Friday, September 14, 2012

A Full Mug of Mead: League of Legends and the New WTMCF

A Full Mug of Mead: The League of Legends Content You've All Been Expecting

In these posts, I will be exploring various aspects of League of Legends, starting with a new player's guide to the game, escalating to a weekly round-up of information presented in the unique WTMCF style, and eventually profiles of LoL players and advanced strategies.

With the release of Syndra, the Dark Sovereign, the Internet's favorite acronym will have 105 playable champions, and A Full Mug of Mead will celebrate with 105 Tips and Tricks for new players looking to get into the game.  If you are one of the millions who already have a Level 30 account, don't despair, there will be plenty of content for you as well. (If you are one of the few with multiple 30s and a 2000+ ELO, well, more than likely, you won't be reading this blog anyway, but if you are, I can assure you that I will do my best to make you laugh, and hopefully it won't come as a reaction to any of my advice.)

If you are wondering where the Magic: The Gathering content has gone, don't fret, I'm not giving up the card-slinging anytime soon, and I do have a few spicy RtR-inspired decklists for you to add to your arsenal. But the last month and a half of my free time has been spent hurtling head first into the world of MOBAs and specifically League, which I've determined scientifically to be nearly the most fun you can have in your pajamas staring at a computer screen while frantically clicking your mouse and having teenage boys scream at you for not knowing what you are doing.

I don't want to keep you from the action, so download League of Legends now and get started, but first, here is the first tip to put you ahead of your Level 1 competition.

1) Know Your Terms: 

If you venture out into the wilds of the Interwebs, you will be assaulted by dozens if not hundreds of sites dedicated to improving your LoL play.  Most, if not all of them, assume you already know more about the game than I know about drinking bottled water.

Needless to say, I've forgotten more than you'll ever know.

In case you don't, here is a brief rundown of terms you should be familiar with. This list, as you can well imagine, is not exhaustive, but should help you out when you start in queue. Also, this is not in any particular order, unless you want to imagine that there is a nefarious plot behind my list-making that involves the Illuminati and the Freemasons working in concert to overthrow the power structure behind American politics. In which case there is still no order, but your life certainly sounds more exciting than mine.

Pots-- Items you can purchase from the wagon next to the Fountain where you begin each game.  Pots are Health Potions, Mana Potions, and generally useful items that help you survive in Lane. Health and Mana pots cost 35 gold, which make them valuable and cheap during the early stages of the battle.

Lane/Laning-- There are four Lanes in traditional, five on five League of Legends gameplay.  Top lane passes North of the Fountain for the Blue Team and West of the Fountain for the Purple Team.  Mid lane connects the two Fountains, bisecting the middle of the map. Bottom lane (or bot lane) is East for the Blue Team or South for the Purple Team.  Each of these three Lanes is dotted with towers/turrets: An Outer Turret, an Inner Turret, and an Inhibitor Turret that protects that lane's entrance to the base. The Jungle is the fourth Lane and comprises the forested area formed between each of the other lanes, cut in half by the river that runs across the map from Northwest to Southeast.  Laning refers to the earliest stage of the game, where the players attempt to harvest gold and experience from the waves of minions that spawn at each base.  In both low and high level play, Laning begins around the 2:00 mark, although it can start later if either team is attempting an Invade/Invasion strategy.

Jungle-- The Jungle is the fourth Lane and comprises the forested area formed between each of the other lanes, cut in half by the river that runs across the map from Northwest to Southeast.  In the Jungle you will find five Neutral Minion camps: Wolves, Wraiths, Mini-Golems, Ancient Golem, and Lizard Elder.  Certain Champions (the avatars assumed by the players, who are known in game as Summoners) play best in the Jungle lane, and use the Neutral Minions as the primary source of their gold and experience.

Push/Pushing-- When Pushing a lane, players kill opposing minions at a faster rate than normal, enabling their own minions to move up along the lane, making it so that enemy Champions must fight under their turret. While engaged in a Push, you will usually attempt to take down the enemy turret in order to improve map awareness for your team, by making it harder for your opponents to maintain vision in the turretless space.

Buff/Debuff-- A Buff is a positive enhancement on your Champion. Most Buffs come from the Jungle. The Lizard Elder bestows a Red Buff which adds a slow to your attacks and the Ancient Golem gives you a Blue Buff that lowers your cooldowns (how fast you use your abilities) and increases mana regeneration.

Dragon/Baron-- Two epic monsters that dwell in the Jungle.  The Dragon earns 190 gold for each team member, plus a 25 gold bonus for the Champion that slays him. Baron Nashor generates a Purple Buff, plus awards gold to the team.

