Confessions of a Part-Time Champion

Join me as I learn to play League of Legends, going from scrub to champion during the month of December.


League of Legends

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Entry 1: Head Toward the Light!

In the alternate world of Runeterra, any and all political conflict would be settled by arena battle. Summoners of a particular political allegiance would enter the Fields of Justice, and your objective would be to destroy the opposing faction nexus by summoning forth a champion in hopes of leading your followers to victory!

Flash-forward to me, sitting at my computer desk staring longingly at the front page of TwitchTV to see League of Legends yet again being spotlighted.

"I just don't get it," I can remember thinking to myself, not out of disdain but out of frustration. A few weeks ago I had tried to play League of Legends, but it simply failed to click. Perhaps it was the lack of companionship, or possibly the overabundance of scare tactics surrounding the game. Whatever it was, I just simply was not getting it, but I decided that this needed to change.

My experience with real-time strategy games was limited; actually, it was nonexistent. I was aware of the stereotypes that surrounded the popular genre, and even that information was sketchy at best. So I was curious--curious about what awaited me, curious about what I would experience, curious about how I would be at the game, curiouser and curiouser.

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So much to choose from…it can make a newb dizzy.

With that, I decided to jump in, and what I found was terrifying. A vast swarm of information presented by hundreds of differing voices all interpreting in a unique and enigmatic fashion. I had no idea whom to listen to or where to even start. I began to question what I had gotten myself into, and ultimately I began to debate if going down this rabbit hole would even be worth it. I sat there, staring at a game with over 12 million players, feeling alone, confused, and intimidated. As fast as I could blink, I tossed the keyboard aside, giving into my fear of the unknown, practically cowering back into my version of familiarity and comfort. But curiosity has a way of returning.

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Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…

How it came back I have no idea. But after weeks of inactivity I decided that I wanted to try again. This time I was feeling less afraid. I had already peered into the great mass of distorted, befuddling madness known as League of Legends, and this time I would not let it get the better of me.

We decided to have a League of Legends Holiday Parade. During this time we would have contests, activities, trivia, and giveaways. We would also have our scrub sessions, featuring me learning to play alongside Jody Robinson. Jody had a bit of experience with the game, though she was by no means an expert, but it was still extremely comforting to have her alongside me. The day we did our first Scrub Play I was horribly nervous. "They're all gonna laugh at you!" I could hear ringing in my ears. I could practically see the barrage of chatroom trolls lining up to take a swing at my confidence as a new player. What actually happened, however, was quite surprising.

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I was really shocked when this didn't happen.

"They like you!" I can remember Jody telling me. At first I thought she was just trying to make me feel better and that what was actually being said would cause me to pull the plug on the Internet, but she was telling the truth! I mean sure, there were a few trolls (which is to be expected), and there were a few users who were unaware that the stream was of me playing with and against bots and therefore got upset. However, the majority of the people in the stream were incredibly helpful and encouraging.

When the stream was over and I went to my League of Legends profile, I had dozens of friend invites followed by messages telling me things like "Not bad for a newb" and "If you're looking for help, I'm always glad to help a new player." I was surprised by this community's willingness to be helpful, their acceptance of my "noobish nature," and their resourcefulness when it came to any question I had. I haven't gotten a "Google it" response from a single player.

So here I am, about to do my second Scrub Play with Jody as my co-host. I've had a lot of really awesome people help me so far with learning to play this game. So here are some of my Summoner shout-outs: BenderUnit22, Headless Nun, Serevino, Bozanimal, Calithrae, CutieMae, DeathPlushie, GarKitty, Grona, Judisius, LightEffect, MannerRev, Masked, Neromos, SirSpudly, Sivian, TheRaven, TheRoadstar, TheRogue, Toysoldier, and xXGreen0120Xx.

I'll be doing one more Scrub stream on December 31, along with multiple play dates and a League of Legends Marathon on December 18. Feel free to add my Summoner "Lady Varaska" if you want to share some advice, play with someone around your skill level, or just hang out with your friendly neighborhood community manager. My next blog will be a bit about stats, character builds, and my rankings so far as an LOL player.

