Old Man Eyebrows' Guide to Season 3 Starting Purchases—over 40 Entries!

Should You Still Buy Boots and 3 Potions?

In Season 3, everyone gets 25 more base movespeed, and the first pair of boots only gives 25 movespeed. Furthermore, the adjustment of the item set leaves us with a lot more choices about what to purchase with our first 475 gold. You can buy boots and 3 pots, but should you?

I'm going to review the many possibilities for first purchases on all five roles. At the end I'll also post all the first recipe builds, with what build options they have afterwards. But first a reminder but the ever awesome Crystalline Flask.

This thing is literally a game changer. UNIQUE Active: Consumes a charge to restore 100 health and 40 mana over 10 seconds. UNIQUE Passive: Starts with 3 charges and refills each time you stop by your shop. Cost: 225. You can get away with starting this item in more than one situation. If you fill it up once and end up using it only 6 times and then sell it, it ends up being more cost efficient than potions!

AD Carry

Overview: unsurprisingly, AD Carry item choices are the most stale and have the least number of options. This might be narrowed to the same choice every time, but it's better to know why first.

  1. Doran's Blade: this is the most obvious of all picks, in all lanes. This is why. If you get boots and someone else gets Doran's, you have 25 more movespeed, and they have Doran's stats. It's not 50--it's just 25. That is small in the beginning game.
    In the past, A Doran's Blade gave you 3% lifesteal and you had 3% lifesteal on top of that from masteries. 6% of about 80 damage is 5 health per hit. This was after your boots. Now, there is no lifesteal in the offense tree and it's too high in the utility tree. Vampiric Scepter costs 800 gold and is built on top of a long sword. Your only options for lifegain is lifesteal quints or this. And this one gives you 5 health per hit right off the bat. The better sustain option is going to be this. 
  2. Boots + 3 pots: Doran's Blade is probably going to be the norm, but there are perhaps team comps in which even 25 movespeed cannot be missed. And what if you have a healing support? People that aren't paying attention or who are afraid to make a call will take this anyway: we'll see this a lot, and it might sometimes be the right move, but I doubt it will become the standard anymore, as carries are meant to farm, not roam.
  3. Longsword + 2 pots: Doran's Blade is much worse lategame. You have to buy a long sword to get a vampiric scepter. If you're playing passive, you can roll this way.
  4. Longsword + ward: Did you catch this one? This wasn't possible before, but with the price reduction (sword is 400 now), it is. If you don't want to waste your time on a Doran's as it's worse later game compared to it's older counterpart, you can get this and then get boots and your Vampiric Scepter on your first trip back. We're still rolling Bloodthirster, aren't we? The ward is something you'd have to work out with your support--if your support wants to rush Sightstone or not buy as many wards (which is really tempting with the Explorer's Ward), the carry might take one hit and go this. You're planning for an earlier recall for your support, and then an earlier recall for you. This option is very niche but also possible.
  5. Brawler's Gloves: if you know you're going Statikk Shiv, (which is similar to PD), Avarice Blade now gives +2 gold per creep killed. If you get this early, you can get an additional 400 gold in 10 minutes if you get 80 cs with it (4gp10 in a minute = 24 per minute x 10 minutes = 240, + 80 cs x 2 = 160, for 240 + 160).
    Alternatively, if you know your lane phase will go on for a while, you can get your zeal first. The 6% movespeed is almost equal to your first boots. A 305 movespeed champ is now 330, and 6% on top of that is another 20.  

    But really, the above options are all probably better. 


Now this one is much, much more exciting, due to the many build options available. What do you get first? Philospher's Stone? Kage's Lucky Pick? Go for Sightstone? Chalice? Emblem of Valor? Unlike before, supports now have options, and they need to think through what they buy before the game starts. You also can start with the Biscuit and Explorer's ward to mitigate the needs for buying wards and consumables at the start! The excitement of customization and building differently for different champs!

  1. Charm, 3 wards, 2 pots: the old standard. Viable. Remember though, Philosopher's Stone is much weaker than before. While it costs 100 g less, it gives just under half of its former hp regen, down to 7 from 15!
  2. Beads, 3 wards, 2 pots: the dropping of regrowth pendant means you can lean towards HP now. Some supports will definitely prefer this instead.
  3. Mana Manipulator, Ward: this doesn't just build into Soul Shroud anymore: it also builds into Kage's Last Breath, an awesome item that many supports are going to want to build. It is efficient, and it gives a free huge aoe slow to an ally, and it KEEPS THE 4 GP 10. With this item, Soraka won't the only one donating more spell spam to the carries. It's only one ward though, and as usual with that build, there's always drawbacks. You're also giving up SightStone or an early GP10 start.
  4. Bottle + 3 wards: Check out the new sexy! Never buy pots again! Who needs a philosopher's stone? From here, you can go straight into Pick or Sightstone and still have the 3 wards. I feel this will be the new standard. If you get a couple points in Wealth you can get 4 wards. 
  5. Charm, Beads, 2 wards (with wealth): From here you can get two pieces of your Philosopher's stone, and only need to pay the 340 gold recipe price for it when you go back. And you won't be a one-ward wonder. One beads gives you 5hp/5, which would take 5 minutes to heal you for as much as the bottle would. Obviously, bottle is better, but if you're going to go Philosopher's Stone anyway...
  6. Tome, ward (with wealth): bold indeed. Kage's Lucky Pick now builds into two different awesome support items, and as mentioned, one of them keeps the GP 10. Tempting to rush, but it puts a burden on the carry.
  7. Bottle, charm, ward / Bottle, beads, ward (with wealth or wait for 5 at fountain): if you really want to pour the spam on and a bottle isn't enough by itself, and you want to get a Phil Stone to get Shurelya's first, you could go this. Again, though, one ward.


