Seraph’s Embrace and Rod of Ages


ROA vs Seraphs

Hello, I’m Sudunem and today I’m going to talk about a pair of AP items that seemingly fill similar roles: Seraph’s Embrace and Rod of Ages. They both give AP, mana, some form of health (either via flat HP or a shield) and take time to stack. Because they’re so similar, it can be confusing as to which one is better. Hopefully this piece will help clarify the considerations behind each choice.

The Items

Rod_of_Ages_item Rod of Ages:

Cost: 2800 gold
Base stats:  450 health, 450 mana, 60 AP
Stacked stats: 650 health, 650 mana, 80 AP
Stacking time: 10 minutes (20 health, 20 mana, 2 AP gained every minute)
Build path: Catalyst the Protector, Blasting Wand
Unique Passive: Every time you level up, you gain 150 health and 200 mana over 8 seconds. This is essentially a HP potion and 2 mana potions.

 

Seraph's_Embrace_item Seraph’s Embrace: 

Cost: 2700 gold
Base stats: 250 mana, 60 AP, 10 mana regen/5 seconds
Stacked stats: 1000 mana, 60 AP, 10 mana regen/5 seconds
Stacking time: Variable, but cannot be lower than 12.5 minutes from the minute you get the Tear. A more likely case is around 15-20 minutes to fully stack this.
Build path: Tear of the Goddess, Blasting Wand (transforms from Archangel’s Staff when Mana Charge is fully stacked)
Passives: Gain ability power equal to 3% of your maximum mana; Mana Shield: Convert 20% of your current mana + 150 to shield yourself for 3 seconds. (120 second cooldown)

Build Path

Since both items cost about the same, we’ll consider that a wash.  They both also require a Blasting Wand, so again, we’ll neglect that from our consideration of the build path.

When it comes to comparing Tear of the Goddess versus Catalyst, there’s definitely a tradeoff. Tear of the Goddess is way cheaper, at only 700, and it builds out of a popular starting item (Faerie Charm). This means you can get it much earlier and start the stacking process several minutes before you can even buy Catalyst. Catalyst, the Protector costs more (1200), but gives better base stats and has one of the best item passives in the game. Think of Catalyst this way: every time you level up, you get a free HP potion and two free mana potions. If you obtain Catalyst at level 8, that means you basically acquire up to 1050 extra gold worth of “free potions” (depending on your health and mana when you level up) along with the item’s stats. Even with a less than optimal case for Catalyst, you’re still probably getting 500-600 gold worth of potions out of Catalyst. That’s insanely cost-efficient.

Health versus ‘Dat Shield’

Now for the fun part:  the raw statistics. Rod of Ages gives 450-650 health, depending on how charged it is. This means that for the midgame when you first buy the item, Rod of Ages gives survivability, whereas Archangel’s Staff gives no survivability until you fully stack the Mana Charge passive. Seraph’s Embrace technically provides no health, but does convert 20% of your current mana + 150 for a 3 second shield (120 second cooldown). How good is that? Let’s see. Champion mana levels fluctuate heavily, but most mages have around 250 base mana and gain about 50 mana per level. Your mileage may vary on this one, but virtually every non-support except Kassadin on whom Rod of Ages/Archangel’s would be a good buy on is within 5% of this range.

Operating on this premise, let’s consider a couple cases: If we transform our Archangel’s Staff to Seraph’s Embrace very quickly, we could have it done just before the 20 minute mark, which, based on some SWAGs, corresponds to about level 12-13. At level 12, with full mana, that gives us 520 HP from the shield. At level 18, the Seraph’s Embrace Shield gives a shield value of approximately 580, assuming the champion did not build any other significant mana items. Given that it’s pretty unlikely to do more than finish Rod of Ages at level 12, and that’s with rushing it, the Seraph’s Embrace shield seemingly has a slight edge over Rod of Ages when you first acquire it, simply because you’ll  likely have it sooner than a stacked Rod of Ages. Of course, a finished Rod of Ages has more health than a Seraph’s Embrace shield (unless you buy more mana, getting to that later). Keep in mind that this is the best case scenario for Seraph’s Embrace because it uses your maximum mana. You will almost never get that best case.

