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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  • #87 Raefe

    Quote from Vsin »

    Dafaq is Structure Tanking?  I know what Hull Tanking is, but not Structure o/

    Personally, I'm still in the mindset that I do want a Shurelia eventually, because in that regard the Philo really does pay itself off by dramatically dropping the cost of the Shurelia while still giving me sustain.  Maybe I'm just so old fashioned that I refuse to drop my Philo even though its stats got nerfed...what is it now, 4 times?

    However, I am in the camp that advocates skipping the Sightstone in lieu of...well, anything else really.  I've been having a blast in Normals by running various Mages as supports and buying 2x Doran's Ring + Wards.

    Even if you want to "support" with an ap caster, still build sightstone. It'll save you gold otherwise spent on wards, meaning you can buy more ap ;)

  • #98 Vsin

    Evidently, I fail at sarcasm.  I thought bringing up HULL Tanking and the o/ emote would've been enough.  Maybe I should've used o7 or 7o instead...but I can't use the latter because I'm not in BNI.

  • #40 Disturbed667

    MY friend who is a Main Support Nami always gets Chalice of Harmony into Mikael's Crucible. Honestly, the Philo stone isnt worth buying on supports who have a heal. You'll usually never run out of mana with Chalice and the Crucible is a nice item to upgrade against any strong CC in ganks or team fights.

  • #38 s_stefanik

    What do you recommend for starting items? just wards and pots? 
    and what supports would you consider more mana hungry?

  • #37 B3hr7

    The way I see it is this. If you're playing as a poke support (Lulu, Soraka, Sona, etc) then philo is a quick pick-me-up from the regen bead that you started with. Like boorboor mentioned below, the regen doesn't look flashy but that doesn't mean it's not useful. For other supports, sightstone is better as a rushed item, but ofc all supports will buy this early.

    When I play Thresh, I have a more unusual start. Emblem of Valor is an item I like to purchase on Thresh because it allows an early build from the regen bead I start with. This pads my armor up (which was nerfed recently) and provides my ADC buddy with health regen which can be immensely useful during the laning phase. Later on into the game, Banner of Command gives me AP (useful on all the skills except the E's passive), armor, health regen (team aura) and 10% CDR for myself as icing on the very delicious cake. Plus it's a fairly cheap item to build. Finally there's the active which promotes cannon creeps into super cannon creeps (or whatever you call them). On siege comps, when my team is attacking a lane I previously promote a creep on another lane to help push that lane out. When that lane gets too close to turrets, either the enemy has to send someone and thus make it a 4v5 situation or allow the turret to die, thus giving my team a tactical weapon to use in such occasions. You even get the gold from the creeps that your promoted creep kills, which is always handy for cash-strapped supports.

    Finally, if for some dumb reason the jungler (or top laner on ocassion) doesn't buy Aegis and you have an emblem of valor, well, although I really do not like buying this item on a support, someone's gotta build that aegis....

  • #49 Jolan

    the jungler or top laner should not be buying aegis after the nerfs anyway, it's a horrible personal item and with the addition of solari, if someone else builds it, the support is left with....nothing useful to build. Their entire build would be sightstone and boots of mobility and oracles elixir.

  • #58 Krebstarr

    ^This.  Locket's better on support than jungle after the changes.

    Last edited by Krebstarr 8/10/2013 2:48:50 AM
  • #36 Clashje

    Mr eyebrows you fcked up. Mana regen is often printed as /5s. Leona at level 1 has 12 mana regen per 5 seconds. that means it takes 62.5 seconds to regenerate the mana you used on E and not 12.5. Its a good article, but that is just a huge lie, that tackles the riliability of the entire blog.

  • #96 ohnitiel

    Just which Leona starts with her E? 90% start with Q, W in case of invades. Never seen someone start with E.

  • #32 ohgreatone32

    Since we are talking supports and build paths....starting oracles, especially if there is going to be a shift away from regen items in lane and more toward wards.

  • #34 boorboor

    Quote from ohgreatone32 »

    Since we are talking supports and build paths....starting oracles, especially if there is going to be a shift away from regen items in lane and more toward wards.

    Im expecting to see a bit of this honestly. Specifically, starting oracles in lanes like Ashe/Zyra.

    400 gold, sure, but you WIN the vision in that lane, hands down. You have plants and hawk shot, they have... nothing. you kill every ward they place, you keep an eye on their support so they don't go anywhere tricky, and you flat out win that lane for 4 minutes.

    drop your explorers ward at around 2 minutes, make sure there's a bit of vision in the river, and until 6 minutes into the game you have total vision control over the bot lane. And, if they're totally blind, its easy to push them to the turret, then do a quick sweep loop with your ADC to clear out the river/your jungle between waves.



    Last edited by boorboor 8/9/2013 5:09:08 PM
  • #46 registermyaccount

    That's actually a really nice start that I've never thought of.... the only problem I see is that if you're vs an aggressive lane, you might want to permaward the side bush on their side of the lane, while controlling yours. Having only 1 ward and an explorer's doesn't really help do that. On the other hand, if you're vs Sona, or somebody who needs vision to poke, like Lulu, I think Oracles start is really good. I just don't think it'll work vs Blitzcrank or Thresh. Or is there something else that I haven't thought of?

  • #74 boorboor

    Quote from registermyaccount »

     I think Oracles start is really good. I just don't think it'll work vs Blitzcrank or Thresh. Or is there something else that I haven't thought of?

    yeah thresh and blitz, and a couple of others require a different strategy, but you'll know that beforehand,

  • #26 Aquamadur

    Biased article. Not a single word about building philo in other items. Your arguments are so biased

  • #27 darkChozo

    Pet peeve speaking here, but biased probably doesn't mean what you think it means. 

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