Theorycrafting Zyra damage

Here’s the text version of my video on optimizing Zyra’s damage. We’ll start with some links, a TLDR, and then the main course.

Video | Spreadsheet | Twitch | Twitter

TLDR

Solid theorycrafted builds:

All-in: GLP/proto, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap <-> Rylai’s
Poke: Liandry’s, void, sorcs, luden’s, Rylai’s, dcap (delay void if getting close to true damage)
Scared against AP: GLP/proto <-> abyssal, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap
Scared against AD: GLP/proto <-> Zhonya’s, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap

Theorycrafted ideas:

1. Luden’s is for poke, not for burst. Get proto/glp or penetration for burst.
2. Don’t get Rylai’s until after Liandry’s unless you REAAAAALLY need it.
3. Remember to build both HP and resistances if you are nervous about dying.
4. Hextech items are some of the best (combined with penetration) for burst damage.
5. Deathcap is great for burst, not so great for poke.
6. Liandry’s is really really great for poke. Good for burst too, even excellent if they’re building health.
7. For damage, as long as you aren’t doing true damage, get void staff as your second item unless you need HP, in which case get it right after.

Deathfire touch versus Thunderlord’s decree

Don’t get DFT on Zyra unless you really value late game teamfighting. TLD burst is better at basically every stage of the game..

Runes

Run full magic penetration (20 mPen) whenever possible. I still go MR glyphs and armor quints when against tough AP and AD matchups, respectively.

The main post

How the calculator works

We’ll start by talking about the calculator itself and providing some warnings. The most important thing to be aware of when dealing with spreadsheets like this is what it does and DOES NOT say. This spreadsheet will tell us how to maximize certain aspects of our damage with the minimum cost. It does NOT consider CDR, mana regen, defensive stats, utility, or really anything else. It is then up to the individual to decide whether or not a certain item is worth it.
As for the formulas themselves, they involve levels, skill orders, runes, masteries, enemy stats, items, and combat details such as the number of skills used and the duration of the fight. As an output we have everything in the messy sheet below, but also a small selection of topics of interested in a formatted box, such as damage from individual skills and items, AP, CDR, and damage numbers. The two most interesting things here are total damage and extra damage per gold spent. Total damage is self-explanatory. Extra damage per gold spent compares the damage we would deal with 0 items with the damage we deal with the selected items, looks at the difference and uses the cost of the items to find out how much damage we’re getting for the gold we’re spending. The number itself is not interesting, rather how it changes with different builds. The final thing to note is that these formulas are about optimizing damage. Optimizing damage is nowhere near as important as positioning, CSing, target priotization, game sense, etc… The best way to improve at League of Legends is focusing on what I just mentioned, not to theorycraft small builds Still, this is something that can help and is quite fun, so here we are!
If you want to use this calculator yourself, find the link below the video and follow the instructions on the right hand side. Furthermore, this spreadsheet can be useful for other mages as well, with only small adjustments necessary in the “skills” section.

Notes on Liandry’s

Before we go into item builds, I want to quickly remark on Liandry’s, as it is the only calculation that I did not automatically total for the damage section, though I do note the amount of damage one proc would do against a full health target, which can be separately considered and weighed as to ascertain the value of the item.

Optimal first item

For poke

Now for item builds. This will be primarily for solo lane Zyra, but I’ll make remarks on support Zyra at the end. We’re going to look at both poke damage and all-in damage at 3 stages of the game: 1st item, 2nd item, and 6 items. We begin by looking at one-item poke, a standard QW+Auto combo. This procs Thunderlord’s decree, forces plants to auto (so they will likely hit attack twice though we’ll assume here they only hit once, with the goal being to not overestimate the survival of plants). You can see here that, as expected, Liandry’s and Luden’s are the best for poke, as they have passives specifically tailored to excel at it. Next, again as expected, are penetration items. Finally, some other items are shown to trail behind, though these are made for sustain or burst, so it is natural that they don’t excel at poke. If you want poke, rush Liandry’s or Luden’s, where one gives more health and the other gives more movement speed.

For all in

For an all-in scenario, we assume the same stats but this time an EWRQW combo with 3 auto attacks, two enraged plants, and each plant attacking twice. Again, we see that even without the tick from Liandry’s, it gives about as much damage as Luden’s. The top items here are penetration and burst active items. You can value health and MR as you wish as well as how much you value all-in and poke, but the data suggests that the best first item for Zyra is Liandry’s, even if they aren’t stacking health. Luden’s and void staff (especially if your opponent is rushing MR) are excellent, and GLP, Abyssal, and Protobelt are all solid if you want mana, MR, and mobility respectively.

Optimal second item

We now consider two items, so let’s say level 13, 1500 HP, 57 MR (enemy team likely has a locket by now), and 53 armor.

