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The SABER Chronicles

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Day 21

Time to make some serious progress on the Elise Number Crunch.
This'll span several posts, again.

One of the most limited-set decisions you can make is your first choice of item. You only get 475 gold (maybe a little more with certain masteries) and you can spend it on a handful of items. Which should you buy?

Quick Thinking

One of the opening options is Boots of Speed. If we objectively ask how this item improves our damage per second, the strict statistical answer is "Nothing... no benefit whatsoever" but from a practical perspective, it is clear that purchasing the Boots helps early combat quite a lot. The reason is Heuristic in nature - by having ranged attacks and skills, and more mobility, it is possible to more safely harass an enemy. For avoiding skillshots, breaking the enemy position, and controlling the engagement, boots of speed are always the best option. It immediately becomes obvious that a strictly statistical answer is flawed - but so is a strictly heuristic one, as we know from our failed attempt at blind jungling.

We must conclude that boots of speed are "a notable option" - in particular, an option that emphasizes control over when and how engagements happen. If we are planning an especially fragile build, or our foe is vulnerable to being positionally controlled, we completely outrange them, or maybe we just want more control over engagement timing, Boots may be the best pick. Regardless of whether we are using statistical logic, or heuristical logic to determine the best item, if we reach a logical conclusion, then we should get improved results over picking randomly.

Mana: What's the Use?

Mana power is another difficult item to scale. In terms of raw damage per second, increasing your mana does nothing on its own - however, mana allows Elise in particular to fight from afar, safely, for longer. Elise can weaken, harass and burst foes as long as she has the mana to do it. The question is; how much is enough? Elise's skills and spells all cost about 60 mana in human form, with the Volatile Spiderling growing ever-more expensive as it increases in power(up to 100 mana at Rank 5); and she starts the game with 310 mana, enough to use about 5 skills back to back. Elise's base mana regeneration is a bit poor - it takes Elise almost 40 seconds to regenerate a single skill use. It takes almost 7 minutes to refill that mana all the way. Level ups will grant additional mana to work with, but only a limited supply.

The Sapphire crystal grants about 3.5 more continuous uses of skills, while the Faerie charm grants 3 MP per 5 seconds, but you can afford 2, for 6 MP5 - nearly doubling Elise's MP regeneration to begin.

From a heuristic point of view, both have their advantages. If you aren't planning to recall within three minutes after starting battle, the mana regeneration from 2 Faerie Charms provides more total mana than a flat sapphire crystal. However, the Crystal allows you to cast several times in an aggressive surge, and the Charms won't really do that for you. One thing to consider is that Elise can remain in Spider form and continue to use skills with no mana. This may help her stay fielded longer. However, this also beckons the first 'future buildup' concern - the Tear of the Goddess is a powerful max-mana item that Elise can stack easily by switching forms and using spider skills for no mana cost. It builds into both a strong AD item, and a strong AP item, and should be closely considered - and it builds out of a sapphire crystal. Meanwhile the only item that builds out of 2 Faerie Charms is the Mana Manipulator, which is mostly useful with team players, and the Shard of True Ice, which can be handy for boosting gold production and aiding teams.

So perhaps the biggest question when picking between the two should be -

"How do I intend to play? Will I be solo for long periods, farming, walking about in the jungle and hunting kills via assassination? In that case I can build Tear of Goddess and spam my skills to bulk up my mana and eventually get a strong item too. When I attack I will be able to surge with damaging skills for longer, just in case someone unexpected jumps in.

Or, am I going to be sticking with a lanemate or teammate? Can I rely on them to cover me as I stay in spider form, recovering mana? Are we going to try and hold an offensive line for an extended period? In that case, the Mana Manipulator would be the best possible option for the team, and the Shard of True Ice could help recoup gold expense for sharing my lane.

Maybe this team doesn't really need that sort of support - if things seem short and violent, and I am always skulking away with low health, perhaps I should forego mana bolstering and focus on something more statistically effective instead!"

These are three heuristic approaches to a situation that doesn't have a clear statistical answer.

Some Tough Math

In the interest of determining whether or not Armor was an effective purchase, I researched how Armor, Magic Resist, Armor Penetration, and Magic Penetration really work.

EXTERNAL RESEARCH - The math of Armor

Damage is divided into three types - Physical, Magical, and True. All physical damage is filtered through your armor. All magical damage is filtered through your Magic Resist. And True Damage is NOT filtered and harms your HP directly, 1 point-to-1 point, no matter what.

100 points of Armor reduces physical damage, so that it is as if you have +100% Health (ie. all damage is halved, -50% physical damage) It seems to scale this way no-matter-what, infinitely stackable. This means that Armor does not suffer from issues of Diminishing Returns (every point is worth less) or Increasing Returns (every point is worth more) at all. Armor also does not meaningfully interact with Magic Resist.

But, Armor DOES stack notably with total Health. The more Health you have, the more effective each point of Armor is. Because of how they work, Armor and Health can have the 'square numbers' principle applied!

Cloth Armor grants you 15% more health, meaning it increases your total combat power by 15% versus physical sources. It does this for 300 gold.
Magic damage tends to also affect champions, though, and armor will not protect you at all against this. From a raw statistical point of view, a practical division is half the benefit - 7.5%. Most people are happy with this number. It's a very stable figure from a statistical standpoint, but what about the heuristics?

All champions use autoattacks, and some have very strong physical skills, but many skill attacks are magical, and tend to apply in a burst, while physical damage tends to be gradual. All minion damage is physical, including caster minion damage, and most monster damage is physical. Turret damage is physical. For an assassin type champion that plans to rely on autoattacks and skills to take down enemies in dangerous situations, or jump behind enemy lines to quickly secure a kill, then reducing the damage from desperate enemies, angered minions, and a baleful turret might be critical to survival. Armor can do all this for you.

On the other hand, champs that are the probable target of a burst of skills, like an AP caster, may not benefit as much from armor. If the enemy insistently uses their skills on you, trying to kill you first, you may receive much more magic damage than physical. This is especially the case if your enemy is also a bursty mage type character. So for a person playing the middle lane, for instance, Armor may be a poor choice.

Resisting Death

From a statistical standpoint, Magic Resist is a mirror image of Armor. It reduces damage from Magical sources the same way armor works for physical - the Null Magic Mantle (+20 MR) artificially increases your Health by 20%. While the purchase cost is 33% higher, the protection is also 33% higher. So from a raw statistical approach, it seems to be an equally attractive option to Armor.

But if we take a closer Heuristic look, this immediate appearance falls apart. Minions, turrets, and most monsters do not use Magic Damage. Most champions do not autoattack with Magic Damage (Elise's Spider Form is a rare exception!!) Champions have greatly reduced access to Skills in the very early levels, and all champions have autoattacks - and tend to rely on them more frequently early on than later. Even dedicated casters like Annie will pick on one another with Autoattacks at level 1, while waiting for cooldowns. This is all physical damage. The lanes tend to separate the champs, preventing big crazy teamfights early on, and reducing the amount of collateral skill damage each champion can take.

In addition, all champions gain Armor as they level up, at varying rates. But generally speaking, only melee champs tend to gain Magic Resist at levelup - and Elise is not among them. Her Magic Resist, as with many others, is locked at 30 and only rises if she buys items. So as time wears on, unstrengthened physical attacks will grow weaker and weaker - while skills will only get stronger and more frequent.

For this reason, Magic Resist can be something of an investment in the future. Even if Magic Resist isn't immediately useful, it can help keep you alive when the unexpected happens. This is perhaps the biggest plus for the Null-Magic Mantle; it can get you out of dangerous attempts to kill you from multiple enemies, alive. It also helps you quite a bit later on in the game, it retains its value well. If you have a lead that is worth preserving, then Magic Resist might be just the ticket.

The Healthy Approach

Perhaps the most effective way to improve your toughness early on, is to raise your Health. Elise starts the game with just 475 HP. Adding 180 Health with a Ruby Crystal increases your toughness by a whopping 37.8%. This added toughness counts against ALL types of attack, including True Damage. From a Heuristic Standpoint, dramatically increasing your Health allows you to engage in more risky and daring fights, commit to hard battles, linger on lanes longer, and jump on weakened foes more often and with less penalty. Mistakes are more easily corrected and Domination is enforced. It is an all-around solid purchase!

