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Crunching the Numbers: Season 4 Offensive Masteries, Part 1


Season 4 brought in completely revamped mastery trees for League of Legends.  While some of the masteries are fairly straightforward (+4 Bonus Attack Damage, yay!), some of them are less intuitive. Which masteries are good and which are noob traps? I’m Eph289 and I’m here to break down the benefits of each mastery in the offensive tree using statistical comparisons, logic, and a little common sense.  We’ll rate these masteries as wonders or blunders, depending on how good they turn out to be.  This will be a multi-part article and I’ll cover the options for champions wanting up to 9 points in Offense in this first piece.

Double-edged Sword

Executioner_mastery_s3

Melee champions deal 2% additional damage and take 1% additional damage. Ranged champions deal 1.5% additional damage and take 1.5% additional damage.

Analyzing this mastery mathematically ended up being a bit of a trick. Let’s take a shot at it anyway. The equation I ended up solving was:

(% damage increase) * (Pre-Mastery Damage) = (AP/AD) * (Ratio)

I set the ratio and % damage increase as constants (solving with several different ratio values), and made the pre-mastery damage the dependent variable. Solving for the equivalent AP/AD value needed to generate as much damage out of the mastery allowed me to multiply the answer by the gold cost per point of AD or AP.

If you’re a ranged AD champion, each point of AD is worth 36 gold (based off the cost for a Long Sword, 360g = 10 AD). Double-Edged Sword is worth 27 gold in AD if you do 50 damage, 54 at 100 damage, and 540 gold to get that extra 30 damage if your pre-DE Sword damage was 1000. Note that this excludes other possible damage scalings such as Attack Speed or Critical Chance/Damage.

If you’re buying AP as your offensive stat, each point of AP is worth 21.75 gold (based off the cost for an Amplifying Tome, 435 gold = 20 AP). Of course, AP rarely scales at a 1:1 ratio (and aside from auto-attacks, neither does AD), so let’s look at a number of cases.

To give you a better idea, I graphed the values for four reasonably representative cases.  Note: This does not count the cost of your loss of defensive stats.

DES1

DES15

DES2

DES3

If you’re scaling at higher ratios, then Double-Edged Sword is worth less for the same amount of pre-mastery damage. If you’re looking at lower ratios, then Double-Edged Sword is worth more at the same pre-mastery damage threshold. Of course, the more damage you do (either via base damage or by buying lots of items), the more gold value you get out of Double-Edged Sword. If you would like to see the detailed charts, ask me in a comment.

Now, how about that pesky damage increase? This can be quantified as a %HP decrease depending on how much the initial damage was. Health costs 2.64 gold per point (Ruby Crystal costs 475 gold and gives 180 HP).  This table represents the amount of gold you effectively “lost” in terms of additional damage taken by having the mastery, based on the initial amount of damage. Note: This does not include true damage. You would then want to subtract this out to determine the gold value for each.

DESHealthCost

At no point does the amount of extra damage taken ever cost you more (in gold) than the damage increase would in an even trade. The best use for Double-Edged Sword is going to be on champions who basically one-shot their opponents with no chance of retaliation, or else have a big enough range advantage that they won’t take much damage. Champions who are tanking damage, barring some incredible survivability mechanic, are not going to see as much use out of Double-Edged Sword. The more lop-sided your damage trades, the better off you’ll be.

Verdict: There’s nothing amazing about Double-Edged Sword. For most champions, it’s worth less than 100 gold prior to level 6. It has possible uses on champions like Caitlyn, Xerath, Nidalee, and Lux who favor glaringly uneven damage trades, maximizing the use and minimizing the cost of Double-Edged Sword. For a melee assassin like Zed or Fizz, this is worth taking over Expose Weakness if you’re confident in your playstyle.

Given the other 8th-point options in Offense, this is a reasonable candidate for assassins/heavy burst champions, or very long-range champions. I would avoid it on ranged carries, tanky toplaners, or junglers. Wonder on assassins/burst mages/siege champions; skip on everyone else.

Fury

Fury_mastery_s4

Fury offers 1.25% attack speed per point. Thankfully, this is much easier to calculate. Attack speed is worth 33.3 gold per 1% (Dagger is 400 gold, gives 12% attack speed). Thus, Fury is worth 41.6/83.3/124.9/166.5 gold depending on how many points you put into it. If you’re the kind of champion who uses attack speed and are putting four points into Fury, it has excellent gold value.

