Which are the best Artifact heroes in Constructed? Which of them should you use as your deck anchors?
Valve’s game is quite new, but already there are pro players who’ve been testing it for months. To get to the bottom of it and form a ranking system for the top heroes in the game, we reached out to six professionals. All of them have years of experience playing card games and are among the earliest pundits in Artifact. This is what we got.
Our panelists and how did they build the rankings
So whose help did we get? First off, we have Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone champion Stan Cifka. Ever since Artifact entered invite beta, Stan has been an active contributor. Nowadays, the card game veteran is posting Artifact tips on Twitter and Reddit. He’s actively streaming and teaching others how to be better. When it comes to deep-level strategy, he’s among the very best.
Next, we have the Liquid teammates George “Hyped” Maganzini and Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen. Both Savjz and Hyped were among the meta-defining players of the early Hearthstone days. While Hyped took a few years as Overwatch sabbatical, he’s now back to crushing people at card games. He also compiled a very useful Artifact tier list for drafting. Meanwhile, Savjz has been non-stop streaming card games, with countless hours of content to show.
Former Virtus.pro teammates and Hearthstone champions Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov and Artem “DrHippi” Kravets are next. DrHippi famously made the finals of both the 2016 Hearthstone World Championship and the 2017 Hearthstone Global Games, while Naiman is the 2016 Europe Winter Champion in the same game and holds multiple LAN top 4 finishes as well.
Last but not least, we have Dima “Rdu” Radu. A player for G2 Esports, Rdu holds a dozen LAN top 4 finishes in Hearthstone, of which three gold medals, and has been among the most consistent players of that game for five years now.
The way we put together this first edition of our Artifact hero rankings was simple. Each player named their top 10 heroes, in order, choosing at least two of each color. Depending on its rank, each hero was allocated points. The heroes that collected the top 10 most points made it in.
The challenge of ordering heroes and the necessity for tier systems
Initially, we set out to compile a simple top 10 ranking of the Artifact heroes. But the more we spoke to players, the more difficult that task became.
“The colors are very balanced, so I don’t think you can compare the best green hero to the best black hero,” said Artifact player and streamer Petar “Gaara” Stevanovic, who we also consulted. “They all do different things and support different strategies. It is like comparing the white knight to the black knight in chess. You can try to rate the best hero, but I still think it makes only little sense.”
“Here is the main reason why,” Gaara continued. “Red has the best heroes stats-wise. Every hero enables you to play spells from that respective color, so if you compare Axe, which is the best red hero to a strong blue hero like Ogre Magi, then Axe is a much better hero. But red has the weakest overall spells, so obviously the hero cards are much better than other colors.”
Our solution? We are giving you the top 3 heroes of each color, plus the overall top 10 as a bonus at the end.
The top 3 black heroes in Artifact
(signature card in parentheses)
1. Phantom Assassin (Coup de Grace)
2. Bounty Hunter (Track)
3. Sorla Khan (Assault Ladders)
Overall, black heroes got the least amount of points in our ranking system, but the top 3 of the color were pretty clear-cut. Phantom Assassin is a fantastic hero killer and Coup de Grace is one of the most efficient ways to eliminate hero threats from the board. Bounty Hunter’s passive ability Jinada, on the other hand, allows him to explode for 11 damage 50% of the time, making him a turn-swinging card. Bounty’s Track is also a key card in gold economy deck, where a couple of Tracks followed by a Payday can make it rain gold.
What about Sorla then? The hero wasn’t particularly singled out by the majority of our panelists, so why is she that good? According to DrHippi, there’s a lot of skill involved, both player with and against the Khan.
“[Sorla Khan] is the most interesting hero for me to play, and very difficult to play against. [There are] many decisions, and she’s hard to master. She’s a hero to watch out for.”
The top 3 blue Artifact heroes
1. Kanna (Prey on the Weak)
2. Zeus (Thundergod’s Wrath)
3. Luna (Eclipse)
Ever since all Artifact cards were revealed, we knew Kanna was going to qualify as the best hero in blue. Everything about her is awesome. At 12 health, she is the only blue hero that won’t just die on Turn 1. Her passive ability reins in the randomness of the neutral creep spawn, allowing her to either go on the offensive by populating a lane, or spawn blockers to protect the tower health. But, of course, the cherry on the cake is Prey on the Weak — an absolutely amazing spell that fits both blue token decks (more attacking bodies) and blue control decks (more chump blockers).
