This got a LOT longer than I expected to, but I hope it’s enjoyable and starts good discussion.
I love Annie. I enjoy her simple playstyle in an ever-evolving game. I enjoy her simple kit. CC passive, targeted damage, AOE damage, damage reduction, AOE ult damage. I enjoy that she doesn’t dash all over the map or play clone mind games or have twenty different mechanics to keep track of when you play against her. I enjoy that she lets me focus on the other aspects of the game. She has long been lauded as an excellent introductory character while having a decent impact that only really diminishes at the highest levels of play.
So if she is so simple, why can’t anybody figure her out?
But first a disclaimer about me. I am a Plat 2 and climbing Annie main so while statistically I am pretty good, this sub thinks I am trash so take this post with a grain of salt. However, the point of this is to focus less on my personal views on the champ and instead look at the different high-level content available, focus on how varied it is, and what that means for League as an overall game.
Again, Annie is simple. That’s the main theme of this overly long submission when I should be focusing on my online classes. So what do I mean when I say “nobody can figure her out” if she is present at all non-professional elos in the game? Most champions in the game have a set of runes, items, and playstyle that most mains (and winrates) can agree is the optimal way to approach the game. Sure, some runes and builds will shift around based on matchups or game situations, but the gist is the same from game to game. But not the simplest champion in the game.
So let’s start from the beginning. You chose Annie. The game hasn’t even started yet. So what Runes do you slap on this literal fire ball? Well if you listen to Blitz, one of many apps that aggregates win rates to suggest the best setups and builds, it currently suggests Electrocute/Domination as your keystone suggesting an early game snowballing playstyle. A few days ago, it suggested Comet/Sorcery for your primary, which is also how AnnieBot plays. In Coach Curtis’ recent high-elo guide, he recommends Dark Harvest. The targeted CC makes many of these options fairly easy to proc.
For Domination Keystone minor runes, Cheap Shot and Eyeball Collection are pretty standard with the third being rounded out by either Ravenous or Relentless Hunter depending on if you want sustain or roam. For Sorcery Keystone minors, AnnieBot goes Nimbus Cloak, Transcendence, Gathering Storm which others often trade out for Scorch’s earlier trading power. Maybe the secondary tree is a less varied? Nope. Although common setups consist of using the other tree’s minor runes, it’s not always so cut and dry. For example, AnnieBot takes Inspiration’s secondary for the free boots and additional cooldown. Coach Curtis suggests Inspiration but instead opting for TimeWarp Tonic if you enjoy starting Corrupting Potion. Blitz often has Triumph and Coup de Grace from Precision.
Wow. It’s still pre-game.
Ugh Summoner Spells have to be more straightforward right. Well yes, but no. Electrocute/Scorch users will probably opt for Ignite’s early combat power. Coach Curtis suggests Teleport for the play making power and the ability to not miss creeps on a bad back. AnnieBot takes heal to stay safe, for the speed boost, and the 2v2 scuffle safety. This isn’t all that unique to Annie though, Summoner Spells are particularly interchangeable by design.
But finally, we are in game. I will skip starters and focus on the first item. What is Annie’s first complete item? If it’s me, Luden’s Echo combined with Electrocute, Cheap Shot, Scorch, and Ignite are enough to push for early game burst and kills. That is my particular playstyle. AnnieBot goes right for Archangel’s Staff for scaling. Different still, Coach Curtis is adamant about Protobelt being the most important for a variety of reasons. On GameLeap’s Annie course, Panther opts for a Rylai’s rush.
So why are there so many options? Why don’t stats support a single set of runes, items, and playstyles being superior to others, even if more than one is viable? Does nothing matter? Does everything matter? What is Annie? Early power bully? Burst assassin? Scaling mage? Tibbers DPS/CC bot?
Well it turns out, the highest level players can’t agree on that either. AnnieBot plays around scaling, stacking his Tear and being notorious for his farm farm farm playstyle. But then why take a poking rune (Comet) to not capitalize on the lane pressure? Which is why Coach Curtis opts for Dark Harvest with its scaling design. Panther supports early lane domination. Blitz seems to agree with numbers backing up the Electrocute runes most often. She doesn’t have the wave clear or the durability to be a strong roamer, but Teleport allows her to help around the map at the cost of lane power. Is she a poorly designed champ without a solid identity? Is she an excellently designed champ with an amazing variety of viable options?
I don’t know. I enjoy playing her and I enjoy climbing with her.
But what is the point of this? I’m not asking for buffs or nerfs, kit changes or more skins. Why did I type 1000 words on League’s simplest champion? Or is she less simple than people claim?
Again, I don’t know. But I think it’s important.
TL,DR: Annie is an extraordinarily versatile champion. Is that good or bad?