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When I play I usually only like to buy a doran's ring if I start to fall behind or I'm getting harassed and zoned. I might be forced to back early, and only have enough gold for a Doran's Ring instead of a more expensive item like Kage's pick or a Blasting Wand. Sometimes getting the Doran's Ring will help get me back into the game and catch up in CS if I was behind.

Are there other reasons or rationale for going Doran's ring? I know some people will build 2 or 3 Doran's ring. What is the rationale for doing this and are there some specific champions who benefit more from this kind of build?

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Related: Why do people do the Doran's Blade stacking?. While not a dupe per se, the comments about early game advantage and use as an interim purchase while saving for your first big item are similarly relevant. –  FAE Jul 18 '12 at 15:43
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4 Answers

Doran's Rings give you an early lane advantage. While they don't build into anything later the way that a catalyst or a blasting wand might, they immediately give you health, mana regen, and damage. Short term, Doran's Rings give you better value for your gold than other items.

The most common reason If you are playing aggressively AP, you can use these items to generate a lane advantage that turns into kills or a significant farm lead. For example, if get a kill because you were tankier and did more damage than the enemy AP, the Doran's ring has paid for itself. Also, the rings might provide you the mana to spam your clearing ability on a hero like Morgana or Ahri. As a result the enemy AP loses farm to their tower and your ring pays for itself by costing the enemy gold.

If you are going to play passively and farm (Karthus, Anivia, etc.) then Doran's are likely not the right item for you.

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Doran's ring is an amazing early game item on MOST mid champs, it gives you a decent AP boost, health for survivability, and mana regen to help you stay in lane, generally depending on how well you farm and if you can generate a kill with the small advantage a dorans ring gets you you can get 2-3 of them before you start jumping into the real items.

As I said, there are champions that don't really want Doran's rings in the mid, Katarina (doesn't use mana), Mordekaiser (same as kat), and Galio (as his passive gives AP off of MR it is better to stack MR from the get go).

If you want to know if your champion is the right type for Doran's ring ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I use mana? if yes, continue
  • Do my abilities scale with AP well? if yes, continue
  • Is damage / lane sustain the thing I should be worrying about?

If yes, you should probably buy a few Doran's rings!

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I don't recommend picking a Doran's Ring for an AP mid start. I explain more why later.

However, stacking Doran's Rings has a different purpose. As was said before Doran's provides you overall with more stats for gold than other other items for the same price. For example, Doran's Ring gives a bonus 80 hp and some mana regen for only 5 AP less than an Amplifying Tome. So for champions that have high AP ratios (so that 15 AP goes further), need some hp, and are heavy on their spells the extra rings can help you get ahead in the short run and then snowball to victory.

For example, champions like Amumu use Doran's Rings very well. Amumu chews through mana pretty quickly, and his ratios of 1.0, .01 (does % life damage), 0.5, and 1.0 use any bonus AP super well. It allows Amumu to rack up some damage and then focus on other items that he needs like tanking, because he does very well with little AP and some bonus mana regen. It's also important that every item on Amumu provides some bonus hp as he has to be in close range and take some damage in order to cast his spells.

A champion you wouldn't want to use it on is Mordekaiser. The benefits from AP, but mana regen is completely useless on him. Also, bonus hp is less useful than bonus armor and magic resist, because Mordekaiser's passive shield becomes more effective with armor and magic resist. So anything you can do to increase the power of his shield will negate the need for little hp boosts on every item Mordekaiser uses.


So for pickign a starting item, compare what Doran's ring gives you for a start versus Boots and 3 Health Potions (both costing about the same and possible to buy without masteries):

Doran's Ring:

  • 80 effective hp
  • 15 AP
  • 5 Mana Regen/5

Boots and 3 Health Potions:

  • 450 effective hp
  • ~60 bonus movement speed

To explain effective health quickly, basically Healing Potions do not give you actual hp, but they heal quickyl enough that you effectively do have additional hp. The exception is when you receive lots of damage in a short time with healing reduction the Potions will not save you. However, that is rarely the case in early laning, and even with healing reduciton Potions heal 75 hp (almost the same as Doran's provides) in about 6 seconds. Unless you make a very silly mistake, Healing Potions do really provide an effective 450 hp.

That 80 hp only soaks one additional spell at level 1, and even less at higher levels. Compare that to 450 hp, which soaks 4 spells at level 1, or about 3 at slightly higher levels. Already the boots provide a pretty heavy hp advantage over the 80 hp from Doran's because the Potions heal a large amount of health. Also, keep in mind that with Boots you will be able to dodge skill shots easier (which compose a good portion of some AP mid's spells) and you will be able to stay out of their range, preventing them from casting spells at you or harassing you with auto-attacks. Champions like Annie will chew through you with auto-attacks at early levels if you cannot keep out of her range; she has an incredible 650 attack range that few other auto-attacks and spells in the game can out gun.

So really what you get from the Doran's is the 15 AP and mana regen. First off, most AP mids only have AP ratios of 0.9, meaning that's an additional 13.5 damage per spell. That is pitiful at best because it will take 6 spells for that bonus damage to match the damage of any single level 1 spell, let alone a level 3 spell. ALso, it doesn't add any power to your auto-attack, which can be a good portion of your damage. Second, the mana regen is basically useless - either tool some runes to help you with mana regen or adjust your playstyle so you consume less mana. Learn to last hit with auto attacks instead of spells, and save mana for kills.

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I don't believe he was asking for which opening item build was better. Though I agree with your point, I don't think you're answering his question. –  Klokworkk Jul 18 '12 at 17:38
    
I'm thinking about incorporating the rest into my answer, a lot of the material is already in other answer though. I unfortunately take a few edits to get it right, thanks for pointing that out though :P –  Sadly Not Jul 18 '12 at 17:46
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The Doran's items are short-term investments. They are by far the most cost-effective items in the game, and are a convenient, single slot way to provide three of the most useful stats for an AP mid: health (difficult to itemize for in the earlygame, if you don't intend to invest in the Catalyst paths), mana regen (always useful), and ability power (obv). If you intend to play aggressive in lane, forcing your opponent out where possible, do Doran's. If, however, you need to play defensively (say, you're a Heimer against a Leblanc), and just want to farm, you'll get more out of boots/pots, or null-magic mantle / pots.

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