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The SABER Chronicles

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Hi. I'm Tolinar. I started playing yesterday.
I decided to chronicle my progress as I come to grips with this game, adjust to the various parts of it and proceed through the ranks of power.

I use a special approach, the Sequential Analytical Breakdown with External Research. Or SABER. Starting with the most simple aspects of the game, I seek to fully understand each aspect by combining personal experiences with external research to improve my understanding of the game.

I'm open to feedback so post if you like.

Yesterday was Day 1.
So, the most basic step of SABER:

The Primary Objective.
The goal of a League of Legends match is to destroy the Nexus, a building with 5500 Hit points, by using a Champion - a character with a basic attack and (up to) four key abilities.

Match A: Tutorial, Proving Grounds.
I steered a champion named Ash around and shot things with arrows. I also used a single Ability and defeated some other Champion a few times. It was an interesting experience.
Result: Objective Complete, the enemy Nexus was destroyed.

Match B: Tutorial: Battle Training on Summoner's Rift.
I chose Ryze and set up a Mastery. I also took a lot of time to adjust the graphics to my (poor!) computer and implement my first piece of external research. (See below). Ryze had 4 skills and while I didn't fully grasp how they worked, simply spamming them was very effective.
Result: Objective Complete, the enemy Nexus was destroyed.

External Research 1: SMART CASTING
A friend advised that if I set up Smart Casting, I could have skill use more similar to Diablo 2. So I took a moment to configure all my skills to "Smart Cast". Instead of having to aim them like Ash's volley skill, I was able to simply hurl my spells in 1 button press. With all of Ryze's skills cool, I was basically able to use them all simultaneously and this worked really well for killing enemies of all types.

Smart Casting seems like an effective basic adjustment to make.

I found Ryze to be an easy to use and effective champion so I went ahead and bought him, so I would have a champion to use. He was significantly cheaper than other champions. At that time I was led to believe that Ryze was significantly less expensive as a "gimme" so new players would have a champion to play with at all. This would get disproved.

After this I entered 5-on-5 Player versus AI matches (Beginner difficulty)

MATCH 1: 5v5 AI Beginner.
When I entered my first match I discovered that in fact you get a large amount of champions to pick from. My purchased Champion Ryze was on the list so I chose to play as him. Playing with other human players was significantly more chaotic. One player was extremely skilled and I did my best to support him.
Result: Objective Complete, the enemy Nexus was destroyed.

After my match I chose to figure out why I had so many champions available and came across the concept of the Free Champ Rotation. It seems Riot makes 10 champions always available for players to pick from, on a weekly basis, so players are never without options. This means my purchase of Ryze was completely unnecessary.

I shall endeavor to justify the purchase by practicing with Ryze.

MATCHES 2-7: 5v5 AI Beginner.
These matches were additional matches with me playing as Ryze. I mostly bought the recommended items, sometimes changing the order. Nothing here was worth mentioning except: In one match I chose to buy some items instead associated with minion powering-up and turret siege, and my character became much less effective. This suggests that recommended items are recommended for good reason... Nevertheless my teammates won the battle for me.

Result: Objective Complete, the enemy Nexus was destroyed. (x6)

At this time I was level 5, and I was notified that I would not be rewarded for AI matches any more that day.

MATCH 8: 5v5(4?) PvP
This match was a lot easier than I thought it would be, I attribute the victory mainly due to a player quitting before the fight really started. This made the game essentially 4 on 5.
Result: Objective Complete, the enemy Nexus was destroyed.

MATCH 9: 5v5 PvP
Result: Objective FAILED, the enemy destroyed our Nexus.
At last a loss. You can learn a sentence from victory and a book from defeat. The intense pressure from the enemy attacks, the feeling of dread and uncertainty... I will remember them.
If I explore "Why did we lose?" I could start with my teammates - but I believe this to be a basic folly. Placing blame on people never resolves anything in a positive manner.
I believe, we lost because the enemy playing Jax became really, really powerful. I fought him in the middle of the game and he killed me almost instantly, he had 20 kills already at that point. In the early game I had managed to kill my opponent several times, but even with some of the recommended items, Jax tore through me like paper. That spinny thing he was doing... I need to learn more to effectively analyze battle.
In any case we definitely lost, and I believe the main reason was the enemy Jax having a very good game.

MATCH 10: 5v5 PvP
Result: Objective Complete, the enemy surrendered.
In this game, it appeared our victory was certain when the enemy simply surrendered. I don't know how they did it, but I can surmise why.

That was it for my first day.
Now it's time for the second day. I will spend most of today learning via external research, and play a few games as well.

See you tomorrow.

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Day 4

I made it to level 10 in a fury of beginner AI matches. Ryze seems especially well suited to my play style; Yesterday I achieved a total of 41 kills and 3 deaths, an auspicious achievement. Go, me. I am starting to think I should move up to the next difficulty bracket, as I have not lost any games aside from the single PVP match I mentioned earlier.

I have been doing a lot of External Research on this game, and I have discovered lots of things that you all probably consider common knowledge:

  • I am now familiar with "the lanes" and conventional lane formation.
  • I am aware of "the jungle" and how one player is supposed to use all the neutral monsters (though this has only happened once in my games.)
  • While I earlier considered turrets to be of utmost importance, and was planning on writing a long post on them today, I note their weight has been diminished in my eyes.
  • I have been made aware of Runes and Masteries fully. I purchased Tier 1 runes.
  • I am aware now, that the single most influencing decision you make in a game towards the outcome, is probably your choice of champion.

With that said, there are over 100 champions and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of them. Most of them are total enigmas to me. I am aware of the vulnerability this creates. In fact, I think it is about time to talk about information.

External Research: The Importance of Information

Whether you are working with strategy or tactics, in any game situation, information is critical. Whichever side has more information, has the advantage. When it comes to strategy and tactics, the most basic type of ploy involves using information your opponent does not have.

There are four stages of reaction to an information advantage:
  1. Your opponent is unaware that he is missing information and completely fails to react. The advantage is yours.
  2. Your opponent is aware he is missing information, but fails to guess or react effectively. Most of the advantage is yours.
  3. Your opponent is aware he is missing information, and makes an accurate guess or reaction. If you don't know that he knows, you have surrendered the advantage.
  4. Your opponent is unaware that he is missing information but reacts perfectly anyway. You have chosen an unwise ploy and surrendered the advantage.

I will delve deeper into strategy, tactics, and how you can apply them in a future post. For now let's return to the League and examine something specific to the Summoner's Rift:

External Research: Lane Formation

2-1-2. This is the name of the standard formation on Summoner's Rift.
And 1-1-2 with 'Jungler'; The advanced formation.

These are the standards. But why? I sought to discover why these specific formations are used so doggedly. The answer, lies in Experience.

When a champion receives the experience from a lane alone, he gets 100% of that EXP.
If he splits it with 1 champion, you might think he would get 50%... but he actually gets 65%. 2 x 65% = 130%. In other words, a lane with a second player on it produces 30% more total EXP.

The jungle also contains EXP. If you have a jungler, you get up to 100% of that, and if you don't, you get 0.

So let's check out some various formations and see what we get.

