Legends of Runeterra takes the champions of Riot’s popular MOBA League of Legends and adapts their playstyle and abilities into a game where your goal is to build decks and play cards to reduce your opponent’s nexus down to zero. Due to its generous reward system that gets rid of card packs altogether, Legends of Runeterra is truly a free to play game where your games are dictated by your skill rather than how much you spend.
In Legends of Runeterra, players build their deck using regions, a deck can contain up to two regions, each region has its own strength. There are currently seven regions to choose from. Each player brings a deck of 40 cards and faces off against an opponent. Initiative is passed back and forth, allowing each person to play units to the board, cast spells, and choose how to attack or defend. You win the game by reducing opponent’s Nexus from 20 down to zero.
The most unique part of Legends of Runeterra’s is the champions. All the champions in Legends of Runeterra are from League of Legends, and they’ve adapted their playstyle to fit inside the rules of a card game. Yasuo, for example, strikes enemy units whenever they are stunned or recalled, similar to how he strikes his opponents when they are knocked up in League of Legends, making him a great fighter. Each champion will level up after meeting certain conditions, often gaining more power and new abilities. Knowing when to play the champions and how to keep them alive is especially rewarding because you just know your opponent going to try to kill them. With champions in play, Runeterra feels like a true battle of wits, each player trying to outsmart or bait the other. The champions also added flavor to deck types. An aggro deck is often loaded with low cost and high damage followers that try to close out the game quickly, champions like Jinx and Darius are great at finishing your opponent off. A control deck is often loaded with spells that stun and force cards back into your opponent’s hand, a champion like Yasuo who can deal damage to stunned or recalled units is great at taking control of the board.
Legends of Runeterra has a feature called the Oracle’s Eye that lets you see what the board will look like after a certain attack phase or spell has resolved. Not having to doublecheck your math or worry how a certain chain of abilities and spells plays will play out can save a lot of time.
Most card games can punish players for not spending all your mana in a given turn. In Legends of Runeterra, however, up to three points of unspent mana are preserved for the next round to be used exclusively on spells. And for that feature, players are not harshly punished by a bad opening hand, instead of one player snowballing due to bad luck.
Legends of Runeterra sets a new standard is in its economy and rewards. Booster packs are gone entirely, and replaced with weekly vaults and several free battle passes that gives crafting materials, cards, and wildcards, which can be exchanged for any card of a corresponding rarity. Being able to pick which cards I want to add to my collection is refreshing. Players can easily build a few decks that feel powerful and highly competitive instead of cobbling together whatever I can.
Expedition is Legends of Runeterra’s draft mode. Like most draft modes, the entry fee is a few dollars, a draft token you earn from weekly chests, or crafting shards you get for unlocking duplicate cads. But Legends of Runeterra’s Draft mode lets you play twice per entry, building a new deck each time and then using whichever run was better to determine your rewards. Winning all seven games can net you a lot of cards and a lot more crafting resources enough to draft a second time.
It’s exciting to play a card game where it feels like a true test of knowledge and strategy instead of who is playing the most expensive meta deck. Legends of Runeterra is a great choice in the CCG genre where how competitive you are is often related to how much money you spend.