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(Item Concept) Another Look at Jungle Items

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(Note: This post is obsolete after the jungle overhaul in V4.20. I still think the ideas below have some value as a potential different direction that could have been taken for jungle itemization, though the current state of itemization is far better.)

Jungler itemization has gone a long way. Since the creation of Hunter's Machete item.png Hunter's Machete and its upgrades in Preseason 3, junglers have followed a dedicated item line that allows them to not only clear the jungle better, but also reap greater rewards, with the addition of their gold generation passive. Over time, with the reworks to the items as well as the addition of a new one, Feral Flare item.png Feral Flare, those items have adapted further and further to better fit the playstyle of junglers and cater to different archetypes.

Over time, though, the system has also shown some major weaknesses, and almost all of them hinge on Hunter's Machete: originally intended to be the one jungle item to start them all, it now only truly caters to one jungler type (fighters) and does little to help the others, limiting the starting roster of viable junglers. More importantly, though, it is singlehandedly responsible for some of the most bizarre itemization quirks out there: although it builds into two different items, Madred's Razors item.png Madred's Razors and Spirit Stone item.png Spirit Stone (and soon into Quill Coat item.png Quill Coat), those items share literally nothing in common, whether it be in terms of stats or unique effects. The transition to those items is similarly awkward: building into Madred's loses you the Butcher passive, and building into Spirit Stone loses you the Maim passive (also the free regeneration from Faerie Charm item.png Faerie Charm and Rejuvenation Bead item.png Rejuvenation Bead). Not only does this go against pretty central item design tenets (items should not lose bonuses as you upgrade them), it also creates gameplay issues, such as the low-interaction Madstone (Madred's + Spirit Stone) build. In general, the top-tier jungling items have little in common, and with the upcoming rework to SotAG will also have even less consistency in terms of jungle clearing mechanics. They're just not designed to build from the same item.

The good thing is, Season 4 has shown us that there's no need for a dedicated role to have to start out with just one item choice: thanks to the support item trifecta of Ancient Coin item.png Ancient Coin, Relic Shield item.png Relic Shield and Spellthief's Edge item.png Spellthief's Edge, supports with subtle differences to their lane behavior can choose right from the start to have an item tailored to their playstyle. Arguably, with jungling being a position that accomodates for many different roles (Feral Flare item.png Feral Flare for super-autoattackers, Spirit of the Ancient Golem item.png Spirit of the Ancient Golem for tanks, Spirit of the Elder Lizard item.png Spirit of the Elder Lizard for AD damage dealers and Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item.png Spirit of the Spectral Wraith for AP damage dealers), there should be even more of a reason to create a dedicated line for each item.

Tier One: Hunter's Machete

Changes

  • Butcher passive removed.
  • Maim damage increased to 20 from 10.
  • New Unique Passive: Huntsman. Gain 10% increased gold from monsters.
  • Now classified as a Gold Income item.

Notes

This is pretty much the current Hunter's Machete, slightly readjusted to fit completely into the autoattacker path. Increasing the extra autoattack damage may look like a buff, but would not actually change the item's damage by that much, considering I'm also removing the Butcher passive (i.e. 10% damage amp, which amounts to 5-6 bonus AD per autoattack plus spell damage). Similarly, the gold generation effect is counterbalanced by the reduced gold rewards per large monster, meaning that gold income would remain unchanged (see the "Changes to Jungle Gold" section).

Tier Two: Madred's Razors

Changes

  • New Unique Passive: Huntsman. Gain 25% increased gold from monsters.
  • Now classified as a Gold Income item.
  • New Active: Hunter's Ward: Places a Stealth Ward that reveals the surrounding area for 180 seconds (180 second cooldown - 600 range).

Notes

Increased the gold generation from Hunter's Machete item.png Hunter's Machete because I also increased the gold requirement to upgrade to Wriggle's Lantern item.png Wriggle's Lantern (see next tab). Also bumped down the ward active to Madred's to put it in line with the upcoming Quill Coat item.png Quill Coat. Overall, I think all jungler items should provide some kind of vision, which is critical especially when contesting jungle objectives.

