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Working with Partners

April 17, 2013

Dear Reader,

Last night, my wife and I had a bad run of League of Legends games.  I knew I’d have to pay the piper at some point, since I was sitting on only victories in my match history (bear in mind half of those were against beginner AI, but even half of all those games being live pvp victories was pretty impressive for me), but it didn’t make the pill any less bitter going down (the pill the piper gave me when I paid him – way to mix metaphors, eh?).  We both struggled with our laning partners in several of those matches, so she brought up the point; how can you learn to work well with a stranger as a laning partner?

The short answer, the one I told her, was “clearly I don’t know,” since I was stinking it up in those games.  It may be that our partners were too aggressive, which we weren’t suited for, or that they were idiots who kept running into certain death, but when you see the pattern repeated and you’re the common denominator, you have to wonder.  I’ve done great laning with strangers as Shen, Teemo, Taric, and Nidalee (my four primaries depending on what’s needed), though, so I’m not sure.

That’s the problem: I’m not sure.  I can’t always tell whether it’s me or my partner, and I’m not sure if I should be trying to match their sometimes-suicidal-seeming playstyles because I’m being too defensive or whether they need to consider who their partner is (me) and play a little more conservatively.

I don’t have this problem in WoW – not in dungeons, bgs, or raids.  I can often tell you exactly who did what to screw up a pull and cause a wipe.  Sometimes it’s me, of course, like when I overestimate a healer’s capability along with my own capabilities to heal myself on my baby DK and end up pulling too much.  In raids, it can take a moment to parse data, but it’s usually there: one of the dps didn’t interrupt enough and the others became overwhelmed.  The tanks weren’t blowing their CDs so the healers became overwhelmed.  The healers were double-healing people instead of working in tandem.  And so forth.

I also feel that overall there’s more time for coordination in WoW.  That difference is not to say one or the other is better, mind you, just that it’s a difference.  You can take time to type in WoW, for example, and there’s marks that can allow a player to more easily see their healer.  I always mark myself as the tank and the healer so I can easily tell “Am I too far ahead?”  That way, I don’t get myself killed from pulling too far forward and can more easily keep track of the distance between us.  The same does not exist in League of Legends.  Yes, there’s new “smart ping” features which are absolutely excellent, but there have been times that I haven’t noticed my lane partner go to base and that change in position was not communicated, and I have, as a result, run in expecting back up and gotten killed.

Really, then, what WoW provides that LoL doesn’t as smoothly offer is lack-of-communication tools.  If my healer doesn’t tell me he’s stopping for mana, not seeing his mark anywhere on my screen is much easier than noticing it on the mini-map, which is all that LoL really provides.  Sure, the information’s available, but how readily  and how easy is it to spot?  That’s what add-ons are all about, really – making information more easily accessed, and LoL could use some more of that easy access to help strangers lane together more smoothly.

Honestly, though, I think it comes down to confidence and knowledge.  I’m pretty confident in WoW of my game play (tanking and healing more so than dps, which I have little confidence in) and my metagame (from raid leading and doing RBGs), but in LoL, I feel confident in a handful of characters, but not so much in my understanding of the metagame.  I get the basic adc/support/solo top/jungler/apc mid stuff, but beyond that, I’m often a little lost.  I wonder if it’s as simple an issue as time put in; obviously I’ve many factors more of time put in to WoW than LoL, or whether there’s a deeper level of understanding – grokking, as Koster would call it – that I’m missing.

That’s what scares – or, rather, irritates, perhaps – me about LoL.  It’s a pure PvP game.  The playing field is mostly flat (with the exception of runes and masteries).  If I’m not seeing something, I’m not sure what it is that I should be seeing.  To go with our former Secretary of War (yes, he was, even if that position hasn’t existed in a long time) Donnie R, “There are known knowns” (my primary characters), “known unknowns” (other characters and the human factor), “and unknown unknowns” (which of course I don’t know).  It can drive an analytical soul a little crazy.  I’m one of those people who’ll pick up a manipulable puzzle (like these) and not put it down until I finish it.  That’s one reason I like games so much; the act of learning to master them is often a beautifully complex puzzle.  It’s also part of the reason I sometimes just stop playing a game when I’m near the end (which makes my completionist friend crazy): I know I can beat it.  I’ve mastered the gameplay.  I don’t need it any more.

