Legends of Runeterra - Review

Author: Alessandro "Alex" Alosi
Date: 2020-07-31 00:25:27
Riot Games has decided that it's time to get serious, now there are no more doubts about the warlike ambitions of the proprietary software house of League of Legends. The conquest of the world of videogaming has begun, which is why it is deploying its ninety pieces on several fronts as if it were a Risiko game. If the beta of Valorant was enough to shake the world of competitive online tactical FPS, the recent definitive launch of Legends of Runeterra on PC and mobile devices has officially declared hostilities open also in the category of digital card games.

In a delicate and particular ecosystem such as that of online card games, being able to carve out a place between two heavyweights such as Hearthstone (the current champion) and Magic: The Gathering Arena (the digital version of the one who started it all) it is definitely not an easy task . Many have tried in the past, someone to tell the truth has not even disfigured, but nobody has really been able to conquer their space on the podium next to the two giants. Yet, thanks to the audacity and skill of Riot Games, from 30 April this impasse could have officially changed.

I only have eyes for you, I swear!

Legends of Runeterra is aware of having to face an arduous mission, it is clear from the tutorials that behind its easy-going style hides a painstaking care for every single detail. Riot Games knows that we lovers of this specific sector are a strange category that is difficult to bewitch , it is not enough to seem intriguing from a distance, you must be so in the soul from the first beta-appointment until death separates us. Faithful, passionate and in love with a type of game that brings to mind and heart the figurines of a childhood that is now beautiful that gone, we hardened and sometimes yellowed digital card players do not allow ourselves to be seduced easily by the first idea that passes by causing us . To convince us to break ties and habits, it takes something that knows how to go beyond a captivating appearance and Legends of Runeterra , focusing on an interesting mix of elements, manages to position itself as a more than valid alternative to the aforementioned sacred monsters.

The main peculiarity of the game is that it is neither complicated as Magic: The Gathering Arena , nor immediate as Hearthstone . Positioning more or less halfway between the two styles of play, Legends of Runeterra takes the players by the arm and, thanks to the explanations of easy digestion, accompanies them inside the secrets of a gameplay that focuses every penny on the skill of the players : excluding the randomness inherent in drawing cards from a deck, here the random effects are reduced to the bone compared to the rival branded Blizzard (although the recent expansion Bilgewater has pushed on the random factor with more conviction). This translates into satisfying and exciting games in which we challenge those who are better at setting their own strategy while preventing the opponent from organizing themselves. Here is a very interesting article on the official website that well explains the Riot Games philosophy about randomness in card games, I recommend reading it if it interests the subject.

RNG, this stranger ... or almost

Legends of Runeterra therefore manages to reward the best and not to base the outcome of an entire match on the mood of the Gods, already showing a good balance between unpredictability of matches and gratification in the game. There are also other features that make it unique and, in its own way, undoubtedly fun. One of these is the good dosage between accessibility and depth, thanks to a clear board with well-defined spaces that can be read without difficulty , assisted in this also by the punctual and precise help at the click of a mouse or by the Eye of the Oracle that shows the consequences of our actions before they occur (and before the opponent makes a counter move). However, despite a clean, easy-going and clean-cut artistic style reminiscent of boyish comics, the simplicity of which it is imbued manages not to bring to light a strategic depth that emerges with krakenian arrogance only after learning the basics of the game.

The setting also plays an important role, as Legends of Runeterra is set in the League of Legends universe. The fans of the famous MOBA of Riot Games will recognize several familiar faces and the profile of the Nexus crystals instead of the canonical heroes to beat , because the protagonists of the game and the characters represented on the cards come from the Runeterra regions, which can be considered the same of card sets. Just like every available follower, the Champions, powerful cards that evolve when certain conditions are met, are linked to their region and up to a maximum of six can be placed on a deck. The diversification of the regions and the fact that the characters are linked to them directly affect the creation of the deck since only forty cards can be chosen between two regions in the deckbuilding phase, just like the double color decks of Magic: The Gathering Arena .

