- It is NOT free to play; players buy the game and buy the cards and packs
- Focus on playing with friends and social gameplay; not on "grind" modes
- Steam Marketplace integration for trading, buying, and selling individual cards
- Lane-based gameplay (i.e. there are three game boards active at one time)
- Any number of creatures in play
- Any number of cards in hand
Integrating with the Steam Marketplace enables the capability to trade and sell individual cards which brings Artifact closer to cardboard TRADING card games (TCGs) that made it's designer, Richard Garfield, famous. Yes, there is a word in all caps there. I am firm believer that the trading and collecting of single cards is a key component in the enjoyment of these games; physical or not.
Trading cards is just the first part of a return to more social-oriented gaming that Valve has planned for Artifact. They are also very talkative about their social gaming approach. They want to focus on players playing with their friends and not beholden to "game modes" in which players feel forced into the most efficient method to "grind" for cards. This is why the ability to trade/sell/buy individual cards is key. If players are going to play with their friends then they need to know they aren't losing out on progress that could be made towards something else.
The last three items on the list do not wrap themselves into the free to play or social aspects, but none the less are important to peaking my interest level in Artifact.