Verdict: Wonder for auto-attack heavy champions.

Sorcery

Sorcery_mastery_s4

Sorcery offers 1.25% CDR per point. This is also easy to calculate, though there is no set standard value for CDR given that it is always bundled with something else. Using the Kindlegem as a standard (850 gold gives  200 HP and 10% CDR, then subtract out the health cost), CDR is worth 32.2 gold per 1%. Thus, Sorcery is worth 40.3/80.5/120.8/161 gold. If you’re a caster-based champion, you’ll want to take all the points, as this also has excellent gold value.

Verdict: Wonder for casters.

Butcher

Butcher_mastery_s4

Butcher offers +2 damage for single-target, non-DOT spells or basic attacks against minions or monsters. In most cases, this will be applied towards auto-attack targets. In terms of AD, this mastery is worth 72 gold in stats against minions/monsters. For AP, assuming you’re using a low-AP ratio spell to farm with (say, 0.5), this is worth 87 gold in stats against minions/monsters, increasing with value at lower ratios and decreasing at higher ratios. This could be useful for players/champions who have a hard time last-hitting or possibly junglers, but otherwise, the gold value on this is fairly low.

Verdict: Blunder, but an option for weak last-hitters or certain junglers.

Expose Weakness

Arcane_Knowledge_mastery_s3

Expose Weakness causes any damaging abilities you land on an enemy champions to add a debuff that increases the damage they take from allied champions (not including your own!) by 1% for three seconds.   So if your ally did 1000 damage over three seconds, Expose Weakness would cause them to take an additional 10 damage. That’s not much, but given that we’re talking about a single mastery point here, let’s see what the actual benefit is, using graphs similar to the ones we used for Double-Edged Sword.

ExposeWeakness1

ExposeWeakness15

ExposeWeakness2

ExposeWeakness3

I ran the numbers for a level 6 all-in using Graves and Sona versus Thresh. Expose Weakness adds about 5 damage to Graves’s combo and about 2 damage to Sona’s. That’s not very impressive. Even in the harass case (I looked at Caitlyn), early game, this mastery adds about 1 damage to a poke spell or auto-attack at level 5.  Also not impressive. This is definitely not an early-game mastery by any stretch of the imagination.

By the time your ally starts to do around 600-700 damage in a rotation, the mastery is worth around 70 gold (at a 3.0 ratio) for AP champions and about 120 gold for an AD champion at the same ratio.  In a reasonable lategame case (3.0 ratio, 1500 damage), Expose Weakness is worth 160 gold for AP champions and 270 gold for an AD champion. Of course, the higher your damage is, the more gold value you get out of this mastery, unless you either don’t have an ally nearby to proc it, or if your combination is tied into a single spell. It’s basically a third of the gold value of Havoc, with a condition added.

However, if you want to go 9 in offense on a support and your choices are Double-Edged Sword, Butcher, Fury, a single point in Brute Force, or Expose Weakness (I assume you’re going after the Sorcery and Mental Force Masteries already), then Expose Weakness will generate more damage than any of the other options except Double-Edged Sword for supports, and it doesn’t come with the reduced stats drawback that Double-Edged Sword has.

Verdict: Expose Weakness is the best of the “8th-point” offensive options if you’re not a candidate for Double-Edged Sword. A long-range solo-lane poke champion like Nidalee would rather have Double-Edged Sword since she won’t take much damage if played well and can’t reliably proc Expose Weakness with another spell. Someone like Ryze would rather have Expose Weakness since leading with Rune Prison/Overload or having an ally to assist will boost his subsequent damage appreciably. Butcher is largely to be avoided.  For most supports, who get no use out of Butcher and don’t really benefit from Double-Edged Sword (as they don’t do that much damage and tend to take quite a bit), this is definitely the best option to get nine points in offense. It’s a toss-up on top-lane tanky champions. Their laning phase is largely isolated, but their teamfight role is to soak damage. If you’re not going 21 in offense, I’d probably choose this. Wonder on supports, spell-oriented ranged carries, junglers, and utility-oriented mages. Questionable at best on assassins/burst/siege mages/pure auto-attackers/split pushers. 

