Another fantasy IP joins the fray of computer card games, trying to compete with the domination of Hearthstone and the popularity of Gwent. The Elder Scrolls: Legends are here.

Magic: The Gathering has shown that you can build a world and a story around a trading card game. Well, it’s not really a story and not really a world, when you can change characters, plots, and even the setting whenever you like, but still. There’s some world-building into it.

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For years video game developers toyed with the concept of creating a proper electronic card game and yes, some titles such as Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers or Etherlords were pretty great, but not until the launch of Hearthstone has the genre gain much traction. And now we have Gwent, Duelyst and finally, The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Because Bethesda is trying to make something Elder Scrolls related, barring a new installment of the main franchise. But does the game have anything new to offer to the online card fan crowd or is it just rehashing the Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering gameplay with new graphics?

The Elder Scrolls: Legends adds a cool new idea, which changes the way you play. Instead of one board on which you summon your creatures, there are two separate lanes. So, when playing a creature card you have to decide which part of the board it will appear on. A creature in one lane can only attack enemies in the same lane (and the opposing player, of course). Practically speaking, this creates a new layer to the decision making process as you have to think twice before summoning a unit. Do you want to quickly attack the opponent or defend from the creatures in the other lane? Where should you put units with supporting abilities that give a boost to the statistics of their fellow laners? Additionally, lanes may have special rules that affect the creatures that populate them. For example, there’s Shadow, which makes newly placed creatures immune to attacks of the opponent. This is a cool new idea that mixes the genre a bit.

The lane ability addition is used for great effect in the story campaigns. Card games aren’t necessarily the best genre to present fascinating plots as their mechanics are simply not designed for this. What you can use are dialogues, videos, and additional modifiers. The Elder Scrolls: Legends uses lanes as those modifiers, mixing their abilities between stages or getting rid of one of the boards altogether. All in all, the story mode is a nice addition to the game as it introduces you to various gameplay components. It’s a great way to get new cards and some virtual currency to buy additional packs.

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The Elder Scrolls series has always been a bit more serious in handling its fantasy tropes than Blizzard and the WarCraft world, so there’s no fooling around here when it comes to the graphics. It’s all very Skyrim-like with much more realistic depictions of creatures (if you can call them realistic by any measure) with toned down colors and epic music in the background. Bethesda has made a wise choice not to try to compete with Blizzard’s foolery of blending fantasy and steampunk stuff together in a colorful mixture, so if you are tired of Hearthstone’s over-vibrant world, The Elder Scrolls: Legends will make you very happy.

When it comes to microtransactions, The Elder Scrolls: Legends doesn’t do anything novel really. You earn gold by playing the various modes which can be spent on new card packs or adventures, or you can pay with real money instead if you don’t have the time and patience to go through the plot. Bethesda has learned from Blizzard and Hearthstone to pace the gold gain tempo so that it takes a long time to buy a bigger set, so if you are thinking about playing The Elder Scrolls: Legends online, paying a bit is a good idea. Especially considering that Legends is a fun free-to-play title and you are an Elder Scrolls fan.

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When you put it into perspective, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is yet another fantasy card game built around the solid foundation of the Magic: The Gathering system, popularized among gamers by Hearthstone. If you are looking for a card game that is just starting to make rounds around the community, where you still stand a chance in an online game, and, additionally, you have an Elder Scrolls itch you need to scratch while waiting for another installment of the main series (don’t hold your breath, though), you can give it a go.

In the end, though, a free-to-play card game needs to last, build up a community, manage its events and new card packs properly. We shall see whether The Elder Scrolls: Legends will live long enough for it to become a proper card game phenomenon, but all the ingredients are there: it’s well developed, does not misrepresent the source material and adds just enough to be a bit new.