The Fall of Athene's Unholy Grail



Sat 2nd Mar 2013 - 5:57pm

Athene’s Unholy Grail
Athene's Unholy Grail

+60 ability power
+40 magic resistance
+15 mana regeneration (per 5 seconds)
20% cooldown reduction
UNIQUE -- Mana Font: Increases your mana regeneration by 1% per 1% mana you are missing.
UNIQUE: Restores 12% of your max mana on kill or assist.
Cost: 2,600g (900g combine cost from Fiendish Codex and Chalice of Harmony)


When Athene’s was introduced, it was incredibly overpowered. In the Season 2 World Championships, it was consistently built -- notably by the Korean mid laners. Recognizing the problem, Riot cut the AP on the item by ⅔s, increased the combine cost and only slightly lowered the full item cost to compensate. Use of the item tapered off, and, instead of being universally used, the item became a more champion-specific pick. The most recent patch, however, reduced the items costs and increased its CDR from 15 to 20%. So where does the item stand now?

Why It Was Good

Athene’s was such a strong pick because it covered some of the most important stats for a mid laner: a decent amount of AP, the same MR as a Negatron Cloak, relatively high CDR and a plethora of mana regen effects. It helped both offensively and defensively in lane while giving an AP champion more poking ability and mana sustain. Furthermore, it’s build path is filled with small, cheap pieces, making it easy to build early on. In other words, Athene’s had everything going for it. Especially for mana-hungry characters like Anivia or Lux that have a bit of a rough start, Athene’s was a solid pick in any game.


Tear of the GoddessMorellonomiconNegatron Cloak

The nerfs to Athene’s were not the only factors in its fall. In fact, one of the biggest was a buff to an old item: Tear of the Goddess. Weighing in at almost 300 gold cheaper than before, Tear is now getting picked up by more and more mid laners. Tear is a good, cheap early mana regen item (180 gold cheaper than Chalice) that transitions into one of the most powerful AP items in the entire game: Seraph’s Embrace.

In other words, Tear strikes at one of the biggest selling points of Athene’s -- early, cheap mana regen -- and offers an item that scales better into the late game on top of it. With the passive considered, Seraph’s gives far more AP than Athene’s and it’s active shield (a value of 25% of your current mana) is a powerful defensive tool that has huge value as a panic button like Zhonya’s Hourglass.

The other big component to Athene’s is the CDR, a stat that now comes in tiers because of most recent patch. The most effective replacement for a full 20% CDR AP item is Morellonomicon. This item has been really overlooked, but I think it’s incredibly powerful. At 75 AP, 12 mana regen, 20% CDR and a Grievous Wounds passive, Morellonomicon is a steal at 2,220 gold. But that’s not all: it builds from a GP10 item (Kage’s), which is a huge benefit.

Players like Henrik ‘Froggen’ Hansen have been using the Tear+Morellonomicon combination on characters like Lux in place of Athene’s. Here’s a stat comparison of the differences between these items:







Mana Regen







250 - 1,000



Grievous Wounds

Mana Font + K/A Regen




For just 300 gold more, you get 15 AP, 4 mana regen, up to 1,000 mana and a different passive. In mid lane, you’ll likely have blue buff a fair amount of the time, so the higher base regen of Tear+Morellonomicon combined with their larger mana pool means that mana will not likely be a problem, rendering Athene’s passives significantly less useful. And, whereas Athene’s is the end of its item tree, Tear+Morellonomicon puts you on the path to an incredibly powerful late game item, setting you up for progression throughout the game.

The reason why you would use this combination on a character like Lux is simple: squishy burst casters are almost always going to die when caught. In the end, the 25-40 MR of Chalice/Athene’s is probably not going to save you, especially as the game goes on for longer. Thus, the other stats provided by Tear+Morellonomicon are a better overall utilization of gold

Finally, the MR component. If you’re facing a truly hard lane, buying a Negatron Cloak is a better choice than Athene’s. Chalice is 880 gold for only 25 MR while Negatron is 720 gold for 40 MR. In a tough lane, buying a Chalice is cutting corners and not addressing the root of the problem; it’s gold put into extra stats instead of just making sure you won’t die. You can also progress from Negatron to Abyssal Scepter, which is good on many mid lane heroes and provides some nice offensive benefits to transition into mid game with.


Athene’s has turned from an every game item into a situational pick. While it provides a great range of stats, other item combinations can match and improve on it for the cost and provide impressive late game benefits, as well. In general, I think several old Athene’s characters like the previously mentioned Lux would be well served by trying out the Tear+Morellonomicon combo. Combined with its limited use as a defensive item, this reveals Athene’s as an item that is just a little bit out of place -- it just isn’t consistently useful in the way that it used to.

Don’t take this article the wrong way: like almost every other item choice, it’s all situational. Sometimes you want just a little bit of extra defense and Chalice/Athene’s will fit the bill perfectly. Overall, however, Athene’s is no longer an item that you should blindly pick up every game.

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