AP champions, or Riot's apparent pet for design bias

Okay so I originally had this article geared towards the changes we've seen so far but it has become extremely obvious to me while writing it that the following is true: Riot is ridiculously biased towards AP champions. Not in giving them power, no, but in giving them a million options with diverse itemization builds and paths. AP champions are seeing more items just for AP dedicated roles (not items merely with AP on them) than other other two roles COMBINED. AP itemization is skyrocketing, again, while AD casters are getting a single revamped item. AP itemization is adding an entire new build option while bruisers are seeing nothing. Get my point? This is just silly, and it's getting annoying.

Simply put, Riot is so in love with giving AP champions everything amazing that anything interesting for other classes is being strangled by Riot's lack of time to do anything for them, what with all the time spent giving APs everything awesome.

AP players, you are spoiled and you should feel bad.

No seriously, was the playtest team 5 AP players, 1 AD player, and a guy who hates bruisers? AP players saw more buffed/revamped/new AP items than any 3 other classes combined. It's sort of absurdity. What's worse is all the new AP items are INCREDIBLY relevant and well stat. Not at all like Ohmwrecker's "for the tank who wants to be tanky but that that tanky but it's k cause you can stop turrets if you're diving I guess" tagline. Or Frozen fist's "for the tank that wants a massive amount of mana, some armor, some AP, and slow, but doesn't just want to buy frozen mallet instead." 

I don't hate that AP champions saw so many new and diverse items. I don't hate that AP champions can go 3 completely different build paths (glass cannon, tanky-AP/flatpen, mana.) I don't hate that even within those three builds they have multiple build options. I do hate that AP champions got ALL THIS WORK done while other classes got 1-2 token items tossed at them. Ranged ADs got Phantom Dancer replacement items tossed at them. Bruisers got nothing (and Maw even got nerfed, jokes. Other than being BLINDINGLY obvious token items added to the classes (oh crap we forgot to add anything for tanks, add an aegis upgrade and erm... an item that stops turrets) it's just the amount of love and care given to AP items was so lopsided.

And I know I'm gonna keep mentioning it because: Seriously? Your answer to AD itemization being bland was to effectively just add replacement phantom dancer items? You still build the same everything except for phantom dancer which you sometimes build a different item. That's it? Wow. Even bruisers get it better than that. Hell, even tanks are getting an end game Aegis that will make their itemization significantly more diverse even on the same champion in different games. ADs? Every AD will still build the exact same way as they do in every match, they'll just build a single item different than other ADs. Ohwow the diversity is giving me cancer.

It's the design bias AP players have/are receiving that's frustrating me.

Compare Maw to Athene's. Maw gets released. Sucks. Never touched again. (Getting nerfed in S3 if you can believe it.) Athene's gets released, good but not OP. Gets buffed to OP WITHIN TWO WEEKS. Maw doesn't see any work in a MONTH, Athene's gets buffed the goddamn patch after release. It's that right there that should explain to you how much more attention APs get than anyone else. How about DFG versus Atma's? One of them enforces all champions who can use it to build it, and has seen two revamps within half a year. One of them got nerfed in to uselessness then never touched again. I'll take "riot why you so favor AP?" for $100 Alex. Both items are considered toxic by Riot. BOTH items are considered must-buys when good. One of them gets revamped twice and stays good even after nerfed, one of them is not for AP players.

Riot has so much observable bias they could just bottle the air in their offices and release it as a new fragrance called "bias." People would be able to SMELL it. How about this. AD champions all build the same way. AP champions all build differently. Who saw significantly more work on top of a (real) mana build path being added? The class that already had diverse item builds. That makes sense right? Spend more time on what is already working fantastically rather than whats busted. Hey guys, AP champions are only sometimes good in TT. Better release 3 new items there to help them! Better revamp both of them within a month! Oh AD, you're still useless on TT? Well you're not AP at all so we don't care. 

Riot keeps saying AP itemization is so healthy, then keeps putting all their focus on them.

