Why You Should Start Using Cooldown Runes

Old Man Eyebrows with something practical you can start using right now to help with your game: using cooldown glyphs.

I’m going to preface this with a disclaimer I’ve used before, but haven’t noted in months, so I’m going to remind you. I’m not saying always do a certain thing. I’m saying sometimes do a certain thing. There are very few things that you should “always” do, such as getting Nashor’s Tooth on Kayle Mid, Warmogs on lots of people, an early Vampiric Scepter on AD Carries, or Sightstone/PhilStone. And even then, two things: some of the “always” choices are successfully ignored, and the ones that are “always” are extremely obvious. It takes plenty of repeated public presence for people to all agree on a principle being “always” good, such as jungle Vi. If it’s not about universally agreed on, you must be persuaded of it, even if it is actually good. Vi got her bugs fixed but has basically always been the same champ. Zyra was a good support from the get-go. The debate only ended when it was demonstrated frequently.

When we write these articles, we don’t get to have everyone demonstrate it. We can only use our own experience, and use reasoning and persuasion to get you to try and see for yourself.

So, reminder of where we are: cooldown glyphs.

Previously I wrote about how it is harder to itemize for stats on fewer items. Cooldown reduction is one of those stats, and the recent patch only made it worse.

Cooldown Itemization: then and now

In season 2, everyone got Shurelya’s, which had 15, and tops and jungler’s got Raduin’s, which had 5. Frozen Heart was awesome and had 20 and it was present in most games. If you got both, that was 20, and there was also a mastery in the defense tree that gave CDR too. CDR was easier for people to get. Mages never did and still don’t have a problem getting CDR, and back then jungler’s, tops, and supports had access to it. AD Carries didn’t need it. CDR wasn’t a thing to worry about.

This season it’s different and you just assume you’re going to have 0-14 or 3-14 CDR and that’s that. The first line of offense make those 4 points highly accessible, but that’s it.

Here are your choices for cooldown now:

Elixir: 10 (lasts 3 minutes, gives AP).

Boots of Lucidity: 15.

Kindlegem: 10. Upgrades: Shurelya’s, Locket (10). Spirit Visage, Zeke’s (20).

Fiendish Codex: 10. Upgrades: Deathfire Grasp (10); Nashor’s, Athene’s, Morellonomicon (20).

Stinger: 10. Upgrades: Zephyr (10), Nashor’s (20).

Brutalizer: 10. Upgrades: Black Cleaver, Youmuu’s Ghostblade (10).

Glacial Shroud: 10. Iceborn Gauntlet (10), Frozen Heart (20).

Only on completion: Spirit of the Spectral Wraith, Spirit of the Lizard Elder (10).

Only 7 have 20, only one has 15. Of the ones that have 20, one is Frozen Heart, which no one gets anymore because you need health, one is Nashor’s, which is not good on very many champions that aren’t Kayle, one is bad (Zeke’s), one is niche (Visage), and three are AP-based that build off of Fiendish Codex.

The rest are 10. Note that the items with 10 are generally better, particuarly when it comes to people that aren't building AP.

MR Glyphs, AP Glyphs, or CDR glyphs?

I suppose the first thing we should discuss is the common reason not to use them, which is that there are better options. The only glyphs used with any level of consistent seriousness are MR and AP, both flat and scaling. So in order to persuade you that cooldown glyphs are worth your time, I’d have to persuade you not to take AP or MR first.

Let’s start with the most useful, MR. MR glyphs are taken for a lot of reasons. They have the highest gold value amongst glyphs, and without them you have no magic Resistance against mages. In Season 2, boots and marks made for 29 magic pen, followed by 10% pen after that. This season, it’s 8% (that’s 2.4 if you have 30) followed by 7.8 mpen from marks and 15 from shoes for 23.8 +2.4 pen for 3.8 MR left instead of 0. If the mage has hybrid marks, you have 6.1 MR left. But most follow up with a Haunting Guise or Abyssal these days.

Point is, if you don’t have MR glyphs you’re gonna get hit hard, early.

But if someone gets Haunting Guise AND Shoes, and the marks, that’s 8% of 42, which is 3.36, plus 30, plus 5.5 or 7.8 pen also. This means you’re at zero anyway if you are a non-MR scaling champion.

Speaking of scaling, note which champions scale with MR and which don’t. The ones that do tend to be bruisers, AD assassins, or champions that stack health or have lots of defensive abilities. The ones that don’t are going to be AD Carries, Supports, and mages.

In the first group, you’ll probably be buying Warmog’s, which counters mages. That or a lot of damage that lets you burst them down first. In the second group, you won’t be buying many MR items. AD Carries rarely buy MR, and neither do supports.

