ARAM is an extremely popular game mode in League of Legends. Especially for casual players, ARAM offers a quick game without the hassle of drafting and caring about laning/matchups. This allows you to quickly jump into the game with a random champion and maximize the amount of fun you can have in a 5v5 environment.
Dark Harvest is an infinitely stacking rune which is why it benefits from the constant fights in ARAM. It only provides +2 damage increase per stack but is worth taking when your champion can proc it often and when games last long enough for you to gain a lot of stacks.
Dark Harvest is an extremely popular rune. But is it justified to take it as often as players actually do? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, so we should go over the details of how the rune works to reach a conclusion.
Understanding Dark Harvest
If you play ARAM regularly, you will almost always spot at least one Dark Harvest user in a game. The rune has been notorious for its strength ever since it was released. In recent years, it has received some changes but it still remains a strong option.
Dark Harvest is a keystone in the domination tree that deals a burst of damage when you damage any enemy champion below 50% HP. Each time this rune is procced, it also gives you a stack. This stack permanently increases the damage of the next proc, and stacks infinitely. In this way, Dark Harvest is a great scaling rune, used to finish off low HP targets.
Dark Harvest is a keystone that becomes available when you choose Domination as your primary rune tree. It is the third Keystone from the left in the domination tree.
Dark Harvest deals a base damage of 20 – 60 adaptive damage. It has a scaling of +25% Bonus AD and +15% AP, which allows it to scale as the champion builds more and more items. Additionally, each time the rune is procced, a stack is gained. The rune provides +5 extra damage for every stack you have collected, scaling infinitely.
Adjusted Stats On ARAM
On ARAM, the rune was originally very overpowered due to the large number of stacks gained every game. So the scaling on the stacks was nerfed from +5 damage per stack to +2 damage per stack. This prevents the rune from scaling too hard because of the fast paced gameplay found in ARAM.
Pros of Dark Harvest
- Dark Harvest is extremely easy to stack in ARAM. As long as you are able to damage the enemy when they fall below the half HP threshold, you can keep farming Dark Harvest stacks as soon as it comes off cooldown.
- It scales infinitely, which means the damage slowly starts to rack up as the game gets longer and longer. Eventually, it starts to out-damage runes like Arcane Comet and Summon Aery because of the sheer number of stacks you’ve gained. It is a really good rune for games that last longer than average.
- Dark Harvest gives you access to the Domination primary tree. The details are discussed in a separate segment below but it is the keystone that can generally be used by most champions who want the domination primary tree.
- It can be utilized by most champions since it only requires any amount of damage dealt to a target below 50% HP. This allows you to take this keystone if you are unsure of what to take on your champion.
Cons of Dark Harvest
- The stacking damage has been nerfed really hard and +2 damage per stack doesn’t provide a lot of value unless you gain an incredible number of stacks. Thus the rune provides value only once you have gained a lot of stacks.
- Because of the reason listed above, this rune comes online much later than other runes. Electrocute, Arcane Comet, and Summon Aery provide an instant source of damage in the early game but with relatively worse scaling. Thus, Dark Harvest doesn’t provide a lot of value in the early game.
- It has a very long cooldown. Unless you reset the cooldown by scoring a takedown, you will have to wait a long time to proc it again. This makes the stacking mechanism very hard to use without takedowns.
- Dark Harvest will not proc on damage that doesn’t apply attack or spell effects. This means that damage sources such as Liandry’s Anguish, Scorch, etc will fail to proc it.
The rune itself aside, we must not forget that Dark Harvest belongs to the Domination Rune Tree. In ARAM, Domination offers a lot of useful runes. Since a lot of champions prefer to opt into the red tree, they tend to take Dark Harvest because it is guaranteed damage that can be procced by most champions efficiently.
Electrocute, Predator, and Hail of Blades are runes that are harder to proc outside a select few champions or simply don’t offer as much value as Dark Harvest. This is one of the biggest reasons people opt into Dark Harvest to access the Domination tree over other keystones.
Taste of Blood allows you to gain a small amount of sustain because it is very easy to damage an enemy champion each time it is off cooldown. Sudden Impact and Cheap Shot can offer free damage on your ability usage. In the past, this tree provided Ravenous Hunter which was one of the best sustain runes in the game.
Now it provides Treasure Hunter that grants you a headstart towards your Mythic item. The tree also provides Eyeball Collection which almost always stacks early and grants you free adaptive force.
Best Champions For Dark Harvest
Dark Harvest can be utilized by a lot of champions in ARAM. However, it is simply better suited for some champions than others. Usually champions that can proc it very easily or benefit from the burst to execute targets benefit from it the most. Let’s take a look at some of these champions.
- Miss Fortune
When To Take Dark Harvest
We discussed the value Dark Harvest provides above. We can conclude from that information that the best time to take Dark Harvest is when your champion can consistently trigger it to gain a lot of stacks. You can also take it if your champion benefits from burst damage to help you finish off low HP targets. Dark Harvest is optimal for games where you plan to scale and do not require early game power.
Dark Harvest should be avoided when your champion can either find it difficult to proc it, or simply does not benefit much from the small burst. You can opt into other runes listed below if you are looking to simply deal poke damage. Make sure you don’t take Dark Harvest if you need early game strength.
Also read: How Exactly Does Dark Harvest Work and How To Stack It As Fast As Possible?
Alternatives To Dark Harvest
Some runes perform a similar function to Dark Harvest but have a different distribution of strength. The following keystones can be considered if you want to avoid Dark Harvest but still want to put low HP targets into lethal thresholds:
- Summon Aery
- Arcane Comet
- First Strike
- Press the Attack
Dark Harvest is a very fun rune to take in ARAM. The satisfaction of gaining a lot of stacks is valued higher by many than the stacking damage it provides. Dark Harvest can be taken by any champion if you are unsure of what keystone you should take.