predicting

Boldly predicting the next nerfs

Some say they are bold in predicting the power level of Hearthstone’s upcoming cards. Others, like Trump, go further, attempting to predict the entire meta. I, however, scoff at these mere mortals. While they scuffle in the dirt, I shall perform the grandest prediction of all; not only what cards will be good, and how the meta will evolve, but the inevitable nerf patch. My incredible powers of foresight will infallibly divine what and how Blizzard shall nerf or rotate cards. (Disclaimer: powers of foresight may be inaccurate. Gamehaus accepts no responsibility for any golden crafts).

Duskbreaker: 4 to 5 mana

This dragon may be too fiery at 4

“Dragon Priest is a strong archetype that we want to support. However, Duskbreaker has been overperforming at 4 mana. We found that players felt that little they did until turn 4 against a Priest mattered. Additionally, we don’t want to compel Priests to only run Dragons, and we think that changing the cost from 4 to 5 mana will allow other Priest archetypes more opportunity to shine.” – Future Ben Brode (probably)

Duskbreaker feels a lot like the Spreading Plague or Maelstrom Portal of the set; an incredibly strong anti-aggro tool given to a class that was already over-performing. The ability to stall early game board snowballs was one of Priest’s few weaknesses, and this perfectly slots into that niche. Obviously stronger in a Dragon Priest shell, Raza Priest could relatively easily build a limited Dragon shell around it with cards like Netherspite Historian, Primordial Drake and Drakonid Operative.

4 mana for a Hellfire and a 3/3 is frankly disgusting value, even with the required Dragon synergy. Compare it to the old Blackwing Corruptor, which cost 1 more for only +2/+1, wasn’t a dragon and only targeted one minion. That card was an auto-include in Dragon decks, and was far less powerful.

Duskbreaker provides exactly the kind of board sweep Dragon Priest wants on 4 to push into its turn 5 and 6 power plays. Even if it isn’t drawn, Netherspite Historian can discover it. It’s the kind of card a meta is defined around, and we may see a tough time for all tempo and aggro decks as a result. A nerf is almost inevitable.

Jasper Spellstone: 1 to 3 mana

“Druid as a class is meant to have limited removal options. Jaspar Spellstone allowed them to deal with large minions far too easily. We want to keep the classes distinct, and preserving Druid’s identity means lowering the power level of their hard removal. In light of this, we are increasing the cost of Jaspar Spellstone from 1 to 3.”

Druid nerfs in 2018? It could be more likely than you think. After all, Druid is arguably the most-nerfed class in Hearthstone history. Jasper Spellstone threatens to add to its tally. The card doesn’t look too scary on its own; going from mediocre at first to high value when upgraded. But like with Spreading Plague, it shores up a core Druid weakness. Firstly, let’s look at the card in its base, non-upgraded state. At 1 mana for 2 minion damage, it’s very comparable to Living Roots, a card that used to be played in Jade before rotating out. But the card’s true power is that it quickly scales up.

While decent early, its usefulness multiplies with other strong Druid cards like Branching Paths, Ultimate Infestation, Malfurion the Pestilent and Earthen Scales. Even a single upgrade makes the card incredibly potent; a 1 mana Shadowbolt in a class that is meant to have poor removal. After two upgrades it’s a 1 mana fireball on their Scalebane. Aggressive classes will be caught between going wide, and losing to Spreading Plague, and going tall, and losing to Jasper Spellstone. The card offers Druid a huge amount of sustain to reach its late-game Big or Jade minions. It’s essentially a Druid Shield Slam. As such, a nerf will likely be necessary; and with recent memory fresh, Blizzard likely won’t pull any punches.

Druid probably shouldn’t get a Shield Slam

Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Hall of Fame’d

Best off reunited with her best buddy Flamewaker in Wild?

“Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a strong Mage card, and we like how it encourages the use of spells. Unfortunately, the mana discount limits the design of cool, interesting spells. In order to allow us to print exciting spells for Standard, we’ll be moving it to Wild where the craziest combos belong.”

