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.  

Best,

Old Man Eyebrows 

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