The world of League of Legends is a complex one, with over 150 unique champions to choose from when you just start playing the game
The game’s intricacies hardly stop there though, as there are dozens of other concepts that you need to master such as farming, managing objectives, and building your champion.
However, new players tend to struggle with the League’s rune system and how it affects their favorite champion. Given that there are so many keystones and secondary runes to choose from, looking at a rune page for the first time can be a very overwhelming and confusing experience.
To get a better understanding of how to use runes in League, we first need to tackle what runes are in general. Runes are permanent buffs enhancing your champion’s power that are chosen before the game starts by adding them to your rune page.
The rune pages are the place where you pick your runes and you can enter the game with only one selected rune page. New accounts have 3 free rune pages unlocked, which is more than enough to get started without purchasing any additional ones, as you will be dynamically changing these runes before every game.
Experienced high elo players and seasoned veterans can provide useful insight when it comes to rune selection. However, for a new player, getting to know these skilled players can be very difficult, which is why sites that connect duo players such as Duoo are a great choice to visit.
Types of runes
Fundamentally, runes are divided into 5 trees, all of which support a certain type of champions and playstyles.
These five trees are:
Upon picking the rune tree you want to play that game, you need to choose your keystone which is the most impactful rune in general. Every rune tree has 3 powerful keystones and you need to choose one of them to equip to your champion for the duration of the game.
Apart from choosing your keystone, you will be able to choose 3 secondary runes in the same rune tree from which you’ve chosen your keystone that give small but important buffs to your champion.
Last but not least, Riot wanted to create a rune system where the identity of your champion won’t be solely defined by your primary rune page. For this reason, you can choose a secondary rune page in which you can select 2 secondary runes to power up your champion, allowing you to be creative and dynamic with your rune setups.
Precision is all about dealing continuous damage throughout the fight and its main purpose is to increase the overall damage output of the champion. Both the keystones and the secondary runes are generally designed to help the carries dish out damage in a fight, with some focus on extended survivability.
Even though the Precision tree is very straightforward in general, there is a lot of diversity among the keystones.
Press the Attack, also known as PTA is best used on champions that prefer one-on-one combat as it increases the single target damage output after you attack an enemy champion three times. It’s commonly used on carries and offensive champions who can swiftly attack three times in succession, such as Lucian or Jax.
Lethal Tempo is a rune used on hyper carries that thrive in extended fights where they’re able to ramp up attack speed by repeatedly basic attacking the opposing champions. This rune is picked on those that benefit from attack speed increases such as Twitch, Kog’Maw, or Jinx.
Fleet Footwork is a very unique defensive rune whose purpose is to increase a champion’s survivability in the lane and in fights. It’s a niche rune that’s mostly picked by scaling champions that struggle to survive the laning phase or ones that cannot benefit from other Precision keystones, such as Kassadin and Jhin.
Conqueror is a bit of an odd rune among the other ones in the precision tree, as it’s not commonly picked on AD carries. It’s a fairly straightforward rune that increases your damage and turns some of it into true damage in extended fights, most commonly used on bruisers such as Darius or Mordekaiser.
When it comes to the secondary runes in the Precision tree, they’re divided into three subcategories:
- Heroism (Overheal, Triumph, Presence of Mind)
- Legend (Alacrity, Tenacity, Bloodline)
- Combat (Coup de Grace, Cut Down, Last Stand)
Heroism provides sustain for champions in the form of a shield and mana/health restoration upon takedown.
Legend is used to buff a champion based on the number of takedowns, appropriately increasing a champion’s attack speed, tenacity, or life steal.
Combat increases a champion’s overall damage based on the player’s preference as you can increase damage based on your HP and your opponent’s HP.
Domination finds its home in the hands of assassins and one-shot champions on the Rift as it’s primarily used to increase burst damage output. Paired up with boosts to mobility and providing decent utility as well along with the damage, Domination is an excellently balanced rune tree.
Electrocute is one of the most iconic and commonly used runes with a very simple effect that deals damage after your third ability/attack. It’s primarily wielded by powerful burst mid lane mages such as Annie or Assasins like Zed and Talon
Predator is a very niche rune that finds scarce usage as it gives a large movement speed surge when approaching enemy champions. Its peculiar effect is only useful on a handful of champs such as Veigar and Nunu.
Dark Harvest is a rune that’s very similar to Electrocute in its nature as it increases a champion’s general damage output. It gives you a stacking burst of damage that triggers when damaging an enemy champion that is on low HP and it’s used by similar champs that use the Electrocute keystone as well.
Hail of Blades is a keystone that often feels like it belongs more in the Precision tree as it gives you an increase in attack speed for your first three basic attacks on enemy champions. It sees play here and there and it’s occasionally used on champs like Vayne or Tristana.
Dominations’ subtree of runes looks like this:
- Malice (Cheap Shot, Taste of Blood, Sudden Impact)
- Tracking (Zombie Ward, Ghost Poro, Eyeball Collection)
- Hunter (Treasure, Ingenious, Relentless, Ultimate)
Malice is a pretty diverse secondary rune subtree as it can increase a champion’s sustain and damage, depending on the situation.
