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Video Game / The Elder Scrolls: Legends

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The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a free-to-play Collectible Card Game based on the The Elder Scrolls series, developed originally by Dire Wolf Digital and then by Sparkypants Studios, and published by Bethesda Softworks. The open beta went live on PC on August 4, 2016, and official launch was March 9, 2017; it also has since been released on Mac as well as iOS and Android tablets and mobile devices.

The game is similar to other CCGs such as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and Shadowverse. Legends makes it more difficult for one player to dominate the game: the playing field is split into two "lanes" (with most creatures only able to attack enemies in the same lane as them), and upon losing set amounts of health, players have the chance to draw and play a bonus card during the opponent's turn.

In addition to normal matches, other play options include the Arena (which allows players to draft decks one card at a time to defeat 9 opponents with less than 3 losses), Stories (campaigns with matches themed to the story, which earn you new cards), and events (such as tournament-style "Rumble" events, or the Chaos Arena, which is a Sheogorath-themed Arena that adds silly art and unique lanes with different rules.)


Decks can be made up of cards from one or two "attributes" (combinations of two attributes are referred to as "classes"):

  • Strength (Red): Strength specializes in dealing damage: creatures with lots of attack power, weapons, and spells. Features mostly Nords, Orcs, Redguards and Wood Elves, and creatures such as giants, Daedra, and werewolves.
  • Intelligence (Blue): An emphasis on magic and creatures with tricky abilities. Features mostly High Elves, Dark Elves, Bretons and Redguards, with abilities such as shielding damage and summoning atronachs.
  • Willpower (Yellow): Willpower is best at overwhelming the opponent with numbers and boosting the stats of your creatures; it also has many "guard" creatures to help put up strong defenses. Features mostly High Elves, Imperials, and Khajiit and Nords.
  • Agility (Green): Agility specializes in sneaky moves: taking down enemies in one hit with "lethal" creatures, and moving creatures from lane to lane. Features mostly Khajiit, Argonians, and Wood Elves and Dark Elves and creatures such as goblins.
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  • Endurance (Purple): Endurance rewards a long game and features large creatures, magicka-ramping, healing, and guards. Features mostly Orcs, Bretons, Argonians and Imperials, and creatures such as vampires and other undead.
  • Neutral (Gray): Not considered an attribute in and of itself. Neutral cards can be included in any deck regardless of attributes/class, and feature miscellaneous items and creatures, such as Dwarven automatons.

Each combination of two Attributes is named after a class from the games, and loosely refers to the preferred playstyle for the race which is found in this combination (for example almost all Nords are either Strength or Willpower). In addition to the mono or dual attributes decks, the Houses of Morrowind expansion introduced "faction" decks that allow the use of cards from three colors, but have a larger minimum deck size, with five different possible factions representing the Great Houses of the Dunmer. Alliance War introduced the remaining five three-color combinations with its own five factions.

This game provides examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: You can play characters from different eras, such as Queen Ayrenn and General Tullius, at the same time.
  • An Axe to Grind: Several cards, particularly ones featuring Nords, depict the character wielding an axe. There are also axe item cards that you can equip to creatures, such as Ancestor's Battleaxe.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The "rune" system is designed for this. The first time you reach 25, 20, 15, 10, and 5 health, you draw a card, which can help keep you from getting behind. If the card says "Prophecy" on it, you can play it right away during your opponent's turn: this can allow you to, say, put out a guard before their creature can attack, or even destroy a creature, and it can help turn the tide of battle pretty quickly when you're losing.
  • Anti-Magic: Some cards, such as Mage Slayer and Iron Atronach, can't be damaged by actions (which are often spells).
  • Anti Poop-Socking: There's a cap on how much gold you can earn in matches per day. You can even earn a title, "The Persistent", for reaching the limit.
  • Anti-Rage Quitting: If you disconnect during a match, you automatically lose the game, which also means your rank decreases accordingly.
  • Apologetic Attacker: "Sorry" is one of the emote options, so you can do this (whether genuinely or sarcastically is your choice.)
  • The Archmage: The appropriately-named Indoril Archmage. He's a 6/6 with Guard, that deals 6 damage to all enemy creatures in his lane when killed (which is enough to kill most normal-sized creatures).