Next League of Legends Community Play: Weekend Boot Camp

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Entry 2: Luck Be a Lady

When starting to play a game with any kind of online, co-op, or PVP element to it, I have found that there are a few absolute truths in regard to what you will encounter from the community that you are about to invest in.

1. Opinions of all sorts telling you what you should play, followed by a campaign to tempt you to take their advice.
2. People telling you you're doing it wrong. The "it" factor will vary from game to game, but it is no less exacerbating as a new player to be repeatedly reminded of your inadequacies.
3. Homework. Video games have had dogma since the "hardcore" was forged. Institutions in the forms of wikis can be found in abundance, and the amount of information in what one could consider to be a Pandora's box filled with fact, fiction, and speculation is nothing short of overstimulating to the new player.

In my first encounter with playing League of Legends via the tutorial, I played the robust caster Champion Rayze. Something about the blue hue of his skin was overly appealing at the time. The second time I went out into the Rift, I played Twisted Fate; however, that was the result of a misclick. It was an awkward experience to say the least. Not to say I disliked the card-flinging Casanova, or the blue beefcake for that matter, but there was something about them that just didn't mesh well with me.

After doing a bit more homework, I decided that I would attempt to find a single champion and stick with it. My first "dedicated" champion was Irelia the Will of Blades. Why did I choose Irelia? She came highly recommended by several community members, commenters, and personal friends, and she also had a very robust amount of data for me to pull from--most everything about her seemed to be relatively straightforward, and I wanted to hit the ground running.

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I spent several sessions with Irelia, and I was very pleased with my progress despite not winning very many matches. She was exactly what I had expected her to be. However, there was still a part of me that was not satisfied with that style of champion.

My next champion was a bit more befitting of my play style--a support character named Nami. While I run the risk of stereotyping myself as a carebear gamer, I have to confess that I love to play support, and Nami simply seemed to be up my alley. Why did I choose to play Nami? I would like to give some profound answer that makes me sound like some highly tactical aspiring pro gamer, but honestly, I got her because I thought she looked fun.

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Something magical was happening: I was winning?!? Not me specifically, mind you--there is no "me" in League of Legends--but I seemed to be doing much better playing the role of support. This quickly became addictive, and I started to understand what it was about this game that has drawn so many people to it.

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I greatly enjoyed my experiences playing Irelia and Nami, but my journey was not all sunshine and rainbows. While there was a wealth of information about Irelia, there was also a lot of contradictory advice, which, as a new player, made it difficult to commit to one insight or another. This ultimately caused me to again fall back into that deep, dark, overwhelming feeling that I had when I first started to play. That same feeling of "Oh god, oh god, I'm in over my head." The downside to playing Nami for me was that there was a severe lack of consistent information, and yet still an abundance of being told "You're doing it wrong. Do X instead!"--even more so than with Irelia. Even if they were ridiculously fun to play, the insecurity that I had from Nami still being such a newer champion to the roster and Irelia being so beloved caused me to feel hesitant to continue playing them.

I decided that perhaps now would be a good time to change my champion. Though I had a good time as a support class and felt I had grown as a player, change is a good thing. I did a little more research and took some suggestions from my fellow Summoners and community members, and eventually I decided on two champions, Sona and Soraka.

I've played a few short games with Sona against bots, and I think that soon it will be time to give Soraka that same chance. To sum things up, after a short analysis of my play style and experiences with the game thus far, I've discovered that as a new player it is important to proceed with caution in regard to information on how to play your champion. Also consider sticking to a small pool of resources rather than the vast ocean of insight that currently exists. I've started to adapt to the "variety is the spice of life" mentality with League of Legends. I've learned that with over 100 champions to choose from, assuming that there is only one champion or play style that I will be good at playing or, more importantly, that I will enjoy playing, is a foolish notion to say the least.

Next League of Legends Community Play: Weekend Boot Camp

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