The Ardent Censer is one of the new support items that Riot introduced in the 4.10 patch, aimed at boosting the power of back-line “traditional supports” in comparison to more popular “utility supports” like Thresh or “mage supports” like Morgana or Zyra. Let’s evaluate it’s strength in light of the recent changes to the other support items, now that it’s bugged, game-breaking strength has been toned down to intended levels.
Stats and Gold Efficiency
Ardent Censer grants 30 AP, 10 mana regeneration/5 seconds, 10% CDR, and 8% movement speed. Its unique passive causes the heals and shields you place onto a member of your team, to grant that ally an additional 25% attack speed for 6 seconds. It costs 2200 gold.
Examining the gold value of these stats based on the stat values, Ardent Censer grants 652.5 gold worth of AP, 600 gold worth of mp5, and 316.7 gold worth of CDR.
That’s 1569.2 gold. The movement speed’s value depends on your previous movement speed, as shown by this table:
For most champions, the 8% movespeed increase will be valued between 340 and 415 gold, with supports trending towards the lower end of that scale.
Thus, the conclusion that Ardent Censer’s raw stats fall short of its cost. Optimistically, the item is worth 1985 gold, which is 215 gold short of its actual cost. This means that Ardent Censer is only something you want if you can make use of the unique passive.
Attack Speed is worth 30 gold per point, so 25% AS is valued at 750 gold. That bonus will make the item more than cost-efficient, assuming you are applying it and the target actually values attack speed. Sorry, but giving 750 gold worth of Attack Speed to Karthus or Ryze isn’t going to be as useful as 25% Attack Speed on, well, virtually anyone else, but especially a marksman.
The following champions are capable of healing or shielding others as part of their base kits:
Alistar*, Janna*, Karma*, Kayle, Lulu, Lux*, Morgana, Nami*, Nidalee, Orianna, Sona, Soraka*, Taric, Thresh*
The asterisks beside each name indicates champions with AOE shields/heals. Note how most of these champions are supports. Also note that Galio’s Bulwark and Braum’s Stand Behind Me were tested, but as they are technically only a defensive steroid and not a shield or heal, they do not proc the Ardent Censer. Rito pls.
It’s also worth noting that the shield/heal from the following items also will proc Ardent Censer: Locket of the Iron Solari, Targon’s Brace, Relic Shield, Face of the Mountain (active and passive), and Mikael’s Crucible.
Another point worth mentioning is that Ardent Censer is a support item, not an offense item or a defensive item. It grants mediocre combat stats and absolutely no defensive stats aside from movement speed. Because over a quarter of its gold value is in the unique passive, which only buffs allies, this is pretty much a support-only buy.
Supports have been heavily-valuing three items as their core: Sightstone, boots, and a completed Gold/10 item, along with an upgraded trinket. Ardent Censer isn’t so awesome as to replace any of those.
There are a few other support choices worth noting:
- Twin Shadows are a great help for teams worried about vision control or that want to create picks.
- Locket of the Iron Solari is an important buy against teams with heavy magic damage, particularly AOE.
- Mikael’s Crucible has also been a core support item recently and is very helpful against the common single-target CC initiations like Dark Binding or Cocoon.
- Frozen Heart or Randuin’s Omen are good buys to counter AS-dependent teams, particularly on tank supports.
- Zeke’s Herald. Just kidding, nobody actually buys this. On paper, the item grants 1160 gold worth of stats to all surrounding teammates. In practice, maybe 3 people can actually make good use of those stats.
- Liandry’s Torment/Abyssal Scepter/Zhonya’s Hourglass for mage supports.
That leaves one slot left for either one more of those other items listed above, or the Ardent Censer. Or just keeping that slot open for Pink Wards, which probably has a lot more value than either of those other options. Note that it’s also possible to sell the Sightstone and keep that last slot for all wards in general in a late-game scenario.
Mage-heavy supports are going to trend towards AP items like Liandry’s/Zhonya’s/Abyssal for their situational slots. For a tank support, after boots, sightstone, and gp10, there’s realistically two “situational” slots. Tank supports will probably fill those with tankier options like Frozen Heart/Randuin’s/Locket, or possibly Mikael’s.
So where does the Ardent Censer fit in? It’s an item that you would buy on a traditional support, particularly one with a low-cooldown heal or shield such as Sona, Janna, Lulu, Nami, or Soraka, for one of your situational slots and probably the second one. Another important use case is Alistar. The 25% AS boost from Triumphant Roar is AOE in his case and also applies to minions. Yes, that means you can come up with bizarre split-push builds involving Ardent Censer and Banner of Command.
