Legends of Runeterra Review
After making a mark in the MOBA scene, Riot Games are now trying to do the same with different game genres (like Valorant for FPS). In a genre which consists of a large number of games which want to sell you booster packs, Riot makes a free to play experience that is more exciting, fun and rewarding than most and also includes all your favorite characters from League of Legends creatively converted into Cards.
Charming from the beginning
Jinx, Vi, Zed, Yasuo, Teemo, Heimerdinger are probably names you are familiar with if you have played League of legends. Being in an already well-established universe with characters having their unique traits and abilities, Riot has taken a commendable approach and did a fantastic job in converting them to a card format in a faithful and clever way. But before going deep into the champions, let me tell you the basic premise of this game.
Each player has a 20 health “NEXUS” that they defend while trying to destroy the opponents. No, I am not describing League here. But you can say that this is another direct conversion from their MOBA counterpart. Each deck consists of 40 cards with no more than six champion cards. Players can play Units or Spells with various keywords and effects. Combat is done through taking turns to attack which forces the opponent to choose which units to block with or to take the nexus damage. Even if it is not your round to attack, you can still play spells and units to develop your board for the next combat session.
Legends of Runeterra does not follow a play-style like Hearthstone where you have to wait for a player to complete a round, instead each round is divided into turns. Someone does an action like playing a unit or a spell (except burst spells which doesn’t use your action) then the turn gets passed to the other player. Both players keep doing this until their mana is depleted or they both decide to skip the round. You can immediately react to the opponents unit or spells with your own counter spell to get an advantage! This makes you feel that you are in control and does away with the frustration of seeing your opponent destroy you after setting up their big ‘Exodia’ combo.
Spells play such a huge part in the game that they even have a separate mana pool from which they can use the mana alongside the main pool. There are three types of spell: Burst, Fast and Slow. Burst spells are directly cast without using a turn or action. Fast spells can be cast during your turn or while in combat but give the opponent a chance to react and slow spells can only be cast during your turn. These spells can give you a huge advantage going into combat, like increasing your units health, giving your unit a barrier, stunning an enemy, reducing an enemy attack to 0 power, or summon additional units etc. The game has a vast amount of spells and units that allow you to make various decks according to your unique playstyle and being able to react to your opponents shenanigans makes the gameplay feel refreshing.
This also allows for a player to use a plethora of tricks such as baiting the opponent to block your champion only for you to use a spell on him which levels up your champion, or to give them keywords like overwhelm to end the game. Learning the best time to attack, best units to defend with, or even bluffing to make the opponent think you have a particular card in your hand so they pass is part of the fun. It is satisfying and pleasing (Not for your opponent) when you manage to pull these things off and there’s no shortage of opportunities to do so.
Clever Conversion of your favorite Champions (Including Waifus)
Every League of legends player has one thing in common, they all hate Teemo. Once you play Legends of Runeterra, you will feel the exact same. Teemo can plant mushrooms in your deck, and when you draw them you deal damage to your own nexus. Teemo also has a keyword called elusive (flying in magic) which is transferred from his ability to go invisible and this allows him to only be blocked by other units who have the keyword elusive. Like Teemo, every other champion has been faithfully converted to fit a card game while still feeling like their League counterpart.
Zed can summon his shadows to attack, Thresh can pull enemies as well as pull other champions from your deck, Elise levels up to Spider Queen, Lucian levels up when Senna dies, Heimerdinger creates turrets to play, Shen gives barriers to everyone, Miss Fortune barrages you with her guns, Gangplank can summon kegs, Fizz is an annoying stupid creature who should not exist, Tryndamere is an angry dude who refuses to die and so on.
All champions after successfully completing the requirements can level up which increases their stats and gives them improved effects to give you a huge advantage. Nautilus without his level up is a 0 attack punching bag but once leveled up he can attack you with his massive 13 power as well as make his Sea Monster allies cost less to use. Ezreal is also a monster after leveling up, for example, with him on the board leveled every spell you play will directly damage the opponents nexus for 2 damage which can make for some crazy combos with a leveled-up Karma which duplicates every spell you play.
Seeing such an amazing conversion I can’t wait to see how they do it with some complicated champions like Aphelios and my personal favorite Jhin, I wonder how they will implement his signature number 4. Playing this game more and more makes me want to play an Overwatch Card game (Please Blizzard).
Say No to Gambling.
Legends of Runeterra completely gets rid of the single most frustrating thing present in card games: Booster packs! You get cards through the weekly vault which levels up using EXP points which you get by playing. You can also get cards from a Region-based battle pass type system where you level up to get cards from your favorite location in Runeterra. The third way to get cards is to play expeditions, which is the draft/forge game mode of Runeterra where more wins net you better rewards. Every single method mentioned here just doesn’t give you cards but it also gives you shards for crafting more cards. You can craft any deck you want in the game without spending a single dollar.
If you are impatient and want to craft a deck using your favorite waifu Miss Fortune right away from the start, then the store has a wildcard system where you can purchase wildcards and then exchange them for THE CARD YOU WANT. You don’t need to rely on RNG packs to get you that card, You get what you want. You can go through the F2P route and still gain enough Wildcards and Shards to craft your favorite cards in the game. But be warned, you might not be able to resist buying the cute cat guardian in the store to sit on your board.
What the future beholds.
League of Legends has currently 150 champions as of August 2020. Legends of Runeterra has 42, Riot has released a roadmap which states that a new region will be released every six months, and that the expansion will come with a new batch of cards in 2 more patches with an interval of two months between them. Currently the latest ‘Call of the Mountain’ expansion brought Targon to the game with four champions from the region and three from other regions.
Every two weeks there is a new patch for the game adding something like a new Labs game mode or some cosmetics to customize your board, card backs etc. Every other patch is a balance patch to keep the meta evolving and so far they have done a decent job with that. If a card turns out to be real problematic they don’t wait until the Balance patch and instead push the changes along the Non-Balance patches.
Labs can be said as the experimental fun game mode of the game. Every few weeks a new Labs mode replaces the previous one with over the top rules. It’s fun for people who wants to just enjoy the game for a bit after their losing streak in ranked (AKA Me). But I wish they would implement some PvE modes in the future too besides vs AI play.
One Event has been released so far for the game which was the Spring Blossom event which coincided with the same event in LoL. It came with a plethora of new cosmetics and a Season Pass which you can purchase for more Emotes, Card backs and Guardians (Pets, like the cat mentioned above)
The new standard for CCGs
Even after being the new kid on the block, Riot has made the most accessible, compelling and visually stunning card game alongside being very generously free to play friendly. Now with a promising roadmap with updates and new regions with champions on the horizon, the only way for Legends of Runeterra seems to be up above the sky, within the stars. It combines great elements from Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone to make the best of both worlds and is definitely worth checking out.
You can find Legends of Runeterra for PC here
Legends of Runeterra is also available on Android here
The game is also available for iOS here