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Pyro's Item Overhaul 5 - Supports and the CDR Overload

Hello there! I'm back with the Item Overhaul. This episode was supposed to finally cover the AS and AD categories, but I'm still stuck in some areas. Therefore, let's jump back to an already touched issue - supports.

Some of you might remember the huge post "Never Go Full Meta". I'm an undergraduate game designer/developer and analyzing game systems like LoL is my hobby. I would like to revisit my item discussion series that I've started a few months ago. I was actually spot on with the predicitons of Aegis rework, introduction of Forbidden Idol, Aether Wisp and Quill Coat. Many of the designs were off, but some hit the nail on the head.

Support Troubles

Some champions have cool builds that work like a charm every time, with some adjustment to lane matchups. You can even plan on how long do you want to stay in lane basing on the gold needed for the next purchase. For supports, however, it's not that convenient. There's a few reasons for that - first, supports usually don't have as much gold as other roles, unless their lane gets rolling and they start stacking assist gold. Second, bot lane is dictated by the purchases the carry is ready for, not when the support feels like it. Third, support items are in a bad spot right now and here's a short explanation why.

The CDR Overload

Cooldown Reduction is probably the most important statistic for most supports. Their abilities have effects that aren't significantly altered by AP, but the effects such as buffs or crowd control are the better the more often they're available. Ability cooldowns are vital in prolonged trades, when the second round of spells can be deciding, or in the midgame, when the cooldows on ultimates decide the team's ability to contest objectives.

Most supports want to get CDR quickly and almost all of them plan to get 40% in their endgame build. The problem is that CDR became present on pretty much all support items, making a significant portion of it a waste. Every support will start with 5 to 15% from runes and masteries. Every gold generation item grants 10 (or 20)%, and that allows to easily maximize CDR with Ionian Boots of Lucidity item.png Ionian Boots of Lucidity, Kindlegem item.png Kindlegem or a Forbidden Idol item.png Forbidden Idol.

First problem I see here is the danger of wasting CDR from Frozen Heart item.png Frozen Heart. It's the only "defend my team from physical DPS" item and the only somewhat dedicated armor item for supports (although it works for any tank). When Aegis of the Legion item.png Aegis of the Legion lost its armor, it left Ninja Tabi item.png Ninja Tabi and Glacial Shroud item.png Glacial Shroud as the only cheap items with armor for supports.

Second problem is of course items so forgotten and obsolete that even if the CDR overkill wasn't a problem, they wouldn't see much use. Zeke's Herald item.png Zeke's Herald and Banner of Command item.png Banner of Command both give 20% CDR and they're both damn near useless in their current form. Together with Ohmwrecker item.png Ohmwrecker they form a group of items that are completely out of competitive play and hard to utilize even in solo queue.

Three Item Wonder

What's perhaps the only beneficial thing about the CDR overkill is the theoretical variety (in practise some options are sub-par) in building the first three items. You can start with a GP10 item or even a Ruby Crystal item.png Ruby Crystal and after getting the final upgrade and Sightstone, you can try assembling your first item of choice by purchasing a cheap tier 2 component like Kindlegem item.png Kindlegem, Forbidden Idol item.png Forbidden Idol, Chalice of Harmony item.png Chalice of Harmony or Glacial Shroud item.png Glacial Shroud. All but the last one build into cheap, useful support items.

Unfortunately what we often omit is that the first two items (GP10 and Sightstone) are almost always the same for any given champion. Ancient Coin item.png Ancient Coin is an alternative choice, but with its nonexistent value in all-ins it's often outclassed by Relic Shield item.png Relic Shield, Spellthief's Edge item.png Spellthief's Edge or Ruby Crystal item.png Ruby Crystal start. All three GP10 items have only one final upgrade, which makes a major part of your first few trips ot base a mandatory static build, with next to zero variety.

