Thoughts on Hextech Crafting

Hextech Crafting went live on the League of Legends NA servers earlier today, along with a new “club” system that essentially allows you to have a clan/guild tag that displays in game. These seem to be the last bits promised for season six, outside of the other rotational game mode queue on weekends which is still in the works. But what is Hextech Crafting you might ask?

Well, to be quite frank, it’s just a lockbox system.

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When I logged in this evening, there was a brief introduction to the system, that I foolishly forgot to screenshot. If you play the game you’ve likely already seen it. After clicking through that and then opening a free chest provided for demonstration purposes, I had the gist of it. I’ve always been the type of person who avoids lockboxes. If there is some sort of way to earn an in-game currency to open lockboxes, I’ll go for it when I can. I’ve done so in games like Call of Duty, where you eventually get enough cash shop currency to open a lockbox once in a while. I’ve not bought any in MMOs, but I’ve heard the complaints from communities, and it usually has to do with lockboxes containing pay to win items, such as gear and other benefits that actually affect gameplay. I’ve praised League of Legends for its cash shop implementation many times before, because they have an in-game currency and a paid currency, and the only thing you absolutely needed to spend real money on was skins. That has changed over the years, where Summoner’s Icons (like the monkey face one I have above), ward skins and bundles have been added for RP, but IP will buy the things that are necessary to play the game, like champions and runes. There is no pay to win scenario in League of Legend’s cash shop, and that hasn’t changed with Hextech Crafting.

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One “premium” chest was given to everyone for free, and it contained multiple items. The normal chests pictured above only contain one item, but I assume there will be expansions upon the system as time goes on. Still, buying a chest with a key is next to nothing, and you have the possibility of getting some cool stuff that in some cases doesn’t seem to be on the store (I could be wrong there, or perhaps they’re legacy items from the vault). Again, this is still just for fluff items, and in the end you could just spend the 975 RP on one skin, or perhaps manage more by buying chests.

Of course there are the ethical issues plagued by all cash shops, in that there are whales out there and this will cater to their inner gambler. However, the prices seem fair and the idea that you can earn chests through game play (along with key fragments that will combine into keys to open said chests) means that you can still avoid paying real money, and now potentially earn skins in the process. Basically Riot just programmed a way to avoid purchasing RP into the game, so really it’s cash shopping done right, in this writer’s opinion.

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I had an odd number of RP lying around from the last time I splurged on it, so I picked up two chests/keys. With that, I ended up with a couple of skin shards, a champion, and a ward skin shard. I also earned a key shard from getting a win this evening, which apparently can be combined to make a key if you have three of them.

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Shards have a number of options to play with, but the obvious goal is to either use essence to permanently unlock that skin or champion, re-roll for a random skin, or disenchant so that you have essence to unlock something in the future. Riot was kind enough to give us 800 essence to start out with, so you can permanently unlock something right off the bat. Unfortunately I ended up with a Nocturne skin but already have one for him, and a Tahm Kench skin that I don’t really care for. I also ended up with Bard whom I already own and a ward skin I wasn’t thrilled with. So my first instinct was to try and reroll something.

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However, you need 3 matching shards to reroll something. This means 3 skin shards, 3 champion shards or 3 ward skin shards. I didn’t have 3 in any of the categories, so at this point I’m stuck waiting for more chests, or buying more the next time I have a tiny bit of RP that I can’t spend on something else. Still, it seems like a fair system considering one more skin shard will get me a free skin. I can’t complain about that!

My overall verdict is that Riot is continuing to do free to play right, in a sea of games that have done nothing but make most of us hate the free to play model.

Revised Season 6 Runes/Masteries

When the preseason first started for season 6 of League of Legends, there were sweeping changes to the masteries system. Essentially all of the masteries were changed, and though it was easy enough to theorycraft what setups would be best for each role, it turns out that the vast majority of people just said “fuck thinking, let’s all use Thunderlord’s Decree!” I saw it as a viable choice in some situations, but it was clearly not being used as intended. Yes, it can be used on any champion in any role, but it’s sort of a bitch move when it comes down to it. Just because one thing is OP doesn’t mean you should just use it by default. But that’s my train of thought, perhaps you would prefer the above quoted like of thinking. Either way, I have noted that some of the builds that I was using weren’t that viable or were less-than-optimal, so I have made changes while practicing during the preseason.

