What Is The Best F2P Online Card Game, And Why Is It Legends of Runeterra?

Online card games have come a long way since its initial boom back in 2014 with Hearthstone. Since then, there have been numerous other games that took inspiration from Hearthstone to varying degrees of success.

Some that immediately come to mind are Gwent, Magic Online and Shadowverse. But for the sake of simplicity in today’s article, we’ll only look into Hearthstone’s method of dealing with unlocking new cards as most other card games follow in its footsteps.

In Hearthstone, the main method of unlocking new cards aside from pulling out your credit card is to earn gold which can be exchanged for packs of 5 cards. You can earn gold by advancing your reward track, then use buy packs or play other game modes, which may give you even more rewards based on how well you perform. The amount of time needed to get 1 pack of cards amounts to more than 2 hours of playtime on average.

In fact, through my personal experience, I’ve never gotten enough resources to create a competitively viable deck, not unless I disenchant a whole bunch of cards for the Dust. This, in essence, is one of the primary reasons why Hearthstone is not free-to-play (F2P) friendly. Its whole system expects you to disenchant (a.k.a. destroy) cards you no longer want in order to obtain Dust, which is used to craft the cards you want.

This inadvertently means that you’ll either get one or two competitively viable decks every few months of play, or you will be forced to cough out some cash in order to get more resources. That’s just a brief summary of how Heartstone deals with unlocking new cards. Now let’s look into how Legends of Runeterra (LoR) made a system so F2P friendly that you can play it competitively without spending a single dime. 

Levelling Up 

Legends of Runeterra splits its level up rewards into different regions, allowing the player to choose which region they wish to level up and obtain its respective rewards. This greatly reduces the odds of players unlocking cards that they aren’t interested in. Adding onto that, you can only have up to 2 regions of cards in a deck during normal play, meaning players can focus on the 2 regions they are most interested in and unlock cards from those regions only. Not to mention, the rewards are often quite generous. 


One issue that plagues online card games is the fact that you can never just choose the card you want to unlock, and you can’t trade with other players because that would make buying cards pointless when players can unlock cards for free. The way LoR deals with this is by awarding players Wildcards through random chance, or Wild Capsules spread throughout region level up rewards.

Wildcards allow players to unlock any cards they want based on the rarity of the wildcard, i.e. a rare Wildcard allows you to unlock any rare card, while an epic wildcard allows you to unlock any epic card. This is possibly the biggest game changer as it gives you the option to get the cards you want. It is also awarded through normal play, and you don’t have to sacrifice anything to obtain it, unlike Hearthstone where you need to sacrifice cards in order to get Dust. 

Daily Quests & Daily Win Bonus

While Daily Quests aren’t a game changer, with most online card games having a quest system that rewards players upon completion, it is still crucial in making LoR much more F2P friendly. On the other hand, the Daily Win Bonus is a big boost in alleviating the F2P experience. Every day, the first 3 wins you get are awarded with bonus EXP. This totals up to an extra 700 EXP from just the Daily Win Bonus. To put it in perspective, 700 EXP is equivalent to the EXP you would have gained through 3 wins and 1 loss without the bonus. 

Shards & Weekly Vaults

Shards are the equivalent of Dust in Hearthstone. You can earn it through normal play, either when you get any duplicate cards that you already own three copies of, or whenever you unlock chests that you obtain through the region rewards or weekly vaults. 

Weekly Vaults are where you can obtain the most shards and cards. The rewards given are based on how much EXP you accumulate throughout the week. Personally, I think reaching Level 10 on the Weekly Vault is the best way to maximise the rewards earned VS the time required. It only takes about 30 mins to 1 hour of playtime per day to reach that level, and you’re awarded 6 capsules containing 5 cards each, shards, expedition tokens, and a Legendary (Champion) Wildcard.

Expedition Mode

Expedition tokens give you free entrance into the Expedition Mode. For those familiar with card games, it is essentially the draft mode, or the equivalent of arenas in Hearthstone. However, the rewards in this mode are much more generous. No matter how badly you perform,  you will be rewarded with at least an epic card. Since the expedition token is given alongside the Weekly Vault, it’s essentially a free epic card every week. 

All in all, all of these systems make it so that it never feels like you’re ever forced to fork out a bunch of cash just to play with the latest cards. In fact, speaking from personal experience, I haven’t spent a single dime on cards, and yet I have more than 90% of the cards unlocked with a lot of extra resources to spare. 

Will you be giving Legends of Runeterra a try? Let us know in the comments below!

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