Friday, June 27, 2014

Reworked and Remastered - Nidalee Edition

Major reworks everywhere! Rito has just released two major kit reworks for vastly different champions: Nidalee, everyone's favorite spear chucking, slippery cat, and Skarner, the long-forgotten scorpion king of the jungle. Up ahead, I'm going to go over all of the changes that occurred and what they entail, as well as how well I think the change will go over in game.

First up is Nidalee. She's been an issue Riot has needed to address for a long time now. Her playstyle was really against what the core components of the game were, and this led to an unengaging experience. Her kit revolved completely around staying as far back as she could to stay out of range and maximize spear damage, which could have the possibility of one-shotting squishies late game.

If she was too close, she transformed to cougar form and pounced back to that range. Rinse and repeat. Add on to that, she had a large heal as well, meaning she could out-sustain you in addition to being able to run away from almost anything. In other words, if Nidalee was ahead, she had to misposition majorly to have a chance for the other team to win.

Her enemies weren't the only ones that suffered. Nidalee's kit was stronger the longer a siege took. More time sieging = higher % of spears hitting = less safe for enemy to hold towers without healing. Teammates were stuck sitting around in front of a tower waiting for Nidalee to hit enough spears to make the enemy run off. They couldn't leave her alone because she isn't enough of a threat by herself when taking a tower. It was boring, and the only person having fun that whole time was Nid. That goes for either side.

So how could Riot fix this without gutting her and making a whole new kit? Let's look at each change and compare the before and after.

(Note: I go pretty in-depth into changes to her kit here and what they entail for playstyles. If you feel you understand the new kit and what the changes mean, I've put a TL;DR that summarizes my thoughts on her kit as a whole and where she lies in the meta.)

·         First Nidalee has access to her cougar form at level 1.

Actually I think the important thing to note is that Nidalee will have access to her cougar form at levels 3-4.
Nidalee has to have at minimum two skills to use cougar, and three to be effective in most cases. This wasn't an issue before because she would have at least a point in every ability by level 6, but now she needs to level the human skill before she uses it in cougar. Nidalee used to be an easy gank pre-6, and the ult change is a slight buff to her early mobility, but nothing huge. Pounce doesn't cover a large area, and it received its share of changes as well.


·         MOVEMENT---Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 10% for 2 seconds, increased to 30% toward visible enemy champions within a range of 5500.
·         HUNTED---Damaging champions with Javelin Toss or Bushwhack marks them as 'Hunted' for 4 seconds, granting Nidalee vision of them, 30% increased movement speed toward them (within a range of 5500) and enhancing her next Takedown, Pounce, and Swipe against them.

I couldn't find any previous numbers but I believe Nidalee's base movespeed increase in brush was nerfed, while her bonus when chasing is higher than the static number in 4.9.

At her core, Nidalee is a hunter. Her old kit was more sniper than hunter though. The major attempt to fix this is through the passive change. It leaves some room to be overall faster in the jungle, but gives a much larger reward through chasing the enemy you've marked. A much more cohesive kit and theme.

In addition, Nidalee players had almost no use in going to cougar form outside of wave clearing alone and moving around the map. Why trade in someone's face when you can chuck spears from far away?

Sure the cougar form damage is more likely to hit, but even if you hit everything in cougar you could still lose the trade. If you chuck a spear from far away, you would either do just as much or more damage and, if you missed, it wasn't a problem because you only lost a bit of mana and a cooldown as opposed to a bunch of precious health.

The stall tactic needed to be addressed, but rather than trying to pull Nidalee's human form in line with cougar, Riot gave her more effects to tandem human form into cougar. Her offensive human spells mark her enemy. If Nidalee hits cougar spells on a hunted target, her cougar spells do additional effects. I'll explain the effects as I go over the cougar spell.

Credit to Surrender@20 for pic

Hitting a marked opponent with a cougar spell does not consume the mark in any way, shape, or form. In essence, if Nidalee marks a target, she has a much higher ability to duel that person. If you're Nidalee, it means you should look to fight. If you're marked, wait out the timer before you fight.
Ok, real skill time! I'm going to split her human and cougar forms into different sections since they're not related directly to each other and just share hot keys.
Nidalee's human spells all enhance as you level that specific skill (Q, W, E). Cougar form spells, on the other hand, are only enhanced by levels in her ultimate (R).

