Book of the Jungler: Jungle Pets and You

Here is a quick guide on which animal companion to choose on your trips through the Summoner Rift’s jungles.

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Welcome to the new jungle! | © Riot Games

The preseason changes in LoL have had the biggest effect on the jungle, and the jungle pets are the most obvious one. In addition to the overall buffs to jungle monsters, we also saw another incarnation of the starting jungler item that has been around since the game’s start. Since 12.22, the Emberknife and Hailblade have gone the way of the venerable Hunter’s Machete, and instead champions with the Smite summoner spell have access to three special starting items - the Gustwalker Hatchling, Scorchclaw Pup and the Mosstomper Seedling. They are at first similar in rules, but have unique specials as they evolve. So how do you pick the right one?

All three items cost the same - 450 gold, require having selected the Smite summoner spell and give you a companion that will go with you on the map. All of them give a +20% bonus damage to monsters in your half of the jungle. You will also get 60 bonus experience from large monsters (150 extra from your first one) and recover some health and mana depending on your level shortly after killing them, with bonus mana regeneration in the jungle or river. Finally, you get a pet which will attack any monster attacking you and do damage that scales with your level, damage, AP and health, and you will even get some of the damage done as health regeneration.

You have a choice between three pets - the Gustwalker, Scorchclaw and Mosstomper. At first, they are identical mechanically, but as you feed them treats - which you get from killing large monsters and as the game goes on - they will evolve twice, increasing your smite damage and unlocking extra abilities and damage resistance from your smite target when you have at least two allies nearby after the second evolution. However, with most other things being equal, it will be the second evolution that truly differentiates them. All three are viable, but in their fully evoked form, they give you unique abilities.

  • Gustwalker: the pet geared towards mobility, having a fully evolved Gustwalker will give you 45% bonus move speed when you enter a brush, decaying over 2 seconds after you leave. If you kill a large monster, you will get a 60% bonus move speed instead, with the same decay. While it is a somewhat niche choice, it can help you get the drop on enemies during a gank or to disengage, especially on an ocean soul map with its extra brushes.
  • Mosstomper: your personal mountain soul special,what’s not to like? The Mosstomper gives you a shield scaling with your level after killing a large monster or for being out of combat for 10 seconds. In addition to the extra health, you will also get 20% tenacity and slow resist while shielded and for 3 seconds afterwards. The shield does not stack and it might be more efficient percentwise on junglers who aren't so good against burst damage, but most everyone can appreciate the extra defense.
  • Scorchclaw: when this pet is fully evolved, you get ember stacks over time and immediately max them out after killing a large monster. When you are at max stacks, the first time you damage an enemy champion you expand all of them to damage them and anyone near them for 4% of their max HP over 4 seconds and inflicting a 30% slow that decays over 2 seconds.

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