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League of Legends Build Guide Author Butterfreeze

Super Basic: The foundations of League of Legends

Butterfreeze Last updated on August 24, 2012
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Super Basic?

You've run though the tutorials, and maybe played a few bot games. Perhaps you've even been brave enough to try a game against other players. You've got an idea of what the game is about, but chances are, you've got questions. Lots of questions.

This guide will cover the fundamentals of League of Legends game play; the very basic things new players should be thinking about. It will be a bit more in-depth than the tutorial, and cover a few important things the tutorial does not.

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Focus on the Basics

League of Legends has a very simple attack and defend concept at its core, but it can get very complicated at higher levels of game play. Eventually, games become like a dance, with players going through a series of motions as they react to what their opponents do while throwing in a few steps to try and gain the upper hand. A singe misstep can have serious consequences.

However, that is much later.

Luckily for you, most new players have 2 left feet, so the game is a bit more forgiving at earlier levels. You don't worry about the more advanced concepts of the game right now. Even if you've read or heard about things like lane phases, jungling, zoning, builds, and so forth, it is best if you just focus on the basics. Trying to figure it all out at once can be pretty confusing, and you'll get better faster if you have a strong grasp of the fundamentals.

Last Hitting

Last hitting is very important. It is how you will make most of the money to buy those first few items. There are some times when you will get a few early champion kills, but by and large, diligently delivering the final blow to minions is the most consistent method of collecting gold.

However, as easy as it sounds, actually getting that last hit can be difficult, especially at early levels. Your minions are constantly damaging enemy units, and a misplaced strike won't net you any gold.

The trick is to watch the minion's health bars, and to hit them just as they are about to die. It might be hard at first, but it gets easier as your champion levels up and gets stronger, because then you can last hit minions with more health.

Learning how a character attacks is also important to last hitting. Some characters take longer to attack than other when you click on a unit.

Again, getting the hang of last hitting is very important. Players who don't last hit, or focus too much on attacking the enemy champion find themselves strapped for cash and unable to purchase those key first items. Getting comfortable with last hitting also helps when the games get more competitive and your opponents are trying to keep you from earning gold. If you already know exactly when you need to strike, you'll be better off than if you are still trying to figure out the timing.

Basic Character Types

Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with basic champion types. There are many types of champions. Some are good at several things, but most have a pretty specific role to play. Knowing a champion's role is crucial to successfully playing them.

There are two major types of champions, offensive champions, and defensive champions.

Offensive champions are there to deal damage to the enemy team and to take down turrets. They often have very strong physical or magical attacks. Offensive characters generally come in three basic types, melee, ranged, and mages.

Melee champions use close range physical attacks, while ranged champions use ranged physical attacks. Melee champions can be tough to kill, or be weak but evasive, while ranged champions are generally pretty squishy. Both of these champion types use attack damage as their main attribute, and their basic attacks are almost as dangerous as their abilities.

Mages have weak basic attacks, but very powerful abilities. Often, a mage can kill a single champion, or multiple champions, by using their abilities in quick succession. However, they cannot take much damage themselves.

Defensive champions generally either provide support and keep other champions out of danger by taking the brunt of enemy attacks. They often do not posses strong attacks, but many can still be quite dangerous.

Tanks usually have weak basic attacks, but are very hard to kill. Their abilities focus on defense and disabling the enemy. Tanks also usually have a ability that will allow them to quickly engage enemy players.

Support champions can have a variety of abilities from healing allies and proving bonuses to pushing back enemies and preventing them from using their own abilities. Operating from behind friendly champions, support characters are often physically weak, and easy to kill.

Taking the time to experiment with the different types early on will help you learn what types of roles you like to play, as well as learn what to expect from enemy champions.


Items are very important in League of Legends. Your champion grows in power as you level up, but items will provide much bigger boosts. Generally, a champion with the best items is stronger than a champion with lesser items. This is why it is so important to earn gold from last hitting minions. Being able to buy the items to make your champion stronger is as equally important as killing enemy champions or destroying towers. Often, one is needed to accomplish the other.

So what items do you buy? Each champion has a set of items that work very well with them, which you can find on any champion guide here on Mobafire. However, for the purposes of learning the basics, having a general idea of what type of items boost what characters will do.

Champions that use physical attacks often use items which increase attack damage, attack speed, and health. Items with life steal or armor penetration also help.

Champions that use magic attacks often use items which increase mana, ability power, and health. Items with spell vamp or magic penetration also help.

