League of Legends Buyer's Guide

Free-to-play cash shops can be treacherous terrain. You've got to avoid the money-sink traps on your way to finding the best value items for your playstyle—whether that's content, skins, or features. That's why we've put together this colorful treasure map to help you find the best loot for your buck in League of Legends . We use $50 (7200 RP) as the base investment most players make into their games, but also include a budget tier below.

General League of Legends shopping guidelines

  • Avoid buyer's regret! 10 different champions are free to play every week. Test before buying.

  • Never buy a skin until after you've enjoyed playing that champion for at least one week. Skins are expensive (most are $5-10), and are worthless if you're not playing that champ.
  • There are two currencies in the game: Riot Points (RP) and Influence Points (IP). IP is earned by playing and can be used to buy champions or runes. RP must be purchased with real money and can be used to buy champions, skins, or XP/IP boosts.
  • Spend your first IP on Tier One Runes. Runes can only be purchased with IP, and the highest-quality runes are very expensive. You can build a full set of 30 Tier One Runes for less IP than it costs to buy a single Tier Three Quintessence. Buy Tier Three runes when you're ready to start playing competitively.
  • If at all possible, wait for a sale. Riot puts different champions/skins on sale every week, and you can save a bundle by only buying when they're on sale.
  • You get a huge IP reward for your first win every day, so try to spread your games out.

AP Carry shopping list ($50)

1. 20-win IP boost (1250 RP): More IP equals more Runes, which you'll need to be successful as a carry. Save this for when you've leveled up a bit and plan on playing PvP matches, which give more IP than bot or custom games.

2. Champions Bundle (3900 RP): This bundle gives you 20 champions, including some great AP mids like Karthus, Katarina, Twisted Fate, Anivia, Ashe, and Kassadin.

3. Evelynn (585 RP): This blue widow-maker adds a stealthy, melee mix to your arsenal.

4. Veigar (585 RP): Heavy AoE CC lets Veigar contribute more than just damage to teamfights.

5. Orianna (880 RP): Manipulating her ball companion makes Orianna's complex style very unique.

= 7200 RP total

AD Carry shopping list ($50)

Warning: This is the most expensive position to buy into, with no good bundles and very limited cheap champion options. But it does have some of the best skins, so I couldn't resist adding a little fluff.

1. Ezreal (880): The go-to pro pick at last year's world championship. No one is more reliable.

2. Corki (790): For plane enthusiasts and those that prefer a safe getaway.

3. Caitlyn (790): Long-range assassinations will make you smile every time.

4. Draven (975): This dark horse, short-range champ will push your skills to their limit.

5. Miss Fortune (880): A fast-moving, big-shooting pirate queen with the sexiest loading art in the game.

6. Graves (975): Another gunslinger (noticing a trend?), with a few nice tricks in his arsenal.

7. Twitch (790): Brings stealth to the AD carry role, and requires some finesse to make him perform well.

8. One skin: Urfrider Corki (975), Officer Caitlyn (975), Mafia Graves (975), or Cowgirl Miss Fortune (975)

= 7050 RP total

Support shopping list ($50)

1. Taric (585): Classic support with heals, armor, and a ranged stun.

2. Soraka (260): You're not a support player until you've thrown yellow bananas as Soraka.

3. Blitzcrank (790): Grab enemy, stun enemy, silence enemy. Watch teammate kill enemy.

4. Nunu (260): Good harass and an ultimate that makes enemies abandon their attack.

5. Nidalee (790): Nidalee's poke damage is guaranteed to make one person ragequit.

6. Sona (790): A steadfast standard in the lineup of go-to support champions.

7. Lulu (975): Small yordle with a big hat and a fairy friend. What more do you need?

8. Poppy (260): Hyper aggressive and obnoxious against AD carries that lack an escape tool.

9. Lux (790): Strong support with an ultimate that can contribute heavy DPS in teamfights.

10. Karma (790): This lover of balance isn't great now, but her kit is fun and she's getting a revamp soon.

11. One skin: Arcade Sona (975), Bloodstone Taric (975), Bittersweet Lulu (975), or Grungy Nunu (975)

12. Ward skins (free... for now): Ward skins have their own tab in the cash shop, but only free holiday options are offered at the moment. Once ward skins are for sale, you'll probably want to pick one up. Half your job as Support will be placing these little buggers.

= 7265 RP total

Jungle shopping list ($50)

1. Digital Collector's Pack (2520): The great thing about jungling is that while some champions are better suited for the role, almost any can do it. These 40 classic champs include some great junglers like Alistar, Amumu, Cho'Gath, Fiddlesticks, Malphite, Rammus, Tryndamere, and Warwick. The pack actually costs 3900 RP, but includes a 1380 RP bonus.

