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The Summoner's Guidebook

The best of Massively's League of Legends column, The Summoner's Guidebook

Fantasy, Massively Meta, Guides, Miscellaneous, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

TIBBERS
Former Massively writer Patrick Mackey was first brought onto the team to cover Champions Online in his Behind the Mask column, and he did so with technical expertise and brutal honesty that was even better-suited for his ultimate column here: The Summoners Guidebook, which for two years covered Riot Games' League of Legends, one of the biggest games on the planet.

Today, in honor of that column's lengthy run, we share the very best of Patrick's articles. If you'd like to follow his future League of Legends blogging, you can find him at Boot Camp for Gamers.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Staying positive in League of Legends

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

This is the last issue of the Summoner's Guidebook for the time being. I hate to leave, but unfortunately things are out of everyone's hands. So before I go, I will give you my final lesson: the way to be the best League of Legends players you can be.

I played my first game of Hexakill last week, and it was terrible. I was jungle Shyvana, and we had a duo top plus otherwise standard lanes. All of my lanes lost. Our Ryze went 0 and 6 against the enemy Syndra. The enemy Riven had something like 11 kills in the midgame with over 26 by the end. I was the only one not behind; our bottom lane was losing, but not terribly. We won that game.

Some of that victory comes from the enemy screwing up. I will fully admit that if the enemy had played properly in the midgame, we would have lost. However, even with the enemy's mistakes, we were tens of thousands of gold and several towers behind. How is a comeback like that even possible? Here's how: Stay positive and always look for the silver lining.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Don't be afraid of LoL; just do it!

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

Everyone who plays League of Legends has bad games every now and then. Everyone has bad community experiences, too. I think it's rare to have a game where everything just feels exciting and positive and wonderful all the way through. LoL is really not well-designed for that.

However, it's fear of loss, of playing poorly, and of dealing with jerks that keeps us from actually enjoying the game. Those things are real, but if you let those things get you down, you'll never give yourself a chance to improve.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Two years and I'm still playing LoL

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook, Anniversaries

It's the time of the year when I get to sit down and reflect a bit on how I've grown as a League of Legends player. Last year I had made some pretty big jumps in skill, especially in the realm of Dominion skill. This year I've kind of shifted my focus to SR. Also, I got a little more involved in the community, but not enough. That, I hope to change.

Playing more stuff that you play

Disappointingly for a lot of Dominion players who read these articles, I haven't been talking about it much lately. The big reason is I've been playing it a lot less, and unfortunately it's because the game mode isn't very popular.

My solo queue time in Dominion is kind of long, for starters. Once you get to any sort of respectable level in that game mode, queue times start to get obscene. I end up having to wait 5-6 minutes for games on CS, and that's not so good.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: My goals in League of Legends

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

Whenever I enter a League of Legends match, I have a few goals set in mind. Of course, winning is a goal, but that's not the only goal. My agenda tends to be a lot more long-term, relative to other LoL players.

We've talked a lot about meta lately, and it tends to be a hot topic with Season 4's preseason patches shaking up the meta quite a bit. There are a lot of reasons to justify not playing meta. There are also a lot of reasons to take risky decisions that might not pan out.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Stop worrying about the LoL metagame

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

If there's one thing that seems to be fairly static among low and mid-level League of Legends players, it's that they dislike the metagame. If I weren't such an exception (being a kind of bad player overall), I'd say that probably 100% of low-level players challenge the meta. This kind of complaint hits the comments, my email inbox, or IMs all the time: "LoL is so dumb! There are only four viable champs in each role, and the meta is static."

The first thing I'd like to point out is that those statements, regardless of variation, are all wrong. LoL as a game changes wildly from patch to patch and season to season, and while the existing Summoner's Rift solo queue metagame is more or less fixed in terms of roles (duo bot, one jungler, a "support" who does not CS in favor of giving it to an ally), none of that applies to premades of three or more players or other game modes. Even between the roles, there's a wide variation in expectations of what those roles should do. Stop blaming the game; think outside the box and start seeing the game for what it really is.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Supports are ruling League of Legends

Classes, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

I think Season 4 of League of Legends has been dominated by support play. Some of this is because there have been a number of really inspiring star support players at the pro level, and their brilliance is shining down a bit on us plebians. Although I think that the Season 4 jungle is still really messed up, the support role has really solidified in a good way.

What do I mean by "good"? Supports still get less gold than other roles and don't generally rock huge K/D ratios. They're still the team's ward machines, as we talked a bit about last week. However, the support's overall game impact has increased dramatically. Supports get more gold than before; they are making plays, initiating fights, and making way more of an impact in those fights than they ever were before. There's no more need for a support who is an ult and ward bot; you can now tank, deal damage, or whatever mix of support you want.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Wards win League of Legends

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

A lot of you have noticed that I've been talking a lot about wards over the past several months. This is for a good reason: Wards win League of Legends! I think that every one of my past wins on Summoner's Rift has been either due to wards or a complete blowout laning phase.

