League of Legends Tip of the Day: The Case For Secret Stash

by James Bates

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(Photo: League of Legends)

What is the most unappreciated mastery in the game? The answers to that question are probably as numerous as the masteries in the game, especially if you go into champion-specific interactions like Windspeaker's Blessing on Vladimir (definitely not a combination the WWG endorses, for the record). There is one mastery that stands out in it's underutilization to me more than any other, however, and that mastery is Secret Stash. While mid laners take the mastery with relative frequency, as do supports, top laners and ADCs rarely do, and I believe that is a mistake.

The first question that needs to be addressed, however, is why players don't take Secret Stash, especially considering very few champions don't invest some number of points into the cunning tree. That answer is simple, it shares a mastery tier with Assassin, and the two are mutually exclusive. Most players reflexively select any mastery that can amp their damage, regardless of it's conditionality, which makes Assassin the go-to pick for many players.

Now, there's certainly times where that's justified. Champions with extreme levels of sustain, such as Vladimir, or who rarely take damage at all, such as Graves, have little need for the extra sustain that Secret Stash brings to the table. If you're loading onto the rift as a champion that fits that qualifier, than Assassin is a no-brainer, even if it is conditional. As anyone else, however, the comparison is far more nuanced than it might look at first glance.

Assassin has two major flaws to it, one of which is merely an inconvenience, but the other is so major that it makes me wonder why anyone takes it at all. The inconvenient part of the mastery is part of it's intended function. It turns off when there's an enemy champion nearby, which makes it completely useless in teamfights or skirmishes, the very place where a 2% damage buff would maybe come in handy.

While junglers, top laners, and some spit push oriented mid laners may find them in a situation to use it regularly, it's still a rather major constraint that seems unjustified considering the power level of the mastery, which brings us to our next point. A 2% damage buff just isn't all that much. An extra 2 damage for every 100 damage you would deal just isn't an appreciable increase in power. To put things in comparison, a version of Assassin that was active all the time would still give an ADC less damage than an extra long sword would over the case of a game.

In comparison, Secret Stash offers quite a bit more over the course of a game, despite it's early game focus. First off, if you're planning on buying a Corrupting Potion, you should always take Secret Stash. Period. It's gold value become insane over the course of the game, as you'll likely consume anywhere from fifteen to twenty charges over the course of the game, which adds up to quite a lot. However, that isn't to say that Secret Stash is limited to Corrupting Potion exploiters, and it's most valuable use may be in a role that almost never takes the mastery, ADC.

The reasoning here is simple. The role that averages the most potion purchases in a standard game of League of Legends at the moment outside of support is actually ADC, as the current meta enforces a start of Long Sword and three health pots with extreme frequency due to all the harass in the current bot lane metagame. Assuming that you buy no other potions over the course of the game, which is a pretty unrealistic scenario, Secret Stash will already net you an additional 90 hp and 45 mana, which is more than can be said for Assassin. Further potion purchases which are, let's be honest, more likely than not, only cause Secret Stash to accrue even more value.

Big deal, you might say. An extra 90 hp is nothing over the course of the game! While you would be correct if that 90 hp just was tacked on at a random point in the game, you are likely underestimating the value that an extra 90 hp has during your first trip out from the base, which is when you would be getting it in this case. Consider: what kind of nonsense would be possible at level 2 in the bottom lane if one ADC started the game with a 90 hp shield? That amount of HP that early in the game is no laughing matter, and the simple fact that the precursor to this mastery, Biscuiteer, did less and cost a point further down the tree, yet was still considered mandatory for anyone that invested in it's mastery tree should highlight just how good Secret Stash can be.

While this analysis is far from comprehensive, I hope that the point has been made. I would certainly not claim that Secret Stash is the best mastery in the game, or even amongst the best. Still, Assassin is, in my eyes, even worse, and Runic Affinity is beneath contempt. Next time you find yourself building a mastery page, give Secret Stash a try. Ninety hp is the difference between taking first blood for yourself and giving it to the enemy, and well all know how influential that can be. Sometimes one first blood is all that stands between you and a promotion to he next rank up. Think on it, try it out, and feel free to come back and comment on how it worked out for you.

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.