Card Game: Legends of Runeterra’ s Game Design

A few weeks ago, Riot Games, the developer of the PC game masterpiece LOL, announced their new game, The Legends of Runeterra. As one of the heavyweights of the global 10th anniversary celebrations, Riot has created enough media attention for it. For example, the addition of the Twitch plug-in, watching the game live users can have the opportunity to obtain a test code, in just a few days, this card game is almost unknown in the industry.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

With the test over, Riot will show Legends of Runeterra again on November 14th, so what else do we need to know about this new card game? Foreign media deconstructoroffun analyzed the game and several card games, the following is the gameLook compilation details:

It’s one of the longest-rumoured games for Riot , but according to the company, Legends of Runeterra was originally designed for a hand-travel platform, with its debut starting on the PC platform. By early 2020, closed testing will be launched, followed by a formal release in 2020. In the next part of this blog, we will analyze in depth the design and innovation points of the game, and explore the unique ways in which Riot announces a unique way of realizing content, i.e. strictly restricting content consumption, and we are also very concerned about the implementation of this strategy.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design


Riot’s positioning of Legends of Runeterra is a game focused on proficiency, emphasizing the player’s ability to improve in-game technology. Unlike most card games, Runeterra does not have a value-added card pack, and players gain experience by playing games for free, with weekly and daily random card rewards. Special cards are purchased primarily through game coins and paid currency.

However, Runeterra has also adopted an innovative approach that limits the frequency of cards that players can buy, with players only able to buy about half of their cards per week, with a card fee limit of $13-14. Riot believes this will increase the time players spend exploring core games, making the game more fun.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

The willingness to limit the amount of money paid for more revenue is largely due to the company’s belief that it will make Runeterra more fun, and that once the game is more fun, players will stay in the game longer and more likely to spend more on visual spending. However, the company also needs to note that the needs between players are not equal, such as some players want to get all the game content and do not mind paying, and some players like to create and discover, enjoy the challenges of card group strategy.

Runeterra’s game design

Runeterra is a product inspired by its many card games, notably, Magic and Furnace Legends. As long as you have heard of the card game, I believe that the above three names will not be unfamiliar. Players collect cards to create sets of cards and then compete with others. Simply described as a party in an RPG game, rather than letting you customize the various characters in the party. You can decide on a specific role for the party and then choose a card group from hundreds of roles.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

A brief description of Runeterra

In the Runeterra game, the card group can hold a total of 40 cards, and no card can be more than 3. In addition, the number of champion cards in the card group cannot exceed 6, which is a special unit type in the game, which we will discuss in detail later. In this respect, the closest is the Furnace Legend, which can form a group of 30 cards, any card can only have a maximum of two cards. The most rare card in The Legend of furnace stone is the Legend card, which is only allowed to exist in the card group. A Runeterra card group has a maximum of six cards, and any one of the champion cards has a maximum of three cards. We need to note that the Furnace Legend card group can not appear 6 legendary cards, but we see the Runeterra card group, each including 6 champion.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

At the beginning there is only one Nexus with a healthy value of 20, and the health value is exhausted and the Nexus are lost. In general, the reason Nexus health is depleted is because the player can’t stop the enemy character from attacking.

The main resource in the game is magic, you can get a little magic per turn, the maximum accumulation of 10 points, after each turn, magic will recover. Using cards consumes magic, and some cards are skill cards that, once used, have an immediate impact, but then they disappear. The others are character cards, which disappear only after they are defeated once they are at the table. Runeterra’s main gameisis is the instant interaction between the character and the skill card.

Players use characters and skill cards in each turn, attacking in a way that is closer to Magic than to The Furnace Legend. In this game, you can’t directly attack the player’s character, but directly attack the opponent, but they can use other cards as a defense. Unobstructed characters can destroy an opponent’s Nexus, which usually means that when Nexus is destroyed, the health value drops from 20 to 0, it means the game fails.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Unlike Magic, the damage to the character is sustained, so from this point of view, Runeterra is leaning towards The Legend of Furnace Stone. Because the characters can’t be treated, they are usually eliminated after several rounds of fighting, which makes the game play faster.

Champion Card

One of Runeterra’s biggest innovations is the addition of special types of character champion. These Champion cards are special characters that can be upgraded in-game and become more powerful after the upgrade. All the characters are from the Hero League game.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Each champion has its own small tasks: consume 6 tricks per round, aim at 8 enemies, and so on. Once the player has completed the champion task, it will be upgraded to a more powerful version, such as higher attribute values, cooler skills, and so on. Each champion also presents the full animation when upgrading. If you upgrade a champion and it dies, the player’s subsequent call to the champion will also be the upgraded version.

