LoL: Adaptive play

Annie nuking Nunu.I woke up this morning and decided to fire off a few solo queue matches to get the day started. I’ve been playing a lot of Shaco lately, mostly crit damage builds, and I’ve been pretty successful. For the most part I’d say my success has come as a result of other players’ negligence – standing in lane at half health with a crit shaco is guaranteed death for most champions. This morning was different. I lost four matches in a row.

I’m not the type to place blame where it’s not due, but I think it’s fair to say that my team was failing to adapt. In my third matchup we were playing against all magic dealers. They had an AP Shaco, a Morgana, a Karthus, and two others I can’t recall. First thing I said to my team was “Magic resist guys.” It’s a simple solution to a burst damage team. Sure, they’re probably going to knock down a tower or two before your resists can catch up to the damage, but by the 25 minute mark, you should be able to fight back fairly easily.

That didn’t happen. While everyone agreed on getting resists, my four teammates rushed their favorite item build. Tanks were building for armor, our Ashe was rushing Inifinity, and so on and so on. You can imagine how well it went. Along with the strong pushing power, my team was dying…a LOT. We surrendered at 25.

Obviously solo queue is part of the problem, but there’s also the simple fact that people don’t adapt enough. They read a new build online and think every game is the appropriate place to try it out. You should be ready and willing to change your plans from the very first item. Waiting till you get that Zeal or Soulstealer could easily be the difference between a win and a loss. That 1200g is a major setback, particularly if you won’t make much use of it. Instead, get yourself a Negatron cloak and build for something like a Banshee’s. That extra survivability will allow you to stay in lane longer, giving you better farm and the defense to keep your turrets alive.

Sony sees iPad as a gateway to the PSP

iPad gaming.Someone needs to sit down with John Koller, Sony’s hardware marketing manager, and give him a quick lesson on cause and effect. He seems to think the iPad, as with the iPod Touch and iPhone, will drive PSP sales for customers looking for “deeper, richer console.” Personally, I think he’s nuts.

The numbers look good – the PSP and PSP Go have tripled in combined sales since the launch of the iPhone. But that doesn’t make the two related. My guess is the price of the PSP has gone down so much and the units have been hacked so many times that it’s become accessible enough to encourage a lot of gamers to buy.

I talk a lot on Gadget Teaser about the death of dedicated devices and the future of the all-in-wonder. I think handheld gaming is following the trend toward multi-purpose machines. Apple has simply put together a better system for supporting that kind of platform. If Sony doesn’t make some changes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see PSP sales plateau in the next 2 years.

Source: WSJ

LoL: Learning the tanks

Alistar base pic.In my opinion there are very few pure tanks in League of Legends. A lot of characters can tank, but that doesn’t make them the best for the position. Tanking is also a bit of a strange concept in LoL because there isn’t an aggro mechanic forcing players to attack the thickest guy on the team. Tanks do pose significant threat to a team, though, not because of their damage output but because of their control skills.

Take Alistar, for instance. If the opposing team is rushing your inhibitor turret with Alistar at the forefront, do you try to focus him down while the rest of the team is out of range, or do you let him beat on the tower and focus the weaker targets, hoping he won’t land a crucial headbutt combo? As negligible as his damage may seem, he can quickly put you in a bad situation.

When I see a tank played well it makes me want to tank. Since I’ve been seeing a lot of solid Alistar players lately, I decided to give him a shot. In my first game I had a lot of trouble. I was blowing through mana, despite my manipulator and a few regen runes. What it all came down to was an overuse of skills, particularly for the item build.

Playing a tank is all about picking the situation. Despite your thick exterior, smart play and attentive farming still works best. With Alistar I focus on last hitting exclusively until level 5 or so, stepping in and out of the brush to keep control of the lane. From there it’s just lending support to your carries. Keep building toward survivability until you’re meaty enough to take a solid beating from a couple opponents. When you’re headed for towers, don’t be afraid to rush in and smack the tower while your teammates handle your opponent. That’s the paradox a tank presents to an opponent. Do they deal with you, in which case you can blow your mitigation skills and back up to prep for some control, or do they let you continue to beat down the tower and try to deal with your opponents.

As with all things in this game, discretion is best. If you’re picking your fights wisely, using lane position and teammates to your advantage, and saving your mitigation skills for moments you truly need them, you should be just fine. From there, it’s all about experience.

