After reading today's quick gameplay thoughts and the comments that followed I was pretty disappointed to hear that the slow burn exploration project mentioned in preseason had been shut down. With Sylas having just been released and with Mordekaiser's VGU now officially on the horizon, and with past champions like Galio, Amumu or Diana that Riot has explicitly stated they desire for them to build a mixture of items that would allow them to be bulky yet still relative damage threats you have to respect.
The only problem with this desire is that this option just flat out does not exist for these champions. In almost 99% of casts it is entirely superior for these champions to build either full tank or build full on squishy AP. There are select items like RoA, Liandries, Morellos, Protobelt, and Rylais that have health and AP that would be attractive to these champions, but there's a core reason why they simply cannot buy all of these items at once, and that is due to the sheer reliance every single magic damage champion has on building both Void Staff (MR penetration) and Deathcap (stat multiplier) in order to stay relevant damage wise
Thus, in order to address the issue with AP bruisers, they must tackle these two issues in a way that does not overly disturb the game's current ecosystem with potential abuse cases. Some of these are obvious like A. Ranged Mages abusing these items for a level of bulk they shouldn't be able to attain while still maintaining a high damage output or B. Said AP Bruisers still having the ability to blow up squishier targets at an unhealthy speed while still being considerably tankier
For A, I believe that can be avoided by sticking to a few key design principles that have already kinda been set in other similar items, such as
Lower total AP totals (Baseline AP of these items probably shouldn't break 70-75 MAX)
Passive effects that require the target to be in close proximity (Abyssal Mask got changed because of this issue a year ago)
Baked in ramp-up intervals that would dissuade high burst damage patterns and encourage extended skirmishing
Preventing B is a little bit trickier, since you have to make these said items attractive enough to them to build (and conversely, be balanced around their existence) yet not overly powerful to the point they crowd out other classes. If you're going to make these items to address the issues you have to test how they fit in the general ecosystem as a whole.
Personally, my ideas and suggestions for what these items would be conceptually would be are
1 An AP equivalent to Black Cleaver that provides Health (300ish), AP(60-65), CDR (20%), and a stacking MR shredding passive (That caps out at about 25-30% total MR shred) and MELEE ONLY
Just as their AD counterparts don't have to build a LW item in order to get a sufficient amount of pen for beefier targets AP bruiser champions who intend to be in the mix with their opponents should be able to win out in extended trades. With AP champions being especially gated by their cooldowns the CDR on the item is especially invaluable.
2.An Armor/AP item that builds out of Seekers Armguard that ISN'T Zhonyas
The active conflicts with the idea of a frontlining champion but Seekers is an incredibly useful rush in AD lanes that it should be something an AP champion should be able to build smoothly into You could get pretty creative with the potential passives you could give this item
3.A MELEE ONLY AP/Health/10%CDR item that grants a % of your total AP the longer you stay in combat, maxing out at around 20-25% at at 5% per stack
This is the obvious beefier substitute of a multipler item that gives an AP bruiser an avenue to remain a relevant damage threat later into the game while not turning into a nuke that could decimate squishies instantly via the same ramp up mechanic that encourages extended brawls and CDR to help benefit that exact purpose. 40% CDR should be exceedingly easy for this subclass to achieve by the very nature of what a bruiser is especially combined with the nature of AP champions. On the outside chance this item balance a multiplier nightmare in the same space as DCap you could potentially just make a UNIQUE:Passive shared between the two.
4.A component item that provides a portion of Abyssal Mask's MR reducing aura
Abyssal Mask is a fantastic item as it stands with its Catalyst passive, but rushing it outright in lane is somewhat tenuous similar to how old sunfire used to be. A component to help provide some semblance of a damage boost would help bridge that gap while you meet the 3K gold threshold for item completion.
Sorry for the lengthy write-up! Any thoughts/ questions on the matter yourselves??
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