Fundamentals, foundations, basics, building blocks, however you put it—it’s the quintessences that form the core of your rune build, hence the name quintessence, after quintessential. Your quint choices are the hardest, simply due to sheer volume of options.
There are two reasons for this.
The first is that quintessences have monopolies on certain types of stats. Spellvamp, lifesteal, movespeed, bonus experience, and reduced death time are only available in quint form, and other runes, such as armor penetration or gold per 10, only available on quints and one other type of rune. If you are going to do GP/10 or movespeed, most notably, you have to go to quints to seriously commit.
The second is that the other types of runes have a limited base of what are considered viable options. Marks have damage, armor, armor pen and magic pen, seals are armor and mana regen, and glyphs are almost always magic resistance. With all the other types of runes there are primary and secondary rune types and almost all of the secondaries are bad. With quintessences, every single type scales well by number.
Speaking of scaling, did you know that quintessences scale differently compared to their primary runes? What I mean is, some quints are worth only 2 marks (armor penetration, attack speed) whereas there is a quint (HP regen/5) that is worth more than 6 seals, its primary equivalent?
So, if you’re going to get something in quints you can get somewhere else, make it count. Otherwise you should maybe just get it in another area. Unless, of course, you are getting it to add to the primary, as is frequently the case with flat damage runes.
Here is a common mistake. I’ve sometimes seen armor penetration quints and flat damage marks. Like so.
So, with this setup, you get 10 armor penetration and 8.5 damage. This is actually kind of weak. This is a mistake. Why? Because the quint quotient (qq) isn’t optimal. Again, a quint quotient is the ratio of a quint to its primary rune. That is, how many of a primary rune does it take to equal its quotient? The level seems obvious and consistent. It is not.
I’ve calculated them so you can see just how good they all are, and decide for yourself. After that, I’ll explain why that previous damage/armor pen setup is ineffective and should change.
Note offensive quints tend to have lower ratios, a notable exception being flat ap (which is why they are always taken). If you wish to go something defensive, some of the quints are practically required (such as getting a decent hp/5).
So, here we go. Marks first. Note they are in order of highest QQ to lowest QQ:
So again, let’s say you have flat damage marks and quints and you want to purchase more runes—you want the option to mix flat damage and armor penetration runes. You might think to buy armor pen quints to use instead of flat damage quints. This is not optimal. This only leaves you with 10 armor pen and 8.5 damage.
Instead, buy 7 armor pen marks. Then use 7 armor pen marks, 2 flat damage marks, and 3 flat damage quints. Why? Because of the QQ! Look at it again! A flat damage quint is worth 2.25 damage, which is 2.37 times the value of the .95 damage in flat damage marks. Alas, quints for armor pen are only twice the value of armor pen marks. So, if you use 3 damage quints, 2 damage marks, and 7 armor pen seals, you get 12 arpen and 8.6 damage.
Conversely, you can also get Damage quints, 3 damage marks, and 6 armor pen marks for 9.6 damage and 10 armor pen.
Either way, going armor pen quints + damage marks is bad! Oh, and if you already have damage quints and marks and don't own any armor pen runes and just want to mix, it's only 2870 ip for 7 marks, or 2410 for 6 marks, not 3075 ip like it is for three quints. So, if you want to mix damage and penetration, the QQ shows you can get more buy paying less! You’re welcome.
Old Man Eyebrows