Skills to Improve in Legends of Runeterra: A Companion Page
Hey, Agigas here!
To continuously improve in a card game and keep sharpening your skills requires a lot of effort and discipline. Sometimes we can lose track of our progress, hit the growth plateau, and start blaming our defeats on bad luck.
Even the best players in the world are far from playing perfectly, as Legends of Runeterra is a deep and complex game. There will always be matches you can’t win, but trying your best to improve in every aspect of the game will considerably increase your win rate in the long run.
In this article, I wanted to provide you with a comprehensive list of all the Legends of Runeterra skills you can work on, give you advice on how to improve them, and share guides and resources that will help you on that path.
I hope this page will be helpful for players looking to take their game to the next level!
- Outside the Game
- Understanding Your Deck
- Performance Review
- Game Rules Knowledge
- Finding the Right Play
- Tournament Play
- Building a Lineup
- Ban Phase
- Playing with Open Decklists
In any competitive environment, a solid mental approach is a foundation of success. This is no different in Legends of Runeterra. Having a bad mentality will result in tilt, rushed plays, and a lack of focus.
- Evaluate your play, not your results. The fact of winning or losing the game doesn’t define you as a player on the long term, the quality of your play does. Instead of being results-oriented, you should focus on playing well first. This change of perspective will allow you to spot your misplays more easily, play more patiently, and avoid tilting.
- Don’t beat yourself up too much. We all make mistakes sometime, sometimes even huge mistakes – it’s not a big deal and part of the process. Take note and analyze your error so you’re less likely to make it in the future, and move on.
- Celebrate your victories. The most competitive players often have a tendency to feel entitled to their victories, and perceive defeats as a problematic abberation. This is a negative way to see things – treat defeats as learning lessons, and be happy about your victories and good plays.
If you’re looking for more resources about having a good mentality in Legends of Runeterra, feel free to check out 4 Essential Tips For Healthy Climbing Mindset, and How to Efficiently Process Information in Card Games. Part 1: Building Healthy Mindstate by Den on RuneterraCCG.
You need to have a solid understanding of which archetypes are meta, what are their power levels, and popular builds. Knowing what to expect before queuing into a game is a prerequisite to all the next steps of your preparation, and will influence a lot your plays during games.
Once you know more about the landscape, look to learn about the dynamics. Matchups (i.e. which decks are good and bad versus which) are very important to learn to make the right deck choices and to understand and anticipate the meta evolutions.
In order to improve your meta knowledge, you can use numerous resources. Tier lists are an easy and accessible way to keep track of meta evolutions – RuneterraCCG Meta Tier List is constantly updated. You can also follow content creators and competitive players on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit (LoR Competitive), and other platforms where they share their builds of the current and future pillars of the meta.
If you want a deeper dive, you can analyze stats and get even more precise first-hand information. Mobalytics, Runeterra.AR, Lor-meta, and Llor-stats all provide meta stats and come with a lot of helpful tools. Dr. LoR and Kozmic regularly share in-depth stat reports on Twitter that they build using the aforementioned resources.
Matchup statistics and resources are often the hardest to find. We do provide matchup tables in our meta deck guides, and you can also find some info about each archetype’s matchup in our Meta Tier List. Lor-meta provides valuable matchup statistics, as well as Mobalytics – if you sign up for their Premium.
Finally, simply playing a lot of games is also a good way to learn about the meta. While it’s hard to play enough to acquire a large trustworthy sample size, it does help to refine your opinion about your local meta or particular matchups.
Deckbuilding is a very important part of card games, as a refined well-built decklist can carry you very far.
You can, of course, rely on the high-level players to come up with the best builds and copy their lists. However, being able to build your own decks by yourself, or tune lists expertly will be greatly rewarding, and it allows you to adapt your builds to your personal preferences and the environment you’re in.
To improve at deckbuilding, you obviously need to practice the craft regularly. However, deckbuilding can sometimes be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re starting.
Keep learning by example – analyze top players’ decklists and try to understand why each card is there. You can also watch high-level streamers and content creators – listen to them explaining their builds and ask them thought-out questions.
Check out the Legends of Runeterra Deckbuilding Guide for New Players by Mezume for a crash course for beginner and intermediate-level players.
