Tuesday, September 30, 2014

League Analysis: Mana Sustain in the Jungle and the Madstone Build

Near the start of the fourth season of League of Legends, to help out with jungler sustainability, especially earlier on, the Spirit Stone item, which was added a season prior, had its passive changed to restore health and mana based on damage dealt to monsters. This was done due to a previous revision to Spirit of the Spectral Wraith that removed its spell vamp and added a similar passive. Riot themselves said they liked the idea of the passive and added it to the Spirit Stone item line. While within a few patches it got tweaked down, the philosophy has remained and the Quill Coat item that was added also provides similar sustainability.

However, while the Feral Flare item was added to the Madred's Razors jungle item line, the items had a good bit of health sustain and none in the way of mana sustain, despite champions like Master Yi and Udyr potentially benefiting from such an effect. To be fair, the mana sustain could have some dire implications about improving already fast clear times on these carry-style champions, allowing them to reach a critical mass of power really quickly (much like the initial iteration of Feral Flare). To achieve similar carrying strength, the Madstone build, which provides a high amount of mana and health sustain along with improving clear times. While acquiring both Madred's Razors and Spirit Stone sets the jungler back, the potential gains in the form of a quickly constructed Feral Flare and additional gold from efficient clear times over the match can quickly add up.

The Problem(s)

While I think the Madstone build is a rather interesting usage of jungle items in a seemingly inefficient way that results in a fascinating interaction, I feel the following problems are presented as a result:
  • As mentioned above, the Madred's Razors item line lacks any form of mana sustain, meaning the usage of Madstone to bypass that indicates a demand to provide some mana sustain to carry-style junglers.
    • The need for this sort of build has an implication that "carry junglers" who build Feral Flare may need some mana sustain (which they probably can't fit into their item build).
  • Multiplying the effect of the Madred's Razors (or Wriggle's Lantern) bonus damage passive with Spirit Stone's bonus damage passive, which also multiplies with the jungling champion's damage, which can potentially contain a significant amount of AoE or attacks that apply on-hit effects, can result in insanely quick jungle clears, especially for aforementioned champions like Master Yi or Udyr, though a larger number of champions potentially benefit from this build and interaction.
    • This results in a situation like what I described above where Feral Flare activates very quickly because a player can defeat the number of large jungle monsters they need possibly within the minimal time needed if they were exclusively farming, if even less were they to throw in a few ganks while the camps respawn (or they successfully counterjungle huge amounts of the enemy's jungle).
    • It is also worth mentioning this interaction may not be intended, not to mention it sometimes only works in a narrow set of circumstances.
  • The build can provide some absolutely ludicrous sustain from the midgame onwards, allowing a player running Madstone to sustain huge amounts of their health and mana off a single jungle camp in a matter of seconds (this is even more noticeable with lifesteal for health sustain).
 The Solution

While the Madstone build isn't particularly great or as incredibly dominant as something like League of Cleavers (which is why it's been around for most of the season), it does highlight two design flaws that could be resolved with an easy fix. For instance, Madred's Razors could be revised to grant 4 Mana per basic attack against monsters, while Wriggle's Lantern and Feral Flare both grant 5. The Madstone interaction can then be removed by only allowing the jungler to have one type of jungle item at a time, much like income items.

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