This is the first part of a multi-part series of how to play the Captain or “Roam” (the old name for it) role in Vainglory. I’m a Rank 10, Roam main player in NA who has been playing since season zero. This information was written during patch 2.2-2.3, but some of the content is probably going to be applicable to the Vainglory Roam/Captain role for quite some time.
The Captain role (formerly known as “Roam” — I’m going to call it by both throughout my guide) in Vainglory is arguably the hardest role to play in the game. However, playing Roam will accelerate your player development and you will hopefully ultimately become tactically superior to your teammates.
After you’ve Captained for a while, you will be in a advantageous position when you want to take on other roles. You’ll be armed with a strong understanding of the game flow and what the other team “likely wants to do.” You’ll see things before they happen, and that sixth sense will pay dividends over your VG career by helping you avoid lane ganks or jungle thefts (among many other things).
This guide is broken into sections for some of the topics that I believe are important to becoming an effective Captain.
- Learn hero cooldowns and passives.
- Think about how a hero might tactically be played.
- Learn hero strengths and weaknesses.
The first step to Captaining well is knowing your heroes, but also knowing your opponent’s heroes. You need to be exposed to the other heroes to effectively defend against them. For instance, when a new hero like Grumpjaw comes out, it’s paramount to your success to learn what his abilities do as soon as possible. You must be prepared. You should play the hero yourself.
For new players, you can also play Battle Royale to get a quick feel for random heroes and also get you out of your comfort zone. I don’t advise playing heroes for the first time in Ranked matches; because that is disrespectful to your teammates who want to have the best chances of winning.
You should not be “learning what this hero does” in a Ranked match.
You can instead do that in the other game modes like Casual.
Hero Selection and Drafting
How do you pick the right Roam? The answer depends on your opponents’ and your teammates’ heroes.
Left-Side Draft (First Ban and First Pick)
If you have first-pick, Left side in the draft, picking a Roam first is usually the right thing to do. Generally the order of operations for first-pick are as follows:
- Most OP hero in current meta (could be Vox or Ringo, in 2.2 patch for instance)
- Most OP Roam in current meta, if any (could be Lyra/Adagio in 2.2 patch).
- Any Roam, but ideally a comfort pick like Ardan/Catherine.
- Whatever hero your teammate really wants to lock in.
1-3 should be difficult to counter; that’s why they are first-picks. #4 is like a Taka first pick, which by the way, is a terrible first-pick and anyone who does this should go to a Hell where Alpha is counterpicked and destroys you for the rest of your existence. You don’t want your first pick to be hard-counterable, which is why Roam is often selected as the first pick.
As for you Roam first picks, Lyra/Adagio are commonly selected in the current meta (2.2); they fall into #1/#2 category. But I like to pick Ardan/Lance/Catherine as first-picks. Ardan is one of the most common first-picks because of his all-around utility and ability to synergize with any comp. Catherine and Lance are similar in this way, but can be slightly more situational. For instance, if your teammate wants to run Celeste in the lane, you might want to grab Catherine or Lance so you can keep a hero stun-locked for what will feel like a miserable eternity to the opposing team.
Right-Side Draft (Second Ban, and Last Pick)
On this side, the rules are pretty much the same. If the enemy team first-picked a laner/jungler, your team should pick a counter to that hero, and also pick a Roam. You can also choose a Roam that plays well against their first-pick. For example, if the enemy first-picked Ozo (which would be a miserable first-pick), then you can pick up Lance/Catherine, knowing that you’ll want to be stunning Ozo out of his AcroBounce and Bangarang ultimate.
If the other team first-picked a non-op Roam, your team could then also choose to lock in two heroes that are currently OP the meta (in 2.2, for example this could be Vox and Glaive). I don’t really advise this draft strategy, but it’s an option. In most right-side drafts, though, you should have a Roam hero selected in your first two picks.
