I recently received the opportunity to play in the Elder Scrolls: Legends beta. Having completed the entire Story mode, played a few Versus Battles, and reached Lv. 10, I believe I am now qualified to voice my thoughts about Elder Scrolls: Legends from the perspective of a new player.
Players are thrown directly into the Story mode, which initially serves as the tutorial for the game, but later evolves into an intriguing single player campaign. Simply playing through the Story is enough for players to unlock a variety of starter decks and level up. Upon completion of the Story mode, players will have obtained a collection large enough to experiment with a large array of decks. I appreciate this fact because not much is worse than being required to build decks with a very limited starting pool of cards in CCGs/TCGs.
The opponents faced in Story mode are properly balanced for players who are relatively new to the CCG/TCG genre. This fact is important because if the matches were too challenging, new players would be discouraged to continue playing. I believe Bethesda created the Story mode with the goal of teaching new players the core mechanics of the game without overwhelming them, a feat that they have splendidly accomplished.
The gameplay of Elder Scrolls: Legends has many similarities to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. For example, players start with 30 health and some of the same card mechanics can be found in both games. While many similarities exist between the two games, Elder Scrolls: Legends has enough unique qualities to warrant trying out. I will only focus on the mechanics that really stood out to me as innovative approaches to the CCG/TCG genre. More in-depth articles will be published at a later date to fully discuss those mechanics.
By far the most unique aspect of Elder Scrolls: Legends is the rune system and its accompanying mechanic, prophecies. At the beginning of each game, both players start with five runes. Once a player reaches a health threshold (starting from 25 and then decreasing in 5 health intervals), their rune for that threshold is broken. Breaking a player’s rune allows them to draw a card from their deck. If that card happens to be a prophecy, then that player may play the card for completely free.
Not only does the rune system affect one of the core mechanics of every CCG/TCG, drawing cards, but it can also completely turn the tide of a game if a prophecy was drawn. The implications of the rune system and prophecies will be shortly covered in a separate article. Currently, I believe runes and prophecies is an intriguing combination that really separates Elder Scrolls: Legends from other titles in the same genre.
Aside from the rune system and prophecies, another implementation Elder Scrolls: Legends has is a two-lane battlefield.
Multi-lane playing fields have been around in CCGs/TCGs for a very long time, but Elder Scrolls: Legends innovates this aspect. Rather than having separate lanes for specific creatures (such as ranged units in the back line and melee units in the front line), in Elder Scrolls: Legends, players may choose to play any creature in either lane. Creatures in separate lanes have minimal interactions with each other. Not only do players have to be mindful of which lane they play their creatures into to engage/avoid their opponents, they must also account for the various lane effects.
For example, one of the many different lanes is termed the “Shadow” lane.
This is because creatures (aside from those with the “Guard” keyword) played into that lane cannot be attacked by enemy creatures until the start of your next turn. Out-maneuvering your opponents across the two-lanes is vital to victory.
Lastly, I want to quickly touch on the implications of going second. Going second in Elder Scrolls: Legends does not award an extra card, as is traditional in CCGs/TCGs, but instead, gives the player an “Elixir of Magicka”.
The elixir has a maximum of three uses, with each use temporarily giving the player an extra magicka (the resource used to play cards). Only one use may be expended each turn to restrict players from playing a large minion right away. The elixir effectively lets the second player play creatures of a higher magicka cost before the first player three times. I am skeptical of how the elixir will affect the game. Having the power to command the flow of a game with more costly cards is a huge advantage. Personally, I think going second is more advantageous because of the elixir, but only time will tell how the win rate for going first/second settles.
There are many other topics to discuss about Elder Scrolls: Legends, but covering all of them would be too extensive for a first impressions article. Hopefully the specific mechanics I chose to write about gives a clearer image of how Elder Scrolls: Legends is different from other CCGs/TCGs, especially Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Overall, I’ve had a wonderful experience playing Elder Scrolls: Legends, and cannot wait to continue this journey. If you also got accepted into the beta, be sure to let me know how your experience was. Thanks for reading!