Hearthstone vs Legends of Runeterra. Fight!
Oh my days! When one game becomes successful, the rest of the horde swarm in for a piece of the pie!
With the release of Legends of Runeterra, the digital card game arena received a new competitor aiming to take on its everlasting champion, Hearthstone. Both games are based on massive IPs, essentially guaranteeing their success unless some grave missteps were to be made – see Valve’s ill-fated Artifact for details on that – and as a consequence, a time-honored question arises: which one is the better?
There’s no doubt that in the battle of Heartstone vs Legends of Runeterra there are a lot both combatants have in their favor. They both take heavy inspiration from the granddaddy of all fantasy card games, Magic: The Gathering. Free to play is also the order of the day whichever you may choose, though with some differences in business models which we will get to later in this post. Finally, in terms of presentation and art style, both games are fantastic with exciting effects and captivating audio direction.
The devil’s in the details, though, so let’s check out how Heartstone and Runeterra separate themselves from each other.
Poor Rich Game.
On the surface, Riot’s recent foray into the card game space seems in line with Blizzard’s long-standing title. In both games, in-game currency can be used to purchase packs of random cards to add to player collections. Duplicate cards can be converted into crafting materials of varying amounts depending on a card’s rarity to create other cards. It’s par the course when a game is based on MtG, which popularised this model with physical cards.
However, these are where the similarities end.
Dealer, Hit Me
Hearthstone’s initial promise was to take the collectible card game and bring it into the digital realm, and that includes the way cards are dispensed to players. Aside from in-game currency, real money can be used to buy booster packs. In fact, it’s the fastest way to develop one’s card collection making it arguably the only choice for serious players. Runeterra, on the other hand, forgoes the purchasing of packs to enable players to purchase the exact cards they want.
Yes, you can open chests and other pack-like boxes by completing region quests and obtain cards via a random factor. These lootboxes, though, cannot be purchased with the game’s premium currency.
Is it Free, or is it ‘Free’?
In terms of free to play aspects, the League-based title is the clear winner in the Hearthstone vs Legends of Runeterra battle. Riot’s card battler showers players with cards through its account progression system. The Warcraft-inspired game, on the other hand, feels quite stingy by comparison because it merely drip-feeds gold through match wins and daily quests making packs feel more of a rarity to acquire.
Runeterra banks on its players opening their wallets for cards that they need to make the decks they want to play or to finalize their collections. They have plenty of cosmetics as well which have no impact on gameplay.
It’s Either You or Me!
Part of the fun of card games comes from tossing your own minions into your opponent’s and surprising them with spells and effects. In that respect, both games are almost identical. One core difference lies in the way each game handles blocking. Here, Runeterra borrows off of MtGA’s playbook by putting the blocking onus onto the defending player. Hearthstone, on the other hand, puts all of the control on the attacking player, save for cards with Taunt, who can choose to make trades or go for face.
What also makes Runeterra’s combat feel more like a two-way street is the way turns are handled. In essence, each Round is a series of mini-turns with the attacker taking the lead each time and the defender being given an opportunity to respond. This means that spells and effects can be used as responses. Compared to Hearthstone, which has only one type of spell that can be used only during a player’s turn, Runeterra has three types, with Fast and Bursts being the ones that can be used to respond to an attacking player’s actions. This is comparable to Magic’s Instant cards that can be used at any time.
Versatility may be what can make Runeterra the better game in some players’ eyes, but that comes at the sacrifice of some simplicity which Hearthstone has in spades. That doesn’t mean that Blizzard’s baby isn’t a complex game as it achieves its higher-level complexity through prediction and handling of random scenarios. In this area, both games feel strong in their own way.
The Importance of Being Legendary
Another area where both games on the surface look the same, but when you get down to it, have some core differences. Just like their predecessor, Magic the Gathering, cards are divided by rarity with the highest one, Legendary, being set for special hero-type characters and important figures from each game’s respective universe. On both sides of the Hearthstone vs Legends of Runeterra battle, Legendaries are, as expected, powerful. In Hearthstone, though, they can be seen as less deck-defining, particularly when the cards aren’t from a specific class’s set.
In Runeterra, on the other hand, Champions are the heart and soul of the decks they’re constructed into. Using cards with Frostbite, for instance, will eventually trigger Ashe to level up, making her a formidable card to deal with. This makes deck building a bit more palatable as it gives players a clear starting point from which they can formulate strategies.
Everyone’s a Winner!
Overall, which game comes out on top comes down to personal preference. Hearthstone has been around for many years now and has matured aplenty. Runeterra is still in its early infancy with a bright future ahead of it but with great ideas which could, in time, influence the more veteran titles in the space, maybe even Hearthstone too!
If you feel Hearthstone has won you over, read up on the 2020 Guide to Hearthstone to ensure you get off on the right foot! Don’t worry about catching up with existing players that have probably mastered the game by now, we have a deck-building guide to help you climb up the ranks!
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