One of the scariest prospects of Kobolds and Catacombs is that Quest Mage will no longer need the Quest. Leyline Manipulator allows for Exodia Combos without a clunky spell generation engine and going down a card. Exodia Mage could look a lot more like Freeze Mage, and be far more consistent as a result. The deck might not be overwhelming, but Blizzard has always been leery for OTKs. Infinite damage even more so. If the deck becomes a lot more consistent, even the upcoming Ice Block rotation may not be enough to quell it.

Since Blizzard tends towards addressing the Classic and Basic cards, it’s likely Sorcerer’s Apprentice will come onto the chopping block. Not only does it allow that OTK, it raises design space issue for other spells that could otherwise go “infinite” with the right triggers.

Hall of Fame seems like the most sensible outcome

Some other random Basic card for no reason

Team 5 is nothing if not unpredictable. Like how Hex was nerfed out of nowhere in the recent balance changes while Ultimate Infestation went unchanged. Or how Molten Giant had a cost increase despite Handlock struggling. It’s likely that just to spice things up, they’ll nerf a core (if arguably overpowered) control tool for a struggling class out of nowhere for little reason.

I don’t know, Equality or something?

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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KnC Banner

Kobolds and Catacombs Day 1 Deck Theorycrafting

The next Hearthstone expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, has finally been released. In the reveal season, we saw many powerful and fun cards that are coming out with the set. But, which of these cards fit into existing decks? What new decks are coming into the meta?

The Meta

Dragon Priest

KnC Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest Decklist

In past expansions, Dragon Priest has been an archetype that many people have toyed around with and played on ladder. In this expansion, we may see the rise of a Dragon-oriented Priest build similar to the Dragon Priest deck that was viable during the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion last year. The iteration I have theory-crafted includes a much more value-orientated game plan by including cards such as Lyra the Sunshard, Drakonid Operative, and the new Priest weapon, Dragon Soul. The deck can also be built to take on a more minion heavy route by taking out cards like Dragon Soul, Lyra the Sunshard, and Shadow Word: Death and replacing them with Cabal Shadow Priest, which synergises with Twilight Acolyte, and Twilight Drake.

 

The inclusion of Duskbreaker in this expansion really helps Dragon Priest’s historically bad matchup versus aggressive decks, which makes the new iteration of Dragon Priest that much scarier. On ladder, this deck seems like a solid choice for climbing at a high pace. In tournaments, players may elect to bring Highlander Priest instead because of its favorable win-rates versus slower decks.

 

 Zoo Warlock

KnC Zoo Warlock

Zoolock Decklist

In the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, we once again saw the rise of an old friend: Zoo Warlock. The early game minion package combined with Prince Keleseth proved to be the kick this deck needed to get back into the meta, and topping off with Bonemare and Bloodreaver Gul’Dan made Zoo Warlock scary in the late-game as well. This time around, Blizzard has given Zoo Warlock even better tools for taking the board early game and keeping it. The addition of Kobold Librarian helps keep your hand full, which is extremely important when having so many low mana cost minions in your deck. The main difference with this Zoo Warlock compared to the previous deck is that it cuts Prince Keleseth for the new 2-drop, Vulgar Homunculus.

 

With this iteration of the deck, I decided to add the Demon synergy package in the form of Demonfire, Bloodfury potion, and Crystalweaver. We have seen quite a lot of play with Bloodfury Potion and Crystalweaver in the past Zoo Warlock decks, but the addition of the Vulgar Homunculus makes these cards coming down on curve extremely threatening. Hooked Reaver also makes an appearance in this deck because of how solid its stats are when the Battlecry goes off, as well as its ability to synergise with the rest of the demon synergy in the deck.

 

The addition of higher-health minions and buff cards will help Zoo Warlock in the next meta mainly because of the predicted prevalence of Duskbreaker on the ranked ladder. In tournament play, this deck will likely be chosen for inclusion in aggressive lineups.