But from a statistical angle, the power of the Ruby Crystal fades with time. Every time Elise gains a level, she gains another 80 Health. She also gains 3.5 Armor, which increases the power of the Ruby Crystal - but the difference is too great and overall, the purchase actually weakens in relative benefit compared to Armor and Magic Resist purchases. This effect is also present for Attack Damage, Attack Speed, and Armor - but it is the most clearly influential in the case of Health.
By the time Elise is level 18, Elise now has 1,835 HP - over quadruple what she started with. The Ruby Crystal is now raising her toughness by a scant 9.8%. From a starting power increase of 37%, it's a colossal fall-off in value - and this is for the most costly defensive purchase choice you can start a game with.

The principle of square numbers states that somewhere, raising Health is necessary to get full power out of Armor and Magic Resist purchases. However, it is painfully clear that raising your Health is an investment in the early game, the here-and-now; and as the game goes on, you will need to do something with your Health purchase to keep it competitively sound. Otherwise you run the risk of being statistically overwhelmed as champion Health Totals and Damage Potentials explode, and your Ruby Crystal becomes a relatively weak factor.

(To be continued!)

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(Day 21 continued, part 2)

A Penetrating Line of Thought

In the lategame, it is extremely common to see items that add Armor Penetration and Magic Penetration to a character's statistics. While these items are not immediately available within the first 475 gold, I believe it is important to fully understand the value of these potential purchases.

There are two forms of Percent Penetration for Armor, and one for Magic Resist. For Armor, they are the Black Cleaver and the Last Whisper. (25% and 35% Respectively) There is only one form for Magic Penetration: The Void Staff. (35%)

How valuable is 10 Penetration? What about 35%? How much extra damage are you getting? These are tricky questions to answer - and the correct answer is less intuitive than you think.

Let's say we have 10 Armor Penetration. Well, 10 Armor increases health vs. Physical damage by 10%, artificially. However, this does not mean that our 10 Armor Penetration raises our damage by 10%. The math is deceptive here.

We're not inflicting 10% more damage.
We're UNDOING a 10% Health Increase.

What's the difference, you ask? Let's say the enemy has 20 Armor.
We usually hit for 100 physical damage, but with 20 Armor, instead we hit for 83. Let's get that 10 Armor Penetration. Now we hit for 90. 10% of 100 is 10, but we only got 7 damage. If we increase our Penetration to 20, of course, we hit for 100, getting a full +10 damage.

If the same enemy has 100 Armor, our 100-damage attack only hits for 50 damage. If we add our 10 Armor Penetration, their armor is now 90 but we only hit for 52! Our penetration netted us a measly 2 damage.

The lesson is this: The more armor the enemy has, the less we're going to get from our Flat Armor Penetration. It is the most effective when ripping through an un-armored champ's natural resistances.

And what about that Percent Penetration?

Let's take 20 Armor and apply 35% Penetration. The enemy's Armor is now effectively 13 - instead of 83, we hit for 88. Unbelievably, it's less effective than flat penetration at such a measly amount of armor.

How about 100 Armor? 35% Penetration reduces the armor total to 65. Instead of inflicting 50 damage, we get 60; +10 Damage.

And 200 Armor? You'd normally inflict 33 Damage against such a hard target. You get 43 instead. That's +10 Damage.

Is it worth the trouble? Probably not unless the enemy has way over 100 Armor or Magic Resist.

BUT! There is one more possibility to consider - that of the Black Cleaver, which combines flat and percent penetration. How effective is that, I wonder?

Let's set the Black Cleaver against 20 Armor.
The armor is reduced 25% after four hits, to 15. Then it is reduced by 10, to 5. Instead of 83, we get 95 damage! Satisfying.

How about 100 Armor? First a 25% Reduction, to 75. Then a -10, for 65. That number sounds familiar - it's every bit as effective as the Last Whisper. You get +10 damage against the heavily armored target; but your damage is also dramatically improved versus unarmored targets.

There are also skills that some champs have, that reduce armor and magic resist, but Elise doesn't have those. But she DOES have access to runes.

With full Armor Penetration Marks and Armor Penetration Quints, you can cancel 19.2 Armor out. With Marks, Glyphs and Quints of Magic Penetration, the enemy loses 19.53 Magic Resist.

I'll cover Reduction later, but for now it's enough to know that 'just a little' Magic Penetration and Armor Penetration is relatively ineffective. If you are going to use it, then you want as much as you can get, and it's at its most effective when removing a champ's natural resistance - stacking armor and MR against it will reduce its effectiveness.

It is worth noting that all champions have at least 30 Magic Resist; it's also worth noting that combining Sorcerer's Shoes and Haunting Guise will completely cancel that out. Normally that 30 Magic Resist reduces damage by about 1/4, so using both items on a foe with no other resistance, should raise your damage by about 33%. Neat.

From a Heuristic point of view, it's all much easier to reach the same conclusions. If the enemy has 100 Armor, that's +100% HP, for 200% total. even if you remove 10 of that, the enemy is still getting 190% HP so you didn't achieve that much. Naturally, removing just a little armor, and turning 110% to 100%, is better.

Critical Thinking

Critical Hit chance is perhaps the most obtuse factor to be considered for purchase. Brawler's Gloves grant an 8% chance of landing a Critical Hit - which is double damage unless you make some special investments. But let's put those investments aside for the moment. From a Heuristic point of view, Critical Hits are appealing - a chance of seriously wounding the enemy with every attack. Rather than apply a constant, small amount of damage which the enemy can patiently react to at the right time, Critical Hits force your opponent to suddenly cope with dramatic health loss. It also emphasizes luck - at any time, you might score back-to-back criticals, effectively doubling your damage per second for a short span of time.

Statistically, usually Critical Chance purchases scale pretty well - buying Brawler's Gloves will continue to raise your total attack potential by 8% for physical attacks no matter how high your damage climbs. They stack in a nice, linear fashion with other Critical Chance too - up to 100% maximum, constant critical hits. But for Elise, there is a drawback - a certain percent of Elise's damage is actually On-Hit MAGIC damage from her Spider Form. This means that Critical hits actually deal significantly less than double damage for her. A critical hit in Spiderform is 183% at level 1, and a scant 144% damage at level 18, unless Elise buys Attack Damage and bolsters these totals! And if Elise buys AP, then her Critical Hits are even less effective.

in addition, Critical Chance builds into a rather limited pool of items. Phantom Dancer does not add damage, instead raising attackspeed - which is distinctly UN-square numbers for Elise! And while Infinity Edge is deliciously powerful, it cannot be built from Brawler's Gloves. Perhaps the two interesting potential purchases for Elise are the Statikk Shiv - which could be powerful on such a mobile, active champ - and Youmuu's Ghostblade.

Basically, though, Brawler's Gloves can be statistically proven as a poor investment for Elise. Critical Hits are perhaps the one aspect it is wasteful for her to focus on.

Finding The Power (of Ability Power)

AP: What's the damage per second benefit?

This is perhaps the mother of all Elise questions. Unlike autoattacks, which are limited by attackspeed, AP raises the damage of your individual skills, and for Elise, this is a very tricky question to ask. Elise benefits from AP in a lot of ways, and while most Elise players agree her AP ratios aren't amazing, that doesn't mean this statistic is a waste on her, by any rate. So how do we even begin to solve this one?

In order to solve this confounding statistical puzzle, we can - and will need to - solve for each of the separate components (her various skills) But more than this, we need a Heuristic pattern to lay out how her skills are used.

Only with an accurate idea of how Elise actually uses her skills, can we paint a proper picture of the effect of AP on her damage per second.

Elise can poke with Neurotoxin every 6 seconds. She can do this from outside her autoattack range. The AP ratio on this skill is (1% remaining HP) per 33 AP. At level 1, this is 4-6 damage tops on a fully healthy enemy, and on a weak one, possibly 1 damage per 33 AP. Even being very generous, this is maybe a 15% AP Ratio - 1 damage per 6 AP.
15% AP Ratio is VERY POOR. Is the skill weak? No. At level 9, this poke is dealing over 200 damage every 6 seconds, plus 8% the enemy's HP - and that's not counting its alter ego Venomous Bite. But its ratio is bad, meaning that AP won't strengthen it very much.

