Do Supports Really Need Philosopher's Stone?

A lot of supports rushing Philosopher’s Stone and yet, in the LCS, we about never see supports build it. Today I’m going to take a look at all the reasons why hurring a Philosopher’s Stone is a bad idea.

What a stone gets you

Supports usually build Philosopher’s Stone because they want the gold regen and they want the regen in lane for more spells, and they think it will help them buy more wards.

If you start a rejuv bead, it takes two and a half minutes to get as much health back as it does from a pot. If you start a charm, it takes two minutes and 35 seconds to get all the mana back from a pot.

Once you get to Philosopher’s Stone this changes--for mana, it takes 55 seconds to recover a mana pot, and it takes about a minute and 50 to get back a health pot. 

A stone costs 700 gold, which equals twenty potions. It also covers the cost of a potion every 70 seconds after you buy it with it’s Gold per 10. If you get a stone at, say, 10 minutes, then own it for another twenty after that, that’s 100 gold for all your regen needs!

But it doesn’t work that way. Even most Stone buyers will buy potions before completing it, because you know that a charm or bead won’t cover all your needs--even if you buy charm, you’ll need health pots. Most buy two or three at the beginning of the game.

And do you need it? How often do you back to base because of running low on mana? Health, due to sustained sieging and poking? How often do you back to base because you’re out of wards or lost a lot of health due to a gank or an all-in or a death (either side)? All those are more likely.

Stone works best on poking or mana hungry supports, and not all supports are created equally mana hungry. Leona only really occasionally uses her E to try to go in. If it misses, she won’t use her Q. It costs 60 mana. She'll get it back within a minute. How often will there be a real opportunity to use it every two minion waves?

Janna is deceptively not mana hungry. Why? Because her ult has a long cooldown, her Q has a moderate cooldown, and her W is often too dangerous to use. Often, Janna’s do not run out of mana, and even more often is when they don’t need to go back because of it. If they managed to use it all without dying, the issue is she was getting a lot of assists or fending off a lot of ganks or kill attempts. If she had to use all those spells, a Stone alone won’t help--pots would work better. And it’s not your fault anyway--it’s your carry’s for getting hit by Nami’s Q for the fourth time in a row or your mid or jungler for not counterganking or following.

At a certain point, even pokey champs like Lulu won’t be able to poke much later in the game--a Q won’t really hurt or cause sustain issues, and she’ll want to stay in the back. And yet a stone doesn’t get purchased ‘til the late party of early game! Then it sits, doing almost nothing in half of games during mid or late.

Sometimes it can be useful on her, but not every game demands it. And remember, there are still pots.

Philosopher’s Stone and warding

A lane is not well-warded with only one ward. You can get away with having only one ward, or heck, even zero, but that’s only if the other jungler is getting owned, or you already snowballed the lane. This is generally not the case and you shouldn’t assume so. A lane is decently covered with two wards, and fully with three. There’s river / dragon, tribush, and brushes.

Ideally, you’ll use a couple at a time and keep your eyes on the minimap and face in the bush for gaps. If you’re purple and they know you warded river, they’ll come through the bush or the tribush, and you’ll be ready for sudden appearances.

If you buy only consumbables you’ll have at least four wards (not including the small one), and that gives you roughly 6 minutes of coverage.

In 6 minutes, if you have 21 GP10 total, you’ll get 726 gold from passive generation. Even if don’t get a single creep or assist, you’ll have about enough money for a Ruby Crystal, 3 more wards and a pot. In another 475, which only takes about four minutes, you can get a
sightstone. Another 600 is Ruby Sightstone.

A Philosopher’s Stone costs 700. It pays for itself after 23 minutes and twenty seconds. It doesn’t actually help you buy wards because it you’re paying 700 gold for it in the first place.

And, the thing Sightstone-haters forget: you can replace if someone pinks you or if you need to “move” a ward. You’re taking a stack out each time; it buys you more vision time than two wards does, because two wards covers decently for 3 minutes, but a sightstone does for 6.

