The Roshan Toss #11 – And I’m Snow, Snowballin’

Posted: July 29, 2011 by kingofgob in General

So I know I said in the comments last week that I would be talking about Madred’s this week but I’ve decided to switch things up a little bit to follow up on a few things from last week. This week let’s take a look at the value of the snowball items and talk about which are worth it and which should just never be purchased.  In this article I will be discussing best value buys.  For those of you that may not know snowball items consist of Mejai’s Soulstealer, Sword of the Occult, Leviathan, Warmog’s Armor and the Bloodthirster.  They scale based on in game performance with the item and allows you to get stronger and stronger as the game goes longer, like a snowball rolling down a hill that gets bigger and bigger.

League of Legends, just like every competitive game, is about resource management.  It may be gold or bullets or even time, but every game can be boiled down to resources.  Each item in LoL has an associated cost and its corresponding value.  If an item gives you +1 attack damage and costs one gold you are gaining 1 ad/g.  If the next tier item gives +10 ad but costs 20g then you are only gaining .5ad/g and you should just but more of the first item.  Now there are other considerations that go into item purchasing such as initial investment, inventory space and recipe building but in this article we’re going to talk solely on the basis of value per gold.

Snowball items are interesting for the fact that they do not have a static value associated with them.  When a player purchases a long sword the value of that item is set.  It will always give me 10 attack damage for a cost of 415 gold  or .024 ad/g.  Snowball items on the other hand start at a lower value and grow linearly to have a different higher value.  Being the math geek I’ve decided to make several graphs to look at so we can analyze this value on a case by case basis for each of the snowball items.

Mejai’s Soulstealer:

If we take a look at this graph the x-axis shows the number of stacks accumulated (2 for a kill, 1 for an assist)  and the y-axis shows the value of that item (ap/gold in this case) .  I then plotted the value growth of Mejai’s as the stacks build up.  The flat lines represent the 3 basic ap items, those being Amplifying Tome in red, Blasting Wand in green and Needlessly Large Rod in pink.  You can see the value of these items does not scale and thus stays constant around .05 ap/gold.  The blue line shows that before reaching approximately 5 stacks of Mejai’s you would’ve been better off just buying another base item with your gold, but after this threshold Mejai’s continue to increase in value to almost three times the value of the base items.  Five stacks is not extremley difficult to achieve on Mejai’s  and if you have one it’s probably because you’re an ap carry that is going to be getting kills anyway.  So go ahead and buy it on any ap carry or assassin and I bet you won’t regret it.

Sword of the Occult:

Similar to the Mejai’s graph the base items have a static value, this time around .025 attack damage/gold.  SotO also breaks even around 5 stacks and tops out at a little over three times as valuable at max stacks.  My reservation in recommending SotO is that unlike ap carries/assasins, ad characters usually don’t have the shear burst potential of a Annie or Malz in the early game so while it has the same theoretical value, something like a Phage may be more helpful at first.  Don’t be afraid to get a late game SotO though.  Win one team fight and it pays for itself, win two and you’re way ahead.


Okay so here is where things get a little dicey.  Compared to Mejai’s and SotO, Leviathan is terrible.  It takes nearly double the number of stacks in order to break even compared to base items.  This is combined with the fact that it’s a tank item so stacks are a little bit more difficult to come by.  After seeing this I pondered for a little and thought wtf! Riot, why is Leviathan such a bad value.  I then remembered that Warmog’s Armor also scales on kills, assists and even creep kills so I decided to plot Warmog’s value against the base hp items and came up with this:

Look familiar?  Yup, Leviathan isn’t the tank snowball item, Warmog’s is.  Warmog’s has a much greater initial investment but that investment pays off twice as fast to be break even around the 5 kill mark just like Mejai’s and SotO.  I then plotted Warmog’s Value against Leviathan’s value and showed that the breakeven point is around 10 stacks just like the base items and that’s if we consider only kills.  If we consider assists it would go even higher as an assist or kill are equal to Warmog’s but not to Leviathan.

This is all disregarding the added hp regen given by Warmog’s which would bump the value up even further. I would almost always recommend Warmog’s as opposed to Leviathan unless the game is an extreme roll.

So those are the snowball items mathematically.  If you have any additional input feel free to post a comment below.  I know I neglected to mention the snowball ultimate abilities when they reach 20 stacks, but if you reach 20 stacks of one of the snowball items stop thinking about item values and just go win.

(I would like to credit the LoL wiki with my stat and gold numbers used in the calculations seen here.  I also used MatLab for the graphics.)

  1. kingofgob says:

    Sorry the graphs are kinda ugly. It’s my first picture post cut me some slack. They’ll be better next time.

  2. Warmogs doesn’t reset on death bro. Jus’ sayin.

  3. Gorgosch says:

    And warmogs is also charging by Creep kills.
    So for anybody looking for a lot of life that can also easily push lanes it is a nice item.

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