Where Could We Possibly Use Destruction Marks?

I'm a strong believer that math can only get you so far when it comes to building. Theory informs decisions also. I mean, sure, you can use attack damage seals and glyphs, but in trades and throughout the game, are they going to serve you as well as armor and magic resist? Heck, attack speed glyphs are just as good, if not better (no, we're not going to analyze AS vs. damage glyphs today, just take flat or scaled MR).

There's the maths, and then there's the applied use of the maths. Pure math is generally not the entire picture (with runes and auto-attack based damage being notable exceptions, and we're covering those, and even then there are caveats and assumptions).

This is actually the approach I've always used, including in my analysis of Haunting Guise and Executioner's Calling, two of my "harder" math pieces. Rather than tell you something is good or bad, I like to present the evidence and make a case, saying "if these are the conditions, then ______ is actually a good idea." If the conditions are common and people can easily imagine it, they'll agree. If the scenario isn't realistic, well, pity me, 'cuz I'm a fool.


Now that I've warmed you up, I'll say it: I think there is a use for destruction marks. Not just sometimes, but most of the time in some cases. As in, there are champs for whom you might get these usually.


Thought Process

When Destruction runes were released I was drawn to them. They seemed very interesting and I picked up a set right away. In my defense, I had IP to burn and I always have enough for each new champ, so sue me. They actually were stronger before the buff to magic penetration glyphs and quints, but they are weak. They have a Quint Quotient of two, and for a long time it seemed clear that damage, armor pen and magic pen marks were better and that flat AP or damage quints were clearly better. But recently, I honed in on the closest commonly used relative, and that's magic pen marks. The difference is really this: 3.4 Magic Pen vs. 9 Armor Pen. I bold that because it is the simplest and most important difference. Destruction marks are 5.1 mpen and 9 arpen, Insight marks are equal to 8.5 magic pen. You are trading 3.4 magic pen for 9 armor pen. You could also view it as giving up 6 of 15 armor pen to get 3.4 Mpen, but that doesn't sound nearly as good, does it?

Mages auto-attack a lot in jungle skirmishes and with harrassment in early and mid game. Do you know how much armor mages have? Here's a list. Keep in mind some mages grab armor seals, but most don't. Here's an old chart of mine I used on resistances.

Early to mid game, you're looking at 30-40 armor on your lane opponent. Most mages grab the 3 points in damage for masteries, then gain about 3 every level. So, at level 2, if you're Ahri, your auto-attack is 59. If you're facing a Morgana with no armor runes or masteries, her armor will be 22.6. If you have 9 armor pen, it goes down to 13.6. That lops off about 6% armor reduction. 6% of 59 is...3.5 damage! That's 3.5 more damage per auto-attack. That's...not a big deal. This is why I'm not doing stricter math for it.

Okay, well what about clearing wraiths and last-hitting minions? Instead of 10% damage reduction, it's 1 or something, and at level 7 the same Ahri would have 15 more damage for 74...that's an extra 7 damage or so on a minion hit. Easier last-hitting, more damage to dragon and baron. Okay, that's actually something, but not enough perhaps to ditch 3.4 magic pen.

So what about auto-attacking as an important part of play? The people that use magic pen mid are mostly mages at mid. They will still be building ap, but not damage.  I wondered, who of those wants to auto-attack anyway? I have compiled an alphabetical list:

Twisted Fate

That's quite the list! Where to even begin? Well, I started with my favorite but not best mid, Ziggs. He wants to use auto-attacks. But hmm. He isn't going to be using them much, and it's only 1 of his 5 abilities. And unlike the other 4, it's not AOE. I don't even want to look at the math there.

Specific Examples of using Destruction Marks

Let's narrow it down some more then. Who actually unavoidably has auto-attacking as part of dealing mage damage?

Find Twisted Fate counter picks and more 

Of course! Twisted Fate's W is based off of auto-attacks. No matter what, Twisted Fate is going to deal some auto-attacks out. You stun, Q, and then try to get one more hit in maybe, then back off. Go back in, due it again, trying to proc E.

At level 9 with 100 AP, TF will have his Q at level 5, his W at level 2, his E at level 1, and his ult. He'll have 79 damage if he has the 3 points in damage on offense runes, which is what most mages do. So, in the above situation we can total his damage as such:

  • Q: 325 (260 + 65 from 100 AP) magic damage
  • W (gold): 141.5 (79 from attack damage + 22.5 ability + 40 from AP) magic damage
  • E: 95 magic damage (55 + 40 ability power)
  • One auto-attack: 79

Total of 79 physical and 561.5 magic damage, with another 79 damage per auto-attack. Here it is clear that 3.4 mpen is greater than 9 arpen. That's not too good at all.

