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Shinen's thoughts on AP itemization

Shinen-san November 19, 2015 User blog:Shinen-san


A long time ago, back when the League was only getting rolling, there was a clear division between AD and AP champs. The ADs provided sustained damage through auto-attacks (with spells weaved in-between for good measure), whereas APs focused on bursting people down, 1-shotting people with a succesfully executed combo. The items providing either side with stats emphasized that division, with AD items giving their owners stats apropriate for sustained damage (lifesteal as a "defensive" option and AS/crit as the damage amp) and AP items for burst (defensive stats for surviving between bursts, mana and CDR as damage amp). Then Rito started creating new champs - and these champs started blurring that line.

Now look where we are now, at the beginning of the 6th preseason. Both sides of the spectrum have become pretty much interchangeable, with both having bursty one-shooters and sustained damage-dealers, tanky bruisers and squishies. Now, the AD side of items has evolved considerably from s1, giving the more bursty ADs additional options in favor of marksman-optimised items of ye olde times.

The APs, however? Not so much.

Take a look at how a damage-centric AP build looks like nowadays. It's remained largely unchanged since the inclusion of Athene's Unholy Grail back in s1. The build remains largely the same: Sorc, sustain item (the only one that's largely interchangeable, consisting of RoA/Seraph/AUG/Morellonomicon/WotA), Cap, Void, Zhonya's and one situational item (be it Luden's, Lichbane, Abyssal, GA, Rylai, Liandry's etc.). Not much variation, considering how diverse AP champs have become over time.

Then I started thinking - why weren't AP items reworked in such a scale as AD were? Surely the guys who cooked up great items such as Death's Dance, Lord Dominik's Regards and Kircheis Shard could cook up some variation it that regard? The thing is, I can see no movement towards that. As such, I decided to cook up a little rework of mine - as a little "what if" experiment. I was inspired by Jens Ingels' post, which you can find *HERE* , but I decided to take a little more scientific approach to it.

Without further ado, let's get started, shall we?

Kircheis Line

These reworks are complementary to those below. Frankly, I wondered all the time why Kircheis was created as an AS-based item, while its Energize passive could smooth out the build lines of many others. I made it into a starter item that pretty much any in-and-out character could pick, regardless of whether it's an AP or AD champ. A word on Luden's Echo - when it was announced, I went like "what? since when Statikk's passive makes for an endgame-level item?". That passive's great for farming the lane, but not much so afterwards, so whereas it's pretty at home with a cheapish item like Statikk, i feel it's Needless on an expensive end-gamer (see what I did there?). I made it more in line with its AD (or should I say... AS?) counterpart.

Basic items:

Kircheis Shard *reworked*

Recipe: 300 gold

  • Passive: Energize - movement builds Energized stacks. At 100 stacks gain Shock.
  • UNIQUE Passive: Shock - the next attack or single-target ability deals 30 bonus damage on-hit.

Builds into: Ionic Spark, Dead Man's Plate, Rapid Firecannon

Advanced Items:

Ionic Spark *remade*

Recipe: Kircheis Shard + Ruby Crystal + 150g = 850g

+180 Health

  • Passive - Energize: movement builds Energized stacks. At 100 stacks gain Spark.
  • UNIQUE Passive - Spark: the next attack or single-target ability deals bonus 50-100 damage based on level to the target and up to 4 other nearby units.

Builds into: Statikk Shiv, Luden's Echo

Legendary Items:

Statikk Shiv

Recipe: Ionic Spark + Zeal + 450g (total cost unchanged)

+200 Health

+30% AS

+5% MS

+30% Crit Chance

  • Passives unchanged

Dead Man's Plate

Recipe: Chain Vest + Giant's Belt + Kircheis Shard + 700g (total cost unchanged)

Rapid Firecannon

Recipe: Kircheis Shard + Dagger + Zeal + 600g (total cost unchanged)

Luden's Echo *reworked*

Recipe: Ionic Spark + Aether Wisp + Amplifying Tome + 565 = 2700

+ 200 Health

+ 80 Ability power

+ 8% Movement Speed

  • Passive - Energize: movement and ability casts build Energized stacks. At 100 stacks, gain Thunder.
  • UNIQUE Passive - Thunder: The next instance of ability damage you deal will deal 100 + 10% AP bonus magic damage to the target and up to 4 additional targets nearby.

