General Guide by Free-Kill

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Free-Kill

So you want to play League of Legends

Free-Kill Last updated on July 25, 2012
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Hi there! My name is George, but the internet knows me as Free-Kill or HorjeCazador. I've been playing League of Legends for a good while now and I've noticed what a hard game it is to get into. In trying to get new players into the game I've heard a lot of complaints about how unfriendly an environment it can be for them, so I'm hoping this guide will help to fix that.

Hopefully, if you read this guide through, you'll have enough of a basic feel for the game that you'll be able to enjoy the learning experience. From my personal levelling and what I've been told by friends, the worst part of League of Legends is those first few weeks where you don't REALLY know what's going on and the whole gamfeels like a mess. This should help that!

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AD - Attack Damage
AP - Ability Power
ArP - Armour Penetration
Arm - Armour
AS - Attack Speed
Buff - A stat boosting effect
Carry - A champion that is a damage dealer as opposed to a tank.
CC - Crowd Control. Any skill that disables an enemy, be it a stun, slow or whatever.
Debuff- A stat damaging effect
DPS - Damage per second (Sometimes pronounced "deeps")
GP5 - Gold per 5, a stat found on some items in League of Legends
HP - Health Points
MIA - Missing in Action (an opponent has gone missing)
MP - Magic Penetration
MR - Magic Resist
Proc - An effect is "proc'd" if the conditions to make it happen occur. IE a random chance.
SS - Missing (an opponent has gone missing)
Steroid - An effect that boosts attack speed/damage/movespeed
/5 - Per five, using in regeneration like Health per 5 or Mana per 5

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The Game

League of Legends is a game in the "MOBA" genre, which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. It's a niche genre that relatively few games belong to and which casual gamers are likely not to have come across.

In League of Legends, you control a champion: a strong hero from the game's lore. You control this champion much like you do in an RTS game such as Age of Empires or Starcraft: A top down perspective. Along with other players, friends or assigned strangers, you will make a team to combat enemies and win matches!

Your champion is equipped with the following things:

A Basic Attack

Your basic attacks are pretty self descriptive! You might throw a bolt of lightning or swing your sword, but the result is the same: right clicking an enemy will make you hurt it! For some champions this is a primary source of damage throughout the game and for others it is a secondary source used when you don't want to waste resources on spells. Either way, your basic attack is a key part of your kit.

An Innate Skill

Each of League of Legends' champions has a unique "innate" skill that acts passively. You can't control it, it just happens. These range from Ashe's Focus that grows her chance to critically strike an enemy the longer she holds her shot to Zyra's Rise of Thorns that lets her take one final stab at killing an enemy after she dies. These innate skills are with you throughout the game and often help define the way your champion plays!

4 Regular Skills

Each champion also has 4 special skills that are accessed via the Q,W,E and R keys. For the majority of champions, the Q,W and E skills are skills with basic effects that can be used every few seconds. The R skill is usually an ultimate: A massive, cataclysmic ability that requires minutes to refresh! These skills will usually cost mana, a resource reserved for spells, but some champions cast spells in other ways such as using their health. Regular skills include Master Yi's Wuju Style that grants him extra damage to his basic attacks or Annie's Incinerate that launches a powerful fireball at an enemy dealing huge damage. Ultimate effects include Karthus' Requiem that deals damage to every enemy on the map and Shyvana's Dragon's Descent that transforms her into a massive dragon, increasing the damage on all her other skills!

2 Summoner Skills

Before you start a game, you may choose two extra special skills that become unlocked the more you play League of Legends. These spells have very long cooldowns but the flexibility they offer is essential to a player's success. Examples include Exhaust, allowing you to massively cut an enemy's movespeed, damage and durability for a short time and Teleport, letting you jump to any friendly, non-player unit on the map. These skills are assigned to the D and F keys by default.

6 Item Slots

In game, there is a shop that will sell you items that boost health, damage, speed and other stats. Each champion can hold up to six different items at a time, and you can sell your items back to the shop if you decide you want to change them.

