All That Glitters - A Guide to Gold and Gold Efficiency in League of Legends
Sat 7th Nov 2020 - 3:03pm
Within any given game of League of Legends, gaining and spending gold is the underlying core of your team’s goals. Without gold, you cannot effectively push for objectives or secure kills in teamfights. Rather than any sort of champion, it could almost be argued that the shopkeepers are the most important characters in the game. With the importance of gold in mind, it is important to ask a few questions: Where exactly does gold come from? How much gold does the enemy have? Which items should you buy and when? How efficient are your purchases? This guide will strive to answer these questions by discussing gold and gold efficiency.
Gold: Where Does It Come From?
Gold, for the most part, might just seem like this number in the bottom right of your screen that keeps ticking upwards and only goes down when you buy items. But where exactly does all the gold that your champion gains come from? Skipping over the passive gold gain that each champion has, let’s go over the many sources of gold within League.
As might be obvious, the most consistent way of gaining gold in League of Legends is through killing minions. Unless you’re playing support or jungle, you likely spend most of the game doing just this, watching your creep score go up as you do so. However, it is important to recognize that even if two players have an equivalent creep score, they might not have gained the same amount of gold from killing minions. This is because the average value of a wave of minions increases throughout the game. For example, where an average wave of minions at the start of the game provides 125 gold, the average wave at twenty-five minutes provides 195 gold. Thus, while looking at your opponent’s creep score is a reasonable way of sizing up their economic strength, remember that when they killed those minions is also important.
Moving out of the lanes and into the jungle, any jungler knows that killing monsters gives plenty of gold, with bigger monsters giving more gold than minions. However, building upon what was said in the previous paragraph about not judging creep score at first glance, every jungle camp increases creep score by four regardless of how many monsters were in said camp. So, even if your jungler kills all ten Krugs or just one Gromp, their CS goes up the same amount. However, that does not mean that each camp provides the same amount of gold. For example, while killing the entire camp of Raptors provides 85 gold, killing the Gromp provides 105. Of course, all of this is to say nothing of the Scuttle Crab or epic monsters, both of which also provide gold and account for four creep score. Even more so than in regard to killing minions, judging a jungler by their creep score can only offer a partially accurate description of their total gold value.
If you’re a support player, you’re likely familiar with this method of obtaining gold. As to not interfere with other allies who wish to kill minions to gain gold, buying support items offers two new ways of obtaining gold: either through killing minions occasionally with Relic Shield and Steel Shoulderguards, or by striking enemies and turrets with Spellthief’s Edge and Spectral Sickle. The key thing to remember about using these items at maximum efficiency is that you cannot kill too many minions, lest the gold generating quests that these items provide stop functioning. Other than that, remember to be killing siege minions if you have an item with Spoils of War or to be striking champions as often as possible if you have an item with Tribute.
Destroying Turrets and Turret Plates
More strategic players might advocate for taking turrets and turret plates as an effective way of gaining gold. This advice should absolutely be heeded, as destroying turrets not only earns you and your team some gold, but it also brings you closer to winning the game. Destroying any turret grants every member of your team 50 gold, along with distributing as much as 300 gold to members of the team who contributed to the destruction of said turret. If you are attacking an outer turret early in the game, destroying the plates that guard these turrets distributes 160 gold to teammates who contributed, making damaging the tower worthwhile in itself. What makes these unique from other sources of gold is that they never respawn, so once you make profit off of killing a turret, that’s it!
In lower ranks, killing champions is how most players seem to go about earning gold. In defense of this seemingly brutish strategy, killing an enemy champion potentially offers the highest amount of gold that you can gain from performing any single action: 1000 gold. While this is only possible when killing a champion who is performing incredibly well, it is also important to note that the minimum amount of gold that you can gain from a kill is 100, which you’ll recall is just under the amount gained from killing a wave of minions at the start of the game. In the end, if you’re looking to gain gold rather than experience, killing champions is a high-risk high-reward strategy which can allow you to increase your gold gains significantly.
Spending Gold and Gold Efficiency
So, now that you have earned some gold, how can you know if you’re spending it effectively? One metric which measures the effectiveness of purchases is gold efficiency. Let’s go over what this means and how it affects you!
What is Gold Efficiency?
Gold efficiency is, in short, a measurement of how efficient the stats are on any single item. It is calculated through dividing the total gold value of an item’s stats by the actual price that you pay for that item in the shop, including any components or combination costs that go into buying that item. For the sake transforming it into a percentage, this value is then multiplied by 100. Of course, this probably brings up one key question: what is an item’s gold value in stats and how is this different from price? To make this clearer, let’s work our way through an example.
