MOBA Games 201: Beginner’s Guide to League of Legends
Renekton and Garen fighting at mid-lane blue-side tower.
The current League laning game is a very stagnant one. Lanes are very divided and have their own established, and any team worth their salt will fill every one of these roles. It is rare to see any deviation, which is a shame. You aren’t likely to see any big plays like two-laning mid, despite there being plenty of opportunity for it. The roles are:
- Top lane, which is usually played by a bruiser. Bruisers are the meaty, tough folks that can stay in a fight for a long time thanks to innate damage resistance or healing. They usually hit pretty hard too, but not as hard as a carry.
- Jungle, which is usually played by a ganker. Gankers are heroes with a lot of movement-changing abilities such as teleports, grabs, and speed buffs. They range from the tanky Amumu to the squishy (but painful!) Nocturne. A good jungle changes the tide of the game in an instant.
- Mid lane, which is usually played by a skill carry. These are more often referred to as “mages,” and they rely on strong magical damage and disables to pick off their foes. They are the second easiest class of hero to kill, so mid is usually the first target for jungle ganks.
- Bottom lane carry, which is usually played by an auto-attack carry. These are the heavy damage dealers of League, and they can make or break the game. Heroes like Caitlyn or Ezreal can annihilate most other enemies in a fight, and sending them bottom under the care of a support means they will get the XP and gold they need. They are also extremely easy to kill, as they take a lot of damage and usually have few-to-no options for escapes.
- Bottom lane support, which is played by either active or passive support heroes. Active support heroes are simple: they are the healers and buffers of League. Of these, Soraka is probably the best thanks to her good range of buffs, debuffs, and disables. Passive support heroes operate on the principle that keeping the enemy from dealing damage is better than any heals, so they usually rely on things like stuns, knockback, and disables to screw over enemies. Passive supports are best for enabling the carry to get kills, while active supports are best for enabling farm.
The locations of monster buffs. Red is lizard buff. Blue is golem buff. Yellow is Dragon. Purple is Baron.
Aside from lanes, there are four important spots on the map. These spots contain powerful enemies that are known as lizard, golem, dragon, and baron. Each gives very distinct and powerful bonuses to those that manage to kill them, which makes them desirable for any team to snag. Think of them as the quad damage or flight power-ups from more fast-paced games like Quake 3.
- Red buff – also known as lizard buff – is the buff of choice for heroes that deal damage with normal attacks. Every attack from a hero with red buff slows the enemy and applies a damage-over-time debuff. It’s not a very noticeable difference compared to blue buff, but it makes auto-attack heroes far, far more dangerous.
- Blue buff – also known as golem buff – is the buff of choice for everyone else. It gives a hero substantial mana regeneration and cooldown reduction, which turns them into an ability-spamming machine. Nothing is quite as scary as a Ryze coming out of jungle with a blue buff, after all.
- Dragon is a difficult enemy that is close to the bottom lane. Dragon gives global XP and Gold to the team that kills it, so taking Dragon is a surefire way to leap ahead in gold advantage quickly. Killing dragon is usually relegated to the jungler, as most junglers can solo dragon around level 5 or 6.
- Baron Nashor is the toughest enemy in the game. He deals lots of damage, has a ton of health, and can’t be disabled in any way. However, he gives huge amounts of XP and gold to the killing team, as well as a buff that increases damage by a huge amount. Taking Baron can completely turn a game around, and knowing if the enemy team is doing Baron is incredibly important after twenty minutes have passed in the match.
There is more to League than its simple and unyielding metagame, however. Some more advanced concepts include zoning and brush, both of which are used to get the upper hand in positioning yourself against an enemy.