Warding: Not Just For Supports
This post is for everyone who didn’t buy a ward because they thought it wasn’t “their job to ward”, those who buy wards religiously, and those who buy wards but have no fucking clue where to place them effectively.
There are many players who don’t understand the need for wards, feeling as if their side of the map is implicitly safe without needing vision, or that the gold would be better spent on items. This way of thinking will prevent you from positioning and initiating with confidence. To not buy wards is, in a sense, sabotaging your own game. That’s right. You are preventing yourself from winning by not buying and placing wards.
If you consider the expense of a ward (75 gold), you ask, where’s the return on my investment? I invest gold in damage or defense items and see the payout immediately, what are wards going to do for me?
- Wards give you vision of your enemies. It is invaluable for your jungler to know that the other jungler is getting his own red buff, or for your mid laner to know that the MIA enemy mid is now headed toward bot lane to gank. The knowledge you gain of your enemy’s movements will allow you to plan your own moves or follow-ups, avoiding surprises and giving you some time to think ahead and react.
- Wards allow you to safely push lanes or farm. Your bot lane has been babysat by the enemy jungler and their turret goes down at seven minutes. Sounds like a disaster, right? Now’s their chance to defensively ward around bot lane, freeze the minion wave in front of your second bot turret and farm their way back into the game. They will be able to see enemies moving in for a kill and deftly avoid any further mistakes.
- Wards prevent silent enemy objectives. Being able to see the enemy team setting up for baron because you pink warded it at 26 minutes into the game? Priceless. You can react quickly and effectively to enemy presence around map objectives. This also allows you a more advanced strategy of timing buff and baron/dragon respawns because you know when either team last killed it, so your team can set up for it right before the next time it spawns. Speaking of pink wards…
- Wards give you vision of enemy wards. To all the supports and junglers, pink wards are cheaper than oracle and will allow you to clear enemy objective wards (around dragon and baron for example) so your team can move in and take them instead. They also allow your support to simultaneously recoup some of the cost of wards in the first place by killing enemy wards for 25 gold a pop, and negate the enemy support’s hard-earned gold spent on a ward you just killed.
- Wards allow your support to afford more items. Heavily ganked lanes get expensive in the warding department. AD carry, jungle, and mid lane can assist a thinly stretched support budget by warding strategically for them, giving your Soraka the gold to finally buy some freaking boots and stop getting caught by Ashe during small laning phase engagements.
- Wards are like the minimap calling MIAs. Nevermind that you shouldn’t actually be having to call MIA — we all should be so blessed to have teammates who look at the minimap — but in the inevitable situation that you are playing with a teammate, or ARE that teammate, who doesn’t have a good handle on suspicious lane disappearances, wards will show you on the minimap where they’re going.
- Wards give you the ability to see where YOU want to see. The support lives in bot lane for the first 15-20 minutes of the game. If you want vision where you need it, put a ward there! If you’re passing through an area where your jungler might need vision in the next couple of minutes, put a ward there. If you’re retreating from a hard push, leave a trail of wards behind you so you can see where they’re going and where they’re not.
- Wards cost as much gold as you earn walking back to your lane plus two minion kills. That’s right. You earn about 50 gold just walking from your base to your turret. You’ve recovered your gold loss almost immediately upon returning to your lane!
That doesn’t mean wards will render your lane ungankable. Wards are a deterrent, not a prevention. If their Lee Sin jungle is fed already, he doesn’t give a shit you warded dragon, the river, and tribush. He will Q over a wall and kill you. Alternatively, if the enemy thinks they can kill dragon faster than it will take you to respond, they’ll go for it anyway, ignoring your pink ward giving your team a spotlight view. Lane positioning, presence, and other team strategies are also required. Remember that you are warding to give your own team more information about the playing field.
Now that we’ve covered why to ward, let’s look at where these wards should go. Some basics about ward placement: you want to maximize the sight coverage, give yourself vision of vital chokepoints and entrances/exits, and deter the enemy from entering strategic position points like bushes. This changes depending on which side you’re playing on, so I have provided some handy visual guides to help explain.