Of those two things, there's one you have almost zero control over, even as a jungler. You can outlane the person you're against, but there's no telling when your opponent is just better than you. If you're a jungler, sometimes the enemy lanes don't give you any openings or your lanes just throw kills away to the enemy jungler. No matter how good you are, someone can always be better than you -- or your allies can be horrible.

However, in Season 4, if you place down a ward, in probably 90% of circumstances you're getting vision for the full duration of the ward. No matter how good the enemy team is, if it moves through that area, you get intel. If it doesn't, you also get intel.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Reckless risk-taking in League of Legends

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

Most people who play League of Legends tend to take really silly, ridiculous risks. If you've read the Summoner's Guidebook for any length of time, you know that I always recommend playing your cards close to your chest and avoiding uneccessary risk-taking.

However, being extremely cautious is not the best idea in the long-term. I'm not suggesting that taking risks all the time is good, but I do advise taking at least one or two stupid gambles every game. Calculated risk-taking is important to victory. You can't be timid and let the enemy walk all over you, but you also can't be mindless. It's important to know the difference.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Pooling your efforts to win LoL games

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

Winning in League of Legends isn't only about skill. Sometimes you completely rock your lane and go 7/0 in laning phase yet manage to lose the game. Blaming your team is totally reasonable there, but the truth is probably closer to home than you think. A team that is working together will prevail regardless of the strength of its individual members and in most cases regardless of its strategic decisions.

I've had games where we had one losing lane and no other big lane advantages (I stole a blue buff once, and both junglers took some Flashes but didn't get any big wins), then went on to utterly destroy the enemy because we pulled together as a team despite having a 5/0 Riven on the enemy team. I've also had games where we had two people with over 5 kills in laning phase and still managed to lose.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: The allure of new LoL champions

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

Picking new champions in League of Legends is akin to picking a role. There are a few major schools of thought: Either you pick a small number of characters and stand by them or you grab every new character that strikes your fancy. Of course, there's a middle road where you get a lot of characters but you still focus on getting new characters that add something to your roster.

There's less of an opportunity cost with picking up a new character than there is with picking a new role. Learning a new champion takes some practice, but many of the things you learn while playing your new character are applicable to every character in the same role.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Picking a role in League of Legends

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

A lot of players advise approaching League of Legends with a jack-of-all-trades attitude. If you can play in any position, you'll cause a lot less friction on your team. On the other hand, playing a single role well has a lot of advantages. Individually mastering one aspect of the game doesn't automatically make you better than your lane opponents, but there's a wealth of knowledge available for each position that you can't learn while playing others.

Personally, I fall into the latter camp; I can play one role well, two less proficiently, and the rest very poorly. There's a big reason that works OK for me, but almost everyone will want to be diverse. You simply won't be able to play a huge percentage of ranked and normal games in one role.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: When in LoL history has support been first pick?

Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

I've given a lot of reasons in the past why people should play support. It's a great role and far more important than people give it credit for. Out of all of the roles in League of Legends, support has one of the most important jobs, and I think everyone who enjoys the role has played a game where smart wards won the game.

Fast-forward to patch 3.14 and the League is flipped on its head. Now the ward burden is split between players, and the support's role is less "fill the map with wards" and more "deal a million billion damage." People are rushing to pick the role now! If you wanted to play a fed mage without having to worry about things like last-hitting, then congratulations: Support is the new flavor of the month.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Evelynn, League of Legends' new top jungler

PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

It shouldn't be a surprise that Evelynn is one of my favorite characters in League of Legends. Before the 3.14 patch, she was one of my go-to picks in the jungle. Now, I have not yet played a normal or ranked game in 3.14 that was on a character other than Evelynn save for one game where I was stuck playing mid (and lost horribly). I probably could have played Eve there too. Every game thus far I've gone 5/1 or better in the laning phase. She's just that good now.

While there are a few other junglers that are considered to be very strong, I feel that Evelynn is the best of the best right now. She clears fast, deals tons of damage, and scales well with items. But more importantly, she can do what few other junglers do well: gank.

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The Summoner's Guidebook: Changes to League of Legends' jungle meta

Patches, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends, The Summoner's Guidebook

The 3.14 patch to League of Legends created some massive shifts in the game, and everyone is trying to make sense of it. The new support game is completely bonkers with every character with any kind of CC now jockeying for the support spot. That area of the game is such a mad funhouse that I don't think anyone knows what the heck is going on. The only way to play a game of LoL where anyone understands how the game is played is to go to TT or CS.

I switched to maining jungle a while back, and the big shift in the jungle game has taken some adjusting to. Trinkets, the change to jungle items and EXP, the changes in jungler gold, and the emphasis on farming has taken some time to really settle in for me.

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