Legends of Runeterra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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]
ReleaseApril 29, 2020
Genre(s)Digital collectible card game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Legends of Runeterra (LoR) is a 2020 digital collectible card game developed and published by Riot Games. Inspired by the physical collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, the developers sought to create a game within the same genre that significantly lowered the barrier to entry. Since its release in April 2020, the game has been free-to-play, and is monetised through purchasable cosmetics. The game is available for Microsoft Windows and mobile operating systems iOS and Android.

Like other collectible card games, players play one versus one to reduce their opponent's health to zero. Cards come in a variety of types and belong to one of ten regions—groups of cards with a similar gameplay identity. One significant feature is the game's combat pacing; unlike in other collectible card games, each player alternates between attacking and defending every turn.

Many characters from League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena by Riot Games, feature in the game. The fictional universe of Runeterra, released by the developer through short stories, comic books, and an animated series, provides flavor and theming for the game's cards.

Legends of Runeterra has been well received by critics, who point to its generous progression systems, accessible gameplay, and high-quality visuals, and has won several industry awards.


Legends of Runeterra is a digital collectible card game played one versus one. At the beginning, both players' Nexus has 20 health points; the first to fall to zero loses. Players begin each match with a hand of four cards, which they may trade away for another random card from their deck. Each round, both players draw one card. Cards are played by spending mana; players begin with zero mana, and gain one additional mana crystal per round up to a maximum of ten.[4] A maximum of three unspent mana is stored automatically at the end of a round as spell mana; this can be used in future rounds to cast spells but cannot summon unit cards.[5]

One of the game's distinguishing features is its combat pacing. Each round, the "attack token", a symbol which indicates which player may attack and who will defend, alternates from player to player. This is reflected visually on each players' half of the board, with a sword icon representing attack or a shield for defense.[4][6] Some cards enable players to attack when they do not have the attack token.[5]


Each card in the game belongs to a region; in standard play, one deck can use cards from up to two regions. Regions have a distinct style of play and identity. Unlike other trading card games, there are no neutral cards that can be used in every deck.[5] The regions originated in the wider League of Legends expanded universe.[7] Upon the game's initial release, there were three types of card: champions, followers, and spells.[8] Champion cards are the playable characters from League of Legends.[5] These cards are unique within the game because they can level up. Levelling a champion transforms the card—and all copies of it in the player's deck—into a more powerful version of the card.[5] Unit cards, which includes champions and non-champions (followers), have a number representing their attack and health statistic; attack is how much damage a unit deals to either the Nexus or its blocker, while health reflects the maximum damage a card can take before being removed from play.[4]

Spell cards have a "speed", denoting when they can be played and in what way the opponent is able to respond, if at all. At launch, there were three speeds: slow, fast, and burst. Slow-speed spells cannot be played during active combat,[a] pass priority over to the opponent, and can be responded to with fast or burst spells; fast spells can be played during combat and do not pass priority; and burst speed spells resolve their effect instantly with no opportunity for opponent response.[4] A fourth speed, Focus, resolves immediately and does not pass over turn priority, but can only be used outside of combat.[10] Unit cards do not have a speed, but end a player's turn within a round.[4]

Another card type was added in the Monuments of Power expansion—landmarks.[11] Landmarks are played with regular unit mana and consume a position on the player's board; they cannot block or attack.[12] Some landmarks have a "countdown" mechanic, wherein they cause a set effect after a certain number of rounds.[13]

Development and release[edit]

Riot Games employees have considered making a card game since early in the company's history. The company has a significant number of fans of the collectible card game genre.[14] Legends of Runeterra's balancing director, Steve Rubin, pointed to Jeff Jew, the game's executive producer and an early Riot Games employee,[15] and Andrew Yip, as big fans of Magic: The Gathering.[16] There were several different concepts of the game,[16] but Legends of Runeterra was primarily developed over three years beginning in 2017.[14] Riot recruited professional Magic competitors as early playtesters; of them, Steve Rubin was invited to return permanently and later moved into the design team.[16] Rubin noted that the announcement of Artifact caused the developers to consider rushing the game's release, but ultimately decided to polish the game and aim for wider demographics.[16]

