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The Great Wall Debate

 Oct 02, 2014  251  1

         There are diverse and formidable Champions in League of Legends.  They come in many different flavors, and have many different skills.  Some of them have offensive skills, some have heals or buffs.  For the most part, skills must be aimed at an enemy, and you should expect the skill to damage or affect your opponent.  There are a few mechanics in League of Legends that prevent this from being true one-hundred percent of the time, however.  Some of the skills I am referring to are walls.

         There are a few Champions in League of Legends that have “wall” skills.  These refer to skills that literally place a wall of sorts on the map, or a wall that protects a Champion.  While each wall does different things, it remains a point of debate whether walls are too powerful.  One wall we can examine belongs to Anivia.  I would argue that her wall ability is not overpowered; in fact it could even use a buff.  Her wall is incredibly hard to use properly, and an inexperienced Anivia player is just as likely to wall off her teammates from an escape or a pursuit opportunity as she is to successfully pull one off.  It seems like such a difficult skill should be able to block skillshots, or at least some sorts of skills.  Unfortunately it does not, and given the fact that other Champions have wall skills that do block skillshots, and they aren’t as hard to use as Anivia, her wall seems like it could use a boost.

         Change gears to Yasuo, and we can see how overpowered a wall can truly be.  Besides being a very strong Champion with a dual-purpose passive, he also has a very powerful Wind Wall ability.  When his uses this wall skill, the wall materializes in front of him and blocks all enemy projectiles except tower hits.  Yes, you read correctly, every enemy projectile.  This means all skillshots, all attacks, everything.  As anyone who has gone up against a Yasuo is well aware of, this skill is incredibly frustrating to deal with.  To give you an idea of just how powerful this skill is, it can negate Nami’s ult.  Let’s not focus on the fact that Nami’s ult is a gigantic wave that extends far beyond the width of the Wind Wall. Yasuo simply gobbles up Nami’s ult like a drink of water.  I would argue that this is an extremely broken mechanic, and I would not be surprised if Riot were to nerf Yasuo’s Wind Wall sometime in the future.

         An example of a nicely balanced wall skill is Braum’s Unbreakable skill.  What this skill does is effectively make Braum into the wall, so he is directly taking the brunt of enemy aggro and damage, much like someone with a wall or shield would do realistically.  Braum’s Unbreakable reduces incoming damage, besides true damage and towers, for a few seconds.  The first oncoming attack gets a huge damage reduction, but it does not negate the other effects of the attack.  Braum also gets the ability to intercept oncoming projectiles that would hit his allies and gains a 10% movement speed bonus.  This wall skill is very well tuned.  The player must not only choose when to use it for maximum efficiency, but they must maneuver their player in order to intercept attacks.  There is a risk-reward offered in the use of this skill, and it is both more powerful than Anivia’s wall skill and less overpowered than Yasuo’s wall.

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Ranked Champion Select Etiquette

 Oct 01, 2014  934  4

If you’re level 30, then you’ve probably played Ranked Games at least once or twice. It’s a new experience, having to play with 4 people you’ve never seen or met before. And the action starts right at Champion Select. The ban phase starts and 1 out of the 5 people on your team is the captain, the person who bans three champions and gets the first pick on your team. The remaining 4 members have to communicate with the captain and work out a team comp worthy of victory. So whether you’re the captain or another member, there are ways to ask for a champion or a role, and there are ways that simply make everyone on your team hate you before the game even starts.

First off, communicate with the rest of your team. The ban phase is at most 3 minutes so there is plenty of time to discuss preferred roles and champions. If you don’t plan on talking your team, don’t freak out when someone picks the role or the champion you wanted. No one can read your mind and you have to communicate that kind of stuff to your team. However, no one wants to hear you talk about your last game. When you bring a depressing story about how you had a horrible jungler or how the support didn’t know how to ward, you just make the mood worse for the other players. Talk about the current game, and learn from the mistakes of the previous game to make a better team comp.

Secondly, don’t just lock in a champion as soon as you can pick. This is especially worse when you don’t say anything to your team. You force the team to have to pick a team comp that can work well with whatever champion you picked without any context or warning. If the team gave you the OK beforehand to pick a champion, go for it. If you want to go Marksman Olaf and your team doesn’t care then fine, but you have to make sure the team is okay with it first.

