Legends of Runeterra - Critique
Above all, while Legends of Runeterra is firmly anchored in a well-established world, it doesn't close the door to new ones who might jump into it for its kind of gameplay rather than its MOBA pedigree. It's a bit like Blizzard's Hearthstone; I personally got into Hearthstone without really knowing Warcraft, and six years later I'm still playing it. Legends of Runeterra probably hopes to have the same effect.
That said, when Heathstone came on the scene, it revisited the gameplay of other collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering by being more direct and therefore more accessible. Legends of Runeterra, on the other hand, lands a bit in between, with some mechanics that smooth out the gameplay, and others that add layers of depth and complexity with an ambition that other games haven't had.
The general objective of a match remains pretty much the same: each player shows up with their deck of 40 pre-selected cards and faces an opponent in a duel to the death. The initiative passes from one to the other, so that each player plays their units on the board, casts their spells, and chooses to attack or defend. The match is won or lost when one of the fighters reduces their opponent's Nexus health from 20 to zero.
As in Hearthstone, your mana pool - which indicates which card you can play - increases with each turn, rather than using a land system like Magic. And unlike Hearthstone this time around - and like Magic - you get to decide how your units will block enemy attacks, which creates a combination of gameplay stacked between two games.
This ability to respond immediately is the basis of Legends of Runeterra; its gameplay works like a conversation between players, full of exchanges and interjections, rather than a duel of two big separate speeches. Control shifts from one to the other nonstop during a single round as each player attempts to counter the opponent's actions.
To give you an idea of the game in practice, let's say my opponent plays a unit towards the end of the match. It takes him an action and he hands me his hand; I decide I want to kill her, so I aim at her with a spell that does just enough damage to kill her. This quick spell is not cast instantly, however. Suddenly control comes back to my opponent and gives him a chance to react. The latter can choose to play an instant spell to increase the life of his unit and save it. Even so, my spell is still not cast, in my turn I have the opportunity to cast another spell to increase the power of the first and eliminate the unit. When both players run out of options or pass their turn, the spell (or spells) finally cast and the outcome is determined.
This action / reaction gameplay allows for many strategies that other games in the genre do not have. I could have bluffed, for example, by not casting a spell and skipping my turn, in the hope that my opponent was spending enough mana on something else so that I could use a single spell later, without the possibility of countering. Of course, once I pass, my opponent can also pass, ending the round without me having the opportunity to act.
Attacking with units adds a layer of complexity to the whole. Between each turn, an attack token is passed from player to player. As the name suggests, anyone with the token can launch an attack at any time during the round. If a turn starts and I have this token, I can choose “open attack” or start my turn attacking. I can do this if my full back line (the area between my hand and the battlefield, where units go when played) can favorably confront the opponent's units. Once I have chosen which units are going to attack, my opponent can only react by deciding if - and where - the units that are already in his back line will defend, and / or by casting quick or instant spells.
Once again, it all depends on what you think the opponent will do. If I decide to play an Adept instead of openly attacking, my opponent can do the same, potentially laying down a strong defense that will wipe out my attack, or he can simply cast a slow spell to cleanse my Being able to attack with a unit in the same turn you play it - if you have the attack token - really helps Legends of Runeterra tactically stand out from its peers. Dropping the concept of "conjuring disease," the units play out dynamically - often functioning as spells on your turn to attack. This gives matches an interesting pace where the point of what to play on your attacking turn is very different from the turns you are defending.
A good example for this is in units marked "scout". One day per attack turn, a scout unit can strike independently (or with other scout units) without consuming your attack token. Their interest at this point is therefore in their ability to attack twice, so these are not units that you are going to want to play at the start of the opponent's attack, when they may be forced to block and be killed. Playing them once your opponent has attacked and runs out of resources seems much smarter, as you will be able to attack openly at the start of the next turn, preventing your opponent from placing other units on the board in the first place. while retaining the option of striking again after playing other units or expending mana during the turn. It's really time consuming to think about trying to optimize each round like this.
Your strategy should also span multiple turns, of course, by setting up certain combos or clears - and another great feature to give you more flexibility, you can even hoard mana. Yes, up to three unspent unit points can be transferred from turn to turn for spell mana. As you might expect, this mana can only be spent on spells, meaning you can skip turns one and two, then play a three-point unit, and still have three mana to use. for spells. It's a smart mechanic, when that fluid mana becomes a strategic decision rather than a missed opportunity.
