League of Legends Beginner’s Guide

By   /   Jan 16, 2012


Xan Hisam – League of Legends is a free-to-play online multiplayer game classified as a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and quite similar to other games in the genre. In this starter guide we will walk you through the basics of the game to get you started.

Those familiar with the Warcraft 3 mod, ‘DotA’ or any other similar game can skip ‘The Basics’ part of this guide. The game now has 90 champions, 3 maps, and 2 different game modes. The content in League of Legends is continuously updated, with a new champion being added to the League almost once every 2 weeks.

The Basics

The gameplay in League of Legends is much like any other RTS game. However, instead of controlling a team, you control a single champion. Two teams of five (at max) player-controlled champions battle each other on different maps.

The objective of either team (in a normal game) is to destroy the enemy nexus while protecting theirs from being destroyed. Waves of AI-controlled minions spawn at regular intervals that mindlessly charge towards the enemy base and fight the first hostile they see, serving as cannon fodder for the player-controlled champions.

Killing these minions or enemy champions earns you gold and experience points. The gold earned can be used to buy better equipment for your champion while the experience points gained help you level up your character. Leveling up improves your champion’s stats and lets you upgrade your champion’s abilities.

Getting Started

To begin playing, you must first download the game client from the official site and register an account on the server of your choice. After the download finishes, install the game and run the client.

The launcher will check for and download any updates available. Once it finishes updating, click play. Log in using the account you registered a few steps back (make sure you have selected the correct region at the launcher).

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League of Legends Tutorial

I suggest starting off with the in-game tutorial. It’s a good way to learn the controls and get a hang on some basic stuff. Once you’ve completed both the tutorials, you could start practicing in PvE by playing Co-Op vs. AI against beginner bots (recommended), or you could start playing normal games immediately. You should however have a look at all the champions and their abilities from the ‘Champions’ tab in your summoner profile before you begin a normal game.

This way, you’ll know what your enemies are capable of, and you’ll also be able to choose a champion for yourself that’s fitting to your play-style. I recommend practicing with a ranged character first if you have no previous experience in similar games.

League of Legends Hub

The PVP.net landing page acts as a hub for the game. From here, you can access various sections of the game and queue up for a match.

  1. The play button opens up the matchmaking screen. From here, you select your desired game type and map. Once done, hit ‘Match me with teammates’ to get queued or select ‘I will invite my own teammates’ to queue as a group with your friends.
  2. You can access the League of Legends marketplace with the store button. You can purchase champions, runes, skins and other various items using IP and/or RP.
  3. This button takes you to your profile. You can look at your stats, customize mastery and rune pages, view the game’s champions (champions you do not have are grayed out) and use the search tab to look at other summoner profiles.
  4. Pressing this button brings up the Journal of Justice.
  5. Opens up the in-game manual. Handy guide for learning the basics or reviewing them.
  6. Displays the amount of RP (Riot Points) you currently have.
  7. Displays the amount of IP (Influence Points) you currently have.
  8. Does not exist in the picture, (apparently, I suck at counting) SKIP.
  9. Your summoner name. The purple bar behind (blank if you’re at zero XP) your summoner name is the ‘XP’ (experience points) bar.
  10. This is your summoner display picture. You can click it to change the picture.
  11. This button returns you to the PVP.net Landing Page.
  12. Any notifications from Riot Games regarding service appear here.
  13. Opens the options screen for PVP.net (in-game options are separate and can only be accessed during a match)
  14. Clicking this button pops up the friend list.
  15. This button opens up the chat room tab. From here, you can create and/or join existing chat rooms.
  16. The notification tab is where game and chat invites can be viewed.

Champion Selection Screen

When queued, you will be taken to the champion selection screen after a match has been found. This is where you choose a champion and the loadout to be used in the following match.

