Universal Wage: A look at Season 4 gold income changes

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Season 3 has ended and we are about to enter the Preseason period. The preseason is always an interesting time, as Riot saves most of the bigger changes to the game for this gap between seasons, so as not to imbalance the tournament scene too much. There have been a lot of updates on the PBE over the last few weeks of new and revised content including balance changes, Nasus’ visual update, some beautiful graphical updates to the Rift, and even a couple of cool new skins. However, what I’m going to be focusing on today are the new gold income items for supports and junglers, and how they’re going to be changing the game, going into a little more detail than my post about them on reddit.

Support Items

The bottom lane support role has, over the last two seasons, become a role with fairly strong early-game presence in lane that very quickly transitions into buying one or two core items and then spending almost all of their gold income on wards. Riot is aiming to change that in Season 4 through several means. They are making vision less based on only one player by capping individual ward placement to 3 Stealth Wards (green) and 1 Vision Ward (pink) per player, and introducing the trinket system to make the “vision war” much more of a team effort, which alleviates a lot of pressure on support players’ wallets. In addition to this, support players are also being given a lot of extra gold generation in the form of masteries and three new items available in the shop. Only one gold income item (excluding Avarice Blade) can be purchased now, so you’ll need to choose wisely when deciding which to pick up.

All three of the support items build similarly. They each start as a single item worth 365 gold, which you’re probably going to want to pick up at the start of the game. They upgrade for a flat 485 gold after that into their second form, which in all three cases increases the gold that the item’s generating, so you’ll want to pick that up pretty early, too. The final upgrade costs 1150 gold, and involves one other small item in the build path. The final stage does not increase gold generation, but gives vastly improved stats and an active cast in all three cases.

Let’s take a look at our new friends, shall we?

Ancient Coin, Nomad’s Medallion and Talisman of Ascension

These shiny new items are being brought in to replace the Philosopher’s Stone > Shurelia’s Reverie chain.  They get the same job done, but better than the old items did. You’ll be buying these items if you want to plant your feet firmly in lane and stay there with your marksman, while farming up as much as possible.

ancient_coin nomad's_medallion talisman_of_ascension

Shurelya’s legacy lives on in this great item. As you can see, the stats on this glittering artifact of Shurima are almost all passive benefits. The first two stages aren’t going to help you win any fights, but provided you’re able to keep your distance, they’ll keep you in the lane. This item, unlike the other two, generates all of its gold passively. It confers a passive 2 gold per 10and bonus gold from minions who die around you (regardless of whether or not your AD last-hit them). If you are staying in lane and standing near minions, you’ll be passively gaining 24 gold every wave, or 8 gold per 10 seconds (or 8.8 if we factor in Cannon minions).

By the end of the 2000-gold chain, you’re left with 20% CDR, fantastic mana and health regen, free gold for standing around in lane, and the old Shurelia’s Reverie active we all know and love.

Sona, Soraka, and Nami are a few of the champions who would probably appreciate this item, but any support who wants to play passively could benefit from building it.

Spellthief’s Edge, Frostfang and Frost Queen’s Claim

Kage’s Lucky Pick has been replaced by this trio of Freljord-themed spellblades. The blue-dagger motif and the Tenacious D reference haven’t gone away, so let’s see what has changed.

spellthief's_edge frostfang frost_queen's_claim

This is the item you want to take if you’re planning on winning your lane through poking. The 10 AP start is two-thirds of a Doran’s Ring, the mana regen is handy to have, and the passive gold per 10 outclasses Ancient Coin’s. Tribute is what makes this item, however. The first item gives you bonus gold upon autoattacking an enemy champion, which gets upgraded to give you twice the gold on a successful spellcast. The gold per 10 on this item is, at its best, a whopping 20 gold per 10 in a duo lane, provided you’re taking advantage of Tribute and poking each one of your enemies exactly every ten seconds. If you’re poking one enemy every ten seconds, or both every twenty, you’re still getting 12 gold per 10, which is still more than Medallion and Talisman. It’s important to note, however, that this gold requires that your enemy be in the lane with you, and that you land your spells, whereas Talisman just requires dying minions.

