Legends of Runeterra takes an unconventional approach to microtransactions, which helps it stand out in a crowded card game landscape. Riot Games' new card game, which officially released last week after months of open beta, has quickly earned praise from players for the innovative way it handles microtransactions and purchasing the cards you need to build competitive decks. While games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Arena are built around players purchasing booster packs to grow their collection, Legends of Runeterra is built primarily around purchasing new cards through shards and "Wildcards", which can both be earned via normal gameplay. This has led to a much lower barrier for new players, especially those looking to climb the rankings quickly.
Traditionally, booster packs are a staple of collectible card games, with entire popular formats built around building decks around the random cards you get in random boosters. While an effective way of earning money for the games' developers, it can be hard to keep up with the metagame on a limited budget, especially if a game favors rare cards that have low odds of appearing in single booster packs. Even digital card games use booster packs in conjunction with various "crafting" materials as a primary stream of revenue.
Legends of Runeterra bucks this trend by doing away with booster packs entirely. Instead, players gain XP when they complete daily quests and win games that automatically unlocks capsules related to one of the game's seven regions. These capsules do contain random cards of various rarities (the more XP you get in a certain region, the more rare cards you'll get), they also contain shards and Wildcards. Shards can be spent on any card, while a wildcard can be exchanged for a card matching its rarity. And since players can get more shards and wildcards each week through the Weekly Vault, you can accumulate all the resources you need to build a winning deck without spending any money.
The region rewards system also means that players can focus on certain regions to increase their odds of getting a card naturally without spending any resources whatsoever. If you want to build a Spider Deck built around Elise, you can just focus all your XP on the Shadow Isles until you get the cards you need. If one of your capsules produces a card that you already have, it automatically converts into shards so players can get a card they don't have instead.
The tradeoff, of course, is that you'll need to grind to get shards and wildcards, but even this is pretty easy to do in Legends of Runeterra, thanks to a 50% "Catch Up" bonus that gives players extra XP when unlocking the lower levels, which means an easier time collecting shards and wildcards when players progress through the early levels of a region.
Of course, if you want to spend money to build a Legends of Runeterra deck, you can still purchase coins to buy cards instead. But those wanting to remain "free to play" should be able to collect almost every card in the game in a little over a month just by playing consistently. Keep in mind that you only build decks by using cards from two of the game's seven regions, so you should be able to get a competitive deck built even more quickly.
If you're looking for a new card game to play but don't want to spend a ton of cash, give Legends of Runeterra a try today. The game is available on PC and mobile devices now.