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Riot Games Launches Their First CCG

May 1, 2020
Riot Games Launches Their First CCG

Riot Games officially launched their own collectible card game yesterday, no doubt in the hopes of competing with Blizzard’s massively successful game. And why not after the success that they found when they released Teamfight Tactics which managed to overshadow bothof its Auto Battler predecessors, namely Dota Auto Chess and Dota Underlords.   

Just as Blizzard drew inspiration for their Hearthstone Heros, cards and card sets from World of Wracraft, and in deed originally even titled their game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, so too has Riot drawn their inspiration for the lore of Legends of Runeterra from League of Legends, while the aesthetics seem to be taken from Teamfight Tactics. They also seem to have borrowed the idea of pettable Poro from MTG: Arena’s interactive pets and the Level Up ability from the Shadowverse CCG.

Legends of Runeterra has been available for open beta since January 24, but failed to attract anywhere near the kind of attention that Apex Legends and Valorant saw at their respective launches, not even breaking into the top ten viewed categories. And the same holds true now.

However, this is likely less a statement about the game itself as it is about the viewer demographic of Twitch. After all, aside from Hearthstone, most of the top performing categories are based around shooters and fast-based battling games, which Hearthstone and Heartstone’s Battlegrounds also incorporate to some extent, as even Magic: The Gathering which has had a cult following ever since its launch in 1993, has failed to gain high views for its digital version MTG: Arena. The same can be said for the low viewership of other popular online CCGs such as Pokémon TCG Online, Gwent and Slay the Spire, although Slay the Spire is actually a single-player deck-builder, to be fair.

Another possible factor could be the minimum system requirements. Hearthstone can operate on a 32-bit system, whereas Legends of Runeterra requires a 64-bit minimum. However, there are plans for Runeterra to be launched for android devices as well later this year.

So, how does Legends of Runeterra’s gameplay work?

The basic structure flows as follows:

  • The game is divided into rounds, players taking turns with who is attacking and who is defending.
  • Each player starts with a 40-card deck and draw four cards at the beginning of the match. They can redraw any number of cards in their starting hand.
  • At the beginning of each round, both players draw a card. They can then play cards whose cost equal their total mana pool. Players start with one mana and then gain one mana each round.
  • The attacking player selects new cards to add to their bench and then chooses which cards to include during the battle phase.
  • The defending player then does the same, lining up their cards to indicate which card is defending against which attacker. Attackers can only be moved or swapped with special abilities or spells.
  • Unblocked attacking minions, or minions with special abilities will then damage the defending player’s nexus.
  • Once the battle resolves, the round ends. Defeated cards are discarded, and victorious cards return to the players bench. They retain any health damage as with Hearthstone, but also retain any level-up buffs.
  • Attacking players can opt to pass their turn if they do not wish to engage in battle yet.
  • This continues until the health of one player’s nexus has been reduced to zero.
  • There is a hand limit on 10 and if you run out of cards in your deck, you immediately lose.
  • Some interesting mechanics:
    • Level Up > allows you to buff up your card by completing a card’s mini quest.
    • Spell Mana > Unspent mana is stored as spell mana, meaning that it can be used to play spells in the future, independently of your usual mana pool.
    • Aside from the welcome bundle, cards can’t be bought, but need to be earned. This means tons of grinding, which may level the playing field for f2p players.
    • Expanding card artwork when a card is played.
    • There are six regions in Runeterra, each featuring four unique Champions and region-specific cards. Each deck can contain a maximum of two Champion cards, which will determine which region’s cards can be added to your deck.

Other borrowed features:

The in-game currency seems to have been adapted from MTG: Arena, with slight variations. Wildcards work the same; you can use them to construct the cards that you want of the same rarity level. They are unlocked through region progress rewards or through vault rewards. Shards are also earned through level progression and serve as the free in-game currency.

Shards are similar to Hearthstone’s dust, as they are received in leu of duplicate cars and can be used towards constructing unowned cards. Coins can be purchased with real money in order to buy the welcome bundle, a limited number of wild cards per week and aesthetics.

The Weekly Vault

Legends of Runeterra offers weekly rewards based on their total XP. At the end of each week, players can earn various rewards, including chests, cards and shards.

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