Among all the games that Riot Games announced during the 10th Anniversary, the card game Legends of Runeterra (LoR) was one of the most polished and ready to release. In fact, it looked so polished that people were already calling it the “Hearthstone killer”.

But that was what people said about Valve’s Artifact when it was first announced. Will LoR live up to the hype? Or is it yet another UX and Monetization disaster? Riot Games were kind enough to get us access to try it out.

As a card game veteran myself, I am pleased to report that LoR is certified FRESH. It is a breath of fresh air from all the other mundane card games out there. But what makes LoR so different from any other?

The Pros

For starters, players are always engaged in the game no matter what. No more waiting for your opponent to play all the cards he has while you have zero chance to counter any of those moves (Hearthstone). But it’s also not boring enough to only allow you to play one card per turn and then just resolve the board as a math equation (Gwent).

Each round decides an attacker and a defender, whilst allowing each player to interact against each and every card the opponent plays. This allows for a back-and-forth that is rarely seen in other card games.

Its mana system is also exceptional. You no longer have to feel bad if you can’t play any cards in Turns 1 and 2. Up to 3 mana can be stored as Spell mana to be used in future turns, thereby allowing you to turn the tide against those pesky aggro decks.

With 6 different factions to choose from, and myriad number of Champions available, it is true that one game will never feel the same as another. To add on to that, Champions have quests upon which fulfilled, will level up into stronger more potent versions.

The best part of LoR is their reward system. Not having to worry about the type of cards I can earn is such a huge boon. The game is also generous enough to award lots of EXP via Daily quests in order to allow for more unlocked cards. Moreover, it also encourages players to play more instead of disincentivizing them to do so once the quests run out. While it is still possible to spend money to get cards without effort, it is absolutely unnecessary to do so to collect cards.

The Cons

As with League of Legends though, there is one gripe on balance that requires a stern look-through. Cards like Tryndamere, Hecarim, and Deny feel way too strong. Meanwhile, cards like Teemo and Zed feel too weak even after they level up.

Even after just a few days of playing, there are already several decks that seem way ahead of the curve than others. However, it does not seem like the meta has been solved just yet. In fact, some of the pre-made decks still perform rather well against other constructed decks when played well.

It is rather frustrating when the opponent builds so much tempo that it becomes nigh insurmountable to deal with. Let’s hope that this is just because of my inability to build and play a deck properly.

Building a new deck is also rather annoying when we have to move from crafting to building. To pile on, waiting for the transaction to go through before we can add the crafted cards to our new deck is another negative.

Finally, some cards are worded poorly. Cards like Shark Chariot are confusing to read and require much experimentation before it makes sense. As with other card games’ philosophies, this might be too confusing for new players.

Conclusion

LoR is the breath of fresh air that we all needed in a time where other cards games have started to feel like Slot Machines, Dice, or Roulette.

I rate: 9/10
+ Spell Mana
+ Champion Level Up
+ 6 Factions
+ Back and Forth Gameplay
+ Excellent UI and UX
+ Graphics and Audio
+ Card Art and Sound bites
+ Reward and Quest System

– Deckbuilding UX
– Champion Balance
– Some bad text design