League of Legends basics: Minions and waves

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The minions are underestimated by beginners as nothing but a distraction while they focus on the champion. True masters of Summoner’s Rift respect the importance of these spawns of Nexus as the biggest factor to winning the game. Minions decide the pace of the game, priorities among lanes, and coverage advantage over the map.

The ‘minion wave’

Minions’ basic functions include being the main source of gold and experience (XP) for champions, holding off the enemy minions, and destroying the first structure that they crash into. They will continue to march from the moment they spawn until they die or destroy the enemy Nexus. They always spawn on schedule and in groups called ‘waves’. 

A group is called ‘two waves’ even if only one survived from the first batch before reinforcements arrived. Just one additional minion is enough to gain an advantage against the opponent’s standard wave. Pro players use this minor detail to gain an advantage in League of Legends.

Different types of minions

Minions start spawning at 1:05 then respawn with new waves every 30 seconds. A normal wave consists of three melee minions and three caster minions. The caster minions are accompanied by siege minions after every three waves on the 15-minute mark. It then spawns with every wave after 25 minutes. Minions can get buffs from destroying enemy structures or getting runes and items. 

Melee minions

The melee minions are the standard that the other variants are compared to. They are known for being on the front row with a sword and shield. Melee minions are almost impossible to kill in one shot regardless of which champion you are using. This is likely due to how their defences stack with each minute into the game. 

Caster minions

Caster minions have lower defences but higher attack damage than their melee counterparts. They are depicted with a magic wand that shoots homing projectiles. Thanks to their lower health, they are easier to kill and are often beatable by one hit of an ability. Most auto attacks will always take at least two hits to take one down. Caster minions give lower gold and XP compared to melee minions. 

Siege minions

Siege minions, or canon minions, are minions marching into battle on a tank. These have higher health and attack damage than both melee and caster minions. On top of that, they have a 30% resistance increase against damage from enemy towers. 

Only one appears per wave, adding to the original six so there are a total of seven. To differentiate a standard minion wave from ones with a siege minion, players often call the latter a ‘cannon wave’. They reward their killers with a higher amount of gold and XP so performing the last hit is vital for snowballing.

Super minions

One super minion begins spawning in every wave while the enemy inhibitor is down in that lane. Siege minions won’t appear in the same wave as a super minion. This unit has the highest health and damage output than all three types of minions combined. Super minions look like caster minions are piloting a giant mech.

Rewards for killing it are roughly equal to the siege minion but taking it down is important due to how dangerous it is for structures. Super minions have a high damage output against enemy structures to hasten the demolition. Destroying all enemy inhibitors will cause two super minions to appear in every wave but they will stop appearing on a lane where the enemy inhibitor is about to be fixed. 

The Hand of Baron

There are plenty of ways to buff minions using items but their availability can change every season. The only consistent way to give minions a power-up is with the Hand of Baron. It is a purple rune or aura that swirls around the champions. All minions gain a temporary upgrade while a holder of the Hand of Baron is nearby. 

All minions gain increased health, attack damage, movement speed, and attack speed except for the Siege Minion that actually loses 50% attack speed. However, it gains a huge attack range and splash damage to compensate. Most minions also become bigger except for the ranged minion.

The only way to get the Hand of Baron is to land the killing blow to Baron Nashor. Stealing the kill is a common way to gain the upperhand if the enemies already started attacking him. The Hand of Baron is bestowed on all living members of the team that killed him. 

Those who are waiting to respawn won’t have it once they return to battle. The buff also disappears once the holder is slain, so the best course of action to counter an enemy team with this buff is to eliminate each member. 

Three ways to control the waves

There are only three basic methods in controlling the lane namely fast pushing, slow pushing, and freezing. Whichever is ideal depends on the situation because these have a huge impact on the pace of the lane. 

Freezing is the most ideal method if you are new to the game. All you have to do is slay a dying enemy minion to secure the gold and XP without damaging the healthy ones under any circumstance. If you notice that the opponent champion is doing the same, wait for them to approach a dying minion then strike them when they’re within range of your attacks. Opponents can counter you in the same way so poke them away first before going for the kill. 

Fast pushing involves slaying an entire wave as fast as possible using abilities and well-placed attacks. Doing this will cause your wave to advance further but doing so puts them at a disadvantage. Firstly, your minions are hurt from the last battle and the skirmish is closer to the enemy’s side of the lanes, making you vulnerable to attacks. Only fast push to crash your wave into their tower or to buy time to recall or teleport to another side of the map.

Slow pushing is best suited for players who can win trades against enemy champions because you have to stay in lane to keep this up. This involves attacking the caster and cannon minions first to keep your melee minions as healthy as possible before the next wave. Don’t hurt the enemy melee minions to keep the battle in the same spot. When reinforcements arrive, eliminate the enemy caster minions again while your wave keeps growing. League of Legends is a game about control over the map and strength in numbers is the key to victory.

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