Mages Reforged: The New Runes
Sat 4th Nov 2017 - 9:24am
Runes are about to change in a big way and probably for the better. For Season 8, Runes and Masteries are being combined into one more streamlined system. The new runes will exist in a similar system to parallel masteries, or masteries you could only take one of or split five points between. The new runes will all be completely free and exist in groups of three across five paths, Precision, Domination, Sorcery, Resolve, and Inspiration. Any given rune page will have a main path and secondary path with the main path granting a keystone rune slot and three lesser rune slots while the secondary path grants two lesser rune slots.
As for what you're reading now, I'll be going over the three paths I think a generic mage might want to take and touch on every rune within them. While the focus will be on mage champions, I'll note some champions that a rune might be good for even if they may not strictly fit the term, like Ekko or Diana. I'll start with the keystones and then go over all the lesser runes. As a final note, I won't always be including the exact numerical values, as they're all still subject to change and some runes would have more volatile power shifts with a few number changes than others.
Summon Aery - Your attacks and abilities send Aery to a target, damaging enemies or shielding allies. As of now, the shielding portion has a much better scaling than the damage portion, both in base numbers and AP ratios. This will work well on any mid laner with an ability that can target allies, such as Orianna's Command: Protect or Karma's Inspire, to make use of the stronger effect. I would add Lux as well, but I believe the next rune is a better option.
Arcane Comet - Damaging a champion with an ability hurls a comet at their location. What doesn't come across through the description is that the comet flies fairly slowly. Any champion taking Arcane Comet should have a hard crowd control or powerful slow in their kit, like Lux, Twisted Fate, and Annie, or a desire to build Rylai's Crystal Scepter. If the minimum cooldown at maximum level remains at 8 seconds, this could be fairly powerful even with just a 0.2 AP ratio. Arcane Comet feels like it scales well, but doesn't have a ton of early game power.
Phase Rush - Hitting a champion with three attacks or separate abilities within 3 seconds grants 15-40% movement speed based on level for 3 seconds. Melee champions also gain 75% Slow Resistance for the duration. This is effectively a direct replacement for Stormraider's Surge. It is a weaker version with an activation condition that is easier to meet than needing to deal 30% of an opponent's life in 2.5 seconds. The slow resistance being restricted to melee champions only is an interesting change that I think pushes Phase Rush to being a rune that only champions like Ekko or Diana might want.
Electrocute - Hitting a champion with 3 separate attacks or abilities within 3s deals bonus adaptive damage. Just as Stormraider's Surge is getting replaced, Electrocute is effectively replacing Thunderlord's Decree. The differences on Electrocute are a longer cooldown, more damage, and the activation condition also being tweaked to require unique attacks or abilities. As such, Electrocute isn't required on champions like Morgana or Taliyah any more. If you can regularly trigger this rune, however, it will be more powerful than it used to be. Playing a champion that has at least two basic abilities that deal damage and can be reliably landed are almost mandatory for taking this rune. If you want more damage but didn't find what you wanted in the Sorcery path, this is probably for you.
Predator - Enchants your boots with the active effect 'Predator'. Predator is an active effect that grants a large boost of movement speed and causes your next attack or spell to deal bonus adaptive damage. I've been trying to stay away from the numbers, but this currently grants 45% movement speed for 15 seconds and then gives your next attack 60-140 ( +0.4 bonus AD or 0.25 AP) adaptive damage. The only downside is a 1.5 second channel required for startup and the 180-120 second cooldown. I see this as a third summoner spell that simply requires you to keep your boots in the very late game where you might normally sell them. I've probably said this before, but movement speed is one of the most underappreciated stats in the game and this rune grants you a lot of it for a fairly long time. Taking this is trading off a small amount of ambient power for big playmaking and roaming power in small windows. I really like this rune because it will only benefit players who want to take risks on big moments.
Dark Harvest - Champions, large minions, and large monsters drop soul essence on death. Collect a soul to become Soul Charged. Your next attack on a champion or structure consumes Soul Charged to deal bonus adaptive damage. This one is very hard to judge. Just based on cannon minions, you're getting 5 essence every 90 seconds pre-20 minutes, 5 every 60 seconds between 20 and 35 minutes, and 5 every 30 seconds after 35 minutes. Of course, that's assuming you're present for every cannon minion death. If you hit every cannon and "witness" 6 deaths by 35 minutes, you'll be sitting on about 195 essence, meaning when you get a trigger, you'll be doing about 285 + (.15 bonus AD) + (.1 AP) bonus damage on your next attack to a champ/structure within 20 seconds, or 300 seconds after collecting a total of 100 soul essence.
