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Since runes cost influence points, I'm reluctant to just try getting a bunch of them. Also, as a low level summoner, I am still experimenting with different characters. Are there some guidelines for choosing which ones to get?

If I don't want to use a particular rune, is there anything else I can do with it?

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6 Answers 6

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Depending on what level you are, you might want to hold off on buying some for a while. Here's some good guidelines for where to start, though:

Marks - Desolation and Insight are great places to start building your mark collection. Desolation gives you armor penetration and Insight gives you magic penetration. Armor penetration is good on anyone who uses their auto-attack, as it's useful for both slower, big hitters and those who want many to do apply-on-hit-effect hits. Magic penetration is useful to help your abilities pierce through any magic resist. There's not many characters that wouldn't benefit from at least one of these and many cast benefit from either.

Seals - Since the removal of dodge runes Flat armour runes are preferable for among other things jungling and supporting. Mana regeneration per level runes are a must have choice for most casters who will be spamming spells often.

Glyphs - Glyphs are tougher to define a good base set for. Celerity is probably the most all-around useful, as it provides cooldown reduction. I don't know of any character who doesn't benefit from that! Shield is an okay choice, as magic resist is useful against most characters, but I prefer the cooldown reduction.

Quintessences - Fortitude is the best all around quintessence, as it makes the early game much easier. When you have 3 Greater Quintessences of Fortitude, you start with +78 health -- that's quite the cushion in the first few levels! Once you have access to the Greater runes (level 30), Wisdom and Evasion become viable choices. 3 Greater Quintessences of Wisdom, along with the Awareness mastery net you 11% more experience and if you're Zilean, you have an extra 8% on top of that. This will give you a noticeable advantage at the end at the sacrifice of the end-game -- unless you can get yourself fed with your higher levels. Swiftness is also a good all-around, as movement speed is always part of the game.

I recommend getting a full book for one character while you're still gaining your summoner levels. This will allow you to rock out at your main character and get used to the game. Once you have a full book, you can branch out into other characters and rune setups. Read up on runes on sites like Solomid and the League of Legends Wikia Wiki.

One last tip: always buy primary runes. When you're buying your first few tier 1 runes, it's okay to go secondary on a few, but don't waste your IP on second-rate runes in tier 2 and tier 3.

If you decide you don't want a certain rune, you can combine several runes to get a new rune. Combining three will net a rune of equal tier and combining five will give you a rune from the next tier up. Other than that, they just kind of hang out in your rune book staging area

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Very good and detailed post with information and recommendation. I'd also point out what others have pointed out to me--it's worth getting all Tier 1 runes for a while, for the IP cost. Tier 2 runes are the least "worth it" since you'll be spending a lot on runes that will only be "up to date" for 10 levels. So a recommendation I have (and use) is to stock up on all cheap Tier 1 runes, then go straight to Tier 3 when you unlock it. –  Tux Jun 16 '11 at 16:12
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It should be noted that Dodge no longer works on abilities, since this question got necro'd. –  peacedog Aug 25 '11 at 19:02
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While the other answers here do have some decent advice, I think it is important to note the principles behind buying certain runes. First and foremost, it is important to understand the difference between primary runes and secondary runes. Runes are paired by stat and type (e.g. magic penetration marks and magic penetration glyphs), but there is only one rune type which has the maximum stat bonus for each stat. So, for magic penetration, marks are the primary rune because they have 0.95 magic pen per rune, whereas glyphs are secondary because they have 0.57 magic pen per rune (there are no magic pen seals). Quintessences are a breed of their own - they provide more stat boost per run than any other type so all quintessences can effectively be thought of as primary. In general, you want to only buy primary runes, although on certain champions it can be beneficial to purchase other types (such as attack speed on Irelia to boost her passive heal and true damage per hit).

Check out this link for a quick reference of rune stats: http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_runes#Full_Runes_List.

Another basic principle of buying runes (in my opinion) is that they are mostly for getting an advantage over your opponent early in the game. By the end of the game, your items will usually be providing so much value compared to your runes that the bonuses from runes will become almost negligible. Therefore, runes help with getting an early start on building said items.

All of that said, the runes you will want to build will mostly depend on the character. For example, Jax will greatly benefit from dodge runes (since counter-attack procs whenever he dodges). Dodge is actually a very good run choice in general, as well, since there are very few items in the game that grant dodge chance. Also, champions such as Amumu would benefit from magic penetration, since he does almost exclusively magic damage, but he's also a tank, so I usually build him with flat health Marks (since he wouldn't benefit much at all from any physical attack runes), flat health Seals (until I finish buying my dodge seals - remember seals are for defense), magic pen glyphs, and flat health quintessences (which are also good in general since more health means more survivability - especially early game).

GL HF.