Now later on, things brighten for Neurotoxin. Against an average 2000HP champ at level 18, it sports a 60% AP Ratio on an average full health target (20 damage for 33 AP) and it only gets better as the enemy gets tougher - 4000 HP is a 120% Ratio which is spectacular!

But in the early game, there's no question that Neurotoxin has a weak AP Ratio. So you will need to use it for the base skill damage and forget any possibility of the skill 'building up' from AP items so early.

Volatile Spiderling inflicts a solid 80% AP ratio - 100 AP results in +80 damage. This is not bad, especially since the attack is AoE. It's easy to calculate and quantify. An amplifying tome gives us an open-and-closed +16 Damage AoE. That's a 20% damage boost for level 1. Sweet.

Its other half, skittering Frenzy, though, is trickier. Elise has a 30% AP Ratio on her spiderform attacks as extra magic damage - and her spiderlings, a 10% AP Ratio on their attacks as physical damage - no, really. Your AP adds physical damage to your minions. Early on, Skittering Frenzy will allow her spiderlings to land extra hits in 3 seconds, with each spiderling getting +10% from AP and Elise herself getting 30% from AP. This totals about 50% AP bonus early (2 spiderlings and Elise), and it gets amplified by Skittering Frenzy. The math is hard to work out, but remember - we have the remedy, in Base Attack Speed. Skittering Frenzy 1 grants (60% x .625) +.375 attacks a second for 3 seconds, for 1 extra hit from you and the spiderlings over the duration! You and your spiderlings will probably each land 3 hits during Frenzy, so the total AP damage inflicted is around 150% AP ratio over 3 seconds, or about 50% per second. Not shabby, but spaced out across several sources.

Lastly, Skittering Frenzy restores 1 extra HP per hit per 50 AP you have. This can be somewhat insignificant early as you will only get 8-10 procs and you need 50 AP to get even a +1, for an extra 10 HP max. That's barely a 20% AP ratio. Later, with you and 5 spiderlings attacking roughly 6 times in the same 3 seconds, you're looking at about 36 procs; the AP ratio is closer to 36/50 or around 70%.

So... with all this information, I feel informed but also confused.
Let's try to drastically simplify.

what's the percent power increase for an Amplifying Tome? Like with a Sword or Armor.

If you are harassing with Neurotoxin, hardly anything. The AP is a waste.
If you are harassing with Volatile Spiderling, +20% power at level 1.

To you and your minion's melee damage in Spider Form?
You get +6 damage and your minions each get 2. That's 10% for you and 20% for your minions.

Combined, you had 80 Damage per attack, and now it's 90, so it's about 12.5% overall.
From another perspective, it adds about 10 damage, but only in Spider Form - unlike the Long Sword.

(I'm still going!!)

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(Day 21, the thrilling[??] Conclusion)

To Buy, or Not To Buy

The answer to this... is almost certainly to buy.
There are only six useful items that build from only high end components.

  • The Mercurial Scimitar, an item that provides massive Magic Resist which is not especially handy early game
  • The Infinity Edge, an item that provides Critical Chance and Damage - but is rather ineffective on Elise due to her spiderlings and Spiderform Magic damage not benefitting
  • Rabadon's Deathcap, an AP Amplifier that is only cost-effective if you already own lots of AP
  • Zhonya's Hourglass, a powerful AP item that allows for interesting plays but is made from very expensive components, costing 3100 gold in all
  • The Sunfire Cape, an item that is indeed effective early on - and one possibility for saving up, costing 2500G
  • Guinsoo's Rageblade, the other possibility for saving up at 2600G.

Of these six, two are of some interest to Elise.

The first, and most tempting, is Guinsoo's Rageblade. Elise's ability to keep Rageblade perpetually stacked makes it a uniquely powerful item for her, as long as you have the presence of mind to do this. However, the items you must buy in order to build Rageblade (The Blasting Wand and Pickaxe) both do nothing to resolve Elise's Core 3 Problems - mana issues, low HP and cooldowns - so you will be playing on sheer skill until you have collected the 2600 gold to finish the item, unless you take a detour. Obtaining the Rageblade will give you significant power in attack, but the low-health passive will likely not be very useful as you will have poor total HP and be killed far too often if trying to utilize it in anything but a desperate fight. Although it is very tempting to get such a cost-effective killing item so early, the drawbacks are many and significant, from starting without items to not resolving any of Elise's Core 3 Problems in your first 2600 gold.

The other item, and perhaps more possible, is the Sunfire Cape - which offers a significant 40 damage per second, high health and armor all in one convenient package. Obtaining the Sunfire cape in your first 2500 gold would give you an extremely powerful area DPS buff in addition to a dramatic rise in HP and Armor - perfect for spider form. But, rushing Sunfire Cape means first saving up 720 gold to buy a chain vest, and then another 1000 for the Giant's Belt. A kill on lane may make it possible to buy the Belt first - an extemely powerful action - and a definite possibility for a tank opening - but to do this, you must sacrifice your early game Tankiness and it is definitely a calculated risk. If you choose to take it, you are relying on the strength of others and your own wits to create power from nothing. Succeed, and your early Sunfire Cape will overwhelm the enemy. Fail, and you will need to scramble to catch back up. After dying even once from a no-items gambit attempt, you should immediately buy the most expensive thing you can get to fill the void, even if getting the Chain Vest isn't possible.

Hungry like the Doran

The three very effective early items -
Doran's Shield,
Doran's Blade
and Doran's Ring

are all considerable options for Elise.

Doran's Blade is especially handy when used in conjunction with Skittering Frenzy. Doran's Shield does a fine job of making Elise much less killable. And Doran's Ring both helps resolve her low HP and her mana problems. They are all worthwhile options, excepting one little problem - none of them build up into anything better.

I don't feel these need to be as strictly compared as the other options, as they are generally, with some absolution, better in the immediate sense. But, by the same token, they all carry less total potential.

Making The Selection
So now that we've looked at all the options, what do we start with?
Listed in order, from Immeasurable/Situational to Best to Worst.

Boots of Speed
STATS: Raises movement speed significantly. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Allows Elise to control engagements, deciding when and how to fight. Scales excellently well.
CONS: Does not raise DPS.
BUILDS INTO: Tier 2 Boots, a must-have on Elise as well as every character. (Can help resolve toughness and cooldown issues)
SITUATIONAL: Enemy can potentially be positionally controlled; Useful if additional ability to kite and harass desired.

Sapphire Crystal
STATS: Adds 200 maximum mana. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Grants about 3.5 additional casts of skills on top of your current pool. This can be as much as +70% Effectiveness in low-level skirmishes.
CONS: Elise can rely on spiderform to fight without mana. As mana naturally increases (50/level) the total gain scales down. By level 9, Elise can already cast 11.5 times back to back, meaning a decrease to 30% Effectiveness. Does not raise DPS.
BUILDS INTO: Catalyst the Protector, and Tear of the Goddess.
SITUATIONAL: When planning to build Tear early. (Lone Wolf tactics) If expecting or planning a brutal, committal early lane with a protective partner against tougher foes.

Faerie Charm
STATS: Increases mana regeneration. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Cheap. Applies strong mana over time that improves as you stay longer on lane. Builds up mana restoration by +42% at level 1.
CONS: Does not increase total burst ability. Ineffective for short, intense skirmishes.
BUILDS INTO: Tear of the Goddess, Morellonomicon, Mana Manipulator (Can be shelf-bought!)
SITUATIONAL: When expecting a drawn-out, sustained battle with a persistent enemy. If going to tank for a teammate with mana needs (Mana Manipulator)


Ruby Crystal
STATS: +37.8% Toughness, 475g.
PROS: The strongest early defensive item.
CONS: Relative value scales down dramatically with time; by level 9, only increases toughness by 16.1%.
BUILDS INTO: Kindlegem, Catalyst, Haunting Guise, Ruby Sightstone, Aegis of the Legion
SITUATIONAL: If expected difficulty in the early lane, with a strong opposing matchup. If a defensive battle is proposed. To generally apply focus on Early Game action; For the effort to obtain first blood.

