The game is divided into multiple phases, each with their own unique gameplay. Each lane plays out into 2 phases: Action Phase and Combat Phase. After the 3 lanes have been played out, the game round concludes, and the Shopping Phase begins. Afterwards, comes the Deployment Phase. Then, a new round begins.
Start of the Game
At the very start of the game, three of your chosen heroes get placed randomly onto the lanes, one hero per lane.
The game also places three creeps with them, but the creeps can land on the lanes in any combination (1-1-1, 1-0-2, etc...)
You start the game with 3 mana on each lane and 5 cards in your hand.
This phase is the part in which most of Artifact's gameplay takes place.
One player gets to go first. This is decided randomly for the first Action Phase of the match, and then decided by initiative for the rest of the game.
Whenever a player plays a card or uses an active ability, the turn goes to their opponent, allowing them to react and counter the play that was made. This can go on indefinitely, allowing for quicker, back-and-forth gameplay for both players.
If a player no longer plays any cards (due to being out of mana, having no more cards in their hand, or simply deciding not to play this turn), they have to pass instead.
This hands the turn to their opponent, who has the same choice of either playing more cards or passing. If the second player responds by playing more cards, the Phase continues as if nothing happened. If they respond by passing (in other words, two passes happen in a row) the game moves onto the next phase.
Initiative is a concept that decides which player gets to go first in the next lane.
The simplest explanation is this: Out of the last two passes that ended the previous Action phase, the player that made the first pass out of those two gets to go first in the next Action Phase.
In the Combat Phase, heroes and creatures attack automatically, dealing damage to other units or structures. The game then moves onto the next lane, or onto the Shopping Phase after the third lane. The player has no control in this phase. (But it can be affected by your actions from the Action phase)
In the Shopping Phase, players purchase from a selection of 3 item cards, using their earned gold. one card is taken from their item deck, one is from the secret shop, and the last one is always a consumable item card.
In the Deployment Phase, also known as Hero Deployment, players position their heroes on the lanes. Two additional creeps are also spawned and randomly assigned to lanes.
After the 3 lanes have been played out the rounds ends. After the Shopping and Deployment phases, a new round begins. Players draw 2 cards. Players gain an additional mana point.
The Turn timers are in place in most gamemodes. notable exceptions are...
Turn timers force the player to make their decisions in a certain amount of time, be that in Shopping Phase or Action Phase.
The standard turn timer is 45 seconds, as was stated by the press.In PAX showing of the game, you automatically lose the game if your game timer expires.