What Riot did for Bruisers/Tanks for Season 3

Here are the goals and purposes of the season 3 changes so far:

  • More gold for supports and jungle (passive and jungle gold increased, lane gold decreased)
  • Supports have more decisions and more to do, less boring
  • AD Carries nerfed (Items and masteries)
  • Jungle less camp reliant, more even in power and gold 
  • Assassins more viable late game (not sure how this is brought about; penetration changes discussed later)
  • Bruisers/tanks will have more options and top lane will be less frustrating (????)

The jury is still out on assassin changes (though I’ll address the later in a bit), and so far there’s not been much discussion on what bruisers would buy. Well, it’s not the same. But, there is a lot that is a step in the right direction. Masteries, items, and penetration discussin within.


Here’s how the masteries are nice to bruisers:
1. Defense tree isn't open to everyone else, just you (and junglers and tanks); you don't have to share armor and mr bonsues with others so easily
2. Honor Guard, Juggernaut, Block, and Tenacious are all better tank masteries for late game. You're only losing movespeed, and the nerf of indomitable plus early jungle ganks will (hopefully) help.
3. AD carry tree is the same. Less crit damage, no lifesteal, frenzy mastery instead. Overall about the same.
4. AP is the same also.
5. By virtue of that, bruisers are a little stronger.


Damage costs less, but that is actually not so simple. AD Carry items as a whole do not cost less, and PD, IE, TF, and BT all are worse though they cost about the same. Yet bruisers can get damage items that are as high damage while only needing to build a Pickaxe. Tiamat, Blade of the Ruined King, Guinsoo’s Rageblade, Spirit of the Lizard Elder, Sword of the Divine, and Zephyr are all new bruiser/tank damage items. Even Ghostblade was improved. None of them require a BF Sword. “But armor costs more,” you say. I suppose. Damage costs the same for you both in components, but your items are easier to put together. Brutalizer now builds into Black Cleaver. Attack speed got hit too. Every item except for Triforce, curiously. Recurve bow is 100 less gold but 30% attack speed instead of 40%. Dagger lost 3%. Berserker’s Greaves lost 5%.

So maybe I should just get the same stuff. Like all this.

Remember these babies? Every single one of them was nerfed. One was deleted. Some of them are still good. Others are purely not options. They were all frustrating because they either weren’t worth finishing, they finished into a support item, or they cost a lot of money to finish, or they were less expensive, low-mid tier items. You’d be level 12 and have 2200 health, 110 armor, 95 MR, usually able to get away but not able to kill anything. You’d have to hope for a mage or carry to come to kill someone, or a jungler to cc them to death. If you WERE the jungler, you had to just run half the time if you’re alone. You’d try to get around this by getting safe champions that get just get their one triforce (Jax, Irelia), or ones that had high base damage and simple shenanigans (Darius, Yorick), or ones that don’t need damage items (Darius, Olaf) or just get a mage that can handle a longer lane (Rumble, Vlad). Boring. Let’s look at these items.

  •  Doran’s Blade doesn’t scale as well as it used to. And the sellback price got reduced to below 200.
  • Philosopher’s Stone is now 7/9 regen. Shurelya’s gives 10/10 regen and only 250 health and only 10% cd. It costs 100 less. For 100 less you lose 20 hp/5, 5mp/5, 5% cooldown, and 80 health. Philosopher’s stone sells for 280 when it costs 700.
  • Ninja Tabi is the same and still good, thankfully, but it costs 150 more gold for the recipe.
  • Phage costs 150 for 25 less health and 2 more damage.
  • Lantern has 8 less damage and 2% less lifesteal.
  • Wit’s End is 50 more gold and has 10 less MR.
  • Hexdrinker has a 50% longer cooldown and 5 less MR.
  • Heart of Gold has been removed.

What do you buy now?

Say hello to your new overlords.

Health costs less overall. Ruby Crystal is the same, but Giant’s Belt is more affordable. And health items are plenteous, and cost efficiency has been dumped into health stacking. Armor gives you plenty of cloth choices where you don’t have to get more than one chainmail all game to stack up armor.

Doran’s Shield gives you 6 damage off auto-attacks (unique). That is very strong versus AD Carries. Block gives you another 5. Then if you got Honor Guard, that’s another 3% less damage taken at the front. If you get hit for 150, take off 4.5 for 145.5, then reduce it by 11 for 135.5, then if you have tabi take off another 13.5 for 122 before you take off 30-50% off armor. At any rate, you can take some more punishment with the masteries, and with this shield. 

