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

Legends of Runeterra
(Image credit: Riot Games)

Legends of Runeterra is a free-to-play card game set in the same universe as LoL that recently launched its open beta. From units and spells, to mighty champion cards, Legends of Runeterra is looking to shake things up with a unique microtransaction model that avoids frustrating booster packs that favor those who spend the most. Instead, players can choose which cards they want to unlock and work towards, building powerful decks instead of just scraping by with whatever they have.

But does Riot's unique take on card games have enough to stand out from the competition, and how will it change over time as the open beta progresses? Here's everything we know about Legends of Runeterra.

Shuffle through more Legends of Runeterra guides

legends of runeterra

(Image credit: Riot Games)

How to play Legends of Runeterra: our full guide
Legends of Runeterra decks: the best around
Legends of Runeterra regions: a breakdown of each faction
Legends of Runeterra coins: card costs and microtransactions detailed
Legends of Runeterra champions: every one in the game
Legends of Runeterra cards: all abilities, effects and keywords
Legends of Runeterra vault: earn rewards weekly

Our Legends of Runeterra Review: 85/100

Yup, it turns out Legends of Runeterra is really good. Its microtransaction model is extremely friendly to all kinds of players which, in turn, puts the emphasis on who can build the best, most creative decks instead of who can buy them. But even though it looks a lot like Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra has some genius twists, like being able to store up to three mana points to use next turn.

Check out our full review here.

What is Legends of Runeterra's release date?

Legends of Runeterra enters open beta on January 24, 2020, but its full release will be sometime later in 2020.

What is the latest update to Legends of Runeterra?

The latest Legends of Runeterra update is 0.9.3, which includes a massive overhaul to how Legends of Runeterra's progression system works. The gist is that Legends of Runeterra is now more generous than ever, removing caps on how many Wildcards you can purchase each week, removing diminishing exp rewards, and increasing the value of rewards earned each week with guarantees to earn Champion cards more regularly.

It's a lot to cover, and Riot has a big break down on the what and why that you can check out here. But here's a list of what's changed.

  • Purchase unlimited Wildcards or buy cards directly from the Collection tab
  • Vault level 2+ includes an Expedition Token for drafting (previously given at level 10)
  • Vault level 5+ now includes a random Champion card
  • Vault level 10+ includes a Champion Wildcard, guaranteeing you a Champion of your choice
  • Vaults now have infinite levels beyond level 13, each adds an additional capsule to your reward containing 3 rares and 2 common cards, with chances to upgrade to higher rarities.
  • PVP Wins, Expeditions, and AI wins no longer reward diminishing levels of experience points
  • Expeditions (drafting) now only cost 2,000 Shards or 200 coins

When can we expect some Legends of Runeterra expansions?

Riot Games is staying pretty tight-lipped about the future of Legends of Runeterra, but during an interview executive producer Jeff Jew did provide some cool details about what they have planned, including new game modes and expansions.

"And we’re also working on multiple sets right now. I can’t go super deep into what those sets are or how many there are, but several of them are nearly done at this point," Jew told us. "We’re balancing them still, we have a little art to do, but they’re real sets. We’re playtesting them. For us it’s focusing on servicing our players as much as possible, building that relationship and having those conversations, and we’re planning a multi-year roadmap right now."

Later in the interview, Jew had this to say about new game modes:

"We are actually in the early development of a few ideas for modes—nothing I can talk about today—but our goal is to make the game feel fresh and let you use your cards in different ways," Jew told us. "The three modes you mentioned will always be the mainstay, but we’re exploring new game modes right now and will hopefully have something to talk about more deeply in the future."

What features will be in the open beta?

From what we can tell, the open beta looks to be a pretty complete version of Legends of Runeterra. It'll launch with a Ranked mode, social features like friends lists and the ability to duel one another, and a fully working economy that includes microtransactions (more on that below). The open beta also introduces dozens of new cards and more champions to build around, with more likely on the way.

As how things will change over time, Riot said, "It’s not a perfect science, but open beta is essentially an experimental period where we’re still tuning the overall game experience. You may see sizable adjustments to cards, systems, and the economy, but we’ll always communicate these as they happen. We still need to complete a few major features before we’ll consider LoR ready to launch—specifically, mobile and new card content."

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?

Read our full breakdown of Legends of Runterra's microtransactions and economy here.

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.
  • 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.