Brute Force

Brute_Force_mastery_s3

Brute Force gives 0.22/0.39/0.55 AD per level. If you’re an AD-centric champion, you want all three points. At level 1, the mastery is worth staggeringly little (20 gold). At level 18, it’s worth a guaranteed 360 gold. Since all AD characters like Long Swords, this is a good investment. If your champion doesn’t build or use much AD, this mastery makes for an extremely lousy one-point wonder. It won’t do anything for your early game, and the pay-off is a mere 143 gold in AD at level 18.

Verdict: Wonder for AD-scaling characters.

Mental Force

Blast_mastery_s2

Mental Force gives 0.33/0.61/0.89 AP per level, for a total of 16 at level 18. As with Brute Force, its value at level 1 is mediocre (19 gold), but quite good at level 18 (348 gold). And also with Brute Force, it makes a louse-one-point wonder. The decision between Mental Force and Brute Force is simple: are you building AD or AP. But what if I build hybrid? That’s a trick question, don’t build hybrid. If you simply must choose between the two, go AP. You get more of it.

Verdict: Wonder for AP-scaling characters.

Feast

Vampirism_mastery_s2

Feast returns 2 health and 1 mana upon killing a unit, similar to the passives of Doran’s Blade and Doran’s Ring respectively. In order to get back the value of a single health potion (150 HP), you must kill 75 units. To recoup the value of a single mana potion (100 CS), you must kill 100 units. Most players can’t hit that by ten minutes. For a player who averages around 200 CS per game (which, coincidentally rules out junglers and supports), you can get about 175 gold value out of this mastery, which is respectable, but not overwhelming. For a player averaging 150 CS per game, you’ll only get about 120 gold out of the mastery, which is okay given that every other “good” one-point mastery has been checking in above 100 gold per mastery. Now, at 300 CS per game, the mastery is very good, giving 245 gold value, so if that’s you, then maybe Feast is for you. If you don’t use mana, you can chop away a third of the value. Also, Expose Weakness and Double-Edged Sword have the potential to be worth more in gold.

Here’s my first real problem with Feast: it requires you to take Butcher. As previously discussed, Butcher is worth less than 100 gold for both AP and AD characters. On top of that, taking Feast will force you to either go more than 22 points in offense, or potentially give up something else, be that Spell/Blade Weaving, Frenzy, Arcane Blade, Executioner, or Archmage. (Note: I’ll discuss Dangerous Game in part 2). In order to take Feast, you must first take an inefficient mastery to take another decent but not amazing mastery, which in turn will preclude you from taking a better mastery in a 21-point offensive setup.

Verdict: Feast looks good on paper, but it’s a noob trap. You can’t take it and get the seven points in your primary focus (AS+AD or CDR+AP) with only nine points in offense. Taking Feast requires another weak mastery, Butcher, and doesn’t give great reward. It also forces you to give up something better in the Offense Tree to get it on a 21-point setup.  Feast is a complete Blunder on anyone who can use Spell Weaving, Blade Weaving, Arcane Blade, or Frenzy, or doesn’t use mana.  If you’re going 21 points in offense, chances are that you’re one of those people. It’s highly gold-efficient if your CS average is 200+ on an ADC/Top/Mid. That’s where you get into Doublelift and WildTurtle numbers.

Spell Weaving

Summoner's_Wrath_mastery_s3

Spell Weaving is an intriguing mastery. Damaging an enemy with a basic attack increases spell damage by 1%, stacking up to three times. This is situationally very, very good, particularly for long-range AD carries such as Caitlyn, Ashe, Varus, or Kog’Maw. It can also help mages like Orianna or Ziggs. It’s fantastic on fighters like Jarvan, Riven, Darius, or Shyvana who mix in basic attacks with their spells.

Note, however, that Spell Weaving is not an early-game mastery. It’s a late-game mastery. Until your spells are doing over 200 damage, this is worth less than 65 gold in AP or 108 gold in AD (using a 2.0 ratio). That’s at the best case—the number drops appreciatively if you can’t get three auto-attacks in first.  In contrast, the two flat stat masteries at the third tier give 130/144 gold and have no conditions. They’re strong from level 1.

