Brutalizer vs Chain Vest; Building Top Lane

The top lane meta has shifted away from more damage orientated bruisers into tankier ones but this doesn’t mean it’s always better to buy tanky items right from the get go if you think you can snowball your lane.

(Note: I’m adding this in here because there seems to be some confusion based on the discussion on Reddit. This article is not to illustrate that you should always buy The Brutalizer on Renekton or on Shyvana or even as a counter to Renekton or Shyvana. I’m also NOT saying that Chain Vest is bad, for stopping a physical damage dealer its one of the best early items you can get. I’m not sure whether people are just reading the headings and assuming its a TL:DR or whether i’ve not communicated it clearly enough.)

It’s common advice that once you start to fall behind in lane you should build tanky stats in order to help you resist their damage and not hemorrhage gold to the point where you might have lost the entire game all on your own.

The Situation

You’re playing Renekton against Shyvana and successfully kill her in lane, it’s Shyvana so you probably needed a jungler gank, but you push the minions up to the turret and back. You purchase your Brutalizer with a few potions and return to lane to find Shyvana with a Chain Vest. The other situation would be that Shyvana purchased a non-defensive item but this could be anything that provides no additional defensive stats.

Now you’re obviously ahead because you’ve spent 1337 gold on stats, while she’s spent 720 gold, but do you actually do more damage to her?


Chain Vest

To start with the simplest part we’ll look at how Shyvana has improved. She’s got an additional 40 Armour. This means she has gained about 480 additional physical effective health, the amount of physical damage it would take to deplete her health pool. I’m assuming Shyvana has ~1200 hp at level 6, which is about the amount she has with defensive masteries and a Doran’s Shield.

The Brutalizer

The easiest place to start is with the Armour Penetration.

Brutalizer has 10 Armour Penetration, which effectively reduces the armour provided by Chain vest down to 30 from 40. This reduces the physical effective health provided by Chain Vest down to 360 from 480.

Lol Wiki states that Brutalizer’s armour penetration passive needs to be worth 115 gold for the item to be worth the gold you spent on it. If we assume that armour costs 18g for 1 point of armour, a number we get by looking at the 40 armour provided by Chain Vest for 720 gold, we’ll see that the armour penetration provided by Brutalizer is worth 180g in the situation we’re looking at.

Next we’ll look at the AD.

Brutalizer provides 25 Attack Damage, which will increase all of Renekton’s damage as follows (assuming Renekton is level 6 and maxxing Q first):

  • Renekton’s basic attacks will deal 25 additional damage
  • Cull the Meek will deal 20 additional damage, 30 if its empowered
  • Ruthless Predator will deal 37.5 additional damage, 56.25 if empowered
  • Slice and Dice will deal 22.5 additional damage per hit, 33.75 per hit if empowered
  • Dominus doesn’t scale with AD

This provides Renekton with 80 extra damage on a non-empowered combo and this is a 50% increase on the amount of base damage you’d expect at this level assuming he hits all of his skills on the enemy champion. The actual damage values you see in game will be lowered, due to the additional armour that has been picked up, but they key here is whether the additional damage provided by the brutalizer is higher than the extra physical effective health provided by Chain Vest.

Renekton’s full combo at level 6, not including his ult, does 190 base damage, with the Brutalizer’s AD providing 90 additional damage, for a total of 280 damage. This is also calculated without any of the abilities being empowered and this will push the damage value even higher. (We’re ignoring runes, masteries and other items here because they will be the same in both cases so cancel each other out)

Renekton needs to land his entire combo 1.3 times in order to negate the extra physical effective health provided by Chain Vest

Now this is a little misleading because we’re taking Renekton’s base damage into account. If we just go for the additional damage provided by the Brutalizer then it would be 2.5 full combos. Again a little misleading because Renekton is likely to harass with Q more often than he is going go be able to all in Shyvana.

Obviously CDR pulls it further into the Brutalizer’s favour however I find CDR is very hard to put an exact gold/damage value on because you don’t always take advantage of it. 10% CDR takes 0.8 seconds off of the cooldown of Cull the Meek however if you wait more than 0.8s to cast it once it has come off cooldown you’ve effectively ‘wasted’ the CDR.

Now I’m not saying CDR isn’t useful, because I find it to be the best stat on most champions at some point in the game and there will be points when you are ‘spamming your skills’ (such as in a teamfight or during a lane duel) and in this case you’re getting the maximum out of the stat.

Additionally if you get ganked and your Slice and Dice comes up 1.8 seconds earlier, at rank 1, then that could easily be the difference between being stuck in lane and killed and being able to Slice across the jungler and then Dice to safety. In that case the CDR has stopped you being killed and feeding gold to your lane opponent and the jungler in addition to the gold you would’ve missed while you were dead. That’s a potentially huge amount of gold compared to the cost of any CDR on items.

Also whenever Shyvana levels up she will gain additional health, 95 per level. This will provide Shyvana with an additional 133, reduced to 124 by Brutalizer, physical effective health per level. She also gains armour but given the Shyvana who purchased offensive items and the one who brought a Chain Vest both gain this additional armour then this cancels out so isn’t relevant to this scenario as both Renekton’s need to get through that health anyway.

Auto attacks

Now I know what you’re thinking, we’re not taking auto attacks into account! You weren’t? Well we’ll look at it anyway.

At level 6 Renekton has 71.12 base AD. Brutalizer provides 25 AD. Renekton needs to land 14.4 auto attacks in order to fully negate the additional physical effective health provided by Chain Vest.


Brutalizer provides a damage increase on a champion with strong AD ratios against a champion that has purchased a Chain Vest despite the additional armour stats it provides. This makes sense because the champions you’d normally be purchasing the item on, champions like Renekton, Riven, Pantheon, Fiora, tend to have strong AD ratios or attack speed steroids, which are indirectly an AD ratio because they provide you with additional auto attacks, and can therefore make good use of all of the stats provided.

I don’t think we could make a list of champions who should definitely buy a Brutalizer to counter a Chain Vest, and Brutalizer shouldn’t really be purchased to counter armour stacking anyway, because of how varied the champion pool is and how you want to itemize throughout the game.

In my opinion this does make the most sense because the gold values of the items aren’t the same and if we ended up in a situation where a Chain Vest provided significantly more damage reduction then the game would become stale and defensive stats would be far too powerful.

Further – Why buy a Chain Vest at all?

Looking at it from the other angle it does seem like purchasing your Chain Vest isn’t all that useful because as soon as they’ve got a Brutalizer they’re able to easily negate the additional defensive stats you’ve picked up. However this isn’t true and you do become more tanky, especially as you level up, and will be able to come out of duels in a much better position than if you brought pure offensive stats. Chain Vest is a strong item for countering physical damage dealers.

You always need to build defensive stats if you start to fall behind! (and just in general in the current meta)

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Esports and Blogs Manager for Cloth5.com. I'm a Plat 5 all around player, I know I should pick a role but it's too much fun playing all of the champions! Add me on Fridgecake or Yawnedeverywhere and i'd be happy to have a game. Currently playing Hearthstone, Gangsters 2, GTA 5 and Football Manager. Follow me on twitter @C5Fridgecake or check out my stream

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