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General Guide by DTRawDog

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League of Legends Build Guide Author DTRawDog

A matter of math: HP vs Resistance/Damage vs Penetration

DTRawDog Last updated on July 24, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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Before your read!(especially haters)

When you had a look over the characters builds maybe some people will go crazy and say something like:

- OMG DT you're such a noob!
- These builds are not even complete!!
- Team 1 Runes and masteries dont make sense at all!! Nobody is so stupid to do that!!
- I am going to hate you and down-vote you to death!!!
- Uninstall LoL man!

For all those people, this is my response:

You're the ignorant. The title of this guide is not: How to fully build each of the following champions and totally kick *** in a game!

This guide will explain how resistances and penetrations work and how it is most convenient to use them. And the champions' runes, masteries and builds are for example purposes only and not for showing you which is the best builds for them. Btw, I have used all of the champions above, none of them are my main champions but I've got some basic understanding of them and how the factors I am gonna talk about work on them.

If you want to see a complete and detailed guide about each of these champions STOP READING RIGHT NOW and just look for the highest rated builds for each of them.

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Hello Guys! DTRawDog here!

Some time ago, I was really excited about writting guides about build and how much damage could you really put inside a character. And I did some guides, about hybrids, dps, and mages. But recently I realized: What is the point or writting premade builds if you will always have to change it for each game to suit your team or counter the other. The other team may build in a way that will completely screw the build that you saw in the guide and you would totally lose and say: wow this build sucks. Actually, it is you who doesn't quite understand how this game works. You must judge the situation and determine which is the best build to go for with the champion you are using and the situation that you're in.

The purpose of this guide is to improve the way that you judge situations and actually know how to counter that Katarina that is penta-killing all the time or that Irelia that should be reported for psycological abuse because of having 5 consecutive aces whithout getting below 50% HP!

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First things first: "The Basics"

The damage dealing system is a lot more elaborated in League of Legends than in DotA (people are gonna hate me for that). I am not saying it may be better or worse, it is just that there are lots of filters and formulas for the resistances, types of damage, etc. while in DotA it is more straight to the point.

In League of Legends you have Magic Resist and Armor which both work with the same system. Your accumulate a flat amount of resistance that is then converted into a percentage value of damage reduction. The conversion formula is the following:

X(flat resistance value)/(100+X) = Damage Reduction

So if the flat value of resistance is 150,

150/(100+150)= 0.6 --> 60% of damage reduction

This formula makes that the more flat value of resistances you have, the less it will scale as damage reduction. Take as an example the following values:

20 --> 16.7%
40 --> 28.6%
60 --> 37.5%
80 --> 44.4%
100 -> 50.0%

They can both be pierced using flat penetration( Youmuu's Ghostblade, Haunting Guise), reduction ( Abyssal Mask, Dread, Malady) and % penetration ( Last Whisper, Void Staff). Understanding the flat and reduction values is easy, if the enemy has 80 armor, and you have 20 armor penetration you will leave him with 60 armor and if you have 50% armor penetration you will leave him with 40. Then you apply the conversion formula with the final resistance value to know how much damage reduction the enemy has after your reductions and penetrations.

Note that the larger the resistance value is the more effective the percentage penetration becomes. If someone has 20 armor it will be a lot more useful to have 20 armor pen than 40% armor pen.

Also note that the flat penetration and reduction is applied before the %. Here I have another formula for this calculation which mixes both penetrations.

Final Resistance = (Original Resistance - Flat Penetration)*(100 - % Penetration)/100

IMPORTANT!: This formula only works when your penetration + reduction does not exceed the resistance value of the enemy. Though your penetration cannot make the resistance go below 0, your resistance reduction can.

If you're courious, I am very lazy, and calculating everything again and again is a real pain in the *** so I used Microsoft Excel for the calculations in a way that I only have to enter the original resistances and penetrations, and it gives me all the final results by itself. Nice uh?

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Now, to the Hit Points!

