Welcome! I’m Guren and I couldn’t be more excited about this site or to be talking to you about the Legends of Runeterra. Maybe you’re new, and you noticed LOR on the RIOT page or in the new client, or maybe you just learned about this game after the World Championship finals which boosted the viewership of the game. Maybe you’re a long-time player and are just feeling a little burned out. Regardless, I’m here to tell you why this game is an absolute blast and very much worth your time.
I’m gonna go ahead and get this one out of the way because it’s one of the biggest reasons why this game is so great. I’ve always loved card games. Not just TCG’s either, my favorite board games are Dominion and Legendary which are both deck-building games. Those two board games have cost a ton in terms of the expansions for them, storage and sleeving, and don’t even get me started on TCG’s that I’ve played. I’ve played Pokemon, Yugioh, Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, and the Final Fantasy trading card game.
I love TCG’s, and if you are like me you know how expensive these games can be. I remember dropping 600.00 on a Yugioh deck for a tournament, just to have the core cards banned a short while later. As I’ve gotten older and understood more the themes and archetypes of these games that were good, I realized how much money it costs to play these games at a competitive level. It actually made me quit TCG’s. I was sold on a few digital trading card games because they were more cost-effective, and they were, but the bar wasn’t very high. I played Hearthstone and Yugioh Duel Links where a hundred bucks won’t get you much. I then started to lose interest and give up. I've got rent to pay, bills, other hobbies, and interests that take a lot of cash. The pandemic has shown us how quickly we can go from financially secure to almost ruin overnight. I just made the decision that trading card games were no longer something I wanted to play. Not because I didn’t enjoy them, but because paying for them was just something I didn’t want to do anymore.
Enter Legends of Runeterra. I tried this game because we were in adult time out, errr I mean quarantine. My friends in Discord were all obsessed with it, so I tried it, and fell in love. Not only was the game great, but I could start crafting cards and building decks with the amount of in-game currency they give you just for playing the game. In the year that I’ve been playing this game, I’ve spent forty dollars on it (thirty on event passes because they’re cool- more on that in a bit- and ten on cosmetics). There are ten regions in this game, and with forty dollars spent, I have every champion in the game, and at least 97% of the cards in every region with two at 100% (with the exceptions of Shurima-84% and Bandlewood City- 47% because they’re newer). I also am not a grinder. I have other hobbies/interests, other games I play on top of having a full-time job, and two other side jobs that I love. This is how much free currency that they give you.
Every region has a path that rewards you after you get a certain amount of experience, and that combines with your weekly vault which levels up every time you get a certain amount of experience. Both of these things give you a ton of shards (in-game currency), cards, and wild cards (used to craft any card you want of that rarity). If you get more than three copies of a card, it doesn’t just sit in your collection being a waste, instead, it instantly turns into shards that you can actually use. You can come into this game and within just a few days be able to craft just about any single deck you want while you learn more. If life changes or interests change, you don’t have that worry about wasting a ton of money on this game. If a card that you crafted winds up being a little, erm, over-turned *cough cough Irelia cough*, it doesn’t just get banned and become worthless. Instead, they patch it to make it more balanced. There are no wasted resources here, no huge investment to get started, no bad feeling that your really expensive card just got banned from the format, and no feeling that you have to spend hundreds on a single deck just to have a chance at playing in ranked or tournaments.
The community in this game is surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because I played League of Legends for years and that player base is, ummm, problematic at times to say the least. This community is refreshingly cool. People on Reddit are more helpful, criticism is mostly constructive, and is more insightful than downright degrading or insulting. The larger content creators do an excellent job engaging with the community and their viewers. They are also quite accessible. There are multiple podcasts and discord channels that have also cultivated their own communities which are dedicated to us as players.
I’m part of a few that all offer so many different things. If you are someone who misses the feeling of local tournaments, the community is here for that. I’ve seen everything from people conduct their own smaller tournaments with cash prizes to people setting up tournaments with interesting and restrictive deck rules to force players out of the meta. I’ve even run my own “just for fun” tournaments with a few of my friends that I hang in Discord with. If you’re someone who wants to break the meta and find your own deck to dominate the ladder with, the community is here for it.
