Rethink.

Ora sono ubriaco d'universo. (Ungaretti)

Tag: league of legends

League of Legends: Videos of Note; Support & Jungler Roles in Blind Solo Queue

1. Dissertation is going well – I still have chapters to hand in, but what I have I’m increasingly happier with – and there’s a letter by Jefferson I need to put your way.

First things first, for those of you playing League. There are a few videos I’ve watched that have contributed mightily to my game. I’m improving very quickly because of the aim of having no wasted moments whatsover when playing. You probably want to watch these videos if you’re playing League:

  • Scarra plays new Kat – how he sizes up his opponent is a thing of beauty. He watches her mana bar, waits for her to miss a shot and see she’s got nothing left, then goes in & attacks. He also helps hugely with the counterjungling, and the comments on Rengar being overpowered at the end are spot-on.
  • Zekent plays ability power Janna – I didn’t watch all of it. I got the idea fairly quickly and it is an awesome idea. Before this video, I focused on using Janna’s shield as primary support. It protects your teammate for 5 seconds and gives an attack power bonus. I still put a point in that at 1st level, of course. Now I also make a call on whether I need to rush deathcap to throw tornadoes at people and kill them. Best game with that sort of setup was 2 kills, 24 assists, no deaths. We simply marched up bot lane and took out every turret into the base.
  • Sullla’s Twisted Treeline video is as good a discussion of strategy you’ll ever hear. His Shaco jungler video is something I have to take very seriously, because the jungler I’m running now is Amumu. The Amumu jungle discussion by loudscast is terrific for someone like me new to jungling. You do have to set up the runes and masteries exactly like he says and copy his move order (must get blue, otherwise you run out of mana fast). I didn’t have the right runes before and paid dearly for it. However, Shaco can completely destroy Amumu, as Sullla demonstrates.

2. The most difficult thing with playing with a group of random people is the predominant idea that your stat line reflects your value. They’re not even looking at assists – that’s just killsteal attempts for them. Sullla argues that “Elo Hell” doesn’t exist, that good players can find success at ranked by learning and adjusting. I don’t play Ranked, but I’m not so sure about his argument. I think the perfect counterargument is whether one should have to carry one’s team all the time. It’s not as much fun as one might think.

And if people don’t value support and jungle roles at all, you will be carrying your team all the time. A number of teams I’ve been on with level 20 + players have openly told me not to pick a support character when I asked them what team needed. They will say in game I’m doing nothing even as I’m spamming heal and mana buffs (or, in the case of Janna, killing enemies with tornadoes. I’m still not doing anything because I’m not directly stopping them from running out and dying).

Jungle is even more thankless. A team with very experienced players said they wanted me to jungle. To jungle as Amumu, you have to get blue buff, the mana buff that makes you recharge that much faster. That means at level 1, someone needs to leash/help you kill the epic monster who has the buff. It takes a few seconds. This team told me they’d help, then when I asked 93284927929 times for help, they sat in lane and did nothing. I ended up jungling on my own, struggling, but of course by 10 minutes I had the best cs, kills, items.

3. We need advanced stats for League. The Honor System is a huge step in the right direction. I’ve run into guys playing ranked who’ve just nitpicked about my game and other people I’m with repeatedly. I know enough to know they’re obnoxious jerks who will get beat by me in game very soon. They have no idea what it takes to make a team work, that you get people to play their best and have fun, not dictate every play to them.

But advanced stats would get League culture away from “40 kills is pro.” It isn’t: it just means you’re playing people who don’t really care to be better or are having a very bad day. It also probably means you’re cheap. The best advanced stat is wins. If you’re on teams that win all the time, you’re either lucky or doing something very right. Things you can do very right that don’t show up on stats:

  • Missing out on farm (cs/minion kills) because you want to avoid dying. You’ll still level, just passively through your minions and tower firing.
  • Luring out enemies.
  • Warding, checking the overgrowth for hidden enemies.
  • Protecting teammates by being a human wall. Yes, this gets you killed. But you might save multiple teammates doing it.
  • Calling out mia.
  • Treating people well.
  • Protecting turrets. The game is a tower defense game.
  • Taking turrets fast. Yes, getting killed to do this can be very worth it.
  • Taking advantage of your champion’s strengths.
  • Playing situationally.

