Chances are, the first time you try your hand at Vainglory you’ll get ganked almost immediately by a crystal-toting Glaive.
If you’d rather avoid that ignominious end, you’ll want to read our guide to all things Vainglory. It’s loaded with tips and tricks on how to kick ass in this excellent iOS game, an Apple favorite that showcases the awesome fun possible in the multiplayer online battle arena genre.
You’ll find basic and advanced gameplay tips, plus a special top 10 list for every hero in the game, right from the developers themselves.
Pretty soon you’ll be the one pwning your enemies with nonchalant ease, just like Scarf Guy.
There are a ton of tutorial videos within the game app itself (the basics one is above) — be sure to watch them. Once you’re ready to play, though, our list of tips and tricks, plus a special bit on how to best use the Heroes themselves directly from the developers, should help you dominate quickly and easily in most of your matches.
First of all, each Vainglory match takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t start playing if you can’t stay in the game for that long, as you’ll lose valuable Karma points. Karma gives you bonus Glory points after in each match, and also pairs you up with other high Karma players, to be sure you have a game full of players willing to put in the time.
Glory lets you purchase heroes, which lets you play them anytime you like, rather than just during their free period. Every so often, the three or four free heroes will rotate to another set, letting you try them all out over time, but also encouraging you to spend your Glory (or ICE, which can be earned and purchased with real money).
Like any other MOBA, there are a ton of heroes to play with. Vainglory has ten of them, each with strengths and weaknesses. Some are quick ranged fighters, some are big melee bruisers, some are stealthy killers, and some are made to take a lot of punishment. Try out each one a few times in the Practice arenas, available from the Play icon to the left of the main screen (it looks like a sword).
The main goal of Vainglory is to destroy all your opponent’s defensive turrets, make your way to the enemy base, and shatter the huge crystal full of a magical substance called Vain. Once you shatter the crystal you win, but there are other goals along the way. Minion mines open up four minutes into the game. Taking control of the two mines gives your minions (the little dudes trying to destroy turrets) extra strength. There’s also a gold mine in the center of the map. Maintaining control of the gold mine is critical in order to buy more abilities and items faster than your opponents.
You’ll fight for all three mines all while defending your own base and trying not to die in a brawl. Fifteen minutes into the match the gold mine gets replaced with the Kraken, who can turn the tide of a battle if your team can manage to capture her.
You’ll be fighting in teams of three, and you get to choose your hero on the first screen you see after starting and accepting a match. No one on your team can play the same hero after you lock it in, so if you have a favorite, grab it quick. If your two teammates lock in their picks before you, make sure to choose a hero that fills a hole left by the others. Learning more than one hero in your repertoire will help when a teammate picks your favorite.
The trick to the first 5-10 minutes of the game is to level up your hero as quickly as possible. Each kill earns you more gold to purchase better items. The more gold you make than everyone else, the higher your odds of survival will be in battle. There are two ways to earn this gold: Killing minions in the lane at the top of the map, or hunting trolls in the jungle along the bottom. Some heroes, like Glaive, Koshka, and Catherine, excel at jungling, while others, like Petal, Ringo, and Saw, are better at fighting in the lane. Kurl, Taka, Joule, and Adagio can be built to play well in both.
Before you head out into battle, make sure you buy your first item and some potions to keep your health up while fighting. Minions spawn from each team’s base and automatically head up the lanes, attacking everything in their path, including turrets. They’re the epitome of cannon fodder, but they’re extremely useful, as turrets will attack minions first, letting you get in some choice hits on the turrets.
Advanced Gameplay Tips
MOBAs are all about strategic repetition, and Vainglory is no exception. When jungling, kill all the monsters you can while avoiding enemy heroes and keeping your health up via potions. Hide in the tall grass and don’t move to stay hidden when enemies approach for easier ganking (sneak attacking).
Make your way across the bottom of the map, earning gold for each “last hit” you complete. Stop at the shop mid-map to buy new abilities, or teleport back to base where you can heal up faster and shop.
When you’re laning, be sure to hit each enemy minion for the kill, or “last hit” as it’s called in-game. You’ll only get gold for each last hit you perform successfully. Avoid enemies if you’re weaker than they are, or attack them when you know your hero can take some abuse.
You’ll also level up your abilities as you gain experience either by killing monsters, other heroes, or lane minions. Each of these three abilities give your character its distinctive play style. Glaive has a spinning axe blade power with a follow up punch that just can’t be beat, Catherine has a brutal stunning move that lays enemies out for a moment or two, and Petal can drop little plant mines that heal teammates and let your team see remote parts of the map.
