Black Cleaver, not an AD caster item. Just an overpowered item.

So for today's post I thought I'd discuss BC. In no particular order, as this will tend to fly around seeing as how there are so many things to discuss, you will find many different discussions about BC. Now I'm not trying to give out facts here, but rather bring to light certain ... well facts that are simply true. Such as the fact that BC is not an actual AD caster item, and the fact that adding more counters to physical damage have brought the game in a bad direction. What's more, the lack of a real AD caster item is still plaguing this game. Finally, BC's lack of real counterplay and perfect build path make the only true response to BC is to BC harder.

This is veryvery long because I felt BC needed a proper discussion and not just a couple paragraphs thrown around. 


BC is not an AD caster item. It's just a big fat item with bloated stats.

I'mma just get this out of the way since it's what you're all going to be arguing with.

You notice that practically every champion that uses AD is still using BC despite not being an AD caster. Olaf, Rengar, Shaco, Ezreal. Champions with very few or small AD ratios. Why? It just is a well stat physical damage item. Penetration, %penetration, damage, HP, and cooldown reduction. All things every champion who who attacks using physical damage would want, and way too much of those stats So what's the problem? Look at it like old DFG. DFG was a single target damage burst item. DFG was SO UNGODLY OVERPOWERED that even AoE mages bought it. Was it a good AoE mage item? No, it was just so overpowered that it was good on Karthus.

A. Delayed damage, B. Health, and C. Team utility are all not ideal for AD casters. So why are they buying it? The same reason Karthus bought DFG. BC is just so overstat that there's no reason to NOT buy it. If BC gets balanced with these things in mind (the A B and C) it will no longer look ideal for AD casters since it's giving so much away to things they don't want. 

Look at recent tournaments, did you ever see a brutalizer on the veryveryvery few AD casters picked? Renekton? Kha'Zix? Not a one. Yet despite other AD items becoming cheaper brutalizer is keeping it's same cost. What's worse is that they're going to reduce it's penetration devaluing it even further. So why would AD casters who generally avoid brutalizer and go for bigger items that supply more damage start buying brutalizer? Especially when it gives many stats that most AD casters don't even care about. Why would Talon suddenly take an interest in team utility and delayed burst when he's all about getting the kill or dying immediately after failing? It doesn't make sense does it. In a perfect world of balanced items why would Talon EVER get the item stating health, team utility, and delayed damage?

AD casters still have no AD caster item!

Remember when Maw was the AD caster item?

Most importantly and something DFG does is it HELPS YOU SCALE. AD casters still have 0 AD caster items, while AP casters have DFG, lichbane, and deathcap. Though BC does give you penetration which gives % increases to damage (by removing % damage reduction), it doesn't directly go in and give you better scaling. Olaf makes just as good (likely far better) a use out of BC as Talon. Meanwhile, Maokai does NOT make as good a use of DFG as Leblanc. Do you see the problem? BC is merely an item to get physical damage to do damage, and doesn't really scale it. DFG is an item to get magical damage to do damage, and DOES scale it. Compare how a champion like Leblanc who is all about burst damage can actually use DFG, but a champion with sustained damage like Karthus really can't.

Hydra is actually more like an AD caster item than BC. It just has the opposite problem of BC in that it's really weak and understat (and also pays a lot for the HP10.) Hydra gives you another 100% AD nuke. That ALONE makes it more of an AD caster item than BC. Why? Because IT MAKES YOU SCALE BETTER. You add an additional 1.0 AD ratio to your rotation. Rengar's 110 AD is actually giving noticeably less damage from Hydra than Talon's 300 AD. Even Olaf with his 150 AD can't make much use of Hydra. Compare that to BC where both Olaf and Rengar can buy BC as their only damage item and still do fantastic damage (Olaf especially, dem axes man.) If they bought Hydra as their only damage item you'd be like "wow you're a moron." And with BC's 250 health it's far easier to splash in a tank build than Hydra is. 

And here's your problem right here with BC: BC is just being abused to allow base damage to continue to scale really well with a single item's worth of investment. What's worse is since it gives health a champion like Lee Sin (who used to get LW to do the same thing people are using BC for now) more incentive to get it to bolster their resistances. And it gives AD carries yet another way to continue to shred off armor and kill tanks even harder. Consider that the addition of cooldown reduction is also incredibly valuable to pretty much every bruiser, while being kinda meh on AD casters. In the end BC is a fantastic sustained damage item, and a pretty meh burst item. And, again, once it's not OP and stat fairly it's burst damage worth for AD casters will be incredibly low. 

Counters to standard gameplay must be limited, or they counter the game itself.

Make too many counters to the normal gameplay and people stop playing normal.

