Legends of Runeterra's character blasting his way through a city.

Legends of Runeterra Beginner’s Guide

Legends of Runeterra or LoR is a digital card game developed by Riot Games. The game draws on the League of Legends universe pitting six regions, to wit Demacia, Noxus, Freljord, Piltover & Zaun, Ionia, and the Shadow Isles against one another under the player’s control.

Each faction musters its own special brand of magic or warfare and alliances are often struck to forge the best Legends of Runeterra decks.

The game was revealed on October 19, 2019, and released as an open beta on January 24, 2020. Legends of Runeterra release date is officially set for April 30, 2020.

The game is available for Windows, Android and iOS. More importantly, LoR builds on the experience accumulated by competitors’ trade card games, but successful crafts an original product with its own distinct elements.

What Is Legends of Runeterra and Where Does it Take Place?

Legends of Runeterra is a unique spin on the traditional card game experience whereby the dynamic of the fights, deck crafting and even entry cost has been completely reimagined.

All cards hail from six distinct regions, each with their own advantages, to wit Demacia, Freljord, Ionia, Noxus, Piltover & Zaun and Shadow Isles.

Players create decks by combining 40 cards from a maximum of two regions, mustering their ability to forge political alliances and use them well.

In the present article we will take a look at all six regions and their playstyles, explore different mechanics and introduce a few signature cards that will help you get a feel about the game, its lore and how all of that translates into competitive and highly-entertaining play.

Before we start, you must keep in mind that the game is still in beta, and this article will only touch upon the existing mechanics. However, we hold this guide to be a cornerstone piece for your future adventures in LoR.

Here are several useful resources to refer to. They will be a permanent source of help to you regardless how much the game has changed since April 30, 2020.

Related: Need to stay up to date? Visit our dedicated Lengeds of Runeterra news seciton.

Where Can I See All LoR Cards to Date?

Where Can I Build My Own LoR Deck?

Where Can I Talk About and Discuss LoR?

  • Visit the Legends of Runeterra Reddit

How Do I Play LoR?

  • Visit Play Legends of Runeterra

The Levelling System in Legends of Runeterra

To avoid ambiguity, keep in mind that there are two types of levelling systems in LoR. One is for your Champions and one is for your Legends of Runeterra account as a player.

Earning experience (EXP) through daily quests and dueling against fellow players is the surest way to advance in your training, unlock new cards, and deepen your understanding of the game.

For each region, you will have 20 levels to unlock, with some players advising novices to focus on levelling their way through each region at an even pace and others arguing that choosing a single region at a time would give a new player better understanding of their faction.

Every time you obtain a new level in any of the six regions, you will receive a reward based on the current level. We have put a table of LoR region levels and their specific rewards.

Level Reward
1 Rare Wildcard
2 Basic Capsule
3 Bronze Chest
4 Wild Capsule
5 Silver Chest
6 Random Epic Card
7 Golden Chest
8 Champion Capsule
9 Basic Capsule
10 Epic Capsule
11 Golden Chest
12 Wild Capsule
13 Random Epic Card
14 Platinum Chest
15 Epic Wildcard
16 Champion Capsule
17 Epic Capsule
18 Platinum Chest
19 Champion Wildcard
20 Diamond Chest

 

While most other games force you to level up by dueling against fellow players, Legends of Runeterra will allow players to accumulate a decent amount of EXP by simply playing against the AI or even suffering a loss to a player.

LoR Currency: Chests, Capsules, Shards

We refer as currency to anything valuable in the game that could help you obtain more LoR cards. Riot Games has focused on providing you with an opportunity to advance your deck without spending

There are five types of chest, to wit bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and diamond, and each will contain a different reward.

Legends of Runeterra rewards types
First row: Capsule, Epic Capsule, Champion Capsule, Wild Capsule
Second row: Bronze Chest, Silver Chest, Gold Chest, Platinum Chest, Diamond Chest
Credit: Riot Games

Each chest will contain various rewards, including Common cards, Shards, Rare cards, and Basic Capsules. Riot Games may choose to change the reward system and alter this reward pattern, but not in the foreseeable future at least.