Summary: more flexibility here, but it's much easier to decide here as most mids already know what they want to build.  

  1. Boots + 3 pots: If Doran's Blade might be the best start on the AD Carry, think about this at mid. Mid is a shorter lane. If your team strat is to aggressively assist in counterjungling, though, this might be an option. You will probably not need to leave your lane very much before you go back, though.
  2. Doran's Ring: A free mini Swain passive! 5 mana per minion killed. That's 50 mana per minute if you get 5 minions each wave. That's the equivalent of about 4 mana per 5. As with all the Doran's items, this one is worse late game, but the health and AP were the more important parts anyway. You can't go wrong starting this with a lot of champs.
  3. Ruby Crystal: For those that want to rush Haunting Guise or Rod of Ages, survive a burst war, or tower dive and flash out. Doran's Ring is better, but this is workable.
  4. Sapphire Crystal / pots: This will be a better start for Ryze than it was before, obviously. Tear is only 700 and it builds out of one charm instead of the now-relinquished Meki Pendant. On your first trip back, you can get your Tear and your boots. 
  5. Tome + pot: this is risky, but you can get to Haunting Guise or Codex more quickly and safely while starting this. I think it generally isn't a good idea, though.
  6. 2 Charms 3 pots: If you're going Athene's, you can start with 6 MP5, as two charms are required in it's building. You can get boots and a Codex when you go back. Still have the pots, too.
  7. Charm, ward, 3 pots: if you're going something with a charm in it that isn't Athene's, you can do a ward start, put it down at 3-4 minutes, and huge the side it's on. 
  8. Mantle, 2 pots: If you are going against someone bursty or, say, a LeBlanc, you could start this. Chalice is the only thing a mid will use to build out of this, though.
  9. Cloth, charm (wait at fountain for 5 gold): if you get that pesky ad mid and want to keep him away by farming with spells, you can start this.
  10. Cloth + 5 pots: This is better though.
  11. Flask, charm, ward (wait at fountain for 5 gold): If you think you'll be using a lot of pots, you can grab one of these. Three uses is 120 mana, and a charm gives you 36 per minute. 3 minutes and 20 seconds to equal the bottle, and 2 health potions. You can also grab an early ward, which you can use to help your jungler or put down close to when you get your first blue.
  12. Flask, charm, 2 pots: If you are scared and bad, you can also go this.


Summary: Top is complex as usual. You need to have a better idea of what you want to do from the beginning, and you need to have a really good idea of what kind of pressure your matchup AND the jungler will present to you.

  1. Boots + 3 pots: top will still be scary right-away if they have the right jungler. Also helps with running away...but only in certain matchups. We've gone through this. You can probably get something other than this. One can only hope!
  2. Flask, beads, ward (stay at fountain for 5 gold): some lovely sustain here, which is nice because top can be very unfun to play. Beads builds into Emblem of Valor, which is required for Aegis and two other items. Also, Tiamat. 
  3. Flask, charm, ward (stay at fountain for 5 gold): only do this if you're ap or you're rushing philosopher's stone, which, I must again mention, is much weaker. I think the days of Philosopher's Stone at top are over, but be my guest to try to prove me otherwise.
  4. Brawler's Gloves + Pots: I'd only do this if you're getting an Avarice Blade Item, and then on someone like Tryndamere or Gangplank. Avarice Blade builds into 4 items.
  5. Ruby Crystal: this builds into a million things for a top laner. Not Heart of Gold, but if you want to avoid Doran's items, or you want to get that Phage or Haunting Guise, this is an acceptable start.
  6. Doran's Blade / Ring: good sustain, but can hurt scaling, and I think in a worse way than it does for mid or bottom. Plus, Shield is probably better at top for most people.
  7. Doran's Shield: the stats on this got nerfed, but that 6 damage per auto-attack is crazy. Armor costs more, but if you go in the defense tree and get the new Block Mastery, that means that each auto-attack is reduced by 11 damage. 11! This item is awesome against a lot of matchups, including Irelia and Jax
  8. Long Sword + pots: this builds into a lot of stuff also, including hexdrinker, phage, and Vampiric Scepter. Remember, for real life steal, Doran's Blade won't cut it at the end game and you have to get a long sword to get it. If you're trying to burst early, you can rock this too.
  9. Cloth + pots: this classic is better than before, now that you sacrifice less movespeed. The state of the jungle is up in the air right now, but this item might protect you vs. pre-6 ganks better than boots will.
  10. Null + Pots: same as above, only for magic-based matchups.
  11. Cloth + beads (wait for 5 gold): Emblem of Valor builds into Aegis, and Bulwark will be a required item against teams with 2 AP sources. It's not certain that the jungler will be expected to get it, either, as they will be busy building a Spirit stone. Regen and armor both. More aggressive for building items, less safe than 5 pots.
  12. Cloth + charm (wait for 5 gold): Can't think of many top laners that would want this. Most APs up top are not mana-based.
  13. Beads + Charm + ward + pot: odd, and lending itself to Phil Stone. 
  14. Tome + pot: Bold and a little less dumb than before. I think Vlad or Rumble would go Ruby Crystal over this for a Haunting Guise start to be safer. If you want to get revolver, you don't have bonus health to start and you only get one pot. Dilemma.


