Legends of Runeterra Free-to-Play Survival Guide: Earning Full Collection is Easy!

Runeterra is indeed quite groundbreaking in the way it treats card acquisition. Developers want every regular in the game to own a full collection, completed just by playing.

Let me start by simply confirming this – what you’ve heard is true, Legends of Runeterra is indeed the most generous card game out there.

Here’s a quick recap of my own personal experience with LoR. Even though I am one of those completionists who like to have it all and never stick with a single deck for too long, not once I felt bored or somewhat limited by my card pool as a F2P player. In just over a month since the open beta kicked in, I have already owned 90% of champion cards and have amassed enough resources to build any deck I would wish for. These days all I do is just keep hoarding shards and wildcards for the next expansion.

How LoR Economy is so Ridiculously Generous?

Developers have stated their intent clear – they want every regular in the game to own a full collection, completed just by playing. Their monetization approach is different to the mainstays of genre, the likes of Hearthstone and MTG Arena. These titles make the most of their revenue by selling randomized packs of cards. Riot put their focus on providing the high-quality cosmetics and vanity items instead.

This approach has worked for them incredibly well in the past, sustaining League of Legends’ brand that developed into one of the biggest and most profitable free to play games in the world. LoL artists and designers are great at making cosmetics that sell – and Riot believed they could take this model and adapt for the CCG economy.

Runeterra is indeed quite groundbreaking in the way it treats card acquisition. There are no card packs for you to buy or earn. In place of this conventional system, there are multiple progression tracks (similar to mastery pass in MTG Arena, if you’re familiar) that reward the player with a variety of resources as he earns experience points.

You acquire experience by playing the game and unlock the rewards – Chests and Capsules – on those progression tracks. They include individual copies of cards, wildcards of various rarity and shards. The latter two are the ways you can craft cards in Runeterra.

Wildcards work exactly the way they are implemented in MTG Arena – you can redeem any individual card by converting it from a wildcard of corresponding rarity. Shards are similar to dust in Hearthstone – you can use them to craft cards directly. But it is also used as a ‘gold’ resource – a player can use them to buy Expedition tickets, for example.

Even though you will collect resources in Legends of Runeterra quite fast, there are ways to optimize your progression in the game. Below I will provide some basic tips for newcomers to LoR who are looking for a starting point but might feel overwhelmed.

TL;DR: Runeterra is very F2P friendly. A F2P player can amass a full collection in about 4 weeks. Riot aims to monetize the game mainly through cosmetics.

Daily Experience Management

Each day you are provided with a new quest that will award experience once completed – either 1000 or 1500 xp. The objectives are not very demanding (play with a specific region or champion, cast some spells, etc.) and rarely require wins to complete them. Most can be fulfilled within 2-3 games.

An account can stock up to three quests, but any of those received on top of that will go to waste. Make sure to complete your quests every three days not to miss out on experience gain.

There is also a reroll option in the higher left corner of the quest tab – a button with a ‘dice’ on it. Once a day, you can click it to swap any quest at your disposal for another one at random. Those rerolls stack up to a maximum of two available – so that if you missed a day or didn’t want to reroll, you could do it twice the next day.

As our goal is to maximize experience, so we ideally want to only complete quests worth 1500 xp and reroll all the other ones. Do not ever use rerolls on 1500 xp quests! Even if you feel you don’t have the cards needed to complete it – it is actually almost never the case. Remember, quests can be completed in both PvP and PvE modes, as well as in Friend Challenge mode. So you always can put together a ‘whatever’ deck just to finish a particular quest in a low-pressure environment.

Another neat min-maxing trick you can use is to avoid completing 1000 xp quests so that you can reroll them the next day. Just make sure you are not capped at the amount of quests and have the free slot for the next day.

There are also unlimited rewards for both PvP and PvE wins in LoR. PvP Ranked or Normal mode victories will grant you 200 experience each. For AI wins, you are rewarded with 100 xp until your 10th win in a day – and 50 xp after that. Another nice thing is, the are also experience rewards for losses, even against the AI.

