Since the earliest days of the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, non-player units have been an integral aspect. From the creeps of DOTA to the teeny tiny minions of League of Legends, these little critters are inevitable and the primary source of income for all the Heroes and Champions.
In League of Legends, minions serve both teams, spawning periodically in a 30-second interval. They rush and swarm all three Lanes (the Jungle is explicitly reserved for neutral units), and they will continuously do so for the entire game. Champions can attack them and are rewarded gold and XP for each dead minion.
Due to their numbers and constant presence, they’re the primary source of XP points in League. They can also be the most significant source of gold, depending on how the player performs.
Minions cannot cast spells and only have basic attacks. When isolated, they don’t really do much to Champions, as their stats are pretty low. However, minions can damage Champions and structures tremendously when stacked in a giant swarm. This is why learning how to manage waves of minions is so vitally important in League of Legends.
As minions are an integral part of League’s core gameplay loop, you need to understand and learn all about them. They’re intricately tied to all game phases, from the earliest stages to the very end. Wave management, last-hitting, using minions for a tactical advantage, and so much more is a must-know for aspiring League of Legends players such as yourself. So strap in, and let’s dive into the world of League of Legends minions.
Types of Minions in League of Legends
Staying within the tradition established by DOTA, League of Legends has three different types of minions. There are the melee, ranged, and cannon minions in League that all behave similarly but have their own respective characteristics.
The melee and ranged minions are the most common types. They will spawn with each wave, having three of each. Their damage and HP are the lowest of all the minions, and they will grant 21 and 14 gold, respectively, if killed.
What’s interesting about them is their ability to swarm up quickly. If a wave is appropriately managed, and we’ll talk about that later in the article, there can be over 10 of these little guys in a Lane at the same time. When a Champion of their side is attacked, they will all aggro to the attacker and can deal massive damage to him. Therefore, even though they are the weakest type, they can easily be exploited and become a great defensive tool in dire situations.
Every now and again the melee and ranged minions are joined by the cannon minion. This guy rides a little tank and has the most defensive and offensive stats of the basic minions. He’s also called the siege minion due to his high damage against structures and passive damage reduction against Turrets.
Being so sturdy and infrequent, the cannon minion also grants the most gold, between 60 and 90, depending on the match minute. Cannon minions spawn with every third wave until minute 25, when they start spawning in every other wave. Later in the game, cannon minions become as common as the other ones, spawning each wave and granting 90 gold per kill. This makes them highly valuable in the Late game and the prioritized source of income and farming.
There is another type of minion in League of Legends that should be noted. If an Inhibitor is destroyed, the opposing side’s respective Lane will start spawning Super Minions. These guys are highly resistant to damage, have great offensive stats, and are the perfect siege weapon. They replace the cannon minion and grant the max amount of 90 gold when killed, as well as a ton of XP.
Both sides can make use of the Super Minions–one for better sieging and attacks, the other for XP and gold farming.
When all three inhibitors are destroyed, all three Lanes start spawning two Super Minions each. This is usually when most people start giving up hope, as fighting against six Super Minions is really difficult, considering that they’ll wipe out your own minions without breaking a sweat. Even so, this can be seen as an opportunity for a comeback due to how much gold and XP they drop. There’s always a way out in League of Legends, so quitting is never the answer.
What is Wave Management in League of Legends?
Considering all we’ve said above about the constant and inevitable presence of minions on each Lane, managing them is one of the most essential gameplay aspects in League of Legends. We can safely say that this is an advanced mechanic that players must learn to grow and develop.
Wave management is the controlling of how minion waves act and position themselves on the Lane. It allows the player to control the behavior and circumstances on their respective Lane completely. For example, if you want to set up a gank, you will avoid attacking minions and allow the enemies to push. Freezing Lanes means approaching the minion wave carefully and avoiding doing excess damage. Shoving the Lane means pushing hard and crashing the enemy tower, and so on and so forth.
There’s also the tactical side of using minions to your advantage. Depending on how minions are positioned, enemies may have to walk up or away to farm. You can use these positional circumstances to get a good trade or even straight-up kill the enemy if you’re stronger. The importance of minions and their structure is crucial to your Laning and performance.
Tips on Wave Management in League of Legends
If you want to have the Lane frozen and kept at bay, you will have to perfectly last hit the enemy minions. Attacking minions constantly means you will slowly or quickly push the Lane in, leading to tower crashing and yourself being exposed for a gank. Whoever pushes the Lane farthest is the one that will most likely be ganked. Waves should be slow-pushed or shoved only in circumstances that require doing so. Anything else is just setting yourself up for death.
Perfectly last-hitting minions leads to a frozen Lane that generally stays in the same spot. This leaves little to no room for the enemy Jungler to gank (unless they approach from the Fog of War, but that’s another thing and you should refer to our ward guide for more information). If the enemy Champion is absent, and you still want to freeze the Lane for the purpose of zoning them, you should always seek to leave at least four healthy enemy minions alive before your next wave arrives. This will create a vicious cycle of minions sticking to a single spot (usually moved toward either tower, but proper management will have them standing on your side), allowing you to completely zone your enemy out of farm and XP. It’s also rather difficult to break this cycle as the Jungler cannot gank due to your proximity to the tower.
The last basic minion wave management tactic would be shoving or pushing the Lane. This is done if you wish to recall or roam to other parts of the map. Never recall without a tower crash unless you are forced to do so.
To be completely honest, I will even avoid a forced recall if I can get at least one more wave in before going back. Recalling on the enemy’s push (this usually switches every once in a while due to tower damage) will deprive you of a ton of gold and XP, leading to a major skew in the enemy’s favor.
How Valuable are Minions in League of Legends?
