League of Legends has become one of the most popular free to play games in the world and the biggest name in modern e-sports. Much like World of Tanks, it’s a free game that has attracted the interest of many EVE players for the log-in-and-go gameplay so different from the patience and preparation EVE demands. Yet it is 'hardcore' as well, with its own terminology, strategies, and metagame. Fortunately for EVE players interested in giving LoL a try, there are several concepts that directly translate from New Eden to the League. While the UI, pacing, and other aspects of LoL could not be more different than flying spaceships, recognizing that you already know how to think about these concepts will not only make the game more accessible to you, but in fact give you a leg up on the average noob.
PART FIVE: SCOUTING
“Knowledge is power” is an old phrase that has stood the test of time - and is very applicable in most online games. Simply put, the more information you have about what other people are doing, the better decisions you can make. In EVE, why warp off if you’re holding your own in a fight? Well, if you weren’t using a scout alt, watching local, or using your dscan you might not feel you had a reason to do so - until your target's 90 friends land right next your ship. By then, it's hilariously too late to avoid the impending BBQ.
In League of Legends, scouting and information management are vital in both offensive and defensive capacities. Since there’s a fixed number of players, you don’t have to worry about being hot dropped, but there is also a fog of war aspect to LoL that makes obtaining real time information about the location of the enemy both challenging and essential.
THE FOG OF WAR AND BUSHES
Man, I wish we had these features in a certain spaceship game.. but I digress.
The Fog of War is a major aspect of League gameplay. Any area beyond the direct sight of an allied champion, turret, ward (more on those in a bit) or minion wave is greyed out on the map and on your screen. You can see the layout of the map but not the presence or status of any units. Some very important areas are obscured by this fog, including Baron, Dragon, and several travel paths to and from the Jungle. With no vision in these areas, you can’t tell if the objective has been claimed or is currently being engaged nor detect enemies in transit (or lying in wait for an ambush).
Similarly, even if your champion is standing in the open field, you may not be able to see everything you need to see. Objects and players inside bushes remain concealed from all enemies outside the bush unless they attack something outside the bush or an enemy steps inside. Bushes are located all over the map and are excellent rally points for pushes and ambushes. As such, they are high priority scouting targets. However, what if you walk into such a bush blind, known as “face checking,” and it’s not empty? You’ll be face to face with at least one enemy that has the first shot. There’s a fair chance you’ll shortly die.
So, what to do about these problems?
Ward. Ward. Ward. Ward some more. Then when you’re done, buy more wards.
Wards are the scout alts of League of Legends. They are cheap, disposable, and absolutely critical to making good choices. Wards are 75 gold consumable items (125 for the pink ward which lets you see other wards and stealthed champions) and are quite possibly the single most important item in the store. Activate wards by clicking them and then clicking again where you want them placed. They remove fog of war from a fixed line-of-sight area around them and can be placed inside bushes to reveal inside them at the same time. Wards come with a three minute duration and can be destroyed if the enemy gets vision on them. It is worth noting that wards placed outside a bush will still remove fog of war but will not provide vision inside said bush.
Wards are used for both offensive and defensive purposes and the priority of their location shifts as the game progresses. Early on, wards are mainly used defensively to detect jungle invasions and incoming lane ganks from the enemy jungler. There also tends to be a battle over wards in the bottom lane bushes, as each support player tries to give harassment opportunities to their AD Carry. Defensive warding continues late game. Wards are placed to cover movement paths that were less important while turrets were up but become more used when turrets are down. Players commonly move between the lanes looking for opportunities. If you’re pushing a lane near the river but don’t have any turrets left, it becomes really vital to know early that there are four champions coming up the river to kill you so that you have enough time to get back to safety. Defensive warding of objects can also be used to facilitate “stealing” where a smite or long range attack from a friendly champion finishes off a buff, Dragon, or Baron that was being attacked by the other team.
