All About Season 3 Item Efficiency

All About Season 3 Item Efficiency

With the release of dozens of new Season 3 items and the reworks of many current items, the mathcrafters here at Reign of Gaming have had no choice but to work out the math for everything League-related.  We've already seen posts from writers like Old Man Eyebrows and Gentleman Gustaf analyzing the new item starts and items like Runaan's Hurricane, but today I thought we'd look at items in League of Legends on a macrogame scale.  As many of you may or may not know, I was primarily known for my Item Efficiency Spreadsheet that was featured on the reddit /r/leagueoflegends sidebar for nearly a year.  Today's A DIFFerent View/#VVinning article focuses on updating this spreadsheet in preparation for the new Season 3 items as well as to explain how the term 'item efficiency' works within the game.

Click here to see the VVinrar's Season 3 Item Efficiency Spreadsheet

What is item efficiency?

Item efficiency seeks to calculate how efficient each item in the game is based on the most efficient basic (or if unavailable, most efficient intermediate) item possible. For example, to find the cost per statistic of AP items, we use Needlessly Large Rod (20g/AP) as a base item because it is the most efficient pure AP item in the game ahead of Amplifying Tome (21.75g/AP) and Blasting Wand (21.5g/AP).  Since Needlessly Large Rod has the best Gold:AP ratio, it is used as the base efficiency comparison for all items that give Ability Power.

In application, to calculate the gold efficiency for a certain item, say a Mejai's Soulstealer with 0 stacks, we take the cost of the item, 1235 gold, and subtract the value of all statistics conferred by the item (20 AP * 20g/AP).  In this example, an empty Mejai's has a gold efficiency of -835; in effect, if you are freshly buying a Mejai's, you are only getting 400g of stats for 1235g, or a net loss of -835 gold.

Generally, items with negative item efficiency have side effects that you are paying for which means that you are effectively paying the negative gold efficiency for the listed effect.  Items with positive X item efficiency mean that you are actually saving X gold for the unlisted statistics and any effects that are listed for the item are effectively free when you buy the item.

While we strive to make item efficiency as simplistic as possible, there are several drawbacks to this methodology.  There are some statistics that are difficult to quantify due to lack of base and intermediate items such as penetration and regeneration.  These statistics are referred to as secondary statistics because they are often stats that do not directly increase the power of your champion.

How is item efficiency changing for the new season?

As the design team has stated before, some offensive statistics have become less expensive for Season 3 while defensive statistics are now more expensive to itemize for.  It is important to note that even though lifesteal is now more difficult to itemize for, the overall cost has stayed around the same (45 cost per point to 45.56).  While some statistics have become more expensive to itemize for, part of this can be attributed to intended changes to game design (Early game aggression -> lower sustain) and the damage formula change which makes penetration a more valuable statistic.

One important distinction that you should keep in mind are that the bottom seven stats in the table below (Rejuvenation Bead/HP5) and below should be considered secondary statistics because they are 'more difficult' to calculate the efficiency for.  This is because they are either stats that are only useful at a certain point of the game (regeneration) or the base item used for calculations also has other significant stats as part of its cost (both penetrations, movement speed, spell vamp, CDR, movement speed).

Please excuse my sh*t MS paint skills.

Base statistics that are more expensive:

  • Armor
  • Magic resist
  • Health regeneration
  • Mana regeneration
  • Penetration
  • Attack speed

Base statistics that are cheaper:

