A Complete Noobs’ Guide to League of Legends – Part 1: Getting Started

I’m not that good at League of Legends. I am, however, good at teaching people how to play video games. I’ve spent many hours not only playing the game and being called racial slurs but also researching the various champions and each of their builds. I’ve watched professional games and spectated on those closer to my level. I already wrote a couple articles about the game, so I feel qualified to tell people about it in detail.

League of Legends is a great game that has a huge barrier of entry. You have 100-plus characters to choose from, but before you even start a match you have to select your runes and masteries for optimal builds. Then during the character selection screen, you have to look at what your teammates have so you can bolster their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.

Then after the game actually starts, you have to buy equipment and pick a lane (Except in the new map Proving Grounds, where everyone is crammed together like animal meat into a sausage casing). You need to know what equipment you’re getting so it synergizes with your character, your runes and masteries, and also whatever your teammates have. And none of this even addresses how you have to change your builds and strategies to accommodate whatever your enemies have. And all the time you’re going through this, there is an instalock Twitch on your team calling you a gay Pollack and threatening to throw the game if he doesn’t get his way. Did I mention this game has a bad community?

When you first play League of Legends after clicking through my rad signup link that gives me a bonus, and after installing it and logging in and all that jazz, you’re dumped on a page with news and advertisements for in-game items. Ignore all that crap. It’ll ask you if you want to play the tutorial, and you had better. It will teach you some basic things about basic attacks, skills, items, enemies, and turrets. These will all become instinctual after a couple games, so don’t feel overwhelmed if you can’t remember every bit of it. But the tutorial will help, and you’ll get some experience points besides.

After playing the tutorial, you’ll be asked if you want to do a practice game. Do so. It will run you though some more useful information for playing the game. In particular, it will go into details about skills, lane selection, and last hitting. After that, you’re thrown to the angry, trolling, incompetent wolves. My guide is here to make things a little bit easier.

When you’re ready to start a regular game, click the red “PLAY” at the top center of the screen. Click “Custom”, “Create Game”, set a random password to make sure no one else joins you, then click “Create Game” again. Add some bots to both sides. (If you’re really concerned about your ability to play then you stack things in your favor, like a 5-versus-3 game. You won’t get any EXP or IP to buy stuff, but it can help you get your bearings. Failing that, play a bot game with some friends on Skype who can run you through all of it.) Start the game, pick your character, and lock in. I’ll handle character selection later. Don’t worry about runes, masteries, or summoner spells (The two little icons) for your first game.

Don’t worry about all of this stuff your first time. Just play a game.

After the game begins properly, all characters spawn at their fountain, the home base where they can buy equipment and heal. Each character has “recommended items” that are usually decent but not always the best. When you’ve had a few games under your belt, you can try different items suggested by guides from Solomid or LOLpro, or even change the recommended item list with Enigma Item Changer. But don’t worry about that right now.

When starting a game, buy the far left item on the recommended items list. It will usually be one of the Doran’s items, which offer good stats for a low price with the only drawback being that you can’t build them into stronger items later. The recommended items were picked when that character first came out, so they may or may not be worthwhile; they’re generally good, but not always optimal. The community may have found a build that’s vastly superior to the standard default ones. But you can worry about that later.

Now pick one of your skills to level up. It helps if you’ve studied your character’s info beforehand to learn the details of each of their skills, but the best way to learn is to use them in combat. Some are attack spells, some are defensive, some are powerups, and some simply move characters around the battlefield. (More important than you’d think!) With almost every character, you generally want to get at least one level in your three skills (Your ultimate skill can’t be unlocked until your character reaches level 6) and then pick one to level up all the way. Each character also has a passive skill that is separate from your 4 upgradeable skills. Check out the character information and maybe a guide on one of the aforementioned sites before you decide on anything.

Master Yi is a good champion for beginners. No complicated maneuvers necessary.

Character selection:

Every week there are 10 characters/champions that are free to play. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy them with Influence Points/IP (Earned by playing the game) and Riot Points/RP (Earned by paying real money). If you want a ton of characters to play with, the “Champions Bundle” is available for 3140 Riot Points or about $20 USD.

Riot offers their own list of different character types, but they’re not always accurate. (Teemo listed as a support? Seriously?) The character types you need to know about are as follows:

1. Melee Fighter: Close-range combatants designed to give out damage and take it as well. Build items that increase attack damage with a bit in armor and magic resistance.

2. Ranged Attack Damage: Ranged AD characters are similar to Bruisers except they have long-range attacks. Build almost all attack damage items. Defense and magic resistance are not usually as important as you prefer to be at a distance from the enemy while attacking them.

3. Ability Power AKA Mage: AP characters deal lots of damage with their spells but little with their basic attacks. They usually have low health/armor/etc., so try to play them from a distance. Build items that increase AP, obviously, but make sure you have enough mana to keep the spells coming.

4. Tank: You don’t deal lots of damage, but you soak it up like the Statue of Liberty’s tampon. Your job is to run into the middle of combat and keep the enemy busy while the AD and AP champions do the real damage from a safe distance.

5. Support: You do a lot of work but get none of the glory. Your skills involve healing, defense, and buffing other characters, usually an AD Carry. Often also a Tank or Ability Power character. Since you don’t get lots of kills, build items that give you gold over time, and buy them early. Also build Tank items and mana and health regeneration to ensure you can keep in the action for as long as necessary.

Don’t play Shaco unless you’re prepared to have everybody on both teams hate you. Including me.

Those are the five basic roles. There are also secondary champion attributes that may be of interest to you:

6. Jungler: The jungle is something you don’t need to worry about your first couple of practice games. The jungle is the sections of the map filled with neutral monsters which don’t attack you unless you attack them first. A Jungler is a character that specializes in killing neutral monsters to get the gold and buffs that they offer.

7. Carry: Signifies a character that has paltry stats at low levels but exponentially stronger stats at higher levels. Usually an AD or AP character, carries need extra protection while starting out but become far deadlier than other characters as they approach level 18.

8. Assassin: A champion that specializes in dealing lots of damage very quickly, usually from a sneak attack. Usually a melee fighter or AP.

9. Pusher: Good at killing minions and smashing turrets. May or not be good at fighting enemy champions.

10. Stealth: A character that has a stealth ability that makes them invisible for a period of time. Usually also Assassins as well.

11. Recommended: A character that is easy to use and good for beginners to learn. No complicated spell use here.

12. Bruiser: Nickname for AD or AP melee fighters that usually have some built-in Tankiness.

13. Hybrid: A combination of several other character types. Can be tricky to play, but also extremely versatile. Builds vary significantly.

Check out the LOL Wiki for more detailed information about champion attributes.


Being really good at one thing is generally better than being decent at a lot of things. If you have a ranged attack damage-dealing character, you want to get runes, masteries, and items that increase that damage and stats related to it. And it’s always a good idea to get an item that protects against something really irritating the enemy has, like buying an item with magic resistance to protect against Karthus’ irritating ultimate spell which hits every enemy on the entire map. But don’t spend all your gold on defensive items unless you’re playing a certain type of tank; you should be acting, not reacting.

Next time on Part 2: Combat!

About Lee

Lee Laughead writes stuff about video games. Read his Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mesarphelous even though Twitter sucks.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi, League of Legends, Online Gaming, Video Gaming

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