Third, be polite to everyone on your team. If there’s a pick you’re not fond of or don’t find strong tell the person who picked it in a way that will let him know you’re worried, but not forceful. This way we can have a small, peaceful debate about that champion and both sides can see the strengths and weaknesses of that pick. Don’t hope your teammate loses because you’ll probably lose the game because of it. This also works the other way. Saying stuff like you’re a Diamond player smurfing doesn’t immediately give you respect to the other players. Sure in one account you’re Diamond, but right now you’re playing with people of a lower tier, so help them out a little. Since you’re a higher tier, you should be the one being more educational and not be rude to the rest of your team.

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LoL Champions A-Z: Amumu, the Sad Mummy

 Sep 30, 2014  697  2

This painfully sad mummy was introduced into the League of Legends very early in 2009 on the 26th of June. He is a jungler that specializes in engaging on the enemy team with his tankiness and strong AoE CC. Amumu's main resource is mana, and his damage is mostly magical.

Ability Breakdown and Uses

Amumu’s passive is Cursed Touch. Simply put, Amumu’s auto attacks reduce his target’s Magic Resistance for a short time. This is good for him because he deals a lot of AoE magic damage, and he can increase his team’s magic damage to that one target.

Amumu’s first ability is Bandage Toss. Amumu throws out a single target skillshot that stuns the first thing he hits while pulling him towards the target. This is Amumu’s first form of initiation and his pre-6 ganking tool. Landing this means you’re committing into the fight so make sure your team is follow you in.

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How KeepDominance in Lane

 Sep 29, 2014  1590  4

During the first few minutes, about 10 to 15, champions on both sides face off in an intense period called the Laning Phase. This is an integral part of League of Legends, and the events that unfold here can determine the outcome of the game. A key part of this phase is being able to take the advantage in the lane and use it to snowball into late game. While taking the advantage can happen within the first 3 minutes of the game, keeping an advantage takes a lot of concentration and requires proper mechanics. Here are some key points to keeping an advantage that you should know.

Punishment is the act of taking advantage of your opponents’ mistakes. If your opponent decides to go for a last hit, go all in on him and kill him. If he goes out to ward, have your jungler there ready to jump on him. Constantly pressuring your opponent will not only make it hard for him to concentrate, but it’ll also affect the ways he plays and talks in a way. Mentally he will be strained from your lane presence, and it’ll be easier for you to win your lane. While this seems very cruel on paper, it’s just a game, and you’re employing the proper strategies to win.

This point has two sub-points. First is the actual harassing, and second is freezing. If you have the advantage you should let your opponent know. By constantly harassing your opponent not only do you remind the player that you are in control of the lane, but also that your opponent will not be allowed to farm. This is where “Freezing” comes in. In short terms “Freezing” is keeping the minion wave as close to the middle of the lane as possible by last hitting at the very last minute. This way your opponent will not be able to get last hits under the turret and you get essentially free farm for as long as you can manage it. By being able to harass and freeze the lane, you’ll be able to gain a huge advantage in gold and exp.

When you have an advantage you are bound to get ganked. Whether it’s by the jungler, the mid laner, or both, the enemy team will try to even out your lane. If you get caught and killed you are giving your opponent breathing room and you’ll have lost your advantage. In an effort to make this happen something very popular known as “Camping” may occur. For those who don’t “Camping” is constantly waiting for an opponent so that you can kill them over and over again with ease. It’s called camping because there’re a lot of analogies of people “setting up their tents.” Aside from that, with proper ward coverage you can prevent ganks from being successful and maybe have your junglercountergank and get an even greater advantage.

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Feeding Frenzy

 Sep 28, 2014  1503  5

         In League of Legends, it is no small secret that each Champion benefits from getting kills.  Landing a kill on your opponent not only secures gold, but it also denies the presence of your opponent on the map.  It also prevents them from collecting gold while they waiting to respawn and get back into the action.  Even though every Champion can certainly get ahead with kills, there are certain Champions that benefit more from kills, especially early on in the game.  The term for this phenomenon is “snowballing.” 

Feeding Frenzy

Much like a snowball picks up snow and becomes an unstoppable force by the time it rolls to the bottom of a mountain, so too do these Champions.  It seems that the Champions with the highest potential to snowball include Top laners, Mid laners, and ADCs.  For ADCs, no one can deny the League of Draven.  Arguably the champion that can truly snowball the hardest, a fed Draven is a nightmare.  This is mostly due to the fact that his passive is a built in snowball mechanic – the more axes he catches, the more Fame he gets, and the more gold he gets for a kill.  He is a high-risk, high reward Champion who has access to very damaging items very early on in the game if things go his way. 

