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It’s a few months in to Season 3 and items are regularly showing up to the chopping block. Most item nerfs were justified, such as Black Cleaver, Warmogs, and Blade of the Ruined King; and I’m content with the upcoming price increase to Elixir of Fortitude (250g to 350g). It became the “go-to” as a starting item for solo laners, top and mid, awarding an ample amount of health at such an early stage of the game. There is also a change on the PBE that regular Health Potions (35g) will be capped at 5 at any given time; this includes Mana Potions.

These two changes combat two different issues, but the most frequent complaint I see is “Well what does Riot want me to start?” It's not about what Riot wants you to start, the same way the meta isn’t “confirmed”. Players find the most efficient way to play with what they are given, but when that efficiency trumps all other options, it should probably be adjusted. The ultimate goal is having an array of starting alternatives that align with our preferences and what works in our individual lanes. Elixir of Fortitude is still affordable at the start to be aggressive, but leaves less room for sustain or ward safety; the second part of this article will outline majority of solo lane items with the upcoming fixes.

The changes to Health Potions have not been implemented on the live servers yet, but expect it in the near future as testing and an explanation have already been released. In the beginning of the Season Riot they said they wanted to stray from high sustain lanes, and I will be the first to tell you that 11 pots and 1 ward is high on the list of annoyances. This change would have probably happened regardless of the Fort Elixir price increase because one combats a sustain issue and the other nerfs super efficiency. Implementing both changes in one patch would be preferred, instead of falling back on mass potions, players will need to test and decide what works best for them in certain match-ups.

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Some notes before jumping in here, these starting items are organized for solo lanes. Support items are drastically different in the case of utility masteries and all Doran’s items are removed because they consume the entire 475g, also not recommended due to lack of wards or potions.

Elixir of Fortitude

Now at 350g, secondary items are limited to a standard, almost needed, 1 ward and only 1 Health Potion. Even if 3 pots provide a good chunk of sustain I almost always opt for a ward. This nerf cuts builds by either 2 potions or an additional ward making it less desirable than before, however, when comparing the stats gained and starting a Long Sword, this might still be a better option. Keep in mind, Crystalline Flask is only 5g cheaper (also after suffering a price increase) than Elixir so if you’re familiar with starting flask, this is like starting flasks more aggressive cousin.
It is important to recognize that by starting Fort Elixir is that you have to make it worth it, especially if the enemy laner didn’t start it because they will inherently be ahead in their build. Compared to all other “nerfed” items, this is the only one that is time restricted and completely reliant on the player’s ability to abuse the early advantage.

Long Sword OR Null-Magic Mantle

I bet you forgot about little Null-Magic Mantle, it comes in handy occasionally but whether you’re going Mantle or Long Sword you have to make the ultimate decision of 1 Sight Ward or 2 Health Potions. These two are the only items that make you choose between vision and sustain, all other items have at least one way to wiggle both in. Having built in sustain might make this problem easier, but I just prefer to avoid it all together outside of ADC.

Cloth Armor

One of my favorite early items, Cloth Armor is fairly cheap and leaves enough gold for a straight 5 stack of potions or 1 ward/2 potions. It is a must against AD bruisers mid and can throw the game off of most tops if you decide to show up with one. Although the sustain is nice, if you want to run Cloth + 5 make sure you coordinate with your support or jungle for a ward, otherwise, get your own.

Crystalline Flask

Crystalline Flask’s price increase and inability to use it at base made it less-desirable as a pick-up, but it still breaks even fairly quickly. After 4.22 charges on a mana-user this item begins to make you money with continued use, which includes the 138g you will get back from selling it.

Admittedly, I have a hard time fitting Flask in to my build or when I’m going to buy it, but it has a decent amount of use and efficiency for mid lane champions that don’t run Faerie Charm into Chalice of Harmony.


1 Rejuvenation Bead OR 1 Faerie Charm

Our lowest cost items at the very thrifty 180g, both Rejuv Bead and Faerie Charm build in to glorious things and you can never go wrong. They leave an incredible amount of room for wards and potions, and while their attributes do not make huge impacts, they get the job done early game.

Boots of Speed

Since the boots movement nerf and base movement speed buff, everyone can live without boots. Season 2 was consumed with everyone but support starting boots, but what we need early has changed a lot. Boots of Speed have been completely phased out as a starting option, but I am curious if they would see some preference or a comeback if the price was lowered to 300g.

Only Wards and Potions

Hear me out for a second, since I mentioned Boots of Speed + 3 Pots being knocked out of favor, back then solo lanes didn’t pick up wards either. The norm has completely changed in need of vision and sustain, which these two items exclusively provide. An opportunity for an early game where you have individual lane safety, vision to invade an enemy jungler, or prevent a successful enemy roam. (I also added an option for a Vision Ward for counter-warding or laning against that pesky Akali/Evelynn)

This is taking in to consideration that potions will cap at 5. You don't need to spend the entire 475g and can purchase 2 wards with 5 potions; you'll be left with 150g to use on anything. Or Alternatively, go all in and purchase 4 Sight Wards and 5 Potions, an investment you'll use after the first back.


Every match and lane is different; play like it. Plan ahead of what you generally want the core of your build to be, including starting items. Be ready to swap around your situational items and tailor it to the enemy team. If you’re a carry or a bruiser, while that damage looks delicious, try not to tunnel on the build you use every game. When you’re behind opt for survivability and when you’re ahead try something new. Starting items are only a small portion of possibility; it is the player that makes the item work.


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