Design Dive: Call of the Mountain

It’s sometimes difficult to tell the story of how something was designed, especially when there are a lot of moving pieces. It’s rarely a straightforward journey from point A to point B. You start with one set of ideas, but these sometimes shift as you discover something unexpected that demands more support, or when a solution to one problem offers a new path towards another. Legends of Runeterra’s design process is one of rapid prototyping and testing ideas early, starting first from core design pillars. We then shift our focus to champions and deck strategies, then to cards and mechanics, and finally to balance and polish.

All of this design work needs to be guided by a strong, central vision. For Targon, the team laid out our design pillars very early, informed by the themes of Targon and the champion roster: cosmic power, day and night, and the journey up the mountain. The challenge for design was figuring out how to translate these into cards and other gameplay experiences—and across not one, but three expansions.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how we developed the core gameplay identity of Targon, and how the first expansion for Call of the Mountain introduces it with various cards. We’ll also look at how champions from other regions bring their own crew to support Targon’s gameplay, and give you an idea of how it will evolve in the next two expansions. And lastly, we’ve packed in some anecdotes from the design process we hope you enjoy reading about.

Let’s head up the mountain!


Invoking Cosmic Power with Celestials

The highest peak of Mount Targon serves as a gate to the Celestial realm, said to be the home of Aspects who are abstract and beyond mortal comprehension. This flavor is key to Targon and its champions, so we knew we had to find a way to represent this cosmic power and divine aid from the stars.

In the early stages of design, we do a lot of our testing in paper—cards hastily written out so we can try ideas quickly, without investing in coding strange new abilities. During this time, we explored a few mechanics in the cosmic power vein—space gods that required spending multiple rounds worth of mana to summon, and aspects that possessed your existing units. Eventually, it was a deceptively simple idea from Mark “G-Major” Sassenrath that played the best.