Feb 28 2013
With 32 million monthly players, League of Legends is currently dwarfing every other game out there in terms of player base. The free to play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is surging in popularity all over the world in terms of a past time and a spectator sport. Hundreds of thousands tune in to watch pros play the game online, and it’s a fantastic experience that rivals any actual sporting event if you’re in attendance (I had a blast at the World Championship in Santa Monica last year).
All this said, it’s a game with a learning curve that’s rather steep. As such, many try and fail to play the game, quickly becoming discouraged because of the unfamiliar genre and the usually overly hostile player base.
I am the furthest thing from a pro playing this game you can be, but I’ve been playing it pretty consistently for well over a year now, and I think that’s enough to give some helpful tips to new players that will dramatically improve the game. I won’t explain the basic rules in much detail, but rather once you generally understand the concept, I’ll give you some tips that should help you improve dramatically, at least at low levels.
The basic rules:
- Five players on each team
- Three lanes filled with AI minions that walk in a straight line until they encounter resistence
- Towers guard each lane at various points
- Object is to kill the enemy nexus after a full lane or all of the lanes of the guard towers have been killed
- Gold is granted on kills of enemy champions or minions (“creeps”), but only if you are the one to get the last hit
- Gold can be used to buy items to make your character stronger
With that out of the way, here we go:
Understand that This is Not Team Deathmatch
Early on in the game, nearly every player seems to forget that the ultimate goal of the game is to kill the enemy nexus, not rack up the most kills. Often times these two things go hand in hand, as if you get more kills, you get more items which will make your character stronger and more easily able to eliminate enemy champions from the map and take down towers.
That said, the pursuit of a kill often leads to more trouble than it’s worth. As much fun as it is to take pot shots at an enemy in your lane, you need to make sure you don’t fall behind on farming, ie. killing minions. You might cut your enemy down to 15% health, but if he’s killed 30 minions and you have three, you’re way behind. Even if you killed him, you would STILL be behind because the minion gold outweighs that for the kill. Getting a kill may feel a lot better than simply last-hitting minions, but if you want to actually win, farming or “CSing” is the best way to get ahead of your lane opponent.
The same goes for chasing. Yes, a champion might have a sliver of health and you’ll be DAMNED if you’re going to let them get away, but sometimes, you just have to let them go. I’ve seen this happen a million times at every skill level, where a player goes deep in enemy territory in search of a kill only to find themselves surrounded and dead seconds later. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.
Pay No Attention to the Haters, But Do Try to Learn
Perhaps this should be the first bit of advice because it’s the one issue that you are guaranteed to encounter as a new player. You will get yelled at, a lot. It’s simply the nature of a game where you are required to work together as a team in order to achieve an objective. Call of Duty deathmatches require no such coordination, but League of Legends battles can be entirely lost based on the mistakes of one person.
This can create a rather hostile atmosphere when four players who are doing perfectly well are sunk by one person who is either bad or just having a bad game. This will be you at some point, and has been everyone who has played the game on many occasions. Especially when you’re new, you will make a ton of mistakes. It would be nice if at low levels people understood that, but they won’t. In reality, other players are likely to be the biggest obstacle between you and your enjoyment of the game. If you understand to expect hostile treatment going in, perhaps it won’t be such a shock when it happens. All you can do is strip the profanity out of their harassment, and attempt to learn what you did wrong for next time.
Learn the Roles, and How to Play Them
Yes, League of Legends is all about experimentation, trying new champions and builds and gameplay strategies, but only to a point. At a certain point, you have to learn at least the lose ‘rules’ of the game when it comes to champion selection and gameplay. There are supposed to be five main roles:
Top (Top lane)
Top is usually a bruiser, a tank or an assassin. You can assist mid lane, but you’ll likely be going 1v1 for a large portion of the game.
Mid (Mid lane)
Mid is usually an ability power champion, though lately bruisers have been played mid as well. Mid can roam top or bottom to help their lanes.
Junglers come in all types, but you won’t always see one in low level games. Going two people top is fine for early levels, but eventually every team should have a jungler who will attack (gank) around all the lanes, hopefully giving his team the advantage.
Attack Damage Carry, ADC (Bottom lane)
A ranged champion who builds attack damage. Can carry a game singlehandedly if given enough kills.
Support (Bottom lane)
In the laning phase, it’s the support’s job to keep the AD carry alive in the bottom lane and help them get kills. Eventually, they’ll need to help the team as a whole, but usually sticking close to the AD carry is a good bet.
It would take a million years to explain what roles all 100+ champions fall into, but that’s something you have to simply learn over time. But even knowing these roles exist going in is a huge step forward in the right direction.
Be a Team Player
One surefire way to avoid getting yelled at and actually help to win games is to simply go with the flow. You will quickly have a favorite role and favorite champions, but do not be a baby about it when someone else wants the role you were planning on taking.
Simply put, you need to fill whatever role the team needs. Do not join a game and instantly lock in your favorite champion so no one else gets it. They will hate you. I will hate you. In blind, try to call it first, or in draft or rank, pick it first if you’re near the top. People usually respect that, but if not, don’t make a big thing out of it. Sure, you can call each other names and whatever, but if you go into a game as one of two mids jockeying for the position, you’re probably going to have less fun if you simply adapted and played support.
Those are the basics, if there’s any interest, maybe I’ll do another one of these at some point.
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