Cloth Armor
STATS: +15% Toughness for 300g.
PROS: Cheap. Provides protection early on against common damage. Scales well over time.
CONS: Not usually effective at protecting you from burst damage from champions. Somewhat limited build-up options.
BUILDS INTO: Madred's Razors, Emblem of Valor, Wardenmail
SITUATIONAL: Possible starting Jungle item. When planning to play AD or Tanky. If opposing an annoying AD Carry.

Null Magic Mantle
STATS: +20% Toughness, 400g.
PROS: Excellent long term value. Protects some against ganks and ambushes. Often reduces skill damage from enemy champs.
CONS: Weaker in the early game. Various neutral damage is never Magical. Only builds up into certain limited-scope items.
BUILDS INTO: Hexdrinker, Aegis, Wit's End, Twin Shadows
SITUATIONAL: The enemy in your lane specializes in AP Burst, or if frequent ganks are expected, in emergency situation.

Amplifying Tome
STATS: +20% Harassment Power (Volatile Spiderling), or +12.5% Spiders Melee Power, 435g
EFFICIENCY: 04.5 Harass, 02.8 Melee
PROS: Improves AoE damage as well as generally increasing Melee ability of self and spiderlings. Builds up into many useful items.
CONS: Volatile Spiderling is mana intensive. Does not necessarily resolve Elise's early 3 problems (low HP, mana, cooldown)
BUILDS INTO: Fiendish Codex, Kage's Lucky Pick, Haunting Guise, Malady, Rylai's, Sheen, Deathfire Grasp, Hextech Revolver
SITUATIONAL: Planning to build Glass Cannon. Outranged and forced to use Volatile Spiderling to counterattack.

Long Sword
STATS: +16% Power, 400g.
PROS: Makes last hitting easier. Stacks nicely with Attackspeed buff for high early damage. (Spider W)
CONS: Does not necessarily resolve Elise's early 3 problems (low HP, mana, cooldown) Can scale poorly; by level 9, only adds 10.5% to Elise's total damage.
BUILDS INTO: Brutalizer, Vampiric Scepter, Zephyr
SITUATIONAL: Use if there's Heavy harassment on lane, making last hits difficult. If hoping to build early Brutalizer for Attack Damage Carry role.

STATS: +11% Power, 400g
PROS: Solid power increase not counting the buff. Allows for smoother harassment (?) May allow for more last-hits.
CONS: Does not resolve Elise's early 3 problems. (low HP, mana, cooldown) Scales poorly; by level 9, only adds 4.5% to Elise's power.
BUILDS INTO: Malady, Stinger
SITUATIONAL: Avoid buying early unless planning an attackspeed build.

Brawler's Gloves
STATS: +7.3% Power, 400g.
PROS: Usually scales well for MOST champions. . . but ...
CONS: Unreliable. Expensive. Scales horribly for Elise. Effectiveness continues to fall off as Elise levels or builds AP.
BUILDS INTO: Zeal or Avarice Blade.
SITUATIONAL: Avoid buying until very late, or do not buy at all.

These options are in addition to the Doran's Items, the Sunfire Cape Gambit, and the Guinsoo's Rageblade Gambit.

I find personally, I open with
  • Sapphire Crystal->Tear if I am feeling skill-spammy and want to go for a full-build tear,
  • Ruby Crystal->Kindlegem, if the enemy is intimidating and I'd rather have extra HP, or
  • Boots+Faerie Charm->Fiendish Codex. I get both boots and charm by taking the Extra Gold utility masteries and waiting for a few seconds after minions spawn, so I am walking up with minions to the lane =P I always mention this in chat first!

These are the openings that work well for me - and the numbers back them up. I hope these analyses have been useful to you as well.

That's all for this pulse. Peace out!

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Day 25 - the Elise Wrap-Up

Improving on Public Wisdom

Sorcerer's Shoes.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
Liandry's Torment.
Abyssal Scepter.
Zhonya's Hourglass
Iceborn Gauntlet, Rabadon's Deathcap, or Lichbane.

This is the most common Elise-centric build currently in use.
The build focuses around Magic Penetration, amassing 50 total Magic Pen, and toughness, accumulating MR, Health, and Armor.

A few items rotate in - some players also use Malady. A couple suggest the Deathfire Grasp. A few point to Randuin's Omen. And a couple agree the Banner of Command is a solid situational pick.

After all this research, can I improve this community-common build?

Maybe I can't.

There is a point where I have to accept that I haven't really done any groundbreaking work here. In many places I'm only re-treading ground others have already crossed.

But, I am welcome to try, and I wouldn't miss the chance.
So let's try to IMPROVE the Core Elise build!

A Powerful Way of Thinking
All the Elise builds I've seen except 1, have mana and Cooldown issues. They mostly build Rylai's first, with a few building Haunting Guise first.

Elise's skill damage is percent based. The more she uses it, the better - and that includes frequency and totality. Cooldown and mana are both ways to improve Elise's power dramatically.

Catalyst, Tear of Goddess, Glacial Shroud, Kindlegem, and the Morellonomicon are the best early game items that resolve mana and cooldown issues.

Normally you would only want one of these items, but there's something interesting about the Manamune, and its built up form, the Muramana. It is capable of unloading extremely powerful on-hit magic damage, and this functions both with Elise's harass and her skittering frenzy really well. One item this synergizes well with, is the Iceborn Gauntlet (built out of Glacial Shroud - which is also on this early game item list.) Iceborn gauntlet gives us another on-hit effect, good cooldown, 40 AP, armor and even more mana.

This makes a very effective early game combo. That's important, because usually Elise's early game damage is a bit poor.

Reducing the Penetration Dependency

In the original ideal build, Abyssal Scepter, Sorcerer's Shoes and Haunting Guise combine to grant roughly 50 Magic Pen. This is a nice total which is roughly equal to the free Magic Resist that melee champs (who get the free MR per level) will have. However, it's impossible to take full advantage of this 50 - against a champ with flat 30 Magic Resist, the Abyssal will lower to 10 and then, the rest is penetration. And penetration can't go past 0.

So about 20 is wasted.
In addition, this build takes 3 items.

But if we use Malady and Abyssal in concert, the total armor reduction at 7 hits is -48.
This would bring a 30 MR carry to -18.

And it would amplify our Muramana. It also leaves our shoes open to provide a different stat - like even more cooldown. We can switch in Ionians bringing CDR to 30% early, and have an even more effective fighting style being able to stack tear ever faster and still get full penetration on unguarded targets - exploding their HP to 0 before they can react.

A Hot New Approach

We can make this build even more effective with a relatively early Sunfire Cape. The flat magic damage and added tankiness synergizes well with the slow from Iceborn and the on-hit from Muramana.

Compared to the other possible build items from the core...

Rylais: Adds more tankiness, adds a similar (but a little less) amount of magic damage per second. We already have a slow.

Liandry's: The percent burndown is a lot of damage in the lategame, but not much earlier on. Again, comparable damage per second, and much much more tanky. We also have all the Magic Pen we need.

Lichbane: Lich Bane would raise our burst damage considerably, actually. But we are already getting a spellblade proc from Iceborn gauntlet and Lichbane doesn't make us tougher. If we buy Lichbane, the Spellblade effect goes away.

Rabadon's: Rabadon's would add a lot more damage, but we would be really squishable and it would be ineffective for midgame play and the Sunfire works well for that. Sunfire Cape is probably better.

Zhonya's: Zhonya's adds more damage for sure, but Sunfire will make us tougher. Champs that can make clever use of Zhonya's should use it instead of Sunfire. Players without that sense of timing, or that tend to forget activated items (or simply don't want to have to fiddle with 2 of them) can take Sunfire.

So we have finalized a 'contender build'. How well can it stack up to the standard build Elise?

Death Blossom Elise
I just want to note this fighting style would look great with the Death Blossom skin.

Build Format

Start with Sapphire Crystal to spam more on lane and force them off / secure a kill. Recall to build Tear of the Goddess as soon as you have 300g. You can recall for shoes and even a second sapphire crystal later, when you are out of mana. Focus on getting your W maxed. You can build Q later.

Spam your skills as hard as you can to quickly build Tear of the Goddess to maximum. Shift forms and use Skittering Frenzy when walking back to lane, and if far from lane, dump Volatile Spiderling and Cocoon while walking to charge the tear faster. Spam skills on lane to develop the tear.

Build Glacial Shroud, finish Ionians for 30% CDR and then buy a longsword and build Manamune. It should finish to Muramana before the 15 minute mark, and you can stop spamming at that time.

