Understanding guides, how to develop a build
Why a guide on reading guides?
I've noticed that some people playing this game and probably any other competitive game have trouble interpreting guides the right way, or just don't know that they are doing it the wrong way. Other people find the idea of developing their own build intimidating and so they just copy what they read in a guide without really understanding what the guide is saying.
I'm writing this guide on how to develop your own play style while taking in information from outside sources, whether it be from guides, forum posts or conversations with people about the game.
First and foremost this is a guide on how to use guides to develop your own builds and effective play styles.
So why is it a good idea to read a guide?
Learning another perspective on playing the game is a great way to get new ideas and learn about things you might not have seen before. Reading guides can be a really good way to improve as a player, but it is very important to understand how to extract the useful information from the guide you are reading and translate it into something that benefits your play style and strategy.
I'm going to break down the different common aspects of champion guides and explain what I think is the best way to get as much out of them as possible.
1. Have a strategy and know your goals
This is a very important point that perhaps some people are overlooking when reading champion guides for build ideas. The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to accomplish with your champion.
Knowing the roles that your champion can possibly fill in a team will give you an idea of the options you have in deciding what your goals will be, and what your overall strategy for the game will be.
If you are playing a ganking champion that goes in the middle lane, your overall strategy might be to defend your carries and feed them hero kills until they are strong enough to win the game, while also keeping the opponentís team as weak and under farmed as you possibly can. To achieve this strategy you then need to create some goals for the early game, mid game and late game. A goal for the early game might be simply to get to level 6 as quickly as possible and then to gank one of the other lanes containing one of your carries, and let them get the kill. A goal for the mid game could then be to push down the first enemy tower in the middle, and then to roam the map and gank any vulnerable enemies that you can, another goal could be to try and keep your own middle tower alive for as long as possible. One of your goals for the late game could then be to stick with your carry and support them in pushing/defending towers.
Once you know what your strategy for your chosen champion is, and what the goals are that you want to accomplish at each stage of the game, you can then go to champion guides looking for ways to execute your strategy. Just know that not every guide you find will be written to execute the exact strategy you have chosen.
Sometimes you might find after a lot of testing that you just donít feel comfortable with your chosen strategy or itís just not working, if this happens donít throw away your strategy too quickly. It may require only some small changes in your goals to make your strategy work, or some deeper thinking into what is preventing your strategy from working. If you just canít make your strategy work no matter what you do, then it might be time to just try a new one. Just make sure to always try and have one.
I think another important point about strategies is that they wont work in every situation and every game, this is why you will slowly develop variations on a strategy, or you may develop a few different strategies that you can use. I think itís important that when developing a strategy and a build, to focus only on that strategy and to try and find ways to force it to work as much as possible, and make a note of situations where it just doesnít work no matter what you do. This will give you ideas for developing future variations in your goals or new strategies altogether.
2. Skill point orders and ďskill buildsĒ
Almost every champion guide you read will have a recommended order for spending your skill points, and hopefully it will also have some kind of justification for the recommendation. The reason a skill point order is important is that different skills are more and less useful in different stages of the game.
When you are reading a recommended skill point order, probably the most important question to ask yourself on each point is, ďif I was in a game right now with this champion, what would my situation be?Ē, try and think about the most common things that are happening to you right as you are spending this skill point and ask yourself, why do you need this skill to be a higher level right now in this situation, and will it accomplish my goals for this stage in the game? It can also help to play some practice games and each time you are going to spend a skill point, think about what the guide recommended you spend it on, and compare it to the current state of the game. Doing this will give you a lot of valuable information. It will tell you firstly if spending your skill point as recommended is outright a bad idea. If the recommended skill point order is not outright a bad idea, this kind of testing will show you which situations it works well in, and which situations require some slight adaptation or delaying of a skill. I definitely recommend developing a rough idea of how your skill point order should go in theory, but then playing a lot of practice games focused just on seeing where it does and does not work.
Another good question to ask yourself, if the recommended skill point order seems like a bad idea, is why did the original author of the guide find it useful? The answer might just be that they are using a strategy that you are just not comfortable in using or one that doesnít come together well with the strategy that you are using.
Something else to also think about when spending each of your skill points is, if you spend your skill point in X skill right now, it may improve your current situation in the game, but if you spend it in Y skill instead, and it will not negatively affect your current situation, will it improve your future situation in the game more than X would improve your situation right now? This is going to be something that is much harder to judge and might require a lot of experimentation, but it can lead to some interesting ideas about improving your build.
How do I know if a skill will improve my current situation?
