Thursday, August 8, 2013

Junglers, Gold, and Cost Efficiency

Recently, it feels like Riot has been intentionally just nerfing junglers to the ground. Frankly, I am appalled by these changes to the jungle but, like every other jungler out there, been desperately finding ways to get around these changes. It seems Riot did not learn from the Udyr nerfs where they took away a part of his passive (dodge) and didn't replace it with anything else. While Riot has stated that they intend to find methods to give junglers more gold, I find it difficult to understand what they expect junglers to do at the moment.

Find my rant on Riot's jungle nerfs by clicking below.

To those who do not play jungle, nor understand the role very well, allow me to explain the predicament Riot has created. It should be a very known fact that junglers do not get as much steady gold as laners. There have been a myriad of discussions on methods to 'give junglers more gold.' While most junlgers simply just take on the initiation role and build tanky for team fights they don't exactly need a lot of gold to carry the game with. I find this situation perfectly fine. Junglers can positively influence games by getting good initiates off and using their abilities to the fullest like any support player to positively influence the game; however, in order for junglers to fulfill the initation role they need items that make them tanky that don't cost much. While laners have items like Sunfire Cape, Warmogs, and Randuin's Omen that make them all incredibly tanky, Junglers rely on items like Aegis, Locket, and Spirit of the Ancient Golem. These items, while inferior to the bigger items, are incredibly gold efficient. As such, the little gold junglers get do not go to waste. Moreover, these items are not over powered enough for laners to abuse them (see old Wriggle's Latern) as their strengths primarily lay in the ability to be cost effective when grouped up, when they actually need to do their initiation. 

With patch 3.10, Runic Bulwark has been removed from the game and Locket of the Iron Solari is now built out of Aegis of the Legion. As such, junglers have lost two items they build as core items that made them effective without the easily secured income. While many would argue that these items created stale itemization within junglers, I do not think nerfing and removing them was the option to go. Instead, make new items that are cost effective for junglers to match already existing cost effective items. While the argument can be made that these items would be abused by laners, there are other ways to fix stale itemization such as a proposed jungle creep stacking item similar to Seeker's Armguard.

There are three main issues that I see with the 3.10 patch to Runic Bulwark and Locket of the Iron Solari. 
1. Core Items on Junglers cost more than before 
2. Aegis / Locket is no longer as efficient while alternatives provide itemization issues
3. Additional gold to cover issues 1 and 2 have not been provided

One of the biggest issue is that 'core' items on Junglers now cost a lot more than they did before. Previously, junglers built Ninja Tabi, Spirit of the Ancient Golem, Runic Bulwark, and Locket of the Iron Solari. Currently, while it has truly secured by competitive play yet, junglers are building Ninja Tabi, Spirit of the Ancient Golem, Locket of the Iron Solari, Randuin's Omen or Spirit Visage. 

While the additional passive on Spirit Visage may provide the current build path with more cost effectiveness, my core argument is still valid. Furthermore, many junglers who don't need Spirit Visage opt for Banshee's veil which costs 2750, more than Spirit visage, and gives 2288 effective gold, 3908 effective gold when it's passive is being proced. With Banshee's Veil the total gold becomes 11250 and effective gold becomes 15591. Regardless, junglers are getting less gold efficiency in this patch than before and it is painfully obvious. An overlooked practical application factor when it comes to calculating gold efficiency is that the effective gold for items are only counted when the items is completed. As such, when items get more expensive, such as core items on current patch compared to core items on previous patch, it takes longer for them to be completed and make junglers weaker when they are not. As such, a jungler who would previously have Locket completed would not have Locket completed in the current patch. As such, it makes them weaker during that time period.   

Secondly, the combination of Locket and Runic Bulwark has removed one of the most efficient items in a jungler's itemization. While the current Aegis upgrade boasts 5314g worth of stats for 2500g the previous Aegis upgrade boasted 7092 for 2950g. You don't have to do the math to figure out which one is more cost efficient (2.4 to 2.12). Furthermore, Locket, another cost efficient and cheap item for Junglers, has been removed entirely. No longer can you get the Aegis upgrade and then an additional cheap item. Junglers are now forced to get the Aegis upgrade and a big ticket item designed for laners. Junglers find it incredibly difficult to go back to base and have ~1000 to 1500 gold in their bank as they go back to base more frequently and need to be able to pick up small components. That was one of the biggest benefits of Runic Bulwark and Locket of the Iron Solari; being able to pick up a kindlegem on a back is enormous for a jungler who isn't fed. 

Finally, the last problem. I would like to call this an Udyr Epidemic (something is taken away while nothing is given; thus unintentionally nerfing) but this implies that Riot will actually fix the problem. Riot has discussed giving junglers more gold for a long time, but nothing has ever been implemented to do so effectively. Their first attempt at giving junglers more gold through the spirit items (gold efficient jungle only items) were abused by laners again, courtesy to Blue Ezreal, and Vladimir. While later attempts were also abused by laners, courtesy of every bruiser who built wriggles in top lane. It seems Riot has to either create a truly dedicated item for junglers, or resort to making only tanky items cost efficient for junglers.  

Anyways, it's been a long rant and a lot of people probably won't read this because it's incredibly long winded for those who actually don't understand why this is an issue and for those who do understand why this is an issue they probably already know the math behind it. The recent jungle changes are just incredibly discouraging for a jungler who enjoys playing the 'support' role and being the main initiator. 

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