Zombie Wards vs. Ghost Poros: The Concept of Brush Control



Thu 5th Oct 2017 - 8:47am

With pre-season right around the corner, Riot has announced in Runes Reforged new tools for vision. It was around this time last year that vision on Summoner’s Rift saw a rework. While many spent the early patches of Season 7 struggling to understand the difference between camouflaged and invisible champions, the best and the brightest players forged a play style that set the standard for contesting vision — the buddy system.

We saw the duty of vision, once known to be the sole task of a support player, become a group task. Every member had their part to play, be it to sweep vision in safe numbers or stay behind and scope out Baron pit from 1400 units away. And while support players are the veterans in the craft of vision, it was the jungle position that held the most potential for innovation with the addition of jungle plants and in-game spawn timers. (Shout out to the O.G. jungle mains that used to time their own jungle camps… you the real MVPs).

These new tools of vision focus around the concept of brush control and, starting November 8, I suspect it will be the jungle role, once again, taking the wheel in the innovation surrounding how teams will adapt and play around these changes.


Following the Rune Path of Domination, the newly added Major Rune, Zombie Ward, offers summoners the reward of vision outside their ward cap. After killing an enemy ward, a friendly Zombie Ward is raised in its place. The Zombie Ward is visible to enemies, untargetable by allies (meaning the ward is not viable to teleport), lasts for 180s, and has one health (requiring only a single auto attack to kill — similar to a Farsight Totem).

If you are clearing a ward in a brush you already have an existing ward in, the Zombie Ward that would have taken the place of the ward you cleared will instead replace your own pre-existing ward (for up to 30s — 1/4th of its original duration). This should deter most players from placing vision in a brush before they sweep it. To replace a three-health stealth ward for a 1-health visible ward with a shorter life span is hardly a worthy trade, making this Rune require players to put thought in the way the contest for vision. It is also important to consider that because Zombie Wards are visible and hitting an enemy ward grants true sight, there is outplay potential to be had on both sides.


    If your enemy is removing your brush vision and spawning Zombie Wards, work with your solo laners to clear the Zombie Wards (it only takes one hit) and use that path for ganks. You can be certain their vision is gone from the brush as the Zombie Ward will have replaced any pre-existing wards upon spawning. All other paths, you can’t hold this same certainty.


    Many solo laners find a false sense of security with warding the brushes along their lane. The additional of tools for brush vision should only amplify this. More innovative ganking paths (and champions) can exploit this false sense of security leaving laners easy to catch off-guard. For example, ganking from behind your turret, being Kayn and creeping through a wall, or being Pantheon and simply dropping from an unavoidable position out of the sky.


Alongside Zombie Ward in the Rune Path of Domination, the newly added Major Rune Ghost Poro also offers summoners vision outside their ward cap. Upon entering a brush, players can summon a Poro after a brief channel. When you step out of the brush, the Poro will stay behind to give you vision until you summon a new one by stepping into another brush. This channel can be cancelled upon taking damage or by casting other spells. If an enemy enters a brush with a Poro in it, they scare the Poro away and put the effect on a 30 second cooldown.

With jungle invasions being almost inevitable, this is the Major Rune to be had for champions requiring all the safety measures they can get in the early game (i.e. every tank jungler ever). In addition, this Rune has the potential to be cheese in the top lane. This cheese could of course extend to the mid and bot lanes, but given the impact and synergy the Jungle and Top lane can have (and the amount of impact no one likes coming from the bot lane) I feel it will be these two roles jumping at the chance for dominance.


    The best way to avoid a gank or an early invade is vision. For a jungler to be able to ward their jungle entrances as well as keep track of where the enemy jungler will be to alert laners of possible ganks takes more resources than they are afforded at the early levels. Ghost Poros provides these additional resources for free. While Zombie Wards spawn only when you clear vision, Ghost Poros spawn any time you channel in it a brush with no cooldown until an enemy scares it, which doesn’t even put the Rune to waste as the information of where an enemy jungler is makes the Poro’s 30s cooldown worth it.


    A laner might find this Rune to be useless as an enemy can, with no effort, walk into a brush and remove any safety the Poro could have provided their opponent. Safety is important for lane bullies as it allows for them to push up in lane and harass in a favorable 1v1 without fear of suddenly being outnumbered. The problem with this easy solution of walking into brush to get rid of a Ghost Poro is that easy often makes players overlook other possibilities. Take this lack of foresight and use it against your enemy. Place the Ghost Poro in a brush, and when they follow in the brush to disrupt your channel or scare the Poro away find satisfaction in having lead them right to your Rengar, or roaming Talon, and make them rethink whatever “weaknesses” they though the Poro had.


In the Rune Path of Domination, alongside Zombie Ward and Ghost Poro, is the Major Rune Eyeball Collection. This is the rune players will be unable to take if they opt for either one of the new vision tools on Summoner’s Rift. Eyeball Collection grants summoners +2 AP or +1.4 AD (adaptive) permanently on champion takedowns. It also grants +1 AP or +.7 AD (adaptive) permanently on ward takedowns.

Photocredit: Mobalytics - Average wards cleard per game

On average, most champions clear about 4 wards, so evaluating the gain on ward takedowns alone Eyeball Collection doesn’t compare to the value of added vision. For champion takedowns, this Rune could be more valuable for assassins and AD carries, but for the jungle role it is a high risk, situational reward Rune — the risk being your team's survivability in the early game for mid-late game gain of 10-20 damage on the chance that you get the kills/assist to stack.

In the name of objective control, and for the sake of your team's early game, junglers should opt to extend their tools for vision over situational damage buffs.

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