In all modes (Special challenges against the CPU, training VS AI and random / ranked VS other players) the rule of the two regions applies, while this limit increases to three when facing an Expedition, a particular event in which you need to build a deck choosing from a series of cards offered by the computer and trying to get seven wins without running into two consecutive defeats to grab the best reward.

The deeper you go, the stronger the glow

A little while ago I mentioned the strategic depth, one of the components that can only be seen after becoming familiar with the gameplay. There is no lack of synergies and not even devastating combinations, but finding them and above all putting them into practice is not at all easy because Legends of Runeterra is a card game in which cunning plays a fundamental role and you can never be distracted, even in the round of the opponent because ... simply, he is not there . No, that's not true, but here there are no dry turns like in Hearthstone , here players can dynamically respond to the opponent's moves as in Magic: The Gathering Arena . If in my attack turn I play a follower, the opponent can also play a follower with which to defend himself or a suitable spell, therefore not always regurgitating our units on the board every turn is the panacea for any complicated situation.

The games are therefore decidedly interactive, as well as strategic: it is played perpetually following the action-reaction concept, the mixed rounds are like rhythmic ping-pong exchanges between the two players, exciting and tactical punch and response in which you have to take into account different factors such as the placement of your pieces, the mana available and what to save for the next round, the cards played by the opponent and his deck ... what? Yes, because at the beginning of the game the Champions present in the two decks are shown and each player can get an idea of what to expect, perhaps by setting the mulligan accordingly . Personally I'm not very sure of the choice, but it's a strictly personal opinion.

Excuse me, I can't find the price: how much does it cost?

Another aspect that I do not particularly like is that of displaying the Collection during the construction of a deck. I find that set in this way is not particularly functional, I find it slightly inconvenient to study the most suitable cards to insert in a deck. Maybe they are too big and there are few on the screen, maybe it's the layout, maybe it's just me the problem or that they run away vertically rather than horizontally that confuses me, the fact is that there is something that does not convince me: I need to leaf through the pages of the book where I inserted my cards, it is also ok in digital format but that it is a book please, I am also satisfied with the album in which the phone cards were placed!

What instead convinces me 100% is the fact that Legends of Runeterra demonstrates the characteristics of the F2P in full rule. Don't believe me? Well, I will amaze you: there are no packs to buy . I mean, it's a card game without card sleeves! The progression system allows, only by playing and accumulating experience, to unlock daily rewards specific to the selected region, not to mention the weekly chests that improve as you win the games. Among fragments (which are obtained automatically when there are too many cards that we already have), wild cards (you know the Wild Cards of Magic: The Gathering Arena ? Them), capsules and various caskets, there is really something for all tastes regardless of the financial resources available.

Clearly the shop in game is there if you want to speed up the process of expanding your collection, but among the three games mentioned in the course of the article this is undoubtedly the least invasive, most generous and most anti- gambling monetization system that I happened to experiment . You lose the thrill that anticipates the opening of a packet of cards, but such a shower of rewards is a great way to encourage players to continue playing if the promise of another exciting game is not enough.

A passion that grows every day

There is more than one reason, in fact, if the community of card game enthusiasts is starting to gather more and more around Legends of Runeterra , despite the difference in content compared to its two main antagonists is obvious and natural. Years of expansions and honored service make themselves felt, it is undoubted, but the current quality of the Riot Games project and the potential of the ideas about its development bode well for a future perspective and, among other things, in this study we can already give a look at what awaits us in the future. Although technically Legends of Runeterra is pleasant, fluid, colorful without overdoing it and capable of rapid excursions in the field of visual shows when a Champion evolves, among the merits of the Riot Games title perhaps the most appreciable is precisely the ability to keep the curiosity of the player. Curiosity to find out where he needs to improve, to understand how to make his deck more performing and to see to what goal he can aspire only driven by his ability.

Being intuitive to understand but difficult to master at higher levels, much less complicated than Magic: The Gathering Arena and much less casual than Hearthstone are characteristics that make it suitable for countless types of player, extremely satisfying and fatally exciting thanks to the feeling that your skill matters most. Here, it's all the secret: it's this feeling of feeling in control of your destiny that drives the player crazy and allows Legends of Runeterra to sit without blushing at the same game table as Magic: The Gathering Arena and Hearthstone .