For poke

Also, it is much less likely we can QW+Auto an opponent, so we’ll just assume for the poke calculation that we’re spawning max range plants that attack twice. Last section we showed luden’s and liandry’s are best for poke so it should come as no surprise that combining them is the most poke you can get with two items. Other very strong combinations are Liandry’s with void or Rylai’s (remembering that slows double’s liandry’s passive). If you rush luden’s, though, Rylai’s second becomes much worse.

For all in

For an all-in, we assume the same stats with a EWRQW+AA combo. This very strongly suggests that you should get void staff as your second item whenever possible (unless you’re already doing true damage). GLP gives great burst damage if you can get it in your combo and Liandry’s is amazing even in a burst situation. Don’t go Rylai’s unless you already have Liandry’s. Looking at the recommended first items, I suggest the following two items for pure damage. Liandry’s into void, Luden’s into void, void into liandry’s, GLP into void, abyssal into GLP or Liandry’s or void, Protobelt into void (I think I’m repeating myself a bit much).

Optimal 6 items

For poke

Once you get to 6 items, most of the time you’re only getting one plant attack off for your poke and almost everyone on the enemy team will have at least one defensive item. We assume level 18, 2500 HP, 100 armor, 100 MR for our target. For poke, we combine the super poke trinity of Liandry’s luden’s Rylai’s with the full damage trinity of sorcs void and deathcap to maximize poke. You can sub out deathcap for a defensive or utility item and not lose very much poke damage. The main thing to have to maximize poke is Rylai’s Liandry’s and Luden’s.

For all in

To max your all in burst damage, you will always want deathcap, liandry’s, void, and a hextech item, leaving your last slot for a defensive item such as abyssal or zhonya’s or a poke item such as Rylai’s or luden’s.

Some example builds

Ideal build 1, all-in: GLP/proto, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap <-> Rylai’s
Ideal build 2, poke: Liandry’s, void, sorcs, luden’s, Rylai’s, dcap (delay void if getting close to true damage)
Scared against AP: GLP/proto <-> abyssal, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap
Scared against AD: GLP/proto <-> Zhonya’s, sorcs, void, liandry’s, dcap

Important ideas, conclusions.

1. Luden’s is for poke, not for burst. Get proto/glp or penetration for burst.
2. Don’t get Rylai’s until after Liandry’s unless you REAAAAALLY need it.
3. Remember to build both HP and resistances if you are nervous about dying.
4. Hextech items are some of the best (combined with penetration) for burst damage.
5. Deathcap is great for burst, not so great for poke.
6. Liandry’s is really really great for poke. Good for burst too, even excellent if they’re building health.
7. For damage, as long as you aren’t doing true damage, get void staff as your second item unless you need HP, in which case get it right after.

Support Zyra

As for support Zyra, I think all of this data cements the already common build of Liandry’s into Rylai’s. You can rush Rylai’s if you really value the utility but I think Liandry’s first is much better in almost every situation. For your next item rush void staff for damage or Luden’s for poke, and close the build with the other, OR a situational item like Banner or Zhonya’s if you feel you don’t need more damage. Of course this 4 item build assumes you’re building Eye of the Watchers. Recently, ruby sightstone has been buffed, but as I don’t recommend building many active items on Zyra, I don’t think it’s worth it in a standard game.

Runes

OK, we finally come to runes. Runes have a much much smaller effect than items, but the short answer is that you want to run magic penetration marks, glyphs, and quints whenever possible. I still take MR glyphs and armor quints against tough AP and AD matchups, respectively, but if you aren’t in danger of dying before 1-2 items, go for the magic penetration. Hybrid penetration isn’t awful, but it’s about the same in the early game with auto attacks and it is a fair bit worse as the game progresses, so I don’t use them. Finally, magic penetration glyphs even scale better than scaling AP glyphs in the late game, so they aren’t very worth it, though running scaling CDR glyphs is solid if you want CDR and don’t have it in your build.

TLD vs. DFT

OK, a QW+AA combo is almost perfectly 2 seconds long, so DFT will be active for 4 seconds. At level 3 with a doran’s ring, TLD does 26 damage, DFT does 12. If we had 140 AP (Morellos and an amp tome), they would deal the same amount. Of course you WOULDN’T have those items at level 3. You would have those items at level 9, but Thunderlord’s scales on level and DFT doesn’t, so if you had those items at level 9, TLD does 88 damage and DFT does 39. Get the idea? I double checked my calculator’s authenticity with a video of it in action and almost everything everything is identical (with the exception of my calculator being off by 3 in plant damage). TLDR go Thunderlord’s on Zyra unless you really value late game teamfighting.

Conclusion

OK, so that’s pretty much it. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. You can ask them here, on my Twitter, or on my stream. I hope you enjoyed it and may your enemies feel the thorns’ embrace.

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