The other complication is that Seraph’s Embrace is a shield, which means you have to 1) remember to use it, and 2) it can’t be used if you’re CC’d. If the enemy Malzahar leads on you with FACELAZ0R as his buddy Nocturne jumps in and starts channeling a fear tether, you get effectively no health out of the Seraph’s Embrace shield. Also, 3) it has a 120 second cooldown and only lasts 3 seconds.

All that to say, Rod of Ages gives more upfront survivability than Seraph’s Embrace with one notable exception.  Singed gains health equal to 25% of his maximum mana, so a fully-stacked Rod of Ages gives him 163 health, while a Seraph’s Embrace gives him 250 health. Given that an ulting Singed rarely dips far below maximum mana, and he can get that best-case scenario when he charges in, a well-played Singed gets about equal survivability from Seraph’s Embrace as Rod of Ages.

Singed_OriginalSkin

Ability Power

Rod of Ages gives 60-80 AP. That’s easy. Archangel’s Staff is a bit more complicated. Assuming you rushed the Archangel’s Staff and got it by level 12, then guessing that mana charge is stacked up to around a total of 650 bonus mana from Tear, Archangel’s is giving 60 AP + 45 AP from the Insight passive (3% of 650 + 250 base + 600 from leveling). That’s 105 AP, and simple math tells us that’s a lot more AP than Rod of Ages. At level 18, Seraph’s Embrace/Archangel’s Staff will give 125 AP just from itself and the champion’s base mana. Again, this is more AP than Rod of Ages. As a minor note, Archangel’s Staff also gives 10 mana regeneration every 5 seconds, which is small, but certainly relevant especially during laning phase.

Timings

Rod of Ages cannot be fully charged before the 25 minute mark without being ludicrously fed. The earliest that it can realistically be acquired for most players is somewhere in the 15-20 mark depending on how fed you are, so don’t expect that item to be fully charged until 25-30 minutes. While professional players can pick it up by 13 minutes, that’s fairly unlikely without near perfect CSing. If you’re an early-game AP champion (hi, LeBlanc!), this means you basically don’t want Rod of Ages, because by 30 minutes, you’re too busy crying in a corner. Rod of Ages also highly encourages you to rush it, so once you start down the Rod of Ages path, finish it as quickly as possible to get the most out of it. In that sense, Rod of Ages constrains your build order.

Tear of the Goddess is more flexible, since you can acquire a very cheap Tear of the Goddess around the 6 to 7 minute mark, and then stack it up until you’re ready to buy Archangel’s Staff while buying other things like Sorcerer’s Shoes, Needlessly Large Rod, etc. That said, I would not expect to have Archangel’s Staff transformed to Seraph’s Embrace until the 20 minute mark at the very earliest, with 25 minutes much more likely. So they finish at about the same time, but you can start stacking the Tear of the Goddess earlier and have more room in your build if you need to deviate (like wow, Diana hurts, I need a Negatron Cloak). Note that if your champion sucks at charging up Tear of the Goddess, you can forget about 25 minutes. Instead, it’ll be more along the lines of 30+ minutes.

What about both?

Some champions can afford to get away with building both items, but that’s a considerable investment. You’re delaying the two big AP boomstick items (Rabadon’s Deathcap and Void Staff). You’re delaying any kind of utility item (Zhonya’s Hourglass, CDR, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter). Your champion needs to either have extreme mana issues along with ludicrous damage (Anivia, Karthus), or else they need to scale directly off of mana (Ryze, Singed), because otherwise, you’re investing far too much into mana and health.