The only real personal choice is the first item *after* GP10 and Sightstone item.png Sightstone. And that item is very likely to be redundant with other options - if you get Mikael's Crucible, mana regen from Ardent Censer won't matter; if you get Locket of the Iron Solari item.png Locket of the Iron Solari, part of CDR on Frozen Heart item.png Frozen Heart will go to waste, and same with pretty much all CDR thereafter. So you can pick one of many items, but due to mana regen and CDR stacking only one of them will bring full value.

The mana regen/CDR redundancy and the domination of powerful disangege supports (Morgana, Thresh, Braum, Nami) is currently keeping Talisman of Ascension item.png Talisman of Ascension down, but even if it was popular, it's still at most two GP10 paths for a champion, and the decision has to be made at the very beginning of the game. Meanwhile in other lanes, you get to adjust to the situation and go offensive or defensive based on the state of the game, with various options in every direction.

Everyone Wants to Be A Hero

When the "true support" items like Talisman, Mikael's Crucible item.png Mikael's Crucible and Ardent Censer item.png Ardent Censer don't work well with each other, the "selfish option" suddenly becomes way stronger lategame. It's not uncommon to see Morgana with Zhonya's, Zyra with Liandry's and Annie with DFG - and from that point, what stops them from going full AP? The same goes for tank supports like Leona and Braum, who, after getting FotM and Locket, simply stack tanky items like Sunfire or Banshee.

What we possibly lack, in my opinion, is "true support" items that would amplify not damage or durability, but utility. And I'm not talking about adding new actives like Twin Shadows item.png Twin Shadows - I mean taking the curent utility from spells and items, and amplifying it. A great example of a "true support" item is Ardent Censer item.png Ardent Censer, but it has its own issues at the moment. Issues we could fix.

Problem Summary

I think that we can agree that:

  • Supports are limited in their first items, that being a single one-way GP10 path and Sightstone. Both lack branches and strategic decisions allowing to adapt to situation in lane and right past it.
  • Support itemization is overloaded with CDR and mana regeneration, making part of those statistics go to waste. This is detrimental to Talisman, Ardent Censer and Mikael's.
  • Supports could use a laning armor item, or an alternative "true support" upgrade to Glacial Shroud.
  • Abandoned items such as Zeke's Herald, Banner of Command and Ohmwrecker could use some retouch.

If you disagree with this assessment, let me know. Otherwise, let me present example solutions to forementioned problems.

Disclaimer: The item concepts and reworks listed below are my personal idea on how to fix the problems I've outlined above. They are not the only and quite likely not the best solution.

Variety In Mandatory Pickups

This is as simple as it gets: introduce alternative upgrades to GP10 items. All current items have active effects - those would be toggled.

Targons: Instead of granting active shield on one ally, allow to absorb part of damage that would harm nearby teammates.

2200 Gold (385 Gold)
Targon's Brace item
865 Gold (500 Gold)
Glacial Shroud item
950 Gold (250 Gold)
  • 30 armor, 10 health regen, 200 health, 300 mana, 10% cooldown reduction, Spoils of War passive (same as FotM)
  • Toggle: Prevent 10% of damage that would be dealt to nearby allies and redirect it to you.

Toggle is the way for "tank supports" to literally tank for their team, at the cost of their own life (bringing back the "martyr" part from the old FotM active). The item should be slightly weaker than FotM in lane and against assassins, but better in "even" fights. Name is a placeholder. Possible alternatives: Zeonian Buckler, Shield of Rakkor, etc.

2200 Gold (635 Gold)
Nomad's Medallion item
865 Gold (500 Gold)
Tear of the Goddess item
700 Gold (280 Gold)
  • 10 health regen, 15 mana regen, 250 mana, +2 GP10, Favor passive (same as Talisman), Unique Passive: Mana Charge (Tear)
  • Unique Passive: Gain health equal to 20% of your mana.
  • Toggle: Consume 2% of your mana per second and divide it between other nearby allies.

Toggle allows for mana transfer, providing mana regeneration to allies (like Ezreal, Urgot or Corki). Manaless champions will not count towards the mana regeneration division. Grants some durability that further increases with flat mana purchases. Mana-consuming toggle should work well with Forbidden Idol upgrades (Mikael's Crucible, Ardent Censer) - you can stack those items and burn through mana. Fully stacked version (Shurelya's Oasis) also restores health on toggle.