2. Kha'Zix (975): Kha'Zix evolves over the course of a match, super-charging his abilities one at a time. Best used by people that know their opponents' weakness.

3. Shaco (790): The first champion I ever fell in love with. Sneaky daggers, clones, and hidden jack-in-the-boxes will keep the enemy team guessing.

4. Diana (975): Leaps, stuns, and plenty of damage—the hallmark of a great ganking jungler.

5. Shyvana (975): She turns into a dragon. She. Turns. Into. A. Dragon.

6. One skin: Mad Hatter Shaco (975), Jurassic Cho'Gath (975), Sad Robot Amumu (975), Surprise Party Fiddlesticks (975), Full Metal Rammus (975)

= 7210 RP total

Top lane shopping list ($50)

1. Darius (975): The dunk-master himself. Learn to love his ultimate that made the phrase "dunking" popular for kill-shotting champs in LoL.

2. Singed (585): One of the best solo pushers in the business. In the world championships, one Singed was able to fend off three opponents and still control his lane.

3. Teemo (585): The little bundle of joy/death that everyone loves to hate. Kite like a madman and leave poisonous mushrooms everywhere you go.

4. Heimerdinger (790): The king of placeable pets, Heimer drops turrets to claim land in the name of his own personal technocracy.

5. Jayce (975): Strong poke, a harsh dunk, and a suave look that woos women from miles away.

6. Shen (790): A tank with a global teleport that helps you go wherever you're needed.

7. Master Yi (260): Strong split-pushing capabilities and a ninja sword that just won't quit.

8. Wukong 975: A stealthy monkey god that loves to whack people with his stick.

9. Garen (260): Straightforward and easy to learn, Garen is a solid starter champ.

10. One skin: Bioforge Darius (975), Surfboard Singed (487), Super Teemo (975), Alien Invader Heimerdinger (910), Surgeon Shen (975)

= 7170 RP total

Shopping list for people who don't know what these other words mean ($50)

1. Digital Collector's Pack (2520): Ignore the bundled skin, but cherish the 20 champions and diverse runes that will get your stat train rolling.

2. Champions Bundle (3900): It's not as good of a deal as the other pack, but there's no overlap between their rosters so you'll net 20 more classic champs for the cost of four new ones. They aren't as shiny, but they fight just as well!

3. Three skins from the sale rack: Riot consistently swaps out the skins that are on sale, and there's always a decent stack at 260 RP. Most of them are pretty lackluster, but a few gems creep into the group (like Mr. Mundoverse and Angler Jax). Once you've settled on a few favorite champions, keep an eye out for a skin you like.

= 7200 RP total

Shopping on a budget ($20)

1. Digital Collector's Pack (2520): Technically you have to put $35 into the shop to buy this 3900 RP pack, but because it refunds you 1380 RP when you buy it, the pack only costs you about $18. And it's so much better than any other option in its price range that it'd be absurd to recommend anything else. You get 20 champions, a meh skin, and four Runes for less than the price of the last three champions.

2. One sale rack skin: You won't find the best duds at the 260 price tag, but you'll find one you can learn to love if you're patient.

= 2780 RP total

League of Legends' overall affordability: B-

The good: The 10 free rotating champions and completely unhindered access to features and game modes make it easy to play LoL without playing a dime. I like that there's no direct way to buy power in the cash shop, and that Riot goes even further by making the direct-power items (Runes) only purchasable with IP, which must be earned in-game (although boosts can provide a slight bump to farming rates). Being able to farm in-game currency to buy new champions is a generous model that lets the truly devoted ride free.

The bad: While a lot of classic champions and disappointing skins have found their way to the bargain bin, you have to shell out a hefty heap of dough to nab anything new. When a new champion is released every two to three weeks, the $10 price tag on each starts to look prohibitive. And that same $10 price tag looks utterly absurd when attached to skins that must be purchased based solely on its depiction in a drawing.

Verdict: LoL has played a huge part in sparking the free-to-play tsunami that continues to engulf western markets. New LoL players still get a lot of free fun today, but they now have to buy more than 100 champions to fill their roster in LoL, while rising competitor Dota 2 offers all of its heroes for free. Having access to every champion may not be as important to balance in LoL as it is in Dota 2, but it's still a primary source of fun. Riot needs to revisit its free champion offerings and the pricing of still-sorta-new champions to see how it can improve the hopeless feeling new players get when they log into a giant wall of champions that they can't, and may never, play.