Guiding Yourself Through the Early Game: A Guide on Gold and Experience Farming



Thu 11th Feb 2021 - 7:38pm

Like we have learned from the numerous endless cycles we are taught as children, endings are merely new beginnings. As my time here with Dignitas comes to a close, there is perhaps no topic more appropriate than that of the minion wave. One of the most basic features of the game whose spawning at the 1:05 mark is considered by many to signal the start of the game.

While some might believe that there is little more to be said about the importance of minions beyond their role as our main source of consistent experience and gold, a deeper dive on the topic may yield some extremely useful information. While champion designs and power levels may hardly ever seem equal, we can take comfort in the fact that everybody loads into the game with the same amount of experience and gold to start. The only point of true equality in the entire game. From that point forth it is a matter of scrounging around for opportunities that will allow you to crack open the enemy nexus. In the center of these opportunities lies objectives, and the drawbridge that allows you to contest them are gold and experience, both of which are mainly obtained from minions!

Minion Wave Pattern

  • 3x Melee minions worth 21 gold and 60.45 experience each.
  • 3x Ranged minions worth 14 gold and 29.76 experience each.
  • 1x Siege minion worth 60-90 gold (depending on stage of game) and 93 experience each. 
    • Spawns every 3rd wave pre 15 mins, every 2nd wave between 15 and 25 mins, and every wave post 25 mins.

Keep in mind: 

  • If you have to choose between giving up a Range minion or Melee minion, Melee minions give more gold.
  • In total, a wave of 3 melee and 3 ranged minions gives you a total of 105 gold and 270.63 experience. 
  • Siege minions spawn every 3rd wave in the beginning of the game. Watch out for the 1st (wave 3) and the 3rd Siege wave (wave 9) for solo lanes and the 4th Siege wave (wave 12) for bot laners in particular. (more on this in a bit)

Minion Waves and Levels

In the early game, levels play a huge role in whether or not you will be able to get ahead and win your lane. Many a lane is won and lost off of simple level 2 all-ins that experienced players capitalize on at the expense of inexprienced players. So I have created a simple table down below to highlight important level markers, which wave it is, and when the wave spawns. 

Levels Wave No. Exact minion CS No. Wave Spawn Time
2 2 1st melee 7 1:35
3 3 2nd melee 14 2:05
6 9 1st melee 51 5:05

For obvious reasons, one of the biggest advantage you can have in lane is to get to level 2 before your enemy. Not only are you almost certain to have more stats than them, but you unlock one more ability than they have. So it is important to recognize this vital timing and to be able to pinpoint the wave where one of your biggest powerspikes comes sauntering into lane. Level 3 is equally important because it unlocks all 3 of your basic abilities. From this point on both champions have three-quarters of their repotoire available to them at all times. Of course, need I say more about level 6? Finally unlocking your final, most powerful, and arguably most valuable skill. Gone are those horrible, limited, first 5 minutes of the game where you were forced to fight your opponent with one arm tied behind your back. This is where the fun begins.

Unlocking skills that were previously unavailable is why these 3 levels and these 3 waves are so important to keep track of. However, even amongst these 3 waves there is a single wave in which you will want to pay particular attention to. Can you guess which it is? If you guessed wave no. 9 then you guessed right! But not just for the level 6 powerspike! But more on that later.


Minion waves spawn every 30 seconds starting from 1:05. From there, they take a set route and arrive in the middle of the lane after a set period of time. For side laners, you can expect this to be at 32 seconds after; while mid laners can expect their waves to clash a full 10 seconds before the side laner's. 


The same wave that spawns at 2:05 will clash at the middle of the lane at 2:27 for mid and at 2:37 for both side lanes. For the wave that spawns at 2:35, you can expect it to arrive at 2:57 mid and 3:07 in the side lanes.

Explanation Time (Importance of waves 4, 9, and 12)

Aside from gold and experience, the first few waves also help you keep track of the game timer. This timer is important because neutral objectives are another way to get ahead of the enemy. Both teams can absorb each other's waves, but only one team can get each neutral objective. They are exclusive! At most points in the game, especially in a game where nothing goes on, everyone will be at the same gold and experience total. So rotating in order to create advantages through numbers is one of the easiest ways to win the game.

