Battle Bards Episode 137: League of Legends’ hero themes

What’s your hero’s theme? If you play League of Legends, you know the answer to that already, because every hero in that game has his, her, or its own musical motif, from the dour to the delightful. In this episode of Battle Bards, the crew turns to this popular MOBA to see what heroic themes are pure ear candy.

Episode 137 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Elementalist Lux,” “Odyssey Login,” and “Snowdown 2018”)
  • “Irelia”
  • “Arcade Ahri”
  • “Dragon Trainer Tristana”
  • “Kindred”
  • “Lulu”
  • “Tahm Kench”
  • “Braum”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener mail from Mika, Thomas, and Katriana
  • Jukebox picks: “Warsongs: Silver Scrapes (ProtoShredanoid Remix)” from League of Legends, “Can’t Wait Until Night” from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and “Stars at Our Backs” from Monster Hunter World
  • Outro (“Jinx, the Loose Cannon”)

League of (not so) Legends

Color me surprised as anyone else to say this, but for the past week I’ve been dipping into the cool waters of League of Legends and finding them delightful.

I really hadn’t planned on returning to LoL following last April’s brutal indoctrination, but several members of my Guild Wars guild was moonlighting in LoL on a daily basis, so I decided, “Why not?”  The best part is that we’re not doing the PvP stuff, just PvE matches against bots.

I know, it seems counter to the “spirit” of the game to do so, but for me it’s made all the difference.  I’ve never been shy in saying that, to me, PvP is stressful and it is rarely fun.  I’ve given it quite a few tries across many platforms, but it’s never stuck.  The combination of rude players, the much faster pace of combat, and the pressure put on your team to “win” makes me hunched over and nervous.  In real life, I rarely like competitive activities either, much preferring cooperative endeavors.

So it is certainly welcome that LoL has a PvE option, and spending a few nights experiencing it with my team has really warmed me to the game.  I’ve always liked League of Legends’ look, its sound, and its “attitude,” if you will.  It’s charming in a World of Warcraft-type of way and I can dig it.  Being part of a team that’s trying to back each other up and accomplish a great task is almost heady.

It’s also proven to be more relaxing as a learning environment.  I’m still figuring everything out, but it’s not so life-and-death as the PvP atmosphere cultivates.  I’m trying to master the newbie basics — don’t die, earn gold, help push, harass enemies, etc. — while researching how best to build and play characters.

I’ve purchased a few, but right now my favorite is Tristana.  She not only rocks in the cute/attitude department, but I like fighting at range, her abilities are straight-forward, and I’m actually starting to take down bots and stay alive more than I was doing with, say, Nunu or Annie.

It’s a good time to get into LoL as well, since Riot just gave out free 10-win IP boosters (IP is an in-game currency that you can use to purchase characters and stat-building runes) and has something planned for its two-year anniversary on Thursday.

Monday Night Noob #1: League of Legends

For my very first Monday Night Noob — an evening that I devoted to a game I’ve never played before — I decided to get out of my comfort zone and dive into one of those titles I’ve heard so much about yet intimidated me all the same: League of Legends.

League of Legends (or LoL for the humorously inclined) is one of those PvP MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena) that have rocketed in popularity to become one of the most dominant types of games on the interwebz.  I’d certainly heard of LoL and its predecessor Defense of the Ancients, but the whole “PvP” moniker scared me away.  Up front, I’ll admit that PvP isn’t really for me.  It’s not that I refuse to participate or don’t understand what the fuss is about — I do on both fronts — but PvP for me is generally more stressful than enjoyable, especially in the face of some of the more ultra-competitive players out there.

But I did want to give it a go, and so last night I downloaded LoL — which was very fast — created an account, and logged in.  The game is a PvP match between two teams of players who are fighting across a map in an isometric view to try to blow up each other’s Nexus.  Between your base and theirs are three main lanes of conflict, several defense towers, and in-between “jungle” space that house critters that can be killed for XP and gold.

