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.



  • #44 Xyltin

    Talon needs lvl 6 to get a real kill potential.
    Talon needs a B.F sword and lvl 9 to really push a lane (else he needs to AA every creep or use his W twice).Talon has 0 poke (W has a decent range, but when you have a 5v5 in front of you and you need poke, the range won't be enough) and only soft CC.

    LB is mobile (Talon isn't as long as he has no enemy to jump to), has great burst, a good itemization, can poke (cause of her mobility even over walls and in some obscure ways) and she has CC (a silence and a slow+snare). She also has range.

    Talon would be able to maybe be as useful from early to ate game, but his only thing is killing the important target. And to do that, you need a pretty good itemization from early to late game so that you can react to the enemies team, just like AP champs can do it.

  • #8 StacoOrikoro

    Dude, AD Carrys got tons of new items, bruiser got tons of new items. tanks got TONS of new items.

    Why so much complaining?

    When I was watching the new items actualy supports got the most new stuff, while AP Carrys only got 3 new ones, while 1 got removed.

    New ap carry items: DFG (changed), Wreights (the thing with slow), Lindays whatever.

    minor changes to other ap items.

    Thats it.

    3 new items = TONS OF ITEMS.


    sure haishin, sure.


    just compare to the new ad carry/ad bruiser items:

    huricane, zephyr (the new phantom dancer ;) ), the quiksilver sash upgrade, blade of the ruined king.

    thats 4 awesome items allrdy, and I probably missed some.

    now tell me again, how much ap carries are favored, lol.

    Last edited by StacoOrikoro: 11/18/2012 5:04:06 PM
  • #7 mjinspace

    Well, your writing style leaves much to be desired, but your point is dead on.

     Lop-sided itemization options were a problem in S2, and look to be even more so in S3.

     The only argument in Riot's defense is the obvious fact that players love AP champs as much as they do... So why not facilitate?

     See you in game! I know what type of champs I'll be playing! (MUAHAHAHA!)

  • #5 acerunner
  • #4 killermelga

    i dont see any problems with the items they did for tanks like the ohmwrecker. they couldnt make a warmog v2.0 that can ALSO freeze towers for i dont know how much seconds.

    what i think they did wrong was completely nerf the defensive items. instead of warmog v2.0, they did warmog alfa test with crashes v0.000001 that gives almost nothing that it used to give. and thats just an example (the greater one, imo)

    i do agree that ad casters are completely forgotten, though. buuuut, im a mid player, so, im fine xD

    Last edited by killermelga: 11/18/2012 4:48:36 PM
  • #3 quadchi

    yaay for this

  • #1 acerunner
    It's not like ad got an additional bf item composed of a qss or anything. This is rediculous. AD champions deal damage in a much simpler way than ap's and can itemize against AP champions way easier than AP champions can against ad champions. Aps need the choices because they only have their skills. Skills don't push towers either so they have to be compensated harder because of that.
  • #2 Hashinshin

    perhaps they can be compensated with it with a core item that not only gives 2.5 seconds of invulnerability but also 50 armor? Or the ability to 1shot anyone without stacked MR from mid game onward? Or the ability to AoE down entire teams?

    And they still push better than junglers, bruisers, or supports. Second place doesn't suck. 

  • #6 Loneluv

    Yeah, let's talk about items out of context and make them sound stupidly broken! It's not like AD's are getting a free cleanse on a 65 AD item with tons of MR, right?!?! I mean, it's like breaking CC and having MR isn't enough. You need dat damage. But hey, zhonya's op.

    Last edited by Loneluv: 11/18/2012 4:57:53 PM
  • #16 Hashinshin

    3600 gold is the new free.

    How much is your hourglass again? is it 3600? Does it give low amounts of AP? 

    The new AD item being OP or not is irrelevant though. You're trying to say since ADs got ONE item that is a flat increase in power over old items that they are now clearly dominant unbeatable. People are still going to build QSS then have it sit in their inventory until item cap. 

