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Tanking Turrets Like A Boss


Ever seen that Lucian recalling at 100 HP with no mana under his tower? Ever thought “Wow, this is a free kill!” — Only to be kited around by the pesky Purifier, tanking thousands of damage from his turret?

If you’ve been playing League of Legends for any reasonable period of time, you know that feeling of underestimating turret damage and having a tower dive backfire. You hate that feeling. Your emotions range from frustration to disappointment to disbelief as you brace yourself for the inevitability of, “Nice dive, bro!” and “#LCSBigPlays” in /allchat.

It happens to the best of us…

Today, we’re going to try and prevent that feeling from happening by analyzing turret damage. We want to know how many turret hits our champions can take before dying to help understand when and how to tower dive. Check out the analysis section below for some Tower Diving Tips.

Turret Mechanics

Figuring out turret damage is not as simple as clicking on the turret, looking at its AD number, and estimating how much defense your armor will give you. Turret damage is influenced by a number of factors:

  • Turrets have 30% armor penetration
  • Turret damage varies across turret type — Inhibitor turrets do more damage than inner turrets, and inner turrets do more damage than outer turrets.
  • Turret AD increases with time, up to a cap — Outer turrets hit that cap by 6:30, while inner turrets gain strength until 27 minutes and inhibitor turrets stack until 37 minutes.
  • Turret damage increases each time it fires at any champion, stacking twice.
  • Turrets gain an additional bonus for firing at the same champion for more than two hits. This bonus also stacks twice. If you are able to switch the turret’s target, this bonus is immediately lost, but the first bonus for firing at any champion is not.

Damage Formula

To calculate damage, remember that turrets do physical damage. Your armor and health both influence how much damage you can absorb from turrets. Here’s the damage formula:

Equation1

In the case of a turret with 200 AD hitting a champion with 150 armor, here’s what the equation looks like:

Equation2

However, since turret damage has all those other influences for multiple shots, I’ll show you an in-depth analysis for taking turret hits for outer, inner, and inhibitor turrets.

Now, if you’re really good at tower diving and pretty much always get away with your dives, this article isn’t aimed towards you. The idea is to help reduce the learning curve so others can develop that same skill.

But what about that guy you’re diving?

But, here’s a few caveats to the tables you’re about to see!

  1. These calculations do not factor in the amount of damage, crowd control, or other influencing factors that the champion you’re diving can throw at you.
  2. They don’t consider the potential for you to self-heal for significant portions of your health bar, like Dr. Mundo can.
  3. They exclude the effects of an ally shielding or healing you, like Lulu.

If you’re a Dr. Mundo with a Lulu about to shield and ult you, you can tank many more tower hits because you don’t just have your patented 5K, 200 armor double-Warmogs, Ancient Golem, Spirit Visage, Ninja Tabi, and Thornmail build; you have Wild Growth and Help, Pix! on top of Adrenaline Rush and Sadism as well. (As an aside, that’s an absolutely disgusting amount of raw survivability stats.)

So . . . take these numbers with a Mundo-sized grain of salt!

Outer Turrets

Outer Turrets start with 152 AD, which scales up to 180 damage at the 6:30 mark. For the sake of this article I’m going to assume you’re not attempting too many tower dives before 6:30, and so I have calculated results only for outer turrets after 6:30. If you are diving before that mark, it won’t make a major difference in how many hits you can take—this table’s results will largely still apply.

If you are the only person tanking the tower shots, here’s how many tower hits you can take as a function of your health and armor:

OuterT

If you are switching the aggression from a tower that has already fired twice or more at a champion, remember that the tower’s second bonus is reset, but its first remains active. As such, you can take fewer tower hits due to the extra bonus damage.

Inner Turrets

Inner turrets do more damage and also take longer to ramp up fully, maxing out at 250 damage at 27 minutes. Thus, I will show you three sets of data: Inner turrets at 10 minutes (fast game, or lane swap), 20 minutes (more normal), or 30 minutes (drawn out).

At 10 minutes, the results are as follows:

Inner10t

Now we’ll look at the twenty-minute case, when the turret has gained more AD:

Inner20t

There’s not a huge difference here, but it’s worth noting. Most of the difference occurs in rare, outlier areas. (How often are you going to be tower-diving an inner turret with 500 HP and 50 armor? Please tell me not often!)

Here’s the table at 30 minutes:

Inner30t

Inhibitor Turrets

Likewise inhibitor turrets do more damage and continue to scale further in the late game until 37 minutes, maxing out at 310 damage. While the overall AD number doesn’t make a huge difference, it’s still worth examining for the sake of thoroughness.

