We love games like Dota 2 , League of Legends , and Smite , but the myriad skills needed to master their complex gameplay can scare new players away. That's why we occasionally pick a key skill and teach you how to master it, using a character that particularly excels at or relies on that skill in-game.
We've activated League of Legends expert and former Senior Editor Josh Augustine to tackle the science (and art) of wards—the consumable items that you drop to illuminate LoL's ever-present fog of war. No one is better at warding the map than the little scout Teemo, who can toss down his own sight-granting mushrooms in addition to ordinary wards.
The skill — Warding
The scariest thing in games like League of Legends and Dota 2 is not knowing where your opponents are. If you can't see them, they have the huge advantage of being able to choose the time and place that they engage your team. Wards are the solution: placing them in key locations throughout the map can give your entire team the ability to not only predict incoming ganks and escape them, but also to monitor enemy movement and pick out the best times to be aggressive.
In LoL, warding the map is usually considered the job of the the support player or jungler, who already spend their time and gold helping their teammates. But anyone can do it and you probably should if your teammates aren't.
The champion — Teemo, The Swift Scout
Teemo has been the most polarizing champion in LoL since we first revealed him in the magazine over three years ago. Equal parts cute, annoying, and griefer, this little bundle of poisonous darts has been used to troll games from the lowest ELOs to the All-Star Pro game before the Season Two world championships in October, where MakNooN played him in a jungle role as a joke. Even LoL's Lead Producer, Travis George , has told me that Teemo's secret passive is a global taunt, because everyone immediately wants to kill him.
But Teemo is more than just controversy, he's a fast, fluffy blur that mixes AP and AD damage and excels at on-hit effects. He also throws stealthed mushrooms—powerful fungi that grant his team vision of the area and slow opponents that trip over them. His skillset makes him a great one-on-one dueler, but he lacks any sort of serious presence in larger teamfights. As such, he's usually played in top lane, where he can (ideally) isolate his lane with mushroom land mines and pressure his opponent.
Our goal this week is to understand the primary benefits that warding offers to you and your team, how to capitalize on those advantages, and to identify key locations that should be warded to encourage efficient use of the gold you're spending to place them. On top of all that, we'll learn the best places to use Teemo's special brand of mushrooms as wards and defensive traps.
Builds and Items
My friend and dedicated Teemo player Jeff Wycoff once told me that the first thing you need to know about playing AP Teemo is that it's bad. And while that may be true, the second thing you need to know about playing AP Teemo is that it's fun. There's very few things as funny as watching an enemy player limp away from battle, thinking that they've escaped, and then stumble across a mushroom and yell into chat as they slowly bleed to death.
The most successful builds for Teemo will focus on Attack Damage, relying on his quick movement speed and ability to blind his opponents to allow him to go toe-to-toe with most champions. Strong items for AD Teemo include Frozen Mallet Berserker's Greaves , and Blade of the Ruined King .
For this little experiment, however, we're going to build Teemo AP for a few reasons. One, Teemo's shrooms scale off of AP and it's more fun to play with shrooms when they're bursting for big damage. Two, it's funny. Three, it's a very unique playstyle. Some key items to build, depending on your opponents, are Nashor's Tooth , Rabadon's Deathcap , Zhonya's Hourglass , Liandry's Torment , Malady , Rylai's Crystal Scepter , and Sorcerer's Shoes .
For non-Teemos looking to ward for the entire match duration (usually the support champion), an absolutely essential item to buy is the Ruby Sightstone . This is a new Season 3 item that allows you to pay a large one-time cost to place infinite wards that last three minutes each throughout the match, with a maximum of three up at a time. Less-dedicated warders can pick up single-use Sight Wards and Vision Wards —more expensive, pink wards that also reveal hidden units, including other wards.
The tiniest little serial killer
But we're playing Teemo this week, so let's take a quick look at his arsenal. The key skills for his AP build are Toxic Shot, which deals magic damage on every auto-attack and leaves behind a DoT effect, and the Noxious Trap mushrooms I mentioned earlier, which have a whopping 10-minute duration.
Move Quick is a great ability that lets you move faster when not being hit by enemy champions, letting you dive in and out of range for quick pokes on melee champs. And his Q, Blinding Dart, is a great failsafe that helps Teemo hold his own when confrontation can't be avoided. And of course, his Camouflage passive lets him line up some fun ganks by lying in wait next to his shrooms.
The order that you should upgrade these abilities while playing AP Teemo is: R > E > W > Q.
Phase 1: Don't die
It starts easy: you really only have one ward to place at the start of the game. Getting last-hits (which we covered last session ) is absolutely crucial early in any game like LoL. The gold and XP you earn will snowball you to future victories, but you can't do it if you're constantly being harassed by roamers ganking your lane. And Teemo is a very tempting target for champions with stuns and leaps.
Place your starting ward into the brush that borders your river entrance. Place it on the edge of the brush closest to the direction gankers will be traveling from to give you most warning. Support champions on bottom lane should place their ward in the same area.
These are the most commonly warded spots in the entire map, and for good reason: this is where 99% of all ganks will come from as long as you maintain the central position of the creep waves. As long as you're in this part of your lane, make sure that this brush remains warded. This is also good to keep in mind when you start looking to clear out the enemy teams wards to allow your teammates to gank your lane—tossing down a Vision Ward to this area will almost certainly let you gobble up one or more enemy wards.
Junglers fearing a level one invade (when the enemy team rushes to attack you in your jungle at the start of the game), can toss a starting ward closer to the jungler's first objective—either red or blue buff—to let you make a tactical retreat.
Support players on bottom may want to put a ward into the opposing team's lane brush to prevent aggressive support champions like Blitzcrank, Nidalee, and Nami from tossing surprise CC onto you. Doing so also lets your AD carry take cheap shots at champs that wander too close inside the brush who think they're safe. Remember, you can throw a ward into the brush without walking into it.
But as a top-lane Teemo, one ward should be enough to tide us over until we hit level six, when we can start placing shrooms. Until then, play it safe and don't push your lane. Stay close to your tower and retreat at the first sign of a gank.
Wall them in
Once you have access to shrooms, it's time to expand your fungi bunker to legendary lengths and toss your tiny, fluffy weight around up top. Your goal is to place mushrooms in such a way that no one can come up to your lane without stepping on at least one of them, giving you time to either escape unscathed or take pot-shots at the slowed champion if you want to take him out.
Key spots to hit for top lane, in order of importance are: (1) the river brush, (2) on the open river next to the brush, (3) the tri-corner brush just above there, (4) the corner of your lane's river entrance that is closest to your tower, and (5) near Baron and blue buff. You shouldn't need to ward the brush that runs along the top of your lane at this stage, but you can if your opponent is dipping into it often.
Traditional wards have a much wider range of sight than Teemo's mushrooms. If you're not Teemo, consider ward placement near spots number 1, 3, or the middle location of the 5s (blue circles), depending on the direction ganks are usually coming from. Similar placement works on bottom lane.
It's a fair criticism to say that we've been incredibly selfish with our Teemo shrooms and wards so far. And, early on, that's kind of okay. It's not safe for support champions to roam outside their lane to place wards during the first few levels, and Teemo needs all the help he can get. Teemo isn't quite a top-tier champion, and he really needs to get off to a good start to be of real use to his team. Embrace the selfishness that swaddles our fluffy Teemo in an impenetrable barrier of exploding mushrooms, at least for now.
Next page: The later phases of ward placement, key locations for them, master tweaks, and your homework for the week.