So, a Philo Stone build with both stones and boots costs 1975 for regular stone and 2575 for ruby. If you buy a Philosopher’s Stone, that’s two wards every minute, and you’ve spent 700 already. Plus you will have to buy more regular wards to depend on, so you won’t be finishing your sightstone until later.

A build without Philosopher’s Stone that has Sightstone and boots costs 1275 on regular stone and 1875 on Ruby, and will have purchased fewer regular wards on the way there.

One other thing: in a teamfight, what else can a support use besides defensive stats? Cooldown reduction. And most supports buy a Kindlegem. That costs 850, a little more than Philosopher’s Stone. That’s why it is a very common third item.

Also, if you want to be a boss support, having 5 or more out a time is very boss, especially when your team knows what to do with it. Five wards every three minutes is much easier to pay with a Ruby Sightstone--and you get to that point more quickly

TLDR: in this article, Eyebrows points out why high-level players go straight to Sightstone and usually do not get a Philosopher’s Stone first.

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Comments

  • #123 Vanordran

    This started to become not to say obvious, but a necesity in the last few games i've played as support, i think one of the main directives of supporting is, it always better to buy wards than finishing an item, i used to build a philosopher's stone every game, but as i keep playing the junglers become more active, and so does the mid laner, i have faced the need to keep warding, at first it would feel weird, not making anything in early game(besides the sightstone) but buying wards, but this pays itself, the vision provided is way too important the more the game advances, i googled this to check what other people thought about it, i came to decide to stop using the philosopher's stone, because I cannot afford not having wards at any given moment

    Last edited by Vanordran: 9/26/2013 9:45:31 AM
  • #119 wisefury

    I feel like the whole lets look at the gold and wards is too shallow and completely forgetting 2 things, first the rushed shurelia(its huuuge if you know how to use it,carrying games as support comes down to using this item,this is your way of telling your team lets back off/engage/reengage it makes it simpler and more effective in unmeasurable ways in gold-platnium/lower diamond elo) and the second is the health dominance this is the selection of the sightstone to get a stronger all in(180 or 360 hp when you have 700-1k is huge) and the ensurance of having hp cause of pots.But its also considerably riskier in the sense if your wards get pinked you might liderally get yourself into a point of no progression which a 700g item with better pacing mitigates.Also in addition to that if you go sightstone you cant pink as much.And also you don't consume your regenation you never know when that 50 hp regenated in a fight can save you(shurelia). Basically what I am trying to say is that it usally comes down to is the situation and preference.

    Sorry for messy post, and have fun waging ward wars :D BB

  • #116 noblepesant

    Successful early ganks snowball a lane like nothing else in this game. Starting off with wards early, as well as a few health pots allows you to be significantly stronger when it matters most... level 1-3, where you set the temp for the lane phase. If you can control bottom lane early, and dominate vision.. you make it nearly impossible for the enemy to gank you, and open up the opportunity for YOUR jungler to sneak in for a kill. 

    I am not against a philo stone, but starting fairy charm makes no sense to me. I'll take a pink or 2, and a bunch of greens over a fairy charm all day long. Pink the tribush, pink whichever lane push they ward, and watch the enemy lane play SUPER passive or risk getting ganked. Mix in a few health pots and a mana pot, and you can afford to trade with them as well. 

    Last edited by noblepesant: 8/13/2013 11:11:09 AM
  • #120 buuuurp

    Because it's solo queue and junglers aren't dependable?

  • #122 Demagogue_lol

    Well, and its because junglers like to only buy 1-2 wards, and those arent always pink.

  • #111 TheCoccolino

    I can't really agree with you. I agree with you when you say that you don't have to rush it, but since junglers don't build shurelya's anymore, you can easily get philo for extended laning phase instead of gem. then close it into a shurelia wennever you can.