Wave 4 (Scuttle Crab Wave)

Wave 4 spawns at 2:35 and comes running down to the middle of mid lane at 2:57 and side lanes at 3:07. Consequently, the first 2 scuttle crabs of the game spawn in the river at 3:15. Beforehand, take a glance at your minimap in order to sees which scuttle crab your jungler will most likely be heading to (which side of the map he is on). If he is on your side of the map, look to shove out the wave right after the first Siege wave so that if he meets the enemy jungler on that scuttle, you can rotate first in order to help him secure it. This of course depends on your pick. A Kayle top is still a Kayle top, Renekton might rotate later but will absolutely 1v2 Kayle and her jungler. You won't even be able to push out in fact. Thats fine. Just keep note that Renekton might rotate after wave 4, so prepare to spam missing pings and back pings.

Wave 9 (1,300 gold)

Aside from getting level 6 off of the first minion on this wave, wave 9 also gives you a rough estimate of the enemy's gold total. Of course, normally you would be able to just look at your own gold and experience for reference. But sometimes, you make rotations that set you behind while your enemy opts out of rotating and shoves your wave into tower. As a rough gauge, wave 9 (between 5:20 and 5:30) or at about 57 CS is when you can expect someone to have saved up 1,300 gold. With perfect CS, without spending anything after your initial 500 gold, wave 8 (50 CS) should give you 963 gold while minute 5 of passive income should provide you with another 387.6 gold. Together, these 2 sources of income combine to 1,350.60 gold. 

This number is significant because you know that around this point in the game, your laner will want to back in order to hit their first item semi-powerspike. Knowing this, you can opt to ensure that they do not get to recall for free by pushing out the wave and either recalling yourself or going for another roam. Just consider the fact that if you do not recall, you will be at a huge disadvantage in terms of items. At the same time, as a jungler, you can consider being a huge nuisance to your enemy by forcing them back to base before they get to the 50 CS mark at 5 minutes. There is not really a feeling that can appropriately describe or reproduce the irritation of recalling at 1,100 gold. On the other hand, if you are a scaling champion who constantly feels the breath of the enemy jungler down your throat, this is your first checkpoint! Chapter 1 of your journey to hard carry your team!

Wave 12 (Bot lane rotation for Rift)

Last but not least, we have wave 12. This is exclusively for bot lane and requires your entire team to work together. This timer plays around the spawning of Rift Herald at 8:00. So not so great at times for Solo Queue, but great for Clash or in Ranked Flex. Wave 12 spawns the 4th Siege minion of the game at 6:35 and arrives in lane at about 7:07. After hard shoving this wave, you can look to rotate straight through river to mid lane in preparation for taking a fight around Rift or to just dissuade the enemy from contesting it. This will only work if your solo laners have an advantage over their opponents. Otherwise, recall first and go to Rift/mid from base so you can fight with an item and number advantage.

I will not lie, this is not something that you can always count on in Solo Queue. For starters, your jungler needs to want to do Rift as it spawns and needs to have recalled and be around the area as soon as it spawns. Then your solo laners need to know as well and should try to get priority as well. For mid, this is quite easy as the bot lane can help to 3v1 shove mid before having everyone go together to Rift. Finally, there is the issue of mid laners threatening to go AFK when they see their bot lane rotate up to "steal CS". 

Every once in a while, you will see an opportunity where your laners and jungler will just so happen to work in unison to pull this off in Solo Queue. The good news is, as a support you can opt to do this without your ADC. Just start autoing the wave and try your best to set up the CS for your ADC, stealing their farm will surely lead to yet another AFK threat. If you feel like typing, you can mention your intention beforehand. Keep in mind that leaving your ADC will most likely get hard punished when he tries to set up for CS in a 1v2 scenario. More likely than not they will do it too. He will have no good reason to do it, he will die, and you will get blamed for abandoning him. 

In conclusion, incorporate this into your Clash strategy. Don't count on this for Solo Queue. Just don't. Its a me me me world in Solo Queue, there is no changing it.

Wrap Up:

It is as true in life as it is in League. It's all about location and timing. Knowing where to be at the right time will literally put you in the best position to take control of every situation. It really isn't that hard either! Give it a try!