General Guide by astrolia
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What is this guide for?
This is a bunch of text intended to supplement my support guides for the following champions:
When do you buy sightstone?
Early game is also called "laning phase" because you go into a lane and farm minions. But as a support, your job is not to farm minions. You "support" your ranged carry while they farm minions through warding and harassing the enemy laners.
So if you aren't farming minions, what do you do anyway? It depends on the support you're playing. Some are playmakers. They have crowd control and look for openings to use their crowd control (usually a stun or snare) to setup a kill for their AD carries. Others have poke damage. They keep range and do harass/poke damage over time to whittle down the enemy laners, *or* they have buffs that allow their carry to poke better. Others are sustainers/healers. Their job is to keep their carry alive. For gameplay on specific supports, you should consult a guide for that support. This text dump is for basic generic support-ish things only.
One of your duties as the support is to ward around bottom lane. Vision will help you spot ganks from the river or the lane bushes. Having wards in lane bushes will also allow you to see the enemy support using skills.
Explorer might not seem like much, but it's quite useful. It gives you a mini- Sight Ward, and usage of this mini-ward can act like a substitute for Clairvoyance within the first couple minutes of the game. Say the enemy support is Blitzcrank. Leave the fountain immediately and pop your Explorer's Ward in a bush near your buff to look out for his team invading. Or, if your team invades the enemy blue buff, you can leave your Explorer's Ward at your own blue buff to spot to see if the enemy team had the same idea as you.
In lane, you can use it to bait out Vision Wards from supports who start with them. They will often drop Vision Wards asap to try and control bushes, but if they use it to destroy your lesser Explorer's Ward, then you know they used their Vision Ward, you know when and where they used it, and you still have your regular full duration Sight Wards.
Take note of when enemy champions use summoner spells like Flash, and take note when you see them place wards. Enemy wards will temporarily show as little red dots on the map, wards make noises when they're planted, and minions will also attack you in bushes if the bush is warded. Observing these things will make your life easier, and also your jungler's. When your jungler ganks, you can let them know what area is warded so they know not to go that route, and they'll also know to focus the person who's Flash is down.
After laning phase, both teams have farmed a little and the champions are all stronger. During mid, the game becomes more about objectives (buffs, dragon, towers, baron) and fighting for control of them.
Mid game wards vary depending on if you're pushing into the enemy's 2nd turret, or if the enemy team is pushing into your 2nd turret.
Blue buff is a highly contested buff because mana-based mid laners rely on it during early and mid game. As purple side bot lane, you can help protect and secure your blue buff for your mid lane. As blue side bot lane, you can help steal the enemy blue buff and deny it from their mid lane. Vision Wards help for both protecting and stealing.
As the support, you should continue to watch your carry during mid game even after towers go down. If you've taken the enemy's outer turret and your carry is stronger and has frozen the minion wave to deny the enemy carry, you can typically leave them alone for a few minutes while you ward important objectives or help other lanes. If your carry is weaker and has frozen the minion wave at the inner turret for safety reasons, you should stay near them and ward up to spot incoming ganks and tower dives.
Your job is control dragon through ward coverage. Junglers will (should) help you with it too. Vision Wards help with dragon coverage since you'll be too weak and too poor for an Oracle's Elixir.
During late game, towers are gone, and the game becomes more about objectives (killing the nexus, baron) and closing out the game.
Well, the image kind of speaks for itself.
Your job is control baron through ward coverage. Hopefully you'll be able to afford an Oracle's Elixir before you leave base. If you have Twin Shadows and you don't have the baron area warded, remember to use it to check the bushes for you, or you might walk into the enemy team.
When I say buddy system, I mean general "strength in numbers". Getting caught alone is bad for your team. Even if you're only worth 15g, your team is missing your ult/auras if you die before a possible team fight. Be careful when you ward, as you could get caught out. It's very typical late game to ward up, catch someone out of position, kill them, then go push a tower or get baron because the other team is now down a member.
