LoL Season 2: Digitally Remastered (Han shoots first!)

In the nineteenth century, Kierkegaard defined angst (“awngst,” not that stuff My Chemical Romance sings about) as the profound dread people feel when confronting their absolute freedom. We become paralyzed by the infinite choices before us. We can do ANYTHING, and that is SCARY. So, that’s why I haven’t posted in a while. Since League of Legends revamped summoner spells and completely redid masteries, I have been on the ground, in the fetal position, crying, only emerging to play LoL — which is hard enough at an average of 15 frames per second, but when you add the nonstop veneer of tears, it can make team fights a real bitch.

#firstworldproblems

Because I’m just now barely recovering, I think we should limit this discussion to the new masteries. I want to be able to function again, dammit.

So, what has changed? Well, just about everything. A lot of the same old mastery benefits are available — cooldown reduction, damage increase or mitigation, health regen, move speed buffs, summoner spell buffs — but they’re almost all tweaked and/or relocated. It’d make more sense to discuss these trees more or less independently of the old ones, as getting bogged down in comparison can only slow us down.

In this brave new world of masteries, the offense tree got a huge boost. With most casters going 21 in utility and most everyone else going 21 in defense (damn you, tanky DPS meta!), the offense tree was feeling pretty unloved. Even those brave souls who chose to commit a majority of their points to offense usually didn’t bother with Havoc, the capstone offensive mastery which increased your damage by 4% — before armor and magic resistance does its thing, of course. While only going nine in the offensive mastery tree is still viable — that’s as far as you need to go for basic armor or magic penetration — a full 21, or even more, has become a lot better.

For starters, the offense tree contains ability power buffs, something we got a small taste of before at the basic level, but here we get in large doses. The basic-tier AP mastery grants up to four points, while higher-tier masteries provide up to a five percent AP increase and 1 AP per level. That means at level 18, you’re getting 23 AP from masteries alone. That’s about 20 free damage on spells with good ratios. And that’s assuming you don’t build any AP items (which would be silly if you’re specing AP). That five percent boost applies to each of your AP increases. For example, if you bought no AP other than one Deathcap, speced full AP masteries and ran flat AP quints, you’d have 242 AP at level 18. That’s 181 more damage on Katarina’s Shunpo, 193 extra damage on Blitzcrank’s Rocket Grab (like that wasn’t annoying enough), or 217 bonus defense/damage on Sion’s shield. Basically, AP masteries are a good deal.

The new offense tree also allows up to 3% bonus lifesteal, which may not seem like much, but if that’s the case, WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE STILL BUYING DORAN’S BLADE? No, this is a serious question, guys. I never get Doran’s Blade. It seems the other two Doran’s items greatly outclass it, and, frankly, I’d just prefer boots and pots or something if I’m playing AD. Whoopdy doo, +10 attack damage. You know what gives me attack damage early game? A Long Sword. Then I get a potion and call it a day. Or Brawler’s Gloves! You could get Brawler’s Gloves and turn them into a Zeal pretty quickly! There are so many choices out there, and you go with Doran’s Blade? Really?!

WHY?!?!?!?!

Whew. Just had to get that out there. Moving on.

The new offensive capstone mastery is Executioner, which increases damage dealt to targets under 40 percent health by six percent. I like this better than the old +4% damage, and I think this especially benefits burst casters with a multi-spell rotation. Heck, it may even encourage people to change their rotation’s order to save their hardest hitter for the Executioner damage buff. I don’t know, but it’d be worth considering.

Before I move on to the defense tree, let’s talk summoner spell masteries. Remember how you used to have to go like 16 points deep into utility just to get the Flash mastery? Wasn’t that frustrating? Well, quit your bitching, because those days are over. Summoner spells are still divided among the offense, defense, and utility tree, but now each tree just has one mastery for summoner spells. With a single point in the offense tree, you buff Ghost, Ignite, Exhaust, and the new Surge; defense for Revive, Heal, Cleanse, Smite, and Garrison (now available in Classic games); or utility for Teleport, Flash, Clarity, Clairvoyance, and Promote (now available in Classic games).

This. Is. Amazing. Granted, the new mastery buffs are occasionally less spectacular than before (Ghost’s duration no longer increases; none of them except for Flash reduce the associated spell’s cooldown), but the increased ability to dip into a tree for your specific summoner spell spec is great. It not only allows players to improve summoner spells they couldn’t normally, but it also presents a dilemma for champs looking to build 9/21/0 who really want that Flash mastery. It’s putting more thoughtfulness into the game, at least for now, and that’s something I can get behind.

I should've just played Tryndamere.

And now for the defensive tree. The basic tier remains more or less unchanged, providing minor armor and magic resist buffs. From there, though, things get interesting. Bladed Armor, a second-tier mastery, returns six damage from monster and minion attacks, a great addition to any jungler’s kit.

Veteran’s Scars, once a four-point mastery that increased base health by a flat amount per point invested, is now a 30 HP bonus that can only be taken after going three deep in Durability, which grants health per level. These tweaks provide better late-game scaling: If you invest four points in Durability and Veteran’s Scars, you get 138 extra HP at level 18, as opposed to the previous 48.

