Now, many people are already aware of masteries, but there isn't really a good guide to them anywhere in the forums that I've seen. I've seen a number of people post guides listing mastery trees that are just sub-optimal. So here, I'm going to cover a couple of things:
1) What do masteries do, and how good is that?
2) What are things to aim for while leveling your masteries?
3) With 30 mastery points, what are your options?
----What do Masteries Do?----
Deadliness - Increases critical strike by .66% per point (max 2% at 3 points). How good is it? For a first-tier mastery, this is one of the better ones. For three points, you have a 2% higher chance to deal double damage, effectively increasing your physical damage by 2% the entire game. 4/5
Archmage's Savvy - Gives .2 AP per level per point (max .6 AP per level at 3 points, which translates to 10 AP at 18). How good is it? Terrible. At the early levels, when a few points of AP might make a difference, it barely does anything. At level 18, if you're going to have AP, odds are you have much, much more than 100. You should avoid taking this at all costs. The only reason to take this is if you aren't using Smite or Exhaust and you're in the Offense tree and need a 4th tier 1 point to get to tier 2. Even on pure magic champions, a 2% chance of crit beats a negligible AP boost. 1/5
Cripple - Increases the duration of Exhaust by half a second and makes it lower Armor and MR by 25 while it is afflicting someone. How good is it? Like any Summoner Spell based ability, it is situational, obviously depending on whether or not you chose that spell. However, Exhaust is one of the better offensive spells, as it does so much (slow, autoattack auto-miss, and with this, increased damage to the target), and this just makes it better. It also increases your damage by a percentage. Against someone with 30 Armor (or MR), it reduces their reduction from 23% to 5%, effectively giving you an 18% increase in damage. Even later game, faced with a 100 Armor/MR, it lowers their reduction from 50% to 43%, giving you a 7% increase in damage. 4/5
Plentiful Bounty - Smite gives 5 gold when used and has 5 seconds less cooldown. How good is it? Well, like Cripple, situational. However, while Exhaust is one of the best offensive spells, Smite is one of the worst. Its one decent use is better jungling, but it is also a beacon that announces "hey, I'm a jungler!" to your enemies. The bonus it gives is decent, and you'll certainly take it over Archmage's Savvy if you're in Offense and have Smite, but you'd be surprised how infrequently that situation comes up (most people who jungle want a combination of Defense and Utility for better creep survivability and the Utility mastery to improve the duration of jungle buffs). 2/5.
Sorcery - Gives .75% Cooldown Reduction per point (max of 3% at 4 points). How good is it? Excellent. This is one of the main reasons to take points in the Offense tree, as every single hero has skills with cooldowns that could use reducing. It is also a pre-requisite Mastery for arguably the best mastery in the game. 5/5
Alacrity - Gives +1% of base attack rate per point (max 4% at 4 points). How good is it? Good. It's definitely worth putting points into if full offense. However, if you are only dipping into offense, Sorcery is definitely better. 4/5
Archaic Knowledge - Gives 15% Magic Resistance Penetration. How good is it? Godlike. This is arguably the best mastery in the game. Since reducing MR increases your damage by a percentage, not only does this get better the more damage you do, but it also gets better the more Magic Resist your target has (as its reduction is also percentage-based). And even full-attacking heroes have some skills that use Magic Damage (Yi's Alpha strike, Trynd's Spinning Blade, Ashe's Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Twitch's Expunge, etc), meaning everyone can use this. 5/5
Sunder - Gives 2 Armor Penetration per point (max 6 Armor penetration at 3 points). How good is it? Excellent. If you haven't noticed yet, anything that penetrates armor or MR is great. The only reason(s) that this isn't as good as Archaic Knowledge is that it requires more points (meaning you can't get its full effect with a 9/x/x) and it is a flat penetration. 4/5
Offensive Mastery - Increases the damage dealt to minions by 1 (max by 2 at 2 points). How good is it? Eh. If you're heavily in offense, there are better places to put your points (like increasing all Physical damage later on up the tree). 2 points of damage to minions is so negligible that it does not make a difference. It is worth noting that this does increase spell damage to minions, so if you are in pure offense looking only for things that affect spellcasting, this is something for you. 2/5
Burning Embers - Gives 10 AP while Ignite is on Cooldown. How good is it? Another spell-based mastery. Ignite's usefulness is debatable, but even if you have it, this mastery is fairly useless for you. It gives a piddly amount of AP, and since you often want to Ignite to seal the deal at the end of a gank attempt, it often won't give you the AP when you actually want it. 1/5
Brute Force - Gives 1 Base attack damage per point (max 3 damage at 3 points). How good is it? Well, if you're this deep in Offense, it's your only option really. Compared to Veteran's Scars (15 HP per point) and Quickness (1% Move per point), it certainly seems lackluster, but it can help secure some early ganks. 2/5.