AP Counterparts

The AD item rework did a grand job of diversifying build paths for AD champs. The following items are counterparts to their AD brethren in order to create consistent build paths for champs on both sides of the spectrum, following the pattern Infinity Edge and Rabadon's Deathcap being the "endgame damage amp" items. In case some equivalencies are not obvious, I put the equivalent item's name in <>s

Advanced Items:

Blackfire Torch *remade* <Giant Slayer>

Recipe: Amplifying Tome + 565g = 1000g

+ 20 AP

  • UNIQUE Passive - Blackfire: Dealing spell damage applies a damage-over-time effect that deals 1,5% of the target's current health per second for 3 seconds. This bonus damage is capped at 50 damage per second vs. monsters.

Builds Into: Liandry's Torment, Nether Scythe

Comment: I didn't want to go with a damage amp item here (DFG sends its regards), so I went for itemizing Liandry's passive on an earlier item instead. Which led to unexpected consequences when I started thinking about that item - more on that later.

Morellonomicon *reworked* <Executioner's Calling>

Recipe: Fiendish Codex + 400g = 1200g

+25 AP

+10% CDR

  • UNIQUE Passive - Doom: Dealing magic damage to an enemy champion below 40% health inflicts grievous wounds to them for 4 seconds.

Builds Into: Apocalypse Herald

Comment: I always thought of Morello's as the inferior AUG in terms of stats. With this rework I degraded it to an advanced item somewhat on par with Executioner's Calling in order to make its passive more accesible to anyone, that ironically including supports. Although frankly with latter's gold scarce as it is, I don't quite see why a support would have to waste his gold on a Grievous Wound item though, while a marksman can get it just as cheap via Executioner's Calling - and then upgrade it further.

Void Staff *reworked* <Last Whisper>

Recipe: Blasting Wand + 440g = 1300g

+40 AP

  • UNIQUE Passive - Void's Touch: +30% bonus Magic Penetration

Builds Into: Apocalypse Herald, Nether Scythe

Legendary Items:

Apocalypse Herald *new item* <Mortal Reminder>

Recipe: Void Staff + Morellonomicon + 500g = 3000g

+65 AP

+10% CDR

  • UNIQUE Passive - Void's Touch: +40% bonus Magic Penetration
  • UNIQUE Passive - Doom: Dealing magic damage to an enemy champion below 40% health inflicts grievous wounds to them for 6 seconds.

Nether Scythe *new item* <Lord Dominik's Regards>

Recipe: Void Staff + Blackfire Torch + 800g = 3000g

+65 AP

  • UNIQUE Passive - Void's Touch: +40% bonus Magic Penetration
  • UNIQUE Passive - Blackfire: Dealing spell damage applies a damage-over-time effect that deals 2% of the target's current health per second for 4 seconds. This bonus damage is capped at 100 damage per second vs. monsters.

Comment: A hybrid of VS and Liandry's in one item would be pretty overpowered, so I decided against giving it the ability to amp up the damage so that LT maintains some of its uniqueness.

Spirit Siphon *new item* <Bloodthirster/Death's Dance>

Recipe: Needlessly Large Rod + Hextech Revolver + Amplifying Tome + 915g = 3800g

+ 140 AP

  • UNIQUE Passive: +15% Spell vamp
  • UNIQUE Passive: Dampen Spirit - Dealing *non-periodic* magic damage to enemy champions debuffs them with Dampened Spirit, which causes them to deal 8% reduced damage for 2 seconds.

Comment: Whereas champions aiming for typical sustain options will most likely stick to WotA (or just play a champ with built-in sustain, for the matter), SS takes another approach to Spell Vamp - instead of providing sustain, it changes SV into a somewhat "offensive defense", so to speak. It's not going to sustain your champ in the long run (unless of course you've got some mana regen and CDR to support it), but in a trade this might amount to some extra health that can leave you on top in the end. The non-periodic clause is there to prevent DoT abuse - so that little bastard Teemo can't just douche all over you when duelling with this and Phantom Dancer.

