Gentleman Gustaf here today to talk to you about common build mistakes, and how to avoid them. A lot of popular guides on sites like Mobafire or Leaguecraft are amateur guides. While this is not a bad thing on its own, there are a number of mistakes that arise consistently in these gides. As well, my experience in a lower skill-level community have exposed me to a lot of these ideas, and the reasoning for them. Today, I will walk through the most common of these traps, and explain why they are traps.
The first major problem I see in designing builds is over-budgeting. This can happen many different ways, but what it comes down to is very simple: thinking you have more money with which to buy items sooner than you do.
A common mistake people make is planning on a complete build. This is problematic for a few reasons:
- Not every game even goes to the point of a full build. So if you don't get all of the stats you need early on, you're sitting on an unfinished build for most of the game. To give a few quick examples:
- Let's say you're designing a build around Rylai's and Liandry's Torment and their synergy. That means that any other items you get either delay your combo, or are delayed by your combo. So let's say they go for a magic damage heavy team, and you want Abyssal (or at least Negatron Cloak), or a physical damage heavy team, and you want Zhonya's (or at least Chain Vest), that's another 700-ish gold (let's call it 2.5 minutes) until your combo is complete, or another 700 until you have the defenses you need. And what about any necessity items, like Rabadon's, Deathfire Grasp, Rod of Ages, or some other AP item (depending on your champion).
- Let's say you're a bruiser who wants your Trinity Force done right away. On top of that, you want to be tanky, so you want a Giant's Belt, Chain Vest, and Negatron Cloak. So if there are any other stats (CDR, Mana, Attack Speed, AP) that you need, they have to wait. Maybe you turn your Chain Vest into a Glacial Shroud before you get Negatron Cloak/Giant's Belt, or Spirit Visage before Chain Vest/Giant's Belt.
- Ability to farm is a general marker of skill. As you go higher up in the game, people farm better. Much better. So what can happen, and does happen quite often, is that people will copy pro players builds, then find that they don't measure up to their expectations. This is related to the above problems: let's say your ability to farm gets you your 2nd item when Voyboy would have his 3rd item. This will create mismatches in your expectation of build power. It may seem like something which should affect all players equally, but it isn't. Why? Because some builds are much stronger earlier, as are some champions. This is why early-game champions like LeBlanc and Sion can dominate lower level games: they may only be strong in the early-mid game, but when it takes 60 minutes for everybody to get their 5th item, they have a much longer period of dominance. This also explains a phenomenon I noticed in Season 2, while coaching lower Elo players. These players would often take junglers that made no sense: farm dependent, slow early clears, but quickly snowballing. When I asked why they played these champions in the jungle, as opposed to (typically) top, they would say that it let them get their builds more quickly. Because people were worse at farming at their Elo, the guaranteed jungle income ended up being stronger.
What does this mean overall? You want your build to be coherent at most points of the game: if your build causes you to be useless at any point of the game, the other team, if good, will take advantage of this. This is, ultimately the problem with a lot of the gimmicky builds you see people propose: there is nothing mathematically wrong with them, but good players will be able to exploit their situational weaknesses.
As a general rule, you want the following core builds:
- Bruiser: a single damage item (Trinity Force/BotRK + a decent chunk of resistances and health)
- AP Carry: an AP item and a utility item
- Tanky Mage: Two tanky AP items (RoA/Abyssal/Zhonya's/Rylai's)
- AD Carry: AD+AS+CritChance/Damage+Pen (hard to get all five with 2 items, so you normally settle for IEPD or BTLW)
- Tank: CDR + health/resistances (Glacial Shroud/Spirit Visage + Aegis is a typical combo)
- AD Caster: Bloodthirster + Black Cleaver
- Support: ALL OF THE CHOICES GOOD JOB RIOT (depends on the support; some supports are heavy tanks/initiators, others rely more on utility)
A large number of causes of build misunderstandings stem from fundamental misunderstandings about how the game works. There are a few traps which are particularly common.
The first, and most common mistake I see are stat-stacking builds: somebody sees that a player has a lot of one stat, and stacks that stat hard. For example:
- Gentleman Gustaf, Mundo has a % Health heal! I stack all of the health to make his heal better?
