So I’ve had quite a bit of time now to log some hours on the new League of Legends game type, Dominion, and let me just say it stands to me as proof of a higher power that Riot is still offering this glorious game for absolutely free. Since the Crystal Scar was released, I haven’t played so much as a single Classic League game (well, at least not of my own volition), such is the enthralling nature of this new play style.
The first thing you need to know about Dominion is that it is an entirely different animal from the League you’re used to. If you thought the game was too slow, or too boring in the past, I urge you to check it out again. Dominion is a Take-and-Hold style game played on a circular map with 5 “Capture Points” that incorporate turrets for defense and contribute to your overall score. Instead of having a Nexus which can be attacked directly, your Nexus now decreases steadily in health when your opponents control more Capture Points than you. The Crystal Scar (the Dominion map) is much smaller than Summoner’s Rift, making speed and maneuverability a key requirement for mastering the gametype. Points are captured as a channeled ability that increases in speed for each allied champ helping you capture the node. Channeling, of course, can be interrupted by damage, so harassers are still a vital part of this gametype.
Some other notable changes include a huge passive XP gain which allows for much faster leveling. While Summoner’s Rift games could last 25-30 minutes and still not see players hitting maximum level, games on the Crystal Scar usually see everyone hitting level 18 and rarely last much longer than 20 minutes. There are some new weapons to promote the faster and more savage atmosphere created in this game, as well as a pair of new summoner spells. Garrison allows you to stop ongoing enemy captures and makes the turret more effective defensively (the Dominion version of Fortify, except it only functions on one turret at a time and can also be used on offense to make enemy turrets less effective). Promote let’s you turn one of your minions into a super minion. This sounds underwhelming, but can be strategically important in a number of ways (ways I’ll let you figure out for yourselves ;p).
As for the map itself, it wouldn’t be a Riot map if there weren’t a neutral jungle. Instead of weaving through three lanes of traffic, however, the Dominion jungle represents the inside of the “circle” on which the Capture Points sit. Neutral minions have been replaced with relics and shrines. Shrines grant your champion a brief speed boost buff when you step on them, while relics heal your champion. In the middle of the map, both teams have access to a “Storm Shield” that provides an impressive stat boost. The Storm Shield can turn the tide of battle by itself, but the placement of the buff in the middle of the map, adjacent to the enemy buff, adds an element of strategy to the proper use of the relic.
In essence, this gametype manages to preserve everything I’ve always loved about League of Legends while eliminating some of the less savory elements. I’m all for doing away with the twenty minute laning phase and the immense time between resurrection and getting back into the action associated with late-game Summoner’s Rift play.
If I had to nitpick, my only real issue would be with the personal point system Riot added to the game with the advent of Dominion. The game tracks stats such as how long you spend defending nodes, how many kills you get and whether or not they occur near a node, how many nodes you capture and how many relics you activate, totaling previously assigned point values to give you a personal score that is supposed to reflect your performance in a given game. This system is severely broken. It overvalues capturing points and devalues defending them with no regard for context. This means that a player who runs off by themselves capturing points his team can’t possibly defend, maybe even losing the game for his team as a result, will probably have more points by the end of the game than a player who slavishly defended a vital point for his team the whole game. This is a relatively small complaint, however, and Riot has already mentioned that a patch is forthcoming. It’s just that they’re so busy cranking out all this free content. Seriously. Even if you’ve tried LoL and found it not to be your thing, Dominion might still be worth a look. What have you got to lose?