It's patch day! There are a lot of things to be covered, but our two major themes are: gameplay updates and help for the marksmen. Focusing on the gameplay updates first, we're finally ready to roll out Nidalee and Skarner, two of the highest priority projects for the champion update team. For Nidalee, she's always been one of the best at forcing low counterplay games through her long-range spears and high evasiveness. You'll be hearing more of the same in her individual context, but Nidalee's been a big challenge for us as we try to maintain her satisfying gameplay without coming at the cost of 9 other players forced to play her way as well. Skarner's a bit of a different story, as our last gameplay update for him in 4.2 might have made him a more balanced champion but didn't leave enough to be an exciting pick for you scorpion fans out there. These changes make Skarner a stickier, more disruptive arachnid, so we hope this'll give you a good reason to pick him back up.
As for the help for the marksmen, we've got a whole pile of attack damage, lifesteal, and attack speed itemization changes that should open up early to mid game item builds as well as bridging the gap between burst-focused AD marksmen (looking at you, Lucian) and the more traditional auto-attack focused marksmen (Vayne / Tristana / etc). You can get the full rundown of the changes below, but the overarching goal is to give more strength back to the marksman role while also leveling the playing field in terms of champion viability. There are a lot of changes to digest here (we've removed the passive movement speed debuff on Randuin's Omen!), so make sure you get informed before hopping into your next ranked game.
Oh, and did I mention Bloodthirster got a different passive and we're adding two new items? Well, I just did! Read on for the 4.10 patch notes!
Chris "Pwyff" Tom
Just in time for the weekend!
With her oppressively high spear damage and catlike (maybe just cat-ish) elusiveness, Nidalee's been a contentious low-risk, low-interaction champion for quite some time. Specifically, old Nidalee's gameplay often revolved around the question of "when should I stop throwing spears?" to which the answer was typically "never."
To that end, our goals with this Nidalee gameplay update are to tone down some of her many frustration points while also giving her more options other than chucking projectiles. We also saw this as a great opportunity to cement Nidalee as a real shapeshifting huntress, which meant stronger ties from her human form to her cougar form. Additionally, by connecting Nidalee's offense with cougar form, she now has to balance her high escape potential against her ability to hunt down squishy targets ("Leap away or leap at their face?"). There's certainly more counterplay (and teamplay for those playing around Nidalee engages) when a cougar goes flying into the backline versus a single nuclear-tipped spear.
Nidalee tosses her javelin, dealing magic damage. If it exceeds her basic attack range it gains damage based on distance flown, up to a cap at 80% of its additional range.
Nidalee lays a Bushwhack trap. When an enemy springs the trap, they are revealed in addition to taking damage over 4 seconds.
Nidalee heals a target ally champion and grants them bonus attack speed for 7 seconds.
Nidalee transforms into a vicious cougar with the abilities Takedown, Pounce, and Swipe. Rawr.
Nidalee's next attack deals magic damage. Takedown deals additional damage to targets at lower health, up to 250% total damage.
Nidalee lunges forward a short distance, dealing magic damage to enemies in the landing area.
Nidalee claws at enemies, dealing magic damage in an area in front of her.
Nidalee transforms back into a human. Meow.
Crystal Slash now gives Skarner Movement Speed per stack of Crystal Energy. Skarner's passive has been replaced with one that allows him to stun targets when he builds up spell hits on them.
And we're back with our second Skarner update! We've spoken at length about getting Skarner to a more exciting place since our initial changes in 4.2, but we needed to make sure we were giving him a stronger identity without bringing back his old gameplay issues (particularly his 'feast or famine' problem where he'd either succeed really hard or he'd get squished without contributing much to a fight).
In approaching these changes, we heard a lot of your feedback about getting Skarner closer to his old role as a sticky crowd-control focused tank-bug (arachnid, whatever) and less of a damage-dealing scorpion duelist. Ultimately these changes should give Skarner a stronger identity as a disruptive tank while also giving him more opportunities to peel in a team fight, even if he's behind. We've obviously had to tune back some of Skarner's offensive powers to give him that extra annoyance, but this time around he should feel closer to his old lonesome self.
Magic resistance per level for Galio has been commonly requested by gargoyle fans around the world and, given our nerf to Athene's Unholy Grail (an item typically considered 'core' on Galio), we figured we could give him a thicker skin.
Graggy's gotten better at drinking under fire. This change means Gragas will only have to worry about losing the damage buff if he's interrupted mid-drink, but he'll feel better about using W to tank out a brawl.
We're following up Karthus' visual update with a couple bug fixes and late additions. We're also continuing to keep an eye the on the readability of Karthus' spells.
No more silence. Only tears.
LeBlanc's a champion who has a lot of power associated with her character - omnidirectional movement, high burst damage, precise target selection, a cool hat - so it's been difficult to give her meaningful counterplay without directly hurting that identity. We're taking a more deliberate approach here because we want LeBlanc to remain an exciting champion to play and watch, but removing the silence on Q means at least her opponents can fight back when she's QRWEing (or WQREing or WRQEing for those long range fancy plays) around the fight. That said, LeBlanc will definitely stay on our radar as we track how she's performing post-change.