Champions that support other champions often use items that increase mana, ability power, and give allied champions bonuses. Items that generate gold and provide cooldown reduction also help.

Champions that are tanky often use items that increase health, armor, and magic resistance. Items that generate gold or provide cooldown reduction also help.

Another way to know what items to buy is to look at your champion's abilities by hovering over them with your mouse. Often, they will tell you if they get stronger with attack damage (yellow numbers) or ability power (green numbers).

When To Strike (Or Not)

Of course, while you are trying to last hit and push the lane, your opponents are going to be trying to do the same thing. Often, opposing champions will be trading blows during this time, throwing a few attacks or spells at each other to try to keep each other from last hitting effectively.

However, there comes a time when lane opponents will try to finish each other off. This is tricky business. It requires knowing what your champion can do, what your lane-mate can do, and what the enemy champion(s)are capable of. Trying to kill an enemy at the wrong time can be disastrous, while striking at the right time can net you several kills and extra gold.

For now, following some very basic rules on engaging the enemy will greatly increase your chances of success.

Harass: It is always good to pick away at enemy champions to soften them up and keep them from getting too many minion kills. This is usually done by throwing a spell or ability at them, and sometimes even a few basic attacks, then backing off. Be careful when doing this. Try not to put yourself in a position to get double-teamed, or get too close if you are low on health.

Level up first: Fighting the enemy is usually easier when you have more than one or two abilities. While some champions are exceptionally strong at level 1, most require a little more time before they have a chance to kill an enemy champion. Generally, opponents start going in for the kill between level 5 and 6.

Wait for the right moment: Even after gaining a few levels, it is foolish to just jump in and try to kill an opponent without waiting for a moment of opportunity.

It is a good idea to wait until an opponent is weakened; at least at half-health, before attempting to finish them off. Otherwise, they might have the chance to escape, or even turn the tables. At the same time, it is usually a good idea to have more health than the enemy when attacking.

It is also a good idea to wait until all of your abilities are on cooldown and you have the mana/energy/whatnot to use them, that way you will be able to bring your full power to bear on the enemy. In return, strike when an enemy has just used an ability, or is low on mana/energy/whatnot, and won't be able to defend themselves with their full arsenal.

If facing several opponents, it is a good idea to wait until one is far enough away so that they can't easily aid the other. It is also a good idea to stick with your lane mate, so you are close enough to help them out. Coordinating, so that you both attack the same opponent at the same time, is a good way to stack the deck in your favor.
Be mindful of towers: Towers will kill you. At the very least, they will set you up to be killed by enemy champions or minions. It is best to not engage the enemy under their tower. Even attacking a champion near their tower often ends with them being able to run to safety before you can kill them.

As a general rule, don't engage the enemy closer than mid-lane, unless they are very weak and you are certain you can finish them off. There are exceptions, of course, but for now, just remember that fighting the enemy near their tower often results in a long stalemate, if not in tragedy.

Not Dying

Not dying is highly underrated. Killing lots of minions and getting a few early champion kills is great, but not dying is even better. Getting killed give the enemy gold, and you lose valuable minion killing time. It might even cost you a tower.

Even if you managed to kill an enemy several times, if you've died several times yourself, you haven't gained anything.

This doesn't mean to be afraid of dying, but try not to die needlessly. If you are facing opponents who are too strong, or if you are unsure of whether you can handle them, it is okay to sit safely under your tower and focus on last hitting minions. You may not push your lane this way, but at least the enemy won't profit from killing you.

Eventually, you will get stronger, and be able to stage a successful counter attack alone, or with the help of your allies.

Always remember the basics

If you focus on learning how to last hit, the champion types, which items are best for which champions, and when or when not to engage the enemy, you're on your way to becoming a good player. Even as you grow in levels, and as the games get more complicated, these fundamental concepts are still to core of every single game you'll ever play.

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A Few Things to Keep in Mind

League of Legends is Hard

League of Legends can be very difficult to get the hang of. Especially for players new to real time strategy games. League of Legends is unforgiving. It isn't a game you can play on autopilot. It requires your full attention.

Don't get me wrong. The game is a lot of fun. It isn't all about intense concentration, sweating, and white knuckles (thought it can be). It is just a little harder than your average game. You can't simply coast through, and expect to get anywhere.

That being said, no matter how hard you try, you're still going to die. A lot. Even if you are paying attention, and doing everything right.

Don't worry about it. Especially when you're just starting out. After all, you're still getting the hang of what you can, and can't do. You don't want to just throw your champion's life away willy-nilly, but a healthy amount of death should be expected at first. Just be sure to learn something from it.

