It's mid season! That doesn't mean we'll be making dramatic changes a la the 2014 preseason, but it does mean we can make some larger systemic changes in areas where we could. You'll see this in places like the support item recipe cleanup and the addition of two foundational support items. While we're not planning to completely change the landscape, this does mean that supports will be able to keep pace when purchasing ability power items and, in the future we'll be able to build out more support itemization paths for those who want it.
Also included in this patch are two gameplay updates (that's what we're calling 'em): Rengar and Gragas. Rengar's got some new tools to actually contribute to an ongoing team fight, while Gragas has traded some of his long-range barrel-sniping power for scrappy in-your-face brawlin' strength. Our overarching philosophy behind these two changes was mostly due to their binary gameplay, where both had clear success cases (usually involving the absolute destruction of a single target before they knew it) but, when they weren't succeeding, they were rarely allowed to contribute in meaningful ways. You can find out more details by reading below, but our goals were to provide more tools and, generally speaking, more cool things to do in a fight. Like belly slams.
Switching text labels for gold gain and crits to icons for faster readability and a more consistent experience across languages.
Rengar's received some buffs to his teamfight capabilities. Battle Roar is more effective the more people (or large monsters) he hits (there's no limit!) and empowered Bola Strike deals more damage and roots for longer (Bola Strike is also a long range skill shot). Thrill of the Hunt now only gives a speed boost for Rengar when he's chasing down his prey, but it now gives him tons of movement speed when he breaks out of stealth. In exchange, targets will be alerted when Rengar is stealthed and near leap range (he still won't be revealed). Ferocity abilities now scale independently of the base skill rank so they're always equal in power. Bonetooth Necklace is now a trinket (still offers vision) and doesn't stack attack damage, but it no longer loses stacks on death and yields additional utility as Rengar scores kills or assists.
Overall, the Rengar rework set out to accomplish two goals: add more depth to his gameplay and allow Rengar to contribute meaningfully to team fights as a hunter of weaker targets. Old Rengar's problem was that he was binary in design - he either got ahead and blew up squishies without recourse, or he fell behind and split pushed indefinitely, relying on his stealth for safe escapes. On its own, split pushing isn't an unhealthy strategy, but Rengar could do it with few tradeoffs (especially given his split pushing speed). Ultimately we preserved the more skill-intensive parts of Rengar, like his ability to stalk foes while moving around the fight, and tuned down his less interactive power. Final point on Bonetooth Necklace: now that it's a trinket it can be positioned as a core progression item for Rengar rather than a risky snowball item slot. Tonight we hunt!
Gragas gained stronger close-combat abilities! Drunken Rage now empowers his next attack to deal additional magic damage (plus a large portion of the target's maximum health) and Body Slam stuns and knocks back stricken foes. In exchange, Graggy's lost some of his long-range damage in both Barrel Roll (although Barrel Roll now slows movement speed) and Explosive Cask. Gragas just makes more sense as a fat, scrappy brawler than a long-range...barrel...sniper?
When we initially designed Gragas, we intended for him to be a drunken brawler who jumped into the fight to mess things up. As players began to master him, however, they focused more on his high ability power ratios and sniping potential while relying on Body Slam and Drunken Rage to get away. While we like to support emergent strategies for champions, playing Gragas like a long-range mage created some very imbalanced situations where either he could one-shot his opponents (success) or he couldn't (failure) and therefore became more sad than drunk. With this rework, Gragas should deliver on the core fantasy of a tanky drunkard who takes on his foes belly first.
Anivia's received a small quality-of-life buff to create a clear best use case (if you just want more damage) for Glacial Storm.
Did you know that when Fiddlesticks hides in a bush and you don't have vision of him, he can still affect you with Dread? Astute players knew this and learned to watch for his debuff, which made Fiddlesticks sad. We fixed that so Fiddlesticks wouldn't be so sad.
Quickdraw costs less mana to use, Collateral Damage's explosion damage is now 80% of the impact damage.
We're emphasizing the collateral part of Collateral Damage.
Apex Turret no longer spawns with a beam charge stored so it can't be dropped for an instant line-nuke. H-28G Evolution Turret and Apex Turret deal less damage.