By the way... after lurking these forums I discovered this term 'theorycrafting' which is applied to basically any pen-and-paper ideas on the forums. It appears to be primarily derogatory, and in any case it is extraneous gibber-gabber. I despise buzzwords... Terminology for things that only exist in League of Legends, like the 'jungler'... can't really be helped, no matter how ridiculous they are. But 'theorycraft' is nothing new. The correct term, which I will always use, is statistics or heuristics modeling. So without further ado, let's build a Stat Model.

We have three lanes and a jungle, each capable of producing up to 100% EXP.
Champions are also a source of EXP - if you can soundly defeat your opponent, you will gain extra EXP, but let's set that aside for a moment.

If I am correctly informed, a lane only doles out around 130.4% total EXP no matter how many champs are on it, whether that is 2 or 5.

FORMATIONS, in terms of relative EXP gained:

2-1-2: 130%+130%+100%: 360% Total EXP.

1-3-1: 100%+130%+100%: 330% Total EXP.

1-4-0: 130%+130%+0: 260% Total EXP
2-3-0: 130%+130%+0: 260% Total EXP

0-5-0: 130% total EXP

1-1-2 plus Jungler: 100%+100%+130% = 330% + (Jungler EXP)
If the Jungler Exp is higher than 30% of the base total gained on the lanes(and it certainly is) then the team gets a total higher than 360%. In addition the Jungler earns extra gold and buffs.

That just leaves the question: Why 1-1-2 with Jungler? Why not 1-2-1 with Jungler?
The answer, I think, lies in the jungler.
Lanes that are 1-on-1 tend to be highly vulnerable to ambush, referred to affectionately as a "gank"
... ugh, more buzzwords. Did you know that to Gank used to mean stealing? Well ... who cares... this one is prevalent in online games... let's move on
The jungler's ability to interfere and ambush the enemy with little warning is easier on the outer lanes, where there are fewer places to run, more isolation, and better unseen access. The middle lane has no fewer than 3 escape routes, only one of which the jungler can personally block. It is also the easiest supported by players coming from the other lanes. For this reason, rather than put the more solid pair in the middle, they go to an outer lane.

Why not 2-1-1 then? Why the bottom lane and not the top? I cannot be certain, but I imagine it is due to extremely minor differences in the layout of the map, such as angles of attack or very slightly different routes and distances. EDIT: Day 5, I have revised my theory. It is probably due to the presence of the Dragon near the bottom half of the map, and desire for control of this neutral monster.

FORMATIONS, In terms of relative effect:

1-1-2 plus Jungler: Full Power and Effectiveness.
2-1-1 plus Jungler: Nearly identical. There may be some weakness unknown to me. 99% effective.
1-2-1 plus Jungler: 2 vulnerable lanes instead of 1, but the enemy may be caught off guard. 95% Effective.

2-1-2: 80-90% Effective. The loss of Jungle gold, EXP and buffs hampers the team. If the enemy team 'steals' neutral jungle monsters, the effectiveness drops to 70%. If the enemy cannot effectively react to additional pressure and turrets break early, effectiveness can reach 100%.
2-2-1: 80-90% Effective. 70% if jungle is 'stolen'. 100% if 2 of enemy's turrets break first.
1-3-1:70-80% Effective. 60% if jungle stolen. 85% if turret pressure succeeds. If all three of the enemy's turrets break first, 100% Effective.

2-3-0: 40-50% Effective. Deserted lane vulnerable to pushing. Jungle vulnerable to theft. EXP on empty lane is lost.
0-5-0: 20-25% Effective. Barely any EXP gain. Both deserted lanes vulnerable to pushing. Jungle vulnerable to theft. If the middle is defended effectively by the enemy, the game is over.
1-4-0: 10-15% Effective. Very poor EXP gain for 4 players. Deserted lane vulnerable to pushing. Jungle vulnerable to theft. Solo player vulnerable to ambush. Probably the Worst Possible Formation that uses 5 players.

Why, then, do people raise such a big stink if 'you are in the wrong lane'? Well in some cases, such as 3-1-1, the reason is purely statistical. Your poor choice is causing the team to lose roughly 10% its total EXP. Even if you wear runes and masteries to correct the EXP loss, this is only for you - the team regains perhaps 2% of its lost EXP. As long as this EXP loss is extremely temporary, the surprise attack can play in your favor - 1-3-1 ambushes can lead to an early game advantage!

Fun note: Zilean adds 8% EXP to his team while alive. If he configures his own layout with EXP runes and EXP masteries so as to gain 11% more personal EXP, this gives his team 2% more total exp. He can actually correct the EXP loss from a 1-3-1 formation. But if he assumes a more effective formation, the whole team will benefit about equal to having a 2-2-2 formation; nearly 10% more total EXP!

But then, what about 2-2-1? There is no statistical loss, but instead we have skewed expectations. Let's say the middle lane was expecting to play solo, and prepared accordingly. The loss of experience and gold weakens a character that was expecting to be a main damager. Meanwhile, on the bottom lane is a character that possibly was depending on support, or planning on doing the supporting. Now that character is in a much weaker position because it wasn't expecting this.

It's worth noting that these problems magically resolve if you simply COMMUNICATE before the game! You can catch enemies off guard with powerful, effective and different formations simply by talking about the plan before the game starts. The more ready everyone is, the larger your information advantage grows!

Especially among the 'big three', the top 3 formations that have very similar gold and exp distribution, advantages and layouts, there's very little difference as to which one your team uses. At that point, it's more a matter of your team being 'on the same page' and using teamwork.

For my next digest, I plan to take a hard look at Team Composition, which is apparently very important in high end competition; as well as personally endeavor to shore up my information weaknesses about the various champions. See you then.

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Day 8

I've reached summoner level 11, and it's been a storm of activity. The most recent development was last night, when my summoner was bestowed a little green crest. It was for teamwork - the cooperation crest. However after a single match, it turned aqua. It wasn't until I logged in and out that I discovered my crest had been changed to 'mentor'.
This seems to be a common, simple progression - yet I'm one of the only players I've seen with these crests. There may be some factor I don't know about; I don't seem to be able to choose which crest I publicly display. So perhaps everyone already had these crests and has progressed to the 'final' version of the crest, the red one, which overwrites all the others.

If not, I feel sorrow for this community; the ribbons were not that hard to get. Indeed I managed it in my first ten levels.

I am currently about 1000 IP away from my first champion purchase. With 6300 IP, I can get one of the more recent, more expensive champs. The soon-to-be-released Vi is not that interesting to me, and honestly, I enjoy a challenge...

So I have decided my first major champ purchase, outside of Ryze, will be Elise. She seems like a complex champion, with 7 abilities, I don't see her very much, and the number of guides released for her is on the fewer side as she was just released.

It will be great fun to 'run the numbers' on Elise, and figure out some workable items as well as a play style. But I must remember that Ryze is a very easy-to-use Champion, and taking up a more complicated one could be a cold shock to my self-believed 'ability'.

I will prepare myself.

Having chosen my first champion purchase, I decided to sit down and figure out how much IP it takes to buy all the champions.

Not counting the soon-to-release Vi, the simple mathematical answer is
418,200 IP
for me (I bought Ryze, that's -450 IP I need)

Each win, I seem to be awarded roughly 150 IP for a Win-of-the-Day. I get about 100 IP for a Win and about 50 for a Loss. The amounts seem to skew with the time spent, so a long game might be worth more, and a short one, less. But since the difference between a win and a loss is about 50 IP, we can do some basic figureworking and determine how long it will take to buy ALL the champions.