Karthus_OriginalSkin

Conclusions

  • Rod of Ages gives more survivability by a fair amount and its health bonus is passive, whereas Seraph’s Embrace is an active.
  • Archangel’s Staff gives more ability power, and a splash of mp5 to boot.
  • Rod of Ages has a very rigid build order and a pricier starting item, but Catalyst the Protector is ludicrously cost-efficient in terms of free potions.
  • Archangel’s Staff has a flexible build and a cheaper starting item, but Tear of the Goddess gives no survivability.
  • Both items take around the same time to charge fully on champions that are good at stacking Mana Charge.
  • If you want both items, you either need to have ludicrous damage and extreme mana costs, or else directly scale off of mana.

Recommendations

Now that we know the strengths and weaknesses of each item, let’s consider champions. First, both of these items give a lot of mana, health, and AP and cost a lot, so that eliminates every AD-scaling character, tanks not named Singed, Malphite, or Galio, all manaless champions, and all the supports.

Out of those, we’re only interested in AP champions with real mana issues. Ahri, Diana, Elise, Fizz, Gragas, LeBlanc, Kayle, Malzahar, Twisted Fate, and Xerath, you may all sit down now. You don’t need to itemize that much mana on them. I know some people do, but let’s face it, you don’t have to.

Let’s also exclude everyone who really needs an early Zhonya’s Hourglass. Morgana , Fiddlesticks, and Lissandra, you are excused.

Now, out of the remaining champions, let’s ask three questions for each champion: Can you quickly stack Tear of the Goddess? Do you need to be within 600-700 range to do most of my damage? Do I really need early CDR? Note that these recommendations are solely the opinion of the author. If doing something other than the recommendation is working well for you, keep doing it, and don’t make nasty comments about how the author is wrong.

Anivia_Square_0_25b Anivia: Either choice or both are acceptable. Optionally could pair one choice with a CDR item like Athene’s or Morellonomicon. Anivia can basically be built with anything that involves AP, survivability, mana, and/or CDR and do well. Just ask Froggen.

Annie_Square_0_25b Annie: Annie is reasonably effective at charging Tear of the Goddess, but is also close-ranged and her mana issues aren’t that extreme. She does benefit from CDR, so I would be tempted to go Athene’s with Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, or Rod of Ages into Morellonomicon

Brand_Square_0_25b Brand: Brand both can’t stack Tear quickly and he’s long-ranged. If you want a mana item on Brand, go Athene’s or Doran’s Rings and Morellonomicon.

Cassiopeia_Square_0_25b Cassiopoeia: She needs survivability and stacks Tear quickly. However, given that she’ll almost certainly be buying Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, Seraph’s seems like a better buy.

Chogath_Square_0_25b Cho’Gath: If you want a mana/AP item on Cho’Gath, get Rod of Ages.

Galio_Square_0_25b Galio: He benefits from survivability and can’t stack Tear, but let’s be honest: Galio buys Athene’s because he gets more mileage out of it than anybody else.

Karma_Square_0_25b Karma: Karma is better with Rod of Ages given that her cooldowns are fairly long.

Karthus_Square_0_25b Karthus: Either choice or both are acceptable. Karthus can build squishier thanks to his passive, so I would lean towards Tear, but only slightly.

Kassadin_Square_0_25b Kassadin: Kassadin often buys both, but if you had to pick one, get Rod of Ages. Personally, I disagree with Tear of the Goddess on him since he doesn’t charge it that fast, but I’m not a Kassadin expert.

Lux_Square_0_25b Lux: Doesn’t need survivability and her ability to charge Tear is pathetic. See that Grail? It has delicious strawberry soda inside, just what Lux needs to stay hyped up and laughing for hours.

Malphite_Square_0_25b Malphite: Everyone laughs at AP Malphite until he one-shots your carry after ulting in from 1000 range. Strongly encourage Rod of Ages on him—he’s not a Tear guy.

Nidalee_Square_0_25b Nidalee: Long ranged, stacks Tear incredibly quickly, and doesn’t need a ton of CDR early. Seraph’s Embrace for her 100% of the time.

Orianna_Square_0_25b Orianna: Either Seraph’s Embrace or Athene’s Unholy Grail.

Ryze_Square_0_25b Ryze: If there was ever a man to want both items, it’d be Ryze. Tear first, then Catalyst, then Rod of Ages.