The stats on FQC are pretty nice. 50AP and mana regen are great for someone who wants to bully their opponent with magic damage. The active has, in my opinion, vastly improved from the Shard of True Ice active on live, which placed a 30% slow AoE on a friendly target for 4 seconds. The duration has been reduced, but the slow has been buffed significantly, and it now casts on enemy champions instead of allies. This change feels great, as it allows you to pick which enemy you want to slow, instead of having to rely on a teammate to stand in the right place for you, or putting it on yourself and going into a dangerous situation.

This is the item to buy on supports who poke a lot and have good AP scaling, so champions like Fiddlesticks, Annie, Nidalee, Zyra and Lulu should pick it up.

Relic Shield, Targon’s Brace and Face of the Mountain

Named after the mountain atop which Leona, Diana, and Pantheon did their training, this item is going to be core on supports who want to focus on tankiness. Let’s have a look at the stats.

relic_shield targon's_brace face_of_the_mountain

This item gives a small boost to HP and health regen in its early stages, making whoever builds it a tiny bit more durable. It pales in comparison with a Ruby Crystal, but it’s well worth the benefits. Its passive, Spoils of War, does not give you gold directly; instead, it gives you bonuses for last-hitting in lane every 30 seconds. If you have a stack of Spoils up, your next autoattack to a minion under 200 hp will kill it instantly. Killing a minion in this fashion or with a spell will heal the nearest ally to you for a small amount and give them the minion’s gold value +5, or +10 for the second and third stages of the item.

Spoils recharges one stack every 30 seconds, and can cap up to twice on Relic Shield and up to four times on Brace and Face. This item can vary quite wildly in terms of gold income, but there are ways to ensure maximum efficiency; for example, always making sure to use your stacks on either melee minions or cannon minions, if available. The thing that makes the gold generation on this item interesting is that it gives a bit of extra gold to your Marksman, around 3 gold per 10 if you’re executing properly.

Face of the Mountain clearly makes you pretty tanky. 375 HP, 10% CDR, 25 hp5, and an active is a great deal for 2000 gold. The active itself consumes 20% of your current health to give a shield equal to 10% of your maximum health to either yourself or an ally, which then blows up (regardless of whether the shield was fully depleted or not) after 4 seconds for the shield’s value in damage. This active is great for placing on initiators to help them get in and do their jobs or for pulling of a clutch save on a teammate who’s about to die, so the item by itself is pretty awesome. I can’t tell you how cool you feel saving your carry from the clutches of Zed’s ultimate with this item.

This is best picked up on tanky initiator champions such as Thresh, Leona, Blitzcrank and Taric.

Damn your words, Hyjacked. We want graphs!

Let’s take a gander at a gold generation table for these three beauties. I’ve included columns for a worst- and best-case gold scenario, and a column for what I think is a reasonable estimate of an average amount based on how frequently the conditions for your maximum gold input will be met. Please note that Relic Shield is the hardest of these three items to guess effectively, as its gold income is based on minion level and increases slightly throughout the game.

Item Worst-case gp10 Best-case gp10 Reasonable gp10 (in lane only) Reasonable gp10 (overall)
Frost Queen’s Claim  4  20  14 8-10
Talisman of Ascension  2  8.8  8.8 7-8
Face of the Mountain  0  9 8 7-8

Let me explain myself with some of these numbers:

  • All of these estimates are only taking into account the early 2v2 laning from levels 1-6. The rest of the game is far too difficult to estimate, as there are too many variables, from teamfight frequency to overall playstyle to how quickly bot lane was won or lost.
  • Frost Queen’s Claim is very inconsistent in terms of gold income, as it not only requires you to be in lane but also for your opponents to be there, which won’t always happen (especially if you’re poking them so much that they recall).
  • Talisman is the easiest of these three to obtain the best-case gp10, as it doesn’t require any skill, only proximity to dying minions.
  • Face of the Mountain, while it seems to give you the least amount of gold, also gives your Marksman an added 2-3 gold per 10.
  • The disadvantage to Mountain is that in order to get the gold reward, you need to commit to autoattacking a minion, which could place you in a dangerous position.
  • The advantage to Mountain is that you can wait for up to two minutes without doing anything and still get 100% efficiency on your gold income.