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Magic penetration is primarily a mark, not a glyph. leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_runes#Insight –  Toast Oct 17 '11 at 16:53
    
@Toast Good call. I didn't completely understand primary vs. secondary when I originally authored this answer. Fixed. –  Steven Oxley Nov 22 '11 at 16:00
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Don't hold off until tier 3 to buy runes, that's bad advice in my opinion.

Buy the tier 1 runes while you're leveling up. Ignore the tier 2s, switch to tier 3s once you're high enough to use them.

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It isn't horrid, but it's wrong IMO. Buying tier 1 runes up to level 20 is really cheap and should be done. I agree tier2s should be skipped though. –  peacedog Aug 25 '11 at 18:59
    
@peacedog yeah, horrible is probably a little extreme, I'll edit it down. –  kekekela Aug 25 '11 at 19:00
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Most of the answers here are a bit dated, so take their advice with a grain of salt.

Season 3 - Level 30 General Purpose Runes

  • Marks - Armor Penetration x 9, Magic Penetration x 9
  • Seals - Flat Armor x 9
  • Glyphs - Scaling Magic Resistance x 9
  • Quintessences - Movement Speed x 3

Buy only tier1 runes leveling up, ignore tier2, and buy your tier3 runes at 30. It doesn't really matter in the long run what you buy before 30, but you could do worse than sticking with the same stats as the level 30 ones.

Branching Out

Once you've gotten decently skilled at the game, you can start trying to trade your movement speed quintessences for flat AP/AD on some champions. It can provide you with a lot of early game burst, but you need to be confident enough to capitalize on it. The movement speed is usually a better choice until you're comfortable with a particular champion.

  • Jungling - Attack Speed Marks (and possibly Quintessences)
  • Support - Armor Marks, Gold Per 10 Quintessences
  • Top Lane Sustain - Health Per 5 Quintessences
  • AP Burst - Scaling AP Seals, Scaling AP Glyphs, Flat AP Quintessences
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Definitely hold off on any runes until you are level 20 (or was it 21) when you can buy tier 3 runes. Its just a waste of IP otherwise.

As for what to buy there are a standard set of agreed upon "good ones"

  • Flat HP Quints
  • Flat AP Quints
  • Flat CDR Quints
  • Armor Pen Red
  • Magic Pen Red
  • Dodge Yellow
  • HP/Level Yellow
  • Mana/Level Yellow
  • Flat CDR Blue

The energy relates ones are also interesting, but I don't know enough about them.

Do not buy the following unless you have a very specific and viable reason to do so (ie. critplank)

  • Crit % runes
  • Crit damage runes
  • Attack speed runes
  • Attack damage runes
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Could you give more info about why you should / shouldn't buy those runes? –  David Fullerton Jul 22 '10 at 18:00
    
Its mostly detailed Mathcraft. Its always worth more to get Armor Pen as it deals more than even when crits are at 200%. Just need to know that armor pen works even when you crit! The +25% IAS boots are cheap and people say they are bad, so why would you get IAS runes? Crit damage is worthless because you don't crit often enough. Flat HP Qunits are a little OP so that's why everybody uses them right now. Just get then and notice each time you suddenly are ganked at are under 90 HP. Without the Qunits you would have been dead. –  Pyrolistical Jul 22 '10 at 19:55
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I disagree about holding off on level 1 and 2 runes. Level 1 runes are dirt cheap, and level 2 runes aren't very expensive either. It costs maybe ~2500 IP to fill up 19 slots with level 2 runes, or ~500 to fill them up with level 1 runes. You make way more than 2500 in 19 levels. You might as well get them and learn the runing system, especially if you play a very rune-dependant main like Tryn (one of the exceptions to the crit % rune rule of thumb). –  Matthew Jul 27 '10 at 19:10
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I agree with getting tier 1 runes. They're so cheap that it's kind of dumb not to buy them. Plus it will help you figure out what runes you want later on, so you don't waste ip on the more expensive runes. –  Steven Oxley Aug 4 '10 at 16:08
    
holding off on tier 1 runes doesn't make much sense as they are so cheap. I disagree with Matthew on tier 2's though. For the value, tier 2s are a bad buy. That 2000k IP (assuming you just buy tier 1 runes and not tier2s) is quite a few tier 3 runes though. It's 1 or 2 t3 quints (depending what you get), and can be up to half of a group of seals/marks/the other ones. And you will want the 2k IP once you hit 20. –  peacedog Aug 25 '11 at 18:58
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There are some pretty simply guidelines available for you to follow as far as rune purchasing and rune pages go. You can actually get a very simple rune page that will work well for every champion reasonably cheap and that will last you until much later.

This Rune Page Guide is the best site I found available and really helped me save a lot of Influence Points and also will help you create rune pages for any champion that you want.

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