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League of Legends Build Guide Author The All Tomato

The Essentials (League of Legends New Player Game Guide)

The All Tomato Last updated on Yesterday
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Introduction: A Guide to the Guide

Welcome! I've written The Essentials to thoroughly explain the fundamentals of League of Legends. You don't need much game knowledge to have fun, but if you're ready to grow into a competent and competitive player, then this guide is for you.

A caution to readers--while I've kept things as brief as possible, this guide covers a myriad of topics in detail. Pace yourself. The last thing I want is to overwhelm you. Beware cognitive overload.

Feel free to read portions of this guide in whatever order you choose. If you encounter a concept, term, or abbreviation that you don't know, look for it in previous chapters. CTRL+F is your friend!

I've chosen to limit the strategic and environmental information to League's premier game mode, Classic 5v5. This information is applicable to Classic 3v3.

If you haven't signed up for LoL yet, please use this referral link!



Color Coding and Spoilers


I use spoiler boxes for extra tips and details. Click them to read what's inside.

This is a spoiler box. Click to expand it!


Color coding key:
  • green=primary term/idea
  • blue=secondary term/idea
  • gold=hyperlink. (Hovering your cursor over links from within MOBAFire will display a convenient tooltip. Example: Nami)



About Me


I'm a ordinary player who enjoys teaching and likes making friends. I welcome questions and constructive criticisms. Find me in-game (IGN: The All Tomato) on NA, or around the web at:


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Summoners

You, the player, are titled a Summoner in League of Legends.

Player accounts have summoner levels. They start at level 1 with a maximum level of 30. Play games to earn XP and level up. Gaining summoner levels unlocks summoner spells, mastery points, and rune slots, which are discussed later.

Playing games earns Influence Points (IP), in-game currency used to unlock things in the Store. Every 22 hours, players are given a Win of the Day (WotD) bonus that grants an extra 150 IP for victory in any game mode.

Most things in the Store can also be purchased with Riot Points (RP), which cost money. Skins, which change the way a champion looks, can only be bought with RP. A summoner account starts out with 3 refund credits for the life of the account--these do not replenish.

The free champion rotation is a group of ten champions unlocked for all players, which changes every week. I advise playing every free champion at least once--some are more difficult than others, and you may not like all of them, but you will learn the game more quickly.


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Champions

Champions are the characters controlled by players. They begin each game at level 1 and have a maximum level of 18, becoming more powerful with each level.

Each champion has a basic attack, a passive, and 4 abilities.

A basic attack (auto attack, AA) damages enemy units. It is performed by standing within range of or right-clicking an enemy and will reoccur until another target is selected, a movement command is issued, the enemy moves out of range, or dies. A champion is classified as either melee or ranged by their basic attack.

A passive is an innate characteristic of a champion that affects their gameplay, but does not require buttons to be pressed to be active.

The 4 abilities (sometimes called skills or spells) are the unique actions available to a champion. A champion has three basic abilities and one ultimate (ult, ulti) ability, which is their most powerful or defining. Basic abilities have 5 ranks each that are advanced with the ability points acquired when a champion levels up. The ultimate ability has 3 ranks can be advanced with ability points at levels 6, 11, and 16.

Exceptions




Damage Types


The concepts in the next section, 'Champion Roles', are foundational to League, but before moving on, I'd like for you to understand something about damage. There are 3 types of damage in League of Legends. Champions deal 1 or more of these types.

Physical damage is dealt through all champions' basic attacks. Some champion abilities deal physical damage. (Turret shots and attacks from minions and monsters also deal physical damage.)

Magic damage is dealt through most, but not all, abilities. Some abilities and items add magic damage to basic attacks.

True damage is a rare type of damage, dealt mainly by a few abilities and the summoner spell Ignite. True damage cannot be mitigated, whereas physical and magical damage can.

Damage Logic




Champion Roles


Champions can be categorized into 6 different roles, based on their abilities, passives, and ranges. Champions can be played in a variety of ways, and often have primary and secondary roles.

Mages (ability power carries, APC) are powerful spell casters who deal magic damage to and disrupting enemies. They typically have ranged abilities and basic attacks, and have low defenses to balance out their powerful offensive capability.

Marksmen (attack damage carries, ADC) are ranged champions who use primarily their basic attacks to deal sustained damage called damage-per-second (DPS). They excel in dealing tons of physical damage to single targets. They are characterized by abilities and passives that give them a boost to their basic attack damage, attack speed, or range, and gain most of their power through items that modify basic attacks. Fragile marksmen must work hard to keep their enemies at range in order to survive.

Tanks are typically melee champions that have high defensive capabilities, but relatively low damage output. They often have abilities that disrupt or disable enemies. Tanks can take a lot of damage, and use their abilities to protect allies, or create opportunities for their own team to deal damage. Tanks are usually the first ones in a fight and the last ones out.

Fighters (bruisers) are typically melee champions that combine moderate damage and defensive capabilities. They can play both offensive and defensive parts in their team, and due to their medium survivability and damage, are capable duelists. Many fighters are physical damage-oriented, some are magic damage, while others deal a mix of both.

Supports perform a variety of tasks, but overall a support's power comes from enabling their teammates. Most are valued for their utility, which is usefulness other than damage. Utility comes from abilities as well as items. Supports have two sub-roles--ranged mage supports, and melee tank supports.

Assassins are characterized by extreme mobility and massive damage, called burst damage for the short amount of time it takes to deal. They can nearly instantly kill mages, marksmen, other assassins, and sometimes even fighters. If caught, assassins will die just as quickly, and thus make use of their high mobility to get in and out of fights at the right time. There are both physical damage and magic damage assassins.


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Statistics

Champion statistics (stats) are the numerical values that describe a champion. Understand what these numbers mean, and how they relate to one another, is a crucial step to League mastery. It's a lot of info to process--persevere!