Whether you’re looking to build from scratch or improve an existing list, deckbuilding is a trial and error process. You build a list, playtest it, try to figure out what is good and what is bad about it in practice – then, you repeat the process until you end up with a refined list.
- Building a list from scratch
To build a list from the ground up, you need to have an idea you can start with. This can be a combination of cards or mechanics or a champion you want to build around.
From there, look to surround your idea with a strong supporting package. Think about how your deck wants to function, if it is a proactive or reactive deck. Imagine yourself in different situations and figure out what are your deck’s weaknesses.
If you’re building a reactive deck, look to have reliable answers for popular meta threats. You also want to have a balanced ratio of answers for the open-attack scenarios (e.g. Fast and Burst speed removal) and for scenarios when your opponent chooses to develop before attacking (ex. Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator).
With a proactive deck, you want to ask yourself: ‘Where my pressure plan will most likely go wrong?’ Is your plan too easy to interact with? What are your fall-back plans? How do you intend to finish games? Analyze the answers to these questions and try to fix the potential issues.
- Tuning an existing list
With this approach, you take a list built by someone else, then make changes you want, accounting for your personal preferences, your local meta, and your creative ideas on how to make the archetype stronger.
This is probably the most common way how players of all levels interact with the meta and its archetypes, as it allows you to quickly jump into a game with the functional version that is believed to be currently strongest. From there, depending on their level of expertise, players will make changes that make sense to them, possibly refining the archetype even further.
If you’re looking to improve your deck in a certain matchup, you can add tech cards. You can also try to adjust the speed of the deck – make it faster to be able to contain an aggro deck or to go under a greedier archetype; or make it slower and get the ability to out-grind a slow matchup.
4. Understanding Your Deck
To be able to execute a gameplan, first, you need to get a firm understanding of it. Learning your win conditions, familiarizing yourself with the play patterns, combos, and interactions of your deck are all key to navigate your way to a victory.
After you’ve learned the basics of the deck, you should look deeper, and try to understand how its matchups play out – not only who is favored, but also why exactly.
Knowing how your deck works, how the opponent’s deck works, how both gameplans match against each other, and how to optimally play out each scenario will allow you to make better-informed decisions.
Carefully inspect decklists – they do contain every bit of information you’re looking for. An experienced player will learn a lot about a deck just by looking at it. However, especially if you are a beginner, studying a decklist by yourself can be difficult and not entirely sufficient – you need explanations of interactions and patterns that are more difficult to spot.
To get a deeper understanding of the deck, deck guides are a very important resource. You can also watch the gameplay videos or streams of high-level players – how they pilot the deck and what interactions and combos they look for will help you understand the deck better.
5. Performance Review
It is very common to lose yourself in a narrow tunnel of thoughts during the heat of a game.
Sometimes, we feel like we’ve played a match really well and there were no better lines other than those we took. However, we could have missed something, or misremembered the events and exact circumstances of the game.
For this reason, reviewing your games is extremely productive and will enable you to become a better player. Watching your plays from an outside perspective and with no time constraints makes it a lot easier to spot mistakes, find the better lines, and learn from it.
There are currently no in-game tools that would allow you to watch back your own games, but you can use any screen video capture software for that purpose (for ex., an Overwolf app called Outplayed).
6. Game Rules Knowledge
While the basic rules of the game are simple, there are plenty of less-obvious interactions you need to know about. Even at the highest level, we regularly see misplays that are directly coming from this lack of rules knowledge.
For example, did you know that when you Prank with a Curious Shellfolk on the board, you actually copy the card you’ve Pranked and add it to your hand? Did you ever experience how The Arsenal interacts with an Ancient Hourglass to get double the amount of keywords after reappearing from the
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to learn about all the tricky and obscure interactions at once. The game doesn’t have a rulebook, so there are a lot of things that are discovered on the fly.
Pay attention to what happens in games and try to remember how cards, keywords, and mechanics interact – learn through experimentation. In most cases, the Oracle’s Eye will allow you to preview the results of a play – actively use that feature whenever you’re unsure.
Additionally, in our deck guides, we will always make sure to point out any specific unobvious interactions that you need to know.
