Learning League of Legends

Even with Beta to help keep me occupied with WOW’s 12+ months of no new content, I’ve still been seeking out other games to occupy my time. Thus, for the last few months, I have been working on learning League of Legends. At this point, I’ve played a whole 2 PVP games, and have otherwise been spending most of my time in the “bot” game mode (co-op vs AI). Thus, today, my goal is to talk about Learning the game. I have run into a lot of people in the Bot games who don’t know the basic strategies of what they need to be successful in the Bot games. So, below are my tips for new players along with descriptions of my own experiences in learning the game.

Tip #1 – After the tutorials, play lots of “Intro Bot” games

IntroBots

LOL has two tutorials (a basic tutorial and a battle training tutorial). You can repeat these tutorials a couple of times to get used to the basic feel of the game. However, most of the learning is going to occur while playing the Intro Difficulty in your Summoner’s Rift map co-op vs AI games. This new Intro difficulty is a repeatable and relatively safe place to learn about the game until you hit level 10 (see the news release on why they released this new difficulty). If you previously quit trying to play LOL because of how hard it was to learn the game, this is an opportunity to come back and try again.

The benefits of Intro Bots over Beginner Bots:

  • Intro bots gives you some time to farm minion kills in your lane before you will be harassed by the other team’s bots. This allows you to get a lot of gold via killing the other team’s minions.
  • The item store is a little simpler, giving you time to learn how to build items. The delay of the bots coming out also gives you time to explore the item store more to plan your item buys.
  • The bots are tuned to be easier to play against: They don’t build as many awesome items, and they don’t react as fast when using their abilities.
  • If you make mistakes while trying to learn, it often won’t hurt your team all that much. With a lot of people playing alt (“Smurf”) accounts, this difficulty level will result in winning more often, reinforcing your play time with rewards.

Tip # 2: Turrets are deadly killing machines – know when to retreat

If the turret isn't shooting a minion, it will melt your face off.

If the turret isn’t shooting a minion, it will melt your face off.

Even in the bot games, the bots know to stay out of range of your turrets. However, many of the other players seem to just dive right into the turret and get their faces melted off. You want the turret to be shooting at minions, not your face. So, never be in range of the enemy’s turret unless your minions are protecting you and taking all the hits. In general, staying behind minions all the time is a good idea. It is far better to lose some minions than have your face melted. The intro bots turret doesn’t hit quite as hard as other game modes, but treat the turrets like lava – only go into turret range to kill the turret when you have minions to protect you.

If you are standing in the enemy’s turret and you shoot at one of your enemies, the turret will aggro on you and kill you. So, knowing when to fall back from the enemy turret is the most important thing to know. I spent a lot of time learning how to run away and save myself from death, and I had a lot of early deaths via turrets because I wouldn’t pay enough attention to my surroundings. Whatever you do, do not stand in the turret if there are not minions in the turret with you.

However, bots often won’t chase you into your own turrets. So, you can escape from the bots by retreating into the safety range of your team’s turrets. In the easier bot game difficulties, the bushes also tend to drop aggro from some of the bots. Learning when to disengage from a battle and run away was the most important skill of all. The game can go bad very fast if you “Feed” the bots by repeatedly dying. Staying alive is more important than getting a kill. Don’t leave the Intro Bots difficulty until you’ve learned how to minimize your time spent getting hit by turrets – because the turrets in beginner bots will melt your face.

Tip # 3: Maximize your use of items

Item_Sets_Custom

Another rookie mistake (in addition to death by turret) is in not maximizing the use of items. Just like wearing agility gear on a restoration druid is going to make your life much more difficult in WOW, itemization for your LOL character matters. Every time you get the killing blow on a minion or bot, you earn gold. Your team also earns gold from completing objectives (e.g., killing turrets, killing mobs in the jungle, etc). In general, there is a “right” way to spend your gold, and very many “Wrong” ways to spend your gold. Many items have “Unique” effect items – which means that two of them won’t stack. So, you only want to buy one of each item. The biggest rookie mistake of itemization is buying more than one of the same thing, so be careful not to duplicate the same “unique” effects and waste gold.

Intro bot learning supports will help you with choosing items. It gives you recommended gear pages that help you in building item sets that are (mostly) appropriate. As you learn the game, it still helps to know the “optimal” gearing via reading guides about the champions from various fansites. You want to buy items that will help you the most. You can also make custom gear sets, on your summoner profile page. I have saved item sets to help me more easily buy things on my characters that I frequently play. I chose the items based on reading guides on sites like Lolking that told me what items were “best”.

Keep in mind that you can buy cheaper components to build into end-game items, so spend gold early on the components you want to work on building – and then upgrade those to the complete end product as you get more gold.

