While complex, both features are intuitive to incorporate into your LoL experience. Like most guides, however, I will recommend not using Runes until you reach Level 21, because you do not have access to the Tier 3 Runes that give the best buffs.
First, let's make sure we define the terms more thoroughly.
Masteries: At every level, a player receive a point to use in their Mastery Page(s) that unlocks a special bonus to starting statistics and abilities. There are three Mastery sections: Offense, Defense, and Utility. Offense improves damage output, armor reduction, magic penetration, and similar base statistics, as well as offering bonus abilities like Life Steal or Cooldown Reduction. Defense takes care of your armor, magic resistance, regeneration, and similar base statistics, as well as offering bonus abilities such as extra gold for kills or lowering damage from Area of Effect sources. Utility runs the gamut, from movement speed steroids to cooldown reduction, or adding free gold to your starting stash. There are 49 Masteries to select from, and a later tip will examine each of them in detail. Masteries for individual Champions or role set-ups are expressed using a */*/* notation. In the example, the Champion is supporting bot lane using 0/9/21 Masteries.
Runes: A Rune is a special item available for purchase from the Riot Store that increases your starting statistics based on what type of Rune you select. There are Marks, Seals, Glyphs, and Quintessences. Marks, Seals, and Glyphs all work the same way, and at Level 30 you can have up to 9 of each. Quintessences are more powerful, and typically more expensive to purchase, and at Level 30, you will have access to 3 Quintessence slots (with one becoming available at Level 10, and another opening up when you hit 20). There are hundreds of Runes, and a later tip will record each of them, but for now, this is designed as an overview of the Rune and Mastery systems. The example shows a blank rune page where Red slots are for Marks, Gold slots are for Seals, and Azure slots are for Glyphs. The three runic scripts are where your Quintessences will be placed.
Setting Up Runes and Masteries: Designed to increase customization, there is no wrong way to use your Masteries as you increase in level and become more exposed to the game. Later on, proper set up will be key to competing in lane during the beginning of your matches, and less experimentation is recommended. For example, as adorable as it is, actually taking a point in Demolitionist will be actively interpreted as trolling, as the Mastery simply does not offer enough to be worthwhile. (Your basic attacks deal 10 bonus damage to turrets, which is such a small increase that it literally has no effect on the game)
As a general rule, although there are many, many exceptions, carries, junglers, and mid lane champions will be set up 21/9/0. Support will almost always appear 0/9/21. Top lane bruisers or tanky champions will frequently be seen 9/21/0. When it doubt, using these suggestions as a benchmark will help you build appropriately for your role. (Again, there are dozens of exceptions, such as a Champion like Irelia usually playing 9/12/9 or a carry like Sivir who is probably best set up as 21/2/7)
With Runes, the most popular Marks are Attack Damage, Armor Penetration, or Attack Speed for damage dealing carries, or Magic Penetration and Ability Power boosts for AP Champions like Morgana or Diana. Seals are frequently seen buffing Armor, or adding similar Mana boosts. If you plan on playing support, it is absolutely critical to pick up Greater Seals of Avarice (+0.25 Gold per 10 seconds) as soon as you have access to them at level 21. Glyphs tend to be defensive in nature, often adding Magic Resistence, bonus Health, or cooldown reductions.
When setting up your Runes, keep in mind that more is definitely better. Having a single Greater Mark of Desolation adding 1.66 armor penetration is far less useful than having 9 of them giving you +15. This is especially true of the Runes that buff in percentages, so you won't want to mix and match very often.
Using the Runes and Masteries in Game: So you get all of these neat buffs or at least have the potential to have them, but what is the point? I'm glad you asked, anonymous internet person, because if you hadn't, I would just be talking to myself and I wouldn't have a good introduction to this paragraph.
|Except for this totally awesome, although irrelevant GIF|
Your main goal with Runes and Masteries can be split into two parts. Either you are attempting to enhance something your Champion does well, or you are attempting to improve some aspect of the Champion that they is normally lacking.
This is how you end up with ADCs packing tons of extra attack damage runes and running 21 Mastery points in Offense and supports that use the Utility section of their Masteries to increase their movement speed or gold production.
If you are fortunate enough to have multiple Rune Pages and have taken advantage of the 20 free Mastery Pages you are provided with, then you can even adopt certain set-ups based on your lane match-up. This happens most often in Draft games, where you can more or less determine who you are going to be laning against based on the picks the opposing team makes. Going up against someone with a ton of Magic Damage? Why not select some Magic Resistance Runes to give yourself a leg up. Fighting a squishy top lane? Equip extra damage and smash them with potent harassing attacks.
The possibilities are nearly infinite, and strategy websites that include Champion builds such as LOLPRO or MOBAFire can give you some suggestions on where to start with your bonus stats. Or you could even stick around WTMCF for the eventual reveal of our own build guides, which should happen sooner than you think (unless you think it is happening next week, in which case it won't happen until long after you apparently assume it will).
Until next time, may all your ultimates end in kills and all your matches with "Victory."