When a player has a champion card in the game and gets the second card of the same, the second card translates into a special skill with unique effects. These copied skills will also re-wash a champion card in the player card group. Therefore, it is always possible to have two titles in the same card group, but players can also use the third chapter champion card in a particular game.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Skill Magic

Another of Runeterra’s big innovations is skill magic. Similar to The Legend of furnace stone, players get a little magic per turn, accumulating up to 10 points. In the game, players can acquire skill magic when they don’t run out of regular magic. Without consumption, skill magic is always present and can only be used to release skills, with a player having up to three skill tricks.

So, if you have 4 magic points before starting a turn and using two points, you can reply to 2 magic at the end of the round. In the next round, you’ll have 5 regular magic and 2 skill tricks. If conditions permit, you can use 7 magic skills.

Runeterra’s Category Innovation

In Riot introductory video, director of planning Andrew Yip and executive producer Jeff Jew talk about what the company believes is a common problem with many card games: card collection is too expensive, in-game randomness is too high, gameplay is too easy to stall, and the frequency of balanced updates is too low.

When it comes to the way Runeterra is cashed out, we’ll focus on card collection, but other aspects are also worth discussing, because they have an impact on Runeterra as a whole, such as reducing randomness in the game and actually improving the rewards of skill in the game. This will attract players who are not interested in buying cards.

Randomness in card games

In “The Legend of Furnace stone”, especially in professional or electric competition scenes, people often complain that the random effect is too powerful, and sometimes can let less technically good players beat the more skilled players. “The Legend of furnace stone” is actually intentional, because one of the design concept of the game is to give the player “surprise and joy.” As a more competitive card game, It’s also natural for Runeterra to choose to value skills, and many players want to show their skills in the game.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Random Skills Card in Furnace Stone Legend

In fact, frankly, in a card game, a card group can reduce the randomness is also limited, the first step in the game is shuffling. But Runeterra’s design is more skillful than Magic or Furnace Legend, and you have more decision-making options at each turn, which quickly add up to the obvious effect.

Runeterra’s turn order helps players see the importance and complexity of a number of small decisions in the game: the end of the previous round; skill magic settlement; magic refresh; one card per player; Player A marked as an attacker; A player chooses to attack or use a card, if skill is used, Player B may also use a card, if the card is still used before the attack, B player may continue to use the card card; If Player A chooses to attack, then Player B can select the block, then the A player receives feedback and the B player moves again until one of the players stops the action.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Runeterra’s Turn Order Dismantling

After the battle, players A and B may both use cards until the action of both players is over and the round ends.

It’s challenging to control Runeterra’s turn with precision. If you’re familiar with The Quint, you’ll find that the round structure is very similar. Basically, players can attack at any time they like, but whenever Player A gets a card, his opponent B gets a card. The character card can be attacked directly, but because B players have the opportunity to choose a block, the first hand sometimes does not always bring an advantage.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Execution in the game can become more complex, and sometimes it’s the right decision to launch an immediate attack so that your opponent doesn’t have a chance to use a new grid, and sometimes you might want to create an ideal card set before attacking. In general, the player’s decision to use the character and the decision-making order to accumulate magic skills has a huge impact on the final win or loss.

The goal of your turn-based battle with me is to make the game more social, but the timing of the turn is bound to make some decisions more important, while others are less important. This diverts Runeterra’s focus from the champion card and reduces the focus on maximizing the deck. However, this design achieves Runeterra’s goal of reducing in-game diversity, ensuring that powerful players can always beat less technically weak players.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Progress stagnation and balanced patches

Yip and Jew also talked about the stagnation of the game, which has been seen in many card games. This is a good question for Riot : Both Furnace Legendand and Magic are addressed through more frequent content updates. A month after the new card is released, players can usually find all the strong cards, and the core play will stall because the players have nothing new to discover.

Runeterra solves this problem in a number of ways: first, they severely limit the frequency of cards players can get, including limiting player spending; It is useful to ensure that every card the player gets. For card acquisition restrictions, we will elaborate in the cashing section, but here we can start by saying two other ways.

Create metagames (anything related to the game that happens outside the fictional environment of the specified game)

Frequent balancing patches are double-edged swords, especially when considering the speed of the player getting the card set. Obviously, Runeterra is a digital game, if the Riot company to change cards too much, such as the weakening of cards too much, will bring a lot of derivative problems.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

When you create an environment for a card game, you find that the A-card group is more powerful than you think, so you have to weaken it, but the game environment tends to change in unpredictable ways. A card group may be the strongest card, which dwarfs the other card groups, but if you just weaken the A-card group, it’s easy to make the other card groups too powerful, which you probably didn’t anticipate when you were creating the game environment. So it’s likely that when A is weakened, the B-card group becomes too strong again, and it also needs to be weakened, triggering a chain reaction.