Well, what about Lich Bane? Lich Bane does not proc extra magic damage. It adds physical damage. What if you poke with 300 AP at Level 15? You get a gold and Q and then you run.

  • Q will deal 455  (260 + 195 ap ratio) magic damage
  • W will deal 264 (45 + 120 + 99 ad) magic damage
  • Lich Bane Proc will deal 300 physical damage (proc is not added to the W)

Q and W are 719 magic damage. Proc is 300 magic damage. That's 3.4 penetration for a 455 and 264 and 9 points of pen for a 300. And targets generally have more armor than they do MR, and penetration doesn't work as hard at higher levels. I wouldn't get them on Twisted Fate, even though he does do a lot of auto-attacking and has an attack-speed boost. He needs the burst, not the chip.

Who else is a Lich Bane champ, ooh, I know.

Find Sion counter picks and more

Level 15, 300 AP with a Lich Bane, E is at level 3, W and Q:

  • Q is 570
  • W is 570
  • Lich Bane Proc is 451 physical damage (300 + enrage ad + 3 from masteries + base).

Level 9, 100 AP W at 5, Q at 2, E and R at 1, sheen equipped:

  • Q is 215
  • W is 390
  • Sheen proc is 212 (100 + enrage ad + 3 from masteries + base) attack damage.

One thing to keep in mind with Sion is that when you are mid, the lane opponent is likely to have some MR to resist the burst, but not any armor. Furthermore, sometimes your W will pop, leaving just the 570 and 451. 3.4 Penetration points in 570 are not going to be as much in 451 assuming the armor and mr are about the same value. In the case of an ap champ, you can assume the MR will often actually be higher. Lastly, his E scales harder at 17 and 18, and his ult involves attack speed, lifesteal, and auto-attacks. Lastly, some players are smart enough not to get hit by w but will take a stun and auto-attack or two. You might only be able to stun and auto-attack unless it's a group fight. I think I'd get these on him.

Other considerations

I can't go in depth on every champion, here are some I'd recommend trying them on to see for yourself, and some I wouldn't.

Don't try Destruction Marks On These Champs
  • Any ad carry or support. Damage, Gold, Armor, so many better things you can be doing here.
  • Hybridy tops like Yorick, Poppy, Jax, or Kayle, enticing as it looks. While many of their abilities are magic-based, they still scale off attack damage and AP. If you do that math for Jax, damage marks will give damage to his auto-attacks and his magic and his physical abilities, that is, in his passive/autos, Q, W, and E. Penetration of either kind splits too much, even mixed penetration.
  • Junglers, generally. Though some jungle builds grab a handful of but not full set of armor pen marks, and if the champ is right and magic damage is a lot of the creep-killing damage in cases such as Cho'Gath, Mao'Kai, Amumu, Sejuani, or Diana, you could try it, but I'd stick with attack speed, AP, or something defensive.
Destruction Marks work Better with these situations and mid champs:
  • Champions that use Sheen/Lich Bane, Wit's End, or Ionic Spark.
  • Any champion that gets in a lot of auto-attacks but has a lot of magic based damage. This will also depend on your team comp and theirs. If you have a Nautilus and you're going to add two or three auto-attacks on, that's great.
  • Champions that get Void Staff. Void Staff makes flat magic penetration weaker. Yet, you still want some earlier game with your sorc boots, or you're just going merc's. In this case you're thinking either 8.5/46 vs. 5.1/46 or 28.5/46 vs. 25.1/46. In these cases, 9 armor pen looks much better.
  • Melees. Most Melees try to get in and then finish off with some autos. Katarina has gunblade, and will dash in and use an auto-attack, and Gragas' W increases his attack damage, meaning sometimes you dash, Q, and auto. Diana, Akali, Eve, Fizz, Nidalee, and Kassadin try to get a hit in when they go in and out (or in and in and in).
  • AP Teemo and AP Yi. But please don't play AP Teemo and AP Yi.
  • Bruiser Cho'Gath. If you're not going high AP and you get a wit's end and a shurelya's or something, you'll be dealing a decent amount of physical damage also. Also, Cho'Gath has the highest level 18 base attack damage in the game.
  • Champions that auto-attack a lot. Did you know that Kennen, Eve and Teemo have the respective top three highest attack speeds at level 18? Did you know that Akali is 4th, Orianna is 6th, and Nidalee and Kassadin are 8th and 9th? And that all of these champs have auto-attack and magic-based abilities? 
  • Eve. She fits a lot of this criteria, has an attack speed boost, most of her abilities are close ranged, and many Eve's build sheen/Lich Bane, though DFG first is now the norm. If an enemy is managing to survive the DFG/Ult combo or Eve is in a fight where doesn't have her ult up, that armor pen is convenient. Also, some Eve's go boots of mobility. If you're only going to have 9/10 mpen for a while, the higher MR on enemies makes the 3.4 points less relevant. As mentioned in the Void Staff bullet above, The nature of penetration scaling (see the resistances chart above) means that 25.1 compared to 29.5 is worse than 5.1 compared to 8.5. It's not required--I just see lots of Eve's having to do lots of auto-attacks. And Eve will end up going for anyone and everyone through the course of a long game, and that includes squishies.