2200 Gold (385 Gold)
Frostfang item
865 Gold (500 Gold)
Aether Wisp item
950 Gold (515 Gold)
  • 50 ability power, 10 mana regeneration, 5% movement speed, +4 GP10, Tribute passive (same as FQC)
  • Toggle: Your spells cost 20% more mana and reduce the target's Magic Resistance by 10 for 2 seconds.

This should be fairly useful on combo-based mages. Poke-oriented supports can make use of it if their lane partner has some magic damage. Increased mana costs prohibit this item from overpowering trades in lane without any drawback.

Lategame Options

I can't really comprehend why there is no alternative upgrade to Sightstone. That seems like an easy way to improve variety in support builds.

2000 Gold (800 Gold)
Sightstone item
800 Gold (400 Gold)
  • 250 health, 250 mana
  • 15% magic penetration
  • ward passive/active

Lategame pickup for supports like Zyra or Karma whose purpose is peeling brusiers off their carries. Alternative passive: 25% increase on slow strength.

1200 Gold (220 Gold)
Sightstone item
800 Gold (400 Gold)
  • 200 health, 10 health regeneration
  • 25% increase on all healing effects,
  • ward passive/active

A way for supports like Sona and Nami to keep their heals strong in lategame without having to invest in heavy AP items.

As I've said, it would be nice to have a Glacial Shroud upgrade for supports that's not as huge as Frozen Heart:

Soul Shroud item
1800 Gold (450 Gold)
Glacial Shroud item
950 Gold (250 Gold)
  • 30 armor, 200 health, 300 mana, 10% cooldown reduction
  • Passive: Increases your Cooldown Reduction capacity to 50%.

10% extra CDR should not make that much difference, considering this item is bound to take an item slot. Item itself shouldn't be too troubling since its passive effect will not function until you go beyond 40% CDR.

Fixing Problematic Items

Ohmwrecker item.png Ohmwrecker was at first a Catalyst upgrade with Chain Vest. Unfortunately no support will buy Catalyst in lane, even for RoA, and tank supports would rather buy more durability and tank the tower shots than buy such a situational active item. Second version had Philosopher's Stone in recipe, but everyone built Philo into Shurelya's Reverie, and Blasting Wand in recipe was too much. Now it's the Blasting Wand cause again - supports don't have that much spare gold to spend on pure AP when building towards something so situational. And on mages, it doesn't give the best functional stats in laning phase (mana regen, MR, CDR).

This item needs to be a situational pickup when your team needs to five turrets, but lacks dedicated tanks. My approach would be a mage item that's cost-effective by itself, and the active makes it situationally a good purchase.

Ohmwrecker item
2500 Gold (760 Gold)
Chalice of Harmony item
880 Gold (120 Gold)
  • 80 ability power, 30 magic resistance, 10 mana regen per 5
  • Mana Font passive (Chalice)
  • Ohmwrecker active

This is a slightly cheaper alternative to Athene's, without the CDR boost, but with bigger chunk of AP. Potentially useful for burst-oriented champions who prefer AP over CDR. Tower-disabling active could turn out useful for assassins like Diana or Ahri. I've decided to incorporate Chalice into the build to break the holy trinity of midlane items (Athene's, Rabadon's Void Staff) and open up some new possibilites.

Banner of Command item.png Banner of Command was designed at first as an AP+Armor+HP5 item, giving a little bit of all of those, but not enough to warrant a place in lategame builds. At the time, supports simply didn't have the money to afford it, and at the time they could, the numbers on it became obsolete. Season 4 changed the recipe to Blasting Wand + Fiendish Codex, but Blasting Wand is simply unfit for supports, not to mention the CDR overload. The item could work on mages like Heimerdinger, Malzahar or even Annie thanks to the pet boost, but CDR doesn't mean much in lane without any mana regeneration to back it up.

