After playing the RPG genre since practically when I was a kid (as early back as the original Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 2), I decided I'd like to master a new genre unfamiliar to me, which would be RTS and MOBA.
A lot of my friends have been getting into League of Legends, and I've been interested in picking up Starcraft 2, but the reason for this interest is because of my interest in tower defense games. I'm ok at those at best, but I've never done online gameplay for said genres before either.
What's the best way for a newbie like me to learn RTS and MOBA? I don't think I'll be getting into eSports level competition but would like to at least attain some sort of respectable gameplay.
As for MOBA, I would say, grab at least one friend who can explain stuff to you. I have only experienced DotA and Dota 2, but the learning curve in those games is brutal. I can image LoL and HoN and whatever is out there has also a very brutal learning curve, just because you have so many heroes, items and important locations.
When you have a friend, play several games with him. Start with one heroe, try another one, try another one, try another one... until you at least have a basic understanding where to get important items, what the various heroes abilities are, etc.. I would also recommend to play vs. AI at the beginning, just so you won't get flamed for bein a noob (this happens basically everytime in DotA, no idea how "accepting" the other communities are).
As for RTS... depends on the game. As for Starcraft 2, download the free version and start the campaign (on easy or normal, bu normal is pretty easy, so I would suggest that). If you like it, the gameplay, I would recommend you to finish the campaign first, at least on normal, better on a higher difficulty. After that, play a few games VS. AI or a friend (if you enjoy the normal game). You can also watch various videos online, the "I Suck At Starcraft II" series from Totalsbiscuit is imo really good to learn the game and get some tricks.
If you are only interested in the custom games, as those only have the basic RTS controls, just try the map and look how it turns out. Also, WC3 has much, much more custom maps and many different - really good! - tower defense maps. But to actually play them... unless you have friends that could turn out really hard, as the WC3 battle.net is flooded with hosting bots and only a few, really popular maps are hosted (between 10-20 I think... and maybe one or another older map hosted by a normal user). But as said, if you are interested in the custom maps the normal gameplay is not that important.
- Prepare to do some reading. There is a lot of technical know-how to MOBA's and RTS games, unit strong/weak points, production facilities, production timers, upgrading, scouting etc. Some people might say that you won't need to worry about that, but if you want to do good in fx. Starcraft, you will need to worry about it. Might as well start out with good habits. In League there are some different things to worry about, but it is largely the same. Item builds, positioning, countering, warding etc.
- Prepare yourself mentally. I find that there is a lot of mental work to be done when you're first starting out with RTS games like Starcraft or MOBA games like League of Legends, especially if you are new to online RTS games etc.
I remember when I first picked up Starcraft 2, I was really nervous whenever I would start an online game against another player, it was so bad that sometimes I would even cancel the search after a couple of seconds. After forcing myself to play for several weeks (You see, I actually lost all nervousness when I was actually IN a game, I was really enjoying myself too, it was just the "pre-match" time). With Dota, (which was the first ARTS I played), I was more afraid of letting my team down.
This differs, you might not get it at all.
- Prepare to lose. You're going to be beaten. No matter how skilled you get, you will be beaten. You will be beaten a lot in the first weeks of playing. It will be frustrating, but it gets better!
- Don't be afraid to ask! If you're playing team matchmaking in Starcraft or a standard 5v5 game in League of Legends, please just ask people if you don't know what to do. Don't ask about the rudimentary stuff, you're expected to know the basics, but let's say someone told you "Help me with the Blue Buff please" in League and you have no idea what he meant, please, just ask! It won't hurt.
And finally, if you want to do good, don't take it extended breaks... At least I can't do that, it makes me really rusty.
Read up, get some technical know-how, apply that know-how to your gameplay, make mental preparations, prepare to get beaten, don't lose faith, don't be afraid to ask, keep practicing!
Source: Personal experience/opinion of a Season 1 Platinum Zerg/Regular Dota/Occasional League player.
As Varix said, read. Then read more. Ask friends. Then read even more.
Before going against human players, try your luck with bots. This will help you get familiar with build orders, item builds, maps (never underestimate map awareness) and allow you to try some stuff.
In MOBA games, try to team up with friends (this goes with RTS as well, but you will play 1v1 most likely). Some people are overly competitive and will call you names because of kill stealing (= you kill someone that your teammate almost killed)/not kill stealing(= almost dead enemy will get away from your teammate)/(not) going "there" (doesn't matter where "there" is) or just don't get that you are a newbie. Friends won't do that and they will help you to get into the game and you can (and should) use TS, Ventrilo or Skype.
I would suggest you to start with Starcraft, it's classic and it basically defined the RTS genre. Warcraft 3 is too hero focused for me, but that's just me. And go for DotA, it's free (if you already have W3).
Do a lot of research and learning before starting, and play a couple games against bots to test out some builds. I recommend watching DApollo's tutorials. He was a former high level random player, now working with Team Dignitas as a couch. He has a video series for each race. Also, Team Liquid's website has a wiki which contains some builds. http://www.youtube.com/dignitasapollo http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Strategy
sc2 will be a huge commitment to pick up especially if you aren't used to RTSs at all. even just to be okay at it. you will lose a lot so you'll need patience. there was a similar thread a few days ago http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/...-advice-needed you can read through it and might be some stuff
of course that is for melee games.
if you are playing custom games (like tower defense) most of them are pretty simple and easy to pick up in a few game plays