How to Climb in LOR
Hello! I’m AkeetheGreat [Master’s Player and LOR Coach ] and I am going to give you some tips about how to climb in Legends of Runeterra quickly! While competitive play involves knowing a lot about specific cards and match-ups, these general ideas are important to keep in mind as you get more experience on the ranked ladder.
1 – KNOW WHEN TO OPEN ATTACK
When you start your turn, your first impulse might be to play as much as you can before you attack. Very often, this is not the correct move given the way that turns progress in Legends of Runeterra. Instead, consider open attacking. Open attacking is setting up an attack before you do anything else on a turn when you have the attack token. The main purpose of doing this is to deny your opponent the ability to do anything at slow speed.
You generally want to be open attacking when you are ahead as it will prevent your opponent from developing any new threats before you get in your minion damage. More importantly, however, you should follow this guide:
- If you are playing around your opponent’s fast or burst spells, you should develop minions.
- If you are playing around your opponent’s slow threats like minions or slow speed spells, you should open attack.
2 – LEARN HOW TO MULLIGAN
In the beginning of every LOR game, you get the opportunity to mulligan away up to 4 cards from your starting hand. Mulliganing correctly can sometimes mean the difference between a won and lost game. You should be looking at 2 main things to determine which cards to shuffle and which to keep:
- Your opponent’s deck- In the upper righthand corner of the screen, click on your opponent’s deck. You will see the regions and champions that you will be up against. This should allow you to discern what deck your opponent is using or, at the very least, the relative speed at which your opponent will be playing. Use this to your advantage by mulliganing away cards that you know will not help you against your opponent’s strategy.
- Who gets to act first?- Under the cards you are presented with, there is an indication of whether you or your opponent will act first. This can also be found out by looking at who starts with the attack token. If you get to act first, you will attack on odd turns; if your opponent gets to attack first, you will attack on even turns. Mulligan for cards that will give you good open attacks and favorable tempo plays.
3 – KNOW THE TOOLS EVERY LOR REGION HAS
Each region in Legends of Runeterra has its own identity. For example, Ionia and Demacia are known for not having too many ways to deal direct damage to the opponent’s nexus with spells, while Noxus and Piltover & Zaun have many burn tools. Having a knowledge of what each region can and can’t do is vital to understanding what you should be playing around in a given situation. Here is a brief list of some of the defining features of each region as of the release of the Rising Tides Expansion:
- Noxus – Overwhelm, Stun, Aggro Tools, Burn
- Piltover – Removal, Burn
- Freljord – Freeze, Stat Buffs
- Demacia – Stat Buffs, Barrier, Rally, Strike Mechanics, Scout
- Bilgewater – 1 Damage Pings, Vulnerable, Draw, Plunder
- Shadow Isles – Control Tools, Sacrifice, Hard Removal, Healing, Token
- Ionia – Recall, Stun, Stat Buffs, Elusive, Denial
4 – LEARN THE LOR META
While you may encounter a wide range of decks on ladder, certain meta decks are much more likely to show up during your climb. As you play ranked, pay attention to the decks that come up most frequently. Pulling up those decklists for reference or even just memorizing them will improve your game immensely. You will know the exact options that are available to your opponent as you play and can play around every possible card they might have in their hand.
It is important that you check out our LOR meta article. We update it every two weeks so make sure to refer to it after every patch is released to know how to play against the meta.
5 – LOOK AT YOUR OPPONENT’S MANA
Before every action, you should be looking at your opponent’s mana to get an idea of what threats you should worry about. If your opponent taps under the amount of mana needed for a card you were playing around, you can be certain that they will be unable to play that card even if they have it in hand. If your opponent “taps out” (runs out of mana in a turn), they can’t play any substantial threats and it is critical that you capitalize on that weakness.
Similarly, you should make sure that you don’t tap under your own scare cards. Here is an example: If you are playing a deck that uses Ionia cards, you should make sure that you stay above 4 mana when you want to prevent your opponent from developing big cards or investing high amounts of mana in a spell. This is because Will of Ionia and Deny are huge 4 mana threats available to Ionia and you will want to be able to play them reactively. Make sure you know your opponent’s scare cards and what your big threats are so you know what mana totals to play around.