Actually worth using?

Generally, the expectation is that destruction marks are bad and that's true. However, I'm persuaded that like health per level seals on some mids, and mana runes on Singed or Ryze, destruction marks can actually add a nice surprise element that your opponents won't notice. Plus, you get easier last-hitting, better damage vs. neutrals, and better harrass in lane, especially from levels 1-8.

If you give them a try and you love them or hate them, come back, let me know.


Old Man Eyebrows

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  • #30 gameaholic2k

    What about AP Yi?

  • #29 PhilNye

    Malzahar should be an honorable mention imo.  His AAs not only direct voidling aggro now, but his voidlings actually benefit from his armor pen + bonus AD (I believe it's a 1.0 scaling, although that's another subject entirely).  Destruction marks/quints (although I like my MS quints too much to part with them) would be pretty good for Malz imo.  In early dueling, Malz voidling imo are actually very important for his level 1-3 dueling (it makes him a very capable bully early in levels, and lets him farm well temporarily without pushing too hard), it's like a less reliable Orianna/Lux passive, and if a minion is chasing/zoning the enemy AP out of creeps (Voidlings are faster than most champs until 2nd tier boots), it's important that they're getting a lot of harass in.

    Quote from OldManEyeBrows»

    Malz minions people generally avoid. I mean, if you are good at getting people to be hit by them when you ult or whatever, be my guest, but the thing about Malz is his ult and you really, really want the person to be burned down. His E is a dot also and dots suffer more from lack of penetration. You also auto-attack way less with Malz, so overall I'd say no.

    AD Malz on Dominion though, maybe, sure!


     A common misconception is that resistances/penetration behave differently on DoT than they do on burst spells/damage.

    If you deal 100 damage upright and reduce damage by 30% based on MR you end up dealing 70 damage.

    If you deal 25 damage every second for 4 seconds and reduce damage by 30% based on MR you end up dealing 17,5 damage every second totalling 70 damage.

    So doesn't really matter burst or not, but take note: Hp per 5 can reduce Dot's making a high regen quite efficent vs dot spells while burst are more limited to cooldowns dot's are almost constantly on a target.

    That being said dot's are easier to cleanse/outheal.

    It makes sense MR is applied EVERYTIME you suffer magic damage, thus if you come to someone with a aegis of legion he will reduce the effectivness of any dots on you.

    Last edited by PhilNye: 10/14/2012 2:15:40 AM
  • #28 akts

    AD Kayle and Skarner deal heavy mixed damage. Skarner will not use dest marks in the jungle, though.

    All AS-based builds (they all suck, but still), wich includes but not limited to Kog, Teemo, Lulu, Kayle.

  • #25 Cerbereth

    As someone who owns 9 marks of destructions and 2 quints I really appreciate you making this thread. Originally I bought them to use them on the reworked Kayle, but reworked Kayle ended up being an ad Kayle rather than a hybrid Kayle, so now I run flat ad quints and armor pen reds like a carry when I got top.

    I have used them on Katarina and after trying them I feel like she is better off with 3 spellvamp quints and magic pen reds then rushing gunblade like normal.

    I never thought to use them on Kassadin however ty for the idea. I think Mordekaiser might benefit from them as well in certain matchups (like against chogath and ap sion) especially if your like me and you build gunblade on mordekaiser rather than will of the ancients. 

    Anyway 2 new things to experiment with in normals.