Innate Statistics


Champions have varying amounts of these base statistics. Most of these stats increase with champion level. Base statistics can also be increased with items, runes, and masteries. Gains from items, runes, and masteries are called bonus statistics. Base statistics are as follows:
  • Hitpoints (Health, HP): The amount of damage a champion can take before dying.
  • HP regen per 5 (HP5): The amount of hitpoints a champion regenerates every 5 seconds. Regen actually occurs every half second, so 10 HP5 means 1 hitpoint gained every half second.
  • Mana (MP): The maximum amount of mana available to cast abilities. Champions that don't use mana have no base statistics relating to mana and are unaffected by bonus statistics relating to mana.
  • Mana regen per 5 (MP5): The amount of mana restored passively every 5 seconds. Like HP5, this effect takes place every half second.
  • Armor (AR): Reduces incoming physical damage. Each point of armor makes HP 1% more effective against physical damage. For example, a champion with 100 HP and 0 armor will be killed by 100 physical damage. A champion with 100 HP and 100 armor has 100% more effective HP, meaning it will take 200 physical damage to kill them.
  • Magic Resist (MR): Reduces incoming magic damage. MR functions exactly like armor, except against magic damage. All champions have 30 base MR, but only some champions gain magic resist per level.
  • Attack Damage (AD): The amount of physical damage dealt by one basic attack.
  • Attack Speed (AS, ASPD): The number of basic attacks performed per second. This has a cap of 2.5.
  • Range: The number of in-game units a champion's basic attack reaches. Range does not increase (aside from a few champions whose abilities increase their own range).
  • Movement Speed (MS): The number of in-game units a champion travels per second. This does not increase with levels.
  • Gold per 10 seconds (GP10): All champions passively earn gold at the same rate (rate varies with each game mode). Some items, masteries, and runes give minor increases to this rate.

Unit Statistics



Non-Innate Statistics


There are statistics that champions can only gain through abilities, items, runes, or masteries. These statistics are as follows:
  • Cooldown Reduction (CDR): Reduces the time before abilities can be cast again by a percentage. Caps at 40%.
  • Ability Power (AP): Ability Power points enhance most champion's abilities. This will be covered more in the "Abilities" chapter. When attacking structures, basic attacks apply the higher of a champion's bonus attack damage or 40% of their ability power.
  • Armor Penetration (APen): Causes physical damage to ignore an opponents' armor. Armor penetration has flat and percentage values.
  • Magic Penetration (MPen): Causes magic damage to ignore an opponents' Magic Resist. Magic penetration has flat and percentage values.
    Penetration & Reduction Calculation
  • Lifesteal (LS): The percentage of damage dealt from basic attacks (and abilities that apply on-hit effects to basic attacks) returned as hitpoints.
  • Spell Vamp (SV): The percentage of damage from abilities, summoner spells, and item effects returned as hitpoints. Area-of-effect abilities return one third of this percentage, and single-target abilities return the full percentage.
  • Critical Strike Chance (Crit): Basic attacks (and a few abilities) gain a percent amount of chance to deal 200% damage. Critical strikes occur randomly, but measured over an extended number of attacks, every 1% of critical strike chance increases a champion's effective attack damage by 1%.
  • Tenacity: Reduces the duration of crowd control effects by a percentage. For example, Lux can root enemies for 2 seconds using Light Binding, but enemies with 35% Tenacity will only be rooted for 1.3 seconds.


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Abilities

This chapter covers the concepts and terminology of champion abilities. To learn about an individual champion's abilities, read tooltips in game (see the chapter "Understanding the Interface"), click a portrait on the Champion Info page, or use the League of Legends wiki to view detailed information about each champion.



What Do Abilities Do?


There are a multitude of ability effects, some of which are unique to a single champion! Often, a single ability has more than one effect. Let's talk about the most common of these.
  • Damage removes health from enemies. Abilities can deal any one or combination of the three types of damage. A combination of damage types dealt together is termed mixed damage. Damage-over-time (DoT, burn) abilities deal damage gradually, instead of instantaneously.
  • Heal abilities return missing health to their targets. Healing a full-health target will not affect the target's health.
  • Shield abilities grant temporary health. Shields are shown in health bars as grey. Magic damage shields, which only block magic damage, are purple.
  • Crowd control (CC) abilities disable or impede enemies. Hard crowd control completely removes a player's control their champion. Soft crowd control partially removes a player's control their champion. Interrupts are CC that cancel channeled abilities--any CC that prevents a player from casting abilities is an interrupt, whether it's hard or soft. The spoiler below contains a list of the most common CC types. Some champions have CC types unique to themselves, which are not listed here.
    common Crowd control types
  • Buff abilities increase allies' statistics* (*covered in the next chapter). Buff abilities that can affect only the champion casting it are referred to as steroids. Buffs that affect multiple units in an area around a champion are called auras.
  • Debuff abilities lower enemies' statistics*. Debuffs that affect multiple units in an area around a champion are called auras. Grievous Wounds is a specific debuff that reduces all healing and health regeneration by 50%.
  • Movement abilities allow a champion to dash, jump, blink, or otherwise re-position. Offensive movement abilities are called gap closers. Most movement abilities only affect the champion possessing the ability, but Thresh's Dark Passage is used by allied champions. Many movement abilities allow a champion to cross terrain.
  • Attack modifiers are abilities that grant special effects to basic attacks. Some attack modifiers are attack resets, which ignore attack speed and allow a champion to attack in quick succession when used properly.
  • Some abilities apply on-hit effects, which are effects that normally only occur on basic attacks. Examples of on-hit effects include the item effect Spellblade from Sheen, Nami's attack-modifying ability Tidecaller's Blessing, and the buff Blessing of the Lizard Elder .
  • Passive effects occur without activation, as long as the ability has been ranked with an ability point. Don't confuse these with a champion's passive!