Compare end game AD casters to AP casters. AD casters do: More damage. AP casters: Have positive and negative auras, have unique defensive effects, have unique aggressive effects, have %scaling to kick it up for end game, have DFG. Why not work on AD casters? Riot keeps crying over how bad AD itemization is and if it was just better that they could make AD assassins good... SO DO IT. It's their goddamn game, you can't cry about something you own not doing what you want when YOU own it. Hey I can cry all I want over how bad AD caster itemization is and how Talon is terrible past 25 minutes. I can't change it. But when Riot does it, and 2 years later hasn't changed it? I lose all pity. 

And then, and this is really what sets me off, to just keep doing more and more and more and more for AP champions THEN REMOVING PILLAGER because it might be unhealthy for the game. Well jesus fuck me christ, how unhealthy is the ability to go invulnerable for 2.5 seconds for the game? How about the ability to buy an item that ensures anyone without MR automatically dies in 1 combo and doubles as an anti-tank item? How unhealthy is it for a class to gain more and more options so that they can always counter build whatever they're up against? Talon on the opposing team? Get an early hourglass so you can invuln his combo in team fights and have enough armor to not die in the silence. Up against Leblanc? Well you got Abyssal, and Athene's, and Rylai's, and Rod of ages. Take your pick! Shit, combine two of them.

We've all played that game.

You know, that game where the designers clearly favored one aspect of it. An RPG where one class has all 3 of their talent trees viable while other classes might struggle to get 1 tree viable. An RTS where one faction is constantly receiving help on any unfavorable matchups while other factions are struggling all the time. That's AP right now. Their options, their ability to build against whatever they want and do it without sacrificing any power (take for example: How is a support player going to counter build a draven/blitzcrank lane? Build an armor item? You know, that armor item... the one... that supports) is getting simply crazy.

And the worst part is that the time put in to ensuring AP players are so babied is clearly and overtly taking time away from other classes. Where is the AD caster item? Where are all those bruiser items promised after Atma's got nerfed? Why did it take 2 years for supports players to finally see an overhaul? Why was the big push for AD players to be more diverse simply taking out phantom dancer and adding a replacement? You know why? We had to spend all our time coming up with new AP items. 

And in the end, please consider this Riot.

You have so many neglected classes that build the same items game in game out. ADs basically just saw "phantom dancer removed, phantom dancer replacement items added." Bruisers saw... nothing. AD casters got to see "JACKBOT... no wait bust." Etc. Basically, you're hurting other classes because of your clear design bias towards AP. Maybe you're not making them OP (oh, no, wait you are) but you sure as hell are making them stand out wayyyy above what other classes can bring. Can you give me a single actual reason to bring Talon over Leblanc? Even NOW Leblanc is the better pick and what do you think will happen when she sees a significant increase in options?

Consider SF3. Chun Li wasn't particularly OP because her moves were OP, she was OP because she just had an option to deal with any feasible situation. That's AP champions right now. With AD carries going down in power we're going to see the #2 class shoot up into #1, and with all these new items and toys they're going to be far more up #1. 

Please remember that not everyone loves AP as much as you do. Many of us enjoy playing Talon, Olaf, Zyra (who is apparently a support now) and Nautilus. We like seeing health itemization, damage itemization, burst itemization. And not just "this item has good stats!" but "this item has damage AND unique effects that play perfectly in to what AD assassins have needed!" We aren't looking for an item that has 1000 HP and 30 damage for Olaf, we're looking for items that give Olaf the ability to do things he doesn't do baseline. That's it, right there. Give OTHER classes than AP the ability to do things that they don't do baseline through items. 

Follow me on twitter @hashinshin

Leave a comment below.



  • #29 Xyltin

    I was also a bit disappointing when i saw that there was no real upgrade path for Brutalizer into something Talon could use.

    Some new items are fine, but the amount of REAL AD items stays low.

    We got new crit items (still feel that there are not enough REAL crit items) , new AS items, new AP items and mana items.
    No new AD item (except for mercurial, what makes one; Hydra and BotRK are not really for pure AD champs like Talon or K'Z) or real ArPen item (but we got a better MPen item as an upgrade from haunting guise).

    For defense we got some remakes (Warmogs and SV) but no real new items (some combinations, but nothing really too cool).