  • #24 mr_squeekee

    ive been using both destruction marks and quints on teemo. I always build him bruiser with wriggles/wits/mallet. I have loved them so far and the damage is noticable. yeah you lose out on what other quints you would use but end up with a full set of marks for both mpen and apen, which i think is worth it on someone like teemo. the apen helps since youre always auto attacking and allows you to get more lifesteal from wriggles, while making sure your on hit/dot does good damage as well as your blinding dart for harass. Haven't tried it on fizz although I could see it being a good choice. 

  • #20 DarkePacific
    Interesting article and a great read as always. However I think destruction marks don't have to be limited to a select few AP mids. Destruction runes could probably also be useful on a couple AD carries who deal noticeable amounts of AP damage with their AD. Ezreal, Varus, and Kogmaw are the first that come to mind.
    Last edited by DarkePacific: 10/12/2012 5:00:50 PM
  • #23 OldManEyeBrows

    I considered them but I can't recommend them. All of those guys will get more damage by taking flat damage marks. I mean, there are worse things you could take but Kog shreds no atter what, Ezreal needs damage for his Q...Varus is the only one I'd consider but I still think he'd do more damage taking damage reds.

    Overall I'd just stay away from it on carries. For them it's giving up about 9 damage to get 9 arpen and 5.4 mpen, and 5.4 mpen just doesn't do much at any stage of the game compared to flat damage.

    Oh, and last-hitting. It's why armor pen marks aren't taken anymore either. 

  • #19 monkyyy

    "Orianna is 6th" shhhhh dont spread the word about ori's high base dps, other people may note she has all unity and learn to counter how i play her

  • #11 Tomaj

    What about Mordekaiser? His Q requires an auto attack, plus he gains AD from the ghost. Also, Malzahar's voidlings scale from Malzahar's armor penetration as well, so would there be any consideration there?

    Last edited by Tomaj: 10/12/2012 1:37:52 AM
  • #17 Morkai

    Quote from Tomaj »

    What about Mordekaiser? His Q requires an auto attack, plus he gains AD from the ghost. Also, Malzahar's voidlings scale from Malzahar's armor penetration as well, so would there be any consideration there?

    No, neither Morde nor Malz need destruction marks, the part of the damage from these sources is mostly neglegible...

  • #18 OldManEyeBrows

    Agree. Morde hardly gets to use Q on anyone anyway, especially to the face. The ghost I hadn't thought of...would Morde's arpen go to the ghost? Morde ghosts usually are used for towers anyway.

    Malz minions people generally avoid. I mean, if you are good at getting people to be hit by them when you ult or whatever, be my guest, but the thing about Malz is his ult and you really, really want the person to be burned down. His E is a dot also and dots suffer more from lack of penetration. You also auto-attack way less with Malz, so overall I'd say no.

    AD Malz on Dominion though, maybe, sure!

  • #22 Tomaj

    Partially I asked about him because "Any champion that gets in a lot of auto-attacks but has a lot of magic based damage." Malzahar himself may not auto attack that much, but the minions do a lot of auto attacking themselves. Otherwise, Malz is more about his W than his ult, at least for team fights. And people are most likely ignoring his minions during a team fight, not avoiding them (laning phase is another thing entirely). As for auto attacking, in between cooldowns, there's literally nothing else for him to do, and he can make use of those auto attacks at a fairly safe range, at least in my experience with Malzahar.

    As for Mordekaiser, I don't know if the penetration goes to the ghost (it doesn't say on the wiki), but passives (Blitzcrank passive, for example) and on-hit effects from the ghost (like Madred's Bloodrazor) still continue to go to the ghost. I just feel like if a Mordekaiser doesn't use his Q in a team fight (even if he has to do it to the tank), he's definitely doing it wrong.

  • #26 Morkai

    Yes, like Tomaj said Malz is all about his W(and I'll add Q too) in teamfights. Ult is best used either as a defensive mechanism when someone goes face up with him, as cc to catch a running enemy but not part of his combo, that's only for 1vs1 and QSS takes care of it late-game...


    As for Voidling damage, yes arpen applies to them but the thing with flat penetration is that it has increasing returns the more you get, capping at the enemy defense of course, and like 5 arpen won't give any noticable increase by itself especially for the voidlings...

