Wednesday, March 5, 2014

League Analysis: Maw of Malmortius

Around a week and a half ago, I discussed Wit's End, describing how it was an item that was potentially geared for tanky champions due to the (second) passive while describing general problems with the item, such as how ineffective it was compared to other items due to its low cost, low stat design and so on. Ultimately I proposed a solution to implement and upgrade to Wit's End that is clearly more tank-oriented with an open end for damage dealers who may benefit from Wit's End as well. The reason I did not offer such a solution, however, is because the Maw of Malmortius (and Mercurial Scimitar) exists.

The Maw of Malmortius is an item that was implemented provide an upgrade from the Hexdrinker, which was an effective item but it was so cheap that the item was exceptionally inefficient for the item slot it took up compared to other items. Unfortunately, the Maw was only used for a short time and then abandoned in favor of other Magic Resist solutions, even by the Attack Damage champions that would normally benefit from such an item. This article will highlight the issues of the Maw of Malmortius and offer a solution to (hopefully) make the item more usable.

The Problems

When thinking of Maw of Malmortius, the first thing that comes to mind is that the item is expensive. While it isn't as ludicrously expensive as the (more) situational Mercurial Scimitar at 3700 gold, a price tag of 3200 gold is pretty high when other options such as The Bloodthirster exist. Erroneous comparisons aside, however, the Maw of Malmortius is also inefficient in its worse case. Consider the following calculations of the best and worst cases:
Attack Damage: 36 Gold * 60 Attack Damage = 2160 Gold
Magic Resist: 20 Gold * 40 Magic Resist = 800 Gold

Total: 2960 Gold, 92.5% efficiency (worst case)

Attack Damage: 36 Gold * 95 Attack Damage = 3420 Gold
Magic Resist: 20 Gold * 40 Magic Resist = 800 Gold
"Health:" 2.66 Gold * 400 "Health" = 1064 Gold

Total: 5284 Gold, 165.1% efficiency (best case)
Keeping in mind the latter of these sets of calculations is being exceptionally generous because the passive shield Maw of Malmortius grants is rather conditional and isn't technically considered health due to both the cooldown of the item and the fact it only absorbs magic damage.

However, while the high efficiency of the passives at optimal use can compensate for the inefficiency of the item normally, there is a major contradiction in the design of the item. While certain champions may benefit from having low health, champions, especially champions that would want to focus on damage items like the Maw of Malmortius, favor building lifesteal, which causes the first passive, which grants more damage when the champion has less health, to become weaker and weaker when the champion heals with lifesteal by normally fighting through autoattacks, slanting Maw of Malmortius's efficiency towards the worst case. In the case of tankier champions that may not have much sustain or build lifesteal, there are other options such as Spirit Visage (which, even post-nerf, is a reasonably cheap and strong magic resist option even for roles such as Marksman/Ranged AD Carry).

To conclude, the standard deviation between best and worst case efficiency is very great, causing Maw of Malmortius to be inefficient at the worst point for its price. Furthermore, because the first passive is based on health the champion is missing which can be healed through lifesteal (and other mechanics), Maw will often be inefficient through normal combat.


I feel the solution is to lower the price of Maw of Malmortius and rework the item to have a more suitable passive that still works well with champions that synergize well with the item to begin with, but broaden the horizon so that other AD champions can consider the item a strong situational buy. For instance, the reworked Maw of Malmortius could look like this:
Maw of Malmortius (legendary item)

Builds From: Hexdrinker, Pickaxe
Total Cost: 2900 (2225 Item Cost, 675 Build Cost)
Effect: 60 Attack Damage, 40 Magic Resist
UNIQUE Passive - Mana Thirst: Whenever your champion suffers Magic damage, they gain 1 Attack damage for every 1% of health they suffer in damage (minimum 2 Attack damage) for 8 seconds, up to a maximum of 30 Attack damage. This effect can be refreshed by autoattacking.
UNIQUE Passive - Lifelink: Upon taking magic damage that would reduce Health below 30%, grants a shield that absorbs 350 magic damage for 5 seconds and granting maximum Attack damage for the Mana Thirst passive (90 second cooldown).
I feel this makes more sense design-wise since this item is intended to be used against magic damage dealers, though the condition for activating the Mana Thirst passive may need to be loosened more. On the plus side the item is slightly above 100% efficiency (according to the calculations above) and the bonus power from the item should theoretically be easier to maintain.

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