What is Tellstones?
Tellstones is a two-player bluffing game played with seven stones. These are the Demacian stones: The Crown, the Flag, the Sword, the Shield, the Knight, the Hammer, and the Scales. Each of the stones has cultural meaning attached to it, and other regions of Runeterra may play local variations.
Players arrange the stones between them, flip them upside down and swap their positions. The goal is to remember the position of each stone and to confuse your enemy. The actual gameplay does not even matter, for the purposes of this log, they could be playing poker as well.
Here’s a fun trailer, also set in Demacia:
Here, I focus on “Leilani’s Tellstones Log”, which is found in the hideout at a certain point in the game.
Father said you’re not a true Demacian until you’ve won a game of Tellstones (best out of 3, of course!) so I thought how better to work out our differences than games of memory, bluffing, and deceit?
Not surprised he’s good at strategy. Surprised he lost to Kara and Gideon so quickly. That’s Sylas. 3-0 or 0-3.
Age=wisdom. Won all her matches! Lost only 3 games! Only Gideon came close.
Played with his emotions, not his head. Even Aidan got a game off him. Had me in the first round, but I rallied.
Alchemy’s his think. Not Tellstones. I let him win one game. At least he beat Yops once…
Too bad enthusiasm’s not enough. Convinced Kara to give Yops a win. Still got swept by everyone else. But she did beat Aidan. Poor Aidan.
So, the Mageseekers play a lot. They also lie a lot. Gave Aidan one game and swept everyone else. Besides Kara. Obviously.
My 1 win vs. Kara should count double!
The format that Leilani uses is different from the first time I analyzed such a log. Leilani only notes the wins and losses of a best-out-of-three match, Miss Fortune noted the single game wins. This means that this one may be a bit harder to figure out, but luckily for us, Leilani also added more information.
For notation, I decided to use 6-0 to show the overall wins and losses of each character, and 2/1 to note the individual games within a match.
There are 7 players given: Sylas, Kara, Rukko, Aidan, Yops, Gideon and Leilani herself. Everyone played everyone else once, in a BO3 match. All three games are played, even if the match is decided after a 2/0. Players may let the other player win, and we will see that this happened frequently.
Now that we have all that sorted out, let’s fill out the matchup table.
We know Kara won all matches, so we only need to figure out if it was 2/1 or 3/0. The record notes that only her match against Gideon was close (that must be a 2/1 then), and she may have let some of the other people win. But who? The lines about Leilani and Yops state that she lost one game there, but if I had to guess, then she didn’t let Leilani win – or Leilani didn’t notice. That means she played 3/0 against everyone else (Sylas, Rukko, Aidan).
Gideon’s history is already fully known from the log. He played 5-1, with his one close loss against Kara. From his 5 wins, he went 3/0 against everyone except Aidan, whom he let he win once.
Similarly, figuring out Sylas is easy. He lost 0/3 against Kara and Gideon, and beat everyone else 3/0.
Leilani needs a bit more work. Luckily, we already figured out the top rows: She lost 1/2 against Kara, which she is proud of, and 0/3 against Gideon and Sylas. That’s her three losses sorted out, but how many of the other matches did she lose or intentionally give up? She notes about Rukko that he had her in the first round, so that’s a 2/1, she let Aidan have one win, another 2/1, but doesn’t say anything about Yops, so she must be included in the group that swept Yops 3/0.
Rukko got beat by all of the previous people, so he must have won against the bottom of the group, Yops and Aidan. Yops once again gets dominated 3/0, but Aidan won once against Rukko. I assume this was played fairly.
Poor Yops lost 0/3 against Gideon, Sylas, Leilani and Rukko. Kara let her have one win, but she managed to beat Aidan 2/1 on her own.
Aidan did not win a single match, but some other players gave him a game out of pity. As noted above, he went 1/2 against Gideon and Leilani. Kara and Sylas were not so merciful and beat him 0/3. And he won one game againt Rukko and Yops each, on his own.
So, here’s the final result:
Kara is the perfect planner of the rebellion, and has the most experience. Her perfect 6-0 record speaks for itself, and the win against Gideon could be seen as “rebel beats mageseeker”. What stands out to me is that she favors Yops, the yordle, over Aidan. Did she let Leilani win without her noticing it, or was it a legitimate win? I’m thinking it was the latter.
The mageseeker doesn’t hand out pity wins except for Aidan, the very bottom of the group (and the last member you recruit). He gave it to Aidan, not the inherently magical being. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to mean something. Interestingly, Leilani says she had to convince Kara to give up a win, but Gideon did so on his own. But if he puts his mind to it, he wins hard. This superior focus puts him at the same total number of wins as Kara, although he narrowly lost the direct duel.
The protagonist of this game may be a bit extremist. (Is this the point of the game?) He doesn’t give up a single win for Yops or Aidan, but also can’t win against those that are better than him. His losses compound, and it looks like he is unable to play tactically or recover from setbacks. He is even more single-minded than Gideon. Still, he surprisingly maintains a positive record of 4-2. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here.
Leilani sits exactly in the middle, with a perfectly balanced 3-3 record. She can pull off some surprising wins (against Kara) and losses (against Rukko). She is the glue that holds this group together. She also focuses on hope and the positive, that she earned her hard win against Kara. That 2/1 is impressive, considering that Kara is her mentor and they know each other well.
Rukko is still young and might play emotionally, which I think is fitting with his depiction in the game. He was overwhelmingly beat by the tryhard group of Kara, Gideon and Sylas. But he is by no means a bad player, faring okay against the other ones.
Yops probably doesn’t fully understand the game, and becomes the punching bag for all others. She might have beat Aidan, but still has the fewest wins overall. Can Yordles bluff?
Aidan is new and bad. I can’t sugarcoat it. In a true game of skill, he would only have 2 games won (against Yops and Rukko), but Leilani and Gideon let him have one, and so he places even before Yops. Still, he lost every match, including the one against Yops, who might be as bad as he is. His alchemical mind might not be good with bluffing or keeping the stones straight. Drawing from other literature, there are two archetypes of scientists: The logician, which would excel at a game like this, and the chaotic genius, who has many ideas swirling around in their head (but struggles to focus on other things). His catastrophic result puts him in the second category. Leilani puts it best when she writes “Alchemy’s his thing. Not Tellstones.”
Overall, I think this mystery was way simpler than the one in Ruined King. Everyone beat all those listed below them. There are no surprises, even if the BO3 adds some complexity. It’s still fun to write it out, and see what you can learn about the characters. Hope you enjoyed this deep dive, and I might see you in the next Riot Forge game with the same analysis!