Ohhhhhh the beautiful and big baby here, swollen with money and mechanics that he is. So let's start with the basics: Legends of Runeterra is a card duel game, in which players take turns summoning creatures and spells to nibble at the twenty hit points of the opposing Nexus. You can already imagine the mechanics of Magic The Assembly in the interface of Hearthstone ? So perfect, you've already gone half the way. Now hold on to my hand so we can go explore the other half, it can shake.
Before we even start talking about creatures, spells, champions and other powder kegs (if so), let's take a look at the basics of the game, perhaps the first place Riot tried to kick the anthill. Unlike most titles in the genre, parts of Legends of Runeterra are not divided into classic rounds where each player empties his hand as long as he can before letting his comrade do the same. Here the game rounds are called rounds ; a detail that is important since during a round, each player places a card before handing over to the next. Suddenly, the rhythm changes conspicuously and it is now a ping-pong between the two opponents inside a round. A modification which will seem insignificant at first glance but which brings drastic changes in the way of apprehending the different phases within a recovery and the priority that we will want to give to each creature or spell.
The other difference with the many games of the competition is the presence of this little orange sword on the board, called the attack token. Every round, the token goes from one player to another and allows you to attack once, creating an interesting alternation between offensive and defensive turns, which force you to think differently at each discard pile. Besides, the fight does not end the round and we will regularly wonder if we want to attack from the start of the round, to take the opponent by surprise (at the risk of leaving him all his mana to retaliate with spells), or on the contrary time out a maximum to summon more creatures and use spells – at the risk, this time, of allowing the enemy to garnish his defense. By the way, the creatures of Runeterra remained confined and apparently avoided the evil summon pandemic, which allows them to attack as soon as they land on the ground – if that is their turn, of course.
If it's a funny rhythm at first glance, it has the effect of speeding up game turns and avoiding the syndrome "I put down everything I can and I’ll make myself a coffee during the enemy’s turn
We can already thank Riot for remaining particularly sober on the types of spells, three in number. Slow spells that cannot be cast during a combat phase, rapids that can be played at any time, and snapshots that do not end in turn once played and therefore cannot be countered by the enemy.
It is rather at the level of creatures and more precisely of their capacities that the game begins to make you dizzy. If the creatures seem rather classic basic with their points of attack and their points of life (which do not regenerate between the rounds(except special abilities), adding champions changes the game.
Usually straight out of League of Legends, champions are more powerful creatures than others : each of them can level up under certain conditions (see X units die, collect X hit points, etc.) and gain more powerful abilities than usual, often able to return the game. Real time bombs once placed on the ground, champions are very often priority targets not to be overlooked. Take for example Fiora, one of the most powerful champions when she is in good hands. Basically, the wench is a simple 3/3 fighter with the "challenger" ability, allowing her to choose her blocker when she attacks – a luxury otherwise reserved for the opponent blocking. But it is enough that it kills two opposing creatures to not only gain a point of strength and life, but especially a new ability: if it kills four enemies by surviving the clashes, its owner simply wins the game, without any other form of trial.
And that is only one example – admittedly outrageous – of the dangerousness of certain champions, which will have to be known on the fingertips to hope to evolve in the deep waters of the classified games.
My ability will crack
Beyond its champions, Legends of Runeterra perhaps risk drowning the least knowledgeable players under a ton of mechanics and abilities yet very interesting to handle. If we clearly feel that it scratched my head at Riot to find new names for ideas proven since the very first editions of Magic The Assembly in 1993 ("Theft" becomes "Elusive", "Trampling" is now called "Overpower" and "Initiative" will be "Rapid Strike"), some others are a little more new, especially since the addition of a new faction for 1.0.
Among the fifty active or passive abilities (also including those that activate at the start or end of the turn, when a creature attacks or dies, etc.), we find more … exotic. For example, units marked with "formidable" cannot be blocked by enemies with less than 3 strength, where a "scout" will offer its owner a new attack token if he goes up to the front on his own. first time. Other cards will see their power multiplied if their player has reached his maximum mana location ("Illumination") or has fifteen cards or less in his deck ("Depths"); there again, these are certainly powerful abilities, but which print a different tempo by forcing their player to hold and clench their teeth for many laps before they can unleash their full potential.