Demolisher - Increases damage dealt to turrets by 15 while promote is off of cooldown, plus gives promoted units +20 armor, plus reduces the cooldown of promote by 15 seconds. How good is it? For a spell-dependent mastery, fairly good. If you're using promote in a push, it makes the promoted unit that much harder to kill, making the push more effective. If you're not using promote in a given push, it gives you extra damage to take the turret down yourself. It also cuts down the time between promote pushes (though on a 5-minute cooldown spell, not significantly). Still, it requires you to be deep in Offense, which is a rather shallow mastery tree, in addition to being contingent on your Summoner Spell. 3/5
Lethality - Gives 3.33% Critical Damage per point (max 10% increased crit damage at 3 points). How good is it? Definitely solid. Crit damage is a way to get a % increase to your DPS, which makes it good. However, it is contingent on being able to get a crit in the first place. This is incredibly powerful on someone like Ashe or Shaco who can guarantee crits, but it's not worth going this deep to get on many heroes. 3/5.
Improved Rally - Rally now gives 20% bonus to magical damage and lasts 5 seconds longer. How good is it? Well, if you're this deep and you're using Rally, quite good. More time = more healing and damage boosting, and the fact that it boosts magic damage as well is excellent... except that magic users have no reason to be this deep into Offense (if you haven't noticed, the big skill in 4th and 5th tier is purely physical, as well as most of the points in 3rd tier). 3/5
Havoc - Gives 5% Bonus damage. How good is it? Well, if you're a DPS character, very. Increases the damage from both your attacks and your spells, and by a larger margin than the Tier 6 Defense Mastery decreases damage by. If you are more than 9 points deep into Offense, it better be primarily for this Mastery. 5/5.
Resistance - 2 Magic Resistance per point (max 6 MR at 3 points). How good is it? Well, it gives a % reduction, albeit small. For a first level mastery, there's really no arguing with that. Slightly better than the Armor Mastery, due to the fact that more Magic damage than Physical damage is dealt during the average game. Also a prerequisite for Strength of spirit. 4/5.
Hardiness - 2 Armor per point (max 6 Armor at 3 points). How good is it? Well, it gives a % reductionn, albeit small. For a first level mastery, there's really no arguing with that. Slightly worse than the MR Mastery, due to the fact that more Magic damage than Physical damage is dealt during the average game. Also a prerequisite for harden skin. 3.5/5.
Mending Hands - Reduces the Cooldown of heal by 30 seconds? How good is it? If you're using heal, there's no reason not to take it unless you're 9/0/21 or 21/0/9. However, this is dependent on you using Heal. 3/5
Preservation - Gives you two minutes of +400 HP after using Revive, and reduces its cooldown by 20 seconds. How good is it? Well, revive is the undisputed worst mastery in the game, which hurts Preservation's viability. The bonuses it gives are pretty nice, but they're not worth taking Revive. 1/5
Strength of Spirit - Gives 1 HP regen/5 per 1000 mana per point (up to 3 HP/5 per 1000 mana at 3 points). How good is it? Solid, especially on certain characters. Anyone who stacks a lot of mana (multiple rods of ages/archangels staff, for example) will find this incredibly handy for staying in lane early and recovering a little faster later. 4/5
Evasion - .5% dodge per point (2% dodge at level 4). How good is it? Well, it effectively increases your physical defense by 2%, which never hurts. It's also a prerequisite for the best 1-point tier 3 skill. It's best on people who already have some dodge chance, as honestly 2% doesn't come up that often, but when it does it can save your hide. 4/5.
Nimbleness - Whenever you dodge, you get a 10% movespeed bonus for 5 seconds. How good is it? On anyone who regularly stacks dodge, this is a godsend. It can let you escape ganks or chase down fleeing enemies by meandering near their creep line. 4/5
Harden Skin - Reduces Physical damage by 1 at 1 point, and by an additional .5 per point after (max of 2 reduction at 3 points). How good is it? Since it's a flat reduction and kind of minor, not great. It's decent on jungling heroes, especially in conjunction with Defense Mastery, as well as Amumu, since he wants to be hit by creeps, but overall it is too minor to bother with. 2/5
Defense Mastery - Reduces damage taken from minions by 1 per point (max 2 reduction at 2 points). Like Harden skin, this is a minor, flat bonus. The difference here is that this one only applies to minions (though it does apply to the magic-using ranged minions). It can be used in conjunction with Harden to jungle a little easier or to tank minion hits on Amumu, but overall is rather weak, even weaker than Harden Skin. 1.5/5
Veteran's Scars - Gives 15 HP per point (max 60 at 4 points). How good is it? It's a flat bonus, and fairly minor later game, but it can save your skin early on. Better than Brute Force, but not as good as quickness. If you are deep in Defense though, max this for early survivability. 3/5
Willpower - Reduces Cleanse's Cooldown by 30 seconds. How good is it? Since Cleanse is overpowered right now, excellent. Most heroes take cleanse, and this serves to increase its already high effectiveness. 4/5
Ardor - Increases Attack Speed and AP by .66% per point at level 1 and 1.33% per point at level 18 (max 2% at level 1 and 4% at 18 at 3 points). How good is it? Solid. It gives a percentile bonus to both physical and magical heroes, so no one can really be unhappy. 4/5.