Legends of Runeterra is really designed to give you plenty of opportunities to outsmart your opponents. The fact that the initiative goes back and forth allows you to bluff and push the opponent to error, and it really rewards those who know how to use their resources to the full and anticipate what the other side may do with theirs. . Buffs in particular usually only last during the last turn they are played, so determining what counters your opponent might have when you use one (or when you invest resources globally) is key.
Plus, even though the actions keep switching back and forth, the gameplay of Legends of Runeterra is remarkably lively. On the one hand because the players have little time for each decision, and on the other hand because the round passes automatically if we have no options available (which can be deactivated if ever you are afraid that this system gives too much information about your game to the opponent).
It is also important to note that Legends of Runeterra involves minimal chance in the design of its cards, compared to a game like Hearthstone. There is an interest in both of these approaches, of course, as the randomness can be very fun when implemented well, and it sometimes helps come into play in unbalanced confrontations. But on the other hand, it's just as fun to be able to show off your knowledge of the game in a fight where the rules are well established.
If you're facing a deck whose meta is known in Legends of Runeterra, for example, you already have a good idea of your opponent's abilities, and it will never budge as much as what can happen with Hearthstone. Which implies that there is also an interest in playing something that is not meta. An opponent used to facing the same cards might have a hard time figuring out and getting around your deck if they don't know what's in it.
Cards in hand
Legends of Runeterra offers an incredible array of tools for the player to build their deck. The intriguing idea behind deckbuilding is that each card can be paired with any other card. In order for this to be possible, the set of maps is divided into regions based on the geography of Runeterra, and players can combine two regions together to make a deck.
Each region has its own style in both design and aesthetics, and as you would expect from a League of Legends spinoff game, you'll have Champions to represent it. Noxus, for example, is an openly aggressive region. His maps all revolve around damage and how to take advantage of it, and artistically speaking, the designs show war or arena clashes. Noxian Champions include Draven, Katarina, and Darius.
Ionia, on the other hand, shows units that prefer to strike under cover of shadows, stunning targets and using Elusive, meaning they can only be blocked by other Elusive units. The Ionian Fighters are Ninja, Samurai, and holders of mystical powers, and the Ionian Champions are Lee Sin, Yasuo, and Zed.
I absolutely love the styles of each of the seven regions currently available in Legends of Runeterra, and the links between mechanics, keywords, and Champions that open up a huge array of potential strategies. You may want to combine the Shadow Isles control options with Bilgewater's ability to conjure barrels of powder that boost spell damage to hold up over time. Or it'll be more fun to have a deck full of Champion whose spells synergize, like Karma (which generates spells) and Ezreal (which gains power when spells are played), or Heimerdinger (whose spells generate spells). units at no cost) with Vi (whose attack increases when you play a card).
Each region currently offers five Champions and these are definitely above the rest. You can add three copies of the same Champion to your 40-card deck (up to six Champions in total), but unlike other cards, Champions can level up during the match. The conditions for this are different from character to character, whether attacking a certain number of times or having x units decimated, or emptying one's hand or dropping 15 cards or less in the deck. There is no shortage of variety. Tryndamere levels up when he's about to die for example.
As you level up, a Champion increases their stats a bit, generally, but they can also gain new skills. So Ezreal has to target enemy units with spells and abilities eight or more times to level up, and when that happens, each spell he casts causes double damage to the enemy Nexus. He then becomes, so to speak, a victory factor, so if you take the time to advance him, you can annihilate the opponent.
Champions also react differently as they are separate entities on the board. If you have two copies of Ezreal in hand for example, and you play one on your backline, the other Ezreal transforms into "Mystic Shot of Ezreal", an alternate version of a spell from that region. Each Champion thus has a spell associated with him, and which generally helps them to level up, or at worst they are thematically linked. Play this spell, then return the card to your deck. But if you decide not to cast this spell, and the Champion in play is slain, the spell turns back to Champion and can be played that way.
From a universe and world set-up perspective, the idea that each Champion is a unique fighter highlights their status, and this also forced the designers to imagine some rather powerful mechanics, as their effects cannot be (easily) multiplied.
When it comes to expanding its collection, Legends of Runeterra sets a solid and challenging progression structure. Playing the game and completing daily quests earns you XP, which is then used through two reward systems - a safe that opens once a week, and a regional route to unlock. Want maps of the Freljord? Choose this region and you will regularly get rewards that will expand that part of your collection.
