Supporting: S3-Live vs S4-Beta

Hello PBE Community! It's no secret that Supports are being heavily affected by the proposed S4 changes currently being tested on the PBE. Everything from Masteries, to Kits, to Items are getting an overhaul and, as a Support main myself, I'm having a blast testing out the new goodies. What's interesting about now is that, with the Live game still on S3 mode, we as Beta-testers have the unique opportunity to bounce back and forth between two very different games. In this thread, I'd like to invite Support players to share their thoughts on S3 vs S4 Supporting. How have the new items shaped your playstyle/ability choice? Do you use different Rune and/or Masteries? Ward differently? Basically, I want to talk about how the two experiences compare with one another, while we still have the ability to play both. Here, I'll go first: **Pre-Game: Runes & Masteries** S3 - My Rune/Masteries setup has been pretty stale for a while now, as far as Support goes. I take 0/9/21 in Masteries, and run Gold Quints, Armor Seals, Manaregen Glyphs, and AD Marks for Runes. This set-up works for pretty much every Support I play, and I feel pretty locked in, because if I use anthing else, I gold starve. S4 - Now, Masteries *selection* hasen't changed too much, still running 0/9/21, but the *impact* I get feels so much greater, especially with gold. With things like the new Life Insurance mastery, I actually feel the income from my Utility masteries, and that makes it so I'm not so chained to running Gold quints in Runes anymore. Speaking of Runes, it's nice to feel like I have choice again! Thanks to the new gold-generating support items, I can afford to run Rune pages that synergize with my champion, rather than just my role. This has the added benifit of making certain supports much more of a threat early game. Running Support {{champion:9}} or {{champion:1}} with a proper AP rune page has put many of my lane opponents in an early grave, because they're so used to being able to ignore my damage. Not anymore! **Early Game: Starting items and Laning** S3 - 2 Sight wards, 1 Vision ward, 2 Health Pots, and Regen Bead/Faerie Charm depending on my champ (plus buscuit and free ward from materies). All day. Every day. This has become so ingrained, that if I see a Support not sporting some version of this start at level 1, I immediately add sarcastic quotation marks to their role name (I'm sure you've all had 'supports' who cs, never ward and are basically terrible). Due to the emphasis of Support = Ward-Bot, going to lane with less than three of the things seemed impossible, and the pink ward is needed to fire the opening volley of the Vision War that will likely last the entire game. The lane is equally stale. Harass, ward, try to set up plays and not KS. While every support champ does those things slightly differently, those are your jobs. No one expects you to do anyting else (not that you can, really) and you are yelled at for stepping outside these bounds. S4 - Item choice for your champion, rather than just your role, is a beautiful thing. In S3, the only difference between what I started with for {{champion:40}} or {{champion:412}} was Bead or Charm. Now, with these beauties: {{item:3303}} , {{item:3302}} , {{item:3301}} I can make some real impact early game. With the extra gold from Utility, I can get one and still grab a couple wards to walk to lane with! If I'm playing a high poke, mage-type like {{champion:267}}, I can grab a pick and do my own farming via auto-attack harass, while giving my new AP ratios a boost. If I'm playing a tank, like {{champion:89}}, I can grab the emblem and actually *be* tanky, rather than just a slightly-less-squishy ward dispencer, not to mention granting my ADC increased sustain as I get more HP. I'll admit that I haven't really found much use for the pebble, while it potentially gives the greatest gold farm (at least in lane), it just feels weak compared to the AP-poke offered by the pick or the HP-sustain provided by the emblam. Plus, Shureyla's minus the HP just doesn't seem worth it, especially because by the time you've upgraded that far, you're not really standing around in lane while other people kill minions very much. The other two, though? Solid gold. {{item:3401}} in particular stays impactful all the way to late game, and {{item:3092}} is a super-solid mid-game item, though I do usually end up selling it late game. Basically, the new start items make me feel more like a lane *partner*, rather than a side-kick. Also, trinkets are awesome. C'mon, they're *free* items that all give you vision in some way. What's not to love? **Mid-Game: Wards, Wards, Wards** S3 - "Warding is the Support's job!" Oh, how often did I hear that vile refrain. Sometimes, I was lucky