Zoe’s W, Spell Thief, is pretty interesting. It also sounds very confusing, but have no fear, the ability itself actually makes a lot of sense once you get the chance to use it. As soon as you start upgrading your W, you will be able to steal spells and use them one time.
For a complete guide on Zoe, check out ours here.
How does Spell Thief work?
Spell Thief is a unique ability. Once you have it upgraded, every Summoner Spell cast or active item used by an enemy will have a cost for them. Basically, each time they Flash, Smite, Ghost, Barrier or whatever, they will shed a spell shard of that Summoner Spell. The spell shard will hang out on the ground and be visible to Zoe.
If Zoe walks over that shard, her W will be replaced with that Summoner Spell. For example, if your lane opponent Flashes away from you, you can grab that spell shard and use your new W active to Flash after them. Then you could use your own Flash to Flash away.
When you consider how often you see enemies use Summoner Spells in the early game, this ability might just seem like a waste. However, there is a system in place to feed you spell shards as you lane. Minions have a chance to carry with them a cute little balloon. When you kill that specific minion, they’ll drop a spell shard for an active item or a Summoner Spell.
The system seems to understand the power of Summoner Spells though. When testing on the Public Beta Environment, minions seemed fairly likely to give me active items or second tier Summoner Spells like cleanse or ghost. Either way, getting a free Hextech GLP-800 active is a great way to start a lane.
Getting free Summoner Spells isn’t the only thing that Spell Thief does. Whenever you use a Summoner Spell or cast Spell Thief, Zoe will gain a ton of movement speed and gain missiles that float around her and shoot at stuff. As we mentioned in Zoe’s base guide, this is pretty similar to Ahri’s Fox-fire ability. The goal here is to stay close to your target and auto them as much as possible.
As you level up your Spell Thief, your movement speed bonus and duration will increase as will your AP scaling on the missiles.
Ultimately, Spell Thief is a high skill ability that requires you to adapt to every play. Laning with or against Zoe will never be the same experience. Maybe one match you get a smite and the next you get ignite. That could lead to a buff steal in the early game or an all-in before five minutes. A skilled player will be able to re-plan their laning phase depending on the spell shards they’re handed.
Good luck and Flash often, summoners.