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Legends of Runeterra: release date, microtransactions, deck types, and everything we know

As the most battle-ready of Riot's flurry of new titles, Legends of Runeterra is set to burst into a scene already crowded with other spell-slinging card games. The cast of League of Legends is the driving force of Runeterra, with champion cards being the focal point of your decks, but Legends of Runeterra is also looking to shake things up with a completely different microtransaction model. Here's everything we know about Legends of Runeterra.

What is Legends of Runeterra's release date? Can I play now?

Shortly after its announcement, Riot hosted a 5-day beta test for Legends of Runeterra that is currently not available. You can pre-register to try to get into one of the upcoming closed beta tests. 

Otherwise, the planned release is 2020. It'll be a few months before you can play the full game.

How does Legends of Runeterra play?

Pretty smoothly, is the short answer. Legends of Runeterra is kind of like a blend between the simplicity of Hearthstone and the deliberate pacing of Artifact.

The largest difference is turn priority. Each time you take an action, your opponent has a chance to respond, which makes rounds feel a bit slower and more deliberate. But many common genre staples (mana which ramps up turn by turn, life totals on each side, drawing a card each turn, allies attacking and blocking, keyword abilities) are still present.

Riot has some new tricks up their sleeve, though. Champion cards are ultra-powerful cards based off of League of Legends' characters that each has its own condition you need to meet to level it up, improving its abilities. Decks strategies are typically built around these Champions. Mana also has a special overflow function, which turns a small, unused amount of mana into "spell mana" on the next turn, essentially letting you bank mana to have more on future turns.

For an in depth look, check out our comprehensive guide to the basics available. You can also watch this video below, which shows an entire match.

What are the different Legends of Runeterra deck types?

The initial set has 318 cards, which is divided up into six different regions. Each region has its own themes and mechanics, and follows a specific set of play styles. 

Demacia is all about units, focused on powerful and versatile footsoldiers.
Ionia is the opposite, focused on spell usage.
Noxus is the all about going fast, trying to run down your health down and play very aggressively.
Freljord tends to be slower and tries to control the board. It has ways to ramp up mana and large finishers.
Piltover and Zaun is a bag full of nasty tricks, with many unique abilities to build around.
Shadow Isles wants to sacrifice its own units, and brings in ghosts and undead that only last for a single round.

Your decks can contain up to two different regions at once.

(Image credit: Riot Games)

What are the Legends of Runeterra microtransactions like?

Unlike most other card games, Legends of Runeterra has a very accessible and friendly microtransaction model that doesn't rely on frustrating gambling or RNG to get the cards you want. Here's some key points:

  • There are no random card packs.
  • You complete quests and level up to unlock cards from the region you've chosen (which you can change anytime you like).
  • Playing games levels up your weekly vault, which gives you a bundle of random cards when opened once per week.
  • You can purchase wild cards with real money, which can be turned into any card you want of that specified rarity, with rarer cards costing more. However, there is a weekly limit on these purchases.
  • There will be cosmetics available for real money.

(Image credit: Riot Games)

What characters are available?

Each Region has four champions, bringing the initial totals to 24.

Demacia has Fiora, Garen, Lucian, and Lux.
Piltover and Zaun
have Jinx, Ezreal, Teemo, and Heimerdinger.
has Yasuo, Shen, Zed, and Karma.
has Darius, Draven, Vladimir, and Katarina.
has Braum, Ashe, Anivia, and Tryndamere.
Shadow Isles
has Thresh, Elise, Hecarim, and Kalista.