As if in belated response to the massive success that is Hearthstone, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft tie-in digital card game, Bethesda has jumped on the digital card game bandwagon and released The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Though the game is reminiscent of its rival Hearthstone, Legends has some unique quirks that make the game stand out.
The first thing that Legends has going for it is that it is tapping into the astoundingly popular Elder Scrolls IP. This on its own would be reason for many fans to give the game a try. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was the jumping-on point for many fans and has seen no less than five separate releases. With this in mind, it is no wonder that Bethesda chose to return first to the frozen land of Skyrim as the first major card expansion for Legends.
Legends as a game is actually really good, standing tall amongst its rivals in terms of gameplay and balance. Cards in Legends are divided into the core attributes of the Elder Scrolls series: Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility and Endurance (though Speed has not made an appearance). During deck construction you may use any combination of up to two of the five attributes. Though this may seem limiting, it is actually a brilliant system. Whilst most digital card games make you choose a class or race that limits the cards you can use in your deck, Legends allows you to create a deck with two attributes. This allows you to consider what mechanic you wish to focus on and which combos you wish to employ without being overburdened with the full card selection, but still having enough to choose from.
Like most digital card games, Legends employs the use of an arena mode. In arena mode you do not use your constructed decks, you draft an entirely new deck from cards generated in random groups of three. From the groups of three you can choose one card which continues until you have a deck of fifty cards. The interesting thing about the Legends arena mode is that before you draft your deck you choose the two attributes of your deck by picking one of three randomly chosen classes.
The classes add a little explanation of the kind of deck you will most likely be running if you choose that hero. For example: if you choose the Mage hero you gain access to the Intelligence and Willpower attributes.The Willpower attribute floods the field with low cost creatures, a lot of which have the guard mechanic which protects you from attacks until they are destroyed. Intelligence on the other hand has higher cost creatures such as elementals but primarily focuses on high power spells used to control the battlefield.
Though there is not a proper written description of what each class does in the game, the classes follow tactics that are almost universally understood gimmicks in role-playing games as a genre. Not only does Legends have a solo arena mode, where you play against the AI, but it also has a versus arena which follows the same rules but you are pitted off against people instead of the AI.
Aside from the arena modes, Legends has a wonderful story mode. In this story mode you are treated to beautiful cutscenes that tell of your hero’s journey through the world of the Elder Scrolls. As well as the starting plotline, players can purchase additional plotlines that will unlock them more cards and let them play through more story chapters.
To play through these additional storylines and gain the amazingly powerful cards they unlock you must purchase them. This will cost you in 1,000 pieces of gold (the in-game currency) or £7.99. It wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that gaining the gold is actually quite difficult. You can gain the currency by playing matches against other players. Every three wins gets you a free card and about 15 gold. This means that to unlock the 1,000 gold needed, you cannot enter the arena (as it costs 150 gold per ticket) and you have to play and win about 198 matches to get the 1,000 gold. Or, of course, you can pay the £7.99…
The art for Legends is astounding. It is a little of an understatement to say that when we play a card game (digital or otherwise) we expect a high quality in card art. The artists of Elder Scrolls: Legends capture the aesthetic of the video games in high-resolution, interesting and unique artwork.
One thing that Legends does differently to every other card game (physical and digital alike) is that the game board has two separated lanes for creatures to be deployed in. Each zone can have unique abilities such as “At the beginning of your turn, if you control the most creatures in this lane, you deal 2 damage to your opponent”. This may feel gimmicky but it is a dynamic idea that serves as an interesting way to show which player has the most tactical mind and alterable play style. Most games have one plain lane with no special rules and one “shadow lane” which stop your creatures placed there from being attacked by other creatures on the turn they are summoned.
Elder Scrolls: Legends is a fantastic addition to the digital card game market, with its amazing mechanics, card design and balance. As of 27th July 2017 Legends is now available on mobile phones. With the addition of these devices we can expect to see Legends become increasingly popular.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends (Reviewed on iOS)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
An excellent competitor to the other big brand digital card games out there. Amazing art, entertaining stories and intriguing gameplay make this a game that will quickly draw players in.