Rules for Using Abilities


Abilities are super cool and you'll want to use them all the time, but there are some rules in place that define how and when they can be used.
  • Cost is the amount of resource an ability uses per cast. Champions have a finite amount of their resource, and each ability cast will remove resource from this pool until it is empty. Once empty, abilities can no longer be used until the resource is replenished. Mana is the most common resource, but not all champions use it--some use their health, some use a rapidly regenerating resource called energy, some use resources unique to their champion, and some have no cost associated with any of their abilities.
  • Cooldown (CD) is the period of time before an ability can be cast again. Most abilities go on cooldown immediately after being cast, but some abilities have variations on this mechanic.
    • Multi-use abilities such as Ahri's Spirit Rush can be cast multiple times in a short window before the ability goes on cooldown.
    • Charge abilities such as Teemo's Noxious Trap have multiple charges that can be used in quick succession, but the charges replenish with a cooldown.
    • Toggle abilities such as Ashe's Frost Shot have a cooldown between switches, but grant a persistent effect when activated.
  • Range is the measure of an ability's reach. Ability ranges are illustrated by range indicators, which show when an ability is cast (unless this feature is turned off) or its icon is moused over. Abilities with global range can be used anywhere on the map.
  • Scaling is the way statistics increase the power of an ability. Scaling is specified by a ratio, which adds a portion of the relevant stat to the ability's base value. Scaling is a big topic--check the spoiler for more details and examples.
    scaling details
  • Auto-targeted abilities don't require any aiming; when cast, the abilities simply affect all those in range.
  • Targeted abilities require your cursor to be over a unit that is visible and in range to be cast. Most targeted abilities cannot be dodged, as they will follow the target regardless of its movement.
  • Skillshot abilities can be cast independently of other units and require aiming using the cursor. Skillshots come in many shapes and sizes, such as linear projectiles, conic spreads, or circles. Skillshots can be missed or avoided--aim carefully!
  • Area-of-effect (AoE) abilities can affect multiple units.
  • Single-target abilities can affect only one unit.
  • Cast time is the delay between an ability cast and the occurrence of its effect that prevents your champion from taking other actions. Most cast times are brief (~.5 seconds). Some abilities cast instantaneously.
  • Channeled abilities can have their cast time interrupted, putting the ability on cooldown without its effect occurring. Channeled abilities can be interrupted by the player through movement commands and casting other abilities, or by enemies through crowd control types that prevent casting.


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Masteries

The final masteries from each tree.

Masteries are skill trees that grant bonus statistics and attributes. 1 mastery point is unlocked per summoner level; points can be spent between the three mastery trees: Offense, Defense, and Utility. You can create up to 20 unique mastery pages that can be edited during champion selection or in your summoner profile.

21 points minimum will complete a mastery tree, but it is possible to spend all 30 points in one. It is perfectly acceptable distribute your points among the three trees as you see fit. Most popular mastery setups split 21 points in one tree, and 9 in another.

(Protip: Points can be placed quickly by using the scroll wheel instead of clicking.)



Choosing Masteries


Players usually specialize a mastery page for a specific champion or role. In general, damage-focused roles should maximize the Offense tree, and durability-focused roles should maximize Defense. The Utility tree is a little unique--generally only supports will use 21 points in this tree, but it's common for other champions to 'dabble' with it.

To choose proper masteries, answer these questions:
  • What statistics best help my champion perform their role?
  • What attributes best complement my champion, item build, and playstyle?
Let's look at some quick example answers to these questions. An attack damage based fighter, assassin, or marksman won't need points in Mental Force , but can certainly use Brute Force . Spell-oriented or initiating champions like mages and tanks make great use of Expose Weakness . Masteries like Strength of Spirit and Enchanted Armor can be ruled out if you aren't building statistics to complement them.

Explore each mastery and create your own pages on the League of Legends website. Here are some examples:


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Runes

Runes give your champions bonus statistics. A single rune offers little benefit, but many together have significant impact.

Runes can be purchased in the Store using IP, and placed in rune pages found in your Summoner profile. You are provided with 2 pages, and can purchase more in the Store.

Select the rune page you wish to use for a match during Champion Select.


Categories


There are 4 categories of runes.

Marks (reds) provide attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and magic penetration. Seals (yellows) provide armor, health, health regeneration, and mana regeneration
Glyphs (blues) provide ability power, mana, cooldown reduction, and magic resist. Quintessences (quints) are extra-powerful runes that provide statistics from all categories, and unique statistics such as life steal, spell vamp, and movement speed.

Runes can only be placed into their corresponding rune page slots. A rune page contains 9 slots for marks, seals, and glyphs, but only 3 slots for quintessences. Primary runes from each category provide the best values of their statistic. Secondary runes provide statistics from another category, but in lesser amounts than their primary counterparts. (For example, compare Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Glyph of Armor.)



Tiers


There are 3 tiers of runes. Lesser runes are available at summoner level 1, provide small bonuses, and are cheap. Normal runes are available at summoner level 10, are significantly more expensive, and provide mediocre bonus statistics. Greater runes are available upon attaining summoner level 20, provide significant bonuses, and are costly.



Choosing Runes


Players will usually specialize a rune page for a role or champion. Always choose stats that will most benefit your champion. Most players find it optimal to make well-rounded rune pages that grant 3-5 different kinds of statistics.

You have a choice between flat or scaling runes. Flat runes give an unchanging base value of their statistic and give champions the strongest early start, while scaling runes give stats-per-level, and are weak early, but more powerful later. Flat runes are the most common.

You can go a long way with your first two pages. I recommend starting out by using one page to maximize magical damage, and the other to maximize physical damage. For both pages, use:
  • 9 Greater Seal of Armor to mitigate the physical damage from basic attacks and minions you'll face, both of which are significant threats early in the game no matter what champions you are facing.
  • 9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for a little extra protection against magic damage, especially since most champions don't gain MR per level.
For physical damage, use: For magic damage, use:
A full list of runes can be viewed here.

