Wednesday, 26 September 2012

GUIDE: (Video) In-Depth Look at Team Fortress 2's Spy

As promised, here is the second in my series of nine class guides for Team Fortress 2, this time featuring the Spy! I've also got a special treat for you guys today: I'm giving away a Fancy Fedora to one lucky reader! To enter, send me the following tweet (without the quotes) on twitter:

"@StevenBogos I want a Fancy Fedora! #stevesgameblog"

A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday, the 29th of September. Enjoy the video!


So my in-depth heavy guide quickly became my most-viewed video I’ve made since starting my blog, meaning I must have done something right, so I’m doing it again! This time I’m having a look at my second favourite class, and the class that, in contrast to how easy the heavy is to learn, is probably the most complicated for beginners to get the hang of – the Spy.

He does draw some similarities with the heavy though – proper positioning is incredibly important and the element of surprise is your greatest weapon.

Let’s have a look at what the spy keeps in his bag.

We’re going from the bottom up this time, starting with sappers. There are only two spy sappers, the vanilla sapper and the ‘red tape recorder’. Stick with the vanilla sapper. As far as I have seen, the ‘red tape recorders’ gimmick of reversing construction in no way makes up for the damage penalty it receives. The vanilla sapper is better in every situation.

Next up is watches. Watch choice is quite significant in that different watches can completely alter your playstyle. This guide is built around the dead ringer, which even after its numerous, numerous nerfs, Is still the most versatile watch out there. It lets you feign death and become invulnerable for a short time, with the only downside of not being able to cloak at will and making a louder noise when decloaking – both of which are fairly easily remedied. This watch allows you to safely fall behind enemy lines, quickly retreat, and fool your enemies into thinking you are dead. After all, simply evading your foes by hiding and cloaking means you still remain a threat, but if you provide them with a ‘realistic death’ you can drop off their radar.

The cloak and dagger has its uses if you are a much more patient man than I am. I feel it’s better than the vanilla watch in that you can remain cloaked indefinitely, and don’t feel tied to seeking out ammo pickups.

Let’s talk knives. While technically equipped as your ‘secondary,’ they are pretty much your primary weapon. You can’t go wrong with the vanilla knife. It’s remained pretty much unchanged from Team Fortress Classic and most of the unlocks that have come along since pale in comparison. It gets the job done and what I recommend for about 90% of spies. Looking at the other knives, I honestly can’t see a use for the big earner and the connivers kunai. They both have some interesting effects, but the downsides are too drastic to recommend them over the vanilla knife. Your Eternal Reward is an interesting mechanic, but again, not being able to disguise at will is such a huge detriment to the disguise-as-killed-enemy feature.

There is one knife that I can recommend the use of outside of the vanilla knife, and that is the spycicle. It functions pretty much exactly the same as the normal knife, but has ‘silent’ kills that don’t show up in the enemy’s killfeed, and gives you two seconds of fire invulnerability if set on fire. The downside is that if you are attacked by a pyro, it ‘melts’ and takes a full ten seconds to regenerate. Using this knife with the dead ringer is a tad overkill, as getting hit by a pyro will pop BOTH your DR and your knife. I suggest using it in conjunction with the cloak and dagger.

If there is one mistake I see novice spies make time and time again, it’s forgoing the use of their revolver. You revolver is actually quite powerful, it can drop the lighter classes in three hits and can make you a threat even if your cover has been blow. I recommend the vanilla revolver, because it has no drawbacks and will preform the best in most situations. The enforcer used to trump the revolver before its nerf, but these days I see it as pretty much a straight downgrade to the revolver. The ambassador can be better than the vanilla revolver if you are very confident in your aim, but if you can't consistently get that opening headshot it's not worth it. I can see value in the L’tranger. When your cover is blown and your dead ringer is on cooldown, you can use it to quickly fill up your cloak so you can escape.