“Constructed is all about doing very powerful and broken things which Kanna’s signature card is perfect for,” said Hyped. “Most blue decks will be built around abusing Prey on the Weak by creating a board far too wide for you opponent to deal with, or sometimes just dealing 20 to 40 to even 80+ damage out of nowhere.”
Zeus and Luna actually tied in the rankings. And, frankly, we can see why — the two heroes do very similar things. Both are similarly statted and both have expensive late-game board-clearing spells. The difference is what these spells effect, but there isn’t really a clear winner. In any case, if you’re running a primarily blue control deck, you’ll want one of each three.
The top 3 green Artifact heroes
1. Drow Ranger (Gust)
2. Treant Protector (Roseleaf Druid)
3. Omniknight (Allseeing One’s Favor)
Let’s not kid about it: Drow Ranger is so powerful it borders OP. Her frail 4/0/7 body carries the best passive in the game — a +1 attack buff to all other allies in all lanes — and one of the best signature cards in the game too. The 4-mana Gust is absolute terror. Play it first on initiative and your opponent can’t cast anything for the rest of the turn.
What’s curious, though, was that it took some time for pros to realize her potential, Stan Cifka says:
“Drow Ranger was a hidden gem for a few days, but quickly everyone realized how insanely strong her ability is, and that protecting her is worth it. Add to that the card that can completely shut down your opponent in the most crucial moment and you might have the best hero in the game.”
So Drow is the best green hero? What about Treant and Omniknight then and why are they here? The answer is simple: value. Treant and Omniknight don’t do “cool tricks”. They are the typical green heroes doing green stuff. They are nigh unkillable and are all about making their allies just as durable. While Omniknight’s active and signature spell are all about healing, Treant provides a nice utility mix of armor buff through his Branches of Iron passive and some ramp with Roseleaf Druid.
“Treant Protector is not as flashy as some other guys in this list, but gets the job done and is a hero that a lot of constructed decks are looking for,” Cifka continues. “His card is very nice and he synergises well with it, as you can place it next to him to protect that creep and basically get one extra mana for the whole game.”
The top 3 red Artifact heroes
2. Legion Commander
Axe is not only the king of red — he ended up topping the overall top 10 rankings too. And why wouldn’t he? Like Drow, everything about Axe is good, with the added bonus that he’s not at all squishy. Axe’s 7/2/11 body makes him perhaps the most efficient 1-on-1 units in the game, until you get to Berserker’s Call. Then, he becomes even better, as the call turns him (or any other red hero) in a 3-for-1 killing machine. Berserker’s Call stands out as a brutal tool among the otherwise weak red spells, and is one of the reasons why Axe made it that high on the list.
“Axe is just the strongest heroes in the game: incredible stats, nice hero card, you just feel good when you play him,” DrHippi pointed out.
So who’s next in red? Well, it’s Legion Commander, a.k.a. the “mini Axe”. Legion Commander also comes with strong stats, albeit inferior to Axe’s. Her Retaliate ability, however, essentially ups her attack to 8 so a lot of the times she’ll kill units that are out of Axe’s range. Legion Commander’s Duel signature card is a fantastic early game card and perhaps the best single target removal that red has. For only two mana, Duel pits a red hero against another unit in the lane and — since it’s a red hero — the win is almost guaranteed. But here, let Stan Cifka tell you just how good Legion Commander and Duel are:
“Legion Commander is not as big as other red heroes, but she is a little bit of everything in her stats and ability. Her card is insane though, and even gets extra points as being one of the few cards that interact with your opponent in red. I would happily play 6 Duels if I was allowed to do so.”
Bristleback rounds up red’s top 3, being ranked quite low, however. Bristleback comes in as the solo lane monster as he can almost always win a lane by himself packing a 8/0/12 stat line. Even if Viscous Nasal Goo isn’t the best signature card, it can still help soften up enemy heroes — a nice advantage, especially in red mirror matches.
The top 10 best Artifact heroes
So what’s the final score? When we drew the line, the list of the top 10 heroes in Artifact looked like that:
2. Drow Ranger
3. Legion Commander
5. Phantom Assassin
8. Bounty Hunter
9. Treant Protector
10. Sorla Khan
We’ll see you next month when we’ll see if the top 10 will be changed with a couple more Constructed tournaments in the books.