So you've followed my advice, and you're (probably) sitting on three of BT/SS/LW/IE. What next? It's time for your defensive item! Common knowledge suggests GA (Guardian Angel), but I'm going to argue that there are a wide array of alternative choices.
Resistances vs Health
Let's assume you're facing a comp with an even split of physical/magic damage to start: here's our graph from previously:
So you're an AD Carry, and you're sitting at about 2k health, and about 130-145 resistances (85 armor + 45-60 MR, depending on flat or scaling glyphs). Notice anything? You're WAY away from the best-fit line for maximizing tankiness. At 2k health, you only want about 75 points in resistances, TOTAL, and at 130-145 resistances, you want closer to 2500 HP. And that's assuming no % Pen. With the likelihood that you face % Pen, that's only less in the way of resistances you should get. However, since I'm going to argue for more health oriented items, I will do so from the perspective of a lack of penetration items, so that my argument will be all the more valid should they be bought.
Guardian Angel - 2600 gold
Standard defensive itemization has you getting a Guardian Angel, and it's not hard to see why; it gives you both Armor and MR, and a nice 'res' ability. However, adding the 50 armor and 30 MR puts you up to about 225 resistances, somewhere you don't optimally want to be before reaching 3250 health. To put this in perspective, your EHP with 225 resistances and 2k health is 4250 EHP. If you stay on the prescribed line, you reach 4125 just by buying up to the aforementioned 2500 health (or just a Giant's Belt and a bit). Of course, GA still has the res effect, but:
- The res effect has you pop up into a waiting enemy team as much as it saves you
- GA almost losing in tankiness to a GIANT'S BELT means the res effect has to be ludicrously good to pay off.
So what other items are available?
Pure Defensive items
Warmog's Armor - 2830 gold
A lot of players have started to consider this defensive item standard: it gives you a huge chunk of health, which everybody wants. But on AD Carries, it feels even stronger, since health is what you want, given the above graph. I by no means want to understate the value of this item by the shortness of this section, but what Warmog's gives you is so mind-numbingly simply that elaborating on it seems silly: it's a stat stick for health. Your EHP ends up being 4950, a pretty significant improvement over GA. A special note needs to be made for Graves: his passive is super fantastic with Warmog's, giving you an addition 300 EHP.
Randuin's Omen - 3100 gold
Randuin's Omen is one of those sexy, unsung items. It gives you 500 Health (bringing you to the line you're aiming at), but on top of that, it gives you a HUGE chunk of armor. It brings your EHP to 5000 (you jealous, Warmog's?). On top of that, it gives you a nice AS and MS slow on-hit (you jealous, Frozen Mallet?), and if you're in a panic, you can pop its active for a 4 second MS slow!
Banshee's Veil - 2610
Banshee's Veil brings your EHP to 4500, but it's pretty heavily concentrated in magic damage The spell-shield effect is nice against some teams, but useless against many other teams, either because it affects nothing, or because they can freely pop it. Most of the time, I'd just get Mercurial Scimitar + (optionally) Frozen Mallet instead of Banshee's Veil.
Hybrid Offensive/Defensive Items
Some items are hybrid offensive/defensive items; they have lower defensive stats but give some offensive capabilities.
Frozen Mallet - 3300 gold
Frozen Mallet, to me, is the perfect hybrid item. On the one hand, it's not entirely defensive; it gives you 30 AD. On the other hand, it gives you health enough to get you to the optimization line and past it (and past it is where you want to be, since we're assuming no %pen at all!). On the third hand (hey, some of us are mutants!), it also gives you a perma-slow, and every AD Carry loves those. Against a team with few hard gap-closers, this item is a no-brainer. It brings your EHP to 4455. This means you're tankier than with GA, but with no res effect. On the plus side, you have slows for days, so maybe you can avoid some of that damage. A special note needs to be made for Graves: his passive is super fantastic with Frozen Mallet, giving you an addition 300 EHP, although the kiting is a bit weaker, given his low range.
Quicksilver Sash - 1660 gold
QSS only brings your EHP to 3750, but it also gives you the ability to cleanse out of any CC; a pretty fantastic active. On top of that, it upgrades to Mercurial Scimitar, which gives you both offensive and defensive stats. If I get Mercurial Scimitar, it tends to be against magic damage and CC heavy teams, and I tend to pair it with a Frozen Mallet, for another hybrid offensive/defensive item. The combination of two hybrid items is basically the same as one pure offensive and one pure defensive item, but with the utility from both defensive items.
Frozen Fist - 3400 gold
Maw of Malmortius - 3200 gold
You end up with 3660 EHP (less than QSS), and an additional 280 EHP vs magic damage. I find this lackluster. Since AD Carries are already stacking AD, the damage increase is less important for them, plus htey can't survive that well at low health. On top of that, Maw isn't always a great item on tanky ADs.
Notable Champion Interactions
Frozen Mallet stacks with her slow, which can either be ridiculous or redundant.
Frozen Mallet is better the higher your range is, and Caitlyn has high range...
Frozen Fist is ridiculous with Mystic Shot
Health is great with his passive
Frozen Mallet is great with her passive
Frozen Mallet is better the higher your range is, and Tristana has high range...
Frozen Mallet hits all Spray and Pray targets
Frozen Mallet makes getting 3 consecutive hits easier
I'm a fan of Frozen Mallet, although I'm coming around to Randuin's, especially against a team of 2 or more auto-attackers. Pure dps with a GA to break focus seems to be falling out of the meta for AD Carries; they either bring loads of AoE damage (Twitch/MF/Graves), or they kite like no tomorrow (Ezreal/Graves). There is something to be said for the psychological power of 'I don't want to focus him' that GA provides, but then again, the bars of health have a similar effect. On top of that, it seems likely that somebody will have at least Aegis of the Legion, giving you even more resistances, thus making Health items even better.
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