Build Sheen. Finish Iceborn Gauntlet. At this time, the core "Death Blossom" build is done. You have 30% CDR, 1500 extra mana granting 50 extra physical damage, and the ability to switch on a colossal amount of on-hit damage for the current time, and match it with an extremely powerful attackspeed booster and a slowing field. To kill, harass with iceborn until you have someone low enough to murder, switch on Muramana, Venombite, autoattack 2 seconds, frenzy, 2 seconds, venombite. Rappel, then switch and Cocoon if they are about to escape. You should hit about 10 times with the muramana active, burning 1000 of 2500 mana and inflicting around 2000 extra Magic Damage. Note that you'll need to fill back up at the fountain after every kill, so consider Homeguard for your Ionians to minimize the time lost.

Now, either build Sunfire cape to solidify against physical carries, or Abyssal to protect against burst casters. I find I usually have enough damage and don't need Abyssal right away, and the damage per second from Sunfire is more effective early on. Add Malady after building Abyssal. Complete the remaining items and Death Blossom Elise is complete. If you have the presence of mind to use it, get a Zhonya's instead of the Sunfire Cape.

Core Build
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Iceborn Gauntlet
Sunfire Cape or Zhonya's Hourglass
Abyssal Scepter

Summoner Spells
Clarity is a definite pick for summoner spell, as topping off your mana will greatly boost the damage output from Muramana, and Clarity refills it by 40%. Exhaust, Flash or Ignite may be useful - but I prefer to run Teleport, to minimize the EXP and gold losses from constantly having to recall to refill the Death Blossom attack, and to basically lurk around and appear where unexpected.

About Runes and Masteries

Honestly I don't think I have a whole lot of experience in this, so making a good recommendation here is hard (I'm still using generic runes) but I'm going to recommend getting the MANA Masteries to improve the ability to spam-charge the Tear of the Goddess and escalate the Muramana. Past that, time will tell.

Skill Order
To maximize the damage from Muramana, you want 1 point in Rappel/Cocoon, and max Skittering Frenzy first. Then build up Venombtite/Neurotoxin, and lastly Rappel/Cocoon. This format is more mana-intensive, but you can AFFORD it, so don't worry about that. It also improves your burst damage in a minor way as Volatile Spiderling scales a bit harder than Neurotoxin, but this is irrelevant compared to the extreme power of the fully stacked Muramana.

Final Notes
Remember to keep spamming skills. The sooner the Muramana is stacked, the sooner you have true killpower - and you can stack it faster than almost any other champion out there. Once you have it, you definitely can do more damage with it than anyone, thanks to Skittering Frenzy!

Once you have Muramana, switch it off when farming and be choosy of what to attack. Muramana does not trigger when attacking structures, but you can waste down your mana by farming, and in particular the first few attacks you make are devastating. Make sure you are pointed squarely at the enemy's damage as you take these first few swings!


The Comparison
So let's see how I did.

Basic Elise build
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Sorcerer's Shoes
Liandry's Torment
Abyssal Scepter
Zhonya's Hourglass
Iceborn Gauntlet

A common Elise build like this will add 700 HP, 45 MR, 110 Armor for extra toughness.

She'll have about 2500 HP. 75 MR, 182 Armor.

It has 360 AP and 50 Magic Penetration.
She gets 15% Cooldown from Iceborn Gauntlet.
Elise's percent-skills will inflict about 18% of the matching type of damage. (Remaining/missing)

Volatile Spiderling will do about 560 damage.

Elise's spiderlings will inflict 76(+36) damage physical and Elise herself gets about 160(+120) bonus magic damage.

Elise will start the game tougher to kill, but with relatively low killpower on her skills except Volatile Spiderling, which will continue to grow in ferocity. Meanwhile, her spiderling damage will ramp significantly at 6, 11, and 16. Elise's power will smoothly increase as her AP rises and she finishes her Magic Penetration build.

She will have mana issues early and be forced to reserve her skills for the right opportunities. A 'skill-spam' approach is not recommended, as Elise's mana and cooldowns will not improve until you obtain the Iceborn Gauntlet, and your priority should be building Magic Penetration. Note that builds that do not feature the Iceborn Gauntlet (Rabadon's, Lichbane) have no mana or cooldown resolution at all.

Elise should conserve about 220-250 mana and "Pounce" on enemies that make themselves vulnerable.

The Death Blossom Build
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Iceborn Gauntlet
Sunfire Cape
Abyssal Scepter

This build adds 450 HP, 105 Armor and 45 MR.
She'll have about 2250 HP. 75 MR, 177 Armor.

That's about 250 fewer HP. That may sound insignificant, but earlier it matters quite a bit. This Elise gets 450 bonus HP when it finally gets around to the Sunfire Cape - while standard Elise will have 700 as soon as it finishes both Rylai's and the Haunting Guise, which are priority items.

So this Elise is considerably less tough.

Elise gets 30% Cooldown from Ionians and Iceborn early, and she'll have mana to use like water (she needs to keep using it, too)

This build has 145 AP, and 48 Magic REDUCTION.
The difference is important; Death Blossom Elise gets much higher damage against 30-MR enemies by dragging them to -18.

Elise's percent-skills will inflict about 12% of the matching type of damage. (Remaining/missing)

That's maybe 2/3rds the strength of Fullpower Elise's skills.

Volatile Spiderling will do about 391 damage.
That's a little better than 2/3rds.

Elise's spiderlings will inflict 54(+14) damage physical and Elise herself gets about 80(+43) bonus magic damage. That's maybe half as much for herself.

Elise will actually hit for 312 extra damage per attack, between physical and magical. That's about twice the damage. She also gets about 40 magic damage per second for being nearby.

This build adds roughly 40 Magic Damage per second from the Sunfire Cape, and about 30 Magic Damage on-hit from the Malady.

Elise gets a total of 52 attack damage from the Muramana's passive. The Active Effect, will inflict at most 5000 total Magic Damage in a fight, in hits starting around 150 Magic Damage per attack and gradually decreasing 2-3 damage per attack as her mana wears down. She can raise it again with Clarity, which should instantly restore roughly 60 depleted magic damage.

In total, Elise loses about 120 possible damage from Neurotoxin and Venombite (about 60 on an average use) and about 150 damage on Volatile Spiderling.

In an average skittering Frenzy, Elise's spiderlings will cause about 100 less damage.

But Elise herself will inflict roughly 600 more.

This is the Jackpot of the Death Blossom Build. An added 5 bars of damage in 3 seconds, completely eclipsing the burst damage lost from the harassment skills.

And the important thing is, she gains access to this damage increase as soon as Muramana is done - which is under 15 minutes into the game.

Elise will also be able to trigger Neurotoxin, Venom Bite, and Skittering Frenzy more often, causing more procs from the Iceborn Gauntlet and inflicting more total damage - helping to cover for the lost burst.

This is the Death Blossom Elise build.

Is it better?
What do you personally think?

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Blakk Majikk

Senior Member


Holy **** you have a lot of time on your hands. I have no doubt that there's a ton of great information buried in that dump of text, but I can't bring myself to read it all.

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Senior Member


Day 27

. . .In a dimly lit room, he quietly sits hunched over a carefully laid-out drawing board which is covered in hundreds of mathematical equations and heuristic sketches. Many are new to the day. He sips tea and considers yet another possibility.

His hard work brings him no respect. He has learned to accept this. But it does bring him success. And for him, that's the important part. After coming to fully understand his circumstances, he has concluded the best way to defeat his foes, is to fully outwit them. And he devotes all his time and energy to unearthing new ways to do just that.

He is the Master Tactician that nobody notices.
He, is Trundle.

Taking the Troll Seriously

Trundle appears to be a standard AD carry on the surface. His Rabid Bite scales off AD, his Contaminate raises his Attackspeed and move speed, and his pillar of filth slows enemies. His ultimate steals armor and magic resist, perhaps the most 'interesting' component of his kit.

But Trundle has long since dispelled this notion in his own mind. He knows he cannot simply devote himself to the role of melee carry; he has nothing to substantiate that role. Trundle's way of winning is to detect the enemy's weakness, and exploit it.