I also decided that rather than making rune/mastery pages for roles that I don’t necessarily play (like hybrid champions), I would limit my pages to those that made the most sense: One per lane. This way if I decide to “fill” I will still have a viable set of pages for the role I get stuck playing, even if it isn’t one of my best roles. So the pages I have now reflect those lanes, and I have one flex page that will work for multiple roles. Instead of taking a bunch of screenshots and writing a wall of text, I decided to record a video of my pages and provide further commentary there. So here’s that video, for your viewing pleasure:

That’s all for today kids. If you liked the video, please like, share and subscribe. I’m still working on this whole “build a following on YouTube” thing. Oh, and thanks!

Season 6 Masteries (Preseason 2016)

Edit 1/20/16: I have made a new video with revised runes and masteries for season 6 after having utilized those on this post throughout the preseason. You can find that over here.

With Patch 5.22, the fifth ranked season has come to a close, and the preseason for the 2016 calendar year has begun. I’d advise reading the full patch notes before jumping into what I have to say here. I should also notate that my Season 5 Runes and Masteries post is still partially viable. The masteries have been completely re-done, so obviously the ones in that post are out of date now, but I have made absolutely no changes to the Rune pages there. Henceforth, we’ll only be talking about masteries introduced in patch 5.22, and I will redirect traffic from that post here as well.

The masteries have changed completely; the Offense tree being replaced with Ferocity, Defense with Cunning, and Utility with Resolve. Those are directly correlating to the way the old trees worked either. Essentially, Ferocity still functions as Offense, Cunning is support oriented with a splash of attack/defense, and Resolve is essentially Defense, but with some added goodies. Points work differently this time around as well, so there are no more 21/0/9 builds, but rather 18/0/12 (or perhaps 18/6/6). There are plenty of viable options in each tree, and plenty of ways to make the most of your points spent. Point expenditure is focused towards the one “Keystone Mastery” you’re going to focus on, and then spending remaining points to round out your build and cater to your role. However, there are so many more possible combinations that seem like they would work, rather than one “best” build for any particular role. It’s also likely that you will want to have the full 20 mastery pages allowed to tweak these builds for each and every champion you play. There’s much more to the theory crafting this time around. With that said, I should note that these are builds I made based on my play style and the champions I use. Masteries are a personal thing, and you’ll likely find things that work better for you, but these are some basic pages that aren’t too heavily tailored to any particular champion, that I think will work fairly well for particular roles. Let’s get started.

Marksmen (18/12/0)

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Playing a Marksman means forgoing defense for the sake of killing enemies as fast as possible. A full 18 points in Ferocity helps do just that. Four tiers of the Cunning tree are more viable for the full damage build than resolve would be (it would only provide minimal defensive stats at that tier).

Ferocity (18 points)

warlords bloodlust Warlord’s Bloodlust (Keystone) – Critical strikes heal you for 15% of the damage dealt and grant you 20% increased attack speed for 4 seconds
Every ADC relies on crits to some extent, and this will heal you when you get them. It seems like a viable way to forego lifesteal, or will at least synergize well with it. The extra move speed is a built in mallet. 

fury Fury – 4% attack speed.
The faster you attack, the more often you crit.

feast Feast – 20 health for killing units
Built in healing is great for sustain in lane.

vampirism Vampirism – 2% Lifesteal and Spell Vamp
Marksmen aren’t reliant on Spell Vamp, but they get lifesteal which when combined with feast and the keystone makes for some nice sustain.

oppressor Oppressor – 2.5% increased damage to targets with impaired movement (slows, stuns, taunts, etc).
Most marksmen have some form of crowd control, and those that don’t will still benefit from their support’s CC, and during teamfights.

battering blows Battering Blows – 7% Armor Penetration
Everyone builds a little armor. This helps cut through it.

Cunning (12 Points)

savagery Savagery – 5 bonus damage to minions and monsters (works on basic attacks and abilities).
This will help with farming.

secret stash Secret Stash – Potions, flasks and elixirs last 10% longer. Health potions are now Biscuits, restoring 20 health and 10 mana on use.
This was a toss up, as runic affinity in that tier is also nice, but I can’t count how many games I never got baron, or many red buffs. I use potions every game. 

meditation Meditation – 1.5% of your missing mana per 5 seconds.
Another toss up, since Merciless in that tier sounds good, but most of the time you aren’t hitting champions that are under 40% health. Mana can become an issue in extended fights and feels like the better pick here.

dangerous game Dangerous Game – Kills and assists restore 5% of your missing health and mana.
This feels fantastic. Not only do you get lifesteal bonuses and heal on crit from the Ferocity tree, but also some spike healing when you get kills. This can help with one on ones that become one on twos, or extended team fights.