So, there’s our loadout settled. Used the dead ringer with the vanilla knife, and either the vanilla revolver or the L’tranger, OR, use the cloak and dagger with the spycicle and vanilla revolver. Let’s see what you should know about the spy.

Our first lesson begins before even leaving spawn – what class should I disguise as?

Of all the classes, I feel that The Spy, Sniper, and Scout are the best disguise choices. Of the three, I feel that the spy is the most potent. He doesn’t arouse as much suspicion by preforming ‘strange’ actions, such as running the wrong way or not firing on the enemy team.
Snipers are another good choice because they spend most of their time at the back of the team. They are also less spatially aware of enemies in close proximity, so they are less likely to spot you.

The scout seems like a bad disguise choice, but it’s actually one of the best ones. While people are quick to point out that you can’t double jump and you run slower, players tend not to notice these things because the scout, unlike the sniper, is constantly mobile. He’s more like a buzzing fly in teammates peripheral vision.

A couple of quick disguise tips – constantly change your disguise. If you kill someone, change your disguise. If someone spots you, change your disguise. If someone pops your dead ringer, change your disguise. While I did detail the three most believable disguises, don’t be afraid to use your own judgement on using the other disguises if the situation calls for it. If you know for sure that the enemy team doesn’t have any members of a certain class, DON’T disguise as that class. Lastly, changing disguises gives off an identifiable puff of smoke so try and remain hidden while disguising.

Ok, with that out of the way, we can get down to actual point-and-shoot (and point-and-stab) tactics. First and foremost, the spy is an assassin. That means he specializes in taking out priority targets. Unfortunately, priority targets are usually the most difficult to kill. Let’s have a look.

Your top priorities are:
1.    Medics with full uber
2.    Engineers with a full sentry nest
3.    Demomen with a sticky trap set out.

While the easiest targets to kill are
1.    Snipers
2.    Heavies firing on your team
3.    Engineers without a sentry nest

Being a good spy means keeping these priorities in mind. Use your judgement to determine wether to go after a high priority target, or play it safe and eliminate the easiest targets. For example, while it is tempting to try and take out that medic on full ubercharge ready to turn an enemy heavy into a big glowing red ball of hurt, medics, especially with a full uberchage, are faster than you, constantly moving around, and more that likely actively looking out for spies as they don’t really need to be looking directly at the heavy’s back to heal him. In this case, just kill the damn heavy. Sure, the medic might get away, but best case scenario your teammates pounce on him and worst case scenario you avert an ubercharge your team is unprepared for.

Another tip that I just can’t stress enough is to use you revolver. So many spies forget they even have a gun, yet in reality, anywhere from 25-50% of my kills are from shooting people in the face. If you spot an obvious spy running towards you, shoot him in his dumb face. For whatever stupid reason, most spy vs spy fights involve both spies running in circles trying to desperately backstab the other. Fuck that, blow his head off.

While the general rule of thumb is to not mess with pyros and scouts because they are faster than you and are quite good at killing you, feel free to take pot shots at them when you see them retreating with low health, or are distracted with other targets. Taking out an enemy pyro makes taking out the rest of their team so much easier.

When your cover is blow and they are chasing you out of their base, try to backpedal and fire shots. If your dead ringer is fully charged, looking like you tried to put up a fight before using it makes your ‘death’ a lot more believable than a spy that just dies instantly.

Just like in my heavy guide, to master the spy you really need to know the ambush points of every map. Think about how you would run through a map as any other class, what areas are you likely to skim over. Take this example. As players run over this ledge, they actually fall a little bit ahead of where the lip is. That means, while hiding in this location, most enemies will jump right over your head without even noticing you there.

Once you’ve gotten yourself into an ambush spot, have patience. Players spawn in ‘waves’, so it’s safe to assume that they travel in said waves most of the time. Don’t stab the first person to walk by, give it a few seconds to make sure he doesn’t have any team-mates following him that will notice you slithering out from your hidey-hole. Now that you’re running with the team is the time to strike! Remember your priorty and easy target lists, choose your target, kill him, and most of the time, retreat. Don’t get greedy. Sometimes you can grab two or three kills in quick succession, such as when players are occupied with a payload cart, but most of the time it is much safer to get the one kill and then get out – activate your dead ringer and high-tail it to the closest ammo pack to recharge it.