  • #17 DirtySlanderer

    First of all, AD carries have plenty of options for build paths, however, AD carries all build the same thing because the role is stale.  The only purpose of AD champs is to do a shitton of damage.  AP champs can focus on being tanky/bruiser-like (Diana) or insta bursting the ad carry (LeBlanc), or maybe a mixture of the two, not because of the diverse item options (although that has an influence), but because of the diverse CHAMPION pool.  The simple fact of the matter is that ad carry itemization is stale because AD carries all scale with AS/AD/Crit, so you build the same items.

    Secondly, Bruisers have an incredibly diverse list of items to choose from: Frozen Heart, Randuin's, Hexdrinker, Trinity, Frozen Mallet, Shurelia's, Bloodthirster, GA, QSS, FoN, Warmog's, Atma's (even when nerfed), Wit's End, etc. etc. etc.  They have a lot of choice because they are also a diverse role.  Bruisers don't have an itemization issue.

    Thirdly, AD Casters suck not just because of a lack of good item choices, but because they honestly don't fit in most team comps.  If you put an AD Caster in mid, you have no ap, if you put them top, you have no bruiser, if you put them jungle, you have no tank.  Simply put, they are bad because they don't fit a role in the game right now, I don't think that's an itemization problem.

    Finally, the other roles are NOT neglected at all!  As mentioned already, there's an upgrade for QSS that builds out of a BF sword, sounds amazing for ADC.  There's a bevy of new support items coming in S3, there are several new jungler items as well.  Many of these items can double as items for bruisers (some of the new support items may be pretty op on bruisers, the one that removes cc comes to mind.  Or how about the new version of Tiamat for massive lifesteal in the middle of fights?). Which, by the way, is why you don't see as many items tailor-made for bruisers: they can dip from a variety of different roles' item pools to pick and choose what they want, so they automatically become a very difficult class to balance.  AD Casters are very hard for Riot to balance as well without making AD Carries even stronger, and the same goes for melee carries.  I for one would much rather Riot take a slow approach to introducing new AD items for fear of making bruisers so strong that they are put in every single lane (mid lane lee sin anyone?), or making AD Carries even stronger.

    I've said this before and I'll say it again, I don't know why you are a featured blogger on this website, it almost makes me want to avoid the site altogether.  Every single post you make is something along the lines of "omg bruisers are so neglected" "omg jungle ganks top 2 much" "omg mid lane op" yada yada yada.  You should really start doing a TL;DR: for all of your posts, that simply states at the top: "Today, Hashinshin complains about how his favorite role isn't op as shit and cherry-picks specific examples while ignoring obvious counter-arguments."

  • #18 Jolan

    See what I don't get is, this item is better on ADCs than it is on AD Casters. It just...shouldn't be.

    Last edited by Jolan: 11/18/2012 5:34:26 PM
  • #19 mrobert5

    Zhonya's cost 3100. Mercurial Scimitar costs 3810. 700 gold difference.

  • #20 quadchi

    mercurial costs 710 more gold than zhonya, gives 5 less resist than zhonya, active cannot be used offensively and you still think that its broken but zhonya is ok

  • #37 K0stra

    For start i acually enjoy your articles and your stream and i generally agree but this really looks like pure and true tantrum.

    You are imo missing that APs have finite damage distribution, they are dependent on theyr cooldowns. They can´t do a bloody thing without them, hell even CDed full tank is mroe usefull, if your rotation isn´t enought,you need items to help you WAY more then other classes. DFG makes them to one-shit people? Most of AP´s (ap assassins and especially burst casters are clear majority)  are designed to do that. Irelia can wait for hinten style to come from CD to finish someone off, but LB can´t really wait for distortion, she´ll be dead as a dodo. Does Kennen or Morgana chance to finish her ult while focused? Hell no. You don´t need zhonya on ADCs or Bruisers, they have they´re own ways (tankyness, sustain, positioning) but squishy AP that  needs to dive into enemy team? And no zhonya alone won´t make you tanky (shitty base armor and low HP, sorry bro you won´t pass as soaker).