Understanding the Self


When enemies die near Trundle he heals for a percent of their max health. 5, 9, 12, 15 are the levels this improves. This starts off relatively insignificant; the first full minion wave will heal Trundle about 40 HP. He gets this roughly every 30 seconds as the minions keep coming, adding up to about 7 Health per 5 seconds. As time passes, this increases. At level 15 he heals 3 times as much as level 1.

Trundle does not need to be close to these enemies at all, able to stand off about 1000 units and still benefit. He'll heal about 2 bars at 30 minutes from a full wave, which is about 33 HP/5. When an average champion with 2000 health dies in the endgame, he gets about 1 bar back. When a Super Minion dies at 30 minutes in, he'll also get 2 bars. As the timer goes past 45 minutes it will get close to 3. When Baron Nashor dies at 30 minutes, Trundle will heal 6.5 bars.

Rabid Bite

Although Trundle appears to be an AD Carry, his only AD-scaling attack is Rabid Bite. This has a 20% AD ratio at maximum level, but at level 1 it actually does not use his full AD, making it slightly less powerful than an autoattack if it weren't for 2 quirks - the flat damage the Bite provides,

and its ability to steal AD from an enemy.

At level 5 this is +40 AD for Trundle and -20 to the enemy for a total stat exchange of 60. Rabid Bite resets the autoattack timer, and he can use it every 4 seconds. So it artificially raises his attack speed by 1 attack every 4 seconds, or .25. The value of this boost increases to nearly .50 if he gets some cooldown.

Despite Rabid Bite getting a modest 20% damage scale, and weak flat damage, the stat stealing gives it impressive power even if Trundle does not build for AD. At Rank 5 Trundle will alter the stat balance between him and an enemy by enough to just barely outpower a BF sword. Understanding Rabid Bite means understanding the time constraints that surround it. Against enemies that use autoattacks, it remains a dominant way to stay in control of AD totals until the enemy starts really stacking lots of AD. The more the enemy has, the less effective Rabid Bite is at controlling it.

The subtle increase to attackspeed is slightly harder to utilize as Trundle's attackspeed increases - as Trundle must TIME the bite to happen immediately after an autoattack to receive the full benefit.

The buff/debuff from the bite lasts 8 seconds, and the more Trundle bites the more he will need to resolve mana issues. Improving bite's Cooldown, therefore, offers better damage per second, but at strictly increased cost.

One trick to Rabid Bite is the second Bite(with the buff on) is always stronger than the first. This is because the second bite will benefit from the added AD from the first bite if the buff is active. It does not stack further than this.


Contaminate projects a huge radius of filth that increases Trundle's Move Speed, Attackspeed and Tenacity - allowing him to maneuver quickly and break out of CC early. Contaminate can award him a full 60% attackspeed bonus and 40% movespeed buff as well as 40% CC duration reduction.

The area infected with Contaminate is extremely important. Attackspeed serves to improve the value of AD that Trundle purchases but he astutely notes this is not the only stat it synergizes well with - in particular, even though at first it would not seem to synergize with defensive stats, raising movement speed greatly improves Trundle's ability to juke, and the natural CC reduction also serves to make Trundle harder to wrap up and damage. Any damage applied from the AS bonus would increase Trundle's killpower in 1-on-1 situations, and he notes that a dead enemy often deals less damage.

He has identified 3 Core Uses for Contaminate - defining an area for battle, more or less a "boxing ring" where he will have definite advantage; laying it out in front of him like a "Turbo Conveyor" to give him a strong, though expensive and temporary, move speed boost to reach a situation quickly, and as a Scare to hold back enemy teams and make them hesitate - this is especially effective when Trundle has been killing. Contaminate's movespeed boost is especially powerful for such a small area, and it stacks effectively with boots of swiftness, Alacrity bonus, and Boots of Mobility as placing the field does not count as a combat action.

He does note, however, that Mobility boots with Alacrity tend to cross the field so fast that it seems to have virtually no practical effect.

Pillar of Filth

Pillar of filth is a slowing field and a 125-wide barrier that slows the enemy, provides a long range of vision, and can obstruct the battlefield. Trundle can summon this pillar from fairly far away. This makes it a superior chasing skill. Trundle notes that leveling it up both increases the power of the slow and dramatically reduces the cooldown for use. with 40% Cooldown, the pillar (and contaminate) can be deployed constantly although this is mana-intensive.

Using the pillar correctly, Trundle has scrivened, is absolutely essential to effective combat. It is easy to misplace the pillar and reduce its overall effectiveness, even interfering with his team's ability to fight. But correct placement is perhaps one of the most powerful obstructive and interferent acts a Champion can take - a powerful slow and barrier from a large distance. Perfectly placed, Trundle has completely and near-completely obstructed jungle paths. He has caught people in wedges between turrets (or broken turrets) and the terrain walls. He has even PINNED champions against structures, pinching them for the full 6.5 seconds and rendering them unable to move at all. The split second timing and positioning for such a maneuver MUST be flawless; he admits he has only managed it a handful of times. Including the location of minions in these considerations can slow and obstruct champions even further.

Perhaps, he notes, the most effective block is an incomplete one. Tempted with the possibility of just barely squeezing between his pillar and a wall, many foolhardy champs will take this opportunity and very slowly move through a thin, narrow band - being the perfect target for skillshots and targeted attacks.


Six seconds. Scribbled in big, bold letters in the center of his drawing board. Trundle's ultimate lasts for 6 seconds, and it grows ever stronger with each second.

Initially, Agony functions much as Ignite does - only with Magic Damage. It applies a fairly strong pulse of damage and inflicts the same amount again over 6 seconds. Trundle expects about 1-1.5 bars of damage at level 6. Less if the enemy is stacking Magic Resist. The Armor and MR-stealing is not notable early, except that it can escalate assaults during this six second period.

Later, Agony inflicts a rather variable amount of damage. It is a superior skill for ending fights, for initiating them, for scrubbing out an enemy fleeing.

Agony also heals Trundle, making it a decent panic skill, and raises his Armor and MR, allowing him to ult the enemy tank and absorb all the enemy's hate for a time.

Perhaps most interesting is that Agony has a 0.6 AP ratio - and inflcts another 0.6 AP over the six seconds for a full ratio of 1.2... Trundle also heals this amount. That's a 2.4 Ratio, a bit high to be ignored. Agony can be used at most every 36 seconds with max cooldown.

Putting it all together

Trundle has one skill that scales off his AD. And one that scales off AP. His AD scalar skill can be used every 4 seconds and benefits 0.2 of his AD ratio. His AP scalar skill can be used every 60, and benefits 2.4. The total scale of Rabid Bite, if Trundle uses it EVERY 4 seconds, is 3.0, but this would cost him 450 mana.

But AP doesn't deal damage from autoattack. Trundle is generally an autoattacking champion. This means it is essentially a red herring; an interesting statistical possibility, but impractical to build because it can be used so infrequently.

What's the plan then?

Trundle can build for On-Hit and Attack Speed. He can also build for Critical hits as Rabid Bite can critically strike. Many of Trundle's aspects. though, tend to do well as time wears on. Trundle's buffs, debuffs and obstructions last 6-8 seconds. Keeping this in mind, a battle that ends quickly will not make full use of those benefits, so building Tanky is a definite possibility. AD is a solid choice, but perhaps not the best. Lifesteal synergizes well with Trundle's ability to heal from dead enemies. Trundle can even sneak AP into his build, knowing it will power up his ultimate.

So, he sits, hunched over the drawing board, and works. Every advantage, must be earned. And in the end, there will not be respect. It is better to expect it, there will not be respect.

There will be victory, though.

The SABER Chronicles chooses its next champion - TRUNDLE!

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Senior Member


Day 35

Thirty-five items.

Trundle tightens the chart in his fingers, grimacing over it.
After painstaking research he has narrowed the item shop to just thirty-five items, each one key in its own clever way. He attacks them with his eyes, prying for weakness, looking for evidence to denounce and rearrange.

Thirty-five, to fill five columns of 7 for the perfect Recommended Item Shop.

Thirty-five, to epitomize and exemplify flexibility across four distinctly effective approaches.

Table 1 - HP Stacking

'If all else fails.', circled in red.

Stacking HP, he considers, to be primarily a desperation choice. He knows it scales poorly as the game goes on. It is non-reactive, a blind choice, good immediately but weak over time.