  • Arc Villain: Naarifin - the Thalmor general that led the attack on the Imperial City during the Great War before the events of Skyrim - is the villain of the default/tutorial story, "The Forgotten Hero".
  • Ascended Meme: Several memes from the other games make an appearance here:
    • Arrow in the Knee has its own card.
    • Just like in Skyrim, if you kill a Prized Chicken, you summon a bunch of Angry Villagers.
    • Lydia always gets in your way, although this time it's by guarding both lanes rather than standing in doorways.
    • You get an Adoring Fan upon becoming Arena champion, he will eventually respawn after being killed, and he cannot be silenced.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The strategy of aggro decks (usually at least part Strength), naturally. Strength cards have this as their hat, focusing primarily (if not solely) on smashing the opponent's defenses and wearing down their health quickly with Breakthrough and Charge creatures, many of which have fairly high health.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some of the higher-cost cards:
    • Alduin is a powerful 12/12 that destroys all other creatures and summons a dragon from your discard pile at the start of every turn, but he's the highest-cost card starting at 20 magicka (decreasing by 2 for each dragon in your discard pile). Even if you ramp your magicka and manage to play enough dragons, you're still going to have to play a long game before you decrease his cost enough and gain enough magicka to play him.
    • Similarly, Iron Atronach is a 12/12 with Breakthrough, Guard, Regenerate, and can't be targeted with actions, but also costs 12 magicka and can be easily killed with Lethal creatures.
    • The Night Mother, at least if you're trying to earn the card's effect (deal 20 damage to the opponent, gain 20 health, draw up to 10 cards); while it's a cheap card, the requirement for the effect to trigger is to kill 20 enemy creatures, which isn't easy. It's more likely to be used to gain Slay benefits by killing the small 0/1 creatures you can generate with it.
    • Divayth Fyr deals 6 damage to a random enemy when played, and on each turn summons one of his Daughters which will also deal 6 damage and are a decently-sized 6/6. However, he's expensive at 11 magicka, and as a 6/6 he's small for his cost and thus vulnerable to being killed by Actions and Creatures roughly half his cost - and you absolutely need him to live for at least one turn to make him worth the magicka you sank into him.
    • Jarl Balgruuf instantly wins you the game at the start of your turn if both your lanes are completely filled. However, Balgruuf himself is a meager 3/3 for 7 magicka, and since the effect triggers at the start of your turn, he and all your creatures have to survive at least one of your opponent's turns, and if your opponent lacks the resources to kill even one of your creatures (especially the tokens that Balgruuf himself summons), you're probably winning by a country mile anyway. Of course, he's perfectly respectable on his own - 3 bodies in separate lanes for one card is never a terrible deal - but the instant win falls under this category.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Grisly Gourmet can turn creatures into sweetrolls, and Wabbajack, as in the main games, can transform a card into a random creature (or a sweetroll).
  • Bar Brawl: Occurs in two of the story matches: the appropriately-named "The Brawl" from "The Forgotten Hero", and "Cloudy Dregs Inn" in "The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood".
  • Barrier Warrior: Several cards come with, or have the ability to give another creature, a "Ward", which means that they avoid taking damage the first time they're attacked.
  • Battlecry: All creature cards have a line of dialogue (well, for the ones that can talk anyway) for entering play and one for actually attacking.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: You can concede a match before the other player strikes the final blow.
  • BFS: The Heirloom Greatsword, which is depicted as being nearly as tall as the person carrying it, and gives the creature +5/+0.
  • Boring, but Practical: Guard cards, such as Protector of the Innocent; even if they're relatively small and do nothing but guard, they can come in very useful, especially if you draw it as a Prophecy when one of your runes is broken: using it as a shield before your enemy can attack again can be the difference between losing and winning.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Downplayed; everything in-game (stories, card packs, event tickets, etc) can be purchased with in-game gold, although you can spend money on them instead. You can even earn gold, soul gems, packs, etc for free by linking your Twitch and Bethesda accounts and putting a Legends stream on in the background.
  • Canon Foreigner: Legends features a lot of, well, legendary characters from Elder Scrolls lore, but the Story mode has characters created for Legends itself, many of whom have their own cards.