You can buy a cloth armor or ruby crystal and hold off on deciding what to do with them. You will find something for them, guaranteed.

Do you know how many items the Kindlegem builds into? 

I know I just got done dissing Shurelya’s, but it’s still an appropriate item for some people as that is how great the active is—it’s just that it’s a niche item over “every support and jungle and half the tops get this item”. Locket is a support item that might work on top or jungler. It’s only 2000 now, down 225 gold. Yet it has 100 more health (425 total! That’s a lot for such an inexpensive item), and 10% more cooldown. The active is meh, but you can use it against ganks, ignite, and trades or to help tower dive.

Zeke’s gives 20 damage instead of attack speed, which is much helpful to a top laner. And lifesteal got nerfed—all lifesteal items except BT give you just 10% lifesteal now, making the buff from Zeke’s stronger.  

As for armor…

Atma’s might be viable again!

“You’re crazy, old man!” Am I?  But, it builds out of Avarice Blade instead now. The GP10 item that feeds into a cost-efficient mid-tier cost item for bruisers is now not Randuin’s and Shurelya’s, but a severely nerfed Shurelya’s (built out of super nerfed Phil Stone) and…this. Atma’s is better now. It’s cheaper and builds out of Avarice Blade instead of Cloak of Agility. It lost 3 crit, but the rest remains the same and health is easier to get. Warmog’s is not as efficient, but that’s only overall—it’s more efficient before a lot of the stacks are gained.

Sunfire Cape costs 110 less gold.

Frozen Heart is still awesome, despite its nerf. One of its pieces is Warden’s Mail, which can be rushed by going cloth, cloth, +500. It’s 50 armor and slows attack speed by 20% on attackers. Always. You don’t have to finish it.      

If you’re jungling, Spirit of the Ancient Golem gives you full machete upgrade buffs, 500 health, 30 armor, 14 hp/5, 7mp/5, and Tenacity. 2400 gold.

Iceborn Gauntlet combines Frozen Heart and Sheen to give you 125% (instead of 100 on sheen or 150% on TF) sheen procs, 40 AP, 60 armor, 500 mana, 15% cooldown and the ability for your Gauntlet proc to hit multiple targets and slow multiple targets. AD Carries and Mids get all that AOE spam. Tiamat, Hydra, and especially this item puts bruisers back in the game. This item singlehandedly enables tons of people that would normally build Triforce to go tanky. You can slow on command. Also, it costs 800 less than Triforce. A Nasus or Poppy proc on this would go for 125% instead of 150%, but do it on a small AOE basis. Not that I like Nasus, but if I did…well.

Spirit Visage costs 650 more and you lose 50 health on it. But you get 20 more MR, 5% more cooldown, and the effect got buffed to 20% more. Pots and bottles and heal moves and regen items and lifesteal/spellvamp are all going to come into play when you’re at top and all that just got bigger. This is not Force of Nature, but the stats that go with it are also useful. This will be bruiser's primary MR item, and after the changes you'll see that it's a uniquely efficient MR item.

Runic Bulwark we’ll get to in a sec.

There’s also the bottle. If you keep needing to buy pots, one of those gives you the equivalent of 2 health and one mana pot per trip. It sells for 90 and costs 225. If you use all the charges twice, it pays for itself. This helps against snowballing.

The boot upgrades are better for tops and jungler. Homeguard lets you teleport gank and is again an anti-snowball upgrade that lets you recall more. Captain lets you push harder and lets other people get to you quicker. Alacrity is flat for everyone. Furor is for single-target moves and attacks. You’re more likely to have that up top and it’s a great escape/chase tool.
So you can still go for Triforce, but Phage and GP10 items were nerfed, so consider your other options.

MR, Mages, and Penetration

Banshee’s Veil Resets every 25 seconds that you’re out of combat. I don’t think it’s going to catch on due to stat nerfs, but it’s a Catalyst Option. Spirit Visage seems better.

Before you write off and assume that mages simply got better due to the nerfing of MR items, remember that health comes easier, bruisers have better burst items, penetratrion runes and items got nerfed, but defensive runes did not. “Armor and MR give only 5 in the masteries now,” you might say. Well, Sunder only gives 5 armor pen now. So what.

You also have to see this sucker:


Runic Bulwark builds out of Aegis. Aegis is weaker, but still good. For another 1150, including a mantle, you can upgrade to to Bulwark. Bulwark gives 30 MR (30!) in the aura, and 60 total on the wearer. This makes it the highest single total MR item in the game (on the wearer), and it doubles the MR of Aegis, both old and new. That is a huge “screw you” to AP.