Rune Caveats


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Summoner Spells

Summoner spells are powerful spells chosen before each match in champion select. They have long cooldowns, ranging from 40 seconds to 9 minutes. Summoner spells are unlocked at different summoner levels, and are all unlocked by summoner level 12.

You can take any combination of spells with any champion, but the best choices vary between games. Think about the champion, role, and position you're playing, and the champions you might be facing.

Mouse over the spell icons below to learn what each does. I will share some common uses of each one.


Flash is the most popular summoner spell, due to its versatility. It allows a champion to re-position instantly. Flash can be used to dodge skill shots, land abilities, cross terrain and obstacles, and increase or lessen distance from enemies. Using flash effectively requires quick reaction time and exacting calculation, but is so useful that it is worth mastering. Flash has a maximum range of 400 units.

Ghost is for escaping or chasing enemies. Using Ghost as a melee champion makes it difficult for ranged enemies to stay at range. Moving through units, also known as avoiding unit collision, means a champion won't have to walk around minions, etc.

Heal is useful for erasing damage and making escapes, or countering harass in lane. Stacking multiple Heals isn't effective due to the 50% reduced healing for 35 seconds.

Barrier is powerful protection for fragile champions such as mages and marksmen. It serves as an alternative to summoner heal, as it has a lower cooldown, and the amount of hitpoints shielded for are greater than the hitpoints returned by heal, but using it well requires precise timing.

Cleanse aids fragile champions such as mages and marksmen who can be devastated by crowd control. "Summoner spell debuffs" refers to Exhaust and Ignite.

Exhaust can be used defensively to keep an enemy from dealing fatal amounts of damage or chasing, or offensively to reduce an enemy's ability to retaliate or escape. Exhaust is especially effective against burst champions (assassins).

Ignite is a popular choice for securing kills and making sure enemies don't escape allied vision in a bush or the fog of war. "Healing effects" includes health regeneration, lifesteal, spellvamp, and heals; Ignite is a powerful choice against champions like Warwick, Dr. Mundo, and Soraka who rely heavily on healing.

Teleport (TP) is fantastic for making surprise plays across the map, getting back to lane quickly, or escaping enemies. It can be used on a a variety of allied units, including turrets, minions, and wards. Teleport is a channeled spell, and can be cancelled by the player or by enemy CC. If cancelled by the player, it will go on a reduced cooldown.

Smite is primarily for junglers, who use it to kill jungle monsters more quickly and secure the killing blow on important jungle objectives. Smite does work on various enemy units, such as Annie's bear Tibbers, Heimerdinger's turrets, and the bloblets from Zac's Cell Division, but it does not work on champions!

Clarity is useful for champions or teams that use large amounts of mana. Clarity is a great help for newer players who aren't skilled at managing their mana expenditures, but other spells are favored by experienced players.

Clairvoyance (CV) is useful for scouting ahead, avoiding ambushes, spotting out isolated enemies, and using long range abilities like Lux's Final Spark or Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole. It has a global range, meaning it can be used anywhere, even the enemy base.

Revive is useful for bypassing death timers. When a death timers are long, getting back on your feet quickly can save a game from loss, but it's a better strategy to use different summoner spells to avoid death entirely. Also, look at that hella long cooldown. Basically this spell is trash; don't use it. (Protip: Worried about getting back to lane quickly? Teleport does it better.)

Garrison is a special spell available only in the Dominion game mode (which is the greatest and best game mode). Q: What is Pantheon's favorite game mode? A: Dough-minion.


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Items

Items give champions bonus statistics and are used to amplify a champion's strengths, or make up for their weaknesses. Purchased items are placed in 1 of a champion's 6 item slots and take effect immediately; there is no need to "equip" an item.

The most powerful items are made from recipes comprised of cheaper, less powerful component items, and in turn, components are made out of basic items. Basic items build into several components, which allows for variability in item choices.

Item passives are essentially an extra passive ability. Examples of items with passives include Guardian Angel, Warmog's Armor, and Liandry's Torment.

Item actives are essentially extra abilities. Item actives can be used with the number key assigned to the item slot they occupy. Examples of such items include Zhonya's Hourglass, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Ravenous Hydra.

Unique passives and actives of the same name cannot stack with each other. This means owning two items with the same unique active or passive will only give the benefit of one. For example, owning Zephyr and Mercury's Treads only grants 35% Tenacity, not 70%.

Consumable items don't grant statistics or effects until they are consumed by using the number key bound to their item slot.

Item Logic




Choosing Items


Itemization choices, called a build, are a core strategic element of League of Legends. Although some of the best items for a champion remain the same in every match, you should vary your choices in response to other players' champions, items, and performance.

Choose items that complement each other. This makes champions more powerful, and maximizes how efficiently your gold is being spent. For example, Blade of the Ruined King and Last Whisper make a good pair because they both help a champion deal physical damage. Wit's End, which is similar to BotRK, does not make a good pairing with Last Whisper, because it benefits magic damage dealers, rather than physical damage. A simpler example is the relationship between resistances and health--health from one item will benefit from the magic resist / armor from another, and vice versa.

Variance of build order, even among the same items, can make a huge difference! Rushing an item means prioritizing one item above others and buying components only for that item until it is complete. Choose how you build carefully--building several items too slowly can delay your champion attaining the power they need, but rushing one item can mean you are missing essential stats from other items!

To choose appropriate items, ask yourself these questions, in this order:
  • What is my champion's role?
  • What statistics does my champion need to perform this role?
  • What statistics will help me against the enemies I am facing this match?



Champion Build Examples


The following examples will help you understand how to build champions. Consult online guides, experienced friends, or myself if you are unsure about the suitability or purpose of an item. All items can be viewed on the League of Legends website here.