Big Druid

KnC Big Druid

Big Druid Decklist

The ‘Big’ archetype saw large amounts of play during the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion as a whole, especially during the later half of the set’s meta. Kobolds and Catacombs has not given Big Druid many other tools, but the core of the deck is strong enough to still see play. The only change I have made to the current Big Druid list is taking out Innervate and adding Arcane Tyrants. Innervate, once a staple in most Druid decks, took a huge hit from the nerfs that occured in the middle of the last expansion. It was included in Big Druid, but it was arguably one of the weaker cards within the deck. Two different cards were shown from the new expansion that could find a home in Big Druid: Greedy Sprite and Arcane Tyrant. I chose to include Arcane Tyrant instead of the Sprite because it is very similar to Kun the Forgotten King in the way that it makes your power turns even more powerful. A common way Kun has been used during the meta was playing it as a big free body to pair with Ultimate Infestation. Arcane Tyrant acts in a similar way when paired with Nourish, Spreading Plague, and Ultimate Infestation as well. Greedy Sprite could be included instead of the Tyrant, but the ramp effect is rather slow and your opponent can choose to ignore it. Although this is the case, ramp is powerful enough that Greedy Sprite might see play over Arcane Tyrant.

 

Big Druid seems to be the new go-to Druid deck. In the past, Jade Druid has held this spot, but Big Druid is able to make bigger minions faster and still keep aggression at bay, which may see the ‘Big’ archetype overtaking the Jade mechanic this expansion. Because of this, it is a solid choice for both ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Tempo Rogue

KnC Tempo Rogue

Tempo Rogue Decklist

Tempo Rogue swept the meta in dominant fashion when it was first discovered to be a powerhouse of a deck. With Kobolds and Catacombs, this deck gets even stronger with the inclusion of some slower yet highly valuable cards. One of these cards is the Rogue Legendary of the set, Sonya Shadowdancer. Sonya replaces the rather weak card of Shaku, the Collector as a card generation engine. Most of the minions in Tempo Rogue have such good effects or Battlecries that Shadowcaster saw a decent amount of experimentation and success during the expansion. Sonya is much cheaper than Shadowcaster, which makes its effect easier to pull off. The second card I have added to the deck is Fal’dorei Strider. Admittingly, a 4 mana 4/4 is rather weak as a tempo play. But, the potential for that minion to pull one, two, or even three additional 4/4 bodies is so powerful that it is worth the initial tempo loss. Even if only 1 additional body is pulled, paying 4 mana for 8/8 worth of stats is crazy powerful. There is also the potential to high-roll by creating a 4/4 on turn 7 to be able to play Bonemare onto after your opponent cleared your board the previous turn.

 

Fal’dorei Strider takes the place of Saronite Chain Gang, mainly because of Chain Gang’s vulnerability to an on-curve Duskbreaker. Overall, Tempo Rogue looks to still be a powerhouse deck next expansion, and I expect to see it played both on the ranked ladder and in tournaments.

 

Highlander Priest

KnC Highlander Priest

Highlander Priest Decklist

Highlander Priest has been at the top of the meta throughout Knights of the Frozen Throne, and it seems to still remain at the top during Kobolds and Catacombs. The Priest list I have selected to showcase only adds one card: Psychic Scream. In order to include the new Priest board clear, I chose to cut Mass Dispel from the deck. Mass Dispel is often times weak, so it made sense to take it out for one of the best cards of the upcoming expansion. This decision shows how good of a deck Highlander Priest already is. Another take on Highlander Priest is to go for a more minion-focused route by including a Dragon package with Duskbreaker. While this seems like a good idea, I feel the current version of the deck is much better. In the past, more value-oriented decks were tested. These decks included cards such as Elise the Trailblazer and Free from Amber. It was ultimately found that the faster and more burst-oriented Priest build was better. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to stick with the tried-and-true burst style.

 

Once again, Highlander Priest seems to be at the top of the meta. Expect to see a large amount on ladder and as a staple deck in many tournament lineups.

 

The Non-Meta

Combo Hunter

KnC Combo Hunter

Combo Hunter Decklist

For the past few expansions, Hunter has been struggling as a class. Blizzard keeps pushing control tools and weird cards for the Hunter arsenal, which leaves the class in an awkward position in terms of deck building because of how weak each of the archetypes are. With the new Hunter legendary minion, Kathrena Winterwisp, I thought it would be really interesting to build a combo-oriented deck using Kathrena, Charged Devilsaur, and King Krush. It is often not a combo that will instantly kill your opponent, but the amount of stats that the combo provides are truly ridiculous. This deck runs the Secret package to help fend off aggro, the Candleshot and Hunter’s Mark combo to deal with large threats, and Deathstalker Rexxar to create even more value in a late game scenario.