The problem with this idea is simple: flat heals scale with Armor/MR (healing is worth more when it's harder to reverse). %Health heals scale with both health AND Armor/MR. As such, you maximize Mundo's ultimate by maximizing your overall tankiness, through health AND resistances, not just health
- Gentleman Gustaf, Kog'Maw has a sweet on-hit effect! Why not stack other on-hit items on him, like Wit's End/Madred's Bloodrazer?
The problem with this idea is that you actually want attack speed, to proc his on-hit effect more, not more on-hit effects. Of course, this situation is complicated by the fact that on-hit items tend to give attack speed as well: given the way those two things interact cancel each other out. Attack Speed means you want more on-hit effects, but on-hit effects mean you want more attack speed.
- Gentleman Gustaf, Cho'Gath has a lot of health: I get Warmog's on him and he gets even more and I'm unkillable!
- Gentleman Gustaf, Rammus has a damage return and a stack of resistances: I like to get Thornmail on him and become invincible! Plus, when anybody attacks me, they die!
These sort of builds are very common on guide sites like Mobafire. The problem they have is a lack of mathematical efficiency. The only stats you can really get away with stacking are frontloaded stats (those which do damage up front), like AD or AP. Instead, what you want is to get ites which synergize with those effects, not stack with them. So Mundo still wants resistances, Kog'Maw wants AS, Cho'Gath wants more resistances than most, and Rammus wants more health than most.
% Current vs % Max
% Current vs % Max is a common misunderstanding. To (approximately) calculate %current damage, halve it. It's a pretty simple fix, just keep it in mind.
Diff the Ender has talked about "Diminishing Returns" in Armor/MR, but the true secret is, this pattern exists in almost every stat. There simply are NO diminishing returns on any of those stats. Some people seem to think there are because the % increase relevant to your CURRENT values decreases. But that's ALWAYS what happens when you have flat increases.
Resistances: Gives a % increase in your EHP: 1% of your Health for every point of Armor you have. If you have 0 Armor, 100 Armor increases your EHP by 100%. If you're at 100 Armor, 100 Armor increases your EHP by 50%.
Health: gives a flat increase in your health. If you're at 1000 health, 1000 health increases your health by 100%. If you're at 2000 health, 1000 health increases your health by 50%. Noticing a pattern?
AD: gives a flat increase in your AD. If you're at 100 AD, 100 AD increases your health by 100%. If you're at 200 AD, 100 AD increases your AD by 50%.
AS: gives an AS increase based off your base AS. This one is a bit trickier, because your base AS is your AS at level 1, not your AS at level 18, so hitting level 18 already gives you about 50% AS. That aside, it's just like the above examples.
Crit: gives a flat Crit Chance increase. I'll let you guess how it scales.
AP: gives a flat increase in your spell damage based on the AP ratio. As above.
Pen: just reverses resistances (and so decreases tankiness by a % of base tankiness). Also as above.
CDR: Each % decrease is based off of the base cooldowns: If the cooldown is 100s, each 1% gives you 1 second. As the cooldowns go down, the % increase grows. For your first point of CDR, -1%=1s, bringing your cooldown from 100-99s, a 1% decrease. But for the 40th point, -1s%=1s, bringing your cooldown from 61s-60s, a 1.7% decrease.
What do these stats all have in common? They have flat increases. So every point scales with some base value, and never changes. This gives the appearance of diminishing returns (ok, so CDR gives the appearance of increasing returns, but whatever), as the % increase for each value continues decreasing (as the amount you have increases). Moreover, all of these stats scale multiplicatively, so there are increasing returns with other stats. So there is a reason not to stack a stat, but it's not due to diminishing returns, but due to increasing returns with multiplicative stats.
Maximizing your build the easy way
Making a build is one of the most important things you can do: avoiding obvious pitfalls, establishing a strong core, and making consistent builds is crucial. I hope these tips help you on the Fields of Justice!
Oh, and since there's not really any math in today's post, I put some pseudo-math on efficiency in the "Song" of the Day.
For more of my work:
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"Song" of the Day