Tier Three: Wriggle's Lantern

Changes

  • New recipe: Madred's Razors item.png Madred's Razors + Dagger item.png Dagger + Dagger item.png Dagger + 550g.
  • Total cost increased to 2200g from 1800g.
  • Attack damage removed.
  • Attack speed increased to 50% from 30%.
  • Gold generation is now Huntsman, a unique named item effect.
  • Additional gold from monsters increased to 40% from 30%.
  • Active is now Hunter's Ward, a unique named item effect.
  • Ward cast range increased to ~1000 from 600.

Notes

A few changes here: first off, I bumped up the gold generation a little, since it makes up for the reduced jungle gold done in order to allow for earlier jungler-specific gold generation. I increased the cast range of the ward to Feral Flare item.png Feral Flare levels for two reasons: on one hand, I think wards should be available to junglers from early on, as is already the case with the upcoming Quill Coat item.png Quill Coat, and since Madred's Razors item.png Madred's Razors start out with a ward active I thought it would make more sense to bump up the range here. On the other, I think the increase to the ward range once you transition to FF is a subtle change you'll only notice if you look at the ward range closely or read the item up carefully on the wiki, and so it would be better for the sake of clarity to have the Maim change to be the one big improvement once you get 30 stacks on Wriggle's, and instead have Tier Three be the last big sweeping stat improvement to the item.

The second set of changes here is that I changed the recipe and the item's stats, removing the AD and increasing the AS. As you may know, I'm not a big fan of hybrid damage items: while Feral Flare will inevitably lead up to hybrid damage (physical damage from autoattacks + magic damage from Maim), the AD doesn't really have a place here, even if it synergizes with the attack speed and on-hit effect. This item line applies not only to AD autoattackers, but to AP autoattackers (bruiser Diana Diana, for example) as well, and giving a stat that factors into the ability scalings of one type (why should this item increase ability damage anyway?) but not to the other, doesn't really do the item justice. The Feral Flare item line is all about making the most out of a scaling on-hit effect, and so turning the AD into additional AS would only make the item's purpose even clearer.

Tier Four: Feral Flare

Changes

  • Attack damage removed.
  • Attack speed increased to 50% from 30%.
  • Gold generation is now Huntsman, a unique named item effect.
  • Additional gold from monsters increased to 40% from 30%.
  • Active is now Hunter's Ward, a unique named item effect.

Notes

No changes at this level, mainly since Feral Flare is simply a small adjustment to Wriggle's Lantern item.png Wriggle's Lantern. All the changes here stem from that item. What I mainly wanted here was an item that was completely focused on its strengths, at the cost of its attack damage which can be purchased elsewhere if necessary. For a top-tier mythical item, 30% AS is not great, and I felt it would be a better idea to refocus the item's stats into pure attack speed for a pure on-hit item. This would likely mean Maim's DPS would scale harder (assuming the attack speed isn't sufficient enough to have players pick less attack speed on other items), but that is an issue that can be solved through number changes (the AS can be nerfed to 45%) if need be.

Tier One: Razorhide

Notes

This is just a basic item version of the upcoming Quill Coat item.png Quill Coat, with a slightly weaker Sapping Barbs restoration effect and a mini-Conservation passive. The additional gold generation is counterbalanced by the reduced base gold per large jungle monster, and serves mainly to turn every jungle item into a gold income item, as well as further differentiate ganking items (i.e. Conservation items) from farming items (i.e. the Feral Flare item.png Feral Flare line). As with all gold generation, the counter to the Conservation stacks would begin at the 1:30 mark, once minions start spawning, which means that you will be able to cash in full stacks on the buff of your choice at the 2:00 mark, 5 seconds after it spawns.

Originally, I had considered changing the restoration and monster damage effects to scale with the wielder's health and not the monsters', but after doing the math I quickly realized that would pan out terribly: health is one of the stats with the most massive growth in the game, so you start out with about 25-10% of the health you're going to have late game (effective health, i.e. health x resistances, grows even more than that). What this means is that, from level 1 to level 6, your max health will just about double, as would the potency of any effects scaling with your max health. In the late game, you'd end up with, at the very least, four times your initial health, and having an effect that would scale off of just that, in addition to the generous base damage tanks and bruisers have, would allow you to clear the jungle faster even than damage dealers.

