the cards are still new to me and I'm not sure what to play around, but after you play enough, you'll start to pick up on play patterns and when to switch lanes. You'll definitely find a play style that fits you! This game has a steep learning curve as I've now probably sunken a chunk of time into the game and am only just starting to get an idea of how things should be played!

Bonus Round: Consider This Board State!

Lane 1

You can see that our opponent has left this lane as they’ve deemed this lane unsalvageable and that my clock isn’t fast enough to deal a full 80 to their ancient so they’ve withdrawn from here and have now focused on attacking the other lanes. I am now going to use my Dark Seer’s ability Surge after I heal and buff up Rix to put him into lane 2.

Lane 2

It’s quite apparent that this is where showdowns will happen to determine the game and whomever wins this lane will win the match. Not to say that they can’t pull a last minute switcharoo and maybe try to burst down another tower but it seems unlikely.

Lane 3

It’s quite apparent that I’ve now abandoned this lane as there is an advantage to locking our opponent’s hero into a lane so that the opponent can’t group all their heroes up and go for one big push on the middle lane. I've chosen to abandon this lane as lane three is the last lane to take an action in so there's a good chance I could lose before it even gets to lane three although this isn't always correct, most of the times I choose not to fight for lane three unless it's a last ditch effort


With a few more tips and tricks under your belt, I hope the things I've learned will help you as you start to dig deeper into this insanely detailed game! I've got a million more games to play as I try to understand the meta ...because after you understand the can build your memes *maniacal laughter*

Yours Truly


More on ArtifactGoldfish ...


Artifact Beginner's Guide

A beginner's guide to Valve's Artifact.

Nov 26 | by TheAsianAvenger

Arti-Facts! Blue-Green Combo

Are you a fan of combo wombos? TheAsianAvenger is here to show you a fun Blue and Green combo deck!

Dec 24 | by TheAsianAvenger

Arti-Facts! Blue-Red Control

Are you a control player looking for a deck to call your own? Well, wait no more! TheAsianAvenger is here to show you the list he's been playing since release!

Dec 18 | by TheAsianAvenger
artifact meta

The Artifact Meta — December 2018

What are the top decks in the queues right now? Come find out as TheAsianAvenger talks about what he's found.

Dec 06 | by TheAsianAvenger

Next Article

Contact | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

All original content on this page is © 2019 MTGGoldfish, Inc. and may not be used or reproduced without consent. MTGGoldfish, Inc. is not affiliated with Artifact or Valve.