(Day 21, the thrilling[??] Conclusion)
To Buy, or Not To Buy
The answer to this... is almost certainly to buy.
There are only six useful items that build from only high end components.
- The Mercurial Scimitar, an item that provides massive Magic Resist which is not especially handy early game
- The Infinity Edge, an item that provides Critical Chance and Damage - but is rather ineffective on Elise due to her spiderlings and Spiderform Magic damage not benefitting
- Rabadon's Deathcap, an AP Amplifier that is only cost-effective if you already own lots of AP
- Zhonya's Hourglass, a powerful AP item that allows for interesting plays but is made from very expensive components, costing 3100 gold in all
- The Sunfire Cape, an item that is indeed effective early on - and one possibility for saving up, costing 2500G
- Guinsoo's Rageblade, the other possibility for saving up at 2600G.
Of these six, two are of some interest to Elise.
The first, and most tempting, is Guinsoo's Rageblade. Elise's ability to keep Rageblade perpetually stacked makes it a uniquely powerful item for her, as long as you have the presence of mind to do this. However, the items you must buy in order to build Rageblade (The Blasting Wand and Pickaxe) both do nothing to resolve Elise's Core 3 Problems - mana issues, low HP and cooldowns - so you will be playing on sheer skill until you have collected the 2600 gold to finish the item, unless you take a detour. Obtaining the Rageblade will give you significant power in attack, but the low-health passive will likely not be very useful as you will have poor total HP and be killed far too often if trying to utilize it in anything but a desperate fight. Although it is very tempting to get such a cost-effective killing item so early, the drawbacks are many and significant, from starting without items to not resolving any of Elise's Core 3 Problems in your first 2600 gold.
The other item, and perhaps more possible, is the Sunfire Cape - which offers a significant 40 damage per second, high health and armor all in one convenient package. Obtaining the Sunfire cape in your first 2500 gold would give you an extremely powerful area DPS buff in addition to a dramatic rise in HP and Armor - perfect for spider form. But, rushing Sunfire Cape means first saving up 720 gold to buy a chain vest, and then another 1000 for the Giant's Belt. A kill on lane may make it possible to buy the Belt first - an extemely powerful action - and a definite possibility for a tank opening - but to do this, you must sacrifice your early game Tankiness and it is definitely a calculated risk.
If you choose to take it, you are relying on the strength of others and your own wits to create power from nothing. Succeed, and your early Sunfire Cape will overwhelm the enemy. Fail, and you will need to scramble to catch back up. After dying even once
from a no-items gambit attempt, you should immediately buy the most expensive thing you can get to fill the void, even if getting the Chain Vest isn't possible.
Hungry like the Doran
The three very effective early items -
and Doran's Ring
are all considerable options for Elise.
Doran's Blade is especially handy when used in conjunction with Skittering Frenzy. Doran's Shield does a fine job of making Elise much less killable. And Doran's Ring both helps resolve her low HP and her mana problems. They are all worthwhile options, excepting one little problem - none of them build up into anything better.
I don't feel these need to be as strictly compared as the other options, as they are generally, with some absolution, better in the immediate sense. But, by the same token, they all carry less total potential.
Making The Selection
So now that we've looked at all the options, what do we start with?
Listed in order, from Immeasurable/Situational to Best to Worst.
Boots of Speed
STATS: Raises movement speed significantly. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Allows Elise to control engagements, deciding when and how to fight. Scales excellently well.
CONS: Does not raise DPS.
BUILDS INTO: Tier 2 Boots, a must-have on Elise as well as every character. (Can help resolve toughness and cooldown issues)
SITUATIONAL: Enemy can potentially be positionally controlled; Useful if additional ability to kite and harass desired.
STATS: Adds 200 maximum mana. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Grants about 3.5 additional casts of skills on top of your current pool. This can be as much as +70% Effectiveness in low-level skirmishes.
CONS: Elise can rely on spiderform to fight without mana. As mana naturally increases (50/level) the total gain scales down. By level 9, Elise can already cast 11.5 times back to back, meaning a decrease to 30% Effectiveness. Does not raise DPS.
BUILDS INTO: Catalyst the Protector, and Tear of the Goddess.
SITUATIONAL: When planning to build Tear early. (Lone Wolf tactics) If expecting or planning a brutal, committal early lane with a protective partner against tougher foes.
STATS: Increases mana regeneration. Difficult to scale.
PROS: Cheap. Applies strong mana over time that improves as you stay longer on lane. Builds up mana restoration by +42% at level 1.