Advanced stats would be something like “farm per minute early game.” They would depend on the champ. For example, Yi and Annie have powerful midgames but taper off in endgame. An advanced stat would say an average Yi has a certain efficiency in midgame – maybe a certain number of champ kills and turrets in that time – and then compare the Yi you play to the norm. I remember distinctly one time I was up against an overpowered Yi in mid-game. I simply waited him out and scaled really well into endgame. He ended up being someone I ganked multiple times, as opposed to the guy who carried his team. Advanced stats would show how I built midgame to be ready for endgame, and how Yi may or may not have stalled. The metagame still has much worth exploring.

League of Legends: Getting Ready for Ranked

1. Some of you know the main reason I’ve been playing League of Legends is eventual ranked competition. This is not so I can say “I am the greatest gamer ever” or some other ridiculous thing. I am curious as to how team strategies work and how elaborate they can be. I also want to be attentive to what makes good team play besides strategy – main thing I’ve learned is that a positive personality goes a long way. Riot Games’ “Honor System” has done a lot of good in that last regard. While most people are totally fake – it’s not hard to tell they’d curse you out if they didn’t have to worry about being reported – the people who want a better gaming experience have become more visible and are making friends and allies quickly.

2. What I’m doing to get ready for ranked games is getting familiar with more champions. I bought Soraka to learn support and Amumu to be a better tank. The support role is one where you shouldn’t be getting kills of champions or minions. You should be healing and buffing the team continually and especially at critical times and keeping deaths low. You should be placing wards, which give you visibility of other parts of the map. A good support line is something like 0 kills, 3 deaths, 12 assists. I’m still not really good with Soraka – when I get good, Starcall, her aoe attack, will be deadly and I’ll use her Silence (the “Infuse” skill cast on an enemy) effectively. But in the games I’ve played with her I’ve kept deaths down and prolonged teamfights and laning through heal and mana buffs.

“Support” is a role; “tank” is a type of champion that’s helpful in teamfight and in particular situations. I’m struggling to lane with Amumu. Not killing enough minions normally means being behind on items. However, most of the people I’m playing are overaggressive and frequently get killed by my tank, who has two local aoe’s (W & E) skill. So Amumu has been terrific for me – lots of wins, few losses, and I’m learning how to make him impenetrable as I almost always have a pick of items.

The plan is to learn the jungler role with Shyvana and buy a few more support and ranged champions and familiarize myself with their play (Sona, Tristiana, Lux and Leona might be the only ones I get). There are two champions I’ve decided not to play: Kog’maw and Rengar. Both are way too powerful and when I’ve steamrolled teams with them, it’s because the people on those teams have been very careless. Then I’ll start Ranked and see how much more I have to learn, after some more Draft games. I’d like to know how many champions I need to be decent with before Ranked; last hitting is an art particular to each champion and does involve a lot of muscle memory.

3. Having Katarina as a main has really taught me a lot. The reworked Katarina is hard to use. Playing with Annie and Amumu recently, I had forgotten just how hard they can hit compared to Kat (answer: a lot harder). I don’t know the numbers, but you trade off a lot for Kat’s uniqueness. And I have to say, I really like how Kat is built now. I just wish she had a little bit more hitting power. I think scarra’s game with the reworked Kat tells a lot. Given what position he’s in for the kills he nearly gets, it’s less his opponents are terribly evasive and more that Kat might need a bit more damage.

That having been said, I love the mobility and uniqueness of Kat as of now. That she can ult and stay invisible in the bushes – my goodness, that’s just amazing. Hit an opponent with everything and be hidden? The one-second boost of mobility on the W skill if you hit a champion – it’s like you have a manual blade rush where you can go around stabbing everyone on the battlefield. The laning with Q and W gets sweet with a little bit of ability power. Kat pushes minion piles like no one else I’ve seen, save Shyvana. And Q, Bouncing Blades, is a great skill. It keeps opponents off balance and requires some precision to use.

Riot did a lot right with the rework. Still, it is very frustrating at times playing Kat. I’ve had some beautiful games with her recently, the best one being a 13-3-13 gem where I dominated my mid lane, got champ kills and cs, bought awesome items, went and ganked in other lanes and razed turrets. It was a zigzag that happened so quickly that it felt like a straight march to the enemy nexus. However: one of the reasons I was able to rack up the kills early is that the only person Kat can reliably damage early game is another Kat. I fed off a clone who had no idea what they were doing.