But for bruisers and junglers, well, you’ve got health-stacking, you’ve got fewer CDR options than before, and MR is the only other alternative. Is 6 CDR or 12 MR harder to replace through items? CDR comes in tens. Brutalizer, Locket, Spirit of the Lizard Elder…perhaps Gauntlet? Great items, but also only 10 on full completion.

You should also remember that unlike Season 2, you now have Barrier, better health-stacking (both incentive to and ability to), and a better Locket. There are a lot more tools to deal with magic now than just MR, even ye olde OP Force of Nature is gone. It is never coming back.

You might also have a Jayce mid or an ad assassin mid. You might get against a team with moderate magic. Or there is magic, but it’s only on a top that you have a lot of experience playing against, and you’re not worried about it.

I’m saying there are a lot of things that can compensate for a lack of MR.

Non-MR scaling mages have the most to think about, then. Do their opponents build penetration? Are they getting an Athene’s or Abyssal or Twin Shadows? AP or MR? CDR is the most likely to lose in this situation. Another thing to note about getting CDR on mages is your build. If you’re not getting Athene’s, Morellonomicon, or Nashor’s, you’re not getting a 20 CDR item. You should have 4 from masteries and that’s it.

As for AP glyphs, well, that’s partially a matter of preference. The true story is that you need to make a chart of the cooldowns and ratios for your champions and figure out whether you’ll get more spells from cooldown to get more damage off compared to AP. This is a matter of the champion you pick and the style you play. I have recommendations on who I would consider taking CDR glyphs below, and those not on the list I wouldn’t do. One is Anivia, who has way high ratios and really low cooldowns—it’s safe to say never take CDR on her.

Take Lux. I’d get CDR on Lux because she’s squishy and never wants to get hit. Real Lux’s don’t get caught, don’t stack health, and just get utility. With max CDR she has a 24-second ult at level 16. Even if you do get Athene’s (and you should be), you’ll have 24 CDR. What will you buy in addition to that? The rest are not practical, have too much CDR attached, or cost a lot of money. Deathfire Grasp might be the best choice, but that requires getting in a range you don’t want to on.  You could do boots, perhaps, but what if you need the penetration? Athene’s provides MR anyway, and you get Chalice early. The question here is can you get 30 CDR instead of 24 at the expense of 70 MR instead of 82? Answer: yes. You can.  

I’m not saying always take CDR. I’m saying have a page for it. One of my first articles was about flat vs. scaling MR glyphs, and I pointed out that a top-level support had two pages that were identical except for flat and scaling MR glyphs. If you’ve got a number of pages, you might want to stick one in with CDR runes.

Here are some other reasons to consider taking them:

More poke: if you go tear / chalice or you’ve going an Athene’s champ, you might be sieging a bit. Cooldown runes will be great for the late game if there are few team fights and lots of dancing and prodding and poking.

Magical line of greatness: Some champions have a point where if you enough cooldown reduction, it’s possible for an ability to be always on, almost always on, or your packaged abilities just become overwhelming more present (again, see Lux). Other examples of this include Gragas’ W, Kayle’s E, Nautilus’s, W, Annie’s E, Olaf’s Q (8 – 40% = 4.8 seconds, and the reduction from grabbing it is 4.5; plus more chances to ult to escape if you get caught), Nunu’s nerfed Blood Boil (at 20% CDR his W is always on like it was before at 0 CDR), and Xin Zhao (check his numbers with reduced CDR and the additional CDR from his Q to his other abilities).

Other champions that I am willing to consider glyphs on (not in ranked order, with some much more strongly than others): Diana, Eve, Garen, Elise, Cho, Renekton, Graves, Janna, Hecarim, Fidd, Corki, Blitz, Jarv, Jayce, Karma, Katarina, Kha’Zix, LeBlanc, Malzahar, MaoKai, Morg, Nami, Nocturne, Olaf, Rammus, Rengar, Riven, Rumble, Ryze (meh), Sejuani, Singed, Sivir, Soraka, Skarner, Swain, Syndra, Taric, Talon, Trundle, Tryndamere (especially AP), Thresh, Twitch, Urgot, Vi, Volibear, Zilean, Zyra. This list looks big but it’s only about half the roster.

Covering your sustained damage deficit: if using a champion with poor sustained damage, you may need cooldown for the utility and to increase your pain and usefulness (support, some ability-based junglers and bruisers)

 Cooldown Ratings: real applicability range

This is a rough draft I’m working on and its 100% theoretical. The most scientific someone could be would be to watch hundreds of pro level fights to get a gauge for their average length. Here, I’m assuming short fights are 10-15 seconds, medium are 16-25, and large fights are ones that last longer than 25.