Of course, this basically assumes you sat in a lane for 35 minutes or were extremely efficient in being in lane for cannon deaths. There is undeniably incredible upside here if you manage to roam heavily and contribute to kills, and with the recent change to make the buff last 300 seconds past 100 essence, this rune may be borderline gamebreaking in practice on live servers, but it's hard to tell with only the PBE gameplay to work with. Watch out for this rune once Season 8 kicks off.
Unsealed Spellbook - Gain 30% summoner spell cooldown reduction and you can swap one of your Summoner Spells to a different one at the shop for 1 Summoner Shard. You gain your first Summoner Shard at 2 minutes, and then gain one every 6 minutes afterward. You can hold two Summoner Shards at a time. The ability to swap out summoner spells midgame sounds very powerful but I'm not sure how practical it really is. The first case I can see this being taken in is a solo laner who wants to take Ignite or some other combat summoner early to survive/win lane, but then transition to a 1-3-1 or 1-4 split pusher later in the game.
The second case would be a jungler who wants to dump Smite between big objective spawn timers, or perhaps more realistically, when they're on a team with a Kalista/Cho'Gath/Nunu who can match or beat out a Smite and thus don't need it moving toward the mid and late game. I'm not sold either way on this one just yet, though 30% summoner spell cooldown reduction is very enticing. Saying "no" to a 210 second Flash cooldown might be harder in the future than I currently think.
Glacial Augment - Basic attacking an enemy champion slows them for 2 seconds. The slow increases in strength over its duration. Additionally, slowing a champion with active items shoots a freeze ray through them, freezing the nearby ground for 5 seconds, slowing all units inside by 50% (max 3 rays per item use). This is probably my personal favorite rune. A relatively large (25-40% for ranged, 35-50% for melee) 2 second slow on a 6-3s cooldown is really powerful. It's like getting a free, slightly cooldown gated version of the Frozen Mallet passive. Also from what I can remember, this may be the only slowing effect to ramp up over time outside of Nasus' Wither.
On top of that, slowing an enemy champion with an item active (Gunblade, GLP-800, Cutlass) shoots a freeze ray through them that freezes the ground in a path. Up to 3 rays can be shot, meaning the GLP synergy is through the roof. Downsides here are that you need to be playing a champion that wants to use their autos and build either GLP or Gunblade for max effectiveness. Also, the opportunity cost of not taking a simple "more damage" keystone from another path is a large tradeoff to consider.
Kleptomancy - After using an ability, your next attack grants bonus gold. There's a chance you'll also gain a consumable. There's a chance to loot health pots, mana pots, biscuits, red wards, short term green wards or farsight wards, a 30 second Oracle's Elixir, Skill Elixirs, or a stack of gold. After using an ability, attacking an enemy champion will grant a chance to loot one of these in addition to some small amount of gold. Until the loot tables are finalized, Kleptomancy is a major question mark.
Nullifying Orb - Taking magic damage that would put you below 30% health grants you a magic damage shield. Effectively a 30-40% sized Hexdrinker shield that scales very slightly with AD or AP. Given that this is in Sorcery, this opens the effect up to a new branch of champions, whereas it was locked to AD champs before. Situationally powerful against magic heavy comps. Maxes out at around 180 shield late game. This is less of a playstyle call and more of a "Do they have X champions?" call.
Manaflow Band - Every 60 seconds, your next ability used has its mana or energy cost refunded, and restores 10% of your missing mana or energy. Similar to a juiced up Lissandra Passive on a much longer cooldown. Can lower reliance on grabbing an early mana item for mana thirsty mages. Pushing mages have less gating on their ability to push an enemy with inferior waveclear into tower. With the two-tiered ability gating in League (resource + cooldown) I'm not sure if this would be good for energy champions when considering the other two options, or even other paths.
