Everything You Need To Know About Legend Of Runeterra’s Expeditions Mode

The League of Legends card game, Legend of Runeterra, is back for another week. The Expeditions mode is the biggest inclusion this week, and it’s a draft-style mode similar to Hearthstone‘s Arena or other drafts from Magic: The Gathering. But there’s more to the game than that, so here’s what you need to know.

First up, it’ll cost you to play.

Playing the Expeditions mode isn’t free. If you don’t have a special Expeditions token, you can spend either 4000 shards — that’s in-game earned currency — or 400 coins, which cost real money. Coins are charged in lots of $5, $10, $20, $35, $50 and $100.

Once you’ve chosen your poison, you’re free to begin. Like other games, you’ll get more rewards based on the amount of wins.

You draft in lots of three, then lots of two.

The champion you draft will determine one of the factions for your deck, which is similar to colours in Magic in that not all cards are compatible with all decks.

For my first game, I went with Fiora. Her upgraded ability automatically wins the game if you’ve duelled four enemies and survived, which sounds like a great win condition to me. I combined that with Braum, a hero that automatically regenerates, because both heroes have the Challenger ability. Challenger means you choose your defending unit, and the ability to control the board state better is always a solid advantage.

Once you’ve gotten a couple of champions and your factions are locked in, you’ll begin drafting in lots of two. You’ll be left with 30 cards at the very end. The final round isn’t a draft, but an opportunity to trade one of three cards for something else.

After you play your first game, you’ll have another trade round and another opportunity to swap out a card. You’ll be able to slowly add more cards to your deck as the game carries on, one round at a time.

Once you’ve drafted your deck, it’s onto the match. Normal Runeterra rules apply here: both players have a HP of 20. One player starts as the attacker, another as the defender, and roles swap when both players have no mana or choose to pass the turn.

Two losses in a row and you’re out.

Pretty straightforward. You can win up to seven times for the maximum rewards, but once you’ve lost twice, you’re done. If you lose a game and win a game, however, you’ll be back on track.

The basic Runeterra rules apply.

Magic spells are still broken up into three speeds – burst, which resolve immediately; fast, which go onto a stack, can be played at any time and are resolved in order of last to first; and slow spells, which can’t be played during combat and give the opponent an opportunity to respond.

If you need a Magic comparison: slow spells are like sorceries, fast spells are like instants, and burst spells are instants that the opponent can’t respond to.

Runeterra already added a few extra layers of depth with the spell stack and champion interactions, the ability to control the timing of attacks, being able to store a small amount of mana for spells, and champions that can upgrade without being on the battlefield.

Each of the factions have parallels to Magic.

For those coming over from other card games, you’ll find some basic parallels with Magic. Demacia is your Magic equivalent of white cards: the characters are all about honour, withstanding damage, and applying buffs to each other.

Freljord is a little like an aggressive Green with more spell control. The champions include Tryndamere and Braum, but a lot of the spells are based around control, locking enemies or neutralising their effects and power. There’s a lot of board-wide effects here, from creatures that grant all allies +1/+1, your standard board clear-type spells, and the annoying Tryndamere, who is guaranteed to level up unless he’s locked out of play by some other means.

Ionia stars champions like Yasuo, Shen and Zed, and is the closest Runeterra has to Magic‘s Blue decks or Hearthstone‘s Rogue class. Many characters have the Elusive ability, which Runeterra‘s equivalent of flying, and the faction is the only one with a straight up counterspell.

Beyond that, a lot of Ionia’s champions and characters have some form of removal, either by recalling enemies back to their opponents hand or abilities like Quick Attack (think First Strike).

Noxus is the faction that’s much like your classic Mono Red: high aggression, high attack, low cost and bugger all defence. The spells are mostly direct damage and direct removal, with wider board effects like buffing all your characters with Overwhelm (basically Trample from Magic).

If you want something that’s spell heavy and a bit akin to the Izzet Red/Blue direct damage/control decks from Magic, Piltover & Zaun is the faction for you. Jinx levels up when you’ve exhausted all your cards, giving you an upgraded champion that draws more cards, but can discard those cards for direct nexus damage and board control. It’s one of the more versatile regions, since you can withhold cards and mana for defence if you want, although what champions you’re playing will have the biggest influence on that.

The last is Shadow Isles, which is basically Runeterra‘s equivalent of a straight black deck. Think a lot of spiders, effects that resolve upon creatures dying, sacrifices for card draw, and tons of removal. Shadow Isles gets a lot stronger as the game goes on, particularly if you’re able to bring champions like Kalista onto the board pre-upgraded (because you’ve had 3 or more allies die beforehand). Combined with Piltover & Zaun, Shadow Isles gives you removal very similar to the blue/black decks of Magic, which is great if you want a lot of active board control.

So that’s everything you need to know about Legends of Runeterra‘s drafting mode, Expeditions. The mode is only available to those currently in the preview round, although the game will go into a public beta early next year before its launch on PC and mobiles.

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