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League's current itemization woes, or, why making items that boost other items limits itemization.

I've been seeing this a lot lately, that riot wants to make itemization better and blabla make people able to pick and choose throughout a game what they want. However, what Riot apparently doesn't realize is that their own items themselves are what limit choices. Having items that boost other items, or scale via other items FORCES you to build those items. DFG gives AP and scales off AP. So what are you going to do when you build DFG? Build more AP. Sunfire gives nothing, scales off nothing. What do you see with sunfire? Sometimes AD, sometimes AP, sometimes full tank, sometimes not. What I'm talking about here is items that force other items, stiffling item creativity

Basically certain factors chokehold the ability to build more than one real way and there's basically artificial policing to enforce that build basically cause everyone else is gonna beat you if you don't do it.

The old "If I've made something better, of course I'll use it."

Lets say you're playing an RTS. Starcraft even. But lets say Age of Empires because I'll be less likely to get raged at FOR GETTING IT WRONG BLA BLA SOME STRATS DO THIS AND I'M SO WRONG. Anyway lets use Age of Empires. If I upgrade fire arrows for my bowman am I not far more likely to now use catapults because it also sets their boulders on fire to increase their damage? And in addition to that, I'm more likely to get horseback archers because their arrows are also on fire and dealing more damage. By that notion I'm LESS likely to get swordmen because I just upgraded something that doesn't even help them. (Note I said LESS likely, not that there is no chance.) Unless something seriously gives me synergy with my bowmen I'm just gonna get more things effected by my upgrade.

Take Magic the Gathering. If I use blue mana I have islands. If I have islands I use more... blue. Blue -> more blue. What's the problem? Magic wants you to build 2+ color decks. What was their solution? They kinda just said screw it and gave out lands that give 2+ colors of mana. They realized the problem of splitting your mana pool made you weaker, and said okay we'll make it so you don't have to split as much. If I can easily get my red AND blue mana then I can play red and blue without giving much or anything else up. Think of this like old gunblade. My abilities AND auto attacks become better, and at the same pace as a real item, therefore I can use both of them. While a champion like Brand focuses on mostly spells and won't use his auto attacks unless he has legitimately nothing better to do, if he bought old Gunblade he'd be actively looking and trying to auto attack. 

Basically if I have an AP item I'm FAR more likely to continue to build AP and get AP scaling items than I am to get an on-hit item. Nobody is going to build DFG then think "wit's end will be a great item too!" on TF. Nobody builds Lichbane then thinks "Malady will help so much!" Once I've made my AP good I'm only going to get more AP.

The old "If it makes what I'm already using better, of course I'll get it!"

Lets say I'm playing Age of Empires again. I got my bowman and am looking at what to get next. Clearly that fire arrows upgrade is the best. Why? Because it makes what I'm already using even better! Makes sense right? I mean, it's just common logic and everyone playing video games knows this. You don't upgrade melee damage if you're using ranged troops.

Lets say I went... uh... rod of ages. It's one of the only AP items that doesn't make AP better. What's next? Do I go with an phantom dancer? Well no I don't. Because I have AP it makes items like abyssal scepter better (And with my HP that MR will come in handy) because I'm reducing their magic resist on my already high magic damage attacks. I could also go DFG which will put that AP to use. Or Deathcap and increase the AP I've already bought. 

Starting to get the idea? What I ALREADY OWN is becoming better with these other items. If I wanted to go AD when I already had an AP item that AD item would have to be VERYVERY strong to make it worth it. Compare this to sunfire for example. It does magic damage in an aura but you see Sunfire/abyssal, sunfire/RoA, sunfire/trinity, sunfire/wit's end. Sunfire doesn't make what you already own better (beyond resistances really) so it makes sense that Sunfire is one of the most diverse items so far as what item builds it goes in to.

And lastly, the old "it's better than everything else."

Deathcap/IE are better than everything else. So you get them. The end.

So what happens in league?

Well everyone complains about itemization, but is there really a choice? ADCs start with IE because it does the most damage. From there phantom dancer makes your damage go nuts. From there LW makes you unstoppable even to armor. There's no room to say "hey maybe I'll start brutalizer" because you'll be outgunned very quickly by IE. There's absolutely no room for even half-smart things like malady Varus because simply stacking items that scale with each other out guns any sort of creativity. 