Creating an environment where many cards look powerful seems to be the solution given by Riot , which can be split and become a weaker combination, which in fact reduces the urgency of the player collecting cards.

This problem is not inevitable, after all, the Riot company can be solved by frequent balancing patches. However, the pressure on Runeterra’s planning is enormous, and they have to create content in a predictable way and maximize the fun of the game. In addition, once all the cards have been collected, it is challenging to choose which card set to use, and the ever-changing meta-games also present difficulties. If Catalina is called the strongest card in a week, the player has taken a while to get the card, but it has not been used, Catalina is then weakened, even if the consumption is returned to the player, it is frustrating, because the player lost the opportunity to try to build a card group before being weakened.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Who can this play attract?

The most accurate thing to know about player motivation is Quantic Foundry, who surveyed hundreds of thousands of players to understand why users play the game. Simply put, there are three main types of motivation for players:

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Action social, driven by excitement and competition, is a part of the game that likes the Royal War or The League of Heroes;

Achievement control, driven by strategy and progress, this part of the players like AFK Arena, Magic and Furnace Legends, and is the most likely user base to like Runeterra games;

Creative immersive, driven by exploration, story and fantasy, this part of the game likes Games like Marvel Warm and Minecraft.

In general, card group play in card games is more attractive to achievement control players. They like to analyze metagames and create new strategies. There are also some creative players who only like to create new card groups to show their creativity, while others use their favorite characters to create card groups. Riot wants a large number of players who like a character in The League of Heroes to explore card group designs in Runeterra.

However, since Runeterra’s play is particularly focused on maximizing the impact of small decisions, it is actually not attractive enough for exploratory players. If in-game decision-making plays a less role, the role of card group building will be greater, which is more common in many RPG hand tours, usually win or lose is entirely dependent on the player’s team formation, rather than the player’s ability to use the role in order.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Runeterra’s play appeal to the most dominant crowd is the achievement of control players, for this group of players, the Riot company by limiting the frequency of players to obtain cards to create a challenge for the card group, control players do not want their strategic choices to be too restrictive.

They want all the tools to be available, and because card group lists can be easily copied in card games, controlling players don’t invest much in card-group-building techniques. They can always find the best card group recommendations from the network, and if they build a strong enough card group of their own, others will copy it, so they don’t think it’s worth putting too much effort into it.

Quantic Foundry charts different game motives:

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

You can see three dense groupings, with creative-driven players at the bottom of the left, achievement players at the top of the right, and action social players at the bottom of the right, and it’s clear that the three types of players are very different. Quantic Foundry also suggests that developers bring together different types of players by increasing exposure, but Runeterra doesn’t use exploratory play to maximize the consumption of Hero League IPs, but just uses it as an exposure, so that players explore the game deeper. They can get more out of the community and the competition, and the community is the lifeblood of the hand-swimming.

companies should choose a main target group, whether it is the control of the game’s subtle choices or the emphasis on card group construction exploration, can choose one to optimize the meta game.

Game Realization Design

We mentioned shortly after the opening that Riot believes that most card game charging systems are too expensive, and that meta-games for other card games are quickly stalled. They believe that two factors combine, such as allowing players to quickly pay for the cards they want, so they can quickly know which card groups are the strongest. Once the strongest strategy is determined, the player will stop trying the new card group and the meta game will immediately stall.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

As a result, Riot believes that If players can’t pay for an unlimited number of cards, Then Runeterra may have more fun. The game uses free mode to produce new cards, the game can be experienced, these experiences can be used in a certain area of the game, regional rewards are more like free Battle Pass, you can get free of charge the region’s power cards. The cleverthing thing to do is that cards become cheap content rewards, and there are limits to getting cards in all six regions, which limits content consumption to a controlled level. However, this is not an ordinary Battle Pass, and regional rewards do not occur on a quarterly basis and are not available for a fee.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Players receive a mission every day and can also be rewarded with experience. Vaults can also be turned on each week, and based on the experience of the player of the week, we can’t give an exact reward number here, but the Riot company is clearly hoping to make players feel that their efforts to collect their cards are meaningful, even if they don’t pay for them.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Single card acquisition

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

There are two currencies in the Runeterra game that can get cards, The Shard and the Magnum Card. Fragments are similar to the ostfee dust in The Legend of furnace stone, each card has a different amount of debris consumption, players can use fragments to synthesize a specific card, the rarer card needs more fragments. But unlike the Furnace Legend, the card cannot be reversed into pieces. If you drive to the fourth card, get 25 (normal) or 75 (rare) fragments directly. If you drive to the third champion or epic card, you can randomly get a card of the same grade that you don’t have. If you put together all the epic cards, the fourth card will be returned in the form of 300 fragments, and the champion card will get 1000 fragments.