Offensive warding is the reverse of this, not looking for large groups of enemies so you can run away from them but rather detecting solo or small groups of enemies that make prime gank targets. Wards can spot enemies moving between turrets, fighting jungle monsters, capturing objectives, or setting up a gank that you can then turn into an opportunity for your team instead (called counter ganking). Wards also act as friendly minions or Teemo mushrooms for purposes of teleporting, allowing you to setup ganks your opponent could never possibly predict. I will also include anti-ward measures in offensive warding, including Oracle’s Elixer and Vision (aka pink) Wards. Oracle’s is a consumable buff that gives your champion the ability to see stealth units and wards for 5 minutes or he/she dies. Pink wards provide the same vision but for a fixed area and time like a regular ward. They have a slightly shorter field of vision than normal wards, cost more than normal wards, and can be destroyed like normal wards. Pink ward wars are a thing.
Some Bads in solo queue will expect all warding to be done by the support player, and rage when there isn’t enough vision. This is pants-on-head retarded, do not listen to them. EVERYONE ON THE TEAM NEEDS TO BE WARDING. Would you expect one player in your fleet to be running every scout alt during a major op? Of course not; that’s silly. Top and mid should ward their own lanes to prevent ganks and the jungler should pink ward areas where he realizes that he’s been spotted to facilitate future ganks. Should the support player be warding? Absolutely. But if you ward your own lanes, especially early, and contribute to warding objectives later you will see your death count drop drastically and win ratio increase.
THE MINI MAP
If I could last hit through the mini map I totally would.
OK, so now you have all this vision. How do you use it? Simple: the mini map is your friend. Think of it as a directional scanner that constantly scans everywhere you have a fleet member. It really is that sweet.
The minimap is located on the bottom right of your screen and is probably the most important two inches in the interface. It provides you with real time updates of the location of your team, your minions, enemy minions in sight, and enemy champions in sight. It can even tell you when objectives have spawned, though you need vision in those areas to see if they’re still there or if they’ve been taken. All this, all the time, no matter what your camera is currently looking at. So if you ward your river to spot incoming ganks, the minimap is where you’ll probably notice them first.
As you can then imagine, despite the map being small and positioned relatively out of the way, the value of looking at it is high. That means it should be looked at frequently, as in every few seconds. As often as you’d spam your dscan during a lowsec fight with crowded local, that’s about how often you should be looking at the mini map. After a while of doing that, you will develop some peripheral vision for spotting changes on the map like a new champion icon appearing (indicating an enemy has just entered an area you had warded). The map can be right clicked to move your champion to a particular point and if you hold left click on the map you can move your camera to that point.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: SHOT CALLING
You’ve got your wards out, you’re getting information on the enemy team through vision on your minimap, all good. But each League player is at a different level of skill and even beyond that has a different tolerance for risk. What seems like a gank to one player could look like an opportunity to counter gank to another. If the one player runs away while the other attacks, that would be a mess. Communication between players through pings and typing is key, but everyone processes that information differently.
To get the team on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a shot caller. A shot caller is just League of Legends for an FC. Each player needs to operate with considerable independence so the micromanaging large-fleet-fight FC style does not translate well, but the idea that there’s one player in the group whose job it is to take in all available information and decide a course of action that the rest of the group agreed ahead of time to follow is spot on. The shot caller makes the decision to turn into that gank instead of running away, when a lane has been pushed far enough in after a team fight before the team needs to back off, when to go for an objective. Just like EVE, they even call primaries in fights.
Your team may or may not have a player like this emerge if you’re queuing up by yourself, but if you’re playing with friends it’s a good idea to have this person picked out ahead of time.
While I will still write LoL content for TMDC, this is going to be my last piece for this particular series. If you’ve read these five articles, you are ready to make the transition from space ships to Summoner’s Rift. My last tip to you would be start watching live streams from pro players like VoyBoy and the weekly matches of the League of Legends Champion Series to see all this done right. If you want to watch my stream and see me struggle to put all this theory into practice, I’m launching a new Twitch stream at http://www.twitch.tv/alekseyevkarrde this week. Thanks for reading!