The Capsules are another worthwhile addition and there are four of them, to wit Wild Capsule, Basic Capsule, Epic Capsule and Champion Capsule. All Capsules cards of various tiers.

The Legends of Runeterra Vault and Its Rewards

Riot Games is focusing on accessibility making LoR a game you can play without spending a single Coin and still expect to claim 75% of all cards in the game before the next expansion releases. Part of achieving this is thanks to a system called The Vault.

The Vault contains 13 levels you unlock throughout the week from Monday to Sunday before everything resets on Monday again. This way you will have a reliable source of cards and shards, adding up to 24 Common Cards, 2 Rare Cards, 1 Champion Card and at least 1,680 Shards every week for unlocking up to level 10 included. This number is slightly larger for unlocking levels 11 through 13.

Here is a breakdown of the required EXP per Vault level and the accompanying rewards for each.

Level EXP Rewards
1 0 3 x Bronze Chests
2 1,000 2 x Bronze Chests, 1 x Silver Chest
3 2,000 1 x Bronze Chest, 2 x Silver Chest
4 3,000 1 x Bronze Chest, 1 x Silver Chest, 1 x Gold Chest
5 4,000 2 x Silver Chest, 1 x Gold Chest
6 5,000 1 x Silver Chest, 2 x Gold Chest
7 7,000 3 x Gold Chest
8 9,000 2 x Gold Chest, 1 x Platinum Chest
9 11,000 1 x Gold Chest, 2 x Platinum Chest
10 13,000 3 x Platinum Chest, 1 x Champion Card
11 17,000 2 x Platinum Chest, 1 x Diamond Chest, 1 x Champion Card
12 21,000 1 x Platinum Chest, 2 x Diamond Chest, 1 x Champion Card
13 25,000 3 x Diamond Chest, 1 x Champion Card

Owing to the Vault’s nature, you will get a crack at new rewards every week, helping you keep yourself up to date with cards without any need to spend real money in the shop.

If you do wish to speed up the process, you can always purchase some odd cards to complement your deck and keep up to date with the current reigning Legends of Runeterra decks.

What’s Different in Legends of Runeterra?

You may have some familiarity with card collecting games or CCGs, and in recent years, there has been a number of outstanding genre-defining digital games, including Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering.

Legends of Runeterra’s key difference to these games lies in how a turn is acted out. You don’t necessarily complete a turn after summoning Champions and then commanding them to attack. Instead, players will go back and forth until they have spent all their mana, engaging in what we can best describe as “tit-for-tat.”

Speaking of mana, this is the next big difference in Legends of Runeterra. While in most other CCGs, untapped mana is irrevocably wasted, in LoR, all your unused mana will convert into Spell Mana up to three points that you can then use only to cast spells with.

This means that on top of the up to 10 mana pool you have, you can further benefit from additional 3 mana points.

What’s Similar in Legends of Runeterra

At the same time, Legends of Runeterra shares many similarities with other CCG games. Once again, the deck archetypes will resemble what you can find in other games. You will rely on more summoner focused builds as well as more destructive and magic reliant decks.

For example, a Zoo build as it is called, will summon an army of inexpensive beasts or other creatures to fight on your side and hopefully overwhelm your opponent before they have been able to establish a good line of defense against you.

The game’s specific mana system, though, and specifically the ability to carry over unused mana to the next round, make imbalanced builds more difficult to execute, as players will often find themselves with sufficient resources to reciprocate and defend themselves.

Rounds Follow Their Own Dynamic

Legends of Runeterra is different than other card games because the rounds dynamic is efficiently a tit-for-tat exchange. Each player gets to do an action, whether that is to summon a unit, launch an attack, cast a spell or simply pass their turn.

