Star Guardian got me back into Legends of Runeterra in a big way. Since the release of Arcane I had only dabbled briefly in the digital collectible card game, playing a few matches here and there to build out my decks and stop myself from getting rusty. It was a good time, and beyond the regular release of new champions and expansions there wasn’t too much progression to worry about beyond Path of Champions. Absolutely no pressure to keep up.
That all changed with Star Guardian. Much like Arcane before it and the vanilla collection of regional battle passes, this magical girl event came outfitted with an extensive selection of goodies that could only be earned through in-game currency or a shitload of grinding. In order to earn rewards in Star Guardian you need to complete challenges that earn you specific experience points that feed into its battle pass and nothing else.
These might involve completing matches against real players or AI, dealing huge amounts of damage, or playing cards in creative and often unexpected ways. So much progress will come naturally, but the time investment required to ascend the ranks and unlock more cards and cosmetics increases the further you get, and things are unfairly skewed towards players who are always playing online against actual opponents. Call me casual if you want, but that isn’t really something I do. I mainly dabble in single player modes and go up against artificial intelligence, knowing perfectly well that I’m not good enough to hang with the big boys.
I’d earn a fraction of the experience playing Path of Champions or generic matches against the computer, while I was less and less lucky to find myself in play scenarios where actually completing challenges was a possibility. This meant that forward momentum was rare, and to stand any chance of progressing through the battle pass I needed to either change my tune or cough up some pennies. I did the latter for a bit, spending £20 or so to put my foot in the door and earn some rewards I had my eye on, but otherwise I tried my hand against fellow players and got my ass kicked. I wasn’t good enough, and so the game decided to punish me for it by saying I’d have to work harder to earn the same spoils.
Legends of Runeterra eclipses Hearthstone for me because it understands that digital card games hold appeal beyond competitive multiplayer. It has introduced new features and multiple updates to support that mantra, and I can’t be the only one who has been brought into the fold as a consequence. Yet here I am, being left behind by the very same game that once welcomed me with open arms after I became obsessed with Arcane’s cartoon lesbians.
I wish things were more consistent, or at least more forgiving towards solo players who aren’t interested in online multiplayer but still spend a huge amount of time with this game. Path of Champions can immerse you for hours, while playing against AI still nets experience and challenges progress in the majority of other circumstances, so why wouldn’t this carry over to Star Guardian. Make it make sense, and don’t keep me from adorable magical girl cosmetics just because I’m not ready for the big leagues quite yet.
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