Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

Riot Games has announced a new game, and it’s a card game. A risky move: one immediately recalls the loud sigh of disappointment that swept through the stands of the Rogers Arena in Vancouver when the Artifact teaser was shown to the public. Valve’s attempt to enter the card game market ended in complete failure, but its main competitor in MOBA games seems to be serious and intends to take into account the mistakes of its predecessors. At least to the question “Will Legends of Runeterra be free?” Riot representatives give a peremptory answer: “Of course!”

We all came out of Garfield’s Hoe

Even if we ignore the parallels with Artifact, Riot Games will have a hard time. Hearthstone, which finally brought the digital CCG genre to the mainstream, was released five years ago, and the market has long been oversaturated. However, the creators of League of Legends argue that these subtleties are of little concern to the company: it is filled with “fans of the genre” who want to “shake it up” and “work to create the best card game they can imagine.”

The best card game Riot can imagine is inspired by Magic: the Gathering, GWENT, Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Shadowverse, and EDO. (To the question “What about Artifact?” they answer with a condescending smile.) The main source of ideas, of course, remains MTG – the roots of Legends of Runeterra are recognizable at the first glance at the combat system.

Start of a typical game: we leave cheap minions in hand to play them as early as possible, after which we just play everything that has enough mana. I choose not to attack with a large spider, because it will simply kill itself on the enemy unit, and I put two small ones on the battlefield, which the opponent does not want to exchange with.

A game in LoR ​​lasts about 15 minutes. It is divided into rounds – each round one of the players attacks and the other defends, and in the next they switch roles. In this case, cards are played one at a time – after laying out a creature or a spell, you must wait until the opponent plays his own. Played creatures are sent to the table; once per round, the attacking player can move up to six of his units from the table to the battlefield, and the defender will have to place his creatures in front of them. If the attacking unit does not have a personal opponent, it will hit the enemy nexus. The first one to destroy the enemy’s nexus wins.

My retelling of the rules is, of course, utterly simplified. Legends of Runeterra has a lot of different nuances, and in mastering it, perhaps, it is more difficult than most competitors. Some spells here are three different types, and keywords – I counted – 24 pieces. However, the basic mechanics are learned fairly quickly: there was no training mode in the press version, but by the middle of the second game with the bot, what was happening became quite clear.

The end of a typical game: I block the weak unit’s attack with Darius so that the champion survives, and in my turn to attack, the enemy simply does not have enough creatures to hold back the onslaught.

Welcome to Gambler’s Gorge

The rarest cards in Legends of Runeterra are League of Legends champions, and one of the biggest features of both games is character leveling. Here, this mechanic is reminiscent of evolution from the Shadowverse, but if there the player himself chose which creatures to strengthen, then in Runeterra “levelups” work on triggers: for example, to make Jinx more powerful, you need to get rid of all the cards in your hand, and Eliza gets a new level , if you have at least three spiders at the start of your turn. Twisted Fate, the main gambler of the League of Legends, is surprisingly absent from LoR so far.

The abilities of champions correlate as much as possible with their skills in the parent game: for example, if in League of Legends Thresh can pull enemies towards him, then in Legends of Runeterra he himself chooses the unit he will attack. Riot Games expects your gameplan to center around leveling up champions at the right times, but that doesn’t have to be the case: classic archetype decks like aggro, combos, and control can work here not only without levelups, but also no champions at all.

The level up animations are, in my opinion, overloaded with special effects. In the Shadowverse, however, they are even more annoying.

We’re fans, we better know

“No loot boxes for real money!” Riot employees solemnly swear. Ludomaniac boxes themselves, however, are present in the game – once a week, players will be given one at a time – but if you need a specific card, you can buy it right there, and for virtual currency too. There is a limit on the number of purchases: the developers do not want you to take possession of the entire collection at once.

This was done, I believe, as part of the fight against netdeking – a real scourge of the genre. In many CCGs, players fight each other with the same decks they peeped on the Internet – as a rule, this is not at all fun. The only way out of boredom in such cases is usually the Arena mode, but Legends of Runeterra does not have it yet – only the classic battle.

There are currently 318 cards available for deck building, divided equally among the six regions. The deck consists of 40, and you can include cards from any two territories. For example, Demacia and Noxus – in the lore of League of Legends they are irreconcilable enemies, but the card representatives of these places can easily fight on the same side.

There is no chat in Legends of Runeterra, and instead of short phrases-emotions, players exchange animated stickers, which, like cards, can be bought.

Another nice feature that I would like to note is the almost complete absence of the random factor. Almost the entire “randomness” in the game is the order of the cards in the deck, but there’s nowhere to get away from it, such is the genre.

People don’t like random card effects, according to Riot Games. Also, players do not like the stagnation of the meta, so the developers of Legends of Runeterra promise to constantly release patches with balance changes. In my opinion, this is another incentive to try to understand the game as deeply as possible and experiment with creating your own decks – everything is better than taking ready-made ones from the Internet.

Legends of Runeterra game preview

Of the champions I’ve tried in combat, Braum has proven to be the most useful: at the beginning of each round, his health is restored to the maximum, and at the same time, like Thresh, he can choose a unit to attack him. Incredibly useful in defense, he literally won the game on my own: the opponent did not have a single card that could break through him.


“Our performance of the CCG will surely appeal to fans of League of Legends,

who love strategy, and fans of card games, boasts Riot Games. “We also hope that a wide variety of players will find something interesting in LoR ​​for themselves.”

Personally, I am a fan of both the MOBA genre and card games, and I sincerely liked Legends of Runeterra. But it is important to understand that in the press version, all the cards in the game were available to me. Even if LoR is the best CCG in the world, I can’t just drop my favorite Hearthstone and Faeria: I already have impressive collections there, but not here yet. Prices for cards have not yet been announced, but collecting three hundred is not a cheap pleasure anyway: will there be a way to get a sufficient set without grinding and large financial investments? “We know the disadvantages of our favorite genre: to try a new deck, you have to pay half your salary,” writes Riot in a press release, and its second project is interesting to me primarily from a marketing point of view: how is the company going to attract players?

Employees of Riot Games, of course, are cunning: card games are expensive, but not so much that you have to pay half the salary for a deck. However, there is no doubt about the qualifications of these people, especially if they are really fans of the genre. Riot is a wealthy corporation that does not leave its products to their fate, so Legends of Runeterra will certainly stay in the media for a long time. This game is definitely worth the attention of fans of the TCG genre – unlike Artifact, which died before many had time to launch it.

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