Magic the Gathering Players, Welcome to Legends of Runeterra!
Our team loves Magic the Gathering so we wanted to make a guide to make your life easier if you’re coming from MTG.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the major gameplay differences and mechanics, how LoR regions compare to magic colors and more! We’ll be starting off with the color combinations and will be discussing other game mechanics below.
Similar Keywords and Card Examples
Challenger = Provoke
- Challenge forces an enemy unit to block.
- See Fiora.
Elusive = Flying
- Elusive allows a unit to avoid being blocked by an enemy that doesn’t have Elusive.
- See The Empyrean
Last Breath = “When this creature dies…”
- Last Breath effects trigger when a unit dies.
- See Cursed Keeper.
Lifesteal = Lifelink
- Lifesteal causes you to heal for the amount of damage your unit dealt.
- See Herald of Spring or Kinkou Lifeblade.
Overwhelm = Trample
- Overwhelm causes excess damage that your unit dealt through a blocker’s health to apply to the enemy’s life total.
- See Darius.
Recall = “Bounce”
- Recall causes a unit to return to its owner’s hand.
- See Minah Swiftfoot.
You can only mulligan once in Legends of Runeterra. When you choose to mulligan, you’re not forced to discard your whole hand and you do not go down cards each time you mulligan.
When you mulligan in Legends of Runeterra you get to select which cards you want to replace and which cards you want to keep. If you decide to mulligan, you still start with the normal amount of cards as your starting hand.
Starting hand is smaller.
You start with 4 cards instead of 7. However, you draw a card EVERY ROUND which is 2x the rate of MTG.
It’s not as important
The combination of increased natural card draw, a deck size of 40, and you do not have to draw your mana. Card draw is not as important in Legends of Runeterra as it is in MTG since you draw so often.
The Mana System
You do not have to draw and play mana. In Legends of Runeterra, you gain mana passively every round. Any excess mana that you don’t use at the end of the round gets stored and can be used later.
You can store up to 3 excess mana and stored mana can only be used to cast spells, not units.
How Turns and Rounds Work
Turns are much different in Legends of Runeterra compared to MTG (see the infographic below). You don’t regain mana or draw cards on a new turn.
Once you take an action, which is resolving a spell or playing a creature, your turn ends. After two players pass their turn without taking any actions, the round ends.
You regain mana and draw a card at the beginning of every ROUND. At the beginning of your round, you get to take the first turn and get an Attack Token. The Attack Token means you can declare attackers to initiate combat.
If you end the round without using your Attack Token then you lose it. Unlike MTG, units do not regain their health at the end of a turn or round (unless they have a keyword called Regeneration). Damage taken is permanent unless health is restored by another source or a unit’s health is buffed.
Once a player declares their attacking units, combat begins. Similar to MTG, you cannot play units during combat.
Legends of Runeterra has defender’s choice just like MTG. The attacking player declares its attacking units to hit face and the defender gets to choose which units to block and with what.
However, the option to block a single attacker with multiple creatures is gone. You can only block a unit with a single blocker.
Similarly, you cannot play units during combat, you can still play spells. Combat tricks, removal, etc.
Combat tricks are stronger in Legends of Runeterra than in MTG. Almost all combat trick spells usually have a property called Burst which is similar to Split Second in MTG.
This means the effect the opponent does not get a chance to respond to the effect until after the spell resolves. This makes it much harder to get 2 for 1’d when using combat tricks.
There is no tapping. All units basically have vigilance from MTG. When you attack with a unit it can still block the next turn as long as it’s alive.
Creatures vs Units
MTG has a lot of filler cards that are not useful in constructed but can be killer in limited. Legends of Runeterra takes a different approach. Most if not all cards are aimed at being constructed viable giving a large pool of strong cards to theorycraft around.
Units don’t regenerate health
Unlike MTG, units in Legends of Runeterra do not regenerate their health at the end of turn or end of round. This effect has been turned into a keyword that only specific units have.
No activated abilities
As of date, there are no units in Legends of Runeterra with abilities that you can choose to activate at will. This means no mana sinks when you run out of gas and less engines you can use to creature immense value.
This is less important to have because of the increased card draw in the game.
Units don’t count as spells
Units do not get put on the stack when played. When you play a unit it automatically resolves and your turn ends.
This matters because of units that have passive effects like “When I’m summoned” (Enter the Battlefield) effects. These will resolve before the enemy has a chance to respond making reactionary/defensive play much harder.
Some units do have some abilities called “skills” that can be responded to with certain spells.
Legends of Runeterra uses a “stack” similar to MTG. Spells and effects go on a stack. (when you cast a spell, ask if it’s okay to play it, playing responses back and forth, then resolves in top to bottom order)
There are three different spell types in Legends of Runeterra. Slow, Fast, and Burst. Slow is similar to sorcery speed in MTG. It is a speed similar to what units are played at.Once you play a slow spell, the enemy has a chance to respond to the spell before it resolves then the spell effect happens and the player’s turn is over.
You can initiate a sequence with a slow spell but you can’t respond to other spells and effects on the stack with a slow spell only with Fast and Burst spells.
Fast is similar to instant speed in MTG. You can play as many fast spells as you have mana for before passing the turn over to your opponent. They all remain on the stack and get resolved from newest to oldest.
Burst spells do not go on the stack and do not end your turn. That means the opponent does not get a chance to respond to the spell before it happens. Most buff spells are burst speed making it much harder to 2 for 1 them than it is in magic.