Continuing where we left off yesterday in our Arena of Valor (Free) guide series, today we are focusing on The Armory and how to win games through intelligent itemization. If you missed the previous guide on the basics of MOBAs, go check that out. Also, if you’re totally new to what Arena of Valor even is, take a look at our review. In future guides we’ll dig deeper into the individual roles and typical builds for them, but all of those things depend on an understanding of how these main systems work first.
- The Basics of a MOBA
- What is a MOBA?
- Hero Types
- Typical Team Composition
- Last Hitting and Gold Generation
- Typical Team Positioning
- MOBAs Have Guidelines, Not Rules
- The Armory and How to Win Through Items
- Basics of Itemization and Ability Scaling
- Viewing Items in The Armory
- Building Magic Defense and Armor
- Study Each Game, Think of Other Things You Could Have Built
- How Arcana Works, What Arcana to Buy, and How to Spend Gold
The main thing that originally appealed to me about playing a MOBA is that unlike an MMORPG where you can spent months grinding for one specific item, items in games like Arena of Valor are totally temporary. You can buy all sorts of dumb things from the in-game shop, see how they work, and not be tied to any of those decisions beyond that one game. Like many games that lean on RPG-style character statistics, heroes in Arena of Valor all have their base stats, as well as different ways abilities scale with bonuses.
Arena of Valor actually does a fairly good job of obscuring just how ability scaling works for each hero and their abilities, but the basic premise is as follows: Say you’re playing a mage, their abilities scale off of ability power. This is displayed in the tooltip of abilities which will say something along the lines of, “dealing 50 +X magic damage to enemies." In that case, “+X" is entirely contributed via the ability power (or “AP") of your items. If a ability has 50% AP scaling, and you have 200 AP combined from all your items (you can see this by tapping the arrow icon on the center of the far right side of the screen) that ability would do 50 base damage, plus 100 bonus damage from your items.
Other heros have abilities which scale off attack damage. You can see which damage type an ability uses via the color of the “+X," green is ability power and orange is attack damage (“AD"). It’ll also say “physical damage" in red and “magic damage" in blue (more on this later). Usually it’s pretty obvious with most heroes, as mages use magic and warriors use swords, so of course one would use ability power and the other would use attack damage, right? Not always, also, many heroes will also have an ability that scales solely off AP while others scale off AD. Arthur is likely the first hero you’ll encounter that works like this.
Arthur has two primary abilities: Righteous Fervor which is his charge ability and Holy Guard which is his area-effect ability. With Arthur, you typically would want to build attack damage and defensive items, since a lot of your damage comes from auto-attacks which scale off attack damage along with his other abilities… However, Holy Guard scales off ability power and deals magic damage. It would be weird, but you could totally build Arthur like a mage, stacking loads of AP, and his Holy Guard ability would do loads of damage.
Would that render your hero totally ineffective? Maybe! But that’s the beauty of these kind of games, the amount of options that are available to you once you understand the different damage types, which abilities scale off which damage types, and what items power-up those abilities. The cool thing about Arena of Valor is you can select any hero outside of a game and hit the “Hero Trial" button and go wild experimenting. Under the right circumstances, these strange builds can be amazingly effective.
Before you play your next game, let’s spend some time looking at the what items are available for purchase in Arena of Valor. From the main menu, select “Armory" then “Equipment." This will display your last played hero, which you can change by tapping the “change" button in the top left corner. You can save up to three quick builds, which will give you the quick item suggestions during the game which show up on the left side of the screen.
The way items work in MOBAs is that you start by buying cheaper items, which in Arena of Valor are listed on the left side of the equipment screen. Think of this as a recipe of sorts, as you might begin with a Short Sword which gives you +20 attack damage then buy a Dagger giving you 10% attack speed. From there you then can combine those items with some extra gold to upgrade to the Arcane Hammer which gives you a +5 more attack damage and 15% attack speed along with the passive ability of “Speed Up" which gives you 10% movement speed when you land an attack.
It’s important to learn all the items in game because this is the primary way you can respond to what’s happening in game. In the case of the Arcane Hammer, that would be an outstanding item to build if you were playing as a melee hero in a lane against another hero with a lot of mobility as the “Speed Up" ability will give you an edge to staying within range for your melee attacks. (You can see your attack range by pressing the attack button, anything inside that circle you can hit.)
It’s super difficult to list every situation you should build a specific item, but if you’re in a situation where you’ve got some free time but can’t commit to a full game of Arena of Valor, spend that time going through the equipment, looking at what each of them do, and thinking of situations where using that item might be useful for the heroes you prefer to play. It is impossible to overstate what a difference building items intelligently on the fly depending on the situation is will make in your overall win percentage.
You can view the scoreboard in game by tapping in the top right corner where all the kills and deaths are. From there, you can page over to “Hero Stats" by hitting the button on the top left. This displays the hit points, attack damage, ability power, armor, and magic resist of everyone in the game. When deciding how to counter-build early game, a good thing to do is keep an eye on the enemy that’s laning across from you. If they’re an AP hero, they’ll likely be building AP items, and you can counter these by building some magic resist. The same can be said for attack damage and armor.
Similarly, if the enemy team is building a bunch of items that defend against your specific damage type you’ve been building, you need items that offer either armor pierce or magic piece. This reduces their damage reduction provided by armor and magic defenses. In low-ranking matches, it’s almost guaranteed that the enemy team (and the rest of your team, for that matter) isn’t aware of any of this, so intelligently building defenses and building around their defenses can give you a massive edge.
These defenses are also why it’s a very important to have a team that has varied damage sources. I’ve been in far too many games where 4/5 of the team are using heroes that are stacking attack damage. The value this offers the enemy team is absurd, as all they need to do is stack loads of armor, take out your one mage, and then they are able to negate most of the damage you’re dealing.
With so few people using voice chat, there’s really no good way to deal with trying to explain this to people in games, so you need to be as proactive as possible both with watching what your own team is building and what the enemy team is building. It’s entirely possible you’ll find yourself in a situation where the whole enemy team is stacking armor because your team is all physical damage, at which point AP Arthur makes a lot of sense.
It’s these sorts of situations that makes MOBAs so appealing, as even though you’re (usually) playing on the same map, the amount of variety between games even if both teams are playing the same heroes game after game, is just absurd due to the way itemization can shift during games. Hell, you can always sell items too, so if things are looking bad late game and it seems like you’re doing to lose anyway, you can sell everything, do a totally different build (you’ll lose a bit by selling, so you won’t get equal value of new items) and sometimes cause a major shift in the game building reactively based on late-game load-outs of the enemy team.
Reiterating what I’ve said before, even if you lose, you need to really analyze the post-games screen to think about what you could have done differently. After you exit the game, you’ll be able to see which items everyone built along with their kills, deaths, and assists. If an enemy did particularly well, were they using a standard build? Could you have built anything that might have countered their build? Were there instances where any specific items that could have made a difference in team fights?
Take every loss as a learning opportunity and you will improve. Items are everything, and the sooner you learn what they do and break out from the default builds, the better you will do.
Stay tuned for more Arena of Valor guides here on TouchArcade! Next up we’ll explore the Arcana system.