The 'Dinger's been whomping a little too hard in the early game, so we brought Heimer's overall power level back to a reasonable place while keeping his late game gains. Additionally, the Upgraded!!! Apex Turret changes are meant to emphasize the difference (damage now vs. maximum damage later) between an Upgraded!!! Rocket Storm versus an Upgraded!!! Apex Turret.
Kha'Zix must stay out of stealth longer between casts of Void Assault. Evolved Active Camouflage no longer reduces damage from turrets when Kha'Zix is stealthed.
We love seeing Kha'Zix players adapt to the changes to Evolved Active Camouflage. Unfortunately, the increased duration of Void Assault combined with extremely short between stealth windows meant that Kha'Zix was straight face-tanking abilities and turret aggro rather than swiftly moving in and out of fights. These changes let Kha'Zix's opponents have a way to respond when the bug is out hunting.
Safeguard's cooldown will be cut in half if Lee Sin uses it on an allied champion or himself. In exchange, Safeguard's cooldown has gone up and will no longer give Lee a shield if he dashes toward a non-champion unit.
Even though he was designed to be a high-risk early game champion, Lee Sin can get around making risky plays because of his high mobility and early game base power. We were considering some larger changes to give Lee more early game risk and a way forward into the end game, but your concerns that we would be heavily altering some of Lee's core play patterns (which wasn't our intent!) helped us decide that we should slow our roll. These changes mean Lee will need to take more risks in mobility but don't touch his overall power curve. They also give Lee a real reason to play with his teammates rather than inanimate wards.
The correct play against Leona in lane is to poke her down to make her engages riskier, but her high defensive stats and health regen were mitigating this a little too much. By reducing the bonus armor/magic resistance on Eclipse, Leona's a slightly more viable in-combat target. Plus, if she doesn't get a kill, that combat damage will stick harder.
Help, Pix!'s duration of staying on an enemy has been reduced (ally duration remains unaffected). Casting Help, Pix! on an allied minion no longer gives that minion a shield but still puts Pix on the minion. Help, Pix! deals less base damage at higher ranks.
When we made our 2014 Season changes to supports, we wanted to make them feel good about buying AP items. For most supports we gave them forms of additional utility with smaller gains in damage, but Lulu ended up getting a lot in both categories. We actually like mid Lulu, but want to make sure that the reasons for choosing her weren't due to her low-interaction (and high-obnoxiousness) lane harass pattern where she can get instant damage with Help, Pix! before following it up with two high-powered guaranteed Glitterlances. Choosing Lulu as a solo mage champion over being a duo-lane support should come with strategic tradeoffs, but many players were choosing her regardless of team composition or enemy matchups. Ultimately we had to hit some of Lulu's high offensive power, but we're also committed to ensuring this doesn't have a huge impact on support Lulu (who actually comes with tradeoffs like no guaranteed farm or gold generation), so we'll look at ways to help support Lulu if she comes out too weak because of these changes.
Miss Fortune now has a meaningful mid to late game where she can deal more damage and scale harder (via Impure Shots and Bullet Time) from her early lane advantages. In exchange, MF's lost some of her lane bully power (reduced Double Up damage and lower early damage from Impure Shots).
In the past, Miss Fortune's been seen as the go-to markswoman with a strong early game presence who transitions to high AoE power. As the landscape of League has changed, however, she's been left in the dust for both strengths, so we wanted to give her something of her own to get excited about. So while we did need to tune down some of MF's early game bullying, we did so to further highlight the shock and awe factor of Bullet Time and Impure Shots.
Dominus' health bonus and AoE magic damage are lower in early ranks and higher at later ranks.
While we're very aware of the high strength Renekton brings to the lane, we're tackling his strengths carefully over time. Dominus was the best ability to look at first, because its high strength was giving the croc an almost guaranteed lane win once he hit level 6. This change also lets Renekton scale a little better into the late game so his early advantages can be built on.
We're finding a middle ground from our changes back in 3.10 to let Twisted Fate gank with a pre-picked card easier.
Wukong's armor shred on Crushing Blow now scales with level (starts out lower before ending up at his old value). Cyclone's total attack damage ratio has been reduced.
Statistically, Wukong's performed very well since his launch, despite being played in a number of positions (top, mid, and jungle). Now that Wu's found a position that circumvents his natural weaknesses, we can tune some of his high damage - particularly when he comes roaring out of the jungle with raw offensive items. We considered other options but realized most didn't do enough to tackle his overbearing damage in the early ranks (as an example, removing the armor shred on Crushing Blow versus neutral monsters has minimal impact if you consider how much armor they begin with).