In general, however, estimates are just estimates. Pick the item that will work the best with your intended playstyle in bottom lane. You’ll be rich no matter which path you take.

How does this affect the big picture?

Supports having more gold income is fantastic for League of Legends overall. Let’s make a list of reasons this is good for the game…

  • The support role is able to have a greater impact in late-game teamfights, both owing to their increased gold and the new scaling utility on several support champions’ abilities, enabling players like Xpecial and Krepo to share some of the spotlight.
  • Support players will now have much more active choice over their item builds, which makes the role more personalized.
  • Tanky support champions will now be able to afford to get much tankier than they could previously, taking the pressure of the rest of the team (junglers in particular) to provide front-line damage sponges.
  • Support players will feel more rewarded for the hard work they do early game.

Now here’s a list of reasons this is bad for the game.

  • Supports will no longer be free kills for assassins in the late game.
  • … that’s about all I can think of.
  • Sorry, Zed.

why don't I have more sketchers

So support players are beaming right about now. Let’s let them bask in the glory of their newfound riches for a little while, and turn our attentions toward…

Jungle Items

Jungle items have all been given brand new gold generation passives, each of them tailored to the role the item is meant to fulfill. The items themselves have also been tweaked, some more than others. We’ll start with the most popular jungle item in the current metagame…

Spirit of the Ancient Golem


Apart from a nerf of 150 health, the stats on Golem have not changed from season 3. However, Golem does have a new gold passive called Conservation. Every 1.5 seconds, you will generate a stack of Conservation, which can stack up to 80 charges. Upon killing any large jungle creep or Dragon or Baron, you will consume up to 40 of your current stacks to get that much gold. This passive supports a playstyle favoured by more tanky junglers. You’ll go into lane to gank, possibly camping or visiting multiple lanes, and pop back into your jungle to kill a camp or two to burn up your stacks and cash in that bonus gold. The longest you can stay out of your jungle without wasting potential stacks is 2 minutes, which will yield a total 80 stacks (and will take two camps to cash in completely).

Golem will probably still be picked up on the majority of junglers, as its tanky stats are very useful for early-game durability. However, hopefully the nerf on its health and the buffing of the other jungling items will open up some more variation in builds. I would still definitely take Golem on any champion on whom you want plenty of early tankiness, such as Shyvana, Amumu or Nautilus. The gold generated from golem, while not as high as on Lizard, Wraith, and Wriggle’s, will be still certainly enable you to buy more than just a Locket, so hopefully we’ll see some more fun builds coming out.

Spirit of the Elder Lizard


Lizard’s stats have changed a little bit. Its total AD has decreased by 5, but its true damage burn has been increased from a value of 4+(2*champion level) to 11+(2*champion level), so it scales equivalently but does more damage, particularly at early stages when that damage counts for a lot. The burn only applies on physical damage now, where it used to apply on autoattacks and all spellcasts, but any character who wants to build this item won’t have any problem with that.

Its gold passive is called Bounty Hunter, which grants 10 bonus gold on killing any large jungle creeps, and 40 gold on a kill or assist on a champion, dragon, or baron. This ends up being a high-risk high-reward sort of mechanic, which I’ll go into a bit further on.

I would build Lizard on AD casters and assassins. Its gold passive is put to much better use if you’re actively ganking lanes and taking objectives rather than just farming the jungle, so people like Shaco are really going to like it. It’s also great on anyone who scales nicely off AD, but not so well off attack speed, such as Kha’zix. I’m hoping that this item is going to make AD assassin junglers a bit more viable.