  • Catchphrase: The enter play/attack dialogue. Several have become somewhat memetic, such as Imperial Grunts' "Your orders," which can be heard up to four times in a row when summoned by Imperial Reinforcements.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: The card rarities - Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary - correspond with a color: white, blue, purple, and gold.
  • Cosmetic Award: You can get "premium" (animated) legendaries for ranking high in Rumble/Melee events, and an alternate-art premium card just for entering Grand Melee events, no matter how you place. You can also earn "titles" from completing achievements, which appear under your name in games.
  • Crutch Character: Aggro decks rely on low-cost creatures that can do a lot of damage early on, but if they're not able to get ahead early on, that can spell trouble for them.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Decks with Willpower are good at this. Fill your lanes with Imperial Grunts and put up a Divine Fervor or two (which gives +1/+1), and your little 1/1s are suddenly dealing a bunch of damage when they all get a chance to attack.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: Breaking an opponent's rune. You might be able to deal a lot of damage, but you also might be putting the perfect card(s) in your opponent's hand - or even triggering a Prophecy which can allow them to put up a guard or even destroy one of your creatures during your turn before you can attack with your next creature.
  • Defeat Means Playable: In the Story modes, your opponent's decks will often feature a new card that you earn upon defeating them.
  • Deflector Shield: Ward. It protects the creature from taking damage when first hit (though does not block "destroy this creature".)
  • Developers' Foresight: All creatures have audio for entering play and attacking - even creatures that start with 0 attack, and creatures such as Ageless Vampire who normally transform rather than being summoned, but have the chance to be through special circumstances like a Reanimation lane.
  • Diving Save: Getting a creature with Guard on a prophecy and putting it in the way of an enemy creature to stop it from attacking you is essentially this.
  • Down to the Last Play: Many games can happen like this, especially since the Rune/Prophecy system is designed to help players catch up when they lose too much health. Many a match gets the tables turned when a player draws a Guard prophecy card on their 5-health rune.
  • Dynamic Entry:
    • Charge lets creatures attack right away when played, without having to wait until the next turn. Similarly, Battle has them immediately attack an enemy creature when played; this differs from Charge in that it includes creatures under Cover, doesn't include the other player, and that you are unable to equip them with items or buff them first.
    • Some cards, when summoned, deal damage (without attacking) or destroy a creature or support: special mention goes to Alduin who destroys all other creatures when summoned.
  • El Cid Ploy: Done in the default story, "The Forgotten Hero": in the story Kellen tells, the Emperor is wounded, and the Hero dons the Emperor's armor to fight Naarifin for the final battle. After his tale finishes, Kellen heavily hints to Isha (one of his audience) that she should do the same with her dying warchief's armor.
  • Enemy Summoner: Plenty of these. Some cards, like Spider Lair, summon a creature every turn; others do it based on a trigger (such as Ancient Lookout who summons them when you play a dragon).
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The Surly Barkeep in the "Fall of the Dark Brotherhood" story.
    • The Emperor from "The Forgotten Hero" is only ever referred to by title. However, players of Skyrim and lore enthusiasts may recognize him as Titus Mede II.
    • Several cards clearly depict a specific character from the games, such as Winterhold Illusionist which shows Drevis Neloren, the Illusion master from the College of Winterhold in Skyrim. This is possibly to keep them from being unique cards so that they can have several copies in a deck.
  • Faction Calculus:
    • Willpower (Yellow) is arguably the Horde, since it is the attribute with the most ways to generate lots of small creatures (tokens in particular) and group-based stats boost, meaning that any deck that plays willpower is encouraged to swarm the field with creatures.
    • Endurance (Purple) is the Powerhouse: It has access to magicka acceleration and has lots of large, high-cost creatures. Thus, Endurance players are generally motivated to focus on summoning large, powerful creatures while using defensive tactics to survive the early game.
    • Strength (Red) is the Glass Cannon: It has lots of high-power-low-health creatures and stats boosts that buff the power (but not health). This gives Strength ridiculous firepower at times, but its defense is rather lackluster in comparison.
    • Agility (Green) is the Subversive: It utilizes a large number of small creatures capable of bypassing ward or tactics that can catch opponents off-guard, such as suddenly changing lanes. Agility's playstyle is very sneaky.
    • Intelligence (Blue) is the Balanced: It has a fair amount of removal and creatures with ward, giving it decent capacity at defending. Meanwhile, it also has its share of low health creatures (that can nonetheless deal a lot of damage).