  • Attack damage
  • Movement speed
  • Cooldown Reduction

Notable item changes on the PBE

  1. One of the most interesting changes (to me, at least) is that elixirs are now universally useful.  Both the Elixir of Brilliance and Elixir of Fortitude give you around 830g of stats at level 1 and 1030g of stats at level 18.  This is a far cry from the current elixirs where Elixir of Brilliance is far superior to the other two choices.
  2. Despite the recent addition of the "out of combat" rule, homeguard boots + teleport ganks are still a 800 MS unstoppable force if your enemies don't see you coming.  I suspect that the item may be problematic/abusable in the future, but only further testing will show whether or not this is true.
  3. Warden's Mail is no longer the statistically most effective defensive item in the game.  I'm not quite sure which item takes the defensive crown for now, but pending further analysis the new Warmog's Armor appears to be the most gold effective -- you're getting your full gold's worth in health when you buy the item, and that is before you add the Force of Nature style passive that is now on the item.  Compare this to the Season 1 Warmog's, which would never be gold effective even with full stacks of health and regen.
  4. Rylai's Crystal Scepter is now gold efficient on just base statistics provided -- you don't even need the slow on spells to be gold efficient on the item now.  I'm not sure I agree with the gold buff because it's already a pretty commonly bought item.
  5. Upgrading from Quicksilver Sash to Mercurial Scimitar may be very strong (I hesitate to say overpowered) on AD carries.  QSS has a base efficiency of -850, but upgrading the item and adding AD/MS to the item only decreases efficiency to -933 (loss of 80g on 2200g upgrade).  Compare this to the Hexdrinker/Maw of Malmortius upgrade that loses you 600g in stats for upgrading.
  6. Banner of Command may be abusable on AP casters with the promote/creep push feature.  Way back in Season 1, Aegis of the Legion had to be nerfed to not effect minions because creeps would push too hard -- I think something similar may happen here where mid lane will become a much harder lane to freefarm.
  7. Hextech Gunblade is much stronger with its new built-in passive -- attacks now reduce the active's cooldown by 3 seconds.  It was already statistically efficient before the change.  I expect a potential nerf in the future to this.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading today's post!  It means more to me than usual that you're reading this article, as this is the topic that is closest to my heart and because it took almost a dozen hours to completely remake my Item Efficiency Spreadsheet in preparation for this article.  Please note that I haven't completely finished and the version that you are seeing is a 'first draft' without the inclusion of tenacity, Dominion or Twisted Treeline items as well as a table of aura inefficiencies.  Check back in the coming week as I finish updating the spreadsheet with efficiency of passive effects and better item notes.

Please note that this is not a post where I am telling you what items are good.  Do not take all of my comments at face value.  I'm looking at the numerical strengths of each item and asking you what you think about it because I haven't fully explored the potential of the new items.

As always, thanks for reading!
-- VVinrar


ELOBUFF 3-month subscription contest winner:  The winner of last week's ELOBUFF contest is Alithandros.  Congratulations, and we will be contacting you soon to claim your prize.

For more of my work:

-- Find old posts @ the RoG forums and new posts every Thursday.
-- Find my Item Efficiency Spreadsheet at

-- Feel free to find me in the "A DIFFerent View" chatroom on the NA server.
-- Contact me at [email protected]
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  • #28 Joe1512

    I agree with exacerberus.  While your work is fantastic, I question your base value assumptions.  When I did similar calculations I tried to use as many sources as possible to determine base gold values (in season 2, as Im not familiar with S3)

    For example, I see a longsword giving 10AD for 415.  Pickaxe 25 for 975, BFSword's 45 for 1450g.  These 3 give you different ratios.  However, we know that Riot tends to add a 'bonus' on larger, more difficult to assemble items and this is reasonable to apply this to basic items.  Therefore I go with 40g per AD point as my baseline value.  It also is reasonable that Riot would use rounded-out values for their item calculations at least to start with. I mean why the hell would they decide that AD is worth 36.698311256 and design around that!?

    Some values were harder to come by, such as Movespeed.  Boots are of no help.  So instead I look to other sources.  We know that flat Quints tend to give about 75-95g worth of value, right?  4.95AP = 98g, 3.4AS = 84g, 2.25AD = 85g, etc.

    We also know that a MS quint adds 1.5% MS.  This puts movespeed's value at about 50 to 60g value. 