The Right Roam for the Right Occasion
Below is a list of the various Roams and what occasion they can be good in.
|Hero Name||Good Against||Pairs Well With|
|Ardan||**||Very well with: Skye, Taka, Reim
And any other hero.
|Catherine||Ozo, Joule, Skarf -- any heroes that you need to interrupt their abilities or ultimates.||Laners and junglers with stuns.|
|Flicker||**||Tricky hero to play well, but can be exceptional for diving and locking down enemies. Try running with a good Reim/Baron.|
|Fortress||Weak carries like Ringo/Celeste/Vox.||Blackfeather, Vox -- any heroes that are fast and can stick to targets.|
|Lance||Fortress/Petal/Alpha. Lance can create the peel you need for these sticky heroes.||Koshka, Celeste -- any heroes with stuns or weak heroes that might need a lot of peel.|
|Lyra||Fortress, sometimes Catherine|
** Means that I don’t usually pick these heroes to counter the opponents. Instead, I pick these heroes to for synergy with my teammates.
Setting the Tone and General Playmaking
A good captain can set the tone for your team’s playing style. By getting a strong forward position, you can ping your teammates to join you there. If they are smart, they will realize you are trying to make a play. Maybe they see what you are trying to do, maybe they don’t, but they should join you. You can make the play for setting up a jungle or lane gank with good positioning, vision, and directions (can be in the form of pings).
It is also possible for players to read the demeanor of their teammates based on their movements in the game. If a squishy laner like Ringo is already a timid player and his Captain is timidly face checking a bush, it’s likely that the Ringo will keep a further distance from the fight than needed and will more likely disengage than engage, and that can cost you. Sometimes, being a good Captain means that you will assert confidence and gain the trust of your teammates by providing good communication via pings, and strong positioning. Essentially, you want to control as much as possible: team fights, jungle camps, and lane farm. In the end, controlling these things will mean that you’ve controlled the game and won. When this happens, you are the Captain Carry, and your teammates might not even know why that game was so easy.
Dealing with Passive Teammates
Sometimes you can’t be aggressive because your teammates are too passive. If you’re playing aggressive with passive teammates, you’ll probably end the game 0-8-0, and everyone is going to be a sad panda. The problem with this mismatch in styles is that the aggressive player will make a risky play and if his teammates do not come, they make the aggressive player look like a dead idiot.
But the aggressive player might only be a dead idiot because his passive teammates didn’t come with him to make the play happen. So, if you’re playing as an aggressive Roam and your teammates are hanging you out to dry on the shittiest clothesline of death ever, then you’ll need to shift to playing like a Passive Peter. This can mean that you really focus on protecting the laner to ensure they get a full build and wait for late-game engagements, but also try to set up engagements so that the enemy team will basically be walking into your trap. For instance, if you’re playing with Ardan, you simply might not be able to use your gauntlet for an engagement, and instead might need to use it mid fight to save your timid laner and split up your enemies in a way that can tilt the fight in your direction.
Dealing with Aggressive Teammates
But what about when BestDeadKrullNA is on your team? This dude is more aggressive than Mike Tyson, and he can’t stop won’t stop (CSWS, to be precise). Well, if you know it’s a bad play, you can caution him and hang him out to dry once. If he persists after that, you will need to join him and play at his aggression level for the duration of the game — the alternative is usually losing. He may really know his hero well and might be able to teach you something. You simply have to play with him and trust him. This problem often comes up around turrets. People are terrified of following a teammate through the turret, but the success rate of getting a kill increases when everyone commits.
Leashing the Goldminer and Kraken — Steal-able Objectives (SOs)
- Clear the vision on the objective area early
- Consider leashing it into one of the side bushes, which bush is circumstantial
- Position yourself according to your opponents and their stealing abilities
If you’re going for a Vainglory SO, it’s a little different than a real life SO. ..
First, you want to clear the vision in the area. If there is a scout trap around the Kraken, it’s giving the enemy team a ton of intel and will make it easy for them to steal the objective. Clear the vision immediately. I will often just pop a flare on top of the objective to ensure there is absolutely nothing there.
Second, you should consider leashing the objective to one of the side bushes. But which one? This can depend on the outcome of the last team fight. If you are coming off of an ace and the majority of the other team’s timers are within 5 seconds of each other, you will probably want to leash the Kraken in the bush towards your side — that is, furthest away from their base as possible. However, if you are taking the Kraken when one of the opponents is still up, you can leash it to the opponent’s bush. This will make it easy to see them coming and can allow for an easy gank if they are trying to steal it from you.
