League of Legends is one of the most popular MOBA’s out there, and you’ll hear me talk a lot about it. But many of you have probably never even heard of, or even played a MOBA.

Join me as I explain in fine detail what League of Legends has to offer.

MOBA. It’s an interesting and relatively new genre of game that can take a while for you to get used to. It requires players to have both good strategy, and a decent knowledge of what they’re playing. Once they’ve established those traits, however, MOBA titles become a lot of  fun and extremely rewarding.

There are a number of MOBA’s out there, the original being the widely loved DOTA. Even though they are part of the same genre family, however, League of Legends and DOTA have completely different playstyles. For instance, each of the games has different mechanics in terms of stat boosting items and each of the games features different champions with widely different capabilities. As you read on, you’ll begin to understand why this is so meaningful and crucial to the gameplay.

What is MOBA?

A MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) pits two teams of five against each other. The aim is for each team to take down the opposing teams’ main “structure”. The name of the structure varies from game to game but its placement doesn’t. Players will have to negotiate a battlefield, taking both creeps and turrets down as they advance through the 3 designated lanes to the enemies base in order to claim victory. Both the creeps and turrets are a fundamental part of the MOBA genre and appropriately, they carry across to every game.  However, the unique positioning of both the creeps and turrets means that the gameplay of a MOBA is unlike any other genre of game. Therefore it’s unsurprising why many newcomers to the genre are often turned off.  Hopefully, this guide can help change that a little bit.

What is League of Legends?

Currently League of Legends is played by people all around the world and has a player base of around 12 million active users per day. This is with good reason. Riot, the masterminds behind League of Legends are constantly introducing new patches and updates to the game, keeping it balanced and stable at all times. Not only that, it’s completely free. Although there is an in-game currency called Riot Points and these can be bought with real world money, this in no way affects other players.

All of the champions in the game can be unlocked by earning another currency called IP. This is given to players after they finish a full game, be it against bots or PvP (Player vs Player). Due to the way the store works, every character in the game can be bought with IP, meaning that RP only really comes in to play when a player wants to have early access to a character, or if they want to buy a skin. There’s no way to Play 2 Win here, however, as skins don’t give stat increases to characters, meaning that they are purely aesthetic. In addition to that, because there is no set level path, players will have free choice when it comes to unlocking things. They’re never forced into anything.

What is a Summoner and what is a Champion?

The first two things players are likely to come across when booting up League of Legends are the Summoner and the Champions.

A Summoner is the nickname given to players controlling the Champions on the battlefield. So in this case, you. When first booting up the game, players will be asked to create a Summoner name. This will stick with them throughout their entire time playing LoL, unless they choose to change it using RP. In the lore of the game, Summoners are gifted spell casters that have the ability to “summon” an avatar in the form of a Champion to fight for them in the Fields of Justice. All Summoners have to abide by the “Summoners code” at all times and upon signing up for the game players will be asked to accept it.

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When placed in a game, as a Summoner, the player’s role will be to control a Champion and influence the outcome of a battle on one of the Fields of Justice. In League of Legends, there are currently 111 champions and 4 Fields of Justice. Each of these champions has a different set of skills, a different look, a different playstyle and a pre-defined architect. Players of both RPG’s and MOBA’s will be familiar with the architects as they range from Low Health/High damage Assassins to High Health/Low Damage tanks. Not all champions will be available as soon as players start the game, though. In fact, there will be a selection of 10 Champions that changes weekly. However, each rotation always has a range of architects, so there is no need to worry about favourites not being included. After playing games, players will slowly earn IP that can be used to buy champions for  a range of different prices. The basic, recommended champions start at around 400IP, whereas the newer ones can be around 6300IP. This may seem like a lot, but it’s easily done to grind this amount of IP within a reasonable amount of time.

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift

Ah, Summoner’s Rift. The main Field of Justice. The Summoner’s Rift is the oldest and most commonly used field due to it’s intense 5V5 action. On this map, teams of 5 are put onto opposite ends of the field with the intention of making their way to the opposing base. However, as previously mentioned, they will have to negotiate Turrets, Creeps, Champions and sometimes even the fabled Baron. When joining a game, a champion will spawn in the respective blue or purple base, dependent on team. The team will then have to decide amongst themselves which lane each of the Champions will fight in, be it top, bottom or middle. If players place the wrong Champion in the wrong lane, they will lose it almost instantly. Due to this, farm and gold will be considerably less as the enemy team will dominate the team. It goes without saying that this is a fundamental decision.

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As you can see on the map above, the three lanes are highlighted via a red line. Often one Champion will go down middle lane, leaving two champions for both top and bottom lane.  In-between these red lines is the area commonly known as “The Jungle”. In some cases, champions like Lee Sin will opt to jungle and leave top lane solo. Attempting to solo the top lane provides more experience points, in addition to more gold and creep farm. However, Champions who opt to jungle should first be comfortable with their character and know how to gank and feed lanes. For now, that’s all I’ll say about Jungling as the next column I write will be purely focused on this.

When in lane, the players’ main objective is to destroy the turrets in their lane so that they can push up to the enemy inhibitor. Each base consists of 3 inhibitors and upon destroying them, a team will be granted “Super minions”. These are higher health and damage minions that will help a team push the lane even further until they get to the enemy nexus.

Enemy champions have the same objective, and, in turn, they will try and stop the other team. Not only that, but they need to destroy waves of creeps along the way to ensure gold is high enough to buy late game items. If the other team is killed or they fail to farm effectively, their gold count will be lower than the enemies, meaning they will be drastically under-powered  A valued skill within the League is last hitting. This means a player does not attack the minions until they have one hit of health remaining. This ensures they get the gold for the kill, therefore maximising income. I highly advise anyone to practice last hitting minions in bot games before going into normals, as more often than not, under-farming can result in serious disadvantages, such as lack of defense or attack/ability power.

Once all of the turrets have been pushed and all of the Inhibitors have been destroyed, the Nexus will be the main focus. To destroy the Nexus, teams must destroy the final two turrets protecting it, then the Nexus is vulnerable and focused. From here, the game can be won. Just remember, it’s not essential for all of the lanes to be pushed for you to win the game. Only one lane needs to be pushed for your team to effectively take down the Nexus.

Bosses and Buffs and Gold

I’m not directly talking about Jungling in this column, but I will talk about the bosses that roam there. Within the jungle there are 4 main enemies players will want to focus. The Ancient Golem, The Elder Lizard, The Dragon and Baron Nashor. Upon killing these enemies, players will be granted with two fundamental things, either buffs or gold.

Here’s what each enemy drops.

  • Ancient Golem - Take at level 1+
    • Respawn time: 5 Mins
    • Buff Granted: Blue
    • Buff Stats: 20% cooldown reduction and increased Mana regen
    • Gold Granted: 72 Base
  • Elder Lizzard - Take at level 1+
    • Respawn time: 5 Mins
    • Buff Granted: Red
    • Buff Stats: Your attacks apply slow to the enemy whilst dealing some damage over time.
    • Gold Granted: 72 Base
  • Dragon - Take at level 9+ ( May require help from team )
    • Respawn time: 6 Mins
    • Buff Granted: None
    • Buff Stats: None
    • Gold Granted: 190 Base
  • Baron Nashor- Take at level 16+ ( Will require help from team )
    • Respawn time: 7 Mins
    • Buff Granted: Purple
    • Buff Stats: Increased Attack Power, Ability power, Health Regen and Magic Regen
    • Gold Granted: 300 Base

All of these buffs will play a fundamental part in the game. Often taking a Baron late game can secure victory for your team, providing you utilize it correctly. In addition to this, the extra gold bosses provide gives a nice farm increase over some lanes. This gold is crucial to creating a build.

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When players have a reasonable amount of gold and are situated in their main base, they can open up the Summoner store. This store sells items such as Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer and Potions. Early game, players will have enough money for basic items, such as Boots, Potions or Wards, but late game they will be building into more advance items. Each item will provide either stat increases or active effects. With all the right items combined, a build can be created which optimizes a characters’ key strengths, giving them the upper hand over enemy champions. However, items such as wards can only be used once to give active effects, such as vision in any area of the map. These are especially useful when the enemy team has a Jungler, or when trying to keep vision on Dragon and Baron. By utilizing wards correctly, teams can have high map control from the start of the game.

Where can I sign up?

That’s a very basic guide to LoL and while it doesn’t look at more advanced strategies, hopefully you have a better idea of both the MOBA genre and the game. The best way to actually get into LoL is to download and give it a go for yourself. The League of Legends launcher provides both tips and tutorials to help get you started, but only you can put in the effort, learn champions play-styles and map control techniques. If you’re willing, maybe you could also come to appreciate the unique experience it brings to players around the world.

You can sign up right here.