Solo Top-- Refers to the role played by a single Champion who spends the Laning phase in the Top Lane.  Typical Solo Top Champions will be bruisers, melee fighters that can dish it out and take it. Champions like Garen or Master Yi are great for starting out and practicing Solo Top. Later, Tanks such as Cho'gath, Singed, or Irelia all make excellent Solo Top Champions. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about playing Solo Top.

AP Mid-- Refers to the role played by a single Champion who spends the Laning phase in the Middle Lane. This is almost always a mage-style Champion, who can be Squishy, but who will do massive amounts of magic damage later on. Annie is a great Champion to start with if you want to be smashing foes with a giant stuffed magic teddy bear, and she scales well even into higher leveled game play. Other AP Mids include new characters like Syndra or Zyra, or everyone's favorite black mage, Veigar. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about playing AP Mid.

Jungler-- Refers to the role played by a single Champion who spends the Laning phase in the Jungle. Almost every Champion can Jungle, but the role is very difficult at low levels, and should probably be avoided until you are equipped with Runes and Masteries.  Master Yi makes for a solid Jungle, if you just can't wait to try it out. Better still is Warwick, who is one of the strongest Junglers in higher leveled play and who makes practicing the role much easier than it might be otherwise. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about playing as the Jungler.

ADC-- ADC stands for Attack Damage Carry, and the role is self-explanatory.  As the ADC, it's your job to build damage boosting items and pierce the hearts of the enemy team. Ashe is one of the best Champions to learn the game with, and ADC is the role she plays. The ADC spends the Laning phase in the Bottom Lane, earning experience and gold with the support of a second Champion, whose job is to keep the Carry alive. There are many ADC Champions in League of Legends, and finding the one that fits your style of play best can seem daunting, but Sivir is an inexpensive option who can teach you new tricks if you don't enjoy playing Ashe. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about playing as the Attack Damage Carry.

Support-- The Support is the fifth Champion. Like the Jungler, Support is difficult to play at low levels, because you will not have the Runes or Masteries that boost your gold production. As a Support, you heal and Buff the ADC, while letting them Farm the minions that crawl through the Bot Lane. Most Support Champions, later in the game, will be the biggest, baddest Tank on the battlefield, soaking up damage for your team, and keeping them mowing down the opposition. If you want to start off playing Support, try a Champion like Soraka or Nunu, who come equipped with abilities the naturally Buff or heal the ADC, and can assist in kills to earn gold. Later, Champions like Blitzcrank, Alistar, or Taric are available to help dominate the Bot Lane. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about playing Support.

Summoner/Champion-- In League of Legends, you are a Summoner, and the avatar that represents you on the battlefield is a Champion. There are 105 Champions to choose from, and that number continues to grow.

Leash-- To begin the Laning phase, the Jungler needs a little bit of help to get past his first few Neutral Monster camps. When someone asks for a Leash, they are requesting that the Champions in the Lane closest to where they are starting engage the Neutral camp and begin attacking the monsters that dwell there. It is very important that a Leash does not kill the monster, because the Jungler needs the gold and experience in order to level up and build their items quick enough to be effective when Ganking.

Gank/Ganking-- A gank occurs whenever a Champion leaves their lane to assist in attacking the enemy team in another lane. This will usually be the Jungler, although midlanes like Katarina or Twisted Fate, and top lanes like Shen can also aid in successful ganks. If an opposing Champion leaves the lane you are responsible for, you should report mia and ping the lane that they appeared to be heading for to let your ally know about the possible impending gank.

Mia-- During the Laning phase, occasionally Champions will leave the Lane. This can happen because they've taken too much damage and have to return to their base to heal, or because they have a ton of gold and want to start buying items, but more often than not, it will signal a gank. In order to prevent your allies from overextending and getting caught by the enemy team, you need to signal their departure by typing "mia" in the chat box. It should be preceded by the lane you are in, so if the other Solo Top goes missing, write "top mia" as soon as it happens. When they come back, tell your team by typing "re".

Ping/Pinging-- League of Legends action comes fast and furious, like Jason Statham beating up a room full of shirtless goons. Sometimes you can't type "I need help right here by the Dragon pit but a little closer to their Ancient Golem camp" fast enough. Whenever urgent communication is needed, you can Ping your minimap with two different colors of signals. Yellow is great for telling your teammates that they need to retreat because a whole bunch of bad guys are heading their way, and red can tell everyone you've been forced out of lane and someone needs to protect your turret.