enough to get a team that understood that other roles could, in fact, buy and place wards -but those were the exceptions. Due to this, my mid-game was basically finishing sightstone, grabbing some teir-2 boots, and maybe, if I was really lucky, some {{item:3105}} pieces. Everything else? Wards. Not to say it was always a trial. I enjoyed lighting up the map for my team-mates. Vision wins games, after all. It's an ability that I sometimes miss in the PBE because... S4 - ...the more things change, the more they stay the same. See, I like the ward limits, really I do. It means I can spend my extra gold I get from the new items and masteries into more items to make me a more effective Support, rather than just a more wards. The problem is that *still* nobody else wards, and now I only have 4 wards at max I can have down. However, I know this isn't Riot's fault. It's not a design flaw, it's a human flaw. People are selfish and don't repsond well to change, so I expect it will take a while for the idea to sink in that they now all *have* to contribute to warding in order to have decent vision. Also, I really love getting a {{item:2045}} and never having to worry about {{item:2044}} again. The change to wards I'm not thrilled with, however, is this guy: {{item:2043}} See, I'm all for making Vision wards more rare, that's great. However, I feel that the intention behind making them visible (setting them up as mini-objectives to be guarded)is not really working out. The primary purpose of Vision wards was to find and destroy Sight wards, denying your enemy map awareness while gaining some of your own (plus, some quick GP in late season). 125gp was a fine investment, as it might mean multiple enemy wards destroyed if they kept placing normal wards in a place you pink'd. Now though, with Vision wards visible, you're paying 100gp to give your enemy 30gp on the off-chance there *might* be a ward or traps where you drop the thing (which, with the new limits, is increasingly unlikely). I add that 'give your enemy 30gp' part, because the your Vision ward *will* be destroyed, likely no more than a minute or so after you place it. The thing is, unless our team is in the area already, we just don't have time to go defend a pink ward that'll be dead in a few hits (5 auto-attacks is not very much longer than 3, when out of lane,) when we could be farming/pushing/taking objectives/shopping/anything else. Even if they are made 75gp, as Riot has hinted, I still don't think they're worth it. That they have no time-limit is irrelevant when they're destroyed almost immediately (the only ones I see survive long-term are hidden in rarely-travelled spots, so areas not good for warding in the first place), plus we've been given this: {{item:3341}} which does the job of finding hidden stuff better, for free! The cooldown isn't even an issue, because it's about as long as it would take to plant a pink, wander off, watch it get killed, go buy another one, and plant it again. **Late-Game: Impact** S3 - A lot of people (who are wrong) would tell you that Supports don't make a real impact in the game, besides warding, especially as the game goes on. This isn't true, Supports are capabe of tremendous impact during all stages of the game... but it's hard. You have to really be trying your best all the time to squeak every bit of performance you can out of your support, because everyone else has 6 complete items, and you have a Sightstone, boots, and moxy. Miss your stun once, shield the wrong target, and your contribution to a teamfight pretty much ends. Essentially, in S3 build, Supports have to put in twice the effort for half the results (and none of the credit -.-). S4 - The biggest difference here is that the Beta works *with* the Support to make them impactful, rather than the support having to struggle *against* how the game is played for everyone else. With the new gold streams, I'm regularily getting up to full builds, just like all my team-mates. I no longer feel I have to do everything perfectly in order to just hang on. I can make a mistake, and it doesn't blow my whole fight because I've been able to build HP to survive the mistake, CDR to get a second chance sooner, and AP to make it hurt more when I do get it right. Now, when I play less-than-perfect, I still contribute, and when I play flawlessly I see a correspondingly greater contribution. It's wonderful. **TL;DR:** While not perfect, I very much hope that Riot keeps going in the direction they are with the S4 Support changes, because I now feel I have a real impact on the game at all stages and levels of play. This will, I hope, go a long way to removing the cry of "anything but support" being the motto of so many Summoners out there.
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