This post is not going to be all about meta game shifts and how you can win games, rather it's about something that's been annoying the hell out of me lately. Bruiser itemization sucks. When atma's was good and Maw was released bruiser itemization was at a high. You could get magic resist, armor, health, and finish it off with a nice GA to get super well rounded and high stats. Now with atma's being bad (and lets not joke, it is bad now) there's a rather severe gap in bruiser itemization which really sucks for trying to play high damage melee bruisers.
First off I've been playing super damaging bruisers lately. BT/brutalizer/Black cleaver Renekton/Jarvan/ect. and it's been really fun. However, it's also been sorta annoying how damn squishy I am compared to the other AP bruisers that can get abyssal/hourglass and walk around like they own the place. As such directly out of that has spawned this post, an urge to get some better bruiser itemization in for those bruisers that really want to get some more damage, but don't want to be as squishy as a support. (Actually no a support would be more tanky...)
What exactly makes AD bruiser itemization so bad?
So alright, lets talk about the two main things high damage melee bruisers are lacking. Movement speed and armor in items, also their health availability is kinda ehhhh. Trinity is alright but it's pretty inpractical to get the most expensive item in the game in a realistic situation. You'll notice the trend is to get frozen mallet on bruisers because its so much cheaper, gives more defensive stats, and as such will help you win far more than getting some more damage off later in the game after you can afford trinity. Now I'm not saying trinity is BAD, it's certainly a decent item for champions that have high base damage numbers and can chain proc it on top of an already high base survivability (Jax, Irelia, ect.) But for others? Not so much. I guess it would be easiest to explain why I have these issues by explaining what caused me to get so annoyed with those AP bruisers.
Now look I'm not talking about Irelia or someone who can build one wit's, at trinity, 3 other tank items, and have 2900 HP with 300armor/150MR. I don't mean that build. I'd like it if an actual DAMAGING build was viable. The tanky build 1 damage 4 tank item build has been the thing to go to forever. However, it's been the thing to go to even for champions who want to get some damage under their belt. However, a Maw/BT simply isn't going to be survivable enough. You gotta get an Omen just to keep up and even then you're gonna be decently damaging, but slow, and not really worth how squishy you are. At this point you're already building tank items. What's more, the tanky build will probably do more damage simply because they live longer to do more damage. The big thing to note here is I want items that trade off tankiness for more damage, BUT still retain tankiness so they aren't dead in 2 seconds. Think Mordekaiser here, he isn't the tankiest dude in in the world but he turns in to a ball of death that kills anything that gets near him. I want that sort of itemization and option available for someone like Jarvan.
Of a last note here, because there aren't many double up items (you can get a BT and an omen but not both at the same time) you are often left with a weakness. If I go BT/Maw as my two starting items I'm ridiculously squishy to physical. If I go BT/omen then magic is just gonna eat right through me. Unlike AP that can go the usual hourglass/abyssal and get damage/damage/MR/armor out of two items there simply isn't a combo like that for AD bruisers right now.
Mordekaiser, Morgana, Vlad, and Ahri surprsingly. Champions that can load up on the tanky AP items and become both hugely damaging and hugely hard to kill. There is a severe gap in power between these champions and high damage melee bruisers right now because their itemization is flat out BETTER. Compare the impact of abyssal scepter and maw. Maw is 650 gold more expensive and doesn't give nearly the damage output abyssal does (a large part is because abyssal is able to push many enemies to near 0 MR.) Additionally, Maw gives 36 MR and Abyssal gives 57 MR. Maw does give the shield, but the shield isn't a 100% thing and is often avoided because AP damage tends to be up front, followed by physical damage burst. The big thing to note here though is that Abyssal is also an AURA, 650 gold cheaper, gives far more damage, and when comboed with effects such as vlad's healing or mord's shield will often end being just as useful for mitigation as Maw (since, you know, being pushed to lower MR by penetration does result in drastic increases in damage taken.)
AP bruiser items versus AD bruiser items.