Each player chooses a champion from the dozens and dozens available, each with their own unique abilities and stats.  On top of this, champions are modified with runes (think stat builds), additional skills and loot you purchase during each game.  So it’s not just enough to know how to play your character well, but how to outfit them for victory.

One of the things I liked is that LoL is a little less twitchy and more strategic than, say, FPS matches.  Sure, the action gets thick and furious at points, but it rewards those who fight smart, and even encourages you to retreat instead of giving the enemy the kill.

Champions have six skills at their disposal, four of which can be boosted as you level up during a match.  Having so few skills helps keep the insanity to a manageable level, I found.  Alongside your champions are computer-spawned minions who fight for both sides.  Minions help you by taking the brunt of the combat, getting turret aggro, and providing you with XP and gold when killed.

I went through four matches — each consisting of about 30-50 minutes apiece — last night, two against the computer and two against human opponents.  My first impression was that the game is really good-looking, obviously drawing from World of Warcraft’s stylized cartoonish art to make a pleasant backdrop.  Each champion has a lot of character to them, and I got a laugh or two from the voice-overs that were provided.

Of course, me being me, we got trounced both times in PvP.  The first time against human opponents I chose a rather fragile character who died too often, giving the enemy a lot of gold and tipping the scales in their favor.  The second time was better, but the premade we went up against had an insanely good player who racked up tons of kills without being touched himself.

I liked the focus on teamwork; you really do have to function as a team to take the matches, so solo heroes are not welcome.  Of course, that means that there’s a lot of pressure on you to not screw up, which didn’t help with the “stressful” aspect of the games.  Snafzg and Nazgum held my hand through the matches and told me that the other players can be pretty brutal at times, but to just shake off what they say and keep on learning.

While LoL is pretty easy to pick up, I quickly saw just how much there was to learn about the game in order to excel at it.  On top of dozens and dozens of champions that you have to know well in order to counter, there are all sorts of strategies, builds and armor choices that come into play.

LoL has an excellent pricing plan.  The whole game is free-to-play with in-game store purchases.  If you don’t want to spend a dime, you don’t have to — you can buy things in the store with points you gain from matches, or if you want to speed things up, you can drop a few bucks into it.  Every week sports a number of free champions to play, so you really are never pressured into putting up cash unless you want to.  The store itself is somewhat laggy, unfortunately.

Ultimately, League of Legends is a solid game with an understandable appeal, even if it is more hardcore than I’d like with a steep learning curve.  Will I keep it on my computer?  Definitely.  I probably won’t be playing it as much as most, but I can see popping in for a match here and there to see if I can ever get a handle on it.

I’m still taking suggestions for future MNN titles — what do you think I should play?  Don’t forget to check out the new MNN page on Bio Break as well!

Announcing the Monday Night Noob

As I near the end of my final semester of seminary, I’m starting to take a look at my schedule and make a few changes.  Basically, I want to be utilizing my time better and taking on a couple projects that have been bouncing around in my head for some time now.

One of those projects is something I’m calling the Monday Night Noob (feel free to make me a cool graphic for this, internet!).  As much as I love ping-ponging between LOTRO and RIFT, I really want to experience more in gaming and encourage myself to get out and try new things.

So every Monday evening I’ll be setting aside my mainstay games to try something completely new, a game I’ve never, ever played before.  Maybe it’s a recent one, or an oldie, an MMO or something else, but I want to give more titles a try.  I’ll be announcing my Monday Night Noob project that morning, and then have a follow-up post about my experience the next day.

As part of MNN, I really want to hear from you what you think I should try out.  The only rule is that it has to be a game I haven’t laid hands on previously, and if it’s free (or has a free trial), so much the better.  Also, I’m allowing for MNN games to woo me into playing past the one night; these aren’t necessarily one-shot events.

For my first MNN, I’m going to be dipping my toes into MOBAs with League of Legends.  I’ve downloaded the client and Snafzg — who pwns religiously in LoL — has sent me a long list of starter tips, so I’m digesting those and will give it a whirl.

Any tips from you guys?  And what games should I be looking at for future Monday Night Noob sessions?