Zenmaster's Girdle *new item* <Mercurial Scimitar>

Recipe: Quicksilver Sash + Aether Wisp + Blasting Wand + 590g = 3600g

+35 Magic Resistance

+100 AP

+10% Movement Speed

  • UNIQUE Passive - Quicksilver: Removes all debuffs from your champion and allows him to ignore unit collision for 3 seconds.

Comment: Here's to all those Malzahar mirror lanes in which it depended solely on your ping if you caught the other guy out and r@ped him or the other way around. In my humble opinion this is the AD item equivalent i'd like the see the MOST in the game.

The Liandry's Case

Liandry's Torment is in a pretty weird place right now. On one hand, it's built out of Haunting Guise, a cheap-and-effective item that gives much-coveted Magic Penetration. a stat sought after by both assassins striving for early dominance and poorly-scaling utility mages (Vel'Koz and Lissandra come to mind), for whom it's one of very few ways to improve their overall damage. Then comes Liandry's, which helps... well, neither, at least as much as any other item would any other champ.

One one hand, the DoT shtick of the item does little to help assassins do what they do best (not to mention that if they attack anyone having high-ish health, they're usually doing something wrong anyway). Sure, %hp damage is never bad per se, but since the damage is current HP%, it doesn't even help take down the tanks when they're weakened.

On the other hand, utility mages make the most out of the item's twin passives, but might feel like having AP thrown on top of it (instead of, say, more health) a waste of gold. The same can be said of certain magical would-be bruisers such as Mundo.

Then there is the plethora of other APs, for whom that's the only damage option that scales off the enemy's HP. Many can utilise their own CC (or use RyLandries for that matter) to get the most out of the passive and AP - but to them, it's almost never the first choice, and by time they've built their core items, the magic penetration and the minuscule health bonus on the item are fairly moot. More on point, since health stackers will usually throw quite a bit of MR into the mix, it actually required building two separate items for tank-busting, them being Void Staff and Liandry's. With the introduction of Nether Scythe, that need would be reduced drastically, leaving only the two aforementioned groups to LT.

There once was an item that was just as packed with mutually exclusive options - that was the old Black Cleaver, hefting CDR, AD, flat armor penetration AND armor shred. As of ps6 it's been reworked as a clear-cut offensive option for bruisers who want to contribute to the team's physical damage. The change even reached out as far as the Brutalizer, in which TBC's overloadedness took root. As such, I'll try to do the same to LT and Haunting Guise.

Liandry's Torment

Recipe: Blackfire Torch + Haunting Guise + Ruby Crystal + 350g = 3200g

+500 Health

+50 AP

  • UNIQUE Passive – Eyes of Pain: +15 magic penetration
  • UNIQUE Passive - Blackfire: Dealing spell damage applies a damage-over-time effect that deals bonus magic damage equal to 2% of the target's current health per second for 3 seconds. This bonus damage is doubled against movement-impaired units and capped at 100 damage per second vs. monsters.

Comment: The stat rebalance makes this a more clear choice for utility mages and bruisers who want to just stay there and consistently deal their damage and CC to the enemy.

Reaper's Visage

Recipe: Haunting Guise + Fiendish Codex + Amplifying Tome + 645g = 3500g

+ 200 Health

+ 100 AP

+ 15% CDR

  • UNIQUE Passive – Eyes of Pain: +20 magic penetration
  • UNIQUE Active: Grants +25% movement speed and reduces incoming damage by 12% while moving for 4 seconds.

Comment: Here we are, Haunter's bigger, meaner cousin with a criminal record. I've kind of followed the pattern set by the Youmuu's Ghostblade rework (with a healthy chunk of the new Phantom Dancer on the side for good measure) to make it onto a one-shooter's dream without following in DFG/old Blackfire's footsteps.

So... what do you guys think?

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