Oh, quick note on that. NEVER ENGAGE THE ENEMY IF YOUR DEAD RINGER IS NOT CHARGED! This is suicide. Even if it’s a single enemy, he might have an unseen ally in the background that will ruin your day. Remember that you can pick up ammo packs and fallen guns to make the dead ringer charge faster, or extend its cloak duration if it’s already active.

Lastly, a quick note on engineer nests. If the engineer is nearby, but not actively whacking on his gun and there are no other enemies around, sap the gun kill the engineer when he comes to repair it. If the engineer is sitting right behind his gun, you can actually backstab him, and quickly sap the sentry before it turns around to shoot at you. If he’s not really in a position where this is possible, or if there are a lot of enemies around, just try constantly applying sappers to the gun and hopefully your team will notice and push into the nest before you get found out.

I feel that’s about all I can teach you. Let’s recap
1. Use a believable disguise – Spy, Sniper, or Scout
2. Remember your priority and easy target list!
3. Use your revolver. A lot
4. Learn good ambush locations.
5. Make sure to wait for all enemies to pass when attacking
6. Never engage the enemy if your dead ringer is not charged.

Thanks for watching guys, be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel and check out my twitter and blog for more content like this. There are links in the description. I update my blog every Wednesday, and plan on making guides for all nine TF2 classes!

Liked this article? Check out my TF2 heavy guide!

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

IMPRESSIONS: Natural Selection 2 Preview (PC)

It's been a good month for source mods. First, Black Mesa Source made a surprise 'coming soon' announcement and released shortly thereafter. Then, Natural Selection 2 appeared on steam, alongside the announcement that it will release in October. The original Natural Selection was one of the most popular half-life mods, doing things with the half-life engine that even the devs didn't think possible. The NS2 dev team is the size of your average basketball team, but has produced the SPARK game engine from the ground up as well as a game that looks as polished as any triple A 100-man-team blockbuster release. It's games like Natural Selection that make me proud to be a PC gamer, supporting the true innovators of gaming.

Unknown Worlds are one of the true innovators of gaming.

So, being a very early adopter and pre-ordering the game over a year ago, I have been rewarded with NS2 beta access. Like any beta, it was full of holes at first, but has been steadily improve up to this point, where I feel it's just about as good as it's gonna get and ready for release. NS2 is such a complex game with an already dedicated fanbase, so I've split this preview into two parts:
1.) What New players can expect, and
2.) What veterans can look forward to.
If you are a veteran Kharaa hunter, feel free to skip ahead to the second section.

NS2's artsyle is reminiscent of all your favourite sci-fi action films.

What new players can expect:

Natural Selection is an FPS/RTS hybrid game that pits the unique race of Kharaa aliens (picture a mix between Starship Trooper's bugs and Alien's Xenomorphs) against a sci-fi standard group of space marines. The best way to explain this game is to imagine your traditional RTS game, Like Starcraft or Command and Conquer. You know all those little soldiers that you build and command around the map? Imagine of each of them was a human player, who played the game as a tactical FPS.

The commander role is one of Natural Selection's most unique features
This hybrid gameplay is achieved by the 'commander' role that is filled by one player on each team. The commander views the game from a to-down tactical view and builds structures, researches upgrades, and commands his troops. Upgrades for the marines include a host of new weapons, while the Kharaa commander can research new life forms and abilities for his teammates to evolve.

There are four main Kharaa life forms, the skulk - a fast scout, the gorge - a support class with a heal, the fade - a flying class that's great at harassing, and the onos - a huge rhino-like tank
Games play out like an RTS, each commander will expand his base, collect resources and try to destroy the enemy base. Games end when either all marine command stations or Kharaa hives are destroyed, and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. While the commanders do play a vital role, individual player skill is not to be understated. Games are large enough to give you a sense of epic RTS scale while small enough to make your individual effort feel worthwhile. Both the FPS and RTS roles require teamwork and co-operation to be effective. It works really well and when your team gels together it feels really great.

