For gamers with the time and willingness to learn, Runeterra is a win
Legends of Runeterra is a free-to-play card game published by Riot Games, who also created League of Legends and VALORANT. The game officially released for PC and mobile devices on April 29, although it was in an open beta for PC before then since January 24. The game revolves around you and another player placing different types of cards within a 40 card deck and the main goal is to bring the enemy Nexus’s health from 20 to 0 or below before they do it to your own.
Cards can fall into being spells which have one of three conditions needed to be able to play them, followers which are base units that have Power and Health, and Champions which are like followers but are limited to 6 in a deck and also have a unique condition they can fulfill to level them up with better Power/Health or effects. All cards cost Mana, which refills and has the maximum amount increased by one each round, for up to 10 total, with leftover Mana from the previous round being converted into up to 3 Spell Mana, used only for spells. Once per round, one player can choose to attack with their units while the other has to defend with theirs, and then the previously defending player can get to attack in the next round, and the game moves to the next round when both players choose to not play any more cards.
I find that the variety of cards they offer the most appealing aspect of this game. Cards come from one of seven current ‘regions’ that have a specific playstyle associated with them. For example, cards from the Ionia region rely on effects to gain an advantage, while cards from the Shadow Isles region allow the death of played units to benefit the user. You can have cards from up to two regions in your deck when playing normally, which allows people to make several decks with vastly different play styles.
In addition, followers and Champions have voice lines and interactions when played, giving an insight into the story and universe that these cards belong in. This gives the game a fresh coat of paint in the form of backstory within your favorite cards.
However, I feel like the most troubling problem new players might face is making their own deck. The game provides several tutorials on how the game works and mechanics within the game, but it does not provide help on building a deck. The game does provide some beginner decks for an insight on how decks are built, but it can be challenging to come up with your own without looking up decks online, especially for players that are entirely new to the card game genre.
Although deck building might be a trouble for some, there’s a great system in place for acquiring cards. There are no purchasable cards packs like in other card games. Instead, experience points you gain from playing go towards a region path of your choice, allowing you to gain cards from that region. The same amount of experience also goes towards your weekly Vault chests, which are three chests that improve in quality the more experience you put towards it, which can be claimed every Tuesday, and are then reset. Occasionally, cards you gain upgrade into Wild Cards, which can be redeemed for any card of a certain rarity. They can also have a chance of upgrading into a card of higher rarity. If you gain copies of a card that you already have 3 of, they’re converted into Shards, the main currency that you can spend on buying any card. You can still spend real money to purchase Wild Cards in the shop, although the game limits you to a certain amount per week. I appreciate that Riot Games designed the game so that spending money doesn’t provide players a large advantage over others.
Overall, Legends of Runeterra has several things going for it. The amount of freedom that players get for gaining cards they want without spending money is great and the tutorials provided are a great help for players starting out. The story behind the cards you use is also a nice addition to the game, because it gives plenty of detail and color.
Although making a deck yourself may be challenging without some online help, I feel like Legends of Runeterra is an A- for anyone looking to play something during quarantine.