Instead of just looking at a number, why not view it in more practical terms?

5 seconds or less: You will have this ability numerous times during a team fight, as in three or more, unless the fight is disengaged almost immediately (someone dies immediately, Janna ult, etc.).

6-10 seconds: You will have this ability once or twice each team fight, and only more if the fight lasts a while.

11-25 seconds: You will have this ability every team fight, and if the fight lasts long enough you might get it a second time.

26-45 seconds: You will have this ability every consecutive team fight, and if the fight is really, really long, with split-groups, healings, poke, jukes, chases, and people leaving and reentering fights, you’ll get it again, but this is uncommon. If a another fight breaks out right after you recall or because of an opponent respawning from the previous fight, or you have gone from one small group fight to another in a different section, you’ll likely have this ability again.

46-80 seconds: You will have this ability every big team fight, as long the teams regrouped and recovered fully inbetween (all respawned, all healed,etc.)

81-130 seconds: You will usually have this ability every big team fight, like above, but not always. It depends how long the previous fight was and whether you use it at the beginning or ending of the fight. (Note: this should be taken into account when evaluating a cooldown—initiating ult vs. non-initiating ults).

131+ seconds: Can meet the criteria in the last group but it is possible and common to have two full consecutive fights without this ability. The most common abilities to fit this are summoner spells. Most ults won’t fit in this, but the cooldown of level 6 and 11 ults of Eve and Soraka, and all cooldowns of Shen and Karth ults also apply.

When thinking about taking glyphs think of this chart. Think of what items you’ll get and whether you want to chunk cooldowns. Think about how much magic damage is on the other team and how much you’ll deal with it through health-stacking and shields and health buffs.

If you do take some cooldown glyphs against a non-magic heavy team, share your story of how well it works.  


Old Man Eyebrows 

This week's eyebrows:


Did you enjoy today's article?  Check out my past blogs here!

Follow me on Twitter @OldManEyebrows! Please send me eyebrows you find!



  • #47 Douggie

    Blue buff, I think that covers it well

  • #46 sgtcolon

    Quote from Deliqe »

    So the conclusion is simple: cdr is an easily available stat in form of a blue buff/blue elixir and as such the cdr glyphs are wasted in majority of cases since they can't compete with mres which is expensive and important. Currently they are viable only on long ranged skill shot based poke mids (key word *long ranged*) and an okay choice on supports with heals. 

    Although if you the mentioned long ranged poke mid then better pray you are not going against Akali.

    Good summary. Pretty much ranged supports and long ranged AP mids. However, against certain team comps (mostly physical dmg), you could potentially run them on a few others like Kha'Zix etc in top/jungle. You could also run them on AP Trynd to avoid the need for Boots of Lucidity (Nashor's + blue elixir would be enough).

  • #44 Cerbereth

    Well I do own a full set of cooldown glyphs and quints which I used to use regularly, but I really don't anymore. The glyphs give about 6% cdr which combined with masteries will give you 10% which is ok except for the fact that the lowly kindglegem gives you the same thing plus 200 health for a pretty low price.

    Also I generally only find it worthwhile to build 20% cdr if your a mid because blue buff grants a huge 20% cdr and you will probably have it most of the game.

    So if I am playing lux I go 4% masteries 15% ionian boots plus blue buff equals 39% which is pretty much max. If your enemy is taking your blue buff regularly you have bigger problems than maxing your cdr.

    Some mages don't like cdr either like Cassiopeia who really doesn't need it at all except maybe for her ultimate.

    Champions who don't use mana can find it a little more difficult to itemize for cdr so the runes might be a little better for them.

  • #43 exerior88

    Also another thing to consider is that each cdr% is more important than the last cdr%. 30% cdr is a 42% dps increase for each individual spell but 40% cdr is a 66% dps increse. Those cdr runes max out the cdr potential for some chars. Vlad spirit visage elixir and cdr runes increse the ramp up time on e and let you theoreticaly use 3 qs in one ult and 2 in dfg ult combo.