- Set wards in ways that maximize your vision on an area. This image made by AwwGasm, though old, shows you how much vision you gain through certain ward placements.
- When enemy wards are placed, you see the ward for a couple seconds before it vanishes. If you are playing a character with an autoattack reset (e.g. Leona's Shield of Daybreak), you can do 3 autoattacks and kill the ward in this time period.
- The ramps near dragon and baron have been changed in season 3. There's no small wall/ledge obscuring your ward vision anymore. Setting a Vision Ward in the bush near the ramps will allow you to counter ward people who are used to warding the ramp specifically. (Image)
- Warding behind the rocks in the entrance to baron or dragon will avoid your wards from being seen by Vision Wards that are positioned in front. (Image)
- Targeting a ward will give you a white health bar which represents how much longer a ward will stay up.
- Try to ward in an not-so-obvious manner so the enemy doesn't have a clue about you warding. This is important when you're babysitting on bot lane. I always make it a point to check enemy items when they come back and see if they have wards. If those wards magically disappear after they go out to the river, you should let your jungler know.
- This visual placement guide for by weenerlikewoah gives some good general placement advice, but some stuff I disagree with. In example, there's nothing wrong with warding inside dragon or baron.
When you play support, note what time dragon and baron die so that you know when they'll be respawning. There are various programs you can use for timing - overlays, computer apps, even smart phone apps. You can also turn on chat timestamps and note when baron/dragon dies in chat. Having the time lets your team setup for dragon/baron beforehand. Instead of, "Oh hey, dragon is up, let's go kill it", it's "Oh hey, dragon will be up in a minute, we should start heading down there".
The "Free" Gold Myth
The point of building GP10 items is not to "get free gold". You don't "get free gold" until after the item pays for itself. Meaning a Philosopher's Stone, which costs 700 gold and generates 5 gold every 10 seconds, will not pay for itself until it has generated 700 gold. This takes 23 minutes and 20 seconds. But after it has generated 700 gold, it will actually start giving you "free" gold.
Why was GP10 built in season 1/season 2? Why is it different in season 3?
In season 1 and the beginning of season 2, the meta game revolved around the AD carry literally farming for 40 minutes before team fights and such. With such a long period of farming, the support had plenty of time to pay off the cost of their GP10. Supports like Janna and Soraka were considered the strongest supports because of their safety. They are now considered weak because of their passive laning. For AD carries, Kog'Maw was considered strong because of his late game and Ezreal was considered weak also because of his late game.
But as season 2 evolved, Exhaust became the new summoner spell for supports, bot lane became focused on hard engages ("dunking") and dominating your lane with early game strength instead of passively farming to be strong later. Ezreal became a top AD carry for his early game strength while Kog'Maw became a liability for his early game weakness and lack of escapes. This has carried over to season 3.
Basically, the situation has changed. Supports are no longer in lane for 40 minutes while their AD carry passively farms, and as such, itemization has changed as well.
So why would you build GP10 now?
Basically, if you want an item that a GP10 upgrades to, you would definitely want to buy the GP10. This way, you refund a bit of the item cost before you upgrade it. If your Philosopher's Stone generates 400 gold before you upgrade it to Shurelya's Reverie, then it technically cost you 400 gold less.
Also take into account the stats. If you are playing a poke support like Sona or Lulu, having the mana regen from Philosopher's Stone is quite handy for laning. If you are playing Zyra, who doesn't have many mana regen issues, Kage's Lucky Pick would add to your early game damage. In the past, kill lane supports would build Heart of Gold to be tankier for engages. This has kind of been replaced by Sightstone. Similarly, a squishy support could buy Ruby Crystal and turn it into Sightstone later if they need to be tankier versus burst damage.
As a rule of thumb, if you don't want anything that Philosopher's Stone or Kage's Lucky Pick upgrades into, I would recommend against buying them. Work on getting other items instead. Making items like Locket of the Iron Solari has a more immediate effect on your team compared to aimlessly buying both Philosopher's Stone and Kage's Lucky Pick.
