A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Shyvana!

I'm a very picky player when it comes to choosing a champion in League of Legends. Not only do I require my character to be aesthetically pleasing, but he, she, or it also needs to be mechanically coherent with my eccentric and aggressive playstyle. Unfortunately, since the release of Skarner, I haven't really taken to any of Riot's more recent champions. Talon is undeniably powerful, but I wasn't a big fan of his squishiness; Riven is a great concept on paper, but her sword swings are clunky in execution (I was looking more for something like Pandamonium from Heroes of Newerth); Xerath is fun, but his safe playstyle can get a little tedious; and while Graves is fun, his mega-popularity has turned me into a hipster - he's simply too mainstream for my tastes. Riot's newest champion, Shyvana the Half-Dragon, however, is just right for me.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Riven

With the Gamania Game Show happening in Taiwan two weeks ago, and last week's visit to Baltimore to check out Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (soon I will be able to tell you about it, I promise!), I'll admit that I haven't had many opportunities to get my League of Legends fix. This didn't, however, stop me from keeping up with the latest news, so when Riven, The Exile, was announced, I knew exactly what champion I'd be stomping it up with in my first few returning games to Runeterra. So if you were considering whether or not to pick up this unique sword-stump wielding champion, read on for your Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: the Riven edition!

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Skarner!

Whenever Riot Games releases a new champion, I like to think that my opinions are a fair reflection of the overall League of Legends community. Every now and then, however, I get really excited about an upcoming champion so, instead of even seeing what the community has to say, I just play piles of games against all sorts of opponents, tweaking my item builds, runes, and masteries, before I find something that elevates this latest addition to a whole new level. Usually, I'll emerge from my lab sessions with the opinion that this champion will be a top-tier contributor with my methods, but more often than not, I'm met with a community set on believing that Riot has introduced another underpowered champion. With all of this in mind, let's get down to talking about the newest addition to the League of Legends: Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Leona!

As a League of Legends player who usually gravitates toward female champions, I'd like to be the first to say that Riot Games has done a great job balancing the genders. In my ranked matches these days, I've been able to easily round out my teams in the categories of support (Janna, Sona), mage (Orianna, Annie), bruiser (Irelia) and ranged carry (Vayne, Ashe and Caitlynn). As far as fair and balanced female coverage goes, however, there has always been one role sorely lacking attention: the tank. Well, now fans of female champions in League of Legends can finally rejoice because, with the introduction of Leona, the Radiant Dawn, the job of tanking is now open to both genders.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Yorick!

When Riot Games first announced Yorick the Gravedigger and I heard about what his intended role would be within the game, I'll admit that I was very hesitant. Introducing a new champion in the melee DPS slot that competitive players would actually want to use is a significant challenge considering the stringent requirements that League of Legends' current metagame imposes. Ranged DPS carries considered to be "top tier" are usually judged by their ability to deal a lot of damage at all times, while the best "mages" are those with high, on-demand, burst, combined with a light splash of utility (stuns, crowd control, slows).

For the role of a "bruiser," however, which Yorick is, the requirements can get pretty high: top tier bruisers often have a few crowd control abilities to protect their squishy teammates (and catch their targets), enough damage (or utility) to be considered a major threat in a fight, the survivability to be on the front-lines at all times and good sustainability to participate in multiple team fights without needing to constantly return to base.

So does Yorick fit this long list of demands? Let's find out!

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Vayne!

It's been a while now since I last wrote a "Buyer's Guide to League of Legends," but when I heard that Riot Games would be introducing a new leather-clad, crossbow-wielding demon huntress, well, you can sure that I'd be there to check her out. Of course, like any new champion, there have been a lot of posts on the forums with players demanding nerfs and buffs, but if you just want to know if Vayne, the Night Hunter is worth your hard-earned Riot Points (or Influence Points), then read on!

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Renekton!

For the past few champion releases, Riot Games has been fairly good with producing characters that I've been genuinely interested in. Out of the most recent half-dozen new champs, I've picked three new 'mains' in the form of Lux (for support), LeBlanc (for caster damage), and Caitlyn (for attack damage). In addition to this, I've actually enjoyed the other new champions, like Irelia or Trundle, even if they weren't quite suited to my play style. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and such is the case with Riot's latest animal champion, the crocodile-headed Renekton, The Butcher of the Sands.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Caitlyn!

I have a confession to make: while I originally believed that I would be getting in some prime League of Legends (LoL) games during the holidays, I actually got burned out with LoL quite early on in December, owing partially to the excellent games I picked up on the Steam Holiday Sales (Battlefield Bad Company 2, Mass Effect 1 & 2 and Super Meat Boy) and partially to the terrible teams I kept getting put into while I queued up for my ranked games. The truth is, sometimes League of Legends can get a bit tedious if you already have hundreds of games under your belt (all on the same map, mind you) and when you start to consistently run into teammates in ranked games who have to go AFK to clean their rooms, needing a break from League of Legends is pretty understandable.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Trundle

Over the past few weeks, I've hit a rather rough patch of League of Legends games, but this is mostly due to my choice of teammates. I've been pulling a lot of random casual gaming acquaintances into LoL, and the problem that comes when you combine a high-ELO player with a lot of his low-ELO friends (add in the premade ELO team bonus when queuing in a group) is that you end up playing against mid-ELO players who stomp all over your newbie friends. I remain quite determined, however, to leave no man or woman behind and, as part of my intense training curriculum, I've moved away from my standard carry-focused champions (Le Blanc, Annie, Miss Fortune) and begun playing more 'tanky' champions (Singed, Udyr, Cho'gath) more suited to letting my teammates learn the basic mechanics of team combat.

Of course, since Riot Games is keeping a close eye on my champion selection trends (obviously!), you can trust them to introduce a brand new 'tanky' carry champion, Trundle the Cursed Troll, who pretty much fulfills all of my newbie training needs: a physically and defensively strong champion with solid support skills you can use to protect your squishier teammates.

A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Irelia

For the past two champions now, Riot Games has been behaving rather oddly. While it's not to say that they've completely lost their senses or that I believe myself to be more qualified than them, I just find it rather baffling that Riot is trying so hard to move away from the community's current focus on ranged DPS carries in competitive League of Legends games, but instead of making improvements to fix the older melee DPS champions, Riot has chosen to, instead, release a few new champions that are much better equipped to thrive. Thus, one of their latest champion releases, Irelia, the Will of the Blades, is a great example of Riot Games trying to introduce more viable melee DPS champions into the competitive League of Legends scene. Whether or not they've succeeded currently remains to be seen.