Spirit of the Spectral Wraith


Unlike Lizard and Golem, Wraith’s stats have actually changed  a lot. The AP has been buffed by 10, the health and mana regen have been standardised to match the other two spirit items, and the gold passive is the same Bounty Hunter effect as Lizard. The change that really makes this item is the fact that its spell vamp has been replaced by a flat 8% of your spell damage to jungle monsters returned as health and mana. This is a much-needed change for caster junglers, because their biggest weakness has always been the fact that if they don’t have blue buff, they can’t do any farming. Taking this item on people like Fiddlesticks will make it so that you can clear jungle camps without losing mana, which is really going to put AP junglers back on the map in Season 4. Watch out everybody, forecasts indicate a 90% chance of Crowstorms.

Comparing Lizard/Wraith and Golem

I mentioned earlier that Golem will likely give less gold overall than Lizard and Wraith. Let’s look at an example scenario to find out why that is.

  • Let’s say you gank bottom lane. Such a gank will probably take 30-45 seconds, during which time Conservation will generate 20-30 stacks, and Bounty Hunter will do nothing.
  • If your gank fails and you go back to kill a camp, Conservation will give you the 20-30 bonus gold depending on how long you spent in lane, where Bounty Hunter will give you only 10. However, your clear speed with Lizard or Wraith will be faster, so you can probably go and grab another camp, catching you up to 20 bonus gold, plus the extra gold from killing the second camp.
  • If you get one kill or assist, however, Bounty Hunter pulls ahead by giving you 40 bonus gold from the kill/assist, and then 10 from the camp, adding up to 50, whereas Conservation stays where it was.
  • If your team manages to kill both people in bottom lane and then go and take a camp, you’ll end up getting 90 gold in total from Bounty Hunter.
  • If you rotate around to dragon afterwards, your Bounty Hunter gold shoots up to 120 gold, where Conservation gives you at most 40 if you generated stacks for a full minute.

The Bounty Hunter passive is a definite high-risk high-reward mechanic that rewards you much more for succeeding in ganks, whereas Conservation is a reliable source of income regardless of whether or not your ganks work out. Golem will make you better at tanking the enemies and their tower during ganks, but Lizard and Wraith will help you kill your targets much faster, so both have their advantages in terms of ganking strength.

Regarding assassin and caster junglers; one of their biggest weaknesses has always been that  if they get behind in the early stages of the game, it’s very difficult for them to catch back up, as their ganks become harder and farming ends up putting them even further behind. In Season 4, however, minions and monsters scale with average champion level rather than time, so if you’re getting really far behind in the jungle, your creeps will start being higher-level than you are, and give you more experience to help you catch up. Hopefully this will help their viability.

Wriggle’s Lantern

Wriggle’s Lantern has once again been changed, and its new incarnation is a topic of much dissent in the League community. I’d like to address some of the concerns people have been having with it, and throw in my two cents.


Clearly, much has changed on this item. Its combat stats used to be 25 armour, 25 AD and 15% lifesteal. The armour has been reduced, the AD has been replaced by attack speed, and the lifesteal has been moved to a constant 10 hp on hit only from jungle monsters. In general, I consider this a good change. It’s certainly overall weaker in terms of combat power now, that’s undeniable. But it was never that strong to begin with, and it’s now better at what its job is supposed to be: clearing camps as quickly as possible. The lifesteal is no huge loss, because junglers could never build enough AD to take advantage of it. The attack speed synergises very nicely with the Maim passive, and makes your clear speed and your dragon/baron-killing speed shoot through the roof, enabling you to clear camps with minimal use of spells. The gold generation passive is, cut and dry, a straight 40% increased gold from anything in the jungle, which can get pretty huge if you’re keeping your farm up.

The main question people are asking about Wriggle’s, however, is is it worth buying?

In my opinion, yes it is, but only under certain conditions.

