Joes to Pros: League of Legends Basics

What I’m going to give you here is a solid and simple beginners guide on League of Legends. For those of you who already play most of this will be old hat. You may skim the article and enjoy the images with captions. If Cracked has taught me anything it’s that they’re comedy gold.

Pictured: Comedy Gold

As Deadpool, He-Man, and the walking rave over there demonstrate, League of Legends is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That said, half the fun of any game is not sucking at it. To that end I’ve got a few suggestions that may just help ease the transitory period from newbie to seasoned player.

.5) Watching your language.

Despite the slightly misleading title, this is not in fact about cursing. Feel free to do that as much as you want. Trust me, everyone else does it at great length. This snippet is just to introduce you to some common terms. They’re pretty self-explanatory but I’m attempting to be thorough here.

Feeding – Repeatedly dying to the enemy. Bad.

Fed – A character who has gotten a large amount of kills. Great if they’re on your team…not so much on the alternative.

Farm – Killing minions, normally slowly so that where the minions meet doesn’t really move much. Essentially just gettin’ gold.

Push – Killing minions and going toward the enemy tower instead of just farming.

Jungle – Refers to the sections of the map between the lanes

Lanes – The three paths with towers. Bottom, mid, and top. As straightforward as it gets.

Tank – Except for this.

Support – Or this.

Carry – Less straightforward. It’s a type of character that excels at killing other characters. It can “carry” or win a game. Think relay race but with significantly more fire.

Jungler – The person who does stuff in the jungle instead of  being in a lane.

Build – Runes, masteries, items, and ability order you go for with a character.

Mia/ss – Still means missing. It’s something you say to your team when your opponents just disappear so they know to be more careful. Or something you don’t say if you hate your team.

Gank – Sneak attack. Someone pops out from a bush or something similar and kills an opponent. Pretty much what junglers do.

b/B – Back, retreat, run away, book it, flee, get the hell out of there, etc.

Pubstomp – Ever seen American history X? (If not, shame on you. Edward Norton is a damn fine actor.)

Heavy – Shorthand for “you suck”.

Smurf – High level players that are playing on low level accounts. Smurfs are why section 1 is there.

That about covers it as far as terms go. Really you’ll pick up on them as you play so if you can’t remember them, don’t worry about it. People will invariably shout them often enough to get them wedged firmly in your mind.

1) A.I. Games

They can't type. Feel free to die in embarrassing fashion.

Now I know everyone just wants to rush on in to normal games and bring the pain or whatever it is you kids are calling it. Here’s the issue with that: the tutorial section doesn’t really prepare you for a game. It’s the equivalent of playing GTA to prepare for a Call of Duty tournament. Sure guns are involved and killing things is the goal (Well, my goal at least.) but aside from some basic similarities it doesn’t do a whole lot to prepare you for what’s coming.

“Bot” games, or games against A.I., solve that issue. They give you an idea of the core mechanics of the game and put you against opponents that can challenge you at least a bit. There’s even two levels of difficulty if you’re feeling particularly badass. My suggestion, though, is to play at least two or three on beginner then spend some time just faffing about on intermediate level. The best part, especially for all those masochists out there, is that the intermediate bots straight up cheat. That means no matter how hard you’re beating them/being bent over the table you’ll still get to see them progress from early game into late game at the same rate that you would see in a normal game. This does however make for some annoying issues, namely certain bots late game pretty much refuse to die…

A war of attrition in a full-body loincloth...

2) Runes and Masteries

Runes and Masteries

Let me be as clear as possible on this, runes and masteries are the backbone of high level play. They are the lifeblood of champs. Their bread and butter, their meat and potatoes, their…rum and coke? Yeah, that’ll work. The point is that these things are vital to playing champions well.

They are also completely irrelevant to you at low levels. This seems off, but the fact is that at early levels runes and masteries aren’t really worth a damn. Masteries are handy, such as the ones that beef up your summoner spells (exhaust, ghost, etc.) but aren’t exactly game changing. This goes even more so for runes. In fact don’t even bother grabbing runes before hitting twenty. Hear me out on this. Runes come in three tiers. The first two are complete ass compared to the third tier so you may as well wait to get the best ones. Considering you use IP, the points you get from playing, to purchase champs/runes you’d be better served either saving up for a champ or saving up for the best runes you can buy. Finally, rune slots are opened one level at a time so you don’t even have all that many spots open until level twenty anyway.

For a really good look at how to work with either of these or even to plan for what you want, take a look at any of the various build sites like solomid. They’ve got guides on how to play characters and normally have very detailed descriptions of what to take and why. If nothing else it’s good to just look at what others are doing with characters you like or are interested in playing. It also saves you the trouble of building a character in a horribly wrong way, and speaking of a blunt segue…

3) Characters

There isn’t going to be much in the way of depth here, sorry to say. This is just to get the ideas of character archetypes out of the way. Basically every character can be broken down into one of a few categories, depending on how you build them. The key here is building them to their strengths. Certain characters will never be all that effective at support, others won’t work as a tank and so on. There’s a ton of info to be found on this topic but for the sake of brevity and not ranting on even longer I’ll try to keep this brief.

Tanks are exactly what they sound like. Just like in every other game your job is to make sure the others survive and if need be take a bullet, or spell, to the face to ensure victory. Similarly to those games, it’s a somewhat thankless position. On the other hand, do well and you normally will get thanks from the people who know how vital your role is. It’s a toss up, but even tanks in this game get to shine from time to time. Granted it’s by taking it to the face but when you let your team push to victory because you’re taking tower hits ain’t nobody going to say you’re worthless. Okay, someone may, but they’d be wrong…and a dick.

Notable tanks: Amumu, Cho’gath, Alistar, Jarvan, Shen

Support characters are the same as tanks in that what they do is right in their description. As a support you provide safety, healing, and help to your squishy partners. That isn’t to say you aren’t squishy as well but your mortality is second to making sure your partner gets kills and can plant their boot firmly in the enemies face. You kick ass by proxy and if you do your job well the enemy will be straight up cursing the day you were born. It’s satisfying in a different way than playing a carry, but no less important.

Notable supports: Taric, Sona, Janna, Soraka, Zilean

Carries…Well, they’re what most people wind up wanting to play. The movers and shakers of the game. Regardless of type, the carries are the ones meant to run around and kill people. From glass cannons to sustained damage dealers, a sold carry can win the match almost single-handedly. The issue here is that most carries are made of rice paper and getting around that takes practce. There’s actually a second type of carry: Assassins. These characters run around like mad bastards doing their best to catch the enemy off guard or by themselves. High damage, incredibly low health. It’s a trade off and really I’d be wary of playing this at lower levels, considering the high learning curve.

Notable carries: Brand, Morgana, Kassadin, Caitlyn, Corki

Notable assassins: Akali, Talon, Ahri

Junglers can be any of the above. Their job is to go through the jungle, slaughtering everything as fast as possible so they can pop into one of the lanes and gank an enemy. It’s a very particular and demanding position because you’ve got to be really aware of everything that’s going on while also attempting to support…well, pretty much everyone. Even more than assassins I’d say wait till later to do it. Either way, read some guides on it. Trust me, it’s not a thing you can jump into and just do awesome at.

Notable junglers: Fiddlesticks, Lee Sin, Warwick, Trundle, Shaco

Not that I'm pro, or anything...

4) Items

This section is going to be more important than the others for new players specifically because of how much items will actually affect the course of the game. This isn’t to say they don’t affect games at higher levels, but by that point runes and masteries mitigate some of the early game hardship without many items. For newbies items are the delicious creamy center of the twinky of victory.

35 feet and 600 pounds of amazing, diabetes inducing vctory.

Quoting good movies for comedic effect aside, a good item build will let you win games. Conversely, a bad build means you will be eaten as a snack, a walking all-you-can -eat buffet on which you enemies can dine. The good news is I can give you the lowdown on some basic tricks that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of the inexperienced…which I may or may not have experienced myself many,many, times.

The sword, the shield, and the lug nut of the divine

(The sword, the shield, and the lug nut of the divine.) – *insert trinity*

Those right there are the “Doran’s” items. Know them, love them, buy them at the start of the game. Depending on the type of character you are these will make your job much more easy. Ability power (AP) champs will benefit from the ring, attack damage (AD) champs will benefit from the blade, and tanks will enjoy the shield. Support characters don’t have a specific one to grab, but since most are AP based, grab a ring. Little extra power and mana regen. Huzzah.

Now, here’s where I let you in on the big secret…Buy more than one. Seems obvious right? Well, a lot of people overlook the items or only grab one. For an ap carry, an early kill means a second ring. That’s more power, health, and mana regen. It’s everything a carry could want. I’d say grab at least a couple, maybe a third depending on how you’re doing. Stacking rings will give you an amazing early game and when you need space or that last bit of gold for a crucial item, you can sell one now that its job is done.

Second point of order, boots. An easy mistake for new players to make, forgetting boots. Heads up though, boots are where it’s at. That movement means catching enemies, escaping enemies, getting places and second tier boots give an added effect that supplements the character. So heads up, I’m goin’ fashion conscious on y’all.

Mercury Treads – The go to footwear. Reduces the duration of stuns/slows.

Sorcerers Shoes – For the AP carry on the go, these give you some spell penetration meaning your spells essentially hit a bit harder.

Berserker Greaves – Sporty, and increase your attack speed. The boot of choice for many AD champs.

There are other choices, and many are great in certain situations. These are just some basic ideas. Your best bet is to take a good look at what all the boots do, look at who your opponents are, and decide based on that. Also keep in mind that some people take first level boots and three health pots. It’s a good move to make depending on the champ, but for lower levels the doran’s items are probably going to serve you better.

I could totally keep throwing info out, but I’m going to give it a bit of a break here. Like I said before ust look up some guides when you find a character you like. They’ll give info tailored to the champ, and that’s really what’s important during the entirety of the game. Making certain you’ve got the right equipment.

Tiny bit too much movement...good effort, though.


That’s all for this post. Next time I’ll dig into some actual basic strategies for use once the bloodshed starts.


3 responses to “Joes to Pros: League of Legends Basics

  • TheScourgeXV88

    Dammit, I thought I changed some of the examples you gave. /sigh. Oh well…just my two cents but people play alistar for support more than they do tank, just like people play zilean as an early game ap rather than a support (that, and tbh, not sure how much he can support other than his two abilities…but hey, that’s just me). But those are my only gripes. Great job otherwise. =P

    • incontrol88

      If you changed anything it might have been in a different post. I started editing this when Shaun emailed it to me, but when I put it up as a draft I saw somebody else had already put it up and started working on it. I didn’t really know who had done what so I just kept working on my version…Scourge you’re an editor too, you can go back into the original and make your changes too. By all means, do.

  • damientcr

    Did I put Zilean in support? Whoops. Alistar still goes either way, though I suppose at this point he’d be better served being in support. Also the draft was done by me. I figured putting the draft up here would be a decent idea since that way I could faff about with things like the banner sizing and stuff like that.

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