One MAJOR factor we must not discount, is that Riot will KEEP RELEASING CHAMPIONS. Probably about 1 per 2 weeks.

This means, that while I can earn IP as much as I want and buy more and more champions, and in theory I should 'eventually' afford to buy them all, if I do not earn IP FASTER than the mounting costs to buy the new ones, I will never catch up after all.

This means I must earn at a minimum, 6300 IP per 2 weeks.
6300 IP per 14 days = 450 IP a day
The first win is worth about (100+150) around 250 IP. I have received as much as 300 in one big game (a 4 vs. 5 we won, that took over an hour!)
Past that, a game is worth about 50 IP and a win, another 50. These are reasonable estimates that may shy on the pale side.

3 games, all wins earns about 450 IP.
5 games, 4 losses and a win earns about 450 too.

But 450 is barely enough to break even with the growing costs. Clearly if you want to buy all the champs, you will need to play a LOT of League of legends!

Games of League take between 20 and 70 minutes, with an average of 40 minutes.
Playing 2-3 hours a day will probably get you enough IP to stay tied with the ever expanding roster. Playing more than that, will start to get you ahead.

Clearly, though, right now it is something of a Pipe Dream to own all the champs. I just don't play enough League! Sometimes I only play to my first win in a day. That's not enough IP!

Another main focus, though, is to own SIXTEEN champs. This is important as it is a criteria for Ranked Play.

And selecting and buying 14 champs, would be a fine way to get my collection started. I might stop and stay at 16 for a while, buying the other thing that consumes IP - Runes.

As to Runes.
For a while I was indecisive about which runes to get. Right now I am making purchases that I consider 'Ryze-Selfish'. These runes are good for Ryze, but not so many other champs. In particular the runes that add to maximum mana have limited benefit to champions without Ryze's unique connection to mana. If I wanted to profit from these runes I could buy, say, Blitzcrank, but I see that as a misstep - letting the elements of the game direct my style of play instead of the other way round.

Fortunately, all my Ryze-selfish Runes are TIER 1. So they didn't cost me much.

I have been playing nobody but bots, and there are certain quirks about teammates in bot matches compared to the large scale matches I have been spectating. For one, nobody wards. I must assume nobody needs to, because the bots are too predictable - somehow the bots pack a surprising punch, often leveling up and buying better items before me, no matter how aggressively I focus on growth or succeed in kills on-lane.

Yet it's as though they lack a 'killer instinct'. They don't pursue obvious kills. They don't seem to care about the jungle buffs at all. And several times, our team has lost its inner nexus turrets, only to reverse the game completely and win anyway. I cannot imagine a human team allowing this - a suicide dive for a victory would certainly happen, but the bots are content to sit back and farm.

I have detected the following inconsistencies and weaknesses about bot play that can be exploited to secure a win.

S.A.B.: The weakness of the bots

Beginner Bots are fairly simple to defeat.
They do not seem to benefit from Runes and Masteries, and they buy items slowly. They are content to use a single ability on an enemy champion and run away. They will ignore an enemy champion near death in favor of killing minions. If you enter the brush, you have disappeared forever to a Beginner bot. If attacked they will retreat adamantly regardless of whether they can win a fight or not. When knocked to low health they will flee the battle. They stay in their designated lanes until a turret falls. They are slow to respond to pressure on a turret and they tend to retreat from enemy turrets rather than pressure them. However, Beginner bots still have ridiculous reflexes - making them virtually impossible to ambush. It is a much better idea to simply outnumber them and attack. Often Beginner bots will suddenly bust out an ultimate combo and demonstrate extreme power - as when one bot uses its ultimate, the others will also tend to use their ultimates. In cases such as Miss Fortune and Taric, or Galio and Trundle, you could find yourself suddenly dead and wondering what made them go berserk.

Intermediate Bots are harder, but in an... odd way.

Intermediate Bots have extra power from Runes and Masteries. They buy items aggressively and seem to always have more gold, no matter what you do. They will also level up faster than you. Intermediate Bots will seek to kill a weakened champ and will not turret dive, very much, but will somewhat aggressively harass at a turret, and do a good job of staying out of it as well, for the most part (they CAN be baited under a turret, sometimes, though) An intermediate bot will linger and fight until its HP gets below about 1/3rd to 1/4th his total. At that time it will retreat and leave lane. They do not use brush, but sometimes, they gain an uncanny ability to see right into it. I do not know how they do this, as bots do not buy or use wards - I only know they do it! Bots will be able to use targeted skills, like Taric's Dazzle on the enemy champ in brush. This is most likely to happen as you just dart into the brush. For a period of about 5 seconds, an Intermediate Bot 'knows you are there' and will either attack you anyway, or will look into the brush personally to flush you out.

Most often, a bot will proceed down the center of the lane, never approaching through jungle, or using any form of stealth. They do not use brush to their advantage at all. They WILL move between lanes, quickly and uncaring of anything around them - but ambushing them is a bad idea as their reflexes are still uncanny. You will not get 1/4second of advantage - the moment you attack them and become visible, they will attack you back. Outnumber them instead; bots will readily allow themselves to be surrounded. Bots do not use stealth - the idea is foreign to them - but they DO 'gank'. They will (rather obviously, as stealth is an unknown idea) come charging from other lanes, and interfere with the lanes that seem to be doing the best in terms of score and power. If a lane is failing to win, they will change the champions designated to it, by lane-swapping, and in extreme cases, attempt 'ganking' by sending extra bots to that lane, before the first turret falls. Bots that 'gank' do not make unusual attempts to conserve or time their abilities or arrivals. They will not conceal their position. They move directly to the middle of the lane and support their teammates blatantly. This is a weakness as it makes their position very, very predictable - eliminating a need for wards!

Intermediate bots are extremely fond of forming 4-5 champion clusters, leaving lanes undefended, and assaulting directly into turrets as a group. This is different from human players in a couple of respects: 1. The bots are more conservative but more stubborn. They will probably not send anyone to 'block' a side pusher. 2. Their use of formation is quite good, at least compared to my current teammates. They work together and attack together with solid synchrony, cover for one another, and focus on the weakest enemy in a group. 3. They are not predisposed to the middle lane. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the bots and a team of PvP players - the PvP team will tend to obsess over 'mid' and neglect potentially effective plays on the side lanes, generally loathe to form teams and push those lanes. The bots, however, do it with aplomb. They seem to attack the sides just as often as the middle lane, making it much harder than to simply stand at the middle turret to hold them off.

Perhaps the largest weakness of the bot is a 'lack of killer instinct'. Bots seem to be especially conservative on the Porch and near the Nexus - tending to retreat rather than fight, even when the game is on the line. In situations where a few more moments of risky, low-health battle could lead to a huge advantage and even a win, bots will never take the risk. They will always back away from the dice, and this is a major flaw. Being able to take a calculated risk, is what separates a GREAT strategist from an average one! Any strategist can win with a strategy that always wins. A great one, will figure out which calculated risk is the best risk to take, and then take it without hesitation.

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to discuss Team Composition; indeed Team Composition is my next external research, but this post is getting rather long; let me start another.

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(day 8 continued)

External Research - TEAM COMPOSITION

Before we get started, I want to set aside the term 'carry'.
I am aware that a 'carry' is a champion that gets ahead in gold, gets kills, spends the bulk of his gold from kills on more offense, and 'carries the game on his shoulders'.

