Runes... We all have them, and we all use them, but are they really an important part of League of Legends that add meaningful decision-making and above all: are they fun?
The main problem with runes, as I see it, is that you do not really feel the impact of them unless you do not have them. This is a big design flaw, both when it comes to the acquisition of runes, and when it comes to the impact your runes have in a game. The way runes work today, a new player will be at a huge disadvantage. Riot Games tried to even it out by making Tier 2 runes as good as free, but it does not remove the problem - it only makes it less visible. The problem is that you do not have access to the runes at all in the start, and when you do, they are not as good as the ones players who have played for a while have access to - so what is the point of different tiers? You make it seem like the runes have an importance, then when players hit level 20, they have to go through the boring grind to get viable Tier 3 runes. It feels like a bad joke, and does not translate to fun. This is not a cheap FREE TO PLAY mobile game, so please avoid such obnoxious features. It is the very reason why some friends I tried to get into League of Legends quit. When you have full access to every gameplay advantage in both DOTA II and Heroes of the Storm from the start, it feels extremely unfair and archaic that League of Legends' runes still are intact.
It does not only concern new players or unfairness though. Removing runes would make it easier to balance champions, and would make room for more creative mastery choices and items. Masteries, as opposed to runes, feel like real progress because you can truly feel the impact of your choices in a match, and a lot of the choices have unique animations or effects that are visible. Most items also have a discernible impact, especially the ones with active properties.
I am fully aware that some will argue that runes open up for fun builds and experimentation, but please consider that the very same fun and experimentation can be done through masteries and items. I do not want this to have an outcome that leads to less experimentation. I want this to lead to a more streamlined approach that at the same time opens up for more interesting masteries and items, and easier balancing for Riot Games. Some examples for solutions (remember that runes no longer exist when these examples are presented):
- Make champions scale in such a way that masteries and items affect them more
- You can still play AP Miss Forunte, Rengar etc., but the items and your masteries are now essential for this playstyle to be viable
- Restructure item building so that there are more items to buy for a build. This way, the progress is more appealing
- For AD items with a considerable gold cost at the end, you can buy _Long Sword_ to lower the final gold cost. For AP items: _Amplifying Tome_
TL;DR: Runes are unfair and you do not feel the impact unless you do not have them. There are more fun and interesting ways to experiment through new masteries and items. Make League of Legends more accessible, but do not lose the depth.
Please add your thoughts and ideas, but do keep it civil! :)