Chronicle: Runescape Legends is nothing like Hearthstone, and it's all the better for it | PCGamesN

Chronicle: Runescape Legends is nothing like Hearthstone, and it's all the better for it

Chronicle: Runescape Legends 1

Chronicle: Runescape Legends has an image problem - it's an online card game set in the universe of a popular and long-running MMO. As such it's bound to draw parallels with Blizzard's own behemoth deck-builder, Hearthstone - a game it actually has very little in common with.

Got decks on the brain? Check out our best PC card games

It’s a shame Chronicle will draw those assumptions, because it’s actually a clever subversion of the traditional card game. Don’t take my word for it, though – you can play the game right now on Steam.

Play Runescape: Chronicle

Subversive how? Rather than playing cards against your opponent, you lay them for your own character, or Legend, to face. I know: try to gather up your recently exploded grey matter though, there’s more to cover. 

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The grand concept of Chronicle is that Legends from the Runescape universe are duelling each other via a magical storybook on which each match takes place. It’s cosy like a fire lit log cabin full of St Bernards, each one carrying a more luxurious brandy on its collar than the next. Characters all have the appearance of tabletop models, and their animations are endearingly evocative of an unseen hand picking them up and bashing them into each other. 

In fact, the game started as a physical prototype. Its developers built actual decks and played around with the rules for a long time before arriving on the 3D, storybook concept. This also lends itself easily to VR implementation, too - there's already an Oculus build up and running. It's currently wrestling some UI challenges, but there's obvious potential in a VR game that doesn't feel compelled to take you on a rollercoaster ride of some sort.

Chronicle: Runescape Legends 2

Each match takes place over a maximum of five ‘chapters,’ set in iconic Runescape landscapes, during which each player has the opportunity to play up to four cards, as I mentioned, on their own Legend. 

Rather than chipping away at your opponent’s stats, you’re instead trying to buff your own: health, damage, weapon damage, armour, and gold. Play a monster card for your own Legend to face and you might lose some health as the two battle, but gain damage, gold, or both. That increased damage will allow you to slay the next monster without taking a health hit. Or the gold might let you play an expensive card next round that deals damage to your opponent equal to one of your stats.

Chronicle: Runescape Legends 4

Yeah, you can totally mess with your opposite number’s cards. You might have carefully calculated that you’ll just about have enough health to take down that monster in three cards time by gaining health from the preceding cards, and will thus earn a massive damage boost heading into the final chapter.

However – and this is particularly likely if the other player is using Ariane the mage – your opponent might have played a card that buffed the damage or health of one of your enemies, and just like that you’re out of health – cooked. The risk/reward is strong with this one.

Once you get your head around the different card types – enemies, allies, modifiers and utility cards that might, for example, let you take a health hit and redraw two more – your attention soon turns to laying them down in a sequence that will lead to a combo.

Manage your temporary and permanent buffs well enough, and you’ll head into the final chapter’s Legend-on-Legend duel with a massive advantage and take apart your foe in a couple of hits. Anticipate the flow of the game incorrectly, and you’ll be lucky to even make it as far as that duel.

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It's the wildly opposing strategies playing out at once that makes Chronicle such an interesting set of rules and variables. The Raptor, for example, is all about building up armour and damage, and his cards are tailored as such. Ariane's magical abilities let you constantly mess with the other player, however. Ozan's cards are geared towards accruing - and outright stealing - gold. Linza the blacksmith might be the most interesting, and most challenging - her success depends on building up weapon damage, which requires expert timing, but is incredibly satisfying to pull off. 

There’s a lot to Chronicle I haven’t sampled yet – the deck-building metagame, the offline ‘Gauntlet’ mode, and many new cards and Legends who haven’t made it into the pre-release version yet. However, I’ve seen the gang of instant hardcore players who took root in the Chronicle room at the last Runefest, and I’ve played enough to see the long-game appeal. 


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O.C.D. avatarMouldy avatarAnAuldWolf avatarQDP2 avatarNerdCrusherX avatarLaughterSong avatar
O.C.D. Avatar
2 Years ago

This looks so lush - I've seen the trailer now too (, genuinely looks unique... really looking forward to the Beta! :)

QDP2 Avatar
1 Year ago

I wish I could say that Elder Scrolls Legends also carved it's own space into the CTG catagory, but unfortunately I feel unable to do so.

Not that I would let out any comparisons between ES:Legends and Hearthstone though, being under NDA and all :P

Mouldy Avatar
2 Years ago

Mod Voice Kappa123

AnAuldWolf Avatar
1 Year ago

It's honestly not difficult to look different from (and better than) Hearthstone. I'm often insulted by how half-arsed Blizzard's aesthetics are, but I guess it works for people who don't think about it a whole lot. Frankly, older indie card game Shadow Era has a better aesthetic than Hearthstone.

I'll never understand Blizzard fans, I think it's down to a complete lack of any aesthetic appreciation for art. An absolute absence thereof. It's the same with Overwatch, the depiction of human beings is kind of frickin' awful. The way the women are designed just says "Wouldn't you like to own this?" and gave rise to what I can only call 'waifu culture' in Overwatch.

As a person to whom aesthetics matter, I could never play a Blizzard game. So, yes, this looks much better by default of not being a Blizzard game. I'm sorry but they really are that bad at aesthetics.

NerdCrusherX Avatar
1 Year ago

Cringed at "wouldn't you like to own this?" What drugs do you do? How sensitive can you be sweety, the females aren't over sexualized at all. Get over yourself and join the real world. Millions of people love Blizzards aesthetic, but you're not hip for disliking it.

LaughterSong Avatar
1 Year ago

Why the Blizz hate? Did a gang of Kobolds gank you?

I have played EQ, EQ2, AION, Lineage, ESO, WoW, and many other MMORPGs as well as a few MOBAs and CTG games.

Aesthetics matter but only in a minor degree. Over all Game Immersion trumps Aesthetics. However...

The most vital and paramount characteristic in a successful MMO game (Blizzard is Very Successful) is Game Balance & Programming that is effective; character balance, skills that make sense & compliment other player skills, dungeons and raids that work with a cohesive group of players that have an epic feel to them.

I would take a 12 year old game with lower end graphics that works beautifully than a pretty game like AION with busted broken classes, dungeons, and skills & programming.

This applies to CTG as well.

Besides WoW, OverWatch, HearthStone etc have exceptional game immersion - ESPECIALLY within WoW - Where I can escape and find myself lost in some enchanted wood riding my trusty mount.