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Rune tips - What secondary and primary means and more.

Rune tips - What secondary and primary means and more.

Updated on September 25, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Searz Build Guide By Searz 1635 95 4,128,675 Views 625 Comments
1635 95 4,128,675 Views 625 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Searz Build Guide By Searz Updated on September 25, 2012
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Choose Champion Build:

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Hello there. After strolling around the net for a while I've realized one thing, that most people don't know anything about runes.. So I thought I'd do something like this to help people with their rune choices.

This is my analysis of runes, backed with math (check out the graphs I've made) and good game knowledge. I hope you enjoy the read.

The builds are just examples using only good runes. I do play most of the champions though.
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AD = Attack Damage
AS = Attack Speed
CrC = Critical-strike Chance
CrD = Critical-strike Damage
ArP = Armor Penetration
MrP = Magic/MR Penetration

HP = Hit/Health Points
HP5 = Heath-regen Per 5 seconds

MP5 = Mana-regen Per 5 seconds
EP5 = Energy-regen Per 5 seconds
CDR = Cooldown Reduction
AP = Ability Power
MR = Magic Resist

GP10 = Gold per 10 seconds
MS = Movement Speed
/lvl = Per Level (bonuses which you gain a part of with each level)
+EXP = Increased experience gain
-Time dead = Reduced time dead
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Primary/Secondary, what does it mean?

So what are primary and secondary runes? They are categories that specify whether a bonus will be big or small. Primary runes mean big bonuses, secondary means small.

Let's use an example: Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction(primary) > Greater Seal of Cooldown Reduction(secondary) > Greater Mark of Cooldown Reduction(secondary)

They give: -0,65%, -0,29% and -0,16%. As you can see the secondary runes are not even half as good. So even if you have all CDR seals and marks you'll still get less than from just the glyphs.

So instead of getting Greater Glyph of Attack Damage and Greater Mark of Cooldown Reduction you should get Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction and Greater Mark of Attack Damage, for much bigger bonuses.

Since the bonuses often are more than twice as big, using only primary runes is USUALLY the best choice.
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Primary runes

Now that you know what they are let's take a look at which bonuses are primary where.

Marks: ArP, MrP, AS, AD, CrC and CrD.

Seals: HP, armor and regeneration (mana-reg too!).

Glyphs: CDR, AP, MR and mana.

Quintessences: MS, GP10, +EXP, -Time Dead.
Quintessences don't have any secondary runes. They are pretty much all primary.
The utility runes mentioned above are primary in the sense that runes of those kinds in other categories are secondary.
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Rune ranks

This is purely my opinion. If you have a good argument for why something should be placed lower/higher, just comment and I'll consider it.

The power of a rune is decided by how good it is compared to the other runes in the same category.
They are also arranged within the ranks. Best to "worst", left to right (best->"worst").

I will move a rune down a little if another rune does the same thing better.

S-Rank: These runes are great. If you benefit from them, they are probably the best choice.
A-Rank: These are very close to the S-rank runes in power and are very good choices.
B-Rank: Decent runes. They don't give as good bonuses as the runes above them, but can be viable if you need the stat or don't need any of the stats above.
C-Rank: These runes are pretty much always worse than the runes above them. Only use these if they are for a special play-style and/or a special champion.
F-Rank: These runes are just overall bad. Stay away from them.

Here's a compact list of the rune attributes. Credit to Complexicate for the spreadsheet.

If you own all the S and A-ranked runes you'll be able to play pretty much any champion with good runes.


S-Rank: Greater Mark of DesolationArP, MrP
A-Rank: AS, CrC, AD, ArP&MrP
B-Rank: Armor, MR
C-Rank: AP/lvl, Greater Mark of ReplenishmentMP5, Greater Mark of KnowledgeMana/lvl, CrD, AD/lvl, AP, Greater Mark of VitalityHP/lvl
F-Rank: HP, Mana, CDR, MR/lvl


S-Rank: Armor
A-Rank: MP5/lvl, Greater Seal of VitalityHP/lvl, Greater Seal of ReplenishmentMP5
B-Rank: Greater Seal of DefenseArmor/lvl, HP, Greater Seal of Endurance+%HP, AP/lvl
C-Rank: Greater Seal of KnowledgeMana/lvl, Greater Seal of RegenerationHP5/lvl, Greater Seal of VigorHP5, MR/lvl, AS, EP5, EP5/lvl, AP, GP10
F-Rank: CrC, AD, Mana, MR, CDR, AD/lvl, CrD


