Legends of Runeterra Review: A Legend to Join, or just Pure Hype?

Legends of Runeterra gathered a lot of hype during its official reveal last year, and it gained even more attention in early 2020 when footage of its closed beta flooded social media. Now, Legends of Runeterra has recently started its open beta for everyone to play, and it’s definitely lived up to the hype as the new premier digital collectible card game (CCG) to play.

Gameplay

What separates a good card game from an ordinary or bad card game is its core mechanics and gameplay. Legends of Runeterra (LoR) somehow manages to combine the simplicity of Hearthstone with the complexity of Magic the Gathering. It’s easy enough for card game newbies to pick up, but complex enough that it’ll take some time before you understand its nuances.

LoR has a similar mana system to Hearthstone, which makes it easy to grasp for new players and also leads to a clear progression of the game’s intensity. The game starts out slow when you have less resources to play your cards, and slowly ramps up as you get more mana to play a greater number of stronger cards.

However, unlike Hearthstone, where there is minimal interactivity with the opponent, there are more opportunities to interact with your opponent in LoR. The interactivity will feel very close to home with Magic the Gathering players, where you can expend mana to interact with the opponent almost any time during your opponent’s turn, depending on the spell’s speed or effect.

Visuals and Theme

The visuals of LoR are just fantastic and amazing. The overall visuals might not be the most important thing when it comes to an online card game, but it definitely makes things much more interesting. The visuals convey clear cues on what each card does, such as damage, attack and so on. The artwork and quotes for every single card just bleeds character and gives each one a little bit of extra context and background.

Every single card features a full wallpaper worthy art.

I would often find myself just browsing through all my cards when I’m taking a break from the game, and soaking in all the amazing art. All of this just adds to the experience of the collection aspect of the card game. Even though you aren’t collecting physical cards, the collection aspect of LoR feels very much alive.

There are also some character interactions between certain cards whenever you place them on the board, giving these colourful characters even more personality. These subtle and unique ways of packing lore into a card game makes the experience much more enjoyable for everyone.

The theming in LoR is also amazing, with each region having a unique playstyle, feel and look to them. Demacia has units that are knights in shining armor, and who get stronger when they come together; Ionia is all about ninjas that are sneaky in combat with all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, and so on.

Each region has its own unique theme and feel.

The highlight however, definitely goes to each champion’s level up animation. Whenever some specific criteria is met, each champion’s cards can level up and get stronger. The animation that accompanies this definitely sells that idea….. HARD. I’ve played this game for close to a month already and I am still not tired of the champion leveling up animation.

Progression

One questions that comes to many people’s mind regarding an online card game is its progression. Will we have to spend a lot of money to play this game? The short answer to that is, no. The long answer to that is you don’t have to spend money if you play consistently on a daily basis, and there are plenty of systems introduced here that improve on the pioneer of progression in online card games–Hearthstone.

Just like in Hearthstone, there are multiple ways to earn your cards. You can open card packs (which LoR calls capsules or chests), or create any cards you want with an in-game currency called shards, which work similarly to Hearthstone’s arcane dust. While LoR borrows quite a lot of familiar progression mechanics from other online card games, what puts them above the rest is the introduction of wildcards, the weekly vault, and region rewards.

Capsules and Chests both contain cards

Wildcards can be transformed into any card of an equal rarity; e.g. a rare wildcard turns into any other rare card you want, but not a common or epic card. In fact, unlike other online card games, you can’t buy packs, but instead you can only buy wildcards.

The weekly vault is a weekly event that grants you rewards based on how much you played the past week. The weekly vault is extremely generous as you can get up to 9 card capsules or more, plus a Champion wildcard, shards and an expedition token from just playing throughout the week.

Plenty of Wildcards can be obtained through normal progression.

The region reward is just as the name implies. It rewards the player based on a region they choose. This allows players to narrow down the type of cards they’ll obtain to a single region, significantly increasing their chance of getting the cards they want.

Verdict

Legends of Runeterra definitely lived up to its expectations in delivering the next premier online card game. Its mechanics are simple yet hard to master. The game is jam-packed with your favourite League of Legends champions and filled with interesting original characters. The progression in the game is fast and satisfying, and you are never made to feel like you’re forced to pay up real cash.

This is a game that will be loved by many. Card game veterans will enjoy theory crafting the different regions to make the ultimate deck, while card game newbies will enjoy how simple and interesting the game is. This is a game you will want to at least try–it might just be your new favourite game.

If this article has made you interested in playing the game, you can download and play Legends of Runeterra here.

You can also check out our Legends of Runeterra stream, Road to Runeterra, every week on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8.30PM on our Facebook live!

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