Even after its first go-round in the Featured Game Mode hopper, you may find yourself asking the same question about Nexus Siege: what the hell is it? Well I am glad that you asked, let's talk about it!
Nexus Siege is a two sided game mode, there is a attacking team and a defending team. Each match consists of 2 rounds. After the first round, the teams switch sides. The objective is simple: destroy the defending team’s Nexus as fast as you can or defend your Nexus for as long as you can. The fastest team to destroy the defending side’s Nexus wins.
The weirdest thing about this gamemode, which will become clear as soon as you get into the pick/ban, is that summoner spells have been removed entirely. However, they have been replaced by siege attack or defense item/things that you can purchase mid game with a unique currency called crystal shards. Oh, also half of the map is walled off and the attack side teleport to the middle of mid, top, or bottom lane from their fountain.
Neither side needs to worry about farming either, because it won’t net you any gold. Instead, gold is earned passively, allowing you to but items at a rapid pace. Crystal shards are also gained over time, and for the defending team, from champion kills.
Both attack and defense have their own set of tools. Here is a overly long explanation of what they all do. Read it here so you don’t have to read it in game.
You place this spell down in range of an enemy tower (it won’t let you place it anywhere else) and the ballista will begin lobbing attacks at said tower. The ballista takes a second to charge and packs quite a punch. That being said, this siege weapon is weak, and just three auto attacks will take it out, so put it somewhere that you can protect it. Maybe the jungle?
This banner basically gives minions in a large radius around it Baron buff. However, they lose it as soon as they step out of the radius. This is a lot tankier than the Siege Ballista but it is still a pretty good idea to stick it somewhere in the jungle in order to force your the enemy team out of lane. The Vanguard Banner is really great for beefing up your minions wave, especially if you are an AP champion who can’t 1-shot towers with their auto attacks.
This does what you think it should. You put it down next to other siege weapons and it gives them a shield. So maybe you see that your teammates have a pretty sweet setup in the east side jungle. They would all probably think that you were really cool if you dropped one of these down to keep their siege weapons going strong. What a team player!
You can put this anywhere you want and give your team another place to teleport to other than the makeshift fountains in the middle of the lane. This can be good for getting into the battle sooner or just getting a sick gank off on an unsuspecting side lane.
All of these items are purchased with crystal shards, which you will get passively over time and by killing enemy champions. A side note: do not under any circumstances allow defense side minions into your makeshift fountains or you will get obliterated by...
So this is a defense side only mechanic and you cannot buy this. Instead it is a team wide benefit for you that you can all work towards together. If the defense side can push 15 of their minions all the way into the attacking team’s weird little kinda-fountains, then the Obliterator lets loose down all three lanes. This will instantly kill every enemy in the three lanes. This includes minions and champions—even if they are Maokai levels of tanky. The only safe place is the jungle. While the kills are great, the best part is that it removes the push for a second, allowing the defensive side to regroup a little.
Tower Surge: Beam of Ruination
If you run up to one of your own towers and use this, your tower will become Xerath-like. Meaning, the tower will gain a large blast in a straight line that does lots of damage to champions—not so much to minions. It is very similar to how Xerath’s Q works but without the charging aspect. You can now aim down that lane and use the same button that the Beam of Ruination was assigned to to fire up to 3 beams of ruination. They hit hard and do a lot of damage. This is a pretty solid way to win duels early in lane, or just push your opponent out.
Tower Surge: Firestorm Bulwark
Imagine if a tower had a Zhonya’s Hourglass and a Gangplank ultimate. Well, now it kinda does. Cast Firestorm Bulwark on a nearby tower and it will become impervious to damage while also raining hellfire down on everything around it. This is super helpful when your tower is about to go down, although it does have a brief recharge time afterwards.
This lays down a field that will slow champions and root minions inside. Use this when you are in desperate need of a break or you want to make your enemies sad.
Despite the name, this is not a laser tag arena from the early 2000s—which is frankly pretty disappointing. Instead it is a zone that allows you to flash inside of it. Since there is no flash in this gamemode, this thing is pretty helpful. As long as you are inside of the field you can cast flash repeatably on a 1 second cooldown. This is nice for escaping over walls, ambushing people, starting highly mobile teamfights, and giving yourself a headache. Make Kenny Loggins proud, jump into a fight and turn your Flash Zone into a Danger Zone.
Keep in mind though that while you are in the zone you cannot use any other defensive summoner spell. I definitely tried to get fancy and use my Flash Zone to get into range of a dying turret so that I could use my Firestorm Bulwark to save the day. I ended up just repeatably flashing until my untimely death and it was a real bummer.
“Pretty damn cool” is what it is
Don’t be like me in my first match, where I picked Yasuo and had no idea what I was doing. Remember to buy your summoner spells every time you back and don’t sit in fountain reading their descriptions for most of the game.
The first time that Nexus Siege came around, I wasn’t that interested in playing it on live. However, after a couple matches it quickly has become one of my favorite featured gamemodes. Sure, there is quite a steep learning curve to the mode’s unique design, but when this one sings, it really sings. Nobody ever said learning League of Legends was easy.
See you on the Rift, and good luck Nexus busting this weekend.