Hey everybody and welcome back to MasteringRuneterra.com! There have been a lot of new players joining LOR and our community here at Mastering Runeterra! If you are new, you’ve seen articles about the meta shifting, deck breakdowns, how to get yourself in the headspace to improve your play, and, of course, why this game is so amazing. But, as great as all this is, there hasn’t really been anything on the sight to help get you started. So, I wanted to take some time today to let all our new friends know how to get started in Legends of Runeterra.
If you’re no stranger to trading card games (but new to LOR), the challenges might seem like a waste of time. They serve as a tutorial of not just how to play the game but seeing how different archetypes and keywords function. However, these challenges are some of the most important things for new players to do. For starters they are a solid sources of experience points (which I will talk a lot about later on), and also, they are going to help you figure out which kinds of decks you enjoy playing.
Not every champion and not every archetype is available in challenges, but enough different strategies are that you’ll be able to get the feel for what’s enjoyable to you. This is going to be a good testing ground for whether you’re a fan of making big units do big damage with overwhelm, or if you enjoy burning your opponent down with damage they can’t really block, or controlling the game with stall options and strong spells to make your opponent play your game. Maybe none of these are for you and you prefer swinging the game with a nice combo, or using elusive units to get around your opponents blockers- these are some of the things you can learn about your playstyle through challenges. This is going to be important, as we’ll talk about later, this game does give lots of free resources, but not infinite. I’ve spent very little money on the game and have been playing for over a year and don’t have every card in the game (but I am very close). Make sure you know what kind of decks you like to play before you start spending your resources.
The number one resource in this game: experience points. Experience gives you a couple of different things simultaneously: builds your weekly vault up and levels up your region path. Your weekly vault opens every Thursday morning and has rewards for you based on how high you leveled it up. You’re going to get three chests guaranteed, just a matter of what level they are will dictate what’s in them.
Three bronze chests at vault level one will fetch you some common cards and a small amount of shards (in game currency) while diamond chests will give capsules (think of these as mini chests with a variety of cards/wildcards) and a lot of shards. As you level the vault, not only do the chests get better but you get more rewards: a free expedition token (more on that in a bit) and a champion card or champion wild card. Wild cards can be used to make any card you want of that rarity. Also, note that chests have a chance to upgrade into a higher-level chest for free. The weekly vault is going to be key in acquiring cards. Also, know that your vault will give you chests even if you don’t play. If you’ve just been busy and can’t level it up this week, no worries, there is going to be a vault for you to open just for logging in on Thursday.
The next thing experience does is level your region path. There are 10 regions, each with a region reward path. You can choose which one you want to level up by clicking the rewards tab and then selecting your chosen region and then click activate. The region paths offer rewards after you earn a certain amount of experience. Each region reward paths offers cosmetic things like card backs, but also offer wild cards, chests and capsules. You can collect these rewards any time you unlock them (not just one day of the week like the vault). The rewards you get for the paths are specific to that region (also unlike the weekly vault which will give you card from any region). So if you know you want to play the Darkness deck (featuring the champions Senna and Veigar) you’ll want to be working on the Shadow Isles/Bandle City region path as that’s what’s got a chance of giving you those cards for free.
Of course, I mentioned in the last article, any copies of cards you get after three will instantly turn into shards. You can use shards to craft cards (common cards are 100, rare are 300, epic are 1200 and champions are 3000). So not only do you get a lot of random cards for free by leveling up your region path and your weekly vault but, you’re getting wildcards and shards which can be used to create the cards you’re looking for if you didn’t get lucky and pull them from the rewards.
All this sounds great right, a ton of free resources just by leveling things up with experience, but, how exactly do you get experience? Simply by playing the game. If you just want to test your skills or a deck against the AI you’ll get 100 exp for winning and 50 for losing. Against another player, it’s 200 for winning and 100 for losing. Now this experience will wear down pretty soon where you don’t get anything for playing the AI or losing to an opponent. Fortunately for us, there are ways to maximize the experience we gain.
If you follow what I do, you’ll be able to get 3600-4100 experience every day.
That’s going to be enough to get your vault pretty high come Thursday and do some serious damage on your region paths. The best part is that this doesn’t take a ton of time to do. The first thing to do is your daily quest. The quest is usually some sort of task to accomplish while you play, things like: summon four dragons, target enemies 15 times, support an ally four times, etc. These things are not very hard to do and they guarantee 1000 exp with some quests giving 1500. I usually just make a random deck filled with whatever they’re asking me to do and play the AI once or twice to get it.
The second thing I do every day is play in the labs. Right now I’m focusing on the Saltwater Scourge lab, very, very quick games against the computer that are easy. I do this because, for whatever reason, labs give you the PVP bonus experience. When you play PVP you get 200 experience for winning, but, for the three wins, you get an additional bonus exp of 400, 200, and 100. Playing three quick games in the Saltwater Scourge lab will grant you 200 per win, plus this bonus for a total of 1300 experience. By now I should say that I’ve probably spent no more than 10-20 minutes on the game (depending on which quest I get that day). The final thing I do is actually play PVP, three wins in normal or ranked modes and you’ll get that 1300 experience all over again.
Think of the labs/quest games as just your warm up before you start playing against other people. This is how I’m able to have almost every card in the game with little money spent (remember I did drop 40 but that was mostly for the event passes and cosmetics, not to add to my collection), 2600 from labs and PVP, and 1000 to 1500 for my quest for 3600-4000 exp- and that doesn’t count the 100 exp I get from beating the AI to complete my quest or the 100 I get if I take a loss or two from playing PVP.