    I like all the new items (except for Ohmwrecker), but I would have actually assumed that this was only 2/3rd of the S3 itemization change and that more is coming. Cause if not, I would have to think that Riot tried, but actually stumbled on their way to improve the itemization and stopped with only the AP part finished.

    Last edited by Xyltin: 11/18/2012 6:19:45 PM
  • #28 rfkannen

    Don't forget support buffs! :) also i am happy because ap champs are fun.

  • #25 ohGr

    Yeah, damn them for giving the MOST PREVELANT CLASS TYPE more options, and don't cater to the least prevelant class type. Seriously, is this actually a complaint grounded in sanity? I can count the number of pure AD casters that didn't get a boon from being a bruiser or tank optionally on one hand. (Talon, Zed, Panth, Renekton, and Olaf, who doesn't scale off anything reliably)

    Anyone that can go bruiser but has the sub classification as AD caster like Riven and Gangplank still saw improvements via other items. (Not that Riven needed them) The only people still dicked over more are the handful of melee carries like Fiora, Tryndamere and Master Yi. They can resort to jungling, but it still mostly sucks for them currently.

  • #21 miaolong

    ... Did you mean to post a picture of a topless Morgana in this article Hashinshin?

  • #22 Hashinshin

    winrar did that. I immediately forsake him + deny knowing him + turned him in to the sanhedrin priests. 

    Last edited by Hashinshin: 11/18/2012 5:54:53 PM
  • #23 miaolong

    Good show sir. Edit it quick before Demacians execute you for this then.

  • #24 VVinrar

    i deny all charges

  • #27 gekkos

    who the hell is ca- i mean vwinrar?

    Last edited by gekkos: 11/18/2012 6:06:10 PM
  • #31 monkyyy

    <3 winrar

  • #32 DiffTheEnder

    You're in trouble, mister.

  • #13 stuffedcheesybread

    Not sure I really agree with this article. Part of the reason APs need more options is because it is too easy to negate their damage, especially early on and through the mid game which is usually when they are supposed to be strongest. For carries on the other hand, armor becomes increasingly less relevant as the game goes on, as a fully itemized ad carry will shred through armor much easier than a fully itemized mage will get through magic resist. This is even more true in the case of burst mages(which riot is addressing somewhat with the magic pen recalculations). If riot is giving mages more attention, I feel it is more out of necessity rather than just because of favoritism.

  • #15 Hashinshin

    AP are weak against tanks because they 1 shot anything not tanks. They also do their damage 3x (cause of AoEs). If karthus can only do 1/3 of a bruiser's HP... and 1/3 of the tanks, and land his ult on their team he just did 2 or maybe even 3 total HP bars. 

  • #26 stuffedcheesybread

    What it boils down to is that you cannot counter autoattacks that do as much damage in 2 or 3 shots over 2 seconds, as your one spell does instantaneously but is on CD for 4-7 seconds. APS will never outpace the damage scaling of an ad carry late game assuming they are on equal farm and kills throughout the game, so the least riot could do is give mages more options for when those situations arise.

  • #12 Waaargh

    What I see in this is how APs are doing a rotation and then take a break, hence they need to work within those rather tough boundaries. There is also the thing that APs are really strong midgame and late midgame, but when tanks and ADs reach full build APs dwindle into very little. Unless they also bring utility such as Annivia.

    I want to say that you can still make the sort of build you want to as an AD based champ (bruiser, carry or caster) - more damage, more penetration, more health, or armour or whatever. You can build that with your 6 slots available. Want to go all offense? That can be done. Want to mix, mix, swirl, swirl you can reach a composition where you bring something else to the game (I had a game where I was forced to build a very defensive Ezreal due to my laning partner being not so good for me - in the end we won, as I could fill my role despite a setback. I want to say I also got the most kills in that game after a rough start).

    Yeah ok, I will take your word for Talon not being strong for some reason. Others too - I fail to see how that can be transferred to APs. If they have some issues, try and bring them into the light. The AP carry going Zhonia's, well in all honesty that's pretty ok, since your prime target were the other AD carry to begin with. 

