Legends of Runeterra

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Legends of Runeterra
Legends of Runeterra logo.png
Developer(s)Riot Games
Publisher(s)Riot Games
Director(s)Andrew Yip[1]
Producer(s)Jeff Jew[2]
SeriesLeague of Legends
ReleaseApril 29, 2020
Genre(s)Digital collectible card game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Legends of Runeterra (LoR) is a free-to-play digital collectible card game developed and published by Riot Games. It released on April 29, 2020, for Microsoft Windows, Android, and iOS.[4] The game uses characters and a setting originating in League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena game by Riot Games.


Legends of Runeterra is played 1v1. Each player begins the match with a hand of four playing cards randomly selected from their card deck, a 20-health-point nexus, and zero mana.[5] Before the match begins, each player also has the option to trade out any of the first four cards they drew for random different ones from their deck.

After this pre-game phase concludes, both players receive a mana gem, one player receives the attack token, and the other receives the defense token. Only the player with the attack token may attack during this round.[5] With some cards the second player can get an attack token as well.[6] After each round, the tokens switch between players, and each player draws a random card from their deck. As the number of rounds increases, so too does the number of mana gems each player receives, up to a maximum of 10.[7] At the end of each round, any unused mana becomes spell mana, up to a maximum of three. This mana can only be used to cast spell cards.[7]

To play cards with an associated mana cost, players must spend a corresponding number of mana gems. Once played, priority passes to the opposite player, who may take an action. If the player has the attack token, they may place their unit cards (Champions and Followers) forward to attack. Once an attack is declared, priority is returned to the defender, who must designate blockers.[8] When attacking, if no opposing card blocks, the card will hit the enemy player's nexus, dealing damage equal to its power stat. If the attacking card is defended against a blocking card, the two cards will clash, dealing their respective damage amounts to one another.[7] When a unit's Health reaches zero, it is destroyed, and no longer exists on the board unless revived or recovered via another effect. Each card also has a health stat. If the damage received is greater than or equal to the health stat of the card, it is destroyed. The objective of the game is to bring the opponent's Nexus to zero health points. Different cards have unique Keywords to facilitate this.[9] For example, a unit with the Elusive keyword can only be blocked by other Elusive units, and an Overwhelm unit deals any excess damage to its blocker to the enemy Nexus.

The Oracle's Eye is a feature usable by hovering over a small eye indicator on the left of a board. It enables players to easily preview the outcome of complicated card interactions, such as in the middle of an attack with several spells queued up.[10]


Legends of Runeterra offers a variety of cards to allow each player to play games in their own unique way. A deck of cards must consist of exactly 40 cards, in which no more than 3 copies of each cards may be added. Additionally, a player can't add more than 6 Champion cards total in a deck. There are four types of cards: Champions, Followers, Landmarks, and Spells.

Champions and Followers are lumped together as "units", cards which stay on the field and battle for the players. Champions are generally the most powerful cards in the game, and each has a unique criterion that, once met, will level-up the card to a more powerful version. Followers are normal units that have all the basic functions of a unit card, but do not level-up. Landmarks stay on the field and trigger a special effect at the end of each round, but unlike units they cannot attack or block, and can only be removed in specific ways. Spells are single-use cards that cause special effects when played, and then disappear. Some spell cards are limited as to when they can be played. The four 'speeds' are: Slow, Fast, Focus and Burst. Slow spells can only be cast on an open game state, and can't be used in response to an opponent's move, or during an in-progress attack. Fast Spells can be used in response to a Slow or other Fast spells, and during combat. Burst Spells can played at any time, resolve immediately, and do not pass turn priority to the other player.

Development and release[edit]

Riot's employees were fans of collectible card games, and they saw an opportunity to develop one in the League of Legends universe that would fit in with the company's philosophy of "building a game for core gamers who really want to go deep into a genre."[11] Riot brought a group of professional Magic: The Gathering players in to help test out the game before release, at least one of whom would be retained to help design the final game.[11]

The game is an outlier in its genre because it does not require players to purchase so-called "blind decks";[clarification needed] this was partly to let the developers change the metagame as they saw fit without worrying about players losing interest if the deck they heavily invested in became less powerful.[12] Riot's goal was to give each set of cards at least ten viable decks.[12] At one point Riot considered not having packs for players to collect, although testers reacted negatively to this.[11]

Legends of Runeterra was announced by Riot and entered its first preview on October 15, 2019, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of League of Legends.[13][14] The release trailer for the game featured champions Darius and Zed fighting.[15] Eurogamer noted that the timing was unusual, given the position of the genre following the failure of Valve's Artifact as well as the waning audience for Blizzard's Hearthstone.[11] Designer Steve Rubin noted, "There definitely was a moment in development when we were seeing Artifact coming out and we were kind of thinking 'Oh, do we rush it out, or do we not?'"[11] Ultimately, Riot moved forward hoping their game's appeal would transcend the state of the CCG market and attract new players with its more generous business model.[11]

The initial preview lasted until October 20 and was only available to a small pool of players.[16] A second preview gave players access to the game's Expeditions mode from November 14 to 19.[17] The game entered open beta on January 24, 2020.[18]


