When Riot Games came out with Runes Reforged, most of the rune choices made sense. There were distinct rune trees built for different purposes: absorbing damage, dealing sustained DPS, slinging spells, or bursting people down.
Then there was the Inspiration tree. This was a special set of runes designed to break the rules of the game. Every other rune tree is useful, but this one felt like a bunch of half-baked party tricks. But over the last several months, one class of champions has taken this tree as its own: ADCs.
Since becoming meta at the professional level around Patch 9.5, the inspiration has been the go-to secondary tree for bot laners at every level. And the worst part? The runes are stupid and they make the game boring.
Why it’s broken
It’s not rocket science what ADCs are doing by taking Magical Footwear and Biscuit Delivery. These runes are good because of how stupid they are. Runes like Gathering Storm, previously a good one for bot laners, rely on games getting to a certain point before they’re useful. But a free pair of boots that cost 300 gold? That’s reliable value that always comes in handy.
Biscuit Delivery is worse. Take a bad trade in lane? Don’t worry, pop a biscuit. If you survive the lane phase without needing them, just sell them back for free gold. You’re guaranteed to get value from these runes by the 15-minute mark when most games these days are decided.
Even nerfing the runes hasn’t helped. In Patch 9.9, Riot extended nerfed free boots so they arrive at 12 minutes instead of 10. But ADCs just keep on rolling those things out—the extra two-minute wait doesn’t really do anything as long as you know you’re going to get those boots.
If anything, even more ADCs are going Inspiration second than before. Based on data from League stats site Mobalytics, between Patches 9.8 and 9.11, the overall share of bot laners with this rune tree went up 27 percent. This is especially significant because top, mid, and jungle saw a decline in secondary Inspiration builds, with support staying roughly flat.
This can’t be what Riot intended when it created these runes in the first place.
Runes like Magical Footwear and Biscuit Delivery are bad because they discourage thought and interaction. You don’t have to time your spells or your damage output around specific conditions. You either have boots and biscuits or you don’t, and your opponents can see in the scoreboard what you have at all times.
On ADCs, they further reduce them to the tried trope of mid and late-game auto-attacking bots. Just get to two or three items, accelerated by the free gold you get from your runes, and follow your team around to fights. You don’t have to think—just right-click.
The ironic thing is that, outside of how OP these runes are, ADC is in a good spot. They’re generally powerful in the meta, and there’s even some good diversity within the champion pool. Xayah and Kai’Sa continue to be problematic, but champions like Ezreal, Sivir, and Draven are all viable, too.
But we could have more impactful and interesting bot lane play if these runes weren’t so blatantly powerful. The problem is, it’s hard to find a balance—boots are always good. If Riot nerfs them further by increasing the time you have to wait before getting them, it will pretty much kill the rune.
That opens up a whole can of worms. Getting free boots was never a particularly good idea, but it does give options to those who take Inspiration as their main rune tree. What Riot needs to do is replace Magical Footwear and Biscuit Delivery with runes that provide more situational value, like Kleptomancy or Glacial Augment, two fun and interesting keystone runes in the Inspiration tree.
The Inspiration tree is meant to break rules, but for that rule-breaking to actually work well, Riot is going to have to break a few more things.