Imagine You see the Cho Gath in team 1 who stacked 5 Warmog's Armor. He will have 5k+ HP and even more with his ultimate at 6 stacks. You will see an obcene sized health bar and a gigantic bug be crushed in a second by the other team as soon as it tries to tank. Why? Lets go to the numbers.

Supposing he is at level 18, he will have 30 Magic Resist and 84 armor.

- 30 magic resist = 23.1% damage reduction

- 84 armor = 45.7% damage reduction

The other team will have a lot of damage. For example Annie will have Sorcerer's Shoes, runes and masteries. Runes and boots give you a maximum of 36 magic pen and masteries give you 15% magic pen. With only that, Cho Gath's resistance can be completely pierced by Annie. Imagine how much damage will the annie deal to that massively big and "tanky" Cho Gath.

How about dps? They will get at least 1 item of armor pen (lets say Youmuu's Ghostblade in team 2 Ashe case) plus runes and masteries. That would be a total of 41 (includes 6 armor pen from masteries). Leaving the 84 armor cho gath with 43. That would be 30 % armor. Ashe and her crits and attack speed would destroy that big Cho.


I see this a lot of times (not exactly 5 warmogs but a lot of AP and HP but no resistances), and each time I say either THANK YOU GOD! or **** YOU CHO!!!

A tank has the role to RESIST a lot of damage from the other team, not to TAKE a lot of damage from the other team.

Lets get this clear, a Cho Gath has an ultimate to cover his health, so the items should be covering his resistances whith items like Guardian Angel, Frozen Heart, Abyssal Mask, etc. 3k HP is enough for any tank to be very tough and last hours in battle. You should really try to find a balanced build for each champion while considering what the other team is building. If the other team has a very strong caster, get magic resist. If there is a DPS that has Trinity Force, Malady, Madred's Bloodrazor get magic resist aswell even if they are DPS focused. Their damage comes from items with on-hit effects that deal magic damage. And the same in the case of physical damg DPS.

A tank must always you TAB to know what the other team is building and who has more kills and know which guys are more important to tank an use Crowd Control effects (slows, stuns, taunts) on them.

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Resistances on carries and dmg champions

Resistances are not only for tanks. Even the highest DPS focused champion should at least get a Banshee's Veil. Let me demonstrate this. Imagine a Fiddlesticks with just 15% magic pen from masteries, 16 from runes and a doran's ring at the begining of the game. His passive gives him an additional 10. He is facing an ashe, and she has 30 magic resist and will remain the same until late game because her magic resist does not scale (like 90% of the game's champions) and she will only focus on dealing damage. Just with that, Ashe is left with only 3.3% of magic resist. Just because of getting some runes Ashe resistance is insignificant and Fiddle has a great advantage at early game and at late game. This lets fiddle concentrate on damage items and not having to rush for a magic pen item to deal full damage.

"But DT Ashe has crits and Fiddle is damage over time and life steal on ashe would solve the problem!!"

And fiddle has a 3 second Fear from Terrify that will leave Ashe completely defenseless even before she can attack him. Meaning she doesn't stand a chance against the full damage she is recieving from him.

Almost all champions end the game with 30 magic resist leaving the champion completely defenseless against any caster that is smart enough to get enough magic penetration. Leaving your champion with 30 magic resist till the end of the game is suicide. Get Spirit Visage, Banshees Veil, Abyssal Mask, whatever you want but you need something to cover that weakness. I usually get a banshees and some magic resist glyphs so my magic resist is actually worth something and I can resist dmg somehow. Armor scales with levels with every champion so that is not a problem but magic resist is a pain in the *** and can cost you the entire game.

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How To Use Penetrations and reductions?

Now lets see it from another perspective. You are a caster or a physical damage champion and as anyone else you want to deal great quantities of damage to your enemies. And you will notice that getting penetration is far more useful than getting more Damage.

