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
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
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
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.