Tier Two: Quill Coat

Changes

  • Combine cost increased to 150g from 75g.
  • Total cost increased to 750g from 700g.
  • New Unique Passive: Conservation. Store 1 stack of Gold per 1.5 seconds (Max 80 stacks). Kill a large or epic monster to cash in up to 40 stacks.
  • Now classified as a Gold Income item.

Notes

Aside from the addition of Conservation's gold generation, there aren't too many changes here to the upcoming Quill Coat. My main reason for increasing the combine cost, aside from standardizing all Tier Two jungle items to a 750g cost, is because the item gives 5 extra armor relative to its Cloth Armor item.png Cloth Armor component.

Tier Three: Cuirass of the Sentinel

Changes

  • Combine cost increased to 600g from 450g.
  • Total cost increased to 2200g from 2000g.
  • Health increased to 275 from 200.
  • Hunter's Ward cast range increased to 1000.
  • Conservation maximum stacks increased to 120 from 80.
  • Conservation maximum stat cash-in increased to 60 from 40.

Notes

This is pretty much the upcoming Spirit of the Ancient Golem item.png Spirit of the Ancient Golem on the PBE. Aside from a 200 gold cost increase, a cast range increase to the ward and an adjustment to Conservation's gold generation to fit in with the item's predecessors, all of which are pretty much for standardization, the item gives 75 extra health compared to its PBE iteration. With the +25% bonus health passive, this brings the base amount of health contributed by this item to near 350 health, the health given by the item on live.

Tier One: Glowing Ember

Notes

For an AD-oriented damage-dealing item, I didn't want any kind of extra damage on landing a spell or autoattack: AD casters use both, and focusing on one or the other wouldn't work. Instead, I wanted an effect that worked irrespective of attack speed or cooldown reduction, but that scaled with AD. A common feature among current fighter junglers is that they frequently pick attack speed just to get more out of Hunter's Machete item.png Hunter's Machete's on-hit effect, even though the attack speed does very little for the rest of their build and kit. A jungle clear effect that itself scales with AD would open up rune picks more consistent with champions' kits.

Another reason why I wanted the Incinerate effect to scale with AD is to prevent fighters from getting too much free damage just by buying this item: since the burn eventually applies to champions further up the item line, it would be better to have the wielder actually itemize for damage if they want to deal significant amounts of true damage with the passive, which equalizes at 250 total AD, a fairly reasonable value. A common occurrence is for fighter junglers to build this, go practically full tank and abuse the item's true damage to inflict way more pain than they should.

Another aspect of this is that the restoration effect stacks if you apply it to multiple monsters, which you should be aiming to do at least through autoattacks as the base restoration effect is slightly weak.

Tier Two: Cinderling Core

Notes

The continuation of the AD caster line, made from Glowing Ember + Long Sword item.png Long Sword + 90g = 750g. As with the other items, the gold generation is increased and the item recieves Hunter's Ward, along with some good combat stats that work with the jungle clear effect.

Tier Three: Heart of the Brambleback

Changes

  • Combine cost decreased to 113g from 580g.
  • Total cost increased to 2200g from 2000g.
  • AD increased to 40 from 30.
  • Now grants +10 armor penetration.
  • Incinerate damage is now 20% AD instead of 14 + (2 × level).
  • Butcher passive removed.
  • Incinerate damage now restores 6% AD and 3% AD over 3 seconds against monsters.
  • New unique active: Hunter's Ward. Places a Sight Ward item.png Stealth Ward that reveals the surrounding area for 180 seconds. 180 seconds cooldown (~1000 range).
  • Conservation maximum stacks increased to 120 from 80.
  • Conservation maximum stat cash-in increased to 60 from 40.

Notes

This is effectively a slightly retooled Spirit of the Elder Lizard item.png Spirit of the Elder Lizard, offering better stats for a higher cost. It's formed from Cinderling Core + The Brutalizer item.png The Brutalizer + 113g = 2200g. I think there needs to be a common set of features across every top-tier jungling item, and one of them should be wards. Another should be scaling: autoattackers scale with AS and the item they're using, tanks scale with bonus health, AD casters scale with AD (hence the scaling on the passive) and AP casters scale with AP. Overall, jungling items need to finish into what laners would consider a top-tier item even without the jungle-specific passives, and giving each item a combination of stats that is useful to everyone who picked the item in the first place would go a long way in having the item contribute significantly to a build even in the endgame.