Whilst this seems like a scary number of things to balance, you get used to them all eventually and it all becomes very easy to manage.

You don't start the game, however, with all these things at full strength. Throughout the game you earn two basic things that increase your champion's power.


Experience is much like it is in other games such as first person shooters. Throughout the course of a match you will kill enemies and destroy buildings that will grant you experience points. Just like other games, this will level you up! The difference is, though, that this doesn't level up your account like it might in Call of Duty of Battlefield, it levels up your character in that match. With each level you can unlock a new skill or improve a skill you already have, and you also passively gain more health and mana. Levels in League of Legends go from level 1 to level 18, at which point experience stops mattering. Then, when you start a new game, you start back at level 1!


As well as killing enemies and buildings granting you gold, you gain a small amount as the game goes on and you start with 475 at the beginning of each match. Gold is used to buy items to fill your item slots that make your abilities stronger and your character tougher. I'll go over items later, but generally each champion will have a certain stat that he or she benefits from most, and you'll want to focus on items that give that stat. Just like levels, your gold resets at the start of each game.

This next bit can be a little bit confusing! Whilst there is in-game experience as described above, there is also account experience that levels up your account, not your champion. At this point I should mention that you, as a player of the game, are called a "summoner", and account experience increases your "summoner level". This goes up to level 30, and each level lets you use more and better masteries and runes. I will go into detail on these later, but they're basically options you make before a game starts that can increase your stats in game. As well as this you unlock more and more summoner skills, giving you even more options about how to play!

There are also two types of currency outside of the game, called Influence Points (IP) and Riot Points (RP). Influence points are earned simply by playing games whereas Riot Points must be bought with real money. The good news is that absolutely everything that makes a difference in the game can be bought with IP, so whilst real life money can buy you things faster, there's nothing important that you can only get with real money. The only things that are only available with RP are skins that change how your champions look. They just look cool! It' with these resources that you'll buy new champions to try out!

I understand this can all be quite daunting, but just play the game and it'll sink in!

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The Community

I need to mention this sad truth early on.

The League of Legends community is reasonably awful. The anonymity of a computer screen along with the intimacy of a 5 man team leads to a lot of pre-pubescent aggression which you'll have to trudge through. Luckily Riot recently implemented an ignore function that will stop you seeing chat messages from annoying teammates, but it's still a problem.

It is arguably at its worst at low levels, too. At summoner levels 1-10 you'll find a lot of very experienced players on new accounts with the expressed intention of beating new players. Not only is this frustrating in itself, but you'll also find that they're very prone to abusing newer players who don't know the game so well.

It sucks and it's a really horrible aspect of the game. I wish it were better, but for now it's just something newer players have to deal with. Sorry :/

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The Maps

So there are four maps, currently, in League of Legends. The really important thing they share is this:

From each base, the teams will spawn little, computer-controlled soldiers in waves that advance on the enemy base. These have a few names, most common of which are creeps and minions. These creeps are the primary source of gold and experience for players and will also help you fight.

The maps are laid out as follows:

Summoner's Rift:

This is the most popular map in League of Legends and the one that is used for ranked matches and tournaments.

Each team has a base: bottom left for blue and top right for purple. The base comprises a spawn platform where the appropriate team's members can regenerate resources, buy items and be safe from the enemy. In front of it is the Nexus, the final objective for the enemy team; destroying the Nexus is the objective of League of Legends! To prevent this, each nexus is guarded by two destructible towers that will fire at enemies that approach them.

Past the nexus are the lanes, down which the creep waves move to meet their opposing waves. There are 3 on this map: Top, Middle and Bottom. At the point where these lanes meet the base there is an Inhibitor guarded by another turret. Should the Inhibitor be destroyed, the enemy team will start spawning super-powered minions in that lane, besieging your base. Not only this but, once an inhibitor is destroyed, the enemy is free to start making a full attack on your Nexus!

