Wednesday, December 31, 2014

League Analysis: Ardent Censer

While I don't play League nearly as much as I used to, I still have a bit of an interest in the game. The 5th season delivers when it comes to bringing something of a new experience due to the updated Summoner's Rift. It also introduces many new items and updates to others, mostly due to the changed regeneration formula. Some items I analyzed, such as Atma's Impaler, were completely removed from the store (at least for now) because the items were essentially newb traps due to poor itemization or the like. However, some items are still lacking and one that has bothered me since its implementation is the Ardent Censer.

The Problem(s)

While the Ardent Censer is definitely an interesting item due to its passive and how it interacts with turrets and the like, it's difficult to calculate how good it is. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the baseline stats seems a bit lacking at best, meaning that in the case the attack speed ends up largely unused, which can happen in the defensive situations that the item demands (healing and shielding), it is a statistical loss of power. The item is surprisingly quite efficient stat-wise (about 113.4%) for the gold it costs (minus the attack speed granted by the shielding), but the problem is the item is very inexpensive in itself, meaning the ~2400 gold worth of stats might be efficient, but not necessarily worth the item slot.

It is worth mentioning the item isn't used a lot either according to Lolking:
Screenshot is from Lolking's current usage and win rate statistics of the item.
While the win rate for the item is extremely high (way over 50%), it jumps around a lot, which, along with a low usage percentage, suggests that the item is probably purchased when teams are about to win or are otherwise not the reason a team wins most of the time.

In addition to this, I personally find the passive (25% attack speed, really?) to be a little underwhelming for such a niche item.

The Solution(?)

It is understandable why this item was made intentionally cheap. Ardent Censer is an item that is intended for support champions who have the ability to heal and/or shield allies and that sort of benefit could be devastating if gotten early. However, other items compete with it (items that provide a high amount raw stats for cheap such as Morellonomicon or upgraded income items, etc) and are generally used a lot more (Morellonomicon's usage percentage is heavily skewed by casters who also build the item but I can't imagine why a mage support wouldn't consider the item due to its stats alone, not to mention the fact that the price is exactly the same as Ardent Censer as of this writing).

I can also understand why the passive doesn't seem that strong. While this is purely speculation, I imagine that the item's passive is deliberately a little weak to account for the power of autoattacking champions, which probably scale monstrously (especially in the late game) with additional stats such as the 25% attack speed Ardent Censer provides.

With that said, I would suggest that Ardent Censer's ability power is increased to 50 from 40, making it a bit more potent as an option among supports that favor using it compared to other items. In the long term I also believe the Ardent Censer should have an upgrade that only costs gold (much like Sightstone to Ruby Sightstone), providing some extra stats, a potentially stronger passive, and other features that benefit champions intended to purchase the item. Such an item could look like this:
Lifegiver's Boon (Mythical Item)

Builds From: Ardent Censer, 800 Gold
Total Cost: 2900 Gold
Effects: 70 AP, 100% Mana Regen, 10% CDR, 8% movement speed
UNIQUE Passive: Your shielding and healing spells grant other targets 25% additional attack speed for 10 seconds.
UNIQUE Active: The potency of your next healing or shielding ability on other targets is increased by up to 50%. 60 second cooldown.
While the item doesn't seem that much stronger stat-wise, the design is intentional since this item is meant for support champions who heal or shield. A huge amount of the power of this upgrade is instead placed in the passive, which now has an increased duration allowing the player to maintain the attack speed buff more easily or, in the case of champions with only single target heals or shields, apply the buff to multiple targets. This upgrade in particular also further emphasizes the concept of healing and shielding through its active ability. The reason the wording of the empowerment is "up to 50%" is because stronger healing or shielding abilities would benefit too well from the active.

On a related note, a lot of items with midrange prices (in the lower 2000s of pricing, usually) could potentially get an upgrade like this since a lot of them are likely to be slot inefficient. The more expensive upgrades could still be deliberately be weaker than similarly priced equivalents to compensate for the midgame power spike the former item's prerequisite items provide but it at least makes the aforementioned midrange price items a potential option in the later stages of the game.

On a final note, this is the last article of 2014. See you all in 2015!

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