Legends of Runeterra effect keywords and mechanics explained

Here's a detailed explanation of several keywords in LoR.

legends of runeterra keywords terms effects
Image via Riot Games

Riot’s new digital card game Legends of Runeterra has been out for barely two days and it’s already been the third-most watched title on Twitch. It’s in an exclusive beta that several streamers and content creators are showing off on stream.

Whether you’re one of the lucky few who scored a beta access key from a stream giveaway or you’re just trying to enjoy the game as a fan, there’s new terms and keywords to learn from LoR. Here are explanations for some of LoR’s original and unique effects.

Related: Hands-on with Legends of Runeterra: Gameplay and first impressions

To check the meaning of keywords, right clicking will fill the screen with the card, allowing you to mouse over the particular effect for more details.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of keywords, but rather an explanation of some of the more original mechanics in the game. While some, such as Can’t Block, can be taken in the literal sense, there are new terms that might be confusing.

Allegiance: A card with this effect will activate if the top card of your deck also comes from the same region. Instead of race or class, LoR groups cards by using the regions in Runeterra, allowing for varied playstyles even if the deck is mono-region.

Barrier: Negates the next instance of damage taken. It’s like Hearthstone’s Divine Shield but only lasts for one round instead of until it’s popped. 

Challenger: Choose which enemy unit to block the Challenger. Due to LoR’s distinct positional advantage for defenders, good Challenger usage can really throw a defensive strategy out of whack.

Double Attack: Strike before and during an attack against its blocker. 

Enlightened: Activates only when you reach 10 max mana. Players gain a max mana gem every turn and there are cards that provide the player with empty mana gems.

Elusive: Elusive characters in LoR can be targeted by offensive spells and attacks, but can only be blocked by other Elusive units when attacking. It’s more like Magic: The Gathering‘s Flying, and not like Heathstone’s Stealth, or the unofficial Elusive term in that community.

Ephemeral: The unit dies when it attacks or after the end of the turn.

Fearsome: Can only be blocked by enemies with three or more Power.

Frostbite: Sets a unit’s Power to zero. Even on the same turn, the value can be increased by using spells or effects.

Lifesteal: Damage dealt by this unit heals the Nexus, not the card.

Nexus Strike: The effect triggers when the unit attacks the Nexus. You can’t actually target the Nexus with an attack, so it’s not as easy to activate as it sounds.

Overwhelm: Excess damage dealt by the unit will spill over to the Nexus, like in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Quick Attack: Strike first before its blocker, but only during the attack phase, not blocking. The splitting of an offensive and defensive phase means that some effects are only applicable in certain phases. Usually, units clash at the same time and both will take damage. Quick Attack means that cards will attack before their opponent does. If the Quick Attack unit kills its opponent, the unit doesn’t take any damage. This is a powerful offensive ability that allows glass cannons to survive battles.

Slow, Fast, and Burst Spells: Spell cards come in three different varieties.

  • Slow Spells can’t be cast during the battle phase and will take a turn to prep before taking effect, giving the opponent a chance to respond.
  • Fast Spells are much the same, but can be played in response to other Spell cards and can be used during the battle phase. 
  • Burst Spells resolve instantly, with no chance for a reaction. Unlike the other two spells, it doesn’t consume an action, allowing the player to immediately play another card.

Support: Attacking with a support unit will buff the unit to its right. It only applies when the unit is attacking, not all the time.