Monday, September 27, 2010

To kill a Mordekaiser

League of Legends is a game that has kind of been picked up on the run by some of my friends and I. I was never a big fan of DotA (translated: not very good at it), so my skepticism towards LoL when I first started playing it was quite high. Needless to say, it is an improvement over DotA in almost every way, which is not a surprise as it is made by the same people who started the mod in the first place.

It is a lot of fun, something our group of professional facerollers will agree upon. Having known absolutely nothing about the game at all prior to playing it, I was impressed by the way it slowly breaks you in to the mechanics and features the game has to offer. Better yet, it is a game that >5 of us are playing at once, something that has not occurred in ... well ... ever! It is also obvious that we are all getting better too.

However, me being me has chosen an odd way to go about playing this game. Without explaining/spoiling the finer elements for new players (items, stats, runes etc), I have this strange idea that owning one of each specialized type of character and learning to play them properly is the way to go about things. I am probably not alone in this decision, but I do realize it can work both for and against your favour. Well, at least initially. By playing a specific character well means you will know the strengths and limitations of that character, and can get a feel for their performance. However, at the same time you never really learn about the other characters save fighting against them or doing some research (both of which I admittedly do a bit of). So, at least at first, you will still find yourself in some hairy situations that you may consider unfair. What is important to realize is that most of these times, you have brought this on yourself, and there is always something you can or should have done to prevent it. This includes both in the game and out of the game.

One of the first characters I purchased was Mordekaiser, of whom I was incredibly pleased with. All of the research and playstyle analysis I did could not have prepared me for how much fun it is to play this walking wall of steel and spikes. His character role is vague. He has no native crowd control. His direct damage is pitiful. He has virtually no escape options, save for simply slugging it out and hoping for the best. He is incredibly susceptible to ranged characters, especially those that can kite well (e.g. Ashe). His abilities scale terribly with Ability Power (some of the worst ratios in the game). In essence, he isn't really a tank, but unless you gear him to be you don't really get far in a game (i.e. you die).

So what the hell is he good for then? If he can't CC, do good direct damage, tank or even run away, how, you ask, can I possibly enjoy playing this seemingly useless character?

Well, first of all, he pushes like a freight train. Full of lead. That's on fire. Put him in a lane and he will eat everything in it if it is void of enemy players. Put an enemy player in it and he will still push it. Put another enemy player in it? If they are both melee and shit ... he will still push it. Put 3 in? Alright, that's a few too many, but you get the picture. Usually I don't like pushing a lane at all unless I really need the gold now or I can see 4-5 enemy champions somewhere else in the map. Prior to level 14-ish enemies, sitting under your own tower is the best way to guarantee your survival (unless they are tower diving). But when we need to push, Mordekaiser can certainly move the pain train along, killing about 90% of minon waves in his wake. This may seem not to be all that useful but I ask you, when you are killing a tower, what is the tower shooting at? Most of the time it will be your own minions. If you can push 2-3 waves of friendly minions under the enemy tower it is as good as dead.

Besides map control, there is another, more deceptive reason. This may not be so much a trait of Mordekaiser as it is so much something I do in general when laning against my foes (usually solo). However, Mordekaiser's passive ability, being a temporary shield which charges when he does damage (which synergizes well with his abilities) allows him to do it much more efficiently. The term could be described as Obfuscating Stupidity, but I prefer to simply call it 'pretending to be shit'. Purposefully getting too close, walking the wrong way, attacking nothing but air, wasting your cooldowns, reacting far too slow etc. Most of these actions will get any other hero killed, but with Mord, providing you do a little bit of ability damage, you can take a few hits, still push your lane and come out even. Usually the enemy player/s will get cocky. Overextend a bit. Take a few tower hits now and then. As you pretend to panic and (apparently) desperately try and kill the enemy minions to save your lane, you will inevitably push and end up meeting them in the middle. Where they will always end up trying to gank you ...

... at which point you flick the switch and fucking blow their faces off! A Mordekaiser that has been feeding on minions (full shield) and has all his cooldowns up is about the worst 1v1 fight I can think of outside of fighting a Warwick. Hell, even in a 2v1 situation it is bad. Probably worse as your shield will charge that much better (2 aoe targets instead of one). He wont kill you straight away, often making him bad for attempting ganks. But being ganked, where the enemy is committed? Plenty of time to deal his short cooldown, consistent damage. Most of the time I will get a kill employing this technique. At worse I will chase them off and let them think about their actions for awhile. I would like to think this style of combat would confuse most enemy players and hopefully demoralize them on repeated failed attempts. But I guess I can never really know.

This has all got me thinking about how I would actually kill a Mordekaiser if I happened to be laning against one, especially if they were being an asshole like I do. The truth is, having played him, I know exactly what would kill me. Doing damage to him every now and then is pointless as more often than not you will just strip a bit of his shield. Attempting to bring him down face to face as a melee character will probably result in your death (unless you are like dps Garen, Warwick or Bob). Unless you are a ranged kiter or a heavy nuker, you don't have much of a chance.

So here is my list of 5 ways to kill a mockingbird:
  1. Crowd Control. Silences, stuns, snares. Anything to keep Mordekaiser from chaining his abilities will eventually kill him. If he cant keep his shield up he will flop down dead in seconds.
  2. Kiting. This is a given, but if you are ranged and can afford a Rylai's or Frozen Mallet, this will get you a kill on Mordekaiser. Eventually.
  3. Anti-tank items. Almost every guide I have looked at suggest making Mord tankish, and having played him I tend to agree. With that knowledge, stacking Magic Penetration (or Armor Pen, depending on what he is doing) as well as items like Madred's Bloodrazor will allow you to drop him much easier in team fights and solo.
  4. Get him in the jungle. If you are going to gank Mordekaiser, try and do it in the forestry. Pushing lanes he will have >50% shield at least. Walking around between lanes he will have none. Makes sense to me.
  5. Ignore him. Honestly, unless he is rolling a Frozen Mallet and a Rylai's Scepter, he isnt going to catch you, and if he does, he is just going to bonk you on the head a few times before you get within safety. With no CC and no decent direct damage you really have very little to worry about.
But you best be careful in a team fight. Oh my!

Note: League of Legends is made by RiotGames which can be downloaded from their website here.This post has merely detailed the ins and outs of one of the current 60 characters in the game, many of which have unique playstyles. I highly recommend trying this game out. Being free, you have nothing to lose and nothing to complain about.

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