I have a question: why don’t carries buy the wards?
Recently I’ve developed the habit of buying all the observer wards past 11 minutes whenever I play a farming role. Since I don’t usually don’t have spare slots and the time I would spend going around putting wards down is valuable, I simply put them on the courier and tell the support to pick it up. Ever since I’ve started doing this, I’ve experienced the following:
- More consistent ward coverage
- Supports carrying more utility consumables (smoke, dust)
- Sturdier supports
People I have discussed this with have suggested that this is a bad habit since every unit of gold should be milked to its full potential by carries. However, I think that there are few better investments than wards and other utility consumables both from the perspective of the farmer and of the team as a whole.
NOTE: I use the word “carry” and “farmer” as a broad term for people in the 1-3 roles. Sorry if this offends you. Also, though I am mainly referring to observer wards, the concept covers all shareable consumables.
Wards should always be on cooldown. With a duration of 6 minutes and an identical cooldown, it is possible to maintain a constant 2 wards on the map assuming no dewarding. Compared to a team with 0 or inconsistent warding, a team with a stable 2-ward presence has an unbelievable advantage in a number of ways. There are a few exceptional situations but this is a relatively obvious generalization that seems hard to argue against.
However, there are a number of reasons why constant ward presence is impossible or provides undue stress to the supports. While 130 gold is nothing in the eyes of a farmer, it is a significant investment by a support with low to passive income. On the other hand, there will never be a time when a carry isn’t able to spare that 130 gold.
Consider the TP scroll. After a certain point in the game, even the most hardcore farmers will always hold a TP. They provide global teamfight presence and are also reliable escape mechanisms. Often times, carries will spend a TP scroll simply to get to their lane faster and resume farming a few seconds quicker. With that example in mind, how much more valuable are two wards than the 10 seconds of extra farming? Sure you can avoid a lot of sticky situations by TPing out but how many more can you avoid by having good vision around the map?
At a cost of 130 gold, in a vacuum there are few items in the game that provide more value than observer wards. Imagine a scenario where supports are absolutely incapable of purchasing wards (the game doesn’t allow them to). There are very few situations where you as a farmer wouldn’t purchase wards since they significantly increase your safety, increase your team’s fighting potential, and provide other misc value (rune control, rosh watch). It’s a small investment towards a greater good for your team and for yourself.
On the other hand, 130 gold of “relief” is a godsend to a hard support. A 5-role support who is not expected to buy a single observer ward past 7 minutes will have noticeably better items and make a bigger impact (or at the very least die a little slower). With the limited gold that they have, supports often have to choose between two good items. “Could I afford finishing my bracer and delay the ward a minute?” “I am 100 away from my Arcanes but the ward is about to run out.” Or even “Hey an extra 130 gold towards my Blink Dagger.” A farming hero can help supports immensely by picking up the ward responsibility.
You see this concept in pro games all the time. In a trilane v trilane, an early fight broke out and the support gets a double kill. The commentators aren’t going “Oh what a waste of money.” They’re more often than not saying “That’s a faster X item on the support!” If the old adage ‘money saved is money earned’, then why not help a support out? It seems counter-intuitive to make the poorest player always buy the critical item.
“But redtooth, if you really think the support need more money why don’t you just let them last hit?” Well the problem is that supports suck at last hitting. In the early game, when supports are most present in lanes, the carry needs to get the lion’s share of gold since obtaining the core items is essential. I don’t advocate a carry buying a ward as one of their opening items. On the other hand, 12 minutes into the game the farmer usually has a steady flow of gold rolling in while the support is still stuck on the passive gold income. 130 gold is 20 seconds of farming even for a 360 GPM carry but a minute of sitting around for a 130 GPM support. If time is a resource, the carry has to spend less of it purchasing a ward.
As I argued earlier, a carry will rarely be unable to spare 130 extra gold. With that in mind, it’s possible to go into games seeing observer wards as a constant rather than a luxury. You may argue that in theory wards should be a constant. But often in practice that isn’t the case. This shift in responsibility guarantees warding and also opens up a new constant: other consumables. While supports can use their extra gold to build into their core items , they could also use the gold to carry extra smokes, extra dusts, attempt more dewarding, block more camps, etc.
What if instead of going into a game thinking “I hope wards are up all times” you go into a game thinking “I know wards will be up at all times, I hope the enemy ancients are blocked at all times”. Or "I know wards will be up at all times, I hope the enemy wards are dewarded at all times". It pushes wards from “expected” to “guaranteed” and pushes other items from “luxury” to “expected”. A significant shift from a 130gold/6minute investment.