 

While the deck might not be top-tier, it seems extremely fun to play. Personally, I will be testing this deck in tournament play in a lineup that is attempting to target control decks. On ranked ladder, Combo hunter still seems weak to aggro decks and Highlander Priest, which makes it not extremely viable in the upcoming meta.

Conclusion

Overall, Kobolds and Catacombs sees both powerful and fun cards added to the game. While it may not be the best expansion of the year in terms of player attitude and hype, it will likely lead to a diverse and healthy meta both in terms of ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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So You Missed Smite

 

So You Missed Smite…

 

It’s happened. You missed smite. Maybe you smote too early, perhaps you still have it up and just didn’t use it altogether. What now?

 

Well, now it’s time to get typing. You need an alibi before your teammates flame you into oblivion. So, let’s get to it, with my handy list of useful excuses for missing smite. The following 10 excuses become exceedingly more ridiculous and impractical, so for your benefit, start with the basic excuses before mastering some of the more complex ones.

The most unfornate baron steal in all of competitive League of Legends. Courtesy of OGN

 

 

  1. “I lagged” – This classic excuse is a go to in my book, but the true master of this excuse uses a third party application in order to temporarily devour their bandwidth temporarily. Alt-tabbing and activating this program after you have missed smite, can increase your ping (latency), allowing you to then ping your ping to prove to your teammates how “laggy” you are. Need help temporarily increasing your ping? Try updating a game on Steam.
  2. “My cat/dog jumped me” – Another classic excuse utilized frequently by streamers and Bronzies alike. I enjoy taking this excuse to a different level by discussing my hypothetical cat’s medical history, creating sympathy amongst my comrades.
  3. “My mouse ran out of batteries” – Have a wired mouse? Your teammates don’t have to know. This classic excuse is bettered by an absence of movement following the missed smite. Try playing a few clicks of minesweeper, or booting up a game of Hearthstone in the meantime.
  4. “I was watching LCS” – This excuse works well when LCS is live, and even better when TSM is playing, but don’t let this stop you from claiming to watch rebroadcasts and VODs. This excuse is best when you throw in the matchup followed by a “No Spoilers please.”

    Saintvicious from his days on team Gravity. Courtesy of lolesports flickr

  5. “It was my turn in Hearthstone” – This optimal cover-up works even better if you tell your teammates how far you are on your Arena run. Remember that Hearthstone can be replaced by 3-D and even 4-D chess for maximum impact.
  6. “I’m practicing for my Saintvicious cosplay” – This strategy is best at higher elo, with players who have been around the competitive scene for quite some time.
  7. “Oh, I thought you were going to” – Bold, and precocious, this excuse transfers blame onto another player. I have yet to see this one work, however if you are playing with a Nasus, or any other stacking champion you can modify this one by saying you were letting them get stacks that they did not capitalize on.
  8. “Sorry fam, there was a (input natural disaster) making it hard to hit my smite” – This high-level excuse is as effective as it is well designed. Start with a whimsical opening in order to soften the blow of whatever natural disaster you choose to create. Remember, your goal is to balance comedy and tragedy here so keep it light, but also devastating.

    If they aren’t running out of batteries, they are running across something. Courtesy of miriadna.com

  9. “A mouse ran across my keyboard” – This excuse works best when you cast smite too early. Mice are scary, so your teammates may empathize with your situation. The challenjour rendition of this excuse can also be helpful, “ A keyboard ran across my mouse.”
  10. “I’m human” – This last ditch excuse will never work. Avoid at all costs. Admitting to being fallible is the first step towards your entire team sharpening their pitchforks and burning down your home. It’s just absolutely ridiculous that your teammates could accept that you are in fact a person prone to the imperfection of humanity.

 

Featured image Courtesy of Riot Games

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Artist: Jesper Ejsing. Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Back from the Junkheap! How Unused Cards Become Great

Un’goro brought a lot of changes. The whole landscape of the meta changed, with the new cards and standard rotation forging new archetypes and casting others aside. But it’s not just newly introduced cards replacing old ones. More and more older cards that went unused are making huge comebacks. But how do cards that have already seemingly proved their unworthiness make their way back into meta domination?