Legends of Runeterra does not offer a traditional card deck, the rewards you get are Essences, and wild cards which can be exchanged for cards of the same rarity. So yes, if you have a Champion joker, you can just change it to the Champion you need. Essences are used to buy cards directly.
The rewards are pretty generous, but if you want to build a collection quickly without spending money, attendance is key. Legends of Runeterra provides three bonus XP for their first three wins each day, so playing daily is important to galloping each regional lane. And if you want to boost the speed even further, you can always spend real money for coins - the other in-game currency - and just get the cards you need.
This system has the merit of changing from other games of the genre, although newcomers will have a hard time deciding which region to activate first and how to use their jokers effectively. After all, if you're new to the basics, how do you know where to move forward before you've dabbled in all of the archetypes, with their strengths and weaknesses?
My approach at the start of my collection was to spend a little money to create a cheap but competitive deck with only three Champions in it. I then used this deck to learn the basics of the game and earn XP and grow my collection. As I played each day, the rewards multiplied quickly, but I still wanted to be able to move from region to region and rebuild my deck quite often, so I ended up spending more.
Fashions and men
I spent most of my time on Legends of Runeterra playing Ranked mode, which you start at Iron rank IV through Diamond I rank, before moving on to Masters. It's a familiar and entirely reasonable system, and the current season is expected to last around two months, which gives plenty of time to move up the ranks. There are also “normal” PvP possibilities for those who want to test their decks or who don't feel ready for the leaderboard, as well as a challenge option to win and another practice against AI.
Another mode is Expedition, in which you prepare a deck and try to win seven games with it. The preparation mechanics based on the archetypes are quite interesting: you are presented with a set of cards drawn from a defined lot, then what is offered is changed because the draw is based on your choices. For example, one of the archetypes that we can offer you is "Terrors from the Deep" which covers Bilgewater and Shadow Isles and asks you to reduce your deck to 15 cards or less in order to boost units with the keyword "Deep. »With + 3 / + 3. Naturally, the cards available include sea monsters with the word Deep, whatever it takes to shrink the deck, and two Champions - Nautilus and Maokai - which fit the theme perfectly.
Not all archetypes necessarily develop synergy, and there is always room for your own in-house strategy. Sometimes you'll end up with a deck built around one region, other times you'll have cards from three regions. Overall, the archetype system means that the variation between the best decks and the worst isn't that great, and you'll generally have your luck in every match, especially if you've played enough to know how to prepare effectively.
You'll be able to level up and polish your deck along the way too, but if you lose two games in a row, the mode ends your adventure. Fortunately, each Expedition is played in two attempts, and the reward is based on your best game. It must be said that you have to pay 2000 Essences or 200 coins to participate, two thirds of the price of a Champion. If you're doing well, the rewards are worth it, but it's best to wait until you're comfortable with Legends of Runeterra before spending your coins on an Expedition.
However, after completing three Expeditions in a week, the rest of the games for the week are free. You won't get any other rewards other than XP if you complete them, but it's a good way to practice.
Legends of Runeterra also innovates with its interface and presentation. Key information is always at your fingertips: you can quickly scroll through cards that have been played, or see Champions from the opposing deck. I also like that a card of the hand that has been revealed remains visible.
I would have liked to know how many cards my opponent traded at the start of each match, but other than that I never felt lacking in information. If I put in a sequence of spells or attacks and am unsure of their resolution, I can use the “oracle” to see what will happen - as long as nothing changes. I imagine that the best players would prefer that this option not exist, as a good knowledge of the game and the ability to calculate the result yourself is an advantage, but for someone like me it is a good tool to double-check what you intend to do, and it does not replace the fact of mastering the mechanics of the game.
My favorite part of the interface, however, is being able to study all the cards that are associated with a particular card that interests you. Let's say the other is playing Heimerdinger, but I want to understand how he works: I can click on him and bring up a tooltip showing the base map, his high-level version, his spell card, and all the others maps that he can create. And each keyword or term offers a pop-up explanation. The impressive number of voices during the match reinforces this aspect, creating a real relationship between the characters.
The whole presentation of Legends of Runeterra is equally successful, from the fumes of the ready-to-cast spells to the totally epic full-screen leveling animations for each Champion. A wide variety of cosmetic items - pets, backgrounds, emotes - also let you customize your half of the board.
The mobile client keeps all of that, and in terms of gameplay, interface, and presentation remains essentially the same as the PC version, with just a little less screen. Legends of Runeterra was designed for both platforms and it shows.