  • #41 JioDerako

    One more thing to consider is that for many supports, you'll be getting 10% CDR from masteries (4 from offense tree, another 6 deeper into the utility tree). Add on 15% from boots, and at least another 10% from Shurelia's, that sticks you at 35%. Zeke's is a decent last-item for some supports, but it's not a priority. Locket is 10%, but again, it might not come until later.
    In any case, if you're building CDR boots, that's your only source of odd-numbered CDR; if you want to maximize efficiency, getting just 5% CDR from runes would be best (that's 8 glyphs, you can have the last glyph be an extra point of armor, or whatever).
    That being said though, as soon as you buy a second Kindlegem, you're well over the CDR cap now. Most supports are eventually going to end up with over 40% if they build normally, the question becomes, how much do you want to hit 40% early, or how much would you rather have some AP or MR?
    There's lots more to keep in mind; Sona generally goes with a 0/13/17 mastery page, because her health is so low early. She's losing a lot of CDR as a result, but at the same time, if the opposing support, ADC, or jungler has any magic damage, she doesn't really want to sacrifice the MR either (AP carry will penetrate right through it, but hopefully Sona is avoiding them early in the game).
    Some supports might want to pick up Mobility boots early instead, and start roaming; CDR runes will possibly give them a bit more power early, since they're unlikely to have more than one or two CDR items finished at this point (probably just masteries and Shurelia's this early into the game). AP and MR might not be as important for roaming either.

    If you're not a support, you probably won't have the extra 6% from utility tree, and won't have the CDR boots, so the full 6% from the glyphs is more appealing in general. I think you summed all this up very nicely in the article itself (I may try grabbing some CDR blues for Talon and/or Renekton, since having their ults off CD more often may make them safer in the long run compared to a bit of early MR; plus, neither of them can get any real offensive power out of their glyphs otherwise).

  • #40 TehLlama42
    I used to run CDR Glyphs on Top Malphite a ton. Against bad enough players I could turn a skill matchup into a lane-shoving contest, which ignored the mana issues with spamming his Q - after level 7 I would simply take 12cs, shove the lane to turret, and roam mid or jungle and win games without even making plays at top lane.
  • #39 vitocapo2

    what they have to do is buy ionian boots + brutalizer +4%cdr from masteries. Why would you want those UP berseker greaves shit

  • #37 Dj0z

    Another great article from you, even though it's no news to me. Flat CDR glyphs are in my pages for ages (i can hardly find a use for the scaling ones; don't buy them even though the cost is attractive).

    I fancy CDR runes on supports and champs with an awesome "Magical line of greatness" as you call it.

    Supports because they heal more consistently with CDR than with AP, and get utility from it (more CC etc) and because my builds include the mana to actually benefit from it.

    Manaless champs with low ratios like them too, but i personally find the other options to be better on most of them.

    Magical line champs: you should add AD / hybrid Malz in there, right now you have him in "willing to consider". More spells = more voidlings = higher sustained dps and tanking, earlier, which is especially noticeable when jungling -- Malphite is also happy with higher Q speed boost uptime and higher W armor/AD & splash steroid uptime, and the rest -- AD caster Varus also loves those CDR glyphs since itemizing for epic Q+E poke burst leaves little room for CDR items (Ionian's/Youmuu's/BC) to allow true Q spam -- Similarly, see Ziggs.

  • #36 venor31

    Hi @OldManEyebrows,
    I have a question about lux. Which cooldown glyphs ur recommend on her a per lvl one or flat one ? And if it's the flat one to get 30% cd with Athene’s, is not necessary to put 9 cooldown glyphs.
    Or maybe it's better to get cooldown glyphs per lvl to get the same cdr at lvl 13 but u get 9% cdr at lvl18.
    So I ask ur opinion, for lux which one u think is better to use ?

  • #34 Rozbojnik2

    I am the first person who using cdreduction glyphs from 2 years -.-

    I'm love cdr on Garen and Riven <3

  • #35 Yrenir

    What if you are behind, the enemy takes your blue, the jungler fuckes it up ("oh, sorry, madreds proc"), etc. and you won't have that +20% CDR from the buff?

    It is a possibility and CDR glyphs can help you a lot.


  • #38 CoolRoot

    When i'm in that situation i just buy an elixir. 33% is not as good as 40%, but it's usually enough. Getting CDR glyphs on athene mids seems wasted, because if you're losing you'd probably be better of with scaling MR anyway and if you're winning/equal you will hardly use them at all after ten minutes.

  • #31 Itachi

    Article lies. I can't start using it now to improve my game because I already use it. :(

  • #29 Blacknsilver

    I wouldn't mind getting CDR on my mains but MR is just too damn important. Or armor, if you're a support/ADC. (yes, I rune armor blues, sue me)

  • #22 TheRogueThunder

    Perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but it's important to remember that MR can be reduced BELOW zero through flat mr reduction when combined with mr penetration items. So to cut things off at sorcerer's shoes and haunting guise as you do in this part:

    "But if someone gets Haunting Guise AND Shoes, and the marks, that’s 8% of 42, which is 3.36, plus 30, plus 5.5 or 7.8 pen also. This means you’re at zero anyway if you are a non-MR scaling champion."

    this isn't a full representation of all the possible builds. Don't forget items like abyssal scepter, which as an aura reduces by a flat 20. Another think to take into account is inbred shedding abilities like Wall of Pain, Tormented soil, amumu's passive, etc. 