Down each lane are two further towers for each team, an inner tower and an outer tower. All of these buildings can only be destroyed in succession. In other words, you must destroy them in the following order:

Outer Tower
Inner Tower
Base Tower
Nexus Tower

Between the lanes is the "jungle", an area full of non-allied monsters that will attack either team once provoked.

As well as these neutral monsters, a large river runs diagonally across Summoner's Rift and contains two extremely powerful enemies. The Dragon will grant gold and experience to you and your allies once slain and Baron Nashor, the most dangerous enemy of the Rift, will do the same as well as providing a massive damage buff to you all.

These two enemies, alongside towers and other buildings, are the key objectives on Summoner's Rift and will often be the focus of battles.

Twisted Treeline:

Twisted Treeline is a smaller, 2 lane version of Summoner's Rift with exactly the same rules. It is only a 3v3 map and is far less popular than its larger cousin. There is no equivalent for Baron Nashor on this map, instead the Dragon provides a damage granting buff to its slayer.

The Crystal Scar:

The Crystal Scar is another 2 lane map but accommodates 10 player, 5v5 gameplay. On it you play a different game-mode called dominion. This is a capture-and-hold game-mode where you must keep control of key points of the map in order to drain your opponents' nexus, rather than directly attacking it.

Items are not the same as in Summoner's Rift, and you start at level 3 with substantially more gold than normal.

The Proving Grounds:

The Proving Grounds is a single lane map that is not available as a match-made gamemode. You can only use it in custom games. It is usually reserved for 1v1 bouts or fun games like "ARAM", where everyone has to use a random champion.

Some items are restricted on The Proving Grounds and you start at level 3 with substantially more gold than usual. You also cannot return to base once you have left unless you die.

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Champion Options

Before you start a game, you're going to have to choose what champion you're going to pick! For the most part I suggest picking a champion that you think looks cool and just going with it. At low levels, team compositions and champion counters don't really matter. Every week, Riot picks a bunch of champions to have as free champions available to all players, so you'll have a selection. Do keep in mind, though, that if you really get to like a champion that costs a lot of IP to buy, then you might not be able to purchase him/her when the next rotation of champions comes in. If you can find a champ you enjoy that's also cheap, then that's ideal!

Here are some basic types of champion and some of the specific characters to try and to avoid:


Mages primarily deal their damage through their spells and so are affected by spell cooldowns more than other champions. Their spells often have effects like stuns, slows or damage in an area that can lead to some really interesting passages of play, making mages really fun and nuanced in their gameplay.

For the most part, mages scale well on Ability Power, Magic Penetration, Mana Regeneration and Mana, all of which can be found under the "Magic" tab of the shop.

Good mages include:

Annie - Easy to play, very cheap to buy with IP
Ryze - Easy to play, very cheap to buy with IP. Keep note that Ryze does loads of damage as he buys Mana items and not very much with Ability Power items. This means he builds a little differently to other mages.
Morgana - A little tricky to play, but very impactful and can teach you good mechanics. Not too expensive.

Try to avoid:

Orianna - Whilst very good, she's complex to play and expensive. Not a good starting champ.
Ahri - Same as Orianna
LeBlanc - LeBlanc requires very good mechanical skills to pull off her combos and she is only good against specific teams. Not a good general champion to learn.

AD Carry:

AD (Attack Damage) carry champions deal their damage through their basic attacks instead of their spells. This means that their spells will often include steroids for their attacks like damage or attack speed. These champions are easy to play and do more damage than anyone else late game. However they are very reliant on items and so poor mechanics, common amongst new players, can ruin their effectiveness.

AD Carry champions scale well off Attack Damage, Critical Strike and Attack Speed statistics. These can all be found under "Attack" in the shop.

Good AD Carries include:

Ashe - Simple to play, has a gold earning skill, very cheap to buy. Her ultimate can make for some epic moments!
Master Yi - Deals more damage than almost anyone in the game. Good players can shut him down easily, but he is great fun, cheap and monstrous if not stopped!
Tristana - She is a very safe champion who you can get free by liking Riot Games on Facebook! Late game she is one of the best champions there is.