But okay, that's just one item. Lets go on. Hell, lets just compare another item to Maw. (Since bruisers only get ONE ITEM right now.) Hourglass versus Maw. One is better and 200 gold cheaper, the other is Maw. Hourglass gives an invaluable use effect that allows AP champions to initiate a fight, use all their abilities, go invulnerable to block counter attacks and get their abilities up off CD, and also gives 100 AP and 50 armor. Maw gives a unique effect that can give, like, 28 damage man. In this case the bruiser item is actually better for damage, albeit not by much and only at low life (because Bruisers LOVE being low on life, it's like CANDY to them.) However, AGAIN, it's 200 gold more expensive gives less resistances and relies primarly on being beaten down by magic damage while low on life for its effect. Hourglass can actually proactively dodge abilities (which mind you will reduce a LOT more damage than a 400 health shield that only effects one damage type will) and be used to initiate a fight. Can you imagine using that effect on a bruiser? Drag em in with Darius, QW, then hourglass and wait. What does the opposing team do, wait next to you for 2 seconds and effectively take a 2 second stun, or try to fight your team then be missing abilities when you get out of hourglass? Both of those options sucks, its why Ahri initiates are so freaking powerful right now.
What's more, AP champions have itemization that allows them to continue being a massive threat late game. Deathcap, Deathfire grasp, being ranged. When a like Renekton has his Maw/Randiuns where exactly does he proceed? Randuins is sorta passable cause at least it has 5% CDR, but that's it for bruiser itemization, it ends there. He must now decide to be excessively squishy or excessively tanky. What's worse is the fact that his damage will never get on par with what an AP bruiser like Vlad can pull off because of Deathcap or Deathfire Grasp. A BT is no match for the damage output provided by even the cheaper Deathfire Grasp. Come late game too if I want to get a full damage item there's no AD caster item like Deathcap to maximize on the damage you've obtained. I can go abyssal/hourglass and finish it off with a Deathcap and still end up tanky with a good 500 AP. What's more, if I decide to get a WotA on my AP bruiser it gives an amazing aura that helps everyone. I've got abyssal helping everyone, WotA helping everyone, I'm super damaging and can initiate without dying. I'm an amazing help to my team. Now take the bruiser, I have BT. Only helps myself. I have maw. Only helps myself. I finally get Omen which debuffs teams for ~2 seconds due to the low resistances of (most) bruisers. However, I don't do CRAP for my team. Don't say Jarvan the Fourth gives his team stat buffs btw or I'll counter with Vlad to which you'll say something like Darius pull to which I'll mention Kennen AoE stun and we'll go back and forth forever. Just stick to the items.
So hashinshin, what would you do to help bruisers get some more damage itemization?
I'd really like to see some more bruiser itemization that is on par with the tanky itemization for mages. What's more, I'd like to see itemization aimed specifically at addressing the issues of mid/end game damage bruisers (I'll reassert here again I mean DAMAGE bruisers, not tank bruisers.) I'd like to see an item that punishes auto attack bots. Lets just give an example here. Now remember this is an example, not something I'd just throw in the game right now without testing: 60 damage, 50 armor, every time you are hit with a basic attack the attacker has his attack speed reduced by 5% for 2.5 seconds. This effect stacks up to 3 times and is doubled if critically struck. Tada. Boom. Bruisers can now get an item that can actually fight and compete with ranged carries late game. Obviously if they're getting 3 shot it'd be useless (as the first attack would be full speed, second attack -10%, third attack -20%) but if you build a proper bruiser with damage and tankiness you'd see great use of the item, which I think is key to bruiser itemization. Much like how Maw is intended to give a giant shield that helps if you have more MR for it. I'd also like to see some bruiser itemization that helps your team. Like Zeke's, just more so. I know Zeke's is supposed to be a support item but what exactly about the team helping bruiser items? AP got abyssal and WotA, why can't bruisers get something like old Stark's (just, you know, good.) What's more, I'd like to see some CDR though I imagine that'll come on the AD caster item which would be the crowning jewel for bruisers.
Why the movement speed item though? You got trinity!
