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Preseason Itemization Preview

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Commander Amaro



could you imagine if clack cleaver reduced there magic resist the same way then you ult them. It would be to perfect.

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Junior Member



Hey guys,

I’m Xypherous, a Technical Designer here at Riot Games. I’ve been working a bit on the goals for itemization changes as we head into the preseason, focusing mostly on specialization, player self-expression, and adding new gameplay patterns in the game. We wanted to fix a lot of the existing problems that players have with items and try to add more depth in terms of itemization. Let me go over the major goals we have for the preseason item changes:

Clean up / Reworks

We have some items that need a lot of love and some items that simply don’t have a place in the current framework in the game. We either made these items relevant for a specific purpose or removed them if they were too problematic to balance. Some super-niche or narrow-scope items have been remade to work on a greater variety of champions.


There aren’t enough items to allow each champion to really feel like they have their own unique build. We also want to add more items that allow you to specialize for the particular game that you’re in. We’re adding items to give players in each role alternate primary builds that fill out their teams better. If your carry needs to do more AoE damage, he has an option for that. If your primary AP caster needs additional CC capabilities, there’s an option for that, too.

We want players to have a degree of specialization in terms of playstyle, and to buy items that complement that playstyle rather than simply giving them the highest raw stats.

Gold and Statistics Pass

We’ve done a complete gold and statistics pass on the entire item shop. Many statistics have been reevaluated to better reflect how much gold they are worth at a particular stage of the game. Premiums have been adjusted across many items to reflect how difficult they are to build or how niche they are, rather than their raw statistical strength. Items that grant early Resistances / Attack Damage / Attack Speed have all been reevaluated in terms of strength.

Breadth and Depth

One of the most important things we tried to accomplish during the preseason was to ensure that your mid game items didn’t pigeonhole you into certain choices later in the game. We’ve also endeavored to give mid-tier items more late game options so that you don’t run into dead-ends as the game progresses. If you build Warden’s Mail in the mid game, you shouldn’t feel compelled to buy Randuin’s Omen every game. We wanted to make sure that at each stage of item progression gave you upgrade choices later on.

We know that some of your favorite items might be affected by the coming update. I’ll be discussing many specific examples in depth leading up to the patch. If you’d like more information on a specific change, reply to the thread and I’ll answer your question if I can.


Since lots of you were interested in diving immediately into some specific details, I've decided to bump up the first item preview post. This is posted later in the thread as well, but I thought I'd edit the OP for visibility:

Today I’m going to talk about Armor Penetration and its effects on the scaling of our Attack Damage Casters class.

Let’s take a look at one of the core items for this class – The Brutalizer:

The Brutalizer has long been the trifecta of Attack Damage, Armor Penetration and Cooldown Reduction that these characters lean on for early game dominance. However, Flat Armor Penetration as a statistic overall has been pretty overpowered in compensation for the fact that items with the stat don’t typically scale at all into the late game. This turns these characters into early-game gambit characters, out to dominate the early game as quickly as possible before they become irrelevant.

To adjust for this, we’re making two major changes:

1. Flat Armor Penetration and % Armor Penetration values are generally being lowered, but now Flat Penetration is calculated AFTER % Penetration

For example: Let’s say I have 50% Armor Penetration and 20 Flat Armor Penetration versus a target with 120 Armor.

Currently, on Live, I would ignore 20 of his armor via Flat Penetration (100) and then 50% of the remainder, leaving him with 50 Armor.

After this change, I would ignore 50% of his armor (60) and then 20 of the remainder, leaving him with 40 armor.

In this manner, we can make sure that penetration values can be cost-effective for both late game and early game because now you have an option to synergize the two statistics together if you need to pierce large amounts of armor.

2. Brutalizer builds into more than one thing

Let’s dig down into this item a little more. First off, the Black Cleaver now triggers off all physical damage. This means that spells and abilities can trigger the passive. In fact, let’s look at a couple of our AD casters and see how this item works differently on them:

Pantheon, the Artisan of War

Spear Shot: Will trigger Black Cleaver once on a single target.
Aegis of Zeonia: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magic damage.
Heartseeker Strike: Will trigger Black Cleaver three times in a cone, as it does physical damage to the target three times.
Grand Skyfall: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magic damage.

Garen, the Might of Demacia

Decisive Strike: Will trigger Black Cleaver once, on a single target.
Courage: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does no damage.
Judgment: Will trigger Black Cleaver up to 6 times, in a circle around him, as it does physical damage 6 times.
Demacian Justice: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magical damage.

So now, AD casters attempting to deal with highly armored opponents have a way to partially nullify the armor of targets they choose to fully commit to with all of their skills. However, they make a trade-off here; while Black Cleaver is highly effective at negating the effect of enemy armor, the Cleaver itself does not provide all that much Attack Damage as a whole. So your skills will be slightly less effective on targets with high health and low armor, simply because they’ll be doing less overall damage. Black Cleaver is incredibly effective at shredding targets with lots of armor, but doesn’t really do well trying to kill a mage with Rod of Ages, for example.

What about Last Whisper? How does this work with Last Whisper?

Last Whisper grants you % Armor Penetration while Black Cleaver reduces the opponent’s armor.

Let’s look at an enemy with 400 Armor. Black Cleaver will reduce their armor by 25%, leaving them with 300. Last Whisper will allow you to ignore 40% of the remaining 300 armor, which means their effective armor against you will now be 180.

(EDIT: Many people have pointed out that Flat Penetration happens here. This is true. Flat Penetration would now apply, leaving their effective armor at 170. Sorry guys. XD)

Last Thoughts

We hope that this change helps create a smoother scaling curve for many of our AD casters without causing them to utterly dominate and kill everyone. While these changes allow them to ignore armor much more effectively, the characters in question will be making heavy tradeoffs by simply not dealing as much raw damage as they could have with a B.F. Sword build against soft targets. Additionally, these iterations of The Brutalizer and The Black Cleaver allow our more spell-focused ranged carries like Corki or Graves to have a viable alternative to Last Whisper that will give them great utility if they find themselves on a team with lot of physical damage characters.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!


This is all well and good but I would still love to see and item similar to thornmail for heavy magic teams.

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Xypherous, gotta remind you again that i love you.

just saying.

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Senior Member


Good luck. You are going to need it.

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Master Recruiter


@ Xypherous- please tell me that you buffed Heimerdinger!!! Please oh please!

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Senior Member


Probably - but if your character has linear scaling and 100% physical damage - that's just going to be what happens. That's my own fault as Riven's designer that she gets hard-countered by armor.

Morello has to talk about very high-level of what is good for the game as a whole. Individual designs don't contradict that, it just means that the individual designs are flawed in that regard.

I still love Riven, and really appreciate the amount of time committed to answering this tread.

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@Xypherous I think the new black cleaver might be a bit too useful, especially on the new TT. Let me spin it to you this way. Lets say your team is...Darius, Xin Zhao, and Wukong. Typically, you build enough armor, these guys would become useless, but with the new black cleaver you can get loads of damage reduction on one enemy, while getting some on the rest. Mind you, it stacks multiplicatively, but still, I'm guessing you could hit 60% armor reduction on one target alone, and that's before you count %penetration and flat penetration. Talk about some nasty focus eh?

What do you plan on doing about balancing things like this happening?

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Junior Member


Love the idea of new items and changes to items, can't wait for more news.
Especially interested in how this will affect AD/AP Assassin Champions.

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DJ Radix

Senior Member


Once these start to roll out, would you consider shifting Tristana to more of an AD caster? Her AP build is fun in a bot game, but I would love to play her that way with an AD build.

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I hope they do something with trundle! in season 3