Annie is a mage, who relies on her abilities to deal damage. Annie needs mana to cast her abilities, ability power to make her spells more effective, and health and resistances to protect her because of her short range. This makes Rod of Ages a great first purchase. Rabadon's Deathcap and Void Staff are great offensive choices. For defense, Annie can use items like Abyssal Scepter against magic damage, or Zhonya's Hourglass against physical damage. Remember, all of these items are built from components! Annie could build either a Negatron Cloak or a Seeker's Armguard to get the requisite resistances before finishing a complete Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter.

Ashe is a marksman who deals most of her damage with basic attacks. She needs attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and critical strike chance to be effective. Her passive Focus makes critical strike chance particularly efficient. Therefore, Infinity Edge is a great first buy. Let's say Ashe is having trouble surviving fights, or is getting harassed out of lane. Lifesteal is a good defensive statistic for champions that deal lots of damage with basic attacks, so Ashe could purchase a Vampiric Scepter or even a complete The Bloodthirster before finishing Infinity Edge. Adding items like Berserker's Greaves, Statikk Shiv, and Last Whisper would be a perfect way to round out her build.

Garen is a fighter who needs defensive statistics to survive charging to the front lines. His passive Perseverance and his ability Courage make purchasing both health and resistances extremely cost-effective, so items like Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage are great buys on him. Garen's base damages are high enough that he doesn't rely on items for damage, but if needed, he could buy items like The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper to aid Judgment and Decisive Strike.



Recommended Items


Each champion has an individualized shop menu labeled Recommended Items. If you are learning a champion, these items are a decent place to start, but I have important caveats.

First, League of Legends has changed considerably since its inception, and some Recommended Items have not been updated to accommodate these changes.

Second, not all Recommended Items are meant to be built together. The items shown sometimes represent the core items for several different build strategies for a champion, and don't always work well together. Use critical thinking to figure out builds--you'll get better and faster with experience and knowledge.

Once you are comfortable with a champion or role, you can make your own custom Recommended Items page called an Item Set in the game client.


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Summoner's Rift Environment


This chapter will help you get acquainted with League's most popular map, Summoner's Rift. I encourage you to create a custom game and explore the map yourself before venturing into PvP games.



Locations

Open for image

Spawn & Shop: Commonly called the fountain, this area is where champions begin every game, and where they respawn after death. Open the shop to purchase items by clicking on the shopkeeper or using a keyboard shortcut. Standing in this area rapidly replenishes missing health and mana. Use the recall function (B key) to return here from anywhere else on the map. The spawn area is guarded by the Nexus Obelisk, a powerful laser that deals 2000 true damage per second.

Base: The area bounded by walls. Bases contain the shop and spawn, as well as inhibitors, Nexus turrets, and the Nexus.

Lanes: These are the long corridors of open terrain guarded by turrets. Each of the three lanes has its own name--top, bottom (bot), and middle (mid).

The River: Open ground with few bushes that connects the three lanes. Powerful neutral monsters make their home in the two pits found near the outer lanes.

The Jungle: The quadrants between the lanes, bisected by the river. The jungle is characterized by narrow corridors bounded by terrain and bushes. Here you'll find neutral monsters that can be killed for various rewards. The jungle is mirrored by the river, so that each team's side contains identical creatures and terrain.



Structures

Open for image

Structures are the destructible objects found on the Rift. They take damage from champion basic attacks and minions. Structures in a lane must be destroyed sequentially, starting with the outermost turret and ending at that lane's Inhibitor. Only after an Inhibitor has been destroyed can the Nexus turrets and Nexus be damaged.

Turrets: Tower-like structures that fire powerful beams. Turrets have their own attack damage, HP, armor, and magic resist. Their armor and magic resist increase if no minions are in attack range. Inhibitor (tier 3) and Nexus turrets also have health regeneration, while Outer (tier 1) and Inner (middle, tier 2) turrets do not. Turrets provide true vision in an area around them, meaning stealthed champions an units are automatically revealed. If no minions are present, turrets will target enemy champions in range. If minions are present, turrets will only attack enemy champions if they attack an allied champion who is within that turret's range. Sequential attacks against champions increase in damage, up to a maximum of 225% damage.

Inhibitors: Gem-like structures found at the base-end of a lane. Inhibitors do not attack, and only have HP and HP regen. They take reduced damage from champions. Destroying an enemy inhibitor strengthens allied minions and releases allied super minions in that lane. Inhibitors respawn 4 minutes after being destroyed, ending the boost to the opposing team's minions.

Nexus: Large gem-like structure found close to the spawn point within a base. Destroying the Nexus will end the game. The Nexus has HP and HP regeneration.



Creatures

open for image

Minions: Minions spawn in waves at each Nexus and march down the lanes until they encounter an enemy unit, which they will attack. A wave spawns every 30 seconds, starting at 1:30. Each wave contains 6 minions, 3 melee minions and 3 caster minions. Every third wave spawns with a 7th, more powerful minion, known as a siege minion or cannon minion. Siege minions take 30% reduced damage from turrets. Siege minions are important allies, and valuable last hits.

Super minions: Super minions are extra powerful and durable. They spawn in a lane only when the opposing inhibitor is destroyed. They replace the siege minion and spawn with every wave. They grant nearby ally minions bonus armor and magic resist, making the entire wave more durable.

Neutral monsters: The creatures found in the jungle and river pits. Each monster--wraiths, wolves, golems, wights--have varying amounts of health and attack damage. Size is an indicator of power. Killing the largest monster in a camp grants small amounts of HP and mana. Monsters will not attack unless attacked first, and will follow fleeing attackers for a short distance before returning to their camps and rapidly regenerating health.

The Ancient Golem & Elder Lizard: Special neutral monsters that grant powerful buffs (persistent effects that last for a set time) to their killers. Due to the color of the buffs, each camp is commonly referred to by its respective color. The Elder Lizard is red buff, and the Ancient Golem is blue buff. The effects of these buffs are discussed in the Strategy chapter.