  1. This is where you and your team’s champion selections show up, along with their summoner spells.
  2. Enemy champion selections are visible here (enemy champions are not visible in blind pick).
  3. The champion selection countdown. Once it reaches zero, all champion selections are automatically locked and cannot be changed. A champion is randomly selected for players who do not pick a champion before the timer hits zero.
  4. The ‘Champions’ tab shows all champions available to you. Champions with exclamation marks are champions that are free for the week (10 champions are available to everyone for a week and the lineup changes every week). Champions already picked by someone in your team are grayed out. In draft pick and ranked, champions picked by your enemies are grayed out as well.
  5. The runes and masteries tab lets you quickly choose a page from your saved runebook and mastery pages.
  6. The summoner spells tab shows your currently equipped summoner spells. Clicking on it lets you choose your desired spells from those available to you.
  7. The ‘Lock In’ button locks your champion selection. This takes you to the ‘Skins’ tab. Here, you can choose which champion skin you wish to use. You cannot change your champion once you have locked in.
  8. The team chat is where you can communicate with your team-mates during the champion selection phase.
  9. The search bar lets you filter champions by tags and names. Useful for quickly finding your champion.
  10. At the end of the countdown, another 20 second countdown begins to let you finalize your loadout decisions. Once this countdown reaches zero, the PVP.net lauchpad minimizes and the game client begins to load.

Summoner Levels, Masteries and Runes

As opposed to the session based nature of most other MOBAs and the Warcraft 3 mod ‘DotA’, League of Legends has certain persistent elements.

All levels gained and items bought by your champion in a match are for that match and that match only. However, at the end of each match, you receive XP and IP. Once you gain enough XP, your summoner level goes up (max level being 30) and you are granted a mastery point and a rune slot.

Masteries are the League of Legends equivalent of skill trees in any other MMORPG, the only difference being that all upgrades are passive (or augment summoner spells, which we will get to later in the guide) and are applied in battle to whichever champion you choose.

There are 3 sets of Masteries:

Offensive
: These masteries focus on improving your champion’s damage output.

Defensive
: These masteries boost your champion’s defensive capabilities, allowing you to withstand more punishment.

Utility
: The utility mastery tree focuses on decreasing the cooldown period of your champion’s abilities and your summoner spells, while granting bonuses to your mana, regeneration, movement speed etc.

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Runes directly affect your champion by modifying their base stats. Runes can be bought with the IP you earn by playing matches.

There are 4 different types of runes. Each rune type specializes in improving certain stats of your character. Runes can only be placed in their respective slots in your summoner’s rune book.

Marks: Marks are best for improving physical damage and other related stats, such as armor penetration, critical chance and critical damage.

Seals
: Stats related to physical defense, health and health regeneration are the primary attributes for seals.

Glyphs
: Glyphs specialize in improving all things magic. Cooldown reduction, magic penetration, magic resistance, mana, mana regeneration and ability power have glyphs as their primary rune type.

Quintessences
: These runes give the biggest bonus, however, there’s room for only 3 in the runebook. Quintessences are good at improving every attribute, and have some unique runes that increase experience gained, movement speed, over-time gold generation etc.

You can have up to 30 runes equipped at LV.30. Nine marks, nine seals, nine glyphs and three quintessences. Quintessence slots are unlocked every 10 levels. You can have up to three runebook pages (additional pages can be purchased from the store) and ten mastery pages saved in your loadout.

Summoner Spells

Summoner spells are abilities that your summoner possesses. The game has 14 summoner spells; however, only 13 are available for selection in either of the two game modes (1 spell being unique to each game mode). Some of these spells have a level requirement, and are unlocked once you reach the corresponding summoner level.

Out of these 13 spells, you can take any 2 into battle with you, which you decide during champion selection when choosing your loadout. Timing these spells well is crucial, as the cooldown time for these spells is quite high.

The 14 spells can be viewed at your summoner profile under the ‘Spells’ tab. I recommend using ‘Heal’ early on in the game until you get a hang of the basics. ‘Ghost’ and ‘Exhaust’ are particularly quite useful summoner spells, available at early summoner levels.

Champions – Stats, Abilities & Roles

All champions in League of Legends are designed to be played in a multitude of ways and are not restricted to a single role. A champion can reach a maximum LV of 18 in a match.

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All champions have 4 abilities (they can be passives or actives, or both) and a passive ability that’s available right from the start. Every character’s 4th ability is their ultimate. It is unlocked at LV6 and can be upgraded once at level 11 and then again at level 16 (there are certain exceptions to this, such as Udyr and Karma).

The other 3 abilities have a maximum LV of 5 and can be upgraded every other level. A champion’s role in a match is dependent entirely on how you play him/her. Your ability sets and the items you purchase consolidate your champion’s role in a match.

However, it would be wise to pay attention to your character’s stats and abilities and opt for a role that complements them. Each champion has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. A magic oriented character with low attack range on his basic attacks might not be a good choice for the role of a ranger (ranged physical damage dealer).

You should also look at how your teammates are building their characters before deciding your role in a team. Here’s a quick overview of the primary roles in League of Legends.