ModeWin XP (games per day)Loss XP (games per day)
Ranked/Normal200100 (1-5), 50
AI100 (1-10), 5050 (1-5), 25

On top of the regular rewards, first three wins of the day in any PvP mode award a bonus of 400 xp, 200 xp and 100 xp respectively. It means that first PvP Ranked or Normal win on any given day will grant a player 200+400=600 xp. It is optimal to always get at least three wins per day. Each day your xp grind is completely unlimited.

However, be wary of the burnout – the game is generous enough so there’s not much value in compromising mental health. A good way to approach the grind is to set the daily goal (a particular number of games played, wins achieved, xp or rewards earned, etc.) and call it after completing it.

There is also a way to consistently grind experience through Friend Challenge mode. First 5 wins of the day award 200 xp each, and first 5 losses grant 100 xp. As of patch 0.9.3, it is essentially a source of a free and fast experience – players can ‘win-trade’ with their friends by surrendering quickly until they reach a daily cap. Recently Riot have indicated that they will look for ways to cut ‘win-trading’ in this mode – though not by nerfing experience gain of the Friend Challenge.

The Weekly Vault

All the experience you gain by any means adds up to your region tracks and Weekly Vault progress. We will talk about the Region Roads in detail, but in the other section of the article. For now, let’s quickly discuss the Vault.

You reap your rewards on Tuesday, then the vault progress resets and you start all over again. The important milestones to hit here are at level 2 (Expedition Token), level 5 (random Champion Card) and level 10 (Champion Wildcard instead of ramdom Champion). Three wins per day and 7 quests a week will usually get you to 10 no extra effort – but keep an eye on the Vault progress if you suddenly need an extra push.

The Vault Level upgrades infinitely. You can see that after 10, the experience needed to get to the next level spikes. Don’t feel bad if you’re unable to reach level 13 on any given week – these higher rewards are meant for players who are heavily invested into the daily gameplay. For a regular F2P casual, three Platinum chests at level 10 (each of those has a chance to upgrade into a Diamond one, by the way!) will yield enough resources for healthy progression.

TL;DR: If possible, complete only 1500 xp quests and reroll the other ones. Win at least 3 games per day. Abuse Friend Challenges for free daily xp. Make sure to upgrade your Weekly Vault to level 10 by Tuesday. XP gain is unlimited – don’t burn yourself out!

Expeditions or Constructed?

The xp gain in Expeditions is a tiny bit faster compared to Constructed mode – but not by a lot. As such, you are in no way tied to a limited mode if you do not enjoy it.

The way you get xp in draft games is slightly different to Constructed modes. The wins in Expeditions earn you less of an amount, but you are also granted a significant ‘burst’ of experience at the end of your draft trial, based on the performance. Now, let’s break down a concrete case to find out the exact numbers’ difference.

Let’s say you have around 50 % win-rate and went 6-7 on the Ranked ladder. In this case (not counting bonus daily rewards) you will earn 1200 (wins xp) + 600 (losses xp) = 1800 xp in 13 games (138,5 xp per game).

Now, if you managed to pull off the same streak in Expeditions and went 6 wins in Expeditions trial (win-loss-win-loss all the way), the amount of experience you will get is 600 (wins xp) + 300 (losses xp) + 1000 (end of run reward) = 1900 xp (146,2 xp per game).

As you can see, the xp margin is quite thin. However, if you’re good at Expeditions, xp gain becomes more rapid for you. Let’s say you went 7-3 in a trial. In this case, you get 700 (wins xp) + 150 (losses xp) +1500 (end of run xp) = 2350 xp (235 xp per game). The same 7-3 streak in Constructed will grant you 1400 + 300 = 1700 xp (170 per game).

The Expedition rewards is another reason to check out this mode and get good at it. A single run costs 2000 shards, but you are guaranteed to get your investment back. Even in case of a winless run, a player gets an Epic Capsule. It contains a random Epic card, two Rares and two Commons – they are worth 2000 shards exactly. But it is the worst case scenario, and rewards can only get better from there. Capsule and each individual card within have a chance to upgrade to a higher rarity. Also the additional rewards at the end of the run depend on your performance and they are listed below.

