If you’re looking forward to The Elder Scrolls: Legends, there’s no denying it resembles Blizzard’s hyper-popular card game. Damage acts the same, the player who plays second gets an added bonus, you need points to make your moves, etc. If it were not for one fairly major difference, it would basically be Hearthstone with Elder Scrolls characters.
First Impressions Video Preview
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
Feels like a Hearthstone mod.
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That difference is the playing field is split into two lanes. You read lanes and you think MOBA but there’s no connection.Simply put, the playing field split into two sections: the field lane and shadow lane. The field lane acts as you would expect it. Place your card on the field and its vulnerable to attack and can attack next turn. On the other side, the shadow lane provides cover for your cards for one turn. Anyone who attempts to attack a card just placed in the shadow lane cannot hit it until the next turn. It’s an interesting twist and does provide interesting strategic opportunities.
Like I mentioned, The Elder Scrolls: Legends shamelessly takes its card mechanics from Hearthstone. Your goal is to deplete your opponent’s points first. You do that with various creature, action, and item cards. Cards cannot be played unless you have enough Magika and you can have a total of eight cards on the field with up to four in each lane. Some cards give you health, some cards directly hit the enemy heroes points, other cards allow you to switch lanes. Legends gives you plenty of strategic options so long as your deck includes the right cards.
There is one difference between damage given to health in Legends. Runes are attached to your character avatar. After losing 5 health, a rune is destroyed. It’s destruction allows you to get an extra card. It’s possible to have major comebacks thanks to this mechanic. Sometimes I’ve dealt 15 damage to the opponent’s health (which allows them to get three cards) and that gave them all they needed to solidify their win. So when you make your deck, you have to build it with that in mind.
But deck building never clicked for me in Legends. It’s too hamstrung by its own system compared to the more simplified system in Hearthstone. There are six attributes and your deck can contain a maximum of two attributes. You can build your deck with only the Strength attribute, for example, but you might like cards from Willpower, so you can put those in your deck, also. But you also might like cards from the Intelligence attribute. Now you have to choose, and the choice is considerably daunting. Attributes rely on specific strategies to damage the opponent’s points but once you mix another attribute, the strategy becomes confusing and it’s hard to create harmony between attributes as you draw cards. Many times you can see how a card can fit perfectly into a strategy that you want but it’s a part of another attribute and you already have two.
After every 5 health loss, you lose a rune and draw a card.
Not to mention, early on, you’re pretty much forced to use the premade decks in order to succeed. Those decks work well and provide you context on how to build your own but even when analyzing those, it’s hard to pinpoint what the real strategy behind the deck is. It’s either a testament to the depth of strategy of Legends or the unnecessary complexity.
Legends hooks you up with a fairly challenging story mode that - if you complete the three acts - will reward you with lots of card packs and certain cards over the course of it. Sadly, the story isn’t worth your time. It’s hard to follow, absolutely devoid of character development and detail, and I received no insight into The Elder Scrolls universe. The story is told through comic book-like animations before a match begins and sometimes the context of the story changes the battle conditions of the match.
Legends also comes with an offline and online version of an arena (though the game is always online). You fight through nine players with random cards that you choose before your first match. You can lose three times in order to finish your nine matches. You choose two attribute types to play with, then you enter a draft screen. You’re presented with three cards and you have to choose one of them. This process continues until your deck is full. It’s a fun process because you know everyone had to do this and it makes exciting matches with impressive plays. You also get fairly good rewards even if you lose but you need an arena ticket or 150 coins to play.
Arena matches give good rewards but you need a ticket or coins.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends has six attributes. Some cards can be used in two attributes but most have one.
Strength: Strength cards are meant to attack the opponent quickly with powerful cards. They typically have good attack but low health, so you have to manage how you play them in either lane.
Intelligence: I didn’t play this attribute much simply because it wasn’t my style but it was frustrating to play against. Many of these cards deal a lot of small damage to your health and the card costs are cheap. If you don’t have creatures to help your cause, your health can be drained quickly.
Willpower: A attribute I relied on too much without knowing how to use it but Willpower cards tend to overwhelm opponents with many creatures. One card can fill up a whole lane with low level creatures. They also tend to provide support for each other by boosting defense or attack points.
You must pick between one of two attributes combos in the arena.
Agility: This attribute is the stylish one but requires thoughtful execution. Low level cards can destroy the strongest cards on the field when played correctly. But a lot of the cards can hardly do any damage. So you have to figure how to keep the cards alive. Many of these cards let you move your cards between lanes, also.
Endurance: This is kind of a defense class. It’s hard to penetrate a good endurance deck. The Guard cards of this attribute (like Taunt cards in Hearthstone) are particularly strong. Some cards also give the ability to increase Magika.
Legends makes no mention of supporting mods and likely will not.
Some AI matches change the battle conditions.
The release date is currently 2016.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends will be free-to-play. You know what that means: microtransactions. I mentioned that you need 150 coins or an arena ticket if you want to play. You can’t buy coins. You can only buy card packs and arena tickets. This essentially makes Legends like any other real life card game. You want more cards, you go buy packs. You can buy a single pack with 100 coins and in my 12 hours, I was able to buy three packs, and I never spent any coin to play in the arena. I didn’t play a ton of online matches but those can reward you with a decent amount of coins if you win, but I felt the grind and the urge to buy packs. I didn’t feel the same way about arena tickets. One ticket costs two dollars. (About two euro. Sorry friends. I’m American.) On top of that, I received two arena tickets the entire I played. It was the game basically saying “try these out.”
Another interesting factor about Legends is you can Soul Summon cards. Soul Summoning is basically creating a duplicate of another card. You’ll need purple crystals to pay for the soul summon and the stronger a card, the more it will cost. I seemed to get those pretty liberally, so it’s a matter of how much you have at the time to perform one. You can also take duplicates of cards and turn them into the shiny purple crystals.
The available graphic options.
Despite how difficult it was to create my own deck, I really enjoyed The Elder Scrolls: Legends. The two lanes complicates card strategies in a fair and interesting way. But I feel deck building needs refinement. I like the intention of using multiple attributes in one deck but I don’t think it’s quite there yet. I’m not suggesting building a deck should be easy but I don’t see the ability to flex creative decks. I still think Hearthstone is better but you would not go wrong in playing this at all.
Most Anticipated Feature
Deck building. The potential is there. If Bethesda can find the harmony of allowing people to create a deck their brain thinks up without being confined to abilities, Legends can be fantastic.