I’ve had other, great games. But most of the best ones have extremely quiet lines for an assassin. Lines like 1 kill, 10 assists. And perhaps the most telling thing about the new Kat’s weakness is when the enemy decides you are a liability and goes out of its way to gank you repeatedly. Granted, I didn’t fight on the best teams in those situations. But I was by far the best player on those teams and was dying repeatedly with almost no other recourse.

I’m going to be that much more mobile with my main. I think I can make her that much more deadly. Still, transitioning into other characters from her is mainly learning how they last hit. It does feel like the game’s that much easier, because Kat’s that tricky to play.

League of Legends – More on Katarina: Perhaps Get that Amplifying Tome Early.

Yesterday, I had one of my best games with Katarina. Our whole team overperformed – think we forced a surrender in a little over 20 minutes – but one kill stands out. I told deathmanjustin, who is a terrific teammate, to show in mid. He did and my opponent, Teemo, got distracted for just a second. He turned to face deathmanjustin and fire. I had been a bit low on health and running away and healing. In a second I turned around, shunpo’d (teleported) behind Teemo, hit W for spin attack, R for finisher. Teemo was dead in the time he could blink. Stat line for a game that ended quickly: 4 kills, 4 assists, no deaths.

I’ve been playing with Fiora and Mord, too. But there’s nothing so far quite as exciting or engaging as playing Kat. She has a strong midgame and endgame; early game, her mobility makes her very dangerous. Moreover, you don’t just sit around doing one thing over and over in lane. More on that later. Her attacks have a number of different uses – increasingly, I’ve been using Death Lotus (her finisher) to keep people away from turrets and push them to areas where my teammates can pick them off. Powering up her Q skill early gives me a decent ranged attack to taunt others with. My Kat feeds on overaggressive opponents and makes the most of tanks in front of her. A game doomed from the start – we were 4 on 5 from the outset – almost became winnable because a tanky Singed was willing to stand in front of me and lure attacks and attention. With that, I quickly racked up multiple assists and kills using shunpo, spin attack, finisher, dagger or some other combo. It wasn’t enough, because my other 2 teammates decided that they didn’t need to participate in the battles we requested them to. So it quickly became 5 on 2 and we hit surrender.

I’ve run into a few terrible Kat’s who have no idea how to play the character. One was really clueless, jumping into 2 on 1 encounters far from the turret. Trust me: it’s a lot better to turret hug than go out and die. You can get levels hanging around your minions killing. Another was just pretty useless. The latter is who I’m aiming for with these comments – Kat never should be useless. She does a lot of things and you should always be thinking what you can achieve in game with her. Remember: stats don’t matter. Luring an enemy into a gank will not get you a kill or assist. It may get you killed. It is, of course, excellent teamplay and the sort of thing you do to win and build credibility.

From what I’ve been seeing, the advice people need is what to do with Katarina early. Tuoooor’s discussion of item builds in his guide is excellent – I’m almost studying it, it’s that good. After the initial Boots of Speed and 3 health potions, I think that you have to make a call whether you need the Sorcerer’s Shoes or not immediately. Use O around 5 mins and bring up the scoreboard and see where everyone is. If people aren’t upgrading the shoes or defense, the Amplifying Tome – +20 ability power – will be how you snowball the game. It’s dirt cheap and makes your laning and killing wraiths with Q & W that much more effective. Moreover, when you Shunpo (ap damage), W (ap damage), R (ap damage). The Tome can turn into the Lucky Pick, which ensures an edge in getting your endgame setup.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t been worrying too much about health. I use Kat’s mobility to get out of bad situations and I’ve been remembering the various characters I’ve fought and scouting from there. I’ve been working on being situationally aware. I use the scoreboard (O) to look for people not at my level to target. I think future Kat builds will focus on giving her more health in addition to ap. A tanky Kat dealing consistent damage while staying in encounters longer will probably be a lot for any team to handle.

League of Legends: Introducing Katarina & Some Thoughts on Gameplay

This was supposed to be a post on poetry, but the library closed at 6 today.

1. I am nowhere near a good Katarina player yet. I got run over by a much, much better one just now who built up massive attack damage (AD), ability power (AP) and armor & health. She had 25 kills and a few deaths; I had 2 kills and 14 or 15 deaths or something. However: my team won, even when we were outnumbered for a while because one lagged out.

