Legends of Runeterra is complex and requires plenty of strategy for success. If you’re just getting started, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks for you to keep in mind while playing Riot’s card game.
General Beginner Tips
Play through all the challenges
Legends of Runeterra currently has 20 single player challenges for players to complete, and these are basically like tutorials on many of the different aspects of the gameplay. You’ll net some XP from completing them, but most importantly, you’ll walk away with a better core understanding of the game’s mechanics and keywords.
Reroll Daily Quests when you need to
Daily Quests are a fantastic source of XP, which in turn helps you unlock cards, shards and Wildcards and grow your collection. If you have a quest to, say, play a deck using specific Champions that you don’t own, well, you can just reroll it to find a quest you can actually complete.
Learn how all the regions play
It’s one thing to find a deck you like and get good at it, it’s another to then be able to identify what you’re facing off against and know how to play around their responses and beat them. Collectible card games require a big time investment to master (and to build a decent card collection), but even playing budget decks across all the regions and different styles – aggro, combo and control – can teach you a lot about how other regions and combinations of regions play. Legends of Runeterra has seven regions right now, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with all of them.
Have deck lists to hand
Following on from the point above, if you have a two screen set-up, a quick way to start working out what your opponent might be playing and to then familiarize yourself with it, is to have a current meta tier list open on your second screen. (The “meta” by the way, refers in part to the decks that shape the game at scale – the strongest decks and the decks that try to counter those, as well as just decks that are currently popular.) As soon as you know your opponent’s regions and Champions you can scan the list and try to find a match. Even if it’s just close, you’ll start to see the cards that shape the abilities of each region.
Learn your limits and when attack order matters
Legends of Runeterra has a max hand size of ten cards, and a max number of units in your back row (which is to where units are played) of six. So if you have six units in your back row, including an Eye of the Dragon (“Round Start: Summon a Dragonling if you cast 2+ spells last round.”), and play two spells during the round, there won’t be room to summon the Dragonling at the start of the next round. The same restriction applies to attacking, so if you have a full back row and choose to attack with all those units, any attack triggers that summon units (such as Zed’s ability “Attack: Summon an attacking Living Shadow with my stats.”) won’t be able to place them anywhere so the summoned unit(s) will be obliterated.
Another thing to bear in mind is that, while it’s obvious that units attack from left to right, ability triggers also activate from left to right. So if you have five units, including a Hecarim and a Zed – both of which summon units when attacking – the one that’s leftmost will trigger its summon first and take up the sixth slot, while all other summons are obliterated. In this case, positioning matters. Oh, and while six units is the maximum, you can still play additional units to your back row if you choose to, you’ll just have to replace one of the existing units.
Most keywords don’t do anything on defense
This is pretty logical, but a lot of abilities only apply to attacking. You can only “Support” a unit when attacking, for instance, and the same is true for “Quick Attack,” in which a unit strikes before its blocker. Of course, some keywords are more like an effect or an aura. Barrier works just as well blocking as attacking, as does Lifesteal and Tough, while if you have 15 cards or less in your deck, your Deep units will be buffed either way. Units with Regeneration, also, will regenerate at the end of each round, regardless of who was on attack and who was on defense.
All copies of a Champion level up
You can have three copies of a Champion in your 40 card deck, but you can only play one to the board at a time. That’s because that Champion is a unique entity, so once it’s in play, a second copy in hand will be transformed into a spell instead. That spell will then turn back into the Champion card if the Champion in play dies. Anyway, the point is that when you level up a Champion, any future copies of that Champion you play will also be leveled up. Because, y’know, it’s the same guy.
You can level up Champions mid-attack
This won’t always be relevant, but is good to know nonetheless. A classic example of this mattering is Darius, who levels up when the enemy Nexus is at ten health or below. If you have several units you can position them ahead of him in the attack order (units attacks from left to right), getting the Nexus below ten before Darius attacks, causing him to level up and do extra damage when he does attack. Attack order is something to consider in many situations.
There’s a lot of flexibility in when to attack
Legends of Runeterra’s back and forth gameplay is super flexible when it comes to deciding when to take certain actions and trying to outplay your opponent. If you have the attack token, for instance, deciding when to attack is entirely up to your judgement.