Multiple Discord servers are dedicated to this game as well, there are subreddits filled with people who are sharp, and willing to theory craft and playtest with you. If you just want to learn about the game and improve, the community is here for it. From content creators on Twitch or Youtube to the intelligent and awesome people at Mastering Runeterra, if you are looking for high-level players to do deck breakdowns, card analysis, or player coaching, you can find it.
In fact, that’s how this site got started, high-level players who just want to help the community grow, and improve. Don’t get me wrong, there are some toxic people and trolls in this community like there are with every community. However, the vast majority of LOR players really are incredibly kind, are willing to have a conversation, and help out.
I love this game. It’s different from so many other TCG’s in some seriously fun and interesting ways. I love that both players get opportunities to respond to each other. There is no “my turn your turn” so much as rounds where someone plays a card and the opponent can respond. This isn’t a game where you can only play cards on your turn, or where you can only activate a card as a reaction to a specific action your opponent made. If your opponent drops a creature you can respond by dropping one of your own before they just attack you directly. If your opponent plays a spell card (depending on the speed) you can respond with one of your own. That feeling of being helpless while your opponent plays their whole hand on their turn and you’re just sitting there doesn’t exist in this game.
Legends of Runeterra also feels like the most balanced card game I’ve ever played. Not only in terms of how many deck archetypes there are, but in terms of the skill level to pilot them. When I first started trying to grind ladder I remember I just copied, card for card, whatever was posted as the “best” deck and still couldn’t win. I thought I was being trolled with that decklist, but I just lacked the skill and experience to play it correctly. Even when I learned to pilot decks correctly, I still wasn’t just crushing everyone, because in this game there isn’t a “best” deck. Let me be clear, there are definitely decks that are better than others. However, in this game, there are a slew of decks that are competitive or viable. I still play other TCG’s and I can tell you firsthand that in some of the bigger name ones, if you’re not playing one of five or six archetypes, you will just lose against them.
Per Swimstrim.com (one of the amazing content creators) there are about 24 different decks that have at least a 50% win rate on the ladder. Think about what that means. Regardless of your own playstyle in card games, whether you’re aggressive minded, more control oriented, prefer combo decks or enjoy burning your opponent out, there are multiple different decks that you can choose from. That doesn’t even cover all the decks out there. My favorite deck right now is one I learned from MajinBae- the Caitlyn Draven deck. I've been steadily climbing the ladder with it, and winning about 53% of my recent games with it. This is not to brag and say how I’ve outsmarted the meta, but to show that there’s so much room for creativity and deck building in this game.
I really do enjoy the Lore that Riot Games has put together with their IP. The character trailers, cinematic sequences and events all expand across their games to tell pretty cool stories for these champions. I think we see the most of that in Legends of Runeterra. Not only does each champion have their own voice lines and abilities based on what the champion does in League of Legends, but they have followers and spells that help capture that flavor. Miss Fortune and Gangplank, two great champions from Bilgewater, are both pirates and what’s a pirate captain without a ship? Introducing the Syren and the Dreadway, they are both ships of these characters that put them in your hand and provide support for what these champions do best.
Draven is (to borrow a phrase from Spartacus) a god of the arena in Noxus. Every prizefighter has a fan base and Draven has his biggest fan who not only puts a Draven in your hand but who’s voice line tries to imitate his hero. Viego, the ruined king, brings not only his own edge lord voice lines (not an insult, I love him), but brings endless and ever-growing encroaching mists to really capture the flavor of Riot’s Ruination storyline and event.
The Bandlewood is full of yordles who might not be the most physically imposing but have other, more crafty methods of dealing with opponents. This is represented in their cards like prank and minimorph. I could go on and on about, not only the themes presented in the cards but also the voice lines of cards with a story together. Legends of Runeterra isn’t just a great game, but it’s a great game that really captures the thematic elements of the company’s IP. To their credit, Riot has done a great job fleshing out very cool characters with incredibly interesting stories.
In conclusion, this game is just amazing. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it. I was tired of the endless grind and money suck of trading card games. Legends of Runeterra really does offer something different than every other TCG I’ve played. It’s a refreshing combination of solid gameplay, mechanics, strategy, and lore with a killer community to help prop it up. On this site alone, you’ll be seeing some of the sharpest minds in the game break things down in a podcast and be presented with deck breakdowns from a variety of people. If you’re a returning player, I hope this reminds you of how great this game is. If you’re new, welcome in, get comfortable. I hope you decide to stay awhile.