Another Champion who snowballs hard is Jinx.  Besides becoming very powerful from getting kills and having the access to those killer items, every time she kills another Champion or gets an assist, or even brings down a tower, she gets a huge buff to movement speed.  This makes chaining kills on fleeing Champions very attainable, and it is very easy for her to snowball under the right conditions.

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Should Riot Offer IP Bonuses More Often?

 Sep 27, 2014  1038  2

        League of Legends is an awesome game in part because it is a Free to Play Game.  Although it is possible to unlock everything there is in the game without every spending a dime, many people elect to spend money on RP.  Their motivations are diverse.  Some want to be able to buy a champion immediately.  Others want to buy cool skins for their Champions.  Luckily, for people who both want to spend money on RP and those who don’t, League of Legends players can accumulate IP to buy everything except skins.

        The IP system is a great system.  You gain IP for playing in matches, and you receive a greater IP boost from winning matches.  There is also a First Win of the Day Bonus that will grant you more IP after you score your first daily victory.  IP is precious because it is what you use to buy your Runes, Champions, and other things.  After people have bought all the Runes that they feel comfortable with, many people like to save up their IP for Champions that go on sale.

        Unfortunately, Riot only offers bonus IP weekends once in a blue moon.  IP is a very effective motivator, and there is a lot of room for Riot to innovate their IP system to encourage teamwork and a more harmonious environment for players.  There are numerous ways that Riot could offer IP bonuses to Summoners that could really improve the game overall.  One such way takes a page from many popular MMORPGS, such as Final Fantasy XIV.  In Final Fantasy XIV, people queue together to form a team composed on one of three roles: DPS, Tank, or Healer.  Due to the nature of video games, there will always be one role in greater need than the other roles.  In that game, it is typically a Healer or a Tank.  So what does Square Enix do?  They offer bonus experience and rewards for queueing up as the role that is currently in need.

         Riot has definitely taken a step in the right direction with the Team Builder game option.  It is both a way to give players what they want and also cut down on the toxic nature of the game.  A good portion of toxicity occurs in Blind and Draft modes because Summoners fight over roles prior to a match.  By making or joining a Team Building game, players already get to enter the equation playing exactly what they want.  However, as anyone who uses Team Builder is aware of, there is always a huge lack of Support and Jungle players.  Riot could offer IP bonuses to people who queue up as these roles, much like Square Enix does with Final Fantasy XIV.  Doing so would help equalize the roles to some degree, and make players feel good about playing roles that they might not have considered otherwise.

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The GreatestAuto Attacks to Grace Summoner’s Rift

 Sep 26, 2014  1167  3

         League of Legends has a very large pool of champions.  The roster is incredibly deep, and more Champs are being added to it as the game progresses.  As we all know, each Champ relies upon four unique skills and their auto attack.  While there is a large amount of material on different Champs and the benefits and drawbacks of their skills, it seems that we seldom take the time to look at the auto attack.

         The auto attack is a special attack that every champion in the game has.  Naturally, some Champs have arguably better auto attack animations and an overall more useful auto attacks than other champions.  Please keep in mind that the following opinions are purely subjective, but they tend to highlight a specific theme within the design of League of Legends.  That being said, I have decided to highlight a handful of Champs and their auto attacks and state what I believe are the smoothest, the worst, the most unique, and the most satisfying ones.

         Auto attacks are essential to farming, above all other considerations.  Therefore, it can be noted that Riot seems to give the smoothest auto attack animations to ADC Champs, and the roughest and least useful ones to Support Champs (there are exceptions to this rule, of course).  In my experience, ADCs tend to have the smoothest auto attacks in the game.  It is no wonder, as they are heavily reliant upon their auto attacks to deal damage to other champions and to amass large amounts of CS over the course of the game.  Among the many ADCs with great auto attack animations, I really have to give the crown to Jinx.  Not only is her auto attack smooth as butter, it can be transformed into a rocket to poke at greater range and farm multiple minions at once.  With her tendency for very fast attack speed bonuses, the usefulness of her auto attack is further enhanced.  Honorable mention goes to Caitlyn, Ashe, and Varus.  They all have very fluid animations that can be used at a relatively long distance.  It is easy to fall into the groove of their auto attack animations, and they are overall a very useful and welcome game mechanism.

         So we talked about the best auto attacks in League of Legends, but what about the worst?  There are many somewhat useless and forgettable attacks; however two Champs take the cake for the worst ones.  There auto attacks are so poor, that you are meant to use their skills in order to farm CS and battle other Champions.  Karthus and Anivia are the two worst auto attackers.  Karthus should never really be using his auto attack; rather he should be using his landmines of death.  Anivia basically has to race to level 6 as fast as possible to start farming, and hope she can harass her lane opponent with amazing skillshots.  This is part of the reason she is such a hard Champ to use.

