A quick primer on Legends of Runeterra cards and their abilities

A quick primer on Legends of Runeterra cards and their abilities

Shuffle through more Legends of Runeterra guides

(Image credit: Riot Games)

How to play Legends of Runeterra: our full guide
Legends of Runeterra decks: the best around
Legends of Runeterra regions: a breakdown of each faction
Legends of Runeterra coins: card costs and microtransactions detailed
Legends of Runeterra champions: every one in the game
Legends of Runeterra vault: earn rewards weekly

To perform well and win games, it’s worth taking a closer look at the Legends of Runeterra cards and keywords as these will help you to understand how your deck works. Many units have special effects that can give them an advantage on the field. Spells can also be categorised based on their casting conditions.   

Split into six regions, the Legends of Runeterra cards encompass a long list of powerful mechanics, from halting enemy attacks for a round, to having strong post-death effects. The open beta introduces many keywords, and more are likely to be added in the future, so I’ll continue to update this guide. Simply refer back to this list when you need a refresher on how to effectively use your allies and spells. 

Legends of Runeterra cards: keywords, abilities, and layout


(Image credit: Riot Games)
  • Cost: The value in the blue circle. Outlines how many mana gems you have to spend to play the card. 
  • Power: The value in the orange shape. Outlines how much damage the unit can deal when they attack. 
  • Health: The value in the red shape. Outlines how much damage the unit can withstand before dying. 


There are several keywords that appear across the Legends of Runeterra cards descriptions. These cover effects, card behaviour, and basic actions. 

  • Allegiance: If the next card in your deck is from the same region, gain a buff when you summon this unit.
  • Double Attack: Deal damage twice: firstly with Quick Attack, then once in the normal phase.
  • Enlightened: The state where you have 10 mana gems.
  • Fleeting: This card will discard itself from your hand at the end of the round.
  • Frostbite: Set a unit’s Power to 0 this round.
  • Last Breath: An effect that activates when the unit dies.
  • Obliterate: Remove from the game entirely. Cannot benefit from death-related effects.
  • Play: An effect that occurs when you play a card from your hand.
  • Recall: Return a unit to the player’s hand. Remove all effects.
  • Strike: When a unit deals damage.
  • Strongest: The unit with the highest Power. If the Power is the same as other units, highest Health, then highest Cost.
  • Stun: Unit cannot attack or block for the rest of the round.
  • Support: Gives an effect to the attacking unit to the right of it.
  • Weakest: The unit with the lowest Power. If the Power is the same as other units, lowest Health, then lowest Cost.

Unit abilities

A card’s abilities are highlighted in a small badge, underneath the name of the card. These keywords relate to units, who can have more than one ability. 

  • Barrier: Negates the next amount of damage the unit will take. Lasts one round.
  • Can’t Block: Cannot block enemy attacks.
  • Challenger: Chooses which enemy unit will block its attack.
  • Elusive: Can only be blocked by another Elusive unit.
  • Ephemeral: Unit dies when it attacks or when the round ends.
  • Fearsome: Can only be blocked by enemies with 3 or more power.
  • Lifesteal: Damage dealt will heal your Nexus for the same amount.
  • Nexus Strike: An effect activates when a unit attacks the enemy Nexus.
  • Overwhelm: Excess damage is dealt to the enemy Nexus.
  • Quick Attack: Attack before other units.
  • Regeneration: Fully heals at the start of the round.
  • Tough: Take 1 less damage.

(Image credit: Riot Games)


Spells have three different cast times and may not always allow the enemy to respond. Check the keyword carefully to understand when the spell will cast during the match. If your opponent can respond, you will enter a back-and-forth sequence of spell casting with them. 

  • Burst: Casts instantly. Your opponent cannot attack before it finishes.
  • Fast: Can be played whenever. Your opponent can respond.
  • Slow: Can be cast outside combat (before or after). Your opponent can respond.

Some spells have abilities that are classified similarly to the unit abilities mentioned above. So far, only one exists:

  • Trap: Attaches to a card, when the card is drawn the effect activates.

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Level Up

Champions are the only cards that can Level Up and require the player to meet specific conditions to do so. Having an empty hand, for example. Levelling a champion unlocks special abilities and increases their Power and Health stats, which upgrades all duplicates of their card, too. 


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