I can see two ways to give this item its own place: make it good for pet users or make it good for supports. Support version:

Banner of Command item
2800 Gold (600 Gold)
Aether Wisp item
950 Gold (515 Gold)
Kindlegem item
850 Gold (450 Gold)
  • 40 ability power, 300 health, 10% cooldown reduction
  • Promote active
  • Aura: Nearby allied champions have bonus 5% Movement Speed

Pet mage (Heimerdinger, Malzahar, Zyra) version:

Banner of Command item
2800 Gold (940 Gold)
Seeker's Armguard item
1160 Gold (125 Gold)
Forbidden Idol item
700 Gold (340 Gold)
  • 60 ability power, 50 armor, 10 mana regeneration, 10% cooldown reduction
  • Valor passive (minion/pet boost)

Passive and active effects of the old Banner get split between those two items to ensure they can get used by champions that want it. Rallying Banner's passive is more or less Janna's passive. An alternative version would be an AP aura, leaving % MS as an individual effect. Banner of Command with Seeker's Armguard in its recipe would be perfect for pet-using mages like Elise and Herimerdinger, but also possibly become a situational pickup in midlane against AD champions.

Zeke's Herald item.png Zeke's Herald is just *bad* at the moment and unfit for supports - too much of the gold (that they don't really have) is spent on statistics they have no use for. I'm convinced this should be moved to a different class - fighters. We've seen junglers build Aegis and Sightstone, and as long as such decisions have clear tradeoffs, I'm fine with "team utility" being provided by more than one role. This prompted me to redesign Zeke's Herald as a bruiser item that's not as absurdly efficient in 1v1 scenarios as BotRK, Triforce or Hydra, but can provide a significant boost to AD-heavy teams.

Zeke's Herald item
2600 Gold (475 Gold)
Phage item
1325 Gold (565 Gold)
Vampiric Scepter item
800 Gold (440 Gold)
  • 300 health, 20 attack damage
  • Unique Passive: Rage (MS on hit/kill)
  • Aura: Nearby allies have +10 attack damage and +10% lifesteal

Barely gold efficient, providing 2430 g worth of pure stats for its user - gets much better with allies around. Not as efficient in lategame build for bruisers like Renekton as other options, but great in coordinated dives (AD jungler/midlaner). As always, numbers can be tuned - it's the concept that matters.

Another item that some tanks would like to purchase, but are afraid of wasting CDR, is Locket of the Iron Solari. The active and passive are powerful enough to swallow any possible CDR waste, but an alternative upgrade to Aegis could open up more efficient builds.

Runic Bulwark item
3000 Gold (380 Gold)
Aegis of the Legion item
1900 Gold (600 Gold)
  • 250 health, 40 armor, 20 magic resistance
  • Aura - Legion: Nearby allied champions gain +20 magic resistance and +10 health regen per 5
  • Active: Nearby allies gain armor equal to 25% of your magic resistance for 5 seconds.

Why the weird scaling? First, I didn't want this item to screw over full AD compositions too much, second, it's meant for true tanks - and from what I see, only those buy big amounts of MR when a significant part of damage on enemy team is physical. MR aura does not stack with Aegis or Locket, of course. This should be a good answer to AD casters. Right now the only answer is FotM's shield active, since FH debuff doesn't affect the likes of Riven and Pantheon that much.

Next Discussion

It's annoying how every midlaner has to build Athene's Unholy Grail, followed by Rabadon's Deathcap and Void Staff. This effectively limits the midlane champion pool to those who can utilize this build the best (barring few exceptions such as Fizz and Twisted Fate).

Items like Rod of Ages item.png Rod of Ages, Archangel's Staff item.png Archangel's Staff, Rylai's Crystal Scepter item.png Rylai's Crystal Scepter, Liandry's Torment item.png Liandry's Torment and Morellonomicon item.png Morellonomicon could use some retouch.

I'm essentially going to revisit the whole series so far, unless I somehow manage to finalize the fighter itemization project.

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