I’ve never spent considerable time with a collectible card game, I tried Hearthstone earlier this year after seeing everyone rave about it for so long, and I didn’t get the attraction. I’m not going to proclaim that The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the new CCG set in the Scrolls universe is going to keep me playing for months on end, but it looks fun, to a newcomer at least.
I think Legends will likely succeed on a personal level where Hearthstone didn’t, is that I have a feeling for the lore, races and types of characters you will come across in story mode. It means I’ve got a connection to the cards that are at the heart of these games. I think for a niche of players, their initial buy-in to a CCG will be based on their knowledge of the universe the game is set in, and I’m one of those. So of course, if EA turned around and decided to make a Command and Conquer (pre-Generals of course) CCG, I’d be all over it.
Anyway, I’ve started dabbling into the open beta of Legends (get it via the official website) and I’ve been enjoying myself as I work my way through the first Act of the story mode. The first Act does a good job of teaching you the basics of the game, all while starting to tie you into a wider story. I’m not sure where the story will go, but doubtless it will touch on some of the usual Scrolls focal points. But with the early stages introducing you to brigands, wolf packs and an Argonian pirate, I get the feeling you will be in safe hands.
Of course, the first Act only introduces you to the basics of combat, and you only start to learn about deck building during the last chapters. Flicking through the beginner’s guides on the official site, it is clear there is a lot for me to learn and appreciate. Having only played with one deck so far, based on strength and willpower (a classic Crusader class), there will be a lot for me to learn when I start with my new deck based agility and endurance (that Argonian pirate, he’s a Scout). Managing my decks, and learning when to use them will be key as I progress through the story, where I will hopefully unlock more packs as I progress, to help build depth to my decks.
You can buy extra packs with 100 gold coins (the in-game currency), or start splashing out the cash. Two packs will cost £2.29, seven will be £7.99 with pack sizes going up to 15, 40 and 60. If I keep playing Legends after the open beta, I probably will continue to treat it as a free game, making use of in-game gold to buy new packs, or buy Arena tickets.
Hardcore players will likely spend their time in the Arena, either against AI or human opponents. One run in the Arena will cost 150 gold, while you will also be able to buy Arena tickets. In the Arena, you will have a unique deck based on a chosen class and made up of 30 cards that you draft from choices of three different cards. Prizes are of course on offer for succeeding in the Arena, but three losses will end your adventure. If you enjoy playing against real opponents, you will be pleased to know they will have had to complete chapter 14 of the story to unlock the Solo Arena, and then complete a Solo Arena before entering the Versus Arena. By that point, I imagine any opponents will be skilled enough to offer a fair fight.
Quests look set to add a bit of spice to how you approach the game, and will probably determine whether Legends really gets its claws in me. My current quests (each offering 40 gold) are to win three games with either an agility or endurance based deck and to win a versus battle against a human opponent. They look set to be nice goals to work towards, and will undoubtedly encourage people to diversify their playing styles.
Before I finish, there are a few aspects of the story mode I have found interesting. As you progress through the chapters, you will train your cards to improve their rankings and abilities. At some stages, you will be able to change the direction that your card takes. Will your creature have a special summoning ability, or will it become a guard and protect your character from direct attacks in match? These are options to ponder, and you also have similar choices to make during the story. Will you take on a wolf and his associated card, or leave him behind and receive an item that could provide a crucial mid-game buff?
These are welcome choices to make, and experienced players will undoubtedly know what choice to make for the good of their deck. Personally, I’m more interested to see how some of these choices might impact on the story as you work through the Acts.
For an open beta, everything seems nicely polished, but I am sure Bethesda are keen to receive feedback on card and Class balancing. Will Legends be enough to lure Hearthstone players? I don’t know, but I am interested to see if it does enough to keep me playing past the beta.