Marines can use phase-gates to quickly travel around the map

Natural Selection 1 was what we call a 'difficult to learn, even more difficult to master' kind of game, especially when it came to commanding. Fortunately, NS2 has a plethora of tutorials available on youtube and accessible in game, as well as an 'explore mode' that lets new players learn maps and practice commanding

NS2 can be quite the clusterfuck for new players, so be sure to check out the tutorials first!

What can veterans look forward to?

It feels like NS. It feels better than NS. This is the NS that Unknown Worlds has always wanted to make. Unburened by the overbearing publishers and tight release schedules that other devs face, Unknown Worlds have taken the time and the effort to make a game that is, first and foremost, a true sequel to NS. While most of you will feel right at home upon jumping into your first game, it wouldn't be a proper sequel without a host of new features. Let's have a look.

NS2's graphics are effects are light years ahead of the old HL1 mod that started it all
The biggest new change is the additon of the Kharaa commander. This was done to help alieviate disparity between the teams, as well as allowing Kharaa players to experince the unique RTS flavour previously reserved for the marines. Anyone familiar with Starcraft's Zerg or Warcraft 3's undead factions will recognize the 'infestation' mechanic utilized by the Kharaa. Khaara commanders will need to first build cysts that spread infestation in an area before being allowed to place any other structures. The commander is in charge of all evolution upgrades, and can also do some cool things like build specific life form eggs (Onos, Fade ECT) that respawning players can spawn as. It's nice to not have to rely on one or two fragile gorges to manage your base.

The Kharaa commander must build a network of cysts to expand his base
Khaara evolutions have been streamlined a bit.  You can now upgrade all traits at once and most life forms have only 2 or 3 abilities. Gorges have been tweaked to be more of a defensive class that heals teammates and attacks from a distance, while still being able to build 'temporary' structures, such as a small turret and walls that can block off an area. Most of the other classes are more or less the same, although, sadly, the Onos can no longer swallow marines whole. The Kharaa also have a new 'alien sight' mode, which will bring back memories of the Predator's heat vision.

Alien sight lets you quickly acquire new targets, even in the dark.
The Khaara aren't the only ones with new toys to play with though. One of the new marine structures, the robotics lab, allows the commander to build MACs that he can control to perform build and repair tasks, as well the ARC - a deployable siege turret. Marines now have personal resources - just like the Khaara in NS1 - that they can use to purchase new weapons independently of the commander. All areas have a 'power node' that must be constructed to build structures in that area, and if it is destroyed, structures in its radius stop functioning.

MACs allow the commander to continue base building operations without bugging his teammates
Weapons have seen some tweaks as well. the knife has been replaced with an axe, and the standard machine gun has an alternate 'mellee attack' that will use the butt of the rifle to hit enemies in close range. The heavy machine gun is gone, replaced instead with the flame-thrower. Grenades have been completely removed, and while the grenade launcher was first introduced as an 'attachment' to the standard machine gun, it has since appeared as a separate gun.

No more spamming the commander with 'CAN I GET A SHOTGUN PLEASE??'
These are all welcome additions, but the coolest one by far is the exosuit. This allows an individual marine to finally stand toe-to-toe with an Onos, as well as make them feel like an absolute badass in the process. It's built alongside the jetpack in the prototype lab, and can be upgraded to dual miniguns for double the carnage.

The Exosuit is the spirtual successor to the old heavy armor upgrade from NS1
NS2 has been a long time coming, but it's day has almost arrived and it's looking like it was worth the wait. New players will be at first bewildered, and then enthralled by its unique gameplay, and veterans will be surprised at both how familiar and how different the game feels. The original NS still has an active community to this day, and I won't be surprised if it's sequel will maintain one for many years to come.

