The El­der Scrolls: Leg­ends

Heroic card bat­tling craze reaches Tam­riel


An­droid, iOS, PC

RPGs and card games go to­gether well, and it would be easy to dis­miss Leg­ends as an at­tempt to jump onto the band­wagon. Cer­tainly many of its de­tails are rather more cloned than in­spired – the cost, for in­stance, of an arena run, or es­chew­ing trad­ing in favour of mak­ing what­ever cards you want with suf­fi­cient play.

Leg­ends is an overtly tac­ti­cal game, split­ting the bat­tle­field into two dif­fer­ent lanes. Min­ions sum­moned from your col­lec­tion of cards – a deck start­ing at 50, rather than Hearth­stone’s 30 – can only di­rectly at­tack en­e­mies in their cur­rent lane, with the added com­plex­ity that one lane is typ­i­cally a ‘shadow’ zone where they’re safe from di­rect at­tacks for a turn. That means it’s a good place to stock min­ions that get a buff each turn, or to place your heavy hit­ters so that you at least get one good strike out of them – but, of course, do­ing that leaves your other side un­guarded, and your op­po­nent will know where to guard or counter.

That’s just one twist, though. Hearth­stone treats its min­ions as largely dis­pos­able, with a few cards that can syn­er­gise and buff them to high lev­els. Leg­ends in­stead favours di­rect up­grades, from ba­sic +2/+2 to strength and hit points in the shape of a new weapon, to be­ing able to give an al­ready-buffed unit the ‘Lethal’ tag that takes any­thing out in one hit. Else­where, while Hearth­stone is a class­based game that serves up its cards around spe­cific playstyles, Leg­ends splits its cards into clas­sic stats such as Strength and In­tel­li­gence – each deck be­ing a mix of two.

The whole sys­tem is sleek, con­sid­ered and, in per­son­al­ity, about as fit­ting for The El­der

Scrolls as Hearth­stone is for WOW. The catch is that in be­ing that, it’s also far more po-faced, and just plain less fun. This may be a bonus for play­ers who find Hearth­stone to be too much of a car­toon or too tuned to­wards ca­sual play. The raw game is solid. En­joy­able. Full of op­tions. When look­ing through the card se­lec­tion, though, it’s hard to find much that jumps out as a card to crave as well as to craft. Far too many are all +2 this and -2 that, var­i­ous types of sol­dier or ban­dit, with no fun card text to read and rarely any in­ter­est­ing spe­cial abil­i­ties. Call­ing up Odahvi­ing (one of the Drag­ons of Skyrim), for in­stance, deals a handy four points of dam­age to each enemy – but that’s hardly the oomph of sum­mon­ing Death­wing in Hearth­stone in all his ‘crush every­thing, dis­card your whole hand’ glory. We were hop­ing to see the Daedric Princes of­fer a chance to re­ally mess things up, but so far their only real rep­re­sen­ta­tive is god of mad­ness Sheogo­rath’s Wab­ba­jack, which of­fers three chances to turn a crea­ture into an­other ran­dom one. How about trans­form­ing the whole enemy team? Strate­gi­cally, yes, Leg­ends is bet­ter off with­out the likes of Yogg-Saron (cast a ran­dom spell for ev­ery spell cast), but it’s also much less in­ter­est­ing to play, and no doubt will be to watch once the stream­ers and the com­pet­i­tive scene get their hands on it. Hope­fully a few cra­zier cards will be com­ing be­cause so far it lacks per­son­al­ity in every­thing from the board de­sign to dra­matic card-play­ing an­i­ma­tions.

De­spite that, it’s the core game that mat­ters right now. Here, at least, Leg­ends cur­rently stands out as feel­ing like a wor­thy game for Hearth­stone play­ers to step up to if they fancy more of a chal­lenge or have grown weary of yelling ‘Bull­shit!’ at its heavy fo­cus on RNG and fairly lim­ited meta. It feels solid, sat­is­fy­ing and well thought out. If it can find a way to channel a bit more of its par­ent fran­chise’s fun and whim­si­cal side into the mix, it might re­ally come to life.

So far it lacks per­son­al­ity in every­thing from the board de­sign to play­ing an­i­ma­tions

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