That’s also part of what has killed WoW for me, of course, which is why League of Legends is taking up more of my game time and interest.  The human factor, too, means that often even a “mastered” game can have surprises from other players.  I just hope that I can better learn how to work with my lane partner and counter my lane competitors, because right now I think I’m struggling.

Then again, maybe they just sucked.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (who’ll do anything but jungle)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2013 8:29 am

    Wrong (un)indicted war criminal on the quote – that was Donald Rumsfeld.

    • April 17, 2013 8:35 am

      Thanks; it’s been changed. Too bad, though, ’cause Dickie C had a nice ring to it.

  2. Samus permalink
    April 18, 2013 1:23 am

    I think most of the difference is PvE versus PvP.

    With WoW PvE, there’s a fairly low skill cap. I can read up on the talent builds and skill rotations, and can pretty closely copy the “optimal” strategy. It isn’t going to change in any significant way based on factors in-game.

    LoL has so many variables, all of which are different for each champion. Masteries and runes are at least the same every game. But item build? That will change based on so many factors. And your play style will change even more.

    There is also a real problem that advice and analysis tends to be for organized teams in high level ranked games. The advice for lower tier games, and for solo queue is different. Mostly, you have to play “selfishly,” with champions who are effective on their own and not dependent on teammates. This basically describes the champions you listed success with. Teemo or Nidalee support can handle themselves, and play very differently than a Sona or Soraka support, which are highly dependent on their lane partner.

    If you want to know frustration, play a Blitzcrank with a bad ADC lane partner. All your grabs go to waste, and you feel useless. What’s the point in grabbing someone if your lane partner can’t capitalize on it?

    Btw, two champions I would suggest trying are Singed and Lux. Singed is the easiest tank to play, and is effective regardless of the rest of your team. Lux as support is another support like Nidalee or Teemo who can contribute on their own, even if your lane partner is bad. And her Ult is super fun. :)

    • April 18, 2013 12:52 pm

      Thanks for the advice. I agree with the “play selfishly” part, though it’s gotten me into some verbal spats with my lane partners for “leaving them.” I’m not a super-aggressive player, so I often play conservatively and let people get away if there’s any chance at all that it’s a set up or trap. When my lane partner is too aggressive, I often feel trapped into playing more aggressively, and since I’m slower and older and not as experienced with that playstyle, we both often end up dead. That’s precisely what was going wrong in the matches that led to that post, and thus I’m not really sure who’s to blame. I asked for more conservative play, but usually got called names. Since I don’t want to lose by just refusing to help my partner, I’m sort of forced into doing what they want. The lane is forced to adapt to the most aggressive player, I guess is what I’m saying. That’s an interesting theory, actually.

      I’ve played both Singed and Lux when they were free. I liked Lux a lot, but so did my buddy, so I left her for him to play, but since he’s vastly reduced his play time, I may look into getting her. Singed I didn’t really like over all, but perhaps he deserves another try. He just seemed too mana hungry.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Samus permalink
      April 18, 2013 5:17 pm

      Being overly aggressive is almost always wrong, but some players like getting kills even if it means their death. How does a kill for each team benefit your team any more than the enemy?

      You have to ask yourself, why is getting a kill good, or getting killed bad? In the late game, they will be dead long enough for you to take objectives. But early on, they will respawn before you can do anything significant to their tower. The other reason is gold (and to a lesser extent, xp), both getting gold for the kill and denying gold farm to the enemy while they are dead.

      But keep in mind, 300g is just 2-3 minion waves. So let’s take an example of an enemy being low health. They are forced to recall, losing a few hundred gold in farm. Instead, your lane partner wants to dive for the kill, resulting in a trade (or worse, just his death or a 1 for 2 trade). He gets 300g for the kill, but is now denied several waves of farm, so he breaks even. Meanwhile, the enemy also gets a nice 300g to cover the time they were already forced to spend away from lane. Your team gained nothing, the enemy went from a setback to also breaking even.

      The better strategy early game (the first 10 minutes or so) is to force people out of lane by taking them low enough they have to recall. Eventually they will be significantly behind on farm and level, and many will get frustrated with backing so often, and start sticking around longer than they should.

      P.S. Singed is fixed by getting a Tear of the Goddess on his first trip back. It actually ticks charges while his poison toggle is on, making him the easiest champion to charge it with. Combined with his passive, it winds up giving you 1000 mana and 250 health, all for 700g.

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