But I believe that many archetypes of champions, not just a few (and not just offense-focused), can get ahead in gold in this fashion and be the primary influencing factor in a win. I also believe that taking such a narrow, all-offense focus should not be tied to victory so easily.

Rather than use the term 'Carry', I will use other term definitions. Thanks.

Let's delineate some champion styles first. I recognize the following champ 'archetypes'.

Support - These champs heal allies, buff allies, and stun or discombobulate enemies. Their hallmarks are disruption of the foe and assistance of the ally. Their strongest aspects emerge in smaller team fights, such as 2-on-2 or 3-on-3, where they have someone to assist and their assistance is strongly felt. They can be weak when cornered alone, and may lack significant offensive or defensive ability on their own.

Tank - These defense-oriented champs are capable of, and sometimes can enforce, absorbing punishment for their team. Tanks try to have an efficient mix of armor, health, magic resist, and healing to make themselves extremely tough to kill. Generally, tanks also disrupt the enemy, or apply moderate damage. Perhaps the greatest weakness of a tank is that it can often simply be avoided, or sometimes ignored. Tanks can win 1-on-1 fights sometimes, but just as often the enemy will be able to escape the fight before losing it; this is because the combat formula which spells out the tank's eventual victory, takes too long to play out.

Ranged - Ranged champs tend to use autoattacks that strike from a distance, and have strong abilities but must conserve their use. Certain ranged champs actually rely on these abilities instead of autoattacks, though. Ranged champs pressure the enemy, attacking constantly from a distance, forcing them to revise their position. Ranged champs tend to take advantage of terrain in one way or another, becoming especially effective around turrets both the enemies' (Able to strike cowering foes) and their own (able to counterattack from safety) However, once the distance is closed, the effectiveness of the Ranged champ pales, and brush can help nullify this advantage, so to an extent, a Ranged Champ struggles alone.

Burst - An ability user that is capable of suddenly and powerfully damaging one or more enemies. Burst champions very occasionally build with some toughness, but most often the popular format is the "Glass Cannon" - with extreme damaging power and little defense. Bursts tend to need protection - if the enemy reaches the burst caster, they will die easily. 1v1 versus Bursts tend to resolve quickly and brutally, with one side killing the other.

Bruiser - The 'allrounder' approach, a Bruiser is a champ with a statistically efficient combination of attack power and defense (usually achieved by buying 1-2 powerful defensive items, and the rest all offense) a bruiser tends to rely on autoattacks and is usually able to trade hits with the enemy, hold them back, make attacks etc. Bruisers tend to be flexible and when ahead, they can be quite influential in battles. Bruisers are the most likely champ to win 1v1s, unless the enemy specializes in it. However, bruisers are also something of a jack-of-all-trades. They aren't as tough as a tank, and they aren't as damaging as a burst, and while their stats may have been 'well optimized', they cannot fill other key roles.

Assassin - These sneaky or speedy champs specialize in killing in 1-on-1 situations. Often they are capable of some form of stealth, and they all nearly always possess both abilities to hamper escapes, and abilities to finish off seriously wounded opponents. An assassin is something of a wildcard in games, because the ability and cleverness of the assassin versus the ability and awareness of the opposing team is put to the test. If an assassin gets ahead, it can mean murderous disaster for the enemy. However, assassins do not usually add very much to team fights, and if caught or detected, they tend to have bad defenses in a stand-up fight.

Pusher - these usually fast champions have abilities especially well suited to both damage and escape. Pushers tend to be able to mince minions very fast, and inflict heavy damage on turrets in a short period. The influence of a pusher on the game is very dependent on both team's level of awareness and cooperation. The presence of a pusher can almost be seen as something of a team 'playmaker' - someone who ensures that things work out even if the team fights fail. However, Pushers tend to add less to team fights than other members, if not for their raw ability than for their tendency to simply be elsewhere at the time, pushing something. Indeed it is the paradox - is it wiser to stay and help the team, and turn the battle? Or is now the very chance you were waiting for, to smash their defenses unhindered? It is a great tactical burden to be a pusher.

Defender - This unusual champion archetype is not really 'advertised' by Riot, nonetheless smarter teams tend to implement one. Defenders are capable of reinforcing or supporting a turret or defensive position, so that an inordinate number of enemies can be held back. A defender often can contribute meaningfully to offense as well, but they stand ready both to block pushers and teams as they bear down on turrets. Defenders are usually remarkably well equipped to handle being outnumbered and outgunned, by somehow entrenching their position... In exchange, though, they can have difficulty keeping up with a rapidly moving battle at full effectiveness.

Jungler - This is a League of Legends-specific archetype that usually indicates a Bruiser, with a lean towards health regeneration, that has some support elements in particular in hindering enemy escapes. Junglers are designated to take the neutral monsters (the jungle) and specialize in ambushes and fighting with partially lost HP. However, junglers are often partially itemized for fighting neutral monsters, and this can diminish their effectiveness somewhat against other champions.

I think these 9 archetypes are good for Summoner's Rift, most major play styles are represented well.
Support, Tank, Ranged, Burst, Bruiser, Assassin, Pusher, Defender, Jungler.

Do champs fill more than one role? Certainly yes. In fact a champ is an organic, changing entity that will not directly 'fill a role' anyway. Most champs will float between roles - even the iconic support, perhaps the most staid in their role (for reasons I will review in a moment) sometimes take up the mantle of pusher or defender for a short while.

What is the common composition, then, in League?
Burst, Support, Jungler, Bruiser, and Ranged is probably the most common layout.
Other common layouts include:
Burst, Support, Jungler, Bruiser, Tank
Burst, Support, Jungler, Ranged, Tank
Ranged, Support, Jungler, Bruiser, Tank.

Assassins, Pushers, and even occasional Defenders rotate into the format with varying rarity. But we have come a very long way, with a lot of assumptions, without asking the critical question "WHY?"

Why is it like this? Let's find out.

S.A.B. - Understanding Team Composition

There are two basic forms of attack that compose the millions of different strategies - the Direct, and Indirect, attack. A military genius will apply them with everything and anything to achieve endless combinations and impervious strategy.

But more practically, in League of Legends, the more characters you have in a specific role, the fewer combinations you can achieve. If we take a team of 5 Bruisers, for instance, we have the Direct Attack (all 5 Mid) and various Indirect (Split Push, Gank, Assassinate/Duel, Defend and Counter)

Ultimately though, the team of 5 Bruisers, despite being composed of 'more flexible' champs, lacks flexibility! The number and style of strategies that can be applied is dramatically limited.

For this reason, having a wider variety of Styles on a team, can produce many more variations of Direct and Indirect attack - and many more potential strategies to defeat the enemy. Having a ranged champ instead of a bruiser, means you can now 'cover the sniper' and let them apply ranged pressure. Adding a Support means you can now use 'war of attrition' and whittle your enemy down. If you include a Tank you can use 'Tank N' Gank' to splatter teamfights. Add a burst and now you can use 'Big Cannon' where the Bruisers cover the Burst and the Burst lays down various types of smack. Substitute a Pusher and you can use 'Siege Mode' where the Bruisers force a battle and the Pusher keeps the enemy running on another lane. Attack variety, is the most 'whole' way of looking at why, and from a strategic standpoint, it is absolutely valid.