Human Form

Javelin Toss

·         HUNTED---Applies the 'Hunted' debuff to champions for 4 seconds
·         RANGE----1500 units (damage caps out at 1300)
·         MINIMUM MAGIC DAMAGE-----50/75/100/125/150 (+0.4 ability power)
·         MAXIMUM MAGIC DAMAGE-----150/225/300/375/450 (+1.2 ability power)
·         COST----50/60/70/80/90 mana
·         COOLDOWN-----6 seconds
·         WIDTH----Missile width 60 30

Big damage reduction overall on the spears, which was necessary. Basically you can still sit back and siege, but it’s going to be harder to chunk people and you’ll have to be more accurate. Oh, and about that accuracy. Spears are half the size now. You get a Hunted debuff on them, though, which is nice, but while you can still put a hurt on people, it’s harder. You’re better off using them to set up a cougar follow up.


·         HUNTED----Applies the 'Hunted' debuff to champions for 4 seconds
·         MAGIC DAMAGE-----20/40/60/80/100 + 12/14/16/18/20% current health (+1% per 50 ability power) over the duration of 4 seconds
·         DURATION-----2 minutes
·         COST-----40/45/50/55/60 mana
·         COOLDOWN-----17/15/13/11/9 seconds
·         CLARITY-----Only affects one target per trap

The important change here is the debuff no longer shreds MR and armor. This was probably the least known of Nidalee’s strengths. Hitting a trap would not only let her know where you were but make you more susceptible to all kinds of damage. A trap into spear was able to chunk out even the bulkiest tanks. Now, they apply the same Hunted debuff as spears.

Riot still wanted to keep an aspect of their tank shredding ability though. They did this by making the traps do % current health. It’s a nice touch to take away a large portion of Nidalee’s hidden power but still keep what her traps previously did in a sense. The traps were also made a bit more visually noticeable in what area they covered.

Primal Surge

·         HEAL---45/85/125/165/205 (+0.5 ability power)
·         ATTACK SPEED BONUS----20/30/40/50/60% attack speed
·         COST----60/80/100/120/140 mana
·         COOLDOWN----12 seconds

The base heal and ratio got hit hard here. Nid’s ability to not only poke like crazy, but shrug off any counter poke, solidified her as the top poke champ in the game. If you had already decided to poke but weren’t able to get Nidalee, it was GG, because even a whole team had trouble trying to counter her abilities.

She can’t sustain forever anymore, now, and because her heal was heavily decreased, the attack speed is more prominent and useful in the skill but overall her heal was straight-up nerfed.

Cougar Form


·         HUNTED BONUS---The first Takedown targeting a 'Hunted' champion deals +33% increased damage
·         UTILITY-----Nidalee gains +75 attack range for the Takedown attack
·         MINIMUM MAGIC DAMAGE----4/20/50/90 (+0.24 ability power) (+1.0 attack damage)
·         MAXIMUM MAGIC DAMAGE----10/50/125/225 (+0.6 ability power) (+2.5 attack damage)
·         COST----No cost
·         COOLDOWN----5 seconds

And here is where a lot of new things come into play. Cougar spells get a lot of extra effects if used on a target just hit by a human form spell. This opens a lot of dueling/assassin play where Nidalee didn’t have that option available before, despite it being part of her theme.

At its core, Takedown, and what the spell did, haven’t changed. The two largest changes are the Hunted bonus and the ratio change. Takedown still is best used as an execute, but it has to be set up.

This is the spell that bruiser AD Nid fans were most upset about. This used to deal AD damage, but for the sake of simplicity, which some people are disagreeing with, it was changed to deal magic damage. This pretty much gutted the AD build. While it still has an AD ratio, the fact that it now deals magic damage makes Nidalee a lot easier to itemize against and she no longer gets anything out of building armor penetration. It wasn’t an overly popular build path, but some people still did it.

The second and more widely affected change was the addition of the hunted effect. Now if Nidalee uses Takedown on a hunted target, the damage is increased by 1/3rd. This is done instead of doing more damage based on missing health. It lowers her possible damage done, while still retaining the idea that it’s meant to be followed up after hitting a spear or trap.


·         HUNTED BONUS----The first Pounce directly towards a 'Hunted' champions will have up to 700 range
·         UTILITY----Killing a unit in cougar form reduces the cooldown of Pounce to 1 second
·         UTILITY-----Nidalee now pounces in the direction of the player's cursor
·         MAGIC DAMAGE----50/100/150/200 (+0.3 ability power)
·         COST----No cost
·         COOLDOWN----5 seconds

Probably Nid’s most annoying skill both for her and her opponent. The jump was a little bit faster than just walking, so people spammed it anytime they moved anywhere and it only added on to her frustrating slipperiness with her passive. I can confidently say the only time that this was used for its damage was to clear waves or in times of desperation. Not for its dueling potential.

So Riot raised the cooldown of the skill unless you kill an enemy in cougar form. It means Nidalee can still clear with pounce well and use it to jump in and kill, but you can no longer fly around the map jumping everywhere. Still useful to run around, but much less so.

