If you’re unaware, Sightstone is going away. Instead of being it’s own item, it’s being combined into the gold generating items for supports. This is great news for support mains and even better news for the jerks who get auto-filled into support and play mages.
You see, Sightstone was somewhat of a barrier to entry. Support players, even those troll-y mages, had to buy a gold item and a Sightstone. If not, they risk falling behind and being completely irrelevant or getting yelled at/reported for dropping no wards. Now you only need one, catch-all item that completes your support obligation.
If you want to build full tank Leona, you have a lot more potential for that. You now have room for four tank items and boots instead of just three. That may seem like splitting hairs, but maybe you’ve never fought a tank that’s a full item up on you.
Sightstone in it’s current state is basically garbage from a stat perspective. Yes, it gives you quite a bit of health, but nothing else. It’s gold value comes entirely from the wall of wards it gives you for free over the coarse of the game. Basically, supports aren’t losing much by losing Sightstone. The reason you want it is the wards, not the health. Being able to buy the item you want (gold generation) and get the active you want (wards) without spending 800 gold on a health stick is going to make the build path much more flexible.
Now, it’s worth mentioning here that lead gameplay designer, Andrei “Meddler” van Roon, stated in his gameplay thoughts that this change isn’t intended to flat buff supports. However, without essentially nerfing the stats of every support, this seems like a difficult task. More build flexibility inherently means more power.
Sure, supports are losing their utility active from their gold item, meaning they might have to buy it someplace else. But all of that just promotes more flexibility for their build. Flexibility from a support perspective is important and generally equals more power. The more viable things you can buy, the easier you can shift and the more useful you’ll actually be. But it isn’t the traditional supports we should worry about, it’s the mages.
Have you ever played against a Lux support? A Brand? A Vel’Koz? Not a normal one that builds support items, I’m talkin’ about one of those mage supports that buys full AP. We’ve all had these allies, we’ve all typed “can you please get a sightstone,” knowing that they won’t. This Sightstone change is great for those people and their teammates.
Gone are the days of begging your full AP support to buy wards. All they have to do to even qualify as a support is buy their gold generation item. Now, they get the sightstone for free while also keeping their extremely expensive build.
On the Public Beta Environment, the cost of the Sightstone upgraded gold items has gone down. Eye of Oasis is becoming Remnant of the Ascended and is a full 400 gold cheaper without changing the stats at all. The same is true for Eye of the Watchers, now being called Remnant of the Watchers.
All of this seems to be influenced from the Ardent Censor fiasco from last year. When the Ardent Censor was that OP, supports would rush it before ever building a Sightstone. It felt great, it felt useful. Players have that luxury now. With the lowering of the gold quest threshold from 750 to 500, players can still rush an item of their choosing. A traditional support can grab Locket against a teamfight comp in the first 20 minutes of a game, whereas Brands can get a Haunting Guise straight away.
While all of these changes are pretty exciting, there are two major questions I have about this system.
The first is relatively simple. When Riot says that they don’t want to increase the power of supports, what does that mean? Are they nerfing supports to compensate? Are they doing nothing? What needs to happen to give supports an extra item while also keeping them from growing stronger? Hopefully this is something we can find out before the Sightstone changes launch.
The second change, and the one I believe to be more important, is what will Riot do to incentive players to pick supports instead of just spamming carries? We know for sure that they will be adding two new items that have similar actives to Frostqueen’s and Talisman. But what else can and should be done?
Support is already a fairly unpopular role. Giving players the opportunity to more reliably carry from it with damage doesn’t necessarily fix the popularity problem the way we want. Support should be a fun role on the fun champions built for supporting, not just Lux with wards. We need more cost effective options for the support champions themselves. Give Thresh a great support item to buy, not just a Randuin’s.
The nature of supports and their low income basically requires a separate economy. The difficulty there is, as it always has been, balancing support items to be great for support and less great for everyone else.
I could sit here and ask questions all day, questions that we won’t have answered until 8.2 hits. This change guarantees a more interesting and diverse support role. On it’s face, the change is brilliant. What will seal the deal is how Riot decides to handle support power from here on out.