If we look at the elements of Summoner's Rift and the common lane formations, certain things arise:

  • It is definitely better to have a jungler, than to not have a jungler.
  • Having 2 Junglers is going to reduce the EXP from the lanes, and weaken the junglers, so it is best to have just 1.
  • In a 1-1-2-Jungle format, there is only 1 lane with 2 champs, so it is impractical to have more than 1 support.

And as to that support... in Summoner's Rift it is common to have one of the players in the 1-1-2-Jungle format's 2-player lane, to not take gold. This is the 'support'.

Is this wise? One player gets all the gold, and the Support gets much less. This weakens the support. While most support champions have utilitarian skills that are useful regardless of their champion's power, there is no Support champ that doesn't dramatically improve with better gold and items.

A common adage is "The best defense is a good offense". Sun Tzu and various other military gurus acknowledge - the only true way to defend yourself, is a counterattack. By choosing to let the assault-focused character on bottom lane - whether they be bruiser, assassin, ranged or burst - have all the gold, while the support gets by on the assists they earn - you hopefully improve your counterattack abilities, and achieve true defense.

But of all the strategies I have seen so far in studying the League, this is perhaps the one that I call into question the hardest. The idea of the 0-gold Support seems... rigid. Inflexible. And predictable. It limits the potential of the Support, and I fully acknowledge that a funded Support could have a profound effect on the outcome of a game, whether or not they achieve an impressive kill score.

It seems to me that the direct approach - funding the bottom lane attacker - might work. But it also seems that the indirect approach - equally funding the bottom lane support - could be just as powerful. I think to automatically assume otherwise, is to be closed-minded. I don't know enough about this one decision, I admit; I am not willing to pass judgment and say 'this is everyone's mistake' without seeing more information and learning more about this game.

But I will say this. Common perception is not always truth. We used to believe the sun went around the Earth. We used to believe Malaria was caused by warm night air. We used to believe that our thoughts came from our heart.

These are partial truths, all of them. And partial misunderstandings.

For now, it is enough to say that the 0-gold Support strategy definitely works, and many teams use it.

Next time, I will probably have my new champ, Elise! See you then.

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Senior Member


Day 11

Welcome to the Elise Headquarters!

I've been hard at work at mastering this complex, unique champion for a few days now, so virtually all of this post will involve my efforts with this octodextrous Champion. When I sat down to learn Elise, I did some examining of her kit, and looked online for guides, to discover there is a great deal of variance in people's approaches to playing Elise.
Plugging some numbers into a weak stat model I came to an early conclusion that, days later, I now personally support:

Elise is an extremely flexible champion.

Elise is able to work fairly well with many approaches, item builds, and strategies. This is due to the unusual way her skills and stats react to the items she carries. So, let's start with a heuristics model on playing Elise.

S. A. B. : Heuristics Model - ELISE

Elise is a champion that is capable of both ranged and melee fighting, as well as other interesting roles. We'll take a look at many of the possibilities, and how they can work out in the best-of-case scenario. Rather than statistically test the math behind the ideas, we will create some 'ideal frameworks' with key items that would hopefully support these concepts. Later we will go back through and test these various ideal formats, to see if they are statistically able to hold water! Let the conceptualization begin!~

The Spider Queen - Bruiser Elise

More than perhaps any other role, Elise's kit lends her to the Bruiser role naturally. Her spiderform becomes impressively tough if Elise is given some supplemental health, and various AP, AD and Attack speed items functionally improve her performance, to the extent that very, very few items are a poor purchase choice for her. A single defensive item (preferably of HP nature) coupled with various AP and AD items can make Elise a monster to deal with. A second defensive item, however, is not entirely out of place, and room for AD, AP, Attackspeed, penetration items, and various other possibilities only makes it trickier to choose the most effective items to improve Elise's overall power.

The AP version of Bruiser Elise deals roughly 40/60 Physical to Magical damage in her main combo, and can harass with various long range spells as well. Meanwhile the AD version is capable of causing serious damage without mana, and makes an impressive melee contender. Elise's early troubles include a rather low Health pool, mana issues in Human form, and cooldown in Spider form. Starting items that resolve some or all of these problems, such as the Kindlegem, Fiendish Codex, and Catalyst the Protector can prove to be powerful early game choices.

A few items work especially well with Elise's Kit. The Tear of the Goddess can be stacked quickly by changing forms and using various Spider Form skills, without spending mana. Similarly, Guinsoo's Rageblade reaches full stacks easily and the stacks can be maintained by changing forms while moving around. Weapons that inflict on-hit damage and effects, such as Wit's End, Malady, Black Cleaver and Blade of the Ruined King, can be very effective on Elise. Because Elise tends to inflict a mixture of damage and can use many abilities in a wild frenzy, the Hextech Gunblade can be a solid pick. Items that cause enemies to lose a percent of health, such as the Deathfire Grasp and Liandry's Torment, can allow her to decimate otherwise tough enemies when used in conjunction with her other two percent-health attacks.

Perhaps the toughest thing for Elise to do is to find direction in the myriad possibilities open to her. From Infinity Edge to Rabadon's Deathcap, very few items are a bad pick for her. Some, like Void Staff and Last Whisper, are quite situational, and many are only at their best when complemented by matching items; Building a Deathcap without further AP is a bit ridiculous. All the various ways to build Elise have some inherent weaknesses; AP damage ratios tend to be weak early on, and AD damage on Elise slopes off after a time, as well as forcing her to engage at melee to truly benefit. Attackspeed is already partly handled with her booster, and On-Hit, while being a quite efficient choice, is not especially effective in many team situations. Similarly, while Defense and Aura may be very handy for large battles, they reduce the odds of Elise winning unexpected skirmishes. So what's a spider to do...?

The Seeping Toxin - AP Harasser Elise

In humanform, Elise has a respectably distanced ranged attack (550, the "moderate range" distance), as well as a ranged instant-hit skill with a range of 650, useful for poking other ranged enemies, and a homing spiderbomb in Volatile Spiderling which allows her to harass from extreme distances. She also has a classic single target stun skillshot with a large range. This combination of skills allows Elise to harass melee champions from safety regardless of circumstance, and support teamfights from afar, while still having significant, if a bit pale, single target burst.

Ideally, a Ranged Elise can use Volatile Spiderling out around the edge of a minion wave, to counterattack while taking cover at a turret, or carefully aim it around minions to harass a cowering enemy at their own. She can also snare with Cocoon and use Nuerotoxin, an ability that scales with both AP and health the enemy has remaining, to initiate a team attack on a target. Nuerotoxin is especially potent at beating down targets with high health, but Volatile Spiderling has a fairly high AP ratio which makes it ideal for harming fragile targets in the back, as well as a long range, high speed, and homing capability, for just such a situation.

When playing Elise as a humanshape Ranged Attacker, it's important to note that your spiderform has increased armor and magic resist, and anytime you are 'caught', you can shapeshift and have surprising counterattack power. You will also be able to use Rappel to make clever evasions and escapes, and get to safety yet again. A glass-cannon AP build Elise can use Spiderform in emergencies and her spiderlings and autoattacks will carry intense damage - and her venomous bite will have surprising finish power, meaning that a low-health enemy thinking he has caught the AP Burst, may catch the wrong end of your fangs instead.