Win $1,000,000 for pitching a perfect game

A perfect game is one of those once-in-a-lifetime achievements most pitchers dream of but will never fulfill. Supposedly the same goes for MLB 2K buffs, who find it just about as difficult, though admittedly less physically demanding (as in not at all) than the real thing. To honor the first perfect pitcher for its newest game, 2K Sports is offering up $1,000,000 in prize money. Yes, $1,000,000 if you can pitch a perfect virtual game.
MLB 2K10 perfect pitch.
If that’s not a surefire way to get people to crackhead your game, I don’t know what is. It’s not like they have testing centers either. All you have to do is pitch the perfect game and send in proof. Upon verification you’ll get your million bucks. The only limitation is that it has to be done before May 2nd. After that, the offer’s gone.

Source: 2K Sports

LoL Guide: Twisted Fate

Twisted Fate: The Cardmaster.This week’s free rotation includes Twisted Fate, a character I cut my teeth on, so it seemed appropriate to throw together a quick guide for anyone interested in giving him a shot. Fate has one of the best skill sets in the game and is capable of completely dominating a lane and eventually a team. In the right hands, he can easily swing a game himself.

There are a lot of different ways you can go with this. I would recommend CD reduction and mana regen or CD reduction and ability power. With 9% CD reduction from masteries, a mere 6% in your runes means you have capped CD reduction with golem buff. It is very easy to get golem with TF, so I don’t rune for more than 6%. I would avoid spell penetration if only because it’s so easy to break people down without the extra help. Having more mana is never a bad thing, though.

Twisted Fate’s strength comes in his ability to instantly outnumber the opponent. His third skill, Gate, when cast with his ultimate, Destiny, becomes a 1.5 second teleport to any location on the map. Your focus at every stage of the game should be unbalancing the other team, creating highly undesirable situations from what would normally have been an even fight.

If you haven’t yet mastered the Pick a Card skill, create a practice game, sit at fountain and practice. You should be able to hit a Gold Card 100% of the time during practice, which will greatly increase your chances in the middle of a fight. By the end of the game, a crit Gold Card can hit for as much as 50% of your opponent’s life, so get used to picking it. Read the rest of this entry »

Plants vs Zombies for iPhone delayed

Plants vs. Zombies.So you’re unwilling to spend the money on Steam for a version of Plants vs. Zombies you can’t take on the go. For a hot minute it looked like you might be in luck, set to enjoy PopCap’s great little tower defense game on the iPhone by the end of the month. Sadly, the game has been delayed, pushed back until mid-February.

The news was delivered via a tweet from the company that included the adjective “*confident*” – stars included – to describe the new launch window. If I were you, I’d save the last couple bucks you have in your iTunes account until next month. You know you want this.

Oh, and until then, consider the League of Legends: Turret Defense game. It’s surprisingly addictive, particularly for a game that has very little to do with its inspiration.

LoL: The stages of the game

Nunu gets some alone time.The two friends that got me interested in League of Legends weren’t Dota players. We had known each other through mutual friends and eventually through WoW and it was just something they decided to pick up. Over the past month or so we’ve been playing together more often, but it was just the other night that one had his epiphany, that moment where you realize something about the game you’ve been trying to put into words for days, even weeks: stages.

We had talked before about the importance of managing what most consider the three stages of the game: early, mid, and late. That was easy enough. The revelation had more to do with individual heroes. If you’re new to the game you may be struggling with the difference between characters – some can gank early, some take a while to farm up, some take a lot of work to be viable at every stage of the game. It’s a simple thing to conceptualize but much more difficult to put into practice.

Consider a toon like Nunu. As far as difficulty, he’s pretty low on the scale. You run in, you snowball, you hit a few times, you snowball again, you see friends, you blow Absolute Zero, you watch your team mop up your kills. Nunu is great at harassing early, largely because of his crazy health pool. Try that with Yi, though, and you’re going to get rocked by creep aggro and likely die several painful deaths early on. He requires more farm before he’s truly dangerous, and even then he’s pretty smushy.

The point is this – every hero has a different game cycle and it’s something you need to weigh heavily when strategizing against the other team. Take your time to farm properly if you’re a late gamer or a mage. Harass hard if you have the HP to do so to keep the other team underleveled. Gank heavily mid-game so your farm toon can have a solid late game. And by all means, change your strategy for each toon. The variety of playstyles is part of the beauty of this game. Play to your individual character’s strengths and you’ll be able to increase that gap between your wins and losses.

