Hey everyone. As most of you know Patch 3.10a recently went live on the servers. I feel bad because I did not get around to doing one of my patch previews. I like to look at the patches, break them down a bit and give you key things to look for. Well, after playing a bit on 3.10a, I want to give you something to look for. That something is the new Phage.
Phage has always been an interesting and fairly frustrating item. It gave your auto attacks a chance to slow your opponent, which seems awesome, but mostly this just led to people complaining about Phage never proc’ing. You would build Phage if you were working on a Trinity Force or a Frozen Mallet, but both of those items have largely fallen out of favor. Tri Force has been replaced by items that generate more attack damage, pen, or CDR. Frozen Mallet has been replaced by other health items that also offer Armor instead of just health – making them a bit more useful for tanks looking to get tanky for cheap.
Now Phage has been changed, and I think you can see why it is going to be a bit of beast. For 1250 gold you get an item that gives you 200 health and 20 attack damage. That part sounds pretty average, and it really is. What is amazing is Phage’s new passive. Every time you fire off an auto attack your champ gets 20 bonus movement speed for two seconds. Score a kill (yes this can be on minions) and you get 60 bonus movement speed for two seconds. Considering most items give you a measly 5% to 10% bonus movement speed, gaining a flat 20 or 60 movement speed really is pretty incredible.
Let’s look at the numbers a bit more. Most champions operate in the high 300’s, in terms of movement speed, once they have tier two boots. A few rare ones operate in the low 400’s, but usually not without some enhancements or items. Using the new Phage most champions will be able to consistently operate with around 410 movement speed will auto attacking. Kill a creep or two and your champ will be operating closer to 430/440. There are not a lot of champions in the game that can escape from that kind of mobility. Two seconds might not seem like a lot of time, but considering it refreshes each time you auto attack, you can keep the speed boost up fairly consistently if you have any amount of attack speed.
I ran some test runs using an AD Teemo. Teemo does have a built in movement speed steroid, so his numbers are a little on the extreme, but I will tell you that I was operating around 430 movement speed while auto attack and around 500 when I would kill some minions. Once I added Furor boots (which give you an additional 12% movement speed for two seconds with each auto attack) my numbers went up yet again.
Teemo is a bit of an exception, but imagine a Vayne with Phage and Furor boots hunting you down. You are not escaping that. I even have a hard time picturing most champions catching pretty much any ADC with these move speed enhancers. Can you imagine trying to catch an Ezreal or Tristana with around 450 movement speed? I can’t.
Two things will probably be factors in determining how popular the new Phage becomes. I believe it’s benefits are best felt on ranged auto attackers, but Phage doesn’t really build into any of the standard items that these types of champs are looking to build. Currently, the only thing it builds into is Trinity Force. While not exactly a bad item to have, Trinity Force has kind of fallen out of favor and isn’t the best option for ADC’s who don’t use a lot of spells. Some champs, like Corki, Ezreal, and Nidalee to name a few, once constantly built Tri Force. I can see all of these champions also benefiting from the new Phage.
Melee champions face the same problem but to a lesser extent. Trinity Force works decently on pretty much every bruiser in the game, but again, it doesn’t offer tanks a lot of the stats (like armor and magic resist) that they are looking for.
Phage’s potential is also somewhat limited for melee bruisers. Ranged attackers can constantly refresh the movement speed buff with their attacks and some can even use their heavy damage to swiftly kill minions and give themselves the even bigger movement speed burst. Melee attackers cannot change course to kill minions, and while 20 bonus movement speed is still enough to stick to most targets, it isn’t enough to overcome any kind of defensive CC. I still think Phage is a great pick for any melee champ that really, really needs to stick to their target, but I feel that Phage’s full potential exists primarily for ranged attackers.
If people begin to utilize Phage more and more frequently, as I believe will happen, then tanks and bruisers NEED to make sure that they are working on Randuin’s Omen. The most effective way to stop someone who is gaining bonus movement speed by attacking you is to build an item that slows them when they attack you. Unfortunately the slow is only 10%, but it is better than nothing. Considering some champs could be chasing you with around 450 move speed I’m not sure if it will be enough, but the tradeoff should be that any champion using Phage will not be that tanky or have that much damage considering that they had to sacrifice a tank or damage item to build Phage.
Regardless of whether or not EVERYONE is building the new Phage, I do believe that there are certain champions and players who will use this item to try and ruin your day. The movement speed numbers involved are just too large to be completely ignored by all summoners or, eventually, Riot. Just remember what Phage is capable of and how you can counter it. And if you like playing ranged auto attackers or melee champs that really need to stick to targets, I highly recommend you try and find a way to incorporate Phage/Tri Force into your builds. I believe you will find the bonus move speed very much to your liking!