This time, I’ll look at the 20, 30, and 40-minute values, which are more reasonable time frames:

Inhib20tInhib30t

Inhib40t

Analysis

I expect a lot of people will think “I’m here to play League of Legends, not Applied Tower Statistics. I’m not going to memorize a bunch of tables to tell me how many tower hits I can tank. I’ll rely on experience!” And that’s a valid point.

It would be unreasonable to expect people to remember how many tower hits they can take from looking at a bunch of tables and committing those to memory.

Instead, what I’m going to offer is a general rule of thumb that will get you pretty close. It won’t be quite as accurate as fully memorizing these tables, but it will be true in most cases, and that’s good enough.

That’s much simpler. Let’s test this approximation:

Approximation

My tower approximation is not 100% accurate—and it actually trends towards being a little conservative, particularly once you start tanking up. It doesn’t factor in self-healing, heals, shields, enemy champion/minion damage, or switching tower aggression.

However, it’s pretty close for most realistic and common combinations of health and armor. It gives you a usable number without having to entirely rely on experience.

Temperature conversion is a real-life example of a practical approximation.:

  • The exact conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit is a multiplication by 9/5 and then adding 32.
  • Most people can’t do this kind of math mentally but you don’t always NEED the exact figure, unless you’re performing a scientific experiment or need precise temperatures
  • It’s much easier to approximate the conversion by multiplying by 2 and adding 30. Most people can probably double a two-digit number and add 30.

Is it the exact result? No. But is it close enough to be useful? Yes, and that’s what we’re going for here. (Case in point, 30 degrees Celsius is 86 Fahrenheit exactly and 90 degrees if you use the approximation. I had to use a calculator for one of them.)

Here’s a bonus rule:

Subtract one from the approximation if you are switching aggression after the tower has fired on another champion.

There’s no realistic instance where the amount of turret shots you can take will decrease by more than two when switching aggro, versus tanking the initial, less damaging hits. It’s another good-enough approximation.

Conclusion

In the interest of finding out how many raw turret shots a champion can absorb, we broke down the turret mechanics. There are a lot of variables that go into a dive.

So we tried to simplify the problem down to just how many turret shots can a champion tank and not look at enemy damage, potential self-heals, ally heals, or shields (or Pantheon’s passive).

We learned that turrets:

  • Deal physical damage
  • Have 30% armor penetration
  • Get stronger over time

We also learned that:

  • Inhibitor turrets are stronger than inner turrets, which are stronger again than outer turrets
  • Turret damage increases each time it fires at a champion, stacking up to over double its initial damage
  • Turret damage can be lowered by switching the aggression after two turret shots

I presented a bunch of tables that gave fairly exact results on how many turret shots a champion can tank for a broad number of cases.

While accurate and detailed, such data is difficult to remember. Hence I also devised and explained a useful approximation which will give you a general rule of thumb for when you’re in game and don’t have time to recall a table because ZOMG DIVE THIS TEEMO NOW. It bears repeating:

  • Your health/1000 x 4 + armor/100 = how many outer or inner turret hits you can tank
  • Subtract 1 turret hit if you’re diving an inhibitor turret
  • Subtract 1 turret hit if you’re switching the aggression after the turret has already fired on a champion

Author’s note: Remember, damage from enemy champions wasn’t factored into the calculation, just turret hits. Cloth5 bears no responsibility for summoners running their champions into the 5 shrooms Teemo laid under his tower for just such an occasion.

So if you’re a 2300 HP Darius with 160 armor diving an inhibitor turret that was just firing at minions, you can estimate that you can tank 9 turret hits (9 from HP, 1 from armor, -1 because it’s an the inhibitor turret) and live if you can also survive the enemy burst. This is probably most useful if you’re tanking damage and wondering if you need to burn a summoner spell.

The other important takeaway from this (particularly for less-experienced summoners), is that turrets are not that lethal in the mid game.

Once your opponent has over 1500 HP and/or 100 armor, it’s going to take 5 or more turret shots to kill them. If you’re low and the wave is pushing towards your turret, you’ll want to back away if your opponent can easily tower dive you.

Unless of course you have a good escape move like Sanguine Pool or else a lot of burst/CC to counter the dive. CC should ideally be used to either create distance between you and your attacker so you stay alive during the dive or longer into the dive, as the damage they take from the tower is higher for more turret shots.

Hopefully, this approximation proves useful to all of you tower-divers out there. Good luck, have fun and happy tower diving!


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Eph289

Eph289 is a Platinum-ranked mid and support on NA and has been playing and writing about League of Legends since 2010. Formerly a Reign of Gaming guest contributor, he went by 'Sudunem' for his first few Cloth5 pieces until he fully transitioned over to Cloth5. He uses his mastery of the wizard arts of math, statistics, and theorycrafting to illuminate and explain the mysteries of League of Legends.

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