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I have concerns about the rune update

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League has always been somewhat predictable, until now.

About once a week for the past several months, Riot has popped onto the forums and shown off a new rune coming this pre-season. These runes vary wildly from remakes of old runes, such as Stormlord’s Mandate being similar to Thunderlord’s Decree, to completely bonkers. For example, we have the Magical Footwear rune, which gives a player free boots at 10 minutes.

These new runes sound cool and they are fascinating, but whenever I see them, I can’t help but fear for what might happen when pre-season hits.

The main runes that I have a problem with here are:

  • Magical Footwear
  • Perfect Timing
  • Store Credit
  • Summoner Specialist

What do all of these runes have in common? They make what was once very predictable extremely unclear. Part of what makes League such an exceptional game, played at high levels by literally millions of people, is how predictable it is. That may sound weird but hear me out.

Each game is very unpredictable, as you will be dealing with different champions and players each round. However, all of the game systems are knowable in contrast. Look at it this way — if you are playing bot lane against a Tristana and you are winning in CS, you can go back, make a better buy and be up for the rest of the lane. You know this just by looking at the scoreboard. That is just math. You have more gold because you killed more minions. As a result, you come back with a BF Sword when all they have is a Vamp Scepter and boots.

However, the Store Credit rune takes this predictable and fair gameplay and twists it around. Where that Tristana would originally come back down on damage, they can now also re-emerge with a BF Sword, just like you. The advantage that you worked hard to gain has now been nullified by a out of game rune pick up.

There are similar issues to other runes as well. The first time I am about to escape a chase only for the enemy to have their Magical Footwear show up and catch me, I am going to be really upset. When the Hecarim that I have already seen use both Flash and Ghost this game kills me with an Ignite mid duel, it is going to feel pretty bad.

The key, of course, to understanding how this rune implementation will actually go is how well does the game communicate to you your enemies’ choices? Will there be a new part of the loading screen where it shows me what they have? Will I be able to click on the scoreboard somewhere to see every rune they have picked? I certainly don’t want to spend the entire game staring at a scoreboard, but I will if I have to.

The other main question here is how worthwhile some of these runes are to take in the long run. At some point you end up deciding that maybe free boots isn’t worth the same as a Thunderlord’s or bonus stats. But all of that remains to be seen. Once we have a better idea of how these things are laid out, we can truly determine whether or not it is time to panic.

Look, Riot has been making drastic changes to their game for years. I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t worried over the RNG of the Elemental Drakes or the jungle plants. Riot proved me wrong there by creating two excellent systems that add a lot to every League game.

For me, these new runes bring back that familiar fear. However, because this project seems so much bigger and has the potential to impact every aspect of League, it has me far more concerned. I have faith that Riot will be able to pull it off in one way or another just as they have every other time, because if they don’t, it could have dire circumstances.

I hope more than anything that by the end of this year I write a piece about how wrong I was about these runes and how brilliant they are. I want to be wrong, I want my fear to be unfounded. But until we know for sure, I will be on the edge of my seat.