Furthermore, Sorc boots are 15 instead of 20 penetration now, and the marks are 7.8 instead of 8.5. And Haunting Guise and its upgrade are 15 mpen now.

If a Mage has boots and Guise and marks, that’s 8% and 43 penetration. A champion who took absolutely no MR items, masteries or runes would have 60 with this aura added on, still leaving about 10 points of MR. If you got flat MR glyphs, no MR items for yourself, and you don’t scale in MR, and had this aura given to you, you’d have 72 MR before the 8%/43 penetration.

The changes are meant to give mages a chance against bruisers and bruisers a chance against carries that aren’t insanely fed. On paper, it looks good, but PBE games are not like real games, unfortunately, so real tanking remains to be seen after plenty of games. I remain optimistic though.

Let’s say a person gets to 100 MR. Let’s say a mage has magic penetration marks.

Under the new system, with Haunting Guise and Sorc shoes:  the 8% goes first, then 38 after that, which leaves 54. Under the old, the person would have 49 penetration, followed by 10%. That leaves 46. In this situation, the old penetration is better for the mage. The new is better for the bruiser.

With 150 MR vs. marks and Void Staff and Sorc Shoes, then. Under the new, that’s 40% taken off, followed by 23 penetration, which leaves 67. Under the old, 29 is taken off followed by 46% for 65.34. The old is still better!

What if vs. that 150 there is Void Staff, Sorc Shoes, and Abyssal or Guise? Under the new, it’s 40%, then subtract 43, for 47 left. Under the old, it’s subtract 49, followed by 46% for 54.54. Finally, a circumstance that puts penetration and burst in a better light late game for assassins. After all that, another 7.5 points.


Of course, MR is supposedly harder to get these days, except Aegis will be on every team, and any time a mage is a problem Bulwark will enter the picture. A bruiser has Spirit Visage. A very important thing to note about Visage is that it has 50 MR on a 2200 gold item. In Season 2, there was no such bruiser item, that is, an item that costs that low in total but still gives a heap of MR that a Bruiser would want. If you have this, 12 MR from glyphs, and Merc’s, you’ll have 117 while only buying Merc’s + one item with MR on it. If your jungler has Aegis, you get another 15. If your jungler has Bulwark, you get another 30. If YOU are carrying Bulwark, you won’t need Visage.

And again—mr and armor runes are the same. Penetration ones were nerfed.

Overall, the penetration, particularly of the magic kind, isn’t going to own you so hard, so fast--you just both have a better chance to kill each other.

What I’m Getting At

I don’t think Riot intends to make mages the best or bruisers the best. Instead of it being the triangle of bruiser kills mage, mage kills carry, and carry kills bruiser while jungle and support don’t get to kill anyone, they tried to make it so that all classes were on a more equal footing. People hate ad carries and hate playing solo queue only to discover they can’t win because the person on their team that counters your problem is bad, and because of that no matter how good you or even two of you are, you still have an autoloss (example: weak AD carries and mages who don’t know what to do about Singed, who is pushing down the whole map). Rather, the changes seem to be more geared towards making everyone more able to kill everyone, without letting it get too out of whack. I think this applies to all the roles. The consensus seems to be that Jungle and Support got the love. Did bruisers and tanks get enough? We’ll see. But, whether they did or not, these changes are how Riot was trying to show it. It can’t be said they didn’t try or that their try was weak. Rather, they reworked every item, and every stat, the whole collection, and added half a dozen items. 


Old Man Eyebrows

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  • #66 Talamare

    Atma has never stopped being "viable" its just becoming godly again

  • #61 cheezzyy2

    you say dorans sword got nerfed? im not sure about straight stats but the passive is a lot stronger than the minor lifesteal it used to have. the 5 hp on hit is wold be like 5% lifesteal early if your target had 0 armor. as it is i would guess that lvl 1 a dorans sword is equivalent to around 9% or so.late game got nerfed for it sure but its not really a late game item.

  • #62 OldManEyeBrows

    Most people hold on to them, though, is the thing. 

    And it now sells for 180 or 190 something, instead of 238. It's even less than half now to sell one.

    Buying one, okay, but buying a second one is not such a good idea anymore. 

  • #63 Douggie

    Thought the passive was unique...a second one would be downright stupid. If that's not a nerf, then I don't know anymore.

  • #64 OldManEyeBrows

    Shield passive is unique, the other two are not.

  • #65 Douggie

    Then I stand corrected

  • #58 nochange
    Thanks for the post
  • #47 abrb2011

    I merely want to say thank you for putting this together, it's put a lot of the upcoming changes into perspective for me and given me tons of thought to chew on.