Red stars — Enemy jungle exits and baron wards. These are the locations which allow the enemy jungler to gank lanes, to counterjungle and to steal your buffs or start baron. During the laning phase in particular, but also continuing throughout the entire game, these spots are where you need vision the most. It will tell you a lot about your enemy’s movements and intentions.
Orange stars — These are key defensive locations, warded because they will give you warning of enemy movements well in advance of a gank or attempt on dragon/baron. Ward here and you will have plenty of time to react to invasions.
Yellow stars — Circumstantial warding spots, depending on the enemy’s movements and micro-situational vision needs. You ward here when you’re pinned to your turret, you think mid’s trying to take your blue buff, you’re scared to push out, you just know the other team is sitting in that bush waiting to ruin your team’s dragon attempt, etc. They’re escape plans, enemy deterrents, and create safe lane farming.
Green stars — Aggressive wards for the intention of invading and taking buffs or ganking. This gives you control of the enemy jungle and their nearby neutral mobs (i.e. wolves, wraiths, minigolems).
Blue side, let’s face it, you have an easier time of warding, in that it’s more obvious where the vital ward placement areas are at. The ward at top lane tribush is perfect when combined with mid lane warding the exit near wraiths. You can be 100% confident that, short of walking through the lane itself, the enemy jungler will not be able to approach your lane without you seeing it coming. Likewise, the ward at dragon is placed in the river so that you not only have vision of dragon itself, but the exit from blue buff. Couple that with a bot lane tribush ward and your laning phase is golden.
When you have to go on the defensive due to hyperaggresive enemy jungler and mid lane, the wards at your blue buff and other jungle entrances will give you ample amounts of time to react to ganks or attempts at stealing blue/red buffs. Situational lane wards should be obvious and, duh, situational. The other ward locations deep within your own jungle are to help your team maintain vision after losing the first turret in a lane without sacrificing safety and security.
Invasive wards are for when your team has the upper hand and can afford the time to steal a buff or catch someone out of position. It will also ward you in advance of where the enemy intends on heading, and whether they are trying to sneak a dragon while you push top.
A lot of the logic above stands for purple side as well, but it’s a bit less clear where you can maximize your coverage. Here, we have important wards at jungle exits to let you know what the enemy jungler is up to.
The bonus to purple side is that your first priority warding locations also act defensively, creating a line of sight all the way down the river. The situational ward near wraiths is to prevent more advanced mid-lane aggression like taking your jungle’s wraiths or warding your own jungle while you’re recalling back to buy/heal. Likewise, that situation ward in your own tribush bot is to prevent lane-push gank assists by the enemy jungle from behind the turret. (This is a little bit more advanced strategy coordinated by your bot lane and jungle/mid, we’ll go over these typs of ganks at a later point.)
A word about situational wards in the lane bushes at top or bottom lane: your vision of these bushes during the laning phase is a massive deterrent for the enemy to sit in them. You have clear line of sight with a ward in the bush, which means you’re free to poke them with skill shots and auto-attacks. Without vision, you’re letting them have that advantage instead. It is also a psychological deterrent — a lot of players don’t want to be there if it means they know you can see them. If you find yourself pinned to your turret, ward the bush closest to you and give yourself some breathing room.
Invasive wards are for sight of enemy jungle buffs and major traffic areas of the map on their side. Knowing where they’re going will allow you to plan baron attempts or lane pushes faster than they can react to them.
These are not the only places wards will help you. There are plenty of situational bushes and other areas to place wards in if you are at risk or need to know whether anyone is there. Don’t be afraid to ward wherever you feel is necessary given the situation.
Hopefully this has enlightened you in the mysterious ways of warding. There is such a thing as counterwarding, ah, the counterwarding dance of bot lane in particular… but we can save that for another post. GLHF!