Farm/Farming-- Farming refers to the action of killing minion waves to generate gold and experience. This normally happens during the first 15 minutes or so of the game, but it's important to remember to keep farming as the game progresses, or you risk being underleveled and as broke as a Kardashian sister as soon as our world gets its priorities straight.

In all fairness, one of these girls will never be poor. She has her own, erhm, assets.

Tank-- A Tank is a Champion with tons of natural or item built HP and a lot of armor/magic resistance. Typical tanks include Blitzcrank, Alistar, Singed, Rammus, Amumu, or late-game Nunu. The Tank is an extremely important role in the late game because they will be able to wade into the enemy formations and turrets and absorb damage while the rest of the team crushes dreams and breaks down defenses.

Tanking-- You don't have to be a Tank to be asked to tank something as a verb. In some cases, your allied minions will be far behind the group of teammates who are ready to take down a turret or map objective like Dragon or Baron Nashor. One team member will be tasked with initiating and absorbing the brunt of the assault from the Baron or the turret while everyone else stands around looking pretty and taking it out.

Squishy-- A Squishy Champion is one that doesn't have a lot of built-in sustain or health. The more squishy a Champion is, the less damage they can take and the more damage they are dealt by opposing attacks. Squishy Champions tend to be ranged, and they need to hang back a bit behind a tank or at least a stronger ally in order to avoid being targeted and killed too fast to get their own damage in. Most mages are squishy, along with several of the assassin type Champions like Nocturne or Evelynn. Similarly, ranged ADC's like Ashe, Vayne, Varus, or Graves do not have a lot of armor or magic resist and can go down quickly in a fight if their support isn't on top of the situation. For this reason, when team fighting, you want to be targeting the squishy/high damage enemy team members first, before turning your attention to the bulky/low damage output tanks.

Invade/Invasion-- Invading is a strategy that occurs in the beginning of the game, wherein a group of Champions will attempt to seize control of and slay opposing forces near one of the Neutral Monster camps in the Jungle on the other side of the river. A successful invasion that kills or disables the enemy Jungler, as well as anyone providing a leash, will put the opposing team at a massive disadvantage, and a huge 5 on 4 victory can even end the game before it really starts. Invasions rarely happen at the lower levels of play, but it's worth being aware that it can, and protecting your Jungler and teammates from it happening is extremely important as you level up to 30. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about invading/counter invading.

Runes/Masteries-- These are enhancements that you build before the game even starts that give your Champion better starting stats and base abilities. Both the Jungle and Support roles all but require competent Rune/Mastery set ups in order to most successfully play their positions. You can purchase Runes from the League of Legends store, and you earn points to use in your Mastery pages by leveling up (you get one point per level). This aspect of character building is part of what makes the Champions so versatile, and is one of the main reasons why two players using the same Champion could have drastically different skill sets and roles. For more information, look for a later tip that goes into detail about setting up your Runes and Masteries.

Last-Hitting -- The last attack against an enemy minion, Neutral Monster, or opposing Champion is credited with the kill, and assigned bonus gold and experience. When your attack is the one that kills the enemy, you are the one who benefits. Therefore, it is in your best interest to strike the killing blow against every minion in a wave, an action that results in extra money going in your pocket, and a fatter wallet means more gold to spend when you head back to the Fountain.

Area of Effect Crowd Control -- In order to win a team fight, it is necessary to impede the enemy Champions ability to use their spells and skills effectively. An AoE CC is exponentially more powerful than individual CC because it can hit multiple targets. The CC effects in League of Legends include Fear, Slow, Stun, Charm, and Taunt. Fear makes your targets lose focus and become bewildered. Charm and Taunt cause the target to pursue or attack the caster without regard for what is happening around them. Slow inflicts a movement speed debuff and can affect attack speed or damage. Stun freezes your opponents in place and renders them incapable of fighting. Some Champions with AoE CC include: Fiddlesticks, Veigar, Anivia, Galio, or Morgana.

I said before, this list of terms is not exhaustive, and if you feel as though I missed something that threw you off when you started, or if there is a term you want defined and added to the list, please e-mail me and I will make sure it is updated and included for the future.

As always, comments and questions are welcome, and because LoL is such an awesome game, I'm opening up the site to submissions again. Do you have a build guide? A unique strategy? A Champion combination that breaks open your favorite lane? Maybe you just have some fan fiction you'd love to see published somewhere other than your Facebook page. 

My goal is to build a strong content base for League of Legends, and make it so that when it comes to the fantastic sandwich that is LoL, this is Where the Meat Comes From.

Send Submissions to Always include either your Summoner tag, Twitter handle, or actual, honest-to-Mitt, name.