'Legends of Runeterra' Developer Explains Why This CCG is Different

On the 10-year anniversary stream for League of Legends on Tuesday, Riot Games announced a slew of content in the works. A fighting game, a tactical shooter, mobile renditions of their flagship title, an anime and more are all expected to roll out over the next decade. Legends of Runeterra is a League-inspired card game, taking the champions and lore of the source game and combining it with a polished CCG experience.

legends of runeterra card game of legends
Legends of Runeterra is the first League of Legends card game Riot Games

"We've always wanted to make other games at Riot, we just had a lot to handle with League at first," Executive Producer Jeff Jew told Newsweek. "A bunch of us here have been playing card games since we were kids, so the idea has been around for a while, and we really felt we could improve on some issues with the genre."

Legends of Runeterra has 40 champions at launch and six different regions (Ionia, Noxus, Demacia, the Shadow Isles, the Frejlord and Piltover/Zaun) with unique allies and spells that players can use to build a formidable deck. Each game consists rounds where players take turns attacking and defending until one Nexus has been destroyed. Originally the developers tinkered with the idea of allowing each player to attack in any round, but that made games drag on or end in stalemates.

"This felt very fresh, in that players had complete freedom in what they could do inside of each turn," Jew said. "However, bringing in turns that alternate gave the game distinct windows of attack and defense, accelerated the game pacing and provided clearer opportunities for players to be aggressive."

Legends of runeterra progression
The proggresion map, letting you earn experience and cards for playing the game Riot Games

When thinking of what core values Riot Games' version of a card game might have, the team thought of what aspects of traditional games annoyed them the most. Opening random packs leads to frustration over not getting the cards you want and forces you to potentially spend hundreds of dollars building the deck of your dreams. Legends of Runeterra allows players to earn specific cards through progression and card crafting, which can be done through grinding in-game currency or spending real money. This is intended to allow players a chance to experiment with different decks while still building up a sizable collection.

Card trading will not be in the game at launch since Jew and the developers are working on establishing the "core experience," but the option isn't "off the table.

Creating a card game based around League of Legends sounds like an odd idea at first blush. Players still remember the debacle that DOTA 2's Artifact endured last year in a market that's overrun with virtual CCGs. Jew thinks Legends of Runeterra will avoid Artifact's fate by listening to the fans in their early stages of development.

Currently, players can sign up on the Legends of Runeterra website for a chance at being allowed to test the game. Though the testing period is only one week long, the developers ensure a certain level of transparency and experimentation will help the game survive.

"That partnership with players is one of League's foundations, and we think building the same relationship around LoR will be invaluable in helping us build the best card game possible," Jew said.