Legends of Runeterra dev breaks down balance patch goals

Get into the mind of a card game dev.

Image via Riot Games

Legends of Runeterra game designer Steve Rubin dropped five goals that he and the balance team have been working on over the course of the last year in the title.

Balancing is a fickle process that varies from game to game. Without any form of rotation built into the Legends of Runeterra organized play format, balancing properly can make or break the meta quickly. Over the past year, Rubin has encouraged the team “to measure patch success more by overall metagame disruption.” And in staying open with LoR players about dev goals, Rubin provided five “best patch outcomes” on Twitter that he believes the team should aim for with each balance update. 

Each of the five goals provides a form of disruption to the meta at the time of a balance patch. Some are trickier than others to pull off but can provide what players are looking for in a digital card game when executed correctly. 

  • New meta loop: Encourages deck and metagame experimentation with archetypes that are sitting on the fringe of the meta through buffs to underperformers. The new meta loop provides “a wide range of playable decks,” according to Rubin, with the best decks eventually becoming the meta over time. 
  • Regional and archetype diversity: Creating diversity amongst archetypes and regions is “a clear aspiration for any patch,” while being the toughest to execute, according to Rubin. 
  • Updating “never meta” champions and archetypes: This gets players crafting decks with champions that never get played. It also provides the LoR devs “confidence” when creating new champions, according to Rubin. 
  • Revert previous changes: Reverting old nerfs “are an easy path to disruption” in the meta, according to Rubin. The trick is to not bring back an old meta to a top-tier status that was nerfed for that reason.  
  • Create new decks: Updates from a patch create new decks within the meta. The changes are intended to bring about “freshness” while not becoming toxic. New content often brings about these types of changes, but they can occur from a balance patch as well. 

Within Patch 3.13, players will notice several nerfs and buffs that fit into one of these five goals. Bad patches can still happen, which is why hotfixes are sometimes needed (like for Kennen/Ahri). Overall, these five goals provide a solid strategy that keeps LoR fresh to play with each balance patch while providing room for experimentation and new designs. 

Players can check out every Legends of Runeterra balance change and the new meta it will likely bring about when Patch 3.13 releases on Aug. 17.