  • Your champion has to scale well from attack speed. Otherwise, it’s certainly a waste of money. Any champion who likes attack speed but doesn’t get a whole lot of it from their regular build path will really enjoy the boost from wriggles (which is slightly stronger than Berserker’s Greaves). People like Xin Zhao, for instance.
  • Any champion with some sort of autoattack reset or a spell that applies on-hit effects such as Xin, Gangplank, or Nasus will benefit more strongly from the Maim passive on this item.
  • Your team has to be able to handle their lanes. There is never going to be a game where you stay in the jungle the whole time and never gank once. That being said, Wriggle’s is put to best use farming, so your laners need to be able to deal with not having as much jungler presence. If the enemy’s jungler is a heavy-gank champion like Lee Sin, don’t buy Wriggle’s, because your laners probably will have a really hard time coping. In general, farming junglers beat control junglers, control junglers beat ganking junglers, and ganking junglers beat farming junglers.
  • Don’t just sit in the jungle farming and ignore your team. This is not how you win games, I don’t care how much bonus gold you’re getting. If you’re farming and someone needs help, help them. If you’re farming and there’s an easy opportunity for a kill, go and get the kill. If your team can do dragon, get the dragon.

Overall, I feel like Wriggle’s could still use a bit of a buff, but my guess is that Riot is doing the same with Wriggle’s as they did with Olaf’s rework. This is an item that, if it’s too strong, could potentially have disastrous effects on the game, so they’re putting it up slightly weaker than it could be, and will probably buff if they feel like they need to. That being said, there are some really good things about Wriggle’s that people are overlooking.

  • Anyone who can run into mana issues while farming the jungle will benefit quite nicely from the increased clear speed, as it will require them to cast less spells because their autoattacks are so quick at killing camps. This can often make you more prepared for ganks or fights, as you’ll have more spellcasting potential, even though the item itself has much less powerful combat stats.
  • It gives you a free ward with 100% uptime, which can save you a lot of gold and prevent you from getting invaded. This, along with the Warding Totem trinket, can enable you to protect both sides of your jungle for most of the game without spending a penny.
  • As I said before, you will not fall behind from farming, as minions scale in season 4 with average champion level across the map.
  • Wriggles will get you around the same amount of bonus gold as the other items, but you’ll have more gold overall because you’ve been getting it from farming and your CS will be much higher.

Trick2g’s Xin Zhao IDGAF game is a great example of how Wriggle’s can be used effectively in the new season.

So do Junglers get more gold in Season 4?

Undoubtably, yes, and for a few reasons.

  • The items that you would be building anyway boost your gold input and provide around 600-1000 bonus gold in a regular game.
  • Assists have been reworked and now give more gold if you have significantly more assists than kills, so junglers don’t have to take kills to get fed.
  • Jungle monster gold scales now not based on time, but on average champion level. Farming your camps late-game is actually quite rewarding, and your laners shouldn’t be stealing them away because they will give you more gold than they will give them.
  • Dragon also levels up and scales throughout the game, and gives much more gold in late stages than he used to.

In most PBE games, junglers have been getting 2-3 more items than they used to get in a standard game, so we’re going to see a lot more champions played than just the ones who can do well without a lot of items.

This is too much to keep in my brain. What’s the big picture?

Season 4 heralds a new age for supports and junglers. In all of the games I’ve played on the PBE, I’ve felt like I’ve had vastly more gold in both roles. For me, this has made it a lot more fun to play them because I’ve had a lot more flexibility in what I want to build, and much more of an impact in mid- and late-game. A lot of the static builds for both roles will be able to be expanded into more interesting and more strategically variable builds, so hopefully we’ll see more interesting things being done with these roles in the pro scene, and more players in general deciding to go into the jungle or play support. The three support items are all must-haves in almost every situation, and each informs its own unique playstyle. The new jungle items are each useful in their own way, and very nicely reflect the playstyles of the champions who’ll be building them. Numbers might still have to be tweaked, but overall the feel of these items is great, and the live presason patch can’t come quickly enough.

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I'm Hyjacked! I'm a jungle main in League of Legends. I'm an English-born US resident and I write patch coverage articles here at Cloth5. I'm currently in my final year of university, getting a Bachelor's in mathematics.

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