This is really long.
Thanks to SonzeySpace for his help.
TLDR: Runeterra has some similarities and many differences from Hearthstone that truly makes this game unique but just as fun. This is meant to be a helpful guide to new players coming from hearthstone but has plenty of info to new players in general. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Have a wonderful day guys and gals.
Hello, my name is Carter Gen. I am with Team Legacy Gaming. I played Hearthstone for 3 years and played in the College Collegiate seasonal tournaments during my time in college. I have been playing Runeterra since beta and I have loved every minute of it. I have been a masters player every season. While Runeterra is still a young game (~ 1 year old), it has exceeded my expectations and can’t wait to watch this game evolve.
I want to preface this guide with this, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for hearthstone. Hearthstone was the main reason I fell in love with TCGs/CCGs, and I will never regret the money that I have spent on it. At the time, Hearthstone was worth every penny. I loved Hearthstone and played it for years, but eventually I decided to make the switch to Runeterra. I love League of Legends and have been waiting for Riot to make a card game. With that being said, I have noticed a lot of frustration in that community and decided to write a basic article to help those coming from Hearthstone to Runeterra. This isn’t meant to convince people to join Runeterra but more as a way for new players to learn the differences between the 2 games. This article will also explain how to navigate Runeterra because when I started playing Runeterra I wanted to know the similarities and differences. Have a great time playing Runeterra and hope to see you on ladder.
Classes vs Regions
In Hearthstone, there are 10 different classes you can be. If you pick a class, you can only play cards from that class and from the neutral cards that can be played in any deck. This makes it so most classes have a general theme to them. Priest is healing and stally, hunter is aggro, warrior is big weapons and armor, etc. I loved this concept at first but I think the way that Runeterra handles its “class” system is just exceptional.
Instead of Classes, Runeterra has Regions. These regions follow around the same idea. They all have a general theme to them.
Regions (w/ General themes Hearthstone):
Bilgewater: Do cool things when you deal damage to enemy nexus and ability to gain spell power effect (Mage/Shaman)
Demacia: Well stated units (Paladin)
Ionia: Jack of all trades, with a variety of removal and denying opponents the ability to play the game (Rogue)
Piltover: Deal damage and control (Mage/Shaman)
Shadow Isles: Kill units, heal, a very controlly region (Shaman/Priest/Warlock)
Targon: Invoke theme with dragons and celestials (cards that you have to discover) (Priest) `
Freljord: Slow, keep people alive and freeze enemies (Druid/Priest)
Noxus: Aggro (Hunter/Warrior)
Types of Cards
In hearthstone, you find the following types of cards
- Hero Cards
Minions can be broken up into
In Runeterra, you will find the following types of cards
- Spells (Slow, Burst, Fast Speed)
Followers can be broken up into
Runeterra has minions referred to as followers and legendaries referred to as champions. There are no weapons or a ‘hero’ equivalent currently in the game.
Legendaries vs Champion Cards
Now for the fun part, legendaries, everyone has a legendary card they loved to slam down in Hearthstone. Hearthstone decks varied in legendary count. Some control decks were stacked with legendary cards due to the natural tendencies for control to want powerful effects to manipulate the game. Opposite to those control decks were aggro decks that ran very few legendaries. In Runeterra you are only allowed to play a max of 6 champions which is very different. .
Runeterra and Hearthstone both follow similar models with Common, Rare, and Epic Cards. The card crafting systems share some similarities in both Hearthstone and Runeterra but Runeterra has another way other than crafting using ‘dust’, I will get to that later.
Landmarks have ways to give infinite value or control the board. They are not considered units but take up a slot the same way units in Hearthstone would be ‘Dormant’. Landmarks have unique effects that are great to build decks around. Some can win you the game while others give you value every turn.
Total number of cards you can play in a deck
In Hearthstone, you are only allowed to play 1 of each legendary in your deck and 2 copies of a minion in your deck. In Runeterra, you are allowed 3 copies of every card with a max amount of 40 cards in your deck compared to Hearthstones 30 card deck maximum. As I said before, you are only allowed 6 champions in your deck. That could be 6 unique champs or 3 copies of 2 champs. Sometimes you might find decks that play 0 champions but that is generally pretty rare.
Different Types of Spells
There are 3 types of spells in Runeterra.
- Slow Spells
- Fast Spells
- Burst Speed spells
Let’s start with Burst speed. Burst speed spells will resolve it’s effect immediately without your opponents having the opportunity to respond. In Runeterra terms, all of Hearthstone’s spells are burst speed. You pay the mana cost and the effect resolves.
Now before I explain the other two spells. I need to pause to explain how combat works.