You might have noticed I said that this skill was annoying to both the enemy and Nidalee. Since Nidalee was released pretty early in comparison to other champs, her kit was a bit dated. That’s putting it nicely. The way Pounce was programmed, Nidalee jumped towards wherever she was moving. This is a much different thought process than most champs who have smartcasted movement abilities.

Riven, for example, dashes towards the players cursor when she uses her shield. Nid could jump through a lot of walls with Pounce, but the way that it worked meant you had to maneuver awkwardly so that you could move to the wall and  face it in a way to jump head on. Now, Nid just jumps towards the players cursor. It’s a bit strange to pick up on after getting used to having to aim the jump, but it will be easy enough after some adjusting.

I, personally, really enjoy the changes to Pounce. It was intended to be a way to initiate a fight and get in peoples faces, but people found more use in trying to run away with it. So in order to give you more incentive to jump into the fray, if you Pounce towards an enemy within 700 range you now jump on top of them. Here’s a picture to give an idea.

As you can see there’s an indicator showing how close you need to be to get the activation on the passive. It’s really useful and feels awesome to jump in and start wrecking people with cougar form now.


·         HUNTED BONUS----The first Swipe that damages a 'Hunted' champion reduces the cooldown of Pounce to 1 second
·         UTILITY----Nidalee now swipes in the direction of the player's cursor
·         MAGIC DAMAGE----70/130/190/250 (+0.45 ability power)
·         COST----No cost
·         COOLDOWN----5 seconds

Swipe didn't see much of a change. If anything, it got a small buff through the new passive. Nidalee's main form of wave clear is to Pounce into Swipe on as many minions as you can. She now has access to that pre-6. Swipe had two things changed this patch and both are small, but one has a large impact.

I'll touch on the less important one first. Swipe got the same treatment that Pounce did. Instead of doing damage in front of Nidalee's current position, she now swipes toward the player's cursor. Most people already had her facing towards the cursor 95% of the time, but gone are the days where you would Pounce too far and miss Swipe as well, now she'll turn around if you aim correctly. Once again, it'll take a little to adjust to, but it's a quality of life adjustment that's been asked for.

Next, the one that should actually buff some cougar damage. If Nidalee Swipes a Hunted enemy champion, her Swipe cooldown decreases by 1 second. I'll reiterate that Riot really wanted to pull back some human form damage in favor of cougar, and this was the correct way to do it. Not by straight up damage buffs, but rewarding what they want her kit to do.

Conclusion--also TL;DR

How has Nidalee been changed since the rework? Can you still sit back and poke people out to win?

Well....yes and no. Her poke damage and sustain both got hit pretty hard. You can still do it for sure, but you get less out of it. In addition to less reward, it's also harder to do because of less MR shred on traps and smaller spears.

Her old strength is still there, but to get the most out of her kit, you have to follow up that poke with cougar form. Straight AP Nidalee still works since she has an easy way to dive deep in cougar, but AP bruiser could be a strat as well.

In short her damage has been funneled to be more reliant on cougar follow up than poke. Making a mastery of both forms more important than before and increasing her versatility in duelist ways while lowering it in safety.

The initial reaction I've had and others have told me is she's still a strong pick, and more fun to play as and against. However, in a meta that is increasingly moving towards wave control/AoE mages over assassins she'll most likely see a slow drop off from competitive play in favor of Ziggs.

Her win rate has taken a steep drop this past week, lowest in the game actually...Urgot pls. (Last week her new kit hit live.) Although, don't expect it to stay there long. A lot of people have to relearn how to play her, because the subtleties have all been tweaked.

By the way, Skarner article is coming

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

EU LCS Thursday Preview:

