As each season comes to an end, we like to look through our out-of-game strategy systems - runes and masteries - to prepare for the new season. While we're making some updates to masteries, we're taking an especially thorough pass at runes as we feel they need more polish to better reflect their intended use. We'll start with ricklessabandon and runes:
What are you actually doing for the preseason?
For now, we're not actually going to be rolling out rune changes with the first preseason patch. Our current plan is to leave rune changes on PBE for an extended stay while we do additional focus testing.
That said, we did want to set certain expectations when it comes to our overarching philosophies and where runes will be in the new season.
What is the goal for runes?
The primary goal for runes is to tie marks, seals and glyphs to the specific wants and needs of various champion roles in League - similar to how masteries are used. Going forward, this creates a stronger association between marks and offense, seals and defense, and glyphs and utility. Fully supporting these divisions allows for stronger individual identities among different rune types - with more utility-focused glyphs (like movement speed or gold generation) or more defensively focused seals like hybrid mitigation (armor and magic resistance). This makes it easier to both balance current runes and create new runes in their specific roles.
How are runes today?
The first thing that stands out with live rune balance is that runes with the clearest power also happen to be among the strongest (flat AD, flat MR, flat armor, etc). Because of how infrequently runes are tuned, players tend to accept that certain runes provide a core set of base stats that are 'best in slot' and shy away from customization.
What should runes be like?
Ideally, runes should be used as tools to supplement your play style for a given champion. Whether it's boosting your dueling power in the laning phase or setting up for an epic late-game build, runes should help define the framework of your unique play style. We're giving runes clear strategic value and purpose in the new season to reinforce this point while making it easier for you to understand what to expect from your rune selection.
So the first thing we want to do is tone down the oppressively strong runes. There are currently a small handful of runes that provide more than their fair share of base stats while crowding out most other options. We might snipe off a few of the larger suspects before more comprehensive changes go out, but we're definitely keeping an eye on the strongest outliers.
Another item on our to-do list for the new season is to establish a more consistent point where flat runes get beaten by runes that scale per level. Some of the existing crossover points don't make sense in the framework of a typical game, so we want to clean these numbers up to clarify their strengths and weaknesses. Currently we're looking at something like level 6 as the sweet spot where flat runes and scaling per level runes meet up. Up to level 6, flat runes will be better, while at level 6 and beyond, scaling runes become more and more powerful.
Ultimately, there are a lot of changes we've got planned for runes in the new season, but we'll be taking a little more time to test them on the PBE (and to see how they fit into the regular flow of a game) before getting them out. Properly dividing runes into their three major categories (offense, defense, and utility) is something we have as a long-term vision for this new season, so keep that in mind as more changes come down the line. We'll keep you updated as we go!
Now on to masteries with FeralPony:
As for masteries, we aren't making too many significant changes this season. Instead we're targeting smaller goals and focusing on a few core philosophies with our annual mastery overhaul.
No more improved summoner spells
While specialized summoner spell masteries offer an impactful single-point option to enhance and improve playstyles, we think you'll have even more mastery freedom if we remove these options entirely. This way, you aren't obliged to invest mastery points specific to the summoner spells you take, summoner spells are the same regardless of your spec and you'll have more opportunities to refine your masteries to match your playstyle.
9 mastery points define your early game. 21 points define your role.
We're changing the function of the mastery trees in the preseason so that players who invest in the lower ranks of a tree gain specific early-game advantages, while those who commit to the more advanced masteries devote themselves to that role for the entire game. We really want you to feel like you're committing to a playstyle when you invest heavily in a specific tree, so we're adding advanced masteries that scale as the game goes on.
New shiny masteries
A few existing masteries have been reworked or replaced. For example, instead of granting one large attack speed boost after landing a critical strike, Frenzy now grants a slightly smaller but stackable attack speed buff. We're also changing the Biscuiteer mastery so instead of granting a single-use biscuit, it now upgrades health potions into Rejuvenation Biscuits that also grant a little mana regen. I won't dwell too much on the revamped masteries we have planned, as this is something you'll discover when we roll them out (you've already heard of some of the support masteries!), but I just wanted to give you a sneak peek at what's coming.
We'll also be posting this on reddit where we may pass through to clarify some questions. At the start of next week we'll be doing a global recap to follow up with the most up-to-date information from questions around the world!
Thanks for reading!
-ricklessabandon and FeralPony