Amplifying Tome is the basic item where the gold efficiency of ability power is derived from. Since it provides 20 ability power for the cost of 435 gold, we can know that ability power has a gold value of 21.75 gold per point of ability power.
Now that we understand where the gold value of a stat comes from, let’s work through how you would calculate the gold efficiency of a finished item!
Rylai’s Crystal Scepter is a finished item that builds out of three basic items: Blasting Wand, Amplifying Tome, and Ruby Crystal, along with a combination cost of 915 gold. This brings the total cost of the item up to 2600 gold. For this price, your champion gains 90 ability power and 300 health, along with a passive which makes damaging abilities apply a slow on enemy units. Ignoring the passive for a moment and just considering the stats, we know from the previous example that 90 ability power is worth about 1957.5 gold, and you can calculate using a similar method that 300 health is worth about 800 gold. Therefore, in sheer stats, the gold value of a Rylai’s Crystal Scepter’s stats is 2757.5 gold. Using the formula from above, this item ultimately works out to be 106.06% gold efficient before its passive is even factored in.
From a practical standpoint, all that you really need to know is that all stats have a gold value attached to them, and the total gold value in stats of an item can be more or less than its actual price. If the total gold value of an item’s stats is greater than its price, it is gold efficient! You’ll find that most items in League tend to be gold efficient, but the next section will go over some interesting cases.
Passive Exclusion and Conditional Gold Efficiency
As you might have noticed above, I did not include the passive of Rylai’s Crystal Scepter in its total gold value. This is because it is incredibly difficult to quantify the value that this passive would provide, as it is dependent on many different factors, including champion played, enemy and allied team compositions, other items and runes, etc. Keeping this in mind, there are many items that need to be considered beyond mere gold efficiency. Let’s run through a couple examples.
Hextech Protobelt-01 is a relatively standard example, as it provides 2371.67 gold value worth of stats in the form of ability power, cooldown reduction, and health, yet it costs 2500 gold. However, this is before taking into account the fact that it provides your champion with a dash that also fires out damaging bolts. The extra damage dealt by this active and the potential of having more movement options simply cannot be quantified, yet provide a lot of value outside of traditional gold efficiency.
Youmuu’s Ghostblade is a similar example but with an attack damage item. Without taking into account the active ability or passive of this item, it is only 78.68% gold efficient in pure stats. However, this can increase to a maximum of 122.47% gold efficiency when using its active and passive at the same time. Just as before, some aspects of an item simply cannot be captured effectively when just looking at stats.
There are also some items that could be considered conditionally gold efficient. Take Rod of Ages as a key example of this. When purchased, this item is only 97.12% gold efficient. However, after its passive builds up over ten minutes, it becomes 156.47% gold efficient. Mejai’s Soulstealer is quite similar yet more extreme, being merely 51.07% gold efficient with no stacks and 273.48% gold efficient when fully stacked. These items, although initially gold inefficient, reach efficiency after meeting a certain condition.
Purchasing Tips and Tricks
As with any mechanic in League, there are more and less effective ways to utilize your gold efficiently. One way to do this is to purchase stronger components which are more expensive rather than weaker, cheaper ones, since the stronger components offer more gold efficiency for the increased cost. For example, consider the Long Sword, which sets the gold efficiency for attack damage at 35 gold per point. While you could spend 350 gold on it to get something that is 100% efficient, you could also save and purchase a B. F. Sword, which is 107.69% efficient due to it providing 1400 gold worth of stats for only 1300 gold. In short, saving and buying more expensive items is ultimately more efficient in the long run.
As might be implicit from the previous section, gold efficiency should also be overlooked sometimes. A key example of this is when you purchase an advanced item, yet hold onto it without completing the finished item. Often this is done with items like Oblivion Orb or Executioner’s Calling, which are only 89.67% and 65.63% efficient respectively yet still provide incredibly powerful passives. While knowing gold efficiency is important, part of knowing gold efficiency is knowing when to ignore it.
In conclusion, it should be clear from what this article has covered that there is more to gold than meets the eye. Gold isn’t just this mysterious number ticking up in the bottom right corner of the screen as you play the game, but instead the backbone of League of Legends. As a result of this, knowing about gold efficiency is an important part of understanding how to invest your gold in ways that help you win games. If there is one key takeaway from this article, it is that while knowing how to gain gold and how to spend gold might not win you the game outright, it certainly puts you in a position where you can let your mechanics glitter like gold.