  • #41 Cerbereth

    Well as it looks like bruisers will be health stacking (again) it seems like the new Liandry's torment will be a must on mages who can use it like Cassiopeia.

    Also is the higher cost of armor and magic resist a nerf to champions who scale with it like Galio and Malphite? I do like the idea of Galio with Runic Bulwark though.

  • #42 exacerberus

    I tried a bit Liandry and it's generally an underwhelming item on most champions- Would you take Liandry's instead then Rylai on Cassio? Nah, you just want the Ryali's slow to kite better and more HP, and  anyway Liandry's just a Blackfire Torch wannabe item that does damage on current health. So, since you wouldn't get it in place of Ryali, are you gonna get it before Void? Nah, Void is better against high resistance tanks, and even against squishes once they get some MR and their jungler/support get Runic Bulwark. So you get it after Ryali + Raba + Void? Maybe, to stack it Liandry's passive with Ryali's one, still WotA is better at this point, especially if you're running 2ble AP comps. Last slot will always be Zhonya's (if you always have Golem buff available) or Grail (otherwise, still get Chalice earlygame). Besides, you don't need Liandry's passive to kill someone with Cassio: you just chain-machine-gun them down with Twin Fang spam.

  • #46 kirillian

    You don't buy BFT for the passive. You buy it because it has one of the best stat allocations and cost benefit ratios for an item in the game...before the passive...and then you get the passive for free...Liandry's is probably not a counter to health stackers...it's just a great upgrade to Haunting Guise which has great stat allocation. I don't think Liandry's is bad really...it still gives you good dps and itemization...I think everyone's just upset because of how stupid broken BFT is that every other item just pales in comparison...granted, BFT is a REALLY exciting item...

  • #48 exacerberus

    I never said Liandry's a bad item, I said that there are better options (Ryali for Cassio, probably Abyssal on most of other champions, since it grants an aura debuff and a lot of MR). Liandry's is still a solid upgrade for Hunting Guise rushers, and may be very strong on say... Rumble, Eve, etc, but I wouldn't bother getting it instead than Rylai's on Cassio.

    About BFT, yes it's totally broken, OP as fk.

  • #49 IvyBlade

    What about Morgana who isn't really buying rylai ? Yeah she tends to build Abyssal but as I tested - Liandry improves her farming greatly (you can kill ALL the minions with just one tormented soil lv 2 [if I'm not mistaken]) and it greatly increases her dmg potential when starting from ulti (slow) and placing in the correct times dark binding + tormented soil... She can miss her binding and kill successfully (if I remember correctly). It also seems to increase her dmg overall (which tends to fall of late game). Any thoughts about this ?

    And what about Malzahar and Swain ? It seems Liandry should be quite good on them - Cuz they're the champions who try to outfarm and eventually outharras and outsustain others...

    This are only thoughts,,, I'm in no way a "pro player"... It just seems it may adress some of the issues... Why exactly isn't Morgana banned in higher elo/picked in tournaments ? Can someone explain it to me ? Big thanks

  • #50 exacerberus

    Liandry's is pretty solid on champions with DoTs and close to OP state on Swain (granted you already got some defensive items), because even if the item passive itself grants half damage on DoTs and AoE spells, you just abuse the Decrepify slow to double it and the Torment to amplify it even more.

    On Morg I'd take Abyssal over Liandry's any day. On Morg you just want Sorc Shoes (Distortion Enchantment) + Zhonya's + Abyssal (700 range debuff aura -so strong with 2ble AP comps-, MR, AP) + Raba + Void no matter what. Last item can be GA (supertanky, hilarious with Zhonya's active and Black Shield, everyone runs away from you, none bothers/dares to try to hit you) or Grail or even WotA. Anything else is sub-pair.

    People don't get Morg anymore in competitive play for 2 reasons: lategame her damage falls off (yet her CC stays good), and... they simply forgot how powerful she is.

  • #52 Douggie

    Tormented Soil at only lvl 2 by the time you have Liandry's? What are you maxing first? Tormented Soil alone kills caster minions at lvl 3. That's a bad example of it's benefit, but the other ones are fine. 

    Had a Malz on the PTR full life combo me. Liandry's + Deathcap + Void + DFG. I had just over 3100 health and 170 MR. 100 - 0 in one rotation. Seems pretty good.