New Tribals – The Curator

The Menagerie may be for guests only, but Uther and Garrosh seem to have made the list

Sometimes all you need to see play is the right cast of supporting characters. Take the Karazhan Legendary, The Curator. Whilst The Curator saw some fringe applications, it went largely unused in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Meta. Simply put, there weren’t enough quality Murlocs and Beasts that justified the midrange-style deck it would naturally fit in. Journey to Un’goro brought in a bevy of new Murlocs, Beasts, and Dragons, many of which fit perfectly with the decks that want to draw two or three cards for seven mana.

Most successful has been Taunt Warrior, where it consistently draws a Primordial Drake and a Direhorn Hatchling or Matriarch. But the card has also seen play in Paladin, where it can often draw a Murloc such as Hydrologist, a beast like Gentle Megasaur or Stampeding Kodo, and a Primordial Drake for dragon. This is one of the reasons why it’s important not to immediately dismiss cards with strong potential synergies just due to gaps in the current card-pool.

Rotation of Superior Alternatives – Whirlwind

Revenge was stronger than Whirlwind, but Warrior will survive without it

Whirlwind is one of the defining cards of the Warrior class (and is the colloquial namesake of all one damage AOE effects in Hearthstone), yet for a while it saw almost zero play, going unused since Patron Warrior lost favour. The reason was simple; the initially panned Revenge proved to be far superior for most Control archetypes. With Revenge rotating out, Whirlwind has regained its rightful place as the Acolyte-cycler, aggro-stemming, execute-activating, spell of choice for controlling Warrior builds.

While this may be seen as unfortunate by some, Revenge was an interesting and powerful Control tool that enabled significant potential for high level play and counterplay. It could also be seen as a victory for the Standard rotation system. Warrior can be given interesting new angles on existing spells, but still return to the original class-defining vision once those rotate out.

Tutoring – Purify

Shadow Visions enables a huge number of Priest strategies and archetypes

Who would have envisioned a world where Purify sees play in a high-level competitive Standard deck? It seemed destined to remain unused. The card that provoked Reddit outrage and prompted an explanation video from Ben Brode himself is now a core component of the formidable Silence Priest. The secret to its viability lies in Shadow Visions, the incredible new Priest spell that allows you to discover copies of specific cards from your deck.

The truth is, Purify was never horrible in the best case scenario; many decks love the opportunity to silence a friendly minion and draw a card in the right circumstances. Its problem was how situational it was. Shadow Visions helps solve that by making sure you can almost always have access to a silence when you need it, making the deck an order of magnitude more competitive, and allowing Purify to find a home. Radiant Elemental reducing the cost of Priest spells doesn’t hurt either.

Enabling a Potent Curve – Murloc Tidecaller

The power of Rockpool Hunter with Murloc Tidecaller caught some people’s attention prior to release. Most notably, the combo took off with Paladin, where Vilefin Inquisitor and Grimscale Chum offered other potent 1-2 curves that could provide incredibly efficient stats. Murloc Tidecaller isn’t too impressive on its own, but its capacity to be a 3/3 on turn two makes it truly indispensable in even Midrange paladin lists. Sometimes Team 5 releases cards so strong that it brings out even sub-optimal cards purely to allow it to shine. With Murloc Paladin looking to be increasingly dominant, it’s worth being thankful that Hungry Crab still exists.

A Change to the Gameplan – Armorsmith

With Warriors playing more minions, especially Taunts, Armorsmith becomes very potent

Warrior was always going to have an existential crisis with the rotation of Justicar Trueheart. Without being able to gain four armor per turn to activate shield slams and outlast any deck without “Jade” in the title, Warrior needed a radical new late-game win-condition. Luckily, two such conditions arrived. One in the form of Fire Plume’s Heart, and a new Deathrattle minion for N’zoth in Direhorn Hatchling. However, both N’zoth and Taunt Warrior need armor, and ended up turning to a long-forgotten ally; Armorsmith.