Minions in League of Legends are your primary source of income and XP. They are always there for the taking if you wish to do so. Simply put: you cannot do anything in the game without having a ton of farmed-up minions. They grant an insane amount of gold for little to no effort and should be prioritized, especially in the game’s early stages.
For example, leaving your Lane early without crashing the enemy’s tower will disadvantage you. You see, before the mid-game, farming is more valuable than kills. Fifteen minions equal a single kill. This is less than three waves or 90 seconds of time. Every 90 seconds, you can get more than a kill of worth from minions, making them exceptionally valuable in the game’s earlier stages. The XP side of things is important, too. You won’t get anywhere near equal XP from a kill as you would from fifteen minions. The enemy who farms and gains massive XP will eventually trump over you despite your fresh kill from a roam.
Cannon minions also cost you a ton if you miss them. They can give you upwards of 90 gold for a last hit. In the early game, you only see them every now and again, thus making that 60 gold last hit that much more valuable. Later on, when they increase in frequency, they also increase in worth. Grabbing as many of these little tanks as possible will help you purchase whatever item much faster and without the hassle.
Players will often refer to the Jungle for additional income. But this is a misleading tactic. You will get 90 gold from defeating a powerful Gromp who requires five times the effort of a cannon minion. Go into a Lane and quickly snag these guys whenever you get the chance as the gold racks up quickly.
In general, minions should be farmed up and last hit as much as humanly possible. Just look at Faker doing all he can to last-hit every single minion he can. It’s just that important and has to be prioritized.
One tip on last-hitting: Using abilities is perfectly fine so long as it doesn’t damage the minion structure. You will get the feeling through sheer experience, and no amount of explanation will help you here. Only know that you should use your spells for last hitting and time them precisely right. Refer to Faker’s video above for reference.
Melee minions have the most HP, so you should deal with them accordingly. They will go down much slower than the ranged ones, so watch out not to miss the backline while focusing on the front.
When it comes to farming under the tower, melee minions can take 3 hits before going down. After two tower shots, the melee minion is left with a tiny bit of HP–perfect for a last hit. Ranged minions are a bit different. They can take two tower shots in total, but this can be manipulated to your advantage. You can auto-attack, let the tower hit them once, then auto-attack again and grab the gold. However, this is true only for low AD and early game moments. Later on, it’s usually a tower shot and an auto attack and you’re good to go.
Cannon minions can take a lot of hits before going down. Let them get down to the lowest HP they can (6 tower shots), and then throw an auto-attack for the juicy gold.
Tactical and Strategic Importance of Minions in League of Legends
Minions play a significant strategic role in League of Legends. They’re your cannon fodder for tanking Turret shots while you safely chip away at it. They also help you defend your base from enemy attacks, strike at Champions attacking you and your allies, and are the perfect tool for getting in some additional damage during a teamfight.
Baron Nashor and the insanely powerful Baron buff also give Minions an extra strategic edge. When buffed by the Baron, minions gain speed, HP, damage, and everything else under the Sun. Cannon minions especially enjoy the Baron’s favor, gaining enough extra range to attack a Turret outside of its reach. If adequately protected, the buffed cannon minion can decimate enemy structures and pave the way for a final victorious push.
Super Minions also get massive buffs from the Baron. However, for the sake of balance, these aren’t as proportionally extreme as the cannon or melee minions. Nevertheless, the Super Minions can win games singlehandedly with or without the Baron buff, so they’re as strategically important as a minion can be.
Tactically, minions have a ton of different uses on the Lane. You can utilize minions to get in a good trade by forcing the enemy to walk up for farm. If they’re weaker, you can use this forced gap-closer to initiate a fight and either trade favorably or kill the enemy. Conversely, the enemy may have to distance themselves for the same reason, allowing you to farm safely and push the Lane in.
Minions can also be a massive safeguard in the early game. When stacked up, minions can do a ton of damage and provide you with a safe zone. If the enemy attacks you, all the present minions will immediately aggro to them, dealing huge damage. Combined with your own, the enemy will almost certainly lose that fight.
Even during ganks, if there are enough minions around, you can easily fight 1v2. The minions will make up for all the advantages the enemies might have, and you’ll be getting at least one kill out of it. You may even emerge with a double kill 1v2 with a stronger duelist.
Depending on which Champion you’re playing, minions can have various uses. For example, if Jax attacks an enemy, all the minions will aggro to him. He can then use his E, which becomes stronger with each dodged shot (including minion attacks), and deal crippling damage to his opponent. Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got yourself a kill. This boils down to your understanding of the Champion you’re playing as, but some overall tips are great to know anyway. You can refer to this Skillcapped guide for extra info on Lane control.
Top Laner’s Take on Wave Management
The Top Lane is a solo Lane, making wave management much more critical. I’m a Jax main, so the video by Skillcapped above perfectly explains my daily situation. However, I’ll also add that wave management is likely the most crucial aspect of Laning on Top.
By using the enemy’s minions and your own for my gain, I can establish control over everything that happens at Top. I can trade safely, do a ton of damage, and take none myself. I can avoid ganks, efficiently deal with 1v2 situations, and emerge continuously victorious. Naturally, depending on the matchup, wave management, and Lane control may not be enough to beat the opponent. Sometimes the odds are stacked against you, but that doesn’t mean one should ignore the minions and waves.
Properly managing and controlling your Lane will have you farming XP and gold even in the worst of situations. Zoning is a genuine problem that can happen often, but managing your Lane properly and coordinating with your allies will see you back on top in no time. Remember to always pay constant attention to the Lane, the minions, your enemies, and the map–everything you can see in League of Legends is crucial to the game. Don’t catch yourself lacking in any aspect.
Thanks for tuning in for our comprehensive guide on League of Legends minions. They might be small, but their impact is tremendous and unparalleled. This just might be the definitive proof that size doesn’t actually matter.