Try to avoid:

Ezreal - Ezreal deals a lot of his damage through his skills and requires a lot of technical ability to play correctly.
Urgot - Urgot is a strange AD Carry. He should be built extremely tanky and doesn't play like a regular AD Carry. Avoid him until you know the game a bit better.
Vayne - Vayne is an extremely high damage Carry that needs perfect positioning and skill timing to get the most out of. Leave her until your mechanics have improved.


The role of a tank is to soak up damage for his less durable Mages and AD Carries. You have to be hard to kill and hold the enemies off. Since you aren't aiming to be a primary damage dealer, tank skills will often focus on utility such as stuns and slows or damage mitigation.

Tanks scale well off Armour, Magic Resist and Health. These are all found under the "Defense" tab of the shop.

Good Tanks Include:

Malphite - He has a very strong skill set with one of the game's best ultimate abilities. He's also not too expensive in IP.
Cho Gath - Cho Gath gets very tanky just from his skills and has abilities allow him to stay alive easily. He's also pretty cheap!
Shen - One of the more expensive champions I recommend, but he is very strong. His ultimate allows him to always be in the action!

Try to avoid:

Amumu - Amumu is really good, but not as a starting champ. He is only effective when played in the jungle (I'll explain later) and for that he requires a good pre-game setup that you can't get at low level.
Sejuani - Sejuani is also only really usable in the jungle, and isn't even very good there...
Leona - Leona is a strong support for an AD Carry, but doesn't work very well as a full tank. Don't pick her up until supports become crucial (level 25ish, I guess)


Bruiser champions are a combination of a tank and a carry, either Mage or AD. They can take a decent amount of punishment but can also dish out damage when needed. Often their damage will be split between their basic attacks and their skills.

Bruisers often scale well with health, armour and magic resist in combination with the appropriate stat for the damage they deal (Ability Power for Mages, Damage for AD's).

Good Bruiser's Include:

Warwick - Extremely durable, very strong late game, quite cheap.
Jax - Can carry extremely hard and scales well into the late game. Also quite cheap.

Try to avoid:

Rumble - Rumble is quite complex and needs a lot of game knowledge to play properly.
Jayce - Pretty much the same; He's very complex and isn't like regular champions.

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The Jungle

There is another category of champion, the Jungler. Junglers get experience and gold by killing the neutral monsters in the jungle rather than in the lanes. Since in lane the two creep waves tend to attack each other, you don't take damage. In the jungle, though, the neutral monsters will be damaging you constantly. Because of this, champions usually need to have a lot of in-built durability or regain health as they battle. At higher levels you can use purpose built rune pages and masteries to replace those requirements, but those aren't options at low level.

In my opinion only two champions are safe enough to jungle in low level games.

Warwick can clear the entire jungle even without his skills. With his skills, he jungles EXTREMELY safely, if a bit slowly. Take him if you want to learn the ropes of jungling.

Nunu has Consume which deals massive damage to a non-player enemy and restores a lot of health. This lets you stay healthy as you clear the jungle and do so reasonably quickly.

If you want to try jungling early on, take smite as one of your summoner spells and use it to help kill the monsters. I would recommend laning during your first games, though, just to get a feel for how the game works when you play in a lane. A jungler's main job in a team is to "gank" or attack the lanes from the jungle area, so you have to understand how lanes work before you can jungle competently.

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AI Enemies

Before I can really talk about laning, I have to talk about how computer aggression works.

Turrets have the following target priority:


Enemy champions attacking an allied champion
Nearest Enemy minion
Enemy champions


This means that as long as you have creeps with you when you enter tower range and you don't attack an enemy, the tower will attack the minions and not you. There are a few quirks to know:

- A tower will keep attacking champions until they're dead. If you don't move out of range of the tower, it will keep attacking you even if a "higher priority" target comes into range.

- Unlike champions, a tower will switch aggro to a champion as soon as he or she attacks a champion allied to the tower

- A tower counts you as "attacking an enemy champion" every time you deal damage to them. This means if you have a damage-over-time ability on an enemy like Malefic Visions then, even if you cast the ability before you got in tower range, the tower will switch its aggression to you.

