How to Play LOR – Legends of Runeterra
Legends of Runeterra is Riot’s gift to the card game genre. It is a beautiful game with very fluid mechanics. But the game is a little harder on beginners than games like Hearthstone so learning how to play LOR be an involved process. I am AkeetheGreat [Master’s Player and LoR Coach] and this article will give you 10 tips for getting into the game quickly!
1 – LEARN HOW TO USE MANA IN LOR
Mana is the currency used to play cards in Legends of Runeterra. The mana value of a card can be found in the blue circle in the upper lefthand corner of the card. Each player starts the game with one mana to spend for that turn, and that amount increases by one each subsequent turn.
An important thing to remember is that up to 3 unspent mana every turn becomes “spell mana” that can be used next turn. The amount of normal mana you have is the dark blue bar under the “Pass” button. Your spell mana is indicated by the light blue circles under your normal mana. While normal mana can be used on minions and spells, spell mana can only be used on spells. Spell mana allows you to be flexible with your resources as you do not run the risk of wasting mana consistently.
2 – MASTER THE TURN SYSTEM
Understanding the turn order may be the hardest part of learning how to play LOR. Turns generally take this form:
- Each player goes back and forth taking actions starting with the player with the attack token.
- At any point in the turn, the player with the attack token can choose to queue up an attack.
- After the attacking player commits attackers, the defending player can choose which minion to put up against each attacker.
- The attack goes through.
- Players take actions back and forth again, this time starting with the player without the attack token.
- At any point, if both players pass without taking an action or attacking, the turn ends and the other player receives the attack token
3 – IDENTIFY THE SPEEDS OF SPELLS
Spells in Legends of Runeterra act at 3 different speeds.
- Burst speed spells can be cast at any time without passing the action over to the other player.
- Fast speed spells can be cast during combat and before other non-burst spells (even on the opponent’s action).
- Slow speed spells take an entire action and the opponent can still react to them.
Whenever you or your opponent plays a fast or slow spell, a stack in the middle of the field forms. At that point, both you and your opponent can take turns playing fast speed spells, which will be added to the left on the stack. When either player decides not to play a spell, each spell in the stack is performed resolving from left to right.
Note: Burst speed spells do not get put on the stack. They resolve immediately upon casting.
4 – KNOW HOW MINION EFFECTS WORK
Minion effects are best put in terms of spell speeds. All minions are played at slow speed, but their effects can resolve at either burst or slow speed. In other words, playing a minion passes the action over to the other player, but some minion effects resolve immediately while others get put at the bottom of a stack.
If a minion has a “Play:” effect, that means that the effect will resolve immediately upon playing the minion. But if there is a circle to the left of “Play:” that means the effect is a “Skill” that will start a stack in the middle of the field just as a slow spell would.
Note: Some units have effects that only trigger upon attacking.
5 – READ UP ON KEYWORDS
Keywords are a huge part of Legends of Runeterra gameplay, and there are too many to explain here. I will include some important ones below:
- Challenger– When attacking, this unit can choose which enemy creature must defend against it.
- Last Breath– Upon this unit’s death, an effect will trigger.
- Barrier– The first time this unit would take damage, prevent it. Barrier only lasts until the end of the round.
- Tough– This unit takes 1 less point of damage from all sources
- Lifesteal– Your Nexus is healed by damage done by this unit
I would suggest reading up on the various keywords that exist in the game. If a word is highlighted, you can mouse over it and a description of the term will pop up.
6 – LEARN THE LOR REGIONS
As of the release of the Rising Tides expansion, there are 7 regions in Legends of Runeterra. Those regions are Bilgewater, Demacia, Freljord, Ionia, Noxus, Piltover & Zaun, and Shadow Isles. Each deck you make can include cards from a maximum of 2 of those regions. Regions have their own identities, archetypes and strategies. Learning them will help you build decks and react to those regions more effectively.
Click here to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each region with a coach 👉 LOR Coaching 👈
7 – CHOOSE YOUR CHAMPIONS WISELY
Champions are my personal favorite aspect of Legends of Runeterra. Each champion is a powerful threat that can act as a win condition in the right circumstances. Choosing a champion that helps your deck achieve its goals is vital to keeping a consistent strategy. Each champion has a “Level Up” condition that, when achieved, flips the card to gain a stat boost and some additional effects. Champions often represent entire archetypes or strategies, so the identity of your deck is dependent on the champions it contains.
You can have a maximum of 6 champions in your deck and the champions you include will be shown to your opponent before each match. Keep in mind that your deck does not need to include champions, but most decks do include at least one. You should be experimenting with champs as you learn how to play LOR.
8 – UTILIZE LOR’S ORACLE’S EYE
Between both players’ nexuses is a blue eye that can show you how an attack or a set of spells will resolve. If at any point, it is unclear how spells and attacks will turn out, you can hover over the Oracle’s Eye to see what the board will look like at the end of the sequence. It should be noted that the Oracle’s Eye will not show you how events turn out if any of those events are random.
Even when you understand how to play LOR at a high level, the Oracle’s Eye will still be helpful for keeping track of particularly complex sequences.
9 – KEEP TRACK OF NEXUS HEALTH
Each nexus starts the game at 20 health. That is the maximum health that the nexus can have; it cannot overheal. The moment that either nexus falls to or below 0 health, the game ends. Even if the nexus returns to a positive health total after a sequence resolves, the game ends right when a nexus is brought to 0 or less health.
Nexus health, like mana, cards and minions, is a resource. Make sure that you are managing your nexus health as well as your opponent’s throughout the game.
10 – GET EXPERIENCE
This game might seem like it has an endless set of rules, but it will become intuitive with time. Making decks and playing ladder will ensure your eventual fluency in the game. I had to play many matches before I knew how to play LOR at a competent level, so do not feel bad if it takes a while for you to learn the ropes! However, if you want to become a Legends of Runeterra master, I recommend watching streams or getting coaching.
Hopefully, you have learned something new from this guide! As the developers continue to update the game, the core mechanics should likely stay the same, so these explanations can be referred to even in later expansions. Legends of Runeterra is fairly complicated all things considering. But its amazing gameplay, interesting tactical decision-making, sleek artstyle, and generous free to play model are, in my opinion, well worth the work of learning how to play LOR.
Click here if you want to learn more about the game and perform better on the ranked ladder 👉 Legends of Runeterra Coaching 👈
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