Let's talk about Runes

Sorry to disappoint, but I am not dead. Fear not, this shall not be a shitpost and instead will be one of the few posts that I put effort in to. Today I would like to talk about runes. There is rumours of an overhaul to the rune system coming soon(tm), and I would love for things to not get botched. Even as someone who no longer really enjoys or plays league, I would love to see the overhaul go in several directions. Not only would it set a precedent for other games and overall likely have a positive impact on the gaming landscape, but the difference it could make to the health and state of the game is tremendous. The first, and arguably most drastic, change would be to heavily discount all runes, possibly even making them free. This is a rather complex issue with multiple points, so terribly sorry, but bear with me. Runes do matter even in current state. Runes can do so much, such as changing how a champion plays or feels, or supporting new play styles and builds, or even to ease a tough lane phase against a bully. They do have a lot of potential to impact a game, yet are still extremely expensive. To assemble a particular rune page could literally require you to play hundreds of games, and while there is often crossover between champions or roles, it's still a horrendous grind to get a new set of runes. This is obviously bad, as it is power that is gated behind a paywall, which equates to bad design in a competitive game. Using a prior example I've talked about in the past, let's talk about Zac. Your typical page for those who are playing him because he's on rotation, or because he was just bought and they still don't have everything figured out yet will likely consist of something along the lines of MPen reds, armour yellows, MR blues and AP quints. Yet alternative rune pages can be far more effective and far more reliable. Substitute HyPen for the reds and you will get a faster clear and much more potent early game. Regular monsters typically lack MR, and so the penetration is dead weight while clearing and is only useful in PvP, so having ArPen to buff up his AAs means he clears noticeably faster early on. AP is rather inefficient on Zac since he doesn't have the best of ratios, so instead CDR runes can reap a wealth of benefits. His high base values, poor CDR itemisation options as an AP mana less tank, and the fact that he heals more often with his passive means that CDR is arguably far more effective. Yet the total cost for what I ran when I still played would literally cost you a total of over 15k IP, not including the cost to buy AAC or an additional rune page to fill. Can you play and win without optimal runes? Sure, but that doesn't mean there isn't a noticeable impact on gameplay. You can play Riven without utilising her combos and animation cancelling, you can clear the jungle as Kindred, Graves or Nidalee by face tanking monsters and not bothering to kite the camp, and you can Play Yi by hitting Highlander, right clicking on an opponent and letting him dunk scrubs for you while you tab out and play cookie clicker. But that does not mean you should, as the difference is night and day in many cases, since the speed an experienced Riven can combo, the efficiency and healthiness proper clearing offers, or the use of Yi's mechanics (yes, they do exist!) to allow him to tear through a team, all have dramatic impacts on the performance of the respective champion. Runes might not have as much of a noticeable difference, since all they are are stat buffs, but numbers can and do matter. 8 AD could be the difference between winning or losing a trade or an all in, which has huge implications on lane dynamics, which then has a huge impact on the outcome of a game. In the past you could argue that runes were the IP sink for veterans. However recently we received a brand new IP sink in the form of champion mastery, which often costs as much as, if not more than, a new champion, and also chromas apparently to be made purchasable with IP if they haven't already been. These are all fantastic examples of IP sinks, as they provide ways to get rid of excess IP for veteran players, whilst still being something that newer players can experience or participate in even without being at a massive detriment due to their lack of investment resources. Chromas and mastery give progression in a meaningful and tangible way without having any actual impact on gameplay, which is far better than the current rune system as an IP sink. As such, chromas and mastery should be embraced as the IP sink, runes should not. Lastly this is obviously speculation, but imagine how much could be done with the rune system were it not required to be kept a small part of the game due to being effectively pay to win, and bad design. Imagine what depth they could bring to the game should they not just be there for the sake of it, and instead were something that could be fully explored and fleshed out. And the good thing is, we don't have to really imagine. Cast your minds back to when masteries were reworked, the difference before and after. You could argue that many of the ways that the game has evolved are due to other changes such as reworks and balancing, and while you would be correct, things such as class overhauls are no small factors, I would argue that phenomenon such as the much more diverse meta are largely due to the mastery overhaul. Beforehand you'd have a small selection of champions in each role who best used the items or state of the game, and anyone else was playing at a disadvantage. Masteries couldn't really affect anything as they were very insignificant, with set choices being mandatory within roles. 21/9/0 was pretty much the staple, and there was very little diversity save for minor tweaks such as swapping ArPen for MPen. However the new mastery system allows for a tremendous amount of diversity, with many different play styles within a single class to be supported. This is wonderful, and I'd argue that the impact on the meta has been unmeasurable. Now imagine if such a thing were to happen to the rune system. Imagine if you could have powerful combinations that would allow you to invest heavily in to a certain play style, such as percentage stat modifiers. Scaling runes are typically rather weak right now as they don't really have a payoff early, and by the time you get to late game they are insignificant due to how little they give as a portion of your overall build. Or what about some kind of "keystone" rune system where you picked a single rune that dramatically impacted your gameplay, such as taking % less damage, increasing damage to objectives or refunding a portion of a spell's mana cost should that spell hit an enemy champion. I'd like to thank you reading. If you want to repost this anywhere (such as NA boards so a Rioter actually reads it) feel free. I do hope these points are taken on board and are seriously considered. Like it or not, hate league or love it, Riot is one of the Titans of gaming, and their behaviour and design choices are held as an example of what games should be. So I want Riot to succeed, and I want league to do well, even if I no longer enjoy the game. So good luck, how the rune rework and how the assassin class overhaul is implemented have the potential to be extremely interesting and possibly significantly impact game design for the foreseeable future. And finally, most importantly, one last time for good luck. Delete Janna please. Have a lovely day, and I guess feel free to discuss what kind of things you'd like to see for the rune rework, such as possible ideas for keystone style runes.
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