AP Casters:

You have a great early game advantage. You can get runes that give you 16 magic penetration and with your boots you get a total of 36 of magic pen plus 15% of magic penetration just from masteries. So the amount of magic resist they have noe is a flat 0. They receive complete damage from you. Usually the tank would notice that and get some magic resist but the ones that really matter are the casters and DPS. These two usually concentrate only at their damage and no resistances, so you can preety much concetrate a bit on your magic resistance and then full damage since you penetration aspect is completely covered. You'll be a monster in the end of the game.

Other thing you can do is getting Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi(for better resistance) and then get get an Abyssal Mask(more magic resist, AP and resistance reduction) to reduce the resistances of everyone around you so resist some more and you also help in team fights. Be creative and judge each situation to know which strategy suits best you champion and your team.

A piece of advice here. If there is another castir in your team and you are in a team fight phase, try to get Abyssal Mask... BOTH OF YOU. The magic reduction in that item is a UNIQUE aura and if you get 2 Abbyssal by yourself, you will get the passive effect of only one of them. But two auras of the same item can stack as long as two players have the same item.

As you may have noticed, each time you get a little bit more of magic penetration, your actual pierce goes higher. In other words, the more you have the less magic pen you need to pierce the enemy's armor. With that said imagine you just got your shoes, abby and a rabadons deathcap. You're pretty well built. Now what should you do? Get a Void Staff or a Haunting Guise?

It depends. You have 3 options:

- None of them: no dps or caster got a resistance item and you can purely focus on damage after your resistances are covered. If only one guy got higher resistances but he is really not that important and is constantly dying then just dont bother wasting your money and get more damage.

- Haunting Guise: The other team got Mercury Boots or a Spirit Visage or magic resist runes and you want a cheap way to counter that. You dont need much magic penetration so that 20 magic pen is the best thing to get, leavin the other guy at approximately 5 magic resistance which is nearly nothing.

- Void Staff: The important champions in the game got some magic resist from boots, banshee's or abyssal scepter and have a big amount of resistance now. The Void Staff would be a the best choice.

For AD carry:

Your role is a little bit different, the resistances of your enemies are higher for you and they scale as they level up. It makes your role a lot more complicated at the beginning since you dont have piercing boots. But, you got other things like The Black Cleaver, Youmuu's Ghostblade and Last Whisper. The Black Cleaver is amazing, it gives you lots of armor pen in a second and can counter a big portion of the enemies resistance. Later on, you may want to get a Last Whisper since most of the enemies will go to 80 armor and some of the may go past 100 armor with some items.

So it actually makes up for the carrying role. At the beginning you suck but in the end you are unstoppable. With the ad carry, there is almost no chance of getting 100% damage from your cleave, but your criticals and your attack speed got you covered. Be imaginative and mix your armor penetration with other stats that better fits your champion.

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To Sum Up

- Resistances are better than HP, though HP is also important.
- DPS and AP Casters also need magic resistance!
- Haunting Guise is a great and cheap alternative to counter light magic resistances
- Know when to use the Void Staff/Last Whisper and when to go for an Aby or a Youmuu's Ghostblade.
- Penetrations are more important than flat damage.

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Have fun!

Thank You for reading the whole thing! I hope it was helpful and that it will improve your skills as a player. I'll be trying to add some images in the future and also summarize some info if it is too confusing or explaining some other stuff in a better way.

Please rate and comment. Your feedback is important!

And sorry for any grammatical mistake! English is not my original language xD

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Change log

11/07/11 --> - Guide created!

12/07/11 --> - Fixed content at the "Introduction", Took info from "The Basics" and put it into "How to use penetrations". "The Basics" was fixed aswell. Added some info in "Now to the Hit Points"...ok I Fixed info everywhere xD. Added some color to the text too. Corrected various spelling mistakes and item's names. Also added icons to have more info about the items.

24/07/11 --> - Made a remake in many sections basically fixing the topic of penetration and negative values. Also fixed some spelling mistakes. Sorry it took so long :/


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