    But i suppose with the increased ap values on deathcap, dfg, and zhonya's, full penetration builds are looking less amazing, so I guess what I'm really trying to say is... uhh...

    I have a fish in my pocket, COME AT ME BRO!!!

  • #26 Yrenir

    Nope, it can't be reduced below zero just by the combination of penetration and reduction from runes, masteries, items. The MR-minimum will be 0.

    It can be reduced below zero if you have a Fiddlesticks, Amumu, Karthus on your team (or any other champion with built-in mr-reduction) but this is the only case.
    And CDR glypsh are worth the price i guess. I'm using them for a time now on some of my champs (mostly on supports and Lux), but maybe i should try them on other champions too. :)

    Great article, thank you.

  • #42 keybler86

    A few others champs, too, and also Malady and Abyssal (if and when anyone actually builds them).


    Still correct though, in almost all cases you will be "safely" sitting at 0 MR anyway. A whopping 12 MR probably won't save you alone, but I would wager a guess an extra 5% CDR very well may.

    Too bad flat CDR runes are damn expensive. 820 per? Preposterous!

  • #21 kuroichi

    Not a good item on Eve IMO bec she has poor mana management 

  • #25 TheRogueThunder

    Whatchu talkin bout, Eve is one of the few mana based AP mids who doesn't get boned  in the mana department if she doesn't have blue buff. She regenerate's 1% of her Max mana every second while invisible (blue buff gives you 25 flat regen, then .5% of your max mana). That means she can clear a wave or two, go invis and roam, and by the time you get there you'll have more than enough mana for a full round of spells+ a little Q spamming.

    Honestly if Eve didn't benefit MASSIVELY from the 20% CD, I'd let my jungler keep it every single time. 

    If you are having mana problems with eve, don't forget, you CAN farm with auto attacks. And it's good to go invis, even if you don't plan on leaving lane, as the words "eve mia" puts fear into people's hearts.

    Last edited by TheRogueThunder: 2/20/2013 2:01:26 AM
  • #18 Isysar

    Hmm... really interesting article. Perhaps I'm still stuck in the old mindset. I'd still run MR glyphs against Magic Damage lanes, but other than that, you've intrigued me a lot. I'll have to think on this. I think you're somewhat undervaluing the 20% CDR options (Zeke's, Spirit Visage, and Frozen Heart), but I like your thoughts overall. In my experience, the meta is becoming more of a sustained damage meta, given all the health stacking. It's much harder to truly global people (kill them in under a second with massive burst), especially for mages. One way to raise sustained damage is indeed CDR and you're certainly right: there are many champions I just want loads of CDR on. 

    I've also thought about blue buff. For the longest time, people would talk about just running 9/0/21 for 10% CDR, getitng blue buff and then a blue pot, and your CDR was covered on mages. This is all great and good in theory, but even for people who buy Athene's, I'm increasingly feeling that it's actually quite risky to just count on blue buff being there for you to reach the cap. Burst mages are less viable than ever. If you're planning Annie or Brand, I think you're better off increasing your sustained damage (via CDR and Lichbane for instance) than trying to global someone. Also, look at how the pros are playing: the hotly contest every blue buff. In the client featured ranked games, I'm seeing this being done a lot too. I feel that if you're playing Lux mid, assuming you'll get 40% CDR from blue buff late game is a risky thing to do b/c it can be stolen. Or you can have it and then die with it and be screwed for the next team fight. Personally, on almost every mage I buy Athene's 100% of the time; given it's buff to 20% CDR, it simply replaces blue buff. Relying on Athene's and then a mix of runes/masteries/items/blue pot to get 40% feels much safer to me.

    Lastly, when I play with my friend who junglers, I've actually been letting him have blue once I've got Athene's, or even just a chalice completed. I simply don't NEED the blue buff, and in a world where I'm probably already stealing his wraiths, 20% CDR on a jungle Jarvan, Vi or Nautilus makes a lot bigger impact, nevermind putting them ahead of the enemy jungler in gold and experience.

    Great article. You've made me think a lot, and if I'm buying chalice early all the time anyways, your CDR glyph argument has a lot of merit, even on mid laners. Definitely going to look into making CDR glyph pages. Thanks eyebrows!

  • To post a comment, please or register a new account.
Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes