Welcome back Summoners. This is the first part in a multi part blog looking at health sustain.
Today i’m going to look at sustain in lane from champion kits focusing on supports. I’ll expand this into the other roles in subsequent weeks. A lot of champions gain some sort of sustain from their kit whether its a heal like Soraka or Kayle, a shield like Janna or Rumble or additional life steal or spell vamp like Lee Sin or Morgana.
The laning phase of the game can end up being a battle of keeping your health high enough to remain in a safe position to CS while trying to whittle your opponents down so you can all-in them and, with the junglers help if needs be, get a kill. There are many ways to sustain your health in lane:
- Sustain from your champion’s or allied champion’s kits
- Lifesteal or Spell Vamp from Quints or Masteries
- Lifesteal or Spell Vamp from items
- Health Potions
- Health Regeneration
Each of the above methods are a valid way of dealing with an enemy champion that has high sustain, though building additional health regeneration is probably the least popular (and potentially the least effective).
Additional potions on every back is an easy method of achieving your goal but gold spent in this way is ‘wasted in that it isn’t used in any kind of item so doesn’t further your build. As such the question with potions is “can I use the extra health I will get from the potions to aquire more gold than I spent and would’ve missed by being out of lane?”.
Life steal is a popular pick on AD carries and has started to see extensive use in top lane with Lee Sin and Wukong type characters picking up Ravenous Hydra. Spell vamp has lost its popularity slightly compared to season 2 where many characters would pick up hextech revolver, however it is still a viable item and sees play on characters like Akali.
Life steal/Spell Vamp quints and masteries are used on a character by character basis though Life Steal quints are showing a surgence in popularity on many AD carries. They are a more than viable alternative to AP/AD quints if you end up against a lane that has high sustain or want to become a lane bully.
Sustain from kits can be broken up into a few categories and we’ll look at those separately as they come up. A few of them are a little harder to calculate, because they depend on either your health, your enemies health or another multitude of factors such as number of enemies hit by spells, looking at you Ahri. I’ll do my best to approximate their usefulness but their actual values will vary.
Supports provide sustain in 2 main ways, either a heal or a shield. Each has its own pros and cons but they both provide additional health for the purposes of sustain. There are other methods of sustain, such as providing a bonus to armour/MR during an engagement, which will artificially increase your effective health, but they aren’t discussed here.
General Lane Sustain
Alistar – Triumphant Roar heals himself for 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 + 20% AP healing for half to nearby allies, cooldown reduces by 2 seconds per unit that dies near Alistar
Kayle – Divine Blessing heals the target for 60 / 105 / 150 / 195 / 240 + 35% AP
Janna – Eye Of The Storm shields her target from up to 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 + 90% AP
Lulu – Help Pix! Shields allied champions for 60 / 105 / 150 / 195 / 240 + 60% AP
Lux – Prismatic Barrier throws her baton to a target location and back protecting herself and allies it touches for 80 / 105 / 130 / 155 / 180 +35% AP damage. On the batons return to lux it will refresh the shield amount.
Nami – Ebb and Flow heals a target for 65 / 95 / 125 / 155 / 185 + 30% AP, can heal 2 champions if it bounces between an ally and an enemy.
Nidalee – Primal Surge heals allied champions for 50 / 85 / 120 / 155 / 190 + 70% AP
Sona – Aria of Perseverance heals for 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 + 25% AP to herself and a nearby ally
Soraka – Astral Blessing heals friendly unit for 70 / 140 / 210 / 280 / 350 + 45% AP
Taric – Imbue heals friendly units for 60 / 100 / 140 / 180 / 220 + 60% AP cooldown reduces by 1 second for every auto attack made against minions, 3 seconds for champions
Thresh – Dark Passage Shields friendly targets for 60 / 100 / 140 / 180 / 220 + 40% AP
Interestingly enough there are many differences within the above sustain options both in terms of numbers and how they interact with champions. Kayle probably has the ‘simplest’ sustain in that her heal provides a movement speed bonus, but then you have characters like Lulu who’s shield allows her to use another of her abilities from a different location, Janna’s shield provides additional AD while Alistar’s heal cooldown is reduced when units die around him.
In terms of raw sustain in a fight Soraka is the clear winner in heal terms and even has a relatively strong AP ratio, which is probably why she has been used mid in the ‘Protect the X’ comps. However her heal has a long cooldown and is single target.
Lux has strong base numbers on her shield and its skill shot and aoe nature allows her to abuse good mechanical skill to maximise its effect on a team. However it can be difficult to land to the max effect on a single target as it involves good timing between the champion being shielded and taking damage.
The above table shows the sustain amounts at different ranks for support characters when they are cast on the AD carry, some heals/shields are aoe and will heal/shield for more if they hit more than one champion. For Lux this assumes that her full shield amount goes onto the AD, so her baton will hit the AD carry and grant him a shield and this shield will be destroyed by damage before the baton turns around and hits the AD carry again. Unlikely, but not impossible to pull off.
From this table we can see that Alistar loses out heavily in sustain terms for the AD Carry and he doesn’t even scale that well with AP to allow him to buff his sustain in that way. The cooldown of his heal is reduced by 12-14 seconds a wave, depending on whether a cannon minion is present, but this will usually be spread across multiple heals as it is unlikely that all minions will die in 1 heal cooldown.
