I started playing League of Legends because of the work of Sullla (sic). His Civilization IV posts were invaluable to me in making the most of every turn. More importantly, he understands how to make gaming count, how to make the most of thinking about gaming. The best gamers I know can explain the game world to you, how the mechanics stand out as unique/fun, convey theme, or in the case of strategy games push you to make and utilize a decision tree. This comment of Sullla’s from a rant about a broken game illustrates my point; for context, Civilization is a turn-based game where you choose to build cities and units to create an army:
The standard version of Civ3 forced the player to make a classic strategic choice in the Ancient Age. On the one hand, you could pursue war with swordsmen, who at 3/2/1 possessed the highest attack and defensive stats of the age. Swords required iron though (the most valuable resource), and were slow-moving and could not retreat from battle if losing. Most importantly, swordsmen were a dead-end unit; no upgrading, ever. Any shields invested in them were only good for a relatively small window of opportunity. Horsemen, on the other hand, were fast and could retreat from battle if losing. They had much lower stats than swords though, at only 2/1/2, and cost the same 30 shields. Unlike swords, horses had the advantage of being upgradable to first knights and then cavalry, so they were the much better long term investment. Thus the choice: do you go with the superior defense and greater punch of the soon-to-be obsolete swordsman, or with the speed and upgradability of horsemen? These kind of choices are the meat of strategy games; take them away and chess turns into tick-tack-toe.
League of Legends is not turn-based. It is real time multiplayer fighting. Still, the strategic considerations are manifold. Teams of 5 work to destroy each other’s base. The bases produce minions that stream through 3 lanes, each trying to get to the other source. The minions fight with each other and powerful tower cannons block their way. There’s a jungle with a ton of beasts and powerups and places to hide between the lanes. And there are a bunch of characters to choose from, each with different abilities and strengths.
So there’s lots to know and keep track of. Teams need to have a certain balance and need to be prepared for certain threats by other teams. You also need to know the terrain and understand where powerups and hiding places lie. In game, other considerations emerge. I lost a game recently where my team was way ahead in killing the other enemies’ champions (not minions, but other human players) because my team never bothered to attack a turret. The other team racked up the losses but took down all our defenses and destroyed the base.
Right now, I’m playing a lot with unbalanced teams where people don’t really know how to work with each other. The losses are usually coming against high-level guys who are more mobile and more powerful. There’s not much I can do at times but stay back and quietly level against minions and wolves and wraiths in the forest. But I’ve had my moments, too, riding a 4 game win streak recently where I killed 6 in a row in one. Or the best game, where I purposely went to an online friend, paired a “tank” with a ranged attacker, and watched him rack up 32 wins. I got 11 assists and 1 kill playing support. The other team surrendered, I think, before 20 minutes were up. He didn’t die once.
So a few things that have helped me survive a fairly brutal introduction:
- Working on “farming.” Some players in game have declared that killing minions isn’t important. With Annie, I’ve spent a lot of time working on getting the last hit. It takes time to know how much you’re weakening enemies and get that “feel” for what it takes to get a last hit per hit. (Last hits only get you gold and XP).
- The spacing you employ in farming is huge. Your opponent will be farming next to you. An early hit can drive you back toward the turret and delay your getting a wave of minions. I’ve been buying Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions and moving back and forth for safe targets a lot. I also try to push enemies back when they leave themselves open. Minimizing pursuit is a good idea. A lot of good battles turn into being routed with overpursuit. Besides, when playing Annie, the best is getting to level 6 quickly and unleashing Tibbers stun on the enemy farming with you. There’s a huge payoff for quiet but efficient leveling.
- The wolves, wraiths and golems in the jungle respawn and can be killed multiple times for XP and gold. A game where I was getting killed repeatedly by the other team led me to go into the jungle and fight these beasts over and over. We lost badly, but I had items and comparable levels by the end. And I don’t think me dying repeatedly on the front lines would have helped, since you get good gold and XP for killing other players.
Generally, I don’t think Sullla’s Annie guide can be taken seriously enough. Her stun and bear attacks are powerful. The only thing I’d amend the guide with is this: I’ve been having some success buying that “Blasting Wand” at around the 15 minute mark. Usually I can see if I’m not going to make 3000 gold at the 20 minute mark by around 15 minutes (the goal is the Rod of Ages). And there are good reasons to farm well, but not farm as much. Annie is a target and for a beginner player without Flash, people will go at her in gangs. There’s also not much margin for error. Upping attack power quick is a good way to keep your team in the game.
The other thing – it can make sense to stack armor on Annie in games with unbalanced, uncoordinated teams. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost because we had too much offense and no tanks or defense. When the other players start going down, Annie is especially vulnerable. In one game I started putting a ton of armor on her and found that with Molten Shield, she could frustrate the others just long enough to enable my team to regroup. Again, your mileage will vary. Annie is certainly not a tank. But if you’re like me and you like to play defense, this is something to think about in games.
Ultimately, Sullla is playing a different Annie from me. He’s leveling up faster and crossing lanes to help teammates. When I’m facing 2 in a lane, I’m pushing. My goal is to go back and forth and keep them both from getting minion kills and levels. I don’t care if I level up as fast. Spending money for slight edges that will help me protect my turret and frustrate two or three opponents is worth it for me.
The other champion I’ve been playing is Kayle. She’s got issues with foot speed. But a point on “Righteous Fury,” her E skill, is a point well spent. In fact, I can safely say that if you play Kayle, that’s your optimal first skill. It’s a great skill and upping attack speed and power is a must. At the same time, with decent starting defense, she has the potential to be a great tank. Both Kayle and Annie are 450 IP – dirt cheap champions to own. And I can’t say I hate playing them.