League of Legends solo queue tip: the power of an early Rift Herald

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

For those looking to get small advantages in order to climb League of Legends, we talk about the importance of and advantages of getting an early Rift Herald.

Back in Patch 7.9, the Rift Herald was changed to drop the Eye of Herald, granting a summon for the person who captures it. Once summoned, the Herald will charge down the nearest lane and do massive damage to the first turret it encounters.

Rift Herald often gets overlooked by League of Legends players in the laning phase because it is very difficult to capture, especially early in the game, and doesn’t grant the raw stat boost that a dragon does. But when taken in combination with another recent change to towers in Preseason 9, Rift Herald also offers a huge opportunity many players aren’t taking advantage of.

Back in the preseason, Riot changed towers to be encircled by five tower plates for the first 14 minutes of the game. While these tower plates make it more difficult to destroy a tower and get that awesome first turret gold, they do give a reward. Each one destroyed (each plate represents 1/5 of the outer tower’s 5,000 health) grants 160 gold, to be divided among all nearby enemy champions.

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After 14 minutes, these tower plates, which are sources of gold disappear and the 160 gold payouts for all unclaimed towers disappear as well. This is where Rift Herald comes into play and provides an interesting opportunity.

When summoned, Rift Herald will wind up and charge at the outer-most tower in the nearest lane, dealing 40% of Rift Herald’s current health or 1,500 damage, whichever is greater. That means if Rift Herald is at full health at its initial spawn (when it has the minimum 4,000 base health) it will deal 1,600 damage to the tower. This means, at minimum, the first charge of Herald, if summoned before the 14-minute mark, will destroy one and a half towers and grant a minimum of 160 gold.

This may not sound like a lot, but consider this scenario. You’re the jungler, taking Rift Herald at around 12-14 minutes into the game. After taking the Herald, you make your way top or mid, execute a quick gank, and get left alone with a full health tower.

If you drop Rift Herald, you are guaranteed to get 1,500 damage down before you even attack the turret. If you keep Herald alive long enough, he’ll continue attacking the tower while giving you and your ally time to keep damaging the tower.

Between the initial charge and the continued attacks, you can easily take two or three plates down before the tower attacks kill the Rift Herald. That’s 320-480 shared gold, not counting any gold you get from a possible champion kill on the gank.

But, if that tower only had two or three turrets left, a Rift Herald can easily finish the tower off in one shot. This will not only consume all the remaining plates available, but it can also grant the first turret gold if that is still available. That’s 400 gold on top of the gold for the tower plates.

That means, if you use Rift Herald before the 14-minute mark on a tower that is below 3,000 health, you can potentially get 720 gold just from hitting the tower if you get all the remaining plates plus first tower gold. By comparison, you only get 700 gold for killing an enemy who is on a four-kill streak (rampaging). 720 gold is worth slightly less than six waves worth of minions, including cannons, early in the game.

This is a huge source of available gold in every single game if your team is able to capture that Rift Herald early, and use it in a snowballing lane. Yes, you can use Rift Herald after that first 14-minutes, but you are giving up that 300-500 gold from tower plates that you are not destroying. So if you can, try to get and use that Rift Herald early to maximize the amount of gold you get from its usage.

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Do you think Rift Herald should be higher-prioritized in the early game? Let us know if you’ve been taking Rift Herald in the comments!