So why go Cunning instead of Resolve for the final 12 points? To be honest, either is a viable choice. I know I was using defense over utility last season, but I think the bonus mana and health helps with sustain more so than the health regen or extra bonus health you’d get from Resolve.

Jungler (18/6/6)

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This is my Jungler page, which could very easily be tweaked depending on the junglers you tend to you. I went for a more AD focused build here because I tend to play AD junglers. This is also something I don’t normally do, in that I split the points among all three trees, but I think it works well here.

Ferocity (18 points)

fury feast vampirism battering blows warlords bloodlust Fury, Feast, Vampirism, Battering Blows and the Keystone Warlord’s Bloodlust. The only points differing here from the Marksman tree is Bounty Hunter (tier 4):

bounty hunter Bounty Hunter – You gain a permanent 1% damage increase for each unique enemy champion you kill.
I felt this was a good choice for a jungler, because they are likely to be attacking all lanes and have more potential to kill the other 5 enemy team members, which would net the full 5% damage increase.

Cunning (6 points)

wanderer Wanderer – 3% out of combat movement speed.
As the jungler, you’re constantly moving and this helps get you into ganking positon. Combined with the extra 4.5% from runes, you’re running 7.5% faster right out of the gate.

runic affinity Runic Affinity – Buffs granted by jungle monsters last 15% longer. This includes Baron and the new Rift Herald.
As the jungler you’re not going to get every buff, but you’ll get a few here and there. This helps stretch em out.

Resolve (6 points)

recovery Recovery – 2 health per 5 seconds.
Extra health regen is nice for jungling.

precision Tough Skin – You take 2 less damage from champion and monster basic attacks.
This is jungler 101 here. Less damage = more time in the jungle, or being able to gank before backing.

Why 6/6 instead of 12 points in one of those trees? Well, I like the four masteries I picked instead. Going further into resolve would net more health regen, and further into cunning would net some health on kills/assists, but I feel like these choices fit the jungler role specifically.

AP Carry (12/18/0)

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AP Carries used to just run down the opposite side of the first tree, and then get some mana regen from utility. The new Keystone masteries give more options when it comes to how you want to build mages this season, and there is a viable option in the ferocity tree, but I was more impressed by Thunderlord’s Decree for some periodical bonus AOE damage. Deathfire Touch (in Ferocity) and Stormcaller’s Blessing (in cunning) are also excellent choices depending on who you tend to play. However, this is the final page I decided on, so here’s the build:

Cunning (18 points)

savagery secret stash meditation dangerous game Savagery, Secret Stash, Meditiation, Dangerous Game.

thunderlords decree Thunderlord’s Decree (Keystone) – Your 3rd ability or basic attack on an enemy champion shocks them, dealing 10-180 (+0.2 bonus attack damage) (+0.1 ability power) magic damage in an area around them. 30 second cooldown.
This is great, just because it’s extra damage all the time. I tend to play the less bursty mages that have more utility, so this will help with wave clear and do some extra AOE damage in team fights.

precision Precision (tier 5) – 8.4 Armor and Magic Penetration at level 18.
Bonus penetration is always good.

Ferocity (12 points) 

Same points used in this tree, outside of the tier 1:

sorcery Sorcery – 2% increased damage from abilities.
Abilities are the bread and butter of AP Carries, as they don’t really do too much attack damage. 

feast vampirism oppressor Feast, Vampirism, Oppressor round it out.

AP – No Mana (18/0/12)

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I’ve kept the same naming conventions that I’ve always used, and this page is for those champions who are AP focused but don’t have a mana bar. Think champions like Vladimir and Akali. I built this page with Vladimir specifically in mind, as he benefits from both AP and Health due to his passive, and all of his abilities are powered by his health rather than mana. For those like Akali who use energy or Katarina who only relies on cooldowns, this would work just as well.