by Silje
Copenhagen Wolves vs Fnatic
The Wolves showed off some good plays to an appreciative audience at Wembley last week. YoungBuck led his team to one of their best games vs Alliance, and ended up generating an impressive 12/3/5 on Irelia. Unfortunately, the game turned into a loss for the Wolves after Airwaks stepped on one of Froggen's Nidalee traps on the way to baron. Fnatic, on the other hand, won their first game against Gambit's substitutes. It was a well-played match from Fnatic's side, and as veterans within the LCS, they had an advantage over Gambit the entire game. Not a surprising win - but a good one. Fnatic's game on Day 2 was entertaining and tense. Millenium, with their gank-comp, set the pace of the game and took the early lead. Fnatic's Cyanide did a good job kicking Millenium out of position in team fights, and when Millenium got a bit overconfident, Fnatic punished them for it. Millenium still won, though, thanks to their map awareness and control, plus strong late game performances by Twitch and LeBlanc. But all in all, Fnatic showed some good plays despite the loss.
Based on last week's performances, this game should be intense and entertaining. Personally, my featured match-up will be SoaZ and YoungBuck in the top lane. SoaZ has shown that he can play a huge variety of top laners, from Renekton to Lulu to Shyvana and Trundle. Nothing seems to stop that guy from picking any champion. He knows how to play them all. YoungBuck on the other hand, leans towards tanky/bruiser top laners. He's had some games on Vladimir, but without much luck.  Renekton, Shyvana, Irelia and Trundle are all champions he is capable of playing. His last week's Irelia was huge.
Alliance vs Millenium
Millenium beat Fnatic, and lost to ROCCAT last week. That was, for me, somehow a surprise. I was expecting Fnatic to keep up their good play and win against Millenium. This game just shows how even the EU region is. Every team can beat each other. Their win against Fnatic was thanks to their gank/pick comp and their good late-game map control. LeBlanc and Twitch are also so strong late game that they can molest any opponents in their way. Kottenx proved that he is a good Evelynn and should not be underrated as a jungler. Alliance, on the other hand, won both of their games last week. They secured a convincing win against SK, who is known for their weaker early game. The match against the Copenhagen Wolves didn't turn out to be as one-sided as you would expect, looking at the standings.  The Wolves put up a good fight  - and one of their best games so far this split. Alliance had trouble with Youngbuck's impressive performance, and (with a little help from that Nid trap) they were fortunate to take the win.  
Alliance is currently showing dominance in the EU LCS. They have solid laners, as well as strong team play. Millenium has a lot of adept individual players who can carry games, e.g. Kerp on LeBlanc and Creaton on Twitch. It will be interesting to watch what kind of game these teams put up, and who will be the team choosing the pace. My featured match-up will be in the jungle. Both Kottenx and Shook have a wide variety of champions in their pools. Shook's Lee Sin-play is well-known throughout the community, and Kottenx is scary good on Evelynn. Kottenx had big shoes to fill as a replacement for Araneae but, he is, in my opinion, living up to the role he was given. 
Supa Hot Crew vs Gambit
In Supa Hot Crew's game vs the Copenhagen Wolves, they suffered in the early-mid stages of the game. It seemed like the Wolves might win when they managed to push SHC into their base, but Mimer, with his 13/2/5  Kayle, kept that from happening. Mimer scored a triple on the Wolves as they attempted to take SHC's middle inhibitor, successfully stopping their advance. Woolite tried to backdoor them, but Mimer went back to save the base, allowing SHC to secure the win.  Supa Hot Crew vs SK Gaming was a funny match. SHC's Selfie tried to play Nocturne mid against Jesiz's Kassadin and it didn't work out the way they intended. With solid play from SK Gaming, SHC suffered a loss. Gambit's core roster could not participate in London due to visa issues, and yet NiQ and the team's last minute substitutes did a decent job. NiQ's Nidalee was simply Godlike. I think that is a champion you should keep away from him in the future. Gambit lost both their games, but with a team that consisted mainly of solo-queue players, they weren't bad at all. They made some amazing plays.
I think this game will depend on how much of a positive impact the junglers can make on the game. Both Diamond and Impaler possess good mechanics and gank-capabilities, and both are capable of helping their teams win, depending on who does it best. That's why my featured match-up will be in the jungle. Diamond can pull out some unconventional junglers at times, such as Xin Zhao and Udyr, but usually without much luck. Impaler has been sticking to the traditional junglers. He is doing very well with Lee Sin and Elise.
SK Gaming vs ROCCAT
SK lost last week to Alliance and beat SHC. In their game vs Alliance, their early game was a bit shaky and they didn't seem like the SK team we are used to seeing being super decisive in their play style. In their game vs SHC, on the other hand, SK showed what happens if you give them the freedom to do things at their pace. We knew it was going to be an unusual game right from the picks and bans phase. Why would SK first pick Morgana when there were so many other strong picks open? When SHC locked in the Nocturne and Jarvan IV, first picking Morgana started to make sense, and also the pick of Caitlyn instead of a Lucian or Twitch. ROCCAT won their game against Gambit's substitutes, but it  wasn't a convincing win. Their win against Millenium looked stronger. They made good plays, and it looks like they're slowly growing stronger again.