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Every LoL Match is a Movie

 Sep 25, 2014  906  1

A movie has some key major moments in its production. There's the casting, introduction, beginning, conflict, main story, action, climax, finale, and credits. At a first glance it doesn't seem like a regular game of League of Legends could have all these parts, but it may explain why each game seems to be unique and different from the other ones.

To start we need to pick our cast for the movie. Luckily we can choose 10 from 120 different actors. While casting the director, the players, choose the champions that they believe will perform the best. They give their actors their respective props through their runes and masteries, and the setting is based on the map that both sides are playing on. Even in ranked there are actors who just aren’t chosen for the role, or they don’t get the “callback.”

Then we have the introduction, which in my opinion is the Loading Screen. Here the players can see which characters are playing, sort of like an opening scene in a movie. You know which actors are participating in this movie, and you see which summoner spells, or which “studios” hired them. A bit of a long stretch, I know, since everyone would be hired by “Flash Studios,” but the point is there. It feels like an introduction because it’s unnecessarily long, and you don’t want to see who else is in the movie anymore.

Next is the beginning, definitely the level 1 purchases, movements, and pings we’d see in a typical League game. Nothing has happened yet, but you know that the players are setting the scene for something to happen. Almost right at the two minute mark we get the conflict, an intense battle between two teams competing for the destruction of the other team’s nexus. While this has always been the objective of League of Legends, it really doesn’t show itself until everyone goes into lane.

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LoL Champions A-Z:Alistar, the Minotaur

 Sep 24, 2014  967  2

The mighty Minotaur warrior Alistar was one of the first few champions released in League of Legends in 2009 on the 21st of February. While Riot has classified Alistar as a support, he has seen himself in all sorts of roles, except Marksman. He excels at disrupting the enemy team and taking damage in the place of his team. His primary resource is mana, and his primary damage is magical, but his long cooldowns make him a consistent auto-attacker.

Ability Breakdown and Uses

Alistar’s passive is Trample. Whenever Alistar uses a spell he deals damage in a small AoE around him for 3 seconds. This passive provides Alistar with some supplemental damage but it isn’t very spectacular.

Alistar’s first ability is Pulverize. On activation Alistar will knock up everything around him and stun them. This is a very strong engaging ability and can be considered maxing first for a shorter cooldown. This ability also deals magic damage, but again, not a very significant amount.

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The Best and Worst Passive Skillsin League of Legends

 Sep 23, 2014  3970  4

Part of what makes League of Legends so fun is the many different ways to play using the deep roster of Champions.  While some Champions have similar skills, as we talked about back in our article on skillshots, for the most part each Champion is unique.  Among their three skills and ultimate skill is the passive skill.  This is the trait that automatically applies to a Champion without the Summoner having to activate it.

 As can be expected, there are some really good passive skills, and some that are not so great.   Yasuo probably takes the cake as having the current strongest passive in the game with Way of the Wanderer.  He basically gets two passives; the first one greatly increases his critical strike chance.  The second gives him an absorption shield at maximum Flow…very strong, indeed.  Katarina has a great passive in the form of Voracity, an ability reset skill.  Since she already works without mana, and relies strictly on cooldowns, her passive is absolutely lethal in the right hands.  By chaining kills and assists in teamfights, her passive reduces the cooldowns on her skills, allowing her to cause a lot of damage against a team lacking in cc, or a team who burned all their cc before she jumps into the fight. 

Another very strong passive skill is Poppy’s Valiant Fighter.  It gives her super tankiness against burst damage, and makes her an absolute chore to take down.  Poppy’s passive has driven many Summoners into a rage, coupled with her trollish appearance and equally trollish skin selection.

 I also think that Karthus’ passive is also a very cool skill.  Karthus’ Death Defied lets him cast spells at no cost for seven seconds after he falls in battle.  You can really do some damage in a teamfight with this passive, and his Ult is simply icing on the cake.  Yet another very strong passive, and part of the main reason she is played, is Annie’s Pyromania.  A nice stun after every four abilities cast?  Count me in!  This makes her a monster in mid lane and a very viable support Champion.  Volibear has an absolutely awesome passive skill with his Chosen of the Storm as well.  When he gets low enough on health he will heal back a great portion of it.  This makes him very hard to take down early in the game, and it makes him a great Support Champion to throw down heavy harass with.

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