    As fror bruisers: If you hate Maw so much you got alternative for it, new boots can also help, you´ve got jungle spirit items and zephyr, Frozen fist, blade of Ruined King... the hell dude,  yes there is no zhonya for brusers. Why? THEY DON´T NEED IT. Brusers don´t need stuff to let them to other shit. They want shit to make them do theyr stuff. Bruisers have naturally strong abilites and have good sustained damage ... do you seriously want olaf to have some alternative to DFG Oo ? Well that´s your problem i know i don´t (and he is one of my go-to champs) but i may concider Zephyr or Bulwark. I know i like Scimitar for Jax and boots3+golem spirit on udyr (yes bulwark is tank item but bruisers are hybrid between tanks and ADs so i don´t really care, don´t really see difference between buying 2 hyrbriditems or one AD and one tank). Also part of that TON OF ITEMS are support items you wouldn´t concider on regular AP, you might concider them on support oriented APs as Zilean (which is good, there wasn´t pretty much anythin for them) but that´s minority.ADC are about sustained raw damage so option to go for AoE oriented build (if turns out viable), upgrade for QSS, AD (like really AD) version of bloodrazors and AS+AD item that also gives CDR is enought imho i can imagine something like BT+brutalizer+Zephyr+LW+Scimitar on Graves or Hurricane+BotLK as core on Kog or even Vayne with SotD maybe it won´t work maybe it will, chance´s there (as number are far from being final,it can go both ways). AD casters got short and i am sad about it, especially pure AD assassins still look kinda sad (BC may be good on garen but on Pantheon it´s jsut ok) but maybe changed penetration formulla and armor nerf" will be enought my secret hope is revelation of some more items but they are smallest cathegory in question so... well nothing can go 100% right from the start (and i am more concerned about "increased" jungle gold even thou i was always Panth fan) so yeah i agree on this one... partially. You also have several "sub-clases" within AP (same as bruisers... don´t even dare to tell me there is only one itemization for bruisers and both irelia,jax and darius should build sunfire and wit´s end) with more or less different requirements, you have sustained APs (swain, ryze, vlad) bursters/assassins (veig,LB, gragas) utility/supportive casters (Zil, Ori, Anivia) and even AP tanks (singed, amumu +-Galio). Yes AP´s have most items as they are most diverse lot of them all and are concentrated PURELY on theyr abbilites, they have more items. Is it wrong? Well, imho opposite would be wrong (having mots having less is stupid) and acually last 2 of those sub-classes didn´t recieved that much love, nowthey kinda did. Yeah it would be nice to have some hybridy itemsfor bruisers to choose from but tbh it´s not really necessary i never got into situation "i don´t have anythingt valid to build" but i got into "how do i adjust my build accordinly"  you can just mix items and theyr parts (and slight nerf on high end items will make it easier after 1rush) and you got no pieces of lego to play with.

    TLDR: QQ more :P

    PS: one day i´ll make reply longer then original article, that´s a promise;)

    Last edited by K0stra: 11/18/2012 6:34:09 PM
  • #40 Flibbgibb

    But what you guys aren't looking at is the fact that QSS on it's own gives a decent amount of MR and a cleanse at 1640 gold. With the same amount of gold, someone building zhonya's can get either a bunch of AP OR a bunch of armor. It may cost 710 less, but zhonya's doesn't give nearly as much along the way. You're comparing 1640 to 3100.

  • #117 DirtySlanderer

    You also need to take into account the utility of Zhonya's vs. the utility of QSS.  QSS allows your ADC to continue critting on a 150 armor or more tank for over 500 damage a shot, twice per second, whereas zhonya's just keeps the AP alive while a non-channeled ability goes off or while their cooldowns are reduced.  It's like comparing apples to hand grenades, there really isn't an even comparison.  ADC would suck with a Zhonya-like item, because the entire enemy team would just pile on top of the zhonya'd ADC and nuke them the moment they came out, just like they do to the AP.  The difference with the APC is that the AP already did all of his burst before entering zhonya's, while the ADC remains a constant threat throughout the fight because there is no CD restriction on ADC damage.  

  • #133 Cerbereth

    And what about the nerf to Rabadon's Deathcap?

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