Last time, I discussed one of my pass-times, Magic: the Gathering Online. My other recent pass-time has been League of Legends. While I’m slowly leveling in WoW (I try to do 2 or 3 dungeons a day), I’ve found that the competitive edge that I’ve missed in raiding I can occasionally find in League of Legends. Since my buddy has been playing and, more recently, my wife as well, it’s become somewhat of a group activity for us like WoW used to be. Few things have filled that niche since my buddy stopped play WoW, and most of those were disappointments (D3).
Most of you know enough about LoL for it not to need an introduction, so I’ll just go into the most basic basics and talk a little about my experiences. I’m sure you know it’s a MOBA/DOTA style game (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena / Defense of the Ancients). Two teams of 5 (in standard mode) battle alongside “creeps” (mindless AI) to push into an enemies base and destroy their crystal. Many, many games have come out that are similarly themed (Dungeon Defenders, for one, which my little group played and which led to this game).
LoL is a free to play game, and I think it’s payment structure is one of the best I’ve seen. There’s absolutely no “pay to win” mechanics, and you can earn all the basic “hardware” in the game (the various champions you can play) for free if you play enough. They make money by allowing people to purchase champions with “Riot Points” (their real-money conversion) or purchase different skins for the champions which cannot be purchased with the in-game “reward” currency (IP). Put shortly, I’ve gotten probably 50 or more hours out of the game without paying a cent, which makes BY FAR the best value of a game I’ve ever played. Thank you to all the players who do buy champions and skins with real money; I have the utmost respect for you and may join your ranks someday as there are some skins I like.
Another trend in LoL is to offer 10 different free champs each week. That way, people can experiment with new characters they may want to buy as well as get a varied play experience. My buddy and I make an effort to play all 10 of them between us, then recommend who we think the other may like. That usually converts into 6 or 7 games. However, we don’t want to be a burden to other players in a “serious” pvp game, so we play against “beginner AI.” The beginner AI is quite daunting when you first start; the game is so foreign and different from other PvP a player has experienced before that it can throw you off. However, as you gain a better understanding of the game, you can learn the patterns of the beginner AI and start to – well – abuse them.
This leads to what my buddy and I have termed “Beginner Greed.” Sometimes we make foolish decisions that we’d never make in a “live” pvp game that end up getting us killed. The danger, though, is that “never,” because our reactions and decisions have to be so split-second that I’m scared some beginner greed might leak into our live games. So far, I don’t think I’ve caught myself doing it, but there’s been a few times my buddy’s chased an enemy champ into a turret range and gotten himself killed in what I thought looked a LOT like beginner greed.
Since the game is frequently offering “fresh” content (in the form of the 10 free champ rotations), it’s not really collected any dust for me yet. If it does, though, I’ve got another ace in my pocket; I want to get to level 30 to participate in the tribunal. I’ve talked about it a lot before, but I really want to see the sausage being made to find out whether it works as well as they promote it to. I want to get a chance to play the role I’d like to in WoW by reviewing cases. It may be odd that I’d play a game to get to the metagame as opposed to the more common direction of learning the metagame to play the game (as in preparing for raids with research), but that’s one of the most motivating factors for me. More on that in the far future when I get to 30.
So far, I’ve gravitated towards ranged champions, and often to “preferred” (meaning “relatively easy to play”) champions. Recently, I’ve been playing Teemo when I want to dps. He’s got a lot of neat mechanics; his auto-stealth which allows me to “get close” to champions and pummel them, his speed to get away when I need to, his poison so enemies’ running away is futile, and his mushroom traps that can get kills when I’m hanging out at base. I’ve enjoyed him a lot and had a fair share of success. I was about 2:1 wins to losses until this past weekend, where I repeatedly got devastated by some highly coordinated teams. Since my wife started playing, I’ve picked up Taric, since I did some research and found he was one of the best supports for Sivir, who my wife’s enjoying. We’ve had a lot of fun coordinating our kills and having our buddy come get a gank when the 3 of us play together.
In the future, I’m going to talk a little about how Magic: The Gathering Online, League of Legends, and WoW have a ton of similarities with some telling and critical differences.
P.S. My sincerest apologies for being such a poor respondent to your many wonderful comments. My portfolios have come due at work, which means I’ve been plowing through about 60 essays with fine-tooth comb precision, so I’ve not had a ton of free time.