Xbox Live catches the eye of the law

Microsoft points.Samuel Lassoff is sick of buying up Xbox Live points and, as an attorney, he decided to do something about it. He’s suing Microsoft, claiming that the Xbox Live point system “unjustly enriches” the company by forcing users to buy point bundles that can’t be used in their entirety.

It seems weird that it’s the unjustly enriching that we’re worried about, not the exploitation of the consumer. There are plenty of companies out there getting unjustly rich off all sorts of scams. Target’s recent video game setup service is a great example. Whatever the reason, though, I’m glad to see someone get indignant enough to try their hand at stopping the giant in its tracks.

Microsoft said recently that it never meant for the points system to confuse people, but that just can’t be true. What other reason is there for inventing a currency system that isn’t 1-1. Branding? No. Anything else? No, not really. Luckily, it’s about to change, and with impending litigation it may change sooner than expected.

Source: Information Week

LoL: Power of the push

Nexus go boom.Yesterday’s post was about the importance of team coordination and the simple fact that playing a premade can save you a lot of headaches. Today, I wanted to cover something that’s easy to overlook in a game you’re dominating: pushing.

You probably know the story well. You drew a good lanemate and the gods that be have matched you against a scrubby Twitch. Within ten minutes your team has ten kills to the other team’s one and you have all the outer turrets pushed. You would keep ganking but your opponent has virtually disappeared off the map, appearing only to defend a tower. Before you know it you’re 35 minutes into what looked like a quick surrender, and you’re starting to get pushed back. A few of your teammates got greedy and lost some killing spree gold to enemy turrets. By 45 minutes, you’re staring a loss in the face and there’s little to be done. Communication has completely broken down and your team is dying in groups of two or three, leaving the towers sorely lacking defense. By 55 minutes it’s a blowout, and you’re stuck wondering how the game turned on you and blaming anyone with a name you can quickly type.

This is probably the most frustrating loss in the game, and it’s really a symptom that separates the good teams from the bad. Regardless of how well your early game went, you need to keep pushing, intelligently. The reason your team got ahead in the early game was smart play. You weren’t tower diving for kills. You weren’t lingering in lane with five MIAs. You were playing smart, and you need to continue to do so to win the game.

Most teams that suffer this sort of loss neglect the three lane dynamic. They’ll constantly push one lane while the others are driven to their own towers. Then, if the push fails, the other team turns to capitalize on the death timer. Pushing inner turrets takes planning. If you see two teammates about to cross river mid for inner turret, push bottom up. When the other team attempts to defend, they’ll likely defend with 2-3 against the smaller force. That’s when you collapse with your remaining three teammates and push that mid inner turret. If your opponent sends all 5 to defend that mid tower, have your teammates retreat while you continue to push bottom and take a chunk out of the turret. Remember, the only turrets that regenerate are at the Nexus, so any damage done is progress.

If you find the other team is trying to turtle, focusing on team wipes to stay in the game, get out into the woods. Get yourself some buffs and take dragon down. If your opponent is particularly cautious, don’t be afraid to take Baron. When you’re ready, push with 3-4 teammates in one lane while the others do the same in a separate lane. The pronged attack forces the weaker team to split up, increasing their disadvantage.

Whatever the case, don’t give up an early lead because you were greedy for kills. You got the lead by playing smart and, as your ELO rises, you can only hope to keep that lead by sustaining that intelligent playstyle.

LoL: Power of the premade

Anivia looking scary.You’ll see me talk about solo queue games a lot here because that’s where I spend at least half my time. Being a freelancer, I can split my play time throughout the day when a lot of people are at work or elsewhere. When I have the chance, though, I’ll always choose to premade.

If you’re new to the game, pay attention to the people you play with. Chances are, if you’re playing a few games in a row, you may end up with a few of the same players. Try to pick out the most coordinated players with the best communication. As an example, I was on a 5-game losing streak today. Fortunately I pulled a big Anivia play and beat a team of decent players with support from a good Mundo. That decent team, the guys I beat, wanted to friend up and play together.

What happened next almost shouldn’t be talked about. We were stomping people so hard there were multiple rage quits most games we played and it was all because of coordination. Having Vent or Skype only compounds things.

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