This a rough approximation of how it will feel to purchase Ancient Coin as of as of 7.13. Supports who have historically gone for this start have risen in popularity while those who have historically gone with something else have gone begun switching over. Today, I, Matt “GF1Captain” Nellans, will be analyzing the Ancient Coin, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares to other support build paths that exclude it.
The Beginning of the Support Items (As we Know Them)
The funny thing about Ancient Coin is that it has basically always been the chief gold generator of the three starting support items. After all, it is called Ancient Coin. Patch 3.14 introduced Ancient Coin along with the other two items. This was pretty much the end of Season 3 as it had less patches than others. We pretty started figuring out these new support starts in Season 4, which luckily for you guys, is roughly when I began playing. You may have to take this explanation with a grain of salt, as I was a noob back then. How it was explained to me was that each of the three support items was the strongest at a certain point in its build path. Spelltheif’s Edge was the strongest of the tier 1. The ability to harass and force people back in the lane was definitely a strong point for the small blue knife. At tier 2, we give it over to Targon’s Brace. This is roughly when Nomad’s Medallion came online with high gold generation. Frostfang was also quite potent. However, when you have Targon’s Brace and Sightstone, you simply have more health than the other starts would allow. This means that all-ins favor your botlane. However, in pro-play, you’d often see the gold generation items go un-upgraded. Finally, Talisman of Ascension clearly had the strongest active. This understanding of the three support items basically continued until Season 6.
Season 6 Coin LUL Season 7 Coin PogChamp
The season 6 preseason brought with it changes to the support items. Frost Queen’s Active was changed to one that would have significantly more impact. The old one was a skillshot that did a bit of magic damage that scaled with your level and slowed. It wasn’t very impressive. Relic Shield’s build path was updated to include passive gold generation. Face of the Mountain’s shield detonation would slow instead of doing damage, but it lost its health ratio on the heal for Spoil of War procs. Ancient Coin was honestly nerfed very heavily. Its passive gold generation and movespeed were removed. We also saw the introduction of the “Eye of” items, which allowed you to combine your 2nd tier support item with your sightstone for more gold, an extra ward charge, and a free item slot. Repeated nerfs to Frost Queen’s made it very lackluster for the extra gold you’d have to spend. Eye of the Watchers became very standard as a result.
As for what would happen to Relic Shield, we’ll revisit that in a bit, but I want to focus on Coin. A Riot balancer admitted that Coin was too severely nerfed with the transition to Season 6. The problem they had with Coin is how uninteractive the experience of getting it was. It turned the lane into a very passive survival game. In Season 6, we saw supports who historically would want coin for that passive lane went for Spelltheif’s start and completed Eye of the Watchers instead. Eye of the Watchers on Soraka and Janna was pretty standard.
Here Comes The Money
I Screenshotted this from the 7.9 patch notes where the support items were reworked. As you can see, they mention ideas similar to those I have mentioned, about the passive nature of the Ancient Coin laning phase. The hope was that this “mini-game” would create some incentive to go for the Ancient Coin without it being such a boring lane where all you have to do is exist. Originally, this upgrade saw some return to the Coin usage, but it still wasn’t enough. The chief issue was that 650 gold upgrade. There was a lot of hype around it, but it ultimately turned out to not be that impressive. In Patch 7.13, it was scrapped for a new upgrade. One that grants 8% movespeed to allies moving towards you. Literally, it’s a free Janna passive. Along with this, some buffs to the “coins” themselves: more mana refunded and more gold earned. These buffs propelled coin to newfound popularity.
Where are They Now?
Part of the rise of Coin includes not just its own buffs, but the nerfs to other items. In discussions with my friends, I’ve referred to what Riot did to Spellthief’s Edge as “a crime scene”. They buffed the AP, but the lowered the mana regen and lowered the on-hit damage. Most importantly, the gave an internal cooldown of 1.25 seconds to tribute procs. The lifeblood of those harass supports was often the ability to proc multiple tribute procs very quickly. This interaction, instead of being nerfed, was removed entirely. All of this, admittedly, was in exchange for a pretty potent upgrade. The upgrade at 650 gold gives a 50% MS buff for 1 second upon getting a tribute proc.
