Upper Deck issued its new Artifacts Hockey set at the start of this season, making it one of the earliest releases for 2016-17. A box costs around $85 to $90 online and has eight packs. Each pack has four cards. The box states that you can get “3 Autograph, Memorabilia or All New Aurum Cards & 4 Serial Numbered Cards!” in the box, on average. I recently busted a box of 2016-17 Artifacts — here’s what I found:
23 Base Cards
The base cards are your typical Artifacts cards: player photo cut-out and superimposed against some sort of geometrical or dramatic background, with shiny foil liberally applied. That’s not a bad thing, and has become Artifact’s aesthetic over the years.
The first 100 cards make up the base set and feature popular players. However, the best NHLers are are found in cards 101 to 130 as part of the “Stars” subset, and limited to 499 copies each. Cards 131 to 160 are of “Legends” and also limited to 499 copies. The last 20 cards are of Rookies, and limited to 999 copies.
Backs of the cards re-use the same photo, display five years of statistics and give a short biographical paragraph IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, WHICH IS ALWAYS A GRIPE OF MINE BECAUSE ANYTHING LONGER THAN THREE WORDS IN ALL CAPS BECOMES TIRESOME TO READ.
1 Artifacts Rookie Card
Buffalo Sabres prospect Hudson Fasching was the Artifacts Rookie Card that I got in my box. RCs are numbered to 999 copies.
1 Artifacts Rookie Redemption Card
Redemption cards fall one in every nine packs, so I beat the odds here and got one. I don’t know what “mystery Flyer” I will get, but I hope he’s good.
2 Ruby Parallel Cards /299
Naturally, there are parallel cards! These “Ruby” versions use red foil instead of silver and are numbered out of 299. The two I got are Alex Ovechkin and Nikolaj Ehlers.
1 Emerald Parallel Card /99
Emerald parallels are numbered out of 99 copies, and swap the silver foil for green foil. This one is of Adam Henrique.
1 Artifacts “Piece de Resistance” Card
Here I got a jersey card of Dallas Stars young star Valeri Nichushkin, who left Dallas to play in the KHL this season. “Piece de Resistance” is fancy talk for “masterpiece,” “magnum opus” or “tour de force.”
That said, you think that a jersey card with this name would use something a little bit better than a plain ol’ white swatch of a jersey. That is probably the worst piece of memorabilia that they could put on a card; well, except for something that was event-used. This jersey swatch here is game-used.
1 Artifacts Jersey Card /75
This Loui Eriksson jersey card uses two different colors of jersey swatches, which is always a nice touch when putting multiple swatches on a player’s card. This is numbered 32 out of 75 copies.
1 Aurum Card
Aurum is a new insert set in Artifacts. “Aurum” is an old-timey word for “Gold” — it is why we use “Au” as the symbol for gold in the Periodic Table of Elements. The card is impossible to scan, so I took a photograph, which — despite my best efforts — still looks a bit green. It’s a nice-looking, gold-colored card.
My beef with these Aurum inserts is that you get one of these instead of an autograph or memorabilia card; as if we are supposed to be OK with getting a non-numbered insert card in place of of an autograph or jersey card.
What I like about 2016-17 Artifacts: Base cards look slick. The price of a box is under $100. You can get better jersey cards than those typically found in Upper Deck Series One or Series Two. Also, every pack had either a hit or a parallel, which is a nice touch because it’s depressing to open an expensive (around $10) pack and get just four base cards.
What I do not like about 2016-17 Artifacts: Getting an Aurum insert card in place of an autographed card or a jersey card stinks. Putting the best players, like Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby, in a short-printed “Stars” subset gives little incentive to bother with even completing the base set, since the NHL’s best guys aren’t in it.
The 2016-17 Artifacts Hockey set gets a slightly better-than-average rating. The price is good, and you have the potential to get some higher-end cards. But having an insert card — no matter how shiny and gold-colored it is — take the place of a jersey or auto is a bit weak.