My featured match-up in this game will be in the bottom lane, as the duo of CandyPanda and nRated take on ROCCAT's VandeR and Celaver. CandyPanda's Caitlyn scored a triple kill last week against Supa Hot Crew, showing that he is able to handle a variety of champions, considering the last week's favorite picks have been mainly Twitch, Kog or Lucian. In Week 5, Celaver had the highest KDA among the ADCs, while CandyPanda had the third highest. On support, VandeR had the second highest KDA and nRated the fourth highest KDA. nRated has shown that he is a total beast on Morgana, while VandeR has proven himself as the Thresh King multiple times. Both CandyPanda and Celaver can play the likes of Twitch/Lucian/Kog, but are also able to handle other ad carries such as Cait. 
Written By Silje

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who’s on Track for Season 4 Worlds?

by Reece "Sabrewolf" Dos-Santos

This season is shaping up to be the first season of NA where the three spots for worlds are not completely predictable. The NA LCS, by the half-way point, has already seen a good share of upsets, turnarounds, and explosive matches. By week six, the usually dominant Cloud 9 have already picked up their most losses in a split and appear to mirroring their European counterparts, Fnatic, in putting up inconsistent showings that vary from world class dominance to frighteningly average slumps.  When looking at the NA LCS with an objective view of only this split, it’s hard to deny that the three teams currently in pole position look to be the ones that push for the three NA spots.


CLG have consistently shown superiority in rotations, and mid to late game clarity in their game play.  They know what they’re working towards in almost every game and cleanly achieve their goals. The only team CLG cannot seem to overcome at this moment is Cloud 9, who delivered two of their four overall losses. LMQ got off to an electrifying start in the NA LCS, and while there were concerns about their ability to hold it up, they have been addressing the critics with particularly strong performances from Vasilii and three time "MVP of the Week," XiaoWeiXiao. Performances that are being backed up more and more by an improving Ackerman. Meanwhile, Dignitas have shown that they mean business with their additions of ZionSpartan and Shiphtur, and they have honestly shocked many watchers with their overpowering form in the first half of the split. However, like the other two front runners, Dignitas show signs of cracks. These cracks were clearly evident in their complete decimation at the hands of compLexity. Dignitas, out of the three, has had the best showings, but also put out one of the worst. The key to securing the Worlds' spot for them is simply consistency.

Despite being the favorites and the biggest NA names, Cloud 9 and TSM have had some substandard performances and only recently began clawing their way back. TSM, in particular, have begun to find some sort of form since the addition of Locodoco as a coach, but their main problem as a team is their inability to take games from the top teams in NA. They have a clean 6-0 record against the bottom three but are 0-5 against the top three. If TSM can work out how to challenge the top teams, they can push their way in for one of the spots at worlds, but unfortunately, a perfect record against EG, COL, and CRS won’t get TSM anything more than a mid-table finish. In almost a complete opposite regard, Cloud 9 are 2-0 against CLG, yet they haven’t been able to pick a win against the two bottom teams in the NA LCS. Whether it’s an issue with underestimating the lower tier competition or simply a bad clash of match-ups, Cloud 9 are sitting in fourth place solely because of their inability to take games from the lower tier competition. Both Cloud 9 and TSM can make it to Worlds, but only if they look at each other’s weaknesses and learn from them. The NA LCS is no longer their playground - it’s a battleground.

NA LCS Dark Horse: Evil Geniuses

The Evil Geniuses were mediocre at best last split and looked to repeat that form this split until they swapped out Snoopeh and Yellowpete, who honestly were well past their prime. The additions of Altec and Helios have completely revitalized the team and seem to have brought out the best in Pobelter, Krepo and Innox. Their performances have suddenly become fluid, calculated and hard-fought, and they only look to get better and better as they become more adjusted to each other - which is a scary thought when considering how good they looked in Helios’s first week. EG may sneak their way into playoffs and could be the team to upset the war between the Top Five.

The EU LCS: 

EU, however, isn't as much of a tight contest compared to NA.  Alliance are already an almost guaranteed spot with a completely dominant 10-2 record, with losses against SHC and GMB which honestly seemed like they had simply removed their foot from the gas pedal. Alliance was a team created by Froggen to go Worlds, and honestly it seemed shaky at the start of the Spring Split, but then the team grew used to each other and almost perfectly synergized. We have to give it to Froggen, he knows how to create a top tier team. At this point, the only plausible way Alliance could not make it to Worlds is through a monumental internal explosion between them, the chances of that are highly unlikely. But EU have shown that any team can slump their way out of first place in the blink of an eye. Alliance’s test now is merely breaking that stereotype, which shouldn't be hard for them.

The other team that looks jet set for Worlds is SK gaming who, like Alliance, completely shot out from the bottom of the table into complete bliss in the second half of spring. SK has shown complete dominance in their team-based game play and map rotations, and clarity in ending games where they are comfortably ahead. Jesiz, in particular, has blossomed into a hero that SK Gaming can rely on in almost every game, along with consistent performances from CandyPanda and Nrated, with Freddy and Sven rarely making mistakes themselves. Two of SK’s four losses are against Alliance and  that's perfectly understandable considering the depth of Alliance’s dominance in the first few weeks of summer.