Third, you should assess your opponents and their abilities when you begin taking an SO. Are you going against a Kestrel or Celeste? If it’s Kestrel, then you want to be standing in between the objective and Kestrel’s likely location (if you’re coming off an Ace, she might try to steal it with her C from base). If it’s Celeste, then you might want to leash the SO to an odd place, and then also stand between it and Celeste’s likely location. This helps prevent the objective from being stolen by Celeste’s C. When you’re taking these objectives and going against heroes like these, you should also be sending a series of two pings to your teammates: the first one is Caution at the opponents base, and the second one is an attack ping of where they should be standing to block an Ult Steal of the objective.
Another random tip for taking an SO after an Ace is to leave a scout trap in the opponent’s tribush, and then leash it over to yours. This way, you’ll know when the opponent has arrived to try and steal the Kraken. You can choose to unleash it or still go for it at that point.
This is essentially one the main things you do with a Captain — protect. You protect your teammate’s with three things: 1) good positioning, 2) items, and 3) your abilities.
Body Blocking is a way to use positioning to protect your teammates from incurring damage. This is considered an advanced tactic which requires leveraging your knowledge of hero mechanics, your own hero skills, and experience. Skye’s Forward Barrage (her A) is a skill that can and should be body blocked by you for your teammates. Stand in front of it and incur the damage. So if you are the one playing Skye, you will be shadowing your enemy’s movements, but if you’re the Captain on the other team body blocking, you will be shadowing the movement of the teammate whom you are trying to protect. Plenty of heroes can have their skills body blocked (for example: Skarf’s fireballs, and Kestrel’s One-Shot-One-Kill); blocking these can save your squishy teammate’s from death.
Items like Fountain of Renewal and Crucible can save your teammates. For the new Roams out there, always rush Fountain first. Crucible or Atlas Pauldron may be second, depending on the opposing team. If they are running a comp with many stuns or a Phinn, you’re probably going to want Crucible second, and then follow that up with Atlas Pauldron.
Learning how to use Crucible well to block key enemy skills for your teammates is usually the difference between a POA-tier roam and a VG-tier roam. VG roams will block Phinn/Catherin’s ultimate abilities 50+ percent of the time. POA roams will often miss the block or not try for it at all. There is somewhat of an unwritten rule for Roams when playing against a Phinn or Catherine — in the higher tiers, your teammates are going to expect you to buy a crucible and block Phinn’s hook and Catherine’s silence. If your teammates have purchased Reflex Blocks, then they will want to use it later in the fight, especially if there is an Atlas Pauldron coming for them shortly afterward.
Abilities save your teammates by getting them out of a bad position, or creating peel for them. If your teammate is caught in a 3-man gank in the lane, you may be able to Fountain/Vanguard them out to safety, just in the nick of time. Or perhaps you’re engaging in a teamfight and the enemy team’s Blackfeather is immediately on top of your laner — then you will want to immediately attempt to peel that Blackfeather off. If you are playing Lance, that means you will attempt to land an Impale followed by a Gythian Wall. At this point, if you’ve landed both, you can assess if you need to use Fountain of Renewal. Also at this point, it is imperative that your teammates have been focusing on doing damage WHILE running, not just running. If your squishy laner simply runs, then fights against strong diving heroes will often be lost.
All Roam heroes have some type of ability that will protect your teammate or create peel for them. For example, Lyra and Adagio heal. Flicker has Binding Light and Fairy Dust to peel for his teammates. Ardan has Vanguard/Gauntlet. Catherine has Merciless Pursuit and Blast Tremor. All of these heroes can use at least one of their abilities and couple it with a Fountain of Renewal to save a teammate from a dangerous burst of damage and keep their team in the fight.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Part I of this guide. I will be adding the next Part which will include sections like: Vision, Turret Diving and Agro, Your Device and Device Settings, Map Panning and Scrolling, Lane Camping, Jungle Invading, Coming Back from Behind — Turtling, and Picking the Right Items.