Relic Shield, has always been the worst gold generation item. The tradeoff is that it provides the most useful stats for what you’d actually want to accomplish. Riot built off this with its upgrade: Shield Battery, a recharging shield that scales with your level. This effectively makes the item give an insane amount of health, but ultimately, it’s just that: stats. The shield from Face of the Mountain scales exclusively with health and has no base value. It requires a good amount of health to come online as a potent shield. Personally, one of my favorite things about Relic Shield’s path is now long gone. I miss that heal ratio scaling with health. It may have only been a 1% ratio, but it felt like it made a difference. Not only that, but it capitalized on one of the more interactive parts of the item. Perhaps it would have been too strong with healing modifiers like Redemption and Windspeaker’s though.
That being said, it’s not like Spellthief’s and Relic Shield are bad. There’s still something to be said for what they provided. Ever been tickled by a Tormented Soil from a Morgana that started Coin? Ever been all-ined by a Thresh that started coin? Another factor, however, is that the popular of the new Warlord’s, along with Doran’s Shield, and nerfs to those harass supports has had to harder to gain those advantages in lane. Coin is stronger now, but it’s also a world where something like coin is less punishable.
So When DO I get Coin?
If the other support items are still somewhat viable, and coin is strong, that begs the question of when you get coin. I suppose a lot of that is still being figured out. There are a lot of things to consider. Perhaps in lanes where you’d struggle to get your coins, it’s better to start with something else, but there’s one item I want to talk item that has shown itself to have its own polarizing effect on the support meta.
50% mana regen, 60 Ability Power, 10% Cooldown Reduction, 10% Heal and Shield Power, 8% movement Speed. This item, statwise provides everything you could ever want as a ranged support with heals and more. On top of that, your heals and shields give 20 to 35% attack speed and cause the target’s auto to deal 20 to 35 bonus magic damage, heal them for the same amount. This buff lasts for 6 seconds.
Of course, you’d pull out your obvious suspects to avoid this: Janna and Lulu being the tier 1 abusers, tiers below that including Sona, Karma, Nami, and Soraka. But it’s more than that. Champions who would want other stats are going for this item: Rakan and Taric, who would traditionally want more tank stats. Even some champions who have very lackluster synergies with the items are contorting their build paths and set-ups just to get it. For example, we’ve seen in pro-play Morgana and Trundle with Stoneborn Pact. Use the heal from stoneborn pact for the sole purpose of proccing ardent censer. A developing strategy in China’s LPL goes as far as putting heal on the support and having the ADC take barrier or cleanse. The item is so powerful that it’s difficult to tell how far is too far to go. Personally, I think the line is at no Ignite or Exhaust in the botlane. This leaves with very little kill pressure and ability to outplay ganks. I also think Heal is better for damage mitigation that Barrier is for ADCs. Barrier may mitigate more damage, but the speed buff comes in clutch sometimes, and you get that health back permanently. The setup contortion from Trundle and Morgana is a bit much as well. Generally people have this connotation with strong items that you can “just build it on everyone.” In actuality, it moreso means you should just look for champions that would benefit from it in playstyle.
This is stuff I actually expect you’ve heard before, but the question is? What does it have to do with Coin? Well, Ardent Censer is so strong that people are even arguing it’s a higher priority item completion than Sightstone. Having the gold income from Coin helps you get to Ardent Censer faster. Then after that, you can still get your Sightstone at a time that’s not beyond ridiculous. I was playing soloqueue and my Lulu went for the Censer rush after tier 2 support item, but she started Spellthief’s. She didn’t have Sightstone until like 20+ minutes into the game.
I’ve looked into the merit of the Censer rush, and it’s definitely worth it when you’re ahead. The effects will help you win trades, push the lanes, and shred down the tower. As for whether it’s worth it from behind, I am not sure. “I think finishing Ardent Censer before your support item is borderline trolling”, said Zachary “C9 Sneaky” Scuderi, ADC for C9, on stream this week.
One Last Thing to Consider
While Ancient Coin can help you get to your major items faster, gold generation tends to fall off in the lategame, as you eventually reach a point where you need less gold. For those lategame scenarios, you’d rather have Eye of the Equinox pure influx of tanks stats. Even Eye of the Watcher’s extra 35 AP for the purpose of shields and heals that scale off of AP can come in clutch.