When it comes to building out your hero, don’t always follow the recommended path. Mixing up items and abilities can create some truly unique and powerful playing styles. Play with the different abilities as much as you can, too, and use them wisely — they each have a cool down time that you’ll want to manage so you’re not out of pocket when enemy heroes come calling.
Items are the other secret to dominating in the game. There are items in different categories, including defense, weapons, and ability cool down times. Each item can build into another, better item, with an ultimate item from each category filling up the shop for high prices. You’ll want to focus on building up your item trees so that you have the best of each category in your limited item slots. If you need inspiration, or want to see how others are using their heroes, check out VainGloryFire’s extensive build guides like this particularly fantastic one for Catherine. While our guide isn’t meant to get into so much detail, study build guides like the above one and really fine tune your game.
Once you’ve gotten to a decent level with your hero, and feel like you’ve got some quality items, you can start attacking enemy heroes when the time is right. Be careful of jumping out into the lane near the enemy turrets, as they’ll target you when there are no minions around. Conversely, if an enemy is chasing you through the jungle, fleeing toward the lane near your own team’s turret can be a surefire way to make them stop their pursuit.
Hero Tips from the Developers
We asked the geniuses at SuperEvil MegaCorp for some tips on the best way to fight with and against each hero on the board, whether it’s how to avoid Krul’s flying sword, or how to supercharge Ringo’s attacking in the lane.
Here are 10 tips on how to become a unbeatable at Vainglory, straight from the nerds that built it:
Playing Taka – Try to stay out of sight until you find an opportunity to get to a high value, squishy target. Don’t wait too long, though, to avoid losing your bonus. Unless you’re building heavy Crystal, be tactical about how you use your abilities. Time them to avoid damage, catch up to fleeing enemies, or escape from rough situations.
Countering Taka – Even if Taka is dominating early in the game he can still struggle to survive in the middle of teamfights. Stay grouped up and be ready to target him.
Playing Joule – Look to isolate vulnerable targets with Rocket Leap, or use it as a teamfight scrambler.
Countering Joule – If you get up in Joule’s face, you’re likely to eat her energy beam ultimate.
Playing Adagio – Triggering Reflex Block (defense item) will protect Adagio when channeling his ultimate.
Countering Adagio – Building Atlas Pauldron will protect you from Adagio’s (and allies’) frequent ranged basic attacks.
Playing Krul – Krul is viable building Weapon (attack speed), Utility (Shiversteel/Atlas Pauldron) and Crystal (Alternating Current). It all depends on your desired role in the match and your team composition. Also consider Reflex Block if a teammate isn’t building Crucible for you.
Countering Krul – Be mentally prepared to dodge the sword throw. Activating your boots can help you evade or get out of range.
Playing Catherine – Use Catherine’s stun to cancel Adagio & Koshka’s ultimates and SAW’s spin up.
Countering Catherine – Expect frequent lane ganks. Do not stray too far from your turret unless you see Catherine is elsewhere on the mini-map.
Playing Petal – Sprout no more than 5 seeds in close proximity for healing (doesn’t stack beyond that).
Countering Petal – Watch Petal’s energy bar: Players who abuse Petal’s abilities will be vulnerable when low energy.
Playing Glaive – Glaive can be effectively built focusing on damage, critical strike or attack speed.
Countering Glaive – Catherine’s Stormguard is a great counter to Glaive’s close-range attacks.
Playing Koshka – Use Koshka’s ultimate to lock down the most dangerous opponent or to cancel enemy ultimates such as Adagio’s.
Countering Koshka – Catherine’s Stormguard effectively limits and deflects Koshka’s burst damage.
Playing Ringo – Shoot an enemy hero after killing a lane minion. Ringo’s Double Down Heroic Perk guarantees the next attack will be a critical strike.
Countering Ringo – Reflex Block is always a great purchase against Ringo. Trigger it as soon as you realize there’s a Hellfire Brew fireball headed your way.
Playing SAW – Once you have full Spin Up, just keep shooting. You have a much greater chance of killing an enemy than escaping it. Offense is SAW’s best defense.
Countering SAW – When SAW has committed with Suppressing Fire, flank around the bullets and attack. He’ll be slow to respond.
Extra reporting and awesome animated gifs: Buster Hein