The two guides I’ve been reading about Kat are at solomid and mobafire. I’m referring to them as I play more and more to tweak parts of my game. Still, the guides don’t talk straightaway about what you’re supposed to actually do with Kat. It took me a little bit to figure it out – she’s really weak and not good at laning. It is very easy for someone like me, who’s been playing LoL a couple of weeks, to fall apart with her fast.

So here’s what I’ve come up with that’s helped me survive:

  • Kat’s mobility is the key to her game, at least from what I can see. Despite being bad at laning, you still have to do well-enough in your lane and not cost your team the game. Since she moves fast, move in for last hits on minions and then move away. It is alright to be back at the turret quite frequently. Got Bouncing Blades, the Q skill? You can last hit multiple minions – just be patient with it.
  • Don’t forget to push minion piles. It’s really important to make your opponent have to fight minions when you’re squishy.
  • Don’t forget the dagger mark Bouncing Blades leaves. You frequently need to hit those with the mark to get the damage she needs to be doing. Q followed by W is devastating in lane once you have some decent ability power – Kat will level nicely then. Still, you don’t want to wait for that. I usually go mid lane and do a bit of wraiths and sometimes wolves when I’ve moved the pile.
  • Kat assassinates with burst damage. You throw the dagger (Q), move in via shunpo (E) which does some extra damage, hit Sinister Steel (W) and maybe the Ultimate (R). Thing is, you will never kill anyone who has a full health bar or magic resist with this. You’ve got to spend gold on upgrading ability power and attack damage. You need levels and almost always one or two on prey – Kat’s health is always a concern. And actually, you’re gonna find yourself kill stealing a lot, because finishing the weak is what Kat does best to charge herself up for more ultimates.

I know. This stuff sounds super basic. I’ll be telling you next to hide in the bushes and switch lanes for easy targets (I am telling you this, btw). But it really is important if you’re playing Kat and not changing your playstyle in bad ways. I always keep count of cs – never want to fall behind too much with levels or minions, the xp and gold are both necessary to have a solid endgame.

2. Which brings me to gameplay. I’m around a bunch of people who think killscore is everything. There are people beating me who never bother to kill minions and level up properly. They’ll beat me because I beat myself (or, more likely, people lag out and I quit).

I’ve had a few great games with Kat. They were all quiet and I dominated in more or less subtle ways:

  • One game with two friends who are newer at the game than I am went great. I used Kat to switch lanes frequently and gank their opposition. They were being picked on, so once Kat was leveled enough I spent a bunch of time pushing minion piles and killing overaggressive opponents. Once I had an advantage of a few levels, the game snowballed fast.
  • Another game I was accused by someone of feeding (dying too much and giving the enemy massive gold and xp). I died exactly once when this accusation was hurled at the 10 or 15 minute mark; I had 3 kills. Very quietly I picked up a bunch more kills and assists. Kat can be a great defensive player because of her mobility. Once you get Sorcerer’s Shoes, she can lure people to turrets and areas of ambush, then run full circle around to fight. The key to this one was moving from lane to lane watching for easy targets while coming back to move the minion pile in mid.
  • My best game was a defeat where we had one guy lag out. That guy should have been reported; he fed, dying 16 times in 10 minutes or so, and then he might have quit. He was level 6 and going at people twice his level. I didn’t kill everything in front of me. Rather, I worked with another teammate closely. Best kill was where Kat didn’t attack at all. I simply said in chat I’d lure out an enemy champ. I did, and my teammate hit him with everything he had. Enemy champ died and we got a turret.

Which brings me to something I’ve wanted to say for a while. I signed up for League of Legends because I like teamwork. A large part of teamwork is willing to do things that get no stats. There’s no stat for being a decoy and letting your partner hit the enemy hard because you’re busy trying to dodge, heal and stay alive. There’s no stat for using your ultimate to keep 4 rushing enemies at bay. There’s no stat for encouraging your teammates or sticking to your gameplan and consistently leveling, no matter how bad the fight is going.

What I want to see is more appreciation of the things that make smart tactics and strategy and less raw number crunching. On paper, after all, I had a horrible game against the better Kat player. We won even with just 4 for much of the game. I did something very right at some point. It’d be nice if someone else was there to witness it.

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