General MOBA tips and terminology

Tips for Improving at Any MOBA

Many gamers have been turning their attention to Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games as of late thanks to enormously popular (and growing) titles like League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2). This article is designed to provide some great tips and information for beginners as well as experienced MOBA players to improve their play.

To give a basic rundown, a MOBA is a game in which each player controls a single character on one of two teams which are usually comprised of either three or five player characters each. The objective for each team is to destroy the opposing team’s main structure. Each team of player characters is also assisted toward their objective by periodically spawned NPC units called creeps or minions that march forward toward the opposing team along set paths on the map. The player character, also called champions or heroes, have various skills and abilities that improve over the course of a game along with their overall level, which starts at one for each game. Experience and gold is gained throughout the game by getting kills and both can be used to level up your character to gain access to new or improved skills as well as unique items that provide passive skill bonuses

Tips for Improving Your Game Play

Ask Questions: If you don’t know what a particular champion on your team is doing or what an enemy champion is doing then make sure to ask. More experienced teammates will thank you later for familiarizing yourself with the situation rather than getting caught unaware and giving a free kill to the enemy. First and foremost, remember that it’s a team game and everyone has to work together. If you’re an experienced player, don’t forget to ask how your inexperienced teammates are doing – obviously you can’t babysit them but you need to make sure you keep an eye on them from time to time.

Situational Awareness: This skill, more than anything, will save you’re a$% time and time again and is a skill that can always use improvement no matter how experienced you are. Check your mini-map every few seconds with a glance. Some players like to check it once every x amount of kills as a means of getting into a habit of checking. Checking the minimap often is a most important aspect of using wards to your team’s advantage. If you don’t check the minimap often enough, wards become useless. Make sure you know the enemy colors and symbols and who is on the enemy team and which enemy champions have crowd control. Be aware that not every member of your team will remember to call out MIA lane opponents every single time, so if they forget, make sure that you call the MIA’s out – it can keep you and/or your teammates alive.

Find A Role You Love: Every player has a role that they are most comfortable with and do well in and if you want to have fun then you need to find that role you love playing for yourself. The best Tanks, Junglers, Supports, etc… are the ones who have love it – they have fun doing it and are comfortable in those roles. If your team tells you to fill a role you’re not good at or aren’t comfortable with, do yourself and your team a favor and tell them. That said it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with at least two or three roles no matter how experienced you are so you have a more diverse playing technique and a better knowledge base to help anticipate what the enemy counterparts in those roles might be planning or doing.

Take One or More for the Team: Remember, MOBA’s are team games at their very heart and every role has a very specific place. Tanks and Supports shouldn’t be taking kills unnecessarily that could have gone to Carry’s. Conversely, if you’re a Carry, don’t be afraid to pick up every kill you can. Also remember that a Tank’s purpose in the game is to keep the team alive. As a Tank, if it becomes a choice between you dying and another member of your team dying, then you should take one for the team. Don’t be afraid to do so, since doing so is playing your role to its fullest which is something you should do in all cases.

Stick Together: Generally speaking, once the laning phase of the game is over, stick with your team. Don’t go off to do your own thing unless that is part of the team strategy. Once the end-game phase commences, having even a single out of place team member can make the difference between losing the game and winning it. If you’re a Tank or a Support, you want to shadow your most dangerous teammate at all times so you can keep them alive and doing the most damage. If you’re a Jungler remember to break off from killing the neutral creeps to support your allies in lane.

Be Cautious: Look before you leap – it may save your butt! Before you attack an enemy champion or creep, remember to check the map first and make sure all the other opposing champions are where they should be. Be aware if the enemy has a Jungler – if an enemy seems out of position they may be trying to bait an attack from your team so their Jungler can jump in and get a kill. Also, avoid playing too defensively – if you never attack you’ll never take objectives and you’ll never win.

Ward Off The Enemy: Wards are consumable items that champions can place to reveal an area of the map in a radius. Warding is dynamic. It’s too costly and time consuming to keep the entire map warded, so choose objectives to focus on. As mentioned before, wards won’t matter if you and your team don’t check the minimap often. The best places to place wards are in bushes and high-traffic areas, such as jungle crossroads. Warding at the edges of brush and away from any walls maximizes your vision range.

Learn the Lingo: Almost all MOBA games have terminology that all players will have to learn quick, fast, and in a hurry so they don’t get lost in all the jargon. This is by no means a comprehensive glossary of all the terms and acronyms you’ll hear but it’s a good place to start:

MOBA Terminology / Glossary

Ability: A unique skill a champion possesses.