Pre-purchase Natural Selection 2 on the Steam store - for a limited time, all steam pre-orders are upgraded to the digital deluxe version for free, which includes the game's soundtrack, a digital artbook, and an exclusive in-game marine model.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

GUIDE: (Video) In-Depth Look at Team Fortress 2's Heavy

Hey guys! Remember my Team Fortress 2 pubstar guide that I wrote all the way back in July? Well, it got some good feedback and I just love TF2 so much that I've decided to go deeper. Enjoy the first of hopefully all 9 in-depth class guides, featuring the fattest, most iconic TF2 class, and certainly my favourite TF2 class: the Heavy.


Hey guys. My guide on basic tf2 strategy was a huge hit, so today I’ve decided to go a bit in-depth on my favourite TF2 class: The Heavy.

At first glance, the heavy seems like a relatively simple class. You have a crapptone of health and you just point your mini-gun at the enemy and shoot it till it goes click.
While the heavy is pretty easy to learn, its mastery comes in perfecting your movements, and attacking strategically.

Unlike the traditional FPS classes such as scout and soldier, which require precision aim and twitch reflexes, the heavy relies on being in the right place at the right time. Your obvious weakness is your speed, both in movement and setting up your gun. A good heavy knows how to minimize these weaknesses through proper positioning, tactics, and loadout.

But before we get into that, let’s have a look at the heavy’s arsenal. As I mentioned in my brief guide, I can’t recommended the tomislav enough – even with its spin-up-time nerf. It’s real star attribute is that It is completely silent when spun up, giving away the biggest tell that other players will use to discern your location. Simply put, a heavy whose location is known is no major threat. A heavy that pops out of no-where and fills you with more bullets than a John Woo movie is something to be scared of.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have a dedicated medic, or if you are playing on a payload or attack/defend map, you should consider the alternate miniguns. The safest bet is usually the vanilla minigun. It does the second highest damage of all the miniguns, but has no real drawbacks. If you can get a medic to follow you around and watch your back, it’s the best weapon for chewing through enemy teams. The vanilla minigun is also good when you don’t have to, or want to be particularly sneaky, for example, on single-objective based maps like CTF, KOTH or Payload.

I feel that Natascha is a lot more situational than the vanilla gun. It’s particularly useful against a scout-stacked team, or if your team is co-ordinated enough to make use of the slow, but otherwise its reduced damage isn’t worth it. Similarly, the increased damage of the brass beast is not even close to being worth accentuating your already-prevalent movement weakness. It does have a very small niche when you need to protect a stationary objective for a long time, such as in this KOTH map.

The hou-long heater seems overly gimmicky. I’ve used it a couple of times and found that it burns through ammo way too quickly for the small benefit of the fire ring. While the fire ring is great for warding off spies, so is turning around every once in a while…

Secondaries are pretty cut and dry. Even after the nerf, I feel that the sandvich is still an amazing item - especially if your team is medic-less. Just remember that spies and snipers will think all their Christmases have e come at once if they spot you eating in the open, so always get to cover and for god’s sake, put your back up against a wall, when noming your sandvich. With a medic, a shotgun or the family business can be viable, but I still think the sandvich is more versatile.

Melee is even more obvious. The heavy is the slowest class in the game. The heavy also does not really use his melee weapon much, if you run out of ammo with your mini gun and have to switch to melee, you’re pretty much fucked. So, why not fill that useless melee slot with an item that turns you from the slowest class into one of the fastest? The gloves of running urgently, or G.R.U for short, drastically increase your run speed while active, with the drawback of ‘marking you for death’. This mark lasts while you have the gloves out, as well as for a few seconds after switching to another weapon, and it turns all damage done to you into minicrits.

These gloves are amazing. They can get you to the battlefield in due speed or facilitate a hasty retreat – the two things that were previously impossible for a heavy to accomplish. The ‘marked for death’ drawback is something you should be aware of. Whenever possible, switch back to your main weapon a few seconds before arriving at a battlezone, to ensure you’re not taking minicrit damage while trying to fight. Even with a medic, these gloves are worth it as you won’t have to worry about slowing him down as you try to get around the map.

