Who here spent many hours as a teen or pre-teen messing around on the MMORPG, Runescape? Probably a lot of us. Well, it seems the Runescape developers are looking to get in on the CCG action too with the upcoming Chronicle – Runescape Legends, and it’s about as far as you can get from what I was expecting!
I’ve got access to the Beta and have been testing this game out so far. It’s certainly one of the strangest card games on the horizon right now. Let’s jump in and take a look.
Well. Where to begin? The visuals are mind blowing. Fully 3D environments and character models make Hearthstone look completely two-dimensional in comparison. They’ve put a lot of work into getting this game looking visually stunning, which always makes an excellent first impression.
While Chronicle – Runescape Legends is a two-player, head-to-head combat card game, there’s a very strong solitaire element to it that I was not expecting. It wouldn’t be totally accurate to say the players are playing against their own decks most of the time, but there is the feeling that you’re playing against the particular construction of your deck rather than your opponent’s deck, which is an interesting shift in the usual TCG/CCG dynamic.
You’ll start by choosing to mulligan cards from your opening hand (just like in Hearthstone), but from here on out, it’s all very different. You’ll play your entire hand at a time, and a game will only last a maximum of 5 hands, so it’s over fairly quickly. You and your opponent each have a physical Hero on the field, which is an open book. There’s a pathway in front of each of you, and you need to place cards from your hand onto that field which your character then “encounters” in order as they move across the path.
There are two types of cards in your deck, Enemy and Support cards. Support cards are Ally, Equipment, Potion, Location and Spell cards, and these usually (but not always) cost Gold to play. You can only get gold by placing Enemy cards in front of your Hero, who will attack and be attacked until they die and then you’ll gain the Gold reward from them listed on the card. In this way, it’s a delicate balance between damaging your character and trying to get the resources you need to play more of your cards.
A lot of the card types, effects and stats in Chronicle – Runescape Legends will be familiar from other games, especially Hearthstone from which this game heavily borrows for the visual aesthetic, user interface and card template design. Your Hero can attach weapons that have an attack value and durability, much like in Hearthstone, however you’re never playing minions to attack the other player, rather, you’re attacking creatures yourself in order to gain gold or increase your Hero’s base attack damage for future encounters.
Every now and then, your Hero might take a pot-shot at your opponent’s Hero when a card’s effect triggers a Strike (you hit them) or a Battle (both Heroes hit each other). If both players make it through all 5 rounds with health still remaining, they’ll engage in a battle to the death, hitting one another repeatedly until the first to die, loses.
Did you build up a strong enough Hero, and recover enough health to survive the final onslaught? Or did you manage to get ahead of your opponent early, killing them in the 4th round before it got to the end-game battle? Games never quite turn out the same way twice, given the variance between the Heroes, their varied classes and the cards available to them.
There aren’t too many features in the game at the moment. There’s a very comprehensive tutorial which is one of the fastest and easiest I’ve ever played. Thanks to the incredible simplicity of the core mechanics, I was up and running within minutes. Only after a while does the strategic and tactical depth become apparent. This isn’t a simple game at all. It’s quite deep once you get into it.
There’s a practice mode, which helps you play against A.I., but what you’re really going to enjoy is the online PvP modes, of which there is Casual and Ranked so far. In the store, you can only get booster packs, and not for real money yet, but winning games earns you Shop Tokens and crafting materials, which hints at card crafting (again, a la Hearthstone) to help you round out your card collection.
I can see a variety of ways they could take the game from here, but it looks like upon launch they’re going to just focus on the essentials, which is always a good place to start. Everything included works really well so far, and it’s about as straightforward as you’re going to get.
Chronicle – Runescape Legends is, hands down, pretty awesome. I love everything about this game’s mechanics so far, simply because it feels like a breath of fresh air in a world of rehashed CCG ideas. Yes, there’s a lot here that’s very familiar from other games, and I have to admit that I am not pleased to see everything looking so Hearthstone-like, but the gameplay is honestly about as far away from Hearthstone as you can get.
It’s quirky, innovative, and has a micro-RPG feel to it, like your character starts out as a level 1 character in a dungeon crawl and ends up a strong Hero at the end, only to battle it out with the opposing Hero to see who is the strongest.
This isn’t an extremely complicated game, but with a larger card pool I can see the complexity slowly increasing. I especially enjoy the pseudo-solitaire aspect to it, which has you thinking about how to “grow” your character’s strength over the course of a match while also trying to deal with whatever your opponent might be doing at the same time.
This really isn’t what I was expecting from a Runescape card game, but after having played it, it makes incredible sense that this is how they would approach a game of this type. Moreover, it not only accomplishes what it sets out to do, but I believe it exceeds all expectations for what a game of this kind should be like. It’s beautiful to look at, it has great art and sound design, a variety of classes and card types to experiment with, and a unique selling point in the RPG-like pathway mechanic.
I’m very excited to watch this game more closely as it approaches release, and beyond. Chronicle – Runescape Legends is one to keep your eye on, for sure.
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