Common Build Mistakes
Last Updated: March 4th 2016

Many players are unaware that they are building inferior items which is disadvantageous.  
The following are some common examples:

<Inferior Items>

GO  Rabaddon's Death Cap early/mid game    (outclassed by some other AP items depending on champion)
GO  Ruby Sightstone in general (outclassed by Sightstone )
GO  Doran's BladeMejai's Soul Stealer especially on melee champions
GO  Frost Fang over just keeping it at Spell Thief's Edge (unless you're planning on getting Frost Queen's Claim)
GO  Berserker's Greaves in general
GO  Manamune as 1st item

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Rabaddon's Death Cap -This is a scaling item, not meant for mages as 2nd or 3rd item.

A lot of clarification has been added to this one. It seems like many people were confused by my excessive use of hyperbole.


A lot of  AP mids get Rabaddon's Death Cap as their second item thinking that having high AP is necessary for dealing damage.

Rabaddon's Death Cap is a scaling item which boosts your overall damage by roughly 35% (varies on AP scalings)  at any point of the game.

In early/mid game, you should be focussing on the other stats like the following instead:
  • Magic Penetration: Void StaffSorcerer's BootsHaunting GuiseAbyssal Scepter (Best Source of Average Damage)
  • Cooldown Reduction: MorellonomiconMorellonomicon (Best Source of Continuous Damage)
  • Situational Bursts: Lich BaneLuden's Echo (Best Source of Burst Damage)
  • Survivability:  Zhonya's HourglassRod of AgesSeraph's Embrace (Best Source of Sustained Damage by staying alive for longer(?) )

Regarding the viability of
Rabaddon's Death Cap it only becomes viable (for most mages) as 5th or 6th item when you have gotten all the other superior items.

For example,
Void Staff(or Sorcerer's Boots) gives more damage per cost compared to  Rabaddon's Death Cap even if an enemy has low Magic Resist (for an average mage) so you should be getting those first.

People may argue that 
Void Staff is inferior to Rabaddon's Death Cap due to lack of wave clear but you can still one-hit kill ranged minions with Void Staff  regardless. What about melee minions?  Neither Void Staff or Rabaddon's Death Cap  willl enable you to one-hit kill melee minions until you have over 700 AP.  This means having more AP doesn't have much impact on wave clearing.  You would still argue with some weird reasons that the extra damage on melee minions still matter, but trust me, when compared to  Void Staff+Blasting Wand, Rabaddon's Death Cap gives 94.5 AP more when you get it as 2nd item. But what is 94.5 AP? Going from 270AP to 364.5AP, you only deal (1+364.5/400) / (1 + 270/400) = 14.1 % more damage to melee minions with a spell that has 240 + 0.6AP ratio (Lux E).  Come on, you want to deal 14% more damage to champions, not melee minions!

Some may argue that champions that have AP scalings to shield, heal and utility should benefit more from
Rabaddon's Death Cap.  Yes, you are right but "mages" don't have such scalings so Rabaddon's Death Cap is still inferior for them early/mid game.  In addition, the extra AP you get from Rabaddon's Death Cap is definitely not negligible but you don't get that much utility out of it either.  Let us just conclude that "support" champions are likely to benefit more from Rabaddon's Death Cap and that they should get it as early as 3rd or 4th item.

Note: A mage in this context means a champion who can only deal magic damage without heal, shield, and utility boost, such as Veigar, Xerath, Annie, and Syndra.  "A support" in this context are Janna, Soraka, Lulu, Lux, Orianna, etc.

Lastly, people have been arguing about
Void Staff 's item slot efficiency.  I do not know where that came from but if you don't think it is worth an item slot, you should sell it and replace it with another item as your 7th item.  Also, we are talking about getting Rabaddon's Death Cap as second item (or even 3rd or 4th) which means you should have plenty of item slots left before hitting the end game.  The argument that Void Staff  is not slot efficient is definitely invalid here.

  • Rabaddon's Death Cap is a scaling item which you should not be getting before your 5th item (for most mages)
  • I highly recommend purchasing Void Staff or Haunting Guise instead to max out on Magic Penetration for efficient damage dealing instead.
  • Try focussing your stats on Cooldown Reduction, Magic Pen, Luden's, and Zhonyas
  • The only champions that should buy Rabaddon's Death Cap early are the "support champions" who benefit from AP on their shields, heal, slow, and haste, such as Janna and Soraka
  • Rabaddon's Death Cap becomes a viable option on any mages later in the game.  It gives you about 35% bonus damage on your attacks in any point of the game.

Sample Calculations for
Void Staff vs Rabaddon's Death Cap   (Disclaimer)

The minimum amount of Magic Resist required for Void Staff to be better than  Rabaddon's Death Cap varies on AP scalings of the abilities.  Please refer to them below.

AP Scaling Examples
Lulu's Lulu Q has 260 base damage at rank 5 with 50% AP ratio.  It takes 260/0.50 = 520 AP to double its base damage (Low Scaling).
Lux's Lux E has 240 base damage at rank 5 with 60% AP ratio.  It takes 240/0.60 = 400 AP to double its base damage (Average Scaling).
Annie's Annie Q has 220 base damage at rank 5 with 80% AP ratio.  It takes 220/0.80 = 275 AP to double its base damage (High Scaling).

