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A look at League of Legends Dominion

A review by MOBAFire Veteran jhoijhoi

With Dominion, Riot created a non-stop action capture and hold style map that sets the pulse racing before the game even starts. In the champion select screen, most summoners lock in good early game champions, and those that excel at 1v1 fighting. Others choose champions with ludicrous movement speed abilities in order to gleefully back-door. Suddenly unused and dusty champions like Evelynn and Twitch are popular picks, and global ultimates or large AoE abilities add havoc to the gameplay.

Summoners start at level three, with enough gold to buy upgraded boots, or a key damage item for their itinerary. Communication is key during the scant time trapped in the spawn pool, as methods and theories are discussed whilst players anxiously wait for the barriers to be lowered, allowing access to the playing field.

From the first step outside the spawn pool, the game becomes chaotic. Players will pop Ghost, Flash and champion abilities to gain the upper hand when capturing the Windmill. It is often a tough decision whether to run through the Speed Shrines designed for the Crystal Scar, or just leg it up the natural path.

Once at the capture point, both teams will poke and prod each other, denying the enemy from securing the location. During this epic battle at the top of the map, a slow and drawn out fight will be occurring bottom lane, where one lone champion solemnly faces another. If one successfully forces the other off the lane, either through death or the threat of it, then the retreating champion risks the capture of their strategic point.

The gameplay after the initial points are captured is fast and furious. The Map Aura allows champions to spam their abilities, do more damage, buy items faster and get back to the battle quicker due to reduced re-spawn times. Deaths are less of an issue on this map (only causing a loss of a few Health Points to the Nexus), and it is refreshing to play a game where the K/D/A ratio does not signify the best player on the team. It is rare for players to succeed in achieving more than a Triple Kill, and Aces spell doom for the re-spawning team. Minion kills also mean next to nothing, and a player who spends most of the game trying to push a minion wave, or farming minions, will quickly lose the game for their team, as that sort of passive play-style is not rewarded at all on this map.

Tanky DPS and bruisers seem to excel on the Crystal Scar Field of Justice, due to their early game potential, but if ranged carries are given enough time to buy their items, they can be devastating. Support champions have taken a surprising turn, and champions like Sona and Janna are fantastic for pushing or holding capture points. Supports still hold their role of grabbing useful team summoner spells and often opt for the specially made summoner spells, Garrison or Promote. These spells are not as often seen as Ignite, Ghost and Exhaust though, and the clutch summoner spell Flash is as rarely seen as Clarity, which is a huge gameplay change.

The new items tailor-made to complement the fast gameplay of the map were a whole lot of fun to test and try out by theory-crafters and casual players alike, with many people quickly realizing the potential of Priscilla's Blessing in particular. However, perhaps the most anticipated aspect of the game is when a Quest is issued. The Quest suddenly becomes top priority, a desperate battle to capture an enemy-held point in order to sap 20 enemy Nexus health and achieve a 10% Bonus Damage Buff titled "Mark of the Conqueror". While Quests don't win or lose games, they are a fun objective and add a little more competition into the game.

The thing I love most, personally, about Dominion is that every game is different. Unlike Summoner's Rift, players are rewarded for doing the unexpected. Running to the middle of the map to prevent the enemy team from getting the Greater Relic Buff, retreating to odd locations on the map to grab a health and mana Relic, 1v1 duels, sneaking across the map to capture an enemy point, laughing maniacally along the way, even as one of your own points is captured...

Dominion is a fantastic gameplay change for those who enjoyed Summoner's Rift and Twisted Treeline, but wanted something edgier, faster, more fun and chaotic than the standard farm for the first 25 minutes gameplay Summoner's Rift was renowned for. If Riot was aiming to release a map that renewed the interest and love for playing League of Legends, they achieved that and more. Great job, thanks for the Crystal Scar, and keep up the good work!

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