Legends of Runeterra Review – The New King of CCG

    Title: Legends of Runeterra
    Developer: Riot Games
    Release Date: April 29, 2020
    Reviewed On: iOS
    Publisher: Riot Games
    Genre: CCG

If you find yourself on the iOS and Android stores, it won’t take long before you run into a mess of free-to-play card games. It’s tough to determine what sets these apart from screenshots alone since a lot of them just mimic what the more popular titles create. I’ve seen it all before, and I’m rarely impressed with any of the recent offerings. Well, Riot Games is aiming to redefine the genre without relying on tried systems. Instead, the developer has rejuvenated my love for it with their newest release Legends of Runeterra. 

Legends of Runeterra is the latest release from Riot Games, who seems to be having a solid streak of mobile releases. The game takes the existing League of Legends franchise and introduces the world to the CCG genre. While not all 100+ champions can be found in the game, there are a few well-known faces in the game like Lucian, Garen, Fizz, who’s still annoying, and many others that you can collect as cards that are used in a match.

The developer does a great job tying in details of League of Legends lore for longtime fans to catch, but it’s not entirely in your face that it alienates new players. The presentation alone gives the world originally crafted in League of Legends some much-appreciated depth. This allows you to care about the characters within the cards and adds a layer of attachment to them as you create decks.

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Legends of Runeterra is extremely newcomer-friendly since each card doesn’t have a long explanation of their abilities and utility. Decks are separated into follower cards, champion cards, and spells. Players build decks around the champion cards and focus on the different ways to level them up. This allows champions to become stronger and gain new abilities.

Similar to other CCGs, players have access to an increasing number of play points and mana points each turn to play cards. Most games have cards acting as a barrier to stop attacks against your health, but in Legends of Runeterra, you can choose to place your cards on the field to block incoming attacks. It’s an interesting dynamic as there are certain times when it’s not always ideal to block. Still, the objective of the game is to knock out the enemy cards and destroy the Nexus.

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There are always going to be “meta” decks following each update with some deck builds coming off overpowered. As of writing this review, some of the strongest decks are the “Monster” build – which involves throwing away a bunch of your cards every round while keeping some defenses up to summon Nautilus and other follower cards with insanely high attack and defense in the late game.

There’s also the “Fiora Barrier” build – which is pretty much buffing your Fiora with barriers and attack and defense up cards to make her unkillable, and any variation an “Elusive” deck – which has most or all of your follower/champion cards become unblockable if they’re attacking. Each deck has a particular layer of complexity about them, but there’s always some kind of counterplay or response to an enemy attack. Assuming you have the luck of the draw and properly constructed deck, you can always put up a good fight and even come out on top.

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One important thing I wanted to note in Legends Runeterra is how there are so many opportunities to earn new cards without having to pay. You can even create some viable decks after playing AI and normal matches. I’ve never once experienced that in any CCG that actually rewarded you constantly for playing normal games. There’s a rewards page that gives you new cards and materials, but it’s separated by the in-game regions within the Runeterra world.

Depending on which region you have active, you’ll earn XP toward a vast line of rewards for that particular region. The cards you can acquire will depend upon it as well. It’s also possible to select a different region at any time if you want to start earning different rewards. You can even earn high-level cards without putting money into the game, which blurs the line when trying to figure out if an online opponent has the benefits of paying or not. There’s also a weekly vault you can open up that’s filled with more cards and card making materials to access every Tuesday. Your weekly vault rewards depend on how often you play each week.

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Additionally, you won’t have to wrap your brain too hard around creating the perfect deck if that’s not your thing. There are hundreds of awesome decks you can find online created by the community and some of the top players in the world. Copy-paste the card deck code you find online and import it into the game.

If you’re missing some cards, you can use some of the materials you have available to build them. Still, I’d highly recommend spending a reasonable amount of time playing normal matches first before taking on the ranked ladder. This is because many players have already figured out the meta decks, but that will soon change across any balance updates.

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Legends of Runeterra is the CCG that I’ve been waiting for. Instead of relying on League of Legends franchise, it builds off of it, which allows it to stand out in the sea of other games available. The unique match layout and simplistic card presentation make this the perfect entry point in the genre, but I’m also waiting to see how the developer builds on this success with balance updates and support.  That’s it from me, now go download it.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Brock Jensen

Saebyeolbe is the Tom Brady of Overwatch. MOBILE GAMERS ARE STILL GAMERS. Send me stuff [email protected]