A significant challenge in development was determining the mechanics of card acquisition; an early iteration in which players simply unlocked region combinations was poorly received by playtesters, who missed the satisfaction of collecting all cards.[14] Accessibility was a priority for the developers, who sought to provide a familiar experience while not forcing players to buy booster packs, a random bundle of cards otherwise common in the CCG genre.[16] The developers placed a limit on how many cards could be bought in exchange for real money each week.[17] Instead, players are given a number of random cards each week that scales with how frequently they play,[16] and a mechanic called Wild Cards, a way for players to directly craft desired cards.[18] Jeff Jew said that frictionless card collection for players enables the developers to balance more responsively, as players would not be upset that a deck they spent up to US$100 building had been weakened.[14]

Release and sets[edit]

Legends of Runeterra was revealed at Riot Games' celebration event of the tenth anniversary of League of Legends on October 15, 2019; applications for the closed beta period began following the conclusion of the stream.[19][20] Eurogamer observed the unusual timing of the reveal, given the recent failure of Valve's Artifact and the waning audience for Blizzard Entertainment's Hearthstone.[21] The first closed beta period ended in October 2019.[22] A second provided access to an additional mode called Expeditions from November 14–19, 2019.[23] The open beta, giving access to all players, commenced on January 24, 2020; unlike in the closed beta period, cards and cosmetics purchased in the open beta carried over to the live release of the game.[24]

The game was released on April 29, 2020; although the beta period was limited to Windows users, the launch accompanied the game's release on mobile operating systems iOS and Android.[25] During beta, the game had included six regions, with four champion cards per region, and 294 total cards.[26] The official launch also brought a new set to the game, Rising Tides, introducing 120 new cards and a new region—Bilgewater.[26][25] Along with new cards, sets contain new game mechanics and further development to existing ones.[27] Every existing region was given an additional champion, with Bilgewater having six.[26]

With the game's second set, Call of the Mountain, Riot Games altered the release schedule, with each set spanning three "expansions".[28] Call of the Mountain introduced the region of Mount Targon and was released for PC and mobile devices on August 26, 2020.[29] The region of Shurima became part of the game with the Empires of the Ascended set, released on March 3, 2021.[30] The tenth and final region of the game, Bandle City, was released on August 25, 2021,[31] and brought four expansions instead of the usual three.[32] Between the region expansions are Event or Champion Expansions, with Aphelios for the Call of the Mountain set,[33] Viego & Akshan for the Empires of the Ascended set,[34] and Path of Champions for the Beyond the Bandlewood,[35] all of which belongs to the Event Set. After the final region, Bandle City, fully released in 2022, Legends of Runeterra started releasing stand-alone expansions, with content for both PvP and PvE aspects of the game. The first stand-alone expansion, Worldwalker, was released on May 25th, 2022, introducing Runeterran champions.

Set Expansion Release date Notes
- January 23, 2020 In-game since Beta. Official release on the game release date.
Rising Tides
- April 28, 2020 Introduces Bilgewater. Released on the game release date.
Call of the Mountain
Call of the Mountain August 26, 2020 Introduces Targon. Expansion has the same name as the Set.
Monuments of Power October 14, 2020 Introduces Landmarks.
K/DA ALL OUT October 28, 2020 First event set. Introduces 5 cards themed around virtual Riot Games pop group K/DA.
Cosmic Creation December 16, 2020
Aphelios February 3, 2021 First Champion Expansion. Part of the event set.
Empires of the Ascended
Empires of the Ascended March 3, 2021 Introduces Shurima. Expansion has the same name as the set.
Guardians of the Ancient May 5, 2021
Rise of the Underworlds June, 30th 2021
Sentinels of Light/Akshan & Viego July 14, 2021 Second Champion Expansion. Part of the event set.
Beyond the Bandlewood
Beyond the Bandlewood August 25, 2021 Introduces Bandle City. Expansion has the same name as the set.
The Path of Champions November 10, 2021 Champion expansion introducing Jayce, along with a new game mode.
Magic Misadventures December 8, 2021
A Curious Journey February 15, 2022
May 22, 2022 Introduces Runeterran champions.
Forces from Beyond
July 20, 2022 Introduces Kai'sa, Gwen, and Evelynn.


