Melee Carry Mondays: Runes and Masteries

Before we get into the champions, it is important that we fully understand runes and masteries. Runes and masteries are set prior to the game so it can be a little bit difficult understanding which ones you want to use in which situations. Generally speaking ,there is technically no wrong rune setup, but having solid runes increase your chance of winning. For example, you wouldn’t want to lane against someone like Renekton without Armor Seals. The problem with the rune shop is not all runes are as effective as others thus making it more important to enter the battle field with a solid rune page. Instead of making the page for you and sending you off, I’ll list solid rune choices of each type.



Marks – Marks specialize in offensive stats and you should avoid using it as a source of defense.

  • 1.7% Attack Speed – This is primarily used on junglers who intend to clear fast and be able to stick to enemies with red buff. Attack Speed is tricky because even though it is technically one of the most effective Marks, the stat itself is tricky because you need to be consistantly attacking to make full use of them. You should generally use these to clear fast or in extended trading early. The use of Attack Speed Marks in lane can allow those with steroids to win early duels, or be able to CS and trade quickly due to attacking faster.
  • 1.3 Armor Pen – Armor Pen is generally regarded as the hardest scaling rune. It allows you to have an okay early game, but scale through the mid game due to Armor not hindering your attacks as much. As you stack damage when you have Armor Pen runes, you actually in turn are getting more damage than normal because of the Armor Pen. These are generally the golden standard for those who want to have the most effective late game Marks.
  • .95 Attack Damage – As common as these are to anyone who plays League of Legends, the actual effectiveness of these Marks is questionable. If you are a champion who does not have the best AD scaling, you certainly do not want to take these over Armor Pen. Overall the idea of these runes are to win out early, which is something you can’t always do. Flat AD is not always the best choice, but it works well with Armor Pen. These are still solid runes for those who have limited rune options due to the amount of IP they have.
  • .93 Critical Strike – These runes are really awkward to use, but can be super effective. A lane can be won based off of just 1 or 2 critical strikes. That being said you forfeit actual early game stats for this. Keep in mind though that even when you don’t critical strike you still have that chance. Even if it doesn’t play a role in the early game, it could potentially help sometime later. Unless your champion is loaded out with steroids, be careful when using these.
  • .13 Scaling AD – If you want to have extra damage in the late game and can get away with being weaker until level 8, these runes will grant you extra damage from levels 8-18. They can be tricky to get away with but certainly possible.


Seals – The strength in seals come in the defensive stats. It is risky to be able to get away with offensive seals.

  • .76% Attack Speed – Risky, but I like to run this on my suicide jungler page of full Attack Speed. This helps you clear fast. It is dangerous, but tons of fun.
  • 1.4 Armor – This is probably the most standard and effective rune. This is what you’ll see on almost every rune page. The strength of this rune is that it negates the early physical damage you’ll take. Since everyone can basic attack these runes are even effective against AP mages.
  • 1.08 Health Per Level – Excellent choice my friend. As long as you can pick up at least 13 Armor, you almost have the same Armor bonus you would get from running 1.4 Armor Seals. Having health in combination with Armor increases your survivability. If you have a source of health sustain like Life Steal, these runes become even better. However taking early game physical damage is still painful and you should still take caution if you choose to run these.
  • .15 Armor Per Level – I love these runes. It may be tricky to get away with these, but it is very possible. If you do not build Armor, these runes have you covered with 24 points of armor at level 18. This is not to be underestimated. At level 10, these runes out-scale Flat Armor Seals. The weak Armor early game can easily be compensated by picking up a Cloth Armor to sell late game. I would recommend you try these if you haven’t already. They can even be used to jungle.


Glyphs – These focus on magic defenses and are notably a good source of CDR.

  • 1.34 Flat Magic Resist – This should be your go to choice when laning against Ability Power based champions. It also is effective when attempting to take less damage from magic even when you aren’t directly laning against magic damage. Pretty basic.
  • .15 MR Per Level – These are the alternative choice. I generally recommend these if you want to take less magic damage from sources into the late game. These are the better option if you are jungling or not laning against magic damage, but there is a magic damage threat on the opposing team. You can mix and mash these with the Flat Magic Resist ones.
  • .64% Attack Speed Glyphs – You will see these on junglers who want to clear faster and that are auto-attack based. If the enemy team does not have a major source of magic damage, you should take these if you feel the need to clear quickly and are not an ability based jungler.
  • .83% CoolDown Reduction– Very strong rune here. This is solid if you want to be able to use your abilities more often. I should advise you that losing out on Magic Resist can be painful, but if you need your abilities to get the job done, these runes are very helpful.