    The other thing I make out from your article is how it is much more interesting to play the AP. But again ok, so smashing buttons with skill shots or the correct combination, or both, is more intense than right clicking as AD or going headfirst as bruiser, and moving around trying to zone/catch the other carry. But again, AD carries do their thing with constant high damage to a single target, and AD casters can't really be allowed to do what AP casters do and keep the strength with auto attacks.

    Your argument about Riot being able to make their own items and balance within the game, is more interesting. They earn good money on the game and with the amount of NEW content constantly coming into the game, well perhaps there should be more focus shifted towards items.

    I hope you won't get flamed too badly.

  • #11 clutz1

    IMO the problem is that RIOT still doesn't understand supports, they think supports should build and scale with AP, thus they think every new item with AP+Utility is a support item. Then when supports still build real support items and APs build AP+Util items they get all confused.

    Much like Riot was horrified and confused by Lulu/Soraka mid, or now Zyra support.


  • #10 StacoOrikoro

    Okay, Im Lux.

    I hit my Q, trying to 1 shot you.

    BUT HEY, IM THE AD CARRY, I just use my new quiksilver sash, u wont even hit ur lux follow up after ur q and in the teamfight I shred ur entire team with my new hurricane and do tons more dmg than u do.

    2 of my autoattacks (0.5 second cooldown per auto) do as much dmg as ur 7 seconds cooldown spells, its GOOD.

  • #14 Hashinshin

    Or you kill their AD in a single combo as Lux and they maybe get 1 auto off on you. 

    (while being a massive lane bully, having huge poke, an d a freakin MASSIVE AoE shield.)

    Last edited by Hashinshin: 11/18/2012 5:20:47 PM
  • #34 StacoOrikoro

    Quote from Hashinshin »

    Or you kill their AD in a single combo as Lux and they maybe get 1 auto off on you. 

    (while being a massive lane bully, having huge poke, an d a freakin MASSIVE AoE shield.)

    as I said: RIOT just gave ADs an item, so that I cant combo any more.

    also ap carrys have skillshots, that dont autohit easily.

    you dont have to simply rightclick.


    lane bully?

    funny that AD carrys fuck ap carrys in lane.

  • #42 Xyltin

    This item, they gave them doesn't close the 1k gap you snared the ADC. It also doesn't remove your team around you. Why do you think Zyra is such a great support? One of her abilities is a pretty long range snare. If it hits an important target while the enemy was on the way back, that target could be dead. But even with cleanse, the target only survive, it doesn't get a chance to strike back.

    Safety first.

    Also the QSS is not a cheap item and works exactly against the things you actually wan: DMG.
    AP champs get MR or Armor. HP or Penetration on what every item they want. Even before the item changes, AP champs had every possible combination ready to use. There was not lack of itemization for them. AP + X was there already.

    AD + X is pretty hard to get in the right proportions.


    About ADC only AA. Try to play Vayne. Why does DoubleLift and Aphromoo getting called the 2 mechanically best players? I used to play a lot of AP champs, junglers and now top laners. I can easily support, but the one thing i can't get working is an ADC, cause the positioning and the awareness of the enemies and my teams position is so damn important. And you are the one that should deal as much dmg as possible while surviving with the lowest amount of defensive items.
    It is not an easy job.

    Also, ADC have a good itemization. It is not perfect, but ok.
    Talon and K'Z have a pretty stupid itemization after the early game. Rengar gets some items, but people actually like to build him tanky now, cause most offensive items suck.
    Riot introduced melee and ranged only items, why not make such items like high AD + low Armor (melee only) for melee ADC and Assassins? Why can't they make MoM good (and everybody knows that hextrinker is great, but MoM sucks).


    ADC winning against AP? That is only currently true, cause most AP champs mid are like Karthus and ADC have escape skills (the ones that are getting used mid sometimes).
    Take Brand or Malz back mid. One CC hits and the ADC is dead. They can't approach cause AP champs tend the have the same range, but kill way faster (the ones that dropped out of the current meta, but come back in S3 probably).

  • #9 Verthiss

    "Can you give me a single actual reason to bring Talon over Leblanc?"
    I would say that you have a possibility to farm and push efficiently as Talon while you can't do ANYTHING else murdering people as LB xD

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