Assumptions (Important):
You already have 150 AP, 20 Magic Pen, and 6% Magic Pen.  (E.g. Morellonomicon
Doran's RingDoran's RingSorcerer's Boots +  Runes and Masteries)

Required AP to Deal Double Damage Required Enemy Magic Resist for Void Staff to be better than Rabaddon's Death Cap
with 20 Magic Pen and 6% Magic Pen
250 51.7
300 45.2
350 40.1
400 36.0
450 32.7
500 30.0
550 27.6
This means even if you already have "enough" magic pen, Void Staff is still better.  Wow!

Starting with 150AP, purchasing Rabaddon's Death Cap increases the value of AP to (150+120)*1.35 = 364.5AP.
Also, let us further assume that amount of AP required to deal double damage is 400AP (as it is for an average mage).

This means % damage increase as a result of purchasing
Rabaddon's Death Cap is:

(1 + 364.5/400) / (1 + 150/400) = 1.39

Which is 39% increase in damage for 3500g.
Void Staff costs only 2500g so in order to calculate the benefit-per-cost, its price needs to be divided by Rabaddon's Death Cap's price

2500/3500 = 0.714285714
0.714285714 * 39% = 27.857%

This means as long as
Void Staff can provide at least 27.857% extra damage, it is better than Rabaddon's Death Cap per cost.
Now we can use the formula we used earlier to calculate the % damage increase
for Void Staff

(Benefit from 35% Magic Pen) * (1 + 230/400) / (1 + 150/400) = 1.27857
(Benefit from 35% Magic Pen)  = 1.1162

This means 35% Magic Pen from
Void Staff must contribute at least 11.62% damage.
The formula for calculating % damage increase by magic pen can be found

We also assumed that you have bought Sorcerer's Boots so with Runes and Masteries, you have 20 Magic Pen, and 6% Magic Pen.

      100 + MR(1-0.06) - 20              =    
100 + MR(1-0.06)(1-0.35) - 20

              80 + 0.94MR                    =     1.1162 (80 + 0.611MR)

         0.94MR - 0.6821MR            =       89.296 - 80

                      MR                          =       36.0

Therefore, despite having 
20 Magic Pen, and 6% Magic Pen, Void Staff  is better than Rabaddon's Death Cap per cost when a target has more than 36 Magic Resist.

Proof (More Disclaimer)

Say your burst combo does 1000 Base Damage + 2.5 AP ratio (So that if you have 400 AP you would do 2000 damage in total)

We will use the same assumptions as the above.  
You already have 150 AP, 20 Magic Pen, and 6% Magic Pen.

Rabaddon's Death Cap you now have 364.5 AP, 20 Magic Pen, and 6% Magic Pen.
With Void Staff you now have 230 AP, 20 Magic Pen, and 38.9% Magic Pen.
Enemy has 36.0 Magic Resist.

Without the purchase of either
Rabaddon's Death Cap or Void Staff ,
  • You will do a raw damage of 1000 + 2.5(150) = 1375
  • Your magic pen will decrease enemy MR to 36*(1-0.06) - 20 = 13.84
  • Therefore, you will do 1208 actual damage
With the purchase of Rabaddon's Death Cap 
  • You will do a raw damage of 1000 + 2.5(364.5) = 1911.25
  • Your magic pen will decrease enemy MR to 36*(1-0.06) - 20 = 13.84
  • Therefore, you will do 1679 actual damage
With the purchase of Void Staff 
  • You will do a raw damage of 1000 + 2.5(230) = 1575
  • Your magic pen will decrease enemy MR to 36*(1-0.389) - 20 = 1.996
  • Therefore, you will do 1544 actual damage
Therefore, purchasing Rabaddon's Death Cap has increased your damage by 1679 / 1208 = 1.3899 (39.0%)
Therefore, purchasing Void Staff has increased your damage by 1544 / 1208 = 1.2781 (27.8%)

Now for % damage increase per cost:
Rabaddon's Death Cap : 38.99% / 3500g = 0.0111% damage increase per gold
Void Staff : 27.81% / 2500g = 0.0111% damage increase per gold

Hence the two items are relatively equal with the above conditions.

Let us not forget that you are around level 13 with these items (2 abilities maxed)
So for Syndra with burst combo Qx2, Wx1, Ex1, Rx1 (5 spheres)
  • Q:  (264.5 + 0.69AP)*2 = 529 + 1.38AP
  • W: 80 + 0.70AP
  • E: 250 + 0.40AP
  • R:  (135 + 0.20AP)*5 = 675 + 1.00AP
Thus the combo dealing 1534 + 3.48AP Damage
Now we can scale it down to 1102 + 2.5 AP Damage by dividing (1534 + 3.48AP) by 1.392
It looks pretty close to our current example now, right?  The above example is actually favoring the 
Rabaddon's Death Cap's side for Syndra's case, as the base damage in this example is assumed to be lower (1000 damage).