  • Forced Tutorial: You start the game in Story mode - the first match of The Forgotten Hero - to teach you how to play before you can get to the main menu.
  • Gathering Steam: Magicka increases one per turn, with a normal of maximum of 12. Some cards can help you ramp it up by increasing your maximum by 1, which allows you to go over 12.
  • Glass Cannon: Creatures used in aggro decks are often this, such as Graystone Ravager, which is a 4/1 creature. One of the biggest by far is Bog Lurcher, whose 1 health means it'll die if so much as tickled, but with a massive 9 Power, you do not want it wailing on your face.
  • Go Through Me: Creatures with "Guard" must be attacked before you can attack the other player or creatures in the lane without it. Lydia, in particular, guards both lanes.
  • Graceful Loser: All of the "concede" quotes are polite. There's also a "Good game" emote available, as a friendly way to wrap up matches.
  • Guide Dang It!: Unlike most cards, which are pretty clear on what they'll do, the Adoring Fan's text "Adoring Fan will return" doesn't really explain what will happen. It means that he'll randomly be summoned at the start of a future turn after being killed.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Some cards, like Fire Storm and Dawn's Wrath, can damage or destroy multiple creatures (usually confined to one lane, but some affect both.)
  • Heroic Second Wind: The Rune/Prophecy system can result in this. A player who's low on health might get just the cards they need thanks to their runes breaking and can make a comeback.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One of the possible special game rules during the Chaos Arena event is "Your Own Worst Enemy", where the players use each other's decks, so they'll be fighting against their own deck.
  • An Ice Person: Several ice-related spells are available, which either deal damage or shackle a creature.
  • Instant-Win Condition
    • Jarl Balgruuf has one; you win if both lanes are full at the start of your turn.
    • Unite The Houses is similar to Coalition Victory from Magic: The Gathering in requiring that you have cards in play of every single color/attribute in order to win instantly. Easier said than done, given that you can only have up to three attributes per deck.
    • Some of the Story mode matches have win conditions too, such as "Hilltop Shrine" from "The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood", which requires you to kill 6 of the creatures by using Lethal, and "Crime Spree" from "Return to Clockwork City", which requires you to commit four "crimes": vandalism (destroy a support or rune), burglary (steal a card), assault (wound a creature), and murder (kill a chicken).
  • Insufferable Genius: Lillandril Hexmage, whose quotes are "They'll never outsmart me." and "Brains over brawn!"
  • I Shall Taunt You: One of the emote options is "Taunt".
  • Joke Character: The Prized Chicken, a 5-cost 0/1 creature that, when killed, summons a lane full of 1/1 Angry Villagers. 5 magicka is quite a big investment, especially considering the chicken doesn't do anything on its own, and its effect doesn't quite make up for it. Not to mention, there's nothing stopping the opponent from simply ignoring the chicken. It's mainly there just for fun.
    • Isle of Madness brings you the Giant Chicken which is not as easy to ignore at 5/5.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: You can concede a match if you've realized that you can't win and don't want to wait for the opponent to finish it.
  • Large Ham:
    • Alduin. "DAAR LEIN LOS DII!"Translation 
    • Sheogorath, who takes over for the Arena announcer during the Chaos Arena event.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Tazkad the Packmaster, a 6/6 with Breakthrough and Charge. Swiftwing Dragon is similarly large as a 5/5 with Charge. Child of Hircine is a 6/7 that can attack again on the same turn if it kills a creature, so she can clear out multiple small creatures and hit the opponent for 6 on the same turn.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields are available to be equipped to creatures, and typically add to their defense.
  • Monty Haul:
    • When the Heroes of Skyrim expansion went live, all players got a free 50-card deck. The other decks could be purchased with gold for a reasonable price, and between the five decks a large portion of the Skyrim cards were covered.
    • Free card packs are given out to those who log in during Chaos Arena weekends.
    • There's Twitch Drops, where if you link your Twitch and accounts and watch Legends streams you get rewards. While they've nerfed the rewards from Twitch, for the first month or so after being implemented, it'd give either 600 gold (enough for 6 card packs), 1500 soul gems (more than enough to summon a legendary of your choice), or a random Legendary, roughly once per 24 hours.