A Note on Trolls

League of Legends has a reputation for having a rude player base. This is generally untrue. However, the rude ones are quite memorable, and you will occasionally run into a player who is either angry at how the game is going, or simply trying to ruin everybody's day.

Hopefully, you won't run into these types of players early on, but you might. The angry ones will complain about how badly other people (even you!) are playing, and will shower everybody with criticism when not whining about how you should give up, uninstall the game, or both. Maybe they think they're great and everybody is holding them back. Maybe they're an experienced player starting a new account with no patience for new players. They might even be terrible players who blame their failures on others.

Trolls, on the other hand, are playing a completely different game. Trolls are trying to find ways to ruin the game for you and your team. Trolls often accomplish this by dying on purpose, buying the wrong items on purpose, or even helping the other team.

Don't let either get to you!

Just ignore them. I know it is easier said than done. This can be especially true if you are struggling and the jerk is targeting you. The best way to deal with the situation is simply let the team know you are new, and that you are doing your best. This will let them know you're not doing anything wrong on purpose.

If you must tell a jerk or a troll to shove it, simply tell them to shove it, and leave it at that. You're not doing yourself any favors getting mad, or spending time arguing. Most of these player just enjoy being party-poopers.

A Few Words on Bot Games

Bot games, either custom games you make yourself, or co-op v.s. bot games, are a good way to learn the basic techniques outlined in this guide, and bots can provide a good challenge for new players, especially with the new settings.

Custom Bot games are nice because you don't have to worry about other players. They are also great for trying out different champions and new items. Even now, I use bot games to test out champions I have never played before, just to get a feel for how their abilities work.

However, bot games are limited. Bots act in a very predicable manner, and do not reflect how actual players will act and react. In fact, they often do very stupid things. Bots also do not buy the types of items most player would. This makes them substantially weaker. This makes enemy bots easy prey as you get better at League.

Also, your allied bots are not very good team mates. They have the same failings as enemy bots. Allied bots will do strange things, and you can't coordinate attacks with bots. Sometimes, you will lose a bot game even if you are doing great, simply because your bot teammates are horrible.

Therefore, it is good to learn on custom games, but don't get mad if your bots lose it for you. However, playing co-op games are best for learning how to coordinate attacks. You will also get the opportunity to learn by watching other players as well.

Just keep in mind, bot games can only go so far in preparing you for facing actual opponents. Human opponents are (usually) much more difficult to play against than bots, and learning how to play against other people can only be learned by doing it.

This wonderful Penny Arcade comic by Mike Karhulik and Jerry Holkins pretty much sums up the difference between bot games and actual games

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Other Resources

If you are reading this, then you are obviously trying to learn how to become a better League of Legends player. There is lots of information out there, from other basic guides on League play, to guides on playing certain champion types, and playing specific champions.

General guides (like this one) are good for learning the concepts of the game, from simple things like last hitting, to more advance concepts. On Mobafire alone, there are many other general guides for beginners that go more in-depth on the concepts I have written on.

Guides on champion types generally teach you how to play certain rolls, such as Mage or Tank, and usually discuss which champions fill these rolls the best. These are great for learning how to play specific character types, and are especially useful if you find yourself favoring one type over another.

Guides on specific champions give in-depth information on a single champion, such as which abilities to invest in and which items to buy. They usually have an analysis of that champions strengths and weaknesses, as well as what their best rolls are. Champion guides are great if you enjoy playing a certain champion, and want to learn how to get the best out of them.

The game itself also offers a wealth of information. You can learn a lot of basic information on champions just by looking at their page within the game. These pages tell you their rolls, what their strengths and weaknesses are, their abilities (with fun little videos), and even tips on playing as, and against them. The lore is fun to read too, as each champion has their own story.

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Final Words

There is so much going on in League of Legends, and such a wealth of information on the game, it can be pretty confusing. It all comes together eventually. However, sometimes basic principles get lost as new players start learning about and focusing on the more advanced concepts of the game. Hopefully this guide will help new players get started on the right track.

This guide was built using the fundamentals of guide building outlined by here by JhoiJhoi. It could be updated in the future, if I think of, or somebody suggests, something I have overlooked. I might add more pictures at a later date as well. I am also looking for "tag" suggestions, since I can't see where to find what "tags" similar guides have used.

I created all of the headers and the League of Legends transparency using GIMP 2.6. Feel free to steal them.


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