CONS: Does not increase total burst ability. Ineffective for short, intense skirmishes.
BUILDS INTO: Tear of the Goddess, Morellonomicon, Mana Manipulator (Can be shelf-bought!)
SITUATIONAL: When expecting a drawn-out, sustained battle with a persistent enemy. If going to tank for a teammate with mana needs (Mana Manipulator)
STATS: +37.8% Toughness, 475g.
PROS: The strongest early defensive item.
CONS: Relative value scales down dramatically with time; by level 9, only increases toughness by 16.1%.
BUILDS INTO: Kindlegem, Catalyst, Haunting Guise, Ruby Sightstone, Aegis of the Legion
SITUATIONAL: If expected difficulty in the early lane, with a strong opposing matchup. If a defensive battle is proposed. To generally apply focus on Early Game action; For the effort to obtain first blood.
STATS: +15% Toughness for 300g.
PROS: Cheap. Provides protection early on against common damage. Scales well over time.
CONS: Not usually effective at protecting you from burst damage from champions. Somewhat limited build-up options.
BUILDS INTO: Madred's Razors, Emblem of Valor, Wardenmail
SITUATIONAL: Possible starting Jungle item. When planning to play AD or Tanky. If opposing an annoying AD Carry.
Null Magic Mantle
STATS: +20% Toughness, 400g.
PROS: Excellent long term value. Protects some against ganks and ambushes. Often reduces skill damage from enemy champs.
CONS: Weaker in the early game. Various neutral damage is never Magical. Only builds up into certain limited-scope items.
BUILDS INTO: Hexdrinker, Aegis, Wit's End, Twin Shadows
SITUATIONAL: The enemy in your lane specializes in AP Burst, or if frequent ganks are expected, in emergency situation.
STATS: +20% Harassment Power (Volatile Spiderling), or +12.5% Spiders Melee Power, 435g
EFFICIENCY: 04.5 Harass, 02.8 Melee
PROS: Improves AoE damage as well as generally increasing Melee ability of self and spiderlings. Builds up into many useful items.
CONS: Volatile Spiderling is mana intensive. Does not necessarily resolve Elise's early 3 problems (low HP, mana, cooldown)
BUILDS INTO: Fiendish Codex, Kage's Lucky Pick, Haunting Guise, Malady, Rylai's, Sheen, Deathfire Grasp, Hextech Revolver
SITUATIONAL: Planning to build Glass Cannon. Outranged and forced to use Volatile Spiderling to counterattack.
STATS: +16% Power, 400g.
PROS: Makes last hitting easier. Stacks nicely with Attackspeed buff for high early damage. (Spider W)
CONS: Does not necessarily resolve Elise's early 3 problems (low HP, mana, cooldown) Can scale poorly; by level 9, only adds 10.5% to Elise's total damage.
BUILDS INTO: Brutalizer, Vampiric Scepter, Zephyr
SITUATIONAL: Use if there's Heavy harassment on lane, making last hits difficult. If hoping to build early Brutalizer for Attack Damage Carry role.
STATS: +11% Power, 400g
PROS: Solid power increase not counting the buff. Allows for smoother harassment (?) May allow for more last-hits.
CONS: Does not resolve Elise's early 3 problems. (low HP, mana, cooldown) Scales poorly; by level 9, only adds 4.5% to Elise's power.
BUILDS INTO: Malady, Stinger
SITUATIONAL: Avoid buying early unless planning an attackspeed build.
STATS: +7.3% Power, 400g.
PROS: Usually scales well for MOST champions. . . but ...
CONS: Unreliable. Expensive. Scales horribly for Elise. Effectiveness continues to fall off as Elise levels or builds AP.
BUILDS INTO: Zeal or Avarice Blade.
SITUATIONAL: Avoid buying until very late, or do not buy at all.
These options are in addition to the Doran's Items, the Sunfire Cape Gambit, and the Guinsoo's Rageblade Gambit.
I find personally, I open with
- Sapphire Crystal->Tear if I am feeling skill-spammy and want to go for a full-build tear,
- Ruby Crystal->Kindlegem, if the enemy is intimidating and I'd rather have extra HP, or
- Boots+Faerie Charm->Fiendish Codex. I get both boots and charm by taking the Extra Gold utility masteries and waiting for a few seconds after minions spawn, so I am walking up with minions to the lane =P I always mention this in chat first!
These are the openings that work well for me - and the numbers back them up. I hope these analyses have been useful to you as well.
That's all for this pulse. Peace out!