In Runeterra, players don’t get a full turn to use all their mana. At the start of the round. Players have their mana refilled and someone is given the attack token. The player who has the attack token gets the first move. They can either play a minion from their hand or a spell. If the first player plays a minion. Then it is now the other person’s turn to either play a minion or a spell. This continues until both players decide to ‘pass’ their turn. The attack token then switches to the other person and mana is refilled and each player gains an extra mana (capped at 10 mana).
I will go further in mana and the attack token later.
Slow and Fast Spells (Chains)
Now back to the other 2 types of spells. Slow and Fast speed spells start ‘chains’ where no one can play a minion until the chain resolves. You can only play fast speed spells on the chain or you can activate a burst speed spell (resolves instantly and does not sit on the chain). The chain continues to build until one person decides not to respond and then the chain resolves backwards. You can not cast a slow spell in a chain. Slow spells can only start chains. Fast spells can be used to start a chain or be used during combat. We will discuss more about combat later. Spells can be very powerful based on when and how you use them. They will cost more than what you would expect in Hearthstone. For example, Mage has a spell (Frostbolt) which is 2 mana deal 3 (Minion or Hero) and Freeze. In Runeterra, for 2 mana, you will get a fast speed spell that does 2 damage with no additional effect. The reason this is the case is because of spell mana.
Spell mana is a big difference between the two games. Any unspent mana at the end of the turn will turn into spell mana (you are maxed out at 3 spell mana that can be carried over). If you pass the first turn. You will have 2 mana plus 1 spell mana. Spell mana can only be used on spells while the other mana can be used on minion and spells. This allows more flexibility with spells since you can wait to cast them and just save mana for the next turn. That is why there are spells that cost 12 mana in this game. 10 mana + 2 Spell Mana will allow you to cast 12 mana spells.
Combat Part 2 (Attacking and Blocking)
Now back to combat.
In Hearthstone, you have summoning sickness which means the turn you play a minion, they can’t attack until your next turn. In Runeterra combat is different. As long as you have the attack token, you can attack once a round (unless a card effect says otherwise). The player with the attack has the option of attacking with any follower or champion they have on the board. If you put someone into combat, you can not take them out and that follower will only come back if they survive combat.
Now you don’t only use your minions to attack, you also use them to block. If you aren’t the player with the attack token, you have the ability to ‘block’ your opponent’s attack by putting followers and champions in the way to prevent damage to your nexus. At the end of combat, the blockers and attackers will attack each other at the same time and deal damage to the others health based on their attack. This is similar to Hearthstone. Remember I said earlier, you can use burst speed and fast speeds spells in combat. If you don’t like how you are blocking, you can use a spell to help strengthen your side of the board or hurt your opponents and the same for the attacking player. You each can play spells until one of the players decides they don’t want to further respond to the attack or blocking of the other then combat resolves.
For additional info check out this intro video by Phreak that was released early into the games release. Very simple explanation of combat:
How to obtain and make cards
Now to my favorite part. How are you able to obtain cards in Runeterra? In Hearthstone you can buy packs and hope to get the cards that you need. If you don’t, you are required to turn your cards into ‘dust’ in order to create the cards that you need for the deck of your choosing. From my experience, it was impossible in order to get a full collection based on the system Blizzard implemented. Every expansion, I would end up dusting my old meta deck in order to create one of the new meta decks. This ends up causing the player to have a ton of cards for different classes and rarely will you be able to have a meta deck from every class. Runeterra does not have the ability to disenchant cards in order to obtain a currency to craft new cards.
You must be wondering how you are able to collect cards then. There are a ton of ways to get cards and plenty of ways to stay F2P and get the entire collection of cards.
The first way you can get cards is by purchasing them. In Runeterra, you don’t purchase packs with real money to obtain cards. You purchase wild cards. There is a wild card for every type. (Common, Rare, Epic, Champion).
In Hearthstone, the odds you get a legendary is 1 in every 20 packs. Pre-expansion bundles cost around 50 dollars for 60 packs. You are unlikely to get the legendary that you want from those packs and will likely have to disenchant cards to get the legendary that you need to build that meta deck you want to play. In runeterra, you can purchase Champion wildcards for 300 gold. You purchase 1000 gold for 10 dollars. With that in mind, you can create a full deck for about 30 dollars if you end up starting fresh and not wanting to wait to get free cards. I bought wild cards for one deck and I haven’t spent any money on cards since the first week I bought the game.
