League of Legends

Why Mordekaiser’s rework highlights the problems with AP Bruiser itemization options

LeagueofLegends11 - Why Mordekaiser's rework highlights the problems with AP Bruiser itemization options
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TL;DR at the bottom.

AP Bruiser itemization is so bad that Mordekaiser rework, the lowest mobility champion release in a while, is getting 25% magic penetration as a passive ability to make up for it in order to reward him for being in combat range. I believe that this is due to lack of options in the item class, and also a lack of good stats and efficiency within items that already exist. Let's define what an AP Bruiser item should have:

An AP Bruiser item needs to have a statline that makes sense for durable melee champions while lacking stats that would make the item abusable by mages. The stats that make most sense for it have are: health, ability power, and damage that gets stronger over duration in combat, and no more than 10% CDR. If the item has % magic penetration, then the AP value of the item must be low to prevent mage abuse.

The stats that don't make sense for it to have (stats that mages want) are: mana, mana regeneration, >10% CDR, flat magic penetration, burst damage.

Let's look at the few AP Bruiser items that currently exist:

Liandry%27s Torment - Why Mordekaiser's rework highlights the problems with AP Bruiser itemization optionsLiandry's Torment: 3100 gold. 75 AP, 300 HP, 10% damage after 4 seconds in combat, 1.5% max health magic damage, increased to 2.5% max health magic damage when movement-impaired. Liandry's Torment is 78.43% gold efficient, without its passives.

Liandry's torment is probably the "best" AP Bruiser item that exists currently. The problem with this item is that the stats you get for 3100 gold are quite bad when not accounting for the passives. Comparing it to The Black Cleaver, it's closest AD Bruiser counterpart, the problem becomes apparent. For 100 gold less, Cleaver gives 100 more HP, 20% CDR, movement speed and % Armor shred over time, while being 110% gold efficient. This somewhat prevents the item from being easily abusable by assassins who prefer the higher AD and flat lethality stats from Duskblade and Youmuu's, and that don't have the health pool to take the time to stack of the armor shred of Cleaver. This makes sense for an AD Bruiser who needs these stats to stick to a target and slowly shred their armor to kill them.

When accounting for the passives, the item is quite bad outside of a tank-meta, since it needs 4 seconds to reach full damage potential, and deals better damage versus tanks instead of squishies (low AP for the cost). However, since tanks tend to stack MR, the item is countered by the class it is meant to beat, because it deals magic damage. The health bonus is also quite low for the cost and it would make sense for it to match Black Cleaver's health value, especially when it is more expensive. Liandry's would benefit from a passive which gave %MR shred over a long enough time to reward a bruiser that manages to stay in combat, but prevents a mage from abusing it.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter: 2600 gold. 90 AP, 300 Health, 20% slow for 1 second upon dealing ability damage. Rylai's Crystal Scepter is 106.06% gold efficient, without its passive.

The stats you get from Rylai's are quite good for the cost. It is a pretty cheap item with a high AP value for the cost. Theoretically, this should be a great AP Bruiser item. However, most AP bruisers don't buy this item first because Liandry's is a better damage option. Instead, they opt to buy this item second only to increase the damage gained from Liandry's. I think that the slow is slightly too weak, and that the health value is also a bit too low. IMO, the item could be bumped up to a 25% slow and 400 HP for the cost of 2800 gold and it would be a much more valuable buy.

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Morellonomicon: 3000 gold. 70 AP, 300 HP, 15 Magic Pen, Grievous Wounds. Morellonomicon is 92.97% gold efficient without its passive.

Morellonomicon has the potential to be a great AP Bruiser item, but suffers from the incorrect stats which make it into a better mage item. Flat magic penetration means that mages who have high base damage and higher AP values with lower cooldowns benefit more from the item over AP bruisers, with the exception of Sylas who makes up for his risky melee playstyle with low cooldowns and healing values. The health value is also low for the cost when purchased on most melee champions.

Hextech Protobelt 01 - Why Mordekaiser's rework highlights the problems with AP Bruiser itemization optionsHextech Protobelt-01: 2500 Gold. 60 AP, 10% CDR, 300 HP, Fire Bolt Active. Hextech Protobelt-01 is 94.87% gold effecient, without its active.

This item is quite good for the cost. 2500 gold for this combination of stats is very nice. However, the active scaling benefits AP Stacking mages more in terms of raw damage output. The item also does not reward extended periods in combat, so the item ends up being pushed towards mages like Kennen and Lissandra yet again.

Rod of Ages: 2700 gold, 60 AP, 300 HP, 300 Mana, increased to 100 AP, 500 Health, and 400 Mana after 10 minutes. Rod of Ages is 93.52% gold efficient without its passive and 150.68% gold efficient at max stacks.

Rod of Ages has the potential to be a really good AP Bruiser item if the stats are adjusted for it. This item currently gives 4068.33 gold worth of stats when fully charged. 400 mana is equivalent to 560 gold value. If the mana value was lowered and then given to the health component of the item, it would be better for AP Bruisers who need mana less but need durability more. The item as a mage item giving mana is almost completely outclassed by the three Haste items (Archangels/Seraphs, Luden's, and Hextech GLP) which all give 20% CDR, much higher mana, and more immediate AP when purchased.

The only other item which gives AP and Health is
Shurelya's Reverie which is a support item that does not have the stats to support AP Bruisers.

TL;DR: There are very few AP Bruiser items that actually exist. Of those that do, many of them are given stats the benefit mages instead of AP Bruisers. Of the ones that don't explicitly benefit mages, the stats of the items are too weak to allow an AP Bruiser to function in melee range, and don't properly reward extended combat duration. The itemization options are so bad that the most immobile champion to be released in a while (Upcoming Mordekaiser rework) is being given 25% magic penetration as a passive to be able to reward him getting into melee range of enemy champions.

Edit: The difference between Darius and Mordekaiser is that Darius is meant to counter tanks because of his passive which rewards him heavily for being in combat for extended periods, so giving him % Armor pen makes sense. Mordekaiser getting 25% magic penetration is a result of bad items because his abilities don't give him more damage for being in combat longer.

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