6 – IDENTIFY HOW FAST YOU SHOULD PLAY
Every deck has a range of speeds at which they can play. Decks that play for tempo with more early game threats and combos are “aggro” and will generally be trying to end the game before their opponent’s deck comes online. By contrast, decks with late game finishers are “control” and will likely play reactively in order to survive until their expensive threats become playable. “Midrange” decks are somewhere in between these two extremes with strong early tempo while also having mid to late game finishers.
You should identify the general speed at which your opponent’s deck will be playing in relation to yours. If you are playing a midrange deck and you know you are up against an aggro deck, you should be playing reactively because time is on your side. If you are playing an aggro deck against a control deck, you should be playing as fast as you can because your early game threats will set the pace of the game.
Speed determines which resources you should be managing. Aggro decks generally need to be efficient with their cards and mana, while control decks need to manage their health total.
7 – CLIMB RANK WITH A DECK YOU ARE COMFORTABLE PLAYING
There are many different play styles in Legends of Runeterra and you should find one that suits your preferred way to play! If you like playing faster rush-down decks that make your opponent play around you, then you will probably like Noxus. If you prefer sneaky Elusive minions, you would enjoy Ionia. If you want to sacrifice your own minions for powerful effects, you should play Shadow Isles. Try out different strategies until you find one that speaks to you.
Once you have found a strategy that you like, stick with one deck through ladder. As you play the same deck more and more, you will become an expert in your playstyle. Switching around too much can impair your decision-making as you are forced to think in too many different ways.
8 – LEARN HOW TO DECKBUILD
Very often, players take meta decklists and go straight into ranked without paying attention to the components of their decks. While this will provide some immediate power, it will not give you the tools as a player to reach higher ranks on your own. Even if you just end up making your own version of an existing idea, building your deck will allow you to familiarize yourself with the resources and goals your deck has. Here are 3 important considerations when constructing your own decks:
- Identify your win conditions – Every deck needs ways of winning the game. Make sure that you have win conditions that are not only achievable, but also consistent.
- Make sure you can deal with the LOR Meta – Include enough resources in your deck to deal with the most prevalent archetypes you have been seeing on ladder. If you have noticed a lot Rally cards being used, you might want tech in a Stun option. If you have noticed most decks are playing extremely slowly, then maybe you should include more burn to end the game earlier.
- Figure out how many copies of each card you want – When I am making my own deck, I put in 3 copies of cards that are integral to my win conditions, 2 copies of cards that support my win conditions but that I don’t want to see in my hand more than once, and 1 copy of tech cards. This will take some tweaking as you play.
If you want a pro to help you refine your favorite deck, try our coaching service! [LOR Coaching]
9 – KNOW WHEN TO PASS
Lower rank players almost never pass before they have used up all the mana they can on a turn. Much of learning how to rank up in LOR is knowing what your options are. Passing is an option you should always be considering, especially if you are the slower deck in the matchup. The reason that passing can be so powerful is that it gives you the opportunity to react to something your opponent plays. Reacting will almost always give you the advantage in an exchange. When you pass, you force your opponent into a situation where they must decide to either play something (and have you react to it with a strong counter) or end the turn.
You should only be passing in situations where you are okay with your opponent ending the round. Because up to 3 unspent mana becomes spell mana in the next turn, you can feel confident passing when you have 3 or less mana. But you can also consider passing if you have used more of your mana than the opponent given that they will be burning more mana than you if they end the round.
10 – PLAY LOTS OF RANKED
You won’t know how to climb in Legends of Runeterra until you have put these tips into practice enough times. Learning the meta and improving your deck require you to get experience on the competitive ladder. After you play against the same few decks again and again, it will become easier to develop counters to them. The more you play, the better you will understand the way your deck operates in the meta. Getting games under your belt is the only way to know what cards you should add or subtract to better stand up to popular strategies.
Legends of Runeterra is a hyper-strategic card game that lends itself to competitive play quite naturally. Gaining an edge on your opponent is a matter of developing superior decision-making practices. If you internalize these pointers, you will find that games against lower rank LOR players will become so much easier. I am AkeetheGreat and good luck on your climb!
Click here to get real-time advice from a pro about how these tips should look like in your ranked game [LOR Coaching]
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