- Legends of Runeterra is Riot's latest digital card game with turn-based attack and defence.
- The game combines mechanics from 'Magic: The Gathering' and 'Hearthstone' for a compelling experience.
- The game is easy to pick up, packed with complexity and is genuinely free-to-play.
Legends of Runeterra is a wonderfully inventive card game that manages to raise the bar even further for turn-based card games. Adding to the world of Runeterra with several new titbits to the lore, it features some of the most beloved champions from League of Legends and great voice lines as well as big hero animations which give the game a lot of personality.
Simple to pick up but complex to master
In Legends of Runeterra, you can pick and choose cards from different factions and also get some cross-faction synergy going. Despite being a rather complex game with a large number of cards, it is relatively easy to pick up because most of the synergies are based around heroes.
Once you’ve built the perfect deck of up to 40 cards, you face an opponent with alternating turns of attack and defence, drawing a new card on every turn. Your goal is to get the enemy nexus to zero points, which can be done in a lot of different ways. Attacks can be blocked (except from Elusive units) but the idea is to break through your enemy’s defences via spells, unit abilities, and strategic play. What makes Legends of Runeterra different than Hearthstone is the twist on the mana system. Unlike Hearthstone where your mana goes to waste because of lower-cost cards, LoR’s excess mana goes into your spell pool.
Spell mana has a limit of 3, allowing you to do more per round without it eating into your mana pool for playing unit cards. Spells can be cast both while blocking and attacking, adding to the mix of effects. Your spell mana is used to cast different kinds of spell cards, all with their own casting speeds. Some spell cards are really strong, strong enough to turn the tide of battle, including some like Decimate which can even directly damage the enemy nexus.
An easy-to-understand interface
LoR’s crystal clear interface is full of small touches that make things easy to understand. Selecting a card brings it up along with other cards and details its effects. Playable cards are also highlighted. On a phone screen, the text may get hard to read at times, but the overall card details are big and bold enough to read without any hassle, especially once you know the game well enough that you don’t need to look up card details anymore. Simple additions like the auto-pass feature keep up the pace of the game too.
You can tap the oracle’s eye on the left of the board at any time to show a preview of how your current played cards will fare. The chain of spells-reacting-to-spells can get confusing, but the interface makes it easy to understand.
The ‘tutorial’ is made of a few different short duels against an AI enemy that show you different aspects of the game. The game has an active community on Reddit and their player support takes care of FAQs. There are also dedicated deck building sites like Mobalytics.gg which can help you get started on experimenting. For those who want to get hardcore into the game, there isn’t an esports scene yet, but Riot Games hasn’t ruled it out yet so watch out for more updates.
Is it really free to play?
There are so many free-to-play games out there but most of them are actually more freemium, which force you to pay to get ahead. LoR is thankfully not designed that way. The game gives you a lot of starter cards and some great ways to keep earning new ones. You can legit play for free and keep building new fun decks, constantly expanding your collection, all without spending anything at all.
There are tonnes of rewards to be won including The Weekly Vault, a chest that can be redeemed once a week and levels up based on how much you play that week, increasing the value of its rewards. There are also daily quests, expeditions and a prologue which is a one-time set of rewards you earn when you first start playing LoR. You can spend real money in LoR but it’s mainly for cosmetics like guardians, card backs and emotes which you don’t really have to buy.
Why should you be playing Legends of Runeterra Mobile?
LoR is casual player-friendly, each game doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes so it’s a great way to pass time while on a commute or while multi-tasking. The static nature of the game means you won’t have to keep tapping your screens yet it manages to keep itself engaging with character and spell animations. The game is kept fresh by new expansions added every now and then so check out the latest expansions for new cards and champions. LoR also isn’t very graphicly intensive so it works smoothly on low-end mobile devices. The game’s 1 GB download is relatively small compared to other mobile games that require constant, large updates and it barely takes up data while you play.
If you are looking for beautiful visuals of charming characters with satisfying mechanics that make each interaction fun to watch, this game is for you.