Disclaimer: LoLDDCG is an independent fan project, it is unaffiliated with Riot inc. or any employee of Riot inc. Use of Riot’s graphics is intended for the purposes of prototyping and makes no attempt to challenge ownership of those graphics. All original graphics, system and design are displayed under a CC-BY-NC licence. League of Legends is (c) Riot inc.
I’m going to try and post a little bit of information about the LOLDDCG design process every week. This week we’re going to have a look at breaking down an individual turn, the basic ‘unit’ of gameplay. For more a more general overview, please have a look at the post introducing the game.
The turn and basic actions:
In LOLDDCG, champions take ‘turns’ to perform an ‘action’. Once all the champions in the game have had one turn in sequence, there is a reset and a new ‘cycle’ begins. So a turn is the action of an individual champion, the cycle is a set of ten turns, five for each side. The position of a champion in the turn order is their ‘lane’ (1 through 5). I call lanes early in the cycle ‘head’ lanes, and lanes late in the cycle ‘tail’ lanes.
Another piece of terminology I haven’t covered yet is Committing. Committing is roughly equivalent to Tapping in Magic: the Gathering in that its primary function is to prevent a champion doing something else that requires Committing. However, Committing is somewhat harsher in that it has more negative effects (making it harder for a champion to escape combat for example) and only wears off naturally at the beginning of a new cycle.
On their turn, a champion can perform one of several actions. They can:
Hold: A champion who holds gains a token and heals a single hitpoint. They also gain a small bonus if attacked. This represents playing very safely, waiting for passive regeneration to kick in and avoiding conflict
Farm: Farming Commits the champion, but gives three tokens. Note that as tokens are also used to power abilities in the DDCG, farming is the only way to get the resources to use your abilities and so on- this is one of the main mechanical discrepancies between the card and digital games. Farming is also very risky, since a Committed champion is vulnerable if attacked, so when using the farm action you need to make sure either there is a low chance of being jumped or you have a summoner spell handy to bail out your farmer in the case of trouble.
Use Active Ability: Some champion abilities are listed as ‘Active’, like Nunu’s Ice Blast (see above). These can be used in place of a normal action, both here or in an engagement (see below). Annie, for example, can pay tokens to straight up deal damage to the enemy champion in her lane. While this may seem like something that would be quite common, Actives are intended to be fairly rare, mostly limited to harass based AP champs and supports.
Roam: Roaming Commits the champion as a basic cost, but from there it actually has a sub-menu of potential actions. The reason they are sub-actions is that it makes it easier to have abilities and summoner spells that use a roaming as a requirement. A roaming champion can:
- ‘Base’: this fully heals the champion and allows them to purchase one item. I’m also considering it giving them a couple of free tokens if they have none.
- ‘Gank’: this allows the champion to go and attack an enemy champion in an adjacent ‘lane’ (one card to left or right), creating a 2 on 1 fight. While powerful, since the champion has to Commit in order to do this it heavily limits their power compared to fighting while not Committed. Certain champions are strong roaming gankers as their kit is based around raw stats or passive abilities, which Committing does not limit. It also means that you want your strong ganking champions in the middle three lanes where they have the most opportunities to attack.
- ‘Swap’: this allows the champion to swap lanes with any other friendly champion, but also Commits the other champion if they aren’t already and prevents both from taking another turn this cycle. This is one of several mechanics that make choosing which lane you put your champions in important not just from the perspective of matchups, but whether you put them on the head or tail of your cycle order. Because a champion at the tail of the cycle remains Committed for a lower time and can swap with a champion earlier in the cycle order, thus not sacrificing their turn, it’s a position more suited for vulnerable, farm dependent champions such as ADCs and assassins. My preliminary thoughts are that a standard lane order will look something like hard support>bruiser>ganker>soft support>carry
Engage: Engaging is what it says on the tin: going in and attacking the opposite champion in the lane. Using the engage action triggers a kind of ‘sub-turn’ in which many actions can be played out. Engaging doesn’t Commit a champion, so it’s relatively safe to do, but often it’s very easy for the opponent simply to back out if they don’t want a fight and you’ve wasted your turn. Let’s break it down
When you begin an engagement a whole bunch of effects can trigger- a lot of ultimate abilities like Sivir’s On the Hunt or Master Yi’s Highlander trigger at the beginning of an engagement, there are several summoner spells whose casting condition is the beginning of an engagement and so on. There are also a lot of effects that add more champions to the engagement (like twisted fate’s ultimate, above). Once these are dealt with, champions take turns using a new set of actions until one side is either wiped out or runs for the hills.
The order of these turns is decided by a champion property, listed just under their portrait. This is one of three types- Initiator, Ranged and Melee. This is a priority system. Initiators will go first, followed by ranged, followed by melee. In the case of a tie, the player who initiated the engagement goes first. Currently, only the first action is decided by this property. While the first turn MUST be made by the highest priority champion, after that players can have their champs act in any order, representing the pile in after initiation. When there is more than one champion on a side, you can’t choose to make an action with the same champion twice in a row, though you can just alternate between two even if you have more in the engagement.
These are the actions a champion can perform in an engagement
Basic attack: Basic attacks come in two types: physical and magical. They deal damage equal to the combined values of the three red stat trails (physical) or the three blue ones (magical). They also get a ‘synergy’ bonus of +1 for each set of 1 point a champion has across all three stats- so if a champion had stat values of 3/2/3 they’d do 8 damage, +2 for having 2/2/2 for a total of 10.
Active or Combat ability: Combat is another ability type that is essentially the same as an Active ability but is only usable during engagements. Both Active and Combat abilities can only be used by Non-Committed champions and can only be used once per engagement unless otherwise stated.
Flee/Escape: I still haven’t decided which of these terms to go with. Suffice to say this action simply removes the champion from the engagement. There are a lot of effects (particularly Hastes, Slows and being Committed) that make it harder for champions to use this action, but even so this is what makes engaging a risky proposition- without some kind of special effect, if a melee champion engages a ranged champion, the ranged champion can simply use their first action to escape, leaving the melee champion to stand around pondering their wasted turn.
‘Hail mary’ actions: Champions take turns to make these actions till one or other dies or escapes. One interesting little feature is that a champion who dies still gets to make a ‘hail mary’ action from the grave. If neither side uses the escape action, both sides will always get equal turns. This more accurately represents real time combat- you rarely get the jump on someone so thoroughly they make no response at all.
So just to run a quick example engagement. Let’s say Warwick (a melee) engages Ashe (an initiator). Ashe is 2 priority levels up on Warwick, so she goes first. She’s Committed from farming so she can’t escape or use her active ability, so she makes a basic physical attack that takes off most of Warwick’s health. Warwick responds in kind, using his own basic physical attack which heals him a little thanks to one of his abilities and getting Ashe to just over half health. Ashe then uses her basic attack again, this does enough damage to kill Warwick, but he still gets his ‘hail mary’ action and performs a second basic attack from the grave. This can’t heal him to save him from death, but it gets Ashe down to one hitpoint and Warwick’s Summoner uses the Ignite summoner card to deal a little extra damage, finishing Ashe off. I’ll note that this result is meant to be pretty common- unless you have some serious tricks up your sleeve, in most cases a 1v1 engagement will either end in the defender just running away, either freely or after a single action’s worth of damage, or both champions dying thanks to the hail mary action. I’ll go over what happens when champions get slain in a later article, that’s all for today. Enjoy!