The first FREE way to get cards is the weekly vault. Every Thursday, your vault unlocks free cards and wild cards based on how much you played the previous week. If you do all the quests, you will unlock a level 10 vault. Vaults act as pack openings except you don’t have to purchase these packs. With a level 10 vault, you are guaranteed to get 24 Common Cards, 6 rare cards, and 1 champion wild card. All these cards have a chance to be randomly upgraded into wild cards. The odds to have a card upgraded to a wild card are around 10% per card. This is super satisfying since you will be able to open a bunch of cards as a reward for playing the game. You can complete quests in ranked, normals, friendly challenges, or even the AI option which is an excellent way to learn how to play the game if you don’t want to jump in against experienced players.
The next free option to get cards is through region rewards. Region reward paths allow you to earn cards throughout the week without having to wait for the vault. While XP counts towards your weekly vault, it also counts towards the Region Reward Track. You can pick any region and work to earn region specific cards, wild cards, and card backs. You start off with bonus xp for the first 10 or so levels of region rewards so you can earn wildcards and specific cards quickly. I recommend doing all the early level region rewards first so you can get the most wild cards and free cards as possible as you learn which regions that you like to play.
Event Pass During Events
The last option to get rewards is during events with the event pass. You can either follow the free option or can get the event pass for about 10 dollars to get more value. You will get plenty of shards which can be exchanged for cards, wildcards, card backs and emotes. I will talk about emotes in the next section. The Event Pass is an excellent way to use your money to get the most value if you want to invest a little money in the game to get a slight advantage. It is not necessary, I only recommend that new players do it if you find cosmetics that you like in the battle pass.
The first week of playing, you will get rewarded with capsules, golden chest, bundles, and finally a free full deck at the end of the week for new accounts just as a log in bonus.
I do the minimum every week at least and I have a full collection and have enough currency and wildcards to purchase the next full expansion when it is released. Once again, it is really easy to be free to play especially if you enjoy playing the game. The player is rewarded for playing a lot.
Now Riot has a different model to make its money and that is due to Cosmetics within the game. Cosmetics can only be obtained from the event pass or paying for them with real money.
The different Cosmetics are
- Card Backs
- Spirit Guardians
- Different Board Styles
These cosmetics won’t help you win in any way but allow you to change up how you view the game and how your opponent views it. Your opponent will be able to see when you emote, your board, your spirit guardian, and your card backs. If you want to have some different default cosmetics, you can purchase them within the shop. You can’t use currency (shards) to purchase these items since shards can only be used to purchase champions and follower cards.
Expedition vs Arena
Expedition is Runeterra’s Arena. The first major difference if you pick cards in groups of 3 but you start by picking 2 buckets each containing one champ. You finish off your deck by picking non-champion buckets. After every game you can swap one of 3 random cards in your deck with the option to end up picking up additional champs after a set amount of wins. Your expedition ends when you lose 2 in a row or reach 7 wins. In order to play expedition you either have to spend in game currency or use your expedition token which you get 1 for free every week. Also every Expedition you purchase or use a token for gives the player 2 decks to try and get 7 wins with. When your first run is completed, you can build your second deck to try and reach 7 wins with. Expedition is a good way to get chests /wildcards which have more cards for free just by playing.
The Eye In Combat
The best part of Runeterra is this small blue button that is between the two player’s health (Nexuses). During combat, if you hover your cursor over the blue button, the board shows what combat would look like if you were to pass your turn. It is incredibly helpful when there is a long chain of fast speed spells/abilities during the combat. It will show you what the nexus health will look like so you can check for lethal.
Hero Power in Hearthstone
In Hearthstone you have access to a ‘hero power’ for 2 mana. There is not something similar in Runeterra.
Power Level of Cards
One of the things people are used to is some cards are too weak or too powerful. In hearthstone, there is a Classic Set. These cards are meant to be somewhat weaker and not all will be to be competitive. Runeterra has a different philosophy. Runeterra attempts to make all cards viable in the type of deck it is intended for. They frequently will rework or buff cards that aren’t seeing the play Riot would expect. Some cards when they come out though will just not be as strong. Riot and Hearthstone both have updates every 2 weeks or so to fine tune cards that are deemed overpowered but I believe Runeterra will look to buff cards more often than Hearthstone. This keeps the meta from becoming stale. Every 2 weeks Riot will push a balance patch and generally will nerf/buff cards every 2 weeks.
You will find patch notes every 2 weeks here: https://playruneterra.com/en-us/news
Non Riot Add – Ons
Here are some helpful resources as you get into the game.
Find Decks: https://decksofruneterra.com/
Find Decks and Stats of cards: https://lor.mobalytics.gg/?src=home
PC Deck Trackers: Porofessor, mobalytics, overwolf, LoRGuardian
Record Games on PC: Outplayed