Singed_Square_0_25b Singed: Seraph’s or both is acceptable. I would personally go Seraph’s Embrace plus Rylai’s Crystal Scepter—Rod of Ages used to be core on him, but not anymore (see above).

Swain_Square_0_25b Swain: Swain’s non-ult cooldowns are too long for him to charge Tear of the Goddess, and he really needs survivability. Rod of Ages would be my preference, possibly paired with Athene’s.

Syndra_Square_0_25b Syndra: Syndra has decent range and charges Tear fairly quickly. Seraph’s Embrace or Athene’s are her best choices for a mana/AP item, favoring Athene’s because CDR helps her combo a lot.

Viktor_Square_0_25b Viktor: Short range and can’t charge Tear quickly. If you want a mana item on Viktor, make it Rod of Ages unless you’re confident in your ability to survive and value the CDR from Athene’s.

Veigar_Square_0_25bVeigar: Short range, can sort of charge Tear, but his passive encourages him to go Athene’s and the extra MR will help him from being crushed harder in lane.

Ziggs_Square_0_25b Ziggs: Long-range spammer means that Seraph’s is good on him. Athene’s is also good.

Zilean_Square_0_25b Zilean: Close range and can somewhat charge Tear of the Goddess. He’s so squishy though that if you want to run mid Zilean, Rod of Ages will help a lot.

Zyra_Square_0_25b Zyra: Zyra does long-range damage and doesn’t charge Tear of the Goddess that quickly. Athene’s would be the better choice if you want a mana item on her.


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Eph289

Eph289 has been playing and writing about League of Legends for years. 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.

  • Time

    I believe the difference between ROAs effective health and that of Seraph’s is abysmal. Seraph’s shield is an active with a pretty huge cooldown that will be unavailable most of the time (and especially when you need it most as stated in the article – prone to cc). To make it worse it will also tear through your mana pool (if you still have any, that is) and, provided it’s your only mana item, will STILL be less efficient than ROA.

    I know you mentioned how Seraph’s Embrace is not quite as good as ROA in terms of survivability but I just felt like you did not emphasize just how less efficient the former can be.

    This is otherwise a very well written and informative article, too bad I don’t play as much AP mid as I used to.

    • Highfire

      I agree — I feel as if the Catalyst was praised so heavily but being part of the build-path for RoA wasn’t focused on enough. Catalyst is superb for longevity and it can really help you keep up with any burst champion or severe ganks (although that shouldn’t be too bad in the first place). Being as Valour grants you that HP and Mana, I’d say that before level 18 it provides even more HP than it says, being as much is restored before you need to go back. Of course, it’s situational and hardly calculable but it’s indubitably worth mention and significant value.

      With that said, it’s why I scale so much for the late-game with my Orianna. I do disagree with the author on the “one or the other” for Athene’s / Seraph’s Embrace on Orianna, as I’ve found pretty great success from this build:
      DRing + 2 Pots OR Faerie Charm Start > ToG > Catalyst / +1 Boots (depending on gold available upon backing) > RoA > Seraph’s > Rabadon’s or Void depending on situation and availability of gold.

      I heartily doubt the requisite of CDR on Orianna in the early or early-mid game. I’ve never really liked Athene’s first on her — it’s too glass-cannony I’ve found. RoA provides great longevity for her and even with the ToG nerf (I call it a nerf as I have found it much more difficult to effectively charge) I can charge it nearly as fast as possible without a lack of mana. The longevity usually isn’t too required but for one reason I look tankier.
      Secondly, I always consider (especially on SoloQ) that ‘stuff happens’ and you need to be able to account somewhat for it. Despite the limitation in build, Catalyst>RoA provides so much for early and late game (99 AP late-game as a result of Seraph’s passive and that’s not factoring Rabadon’s / 5% mastery) and with 1. Orianna’s E 2. Seraph’s Shield 3. Orianna’s range when skillfully used, I’ve never needed a Zhonya’s and could instead go for the simple +24 AP granted by Seraph’s (including the bonus from RoA, though).