Now whenever I mention DotA a flame breathing dragon engulfs me, but I feel like League progressed TOO MUCH from DotA in this regard to where it regressed. They tried to streamline the items in league so much that they ended up being so linear and progressive in nature. In DotA yes there are items that most carries want and most supports want, but you can actually express yourself and not be a complete freakin troll for it. If you buy anything that's not IE, PD, LW, GA, QSS, or BT as a ranged carry you will be ridiculed for being a troll. 

So what do I suggest?

Well, at this point in time we can't really go back. I really suggest we merely tone down IE which I think by this point everyone agrees on. IE does too much damage, PD has too much (Any) movement speed. Causes ranged carries to be ridiculously linear and even OP some might say. (Me, I said that.) Additionally I think we could use more items like Sunfire and Abyssal that despite aiding a certain build perhaps are more open and can be used for more than a single build path.

I think AD and AP have been for far too long basically forced in to certain builds because of how they work. Bruisers and tanks and supports are far more open to different item builds combining different items. For AD and AP it's basically spam the same crap every game because who cares. I'd really like to be able to play Xerath for example and have my build be noticeably different than say Morgana (And not just cause I build my hourglass after deathcap instead of before.) Or play Graves and focus more on direct physical damage where as Sivir would focus more on auto attacks.

A MAN CAN DREAM YOU KNOW. Then get shot for dreaming, but first the dreaming can happen!


You ever notice?



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  • #69 TreeBurrow

    The only Core Items in the game as of right now are... Boots of Speed... Infinity Edge and Death Cap... Everything else is interchangable depending on the situation IMO...

  • #70 Hashinshin

    so if I choose literally any game I will be able to find a single game that does not include phantom dancer, bloodthirster, or last whisper?

  • #71 Felsong

    if it ended right at 20min prolly.

  • #72 TreeBurrow

    Oh, you'll find these items in almost every single game... I'm not denying that... But they're still not core... An AD carry doesn't NEED PD, BT or LW... IE gives the stat multiplicity, the other items just have good stats... Vayne should not be buying a LW, because she has so much true damage, Some AD carries need ArPen more than others, similarly some teams build more Armour than others... BC is sometimes better than LW depending on the situation, there are actually a lot of factors which dictate what the best item is at any given point in time... If the enemy team only have 1 person with 140 Armour and the rest of their team's Armour is lower... LW is almost completely wasted... Sure, in most games people will have a decent amount of Armour and LW will be really valuably... But not always, it's still situational...

    BT can be replaced by ExCa, PD can be replaced by Cloak and Dagger, LW can be replaced by BC... IE/PD/LW is a great combination 90% of the time... I'm sure most people will agree that this is a good combination... But sometimes you'll want more Survivability early game because you're facing a bad match-up, ExCa can really help with this situation... 

    Everyone knows that an AD carry should have great positioning in a team-fight and stay in the back, awayfrom harms way, but what if the enemy team has 2 AD assassins? BAM! Atma's Impaler... These situations don't arise often, but when they do, you'll benefit a lot from Atma's, therefore you should elimated one of these items you consider "Core" to make way for this niche item which will be ideal in the given situation...

    IE is core... PD/LW/BT/ExCa/C&D/Atma's are situational...

  • #73 MerryLane

    Not true ^^

    For instance, there were loads of games in which Kogmaws were rushing wriggles and PD.

    Vayne at the moment enjoys more a BT PD build, with IE being more "optionnal" than for other ADs

    But I'm exagerating and I get your point.

  • #67 infernalbargain

    We could use more items of this and that. Take abyssal it is the big AP & MR item. BT is the AD & lifesteal. GA is the armor and MR item. Just have more mix and match stats.

