Updated: May 6, 2020
Another Card Game...in an already crowded market. Another Card Game attempting to take on Magic and Hearthstone. I know that's what you're all thinking. But you'd be wrong. Legends of Runeterra is in a league of it's own. Paving it's own way and breaking what I consider to be new ground. As a long time TCG player both casual and competitive Legends of Runeterra has gotten me hooked, invested, and excited for the future of it's life span.
What is Legends of Runeterra? It's an online Trading Card Game created by Riot. Games. In this game, as with many like it, you construct a deck built around a strategy you've created; use mana each turn to summon forth ally cards and/or play spell cards in order to deal damage to an opponent. The game is won when your opponents life points (their Nexus) to brought down from 20 to 0. That's the long end short of it. If you've played games like Magic, The Elder Scrolls Legends, or Hearthstone in particular then you'll have an idea of what this game is like. However, Runeterra isn't a carbon copy of these games. They do some things that I've honestly can't recall other games doing. And this difference is in primarily in how rounds play out and it's almost genius. Players alternate between being the attacker and the defender each round and every time an action is taken your opponent has a chance to respond. This leaves the game feeling both balanced and frustrating (in a good way). And more importantly it helps the game be more strategic in a way that others in the genre aren't and thus making it more fun.
Another dope thing Legends of Runeterra does that makes it stand apart from the rest are a little thing called Champion Cards. These are special cards based on characters from Riot's other popular game, League of Legends. Champions are pretty much the theme of your deck as every card in there should be of some benefit to your Champion. Hell, ally cards are even called followers in some in game text. So it really makes perfect sense when you think about it. But what makes a Champ stand out from the rest of the contenders is it's powerful effect. Lets take a Champ like Teemo for example:
To understand how amazing this card is, you have to know what it all means. Teemo is a 1 mana cost Champion as seen in the upper left circle of the card. His attack (lower left) and Defense (lower right) are both 1 as well. However, Teemo has a special ability called Elusive. Elusive makes it so that only other cards with elusive can block. Assuming your opponent has none. Teemo does Nexus damage. Teemo also has Nexus Strike which is an effect that activates upon successful nexus damage done by the card with it. This effect places 5 "Poison Puffcaps" on cards in your opponents deck. These Puffcaps, when drawn, does 1 damage to the enemy nexus. His level-up condition requires him to plant a total of 15 Puffcaps. Therefore, the deck you want to build around Teemo is one where you can plant as many Puffcaps as possible as there are other cards that help you hit this goal. And once Teemo levels, he''s even more of a Puffcapped G!
Now, he a 2/2 Champion with a new look and his effect doubles the amount of Puffcaps already in your opponent's deck. Making the odds to draw them exponentially higher. And since some cards can have more than 1 Puffcap planted. It's a pretty big deal.
Also, also, ALSO another place Runeterra shines is if you have more than one of the same Champ in your deck and you happen to draw another one while the first one is still in play, those other same Champions will be transformed into a spell card unique to the Champion in play. In Teemo's case, it'll become Teemo's Mushroom Cloud which, when cast, plants 5 Poison Puffcaps in your opponents deck. And the best part of all of that, in addition to not having multiple copies of the same powerful Champ in play, not making the duplicates completely useless, and being a really cool and unique game mechanic is that these particular spells will always shuffle a copy of that Champion back into your deck when used. That's something I don't think I've ever seen before in a TCG.
And Champions aren't the only thing to build decks around. It's just a small part really. As of the time of this article its been reported that the initial set has 318 cards. Which isn't a massive pool to choose from, but this is why I'm exceited about the future of what this game will bring. That being said, the other factor that decks are built around are regions. Out of the 318, those cards are split between 6 regions, each of which having their own themes and mechanics. And a deck can only contain 2 regions at once. There is Piltover, Noxusm Demacia, Freljord, Shadow Isles, and Zaun.
The deeper you get into the game the more you discover. And that's a good sign. As for the elephant in the room. Micro-transactions, I think they've made obtaining cards super easy. Yes you can purchase cards, but more importantly you can ear them through game play and it's rather fair and balanced. At start you can buy a started booster to help you build your 40-card deck. And that's pretty much it. Riot is also selling cosmetics like new boards (playing spaces) and pets. But the meat of their content and the games success will come from selling boosters and better cards. In a TCG that's where you they'll make their money and its where monetization makes the most sense. There is this idea that capping purchases so ballers can't buy every card there is will help keep the game fair and I don't see that being true. When I played Yu-Gi-Oh I spent hundreds on boxes, and it didn't make me unstoppable. If a person wants to spend on your game to purchase cards. Let them. I know I'm invested.
So I'll sum it all up by saying this. If you’ve been looking for a Card Game to get invested in. This is the game. If you're still hurting after finding out that Elder Scrolls Legends is pretty much done and wanted something new that wasn't Hearthstone. This is the game. If you think Hearthstone is fun, but missing that certain something. Legends of Runterra has it. And this might really be the game for you. I often find myself talking about jumping on a game and sticking with it thought its span and then I fall off. However, there is something different about this game. I think I'm here for as long as it is, and I can't wait to see what the competitive field brings. Because if I can start hitting up tournaments with custom decks via my Mobile Device or Laptop. Then I'm in...I'm all the way in!