Artifact has been available for just over three weeks, and it has had a less than stellar start, with reports suggesting that the player count is already down 80% from its peak at the game’s launch. That said, Valve appears to be committed to turning things around for the digital CCG, and part of this process includes implementing several card balance changes.
Chief amongst these changes is a nerf to the extremely powerful Axe, a card with a price tag that has exceeded $20 on the Steam Marketplace and a critical component of some of Artifact‘s best decks. Specifically, Axe has lost a point of attack and a point of health, changing his stats from 7/2/11 to 6/2/10.
So too Drow Ranger has had her power level reduced, as her signature spell no longer silences all enemy heroes, but instead targets a single opposing hero and its allied neighbors. While not quite as pricey as Axe, Drow Ranger has still fetched in excess of $15 through the marketplace.
Fortunately for players that have invested in these two cards, Valve is offering a «one-time buyback» until January 4. The buyback prices are based upon the cards’ peak selling prices within 24 hours of the announced nerfs, which gives Axe a value of $9.98 and puts Drow Ranger at $7.18.
Additionally, a number of cards are being buffed. Specifically, Bloodseeker, Cheating Death, Jasper Daggers, Lion, Outworld Devourer, and Timbersaw have all received changes, ranging from base stat increases to mana cost reductions, that should make them more viable options.
Valve’s willingness to implement these balance changes, and so quickly after Artifact‘s release, may come as a surprise to some players. Previously, the company has taken the position that these types of alterations should be considered a «last resort» due to a perception that «players valued immutability very highly.»
Clearly, the current state of the CCG has called for Valve to reconsider this methodology, and it has offered further clarification on the change of heart:
In the end, we struggled to see the benefits of immutability outweighing the numerous downsides. The average player mainly wants the game quality to be high above all other considerations.
While it is not known if these balance changes will be enough to get more people interested in Artifact, player response appears to be generally positive. Certainly, some players that are losing money on their investments may feel stung by the nerfs to Axe and Drow Ranger, however, the stats on these cards will mean very little if there is no one left to play them against.
More details on the card balance changes can be found on Steam’s website.