Summary: this is almost as cut-and-dried as ad carries.

  1. Machete / pots: this will be the standard for most junglers.
  2. Boots + pots (the YOLO build): Fiddlesticks, Warwick, and who else? 
  3. Cloth / pots: Non-mana based junglers like Shyvana or Mundo should start this. So far, they are considered weaker, but that's before the Madred's Razor changes that went up last night.
  4. Charm + Beads / pots : for the people that are going to build Shurelya's. 7 hp / 5 will not be nearly as useful for jungle sustain as 15, especially in the tougher new jungle. People will generally not be able to do an early PhilStone anymore, but Nunu probably could do this. 
  5. Cloth / Beads (with wealth): if you're going to rush bulwark and go to emblem of valor, this is a good start. Or if you are going Tabi + spirit stone, or don't need all the pots.
  6. Cloth / Charm (with wealth): charm is used in the spirit stone, but wouldn't Machete be better?
  7. Doran's Blade: Who can do this, and why? Just get a lifesteal quint and use machete. The clear time speed gained from Machete over this will more than make up for the life gained.
  8. Machete + beads/charm (with wealth): the utility tree is chock full of jungler goodies. With the possible exception of the 4 Greed points required, everything is good. 3 points in Mastermind means 63 second smites. You can go 0/16/14 to do this. Yes, 21 in defense is awesome, but niche, ranged, or mage junglers that aren't Diana might want to go this route.
  9. Boots + beads / charm + pot. (wealth, wait 5 seconds): another curious build, this is workable on like, Warwick, don't know that it's the best idea. See above.

Recommendations for each role

I've reviewed a lot, and here are the choices most likely to see success and normalization.

AD Carry: Doran's Blade. Aggressive/risky build and for very specific reasons: Long Sword + consumables. Paranoid build: boots + pots

Support: Bottle + 3 wards, Charm + Beads + ward (2 with wealth)

Mid: Doran's Ring, 2 charms + consumables, Bottle + charm + ward (wait at fountain for 5), Boots + pots

Top: Cloth + pots, Doran's Shield, Ruby Crystal, Boots + pots. Less viable but possible: Cloth + Beads (wait for 5 gold), Long Sword + pots, Bottle + beads + ward or 2 pots

Jungle: Machete + pots, Cloth + pots. Exceptions have to be god junglers like Fiddlesticks, Warwick, or Nunu.

Also, you'll want to think about your curve and what you'll be building first. First small recipe completions include Mana Manipulator, Avarice Blade, Emblem of Valor, Kage's Lucky Pick, Warden's Mail, Haunting Guise, Tear, Codex, Catalyst, Revolver, Stinger, Glacial Shroud, Phage, Sheen, Zeal, Spirit Stone, Vampiric Scepter, Brutalizer, Chalice, Hexdrinker, Kindlegem. Some of these are being used more than they used to. Bigger single items (note some price adjustments) includes Sightstone (700), Chain Mail (720), Cloak of Agility (730), Negatron Cloak (810), Pickaxe (850), Recurve Bow (950), Giant's Belt (1,000), Blasting Wand (860), Needlessly Large Rod (1600), and BFSword (1550).

We have a lot more options. Playing on the PBE has been really fun, despite the lack of seriousness with which the players take the games, because when I buy an item, it always forces me to make choices. The way the trees  have been rearranged and the recipe prices reduced, combined with the increased passive gold flow. has really increased the frequency with which I'm purchasing after death or recall. We've got a lot to look forward to. 

What have you been buying to start on the PBE? Share your success stories.

P.S. : support is a lot funner and busier than it was before. Guaranteed. 

Old Man Eyebrows

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