This goes on until both players have ran out of mana and actions to carry out, at which point the round is wrapped up. Basically, the actions a player can take include:

  • Summon a unit with mana
  • Playing a spell with mana
  • Declaring attackers
  • Declaring blockers

From that point on, you have multiple possible outcomes and with each new development, a new set of possibilities has become available. This is best captured by this flowchart which successfully, and in great detail, describes how the turn evolves.

Legends of Runeterra spell speed
Mobalytics

In most cases, you can use one action before your opponent gets a chance to reciprocate. However, you can also rely on three different types of spells. They come with three speeds, which indicate when you can play the spells and include Slow, Fast and Burst spells.

Legends of Runeterra Keywords

An interesting aspect of the cards you can use in Legends of Runeterra are their keywords. Keywords will tell you what specific actions a unit or a spell can carry out and under what circumstances any of these effects become available.

Because the list of keywords is constantly expanded upon, you may find it a little difficult to follow at first. With practice, though, it should all clear up. Here is a quick breakdown of the keywords available in Legends of Runeterra today.

Unit Keywords

  • Strike – Effect triggered when an allied unit has inflicted damage on the enemy unit(s)
  • Nexus Strike – Effected triggered when an allied unit or spell has inflicted damage on the enemy’s Nexus
  • Overwhelm – Any excess damage is automatically transferred from an enemy’s unit to the Nexus
  • Barrier – Prevents a unit from taking combat or spell damage. The barrier is depleted after one attack.
  • Tough – Reduces the damage a unit takes by one
  • Quick Attack – When attacking, the unit strikes before its blocker
  • Double Attack – Strikes a unit and then forces the same unit to attack the Champion carrying the “Double Attack” keyword, providing that the said the enemy unit has survived the first attack
  • Recall – You can put a unit from the battlefield back into your hand
  • Revive – Bring a dead unit from the discard pile onto the battlefield
  • Last Breath – The unit’s specific ability or abilities only trigger when they die
  • Capture – Your unit allows you to remove an enemy’s unit from the game for as long as your unit lives
  • Obliterate – You can remove a unit from the game without triggering any of its special effects – including Last Breath
  • Frostbite – The frost forces an enemy’s unit to lose all their attack power for one round
  • Fearsome – The effect prevents enemy units with power 3 or less to block attacks from a Fearsome unit
  • Enlightened – If you reach 10 mana, the unit will get an extra ability
  • Drain – A spell ability that allows you to heal your Nexus
  • Lifesteal – A unit ability that allows you to heal the Nexus
  • Challenger – The challengers decide which enemy units will block them before any blockers are declared and the effect cannot be countered
  • Elusive – Can’t be blocked when attacking unless the enemy’s unit also has Elusive buff.

Other LoR Keywords

Beyond the specific keywords that apply to units and spells as their special abilities, there are more generic ones which are still essential to improving your understanding of the game.  These extra keywords, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Allegiance – Cast a card and get a bonus if the top card of your deck hails from the same region
  • Aura – This is a card that usually affects more than one champion on the battlefield, deck or in your hand
  • Can’t Block – A unit that can’t block any of the enemy’s champions
  • Ephemeral – A unit that dies once it has struck in the round
  • Fleeting – The card is discarded as soon as the round ends
  • Imbue – The ability triggers when you resolve a spell
  • Rally – If you don’t have an Attack Token, you can generate a new one
  • Regeneration – A unit heals back to its original health at the beginning of each round
  • Stun – A unit which has been stunned can no longer block unless a Challenger unit forces it to
  • Support – Gives an effect to the attacking unit on the right hand side of the Support unit
  • Trap – A trap latches itself onto an enemy’s deck card – when drawn from the deck, the trap is activated

What Are Regions and How Many Are There?

The so-called regions are the backdrop against which Runeterra itself unfolds. You can think of regions as the lore where you learn more about the backstory of each of the champions, spells and their relationship to one another.

Players can combine up to two regions to form a 40-card deck. Therefore, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each region can be useful in understanding the game a little better, constructing successful builds and defending yourself against opponents. We will provide you with a very general overview of the regions, and invite you to dig a little further in a separate guide we will publish a little later.

