League of Legends - Introduction
By Keddle, Forum Moderator and Acting Division Captain
League of Legends is a Free game produced by Riot Games, the same company responsible for the wildly successful DOTA. It is a team-based game done in a 3v3 or a (more popular) 5v5 format. Each player assumes the role of a summoner controlling a summoned champion selected from a pool of over 50 diverse characters.
The game is a fast-paced capture-the-flag format, with each team racing to break down the defenses of their opponents so that they can destroy the enemy nexus.
A player assumes the role of summoner, gaining power as they play more games. The summoner controls a champion. Each champion must level their way from one to eighteen, growing more formidable as they gain more powerful items and abilities with which to crush their adversaries.
Character Selection and In-game resources
There are fifty five unique champions within League of Legends. Each week Riot selects ten characters to make available to all summoners (players) for free.
When a player starts a normal game they have access to any champion they’ve purchased as well as the ten that are free that week. Characters can be purchased so they can be played indefinitely by either using Influence Points (Henceforth called IP) – which are earned by playing and winning games, or with Riot Points (Henceforth called RP) – which can be purchased directly with real world cash.
Ten champions from the fifty available. The first number under their portrait represents the required RP, the second number is the cost in IP. Champions can be purchased with either of the two currencies.
In addition the two types of currency have one more use each. RP can be used to purchase cosmetic skins for your character while IP is your only means for acquiring Runes.
Skins are re-textures of a character to make it more interesting. As skins are only available for real money you do not tend to see them very often. Skins are available from 520 to 975 RP with the conversion from RP to $USD being roughly 143:1. There are currently five skins available in the ‘Legendary’ category as well – these are priced at 1820RP and tend to be much more complex and impressive than the standard skins.
Left to right: Normal Cho’Gath, Nightmare Cho’Goth, & the Legendary Gentleman Cho’Gath
Runes are one of the ways to increase the power of your champions and these can only be purchased with IP. This system of allowing players to purchase champions and cosmetic upgrades easily with real world funds, but forcing them to play the game for the resources to make their champions more powerful and specialized has worked well so far.
Now that we have discussed the method for acquiring and one method of specializing your Champions it’s time to summarize the champions themselves.
The real beauty of League of Legends is a simplicity that allows fifty five distinctive and unique champions to remain balanced in a format that helps each game is different and fun, ensuring that the game does not become boring for its players.
Each Champion has one passive ability that helps define their character or role immediately. As they progress through the match each character unlocks and strengthens three additional abilities and one ‘ultimate’ ability. These four abilities are accessed with the keys: Q W E and R. Their Q, W, and E abilities can all be leveled a maximum of five times, and their ultimate, R, is maxed at rank 3. With only four abilities per champion it’s easy to see how the game maintains its ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ feel.
The fifty five champions fill a number of roles within the game, and most will accomplish a few of them. For instance the Champion Alistar is undoubtedly a tank; however, he is also extremely good at initiation and pushing. When choosing the champion you will start with, main with, or even just pick up it’s often better to look at the job you want to be doing in games and scrutinize the three, four, five or more characters who can do that job well. If you know you want to be a jungling damage-dealer you might decide to be the werewolf, Warwick, the shamanistic character Udyr, with his various animal forms, or the new character Xin Zhao, the asian-inspired Seneschal of Demacia for example.
To help illustrate how champions play and act within League of Legends let’s examine Ryze, The Rogue Mage. Ryze is a ranged DPS carry. His passive is Arcane Mastery, which lowers each of his ability cooldowns by 1.5 seconds each time he casts a spell – contributing to his playstyle as a front-loaded glass cannon who can deal tremendous damage very quickly. His Q is Overload, which deals heavy damage plus a percentage of Ryze’s maximum mana as bonus damage. Implying that he might steer towards items the granted ability power (which increase spell damage) and mana. His W is Rune Prison, a spell that deals damage but also immobilizes an opponent for a few seconds – holding them still while he kills them with his burst damage. His E is Spell Flux. Spell Flux sends a bouncing ball of energy that strikes any enemies (upto 6) who are in close proximity to each other. This ability gives him more damage, but also helps his ability to farm minions – guaranteeing Ryze has the money necessary to quickly acquire the items he needs to turn his opposition to ash. Lastly his ultimate ability is Desperate Power – this ability is on a relatively short cool down for an ultimate, starting at one minute. This ability gives Ryze’s ability power pool a huge boost as well as giving splash damage to all of his spells. As we can see, all of Ryze’s abilities center around focused, substantial damage. If you wanted to play a champion who dealt tremendous damage quickly in a hit-and-run style with little utility or support, Ryze would be a great choice.
Ryze, The Rogue mage
The game can either be played in a 3v3 or 5v5 format. The following description will cover the more common 5v5. There isn’t a significant change in the way the game is played in either format, regardless.
Each team begins play in their own base. Their champions are level one, have zero items, and 475 starting gold. After purchasing their starting item(s) players will move their champions to their starting area – either one of the three lanes or the jungle. After thirty seconds waves of minions will begin to appear from your Nexus and slowly move toward your opponent’s Nexus. These small computer-controlled units are quite simple but are critical in a number of ways in the game. First off while it is not dangerous to have one or two minions focusing their attacks on you an entire wave of them can quickly wear down a champion’s health and can most definitely sway a close battle. Next they are your primary source of income and scoring the killing blow on an enemy minion will net you 20 - 30+ gold. Lastly, minions are an important part of pushing as they will absorb tower hits and allow the champions to attack the dangerous structures unmolested.
Summoners Rift – the 5v5 Arena
Each of the side lanes has six towers within it – three for each team. The middle lane has a total of four towers within it. These can take a massive amount of punishment and dole out a good amount of damage (at the beginning of the game a tower can kill a champion in three hits, taking roughly as many seconds to do so). Champions square off against their counterparts and try to gain an advantage as they push towards the enemy base. Once the outer towers have been destroyed each base has a ring of 3 towers, protecting the entrances into the base. Directly behind those towers are the three inhibitors. When an enemy inhibitor is destroyed it allows your nexus to spawn Super-Minions. These minions have tank-level health and can dole out 3 or 4 times standard minion damage. Inhibitors, unlike towers, will regenerate and after five minutes are restored to full health. Finally, at the heart of the base protected by two final towers is the Nexus. Destroying this will end the game.
League of Legends is a deceptively simple game with a large gulf between simple proficiency and excellence. Riot Games has managed to create a huge pool of characters that for the most part feel unique and balanced. The games, especially when played with friends, are rich and fun but also quick enough to support a more demanding schedule and lifestyle – providing a gaming experience that can be enjoyed casually.
I thoroughly appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this introduction and welcome you all to explore the new League of Legends Division to get more information or begin playing with your fellow TOGers.