Hello fellow support players, this is going to be a relatively in depth guide on building damage items as a support.
I?ve mained support for nearly a year now, and for the first 6 months I?d always build full tank. I started noticing however that I?d always leave teamfights with a huge amount of hp remaining, something that always bothered me because it means my build isn?t achieving good efficiency.
I started asking ?pro?s? in their AMA?s when and why they build damage items, most of them had vague and unhelpful answers, or simply didn?t know enough about support builds to have any idea. So I started experimenting myself and this is the culmination of my experiments.
When building damage on supports your main goal is to be able to deal enough damage to squishies that it brings them within threshold of being easily wiped by one set of your own carry?s abilities. Since each god is different I found the most important factor when deciding when and how I should build damage items is the gods ?item efficiency?.
Item efficiency is simply a measure of how much damage you?ll get out of an item by itself. For example, Sun Wu Kong and Sobek both have very high item efficiency because all of their abilities deal damage. Thus if I was to build a Heartseeker on Sun Wu Kong, the item provides 75 damage at full stacks, but the actual damage provided by the item is the culmination of the scaling on all his abilities. Which is 50% + 50% + 80% + 120%, thus I?ll actually be getting 150 damage from the item. Not including the extra damage from auto attacks when the enemy is stunned/slowed. This is a useful tool for deciding if building damage on your particular support god is a good idea.
I don?t plan on doing an in depth guide to every god so here is a list of the gods you should/should not build damage on:
High Item Efficiency/Build Damage on These Gods:?Sun Wu Kong Sobek Ymir Athena* Hades Kumbhakarna Guan Yu Hercules
All of these gods can put out big damage with relatively few damage items. Kumby is on the list because he has the best poke of all the Guardians, and like Ymir, all of his damage is ?free?, meaning that the enemy will most likely not be fighting back as you deal damage to them. Athena is noted because her damage can be hard to confirm, and most of the time it?s more useful building CDR on her.
Gods That Should Never Build Damage: Ares Geb
There are enough aura items in the game that Ares can build full tank and still put out scary amounts of damage. And fitting CDR into your build is always preferable. Geb has the lowest item efficiency of any support god because the only easily confirmable damage is on his 2, which won?t be hitting for full damage most of the time anyway. You always want to build as much CDR on Geb as possible.
Good Damage Items to Build:
Guardians: Pen boots, Obsidian Shard, Soul Reaver, Voidstone, Divine Ruin, Gem of Isolation, Spear of the Magus
Since Reinforced Greaves give awful stats at the moment, Pen boots are a very good pick up. They allow for easy kills to be picked up early game, which will mitigate the gold lost from not taking the Midas Boots route. Note if you do choose to build Pen boots you HAVE to play aggressive early. Obsidian Shard is good on Guardians because they generally have very high base damage ultimates and you want to force as much of that out as possible. Voidstone is just a fantastic item and I consider it core on Sobek and Ymir.
Divine Ruin is very good on Sobek and Bacchus due to their healing mitigation, Gem of Isolation is probably the most situational item. Spear of the Magus is amazing on Sobek and Bacchus who can quickly stack it up and allow your mages to deal true damage to enemy?s.
Warriors: Pen boots, Runeforged Hammer, Soul Eater, Brawlers Beatstick, Voidshield, Ancile, Jotunn?s Wrath, Qins Sais
Yeh Warriors just have some really good items. Soul Eater is extremely situational in the way that, it can be extremely effective very rarely. I generally pick it up on Sun Wu Kong in 3v3 jousts to accelerate the damage coming out from my Hunter.
Something of worth to note, do not EVER build CDR boots on Guardians or Warriors. They are one of the worst items in the game. Pitiful damage, no penetration, and a meagre amount of CDR that honestly makes no difference. It?s very rare you?ll be using your ultimate as soon as it?s off cooldown. There are so many good CDR items that you should never buy these ever. As long as Ancile exists for Warriors physical CDR boots may as well not exist.
When to Build Damage:
Generally it?s useful for the team for you to have a little bit of damage in your build, unless your up against some very hard carry?s in which case going full tank/CDR is favourable. The goal of building damage on a support is to force the enemy into a position where they are running away instead of fighting back, by lowering their HP enough that it makes them scared. If the ?split? is favourable you can get away with building more damage. I have two examples that should help you identify a favourable split.
4 Physical/4 Magical:
This is the best split that will often occur and will allow you to build good amounts of damage while still being extremely tanky. An example of a build I?d have in these situations:
4 Phys VS Sun Wu Kong: Pen Boots -> Sovereignty -> Runeforged Hammer -> Jotunn?s Wrath -> Voidblade/Hide of Nemean Lion/Midgurdian Mail -> Bulwark
You?ll only need the Bulwark when the Mage has finished their Rod of Tahuti. If the physicals are building heavy damage you?ll have to build tankier accordingly thus the ambiguous fifth item slot.
4 Magic VS Sobek: Pen boots -> Sovereignty -> Bulwark -> Voidstone -> Hide of The Urchin -> Obsidian Shard.
Pick up Obsidian Shard last when your ultimate has full base damage. Urchin is needed here because more often than not you will still have to tank damage from a Hunter. It?s generally harder to build damage against four magic because you?ll be getting smacked by A LOT of AOE, if you find this to be the case pick up Pestilence over Obsidian Shard.
A good example of a build I used recently with lots of damage in it:
Enemy Team: Hades (mage), Geb, Artemis, Chaac, Thanatos. VS me on Guan Yu
I recognised here that Geb?s damage to me is redundant due to his ultimate, and Hades? damage is largely avoidable. Thus I built: Pen Boots -> Sov -> Ancile -> Runeforged Hammer -> Transcendance -> Hide of Nemean Lion.
Guan Yu has very good scaling from his abilities, and built in CDR so Ancile was a no brainer. I picked up Transcendence because my team was dominating the fights, and I was running out of mana from ability spamming. Note that Guan Yu has a protections buff on his heal which allows me to get away with building extra damage. Hide of Nemean Lion was necessary lategame to deal with the Chaac and Artemis.
We ended up losing the game because our Zhong was afk in the fountain for most of it. Here is the match ID: 74603685, I dealt 25k damage, and although the full stats aren?t on show I tanked 20k more damage than the enemy Geb who went full tank, just by playing the match up and having good positioning to avoid Hades and Geb?s AOE damage.
The last piece of advice I can give is if you plan on building damage, it always pays to pick up a Shell of Absorption/Spiked Shell to make up for the lack of beef on your body.
Hoped I helped a few of you with that support lyfe 😀 feel free to share your opinions/thoughts.
Edit 1: I say shoes of focus are not worth the while because if you are going to build an item for pure CDR there are much better ones. Midas Boots and Pen boots are just infinitely better first items.
Edit 2: When I say avoid building damage on Ares I mean aside from his core items such as Voidstone.
Edit 3: Building damage on Geb is folly. Soul Reaver only procs on one target, and his two will very rarely be hitting for full damage. You will always be better off picking up a Spirit?s Robes and Breastplate of Valour over any damage item 100% of the time.