The third EU spot for worlds is where things heat up as there is no clear team that looks set to take it. The main battle seems to be between Supa Hot Crew, Fnatic, and Millenium, all of whom have put up good performances but still have consistency issues that hold them back. The one thing that unites all three teams is the talent of their mid lane: Kerp, Selfie, and xPeke are all world class mid laners who can easily carry their teams on a good day, but have also shown that they are not exempt from being shut down. Similarly, all three teams also have standout ADC’s in Creaton, Mr RalleZ, and Rekkles, who are complete monsters when left unchecked. The battle between these three teams is where EU playoffs will become interesting, as SHC and MIL have mirrored Alliance and SK’s resurgence from the bottom two teams into top of the table powers, but Fnatic are three split champions for a reason. They always find a way to weasel themselves into pole position when it matters, but this split will be their hardest test yet.

EU LCS Dark Horse: Roccat

Roccat are undeniably talented. They are one of many teams to deny NiP a space in the LCS and showed overpowering form in spring that led them to finish third place overall. They, however, inherited the “first place slump” that so greatly affected Fnatic, and have only recently begun to recover with two back to back 2-0 weeks (partly due to one of the matches being a forfeit). Roccat’s point to work on is simply closing out games and playing with more of a passion rather than playing not to lose. Their overly passive game play was the main catalyst of the ward chanting and Mexican waves from the London LCS crowd that sought entertainment.  

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Support Specific Items : Which One is Best for You?

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

Now more than ever there’s a bunch of great support specific items. Ancient Coin, Relic Shield, and Spellthief’s Edge are awesome items with really interesting and useful interactions all throughout each build. For some champions, like Morgana, Leona, Braum, the choices of what to build are pretty concrete. Leona and Braum have kits and themes that play them up to be extremely tanky melee champs that soak up damage in fights. Morgana and Lulu hit from afar and do deceptively large amounts of AP damage. Then you get to supports like Thresh, Nami, Soraka, and Janna. They could make use of two or sometimes all of these items. So the question becomes what do you want to build? Let’s take a look at each item and how it works with each type of play style and champion.

First we're going to look at what is probably the most general of all the support items, Ancient Coin -> Nomad's Medallion -> Talisman of Ascension.  Ancient Coin's passive gives sustain in both health and mana, with health being given as long as you're around minions that are dying. Speaking of that, you'll also get gold along with health every minion death. This is important because it's the only support item of the three that can provide gold without the use of another champion. In other words, it's easily the most consistent gold earner of the three.

This item is best synergized with a passive play style. It rewards staying in lane as long as possible and its stats reflect this. This is going to remain true all throughout the build path. This item and what it builds into are pretty much all about avoiding straight up fights and trying to outlast the opponent.

            Once you upgrade to Nomad's Medallion you gain more health and gold per minion death, 10 and 4 respectively, and a lot more mana regen. Also, you’ll start gaining gold per second passively. Upgrading this item quickly increases your gold by a large amount and hastens your acquisition of the rest of your build nicely. If you're willing to spend a bit on actual wards, you can delay Sightstone for upgrading to Medallion.

Your final item, Talisman of Ascension, will require a Forbidden Idol (2 Faerie Charms +390 g) and 585 gold. With this upgrade you get 10% more CDR for a total of 20% (Forbidden Idol gives 10%), double the health regen, some more mana regen, and an active skill on top of the same passive as Nomad's. This active skill gives a huge speed boost to you and all allies near you that decays over time.

This active ability is what makes Talisman very powerful. It can be used in a multitude of ways. The way it was initially intended to be used was as an escape, which follows what the rest of the item's stats imply. There are an endless number of different uses though. The speed boost does an awesome job at helping your team chase people down, both after a won fight or if you see someone out of position. It can also help in the middle of a losing fight. Pop it after your team gets jumped by surprise and you'll give everyone a chance to put themselves in a better spot. Finally, an underused tactic is to use it in making a move towards different objectives. Pressure mid lane and then have your team rush to top before the enemy can respond. The active for Twin Shadows really synergizes well as it gives you an engage solely through the use of items, leaving your actual abilities ready for the ensuing fight. In short, Talisman's active, just like the rest of the item, is the most versatile of the three.

So, who should you build Talisman on? Well, to be perfectly honest, Talisman works with almost any support. It may not be the optimal choice, but I dare you to name a support that gets nothing out of any part of it. Every conventional support uses mana, has health, and can benefit from CDR and a burst of speed. If you're new to support and you don't know what you should get or you're afraid to poke or go all in, build a Talisman. Your team will appreciate the extra utility you give everyone through more frequent skill uses and, of course, the active.

Specific Champs to Build Talisman:

·         Nami - Her passive gives movement speed already and she excels and strengthening the speed difference between her allies and enemies. Hit all 10 players with her Ultimate and pop Talisman and you'll see what I mean.