  • #8 RisingChaos

    You're overly complicating things. Destruction marks are worth 60% of the penetration flat APen and MPen marks have. Therefore, if you're playing a non-support that deals a roughly 50/50 split of physical and magical damage (up ot 60/40 in either direction), it makes more sense to go mixed penetration than all-in on one of them. And besides the occasional AD users or AS marks on junglers, penetration marks are by and large the universal choice of most damage-dealers.

    So really, all you need to know is which champions deal near-50/50 hybridized damage. Of what you listed...

    • Akali is mostly magic. She only needs AD to turn her passive on and only autoattacks as a means to proccing Mark. The bonus damage part of her passive is magic damage.
    • Cho'gath has high base AD and autoattacks for Vorpal Spikes, however Rupture and Feral Scream are both bona-fide magic damage nukes. He's mostly magic.
    • Twisted Fate autoattacks to apply PAC and proc Stacked Deck. PAC turns the entire attack into magic damage, including his AD and Sheen/Lich Bane if you've bought those. Stacked Deck is a magic proc. Wild Cards is still a magic damage nuke. He's mostly magic.
    • AP Teemo is basically Cho with a better on-hit and much lower base AD. All magic.

    Blah blah blah, you get the point. The only champion you listed that could be considered hybrid is Evelynn, even then not with the current builds people are using on her (all magic damage). She could be built for more hybridized damage though, with Hate Spike and Ravage being AD-scaling magic nukes plus the huge AS steroid on to the latter.

    There aren't many true hybrid champs. Some, like Jax or the aforementioned Evelynn, might actually prefer AD runes and they wouldn't fare much worse with pure APen or MPen anyway, as Mixed Pen runes just aren't that much more efficient. That's probably why they're so rarely used. They're only marginally superior on the few champions that would want them and most people don't want to waste the IP or have a spare rune page to use them in. But strictly mathematically speaking, I'm sure there are champions that should use them.

  • #12 Morkai

    Quote from RisingChaos »

    • Twisted Fate autoattacks to apply PAC and proc Stacked Deck. PAC turns the entire attack into magic damage, including his AD and Sheen/Lich Bane if you've bought those. Stacked Deck is a magic proc. Wild Cards is still a magic damage nuke. He's mostly magic.


    Lich bane proc is always physical, it doesn't convert through any means, making a major part of TF's dmg output being physical... Champions that rely a lot on Lich bane(I'm not discussing sheen/tf cause they are used by champs that do mostly physical dmg anyway) are very good candidates for Destruction runes...

    AP Fizz is probably the best candidate since his dmg(from what i've seen from friend's score screens) is ~50/50 balanced physical/magical. TF is also good iirc(I haven't had a recent game to check but that lich bane proc adds up to tons of dmg)...


    Thing is that whenever you get a LB on a champ he passively gains an 100% AP ratio into physical damage on his auto-attacks between spells which is A LOT(though for AP champs this also means that since they go for magic pen runes/items(sorc/void staff etc) that damage gets tons of reduction by armor)...


    For me, Lich Bane in your core build is 80% of the hint to check for damage ratios and consider destruction runes. I haven't had the ip to buy them yet, so I'm talking purely out of my mind right now, but since they are worth 120% of either the mpen or the arpen ones and there are champions that do hybrid dmg as well as items that allow such champions to do hybrid damage,, they're a good buy if you do play them.

    Again though, TF is an awesome candidate to try these runes out, as is Fizz. They'll provide a significant boost in dmg, mid game after lich bane is built and won't scale down as much with void staff since only half of their worth will be affected by the diminishing effect.

  • #16 Degrapher

    Poppy's hammer turns sheen/lich into magic dmg.

  • #27 Morkai

    :o Are you sure about that? Does it apply to all kinds of "on next attack: magic damage" effects?

  • #14 NicknameMy

    At Cho: This is why he said brusier cho'gath and not ap cho'gath. Bruiser gets items like Atma's Impaler, Wit's End and Trinity Force. Also he doesn't use his 2 abilities for damage, he uses them for utility.

    Last edited by NicknameMy: 10/12/2012 2:39:32 AM
  • #21 RisingChaos

    Trust me, Cho is one of my most used champions and Wit's End is a core part of my built. I still deal about 70-75% magic damage on bruiser Cho, let alone if you pick up Abyssal or actually build AP on him. MPen is always better.

  • #15 ChaosBloodterfly

    Arpen and Mpen have increasing returns the closer your penetration matches their armor/MR. Also, minions/jungle creeps only have so much armor/MR, and over penetration doesn't do anything there.

    So that complicates the math.

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