At higher levels of play, Lucian tends to be a master-of-all-trades marksman with his strong damage in lane, high mobility, decent scaling, and general safety in teamfights. With the new AD itemization changes, however, we don't want to implement bigger modifications with so much in the air. At this point in time we do think Lucian will need some broader changes to give him meaningful weaknesses, but a reduction on W (which was designed for utility as opposed to any form of burst damage) is something we're confident is in line with our potential changes in the future.
As a side note, this might also affect Pantheon's ability to ignite opponents while he's falling through the air.
While our previous mana cost nerfs accomplished their goal of reducing Sivir's uninteractive laning, they also made her mana pool too limiting in late game team fights, which we're compensating now.
Apparently when Thresh's basic attack was charging up from Flay, it used the wrong buff icon. This change adds... CLARITY!
Rocket Jump is cheaper and is more forgiving to use when jumping around / over walls. Buster Shot's range scales with character level.
We're giving Trist some modernization buffs to help emphasize her high moments (STOMP THEM ALL TRIST!). For additional context, the Rocket Jump change doesn't mean you'll make every wall-jump, but it should be more forgiving when used around terrain. If you're still failing wall-jumps, get closer before jumping!
Twitch's passive does less damage per second. Twitch can now be delayed from entering stealth (through damage) for much longer than before.
We think Twitch has awesome lategame power, but he's also got a offensively strong early game on top of having a lot of safety throughout. To focus on that safety aspect, Ambush's stealth often let Twitch make an escape even when already caught out by enemies. We do think the new AD itemization changes will benefit the smelly rat, but the focus here is (mostly) to provide some additional counterplay for preventing stealth (hit him in the face!).
We've got some major itemization changes this patch with a specific focus on the marksman role as a whole. As we mentioned in the foreword, our goal is to open up the landscape of attack damage and attack speed item choices. In terms of specific challenges, we saw that in the 2014 season, lifesteal was quickly becoming a 'must have' stat for marksmen with Bloodthirster leading the pack. What ends up happening with BT being a dominant buy is that it both heavily favors burst-AD champions and also snowballs lanes toward who can get their BT first. Bloodthirster being the best first purchase also has a secondary effect of reducing a lot of mid to late game marksman power as they're not going for the multiplicative damage stats (crit and attack speed) to punch through the tanky dudes. We also took the opportunity to make other adjustments to items like Warden's Mail / Randuin's Omen so that they're not so straight up mean to auto-attack reliant champions.
What these changes should do is give all marksmen equal build paths forward without one being much, much better than the other. This also allows us to do two neat things:
1.) With the Doran's Blade change, marksmen can tailor their lifesteal needs by picking up multiple DBlades to sustain through the laning phase without having to always commit to an early BT or Blade of the Ruined King.
2.) We can set all end-game marksmen items to build out of a B.F. Sword with 80 attack damage as the baseline. This means when you pick up a B.F. Sword, you know it'll build into a strong end-game item - it's just a matter of deciding which sort of defensive or offensive utility you want to get out of it.
In high level play, Mikael's Crucible was often being rushed as a primary 'core' item on most supports (beyond Sight Stone and a finished gold per 5 item), which meant long-cooldown, heavy engage teams had a lot of problems properly kicking off a teamfight if the enemy simply Mikael'd the caught target to safety. This ends up putting a lot more emphasis on teams who can 'catch' out targets multiple times (Elise, Morgana, etc) so that Mikael's is only useful for one of those cases. A Mikael's in every game also made things doubly sad for utility-focused marksmen like Ashe or Varus who bring big control abilities to the table. Our changes to Mikael's is to push it more toward a mid to late game luxury buy against heavy engage / pick team compositions but isn't so attractive as a purchase that it's found in every game.
This also lets us introduce a new mid-tier support item in the form of Ardent Censer! We're particularly excited about Censer because of all the possibilities it can bring to the support role, particularly the more defensively focused shield / heal champions like Alistar, Janna, Sona, or Soraka.
With Mikael's going up in cost and offering more mana regeneration / cooldown reduction, we felt we should also take a look at Athene's Unholy Grail, a very cost-efficient item that gives pretty much everything a wave-clearing AP mid laner needs to push all day (looking at you Ziggs). The reason we chose to tune down Athene's defensive stats rather than its offensive power is to make it a little less of a 'perfect' safe pushing item so opponents can potentially find windows of engagement. The buff to Morellonomicon is just to make it feel better as a late-game item.
We're generally happy with what the new Teleport changes are achieving, but it's a little too strong as a lane recovery ability. Particularly in competitive play we were seeing a lot of top laners constantly using Teleport as a way of stagnating the early lane rather than trying to set up for global map pressure.
With the removal of Randuin's Omen's passive movement speed debuff, we saw that Heal was giving too much additional safety when a marksmen takes on a fighter, so we're tuning Heal down just a bit.
By slightly raising the base gold reward of dragon, we're hoping to continue to emphasize its value as an early level objective. This also means teams who consistently kick off lane swaps will need to make greater strategic tradeoffs for a safer lane.