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.[40] Jason Coles of NME wrote that it "may well be the most accessible card game out there".[41]

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 Messner, writing for PC 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.[42]


The game was nominated for Best Mobile Game at The Game Awards 2020.[43] Apple named it the iPad Game of the Year for 2020.[44] It also won the Mobile Game of the Year award at the 24th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards in 2021.[45]



  1. ^ Combat means when an attack has been declared by one player.[9]


  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. ^ "Bringing Features to Life in Legends of Runeterra".
  4. ^ a b c d e Messner, Steven (January 29, 2020). "How to play Legends of Runeterra". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e Shea, Cam (October 17, 2019). "Runeterra: 40 Things You Need to Know About Riot's New Game". IGN. Retrieved May 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Juras, Marta (October 17, 2019). "Everything we know about Legends of Runeterra". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  7. ^ Goslin, Austen (April 28, 2021). "League of Legends' card game is the key to expanding its universe". Polygon. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  8. ^ Irwin, Dave (May 5, 2020). "Runeterra card guide: every region's cards explained". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  9. ^ Messner, Steven (January 29, 2019). "How to play Legends of Runeterra". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  10. ^ Ladd, Dylan (February 19, 2021). "8 new Renekton-related cards from Shurima revealed for Legends of Runeterra's Empires of the Ascended expansion". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  11. ^ Messner, Steven (April 21, 2021). "Legends of Runeterra has quietly become the best multiplayer card game". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  12. ^ Ladd, Dylan (October 8, 2020). "Every Landmark in Legends of Runeterra's Monuments of Power expansion". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  13. ^ Ladd, Dylan (April 27, 2021). "4 Shuriman cards revealed for Legends of Runeterra's Guardians of the Ancient expansion". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Matthieson, Tom (February 11, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra developer Dillon Buckner talks about the game's early development, designing its unique economy, and Riot's approach to card balance". InvenGlobal. Retrieved May 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Crecente, Brian (October 27, 2019). "League of Legends is now 10 years old. This is the story of its birth". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Tapsell, Chris (October 18, 2019). "Riot says ditching loot boxes will help Legends of Runeterra stand out from the CCG crowd". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  17. ^ Messner, Steven (January 31, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra's developers talk about balance, feedback, and what's after open beta". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  18. ^ Çakır, Gökhan (February 7, 2021). "How to use wildcards in Legends of Runeterra". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ Marshall, Cass (October 14, 2019). "Riot Games announces League of Legends card game Legends of Runeterra". Polygon. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  20. ^ Shea, Cam (October 15, 2019). "Legends of Runeterra: 40 Things You Need to Know About Riot's New Game". IGN. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  21. ^ Tapsell, Chris (October 18, 2019). "Riot says ditching loot boxes will help Legends of Runeterra stand out from the CCG crowd". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Michael, Cale (October 19, 2019). "When does the current Legends of Runeterra preview patch end?". Dot Esports. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  23. ^ Brown, Fraser (November 13, 2019). "Legends of Runeterra Expeditions preview begins tomorrow". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  24. ^ Chalk, Andy (January 12, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra, the League of Legends card game, begins open beta testing next week". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  25. ^ a b Harris, Olivia (April 28, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra has officially launched on PC and mobile". GameSpot. Retrieved May 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ a b c Forster, Danny (April 4, 2020). "Over 120 cards and a new region are coming to Legends of Runeterra". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  27. ^ Ladd, Dylan (August 25, 2020). "Every keyword coming with Legend of Runeterra's Call of the Mountain set". Dot Esports. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Macgregor, Jody (February 18, 2021). "Legends of Runeterra's next expansion is Empires of the Ascended". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  31. ^ Ladd, Dylan (August 24, 2021). "Legends of Runeterra Patch 2.14.0: Full notes and updates". Dot Esports. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  32. ^ Ladd, Dylan (July 14, 2021). "The 10 best Legends of Runeterra Rise of the Underworld cards". Dot Esports. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  33. ^ "Aphelios Expansion". March 21, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  34. ^ "Viego Akshan Expansion". March 21, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  35. ^ "Path of Champions Expansion". March 21, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  36. ^ "Legends of Runeterra (PC)". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  37. ^ "Legends Of Runeterra Review - Much Ado About Nautilus". GameSpot. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  38. ^ "Legends of Runeterra Review - IGN". May 14, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  39. ^ "Legends of Runeterra review". PC Gamer. February 4, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  40. ^ Shea, Cam (May 14, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra — IGN". IGN. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ Messner, Steven (February 4, 2020). "Legends of Runeterra review". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  43. ^ Tassi, Paul (December 11, 2020). "Here's The Game Awards 2020 Winners List With A Near-Total 'Last Of Us' Sweep". Forbes.
  44. ^ "Apple presents App Store Best of 2020 winners". Apple.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  45. ^ "2021 Awards Category Details". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]