 Tip #4: Intro Bots are predictable – Know your champion and lane setups

Summoners Rift has three lanes, referred to as: Top, Mid, and Bot. The setup for all Bot games are different than the traditional PVP roles. So, in learning Bot games, there are specific setups from the bots you should be aware of:

  • Top lane has two bots. These are usually fighter and/or tank roles (often using attack power and defensive stats). So, two people in beginner bots typically go to cover the top lane (with the exception that some people try “jungle” practice – see below Jungle note). Champions such as Garen make for easy top lane picks. Other top lane champion examples: Teemo, renekton, Leona, and Gangplank.
  • Mid lane has one bot. This is typically a ranged spell caster (Ability Power – AP). So, you should have one person playing a caster (AP mid) on this lane. Ryze is often considered easy, but I found that Ryze tended to be the bot we had to fight against (and I could lose in a Ryze vs Ryze fight early in learning the game). To counter Ryze-bot, Malzahar is my current favorite for doing beginner and intermediate-level bot games, since his ultimate plus all his ticking DOTs end up being really strong. Other mid-lane options include: Ziggs, Lissandra, Morgana, Lux, etc.
  • Bottom lane has two bots. This typically includes one ranged (Attack Damage Carry), and one support bot. Choosing ranged and/or support bots for the bottom lane works the best. Options for the AD Carry include: Ashe, Miss Fortune, Caitlyn, and Sivir. Supports are typically characters with both damage and utility (or healing) abilities. I found Soraka to be a good starting support, since I could dish out some damage while also having healing abilities. Other supports include: Jana, Annie (who can also play mid),
  • Bots don’t do “Jungle” roles. In PVP, someone takes the role of Jungle (e.g., instead of going top lane, one player floats around the middle of the map, killing monster objectives and helping to gank people in lanes). While some people will practice jungle in bot games, new players should avoid learning about jungle roles until you get more experienced at the game. Since bots don’t ever go jungle, the PVP setup is different than what you learn in the bot games.

Some other general notes: For intro bot games, we tend to push pretty far before the bots make any traction. However, for beginner and intermediate difficulty, knowing the bot late-game strategy is helpful. After killing enough turrets (especially in harder bot difficulties), the bots tend to stick together more often. This means that after their “end of lane phase” is triggered, the bots will usually group up together. So, when you see bots abandoning their otherwise assigned lanes, you should lend more support to your team. The bots will also choose to defend their base when it is being threatened, meaning that if you are doing really well in a lane, you can expect more bots to come target you.

For learning more about the champions, you can use the free champion rotation to try out champions before you buy them (either with real money, or points you earn). I’d suggest eventually buying at least one champion you like to play for each role (so that you can have a static set of characters you play across weeks). With so many options to choose from, finding characters you like is better than playing the ones that high-end players think are “best” (often, the best high-end characters make the worst ones to start with to learn anyway). Use guides on sites like Lolking (e.g. the “wowhead” of League of legends) to help you learn more about the champions, their itemization, skills, and such. In the end, practice is the only way to get better in the game – make sure that you play the same few champions (I recommend one for each lane – to be somewhat flexible in your group picks) until you get comfortable with how to play the game.

Tip #5: Play nice and communicate with your team

This is a game, and you are supposed to be having fun. Yelling and cursing at people who are trying to learn the game is particularly unhelpful. When you are on the champion selection screen, communicate with people and tell your team what lane you want – before you lock in a character (e.g., say Top, Mid, or Bot). In addition, people will say “GLHF” which stands for “Good luck, have fun!” If you communicate well with your team and you are friendly, you can get honored by your fellow players (e.g., they can rate you as: friendly, helpful, and good teamwork). After the game, if you think someone did a good job, you can rate them positively, too. Also, League of Legends generally has pretty strict language requirements. If you are mean to your other teammates, you are likely to get reported and suspended. So, have fun and play nice! Experienced players may even help you out along the way if you come to the games with a positive attitude and communicate with your team.

The profession paradox

With garrisons set to be the crowning achievement of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, and professions being intricately tied to the success of the garrison feature, I thought we would know more about professions by now. How little we know about professions in WOD worries me, especially because of how much we know will change. Fansites such as Wowhead have been collecting information on the basics of professions, but I have still been struggling to figure out how all the pieces fit together. The biggest problem I’m having at this point is that the work order process in the garrison seems to not be taking into consideration the history of how people have chosen their professions. Professions that used to work together now instead compete for resources and garrison space, leading me to question whether I chose my primary professions poorly.