·         Janna - once again has a passive involving movement speed. (Albeit an extremely weak one atm.) She excels at peeling people off her ADC and this gives her ADC a type of self peel on top of all that. Run a hyper-carry like Vayne, Twitch, or Kog Maw with her.

·         Thresh - This is really more just an issue of Thresh doesn't work well with any support item. He doesn't scale well with AP, he's ranged so he has a hard time using Relic Shield (I'll explain in a second), but at the same time he doesn't burn through mana or focus on sustaining out the enemy.

             Really, Relic vs. Coin start is a matter of preference. That's why you'll see some pros starting with a Ruby Crystal, so they can rush Sightstone, an item Thresh undoubtedly gets full use out of. They'll usually pick up a Coin or Shield item later on in the game. Personally I like Coin because I'm a utility hog. The more I can do to put my carries in a position to win, the better off I feel and the move speed in conjunction with CDR on Thresh's abilities feels great.
Relic Shield is a tank's best friend. Granting health, HP/10, and a passive that let's you "steal" minions from your ADC (don't lie, you've done it before).

For more clarification, the Relic Shield passive shares gold with the closest ally in a specified range and heals you both for a portion of your max health, at the cost of a charge which refills over time and stacks up to two charges. Additionally, if you're melee you'll get an execute passive on your auto attacks if the minion is low enough on health. If you're a ranged champion, you'll still share gold, but you have to kill minions the old fashioned way of timing it right. This execute is great because most supports have a laughable base attack damage and if you try and farm minions without it you'll run a high chance of misjudging your attack and then no one gets gold.

If you're keeping the item stacking continuously (make sure you're never sitting on full stacks) you can make a huge amount of gold off of this line. You're literally doubling the gold amount from each stack you use. Biggest issue is though, you need another ally around you to use it at all. Roaming is discouraged with this line, purely because you'll end up walking around with full stacks and never using them. Note I say discouraged, not that you should never do it. There's a time and place for everything.

Some quick notes on how the passive of this line works and how to make the most of it:

·         Try and keep one stack up for the cannon minion each time it spawns. Not only is it worth the most gold, but because the execute is based on max health, it's the easiest to proc a charge on. Even better are super minions.

·         Don't double jungle. It doesn't work on jungle creeps.

·         As long as the minion you kill is within the item's range of an ally it doesn't matter how you kill the minion. Sure the execute applies solely on melee auto attacks, but that doesn't mean you can't use abilities as well!

·         The heal can keep you and your ADC in lane a bit longer. Don't underestimate its strength.

·         This is the only item in the trio that never gets gold passively. If you’re not taking minions you’re losing money. The stats aren’t efficient until you take enough minions.

             As you upgrade, you gain more total stacks. Targon’s gives you three and Face of the Mountain has a maximum of four. These stacks will grow quicker after you upgrade to Targon’s Brace, meaning you’ll gain gold quicker after putting a bit more in. You’ll also gain more health, HP/10, and because the recipe for Face of the Mountain involves a Kindlegem, 10% CDR.
The active for Face of the Mountain really plays on to the role of a health-stacking tank. There are a lot of weird numbers here though so stick with me. The active is a shield you can place on any ally champion. The shield strength is determined by a portion of your max health. After a few seconds, the shield will pop, a la Sion (if anyone even knows what that means). The damage the shield does is based on the amount of AD the person who is being shielded has.

There are a few things that aren’t apparent with how the shield works though. For instance, rather than shielding someone else, you can shield yourself. This a great way to jump in and do your thing and try and make sure you can get out when the enemy thinks you’re dead. It’s also really clutch at saving people from any kind of damage over time (DoT). Another cool fact is that the shield can be completely taken off and the explosion will still occur. Don’t worry if you tossed it onto an assassin like Zed or Kha’Zix. The shield may die quickly, but as long as they stay alive the damage portion will still occur.

Specific Champs to build Face of the Mountain:

·         Leona - The staple champion that was a contested pick when the item came out. She tanks, she scales well with health, and she’s a good contestant to throw the shield on herself if all else fails. As long as you flex your muscles you can zone and grab all the farm you want.

·         Braum - Speaking of hotly contested picks, Braum is great for the Relic line in almost the opposite way that Leona is. Sure they both tank damage all day, but for completely different purposes. Leona dives, while Braum saves.

·         Alistar - Look at him...he’s a giant cow. Just like Thresh, Alistar can realistically build two different items. His kit can function in two styles dependant on how you play him. If you want to get in the fray and knock people around, go Relic and be the damage soaker you crave. However, if your plan is to try and just peel people off your carry and heal them whenever you need to, you’d be better off building a Talisman for the extra CDR and mana. This can be different every game, so it’s up to you to try and realize what you need here.