0Epic Capsule50
1Epic Capsule, 100 Shards150
2Epic Capsule, 200 Shards250
3Epic Capsule, 200 Shards, Common Wildcard400
4Epic Capsule, 300 Shards, 2x Common Wildcards600
55 wins: Epic Capsule, 500 Shards, Rare wildcard, Common Wildcard800
66 wins: Epic Capsule, 1000 Shards, Rare Wildcard, Common Wildcard1000
77 wins: Epic Capsule, 2000 Shards, 2x Rare Wildcards1500

As you can see, the biggest jumps in payouts are at 6 and 7 wins (500 to 1000 and 1000 to 2000 shards respectively).

Due to the forgiving rules of the mode (2 draft attempts-‘trials’, back-to-back losses elimination), a good player will be able to get 6 wins in every Expedition run quite consistently, occasionally spiking at 7 wins. As such, the mode is very skill-rewarding and definitely worth exploring. But even if you’re new and just learning the game, Expedition tickets are still a good investment for your shards if you aim to eventually build a full collection.

The last thing worth mentioning here is that a player can buy a ticket and earn full rewards only for three Expedition runs per week. Starting from the fourth run, you can play for free. However, they will only grant you experience, no shards or capsules.

TL;DR: The rate of experience gain in Expeditions is faster than in Constructed, but not by very much. Expeditions are quite rewarding for good players. The mode is also a worthy investment for a new player.

Optimizing Regions’ Progression

Legends of Runeterra progression system offers six unique reward tracks as part of the core set experience – one for each of the regions currently represented in the game. Players get to choose a track they like – and as they earn xp, they unlock various ‘chests’ and ‘capsules’ containing the individual cards of a chosen region, as well as general wildcards and shards. A player can also ‘switch allegiance’ to another region track at any time they wish.

A region’s track contains 20 levels. Each consecutive one offers greater rewards, but also takes more xp to complete than the previous one. So what is the optimal approach in unlocking the levels? Should you stick to the same region or switch tracks every time after completing a level?

Well, a bit of both. Here’s how I would recommend going about things:

  • Choose a region you like or the one you need the cards from, upgrade it to level 8 – this is where you’ll get your first really valuable loot, a Champion Capsule;
  • Switch to the next region you want and get it to level 8 as well. Repeat the same process for the remaining regions.
  • If ever in doubt about which regions to choose, level them up in this order: Demacia, Piltover and Zaun, Shadow Isles, Ionia, Freljord, Noxus. (The order here depends mostly on the quality of each region’s commons and rares).
  • Next, pick the region with the least amount of champions you have. Level it up all the way to 20. Repeat until the full completion.

Rewards from region tracks will never grant you copies of epics and champions you already have. This ‘protection’ rule for higher rarity cards also applies to Expeditions and Weekly Vault rewards. However, if say you have already completed your Frejlord champion lineup by other means, redundant champion cards from Freljord track will be converted into 750 shards per copy (for a massive loss, down from 3000 shards worth of value). This is why it is important to track how many champions of a particular region you have while choosing the path of progression.

You should also know that Riot have additionally announced an XP boost system for Region reward tracks that will help new or returning players to catch up with the rest. Additional XP Boost levels will be added based on how long and how quickly active players have been progressing to ensure there isn’t a huge disparity in card collections. If a significant part of the community ends up rocketing way ahead of the pack, the rest of the community can draft off them to catch up. This feature will probably arrive later in the year as LoR will release its first expansion.

TL;DR: Upgrade each region to level 8. Then pick a region with the fewest amount of champions you have, and level it up to 20. Move on to the next one and repeat.

This is all you need to know to be as efficient as possible within the Runeterra economy. As a F2P player, you will have to be a little bit patient for the first week or two – but after that you will likely have more resources than you can put to use. Enjoy your journey, and if you would ever want to join a whale club – check out cosmetics, they are awesome!

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