With the introduction of a non-mana-dependent health regeneration mastery (still called Vigor), Mordekaiser, Kennen, and Dr. Mundo received minor indirect buffs — very minor, though, as the bonus tops off at three HP per five seconds, or one-fifth of a Regrowth Pendant.

The higher-up defensive tree sees some new levels of utility with Initiator, which boosts your speed when your health is at or above 70%. Considering how important it is for tanks to be on the front lines, this should prove a popular choice. Siege Commander, which lowers nearby towers’ armor by 10, can help out team pushes or, for the 9/21/0 tanky DPS champs, speed up your split pushes.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what Enlightenment, a cooldown reduction mastery, is doing near the top tier of the defensive tree, but I’ll take it. (Yeah, that’s what we needed, Rammus to be able to taunt more often.)

1. Build Thornmail. 2. Defensive Ball Curl + Taunt. 3. ??? 4. Profit.

The new capstone mastery, Juggernaut, increases maximum health by three percent and decreases the duration of incoming disables by 10 percent. I personally love this pick, as there are few things more annoying than getting perma-stunned in late-game team fights on Summoner’s Rift. In lane, it makes sense to play smart and stay out of range to avoid enemy crowd control, but once things become all 5v5, all the time, it’s just not feasible. This plus Mercury’s Treads — already the du rigueur boot pick in the current meta — reduces incoming CC by 45%, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The very existence of this mastery will make me rethink how I play. As a big Renekton fan, if I see someone with Merc Treads who’s likely packing the full 21 in defense, there is no way I’m using my Ruthless Predator without the fury enhancement, as chances are good my basic stun would only last 0.41 seconds, which isn’t much worth blowing a spell that often has a 10+ second cooldown. With that in mind, try to picture a Mundo with five levels in Burning Agony, Merc Treads, and Juggernaut. That’s 80 percent CC reduction, folks. Once again, Mundo can go where he pleases.

The utility tree didn’t see too many big changes. The capstone mastery still decreases summoner spell cooldowns by 15 percent, there’s still a buff-prolongation mastery, and there are still gold and experience masteries, though those were tweaked some.

The bonus gold mastery got split up into one four-point deal and a two-point deal that that builds into. Greed, the new four-pointer, grants up to two additional gold per 10 seconds, and the two-pointer increases your starting gold by 20 or 40.

There is still a general experience boost mastery — up to five percent’s worth — but one can now also choose a mastery granting 40 bonus XP on champ kills and assists.

While Expanded Mind got a little sexier — now granting mana per level and working for energy, too — there were really only three noticeable additions to the tree: a minor spell vamp mastery, an increased ward sight-range mastery, and a blue pill casting-time decrease mastery.

Essentially, this tree is for supports. Also worth noting is the bump-up of the move speed mastery, bringing it to the second tier and ergo available for those looking for a tree to dip eight or nine points into.

Riot claimed they wanted to shake things up and force more varied approaches to masteries, but I don’t think they really accomplished that. For my money, I’m going to bet the only real change you’ll see is damage-based casters moving from 9/0/21 to 21/0/9 or MAYBE 21/9/0. While I definitely dig the new options, I don’t think the new trees will be the impetus behind a glorious new meta filled with variety and sunshine and flowers.

Nope. Sorry.

Well, that’s all for this week. Until next time, stay smart, stay safe, and don’t play Vladimir in Dominion — he just can’t sustain himself.

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About Cards 'n' Dice

Cam is a senior journalism and English double major at St. Bonaventure University who was perfectly happy as a nerd strictly of the word variety until Connor persuaded him to try Magic: the Gathering. It was a slippery slope from there to D&D, Sunkist sodas and crack cocaine. My interests tend toward the technical aspects of these games, but we'll see where this blog goes. View all posts by Cards 'n' Dice

3 responses to “LoL Season 2: Digitally Remastered (Han shoots first!)

  • TheScourgeXV88

    Great article. =P I do like it, however, I do have this to say: People buy Doran’s blade because of the combination of stats. You want damage? You could buy that long sword, and be even squishier as that AD carry you truly are. Or, you could buy that Ruby crystal, and have zero extra damage, and only really slightly annoy the opponents in your lane. Finally, that 3% lifesteal? It’s better than the damage AND health you’re missing out on with vampiric scepter. Oh, and did I mention that all those bonuses stack? It’s the same reason Brand stacks the rings in mid. You want survivability without lacking in damage or sustainability. That ashe you pictured? She’s rofl-ing at your attempts to kill her with your long sword as she farms you and the minions bottom lane only to return with that dorans, boots, and that infinity edge she was waiting for. =P

    • incontrol88

      While that’s true, I think Cam’s point is that the nice combination of stats might not outweigh the added utility that the BGloves, LSword or Ruby Crystal provide by being able to build INTO later game items. Essentially the DBlade gets you no closer to your actual build. Which route has more utility/is better is something for you more pro guys to figure out, but I’m just saying I think that’s what homeboy meant.

    • Cards 'n' Dice

      Connor’s correct about my point. I could be wrong, as this is a sweeping generalization, but a vast majority of AD carries are built to shine late game, and the Blade is delaying your core build. I’d double down on Rings with Brand (and, sometimes, Sion) because their highlights come in early and mid game. I mean, I’m sure much wiser players than I pick Doran’s Blade, but it personally baffles me.

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