The main drawback of the AP Harasser Elise is the disuse of the full potential of the Spiderform. Not using your spiderlings and your Spider Skills, is a fairly high cost. You can transform while waiting for cooldowns - a good idea if you don't want to risk autoattacks - and allow your high-powered minions to lay waste, but you will often be standing too far back for them to be effective. You will also need to resolve a mana problem. AP-only Elise doesn't have the best ratio on Neurotoxin until late game (when it becomes really strong on enemy tanks and bruisers) so she needs cooldown, and lots of casting will get very expensive. She also benefits very little from added Attack Damage. (though a little attackspeed can be helpful in landing autoattacks and moving) If the enemy buys lots of Magic Resist, she will need to purchase either Void Staff or Malady, though both can be effective choices in their own right. Abyssal Scepter's Radius is just too short to benefit fully from the full range of your poking, as you will often actually step out of the range of Abyssal Scepter before your Neurotoxin hit lands if you juke quickly and often. (there is a short travel time) In addition, many Volatile spiderlings will be well out of range.

The Skittering Horror - Tanky Elise

Tanky Elise is one way to play the Spidery champion. Elise gains significant offensive power without purchasing any offensive items... Neurotoxin and Venomous Bite inflicts a percent of the enemy's Health without a single point of AP, and Elise's spiderlings will be able to inflict some 400 Physical Damage per second in Skittering Frenzy at level 18, without any augments whatsoever. Elise's Spiderform is remarkably mobile and none of her spider skills use any mana, meaning she can linger in fights for an extended time and continue to use skills. A Health-oriented Elise, that takes items like Frozen Mallet, will be able to help teammates by slowing foes while making the most of her natural Armor and Magic Resist. Aura items are also a good pick - in particular, the Runic Bulwark will boost not only your teammates but also your spiderlings' toughness, granting them drastically increased Armor and Magic Resist, and HP regeneration to boot.

A Tanky Elise will be able to initiate in humanform with Cocoon and Neurotoxin, and possibly Volatile Spiderling if there is mana to spare, and then rapidly initiate with Venomous Bite, putting six tough targets in the middle of the fight. Elise's spiderlings absorb various single target skillshots and are resilient to area-effect damage. Activate Skittering Frenzy to hammer a target low, and use Venomous Bite frequently to both inflict magic damage and lunge from target to target. You can use Rappel to rapidly reposition or slow an enemy about to make an escape. A side focus on cooldown will raise your total damage and make you even more versatile.

Your human form is slower and weaker than your spider form, so you will mainly be switching to humanform to apply a quick pulse of Neurotoxin and fire off a Cocoon, hopefully stunning someone out of position, and maybe launch a spiderling, and then switch back to make the lunge. You don't have a melee stun like some tanks, but your spider swarm is intimidating and Venomous Bite has excellent finishpower. If you lunge on someone under the turret and kill them, and have minions, quickly Rappel and either target a minion outside the turret, or come back down and the turret will target and kill a spiderling or two. Rappel can also be very useful for dodging large-area skillshots like Zyra's, Nunu's, and even Lux's and Ezreal's with some practice. It can stall your enemy and make their attacks impractical. It also grants vision of surrounding brush, so if you lose sight of the enemy but you know they are near, a quick rappel will sight them - and likely allow you to aggressively resume pursuit. If the enemy is just out of range as you activate Rappel, you will drop at the edge of the range just next to them - in range for Venomous Bite to close the gap. Rylai's Crystal Scepter, Frozen Mallet and Iceborn Gauntlet are great for locking up enemies that flee like this.

While Tanky Elise can do the job, thanks to all the free attack power she gets from her kit, none of her skills are especially synergistic with toughness. She will be a moderate tank - very mobile but not super-tough. So Elise will need to more carefully choose her engagements than most Tank champs(in exchange she has somewhat better damage). A bad Rappel can get you killed quickly, especially if the enemy moves into a group, or runs under the turret and your spiderlings attack him as you drop in - you will draw turret attacks. By carefully controlling the situation, she can be a frighteningly indomitable tank - but caught out of position, there can be very little she can do to facilitate an escape, as her Spiderform abilities mostly close the gap to enemies, and shifting to humanform for a single Cocoon, is Very Risky. Try to stay near jungle camps, where a quick Rappel on a neutral monster can get you to safety, and consider items like Zhonya's Hourglass or Guardian Angel, which can help you stall and consider your options. Cleanse can also be extremely helpful in breaking out of a wrap-up combo and escaping, and Tenacity is a must to prevent death from chain-snare.

The Shadow's Fangs - AD Assassin Elise

One of the more effective and unexpected builds for Elise emerges when you combine the Blade of the Ruined King, Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer, Frozen Mallet, and Black Cleaver in a single package. Elise's Magic damage is pale in this form, but her ability to drop in and absolutely shred an enemy at melee is both very impressive and very dangerous. The core combination which makes this package work so well is the constant percent health damage to the enemy combined with lifesteal, added to Elise's base 8% damage skills, snare, and Rappel. The full combination can transform Skittering Frenzy into your enemies' death sentence.

When playing Assassin, Elise shouldn't be seen about to attack until it's a moment too late to escape. Staying in brush in humanform, landing Cocoon, then quickly following up with Nuerotoxin and Volatile Spiderling, transforming, and starting Skittering Frenzy will melt nearly any enemy regardless of toughness. Save your Venomous bite to finish off enemies with a final lunge, as it has a moderate range - and use Rappel to envenom anyone who thinks they can escape.

The humanform version of Elise in this build is especially vulnerable, so you should stay in spider form when you can. You will only be able to rely on your ranged autoattacks in human shape, which will be useful for teamfights if you have good cover, but since you are relying on lifesteal to win your fights, it is a bad idea to engage groups head-on even in spider form, where your healing will likely be overwhelmed. Look for enemies to flee and then pick them off with impressive gapclosing. Try to use the Jungle to separate and confuse enemies - if you can isolate one, Rappel and Venomous Bite can turn it into a kill. Properly timing a Rappel, you can 'hop' a turret, taking only 1 or two shots. Activate skittering frenzy and if it appears they will escape, go ahead and transform, use Cocoon, and try to kill them with Human abilities one last time - but remember when you are between two live turrets, and don't push your luck too much.

Naturally, the Assassin version of Elise makes very little use of Spiderlings and has very little toughness. You must always be cautious that the Hunter does not become the Hunted - ganks and baits can be fatal, which makes the Assassin-format Elise a bit of a mindgames contest. You need cooldown reduction, attackspeed, and Tenacity all of the above, so the choice of which boot to pick is a challenge - but I recommend the Berserker's Greaves. Rely on killing enemies in a single skill combo and focus on attacking 1-on-1; you should be able to overcome single stuns and do without a second burst once you get far ahead. The assassin version of Elise can't happen without a bit of a starter fund, so focus hard on farming and hope your opponents give you a delicious kill opportunity. In the case you are shut down, consider building more defensively and assuming a more generic bruiser role - an assassin that falls behind, will fail to kill and waste its time.

