Artifact Red Heroes Ranked
With the latest reveals of new cards, some of which we covered here, we now have the almost complete list of heroes that will be in Artifact at launch. We’re going to do a 4 part series of articles where we’ll go through all heroes of each color (red, black, blue and green) and rank them according to their current power lever into 3 tiers.
Tier 1: The best heroes so far, meta defining, that will be auto-included in their archetypes as staple cards.
Tier 2: Good heroes that are going to see competitive play, but in niche decks and which have certain weakness making them situational and not auto-include like those in tier 1.
Tier 3: Situational heroes that are good for beginners, very specific scenarios or for meme decks. Their power level is slightly lower than those which see constant competitive play.
Without further ado, here’s the complete list of Artifact Red Heroes, ranked according to their power level. There are 12 red heroes in Artifact in total but only 9 revealed so far, and we’ll continue to update this guide as soon as new heroes come out. In case you needed a refresher, we’ve included each hero’s Signature Spell as well since it’s such an important factor when discussing hero balance.
We also have live rankings for the other colors:
Tier 1: Best Red Heroes in Artifact
Axe is an extremely strong card, run in almost all red decks right now. His Hero Card has extremely good stats, the 2 armor makes him take no damage from the melee creeps, the 11 health is very hard to go through, and, unlike other tanky heroes, Axe actually deals significant damage with his 7 Attack. His Signature Card, Berserker’s Call allows for clears in any lane where red heroes are played, and actually works as a much-needed board clear for Red Heroes.
Another very strong hero, on the same level as Axe, Legion Commander’s strength lies in its signature card, Duel, which allows you to select a red hero to battle another unit before the combat phase. Since red heroes are usually very strong, with a lot of stats, you can pretty much kill one of your opponent’s weaker heroes and take him out of the lane for just 2 mana. The body is also very well stated, not as strong as Axe, but pretty close, and the Continues effect of +2 retaliate makes it virtually an 8 Attack hero.
Tier 2: Good Red Heroes in Artifact
Centaur Warrunner has a pretty tanky body, with 14 health, second only to Tidehunter, and although its 4 Attack is pretty low, the retaliate passive – dealing 2 damage everytime it gets attacked – kind of makes up for that. What makes Centaur a tier 2 hero and not a tier 1 is the fact that its signature spell, Double Edge, is very situational, and it’s being used almost exclusively as an anti-red tech right now. It’s much better to use Double Edge on an enemy hero and kill him due to the -8 armor, rather than buffing your own hero since usually your hero will get killed or silenced before he gets a chance to attack an enemy.
Bristleback has a very strong Hero Card, 8 Attack and 12 Health are amazing stats, and when you add his passive ability (gain +2 Armor permanently after a hero blocking it dies) it gets insane. If you’re able to kill an enemy hero blocking Bristleback even once, Bristleback becomes even tankier than Axe. So why only tier 2?
What keeps Bristeback back (pun intended) is his weak signature card. Modifying a unit with -2 armor is not always useful, and definitively at 4 mana is a bit expensive to make up for the power of the hero card. Bristleback has his place in the meta in decks where you can enable him to kill enemy heroes and turn him into an unstoppable threat.
Tidehunter is the tankiest hero in Artifact so far with 18 Health, but its low attack value balances that somehow. At only 2 Attack, he needs to have an item equipped or a buff to even be able to kill the opposing melee creep during the combat phase, so it needs a bit of setup to make him effective.
His active ability, Ravage- which stuns his enemy neighbors this round and all the other enemy have a 50% chance of being stunned this round – is extremely powerful, but with a 4 turns cooldown it basically means you rarely get it off more than once per game.
His signature card, Kraken Shell, allows you to get the initiative back after you play it, which is a very important effect that influences the outcome of quite a lot of games currently. Getting initiative and playing multiple cards allows you to stack up more power than your opponent in the finishing round before he has a chance to respond properly. That being said, +1 Armor is not that strong of an effect, so the card is decent overall, but not overpowered.
Ursa is another red hero with great stats, 7 Attack, 10 Health and a reactive ability called Fury Swipes: “When Ursa deals battle damage to a unit, modify that unit with -1 Armor”. Just like the other red heroes, it represents a thread on the board and synergizes well with the other red spells such as Duel or Berserker’s Call to allow you to remove squishier opponent’s heroes from the board.
If the red heroes’ stats were not enough to make your opponent tremble, his signature spell Enrage buffs a red hero with an additional +4 Attack and +4 Armor which pretty much guarantees that no opponent hero can go toe to toe with your buffed red heroes.
Ursa is currently played in mono-red decks, since the more red heroes you have in lane, the more chances you have to use your powerful but slightly situational spells, but dual colored decks seem to be more powerful overall, so we rank Ursa as a Tier 2 level for now, since he is pretty unidimensional in his approach to the game.
Tier 3: Situational Red Heroes in Artifact
Mazzie is a recently leaked red hero and that’s why our graphic images are not high quality as usual, but we’ll update them as soon as we get an official reveal.
Following in the shoes of some of the other tanky red heroes, it has good stats 6 Attack, 3 Armor, and 6 Health but no active or passive ability. Its signature spell is a unique improvement that grants a tower +1 Armor.
The reason we ranked him at tier 3 is the 3 Armor does not make up for the slightly below average Attack and Health stats for red heroes. The first 2 points of Armor on a hero are great, since melee creeps have 2 Attack, and there are a lot of spells that deal 2 damage, but an additional point of Armor does not provide that much incremental value.
His signature card is a very unique effect in Artifact, as tower armor is one of the strongest buffs in the game. Since multiple units are attacking your tower each turn, having tower armor can mitigate a lot of damage, and there are not a lot of cards that can provide that.
However, 1 point of Armor is not really that much and currently Mazzie does not see play in high-level competitive decks.
Pugna is a 6 Attack and 9 Health red hero, decent stats overall, but slightly understated for a red hero. To make up for that, she has an active ability called Nether Blast, with a 3 turn timer that condemns a random enemy improvement.
Her signature card is an improvement, Nether Ward, that deals 3 damage to the enemy tower each time an opponent plays a spell.
The reason she is currently ranked in tier 3 is the fact that both her abilities are very situational. Both Nether Ward and Nether Blast work only against a specific type of decks – Nether Ward is great versus Blue Heroes that love to play a lot of spells, but quite underwhelming otherwise-, and they can be easily played around by your opponent. Depending on the meta, I could see Pugna ascending to a tier 2 level, but for now, it remains a niche pick.
Keefe the Bold
Keefe the Bold is one of the basics heroes that you get initially when you purchase Artifact, and, compared with other basic heroes is not that bad, perhaps the 2nd best, since it has a decently stated body and no ability. However, when you compare him with other red heroes that serve the same function, like Axe, you can clearly see that its stats are inferior anyway you look at it.
His signature spell is, however, the biggest downside that holds him back. For 5 mana you get to modify a red hero with just +1 Attack and +1 Armor. The cost is too high and the value you get is too low, clearly, a hero meant for beginners and beginner decks.