Those that argue that rank 1 spells would benefit more from AP than magic pen, yes, that is correct.
However, if you're maxing that spell last, you wouldn't be casting the spell alone in fights, you would be casting other spells as well.
For instance if Syndra casts Q and W once for each:

Syndra's Q at rank 5 deals 264.5 + 0.69AP to champions
Syndra's W at rank 1 deals 80 + 0.70AP to champions

I hope we can all agree that 
Void Staff will provide more damage per cost for Q  but much less damage per cost for W when compared to  Rabaddon's Death Cap. However, you have to remember that the damage of Q outweighs the damage of W by a lot.  To simplify this concept, if Item A gives 10% more damage of 400 damage spell but Item B gives 30% more damage of 100 damage spell, Item A is better if you cast the two spells simultaneously because 10% of 400 is 40 extra damage which is greater than 30% of 100 extra damage which is only 30 extra damage. Therefore, even though Rabaddon's Death Cap provides more damage for W, Void Staffmakes up for the loss in damage by providing relatively higher damage for all of the other spells.

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    Ruby Sightstone-This item is absolutely inferior to Sightstone

    Just keep it at Sightstone

    Sightstone has 4 ward charges and you can place 3 wards at a time.
    Ruby Sightstone has 5 ward charges and you can still only place 3 wards at a time.

    You are paying 800 gold from
    Sightstone to get additional 250 HP and an extra ward charge.
    Since 250 HP is worth 667g when compared to 
    Ruby Crystal, you are essentially paying 133g for 1 extra ward charge.
    Now ask yourself  if you ever use all 5 charges before you recall to recharge it.  If you do, you only save 75g extra gold.
    This means you have to use up all 5 charges at least twice, only to break even with
    Moreover, instead of upgrading Sightstone,  800 gold can be invested in other items that can surpass the usefulness of extra 250 HP Ruby Sightstone gives.

    Therefore, Sightstone should never be upgraded to Ruby Sightstone

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    Doran's BladeMejai's Soul Stealer-These items are overnerfed

    Doran's Blade is outclassed by Longsword      Find out why here
    Doran's Shield is outclassed by Ruby Crystal        Find out why here

    Doran's Blade is semi-viable for ranged ADC, as they often have more time to lifesteal on minions.

    Visit Starting Item Comparison for more details

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    Frost Fang-This item is inferior to Spellthief's Edge

    Just keep it at 
    Spell Thief's Edge

    Upgrading Spell Thief's Edge
    to Frost Fang costs 500g.
    For the 500g you are spending, you are granted additional 
    5 bonus damage and gold per attack, 5AP, and 3mp5
    Now this is such an unnecessary upgrade for how little it does.

    • 5 additional damage can be treated as 8.3 AP for a 60% AP ratio spell despite the fact that the bonus damage is limited to only 3 times every 30s.  8.3AP is worth at most 180g
    • 5AP is worth at most 109g
    • 3mp5 is worth at most 180g.  Why at most? Would you really purchase 30mp5 for 1800g?  Tear of the Goddess costs only 700g and gives more mana
    • 5 gold per attack every 10 seconds generates at most 5gp10.  You can earn up to 300g every 10minutes in an ideal case.

    Therefore, upgrading
    Spell Thief's Edge to Frost Fang is worth 180 + 109 + 180 +300g/10mins = 469g + 300g/10mins in best case scenario.

    Whoa, but that seems like it's worth upgrading for its gold efficiency?!!


    • It is only worth that much in an ideal case and in early game.  
    • Also those stats depreciate (talking about 3 mp5, and 5ap) drastically as the game goes because final items like  Seraph's Embrace give a bulk of those stats at a cheap price
    • Why don't you invest the 500g on Sightstone instead?  You can probably get it 4 minutes earlier by going straight for Sightstone  and save 300g on 4 wards you put down on your first run.
    So even if  Frost Fang may generate up to 300g/10 minutes, its stats depreciate and it is certainly not powerful in early game either.

    Therefore, invest your gold on
    Sightstone  and other stuff rather than upgrading Spell Thief's Edge to Frost Fang.

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    Berserker's Greaves-This item is just inferior in general

    Find out why HERE

    This item just gets completely outclassed by Zeal.

    However there are exceptions:
    1. Kalista for her dash scaling with the boots rank
    2. Master Yi since he is an on-hit champion with no magic damage in his kit

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    Manamune-Your base mana is too low for this item to be efficient early game

    Just keep it at 
    Tear of the goddess

    Not only is your
    Tear of the goddess at low stacks early game your base mana is also low.
    Say for instance you have total of 1000 mana.  2% of that is 20 AD.
    So altogether
    Manamune would have given you 45 AD for 1480g at that point.
    Now that's even worse than BF Sword (50 AD, 1550g) in cost efficiency.

    You're better off building other items first such as
    Brutalizer or Hexdrinker
    and then directly upgrade Tear of the goddess to Muramana later on (or when it's almost at 750stacks)

    One may argue that 
    Manamune can potentially charge tear stacks faster with autoattacks
    it turns out that tear stacking speed in comparison to Tear of the goddess  is about the same since
    Manamune loses the +1 charge every 8s passive.


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