Hello friends! Kenji here, with attempts to regale you with the wonderful new card game that is The Elder Scrolls: Legends (TESL). If you watch my stream with any regularity you’ll know that I’ve become quite fond of this game, which is a nice alternative to many of the other available card games you’ve probably seen on the market. People wail and moan about how The Elder Scrolls: Legends and games like it are knock-offs of Hearthstone, but that quickly undermines the actual gameplay and strategy. Let’s ignore all the comparisons and simply jump into an introduction of the game and what you can expect, should you choose to give it a go.
What is TESL? Let’s take a snippet from the Bethesda (makers of the game, in conjunction with Dire Wolf Digital who employs such notable Magic names as Luis Scott-Vargas, Conley Woods, Matt Nass, Patrick Chapin, etc) site.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a competitive strategy card game set in the Elder Scrolls universe. From building your deck to taking on foes in one of the game’s three exciting modes, every decision you make will require strategy and careful planning.
Similar to Magic, TESL has five colors which are known as attributes. The five attributes are Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, and Endurance. Each attribute has specific sets of keywords and abilities, and unique cards that are crafted only for that specific attribute. Unlike in Magic you’re only able to play with up to two of the attributes, leaving you ten different combinations of strategies to try out versus opponents. With those bare basics out of the way, let’s get down to the actual gameplay.
The number one thing that sets The Elder Scrolls: Legends apart from other strategic card games in its genre is the fact that it uses a two-lane system. Barring a few exceptions that note otherwise, creatures can only attack units in their own lane. Furthermore, the lanes have different elements that set them apart beyond just a border. The left lane is designated as the ‘field lane’. Creatures summoned here have no unique abilities beyond themselves. The right lane is what’s known as the ‘shadow lane’. Creatures summoned here are granted cover for the first turn they are cast, meaning they cannot be attacked by opposing creatures in the lane while they have cover. As represented in the following image, you can see that my creature in the right lane has a cloud graphic on it. This represents cover.
There are many intricacies and strategy surrounding when and where to play creatures in the field versus shadow lane, but as this is simply an introduction to the game we’ll save that for a future article.
Another aspect of TESL that is unique are the ‘prophecy’ cards. Unlike Magic and more akin to Hearthstone, TESL players can only make actions on their own turn and can choose whether to attack the opposing player or the opposing creatures. Prophecy cards add an extra layer to the game and disrupt this flow of going back and forth, only having priority on your turn. To understand prophecy cards we must first take a step back and talk about runes.
At the start of every game, visually shown around your character portrait, you have five runes. Every time you lose life in increments of five, starting at 25, you lose a rune and draw a card. (So 25, 20, 15, 10, 5). This helps to balance extremely aggressive decks with slower control ones. Notably, this only happens the first time a rune is lost. If you were to gain back that health and then lose it you would not regain your rune or draw another card. Easy enough, let’s get back to prophecies.
To further minimize a world where the player who is most aggressive wins, if you happen to ever draw a card with prophecy off of rune loss, you may cast it for free. Prophecy cards are normal cards in all aspects of the game except for when it comes to breaking runes. This is the only time in TESL where you are ever able to play things during your opponents’ turns. Here is an example of a prophecy being drawn off of rune loss.
My opponent hit me from 11 health to 6 with their 5/5, knocking off the 10 health rune. The card I drew off rune loss was a prophecy and I am now able to cast it for free on my opponents turn, if I should choose to. The game will prompt you or the opponent when a prophecy is drawn off of a rune, and you have the option of whether or not you would actually like to cast it. Again, this combats extremely aggressive decks that would otherwise dominate the game. Unlike Hearthstone (and don’t get me wrong I played a BUTT-ton of Hearthstone, hitting Legendary just about every season I played) this unique characteristic of The Elder Scrolls: Legends means you have to weigh the damage output on your opponent. Instead of just herp-a-derp attacking face with no backlash, getting in for one or two points of damage while knocking off an opposing rune is oftentimes not worth it.
Check it out!
The two-lane system and runes are what make The Elder Scrolls: Legends a unique and strategic competitive card game variant, one that I have come to enjoy immensely. There are plenty of other mechanics that you’ll find throughout the game that resemble other similarly styled games, but those are much more intuitive and you should be able to figure them out quickly if you decide to play the game. Best of all, it’s free! It has a pay method similar to Hearthstone, if you’re savvy of that, but you can pay for packs or simply do quests and earn gold which can in turn be spent various ways.
The single-player campaign is a great way to get a feel for the basics of the game, and you’ll acquire many of the constructed playable cards along the way of finishing up the single-player mode. For those that are much more fans of limited, The Elder Scrolls: Legends also has an ‘Arena’ where you can draft cards and either play against the computer or opposing players. If you’ve ever had any interest in trying out a game that I believe to be much more in depth than Hearthstone, and still at a fast-paced speed, I highly recommend checking out this game which you can do here. Again, it’s free and still in open-beta. Hope to see you there.