Now you might be wondering why I asked for movement speed on a bruiser item when AP bruisers don't get it. Well in a perfect world nobody would get it outside of Trinity force where you actually pay for the stat. However, since AD carries get movement speed for free it basically requires AD bruisers to get chain gap closers chain bla bla to keep up. Well some of them don't have all that and instead could really use an item that helps them with some movement speed. They're not all Riven with 4 gap closers, some of them are Renekton with 2 gap closers at 14 seconds CD that simply can't stay on a carry that escapes then flashes then slows with red buff. I'm talkin about the Olafs, the Gangplanks, ect. I think some encouragement to build squishier yet actually get some good strategy out of it would be nice. Something like an item with 35 damage, 25 magic resist, 40 armor, and 8% movement speed. Make it a good maybe 2600 gold item that builds out of 2x cloth armor, null magic mantle, and a pickaxe. Again just an idea I'm throwing out here without much thought but the idea is once again there. It gives some solid bruiser stats and a decent chunk of move speed to keep you in the game as a squishier bruiser.
Anyway that's what has really been annoying me lately. A lot of bruiser game woes late game are just from the fact that itemization for them is so shallow and bad, where as itemization for AP bruisers is like an angelic choir singing blissful music to them. Bruisers right now have severe gaps in itemization in armor items, aura items, debuff items, and such on. Maybe the itemization problem could be fixed by just giving bruisers AD scaling shields, AD scaling resists, and such on. Maybe bruisers just need to start being like Jax and Riven. Perhaps Jarvan's shield and Renekton's health gain should get a 1.0 AD ratio. I guess with our current itemization that's just the way to go with it. We all know Riot hates adding items (AD caster item) so I guess working around those items is the best way to go. I don't really see a problem with this, but it'll become another hot topic for the forums.
Something for all to read right here.
As a last note since I'm sure people are going to misinterpret this. I am NOT talking about Irelia/Skarner/blabla. I'm talking about the super damage oriented bruisers like Garen, Renekton, Jarvan, Lee Sin, those people that could potentially build damage but just can't since the itemization simply isn't there for them. Before you go off to the comments section in a hooha about how I want to buff Darius or whatever please note a couple of things. 1. This post did not suddenly give champions more than 6 item slots. That Darius that went Maw/trinity/Omen/GA/Frozen heart/Ninja tabi? He did not suddenly gain a 7th slot to add in one of my items. 2. Again I'll reassert SINCE I'M SURE EVERYONE IS GOING TO MISS IT that I'm trying to suggest more damage oriented builds on bruisers should be viable. That means items that help you do DAMAGE with a minor in tankiness. I'm NOT suggesting we just go ahead and buff omen back up to 15% CDR. 3. A large part of this relies on the AD caster item coming out at some point ever and serving as the lynch pin that makes the build viable. And lastly: 4. The items already in the game are really powerful. Frozen heart gives 99 armor, 20% CDR, and a 20% attack speed debuff aura. An item would have be really powerful to knock that off most bruiser's builds as its just so powerful. Omen too is just really freakin good. GA is borderline OP. The items would have to be just as good, probably better, to get melee to give up their tanky items for some not so tanky items.
I don't expect tanky itemization to be overtaken by damage/tanky itemization for bruisers at the super high/tournament scene regardeless of whats added. Bruisers would need to kill the shit out of people really well in order to make up for potentially dying in an exhaust/stun chain. However, I do think it'd be really fun in order to play Jarvan, Dunkmasta J, in a damaging build and not be a laugh riot for it. You know I forgot to mention this through out the entire post somehow but I'll just put it here. The ideal price range for these iteams is 2700-3300. I'm not really looking for dirt cheap items here for early game. I want more solid mid/end game bruiser items that can have health/armor/movement speed.
This post ignores Athene's grail cause I don't think I've seen that item more than twice. It's a pretty solid item stat wise. CDR, MR, tons of AP, mana regen. However, I think when put up against DFG that DFG sorta just wins.
Finally I'm ignoring wit's end cause that's a specialty item that only a few champions can use, it's not something Jarvan/Renekton can pick up.
These posts always look much shorter when I'm writing them. Follow me on twitter @hashinshin, it makes you at least twice as Zazzy.