You can also follow and ask experienced players, as the time they’ve dedicated to the game often makes them the most knowledgeable about the obscure interactions in Legends of Runeterra. Players often like to share their experiments and learn about obscure interactions.
The outcome of the game is not only determined by how well you play out your turns – a mulligan phase can have a massive impact on the final result as well.
During the mulligan, you should look for the cards that are key to your own gameplan, and for the cards that are important in the particular matchup.
It is a bad habit to mulligan on auto-pilot for the cheapest cards in your deck every time. Knowing the exact specific cards you want comes from preparation – for a good mulligan, you need to understand your deck and the matchup.
As a rule of thumb, it is better to mulligan aggressively to increase your odds of finding your key cards, instead of keeping whatever seems ‘fine’ in the matchup.
Our deck guides feature guidelines for mulligans, including matchup-specific advice. Watching high-level players can also help you improve as you study how they mulligan.
Self-reflection is as always very important – after your game, think back about the cards you’ve mulliganed away. Would any of them have helped you? Were there any cards that you’ve kept and they ended up being underwhelming?
Look to refine your mulligan strategy for every matchup by constantly experimenting and reviewing what happens during the games.
2. Finding the Right Play
The ability to always find the best play is often what is considered to be the mark of a good pilot. During a game, you will have to think through numerous decision points, each one changing the decision tree ahead of you for the rest of the game.
The first step is to identify is the strongest action you can take in the current state of the game given the immediate information you have. We want to find the play that impacts the game the most and puts us in the best position.
The next step is to take into account the possible answers and follow-ups from the opponent. You don’t want to run straight into the opponent’s prepared answer – look to find ways of making their plays as awkward and inconvenient as possible.
Building on that, we will be then planning ahead, thinking about our next play, then the opponent’s next answer, and so on. Always thinking several turns into the future is very important in card games – the further you can look into the decision tree that will be born from your current action, the better-informed your turns will be.
Finally, finding the right play also depends on the matchup. Some cards might be important to answer a specific threat or enable an important interaction, and you will then want to hold onto them for that purpose.
When looking for the right play, you should also evaluate your current position in the game. If you can’t afford to play around a certain card, then don’t. If you are ahead and at no cost to yourself can play around even the slightest possibility that could allow you opponent to come back, then do so.
Don’t forget that passing is always an option. Too often players overlook the pass button – playing correctly with priority can win or lose games.
For further reading, check out these guides by Den on RuneterraCCG that cover the topics of processing your turns and passing: Looking for an Optimal Play, and Pass Mechanic.
Card games use a lot of hidden information. Most importantly, you can’t see the opponent’s hand – and every bit of info you can gather regarding it will be extremely valuable, allowing you to make better-informed decisions.
Pay attention to their hand during the mulligan phase. You can see from the mulligan animation if there are any cards the opponent has kept, and, granted you have some ideas of what the opponent would be interested to keep in the matchup, make some deductions about what those cards might be.
Next, look to extract information from the way your opponent plays. If they didn’t take a great opportunity to play a certain spell, they likely don’t have it, and you can stop playing around it until they’ve drawn more into their deck. If they play in a way that only makes sense if they have a certain spell, they likely have it in hand.
Lastly, you need to be aware that some types of cards can ‘get stuck’ in your opponent’s hand – sometimes in numbers – if they weren’t able to find a good opportunity or target to play it.
If you see a particular unknown card that the opponent has kept in their hand for many turns, you can start making deductions on what that card is, taking into account everything that happened in-game during that time.
For example, the classic meme saying that the last card in the hand of the Burn player is always Decimate is founded in that exactly. Burn decks indeed look to cast Decimate only once they’ve run out of all their better tempo plays, so it tends to get stuck in their hand for numerous turns.
Hand reading is a pretty complex skill, but it is worth all the training – playing as if the opponent’s hand was partly or even completely revealed is a huge advantage.
Playing slower and analyzing each one of your opponent’s plays is very important if you want to improve at hand-reading. For an additional resource with examples, I would recommend you to check out my Hand Reading article.
As a player, your goal is to read into the hidden information, but your opponents can also attempt to purposefully disguise it, or even try to misdirect you.
