Sightstone Nerf, but better for supports?
With the latest patch (3.01) we saw an increase in the cost of sightstone but with it, we saw an added minor component. While technically a nerf to the item with the cost going up, I believe the addition of a minor component actually makes it better for supports. If your brain is screaming "Emerald, how?" I do not blame you. This is my opinion, but I think there is enough logic to at least warrant the discussion that this change is not all bad for supports.
Sightstone saw an increase in cost of 250 gold. So now it is 950 gold to buy, instead of 700. A relatively small gold nerf, but every gold counts for supports. Ruby sightstone is the same upgrade cost, so the price increase was only on Sightstone. However, we saw with it the addition of a ruby crystal into the sightstone recipe. As well as a HP increase on the item. This is the change that counterbalances the cost increase in my opinion. But why did Riot nerf it?
Junglers are messing with my support items
I firmly believe that this was targeted at junglers, not supports. Riot mentions that they wanted to cut down early sight for teams on the map, how does that affect supports? Supports start with 3-4 wards and have for years now. Every time we would go back in season 2, we got wards. So the vision they want to cut down is not the vision you generated bottom lane, as we have the same job we always have. It is not hard to understand why junglers would want sightstone, it offers cheap tanking stats and free wards for covering their jungle. This is especially true because of the realization that wriggles is often not needed at all to survive the jungle. Madreds Razor is enough to clear the new jungle, so save the gold that would have gone to wriggles and get a sightstone!
The real added cost for supports
The real added cost for supports lies in not being able to get sightstone in one trip as easily. 700 gold is much easier to get in one sitting than 950. Now, it could take 2 or more trips to get sightstone and every time you go back, you need to buy more wards to cover the ones that you burned earlier. So not only do you need to spend 250 gold more to get sightstone, you have to spend another 150 to cover your lane till your next trip back and get the sightstone. So it is more like a 400 gold increase in cost, despite only increasing sightstone by 250. Sucks huh?
But the recipe is better
Despite the 250 added cost, the recipe makes a lot more sense. Kill lanes are extremely popular in games and you must have tankiness to survive them. Rushing philo stone is a big mistake, as the enemy duo should see that and all-in you at once. Kill you before your AD can put any damage on theirs and then force your AD back. Now your lane is in trouble as you spent gold on regen, which does nothing to stop burst. You would see Gambit Gaming's Support, Ed Ward, build dorans shield to help survive bot lane. This is a great way to get cheap tanking stats but the item never builds into anything and takes up a slot. This patch you can spend that on a ruby crystal, which builds into the item you really want and give you the early defense you need to survive.
How often did you have 700 gold at once?
In season 3, I still often start with a bead/charm, 3 wards and 2 health potions. When poking hard, the extra mana regen is very nice. When taking poke, the extra health regen helps. Spending that gold to give me an advantage (in some meaningful way) is a basic tenet of the game, any unspent gold is doing nothing for you. So if I went back with only 500-600 gold, what can I do with it? I could build another part of philo (not something I am inclined to do against kill lanes), buy a dorans ( which doesn't build into anything) or save it and have it do nothing until my next back when I can get my stightstone. Only 1 option helps me against kill lanes. Now I have another option, buy a ruby crystal! You could make mention of how you could buy a ruby crystal before and it would build into ruby sightstone, but that does not solve the issue of needing 700 gold at one time. It would help get your ruby sightstone faster, not your sightstone If you got kills in lane, it probably was not too hard to have 700 gold, but I hate playing under the assumption you will get those kills. There have been plenty of times when I have not gotten kills in lane early to get the sightstone sooner than my second or third trip. So while it does cost more, in a general game flow sense, it is a lot better. Every time I go back, I have an item goal. I might skip bead/charm however when I start now. 3-4 wards, 2-3 pots and just save up for sightstone. You can still get it in the first trip if things go well. But more than likely on the second trip, which was pretty normal for me before this patch anyway.
The cost of the item has gone up, but the addition of the minor component makes it more valuable for laning and a good goal to set for supports. I personally feel this is actually a better overall change for supports. It does make sightstone rush harder, but the general effectiveness of building the item is better. Sightstone was nerfed, but I do not think that is such a bad thing for supports.