Pusher
: Specializes in quickly dispatching waves of minions by heavy damage or AoE (area of effect) attacks.

Tank
: Has high health and defense and is the first preference for initiating team-fights. Acts as the team’s vanguard, covering allies in team-fights who have low defense.

Mage
: The team’s spell-caster. Deals magic damage. Most mages have high range on their spells as well.

Melee
: Good at close quarters combat. They usually have high health and damage, but are useless when at a distance from the enemy.

Ranger
: Skilled at dishing out damage from afar. Have low defense and die easily if ever caught in a bad position.

Support
: Focuses on helping team-mates usually by shielding them from damage or healing. This role is all about supporting the rest of the team.

There are more roles in League of Legends, most of which are hybrids of those mentioned above. More on them in an advanced guide.

Next are the Stats; There are 8 basic stats in League of Legends. Attack Damage, Attack Speed, Ability Power, Movement Speed, Armor, Magic Resistance, Mana and Health.

Apart from these 8 stats, the game has 3 modifiers, and separate values for regeneration of mana and health. The 5 modifiers are Critical Chance, Cooldown Reduction, Magic Penetration, Armor Penetration and Dodge (dodge has been removed from the game).

Apart from these, there are certain other backend stats that also come into play, which can be improved using masteries, items and runes.

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Attack Damage: Determines how much physical damage you deal with your basic attacks. Some abilities have their damage output modified by this value.

Attack Speed
: A measure of how long it takes for your champion to strike using his/her basic attack. The value is in attacks per second. Maximum possible speed is 2.500.

Ability Power
: Modifies damage output of most abilities. Mostly used by spell-casters to increase damage.

Movement Speed
: The speed at which you move. Can be improved by masteries, items and runes.

Armor
: Your resistance against physical attacks. Mouse over to read exact percentage of physical damage (taken) reduced.

Magic Resistance
: Your resistance against magic damage. Mouse over to read exact percentage of magic damage (taken) reduced.

Mana
: Your mana pool determines how many spells you can cast. Most spells have a mana cost to cast/sustain them. Certain characters do not have mana and use some other stat or their health (or nothing) to use their abilities.

Health
: A champion’s health is his life bar. Once it is entirely depleted, the champion dies and enters a respawn period. The more health a champion has, the more damage he/she can sustain.

Critical Chance
: Determines your chance of landing a critical strike. Maximum value is 100%.

Cooldown Reduction
: The cooldown timer for all of your champion’s abilities is reduced by this amount. Cooldown reduction has a cap of 40%.

Magic Penetration
: Allows you to ignore an enemy’s magic resistance. Can ignore magic resistance by a flat amount as well as a percentage of total magic resistance.

Armor Penetration
: Allows you to ignore an enemy’s armor. Can ignore armor by a flat amount as well as a percentage of total armor.

HP Regen per 5
: Tells you how much HP you regenerate every 5 seconds.

MP Regen per 5
: Tells you how much MP you regenerate every 5 seconds.

Key Bindings

All champion abilities in League of Legends are bound to ‘Q’, ‘W’, ‘E’ and ‘R’ by order of their number in a champion’s arsenal.

The default keys for summoner spells are ‘D’ and ‘F’. Key bindings can be altered to your liking from the in-game options screen. Do read through the bindings for more hotkeys.

Items – Passives, UNIQUE Passives and UNIQUE Actives

A lot of items in League of Legends have special passive properties. Some items have active abilities which can be used in battle.

Passive: Items with special properties that have the term ‘Passive’ written in the in the tooltip for the item are stackable. That is, the special property granted to the champion by the item is cumulative and the effect increases when possessing more than one copy of the item.

UNIQUE Passive
: Similar to passives, however, Unique Passive effects are not stackable.

UNIQUE Active
: Items that have Unique Active abilities can be used in battle and function similarly to any champion ability. Unique Actives have shared cooldowns, so if you have two of the same item, you cannot cast the ability twice.

I suggest taking your time to read item descriptions in your first few games. The in-game item shop has a ‘Recommended Items’ section for every character which should give you a good idea of what to buy on which character.

Remember that these are just suggestions and that there are no definite ways of building a champion. Keep experimenting with different items sets until you find a setting that suits you best.

That’s it! I won’t be covering each item in this guide, or what items should be made on which champion as its better suited for strategy guides for each character. More on play-styles, roles, Dominion and advanced tips and techniques in coming guides.