  • #66 Zatriann

    There are a couple problems in the assumption that every build is actually the same on an ad carry, main problem to that being that you assume that every game will go to the limit. If you're actually breaking 10k gold in a game, the game as drawn long. Question is then : how can I maximize my less than 10k to actually have more potential, and that is a true question. You can try going ie, pd, lw, doran boots without thinking to much in the process. But while you are doing so, you are leaving an opening for someone going boots into brutalizer, zeal.... Between 2 and 5k, that guy will murder you. If he can snowball from there, you're pretty much doomed. YOU WILL BE STRONGER AFTER, don't get me wrong, but he can definitely use that weakness of yours to his advantage, and by the 10k mark be in front of you by about 1k. He'll have something that looks like zeal, yomumu, boots, lw OR bc (yes ! more itemization !) and a bf sword, and he'll be almost as frightening as you are, only without that drop between 2 and 5k.

    2nd : Nobody rushes all of his item. We need to adapt every time. Even on a «fix» build, you are gonna make some changes to your build. Of course I'm gonna make TF+IE+LW like everyone woud on a corki. But my style is very passive in lane and relies on farming with my q from time to time, so zeal to escape and sheen for mana will actually come before phage. If I get 1650 gold at a time, I will probably build a bf, as it changes my lane dominance a lot, before one of my piece. Therefore, even in a world where you are stuck with «6 ad items» (almost had my brain tilt just writing it XD), there is still a lot of room for itemization from lower tier items, and at high level play this will become very important (look at what and how pro build in real matches. Unless the context is the same in two games, they are not gonna have the same build order.)

    Strange, I actually made an account to answer. Not my style. Must be something bothering me more than I tought...

    Oh, and I hope grammar is not to horrible to nazis out there. Not so fluent in formal english yet (imho).

  • #68 TreeBurrow


    I'm currently investigating things such as early ExCa for lane sustain and trade potential... If you buy an early ExCa and sell it late game, you only lose 405 gold... Meanwhile, you have a huge amount of LifeSteal for laning phase... Plus, once you get your IE (Which as far as I'm concerned is as "Core" as as AD item actually gets)... You end up with some great synergy between Crit Chance and Damage, add sustain and Grevious Wounds to that and it's quite a great combination...

    Last edited by TreeBurrow on 11/4/2012 9:15:04 PM
  • #64 zypre

    Loved the Magic: The Gathering reference! :P I'm gonna be playing some MTG later today =P

    But as for the article.. I don't see why everyone hates the itemization so much? I quite like that there's an obvious way to go. That way it's more about the plays than about the builds. Who gets the IE first, etc. etc.

    I really don't see anything wrong with that.

  • #65 MerryLane

    We (I) don't hate the itemisation that much.

    The problem is that for some roles, the itemisation is "always" the same.
    IE PD LW BT GA for ad carries (for like every AD carry but one or two exceptions)
    Athene Rabadon Void staff Zhonya for AP carries.
    The two/three gp10 on junglers.

    Kinda "boring" and because some items are a bit too OP, and "worse" OP togethers, there is little room for diversification between champions themselves, doesn't allow a variety of different gamestyles for the same champion and doesn't allow neither the possibility of "countering" one game's happenstance.
    (note : it's an exageration, and some roles (bruisers) have more opportunities but you should understand what I mean)

  • #60 Luapman

    I have a potential rough solution for some of the more general itemization woes of LoL here:

    I realize this would be a near complete overhaul for items in LoL but I truly believe such a system would inherently curb late-game items in the early game, and lessen or remove stagnant cookie-cutter builds.

  • #54 Timecow

    I think there is room for the ridiculously damage ad carry but it needs to happen later into the game. IE+PD comes into play around the 20-30 minute range when it could be more interesting to see ad carries having a weaker early/mid game  by nerfing tier 3 and giving them tier 4 items that allow for ultra carry power 35+ minutes plus.  The ad carry and support babysitter meta should be a late game strategy that relies on staling rather than a viable strat starting in the mid game with IE. Could open the door to more non carry metas that force carry teams to take early game beatings in order to reach late game.

  • #57 Deliq

    Your plan is approximately equal to deleting AD carries altogether.

  • #61 MerryLane

    Or, the total opposite, giving a better early game to AD carries, but reduce their lategame power.

  • #51 Cerbereth

    Well Riot's not nerfing ad carries or their items, so it doesn't matter anyway. The whole thing is purely academic.


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