Armorsmith went unused as Control Warriors became more removal-oriented. Without other minions on board, Armorsmith’s underwhelming stats simply weren’t worth it. That all changed with the rotation, however. Warriors now fight vigorously for board with a variety of minions, most of which have taunt. In these cases, Armorsmith can stack up huge amounts of free armor for a tiny initial investment. An end to the early-game dominance of three and four health Totem Golems and Tunnel Troggs in favour of pingable N’zoth First Mates and Southsea Deckhands also gives the Armorsmith far more utility as an early game board contesting minion.

New Archetypes – Stonetusk Boar

Quest Rogue took nearly everyone by surprise. Nonetheless, it’s here, and it’s potent, especially after its period of refinement. Its weakness to aggro and burn means that it has to close out games as fast as possible once the quest is completed; none exemplify this more than Stonetusk.

The humble hog seemed only to exist as a lesson to newbies in the value of a single point of damage (hint – it’s less than one mana). But once buffed to quintuple its original strength, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. It’s capable of dishing out incredible burst damage with a distinctive squeal and multiple bounce effects. It’s a reminder of the fundamental power of the Charge mechanic, and how any card that does anything the cheapest is likely to be abused in some way at some point.

 

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How I got Level 6 Mastery with Nasus, and Why it’s Still Meaningless

So for those of you who have read my pieces before, I’m Silver 5 and play pretty much every role. I have level 5 mastery on around 7 or 8 champions, and I get S ratings in about 30% of my games (depending on how hard I’m tilted). So I guess the point of this introduction is that my expectation was that without consistently playing a role, and with the limited number of S ratings I get, I didn’t expect to get a Mastery Level 6 champion for quite some time.(courtesy of ddragon.leagueoflegends.com)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty good Nasus. I’ve been known to put up 700-900 stacks in a standard 40-50 minute game, and I’ve broken 1000 stacks more than a couple times. I can win lane against a Garen/Riven/Teemo etc. But even still I typically only see A- or A’s. (I have a tendency to get caught out while split pushing). But imagine my surprise when it took me 2 games to get the necessary S’s for Level 6. How did I do it? URF.

Last weekend URF was upon us (in all its glory), and I figured I’d play Nasus. Nasus can easily stack with a less than 2 second cooldown on his Q. He can almost always escape with Wither on a less than 7 second cooldown, his E allows him to have constant AOE damage in lane and its debuff helps his Q hit harder, and his ult (which is up every 20 seconds or so) makes him virtually impossible to kill late game. So all one has to do is walk to lane, focus on Q-Smacking minions while zoning opponents away with W and E, and you have a recipe for an easy 300 stacks at 15 minutes. In my experience that’s pretty much all it takes to have complete dominance over the majority of champions. Nasus can easily spam Q/E to quickly take Rift Herald or Dragon to increase his power further, and he can 5 hit towers once he gets over 500 stacks.

In URF, Nasus is almost a free S (if you have a basic understanding of how to play him anyway). So I quickly played 2 games of Ultra Rapid Fire Nasus, paid the blue essence toll, and now have a nice purple Level 6 Mastery.

 

This doesn’t seem like what Riot intended. Nasus is by no means the most powerful URF champion: nerfplz.com (my standard for tier lists) places him in tier 3, and suggests that he is well balanced within the game mode. For people playing Alistar, or Evelynn achieving an S is as easy as mashing Q and being in the right place at the right time. Which means Level 6 and 7 mastery is easy.

 

Not every Rotating Game Mode will give Free S’s, but I anticipate seeing URF at least once a month for the rest of the year, and seeing as it only really takes 5 S games to get a champion from level 5 to 7, I think I could easily have 10-15 Level 7 champions by the end of the year. To me that makes these new mastery levels almost entirely meaningless. I’m a “fill” main, if the mastery levels were legitimate and actually based on skill on a champion over time (similar to the ranked system), I would probably be a Level 4 or 5 on almost every champion in the game, but I don’t think I’d have a 7 on any of them. I think the system would be more worthwhile if rather then a 1-7 scale, our champion mastery was our average letter grade on that champion in standard 5v5 matches with a reset at the beginning of each season.

Maybe its just me, but I want my mastery to mean something.