Ziggs' attack range has been reduced.
Ziggs has a super safe laning phase, even when he's constantly harassing his opponents with abilities and auto attacks. This change is to add a little more risk to Ziggs when he goes in for a hit.
Cataclysm should now be more reliable for Jarvan IV to land.
Malzahar's voidling's attack priority system has been reworked to function more intuitively and not just occasionally sit there.
Still in the process of making Blue Trinkets less sad. Maybe it's the color.
We're a little concerned that Spirit of the Elder Lizard is skewing the landscape of the early jungle toward high damage champions who sustain (and thrive) thanks to their offensive prowess. We're still keeping a close eye on Elder Lizard, but are moving conservatively in the meantime.
It's finally here! Picking up after our 4.4 changes to Wriggle's Lantern, we wanted to introduce a new jungle item that "rounds out" the pool. Feral Flare specifically focuses on late-game farming in the jungle at the expense of meaningful early to mid game power.
We've introduced two new foundational items for supports in the form of Aether Wisp (ability power, movement speed), and Forbidden Idol (mana regen and cooldown reduction). Several items have had their build paths strealimed (or changed) to accommodate.
These changes are a mid-season followup to our 2014 Season Changes for supports and support itemization. We noticed that while we succeeded in giving supports more gold, we didn't give them enough itemization paths that paced well with their gold gain. With these new items, this means we can also look at support itemization in the future to offer more interesting choices.
Because Homeguard boots are so strong as a defensive item, we realized we needed to bring the offensive boot enchantments up to parity. Boot enchants should be an opportunity to personalize your play, so... have a few more choices!
We promised rune balance changes for the 2014 season but when we took a deeper look we realized that we needed to do more fundamental work on the system itself. That said, we wanted to get a few balance changes in for the 2014 season, so we targeted midseason as the right time. We've heard a lot of feedback from players on the pains surrounding the rune system, and we'll be taking that into consideration in the future! It may not be a holistic fix right now, but these balance changes allow us to open up a little more diversity in rune choice. We've also made some compensation buffs for the two runes we nerfed.
As a side note, we specifically tackled armor runes and lifesteal quintessences because they were becoming the "best in slot" choice for any champion that could use them. In the case of armor, the answer was "everyone," while lifesteal quintessences had a slightly narrower appeal. The buffs we made across other runes were to focus on adding more options without affecting any larger systems while also bringing some runes up to parity in terms of gold value.
Similar to our armor seal changes, lifesteal quintessences are a fairly standardized rune on certain champions, so we wanted to compensate for the change in specific cases.
Completely unrelated buff here - we noticed that Scavenger's range was smaller than Ancient Coin (occasionally resulting in one granting gold while the other didn't), so we fixed it.
Exhaust has fallen out of favor as Ignite has become the staple for kill lanes around the world. Additionally, the successful "use case" of Exhaust has grown more difficult as burst damage combinations become the norm (both through the current popular support roster and overall damage contributions in lane). These buffs to Exhaust are to give it a stronger defensive use case while also letting the player feel better about using it in a timely manner.
While the current live environment heavily favors all-in engagements, we wanted a summoner spell that could be reliably used for defensive lanes. These changes let us expand the scope of Heal so that it has more cool use cases and playmaking opportunities.
Partially to compensate for the Heal changes and because when you set someone on fire, that should make them real visible.
We heard your feedback and have tuned up the uniqueness of the Barrier particle.
Dragon now deals a percentage of the target's current health as damage (this goes up over time). Dragon's debuff now reduces total damage dealt by 20%. Dragon gains additional armor and magic resistance over time.
In the mid to late game when champions have enough damage, taking the Dragon becomes a high value, low risk objective. These changes should help the Dragon scale better as a late game objective (rather than a quick gold boost).
We've made a bunch of under-the-hood improvements to bots with the overall goal of making them more human-like opponents. For example, bots will now factor in whether or not their opponents' spells are on cooldown when assessing threat, and the same information will also allow them to (sometimes) dodge skill shots.
Click here if you'd like to know more about the goals and tech behind these changes.