In Magic the Gathering (from here on referred to as MTG) Counterspells are OP, and some creatures are OP. What MTG designers quickly realized though that if too many counterspells were ever in a standard environment (standard play meaning the 2 most recent release blocks) that they would dominate everything. Well why could tons of OP creatures not dominate, yet when you added too many counterspelled they dominated? Because counterspells in magic effectively let you pick and choose what you get to fight by countering everything you don't want to fight. If I have limited counterspells I can only choose 2 maybe 3 things to take out. If I could field 8 I could take anything away from my opponent that I even thought might harm me. When a counter gets out of hand and isn't limited it just counters everything. Anything that will win the game for you I counter.

Think of penetration as the counter. Getting armor is a standard mode of play, much like it is to block in a fighting game. It's not really a counter, it's just what you should be doing. Penetration counters your defense. A little bit of penetration counters a little bit of armor. A LOT of penetration counters all armor, and effectively negates any counters to your strategy. Since this game has yet to introduce counters to armor penetration (like a creature immune to counterspells would be in MTG) the counter comes out on top and reigns supreme. When LW was the only true counter it was limited and regulated. With BC and LW being around you can penetrate nearly 60% of total armor with masteries included. So people stopped building defenses. 

When AD casters counter everything intended to stop them nothing left stops them. At that point all you can do is hope their strategy (stabbing you to death) is weaker than your strategy (killing them before you get stabbed to death.) Many champions simply can't perform that strategy, because AD casters also tend to be the best at bursting. So what's left? Hope you're so ridiculously tanky that you can fight back (Olaf) or just die (Ashe.) With extremely few champions able to tank AD casters you see the issue with putting too many counters in to the game. What's more is the tanky champions themselves go BC + tank items, so it's really just BC beating itself. Which just goes further to say that people stopped playing normal and started playing BC. 

And another problem with Black Cleaver is there is no correct counterplay. It counters its own counterplay.

You can't make an item that counters the counters to the item it builds from. That's too many counters in one sentence.

Brutalizer now allows you to set up your enemy. Lets say I build a brutalizer. Just a brutalizer. What is your response? The proper response is "get armor, he has flat armor pen." However I'm only 1600 gold away from a % armor shred that'll punish you for building armor. So what do you do? Well, you die really. There's just no good option to get out of this situation. Build armor and get punished for it, don't build armor and get punished for it. An unfair situation has been created where no matter what you do it was the wrong choice. Basically, the item has to be balanced against the fact that it can't be beaten. It has to do lower damage for its cost to balance the fact that it can't be beaten.

Basically, it makes the only acceptable answer to fighting a BC to build your own damage items, and since BC is the best damage item you'll be building that one. Flat penetration always does the most damage since resistances counter it. But since BC beats resistances too it gets the best of both worlds. Also it shreds your armor for their entire team. So the end result is exactly what we're seeing in games right now: Everybody buys BC. Even once it doesn't stack it's going to have this weird funky balance where it simply has to be a bad item or everyone is gonna have to buy it. Because, and let me put this in quotable form: Black Cleaver has your enemies getting countered at every turn you forced them to take.

BC does try to help. It wasn't all bad.

It's that they were thinking of AD casters that counts right?

So this section originally was going to just be me making fun of Riot but I figured I should just explain something. This is real talk.

Riot thinks AD casters need %penetration. Why? Armor/level and armor stats scale so wildly out of control that most AD casters are simply defeated by their opponents leveling and buying even one armor item. A level 18 ranged carry with GA even after the nerf has a cool 120+ armor. Where as a level 18 ranged carry with GA has 60 MR. AD ratios are only only 175-200% of their AP ratios, yet also get no item multiplication and have to fight through severely jacked up resistances comparatively. %penetration allows AD casters to get through all that crap.

Here's the problem though. AD casters need an item that gives them multiplying effects. Why can't we just toss them %penetration? Because then the AD carries get ahold of it or the bruisers get it and they run away with it. The problem and what Riot absolutely REFUSES to admit is that AD casters need to scale better, and that can only be done with items that multiply their power. Why they havn't released an item that has 50 damage and a 30 second CD 100 + bonus 100% AD ratio nuke is beyond me. I mean hell, why did the DFG effect go to AP carries? Why didn't AD carries get Chopper's Chopper that chops an enemy and makes them bleed for 4 seconds where they take 20% bonus physical damage from you. I dunno, the entire situation is made ridiculously complex by Riot's refusal to admit AD casters are a people. 

So in conclusion!...

And not out conclusion.

Black Cleaver is going to be a huge balance problem for a very long time I think. While the upcoming nerfs are rather harsh the amount of ridiculousness BC can pull off right now will merely be reigned in such that true AD casters look balanced with it, while champions like Olaf or even Darius make this item look completely broken tier even after nerfs. BC just offers very little counterplay due to its itemization, offers a perfect build path that forces your opponent to itemize a certain way then immediately counters it, and generally just seems like Riot really could've thought this one through a little bit more. 

I'm just waiting for Riot to release the real AD caster item so Black Cleaver can take its intended role as a back item to help AD casters get through armor stacking easier. 

END RESULT: BC was not released in a state healthy for the game. It's combination of double penetration, countering its own counters, and massive identity crisis are ... well they're pretty bad. 




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