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League of Legends; learning more, building and support

So far most of my games have been against bots.

Now it was time to try real players. I decided to carry on playing Dominion mode since it seemed easier so far. In my first game, I used my trusty Goin’ Around tactic with Alistar and went around, and around and around, back a bit, across a couple of times, then back to going around. And it worked a treat. We won.

Then a clanmate decided to haul me into a couple of games on Summoner’s Rift, I’d only played this twice against real people, with one victory. To my surprise we won both games. I played Alistar, mostly bumbling around in the bottom lane.

I learnt a bit more, when I played another couple of games, this time against Intermediate bots, with more Clan. By this time I’d finally worked out how to build one item from another. I’d been too generally bewildered before to think about it. So, if, say, you bought a ruby crystal giving you 180 health for 475 gold (your starting amount), you could later upgrade it to a Heart of Gold; 250 health plus an extra 5 gold every 10 seconds. However, the cost of the ruby crystal counts towards the cost of the Heart of Gold.  When you buy it, your crystal disappears from your inventory. Overall, this means you can build up to more expensive and powerful items, but still benefit from less powerful ones in the meantime.

I’d been using Doran’s ring and Doran’s shield and hadn’t understood why people on forums seemed to be sniffy about them, they’d seemed good items. Well, I was told, it was because you can’t build from them. You can only sell them outright, and at a loss.

I played Alistar as a support, so I learnt about that. As a support, he protected his carry allowing them to farm by last-hitting minions (the player that delivers the killing blow gets extra gold) and getting the kills on champs. Carries need the gold to buy items that allow them to give maximum damage (they are the squishier dps deliverers). Once Alistar had Heart of Gold, I found he could buy what he needed anyway. My final score was 0/4/17 (kills/deaths/assists), alright or not; no idea! I really wasn’t sure if I was doing anything useful.

I also found out about Dragon and Baron which I’d seen mentioned. I’d hoped that they magically appeared at random from the sky but they don’t. They’re just a couple of the neutral mobs on the map that are harder to kill but give extra gold. And I learnt about using wards which reveal hidden enemies; useful against ganking.

But while all this learning and serious business was going on, of course Berath’s Brain Burps had to bring a certain amount of confusion and foolishness to the table. Spells and skills are mapped to various keys on the keyboard. There is a spell Recall, that automatically transports you back to the start of the map after a time delay, seen on a progress bar. This is mapped to ‘b’, as I discovered. The team communicated using Mumble. My push-to-talk key is was ‘b’. Everytime I tried to say something I started to teleport back to the base. As a result I. could. only. talk. in. very. short. bursts. At first the others though it was lag or my mic cutting out and were concerned. Eventually they understood.

League of Legends Dominion mode: Goin’ Around, pro l33t tactic

It’s been a while since I’ve played League of Legends, I’ve been distracted by TF2 and Highlander and Super Monday Night Combat. Anyway, I decided to have another go the other evening.

Last year, Riot introduced a new game mode to League of Legends, Dominion mode. Rather than pushing lanes and getting kills, this mode focussed on capturing and holding areas, very much like on a TF2 5cp map. Each team of 5 starts with 500 points. The team that holds the least number of areas starts to lose points. The team that reaches zero first, looses. All over the map there are buffs and health packs to help you on your way. It all seemed more straightforward than the conventional League of Legends with all it’s talk of Dragon and Baron, laning and jungling; slightly less daunting for a newer player. I thought I’d try it.

Map from above

Once I’d selected a players vs bots game, I found I could select between beginner and intermediate levels, for playing either Dominion mode or Summoner’s Rift. I wasn’t sure that that had been there before. Whatever, it felt reassuring.  I selected Beginner and my fave champion, Alistar, the tanking minotaur.

The game was a disaster. I was confused. One of my team mates was floundering too. He announced it was his first game ever and that he was French. I said bonjour and we commiserated (with our newness, not his Frenchness). However out of the other three players, one at least was obviously an L33t uber pro. After we lost badly, he cursed us and called us noobs. I said we were. Beginner game + vs bots + level 9/10 matchmade game = new players. Not difficult.

But anyway, first game; Defeat. Second game; Defeat. Third game; Defeat. It wasn’t going well. Alistar was slow, it was hard for him to reach areas. I felt I was always running to catch up  and leaving myself isolated and vulnerable to ganking. So I decided to change to Tristana. Tristana is a ranged carry; basically ranged dps with reasonable movement speed and with her, I won my first victory.

It was also during this game, that everything suddenly clicked, it helped that this was the first team I’d played on where people actually seemed to be working together, and I developed my pro Dominion tactic; Goin’ Around. To briefly explain:

  • You stick with at least one other member of your team. This is important. Sticking with a member of the opposite team would be less effective.
  • Together, you ‘Go Around’ the map, from point to point, capturing  each one but remembering you only need to hold 3/5.
  • As you Go Around, avoid the other team unless there are lots of you

And that’s about it!

Now, full of confidence, I changed back to Alistar; and a string of Victories followed. As a pair, Alistar and his chosen champ could protect each other. We used the mini-map to watch for ganks, but also timing our own and moving out to support others when needed. There were some lovely moments when Alistar used Pulverise to throw back a bot closing in on a low health ally then topped them up with a healing Triumphant Roar, giving them just enough space and health to survive and escape. Then Alistar and/or another could step in to finish the bot off.

Even though they were only Beginner bots, it was good.

And the less intense environment gave me an opportunity to explore some of the items and learn some of the basics of skills and teamwork.