League of Legends Patch 6.9 hit live servers on May 4, and with it came an overhaul of the mage class items. While most of the changes were aimed at hitting the major focus on mana regeneration and being able to spam as many spells as possible without glancing at your mana bar, the other changes provide some interesting choices going forward on what items to build on your favorite mage.
Items like Morellonomicon and Athene's Unholy Grail were changed in order to differentiate them from each other. Previously, you could pick either one as a default "mana regeneration" item and not really think about why you'd want one or the other. Now, Morellonomicon's mana restoration happens on kills or assists, and Grievous Wounds enables mages that want to kill their lane opponent as soon as possible (and as many times as possible), while Athene's Unholy Grail's Blood Charge passive is a better choice for support-oriented mages such as Orianna or Lulu, who bring damage, crowd control, and team support to engage and disengage from fights.
Previous to this patch, strategic choice was punishing when itemizing specifically for the opponent you were facing. Rushing Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter would put you behind your build path to do optimal damage to your opponents and be relevant in team fights.
With clearer, more defined options; a price reduction on Zhonya's Hourglass, and the addition of cooldown reduction to both Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass, you can feel good about rushing these items to defend yourself and still be on your way to maximize your stats, build your essential damage items, and start snowballing against your opponents.
The overall diversity of the revised mage items (and the new hextech items) help more clearly define the mage class and the roles they play in a team composition. The new Hextech items provide interesting new passives and actives that provide a choice to help each mage do what they do best. Need another way to surprise-Tibbers your enemy while playing Annie? Hextech Protobelt-01 is for you. Need more sustain on health and mana and to slow your opponents when landing that perfect Shockwave on Orianna? The Hextech GLP-800 is your friend. Plus, each Hextech item builds out of the Hextech Revolver, which has a new passive that will grant you an extra bit of burst upon hitting an enemy with a basic attack.
Have you had a chance to jump into a game and try out these items yet? Which Hextech item is your favorite? What do you think about the changes to the existing items? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!