After 10 Years of huge success with League of Legends Riot Games is expanding the universe with Legends of Runeterra. This free-to-play, collectible card game is set in the League of Legends universe and has been designed by Paul Sottosanti. Sottosanti has worked on League of Legends where he designed both the current ranking system and the directed camera. He previously worked with for Wizards of the Coast on Magic: The Gathering.
Legends of Runeterra is set to launch for PC and Mobile in 2020 and will be cross-platform. Riot hopes it will be a new way forward for collectible card games. Riot is completely doing away with “over-the-top” RNG, a stale meta and random card earning mechanics.
Players can earn cards for free by simply playing Legends of Runeterra or can make direct purchases without any chance involved.
This is great news!
Legends of Runeterra
Essentially, Riot wants to innovate the CCG genre by making it accessible and with lots of depth. So, how does Legends of Runeterra play?
There are six Regions in Legends of Runeterra and each Region is home to a number of Champions, allies, monsters and more. Each deck can include one or two Regions only which means players will need to find synergies between the Regions and Champions.
Decks are built around Champions, who will be familiar to those who’ve played League of Legends. Each deck can have a total of six Champion cards and players are free to select these as they wish. However, decks are limited to three copies of a card and you can only have one of each Champion in play at once. Decks can have a total of 40 cards.
If you have a Champion in play and draw another card of the same Champion, the card becomes a special support card. When you play it, another copy of that Champion is added to your deck.
This means you could build a deck with six champions if you like, though it might be difficult to properly balance. From my time with the game, two Champions seems to be the sweet spot, though three can work too.
Champions all have special abilities and skills and the ability to level up, making them even more powerful. For example, Elise summons a 1/1 Spiderling whenever she attacks. On levelling up, she grants all allied Spiders, in play, a boost.
There will be 24 Champions at launch and include;
At launch there will be four champions per Region with more planned to be added as the game evolves. At their core, decks in Legends of Runetera should amplify the Regions’ strengths and reduce their weaknesses.
An example of a Deck that capitalises on this is something Riot calls Battlescars. Using Brahm and Vlad as Champions, the Deck focuses on dealing damage to your own characters to power them up. It takes some getting used to but it works incredibly well and is lots of fun.
Turns in Legends of Runeterra are quite a bit different from other digital CCGs. Playing Legends of Runeterra has an almost tennis-like feel as players go back and forth, playing cards, characters, spells and more.
On each turn, one player will be on the attack and the other on defence. The attacking player will go first and can play any of the cards in their hand. After they’ve played a card or cards, the defending player is able to do the same. This gives the defender a right of reply and a chance to interrupt or react to what the attacker is doing.
Once the attacker is ready to attack they choose which characters will do so. The defender chooses appropriate blockers and the combat resolves. Any damage that isn’t blocked will be dealt to the defender’s Nexus, which starts at 20 health.
After the attack phase has completed, the attacker can play any additional cards they like followed by the defender’s response. Once the round is complete, players swap sides and start the process all over again.
This constant back and forth, reactionary gameplay feels incredibly dynamic, fast-paced and intense. It’s thrilling to be able to block or prevent something the other player is attempting and likewise, it’s crushing when the enemy foils your best-laid plans.
Legends of Runeterra includes something Riot calls the Oracle’s Eye. At any time, players can activate it and see the outcome of the cards as they stand. This gives players a chance to work out whether their strategy is going to work or not.
Playing cards in Legends of Runeterra requires mana which increases by one every turn. A nifty new mechanic in the game sees any unused Mana returned to your pool in the next turn as Spell Mana, to a maximum of three. If on turn one, you don’t spend your mana, on turn two you’ll have two mana, plus one Spell Mana.
This means you could cast a three cost spell or two one cost minions and a one cost spell or one-two cost spell and one-two cost minion etc. Unused mana stored as Spell Mana can’t be used to summon creatures. If you have five mana and a full, three Spell Mana, you aren’t able to summon an eight cost character, but you are able to cast an eight cost spell.
It adds another interesting layer of strategy that will certainly be capitalised on by enterprising deck builders.
