League of Legends is a meticulously designed game, packed with complex mechanics. I like to call it a system of systems, meaning it’s a game of interconnected stuff that make up the whole. But the pieces are what we’re talking about today, or rather – one piece in particular. Our topic in this article are Runes, their functionality and importance.
Runes have been in League of Legends since the beginning. Along the now defunct Masteries, they’ve been an integral part to the League of Legends gameplay loop. A few Seasons ago, Riot decided to revamp the Rune system and combined them with the aforementioned Masteries. This paved the way for an entirely new take on Runes, one with much more function and sense.
The old Rune system was widely criticized for being too simple, but never for being unimportant and ineffective. We’re taking a look at how much Runes really matter in League of Legends, but also at the core design philosophy behind the Rune system – its purpose, impact, and more.
Stay tuned and enjoy. Let’s go!
What are Runes?
The new players out there will likely barge on an article like this and think – what even are Runes? Not only the new guys, but the intermediate players might wonder what Runes actually are, the purpose behind their existence, and so on. Well, we’re here to answer that question, and give you more insight on the League of Legends Rune system.
The Runes are powerups every player selects prior to the match. They offer a wide variety of buffs and effects to Champions, and are categorized in four specialties. Since League of Legends came to be, Runes have made up a core part of the gameplay, always present in matches. Long before, the Runes were much different to what they are now, and let’s glance over that for a second.
Initially, the Rune system was parallel to the Mastery system. One offered flat or percentual passive effects to Champions, while the latter was designed around particular and unique effects. While Masteries were free and unlocked as you leveled up, Runes were a different story. You didn’t have access to them right away, and you had to buy each individual Rune for IP (the predecessor to the Blue Essence of today).
This made Runes insanely grindy, but gave them an insane level of variety. Players could set up their own Rune pages (also purchased with IP or RP) with crazy combinations of various buffs. Sometimes these got so crazy that they would go viral among the player base. One such was the Dodge Jax which saw him stacking Dodge Runes to the max, making him virtually unhittable.
Today, things are a bit different. The two systems were merged some Seasons ago and given a total overhaul. Now collectively called Runes, it combined the best of both worlds, though it took the core design of the previous Masteries. Split into four categories – Precision, Domination, Sorcery and Inspiration – the Runes are now more meticulous than ever, being integral to every single match.
Players will usually set up Runes based on who they’re facing on the Lane, and that itself can be crucial. With the wrong Runes, Champions can become completely unplayable. Some match-ups, too, can be excruciatingly difficult if you don’t pack the right Runes. However, the opposite can be true if you make your Rune pages just right, which is a good way of showing their importance.
People often wonder how to get the best Runes possible, and what the hell “situational” things are. Worry not, I’ve included the answer to that question in the following section, but do keep reading to find it out.
How do I know what Runes are best?
The best way of always knowing what Runes are best is experience. The more you play a Champion, the more you’ll understand what they do and don’t need in any given circumstance. Thus, you will then know what Runes to select for particular match-ups or builds. But, if you don’t have enough experience, the second-best way is practicing.
Experiencing things first-hand is the best way of learning about anything, Runes included. You should be hitting that practice tool and normal queue for as much as you need to acquaint with the Rune system. Once you do, and it won’t take that long, you’ll know basically what every Rune does and means to a game. Then, selecting the best for your Champion and circumstance will become second-nature.
Always keep in mind that playing the game and experiencing stuff is second to nothing. Reading these articles, watching YouTube videos, etc., can be insightful and expand your knowledge. However, without the proper practical application of said knowledge and insight, you won’t really learn anything. Keep playing and eventually you’ll know what’s best at all times.
Do Runes really matter?
Now we’ve arrived to the crown jewel of this article’s questions – do Runes really matter? The answer is, as always, pretty blunt and short. But without actually writing some other things, we wouldn’t have a real article, would we? Anyhow, the answer to the question is – of course they do. Runes are a core part of League’s design, and in no world would they not matter.
Runes bring so much extra to the table, and change everything with the slightest buffs. The right Rune at the right time can see you dominating an opponent you would otherwise be struggling against. All the small buffs stacked together in a Rune page increase a Champion’s power tenfold, and the wrong ones can make them completely useless.
With the power of making you matter in a game where you’d otherwise mean nothing, Runes naturally matter much more than they’re given credit. They are a fundamental system in the sprawling web of League’s systems that eventually make up the whole game. And as such, Runes are vitally important to withholding League’s very existence as a complex MOBA with dozens of mechanics and systems.
League of Legends is full of content, and Runes are some of the most challenging to understand. The new player will struggle initially to grasp the depth of Runes, their importance and meaning. When they do learn their power, they will know how much they matter, and won’t need any article to tell them otherwise. Runes are insanely good once you get the hang of them, so you might as well go on and do it now.
I hope you’ve found this article informative and fun to read, and I wish you all the best on the Summoner’s Rift!