 

League of Legends for Dummies

(Courtesy of ibtimes.com)

(Courtesy of ibtimes.com)

As eSports gets more and more popular, these games will begin to bring in fans that aren’t watching because they play the game.  For these people, they may need something to educate them on what the craze is all about, however, in order to get into the next big sport.  I will be covering the basics of League of Legends and the eSports scene in a three part series.

League of Legends was one of the first games to bring massive crowds and is one of the most popular to this day.  The game has brought in millions of fans, having more viewers than some of the most popular sporting events in North America.  This is because League of Legends boasts a global audience reaching not only Europe, but other countries in multiple continents around the world.  This audience makes up a very passionate community that develops artwork, cosplays, even game ideas that Riot Games uses to improve the quality of their game.

About the Game

Now I’ll tell you what all the buzz is about.  League of Legends is a part of a larger game genre known as MOBAs.  MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.  Other games that accompany League in this family are Heroes of the Storm (Blizzard Entertainment), Smite (Hi-Rez Studios) and DotA 2 (Valve).  All of these games have a fairly large following in eSports and though their tournament format is a little different than that of League’s, they all follow a general format that is very close to traditional sports.  All of these games have a regular season that consists of multiple weeks, usually around nine weeks, to be followed by playoffs and eventually a championship at the end of the season.  This championship is actually a world championship, bringing together the top teams from all over the globe to compete for one trophy.  This two week long tournament starts with a group stage consisting of four groups of four teams each.  During this stage, each team in each group will play each other twice and the top two teams from each group move on to the knockout stage.  In this next stage, these teams face off in a general format starting with a round of eight, to a final four to a final two championship.  All of the games played in the knockout stage are a best of 5 games.

Gameplay

In a game of League of Legends, there are two teams of five players.  These two teams face off against each other on Summoner’s Rift in an attempt to take down the other teams Nexus through team-based strategies.  On the road to the Nexus, players must take down towers and inhibitors to grant them access to the center of the enemy team’s base.  As each tower falls, the team that takes down the turret is granted gold to purchase items to make them stronger.  Needless to say, taking down these turrets not only progresses your team towards the nexus, but also gives you a way to gain an advantage over the enemy team.

(Courtesy of redbull.com)

(Courtesy of redbull.com)

There are a few other ways to gain advantages over your opponents as well.  Killing the enemy champions gives you a large amount, along with killing minions that spawn in the jungle or the ones that walk down each lane as the game progresses.  Other than slaughtering enemy champions and little minions, a team can choose to take down large map objectives such as Baron Nashor, dragon, or the newly introduced Rift Herald.

Baron Nashor and Rift Herald spawn in the same upper crevasse of the map, however their spawn times are different.  Rift Herald is an early game objective that is substituted for Baron Nashor at twenty minutes.  When the Herald is killed, a little buff drops that can be picked up by any player.  This buff gives movement speed, empowered minions that have greater attack speed and range, a shorter four second recall, as well as a 10% damage increase for two minutes.  The third monster on the map that gives a buff, dragon, gives a stacking buff that stacks up to five times.

The first dragon take gives a 6% AD (attack damage) and AP (ability power).  The second dragon gives a +15% damage buff to buildings and towers.  The third dragon gives a 5% movement speed buff.  The fourth dragon gives a 15% damage increase to minions and monsters and the fifth dragon doubles all of these previous bonuses, as well as 150 true damage (damage that goes through resistances) over five seconds.

Though the previous four dragon buffs last the whole game, the fifth dragon buff only lasts three minutes.  These three buffs are highly instrumental in winning a team the game and should not go unchallenged.  An exception to this rule, that you will see in competitive, is the second dragon buff.  You will often see teams trade this buff for towers on the other side of the map since this will give the whole team gold instead of a less useful buff to towers.

Two other buffs that exist on the map but don’t require as much contesting are the red and blue buffs. These buffs reside in the jungle and are given to laners as the junglers make their way to these buffs.  The blue buff is normally given over to the mid laner because of the cooldown reduction and mana regeneration the buff gives for its duration.  The red buff is given to the AD Carry as the game reaches mid-late game.  This buff gives health regeneration as well as true damage over time on hit.

This concludes part one, I hope you enjoyed it!

In part two we will discuss champion select, roles filled on a team and what each position does.