Still. Health-stacking could absolutely win games, especially in a pinch.

Of all the HP stack items, this one had proven itself in battle time and again, so much so that it should be considered in perhaps every game. The balance, the very high added resilience, the utility of the slow that stacked with pillar, nearly immobilizing enemies. And the utility of purchasing anything that best suited current needs - from a longsword to a giant's belt - to advance the item. There was even a point to turn back, and convert the phage into a more flexible Trinity Force... Indeed, so powerful and useful that of all the HP stacking items, it was less of a 'lack of solution' item and more of a 'powerful next step'.

If health was needed, Frozen Mallet was a strong consideration for immediate buy.

A special item. Armor, primarily, but one that greatly magnified the power of HP stack items. So much so, that it deserved to be considered equally among them anytime "HP Stack" became the strategy. Pure defense is not an acceptable plan. With Atma's, though, offense would become respectable. This was an equalizer.

A definite second purchase, but not a first.

The total HP from Warmogs armor and the powerful per-second HP regeneration set it aside - it being one of the only cost-effective endgame HP items. It would increase his toughness by 50% all on his own - and no amount of any penetration would reduce it.

But he notes in red ink, caveats - of Liandry's Torment and the Blade of the Ruined King. The possibility of percent-damage on the rise weighs heavy on his pen. Warmogs was seeing more use ... much more. The logical next step worried him.

A combo item, as well as useful for resisting a burst caster lineup. This item dramatically improves the power of the late game passive, so Trundle has it set as a significant consideration in the HP stacking items. It also significantly improves the regeneration from Warmogs - but, he notes, it synergizes less with Frozen Mallet than one might think.

For those days when burst casters just seem to run the game.

For those days when physical carries have gone completely out of control. Randuins, with its powerful slow and its high added toughness and health. The perfect way to shut down modern autoattackers.

A good option for handling AD carries in emergencies.

The ultimate Panic Button. A little bit of everything and nothing in particular, Trundle has tried for hours to fit Trinity Force into each of his core strategies. It fits nowhere. Too expensive, too smattered, too spread out.

But when he buys it... on those horrible, awful days that he buys it... he tends to win. So it stays on the list.

The natural extension of his jungle game into HP stacking. A fair choice. He weights it against more offensive options carefully.

Table 2 - Regen Tanking

Trundle's naturally high stat power and healing passive make him an excellent tank. The longer he lasts, the more likely he will continue to heal as enemies go down. The Regen Tank strategy focuses on helping Trundle recover HP faster, improve the value of that HP with Armor and Magic Resist, and linger near the battle to positive effect. Hopefully enemies will see a frail-looking HP bar, assume him an easy target, and mistakenly focus him - to no avail.


Hydra. How many games now had been won because of Hydra's power alone? Its AoE effect completely repairs Trundle's rather slow farming - and the active improves his Auto-Q combo by adding in a third, and then fourth auto hit - for a blast of extremely fast AoE damage without having to build any attackspeed. Plus, as minions quickly die around him - his passive kicks in and he heals for even more HP.

It makes him nigh unkillable in a minion wave. It lets him disengage, hit a jungle camp, and come back in 15 seconds with half his HP bar back. It pales in duels under turrets and in the jungle - until Trundle finds something weak to kill. If only it weren't prohibitively expensive - buying Hydra dominates the item strategy for a whole game.

The ultimate 'do we focus him?' item. It grants so much Armor and Magic Resist, and once per fight, Trundle will stop and revive. As enemies die, Trundle's HP will continue to refill - even as Trundle is in process of reviving himself. A perfect defensive item that works well with his passive and all his other tools as well.

Perhaps the only problem is the visual 'sash' actually deterring focus, causing enemies to ignore Trundle - knowing he will only come back if killed.

A colossal amount of Magic Resist, a shield for emergency, and ramping damage. This item was perfectly designed for Trundle's Regen Tanking, when handling AP leaders. The deceptive shield makes it hard to tell just how much Trundle can take. The more they focus Trundle, the higher his damage goes. And when the enemy drops, Trundle heals again.

Extremely useful for bringing down fed AP enemies.

A situational item. Useful for HP stackers, like Singed, Volibear and Sejuani, who are less likely to take Armor. Rather than the Hydra, Blade is a superior item for winning against duelists as well, putting its main concern to tanks and carries who would try to fight 1v1.

Not an every game item, but in certain situations the prime way to win, and for some reason HP stacking is a prominent strategy this season...

Grants a limited amount of HP, but so very effective for regen-baiting for your team. Strengthens entire line. Grants good Armor and MR. A consideration among other Armor and MR items. Not ideal for solo farming scenarios, doesn't synergize with Hydra all too well. Statistically, extremely cost effective.

A possible election for a group obsessed with teamfights.

This item, generally inferior to the Maw of Malmortius, grants a very large amount of damage and Magic Resist - but instead of a shield, the quicksilver sash effect. Indeed effective versus Malzahar, Warwick and so on - and possibly even in concert with the Maw, in a game with multiple AP casters.

A critical counterbuild item. Not everyday.

In the right situation, the right time, easily the most powerful way to defeat an enemy. Thornmail's damage reflection punishes players for focusing the tank - by returning the focus. The more often you find yourslf autoattacked, the more effective Thornmail can be.

The singleminded item is efficient - but only against certain enemies.

Table 3 - Offensive Items
In situations where the team is excessively tanky, Trundle must sometimes pick up an aggressive banner to be the best he can be for his team. Offensive item choices tend to work when Trundle is ahead - if he falls behind, they can easily be too little, too late. It is best to combine these with some items from other categories for balance. Trundle's inherent damage formula makes him very powerful early game, and this improves the value of items that increase his toughness, making them generally better choices - but a few select purely offensive choices can perfect a build.

Which, and how many, is up to the tactician himself.


Three hits - in three seconds. This tiny window of +100% Attackspeed and 100% Guaranteed Crit is not the most effective purchase choice for most champs. But Trundle has a secret weapon - an ultimate that grinds down an enemy's defenses and becomes most powerful in its last 3 seconds. With exquisite timing, Trundle can use Agony on an enemy, patiently count off 2-3 seconds, then activate Sword of the Divine, bite for a damage boost, contaminate and pillar to ensure hits- and dole out a surge of incredibly high damage. Trundle's unusually high AD early on can be hard to capitalize - but dramatically raising attackspeed and 3 guaranteed crits are a definite way to do it!

For a practiced Trundle, it is perhaps the most effective early kill item he can buy. It is terrible for picking a fight, and flawless for ending one.

Nothing compares to the infinity edge, in terms of damage potential or combat effectiveness. It even stacks with the Sword of the Divine, increasing the Crit damage. In such situation as a lot more attackpower is needed, the Infinity Edge is the perfect followup.

Nothing more needs to be written.

A singularly powerful item in terms of statistics. Its commonplace appearance in season 3 is no coincidence - the item should be considered anytime the enemy stacks armor. Of course, Trundle has found a way to take this core strategy to the next level ...

The flat penetration from Cleaver and Ghostblade, and the percent pen from Cleaver, all stack in a very appetizing manner. Ghostblade's 6 second advantage window makes it an excellent early purchase, especially when combined with Sword of the Divine - but in such case that a Black Cleaver is needed to break down an Armor Tank, the Youmuu's Ghostblade will do a fine job of demolishing the enemy's armor when combined with Trundle's ultimate.

The Black Cleaver need only be bought when Armor tanks appear, but the Ghostblade is a strong consideration for any game.

Maneuverability. Trundle's Kit, with Contaminate, can grant very high Tenacity and with Zephyr's effect it can become even higher. This spares Trundle from Merc Treads while accomplishing that central goal - maneuverability. The movespeed boost from Zephyr is strong - much stronger than its main competition. The item is perfect for darting into and out of a battle unimpeded. When a tanky Trundle finds himself sluggish and unable to get around due to Crowd Control, Zephyr and its older twin are ideal.

A solid item for dealing with Crowd Control comps.

Ignoring unit collision is actually very handy. Add the attackspeed and sizeable critical strike chance, and Phantom Dancer is a solid lategame choice for ramping damage, especially when matched with the Infinity Edge.

Together with Zephyr, it represents Trundle's way of getting around the battlefield aggressively.

