MOBA Games 201: Beginner’s Guide to League of Legends

A page of masteries. Offense is on the left, Defense is in the center, and Utility is on the right.

After you’ve made it to level 30 and mastered all those match-based concepts, League of Legends introduces two very important modifiers to your game experience. These concepts are masteries and runes, and they can make or break a player at high levels of play.

Masteries are the less annoying of the two for a newbie to use, as they don’t require any sort of serious investment to get into. You unlock one mastery every time you level up, and you can freely respec at any time outside of a match. The mastery trees are universal to all heroes, so different heroes specialize differently. Thankfully, you create new pages of masteries as much as you like. If you’ve played World of Warcraft or similar games, you can think of masteries as the talent trees. Masteries are broken up into three trees:

  • Offense, which focuses on dealing damage. These masteries increase your damage and penetration, regardless of what kind of damage it is. You usually put 21 points into this tree for carries.
  • Defense, which focuses on tanking damage. These masteries increase your health and resistances. You usually put 21 points into this tree for initiators and tanky supports.
  • Utility, which focuses on sustainability and staying power. These masteries increase stats like mana and health regeneration, gold gain, and summoner ability cooldowns. You usually put 21 points into this tree for supports.

A page of runes. Marks are red, seals are yellow, glyphs are blue, and quintessences are purple.

Runes are more complicated and more frustrating, but they arguably have more impact. Runes allow you to alter your base statistics based on items you slot into a grid. These items increase things like movement speed, armor penetration, magic resistance per level, critical chance, and other passive stats. You purchase them using the IP you earn from playing matches, so they act as a grind for you to move through once you hit max level.┬áThe best way to think of them is as equipment you earn by running raids and dungeons in a normal MMO. Like masteries, all heroes have access to the same pool of runes. Unlike masteries, you can’t simply make as many rune pages as you want. Runes are broken into four types:

  • Marks (red), which are primarily offensive. Stats like attack speed and armor penetration are highest for marks.
  • Seals (yellow), which are primarily defensive. Stats like armor and health are highest for seals.
  • Glyphs (blue), which are primarily utility. Stats like cooldown reduction and ability power are highest for glyphs.
  • Quintessences (purple), which are primarily large buffs. Stats that aren’t in other categories and large stat increases are the realm of quintessences.

That’s it for League of Legends! You should now be ready to drop in and experience the pain and glory of Summoner’s Rift. Getting better isn’t simply a matter of reading this guide, though. Go out there and practice, and eventually you could be a player in the big-name tournaments. All it takes is knowledge and determination!

More League of Legends tips, and guides

League of Legends Champions: Beginner’s Guide to Rammus

League of Legends Champions: Beginner’s Guide to Ashe

League of Legends Champions: Beginner’s Guide to Annie

Got any tips you’d like to share from your own League of Legends games? Drop a comment below!

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1 Comment on MOBA Games 201: Beginner’s Guide to League of Legends


On February 18, 2013 at 6:06 am

Hi ! that guide was awsome thx, but not to mee cause i’m not a beginner :D