Another two losers from this table are Sona and Nidalee, who both provide relatively small healing amounts through all 5 ranks of their spells. Luckily they both have short cooldowns so they can be used frequently to increase the health regenerated per second. This relatively low amount of healing at level 1 for Nidalee, and the fact many try to max Q first, is probably one of the reasons she is seen as such a poor support.
There are many middle of the pack supports such as Kayle, Lulu, Taric and Thresh none of whom provide particularly large heals and they have varying cooldowns. Taric and Thresh have particularly long cooldowns relative to their heal amounts, though Taric’s can be reduced by auto attacking in lane.
The clear winners from this table are Soraka and Lux who lead the pack on sustain. Lux’s spell does have some rather special conditions to maximise the amount of damage reduced, especially single target, but it can doable at later levels when the enemy champion’s damage is higher if you’ve got good timing. Soraka’s heal also comes with a powerful armour buff so she probably provides a larger actual boost in sustain.
Now obviously this table assumes the best case scenario for everyone’s spells but it doesn’t factor in the cooldowns of the spells. If we look at the health regen per 5 of the above spells, again assuming the best case scenario for both shields and heals (except for Alistar and Taric), we actually see a slightly different story.
Starting at the bottom again you can see that Alistar, Taric and Thresh all lose out across the board. While the HP5 of their heals will actually be different for the former 2, due to their cooldown reduction abilities, Thresh’s sustain is poor but he more than makes up for it with aggression and gank assistance. Towards level 5 the final two have caught up slightly but are still behind all of their counterparts.
Kayle’s HP5 is one of the lowest for heal terms, only just beating Taric and Soraka at level 1. She is mainly picked for reasons outside of her healing but she might be a stronger pick if she was able to provide better sustain in lane. However i’m not sure i’d want to play against a Kayle who can grant her carry damage immunity on top of healing them for significant amounts.
Soraka’s Hp5 is actually surprisingly poor just due to how long the cooldown is on her heal but it does have some of the best scaling for heals from ranks 1 to 5 and is fairly competitive as you move to later ranks. In terms of burst healing she is one of the better supports and the armour buff her heal provides, 105 at rank 5, is huge if it lands during the burst window of an AD champion like Kha’zix or Zed.
Our surprise winner, for healing HP5, is actually Nami. Additionally she provides damage/slow for your AD carry in the form of her E, move speed from casting abilities and two powerful CCs. No wonder she is seeing play in solo queue and beyond. If you’re up against a heavy poke lane Nami might just be one of the best champions to nurse your carry through those tough early levels.
All of the shields, apart from Thresh’s (and that has OP utility), have higher HP5 than heals due to the wasteful nature of shields compared to heals. The above tables assume that all of the shield is used every time its cast. Shields don’t last forever and as such it is unlikely that you’ll ever hit this Hp5 values listed above for significant portions of the game.
Notes from General Sustain
It can be debated to the end of time of what’s better between shields or heals. If you’re good at reacting to enemy movements and predicting where damage is going to occur then shields are a viable replacement for heals and actually provide higher HPS mitigation for the most part.
However they cannot replenish health once it has been diminished and this needs to be sustained up via another method of health regeneration. Luckily Doran’s blade and long sword + 2 potions starts are common on AD carries on top of life steal quints so AD carries can provide the regen necessary if you can land the shields.
Obviously not all supports max their ‘sustain’ abilities first so factor this in when considering how much sustain you’ll need for your Marksmen.
Janna – Monsoon heals allies every half second for 4 seconds, Max Amount of Healing: 280 / 440 / 600 + 140% AP
Kayle – Invention bathes a target in holy light making them immune to damage for 2 / 2.5 / 3 seconds
Lulu – Wild Growth enlarges target and grants 300/450/600 + 50% AP Health CD 110 / 95 / 80
Soraka – Soraka’s Wish heals all friendly champions for 200 / 320 / 440 + 70% AP
I would argue that none of the above ults are actually ‘sustain’ in the same way that a heal or a shield provides you with additional health during the laning phase to mitigate some of the poke that has been occurring. However they do provide health, or an invulnerability in Kayle’s case, and this can save you in a fight during the game so I thought they were worth mentioning.
Supports can provide strong sustain in lane and can apply it to both themselves and their AD Carry/Marksmen lane partners and can do so with varying effectiveness. Nami has the strongest Hp5 of all supports if you just consider her heal hitting a single target.
If you are playing against a support who doesn’t provide sustain, such as Leona or Blitzcrank, then you should be poking more often in order to abuse the fact that you can take additional damage and heal it up after the engagement. While if you are in the reverse situation then you’ll want to avoid poke damage so you can remain strong enough to all in the enemy and pick up a kill.
Health potions provide 150 health over 15 seconds or 50 Hp5 and this is stronger than most of the sustain provided by supports at the lower ranks of their sustain spells but is surpassed as the efficiency of the spell increases.
I appreciate that i’ve not discussed all of the supports and champions like Karma, Fiddlesticks or Zyra can be played as supports, however i’ve not seen Karma played in this role since the rework (and rarely before that) and although champions like Fiddle or Nunu provide sustain it is on themselves rather than general lane sustain.
For the next blog in this series i’ll look at sustain away from bot lane and who are the champions you want to be careful of when it comes to sustain.