The offense-oriented Jungler's item. The spirit of the Elder Lizard doesn't work as well as some other items, but when making the most of a spiritstone in a situation where more offense will do, it can work in a pinch. It's circled softly in blue ink, indicating its presence is currently in question . . .

Table 4 - On hit & Magic Damage items

"All in". A favored term for a gambit with a steep cost. Trundle has a few such builds, specifically engineered for situations with specific risks and rewards. These items commit Trundle to certain things - but have benefits in return.

Early on, Ravenous Bite gives Trundle such a high attack damage, that he really wants to be swinging his club as much as he can. The regen from Doran's Blade can make for a fine "All In" aggressive early lane play, keeping Trundle swinging, and Doran's Shield can emphasize victory against an autoattacker. You can stack it a great deal, as many as 4 times before building Ravenous Hydra and gradually replacing them - and have an effective, but polarized - item build.

Is it that kind of lane? Are you and your ally "all in"?

An alternative to the Frozen Mallet. Generally ideal for Regen Tank builds but also a fair choice for combination with certain Damage items. The Sheen effect is good early on as it powers up Ravenous bite even moreso than it already is, and the slowing field interacts well with pillar, with practice - players can run out of one slowing field into the next. An ideal dueling item, good for jungling and very strong for winning 1-on-1 skirmishes and ganking.

If only armor were more effective this season...

Sometimes there's just nothing you can do about the enemy's incredibly high armor. Armor is more effective vs. armor penetraton the more you buy. For a character like Rammus, there may be no other choice than to simply start dealing magic damage instead. Wit's End is not generally an efficient item for Trundle - but in such case there is no AP carry, the enemy is all stacking armor, and things are grim - this can be the only hope. It also works with Trundle's final Gambit.

A balanced defensive item. Excellent for HP stacking especially when purchased early. Helps with last hits a great deal. More importantly this makes it unfavorable to linger in Trundle's presence. Good for enemies like Warwick, Xin Zhao, Singed and Sion who would prefer to hang out. The 40 magic damage per second is very high early, and while it becomes less effective later, it can be bolstered by Trundle's final "All In" strategy...

Agony. This combo all boils down to Agony, stripping away 50% of the enemy's magic resist over 6 seconds. Start the enemy with Malady, stacking -28 Magic Resist with -20 from Abyssal Scepter. Then hit them with your Ultimate. Barebones 30 MR characters will be stripped to -33 Magic Resist, making them an instant kill for your casters.

No matter what the enemy builds, how much MR they stack - as long as you have casters, this combo will work. Wit's End, the Sunfire cape - all possibilities to round this build out.

It just leaves one final question: Is this really the team plan? Is everyone going ahead with MR shred?

Table 5 - Support and special items

Bad games happen. There will be days when Trundle goes 0/4, 3 levels behind his allies, and none of his incredible statpower will make up that large a gap. Sometimes the stars align and create a moment where a specific team-friendly item clears a way to victory - and in others, Trundle is just so useless that aura and team effects are literally all he can offer his allies.

Trundle has this as the first purchase on his last column. He generally doesn't need boots in lane, as long as he doesn't need to chase past the enemy turret - Contaminate and Pillar allow him to take commanding control of a large zone of position early on, making him uncatchable and allowing him to bash anyone he pleases unless they flash. Once the turret is about to come down, or if Trundle finds himself roaming, he has the whole palette of shoes available. He does not restrict himself to any one choice - perhaps, in this battle, Mercury Treads are ideal - or does he need the added boost from Boots of Mobility, to handle a scrambling enemy team? Is he ahead far enough to justify a cheap Berserker's Greaves? Or would Boots of Swiftness be wiser to stick with a moving battle?

He figures it out every time, rather than committing to any one boot.

Trundle has mana issues. He generally regenerates mana quickly enough to constantly use Ravenous Bite, but Pillar and Contaminate take their toll.
The easiest way to resolve it is to buy Chalice of Harmony. And the upgrade, Mikael's Crucible, is a strong choice if the team is without a support - one last heal, a cleared CC, or simply some emergency HP recovery for a tanky Trundle. Against a kitey AP caster, the extra pillars, HP recovery, and Magic resist can be just what the doctor ordered.

Perhaps the most effective singular piece of armor in the game for a regen tank, but very expensive. Frozenheart's attackspeed reducing aura stacks with the effect from Randuin's Omen. The combination can completely shut out a melee autoattacker.

Yet it languishes in the 'special items' table - Trundle has penciled under it "AD casters are HUGE this season!" indicating his worry that his worst threats may not rely on autoattacks to win battles.

In addition to being cost effective toughness, Locket allows Trundle to project a shield. From a very long, safe distance. Making it an ideal item for when Trundle feels especially useless. Locket, along with Pillar, makes it easy to claim assists.

In soft pencil under the item, "Is it really this bad?"


On an AD-heavy comp, lifesteal and AD aura is effective. When Trundle's doing bad, but his partner is rocking house, Zeke's Herald is the perfect choice - the "I'm not winning, but someone is." item.


Perfect for assisting a dominating AP, Shurelya's allows a caster to rapidly reposition, perfect for picking up a straggler kill, while also allowing Trundle to lean on a philosopher's stone early on. A good "man, I am sucking" item.


A prime choice for jungling, but also a good "let's just give up and farm" item. Dramatically accelerates farming and jungling. Trundle is usually not concerned with the rate he clears the camps - his hallmark is the intense power he retains as he moves about the jungle, practically not losing HP at all - and he prefers to interfere with lanes more than most champions. But if he feels the best option is to hustle around and power up in the jungle (say, if the enemy failed to field a jungler at all) then Wriggle's might be just the right item.

The item is pretty cost-effective; there are just other things he would rather buy.

He leans back and examines the list one more time.
Would he use Spirit of Elder Lizard? Is thornmail outdated? Would a game ever be so bad as to need Locket?

He looks on his own experiences on the field, and considers.
Even with only 6 item slots, thirty-five items can feel restrictive.
Momentarily at peace with having detected potential weaknesses in the selection, he taps his nail on the three items he believes in question.

Then he grumbles to himself and stashes the item list in a drawer before pulling out several large flowcharts, and grabs a blank canvas to start work on yet another.

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Senior Member


I'm afraid the giant posts I had been making this week were lost when my computer crashed.
So the Chronicles will be a little delayed.
See you soon.

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Senior Member


I actually find this stuff pretty interesting to read. But my god, this must be so much work

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Day 53 update

I'm getting a new computer this week, so I have been preparing for the shuffle. In other news, as I near ever closer to level 30, I am preparing to enter Season 3 as a Ranked Contender. Will I be a name to fear? Probably not. But we'll see how far I can get on intellect alone in the brutal circuits!

As part of my preparation, my champion roster has expanded suddenly.
Listed in general order of my personal competence, my roster now has:

Elise - My first true study. I am intimately familiar with her potential.
Trundle - My deepest study. I have taken him far beyond his core ability.
Anivia - I picked up this burst caster to have a defender on my roster. She is exceptionally powerful and my scores with her are better than other champs by a measure. My go-to for practicing Line Skillshots and spell combos.
Ryze - My first ever purchase. I still believe he is a pertinent option.
Nami - My first Support. I played her free week, did fairly well, and in the end decided to adopt her, to improve my abilities with Ground Skillshots.
Cho'Gath - I have little experience with this Champion but the little I have, combined with his authoritative tournament presence, suggests he may become a main-line champ for me.
Fiora - an attack damage carry that I purchased to master engagement and pacing. My progress has been so-so.
Swain - A drain mage. Picked up to master timing and situational control.
Sion - A Snowball DPS. Elected simply to have a melee late-game champ. Showings have been fair.
Nunu, Annie - They were cheap, I added them to roster for their various attributes - Annie, one of the strongest burst combos in the game. Nunu, impressive sustain and flexibility.
Ashe - my worst champion. I do not have the knack of the ranged carry yet, all my Ashe games have been poor.

With 4 champs to go, there is no question I can finish my lineup for Season 3 - but how well will I know my own available champs? Time is running out as I scramble to improve both my summoner's experience level, and my own level of experience with my selected champions!

I will undoubtedly dive into ranked Woefully underprepared. I don't think I'd have it any other way, though - what better challenge?