    As a second source we can look at Masteries (s2) and see that each mastery point is worth about 30 to 40g.  We see a mastery that gives us 0.5% per point, and a higher up one that gives 1% conditionally.  This also points to Movespeed being worth about 50 to 60g value and correlates with the first source.

    Your Season 2 movespeed seems pretty far off to me, especially as they kept NERFING the movespeed items towards the end, thus increasing their relative value even further.

    Your CDR value is wayyyy off in season 2.  FIVE gold per 1%?!?  Where'd you come up with that?  For me, I looked at Kindlegem, minus the 300g worth of health = 550g for 10% CDR.  I check Masteries and see 1% at the low tier in offensive, 2.8/lvl=1.4 in defensive, 2% at the high tier of utility, which gives me about 50g per point.   I check Quint's 1.64% and the quint value of 70-90g which gives me about 50-55g as well.  All 3 correlate to give me my 50 gold per point.   I lowered it to 40-45g per point based on Ionic Boots and the lowering of the Kindlegem price.  But it's still way higher than 5g/pt.

  • #26 exacerberus

    I have a methodological question: is there a reason to calculate the gold efficiency of primary and secondary stats based only on the most efficient item for each stat? Why doing that instead than using the average gold efficiency values? Is that so for pragmatical and simplicity reasons or there are other factors?

    Note that I'm not questioning your method, I just ask because this topic interests me.

  • #29 VVinrar

    Basically it comes down to high variance on some stats, I believe DiffTheEnder tried using averages the first time he ventured into stat tracking and he was basically laughed at by a good deal of commenters.

    Last edited by VVinrar: 11/27/2012 7:49:39 PM
  • #30 exacerberus

    Oh ok, but I don't understand the reason he should have been laughed at, both ways make sense to me... High variance in some stats just means that at Riot they should have been more careful about stat premiums for completing high tier items (and in fact that's a thing they've looked into for S3), but that doesn't infer the average method is specious at all.

  • #18 Bystekhilcar

    Thank you for all your work on the sheet, Winrar. Those minority of us that take the research approach to LoL salute you :)

  • #16 Slayer1557

    I noticed that Soul Shroud is missing from your spreadsheet.

  • #20 Dj0z

    It will be missing from the game entirely by then

  • #21 Slayer1557

    This is news to me.  I hadn't heard anything about it being removed.  I highly doubt they will remove it.  In the patch notes, they reduced its cost a bit, so clearly, they are looking at it, at least a little.  Besides, if they remove it, then Mana manipulator would only build into Shard of True Ice, and you know how they want basic items to be able to build into multiple items.

    Last edited by Slayer1557: 11/23/2012 12:19:50 AM
  • #23 exacerberus

    Soul Shroud has been removed, it's not available ingame in PBE, and yes, Mana Manipulator only builds into Shard of True Ice atm. Deal with it.

    Yet if they plan about reimplementing it somehow, it better have 5% CDR to the holder and 10% CDR aura, since in S2 (post nerf) it was a very lacklustre item.

  • #27 Slayer1557

    I still do not believe it is gone for good.  One, because they never said anything about it being removed.  Two, because Riot has been making sure that every component item (Philo, Mana Manip., Emblem of Valor, Kindlegem) has multiple build paths.  If they remove Soul Shroud, Mana manip only has one.

    I find it more likely that it's being reworked, or else it's removal from the shop was a mistake in the transition to the new Shop UI.  I really don't want to lose it, I had some cool ideas for using it.


  • #15 FleurDeLiz

    The tale of Nashor's and Gunblade prove that being 'statistically efficient' is not the entire story.

  • #13 komosha

    Could you go into more detail on why you use the most efficient items possible for your base values? I always thought (and so do the rioters, according to a post I saw somewhere) that the basic items, ei AP tome, longsword, should be used. The reason that needlessly large rod, BF sword, etc are more efficient is to reward the player for not spending money for a longer period of time, is it not? 

