Though most players of Legends of Runeterra may focus on the interactions of the cards or count numbers to assure victory or stave off defeat, what to do in those moments in between? Well, you could do some sightseeing into the Runeterra universe if you’re up for it. And even some Easter Egg hunting if you’re so keen.
If you’ve played Legends of Runeterra and opened up any of the card art, you may be curious about a name that comes up frequently: design studio SIXMOREVODKA, centered out of Berlin, Germany, entered an exclusive partnership with Riot Games in 2014 and the studio’s artists have been delivering art assets and engaging in art consultation exclusively with Riot ever since. They contribute concept work for already existing champions and new supporting characters to full-fledged illustrations that all help bring Runeterra to life. In addition to SIXMOREVODKA, Max Grecke, Kudos Productions, Wild Blue Studios, Oliver Chipping, Rafael Zanchetin, Jihun Lee, and Original Force cannot be forgotten as critical members of the Legends of Runeterra art team.
The gravity of these artists’ work magnifies exponentially when you choose to dig a little for their art. Only when you maximize the card art can you see the entire illustration and how much detail and thought are meticulously woven into each one. These paintings are not just isolated pieces of art that serve as a visual for a card ability; they serve as pieces of a puzzle that connect and slowly reveal each region of Runeterra, telling stories and building personalities for each culture.
I opened up Cithria of Cloudfield’s full card art and then shortly after, opened up Garen’s. In the background of Garen’s scene, a young girl walks with the same posture and stance as Cithria in her card. Then, the reality hit me: Garen and Cithria’s cards emphasize two different perspectives of the exact same moment in Demacia. The artists are introducing time as an element in their art, and what does time do if not supply that extra dimension for Runeterra to feel that much more real.
A “storyline” follows Bjerg as he traverses the Freljordian wilderness and, in his traumatized panic, fumbles into a tavern to convince the Freljordians of what he just witnessed. Another synchronous illustration happens: a hand reaching out to a Freljordian barmaid in the background of the Kindly Tavernkeeper card turns out to be Bjerg’s hand as he stumbles into the tavern. His card dialogue adds yet another layer to his story and personality as he asks “will no one listen?”
Impeccably, Legend of Runeterra’s card art illustrates not only visuals for game mechanics but story beats. These beats add much-needed narrative, lore, and emotion to what has largely been a piecemeal universe. Now, that is beginning to change.
Be on the hunt for clues for what’s to come. If you’ve played Demacia, you know Cithria of Cloudfield’s story as she grows from a young recruit to leading armies as Cithria the Bold. Perhaps in the future — and like so many are asking — she will step out of her place in Legends of Runeterra and into Summoner’s Rift as a legend of League: a story told in art and a few words, come full circle.