If you scale at 2.0 (two auto-attacks or equivalent), which is low, those flat masteries give 8 bonus damage for AD characters and 12 damage for AP characters. Characters with better scaling will benefit even further from the flat stats. Spell Weaving, at its best case, won’t give you that until you’re doing above 600 spell damage per combination (for AD) or above 800 damage per combination for an AP champion. If you’re building to do that kind of damage, you probably want more than 9 in offense.

Now, lategame, if you’re getting 500 damage out of spells at a 2.0 ratio, this spell gives 180-540 gold in AD or 109-326 gold in AP depending on how many stacks you have. Higher damage values will give even more use out of the mastery. That is excellent on anyone who mixes in attacks with their spells.

A non-exhaustive list of examples might be Akali, Ashe, Corki, Darius, Diana, Elise, Fizz, Graves, Hecarim, Irelia, Jarvan, Jax, Jayce, Jinx, Kayle, Kennen, Kha’Zix, Lee Sin, Lucian, Nasus, Olaf, Orianna, Quinn, Renekton, Rengar, Riven, Shen, Shyvana, Talon, Teemo, Twisted Fate, Varus, Xin Zhao, Zed, and Ziggs. Of course, going 9+ on offense on some of these characters requires sacrifices, particularly out of the defensive tree. I can’t tell you which choice will be better. I can tell you what you’ll potentially get for making the trade. You can find a full list of good candidates for Spell Weaving here.

Verdict: Spell Weaving is generally better if you’re going 21 in offense and paired with Blade Weaving. In a 9-point offensive build, it’s not worth it. For 21-point offensive users who use a lot of basic attacks and/or would like Blade Waving, this is an excellent mastery worth up to 300+ gold. Good for 21-point offense champions that use a lot of basic attacks with spells, poor for a 9-point build.

Martial Mastery

Martial_Mastery_mastery_s4

Martial Mastery after the Ides of March nerf gives 4 flat attack damage, which is worth 144 gold. This isn’t that great, but it is level 1 power. This used to be a much more respectable 180 gold value. Thanks, Riot! Verdict: Still worth it for AD champions, particularly 9-point builds.

Arcane Mastery

Arcane_Mastery_mastery_s4

As discussed above, Arcane Mastery gives 6 AP, at a gold value of 131. While this isn’t great (thanks for the nerf, Riot!), it’s a boost in level 1 power at the cost of gold-efficiency. Note that before the nerf, it was worth 174 gold. Verdict: Still worth it for AP champions, particularly 9-point builds.

Executioner

I’ll cover Executioner in the next segment. Suffice to say it’s not worth it for 9-point builds.

Conclusion

The new offense tree has pretty nice options if you want 7 points in offense, or if you benefit from AS, CDR, and AD or AP (e.g. Kayle, Teemo). The 8th-point is where the decision gets interesting. Expose Weakness and Double-Edged Sword can reap benefits in the later game, but one requires teammates/leading off with a spell, and the other carries a survivability penalty. The raw attack speed/CDR/AD/AP masteries in the first two rows are all quite good for champions who want those respective stats.

To fill that 8th point, Expose Weakness is the best for supports, utility mages, and even junglers. Double-Edged Sword has its place for assassins or champions with extreme range, and everyone else is stuck between an Expose Weakness Mastery that won’t be of much use during laning, or a Butcher mastery that gives less than 100 gold of stats against minions/monsters. Feast is moderately efficient, but is doomed in that it requires Butcher and giving up another mastery later in the tree.

TL;DR:

  • Double-Edged Sword: Good on assassins/burst mages/siege casters, bad on everyone else.
  • Fury: Good on auto-attackers, bad on everyone else
  • Sorcery: Good on casters, okay on everyone else
  • Butcher: Inefficient at best.
  • Expose Weakness: Good on supports, spell-oriented AD carries, utility mages, tanky tops, and junglers
  • Brute Force: Good on AD-scaling champions
  • Mental Force: Good on AP-scaling champions
  • Feast: Efficient on mana-users, but requires an awkward mastery path. Skip.
  • Spell Weaving: Potentially very useful in a heavy offense build on champions who use a mix of spells and basic attacks, particularly paired with Blade Weaving. Not worth the gold if you’re just going 9-points.
  • Martial Mastery: Nerfed, still decent on AD champions
  • Arcane Mastery: Nerfed, still decent on AP champions

Part 2

s4-offensive-masteries-part2


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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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