A tale of Tailoring and Enchanting

When I started my mage, I already had a jewelcrafter/miner (my druid), and an alchemist/herbalist (my shaman). So, I thought the obvious pairing for my mage would be tailoring and enchanting. Tailoring was incredibly helpful in generating resources for leveling up enchanting at the end of Cataclysm. Enchanting has been helpful in being able to disenchant gear that drops from my guild’s raids. However, other than helping me level enchanting, tailoring has done very little for me or my guild, other than providing me with cheaper bag upgrades and raid bonus enhancements. So, I have to make the tough choice of whether to keep tailoring for the next expansion.

Everything I’ve found out about the garrisons and work orders suggests that taking tailoring just to support enchanting is a bad idea for Warlords of Draenor. Here is why:

  • By having two primary professions, I need two small plots to support leveling the professions in WOD. However, I don’t get access to a second small plot until several levels into the leveling process. So, I have to choose one of two professions to start before the other. In addition, I only get three small plots total. So, it’s actually a disadvantage to have two crafting professions in WOD with all the changes.
  • Tailoring appears to require two garrison plots to be useful as a primary profession. Tailoring now relies on skins that come from animals only, and thus both the tailoring small plot and the barn medium plot appear to be required to be able to get enough animal skins to level tailoring. The trading post would also be helpful, too, for turning garrison resources into more fur. In addition, tailoring and leatherworking don’t appear to actually share materials, so skinning doesn’t seem to be a profession that is supposed to support tailoring (but I can’t even really tell that for sure from the guides).
  • The work orders for enchanting don’t interact with tailoring at all. Farming skins from animals to make items to disenchant is likely to actually use more resources and time than other methods of farming items to disenchant. Taking a gathering profession instead of tailoring would free up two garrison plots, speed up my profession leveling times, and confer other possible benefits along the way.
  • Update: I just went back to the enchanting hut, and now instead of taking ore, it’s taking dust from enchanting to complete the work orders. So, even with the method I’d been using for the last month or so leveling up my character, it’s still not finalized to the point where you can plan on what feeds into what. That’s what I get for hitting ‘post’ without checking in on the garrison plot for a few days.

Do I even need to have either tailoring or enchanting as a primary profession?

So, I’m left with questions over what I need tailoring for (very little to support my raiding if anyone else in my guild can make items from the tailoring raid patterns), whether the time to level tailoring is worth it (probably not, unless they replaced all humanoids in the world with beasts that drop skins), and what the point of all this even is.

With enchanting, if I made an enchanting hut in my garrison, I could still disenchant everything that I got from raids, without needing enchanting as a profession at all. So, the bigger question then becomes – what is the point of having crafting professions as our primary professions? Would it make sense for everyone just to pick up gathering professions (mining/herbing/skinning), and just feed resources into profession huts without having any primary crafting professions at all?

You no longer get raid bonuses from your primary professions, and all the crafting professions have their primary benefits given to you via the garrison huts whether you have that profession or not, so I can’t figure out what the point of having any primary crafting professions is at all right now. At the very least, I’m pretty sure having two primary crafting professions is to my own detriment. At this point, I’m trying to decide if I should get mining (to directly feed my enchanting), or if I should pick up herbalism instead to more quickly feed resources into an alchemy hut. Maybe dropping both enchanting and tailoring would be the smartest choice of all. With the new profession ‘catch up’ bonuses, the beginning of WOD seems like the perfect time to change all our profession choices. That is, until another expansion comes along and changes the entire system again, and we have to start all over.

Even having played in the beta, they haven’t had enough of the garrison and profession systems implemented for me to know what professions would be the best use of my time – whether staying the course on tailoring and enchanting would be a waste of time and money or not. As many raiders chose their professions based on the raid-related benefits (and having all of those benefits changing), this is really the time to be making decisions about what our professions should be. I just wish we had enough information for me to be able to make a better decision. That, then, becomes the problem. With it being easier to just start all over again on your professions, what profession choice is the right one? What benefits do we even get from all this extra profession leveling work?

Confusions, not conclusions

The new profession system in the garrisons are so confusing that I haven’t been able to level up any profession at all to test any of it out. The only thing I’ve ever done is turn raw materials into other types of raw materials via the work order system. I haven’t yet crafted anything at all. This late in the game, I really wish I could write about my plan for my professions, instead of writing about my uncertainty over how to even plan at all. With professions being central to everything we’re supposed to care about this expansion, I really wish we knew enough to be able to care about professions.

Resto druid updates for Draenor

With the release of Warlords of Draenor just a few months away, I have started to receive a lot of questions about the state of druids, and especially resto druids. For people wondering about the current state of moonkin, you can read Cyous’ post on the Sentry Totem website. Cyous also has a post on the basics of how the new sine-wave Eclipse  works. For resto druid updates, the Sometimes a Tree blog has had fairly regular content updates recently.