So we've got our loadout set. Tomislav or Vanilla Minigun, Sandvich, and the G.R.U. Now let's have a look at some heavy tactics.

As I mentioned before, the heavy's weakness is his speed and vulnerability while firing. These weaknesses are most prevalent when in large, open areas, so please. Stay out of them. Here's an example of what not to do. I'm playing payload and pushing the cart. Notice that coming up is a very long, open corridor, that is often a popular sniper spot. BAM! I walked right into it. My number one piece of advice? Know your corners. Stay out of the open as much as possible, and try to slink around corners where you can keep out of line-of-sight. It's not just snipers you wanna watch out for, but also soldiers, demomen, and other heavies chipping away at your health. Having good positioning is vital to playing heavy. Note my position in many of these clips, I always keep myself close to cover and close to medpack and ammo spawns, so I can strategically retreat when needed.

Here's a neat little trick that I like to use a lot, jumping around corners. While in the air, you don't suffer from the speed reduction of spinning up your gun. This means you can jump around a corner, and if you are lucky, catch someone completely off guard. I do the jump+m2 at pretty much every corner I come to. You can also use this trick if you have high ground, to jump down at enemies, again, catching them off guard. Drop heavy to the rescue!

Remember that while you are somewhat viable while moving, you are EXTREMELY viable while firing. The best way to combat this? Only fire in short bursts. If you come around a corner and see some enemies in mid to long range, don't sit there trying to chip them away. Shoot a burst at them and then change positions. The longer you stay in one place spraying and praying, the bigger the chance of a sniper picking you off, an explosives class chipping you down, or a spy sticking his knife into your big fat back.

Bloody spies. Spies and snipers are the 'hard counters' to heavies. Snipers are easy enough to deal with - they are all about area control, so you can simply... avoid the area that they control! Spies are a little more tricky. Here's a sound you should memorize. It's the sound of a dead ringer spy de-cloaking. The other spy watches have somewhat less noticeable decloak sounds, but I've noticed, especially in PUB servers, that the dead ringer is by far the most popular. As soon as you hear this sound, do an immediate 180 and fire off a burst. You should spy check at least every ten seconds or so - spin around and shoot anyone who looks suspicious. Remember to look for the obvious spy tells, such as scouts running too slow, teammates who aren't firing their weapons, and seeing teammates who are 'dead'.

I touched on this earlier but I'd like to emphasize it. PUT YOUR BACK TO THE WALL WHEN EATING A SANDVICH. Seriously.

As you may have noticed, the heavy runs dry quite quickly. The heavy is quick to brag that it costs four hundred thousand dollars to fire his gun for twelve seconds, but fails to acknowledge that twelve seconds of continuous firing would use up all the ammo he can carry. As such, you need to be mindful of the ammo placements in the maps. This is not really something I can teach, you have to learn them yourself by playing the maps. I usually back out to look for ammo whenever I have fewer than 100 bullets.

That's about all there is to it. In summary, Use your G.R.U to utilize ambush spots, stay out of the open, fire in bursts, stay in cover when eating a sandvich, and keep an eye on your ammo counter. Good hunting!

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

GUIDE: Basic League of Legends Strategy

So, you’ve been playing League of Legends for quite some time now. You’ve hit level thirty, and decided it’s time to start hitting up those ranked matches so your 17/0/20 facerolls as Master Yi will actually mean something.

Before you rush headlong into the solo ranked queue, there are a few things you should know. While this guide is mainly geared towards strategies for max level ranked play, it is also a useful tool for players to use while levelling up, or those who choose to continue to play unranked games at 30, as it covers a lot of basic strategy that every serious LoL player should know.