Dragon: Dragon (drag, drake) is a powerful neutral monster found in the river pit adjacent to bottom lane. It is immune to CC. The dragon's attacks deal a percentage of current health in damage, reduce the damage a champion deals by 20%, and also deal damage-over-time, so that champions take more damage than is immediately apparent. Its rewards are discussed in the Strategy chapter.

Baron Nashor: Baron Nashor (worm, nash, baron) is the most powerful neutral monster on the Rift, found in the river pit adjacent to top lane. It is immune to CC. Baron debuffs champions so that they deal 50% damage to Baron and take up to 250% increased magic damage from all sources. Baron also can knock enemies up and away.

neutral monster respawn


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Summoner's Rift Strategy

Success in League of Legends comes from more than flashy plays and high kill scores. It comes from controlling the factors that contribute to victory, being familiar with gameplay patterns, and having awareness of the tactics used on the Fields of Justice. If you have yet to play a PvP match, this chapter will greatly prepare you!



Objectives


The main objectives of the game are clear--destroy the enemy's turrets, inhibitors, and Nexus. However, accomplishing these main objectives requires winning four other objectives first:
  • Experience: Champions gain levels through earning experience. Experience is earned by being in proximity to dying minions, jungle monsters, and champions. It is also globally granted by destroying structures or killing Baron Nashor. Experience granted locally is split among those in the area.

    Leveling up makes champions much more powerful by increasing their base statistics, as well as a increasing the power of the ability leveled with a skill point. Gaining a level can be thought of as having a significant gold value when considering the stats gained!
  • Minion & monster kills: Dealing the killing blow (called last hitting) to minions and monsters (termed creeps), is a player's greatest source of gold income, which directly translates into items.

    Last hits are recorded in-game as a number called the creep score (CS). Building a higher creep score is called farming. Don't underestimate the income gained from farming! Consistent last hitting will earn thousands.
    cs goals
  • Jungle buffs: The buffs granted by killing the Ancient Golem ( Crest of the Ancient Golem ) and Elder Lizard ( Blessing of the Lizard Elder ) give a champion extra power. Securing these is often left to a team's jungler, but it is worth helping protect them, or trying to steal the enemy's.

    Red buff gives extra damage and a slow effect to basic attacks. Players find it optimal to give the red buff to their initiating fighter or tank, or to their marksman. Blue buff grants mana regeneration and cooldown reduction, allowing for frequent ability usage. Players find it optimal to give this buff to mages or to the jungler, who both use abilities heavily to farm and fight.
  • Dragon and Baron Nashor: Killing Dragon grants gold to all teammates, and experience to those who helped kill it. Baron Nashor grants gold and experience to all members of a team, as well as an extremely powerful buff called Exalted with Baron Nashor that gives health and mana regeneration, ability power, and attack damage. Dragon and Baron are powerful monsters that require teamwork to take down. Teams are vulnerable while fighting these monsters, so be cautious when deciding to attack them!

Winning these objectives will allow your team to destroy turrets and inhibitors. I cannot stress enough how important structural objectives are--destroying turrets removes vision of the map for your enemies and allows your minions to push further in towards their base. Inhibitors are the most important structural objective besides the Nexus. Destroying an inhibitor and releasing your team's super minions is tantamount to adding a sixth player who relentlessly pressures the enemy's base. It is just as important to protect your own team's inhibitors as it is to destroy the enemy's.

Kills are not objectives! Killing champions is a means to an end--controlling actual objectives. While killing champions gives substantial gold and experience bonuses, a numbers advantage, and is disturbingly satisfying, it is entirely possible to win games with no kills. A perfect example of a low-kill game is the professional match CLG vs Curse in the 2014 NA LCS Spring Split. CLG was able to push their advantage and completely beat Curse while only getting 4 kills. First Blood happens at an astounding 23 minutes into the game, and the game ends a mere 2 minutes later. CLG secured victory through superior objective control, prioritizing objectives above kills.



Game Phases


A game on Summoner's Rift has 3 distinct phases that transition as champions gain levels and items, and structures are destroyed:
  • Early Game: Known as the laning phase, champions in the early game focus on farming, denying farm and experience to their lane opponents, and destroying first tier turrets. Denying an opponent farm and experience is accomplished by forcing them away from lane through consistent harass, or killing them. Champions begin purchasing basic items and components. The junglers will gank to further deny enemies, or aid lanes that are being denied. Dragon is a realistic, but dangerous, objective.
  • Mid Game: The mid game is characterized by team members roaming and grouping for ambushes or to concentrate on an objective. Team fights, battles between all 5 members of each team, will start occurring. Champions have surpassed level 6 by this point and will have one or two core items completed. One or more outer tier turrets will have fallen. As turrets fall, gaining and denying vision using wards and trinkets becomes more important. Baron is a realistic, but extremely dangerous objective.
  • Late Game: Champions are nearing level 18, have their core items completed, and are working towards a complete 6-item build (full build). Inner turrets, inhibitors, and the nexus turrets are the focused objectives, along with Baron Nashor and dragon. Grouping and team fighting are common, as it becomes increasingly dangerous to be found alone by enemies. Respawn timers, which grow longer as the game progresses, are now extremely long and have significant impact. Vision control using wards and trinkets is crucial to victory.



The Meta


The metagame, or meta, can be thought of as unwritten rules that guide player decisions. Efficient strategies, popular or imbalanced items and champions, changes to the game environment or systems (such as turret statistics or masteries), and professional play are all things that contribute to the meta. Innovation and adaptation are encouraged, but understanding the meta is an important step to becoming a proficient player.