The Ultimate Hat - Your ultimate's cooldown is reduced by 5%. This number is reduced by 2% each time your ultimate goes on cooldown. Stacks up to 5 times. The odd thing is that it stacks multiplicatively with normal cooldown reduction. As an example, if an ultimate ability has a 100 second base cooldown, it would have a 60 second cooldown with 40% CDR and a 51 second cooldown with both 40% CDR and a fully stacked Ultimate Hat, instead of the 45 second cooldown you might expect. It is simplest to think of the applications as two stages. First you apply normal CDR, then you apply the 15% reduction to the number you got from the first calculation. As such, The Ultimate Hat isn't as powerful as it first appears, but can still be a great choice for champions that rely very heavily on getting as many uses out of their ultimate as possible, like an Annie.
Transcendence - Gain 10% CDR when you reach level 10. Each percent of CDR exceeding the CDR limit is converted to 2 Ability Power or 1.2 Attack Damage. There's already too many options for CDR as a mage, I don't see why you would want this unless you're trying to hit a specific breakpoint at midgame. The excess conversion doesn't seem big enough to justify taking the rune either. My problem with this is that you likely only want half of this rune's effects at any time. If you're taking it for the 10% CDR, you're doing so to give yourself build flexibility and so that you do not need to build more CDR, making the excess conversion useless. CDR is directly tied to Morello and utility items in Zhonya's and Banshee's. Most mages want at least 2 of these three in any game, giving you 30% CDR already. Transcendence is a decent default rune if you don't want Celerity or Absolute Focus.
Celerity - Gain 3% increased Movement Speed and add 8% of your Bonus Movement Speed to your AP or AD, Adaptive (based on level). This seems decent for any champion that has a movement speed buff in their kit and would build Luden's or Lich Bane. Even just the 3% movement speed is worth 2 of the old Quintessences. The bonus AP/AD values might be too small to make this rune desirable, however.
Absolute Focus - While above 70% health, gain up to 40 AP or 24 AD, Adaptive (based on level). This seems best for long range champions. The kind that are, in most cases, either very healthy or dead, like Vel'Koz or Xerath.
Scorch - Your next ability hit sets champions on fire dealing bonus magic damage based on level after 1 second. This is likely at its most powerful at level 1, but 20-60 damage on a 20 second cooldown seems very underwhelming at any stage of the game, even moreso when considering the 1 second damage delay. Scorch is easily the best laning rune of the group, however.
Waterwalking - Gain flat movement speed and AP or AD (based on level) when in the river. Good rune for roaming champions. Also gives a small boost when contesting Dragons, Rift Herald, or Baron. Pretty straightforward rune with respectable situational power. Waterwalking could be a default rune if the game remains as neutral objective focused as it is currently.
Gathering Storm - Gain AP or AD every 10 minutes. The formula is roughly "Gain 8 more AP or 6 more AD every 10 minutes." This means you'll have 8 AP (0+8) at 10 minutes, 24 AP (8 + 16) at 20 minutes, 48 AP (24 + 24) at 30 minutes, and so on. This rune really starts to shine at 30 minutes and only gets better and better from there. Any late game mid laner should want to take this. Of course, this all depends on the game state allowing for longer games. If we end up in a Season 3 style meta where the average game is over by the time 30 minutes hits, this rune will be terrible. Otherwise, this could end up being a powerhouse.
Cheap Shot - Damaging enemies with impaired movement or actions deals bonus true damage (based on level). This feels like a better Scorch, assuming you can cover the "impaired movement or actions" clause. Cheap Shot is currently on a 4s cooldown, meaning some champions like Orianna or Cassiopeia will be able to trigger it every time they use their CC abilities. 12-30 damage isn't a lot, but as true damage it will add up very quickly for a champion that can abuse the low cooldown.
Taste of Blood - Heal when you damage an enemy champion. If you're triggering this on cooldown, meaning you're trading once every 20 seconds, you're getting effectively an extra 1-2 health per second over that 20 second cooldown, but as a burst. Also scales with AD and AP on low ratios. Taste of Blood is definitely an early game rune that can shore up lane weaknesses.