Our first lesson starts before the game even begins. Consider your team composition. Should you really play Miss Fortune when your team has an AD carry? Do you really want to play Sona when a Janna has already said she will build support? Does your team have someone who can build tanky? A perfect team composition would consist of:

-1 Jungler
-1 Support
-1 Mid (usually a mage)
-1 Carry (Usually a ranged AD)
-1 Solo top (Usually a tanky DPS)
(The jungler is usually a tank, mage or melee DPS)

Try to keep it in mind when picking your champion. If you plan on playing a jungler, ensure that you:
a.) Pick a champion suited for jungling. Warwick is the best for those who are just starting out jungling. Other potential junglers include: Udyr, Shen, Fiddlesticks, Rammus and Nocture. The list goes on but these are good starters.
b.) Have the appropriate jungling masteries/runes. Generally, these should include defensive runes, as well as defensive/support masteries.
c.) Have done the jungling circuit in a practice game with that champion at least once.

There are hundreds of jungling guides out there for all the potential junglers, so I won’t go into this any further and urge you to seek them out.

The next rule is easily the most important one. It is my golden rule of playing League of Legends, and if you only take one thing away from this guide, it should be this. Staying alive is more important than getting a kill. You tried to gank Ashe at mid and she’s escaping with less than a quarter of her health? Bad luck. Let her go. Do not chase her into enemy territory, or worse, her turret range. You might kill her, but if you get killed it’ll just be trading a kill for a kill and if your lanemate gets ganked because you are overextended, then it puts your team at a disadvantage.

Know the lanes. The lanes are usually abbreviated to top, mid and bot.

This may seem like the most basic and obvious thing, but I have seen players not know it, even in level 30 games. Mid is always solo. The sidelanes are usually 2v2, however, if you have a jungler, then top lane becomes 1v2 (or 1v1 if they also have a jungler). The reason this is so is so the bot lane can help the jungler with dragon, if need be. If you are playing support in bot lane, do NOT steal minion kills from your carry! Buy gold-per-ten items and let them take all the kills. If your jungler is starting at the blue golem, it is customary for top/bot lane and mid to cover him from an early gank, as well as leash the camp for him. Leashing refers to a non-jungling champion hitting a creep and then running away, making the creep chase him while the jungler gets some free hits on it.

Know your calls. The most common call is ‘b’. B simply means, go back, as in, either return to base or back away from enemy territory. When an ally tells you to b, you should heed his call, even if you think otherwise, as he will most certainly b shortly afterwards which will skew the odds in the enemy’s favour.
The second most common call is ‘MIA’. MIA means ‘missing in action,’ and is used during the laning phase when a champion is missing from his lane, as a warning to other lanes that said champion may be preparing to gank. You should call champions from your lane as MIA if you haven’t seen them for a good 15 seconds. Be very wary of overextending when any champions are MIA.

Ult, or ulting is a more obvious call, that means that a player is about to use their ultimate. It can be applied to both friendly and hostile ultimates (IE: ‘I will go in there and ult on Teemo,’ or, ‘Watch out! Ashe is ulting!’). Ultimates are sometimes abbreviated to ‘R’ or ‘6’ (IE: ‘My 6 is ready for the next team fight!’)

Overextending refers to when you have extended too far into enemy territory and are in danger of being ganked.

In the laning phase, the most common gank location is this bush
Thus, if you are pushed any further than the red line, you are have overextended. If the enemy team has a jungler, it is strongly advised that you buy a sight ward during your first trip back to base and place it in this bush.

Always remember that overextending does not just apply to the laning phase. When you are pushing as a team through a lane into an enemy’s base (known as sieging) it is still possible to overextend! 

A popular gank location when seiging an enemy base

The only time when it is completely safe to overextend is when you have acquired good map awareness through wards or similar abilities (Shaco puppets, Teemo mushrooms, Hiemerdinger turrets). This brings us to our next point:

Know your wards! Warding refers to the act of placing sight wards in tactical locations in order to be able to keep an eye on enemy champions and their movements. There is no better explanation on the best ways to ward than the following image. Bear in mind that the image is quite large, and may be hard to view on smaller screens:

Know your pings. When someone pings you and then a location, they want you to move there. When someone pings you multiple times, you are in danger. A whole series of pings down the length of the river means that an enemy is possibly coming up the river to gank a lane. Pinging objectives (such as the dragon or a tower) means they wish to attack it as a team. Pinging an enemy champion means that they should be focused in a team fight.