Then there's the option of building them if you expect a long, drawn out game. This is fairly self-explanatory and you can also associate this as to why pros sometimes build double GP10 in tournament level games.
Sightstone has a 950 gold price tag, and it gives health worth 475 gold. Of that remaining 475 gold, Sightstone will "break even" with buying regular Sight Wards after you've placed 6 wards with it. Assuming you are using your wards to their full duration, this will take 9 minutes since you can only set down 2 wards from Sightstone at a time.
Ruby Sightstone can be viewed similarly. It costs 1550 gold, and has around 946 gold in health. Of that remaining 604 gold, Ruby Sightstone will "break even" with buying regular Sight Wards after you've placed 8 wards with it. But unlike Sightstone, you can place up to 3 wards a time from a pool of 5 (technically 2.5 wards per 3 minutes). You would need to use up all 5, then return to base and use up another 3. After that, you are getting "free" wards from your Ruby Sightstone.
Alternatively, you could look at the items as GP10 items. Sightstone generates 4 wards per town trip and allows 2 out at a time. Money-wise, that's 150 gold (2 sight wards) per 3 minutes, which is 50 gold per minute. Ruby Sightstone generates 5 wards per town trip and allows 3 out at a time. For simplicity's sake, this can be 2.5 wards per 3 minutes, which is 188 gold per 3 minutes, or 63 gold per minute. For comparison, Philosopher's Stone gives 30 gold per minute, and Kage's Lucky Pick gives 24 gold per minute.
How does Sightstone fit into a support's build?
This will vary from person to person. Treat Sightstone like it's Heart of Gold from season 2 - kind of a GP10, and also a flat HP item. What flat HP does for a support is help them trade damage in lane, or survive burst.
In organized arranged games where it's vital that you have as much survivability and vision as possible, you might want to go Sightstone into Ruby Sightstone ASAP before even buying any other items. But in less organized games, your item order can be more flexible. In example, if you're playing Sona, who uses a lot of mana to poke, you could go Philosopher's Stone or Chalice of Harmony first for poking in lane. But if you're getting bursted down easily and not able to do much, it would be smarter to go for the flat HP boost from Sightstone before Philosopher's Stone.
When you equate Sightstone to Heart of Gold, you can also understand why it might look silly for you to buy Sightstone in addition to Philosopher's Stone and Kage's Lucky Pick - that's like 3 GP10 items. In season 2, supports would only buy 2, then start working on bigger items for team fights.
Sightstone doesn't cure cancer
In some games, just the wards from the Sightstone and a few Vision Wards might be enough to ward the map because you're incredibly dominant. Who knows. But in general, just because you have a Sightstone doesn't mean you should quit buying regular wards all together. In example, when you need to ward baron, you should definitely use some extra Sight Wards to secure the area. Always remember that it's an HP item that also gives you wards, not a replacement for sight Wards.
Flask vs Pots
Crystalline Flask will "break even" in terms of gold spent and amount of health/mana regenerated after around 7 uses. At 7 uses, it will have refilled 840 health and 420 mana, which is equal to 5.6 Health Potions and 4.2 Mana Potions. However, you can't use .6 or .2 of a potion. For simplicity's sake, we'll round up and down, and say it's equivalent to 6 HP/4 MP pots (350 gold).
If you factor in the 138 gold resale value on Crystalline Flask, then its real cost is 207 gold, and it "breaks even" around 4 uses - 480 health and 240 mana, equal to 3.2 Health Potions and 2.4 Mana Potions. Unless you only buy a few potions per game, it's quite efficient for your gold to purchase Crystalline Flask, and you'll always be able to use it until you sell it off.
Should supports buy Flask?
At the beginning of season 3, it was definitely worth it for supports to start 4 Sight Wards and Crystalline Flask then wait until they had enough money to buy Sightstone. After the price increase, it can't be used as a starting item anymore, and it's not as good for supports.