    • The game has daily login rewards, which give you gold, soul gems, a random card, or a card pack per day, up to a Legendary card if you log in every day in a month. Later changed so that you only have to log in for most of the month to obtain a Legendary card.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: Withered Hand Cultist makes actions cost more for both players. Bedeviling Scamp makes all cards cost a minimum of 3 magicka.
  • Nerf: These occur from time to time if a card is too powerful for its cost, or if it causes particular deck types to win too often. When a nerf is issued, logging into the game will display a notification showing the cards that were changed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Not paying enough attention to card abilities, or playing the wrong card, can mess you up badly.
  • Noob Cave: There's a Practice mode where players can practice against the AI and earn soul gems (though it does not count toward achievements and daily quests.)
  • One-Hit Kill: The Lethal keyword gives creatures the ability to kill the other creature in one hit, as long as they deal at least one damage.
  • Play Every Day: The daily rewards and quests encourage this.
  • Playing with Fire: There are several fire-related actions: Fireball, Firebolt, Fire Storm, Cruel Firebloom, etc.
  • Power Parasite: Ahnassi, who steals all keywords (Lethal, Guard, Ward, Drain, etc) from enemy creatures that are in play.
    "Ahnassi finds it useful to use her enemies' strength against them."
  • Prepare to Die: This phrase is what about half of the races say as their Taunt emote.
  • Random Number God: Not quite as prevalent as in some other CCGs, but it occurs:
    • Is the card you're drawing on a rune break going to be a prophecy (and just the card you're hoping for)?
    • Some cards, like Cruel Firebloom and Brutal Ashlander, will hit a random target, so you'll be crossing your fingers that it hits the right enemy (or, if coming at you, doesn't kill the creature you want to keep alive).
    • Some cards will have an effect applied in cases such as "if the top card of your deck is an Agility card", and Illusory Mimic gets the keywords of the top three cards of your deck (so you'd better hope that they're creatures and have good keywords....)
  • Shock and Awe: Many actions utilize lightning and electricity. Most of these are in blue.
  • Single-Use Shield: Wards break after the first time they block damage.
  • Splash Damage Abuse: Different actions can be used to hit creatures that are behind guards or Cover.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: The effect "Silence" clears any buffs, keywords, and other abilities from a creature.
  • Stonewall: The two most notable are Portcullis, a 0/9 with Prophecy and Guard, and Oldgate Warden, a 0/5 with Guard and Regenerate (heals itself at the start of the player's turn). Giving cards like this a Ring of Imaginary Might makes them dangerous, as it gives them two more health and then makes their power equal to their health, so suddenly you have an 11/11 or 7/7.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Cards like Close Call enable you to return one of your creatures to your hand. Doing so means that when you play it again, it'll be back at its normal health and if it has a Summon ability it'll be activated again.
  • Taking You with Me: Some cards do damage to both players, so it is fully possible for both players to be killed at once; the player who played the card that dealt the damage is considered the winner in this case. There's even an achievement for winning a game at negative health.
  • Total Party Kill: Not so easy to wipe the board due to having two separate lanes (and most cards only affecting one lane), but cards like Arrow Storm can manage it if they're all small creatures. And then there's The Red Year.
  • Turns Red: Fearless Northlander gains +2 attack when he takes damage.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Though emotes are the only way to communicate with the other player, some do this, typically via spamming. Not as common as in other games, however, and can be muted.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: The match ends when one of the players dies, even if they've got a full board of creatures.
  • When Trees Attack: Spriggan creatures are basically sentient trees.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Some creatures summon a similar creature upon their death, such as the 1/1 Deathless Draugr that summons a 1/1 Skeleton upon death. There are also lane types that do with: the Graveyard lane summons a 1/1 Rotting Draugr when a creature is killed, and in Reanimation lanes, when a non-Reanimated creature dies for the first time, it returns to play as a 1/1.
  • Zerg Rush: A common ability of Strength-or-Willpower-using decks, particularly ones that summon a lot of Nord Firebrands (a 0-cost 1/1 with Charge, which means it can attack immediately.) Willpower also have lots of ways to summon Imperial Grunts (a vanilla 1/1) and/or Colovian Troopers (a 2/2 with Guard), along with plenty of area buffs to make use of their numbers advantages.

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