  • #17 TreeBurrow

    I agree to an extent...

    It would be interesting to see stat efficiencies based on the smallest purchase rather than the more cost effecient big ticket items... You would naturally expect that the more you spend on a stat the more bonus value you gain... For instance, Needlessly-Large Rod should be more cost efficient than Amp Tomb, simply because it costs more... You're investing more into that raw stat, you need to save for longer thus you get rewarded with 5 bonus AP, you could think of that 5 AP as "free" because it's a reward for saving for that big item... Therefore, the cost efficency of Amp Tomb should be used, and we just consider that 5 AP a bonus...

    In terms of early-game stat efficiency, for example calculating the value of Flat Runes, or Masteries (Which you benefit from early-game)... I think that Amp Tomb / Long Sword should be used in those calculations rather than BF Sword / Needlessly Large... You need to put in effort and farm for a few minutes in order to access those big items, whereas the small items you have access to straight away, therefore I believe they are better balanced stat-wise... The big items have inherant bonuses attached to them, simply because they're big and require you to actively save for them...

    I don't know if anyone else thinks this way, but anyway, It would just be interesting to see IMO...

    For example... When calculating Runes and Masteries, AD is valued around 40 gold per point (Based on somewhere between Pickaxe and LongSword), instead of 36.5 per point (BF Sword)...

    Therefore BF sword has 1800 gold worth in AD (45 x 40), but... Since it's so expensive, you gain ~3.5 AD free (140 gold worth) just because you actively saved for it... So in my view, AD isn't worth 36.6, it's worth 40 per point... That's how i think of it, even though 1650 gold doesn't seem like much, it's still a big step you're taking, saving for a fair amount of time in order to buy that big item straight up...

    Last edited by TreeBurrow: 11/22/2012 4:46:17 PM
  • #19 RisingChaos

    The value of an item is relative. As long as you're not using different standards of comparison for every item (e.g. calculating PD's efficiency via Brawler's Gloves but IE's efficiency via Cloak of Agility), which standard you use doesn't matter. The absolute numbers will change but the relative value between items will remain the same.

    Of course, having to buy more expensive items is still an additional balancing factor for Riot to play with and is its own consideration to take into account during a game. All other things being equal, building out of two Blasting Wands is easier than building from one NLR.

    Last edited by RisingChaos: 11/22/2012 6:35:29 PM
  • #22 squee147

    That would be true if stats were segregated, but they're not.  If I want to compare the efficiency of two mixed stat items getting a correct gold to AD ratio is important because I'm interested in the efficiency of the item as a whole not just its efficiency in terms of AD.

  • #12 Murttras

    Good job man :) I really like to read your post. 

    i have a question. Nashor's tooth is an efficient item, but it's not quite popular right now (even for champs like teemo or jax). It's because the low synergy between the stats given? or am i missing something? 

    also, NT gives AS, so maybe in this season ppl will consider it a little bit more.

  • #14 K0stra

    NS was acually one of most cost-ef items, problem is it´s mixture of stats AS+AP benefits only few champs and mana regen is generally bad out of lane. One of few champions that can really benefit from this items is Jax but NS don´t give any mobility or tankyness so it´s still pretty deep down on shopping list. I think riot pretty much surrendered on hybrid champions, as they usually end up being better played as either pure AP (most usually) or AD.


  • #11 sticowish

    In the spreadsheet the life steal of BT is in the hp section. Just wanted to tell you :P

    PS: GJ keep it going

    Last edited by sticowish: 11/22/2012 11:40:08 AM
  • #9 Jolan

    So taking good looks....Grail is super efficient in every regard, as well as RoA, Will we be seeing those as the most common items for Mages now?

  • #10 VVinrar

    they were always efficient, it's just they are often efficient in the 'wrong way' -- only a few champions can fully utilize mana in teamfights.

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