Legends of Runeterra is a collectible card game (CCG) by the makers of League of Legends. It is currently in beta, but players can try to gain access by registering on the game’s website. Like other CCG games, players can purchase and earn cards by battling other players in the various game modes. Cards are typically warriors, monsters, and spells. With these cards, players build decks that they use to battle other players in the game’s ranked and casual modes.
Legends of Runeterra also features hero cards, which operate differently from normal cards. They level up once certain conditions are met on the board. Once the hero levels up, they get stronger, which unlocks additional abilities and stat points:
In the above video, the hero Shen levels up once he has seen you cast Barrier spells on four allied units. And Tryndamere levels up once he has taken lethal damage. Hero abilities open up several tactical options, and deck synergy is built around these hero cards. Cards have amazing visual and audio effects when played. This attention to detail makes spells and abilities feel powerful when they are cast.
Players take turns attacking and defending, but certain cards can disrupt this order and give a defending player the option to attack. An attacker has the initiative and can force a battle before any additional cards can be cast onto the board. Attackers and defenders are represented on the board by a sword for the attacker and a shield for the defender.
The game has all the modes you would expect from a collectible-card game like constructed and random draft modes. The random draft mode is called expeditions. It plays a little differently than your typical random draft mode. Players choose from groupings of three cards, which are from either a single region or a combination of two regions. Regions are Runeterra’s name for card factions. Cards found in the region of Demacia typically have better synergy with others from Demacia.
One of the things I like about the expedition mode is you get additional card rolls that can help you round out your deck after each game. You also periodically get the option to swap one card for another — both of these elements help to mitigate bad luck during drafting. A player must lose two times in a row for the expedition to fail, and you’re only required to win one game to reset this loss countdown. The seventh and final round in the expedition mode is a final battle where you have only one chance to win. Each purchased expedition gets you two expedition attempts.
One of the confusing things about card abilities in Runeterra is that when something activates as a consequence of a condition on the board, it does not list it in the combat/played cards log. This combat sequence was very confusing to me:
In the above sequence, the three monsters he attacked with summon spectral riders when they attack. I was confused here because I thought he had played a card to summon the additional units, and the combat log listed nothing. The whole flashy visual effect distracted me from seeing those little lights pop up above the card that indicates it was a triggered card ability. And as none of this is listed in the combat log, I didn’t realize what was happening until I watched my shadowplay recording. This could easily be fixed by listing the activated abilities in the combat log.
The chests and capsules shown above contain card unlocks, currency, or wild cards that can be traded for any card of the same rarity.
Players lacking in time or patience can always purchase cards using real money, but Legends of Runeterra is generous with card unlocks for those that are not interested in purchasing them. The heroes of Runeterra add an interesting tactical dimension that sets the gameplay apart from other Magic or Hearthstone clones. There are seven card regions in total, and this gives players a lot of variety to create unique deck strategies.
Legends of Runeterra is a solid collectible card game. The cards and heroes are varied and interesting, and the visual effects on the cards make the game come alive as you play. I haven’t had this much fun with a CCG since Blizzard first released hearthstone, and I can see myself playing this for a long time.