Sudden Impact - After using a dash, leap, blink, teleport, or on exiting stealth, you gain Lethality and Flat Magic Penetration. Flat penetration is very hard to come by in League, making this rune very valuable. Any champion with a movement ability on a low cooldown could see a fairly large damage boost from this rune. Champions like Ekko or Lucian are the first that come to mind, as they can abuse their fairly low cooldown dashes.
Group 2 - The Vision Group
Zombie Ward - After killing an enemy ward, a friendly Zombie Ward is raised in its place. Additionally, when your wards expire, they resurrect as Zombie Wards. Zombie Wards are visible, last for 180s and don't count towards your ward limit. The usefulness of this rune will vary with how adamant you are about clearing enemy vision. If you're on a champion that wants to get sweeper, any assassin really, or simply buy a lot of vision wards for your team, this is a good take.
Ghost Poro - Enter a brush to summon a poro after a brief channel. The poro will stay behind to give you vision until you summon a new one. If an enemy enters brush with a poro in it, they scare it away, putting this effect on a 30s cooldown. This effect seems too fragile to take very seriously. This requires you to be able to get to a bush and control it for a few moments before you get the poro, which then goes on a 30 second cooldown should any enemy enter the bush. Then, if you have it in a position you're happy with, you need to avoid entering another bush to reset it. I'm not sold on Ghost Poro when Zombie Ward and Eyeball Collection exist, though a large cut to the cooldown would be a good start.
Eyeball Collection -Collect eyeballs for champion and ward takedowns. Gain an adaptive bonus of 0.6 attack damage or 1 ability power, per eyeball collected. Upon completing your collection at 20 eyeballs, permanently gain an adaptive bonus of 6 attack damage, or 10 ability power. Collect 2 eyeballs per champion takedown, 1 eyeball per ward takedown. Similar to Rengar's passive, you get stacking rewards for kills and assists, as well as ward kills. I believe this is the obvious choice for any mid laners that are taking Domination runes.
Group 3 - The Bounty Hunter
Ravenous Hunter - Heal for a percentage of the damage dealt by your abilities. Healing is 2.5% + 2.5% per Bounty Hunter stack. Bounty Hunter Stacks are gained the first time you get a takedown on each enemy champion. Healing is reduced to one-third effectiveness for area-of-effect abilities. Very powerful for champions that expect to find themselves in dueling situation often, where fights will be extended and the healing can begin to stack up. Likely a roaming champion, in order to secure early stacks. That being said, champions taking the Domination rune lineup are generally going to be squishier and be at risk of simply dying before getting any value.
Ingenious Hunter - Gain 1% active item CDR plus an addition 6% per Bounty Hunter stack. This feels more like an AD assassin rune, for Ghostblade and Edge of Night, though champions who want Zhonya's as well as a Gunblade, GLP, or Protobelt could want this. Katarina, Ekko, and other similar champions could take Ingenious Hunter.
Relentless Hunter - Gain 8 out of combat movement speed plus 8 per Bounty Hunter stack. As I've stated before, I value movement speed pretty highly. If you get full bounty hunter stacks, you're getting 48 additional flat movement speed, which is more than your standard tier 2 boots grant. Even at just two unique champion kills, you're getting 24 movement speed, 1 movement speed shy of tier 1 boots. Given that the only alternatives also rely on the bounty hunter mechanic, I think this is generally the strongest of the three, though I may be lonely with that opinion.
Hextech Flashtraption - While Flash is one cooldown is it replaced by Hexflash. Hexflash: Channel for 2 seconds to blink to a new location. Hexflash has a cooldown of 20 seconds and goes on a 10 second cooldown when you enter champion combat. Another odd rune from Inspiration. This feels like a rune for the aggressive creative jungler. Creative as it can be used to get around ward lines, and aggressive because Flash needs to be on cooldown to even use it. Best taken on a champion that can't normally get over walls. I don't see much use for this in the mid lane.
Biscuit Delivery - Gain a Total Biscuit of Everlasting Will every 3 minutes until 12 minutes. These Biscuits restore 15% missing health and mana and increase your mana cap by 40 permanently. Four free "potions" and 160 free max mana by 12 minutes. A consideration for Ryze, if no other champion. Any tear builders could consider this an option as well.