Ferocity (18 points)

sorcery feast vampirism oppressor Sorcery, Feast, Vampirism and Oppressor are all included. Tier 5 and Keystone are different:

deathfire touch Deathfire Touch – Your damaging abilities deal an additional (0.5 bonus attack damage + 0.2 ability power) magic damage to enemy champions over 3 seconds (half damage over 1.5 seconds for AoE and damage-over-time).
This feels like it was specifically made for Vladimir, as he’s going to be spamming skills to heal himself while damaging the enemy, and the burn will help against other tanky sustainers in the top lane.

piercing thoughts Piercing Thoughts – 7% Magic Penetration
Pretty self-explanatory.

Resolve (12 points)

recovery precision Recovery and Tough skin for extra hp5 and less damage from minions in lane.

veterans scars Veteran’s Scars – 4% maximum health.
This scales with Vlad’s passive and gives extra health to cast with. Otherwise it makes typical AP carries a little less squishy.

perseverance Perseverance – 50% health regen, increased to 200% health regen when below 20% health.
This is great for a solo laner. 

Hybrid (18/6/6)

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This page is all over the place, because I don’t really play Hybrid champions but I think it works on paper. This page is highly experimental and I’d tweak it to your liking.

Ferocity (18 points)

fervor of battle Fervor of Battle (Keystone) – Your basic attacks and spells give you stacks of Fervor for 5 seconds, stacking 10 times. Each stack of Fervor adds 1-8 bonus physical damage to your basic attacks against champions, based on your level.
This feels like a mastery made specifically for Jax, or anyone who has stacking on hit effects, which hybrids tend to. 

sorcery oppressor battering blows Sorcery, Oppressor and Battering Blows we’ve covered before. That’s bonus AP and damage to CC’d targets + Armor Pen.

double edged sword Double Edged Sword – Melee: Deal an additional 3% damage, but receive an additional 1.5% damage. Ranged: Deal an additional 2% damage, but receive an additional 2% damage.
You’ll likely be melee using this page, so the extra damage is nice.

natural talent Natural Talent – 10 AD at level 18. 15 AP at level 18.
This is a natural choice for a hybrid champion.

Cunning (6 points)

savagery secret stash Savagery and Secret Stash for bonus damage to creeps and biscuits.

Resolve (6 points)

recovery precision Recovery and Tough Skin for bonus hp5 and less damage from creeps.

Tank (0/12/18)

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The tank page focuses fully on Resolve, which is the only place you can get some bonus flat tank stats. All three keystones in this tree can be beneficial, but I find the sustain from Grasp of the Undying to be awesome. Another fantastic choice is Bond of stone, which gives damage reduction.

Resolve (18 points)

grasp of the undying Grasp of the Undying (Keystone) – Every 4 seconds in combat, your next attack against an enemy champion steals life equal to 3% of your maximum health (1.5% for ranged champions)
I play Maokai quite often, and this synergizes with that. It would also be beneficial for any top lane tank for sustain. 

recovery precision veterans scars perseverance Recovery, Tough Skin, Veteran’s Scars and Perseverance for sustain in lane.

legendary guardian Legendary Guardian – 3 Armor and Magic Resistance for each nearby enemy champion.
The only flat tank stats you can find in all 3 trees.

Cunning (12 points)

savagery runic affinity meditation dangerous game Savagery, Runic Affinity, Meditation and Dangerous Game help with sustain and keep buffs up longer, also helps with last hitting.

Support (0/18/12)

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The cunning tree contains the biggest boons to support characters, so I went there for the keystone mastery Windspeaker’s Blessing. Supports don’t focus on damage too much, so the remaining points in Resolve help with sustain and cooldown.

Cunning (18 points)

windspeakers blessing Windspeaker’s Blessing – Your shields and heals are 10% stronger. Your shields and heals on allies other than yourself grant them 15% increased armor and magic resist for 3 seconds.
Nearly every support champion has some form of healing or shielding. This makes them much more effective.

wanderer secret stash meditation precision Wanderer, Secret Stash, Meditation, Precision for movement speed, biscuits, mana regen and bonus penetration (this scales nicely with the hybrid penetration marks on the rune page).

bandit Bandit – Gain 1 gold whenever a nearby minion is killed by an allied champion. Gain 3 gold (10 gold for melee) when basic attacking an enemy champion (5 sec cooldown).
It’s two of the masteries from the old utility tree in one. Gold for being near dying minions and basic attacks on champions helps tremendously and stacks with gold generation items.


 

That’s all I have for now. I will be testing out these builds over the course of the preseason and will revisit them after season 6 officially starts.