Base Card Design -
This year's Artifacts base card is a winner. The card has a very premium, glossy feel, and a healthy amount of foil to it. Artifact base cards have always been very nice, but I think this year's is one of the top designs yet. Upper Deck has somehow managed to cram a whole lot of elements into a cohesive looking card. My favorite part of the card has to be the team logo that is placed right below the player image. It's imprinted in gold foil beautifully. Kudos to Upper Deck for this base design - it's excellent!
The back of the Artifacts base card is also very strong. It is much less ornate than the front, but it serves its purpose well and still with a flair. I am a fan of how the front elements are subtly seen the the background of the card. It's there, but not a distraction. The stats of the player can be read easily and the card includes a nice write-up.
The main set of Artifacts has three categories of serial numbered cards included within it - Stars, Legends, and Rookies. The Stars cards are serial numbered to 999, the Rookies to 999, and the Legends to 499. The Stars and Legends share a very similar design to the standard base card, where as the rookies have a look all their own.
Base Card Design Score:
Artifacts new configuration has collectors receiving less packs per box this year. In the past, a box of Artifacts pretty much guaranteed an autograph... but not this year. After closely reading the box, each box just guarantees 3 hits. In theory all three hits could be plain jersey cards. Hmm... that's a puzzling step backwards in my opinion for this product.
Speaking of plain jersey cards, these dual relics are the staple of the Artifacts set. The most basic is this version with two jersey swatches. These cards can be considered a parallel to the basic set as Upper Deck simply takes the standard base card and inserts a couple of jersey pieces in. These are numbered to 125.
As the numbering gets lower, the pieces filling the swatch holes get better. This version of the card contains both a jersey and a patch pieces rather than just two jersey pieces. Unfortunately for myself, the patch is a plain white one.
To mix is up a bit, Upper Deck has some insert themed relic sets such as these Frozen Artifacts cards. It's great to have more card designs, but the jersey piece seems to be smaller than the norm. And yes... I did get three Phil Kessel hits in this box. Wow Upper Deck. Wow.
Besides relics, Artifacts is known for its vast array of parallel cards. I've taken on the challenge of putting together a full set of Logan Couture Artifact cards from a couple of different years... and it was difficult! Artifacts print runs that go down to /5, /3/, /2, and /1. It's really nuts! I challenge anyone to try and put a complete rainbow together. Once all the cards are together though it looks great!
My box contained a standard rookie redemption card that has been typical of Artifacts in years past. I'm usually completely fine with it, except that this year there are quite a few relic and autographed versions that have been packed in. Those versions have a roman numeral on them and tell you exactly what your redeemed card will come with... be it an autograph, jersey, or patch.
So overall Artifacts is the product we've really known and come to love... but at the box buying level, it has fallen short a bit. No longer are autographs pretty much a given. You could be like me and get just three relic cards. If you're luckier than me, you could possibly find autos, sticks, and all sorts of amazing combinations of relics.
Overall Rating -
I have very mixed feelings about this year's Artifacts set. The cards look great, and I think it still offers collectors some great relics to search for... but the fact that there is not a guaranteed autograph per box really gets to me. Sure, often times the autograph would turn out to be some Autofacts card that wasn't really that great, but I think I still appreciated the fact that there would be an autograph in the box. I was really shocked and miffed not to get any ink in my box of Artifacts this year. That plus all my hits were of Phil Kessel... sheeesh! I'm sad to say that I think Artifacts this year has taken a step back.
Check out my box of Artifacts: