League of Legends is a great game. Easy to learn, difficult to master and with many heroes to choose from the game stays interesting for ages.
It’s also totally free, which is nice.
But while the strategies relating to each hero are complex and extremely varied, the central strategies of the game as a whole are simple, easily understood, easy to apply and, as a general rule, completely ignored by the vast majority of LoL players.
For example, when people feel their team is losing they want to charge up mid and puuuush! Of course when you are losing is absolutely the worst time to push but this seems to slip past most people. And the frustration I feel with players not taking the time to comprehend the game has lead me to do it for them.
Of course, I can understand why people ignore strategy. When you see creeps in a lane you want to kill them. You want to get gold and XP. The fact that the previous 5 attempts to tumble down the lane have resulted in ganking and instant death don’t trouble one, because right now things look fine.
I find this frustrating…
Hence this guide.
This guide will serve as a good introduction to beginner and medium level players of LoL and probably a bunch of other DotA-style games too. I hope you find it useful.
Overall Game Strategy
LoL (and damn near every other MOBA game) is a game of 3 stages.
When you understand these 3 stages you will be well on your way to grasping the main LoL strategies.
Stage 1: Laning.
No, not “lanning”. I’m no grammar nazi but I do have my pride.
In the laning stage both teams divide themselves up amongst the 3 lanes.
There are basically 3 ways to do this:
I. Standard (2/1/2)
This means 2 at top, 1 at mid, 2 at bottom.
The solo player at mid benefits because they get more gold and XP than the players who have to share with each other. But they are also vulnerable to gangs from both top and bottom.
II. Jungling. (1/1/2)
1 player goes into the “jungle” and kills neutral creeps instead of sitting in their lane. This means that the team as a whole benefits because they will have two players who are solo, and thus they get extra XP.
The second person who is soloing is generally put in the top lane, because this means that the jungler can join the two players in bottom lane and go and take out the dragon when they feel they are up to it. This is a good plan because it means gold for the whole team, which moves the whole team ahead of their opponents.
People seem to forget that there isn’t any real reason why we have to do lanes like this. Oh sure, there has been a lot of debate about it and most players seem to think that the standard approach is usually the best. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best.
I’m not talking about putting 3 people in a lane because that would (I think) lead to those 3 all getting greatly reduced XP, but there are other arrangements I can think of that could be very good for the team.
For example let’s say there is an enemy player who you know is going to be a problem later in the game. If that player takes mid then it might be worth it to put 2 heroes at mid with the goal of harassing the enemy so much that you either kill them a few times or force them to go back home to heal. Either way you slow their build down a bit. And this won’t disadvantage your team because you will still have one solo player.
People can of course say: “but in that case our solo player is going against 2 enemies, and they are going to get overwhelmed”!
To this I reply: “that’s kind of the point”.
Yes, one of your teammates is going to need to play very cautiously in order to survive. But the enemy hero, the one you are afraid of, is going to have to do the same thing.
And anyway this is no different from having one player in the jungle.
My only point is that we need to make sure we don’t get too stuck on doing things we’ve always done simply because we’ve always done them.
I’ve lost count of the number of times players have told someone whose taken Ashe that they need to go mid. Often when I ask these people why they think this is a good idea they usually respond “because Ashe always takes mid”. This roughly translates as “I have no idea what I’m talking about, but everyone else thinks this is a good idea so I’m going to blindly enforce it”.
There are good reasons why Ashe works well in mid. She is a carry, so getting her the bonus gold and XP is helpful, she can gank both top and bottom and it’s much easier for her to use her R ability on top or bottom if she is relatively close to them.
Of course none of those reasons apply if the Ashe is a noob, or on Skype with another player.
Keep an open mind.
[EDIT: These days suggesting that Ashe takes mid is seen as heresy because the AP carry goes mid. Of course the fact that the standard meta has changed so much since this article came out proves my point more effectively than I ever could. Don't get stuck on the standard meta, it will change.]