  • #53 IvyBlade

    That's what I try to say... Without Liandry's you need 3 lvl of Tormented Soil to kill caster minions... With Liandry's you need 2 lvl (maybe third) Tormented Soil to kill ALL the minions (maybe not siege). That's a benefit for me because Morgana shouldn't focus on maxing w... She "is lvl it" only as long as it isn't killing the caster minions in "one shot". What I try to say is - If I have this one point more for shorter cd on my binding or shield (depends on the situation) I'm on a winning position.

    It was just a "testing game". I rushed Liandry just to see how could it benefit me. On PBE it was possible to kill the caster minions with tormented soil on lv 2 with full ap runes and talents for something like "ignite on cd" etc... It's in no way viable... But you get the point ? 

    Morgana greatest "asset" is her safe farming... If I can reduce the rank of tormented soil required to kill minions - I'm on a winning position. And I want to put emphasis on the fact that when you have Liandry you are killing ALL the minions in one shot on lvl 3 for sure... Not quite sure about lvl 2... Not only caster ones... That was my point.

    Edit : Before someone say's that I'm out of my mind... I'm not taking into account her utility or cc which are incredible... What she lacks compared to Cassio/Anivia is a way to finish off low targets/kill somebody easily. The only thing she gives back that they two can't give is her shield. It's nice but you can take it in "one go" with a single spell. They have the farming tools she has, they have utility (even if not AS strong, still they have some stuns, slows etc. - some more, some less reliable) but they have greater "burst/dmg" potential. When Morgana misses her binding - she's screwed. No one is going to stand in tormented soil. Cassio can spam the hell out of twin fangs. And Anivia can rely on her slow + targetable burst combo.

    Last edited by IvyBlade: 11/30/2012 4:54:56 PM
  • #55 Douggie

    The problem I was expressing is that she is a "safe" farmer because of her Tormented Soil coupled with her passive.  Tormented Soil is her farm spell and a big part of her kill combo, you shouldn't delay maxing it except to maybe get an extra point in her shield for rough lanes.  By the time you have Liandry's, your Soil should be maxed and killing a creep wave on its own which doesn't help that part of your argument.

  • #60 IvyBlade

    I'll say it again - I'm not a pro player in any way. 

    Just in my small experiance - she often is forced to farm safely and don't get pushed/forced to recall. For that I wouldn't max her W. I think - the less points I give there the more points I have on my more vital spells. I tend to start from pool and "max" it to the point it's killing caster minions in one go. Even on rank 5 it doesn't take the melee ones in one shot (if I remember correctly... may be wrong).

    I tend to max first my Q spell - it's my initator, it's my "escape ability", it's my bread and butter. If I (by any means) screw my Q - I'm going to get harrased the hell out of me or in worse scenarios get killed. I usually won't get the kill if my Q is screwed anyway.

    My E is my "protection" spell for me and for others. "Maxing it" gives me lower cd which is good because we want the cc reduction/immunity - not the power of the shield. Against Talon and the ones that "are thinking it gives me problems" the power of the shield is not the main benefit. It will last as long as you need for the cc reduction - you just have to play smarter and predict when he wants to jump on you with his silence and slows. Against bursty casters you have to play smart too - the dmg reduction is nice but it usually ends in one blow. That's why shorter cd on this is good. I tend to pick one point in it or try to "max it" after my Q. Depends on the situation.

    Her R doesn't need explanations...

    What I try to say is - if I go with Morgana for the kill on mid. It's usually the combo of Binding, Ultimate and Soil (just the skills, it's not a rotation) - Usually people can't survive this combo - whenever I have my W on 5 lv or have it on 2-3. 

    And in late game her dmg is not a thing to be scared. The "smart teams" will not let the ad carry/support get binded and wiped to oblivion. The bruisers and tanks will go "in front" trying to disturpt or "shield" the Q.

    Long story short 

    It is vital for her Tormented Soil to cost as low on mana as it's possible and kill as many minions as possible. If she goes for the kill she "pulls" everything perfectly and gets the kill anyway or screw her Q/R and not getting the kill anyway. Conserving both mana and health (passive, lower costs and maybe blue (which can be given to someone else with proper setup)) and staying in the lane is the main point in laning Morgana. It doesn't take in account her utility and other benefits.

  • #40 Thanatias

    Loved the article...I'll be back for more!

  • #33 LolLolLolJake

    "I don’t think Riot intends to make mages the best or bruisers the best. Instead of it being the triangle of bruiser kills mage, mage kills carry, and carry kills bruiser while jungle and support don’t get to kill anyone, they tried to make it so that all classes were on a more equal footing."


    Except for AD Casters, because fuck those guys.

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