    Last edited by TheCoccolino: 8/12/2013 10:05:53 AM
  • #108 Cerbereth

    I'm a little confused. Is the point of the article just that we shouldn't rush philosophers stone or is that we shouldn't buy it all?

  • #107 Watermeat

    The only times I get philo stone is if their team has a lot of cc and I'll be building a mikaels late game for peel, so I get a philo early on to make the most of the passive gold (seeing as I'll be getting it eventually anyway), or on the extremely rare case when I'm taking heal or CV instead of exhaust (usually if they've got an ezreal and no assassins. Like I said, extremely rare) and I'll be getting a miracle for the cooldowns.

  • #102 Gragas87

    What exact items do you start with when rushing Sightstone then?

    I'll have to start trying this, granted Thresh is usually banned for my games and I've been playing Nami and Lulu but if I play Leona more it would be helpful.

  • #103 SteppenKat

    Try going 2 normal wards + 2 pink wards + 3 HP pots. Gives you enough earlygame coverage + ability to secure bush control.

  • #104 BossPikachu

    Even 1 pink + 1 faery charm + 2 green + 2 HP pots could be a decent start. 
    I often find myself having enough mana regen with masteries and faery to still use skills frequently enough.

  • #109 SteppenKat

    Faerie Charm only helps if you play poke supports - in this case the person is asking for a Leona setup - . I find superior the ability to deny bush control by having an extra pink. You don't even need to place both, it's enough of a deterrent to just have it most of the time. Many supports would refrain themselves of spending wards for the bush if they know you can break them each time.

    Also, starting Q with Leona helps you break most wards when they're placed using her AA + Q + AA reset combo.

  • #100 Bystekhilcar

    Uh... sorry, Eyebrows, but feels like you missed the point in your tl;dr. The stuff covered in the article isn't really 'why you get Sightstone first'; at most they're minor additions to the main points, which are a) early health items are fantastic for lane-fights and b) it's more gold-efficient than Philo, assuming you'd be buying wards with the gold from Philo.

  • #101 Falseshadow

    Quote from Bystekhilcar »

    Uh... sorry, Eyebrows, but feels like you missed the point in your tl;dr. The stuff covered in the article isn't really 'why you get Sightstone first'; at most they're minor additions to the main points, which are a) early health items are fantastic for lane-fights and b) it's more gold-efficient than Philo, assuming you'd be buying wards with the gold from Philo.

    You know you have a problem when Bystekhilcar has to make a comment of this nature.

  • #64 TheIncapable

    What about blitz? No one mentioned him... Should he get philo? He gets oom very quickly without a mana/regen item.

  • #65 KesslerCOIL

    Quote from TheIncapable »

    What about blitz? No one mentioned him... Should he get philo? He gets oom very quickly without a mana/regen item.

    you want to rush SightStone on him because he's all about being tanky.
    When i play blitz, i go straight for sightstone and mobility boots, along with upgrading to ruby sightstone. I then ward clear like crazy with Oracles because its usually midgame by this point.

  • #105 BossPikachu

    If you run Out Of Mana on Blitz quickly, you should try to miss less Rocket Grabs.

  • #112 HELLruler

    Rocket Grab already costs a lot of mana, so the best solution may be not using it until really needed

  • #117 TheIncapable

    Quote from BossPikachu »

    If you run Out Of Mana on Blitz quickly, you should try to miss less Rocket Grabs.

    At level 6, when you miss one rocket grab, you already have to wait until you're full mana again or you can't use your full combo. If you use W on top of that, it'll take pretty long. Perhaps I should get a few mana potions instead.

    Last edited by TheIncapable: 8/21/2013 5:41:09 AM
  • #118 Raefe

    Besides the mana requirement, anyone who knows how blitz works can get aggressive for the duration of the cooldown, since most of blitz' threat is gone for a while. In my mind that's often almost a bigger reason to not miss the grab.

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