You may choose to open a round by attacking. This can be a great option when you have units on board that will trade favourably with your opponent’s (i.e. your units will survive and their’s won’t) or your opponent has no units. It puts them on the back foot as they can only respond by blocking and playing Burst or Fast spells. They can’t play a unit and they can’t play a Slow spell. If you choose to play a unit instead of attacking, they may clear your board with a Slow spell or simply play a unit that ruins your attack plan.
On the other hand, you might want to clear their units first or put down a powerful unit, then look for a better time to attack later in the round. It takes a while to learn what the best option is likely to be, but once you start getting a feel for playing against a particular deck, you can start a round by asking yourself – what is my opponent likely to try and do, and how would that impact my ability to attack?
Think about utilizing spell mana
In a game like Hearthstone, if you pass on turns one and two, you float (i.e. don’t spend) one mana on turn one and two mana on turn two. That can instantly put you way behind, as that mana is lost forever. Instead, a lot of decks in Hearthstone want to play minions on curve (and use up all their mana each turn) as it can be one of the best ways to get an edge.
There are decks in Legends of Runeterra that want to do this too, such as Burn Aggro, but floating mana isn’t such a big deal because up to three mana gems can carry over from one round to the next as “spell mana”. This means, in the example above, in which you pass on turns one and two, by turn three you’ll have three mana to spend on units and three mana to spend on spells to respond to what your opponent’s doing or buff your unit. Alternatively, you can play a high mana cost spell than you would have been able to otherwise. Brood Awakening or Remembrance on turn three? Not bad.
Spell mana is one of the most crucial things to start thinking about, as it can allow your expensive board clears to come online a lot earlier than they would with just mana gems. It also means that players can do a lot in a single turn, making navigating rounds later on very tricky.
Dead units still prevent damage
If you’re blocking an opponent’s attack, it doesn’t matter whether your blocking unit is alive or dead, as once it’s positioned to block, it’s locked in. This means that you can do things like position a 1/1 to block an enemy unit’s attack, then kill it with Glimpse Beyond to draw two cards. Or you can position a unit to block then cast a spell to Recall it, getting it back in hand but still blocking the damage. (Unless the attacking unit has Overwhelm.) Use mechanics like these to your advantage when you can.
Find streamers or YouTubers that can help you learn
There’s a ton of strategic depth in Legends of Runeterra, and while you can improve quickly simply by logging hours, you can also learn a lot by watching top level players. After all, if someone is streaming a single game for eight hours each day, they probably have some pretty impressive insights that you can take on board. So hop on Twitch or YouTube and see who’s out there. For learning purposes you want someone who will explain the thinking behind each move or set-up, so you can understand the logic and attempt to integrate key elements in your own play.
Legends of Runeterra’s interface is brimming with useful information. Most of it is pretty obvious, but it’s important to use it all, so here are a few key tips:
Get insight into your opponent’s deck
You can click on your opponent’s stack of cards to see which regions they’re using, as well as which Champions they have in their deck. This can help you make an educated guess about what archetype they could be playing, which will then inform the cards you keep and the cards you toss in the mulligan. If your opponent is playing Noxus and Piltover & Zaun, and has NO Champions, for instance, chances are they’re playing Burn Aggro, so you can steel yourself for an onslaught of small minions and Nexus damage.
This pop-up display also shows how many cards your opponent has left in their deck, so if they’re playing cards with the “Deep” keyword (which get +3/+3 when they have 15 cards or less left in their deck) you’ll be able to keep tabs on how close they’re getting to boosting their units. You can also check on the level up progress of both players’ Champions using this pop-up.
Get full information about the cards in play
If your opponent plays a Champion, but you’re a bit hazy about what happens when it levels up, you can simply right click on it to bring up an overlay showing the base card, the leveled up card, the spell associated with the Champion and any other cards it can generate. This is an incredible option for ensuring you have full information. The cards don’t necessarily have to be in play, either. Obviously you can bring up the overlay for anything in your hand, but you can also do it for the Champions in their deck by clicking on their stack of cards then right clicking the Champion you want to examine. It’s a good idea to do this at the start of a match if you’re facing a deck that has Champions you don’t see very often.
Use Oracle’s Eye before committing to an action
See that blue eye in between your Nexus and your opponent’s? That’s called Oracle’s Eye, and any time you or your opponent is taking an action, you can hover over it to see what the outcome will be, assuming nothing changes. (Which it usually does, but hey, that’s for you to try and anticipate.) Oracle’s Eye lets you quickly check that you really do have lethal damage, or that you really are going to take out that key enemy Champion.
While it’s best to do the math yourself, the fact is that you’ll often wind up in situations where you’ve set a spell, then your opponent has countered it, so you’ve layered on another one, and so on, meaning that Oracle’s Eye is a good safety net before you commit to an action. Oracle’s Eye also takes things into account that you may overlook. Darius may level up mid-way through your attack sequence, for instance, doing additional damage even if he’s being blocked, thanks to his Overwhelm keyword.
Consider using a deck tracker
If you play on PC, you have the option to use a deck tracker, which is an overlay that updates as a match progresses, showing you which cards you have left in your deck and which cards your opponent has played. This can be particularly useful when learning a deck, as you can glance down your whole decklist to see the answers you could potentially draw to counter your opponent’s strategy. A deck tracker also automatically tracks your wins and losses, letting you get a sense for how the decks you’re playing are performing.
- Mobalytics has a good deck tracker if you’re interested.
Key Terminology Tips
Legends of Runeterra has a LOT of keywords and terminology to learn. Some are very straightforward, while others may not be quite so obvious. We’re not going to go through them all here, because any time you focus in on a card you can mouse over keywords to bring up an explanation, so all the information is there when you need it, but that said it’s worth explicitly pointing out a couple of things just so you know them going in:
“Slow” versus “Fast” versus “Burst” spells
Legends of Runeterra has three different speeds of spells. Slow spells are the most limited as they can’t be used to respond to your opponent’s actions. If your opponent decides to attack, for instance, you can’t cast a Slow spell to defend against it, nor can you cast a Slow spell if your opponent has targeted a unit with a spell of their own. Casting a Slow spell takes up a turn, so you can’t layer it onto anything else.
Fast spells, on other hand, can be done at the same time as other actions. You can choose to attack and queue up one or more Fast spells at the same time. Your opponent, however, has a chance to respond before your spell actually casts. As soon as you lock your actions in, initiative is passed back to them and they can choose what to do. Maybe they’ll try to cast Deny, which would stop your spell from casting at all, or maybe they’ll buff a unit out of mortal danger. Fast spells are really fun as they can see you and your opponent going back and forth, queueing up several spells before you both finally pass and they resolve.
Burst spells are the fastest of all the spells and your opponent can’t stop them. As soon as you play a Burst spell it casts, allowing you to do things like draw cards before deciding what to do during your turn, or fire off a Warning Shot to guarantee the Plunder keyword triggers. You can then play a unit or set up another spell. Burst spells, in other words, can only be countered after the fact. Perhaps your opponent plays Stand Alone to buff a unit. You may not be able to stop the buff, but you can still play a spell to kill the unit once initiative is passed back to you.
While Burst spells resolve instantly and don’t give your opponent a chance to respond when you cast them, they’re still an action, and thus if you only play a Burst spell and then hit OK, you’ll still pass initiative back to your opponent. You can use this to your advantage if you want to try and force your opponent to take the first major move of the round. You might play a low cost Burst spell like Health Potion or Jury Rig that still leaves you with mana in reserve and see what they do before deciding what line to take.
“Give” versus “grant”
If you “give” a unit +3/+0 it’s only for the current round, whereas if you “grant” them that buff it lasts for the entire match. This difference doesn’t always amount to much, but is an important distinction nonetheless. Granting units stats means they can accrue value over time, whereas if you waste a spell that “gives” a unit something, well, it’s entirely gone. A common Burst spell like Twin Disciplines, for instance, functions as a single use response to ensure a unit survives, can trade up or can push extra damage. If you grant a Solitary Monk +3/+3 using Stand Alone, on the other hand, you’re expecting it to stick around and for that spell to get value across multiple rounds. Bear in mind, however, that if the Solitary Monk is recalled, it reverts back to its base form.
All that said, you can “give” a unit with Scout a buff at the start of your round and then use that ability to attack with said buff twice.