None of this includes one of the best ways to acquire resources and experience: expeditions. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about expeditions as Herko Kerghans lays out everything you need to know about them here. However, I will just piggyback to say that expeditions not only give you the experience for playing PVP but, you also get bonus experience for completing the trial (how far you go is going to dictate how much more exp you give). Each expedition also gives a minimum of an epic capsule- shards and cards with at least one guaranteed to be epic.
The newest (and pretty fun) way to gather resources is with the new Path of Champions. Playing through the path of champions is another fun way for new players to get to play around with different champions that you might not have yet. It’s also giving a ton of resources. While the event is going on, playing the various missions will level up the reward path. This gives a lot of cards and a lot of different chests for free (you can also pay some money to get the premium path unlocked for even more resources). My favorite thing about this is that there are a few core missions.
Doing these core missions will not only go toward the reward path but also give two copies of the champions featured in Riot’s “Arcane”. The champions you can acquire this way are Jinx, Vi, Ekko, Caitlyn, and the newest champion, Jayce. If you do already have all of these champions you’ll get 750 shards per card which are 1500 per champion and 4500 shards total. Very nice chunk of in game change for absolutely free. Again, there are more expansions coming out right around the corner so the extra stuff is always good.
Knowing When to Use Resources
Now that we know how to acquire all these free resources, let’s talk about when to put them to good use. For starters make sure you know what kinds of decks you enjoy playing. Not only are the challenges good for that, but also expeditions as you’ll be forced to play with cards that you (more than likely) haven’t tried yet. Everyone wants to climb the ladder or try to break into the competitive scene, I get that for sure, but, there’s no one way to do this. The Darkness deck that I mentioned earlier with Senna and Veigar, is a solid deck that has been at its worst, a tier two deck since it came out. That deck is for a certain play style, it’s a long, drawn-out, control archetype.
If you want to win, but you want to have fun and that doesn’t fit your playstyle, play any of the dozen + decks that have a high win rate. Don’t sink all your resources into one deck because it’s strong even if it’s not the most fun for you because lots of decks are strong right now. Grinding ladder isn’t going to be much fun if you’re playing a deck that just isn’t super fun for you. I have a friend who made it to high platinum last season playing Zombie Anivia ( an archetype focused around Anivia and Shadow Isles) despite it not being even on the radar of best decks. Find what you like, there’s going to be a top-tier deck with that style in mind.
The other thing is knowing when to try new archetypes/cards. We are in the middle of a hot spot for LOR. We just had a big balance patch that people are still working their way through and there are new expansions scheduled for November and December. If you know a big, potentially meta-defining event is coming up, it’s probably best to wait and see before you spend your resources. Right now, since the balance patch, the Dragon archetype has seen a big jump in terms of its usage and competitive viability. A new expansion could shape the meta in a way where Dragons are even more powerful or, revamp other things to the point where dragons aren’t as strong. If you are just getting started, I would recommend saving resources until after the new expansion drops. As much as this game does give you resources they aren’t unlimited.
Slowing It Down
We understand what resources are available to us in this game, how to acquire them, and how to spend them- let’s talk about tips for newcomers to play the game successfully. My best piece of advice is to slow it down. Really think about your cards before you play them. Make sure you’re not putting valuable pieces at risk. For example, a popular champion for her flexibility is Poppy.
In the Poppy rally decks, you want to keep her safe so that she can continue to buff your entire board. Before you drop her on four, think about what your opponent can do to get rid of her and if you can protect her or not. If you’re playing against a PNZ deck, do they have the mana to just get excited her? Or, did they add cards to their hand to use sump fumes? If they do, do you have a sharpsight or prismatic barrier or something to protect her? Do you have the mana to play that card? If not you probably shouldn’t risk your Poppy in that game state. Always be asking yourself “What can my opponent do to punish me after this?” If you’re playing against a Demacia deck and you’re using elusives, before you just swing ask yourself, “can they just sharpsight this?” Always take a second to think about how your opponent can punish your moves.
My other big tip is banking mana. Mana gems are a valuable resource in the game. You can have the best deck with the best cards and built-in counters for every situation but that won’t mean much if you don’t have the mana to play them. Make sure that if you’re trying to combo something that you have the banked spell mana to make it happen. Nothing feels worse than your opponent playing a spell that deals with your valuable units and you being just one mana shy to prevent it from happening. On the flip side, nothing feels better than knowing that your opponent cannot stop you because they have nothing to spend on cards.
Join a Community
In the previous article, I mentioned how great the LOR community is and how many ways there are for you to get involved with one. Different places offer things like coaching, deck testing, theory crafting, and deck building, tournaments, card spotlights and so much more. At the end of the day, Legends of Runeterra is a game, and games are always more fun with friends. So come make friends, learn from people, help grow the community, and bring a new voice into the fold.
Even if you’re just getting started and feel like you don’t have much to offer, that just means there’s a lot for you to learn and plenty of people willing to help you out. In fact, I can’t think of a better place than the Mastering Runeterra discord server. Join us at. We have Runeterra Wednesday tournaments, youtube links, input from seasonal and world’s qualifying players, and a great community of skilled and invested players who are down to have a conversation or help playtest and a variety of other resources. In fact, if there’s something you can think of that isn’t in the discord there’s a place where you can request specific content. There’s nothing to lose by joining in on the fun, and a ton to gain.
I hope this was helpful for our new friends to the game! This was a lot to sit with for sure, but there’s a lot to know to get started and invested in the game. It’s definitely worth it though and I hope you all decide to stick around. I definitely wish something like this was out when I got started, I might have completed my collection and started out a little hotter on the ladder. If you do decide to join the discord, definitely feel free to reach out to me with any questions and I’ll be glad to help any way I can.