The Magnum card and the Magnum card in Magic: Arena act like each other, they also have a difference in rarity, and can replace all cards under the same rarity.

Players can get some fragments and universal cards through the game, but you can get a universal card by paying for it. However, the in-game store offers only three epic universal cards and three champion universal cards per week, plus six rare and six regular universal cards. Technically, players can pay for gold coins, which are used to buy universal cards, so players can buy $100 worth of gold coins a week, but only $13 can be bought directly.

The rate of paid-for gold coins increases the player’s spending, and of course, buying so many coins at once may not be unreasonable, but for some players it’s no different. Players who spend $20 a week can spend about $14, and the utilization rate is higher.

Riot Game S

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Riot companies can cross-promote millions of players through Runeterra, and as long as they don’t stop paying in The League of Heroes, if some of them invest $13 a week in the card game, it means a considerable amount of revenue. However, maximizing player spending is still a key factor in generating high incomes for hand tours, as players have their own knowledge of the value of consumption. If users could be allowed to spend more money, Riot could be able to earn more, but it’s clear that Runeterra won’t be learning to draw a bag like other card games.

In terms of cross-promotion, Riot also recently launched The Gentall Play, a more accomplished game on the Hero League client, and its cross-promotion with Runeterra may have a greater meaning.

Customised props

Riot also plans to sell skin in Runeterra, where each player gets a free skin placed in the corner of the desktop, but the company has announced that it will sell desktops from different backgrounds in the future, including more card-pack skins, pets and more. Most card games offer similar custom props, including animated cards. But as far as we know, no card game can get most of the income from skin alone.

It is also important to note that The League of Heroes itself is one of the few games that generates major revenue through skin and game content props. Most games sell skin and props, but generally speaking, most of the game’s revenue comes from one aspect, such as “Fortress Night” and most of the revenue from the “Royal War” comes from content. Few games can earn hundreds of millions of dollars by walking on two legs.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Perhaps the Riot company thinks they can let players buy skin while buying props, as they did in The League of Heroes. But we found that the custom props of The League of Heroes are unique to every hero, and players can’t use one skin on all heroes. In Runeterra, a skin can be used on all desktops, pets, or card bags.


Apparently, Runeterra was inspired by several top-of-the-line card games and is considered the biggest contender for The Furnace Legend. In many ways, the game is the opposite of the Furnace Legend, such as removing expensive lottery bags, reducing the randomness of play, and providing more frequent content updates to keep the vitality of the meta game, all the problems are actually “Firestone Legend” community is very concerned.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

But while Runeterra has solved many of its predecessors’ problems, it is also likely to make a big mistake for itself:

Question 1: Target user mismatch

While the changes the Riot company has made are theoretically reasonable, the research and development team should always pay attention to the mismatch of the target user, such as the desire of the controlling player to pay for all the game content, while the creative and exploratory players like the challenge of the Riot game in Runeterra to build the card group.

Runeterra’s main attraction is the achievement of control players, for whom the card-set challenge given by Riot limits the speed at which players can get cards, which can be frustrating. Controlled players don’t want their policy choices to be hard-restricted.

Therefore, Riot should have a clearer user base choice, either to control the player to increase in-game micro-trading, or to explore the player to put more emphasis on card group creation and metagame optimization. On the other hand, you might say that Runeterra can bring a growing number of players to the Hero League, even allowing players who don’t like to play MOBA to enter the Hero League’s big IP ecosystem.

Question 2: Tightly controlled cash-out methods

As mentioned earlier, Riot believes that most card games are too “golden”, and that this reason led to the game’s early progress into a bottleneck, so strict lying card consumption is rare in the industry, if you do not buy skin, then the maximum weekly consumption is only $13, if not more players to spend, Then Runeterra is likely to face revenue pressures.

Declaring war on furnace stone? Deep Resolution Hero League Card Legends of Runeterra Game Design

Supercell’s gaming revenue curve

But if you focus on a few big R, it’s hard to avoid falling revenues, such as Supercell’s Wilderness and Royal War, as well as a lot of free games, which are expected to see a gradual decline in revenue. So, as to how the Riot company’s decision is, we can’t guess.

company positioning itself is player-centric gaming company, reducing the average player’s consumption, obviously for the sake of the player, but as to whether this strategy will work as effective as “Hero League”, only time can give an answer.

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