The meta is constantly shifting in minor ways, but the core strategy often remains unchanged. In order to gain optimal amounts of gold and experience, teammates separate to different lanes during the early game:
  • Duo Lane/Bot Lane: Typically one lane will be shared by two champions, the marksman and the support. The marksman needs lots of gold to buy items, but not as much experience, because they benefit less from levels than other roles. Marksmen are also weak and fragile early in the game. Supports need significantly less gold to be effective than the other roles, and excel at protecting and empowering teammates. As such, marksmen and supports make the perfect duo lane, sharing experience and allowing the marksman to take all the minion kills. Almost always, the duo will go to the bottom lane. This makes it easier to take or contest dragon.
  • Mid Lane: Mages and assassins usually go solo in the mid lane. They benefit greatly from levels, so sharing experience is sub-optimal. The distance from the turret to the center of the lane is shorter in middle lane than the outer lanes, which offers extra safety from ganks to these fragile champions. Being in the center of the map makes roaming, showing up to surprise attack enemies in another lane, convenient.
  • Top Lane: Fighters and tanks also benefit from the experience and gold offered by a solo lane, but because of their inherent durability, don't need the safety of the shorter mid lane. Bottom lane is better occupied by a support and marksman, so top is their lane of choice.
  • The Jungle: Junglers gain gold and experience by killing the neutral monsters found in camps in between lanes. The jungle can be occupied by champions of any role, but is best taken by select tanks, fighters, assassins, and mages. Jungle monsters deal significant damage and are difficult to kill early on, so champions that have high damage, inherent durability, or healing effects make the most efficient junglers. Junglers use the fog of war to their advantage and make surprise plays called ganks on the enemy.
    two duo lanes
    new players and jungling



Team Compositions


A team composition is the aspect of a team created by the combination of champion attributes. Players often describe this aspect as synergy. Teams benefit from including champions from a variety of roles, with a variety of damage types. Champions with complementary crowd control and utility benefit a team's cohesiveness.

Forming strong team compositions takes experience and communication--don't worry about it as a beginner. Focus first on learning champions and determining your personal strengths. But, to help you understand the subject, I've listed some common compositions in the spoiler below.

Common team compositions


Guide Top

Summoner's Rift Vision System

The vision system of Summoner's Rift gives players control over the fog of war, the darkness that obscures vision around the map. Every player needs to understand this system.



The Purpose of Wards


Wards are consumable, place-able items that grant a major tactical benefit by revealing an area of the map in a radius around them.

Defensively placed wards provide advanced notice of incoming enemy attacks. They can spot jungle ganks during the laning phase, or cover a team's flanks and rear around objectives like inner turrets and inhibitors.

Offensively placed wards spot enemy movement on their own side of the map. This can catch enemies in vulnerable positions, aid ambushes, or help a team control objectives like dragon and Baron. Use wards in lane bushes to help fight lane opponents.

Warding is dynamic. It's too costly and time consuming to keep the entire map warded at all times, so ward strategically by choosing objectives to focus, and by anticipating what objectives your enemies will focus (such as a low HP turret or an exposed inhibitor).

Wards lose usefulness if you don't check your minimap consistently (at least every 10-20 seconds). Make it a habit!



Ward Types


  • Stealth Wards (middle) last 3 minutes, take 3 basic attacks to destroy, and become invisible to the enemy after 1 second of being placed.
  • Trinket wards (left) are stealth wards that last for less than 3 minutes and come from vision trinkets.
  • Vision Wards (pinks)(right) take 5 basic attacks to destroy and last until they are destroyed. They are visible to the other team. Vision wards grant true vision, which means they reveal invisible units such as stealth wards.

Players can place up to 3 stealth wards and 1 vision ward. Please note that stealth wards and vision wards have skins, like champions, but trinket wards do not.



Trinkets


The three Trinkets are free vision items. Every player should start their game by grabbing one from the shop.


Warding Strategy & Locations


The best places to put wards are often in bushes. Placing wards at the edges of brush, away from walls, will maximize vision range.

Vision wards are vulnerable and expensive--use them in easily defensible areas or at times when denying enemy vision is important (such as when killing dragon and Baron).

Wards can be placed anywhere within your range, even over terrain. Warding over walls like dragon and Baron pit can make warding safer and more convenient.

If your target location is inside terrain, your ward will be displaced by this terrain when planted. You can use this displacement (shown below) to extend your ward planting range! Grab a Sightstone and practice warding tricky spots in a custom game!

images: extending ward range over terrain


Images in the spoiler below show the most common warding spots, from the blue side's perspective. The corresponding locations on red side are equally suitable places for wards. Remember, the best place to put a ward is where ever you need vision--don't limit yourself to only these spots!

Warding locations




The Ward Crosshair


Your cursor becomes a crosshair indicator while placing wards. The crosshair is blue by default, but will turn green if the target location is in brush. It will turn gold if the target location is in terrain. Paying attention to the color of your cursor will help you optimize the placement of wards, and keep you from misplacing wards!

As you place a ward, a number indicating how many you already have placed appears next to your cursor. If you are about to exceed your limit, the number will appear red, and an "x" on the minimap will appear over which ward will be removed.


Guide Top

Interface & Commands

League's interface is busy, but well organized and easy to figure out. For many interface elements, hovering your cursor above it reveals a tooltip. Use the Options menu (ESC key) to customize your interface, and to view and customize key bindings. This chapter covers the most important interface elements and controls.



