Elder Scrolls: Legends Website & Twitter
Elder Scrolls: Legends on Steam
Elder Scrolls: Legends on the iOS Store
Elder Scrolls: Legends on the Play Store
There are dozens of collectible card games (CCGs) out there now – from the oldschool MtG and those who follow that model such as Hex: Shards of Fate, to the newer models such as Hearthstone and the plethora of simplfied account based (no trading) card games that came after. It seems these days that almost every franchise has a card game attached to it – Blizzard, Elder Scrolls, Runescape, The Witcher, Fable, Smite to name but a few – piggybacking off the lore of an established universe. Even Valve just announced one! Behind the scenes, smaller card games with no established playerbase have died a sad, lonely death.
Despite the market being saturated, I love strategic card games. I play every single one of them, albeit sometimes only for a few hours. 50 hours in and I’m still playing Elder Scrolls: Legends. However, I do feel that there’s an almost arbitrary choice between a lot of the new generation CCGs and a lot of it may come down to personal preference based heavily on the lore of the universe and your connection to it.
So what makes this one better than the other gazillion card games out there right now?
- Lanes – The game has two lanes, which can have different properties. In a standard game one offers cover (creature cannot be attacked after summoning) which offers protection, whilst the other lane has no properties. Each lane can only hold a set amount of creatures, meaning games do not become over-run. In special events and in PvE, the lanes are often very unique and interesting, with a whole host of special things. For example, set bonuses such as a lane that causes creatures to take damage when summoned, to trigger an ability when summoned or to cause extra damage when they attack, to random things such as changing the card into a random creature, giving them a random keyword or applying random stats. This can allow for some crazyness. Although not in standard PvP – this is static to the standard cover / normal to allow for proper balance and strategy.
- Runes and Prophecy – Every 5 health you lose breaks a rune. Runes are unique to ES: Legends. Some mobs have abilities that proc if a rune is broken, but the main point of a rune is that you draw a card. If that card is a prophecy card, you play it immediately (including on your opponents turn) and for free. This gives players who are taking damage and falling behind a genuine chance to catch up. If you proc a prophecy creature with guard on a lethal turn – you may have just saved your life and given yourself a chance for an epic comeback. Adding the right amount of prophecy cards to your deck adds that extra strategy to deck building.
- PvE – I’m a fan of PvE. In fact, as you might have previously read in my reviews, I spent $250 backing Hex: Shards of Fate on Kickstarter because of the promised PvE campaign. Spending £10 on the Brotherhood Campaign in Legends was a much sounder financial decision and had a much less chance of causing my divorce. Legends comes with a small free starter campaign, and a much larger purchaseable (with gold or real money) Brotherhood campaign, with a lot of really fun, unique and crazy fights. It comes with rewarding cards too, of course, but nothing that feels mandatory or overpowered. In addition to the campaign, you can spend 150 gold on a PvE (or PvP) Arena ticket. This gives you a pretty unlimited amount of PvE content.
- Free to Play – Like most card games it’s free to play with purchaseable packs in game. I have not spent any money on the game other than the Brotherhood Campaign, and I’m well on my way to completing a full set. The game has never felt grindy to me. You get quests where you can often choose one of two options, as well as exchange 1 per day. Arena makes farming fun and more efficient than outright buying packs and the addition of Twitch Drops (free gold, cards or crafting gems for watching streams) has given me a big boost. 50 hours in, I have a pretty decent deck that I’m enjoying ranking up with. It could be improved, but mostly by getting enough soul gems to craft a few legendaries, giving me something to aim for. I actually have 4,000 gold sitting on my account from Twitch Drops – although the rates were recently changed making it a little slower now.
- Lore – It goes without saying that this uses the very well established Elder Scrolls Lore. As a big fan of all the Elder Scrolls games, including what probably amounts to a no-life amount of hours in Elder Scrolls Online, I’m a big fan of this fantasy franchise. The cards and characters already had a familiar feel to me when I started playing.
I’m really having fun with it!
So it’s got some perks. It’s definitely not perfect. Even with the above and its sleek, intuitive UI and in-depth profile stats, it’s simply not a genre changer. For those deeply invested in a different game, there may not be much incentive to switch. The actual gameplay is very similar to many other card games. So similar in fact if you’re an experienced CCG player of any type you should have no problem sliding straight into the game without direction, but simple enough that new players can pick it up. I really like the fact that it doesn’t feel grindy to me right now – whereas in Hearthstone every expansion makes me fall further and further behind, desperately trying to grind gold from daily quests that are tied to classes I don’t play. ES: Legends has a very low entry level for players making those who are just starting out feel like they have content to complete and ways to compete with older players.
I’ve also played it on iOS – using an iPad Air 2. It’s cross platform with PC and Android, so you still have the full playerbase to work with – but it is a battery hog and of course, will use your data if you’re not on wifi. I did briefly try playing it on an iPhone 6s but it made the phone run too hot and the battery drain too quickly for my liking and the complexity of this type of game is a little more suited to a larger screen where you can actually read the text.
Having played just about every CCG currently on the market, my recommendations would be Hex: Shards of Fate if you want a trading game that follows traditonal Magic the Gathering complexity, Gwent if you want a card game that brings truly unique gameplay and something different to the table, and Elder Scrolls: Legends if you want a simple, fun and fast-paced card game with the least grind and the highest potential for free-to-play players to compete alongside moneybags. Of course, whether it will last and maintain a high playerbase remains to be seen – I’d like to see a lot more investment into the eSports scene to get this game the attention it needs to ever compete with Hearthstone.