Every multiplayer game generally tends to split players into different roles. MMOs are best known for splitting into DPS, Tank and healer roles. In MOBAs, the roles are often caked directly into the game, with very little overlap. You pick an ADC, you play as an ADC, for example. However, there’s one particular role that has always confused me: the humble Jungler.
A quick preamble though.
Before I start talking about this role, I have to point out that I’m not very good at MOBAs. Nor do I really play them any more. Despite the fact I’ve fumbled around in both Dota 2 and League of Legends, the games really just don’t appeal to me. But, somehow, I’ve spent enough time watching these games (mostly LoL) that I have odd opinions on them. Not the most informed ones, but, well, I try to be biased.
That being said, I have NEVER been good at the Jungler or roaming role. By the end of this article, you’ll probably understand why.
Learning to Jungle is hard.
On the surface, the jungler role seems simple. You don’t farm minions. Instead, you roam the bushy areas of the map, killing neutral camps for experience and gold. While you do this, you search for opportunities to either take out the enemy jungler, or attack one of the three lanes to give them an advantage.
Of course, it’s never that simple. There’s a billion nuances you need to know about. Jungle creeps hit you back, enemies could be roaming anywhere and you NEED to get those buffs. But really, the jungle creeps are the least of your concern. What’s way more important is knowing and watching the entire map.
Junglers make or break matches.
The Jungler’s role isn’t so much to farm those camps as it is to screw over the enemy team, giving your laners better advantages. A jungler ganks enemy lanes and does their best to set the enemy back as much as possible, while also boosting his team mates. The role is actually much more of a supporting role, except you’re supporting your entire team.
However this means you need to be constantly watching the map. Because opportunities are fleeting, and arriving too early or too late can spoil it for everyone. And all of that is ignoring the fact that the enemy jungler is trying to do the exact same thing as you are.
Despite this power, Junglers can only do so much.
The problem is, a jungler can only be in one place at once. If they are helping the top laner in a gank, they also can’t be helping the bottom lane at the same time. So, of course, the bottom lane may complain about a lack of help. A jungler has to somehow be able to help all lanes at once. At the same time though, they also need to get gold for themselves, buy items and stop the enemy jungler from doing what they’re doing.
And junglers tend to have even more jobs thrown at them too. Things like warding and killing Drakes and larger bosses are left to the jungler.
Get any of that wrong, and the jungler gets all the blame.
But the jungler gets the blame no matter what.
In a vacuume, with a well-coordinated team, players can call out to each other. With communication, a team can give a jungler a ton of extra information, helping them make informed decisions to support everyone. But in 99% of games, there is no communication. And honestly, not much working together either. So jungling becomes a game of guess-work and constantly watching the map. As one leaps into a lane to gank an over-extended enemy, they have no idea if their team mate will help or run.
Worse, the jungler has to do this for everyone on their team. While the support has to babysit one player, the ADC, the jungler has to babysit everyone. While also having to farm their own gold.
And if one thing goes wrong? Well, it all quickly falls apart, and it’s much harder to play catch-up. A laner who falls behind can play more safely, can sit by a tower and kill minions. A jungler has no such option. The jungle creeps don’t pay out as much, you still have to wander unsafe territory and, worse, it’s not just your enemy jungler who’s stronger, you also make enemy laners stronger too. Sure, a good jungler can carry a team. But they have to do so much more work in getting the rest of their team strong too.
And that is why I never played jungler. Way too much effort that can easily be fucked up by the rest of your team.