We may be halfway through the current League of Legends season, but that won’t stop Riot from dishing out heavy-handed changes to runes when deemed necessary.
A couple of major changes were made to the Sorcery and Domination rune paths in recent PBE updates, and we evaluated them to answer two questions: Do the changes make sense, and will they be strong enough in the current meta?
The changes in question are brand new minor runes. One is called Nimbus Cloak, and it replaces the late Ultimate Hat rune in the Sorcery path, and the other is Ultimate Hunter, which is being added onto the fourth row of the Domination path. Nimbus Cloak has actually been in the current PBE cycle for a day longer than Ultimate Hunter, but they’re definitely related to one another.
Do they make sense?
Ultimate Hat is undoubtedly used by a decent portion of champions in the current meta, but it’s largely overshadowed by Manaflow Band. The Sorcery path as a whole is used mainly by mages, with some exceptions, and the Manaflow Band is a perfect rune for spell-slingers, which puts the Ultimate Hat at a disadvantage in most cases.
That being said, it makes sense that it would be changed, but does its replacement in Nimbus Cloak solve that shortcoming of identity in a saturated meta of Manaflow Bands? For the most part, yes, and it provides another strong option for a niche group of champions, but the Band will still be more useful to most mages in-meta. Nimbus Cloak provides an absolutely massive two-second boost to movement speed after casting an ultimate ability, and its minute-long cooldown can be decreased by cooldown reduction.
Previously, Ultimate Hat was really only useful for aggressive champions that need their ultimate abilities available to make huge plays and force big, resource-spending reactions out of the opposition. That’s just not something most mages need, with the exception of maybe Malzahar, but the mana provided by the Band still works well on him. This movement speed boost, however, is more useful to more champions, because it can be used aggressively to chase enemies and as a means to dodge heavy damage in fights.
Azir, Ekko, Hecarim, Kha’Zix, Fiddlesticks, Fizz, Ivern, Diana, Kai’Sa, Master Yi, Nocturne, Olaf, Morgana, Sivir, Rengar, Skarner, and Talon are just some of the champions who will find extreme usefulness out of that speed boost, and that’s not even the full list.
The other rune, Ultimate Hunter, is essentially the Domination path’s version of Ultimate Hat and, frankly, it fits in way more in this path. Domination rune builders vary from assassins to mages to fighters alike, but they all have extreme aggression in common with one another.
The rune has been molded to fit in with the other runes in row four, so it has a base ultimate ability cooldown reduction of five percent, with two percent more added per Bounty Hunter stack. Champions who have huge, meaningful ultimate abilities that force big plays, like Vi, Jarvan, Warwick, Wukong, and more probably want to use this path over Sorcery to begin with. This feels like a much more natural place for this sort of rune.
Are they strong?
The short answer to, “Are they strong?” is a resounding “yes,” but they aren’t too strong, and that’s important to note. These changes allow both Ultimate Hunter and Nimbus Cloak to have clearly defined scenarios where you’d want to lock them into your build, without being so strong that they should be picked in every scenario, like the early season’s Perfect Timing.
The only one that might become a problem later on is the Ultimate Hunter rune, but at face value it seems alright. The other runes in its row have never had that same feeling of identity and niche power as Ultimate Hunter does, at least not like other runes in minor rune rows do, so players might just decide to pick it every time they use the Domination path anyway. This isn’t because the new rune is too strong, it would probably be because the other runes lack identity and agency, but for now, the situation on the PBE seems more than fair.
The most balanced of the two is undoubtedly Nimbus Cloak, because it provides a significant boost in power to those champions that can take advantage of it, without being so strong that it overshadows the other options. Ability spamming mages should still take Manaflow Band in almost every case. The only downside is Nullifying Orb, because it’ll probably remain untouched by most players. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some work done on it soon.
Both of these new runes should arrive over the course of the next two patches, Patches 8.10 and 8.11.