Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My first steps into a brave new world.

The other day, I read a claim that League of Legends is currently the most played game on PC. When I looked into it, it seemed entirely credible. Naturally, with Between Continues being such a bastion of the zeitgeist, this meant that I had to finally stop thinking about it, and start doing it. Playing it, that is. I have had the game installed for ages, and was originally hoping to record footage of my first game, but life circumstances have put that on the back burner for a while. So it was that I started the game, and faced the first of MANY decisions that were put my way.

My username in just about everything online is CheekyLee. If you Google that name, then most of what you will find is me. (Apart from some bloke who has done a tumblr and that fetish model, that is.) I should have just tried to use that name in LoL, too, but the game threw a challenge at me. It told me that names containing the word 'Riot' were not allowed, so my first instinct was to try and subvert that. I think, on reflection, that I wasted my time. I couldn't be "Judas Iscariot", and I couldn't be "Chariots Offiah", so I gave up chasing that dream. Instead, I just went with the comedy "Beans". Except that was taken, as was the extension of "Magic Beans". I didn't foresee this, and in a moment of madness I decided to try my luck with a comedy name. I did not expect it to work; otherwise I wouldn't have even tried.

Thus, "Mighty Wang" was born.

The game, rather kindly I might add, offered me the chance to play a tutorial. Yeah, I'll go for that. The tutorial itself was basic stuff, where I was introduced to my Summoner, a Hero named Ashe. She is an ice archer, and if I am honest I didn't really pay an awful lot of attention to the rest of it. It was all about moving cameras and selecting skills, and all that stuff that anybody who has ever played a game on the PC should already be able to get to grips with.

League of Legends looked, and played, very much like a multiplayer Tower Defence game. And I don't really consider Tower Defence to be a genre worth getting excited about. Plenty of people love them, but I have always thought that they are just puzzles that you eventually win by sheer time investment. So, so far I was unthrilled.

Upon completion of the Tutorial, though, I was surprised to be offered ANOTHER Tutorial. This one was for "Battle Training", apparently, which got me wondering what the hell I had just been through. Still, I figured it best to give it a shot, and see what all the fuss is. I am not writing off something so popular without having good reason to sneer, after all!

Battle Training started off by letting me choose from one of three Summoners. There was Ashe, who I already knew, and then there was a fighter guy and a magic guy. I chose the fighter, I think his name was Garen, and really should have stuck with my rules that shout out loud as possible to "ALWAYS GO FOR THE MAGE CLASS, NUMB NUTS!", because the melee is generally such a dull way to play. Especially since in order to hit someone I need to be right in their face. The AI doesn't like to be hit, and runs away as soon as you do hit it, and that means that I got the following interruption at least 100 times during the game:


This Battle Training tutorial taught me the difference between "laning", which is staying in the lanes where the Minions that are automatically spawned go, and "jungling", which seems to be the name for going anywhere else. After a while, I discovered that I much prefer to play using a technique that I call "junglaning", which consists of just going any and everywhere trying to stop that stupid picture from popping up. Also, it didn't help that any time I got anywhere near to the enemy Maphite Bot ran in and slapped me into insta-death. No matter how many Minions I had, or even if Master Yi Bot and Sivir Bot were alongside me, that bastard rock thing took great pleasure in causing me an entire otherworld of pain.

For about the next hour, there was a pattern of my spawning, running towards wherever a fight was taking place, before Rocky came and laid the smackdown on me big time. Every so often, I was told of other things to do in the "jungle" areas, and I quite enjoyed them. But it rally felt like the tutorial would last the REST OF MY GOD DAMN LIFE. So, I quit out of it. "Sod it.", I thought, "Let's take this puppy online.”

This turned out to be a mistake. For two reasons. The first one being that, when it came to the lobby where I got to select my Summoner, a fresh torture was placed in front of me:


WHO IN THE HELL ARE THESE GUYS? Giving me limited time to select from such a wide range of characters that I know nothing about? ARE YOU CRAZY? I need to check stats, to see who is cool, and to make sure that I avoid the melee class at all costs. But, the clock was ticking, so I went with faith and clicked on the pirate guy. I figured with his having guns, he was bound to be ranged.

I figured wrong. I don't actually know WHAT Gangplank is meant to be, but I know that he is not for me. One of his skills is the ability to remove debuffs from himself. Great. I'm sure that would be useful if I had any clue as to what was going on. Now, I KNOW that Gangplank can be useful, because someone on the other team was playing as him. That guy killed me no less than 10 times during the match. My 2 partners must have realised that we were on a hiding to nothing, as after about 5 minutes they just stood at the spawn point. I just kept on running between lanes, "junglaning" my way about, before the other Gangplank inevitably came to release me from the tedious business of living.

By the time the match ended, I was sure of one thing; that I SUCK at League of Legends. However, despite my repeated batterings, I also saw more of the potential in the title. It turns out that I was correct in thinking it is a multiplayer Tower Defence game, but that does not mean it is not fun. The moment when I killed one of the other Summoners, Annie, I realised that even though my pirate guy was a bit non-fun, he still had stuff he could do as he levelled up a bit.

I headed back to the Battle Training tutorial next, this time determined to finish it. I tried with the Mage guy, but didn't really gel with him at all, so I went and gave Ashe another shot. And I discovered that I liked her, and it didn't take long to realise that if I only targeted Minions when near enemy Turrets that I wouldn't get dragged into the Turret's range. It didn't take long to win the match.

And that is where I currently stand. I still have no freaking idea what the hell "Masteries" are, or why I have no Runes of any description, or even if all the crap I bought during my games stays with me between games. But, I have some kind of concept as to what I am meant to be doing now, which is more than half the battle. And, I took a look into the store and saw that there are literally more Heroes to play as than there are atoms in the Universe. Give or take. I am sure that somewhere amongst them will be one that matches my own playstyle, which could best be described as "Reckless" but would be more accurately titled "Suicidal".

I will play more. I will learn. I will suck less. I will eventually be on a winning side, even if they win despite having me. And, eventually, I am sure that I will pick up DOTA 2. Thanks to my new-found experience with the MOBA genre (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, because Multiplayer Tower Defence would require MuToDe as an acronym and even internet nerds like to sound cool), I may even LIKE DOTA 2, and might even play it TWICE! But, for now, I am quite happy to be a small fish in an immense pond, and I would honestly suggest you give it a try as well.

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