I will likely still be maintaining my resto and leveling guides for Warlords of Draenor, but those are unlikely to be written until close to the release of the 6.0 patch, since Blizzard always changes things at the last minute.

What does the Resto Druid Toolset look like?

Overall, resto druid healing won’t realistically change all that much in Warlords of Draenor. So, if you enjoy resto druid healing now, you should enjoy it in Draenor. Resto druids are still primarily HOT healers, with some supporting direct heals. Our AOE healing toolset remains relatively unchanged. You will use tranquility, wild growth, rejuv, and shrooms as your main AOE spells. Our single-target toolset consists of lifebloom, healing touch, regrowth, and swiftmend.

A recap of the spells with major changes:

  • You will keep lifebloom on a tank. It now only has one stack, which means you don’t have to maintain the three stack anymore. Letting it fall off for the bloom may sometimes be worthwhile, since it doesn’t have the same ramp-up to maintain it.
  • Wild Growth now has a cast-time, instead of being instant. This does not, however, benefit from omen of clarity.
  • Wild Mushroom now only applies the Efflorescence ground effect, and no longer has a direct healing component. This expires after 30 seconds, and has a 30 second cooldown. We can no longer move or bloom the wild mushroom.
  • Tranquility‘s effect has been simplified. It does the main set of ticks without any additional HOT component. It should heal everyone in the raid.

Major stat changes:

  • Multi-strike causes your spell to have a chance to do additional damage or healing to your target. Our direct heals and HOTs can multi-strike, so resto druids can benefit from this stat. However, efflorescence won’t multi-strike.
  • You will still care more about mastery and haste than multi-strike or crit.
  • There are no more haste break-points for HOTs.
  • Versatility is a stat that provides a smaller benefit to multiple stats. This ends up being the worst of the resto druid stats.
  • Restoration druids get a 5% bonus to haste, as part of the new “attunement” bonuses.

Level 100 talents:

  • The level 100 talents are largely lackluster now, but Germination in particular is pretty good. I would suggest Germination as the best new player option of the three (extends rejuv’s duration by 3 seconds, and allows 2 rejuvs per person instead of 1).
  • I would avoid Rampant Growth, as this makes swiftmend consume your HOTs (and in most situations, this is almost always counterproductive). The trade-off of having no cooldown on swiftmend doesn’t seem a large enough benefit given that trying to maximize use of this talent will likely drain your mana. There may be specific situations where this is helpful, but that would likely be fight-specific.
  • Moment of Clarity allows more than one spell to benefit from the mana reduction of OOC, but only has a duration of 5 seconds (and starts from when the buff occurs, not when you first cast a relevant spell). This means that omen of clarity can sometimes fall off before you use it if it randomly procs at the wrong time in your healing rotation (omen of clarity traditionally only lets one spell benefit, but has a decently long time period for you to use that one spell). I have found it difficult to get off more than one spell that benefits from OOC when playing with this talent, so it will likely only be beneficial at high levels of haste for people who are good at maximizing the benefits. So, this may work as an advanced talent for players, but is likely to be more of a penalty than a help for newer resto druids.

Warlords of Draenor November Release

Yesterday, Blizzard announced that the Warlords of Draenor expansion will be released on Thursday November 13th, 2014. The opening cinematic primarily features the orcs. This seems to be inspired by the Warcraft 3 story, evoking nostalgia for people who played the earlier RTS games. The cinematic, however, doesn’t tell the whole story of the expansion. It’s just a teaser that shows one of the many plots.

The opening cinematic is good, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of the expansion, and it doesn’t tell us what the game will feel like when we play it. None of the other opening cinematic videos really have either.

For the Alliance!

In playing the beta for the expansion, I am overall pretty happy with the direction of questing for the alliance. The opening Shadowmoon Valley is shaping up to be a great zone that largely features  the Draenei. The alliance storyline carries through several of the zones I have quested in. Later in leveling, the battle for Shattrath is one of the most heart-wrenching quests I’ve ever done – and that’s before they even put in the cinematic videos for the quest and we’re left to using our own imaginations during <insert epic video here>. The alliance has a great story coming in Warlords of Draenor. It may just require us to actually read quest text as we level.

The video that actually shows the diversity of environments and story plots is actually the gameplay “Warlords of Draenor in action” video that people largely overlooked when waiting for the opening cinematic reveal. This shows much more of the environments you will encounter in the game. Even if the cinematic doesn’t inspire you to want more, the gameplay shots should be more intriguing. There are some great stories in store for us as we level. Uncovering these stories is part of the fun.