With the unrelenting rise of MOBAs, I feel it is appropriate that we provide a simple list on how to play MOBAs properly. Sure, there are plenty of game-specific guides and some general MOBA guides but they all focus on the same thing everyone else does:
- Item building.
- Last hitting and farming.
- Learning from the top tier players.
- Counter-picking characters.
- Mastering specific characters and roles.
- Blah blah blah.
That’s all fine and dandy.. But…
What about the fundamentals of MOBA/ARTS games?
I’d like to look at the core mechanics, attitudes, and other less-discussed items that will give you a real edge. More importantly, these are the things that will allow you to truly enjoy the MOBA experience, in spite of the tendency to encounter toxicity and BM (bad manners). On that note, I would say fighting games and MOBAs tend to have the most toxic communities, with FPS games somewhere in that Top 3 but anyway… Here we go!
Here are 10 misconceptions and myths surrounding MOBA/ARTS games – in no particular order…
1. MOBAs Are For ADD/Twitch Gamers
No, no, and, furthermore, NO. (Sorry Stan – I still love you, bro!)
There are certainly a majority of MOBA players that have no strategy, tactics, or finesse, relying purely on twitch gaming skills, but this is not everyone nor is it the pinnacle of the experience. The real fun in MOBAs, to me, resides in the deceptively deep strategy that is available to those that believe in teamwork and developing their own unique playstyles. Great MOBAs are as accomodating as MMORPGs in this aspect: you can make the experience your own and play up your strengths, even if PvP isn’t usually your thang.
That said, ADD is more prevalent with gamers now than ever. Heck, the Internet as a whole has spoiled us. There’s just so much content vying for our attention. People “don’t have time” for deep thinking. I worry that future games will feature one or two-button control schemes at most.. Or maybe respond to grunting and farting.
2. Tanks Only Exist To Soak Up Damage
Recently, a wonderfully snooty gamer said the following and I found it much too funny not to share:
Tanks are supposed to soak up damage. That’s like their sole purpose. Just sayin.
This is the sort of elitist behavior that scares people away from competitive games as a whole. Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially when they are misinformed or misguided. The worst types of players on MOBAs are the ones that worry more about the rest of their team’s performance instead of their own. BTW, the guy who fed me this line of horse crap had the worst record in the entire session and kept over-extending…
Gee, there’s a shocker!
Yes, tanks are meant to be initiators and soak up damage; however, to relegate their roles strictly to that shows a lack of grasp on strategy and tactics. The tank or support’s role varies but, essentially, they are there to mitigate damage, slow down threats, and provide focus. In many ways, they function as the generals and playmakers for their teams. The thing is, if teams do not follow the tank’s lead or positioning is off, tanks should not just dive in because then they die for nothing.
The expectation that tanks should just jump into battle all the time is nothing short of stupid. Tanks have to be able to assess situations and make quick calls. If he pings to go in or retreat, the team should follow suite because glass cannons and squishies should not go in or get caught out alone. All too often, tanks are either too aggressive or too passive. Players will always disagree on the level of aggression needed but, if teams move together as a unit, beautiful things happen.
It’s also worth noting that there are MOBAs like Dawngate where, late game, damage penetration tends to overshadow any damage mitigation. At this point, tanks have to play more cautiously and resort to guerrilla tactics (i.e. baiting and rape bushes) or more coordinated team battles. Since tanks tend to offer CC (crowd control) and AoE effects they should not recklessly lay down their lives if the opportunity to shift the tides of battle or take an objective is not really there. #L2P
These concepts apply to other PvP games where you have traditional RPG roles in play. I find that Dawngate and DotA 2 tend to favor more versatile roles as well, whereas games like League Of Legends tend to be more about compartmentalizing roles and positions. Tanks can sometimes soften up and weaken enemies, making them far more than more useful that glorified punching bags and decoys.
3. Farming And Last Hitting Are #1
Imagine a game where the primary objective is timing button presses so you get points and your goal thereof is to get the high score. Oh wait.. That’s a rhythm game!
I’d say farming and last-hitting is the least fun aspect of MOBAs yet people check CS (Creep Score/Kills) all the time, as if that is the only that determines skill or the match outcome. The slight edge that the added income gives you is nice but it does not guarantee victory; in fact, being too obsessed with CS will often make you sloppy if you’re not careful.
Consider this: every time you bring up the scoreboard or glance over at your CS or income, you are distracted. That makes the gap bigger and opens you up to attacks. Your attention is better shifted towards map awareness and working as a team to take objectives; you know, things that win matches. What’s even more important to note here is that there are MOBA/ARTS games where the mechanics of last-hitting, denying, and farming are either not there or not as important. Dawngate, Tome, and Guardians Of Middle-Earth are good examples of this, as they focus more on action and strategy as opposed to boring chores.
4. You Need An ADC To Win
The high DPS (Damage Per Second) and sustain that ADCs bring is certainly nice but the value of team comps (compositions) is often exagerrated. It’s best to pick characters you are comfortable with and discuss with your team what they are comfortable with. Break the meta. Be a leader.
An ADC, for the uninitiated, is an Attack Damage Carry. Alongside your Jungler and the optional APC (Attack Power Carry or Mage), the ADC is part of the damage-dealing machine. What changes within these roles is the positioning and primary damage type (i.e. magic/AP vs. physical/AD). The terminology changes up depending on the game you are playing but the core concepts are almost always there.
Typically, MOBA players like to have one primary damage-dealer so they can feed him. The problem with this approach is that it places too much of a burden on one player instead of teamwork. Various team comps are viable in just about any game but your team needs to know how to work with it. For example, an all ADC team would be very squishy and would need very coordinated attacks to win team battles. Similarly, an APC team could work but there would need to be some heavy CC or heavy burst damage to take out key targets before they could retaliate.
Ultimately, it’s all about teamwork. Tried and true is nice but it’s not the only way to play the game.