Demacia

Legends of Runeterra Demacio region and artwork by Riot Games
Riot Games

Demacia is the proud realm protector of all. Demacia’s ranks are never thin as the realm can call upon reinforcements around the clock, summoning armies of justice to defeat evil and expunge it from its territories.

This region relies on specific buffs and auras to help reinforce the entire army. The barrier is one of the unique abilities of the region, which puts a great value on defending its own. The playstyle revolves around the premise of building an army that is resilient to almost any attack while each unit continues to complement the rest.

Freljord

The Freljord region artwork by Riot Games for the Legends of Runeterra digital card game
Riot Games

Travel to the frost-biting North and you will find Freljord. Freljord’s armies are spread across the barren landscape, hunting in tribes and ruled by a khaganate-like system. Yet, for all the roughness of this existence, Freljord has tamed both warfare and magic.

A specific ability used by the region is Frostbite which debilitates an enemy’s champion(s) for a round reducing its power to 0. Because the tribes in the region have had time to master magic, Freljord will also be able to quickly tap into magic by mustering more mana and quicker than opponents.

Ionia

The artwork for Ionia, a region in Riot Games' Legends of Runeterra
Riot Games

The lands of Ionia have been unscathed by warfare. In this region, wielders of natural magic live and they use their powers not so much to inflict pain as to aid those who need help. Ionia relies on the recall mechanic to spare its allies from the onslaught of warring factions.

The entire region focuses on outmaneuvering the opponents and inflicting damage only when absolutely necessary. Ionia’s champions often come with the Elusive keyword, meaning you often find yourself unable to fight them with conventional means.

Noxus

Noxus region in Legends of Runeterra by Riot Games
Riot Games

Noxus won’t show anyone any mercy. This warring faction has sworn to conquer all other regions through sheer, crushing power alone. The Noxus generals will throw in anything they have on the battlefield, sacrificing their own in horrifying Pyrrhic warfare to secure the ultimate victory.

The Noxus aren’t afraid to sacrifice and damage their own to empower their commanders and troops. The cards often rely on high power and low health ratio, pushing for an aggressive build that seeks to crush the enemy before they have had time to respond.

Piltover and Zaun

Piltover and Zaun region artwork in Legends of Runeterra
Riot Games

In knowledge, there is power and so Piltover and Zaun hope to establish a civilization that can resist the forays of magical forces, barbarians, or supernatural necromancers. The inhabitants of this region are scientifically-inclined, distilling magic to reapply it with scientific precision.

Their main specialty lies in hurtling devastating spells at different speeds. The region offers what is possibly the most outstanding variety of offensive abilities. Magic even helps Piltover and Zaun to create counterfeit copies of enemy units and build up illusionary defenses that often throw opponents off their game.

Shadow Isles

Piltover and Zaun region artwork in Legends of Runeterra
Riot Games

If pure evil was ever interested in taking a short holiday, Shadow Isles would be the destination of choice. The evil-doers use a variety of eerie mechanics to overcome the natural order and inflict devastating attacks on their opponents.

Shadow Isles creatures are capable of both Sacrifice and Resurrection and they often feature the Last Breath keyword, meaning that even with their last breath, they are quite capable of inflicting pain and letting all hell break loose!

Keep Learning About the Game

The key to mastering the game is to play while keeping up to date with all subtle changes in the meta. Following and keeping up with all the best Legends of Runeterra meta decks is a sure way to at least have a decent chance to tackle most opponents out there.

In the meantime, Reddit and Twitch will prove an invaluable resource you can casually flick through when devising new stratagems or looking to improve your current game. Legends of Runeterra is in a constant state of flux, meaning the meta will change rapidly, and to be able to keep apace, you would need to continue playing.

Yet, don’t worry. Even if you have had to take a short break or even a prolonged leave of absence, reading up on the latest meta decks and strategies will give you a quick way back into the action.

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