Also, the reason the item is mythical and not legendary is because it builds off a Brutalizer, a legendary item.

Tier One: Infesting Mushroom

Notes

Being an AP caster-oriented item, it made sense to have a clearing passive that amplified magic damage and based the restoration off of that. One of the problems I find with current jungle itemization is that it locks out most mages, who are usually too squishy to survive their first clear and cannot make use of the sustain on Hunter's Machete item.png Hunter's Machete. Reimplementing the Butcher passive as exclusive to AP casters would help a lot more junglers thrive on their first clear.

Tier Two: Humongous Fungus

Notes

As with the others, this item follows naturally from its predecessor by adding a combat stat, a better clearing effect, more gold income and a ward. I feel the base ability power on Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item.png Spirit of the Spectral Wraith is bizzarely implemented, since upgrading from a Fiendish Codex item.png Fiendish Codex suddenly gives you 20 extra AP. Having a Infesting Mushroom + Amplifying Tome item.png Amplifying Tome + 15g = 750g item to fill in the gap would work better.

Tier Three: Gromp's Delight

Changes

  • Combine cost increased to 630 from 480.
  • Total cost increased to 2200g from 2000g.
  • Cooldown reduction increased to 20% from 10%.
  • Spirit Drain passive renamed to Engorge.
  • Butcher passive removed.
  • New unique passive: Devour. Deal 30% increased magic damage to monsters, restoring 6% of the damage dealt as health and 3% of the damage dealt as mana.
  • New unique active: Hunter's Ward. Places a Sight Ward item.png Stealth Ward that reveals the surrounding area for 180 seconds. 180 seconds cooldown (~1000 range).
  • Conservation maximum stacks increased to 120 from 80.
  • Conservation maximum stat cash-in increased to 60 from 40.

Notes

This is an updated Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item.png Spirit of the Spectral Wraith with only a few changes. Having this one encourage scaling was difficult, since AP champions typically have their power scale with only two things besides MR reduction/penetration: AP and cooldown reduction. The idea here is that, by giving jungler AP casters an item on par with Morellonomicon item.png Morellonomicon or Athene's Unholy Grail item.png Athene's Unholy Grail in terms of AP, CDR and sustain, they'd be a lot more encouraged to build raw AP on other items, without having to itemize specifically for additional cooldown reduction.

Changes

  • Wraith Wraith base gold lowered to 30g from 35g.
  • Wight Wight base gold lowered to 60g from 65g.
  • Giant Wolf Giant Wolf base gold lowered to 35g from 40g.
  • Big Golem Big Golem base gold lowered to 50g from 55g.
  • Ancient Golem Ancient Golem base gold lowered to 50g from 60g.
  • Lizard Elder Lizard Elder base gold lowered to 50g from 60g.

Notes

Because I'm giving jungle items gold generation from the start, the jungle needs to give a little less gold to prevent junglers from outperforming laners. The rationale here, aside from justifying the branding of base jungling items as gold income items, is also to further discourage jungling as a source of gold for laners, many of whom still frequently abandon pushing in favor of "poaching" camps due to it being a safer form of gold generation. Gold generation for junglers would remain unchanged, however.

The other advantage to moving gold away from the monsters themselves and into the gold generation of each item is that it would work towards making the items feel more powerful (even if gold income for junglers would remain the same), and would give them more gameplay right from the start. A jungler with Hunter's Machete item.png Hunter's Machete is going to get gold differently from a jungler with an item with Conservation.

Another issue I wanted to tackle was the Madstone build, which consists of getting Spirit Stone item.png Spirit Stone and Madred's Razors item.png Madred's Razors at the same time to maximize clear speed, ignoring the rest of the team completely to a degree worse than pre-nerf Feral Flare item.png Feral Flare before emerging with a build far more advanced than any other player at that point and stomping over everyone else. Jungle items, just like support items, aren't meant to be stacked on top of each other for compounded effectiveness, particularly as each item is meant to provide satisfactory jungle clear on its own.


What do you think? Beware, this is actually a massive post, so feel free to take a break from reading at anytime. Do you think this is the direction to go to with jungle items?

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