Know when the laning phase is over! Generally, the laning phase lasts from the beginning of the game up until the first tower in that lane is destroyed. Once your lane’s tower is destroyed, you are free to roam the map to either kill neutral creeps in the jungle or help gank/push other lanes. Of course, if the enemy is pushing your lane, you should still try and defend it!

When the laning phase is over, MIA calls become a lot less important. They are usually still used before engaging teamfights, in order to let your teammates know that one or more of the enemy’s team is missing (EG: We shouldn’t engage them, there are 2 MIA).

Know when to get Baron/dragon. These two epic monsters provide benefits to your entire team when killed, so it is imperative that your team kills them as often as possible. If you have a jungler, it is usually his responsibility to kill dragon. He will usually go for it around level 6. If you are in the bottom lane and he needs help, do not make it obvious to your enemy that you are going to help him. Circle around to the dragon from the back. If you don’t have a jungler, it is usually not a good idea to go for dragon unless every enemy is accounted for, or you have just scored a couple of kills. Baron should not be attempted until your whole team is at least level 15, and even then, only when your team has a considerable advantage (such as just after scoring an ace) and only if your whole team participates.

Killing dragon gives enough global gold to equal about 2 champion kills.

Know when to engage. The general rule of thumb is that the tank should engage teamfights, but there are exceptions if you happen to have a great engaging spell (such as Ashe or Pantheon’s ultimate). The trick to engaging is to either wait for an advantage to present itself (such as when one of their players is away from the team or dead), or wait for them to overextend into your turret range. This is more of a general feel that you will acquire as you play games, rather than something that is an exact science. Be sure to clearly let your team know that you are engaging before you do it.

Ashe's crystal arrow has a long range and will stun the champion it hits as well as slow those  in the impact radius.
Know your positioning. This is another one that is a bit hard to teach. It can be very crudely generalized as ‘don’t stand so close together,’ but is much more subtle than that. Be wary of where some champions need to be to best utilize their abilities. Ranged characters should try and stand behind the rest of the team. Assassins should try and flank from the sides or behind. This leads to our next two points.

Know your champion... and every other one. 10% of this game is knowing exactly what your champion is capable of. Do not go into ranked with a champion you have never played in unranked. Get the feel of the champion, and know the boundaries of its abilities. Can I effectively dive a tower as Pantheon? What’s the general range of my ult as Janna? Is it a good idea to harass early game as Shen? The other 90% is knowing your matchups – IE: exactly what all enemy champions are capable of. There are two fantastic resources that can help you with this; the League of Legends wiki will give you a general overview of most champions, while team solomid will give you a plethora of in-depth champion guides.

Team Solomid are a professional League of Legends team
A couple more things to know include the concepts of last hitting, starving and zoning. Last hitting simply refers to getting the last hit on an enemy minion, so you receive the gold from the kill. Some champions (such as those with a very fast attack speed) are better at last hitting than others. This relates back to knowing your champion – you must know exactly how much damage an ability or auto-attack does as well as how quick the animation is in order to last hit effectively. Starving refers to keeping enemy champions from gaining gold or experience, by only last hitting enemy minions to keep the minion wave near your tower, as well as utilizing zoning. Zoning is best explained by this fabulous youtube video by Riot game designer Shurelia:

These basics should give you a good grasp on basic League of Legends play, but the only true way to learn is to take these concepts and practice, practice, practice! I’ll see you all out in the fields of justice!

If you are interested in playing League of Legends, making a free account via my referral link would really help me out a lot!

Liked this article? Check out my basic pub TF2 strategy guide