You should ideally be spending your skill points in the order that will most effectively accomplish the overall strategy of your build.
3. Item builds
One of the things I think a lot of people mainly want to see in a champion guide is the item build. This is something I also think some people have a tendency to follow too rigidly or extract the wrong way. The first point I want to make about item builds is that they are not absolute and they are always situational. The second point I want to make is that the best way to develop an item build that fits into your strategy is to focus on the strategy rather than specific items.
When you are reading a guide and you come to the recommended item build, itís very easy to just buy the items the build tells you to buy, the good guides will give you a little bit of information on where you can change your item build for some situations, but there is a better way to extract information here.
There are a few important questions you need to ask yourself whenever you decide that you want to have a certain item at a certain time in the game.
The first question to ask yourself is, at each stage in the game, which item/s will allow me to execute my chosen strategy and achieve my goals for this stage in the game? When you are reading a guide and it tells you to buy a certain item, think about where you would be in the game at the time it tells you to get this item, and why it may or may not help you in executing your strategy. This is again something that requires planning out roughly in theory, and then testing and refining over many games. If you are playing a game to test a point in your build, think about how effective what you are doing feels, and if you feel like maybe doing something else might be more effective, and make a note of anything you can think of. This gives you more points to experiment with and will help you to achieve an effective item choice.
The second and maybe most important question is, at this point in the game can I realistically afford this item? If it will take you 25 minutes to get enough gold to buy an item that is most useful at 15 minutes, then there may be a better alternative to spend your gold on that will better accomplish your strategy. A guide may recommend an item that works well in a certain strategy, but is just not viable in the strategy that you want to execute, you need to be able to recognise these problems and fix them so that you donít end up wasting gold and time on buying the wrong item to achieve your goals.
The third question to ask yourself is, if it is viable to get this item, what do I have to do to be able to afford it in an efficient amount of time? For some situations this requires getting hero kills as well as a reasonable creep score, you need to be aware of this and have a backup plan for when you just donít get enough hero kills, or you just donít get a good enough creep score. Sometimes a good backup plan for a support hero might be to buy a cheaper item that is still of benefit to their team, like an aura or wards of sight, so that they are still filling their support role while unable to get the ideal item in a good amount of time. This is an area where you can express your creativity in finding a way to still be useful to your team while you are behind in your ideal build. Sometimes it can be fine to just keep farming until you can get the items you want to have, but you need to recognise when that is just going to hurt your team and see that you should be doing something else.
4. Summoner spells
As with everything else in your build, you should decide which summoner spells to take based on which spells will help in accomplishing your goals for the game. If your goal requires ganking then a spell like exhaust or ignite will probably help you, whereas if your goal is to support another hero that needs to use a lot of mana, something like clarity might be very useful. Iím not going to talk too much about summoner spells because I think itís an area that is very open to creativity, and as long as you keep your strategy in your mind, you will have no trouble seeing the possibilities you have in your summoner spell choices. When reading guides written by other people, they will usually give you useful information on how they make use of the summoner spells, you can use this to see where they will be useful in your own goals and strategy.
5. Masteries and runes
When you are reading a guide and you get to the point that explains mastery points and runes, you need to be aware that this is an area that can be extremely strategy-oriented. If the reason for the recommended mastery points and runes is explained, this will give you some ideas on where certain points can be useful, but you need to make sure that they are useful in your strategy. When you are looking at a build for mastery points or runes, there are a few things you can look for specifically to see if it will be useful to your strategy.
The first place to look for in spending mastery points is in the summoner spells you will be taking. Putting mastery points into those spells benefits them a great deal and is usually going to be a good idea. The next place to look is in masteries that will increase the effectiveness of your skills, and ones that will increase the effectiveness of your item goals. This is something that I think most people understand, and if you are choosing your skills and items in line with your overall strategy, then your mastery points will naturally fall into areas that also benefit your strategy.
I think those same points apply to runes as well, areas which benefit your skills and item goals are a good way to fill rune slots, and also a good way to keep your rune page in line with your strategy.
Experimentation and a lot of testing is another good way to find areas where you could improve your rune page and mastery points. While playing games pay attention to where it feels like a certain mastery point or type of rune would be really helpful, and make a note of it. Then you will have different things to try in future tests and this will help you in finding an effective way to use runes and mastery points.
Champion guides are a good way to find new ideas and possibilities that you hadnít thought of yourself, but it is always important to have your own strategy and goals for the build you want to create, and to only extract the information from the guide you are reading that will help you in achieving your goals and executing your strategy. I believe this is the best way to use guides in helping you to create your own champion builds and strategies.