Bait: A term for a player who is pretending to be vulnerable, weak, or out of place to provoke an attack from an opposing champion so that a hidden enemy, usually a Jungler, can jump in and gank them.

Base: This is your team’s primary zone of control and last outpost of defense and is usually located in a corner of the map with the enemy base situated in the opposite corner.

Brush: Areas of the game map, usually depicted as tall grass or bushes, where champions are invisible once they enter unless the opposing team has some means of seeing inside the brush, usually through the use of wards.

Build: The culmination of your choices in learning skills for your champion combined with how you play that champion along with the items you chose to purchase for them. Each champion almost always has multiple build strategies.

Carry: A role that tends to be weak in the early phases of the game but gets much more powerful toward the end game phase. So named because once the end game is entered, it’s these champions that usually carry their team to victory.

Champion(Champ)/ Hero: This is the player’s character and will be referred to throughout this article as champion.

Cooldowns: This is the time a player must wait to reuse a given skill after using it.

Crowd Control (CC): This is a type of ability that affects an enemy’s ability to move or attack. These can be stuns, slows, silences, etc… and are most important in team fights.

Creeps/Minions: At fast intervals throughout each game, these small weak NPCs will spawn and begin their march down the map paths toward the opposing team. When killed they grant a small amount of gold and experience and their disposal is the primary method of advancing. Neutral creeps are jungle monsters who are not on either team but can be farmed for experience and gold.

End-Game: That point in a game where each champion on both teams is at or near the end of their build. This period of the game is characterized by vicious team-fights and is usually decided upon by the respective abilities of each team to work as a cohesive unit.

Gank: To ambush or kill an opposing champion by surprise. Junglers typically help gank champions in lanes that are being pushed by sneaking out of the jungle and catching them by surprise.

Jungle: Refers to almost every part of the map that is not a lane or base. It is where the neutral creeps (jungle monsters) reside.

Jungler: The Jungler is a role unique to MOBA’s. The Jungler remains out of the map lanes and in the shadowed “jungle” areas in between, relying on camps of fixed neutral creeps to supply experience and gold. Junglers specialize in ambushing or ganking champions in the map lanes by quickly coming out of the brush to attack.

K/D/A Ratio: These stand for Kill, Death, and Assist respectively. A Kill is any killing blow that lands on an opposing champion and grant the most gold and experience. Deaths are the number of times your champion has been killed by an enemy champion. Assists are the number of enemy champions you’ve helped to kill but did not land the killing blow on and grant less reward than kills.

Lane: Most MOBA’s use maps with three lanes, a top lane, bottom lane, and middle lane. Creeps spawn and move down these lanes toward the enemy base and stop only to attack other minions and enemy champions.

Laning Phase: The first 10 to 15 minutes of a game where most champions, except for the junglers stay in their lanes and focus on gaining experience and gold.

Map Awareness: Every MOBA has a minimap and this represents how much you pay attention to it.

Missing in Action (MIA): When an enemy champion who should be in a lane is missing for more than a few seconds a player should indicate them as “MIA” in chat to help prevent teammates from being ganked or taking damage from the missing champion.

Objectives: These are goals or milestones that need to be taken to advance and ultimately win the game or provide some global benefit to the entire team when taken. Turrets are examples of Objectives.

Ping: Almost all MOBA’s provide a keyboard hotkey that when pressed will cause a ping to display on the map to indicate important locations, potential threats, and/or gank opportunities without typing it out in chat.

Pool: This is the place where you begin the game and where your champion respawns after they die. It is usually guarded by a turret that can almost instantly kill anything to prevent the enemy from camping around the pool to kill any champion as soon as they respawn.

Push: This term is an order given for champions to push down a lane and help take an objective.

(Q) (W) (E) (R): These are hotkeys on your keyboard mapped to champion abilities.

Skill-Shot: A champion ability that requires the player to manually aim it. Obviously a player who is able to predict where an opponent is going to be rather than where they are, will get the most out of these abilities.

Turret: Each lane usually has two turrets, an outer and an inner turret, as well as one base turret usually located within the walls of the base.

Wards: Consumable items that are usually purchased from the shop in each team’s base and are used to prevent or setup ganks. These invisible and immovable objects allow a team to see in a radius wherever the ward is placed for a limited amount of time (usually 3 to 6 minutes). Wards are most commonly deployed on ledges or in brush where normally vision is concealed.

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