Quintessences – Noted for utility, however they provide a large stat gain almost all across the board. Because you are a melee carry, use these for their offensive/utility based purposes.

  • Armor Pen – A solid choice for those who want to have that late to mid game power. The same goes here for the notes on Armor Pen Marks. These become effective as you get a bit of damage. High steroid champions can abuse these.
  • Attack Damage – Basic flat damage. You can refer to the Flat Attack Damage Mark reading here. These help you do a little bit more damage early, but if you cannot take an advantage of it, they become inferior to Armor Pen.
  • Critical Strike/Damage – I set these two together because they both are awkward. You must actually critical strike for them to be effective. Even if you don’t, they may still play a role later.
  • Attack Speed – Good for clearing the jungle quickly and useful when consecutively trading in lane; however, it is outclassed by the next two runes as most Quints seem to be these days.
  • Movement Speed – This is possible one of the most powerful Quints in the game. These quints allow you to stick to your target and avoid upgrading boots for a while. It is important when chasing your foes and trying to avoid being kited. They also allow you to feel omnipresent and show up where you need to be. Junglers are the more likely ones to use these, but they do greatly increase the effectiveness of roam-based lanes like mid lane.
  • Life Steal – I used to undersell these for a while. If your champion has a strong AD steroid you can pick up an early Vamp Scepter and just auto-attack/push waves for days. These offer heavy sustain which is something that is important for those looking to sit and farm. It is also important for those champions who do not have the skill set to win early trades. You can instead trade almost evenly or lose it and then sustain it back.

You can mix and match these runes to your content. Some combos are better than others, but I’d rather not shell you a random rune page as many of them are champion specific, which we will go into more in the champion section next week.



You are probably wondering what possible carry mastery pages you can use. Again, I didn’t want to shell you a random standard mastery page that you will probably copy and not understand. Instead I am going to present an image that shows the potential options and explain the benefits of each one. The chart will have the less desirable choices crossed out in red, the preference based choices underlined in yellow, and the optimal choices boxed in green (on the Utility tree they will also have a dash through them in case you cannot see the green).


A lot of mastery choices are preference based so I am not going to sit here and tell you how to build your mastery page. However I will explain the importance of certain mastery stats I hold dear to me.


Lethality/Frenzy – Critical Strike is one of the most interesting and important late game stats. This allows you to deal double damage in a single blow. Therefore, it’s very important to amplify this. Even if you are at a 10% critical strike, if you get one that hit dealt 10% more damage and granted extra Attack Speed. This choice is more powerful than a lot of other things on the mastery page. I would recommend you get these on anyone you are attempting to build carry.


Mastermind – Having Summoner Spells up more often than your opponent allow for you, even if you trade Summoners, to have a window of opportunity to take advantage of their Summoners being down since yours will be up much sooner. I always advise you take this whenever you can go without the extra defenses.


Durability/Veteran Scars – The extra health is always going to be helpful. It makes for a more reliable early game with 30 health and a slightly stronger late game in terms of stats. The 9 points in Defense help you all around


Executioner/Havoc – Dealing bonus damage is major on melee carries. You may not see them as much, but it adds up drastically over the course of a game. Taking 21 Offense is more reliable when attempting to play a melee carry because even if you went 21 Defense, you still would not be as tanky as you need to be and you may lack the damage needed to defeat your opponents. It is better to go with 21 Offense and never feel you aren’t doing enough damage in the late game assuming you have solid gold.


Tenacious/Block– You are probably wondering why I recommend going so deep into the Defense tree and why it’s a preferred choice by many. The truth is you can put 14 points into Offense and secure the vital Lethality, and then invest into Defense to secure the early game with Block and avoid the need for Tenacity late game with Tenacious. I did this with some success early season 3, but I generally advise against this and just going full on 21 offense.


On To Next Week

Alright that completely covers runes and masteries. From here on out we will focus on champion specifics. Next week I’ll show you the four standard melee carries and then we’ll dive into the glass cannon DPSchampions like melee carry Alis— err I mean Xin Zhao.

-Shout out to Larrik for clearing up some things i had twisted.


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I am REFPSI, I have written guides to many league of legends champions. I also have reached platinum 3 Elo rating, I float around the Plat 5-3 Rating depending. I play mostly glass cannon dps champions and attempt to win with them. I am most noted for my AD Master Yi within the Jungle. I play smash bros, dota 2 and I speed run Goemon's Great Adventure.

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