League of Legends is one of the hottest games in the world right now, with several game modes with millions of players connected at any one time. Spanning several continents and with heaps of competition to match, League of Legends has a bit of a learning curve when learning to understand the mechanics of the game and how everything interacts – so here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Last-hitting a monster is really important
In League of Legends, there are two teams in the standard game mode (known as Summoner’s Rift): yours and the enemy’s. Your goal is to invade into the enemy base and destroy their Nexus, pushing through their lane and destroying their towers and monsters so that you can do so.
However, it’s not simply a matter of just walking down the lane and destroying everything you see. There are monsters and other players in the way. Your immediate task is to become more powerful than the enemy players: the more powerful you are, the more chance you have of winning. To become more powerful is simple in its nature – you need to use gold to buy more powerful items.
Getting gold is no easy task. You can only get gold in a few ways – destroying a Tower, killing a boss monster, killing a player, or annihilating a regular monster. The easiest option is the last – there are heaps of regular monsters, referred to as minions, so gold is aplenty as time goes on.
Now, the most logical course of action would be to repeatedly attack monsters until they die, right? That would seemingly generate the most gold, after all. This is not the case – you need to time the killing blow onto the minion for gold, because that’s the only way you receive gold from the minion. It’s not easy straight-away and takes a lot of practice to get used to, but once you master last-hitting you are well on your way to become a good player.
2. There are a lot of characters and items - Learn them
As of writing this article, there are 101 different characters (called champions) in League of Legends. That’s a lot. On top of that, there is a vast array of items – some that can only be used in certain game modes – to choose from, with each hero requiring different items.
This is the hardest part of learning to play League of Legends. You need to learn what each champion does. Each champion has at least 4 abilities they can use, each doing different things. For instance, Ashe’s “W”, called Volley, shoots a volley of arrows in a cone area-of-effect that slows any enemies it hits, whereas Gangplank’s “W”, Remove Scurvy, makes him eat an orange, healing him and removing any ill effects plaguing him.
The easiest way to learn what each hero does is to play them, but that does not make this the best choice, especially if you’re learning to grasp the mechanics. There’s no rush, and it does take a lot of time, so make sure you have fun! Each champion has their own unique flavour and twist, especially with different item combinations, so learning what they do can be very enjoyable. Playing against the computer-controlled AI is also a great tool for learning.
3. This is a team game
Unlike StarCraft, another hugely competitive video game that is primarily a 1-v-1 game where if you lose it’s because you made a mistake (or just generally got out-played), League of Legends is based around a team of 5 players in Summoner’s Rift. This means the game can get horribly frustrating at times, especially as a new player who is learning the ropes.
Games can take any shape or form. There are games where you can play incredibly well but your team does not, resulting in a loss; conversely, there are games where you can play horridly but your team does so well they pick up your slack and march you to victory.
Everyone has an off game. The important thing to remember is to try your best not to get too frustrated (either at yourself or at others…) and just move on. Just remember that it’s just a game and that no two games are exactly alike. Unfortunately, some people do not really understand that and will abuse you regardless of what you do. The best you can do is ignore them and report them after the game.
4. The recommended items aren’t necessarily the best items
Every champion, when you get into game and access the shop, has a list of items Riot Games recommend that you buy for the hero. They’ve used those items as a base indicator as to what you should buy and what you should aim for. The items are somewhere in the middle of cost-efficiency and usability.
For instance, Vayne has a recommended item called a Regrowth Pendant. This does nothing increase her HP regeneration rate. Not only this, it recommends for her to build it into nothing and just leave her with the increased HP regeneration. That’s not very good.
There are several places to find champion guides, written by professional players, which detail their preferred item choices for heroes. This is a good place to start with finding out the better item choices for heroes – but again, each hero is different and item choices are nowhere near a static thing. One of the best ways to improve at the game is to look at the professionals as a framework, and then try things out on your own to see what works.
5. Play against and with other people
While Riot Games implemented the AI in the game to allow new players to learn, real human beings are nowhere near as static as a predefined set of instructions. They’re great to start out with and to get used to items and the interface and champions with, but when it comes to rapidly improving they’re not very good.
The best way to learn is to just play. If you have friends who play, play with them and ask them to see how you can improve (if they’re much better than you, of course). Otherwise, play against other human beings as much as you can whether or not it’s on Summoner’s Rift or Dominion or even a game of All Random, All Mid.
You can read as many guides as you want, but you will never improve unless you actually took what you read into use. Sure, when you start out, you won’t be that great: but then again, neither was anyone else. Practice makes perfect, they say, and League of Legends is a perfect testimony to that.
By Thomas Robinson