Perfect Timing - Start the game with a Commencing Stopwatch that transforms into a Stopwatch after 6 minutes. Stopwatch has a one-time use Stasis effect. Reduces the cooldown of Zhonya's Hourglass, Guardian Angel, and Gargoyle Stoneplate by 15%. This amounts to a free 600 gold component for Zhonya's, Stoneplate, or Guardian Angel and 15% cooldown reduction on their powerful effects. This isn't 600 gold in stats like most runes would be, it's 600 gold towards an item completion and its accompanying active effect, which is arguably better. This is a good take for anyone who wants an early Zhonya's Hourglass in mid lane.
Magical Footwear - You get free Slightly Magical Boots at 10 min, but you cannot buy boots before then. For each takedown you acquire the boots 30s sooner. Slightly Magical Boots give you an additional +10 Movement Speed and upgrade for 50 gold less. This is free boots at 10 minutes, but can't buy boots before that. The boots also upgrade for 50 gold less. This rune is worth 350 gold plus whatever you value the +10 movement speed on your basic boots at. This doesn't seem all that powerful.
Future's Market - You can enter debt to buy items. The amount you can borrow increases over time. This is hard to put a value on. There will be games where you'll get no value out of it and there will be some games where it will be the difference between completing or not completing a big item when you have time to shop right before a big objective play. The potential upside is huge, but the potential downside is "this does nothing and costs me a rune slot."
Minion Dematerializer - Start the game with 6 minion Dematerializers that kill and absorb lane minions instantly. Absorbing a minion increases your damage against the type of minion permanently, and an extra 1% for each additional minion of that type absorbed. My first glance said "Helps lower ranked players cs better." Next glance says "Remember all those times those casters lived with a sliver of HP, forcing you to last hit each individually and thus not get a good push?" Minion Dematerializer has really specific value that hinges more on a player's preferred item build on a specific champion that the champion itself. This is the kind of rune that will require personal testing to see if it's right for how you like to play.
Cosmic Insight - Gain 5% CDR, Max CDR, Summoner Spell CDR, and Item CDR. Cosmic Insight lets you do all the same stuff, slightly more often. It does give rare stats in Item and Summoner CDR, but only a modest amount. If you want to buy both CDR and items with active abilities, this is a fairly good choice.
Approach Velocity - Gain 10% movement speed towards nearby allies that are movement impaired or enemies that you impair. This seems like overkill when approaching a CC'd enemy. Getting to a spot to defend an ally seems like the much better part of this rune. Even then, 10% isn't as much as it needs to be to make this rune good. Approach Velocity could be good for certain supports, like Rakan or Braum.
Celestial Body - You get 100 health permanently, but deal 8% less damage to champions and monsters until 10 minutes. Celestial Body has an interesting power curve. It starts strong at the beginning of the game, is at its weakest at 9:59 when the 100 health is less valuable and the 8% damage loss is relevant, and is then back on a slowly declining power curve. It also only amounts to about a 3-4% health increase on a tanky champion later in the game. I feel like this is actually best taken on champions that want to clear waves and interact with their enemy laner as little as possible before 10 minutes. The self-imposed 8% damage nerf is too large for most mid laners to deal with, even considering the extra 100 health. With all that being said, Cosmic Insight is probably just better for almost every mid laner.
With all of the runes out of the way, there is one last topic to touch on. Based on your choice of main path and secondary path, you will receive some stats bonuses, which are represented in a table below. The rows will represent the main path selected and the columns will represent the secondary path.
|Sorcery||X||+25 Ability Power or +15 Attack Damage, Adaptive||+25 Ability Power or +15 Attack Damage, Adaptive|
|Domination||+18 Ability Power or +11 Attack Damage, Adaptive||X||+18 Ability Power or +11 Attack Damage, Adaptive|
+20% Potion and Elixir Duration
+27 Ability Power or +16 Attack Damage, Adaptive
+20% Potion and Elixir Duration+27 Ability Power or +16 Attack Damage, Adaptive
The new rune system is something that has me excited. With all the good changes that have come through the years, I, along with many others, were wondering if the sore spot of runes would ever be changed in a meaningful way. Finally, that day nears and it looks good as of now. If nothing else, I hope I gave you a better understanding of the new rune system, the runes themselves, and how they might impact Season 8 and beyond. As always, thank you for taking the time to read through this and I'm always open to any feedback or comments.
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