            The Spellthief’s item line really opened up the possible support picks. This item is made to be used by an obnoxious poking mage that harasses and whittles down their opponent in lane. This line brings you AP, mana regen, and passive gold/10. The unique passive on this item uses a charge and enhances your spells and auto attacks by putting a small amount of flat damage on them. To further drive players to poke at the enemy, every time you lane a spell or auto attack you gain a bit of gold. Both the damage and gold per auto/spell work off of charges similar to Relic Shield. Keep in mind that if you take minions at any point, the passive portion of this line will go on a cooldown.
Compared to Ancient Coin, you get less mana regen, but more damage and a way to get more gold, and in a way that’s dependant on other champions rather than minions. As you move up the line you gain more passive gold, AP, damage and gold per skill landed, and more mana regen. You won’t get as much mana regen as Coin, but you’re trading that off for more damage and the possibility of more gold gain. Once you reach Frost Queen’s Claim, along with 10% CDR from a Fiendish Codex, you get an active that shoots a bolt that explodes, causing damage and slowing any enemy caught in the blast. The damage scales per champion level and the slow is hard capped at 80% and decays over two seconds. A really nice point of fully upgrading is that the deactivation on minion kills no longer occurs. You can kill minions and still get gold and extra damage right afterwards.

Once again this active works well with the play style intended. Your role here is to sit back and poke as much as you can, meaning you don’t want to fight unless you’re the one initiating. Just like Talisman, it can be used to engage or disengage (but not as well as Talisman). In my opinion, the best way to use the active is in objective or area control. Whether you hit someone or not, it always is explodes in an AoE. If you don’t hit, you at the very least close off an area to the enemy for a little while. This can be key in obtaining or denying objectives such as Dragon, Baron, or any of the buffs on the map. The biggest difference between Talisman use and Frost Queen use is the fact that Talisman is for repositioning yourself, while Frost Queen is purely map and enemy control. You can use Talisman to position yourself and gain objective control, while Frost Queen let’s you do this from a distance.

Frost Queen’s Claim is what let usual mid lane mages run bottom lane. Champions like Syndra, Vel Koz, Kayle, Anivia (a personal favorite of mine) will benefit from the extra AP, damage on hit, and CDR. These are played as kill lanes and can be very hard to counter because they will force fights whenever possible, and they can take you down very quickly. Late game, they’re still able to scale well if they get a lot of gold from their item and possibly kills. If there’s a mage support, there’s one less spot on their team for a tank. Build tanky to survive the burst and you should be ok if you don’t give a lot of kills.

Specific Champs to build Frost Queen’s Claim:

·         Zyra - Not only will plants proc the passive gold and damage, but her auto attack range is ridiculous. She is a support that excels at hitting you from afar, both with spells and auto attacks. She scales well with AP and because she’s immobile, the slow on the Frost Queen active is very useful.

·         Morgana - The first champion we really saw building Spellthief’s. Her Tormented Soil(W) is the reason for it. The passive effect procs on every “tick” of damage, making DoT skills very useful for getting all charges off. You can lock people down with a Dark Binding(Q) and force them to take all charges with a W underneath.

·         Lulu  -Her abilities all scale well with AP now. More utility, and with the extra damage on Glitterlance(Q) she chunks people hard early and can dominate from there. The AoE slow synergizes well with her movement speed and total ability to get away from people by knocking them up with Wild Growth(R), Polymorph(Enemy W cast), speeding up with Whimsy(Self W cast) and a slow that scales with AP on Glitterlance.

·         Karma - Karma could go Talisman as well, and this is a great opportunity to once again highlight different play styles. A Karma with the Spellthief’s line will focus on chunking out her enemy with Mantra - Inner Flame (R->Q) and poking out her enemy. This makes her early game very very strong, but because of her lack of a “true” ultimate, her scaling after 6 is poor. If you go for a Talisman on Karma, you’ll focus more on her utility in her Inspire(E) shield and the movement speed and crowd control(CC) and low CDs to put her team in the best position to fight/kite.

(Bonus points if you pop Talisman, Defiance(R->E), and Sivir’s On The Hunt(R) in succession. The amount of ground you’ll cover is amazing.)

                                                      Summing it all Up

So in review, the three items have three distinct play styles. Talisman is sustaining and forcing or avoiding fights. Face of the Mountain is for tanks whether they peel or dive, you’ll want to brawl a lot with this. Finally, Frost Queen’s Claim is more for poke/area control making it hard to walk through an area, and dominating lane with constant harass. Depending on which champion you’re playing and what your play style is on top of that, you’ll build different items. Don’t feel you’re stuck building certain items. Experiment, and you may find something you like and something that works.