The Lurking Spinner - Pusher Elise

Elise has some unique aspects which are especially useful for 'pushing' - the art of breaking turrets and escaping alive. Most notable are her spider minions, which significantly increase push strength and can tank turret shots, but also the reliability of Rappel to secure an escape from an unprepared enemy. Items which are important to pushing, such as the Banner of Command, the Boots of Mobility, the Captain Enchantment, and the Ohmwrecker directly benefit her spiderlings. Zephyr helps keep skill costs down and gets her around the field extra-quickly. Using Rappel, Elise can shake unwanted turret agro, and she can continuously generate new spider minions for pushing by using her Humanform skills on enemy minion waves or on neutral jungle monsters. The turret targets the closest minion first, so your spiderlings can repeatedly absorb shots intended for other minions.

No truly effective pusher focuses on the ability to push to the exclusion of all else - this is a mistake that will probably harm a team more than help it. Fortunately, Elise's Spider minions provide quite a bit more damage with the Banner of Command - as well as Elise's own fairly impressive damage in Skittering Frenzy with Zephyr. An efficient item for AP, Cooldown, and Mana Regen can allow Elise to perform other roles as she needs, use humanform skills frequently to replenish spiderlings, boost spiderling damage as well as her own, and utilize Skittering Frenzy more often. For these reasons I recommend the Morellonomicon to start the build, as pushing in the very early phase is somewhat ill-advised and the item provides efficient, comprehensive support to Elise.

When looking for opportunities to push, you should make every effort to appear conventional and on-lane, or moving in a standard and predictable way - to keep enemies from reacting before it is too late. Faking towards a potential teamfight in mid by moving down the river, before filtering into the jungle and moving into position for a blitz attack can work out, but you must carefully decide whether to stand and fight or remove yourself at every moment. You will need more map awareness and prior planning than every other player, so the Ruby Sightstone is indispensable - especially with a team that is not using wards at all. Supplying yourself with vision of the key areas will let you know when you are O.K. to push as well as grant advance warning of any risks headed your way.

Playing a pusher strategy puts an intense burden on you to carefully decide when to push and when to fight for your team. The ideal pushing item kit isn't perfect for other purposes, it's a bit gold-inefficient; and if you are explicitly blocked from pushing by a dedicated defender, your efforts may quickly become a loss. Knowing when to stop building for Pressure and when to change to something more practical is wisdom; don't build the Ohmwrecker until you are certain the enemy is vulnerable to side pressure. If you are still on the fence about the possibility, consider stopping at the Stinger; a great item to bring to teamfights is Nashor's Tooth and if it looks like the chance to push won't emerge, you can forego Zephyr for it. It's not as safe as the Zephyr, without the boosted move speed and Tenacity, but the added AP and maxed cooldown can be an important transition if success in the game will definitely hinge on a critical teamfight. Remember, you are a team player above all else. Push when the proper chance arrives, not because it is the only card in your hand.

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Senior Member


Day 14

A quick sidetrack: S. A. B. Update for Revision - Champ Cost Analysis

Well, well, it seems the prices are going to dive for maintaining a champion stable. Roughly 10,000 IP has been taken off the top of the current target, but more importantly:

  • New champs will be released roughly every 3 1/2 weeks. This gives more time to earn IP between new champs.
  • 24 days (est.average) to earn 6300 IP reduces cost to 262 a day - that is, basically all you need to break even is the first win of the day!
  • With a champion also getting reduced to 4800 (-1500 IP), the increase to the total IP costs for owning all champs, is ... 4800. So assuming you win once a day, you will slowly, but surely, gain on the champion collection as the costs to buy older expensive champs gradually decreases. To make the most of this, newer champs should be purchased first to allow champs that cost 4800 or 6300 to decrease in cost before buying. For champs with a lesser cost, this is less of an issue.
With this issue well updated, let's return attention to Elise.

The Missing Build: Jungle Elise

You may have noted that despite listing various functional heuristic builds (even a pusher!) I left out the jungle role. This was deliberate.

Playing in the jungle requires more practice and rehearsal than perhaps any other role. Trying to abstract it is utter nonsense; the best way to do it, then, is to get in there and try to jungle, until you succeed, and then improve your items and patterns - or, approach things from a statistical side. With no experience, heuristic work is just blind guessing, as the ancient golem was more than happy to teach me fist-first.

With that said, this seems like a good place for the next phase of the project.

S.A.B.: Stat Model - ELISE

Sizing up The Possibilities
We've outlined no fewer than 5 potentially functioning builds, and I am confident that Elise's skill kit has the makings of an excellent jungler, but the optimization and items of the builds remain a mystery. One of the things we can do to help us make decisions about which stats to buy, is size up Elise's various performance aspects with each of the statistics.

The Power of Attack Damage

Attack Damage is one of the most reliable and consistent ways to increase your power directly in the early game. Each point of attack damage will translate to at least 1 extra physical damage on autoattacks, for every champion, no matter how that champion was originally intended to fight. For champions that inflict poor damage, this will increase to moderate, and if their damage is already moderate, it will improve to suitable or better.

In Elise's case, Elise's autoattacks are about average in terms of power, range and speed - but Elise has access to a very powerful attackspeed booster as an ability (Skittering Frenzy). Would Attack Damage be smart? Or, should we continue building more Attack Speed?
I know just how to solve this one.

External Research - Square Numbers

I use a principle called 'square numbers' to reach solutions quicker in these situations. Let's say we have fourty units of fence. We need to divide this up into 4 sides, and capture as much space as possible, and make the biggest fence we can. We can put 2 and 2 on each far side, and stretch the remaining 36 panels in sides of 18 long... this super thin, narrow fence has an area of

(2x18) = 36 UNITS

Switching which side is long doesn't change anything.

(18x2) = 36 UNITS

But, if we take some fence from the long sides and put it on the short sides, good things start happening to the area.

(16x4) = 48 UNITS
(12x8) = 96 UNITS

What's the BIGGEST fence we can get?
Even sides.

(10x10) = 100 UNITS

Even so, if we look at 12x8, getting CLOSE to even is still really profitable. It's like this any time you multiply 2 statistics together.

So what, if anything, does this have to do with attack speed? Well, look at it like this. Damage per second is calculated as (Attack Damage x Attack Speed). Like 'Fence Area', we want as much DPS as possible. If we raise only the attackspeed, and not the damage, we get lots of weak hits, and less total damage per second. If we only raise the attack damage, and not the attackspeed, then we get occasional hits, of good damage, but the damage per second remains poor.

For the best damage per second, we need fairly equal amounts of power in both damage and attackspeed.

Elise's booster skill, Skittering Frenzy, applies up to +140% attack speed without an item. This speed booster makes AD items a fairly strong choice on Elise, particularly in the Early Game. It dramatically boosts Elise's Damage Per Second when coupled with an AD item!

But, just how much is dramatically? Trying to figure out the raw damage-per-second improvement, I ran across quite the unexpected problem...

The Attack Speed HEADACHE

My attackspeed is 0.78. Add a +140% buff and I get... 1.65?

My attackspeed is 0.96. The same buff size is ... 1.84. Hum.

My spiderling's attack speed is 0.83. Buffed +140%, it becomes ... 1.76. Wait, why is it stronger in terms of total percent gain?

This is the problem I ran into when trying to quickly and easily reason my total attack speed.
I knew that 250% AS was the max (2.5 attacks per second), but for some reason it wasn't adding up at all. Was it a bug? I certainly wasn't getting a flat +1.4 bonus. I tried multiplying my attackspeed by 1.4, by 2.4 (accounting for the 1.0 I would 'already have')... nothing worked. I couldn't find a solution.