There’s a joke about herds and stampedes in here somewhere, but a sufficiently-fed, split-pushing Alistar with Ardent Censer and Banner of Command certainly isn’t something to laugh about.
Its niche is to provide a damage boost to the team from the back-line. On traditional supports it’ll primarily compete with Mikael’s Crucible, Twin Shadows, and Locket of the Iron Solari. However it’s not as game-changing as any of those items. Mikael’s can instantly offset a clutch initiation. Twin Shadows can set up picks or avert a lethal “Fnatic bush” face-check. Locket’s defensive aura is worth 760 gold for every team-mate and gives more universally valuable stats – before considering the up-to 230-health shield it provides.
The purchase should also be weighed against the survivability of the support. If the support is being focused, or there is a large amount of AOE damage present on the opposing team, then other options for survivability are more pressing buys. If the support is expected to do a lot of damage (such as Zyra or Karma), then buying a Liandry’s Torment is more important. The importance of Twin Shadows in late game vision wards/pick scenarios cannot be understated. Lastly, if the enemy composition has been finding success with landing CC on key members of the team for CC, then Mikael’s Crucible is a more important pickup.
Another consideration is that purchasing Ardent Censer could result in overbuying CDR, particularly since Crucible now has CDR as well.
Ardent Censer synergizes very well with all of the hyper-carry marksmen (Twitch, Tristana, Jinx, Kog’Maw, Vayne), as well as low-steroid auto-attack queens like Caitlyn and Ashe.
It also can benefit the fighters who use attack speed, such as Udyr, Trundle, Aatrox, Tryndamere, Nocturne, Jarvan IV, Jax, Warwick, Volibear, Xin Zhao, and Yasuo. A special mention should be thrown out towards Kayle, whose synergy with AP and attack speed is well-known.
For a tank support, after boots, sight stone, and gp10, there’s realistically two “situational” slots. Tank supports will probably fill those with tankier options like Frozen Heart/Randuin’s/Locket, or possibly Mikael’s.
If I can speculate here, the clutch value that Crucible provides will probably give it an edge over Ardent Censer. However, combining Locket of the Iron Solari with Ardent Censer is quite a strong combination. While not as “clutch” as Mikael’s, activating the Locket of the Iron Solari would grant a shield worth 560 gold (level 16) and an AS boost worth 750 gold to potentially five members of the team. Alternately, a support with both Mikael’s Crucible/Face of the Mountain and a shield/heal of their own could keep dumping attack speed into their marksman/fighter for most of the team-fight.
Ardent Censer is a niche support item that should be bought to boost the offensive power of a team, particularly for champions that are dependent on attack speed. It is not an item to rush, but synergizes well with other support items such as Mikael’s Crucible, Face of the Mountain, and especially Locket of the Iron Solari. Its lack of heavy offensive or defensive stats will restrict this to a 5th or 6th item, situational buy for tank or mage supports. Alternatively on traditional supports who operate on the back-line of the team-fight, it could be purchased as early as 4th item in the right scenario if other items aren’t be prioritised.
To maximize its value, a purchaser of Ardent Censer should be on a team with at least one attack speed dependent champion. A composition of Riven/Elise/LeBlanc/Corki/Sona doesn’t benefit much from Ardent Censer. A composition along the lines of Jax/Vi/Kayle/Twitch/Nami has extreme synergy with the item. A support considering Ardent Censer shouldn’t be as heavily worried about buying individual or team survivability, or itemizing more damage or vision control. Under those circumstances, with the correct team composition, the Ardent Censer can provide fair value to the team. However, it is a pretty niche item and shouldn’t be a priority buy.
Decision Tree for Ardent Censer
- Have I bought my core? (Boots, Sight stone, Gp10, upgraded Trinket)
o If no, buy that first
- Do I need more damage?
o If no, buy Liandry’s Torment/Abyssal/Zhonya’s
- Do I need survivability?
o If yes, buy Frozen Heart/Randuin’s/Locket of the Iron Solari/Zhonya’s
- Does their team have lots of AOE magic damage?
o If yes, buy Locket of the Iron Solari
- Does their team keep picking off crucial members, particularly with long-range CC?
o If yes, buy Mikael’s Crucible
- Is our vision control sufficient?
o If no, buy Twin Shadows
- Is our peel sufficient?
o If no, buy Randuin’s or Twin Shadows
- Do I have team-mates who use attack speed?
o If yes, buy Ardent Censer
As you can see, it’s a complicated decision tree, but that’s what makes Ardent Censer a niche pick. I would be very surprised to see it become more than a highly situational item. It’s a good concept for traditional supports and has strong synergies with certain champions and other support items. It should be bought and will only see the light of competitive play, in very specific scenarios and team-compositions.