With a market full of cultish followers and millions of players, card games in this era need to do something special if they want attention. Players are too dedicated to the tried and true genre giants to pick up something different rather than new.
Legends of Runeterra is new. It’s fresh. And it has plenty of wonderful qualities that make it worth giving a shot.
1. Collection Building / Cost of Entry
Often one of the biggest reasons that people avoid card games is cost. Let’s face it: card games are expensive! Most of them rely on players dumping loads of cash to purchase packs, only to open cards they will never play or already have. While some CCGs have secondary markets for individual cards, this does little to keep the cost of building a collection (let alone obtaining multiple meta-decks) down.
Legends of Runeterra solves this dilemma. Riot instituted extremely generous card acquisition in LoR by providing features such as Region Roads, Weekly Vaults, Expedition Rewards, and more! I have yet to find a card game — digital or otherwise — that supplies players with the ability to complete their collections without spending a penny. If you are interested in playing a CCG without spending a fortune, give it a try! All it takes to complete your collection entirely for free is that you play the game. We also have an in-depth guide to collection building right here on RuneterraCCG for details on how best to go about it.
2. Back-and-Forth Interaction
The way that players take turns has been an element of CCGs that has remained stagnant for years. Player 1 starts. They draw a card. They play some cards or take some action. They pass the turn to Player 2. Games continue in this pattern until someone wins. Or they did.
Rather than taking separate turns, players in Legends of Runeterra share the same Round. At the beginning of a round, both players draw a card and refill their mana. One player receives the “Attack Token” and is given turn priority for that round; we’ll call that player ‘the attacker’. The attacker takes the first action of the round (whether that be attacking, playing cards, or passing). After the attacker does something, priority then passes to the defender who has a chance to act as well.
Play continues this way until both players pass consecutively. Only the attacker can attack each round (though some cards can change that); otherwise the rounds are mirrored. This system allows both players to feel they can make game-impacting decisions every round.
3. Mana System
Every CCG involves resource management. Most of them use a variant of mana to put a limit on how many cards players can play each turn. Some games implement this as a form of RNG. I know I’m not the only one who has been frustrated in Magic: The Gathering about not drawing enough lands to play my cards. Once again, LoR has brought something new and innovative to the table.
The mana system in LoR, at its core, is quite similar to that of Hearthstone. Every round both players gain a mana gem until they reach 10. So no frustration about missing out on mana each turn. That’s not the extent of the mana system though. In Legends of Runeterra, players also have a store of “Spell Mana” that can only be used to cast spells (not followers or champions). Any time that there are unspent mana gems when a round ends, that player stores those gems as spell mana (with a max of 3 spell mana).
This adds a level of complexity to decision making and serves as artificial ramp in spell-heavy decks. The system changes the way that players interact with mana and upends the notion of “mana efficiency.”
4. Bringing Cards to Life
Everyone enjoys having a good time when they play games. Small interactions and details in a game can go a long way to enhancing its playability and keeping players interested. Legends of Runeterra does a phenomenal job in this department by adding interactive voice lines to most of the cards.
Not only do champions have specific interactions with other champions, but followers have interactions with champions and followers as well! These interactions keep the game lively and help to immerse players in the Runeterra lore.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game for me is finding a new voice interaction between two cards. Riot has placed plenty of little easter eggs throughout them.
5. Balance / Meta-Diversity
One aspect of CCGs of today’s world is that meta-games tend to be “solved” relatively quickly. Information is increasingly easy to get a hold of and in most CCGs matchup stats often solidify the meta quite early on.
While Legends of Runeterra is not exempt from this aspect of the genre, it does mitigate those issues by supporting a diverse meta environment. During open-beta there were more than a dozen viable ladder decks available and Rising Tides has only added cards (and a new region) to the mix.
The possibilities seem endless and even “meme-y” decks have been known to reach the higher levels of ranked ladder. For a look at what decks are currently leading the meta, check out our meta tier list.
Legends of Runeterra has brought new and innovative instruments to the CCG genre. From introducing new turn concepts to allowing players to enjoy a completely Free-To-Play experience, LoR has redefined what it means to be a modern digital CCG.
With Launch in the rearview mirror and patches dropping every two weeks, now is a perfect time to get involved with Legends of Runeterra! Let me know your favorite thing about Legends of Runeterra by leaving a comment or following me on Twitter @RanikGalfridian.