EXTERNAL RESEARCH: The Math of Attack Speed
So to solve this problem, I attended the wiki where I found the solution to the math. Why was that magical 140% so elusive? Why did the spiderlings benefit differently? And perhaps most importantly, why was this skill so much weaker than I thought it would be?

The answer all roots back to Base Attack Speed. Here's how it works.
Every champion has a hardcoded 'Base Attack Speed'. It's set outside the champion's level and it never changes. Elise's is somewhat average, perhaps on the sluggish side - 0.625.

From level 1 on up, she is given a fixed attack speed bonus per level - but -
ALL bonuses are filtered through the Base Attack Speed. This includes items, skills and level up improvements; All bonuses that increase attack speed are multipled by the base - this reduces their effectiveness. Elise's attackspeed is capped at 250%. But with a base attack speed of .625, she actually needs a grand total of +300% Attack Speed to max out! Fortunately, her Skittering Frenzy skill, and her gains per level, reduce the amount of attack speed you need in order to reach 2.5 attacks a second.

2.5 attacks per second, minus 0.625 attacks a second (the speed she already has) leaves 1.875 attacks per second to earn with attack speed. Dividing by 0.625, we see that indeed, '3' or 300% is the ideal target.

Elise gains 31% just by leveling up. Skittering Frenzy gives 140%. This puts her around 170% bonus, out of that 300%.

So how do we make this easier on ourselves?
Rather than trying to figure out some cryptic "140%", we can multiply all attack speed boosts by 0.625 (Elise's Base Skill) ... and viola, Elise's Skittering frenzy adds 0.875 attacks per second. A nice, usable decimal that fits with the onscreen numbers. The number we get, is how much attack speed the item or effect will add, at every level, from 1 to 18, until the stat is maxed at 2.5 attacks a second.

Hey. Not bad.

So what if we need to decide between Attack damage and Attack speed?

Let's decide between a Long Sword and a Dagger.
The long sword costs 400g, and grants a 10 Attack damage bonus.

The dagger costs 400g, and grants a +12% Attackspeed bonus. We multiply that by Elise's base speed, 0.625, to get the actual effect of that dagger, +0.075 attacks a second.

Let's check Elise's power at Level 1 (Neurotoxin first), Level 9 (Maxed Skittering Frenzy) and Level 18.

At level 1, Elise has
60.5 Attack Damage in spider form(though this is not pure - it's counting 10 Magical Damage she gets from Spiderform). She has
0.64 attacks per second.
This gives her a DPS of

If we try the Long Sword, her DPS becomes (70.5x 0.64)
45.12 DPS.

If we try the dagger, her DPS becomes (60.5x0.715)
43.25 DPS

The Long Sword is a bit better from a statistical angle, it's a difference of about 2 damage per second.
But this early on, it's very close.

At level 9, her stats increase to
94.5 AD (+20 Magic Damage)
0.782 Attackspeed
And she can boost that attackspeed (140%) 0.87 attacks a second for 3 seconds. That's ...
1.65 attacks a second for a DPS of:
155.92 DPS.

With the attackspeed buff, I think I know which will be better, but let's check.
With the longsword her AD becomes 104.5, DPS of (104.5x1.65)
172.4 DPS. Note that with higher attackspeed, the DPS value of the long sword is greatly increased!

Let's try the dagger and Attackspeed is flatly increased by .075. So it's (94.5 x 1.725) for
163.0 DPS. Since Elise's attack power is higher, the value of the dagger improves, but AD is much better.

Longsword is again, the clear winner.

One more time. At level 18, her stats increase to
141.5 AD (+40 Magic Damage)
0.94 Attackspeed
And she can boost that attackspeed (140%) 0.87 attacks a second for 3 seconds.
1.81 Attackspeed with the booster on.
256.11 DPS.

The longsword gives her 151.5 AD for (151.5x1.81)
274.21 DPS. The benefit is quite solid.

The dagger adds .075 attackspeed for (141.5x1.885)
266.72 DPS. The advantage is about the same size, 10 Damage per second.

At first, and last, glance, building Damage on Elise is better, because she gets so much attack speed for free.
Last question: How much damage does she need to build, before it's better to build a dagger than a longsword?

It stands to reason that if you just keep raising Elise's damage, then sooner or later it will be better to raise attackspeed (in the interest of square numbers.)

The dagger raises Elise's attackspeed by about 4%, thereby raising her total damage by about 4%.
Meanwhile a Long Sword raises Elise's Attack Damage by about 7%. But if it raised Elise's Attack Damage by about 4%, then Attackspeed would be an equally attractive choice!

10, is 4% of 250... And Elise at level 18 inflicts around 140. So when Elise has bought over 110 AD, she should consider buying attack speed to improve her build. That would be, after her second Infinity Edge - OR, after building Infinity Edge and two other major damage items. About this time, she can top off her build with a Phantom Dancer.

So we've solved it! ...
or rather, we have solved statistically, for just 2 aspects, and compared them. There are many, many more options to consider, and there are even heuristic issues with the two aspects we've solved. Attack Damage is superior in terms of Damage per Second, but that's only when in Spider Form, using Skittering Frenzy, for three important seconds - it's not counting Human form, and with Elise not having any other items - and we're not considering the speed of the animations, the possibility of gaining last hits quicker with a faster attack speed, the possibility of inflicting more magic damage when attacking, or even the possibility of claiming neutral buffs, improving the character's statistics - and therefore changing which items are best...

This very complicated puzzle is far from complete. But I can proudly say I have taken steps forward - Longsword over Dagger is a stronger option.

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But in all seriousness, I am quite literally amazed that you have taken the time to record a supermassive document such as this concerning a game as primitive as league. XD

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Senior Member



But in all seriousness, I am quite literally amazed that you have taken the time to record a supermassive document such as this concerning a game as primitive as league. XD

My first-ever thread reply, after 2 weeks of hard math, study, and typing, is an MS Paint.

... well, I consider myself blessed. It could be much, much worse.

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Senior Member


Merry Christmas, threadgoers!

Haven't played much League over the last few days of course.
I've just today been taking Elise into Intermediate matches. I have some loose observations that I would like to post before I forget them -

  • I tried Jungling with a few different layouts, but Wriggle's Lantern First tended to work best.
  • Nashor's tooth doesn't seem like a bad option for Elise. Still needs more testing.

To the future!

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Blue Moon Seraph



You know, I am completely amazed at how more or less accurate your analysis is. Even to the point that I thought you were a higher level player make a smurf account in an attempt to either teach or make fun of a large number of players.

The length of the posts and the extreme amount of deliberate thought put into each one makes me think you really aren't and are simply a very smart individual putting your brain to work on this crazy game. That being said, I sent you a friend request and would be happy to chat with you and do some random matches. Coop or pvp is fine, first win of the day is always easier on coop too after all. I am looking forward to your future booklike posts and seeing how things turn out for you.

(One thing I would like to advise on. Don't buy any more runes until you hit level 20. The tier 3 runes become available then and are significantly better than tier 1 or tier 2. It is generally the best to just save ip until you get to that point. Also be aware that sometimes special runes become available during holidays (none yet for this one that I'm aware of) that are slightly worse than tier 3 but significantly better than tier 2 and priced as a tier 2. If you want a cheaper alternative.)

That being said, don't be discouraged and keep up the good work.