In order to prevent any free information leaks, avoid playing in a way that makes your hand too obvious. This can sometimes mean you will have to choose some slightly sub-optimal lines, but surprising your opponent with a card they did not expect you to have can make it worth it.
Another way of messing with your opponent’s plays is bluffing. Going for plays that only make sense when you have a certain card in hand – although, in fact, you don’t have it – might convince the opponent to play around that said card.
However, you should be very careful with bluffing. It is a double-edged sword – if your opponent calls your bluff, or simply lacks the understanding of the game to even respect it, you will be committed to a bad play and an undesirable information leak. Carefully think through the risk-reward payoff of your bluff.
To improve at bluffing and concealing information, you need to put yourself in the opponent’s seat and understand their thought process. Practice it during games, and think about lines you can take to make the opponent’s reads harder.
1. Building a Lineup
The current format for sanctioned Bo3 competitive play (Gauntlets, Seasonal Tournaments), called “Riot Lock”, requires you to bring 3 decks with no duplicated region combination and no duplicated champions. Each player bans one of the opponent’s decks, then they play a Best-of-Three match, where a player has to win with each of his two remaining decks.
When building a lineup for a tournament, you need to make the most out of the ban phase. If your decks share a common weakness, you can simply ban an opposing deck that exploits that weakness, setting up your lineup to face desirable matchups more often.
The best lineups will often also have common strengths shared between their decks, sometimes acting as a counter to a particular popular archetype in the meta (i.e ‘targeting’ or ‘bullying’ it).
For this reason, bringing a deck that is very popular and is likely to be targeted can be a risky approach, especially if you expose this deck’s weaknesses further by bringing 2 other decks with similar matchup tables.
To make your lineup more flexible in this case, you can opt to bring 2 decks that are strong against your targeted deck’s counter decks. This way, you’ll have a great chance at winning one of your games, and then will have two attempts at winning a single game with your targeted deck (which is good odds as long as your targeted deck has a high power level).
One important concept to underline when it comes to lineup choices is to stick with strong decks you are also comfortable with. You will often be able to go a lot farther with a less-synergistic lineup consisting of strong decks you know and love than with a cohesive lineup you didn’t have time to master.
If you would like to read more about the lineup-building process, feel free to check out my Lineup-building article. If you are a Premium user of RuneterraCCG, you also can follow our regular series of Gauntlet articles, where we share and explain some of the best lineups for the current meta. Following high-level players and tournament results will also give you a valuable source of lineups.
2. Ban Phase
While you should already have an idea of what you want to ban due to the way your lineup is built, things don’t always go as planned and you should be ready to have to make on-the-fly ban decisions.
When analyzing their Bo3 matches, players would often look at what went right or wrong during the games themselves, but a poorly executed ban phase will often be an actual major reason for the defeat.
The ban phase can sometimes be quite straightforward, granted you know your matchup tables. If one particular deck is the worst matchup for all your own decks, it will obviously be your ban.
However, things aren’t always that simple, as your decks often have slightly different matchup tables. In that case, you need to consider what deck scares you the most overall, and also what your opponent is most likely to ban. The opponent’s ban affects the matchup tables you will have to work with, so it can completely change what you want to ban.
That, in turn, can lead to additional mind games, as the opponent might look to ban something else than the most obvious deck to mess up your ban phase.
Finding the right balance between going for the optimal choice, predicting the opponent’s ban, and playing the mind games can be tricky – practice is key. You can also watch high-level player’s tournament runs and look to understand the reasoning behind their ban phase.
3. Playing with Open Decklists
Playing with open decklists is vastly different from the ladder experience.
In a Ranked game on the ladder, you can make some estimations as to the contents of your opponent’s deck, based on currently the most popular builds of that archetype. However, open decklists provide you with full info on what are the exact 40 cards they are running.
With this precise information, there’s no excuse, and your plays should not only follow your global gameplan but also respect which cards the opponent can or cannot play at any moment.
Between the information gathered from open decklists and hand-reading, you can often have a very clear idea of what are the exact cards in the opponent’s hand, making the game feel more like chess – you will need to find the right paths in your decision trees to force the opponent into disadvantageous situations.
I hope this Companion Page will assist you on your journey to improve as a Legends of Runeterra player!
If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below!
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Thanks for reading!