Riot has announced a new digital card game set in the same universe as League of Legends.
Legends of Runeterra, which will enter closed beta in early 2020, is a two-player card battler in the same vein as things like Hearthstone, Gwent, Magic: Arena and Valve’s Artifact. If you’ve played any of the above, it’s going to sound a little familiar.
However, Riot are spinning Legends of Runeterra as a response to the things that people hate about modern card games - both digital and traditional.
Matches of Legends of Runeterra are turn-based, one-versus-one affairs with either side vying to reduce their opponent’s HP to zero by deploying heroes and support spells against them.
At launch, Riot say that Legends of Runeterra will feature twenty-four heroes broken out across six regions. These regions work similarly to the colors in Magic: The Gathering. In standard play, decks can be built around a maximum of two regions. This initial base set will include a total of 318 cards.
Riot say they’re aiming to release expansions every four months and that some of these expansions may add new regions into the mix.
Since it is based on a MOBA, Legends of Runeterra also pulls from its source material in some other interesting ways. There are no lanes (a la Artifact) but your heroes do gain experience and level up over time. Leveling up grants existing heroes greater stats and new abilities.
Legends of Runeterra is also monetized in the same way as Riot’s MOBA is: through cosmetics. Riot indicated to us that you’d be able to buy new board themes, Poros and potentially even skins for your heroes.
What’s more - and unlike other digital card games - you don’t buy any random booster packs for Legends of Runeterra. Instead, you earn new cards by playing. The more you play with one region, the more cards you’ll unlock for that region. Each week, players are also awarded a "vault pack" each week that’ll add a handful of random new cards to their collection. These vault rewards will scale with you in-game level and Riot say that, once you're above level 10, you're guaranteed to get a champion from each one.
There's also Wildcards - which are basically vouchers that can be redeemed for any card of the corresponding rarity. Wildcards can also be purchased using real-world money - though Riot do say that players will be limited in how many of these they can purchase per week.
The way that the game's draft mode - which Legends of Runeterra calls Expeditions - is also slightly different. When you play Expeditions, you’ll get to draft two decks and then your rewards will scale with whichever of the two performed better over a series of matches.
Riot say they’re releasing Legends of Runeterra on PC first but that they plan to meventually bring it to mobile platforms like Android and iOS as well.
Ahead of a 2020 due-date, Riot are going to be running several “preview patch” testing periods plus a closed beta.
The first of these kicks off this week and runs until the 20th of October. This initial period will feature matchmaking, deck-building and in-game progression.
The second preview patch starts on the 14th of December and runs until the 19th. It’ll give participants the chance to try out the game’s draft mode, create friends lists and spend money on cosmetics. Riot tell us that any money spent on cosmetics during the preview patch or closed beta would be refunded as in-game currency when the game launches.
Riot say they’ll then be moving Legends of Runeterra into closed beta in early 2020 before launching the game proper later that year.