Reinforce - Gives Fortified towers Splash damage. How good is it? This turns fortify from a laughable 6-second reprieve to something that can actually maybe clear most of a wave of minions while forcing the champions with them to back up to avoid taking splash. At least one person on your team should be taking this. 4/5
Tenacity - Reduces all damage you take by 4%. How good is it? You can't argue with a percentage reduction. If you've come this deep in defense (likely for Cleanse/Reinforce masteries, and maybe the niceness that is Ardor), this is a good icing to your cake. 5/5.
Perseverance - Increases HP and MP regen by 2% for the first point and 1% for each following point (max 4% increase at 3 points). How good is it? Gives a percentage increase to something that every hero uses, probably the best Tier 1 mastery. 5/5
Good Hands - Reduces time spent dead by 3.33% per point (max 10% at 3 points). How good is it? Dying isn't something that should happen often to good players, and the reduction this provides is pitiful at best. 1/5.
Spatial Accuracy - Reduces the teleport time of teleport by .5 and reduces its cooldown by 5. How good is it? Minor. If you have Teleport, this is preferable to taking a point of Good Hands, but the half second doesn't make much of a difference, and 5 seconds off of a multi-minute cooldown is negligible. 2/5
Haste - Increases the speed boost of ghost from 32% to 40% and gives it an extra 1.5 seconds. How good is it? Solid. If you have ghost and aren't 9/21/0 or 21/9/0, take a point in this, certainly over good hands. It makes an already useful spell marginally more useful. 3/5.
Awareness - Increases EXP gain by 1.25% per point (max 5% at 4 points). How good is it? Decent, but not amazing. It gives you a few seconds level advantage on an evenly paired opponent, which can mean the difference between being able to gank/scare out of lane or not. If you press this advantage whenever it comes up, you can increase the gap even further and gain the upper hand. 3/5
Expanded Mind - Gives 1.25% bonus to mana per point (max 5% at 4 points). How good is it? Again, decent, but not amazing. The choice between this and Awareness is very close. Personally, I prefer awareness, but it depends on how mana hungry your champion is. Champions like Singed and Ryze that get bonuses based on their mana pool would probably prefer this, along with anyone else who uses an Archangel's Staff. 3/5
Utility Mastery - Gives 15% more time on neutral monster buffs per point (max 30% at 2 points). How good is it? Amazing, if you get Jungle Buffs. Even a single point greatly increases the time you can spend covered by a Jungle Buff, and two points should mean that you can have 100% coverage without having to ever tangle with the second golem. As high level play revolves around jungle buff control, this is a must-have on any jungling hero, as well as any carry that wants golem/lizard frequently. 5/5
Greed - Gives 1 gold per 10. How good is it? Not very. This equates to 6 gold in a minute, or 180 over the course of a half hour game. Even if the game goes to an hour, it only gives 360 gold, which is less than you even start with (barely more than the cost of boots). You generally want to avoid this. You could arguable take this as the 21st Utility point over a single point in Awareness/Expanded Mind (whichever you did not max initially) if you are not using any higher-than-tier 1 summoner spells. It's value per point is actually higher than most other points, but it's given in such a useless fashion. 2/5
Meditation - Gives .33 mana per second per point (max of 1 mana per second at 3 points). How good is it? Quite good. 3 points gives you 5 mana per 5, which is practically a free Meki Pendant. Good use of this plus a few Mana Regen runes can keep carry heroes from having to invest money into Mana regen items. 4/5
Insight - Clarity now gives full instead of half mana to nearby allies. How good is it? Well, Clarity is one of the weakest summoner spells, and the boost this gives is relatively minor. But, if you're taking Clarity, you may as well take this as well so your team gets some benefit from it 2/5
Quickness - Gives 1% movespeed per point (max 3% at 3 points). How good is it? This is the best Tier 4 mastery, allowing you to escape/catch those you would normally not be able to. 4/5
Blink of an Eye - Reduces Flash's cooldown by 15 seconds. How good is it? Minor. Take it if you have flash, but otherwise avoid. And since Flash recently got nerfed hard, don't expect to take this often, especially as its impact on flash is also minor. 2/5
Intelligence - Reduces cooldown by 2% per point (max 6% at 3 points). How good is it? Amazing. As with Sorcery, everyone uses abilities, so everyone uses cooldown reduction. 5/5
Mystical Vision - Increases Clairvoyance's duration by 4 seconds and reduces the cooldown by 5 seconds. How good is it? Clairvoyance is an excellent team skill that someone on your team should have. However, I've heard that it is currently bugged and reveals the area for longer than it should with this buff, even without it. Since the cooldown reduction isn't great, that means there's no reason to pick this. Even assuming that Clairvoyance wasn't bugged, the bonus given here is fairly minor, given that Clairvoyance is generally fire and forget (it's likely that you can spot someone waiting by dragon/baron. It's unlikely that they'll stumble upon that area in the few seconds after casting). 1/5
Presence of the Master - Reduces Summoner Spell Cooldowns by 15%. How good is it? Excellent. More summoner spells = more utility = more ganks/escapes/etc. 5/5.