S-Rank: MR, MR/lvl, AP/lvl
A-Rank: AP, CDR, MP5/lvl
B-Rank: CDR/lvl, Greater Glyph of KnowledgeMana/lvl, Mana, Energy
C-Rank: MrP, Energy/lvl, Greater Glyph of ReplenishmentMP5, AS, Greater Glyph of VitalityHP/lvl, Armor
F-Rank: CrC, AD, Greater Glyph of VigorHP5, HP, AD/lvl, CrD


S-Rank: AP, MS
A-Rank: AD, HP, Greater Quintessence of VigorHP5, Armor, Life Steal, Greater Quintessence of DesolationArP, MrP, MR, GP10
B-Rank: AS, CrC, Spell Vamp, CDR, ArP&MrP, Energy, AP/lvl
C-Rank: Greater Quintessence of VitalityHP/lvl, MP5/lvl, Greater Quintessence of ReplenishmentMP5, EP5, Mana, CDR/lvl, +EXP, -Time dead, Greater Quintessence of Endurance+%HP
F-Rank: Greater Quintessence of KnowledgeMana/lvl, CrD, MR/lvl, AD/lvl, Greater Quintessence of DefenseArmor/lvl, Greater Quintessence of RegenerationHP5/lvl


Here's a few explanations for the ranks:
  • CrD is just an overall bad rune stat. It doesn't help early on (when runes are the most influential) and it's not even better than CrC in lategame on an average carry build.

  • AD quints belong in rank A because they give humongous early damage and scale with crit and some spells. CrC quints only scale with normal attacks, are only useful on crit builds and deals much less damage early on. CrC is more powerful in lategame, but not by much (graphs). AD quints are basically a much better version of CrC quints.
    The same doesn't apply to AD and CrC marks though, since AD marks have smaller stats compared to AD quints. (CrC quint=2 CrC marks, AD quint=2.37 AD marks)

  • AP quints belong in rank S because their stats are huge. They're usually are better than MrP quints on all champions with a decent AP ratio (over ~0.23 per 100flat dmg) because it's only in lategame (when your skills have the max base damage) that MrP quints are really effective (as seen here). Before lategame AP is pretty much always stronger, unless you're playing someone like Ryze who scales with other stats and has bad AP ratios. Also keep in mind that AP is most likely the best choice on champions with abilities that doesn't deal magic damage. Heals, shields and things like that.

  • There's been some debate on how flat and scaling MR runes compare. Flat MR is in my opinion the stronger choice for anyone exposed to magic damage early on because MR has diminishing returns and the scaling runes pass the flat ones pretty late(lvl10).

  • HP quints don't belong in rank S because they are often not the best choice. They are however still the most universal quints and are still strong.

  • HP5 quints belong in rank A because it takes 48seconds for a HP5 quint to give the same amount of HP as a HP quint would. For the duration of your laning phase HP5 is a stronger choice if you aren't scared of being squashed by enemy nuke. So they're very strong on tanky champions. The thing that makes HP5 quints a little less viable (on most champions) than HP quints is that they're bad outside of earlygame.

  • GP10 quints are a little weak. It's a good stat for some champs like supports, but they will need a buff to be viable on other champions. Even supports are sometimes better off with other runes. The main reason to take these on a support would be their versatility. They work, no matter the matchup and champion you play.

  • AS seals and AS glyphs. The stats they give are very small and they are imo kinda bad runes. I know AS is a good early stat on carries for lasthitting, but I just can't see that as more useful than beefing yourself up with armor and MR, to be overall stronger in the lane.
    Some junglers take AS glyphs for more speed, but the small amount they will speed you up (probably below 5sec) is negligible compared to the other things you could pick up instead. Some junglers might even get faster with CDR glyphs than with AS and CDR isn't useless outside of the jungle like the AS glyphs are.

  • Something to keep in mind with flat runes is that they can end up snowballing you by allowing a better earlygame. Then you might end up with better stats than you would have with the scaling ones because you got more gold/exp from snowballing.
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Universally good runes

If you want to save money; buy these. These are the runes that are great with the largest amounts of champions. When you've got these you'll be able to play every champion in the game with decent runes at worst.
I would recommend that you don't buy runes at all before you can buy tier 3 runes (at level20). You'll just end up losing IP that way.

A complete build will cost 10455 or 13530IP, depending on what quints you buy.