The Heads-Up Display


open for image


The heads-up display (HUD) is your primary source of information.
  1. Your minimap displays the location of units that aren't obscured by the fog of war. Mousing over structure icons display their current health, even through the fog of war. Click on your minimap to move to an area. Global abilities can be targeted by casting on the minimap.
  2. The status bar displays your abilities' ranks and cooldown timers, your health bar, and resource bar. The numbers in the middle of the resource bar show your remaining/maximum HP and resource, and the numbers at the far right indicate your regen of each per 1 second. Icons representing anything affecting your champion appear above the status bar. The blue bar above these icons shows the cast time or channel time of the ability you are using.
  3. These are your item slots, shop button, and stat display (shows current AD, AP, AS, MS, armor, and MR). Clicking your champion portrait opens a full display of statistics. Champion level and experience amounts are shown on and under the portrait. Click and drag items to rearrange them. The trinket slot can only hold trinket items.
  4. This shows your allies' champion level, resource bars, ultimate availability indicator, and respawn timer if they are dead. The ultimate indicator will show a green dot when a champion's ult is available. Targeted abilities can be cast on a champion portrait (helpful for long range or global abilities such as Shen's ultimate Stand United). Clicking their portrait reveals the target frame (discussed next).
  5. The target frame is revealed by left clicking a unit. It displays the unit's HP, resource, items, level, AD, AP, AS, MS, armor, and MR. Icons representing anything affecting the unit are displayed beneath the bar. This bar is not accessible for units in the fog of war, except structures.
  6. The score bar displays each team's total kills; your kills, deaths, and assists (KDA); your creep score; the game duration; your frames-per-second; and a bar representing your ping.
  7. Champion portraits appear here when a champion is killed, indicating which champion died, who dealt the killing blow, and who assisted.
  8. Combat text is rapidly disappearing text that appears around units describing what is happening to that unit. Text is color coded for different things and can be customized in the Options menu.
    combat text color code
  9. A health bar shows a champion's hitpoints. Every small notch represents 100 hp, and a large notch (not shown) represents 1000. Underneath is their resource bar, and to the left is their champion level. A white bar called the loss of control UI will appear under this resource bar indicating the duration of CC along with a unique graphical effect.
  10. Surrender votes will appear here. You can click a button to vote Yes or No. Surrender votes can be started in the Options menu or by chat command /surrender.



The Scoreboard


open for image


The scoreboard displays each champion's level, summoner spells, items, KDA, and minion score. Summoner names and respawn timers are also shown. Highlighted in red on the right are mute buttons that prevent a player's chat messages from displaying when clicked. You will still see their pings. The scoreboard will only update when a champion is not in the fog of war.

Above the scoreboard are jungle timers (not pictured...yet). The larger timers show when Baron (purple) and Dragon (orange) will next spawn. The smaller timers show each teams' red and blue buffs. These update ONLY if your team has knowledge of the camp's death.



Ability Tooltips


open for image


Ability tooltips are extremely important. Mouse over your champion's ability and passive icons to read exactly what each does. This example is a tooltip revealed by an unplaced skill point, which shows what changes with the next level of the ability.

In tooltips, statistics are represented by this color code: AP, AD, armor, MR, HP, and mana. Base amounts sometimes are indicated in different colors than bonus amounts.



Pings


open for image


Use pings to quickly communicate with your teammates.
  • Alt+left click or G will issue an alert ping (A). Using this ping on an enemy unit will issue a target ping (B), and on an allied unit, a request aid ping (C).
  • Ctrl+left click or V will issue a caution ping. Using this ping on a unit will issue a retreat ping (D&E).
  • Using either command, but holding the mouse button, will bring up a radial menu with more pings (F). Move your cursor in the direction of the ping you want to issue. This can be done in a single, swift motion.



Chat


open for image


Chat is opened by pressing Enter. Hit Enter again to send, or Esc to close chat without sending. Important notifications such as pings are announced automatically in chat, so make sure your time stamps are turned on. View the chat history by pressing Z. Move the chat window by pressing 'enter' and dragging the top bar with the mouse cursor.
Commands:
  • Type '/w "summoner name" ' to send messages to out-of-game friends
  • Type '/r' to reply to messages from out-of-game friends.
  • Type '/all' to send a message visible to both teams. Shift+Enter will open the chat window in this mode. Visibility of /all chat can be toggled in the Options menu.


Guide Top

Lessons, Resources, & Terminology

Topics that are outside the scope of this guide, such as how to effectively control your champions, how to make decisions, and how to work with teammates, are still important. Much of this knowledge comes with experience, but I encourage further study. This section is here to help you get started.



Supplemental Lessons


Most of this guide has been about the raw facts of the game. In the spoilers below I've included bits of wisdom that will help take you from book smart to street smart.

Basic Practices
Common Mistakes
Positioning
Quickcasting
unlocking the camera
Interacting with Minions
leashing
popular opinion: items to avoid
Notable Items





Resources


Contained in the spoilers are links to resources that I find invaluable. (These are in addition to the content hosted on the League of Legends website, such as Player Support.) Be aware when using some of these resources; LoL evolves, and some of them may fall out-of-date. I encourage you to watch streams on Twitch.tv to observe the most up-to-date gameplay.

game information & guide sites
Streams and youtube channels
game news and esports
personally recommended miscellany




Terminology


Players use many abbreviations and jargon for efficient communication. Items and champions especially have their own abbreviations, which, for the most part, are intuitive enough to not be listed here. I included many terms and abbreviations throughout the guide, but the spoiler below contains even more:

terminology

If you want to be an Encyclopedia Brown of League, check out the terminology page from the MOBAFire wiki.


Guide Top

Conclusion, Change Log, & Credits

Congratulations on reaching the end! I hope that you enjoyed my guide and have been bettered by it. If you have, please support it by sharing, commenting, upvoting, or giving me +rep!

I have an admonition to make. LoL's players have earned a reputation for toxicity and immaturity, and I would like to see this change. The best thing you can do for yourself and the community is to play with the right attitude. Play for fun, be open and willing to learn, and be encouraging to teammates as well as yourself. The Summoner's Code is a great set of guidelines in and outside of the game---learn it, and abide by it! Participate in The Tribunal, if you have time. Judging other's poor behavior can give you insight to your own.

change log




Special thanks goes to:


Cestian, for taking the time to teach a random newb.
DaBrownCharizard, Knoxycotten, Animositty, and Suprar15 for introducing me to the game.
dudandwiggles for the awesome Nami picture.
Reddit user Fornoitdoesnt, for translating the guide to French!


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