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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