I know it's not cheap, but it's definitely worth it. They are so versatile that they will fill most of your rune needs.

The choice between HP and ArP+AP quints depends on what you play most. HP can work with all champions even if it rarely is optimal while ArP and AP quints are better on most champions with offensive capabilities. Only tanky champions might be worse off without HP quints.

I'm putting MR/lvl runes as standard because junglers are far better off with scaling MR since they won't be taking much magic damage early on. Buy flat MR runes if you aren't planning on jungling.

Honorable mentions (or buy whenever you get the money):
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration(1845IP) They're pretty standard on casters. Versatile, but not enough to end up in the list. (Combine flat and scaling MP5 seals however you want to. They're both great)
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power(3690IP): Also pretty standard on casters, but can't really be used by most other kinds of champions.
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Notes on physical damage (ArP, AD or CrC?)

  • ArP marks are the most versatile source of extra physical damage. They scale good and give good early damage. I recommend them to all who are unsure about which runes to get.
  • ArP marks and quints are often the best choice for most champions that rely on physical spells. Physical spells are spells that deal physical damage. Like Pantheon's Heartseeker Strike & Spear Shot and Urgot's Acid Hunter & Noxian Corrosive Charge.

  • AD quints are great on crit builds. They may give a less lategame damage than crit and ArP, but they give loads more damage early on. AD quints work so well with crit builds because AD scales with crit. Without crit they'll be a lot worse than ArP runes.
  • AD quints are usually better than ArP for champions who have abilities that scale with AD but don't deal physical damage. Like Shaco's Two-Shiv Poison, Jax's Master-At-Arms & Leap Strike and Akali's Twin Disciplines.
  • AD marks are weaker than the quints (normal quint=2 normal marks, AD quint=2.37AD marks) and thus weaker than ArP marks, but they are still viable in some cases.

  • CrC marks are usually worse than ArP marks, even on those who only auto attack. I currently can't see any reason to get them over other marks. They are viable on some champions that are using AD quints, especially Tryndamere, but he's kind of a special case.
  • CrC quints are pretty much always worse than AD quints, so don't bother with them.

Don't believe me? Graphs here. They take a ****load of space so I didn't wanna add them to this description.
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Notes on magical damage (AP, AP/lvl or MrP?)

  • AP is the way to go in quints. MrP quints are only usable on strange champions with very low AP ratios, but the only champion like that I can think of is Ryze (and maybe Brand).

  • AP/lvl is usually best in glyphs and seals, because they beat flat AP runes by lvl6.
  • MrP glyphs are never really worth using.

  • MrP is obviously best in marks since it's primary there, while AP is secondary.

Don't believe me? Graphs here. They take a ****load of space so I didn't wanna add them to this description.
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Rune templates

I'm gonna state some good runes for different kinds of champions here.

These runes will be very useful most of the time, but all champions do not fit into these categories. You'll simply have to think about what is needed most and/or try to fill the holes in your build/playstyle.


Marks: MrP.
Seals: MP5/lvl.
Glyphs: AP/lvl.
Quintessences: AP.


Marks: Armor, MrP or ArP. (MrP/ArP depending on what damage you'll deal most of)
Seals: MP5, MP5/lvl or Armor.
Glyphs: MP5/lvl, CDR or MR/lvl.
Quintessences: GP10 or HP.

Physical damage:

Marks: ArP. Look here for more info and possible exceptions.
Seals: Armor or HP/lvl.
Glyphs: MP5/lvl or MR/lvl.
Quintessences: AD.


Basically most the S and A rank runes work good on hybrids. Rune ranks here. I can't narrow it down much more than that.


Marks: ArP or MrP. (depends on what kind of damage you mostly deal)
Seals: Armor.
Glyphs: MR or MR/lvl.
Quintessences: MS.


(this is for physical damage junglers because most junglers use physical damage)
Marks: ArP or AS.
Seals: Armor.
Glyphs: MR/lvl.
Quintessences: ArP or AD.
AS quints are generally not needed. You can just use 6AS marks, 3ArP marks and 3ArP quints to achieve the same effect as AS quints+ArP marks.
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Told you so :)

I've been advocating AD quints for years now.
And they just got popular, even though the masteries made very little difference.

So; yea, told you so <3
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Closing statements

If there's something you ponder about; just ask. I'll answer to the best of my ability. But do try to find the answer in the guide before asking since most questions are answered in it.

Feel free to correct me on any mistakes you find.
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