The real issue with mages? It IS the items...but hear me out, here.

I saw that thread about mage items being the issue with mages. This is..."kinda" true. See, the issue with mages, as far as I see, isn't necessarily that mages "have one build path". That's definitely *not true.* Mages have a ton of different items that do a ton of different things. Bursty mages and more dps-styled battle mages all got something they wanna buy. The issue isn't necessarily that there's only one choice in itemization, but more that, when it comes to "the best damage output possible", THAT'S usually just one option. For now, it's flat pen stacking into Deathcap, but this sort of thing has taken quite a few different forms over the years. The *best damage options* are what mages are going to gravitate towards so they can keep up in the arms race, and those items that do that the best, since there's no variety in *that specific sub-category of items,* are the ones that get bought the most. Now sure, in a more seasoned, experienced, strategic match of League, people will realize that {{item:3102}} is a fucking god send item that's pretty fucking overloaded in terms of stats and effects and would totally shut down people's ability to pick/snipe/murder you just by being active on you...but this is solo queue. If it isn't damage, people probably don't want it. That said, flat pen *is damage.* Your shoes? Damage. Your book? Damage and they can't heal the damage as well. Your hat? **TONS OF DAMAGE,** even if it looks stupid. Riot tried to make these varied, interesting choices for itemization, but tear takes too long when you need your damage *now* and GLP's damage isn't very impressive since it's better for peeling yourself than killing enemies, meanwhile Luden's just conveniently tacks itself onto your damage while you do your damage. Sure, GLP has more damage by the numbers in one use, but its application isn't that great like Luden's is, and you sure don't want to double up on mana items or else you're just dropping dough on cdr you can't use. The issue I see with mage items is that, in the damage race, THAT is where you have just one viable build path, and that's hard to vary up without adding a ton of more items into the game, which may make the game harder to learn and manage. Utility items *shouldn't* be as powerful as the stat sticks, but in solo queue, most people gravitate towards the stat sticks, especially simpler ones. I think Riot's done a pretty good job on mage itemization up to this point, though, but this conundrum of "Every few months we run into another super boss mage build" is harder to solve than just tweaking a few numbers. Doing that just makes room for the same thing.
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