Tracking’s main purpose is to provide you with utility in the form of vision, with Eyeball Collection being the odd one out as it just gives you more damage.
The Hunter runes give you a boost to your stats depending on the number of takedowns you have which further promotes aggressive playstyle.
Sorcery, much like the name suggests, is used to enhance the power of mages and provide them with enough utility. This rune tree finds its primary usage on AP heavy mid laners and support mages as well as enchanters.
Summon Aery is the first Sorcery keystone we’ll talk about and it sends a small Aery elemental to damage an enemy you’re fighting. It’s primarily used on poke mages and enchanters such as Lulu and Janna as it can also increase the power of a heal/shield on your ally.
Arcane Comet fires a comet at a champion that you’ve recently damaged with an ability.
Since the Comet takes some time to fly from your champion to the opponent, it is especially useful on champions that have a lot of CC abilities as it ensures that the Comet will hit. Its users include champs with those abilities such as Xerath, Varus, and Lux.
Last but not least, Phase Rush is a unique keystone that gives you a surge of movement speed and slow resistance when you damage a champion 3 times. It’s almost exclusively used on champs that benefit from this movement speed burst, such as Cassiopeia, Gragas, or Ryze.
The Sorcery secondary runes mainly revolve around empowering a champion’s AP output while providing utility in the form of mana regen and ability haste:
- Artifact (Nullifying Orb, Manaflow Band, Nimbus Cloak)
- Excellence (Transcendence, Celerity, Absolute Focus)
- Power (Scorch, Waterwalking, Gathering Storm)
The Artifact subtree is mainly centered around utility, as you can select one of three runes that provide you with mana, movement speed, or an AP shield.
Much like Artifact, Excellence revolves around runes with utility with a dash of damage, providing you with haste, movement speed, or damage while you’re high on HP.
Power, on the other hand, allows you to boost your damage output with runes such as Scorch and Gathering Storm, or some mobility while roaming with Waterwalking.
This rune tree provides you with a lot of defensive stats that are best used on tanky champions played in the top lane, jungle, or support.
Grasp of the Undying is the first Resolve keystone that’s undoubtedly the most aggressive one in its implication.
After being in combat for a few seconds, your next attack will deal more damage and increase your HP permanently. This is an effect that stacks infinitely, which is great for scaling champions as well.
Aftershock is a very simple keystone that provides you with a temporary increase in defensive stats after you CC an enemy champion.
It also creates a small shockwave after the buff ends It’s very consistent and effective on champions with heavy CC kits such as Alistar or Nautilus.
Guardian is the most teamwork-oriented rune of the three, as it grants you and the closest ally a shield upon taking heavy damage. It has a lengthy cooldown though and it works best in organized settings on supports such as Rakan or Braum.
As you would expect, the secondary runes provide you with plenty of defensive boosts as well as tenacity and healing:
- Strength (Demolish, Font of Life, Shield Bash)
- Resistance (Conditioning, Second Wind, Bone Plating)
- Vitality (Overwgrowth, Revitalize, Unflinching)
Strength is comprised of 3 unique runes with Demolish empowering your split push capabilities. Shield Bash and Font of Life, on the other hand, give your allies HP and empower your attacks when shielded.
Resistance is all about increasing your raw defensive stats and capabilities as the runes give you a defensive combat passive, HP regen, or scaling defensive stats in the form of Armor and MR.
Last but not least, Vitality grants your champion defensive buffs based on your HP as it can provide you with a permanent increase in heal or shield power, max HP increase, or tenacity.
Inspiration is a very diverse rune tree that provides you with a lot of intricate utility boosts that aren’t available in any other rune tree.
Glacial Augment is the first Inspiration keystone we’ll talk about and it has a fairly straightforward effect that shoots glacial rays at champions you immobilize. As you can imagine, this rune is used by heavy CC wielders who don’t make the best use of any other runes and can use the extra slow in their kit.
Unsealed Spellbook is undoubtedly the most unique and bizarre rune that exists in League of Legends and you’ll rarely see anyone using it. This is because it’s objectively very difficult to make use of it and it requires an advanced understanding of the rune’s power and the knowledge of its best implications.
It has an effect that allows you to swap out your initially chosen summoner spells with different ones, allowing you to make new summoner spell swaps when off cooldown.
First Strike is the most aggressive keystone of the three with a simple effect that increases your damage when you enter combat with a champion as well as providing you with some gold.
Inspiration’s secondary tree is full of special utility buffs which make this rune page a very popular secondary rune page choice:
- Contraption (Hextech Flashtraption, Magical Footwear, Perfect Timing)
- Tomorrow (Future’s Market, Minion Dematerializer, Biscuit delivery)
- Beyond (Cosmic Insight, Approach Velocity, Time Warp Tonic)
To kick things off, Contraption provides a wide array of tools that you can choose from, providing you with a free Stopwatch, Boots, or even a replacement for Flash while it’s on cooldown.
Tomorrow focuses on investment over time, allowing you to go into debt to purchase some crucial items, wipe down minions and increase your waveclear with Dematerializer, or provide you with an occasional regeneration cookie.
Lastly, Beyond can either boost your Ability Haste and item Haste, boost your movement speed when moving towards immobilized champions, or boost your potion effectiveness.