‘Artifact’ Update Addresses Card Balance, Adds Skill Ratings

Valve released a patch for its new digital collectible card game “Artifact” on Thursday, bringing card balance changes, an independent skill rating, and more.

When the game first launched, Valve planned to never change cards — or to only make changes or bans in extremely rare cases — because it thought players “valued immutability very highly,” it said in a blog post. But, it struggled to see the benefits of immutability compared to the numerous downsides.

“The average player mainly wants the game quality to be high above all other considerations,” it said. “Players who focus a lot on deck building would prefer a more diverse and engaging meta to play around. While some card collectors enjoy having a small number of really valuable cards, many others are happier in a world where the full set value isn’t overly dominated by one or two cards.

“Further consideration also made us realize it was the wrong approach from the development side,” it added. “An extremely high bar for making iterations will indirectly cause future set development to be worse off. Long term set creativity will suffer if we are reluctant to try new ideas because of fears around not being able to make adjustments.”

Now that Valve has embraced ongoing card balance, it said it will take an incremental approach when making changes in the future. Since balance tweaks can also affect a card’s worth in “Artifact’s” marketplace, the developer is granting players a one-time buyback exception for the next two weeks. Anyone who bought the cards that were changed in Thursday’s patch can sell them directly back to Valve for what their peak selling price was just prior to the announcement.

Besides card balancing, Valve added some new features to “Artifact.” There’s now a skill rating that’s specific to a particular time period and game mode. It ranges from 1 to 75, Valve said, and once you’ve earned a rating it won’t decrease during the current season. Every matchmaking game (except Call To Arms) now contributes to skill rating adjustments.

Additionally, account levels and unlocks are now available in the game. Every match grants experience contributing to account level, Valve said. Leveling up unlocks portraits, event tickets, and card packs.

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