- Towers will not prioritise you if you damage an enemy champion that isn't also in range of the tower. This doesn't come up often and can confuse players.

- Towers have no "memory". If two teammates attack an enemy then the tower will start attacking the nearest one. If that person leaves tower range, the tower won't remember that the other player attacked its ally and will follow its usual priority of minions first.

- Towers have a brief delay between acquiring a target and firing. If you're fast enough you can get into tower range, attack your enemy and get out before the tower lands a hit.

Minions follow basically the same rules, but will follow you in order to keep attacking you. If you also have minions nearby then they will give up the chase and switch back to minions. If you do not, then they will follow you until they lose vision of you.

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For a big chunk of the game, you will find yourself in a lane. This can be with a laning partner or not and against either 1 or 2 (rarely 3) enemies. As well as players, there will be the two opposing creep waves dutifully marching towards each other.

Your main objective during the laning phase of the game will not be to kill your opponents but to kill their minions. It is important to notice that you only get the credit for a kill, and thus the gold and majority of the XP, if you land the killing blow. It's therefore very important to make sure that the last hit on a minion is yours.

You should also be wary of pushing your lane too hard. If you clear their creep wave too fast, your minions will start advancing on their tower. Doing so means that the area where the minions are fighting, and thus where the gold is to be had, is closer to their tower (safe) and further from your tower (dangerous). When possible, you want to keep the minion waves close to your tower.

To achieve this goal, you should try not to attack the minions unless you are going to land the killing blow. Dealing extra damage will cause their side of the wave to die faster and push out the lane, putting you at risk. Equally, you should try not to attack the enemy champion unless you can retreat quickly out of minion range. If you don't then the enemy minions will start attacking you, leading to your side of the wave taking less damage and thus, again, pushing the wave out.

If you are finding that you are taking too much damage to effectively farm the creeps, then just sit back a bit. You still gain experience just by having enemy units die around you, so backing off a short way will let you still level up even if you're unable to farm the gold.

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This is less about 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 skirmishes and more about how to deal with with 5 on 5 teamfights. Certain rules will seriously tip fights in your favour, so I hope these help:

- Put your tanks in front and your carries behind. Your tanks can soak up the first barrage of damage as they start the fight whereas your carries need to be protected. If you send your carries in ahead of time, you'll find that they get blown to pieces by the enemy. Their job is to sit at the fringes and deal damage.

- Focus the carries. Basically, exactly what the first point wants to prevent happening to you. If your champion has abilities that can close gaps or dash around, use them to close in on their most high damage targets and shut them down fast. Once the carries are dealt with, killing the tanks is just a matter of time. If you focus poorly and attack the tanks first, then the carries will rip you to shreds.

- Don't stack crowd control. A lot of newer players use all their disables at once, rendering them basically useless. Crowd control abilities happen simultaneously, not in succession. If you use a 1 second stun during a 3 second stun, then you've wasted it. Wait for other disables to end before you use yours and you'll find that the enemy is tied up a lot longer.

- Fight where your team is strongest. If your team has a lot of abilities that do damage in an area, try to fight in the jungle where everyone is forced to be packed into a small area. If your team has a lot of long range, poke-y abilities then fight in the open. If you play to your strengths then you'll find fights going a lot better for you.

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I hope the things in this guide help to smooth the transitions from a new player to an experienced one. Some of the things here are things I wish I'd been told early on.

If you want some more information, here are two guides I found really helpful:

This guide has a LOAD of information on runes. When you get to the point where you start wanting to buy runes, this guide is absolutely essential to check out.

This guide
is just perfect if you're looking for the next champion you should pick up. It gives detailed advice and item guides on all champion roles, far more in-depth than I have. Definitely worth a look.

If you have, thank you very much for reading. I hope this helped you and I'd appreciate feedback in the forms of ratings and comments. GOOD LUCK!


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