The Most Debatable Rune Choice

Flat or Scaling?

That is, or

The most commonly taken glyphs are magic resist and magic resist per level. Which ones should you take? You could just take whatever you feel like doing, but rather than just do what feels natural, you could analyze it, think about it, and then make a decision.

That’s what we’ll be doing today.

Let’s start with the obvious, the numbers difference. Ever since the nerf to magic resist runes, the difference is a simple 50%. Flat MR glyphs give 12 MR, whereas MR/lvl glyphs give 24 MR at level 18 and 12 MR at level 9. So from level 1-8 flat glyphs give more MR, at level 9 the two are equal, and at level 10-18 MR/lvl gives more.

From here, it seems the difference is simply that flat glyphs give a better early game and per level glyphs give a better late game. Many people stop here, thinking the choice simply comes down to whether you want a better early game or late game, and how passive or aggressive you will be at early levels.  There is a lot more to it than this.

This shows the range of difference. As early as level 6, you have a difference as small as 4 MR.

Another thing to think about is what will be happening at those levels. Laning phase is early game, to be sure, and how long it lasts will vary, but it almost always lasts at least through level 8. By the time you get to 5v5s, you will be at least level 9 or 10, where per level glyphs have been equalized or surpassed. How much of your small group fights will take place at each level? Will most of them be happening at 9 or later? Probably, yes.

On the other hand, early game is not something you want to ignore lightly. Losing or giving away a buff, letting your lane get snowballed, losing an early dragon or two, and losing jungle control can all have untold impact on the later game. A person with flat glyphs can be safer and by the time level 9 or 10 hits will have had the chance to buy some MR should the situation require it. In this sense, flat glyphs can be the better choice.

Another thing is the scaling of your opponents. What kind of damage will you be receiving at certain levels? Before level 18, champions will not have their skills maxed. At level 6, a Q skill will only be at level 3. At level 9, Q will finally be maxed, but ults are at their first level and the other two skills are at one and two. This is the break-even point.

Also, some items don’t arrive ‘til a certain a point. A typical ap mid will get boots and 2 doran’s rings. At what point will they purchase Sorceror’s boots? Level 6? Level 9, maybe?

And yet again, you’ll be taking more sustained magic damage when you are in lane…

So, both are viable. Flat is the way to go if you can only choose from one set. And for those of us that can take both?

Glyphs by Role: Recommendations


These are my recommendations on what to take depending on what your role is:

Mid: only

When you are mid, you are guaranteed to be playing another mage. At least one of you is likely to go for first blood and early game fights abound at or near mid lane. You will be doing a lot of early game fighting—it’s much safer to go flat.



Some supports like to get cooldown or mana regen here, but many will want some MR. Both flat and scaled are viable. Flat can be required as sometimes you will be in a pokey lane, or be likely to get focused by a jungler, especially while in a bootless state. Other times you will face a bottom lane and jungler without much magic damage, in which case you can get away with going per level.


Carry: over

Similar situation as support. Carries are always squishy, and correct positioning by the carry and his teammates is more important to survival than items/runes/masteries. That said, if you have the right support and you know how to position the lane correctly, it’s easy to get away with going for scaled here, and I recommend going scaling on your carry more often than not.

Jungle: and

Junglers have a lot of small fights by level 9, or at least they should. Jungle minions won’t be dealing any magic damage, but ganks at mid and top (see below) should be happening more often than at bottom. You don’t want to the jungler that is feeding lanes due to not having enough MR. Generally flat is better, but I prefer to mix the two. If you do 6 flats and 3 scaleds, you can have 8 MR at level 1, 12 MR at level 9, and 16 MR at level 18. If you do 6 scaled and 3 flat, you can have 4 MR at level 1, 12 MR at level 9, and 20 MR at level 18. 

Top: vs. bruisers; mages

This and carry might be the position in which you can get away with using per level runes the most often, as long as you aren’t facing a magic champion. Top often gets into a lot of brawls with jungle and/or mid though, and with Kennen, Vladimir, Malphite, Kayle, Jax and other magic/hybrid champs becoming popular top picks this is another situation in which extra rune pages come in handy.


Two Very Similar Sets

Get flat MR glyphs first as they are safer and always useful, whereas per-level is more situational. Ideally, you should have both options open to you, except at mid.

Before making your decision, consider varying factors. What role are you playing? Who are you playing against in lane? How much magic damage does the other team deal as a whole (don’t forget to factor in the ad carry)? Are you and your team more an early game team or a late game team? And don’t forget you can mix. If you do 6 flats and 3 per levels, you can have 8 MR at level 1 and 16 MR at level 18.  

Lastly, today's eyebrows:

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