----What are things to Aim for While Leveling Your Masteries?----
Well, the big thing is that every 4 points after the first (so 5, 9, 13, 17, 21), you hit a new tier. Your point should probably be put into a mastery from that tier for maximum effect (especially things like the level 21's, Archaic Knowledge, Utility Mastery, Nimbleness, etc). Points in between these levels can be spread out if you want to grab a level 1 mastery in another tree, but primarily focus in one tree, as higher level masteries are almost always better.
----What are your options with 30 Mastery Points?----
What do you get? A solid increase to Physical DPS and likely 2% dodge with a Dodge movespeed boost. Alternately, 6 Armor/MR and scaling HP regeneration.
Who wants it? Physical DPS champions who can already dodge in some fashion. Jax, Sivir, Katarina. For the alternate build, Physical DPS champions that have a lot of mana as well -Sion, for example.
What do you get? A solid increase to Physical DPS, an experience advantage, and increased Neutral Buff durations.
Who wants it? Physical carries. Ashe, Tristiana, Tryndamere, Corki, etc.
What do you get? Slightly reduced cooldowns, magic penetration, and a solid increase to tanking ability.
Who wants it? Tanky magic-users. Morgana, Amumu, Nasus, Soraka, Taric, Kayle.
What do you get? 9% reduced cooldowns, magic penetration, increased experience, mana regen, move speed, and longer Neutral buffs.
Who wants it? Most champions. This is the "default" layout, as it lets you get to 15% cooldown with 6% from runes, meaning you get 40% when combined with the 25% from the golem buff. Also utility is hella useful on anyone.
What do you get? 6% reduced cooldowns, increased experience, mana regen, move speed, longer neutral buffs, and either dodge chance or HP regen.
Who wants it? Many tanks like this layout, as you can get HP regen from Defense, MP regen from Utility, and a bonus to both regens from Utility. Less aggressive or more neutral-buff dependent versions of the dodge heroes would probably also want to go this route.
What do you get? Solid tanking ability, slightly longer neutral buffs, and more experience.
Who wants it? Junglers, primarily. The tankiness you can get from the 21 defense combined with the Utility mastery and EXP gain from Utility make this the mastery of choice for Jungle champions - Warwick, Nasus, Nunu, Amumu, etc.
i am sure u mean well with this guide but...
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Very good analysis, agree with almost everything.
- Greed is good. The way to look at it is as follows: suppose you could put all your 30 points in greed. Then after 30 mins, you would have an extra 4800 gold. This is surely more useful than any other 30 points you can invest. Hence Greed is very point-effective. 5/5.
- The formatting is kinda wallish, I suggest a blank line between every mastery, and making the masteries themselves bold, that will fix it.
Burning Embers is alright. If you're running ignite and have points in offensive, I don't see why you wouldn't want the 10 AP. Many people use ignite as a finisher, or at least the last spell in whatever nuke order they have, so its a free 10 AP on at least the first cast of all your abilities in a fight. Not spectacular, sure, but better than 1% attack speed on a caster.
I've never found Strength of Spirit to be useful. Even with 3000 mana, which is a lot, you get a grand total of 9 HP/5 for 3 points, but this only goes into effect late game. For heroes with less mana, it does even less. Early game, let's say 600 mana, it gives 1.8 hp/5. Not terrible, but not as good as you seem to make it sound.
Same with Perseverence. 4% increase in regen for 3 points? 10 mp/5 becomes 10.4 mp/5. Over the course of a minute, you gain 4.8 mana from 3 mastery points.
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