Legends of Runeterra's beta launch included six base regions, with four Champion cards from League of Legends, and 294 total cards.[19] In the Beta, players could summon as many units as they wanted. Since then, the game has changed significantly, receiving patch updates, one of which limited number of units on the board to six on each side.[20] The official launch of the game on April 29, 2020, for PC, smartphones, and tablets, accompanied an expansion to the game, Rising Tides. It introduced 120 new cards and a new region — Bilgewater.[19] Along with new cards, expansions contain new game mechanics and further development to existing ones.[21] Every existing region was given an additional champion, with Bilgewater having six.[19] With the game's second expansion, Call of the Mountain, Riot Games altered the release schedule for future sets.[22] Each subsequent consists of three, smaller "expansions", resulting in an uneven number of cards per region.[19] Call of the Mountain was released for PC and mobile devices on August 27, 2020.[23]


Legends of Runeterra received positive reviews from critics. According to review aggregator Metacritic, the game has a weighted average of 87/100.

Many outlets highlighted that the game was both accessible for newcomers to the genre while preserving its depth. IGN's Cam Shea awarded the game a 9/10, noting that it managed to maintain its complexity while also streamlining elements from other collectible card games, such as Magic: The Gathering.[28] Jason Coles of NME wrote that it "may well be the most accessible card game out there".[29]

Also of note was the game's generous free-to-play business model, especially in relation to other games in the same genre. Giving the game an 85/100, Steven MessnerPC Gamer noted the absence of "booster packs", bundles of cards purchasable with real currency, having been replaced with a generous battle pass system which gives out an abundance of free cards and crafting material every week. Messner also mentioned the ease of achieving the maximum level of the battle pass every week.[30]


The game was nominated for Best Mobile Game at The Game Awards 2020.[31] Apple named it the iPad Game of the Year.[32][33]


  1. ^ Messner, Steven (January 31, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra's developers talk about balance, feedback, and what's after open beta". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Ladd, Dylan (May 4, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra executive producer: "We had several in-person events planned for the launch we had to cancel"". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  3. ^ https://technology.riotgames.com/news/bringing-features-life-legends-runeterra
  4. ^ "Legends Of Runeterra Has Officially Launched On PC And Mobile". GameSpot. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Juras, Marta (October 17, 2019). "Everything we know about Legends of Runeterra". Dot Esports. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  6. ^ Matthieson, Tom (November 22, 2019). "What is Rally in Legends of Runeterra?". InvenGlobal. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Messner, Steven (January 29, 2020). "How to play Legends of Runeterra". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  8. ^ "What is Legends of Runeterra?". YouTube. Riot Games. October 16, 2020. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "What Are Keywords, and How Do They Work?". PlayRuneterra.com. Riot Games. September 18, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Oracle's Eye". PlayRuneterra.com. Riot Games. September 19, 2020. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Tapsell, Chris. "Riot says ditching loot boxes will help Legends of Runeterra stand out from the CCG crowd". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Messner, Steve. "Legends of Runeterra's developers talk about balance, feedback, and what's after open beta". PC Gamer. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  13. ^ Marshall, Cass (October 14, 2019). "Riot Games announces League of Legends card game Legends of Runeterra". Polygon. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  14. ^ Shea, Cam (October 15, 2019). "Legends of Runeterra: 40 Things You Need to Know About Riot's New Game". IGN. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  15. ^ https://www.polygon.com/2020/4/30/21243355/legends-runeterra-launch-trailer-breathe-darius-zed-card-game-characters
  16. ^ "When does the current Legends of Runeterra preview patch end?". Dot Esports. October 19, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  17. ^ Brown, Fraser (November 13, 2019). "Legends of Runeterra Expeditions preview begins tomorrow". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  18. ^ Chalk, Andy (January 12, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra, the League of Legends card game, begins open beta testing next week". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d Forster, Danny (April 4, 2020). "Over 120 cards and a new region are coming to Legends of Runeterra". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  20. ^ Riot Games "Maximum Cards"
  21. ^ Ladd, Dylan (August 25, 2020). "Every keyword coming with Legend of Runeterra's Call of the Mountain set". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  22. ^ Forster, Danny (August 10, 2020). "Targon will be the new LoR region in the Call of the Mountain expansion". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  23. ^ Ladd, Dylan (August 28, 2020). "The 10 best Call of the Mountain cards that can change the Legends of Runeterra meta". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  24. ^ Legends of Runeterra (PC) at Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  25. ^ "Legends Of Runeterra Review - Much Ado About Nautilus". GameSpot. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  26. ^ "Legends of Runeterra Review - IGN". Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "Legends of Runeterra review". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  28. ^ Shea, Cam (May 14, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra — IGN". IGN. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  29. ^ Coles, Jason (May 15, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra review: exciting visuals, excellent design, make it one of the best all around digital ccgs around". NME.com. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  30. ^ Messner, Steven (February 4, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra review". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  31. ^ Tassi, Paul (December 11, 2020). "Here's The Game Awards 2020 Winners List With A Near-Total 'Last Of Us' Sweep". Forbes.
  32. ^ Alford, Aaron (December 2, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra named iPad Game of the Year by Apple". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  33. ^ Rayome, Alison DeNisco. "Apple's best apps of 2020 list spotlights comfort picks". CNET. Retrieved December 19, 2020.

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