So yes, that's a lot to digest when you land (not even counting the cards that interact with each other or creatures that boost each other like spiders or Poros) butthe title offers many tutorials, in what we guess to be a moving tribute to the marvelous Duelyst. Here, each important mechanism is the subject of small exercises "in situ", which allow a better understanding of all this bazaar. The most curious can also take a look at all the active and passive skills behind this link (in English only).
The hundreds of cards in the game are divided into seven regions, which must be seen as the colors of Magic: The Assembly – each carrying with it a very precise game philosophy and its share of champions. It is of course possible to mix two regions in the same deck (but two maximum, be careful) after finding the duo of mechanics and concepts that will have seduced you. Some will mix spiders and creatures to be sacrificed from the Dark Islands region with the many suicide bombers available in the Noxus region by sprinkling all the spells that are activated on the death of an ally, where others prefer to mix them up. chaotic and explosive engineers from Piltover & Zaun with the countless freezing powers found in the Freljord region. Of course, it is above all through experiments and gleaned maps that we will find preferred mechanics and decks of choice – it will however be necessary to get used to the deck building interface, as impractical as it is elegant.
By the way, the title does not offer any "colorless" card capable of accompanying any deck and it will therefore be necessary to know the rudiments of each region to better face them – for example, know that only the Ionia region has a card capable of 'Canceling any spell will force more caution before an opponent who has pledged allegiance to it. We note however that most of the decks seem built around some big archetypes imposed by Riot and difficult to avoid for the moment
In terms of game modes, it's mostly very classic. Once zapped the player against player (partly normal or ranked), the player against the computer and the tutorials, only remains the "Shipping" mode. Like the draft of Magic or the arena at Hearthstone, we are going to build a deck there from imposed cards and go to rub with other galley companions, hoping that they were less lucky than us in the draw.
Even here, Riot manages to add tiny details that make a big difference. The most important is surely that the draft is not done card by card, but by thematic blocks of two or three, which allows to keep a certain coherence in the direction that the deck takes over the draws. In addition, just to not frustrate the player who has fought hard to win a token allowing him to embark on an expedition, it is possible to play until suffering two defeats in a row. So, we can quite survive for a while (and multiply our gains) even by losing every other time. And even so, a token offers the right to two attempts, in case the first is really too unfair. Finally, it will sometimes be possible, between two confrontations, to exchange one of the cards in your deck for another, another welcome idea to overcome the frustration of a deck that would turn too laboriously.
Fric and geeks
If there is a side on which Riot does not disappoint, it is this ability to get the gatling with large checks to impress the gallery. And there is no shortage here as the game exudes the cash on each click or almost. Whether it's the overall feeling, extremely pleasant and clean, or the different special animations that certain cards can have, sometimes for little, it is surely one of the most popular card games on the market .
And again, it is without mentioning the small personalized sequences of leveling up for each hero (which can sometimes tire after a few tens of hours on the counter) or the fact that many cards are endowed with speech. A good part of the playable units has several lines of dialogue, fully dubbed in French and often released at very specific times, which completes making Legends of Runeterra a title that sometimes gives the impression of being overproduced for what remains all the same a "simple deck of cards".
We could still spread pages and pages on Legends of Runeterra, give myriads of examples of violent combos, take the opportunity to say that an intelligently played trick can tear off the points of life of the opposing Nexus and return a game even when all seems lost, or even evoke the disappearance of decks of cards at profit from buying individually, or even the cool idea of "The Eye of the Oracle", a small button on the playing field that allows you to see the resolution of all the events in progress in case of a party too loaded. In short, there will surely still be a lot to say in the weeks following its release, a meta-game to watch, balances to come, but right now, Legends of Runeterra is a card game as solid as it is pleasant, which does its utmost to smoothen the games and can quite possibly become an alternative of choice among people tired of the laborious rhythm of Magic: The Gathering Arena or the somewhat stuffy extension carnival that could have become Hearthstone.
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