      The end-game build usually consists of Rabadon’s, Void Staff, Seraph’s, RoA and a CDR item (Athene’s if MR is favourable, which also assists the shield more than the only alternative — Morellonomicon). RoA definitely plays a superb role for me, despite what is a rather egregious lack of AP at the start.

      With THAT said, it’s extremely late-game focused. I’m considering Haunting Guise for purely early game and may experiment with Zhonya’s as straight-forward item later in the game for my last item.

      Sorry for the spam, mate :) thought I’d share what little insight I have to AP Mids (specific to pretty-much only my main, Orianna) in what I assume is non-aggressive manner. No offence to the author, but I think my disagreement holds some validity (being as the ‘late-game’ investment means you’re hard to displace and thus have more superb lane control in some regards).

  • Khichira

    This was a really nice guide, really helpful :D

  • deels

    This doesnt change much but archangel stacks dont just increase your mana pool by 8, it also gives your the mana which is pretty significant and is overlooked by 99% of players. WoW: WotLK Arcane Mages and healers will know how good that can be. It is especially awesome for nidalee due to no mana costs in cougar, so you just get free mana.

    • Way of Darkness (Basinator)

      >> It is especially awesome for nidalee due to no mana costs in cougar, so you just get free mana.

      Not true anymore, afaik. Got fixed last patch?

      • deels

        Only for jayce. I just checked on PBE server.

  • steelcurtain09

    I like all of the analysis, but my one quibble is over your statement of Lux’s “pathetic” ability to charge the tear. The correct Seraph’s build is tear into Morellonomicon. This gives you the ability to spam your abilities (even moreso when you get blue) to charge your tear very quickly. It’s the build that most of the pros go now (at least from what I’ve seen on most of the streams).

    • AzureBeat

      I’m going to have to try that sometime. Morello is usually after Athene’s for me. I need to look at revamping my build though.

  • MightyMoney

    Great article, but I think you might be underestimating some of the unlisted champions manacosts. Malzahar, Xerath and Gragas in particular can run out of mana very quickly and all of these three can charge Tear rather fast + benefit really well from AP because of their high AP ratios.

    • Sudunem

      Malzahar, Xerath, and Gragas don’t have the cooldowns to charge a tear quickly. Gragas and Malzahar have innate mana sustain and can get by with Doran’s Rings/Morello’s if they need to. All of them basically require blue buff to charge Tear, and they all need to prioritize AP, not mana.

  • elforte

    I have no idea where you get your benchmark for Rod of Ages at “earliest 15-20 mins.” I play in diamond IV (so not exactly top tier) and I find that 13-14 mins is an average rod of ages… any later and I consider that a very late one. Also the power of tear is that you can stack it without having the complete item. That means you can pay 700g for tear and stack it without building AA, whereas in RoA case you can’t buy the catalyst and stack it, you must pay the additional ~1600g to begin stacking. I think it’s not uncommon to get both since seraph’s extra ap for mana passive benefits greatly from the fact that roa gives a high amount of mana… thus tear + roa is very powerful on characters like karthus, kassadin, and even singed (though less common for singed to do this build)

    • Sudunem

      The average League of Legends player is not Diamond IV. I arrived at the 15-20 minute mark as the benchmark needed to pull together about ~100-120 CS to amass that kind of gold (doing some ballpark numbers on minion gold) which your silver-gold player will take about 15 minutes to do. I’m aware that Scarra and a bunch of other higher Elo players can pick up at ROA at 13 minutes, but that’s not a reasonable timing for most players, hence the timing. You are correct in that it is technically possible to get it earlier.

  • CarryHard

    Seems like somebody looked at InvertedComposer’s Singed guide for his section ;)

    Aside from that it’s a nice article with useful information, well structured and objective!

    You could include some cheap jokes or something funny to make your posts a bit more entertaining though^^

  • valdered

    you are doing a pretty nice work here, can you make a kind of elixir guide cuz a lot of players(maybe thats only me) dont know when and why to use elixirs.