As mentioned earlier, Riot Games is doing away with random card packs entirely. As a free-to-play game, Legends of Runeterra features two currencies; Shards which are earned through play and Coins which players must purchase.
Unlocking cards is fairly straightforward. You first choose the region you want to unlock and by playing Legends of Runeterra, you’ll earn experience which advances you along a track to automatically unlock new cards. You’re able to switch regions at any time to unlock cards across all of the regions in the game.
There are also daily quests for players to complete that grant additional XP.
The Vault is a special are of Legends of Runeterra that opens once per week. As you play, you’ll level up The Vault and upgrade the chests it contains. By levelling up The Vault and the chests, you’ll earn more cards when you open it. The cards and chests have a chance to “upgrade into something even better, and at level 10 and above, you’re guaranteed a champion.”
Like Magic: The Gathering’s digital version, Legends of Runeterra includes wildcards. Wildcards can be turned into any card you like of the same rarity. You can also purchase a limited number of wildcards in the store each week.
Riot Games is promising that players will never pay for randomised packs. As for spending money in the store on wildcards and the like, Riot is limiting the number of purchases.
We want to ensure you always have something you’re looking forward to unlocking, and that you’re constantly discovering new cards and strategies. Slowing down how quickly the entire set of cards can be unlocked is one method for helping us accomplish that goal
Jeff Jew, Executive Producer said, “We’re all huge card game fans on the LoR team, so we know the issues with the genre: things like excessive cost, over-the-top randomness, and seeing the same decks over and over.
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what we’d do differently, and now we have a chance to shake up the genre by keeping what’s great, improving what’s not, and adding some new twists of our own.”
Legends of Runeterra is going to be aggressively supported by Riot with monthly updates promised. Riot has also promised that there will be frequent patches to address balance and introduce new expansions, Regions and cards.
At this early stage, Riot is inviting players to join the special Preview Patch that will run from October 16 through October 21 at 1 pm AEDT. A second Preview Patch will run from November 14 through 19.
A closed beta is planned for early 2020 with the launch to follow sometime later. To register your interest and for a chance to play, complete the following;
- Link your Riot (or existing LoL) account to your YouTube account. You MUST do this in order to get a chance at instant access.
- Watch LoR live streams on the Riot Games, Legends of Runeterra, and League of Legends channels.
- If you get access, you’ll be notified via the email associated with your linked Riot account.
- Link your Riot (or existing LoL) account to your Twitch account. You MUST do this in order to get a chance at access.
- Watch LoR on any Twitch Channel.
- If you get access, you’ll be notified via the Twitch notifications panel and the email associated with your linked Riot account.
All pre-registered accounts will receive an exclusive Moonstruck Poro Guardian once Legends of Runeterra fully launches in 2020. To redeem this variant for the Poro Guardian, you’ll just need to login once during beta (though you won’t get the variant until LoR launches) or within seven days after LoR launches. Don’t worry, your poro pal will wait for you.
In the preview phases, players will be able to play against other random players or AI. A ranked system is in development as is a friends list and drafting mode.
Sottosanti revealed that when drafting, players will be able to combine up to three Regions instead of the usual two. However, he didn’t say any more on the subject as it’s still in development and a ways off.
Players are able to spend real money in the Preview Phases. Any money spent will be converted to Coins and added to the players’ accounts when the game launches. Accounts will be reset at least once before launch but players will keep all purchased Coins and be refunded those that they’ve spent in-store.
Legends of Runeterra is a very different kind of collectible card game and from the time I’ve spent playing it already it’s certainly addictive and a lot of fun. Deckbuilding is intricate and very deep, but simple enough that beginners will be able to get to grips with it.
There are some powerful synergies and strategies to be discovered and the fast-pace, back and forth of actually playing is a far cry from other games in the genre.
Riot has certainly created something unique with Legends of Runeterra and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
The first Preview Phase runs from today through October 21.
Legends of Runeterra launches in 2020 for PC and Mobile.
- 64-bit Windows 7, 8.1 or 10
- 3 GHz processor
- 4 GB RAM
- GPU with 512MB+ VRAM
- Mac OS
- Not supported.
- Mobile (iOS & Android)
- Specs coming once we release LoR for mobile.