It's time for a new patch! We don't have a ton of changes today, but we're hitting a few high priority targets that are having a heavy impact on the health of the game. As an example, we're still concerned with high-damage junglers who are entering the mid-game with more gold and more experience than even the solo laners who had to scrap out their gains against another opponent. We're still exploring the possibilities here, but for now we're going to be reducing some of the power of Feral Flare so that it remains a unique item build without being a dominant strategy.
So what else can you expect in this patch? We've got a few rework follow-ups in the form of Gragas and Kassadin, and we've been experimenting with Skarner on the interim. We know we mentioned Skarner in the 4.6 foreword, but we've got a stronger idea of where we can give back some of his old identity so we're making sure we get it right this time.
We're also following up with our promised top lane buffs for Jarvan IV and Malphite. We're already seeing more diversity in top lane beyond Renekton, but we'll be keeping an eye on future candidates as the changes shake out.
Finally, we're making some changes specifically targeted at competitive play in the form of reduced trinket start cooldowns, increased gold rewards for the Dragon, and additional tradeoffs for fast-push strategies. We don't expect these changes to have too much of an impact on regular play, but we're hoping to hit some dominant strategies we're seeing in the high-level competitive scene.
And that's about it! On a closing note, you may notice this patch is a bit bigger than usual - we're shipping out files for a new audio engine in manageable chunks over the next several releases. We'll have more information to share with you closer to the end of the process, but you shouldn't notice any changes to the game until the new engine launches.
You can check out the full scope of the patch below. See you next time!
Graggy and his barrels have hit the gym. Barrel Roll grants vision (don't ask how that relates to going to the gym), and Gragas can throw his Explosive Cask further.
Pre-update, Gragas liked his R and Q more for their target erasing potential than their utility and displacement. Now that Graggy isn't one-shotting entire teams with barrels, we can buff up his other strengths to emphasize his barrel-throwing play-making power.
Martial Cadence now deals more damage, but the cooldown starts out higher and scales down over time. Golden Aegis costs less mana and is a flat cost across all ranks.
In the foreword of patch 4.6 we spoke about the challenges of creating a healthy top lane, and one option we're pursuing is to make teamplay-oriented champions more competitive in the current landscape. Specifically for Jarvan IV: even if he's behind he can still provide a lot of value via Cataclysm, and this gives him more incentive to help out in fights rather than farming minions in isolation. These changes are to give him that extra bump he needs in the early game to keep up.
Up front: We overshot the Kassadin buffs last patch. Specifically, making Kassadin's magic shield stronger ended up making him a little too stifling against a majority of mid lane champions which, in turn, amps up his already strong snowballing power. On that note, while the concept of a magic shield has a strong connection to Kassadin's thematic and strategic niche, we're still examining a way to balance between thematic cohesion and raw champion strength.
Targets now need to be further away from each other to be considered 'isolated' for Kha'Zix's damage amplification. Turrets now count as friendlies when it comes to preventing isolation. Kha'Zix now needs to wait a bit longer before re-entering stealth via his R.
As an assassin, Kha'Zix should be looking for windows of opportunity (or should be relying on his teammates to create those windows) to engage. Instead, Kha'Zix has so much raw power that he's simply forcing engagements and kills on his own. When assassins can start and end a fight without support, that typically points to an overall lack of tactical weaknesses (which champions need to have in order to maintain meaningful counterplay). These changes are to offer more windows of opportunity against Kha'Zix and should make him think twice before going all-in, but this will be an ongoing project as we examine Kha'Zix's core role and strengths.
For Lissandra's birthday, we're giving her a more reliable Frozen Tomb!
Granite Shield now recharges faster at later levels, and Brutal Strikes costs a low amount of mana at all levels.
We like how Malphite's Granite Shield works for the early laning phase, but it has trouble scaling into the rest of the game. Brutal Strikes was designed to help Malphite trade damage when he's in someone's face, but its higher mana costs weren't allowing it. Similar to Jarvan, Malphite offers a lot of unique team-focused wombo combo power even when he's behind, so we're also giving him some help to compete.
More like Mage Fortune amirite?
We saw a unique opportunity to support Miss Fortune's off-builds without impacting her game health and play patterns. This is a fancy way of saying we added AP ratios to Double Up.
We're ironing out some minor issues in the wake of Twitch's VU. We're also reviewing Rat-a-tat-tat's interaction with structures as we work on its inability to target Inhibitors or the Nexus.
When we added more utility to Heal, our focus was to create a spell that added depth to the summoner spell pool while also giving heal-focused supports an ability that let them remain effective against Ignite. On live, however, this wasn't the case as it was primarily being picked up by solo laners to circumvent burst-heavy aggressive play (particularly for champions whose abilities were affected by Grievous Wounds).
We're continuing along our goal of making gameplay more readable, satisfying, and visceral. Also awesome. And pretty.
When we designed Feral Flare, we looked at 'carry' junglers who picked up Wriggle's Lantern and looked for ways to support that playstyle. Then we released Feral Flare and realized we may have gone too far.
While Feral Flare does deliver on its core goal of supporting carry junglers, it's also doing it at the expense of potentially several other players on the map. Because Feral Flare's power is essentially tied to how long junglers can ignore their team, the optimal strategy has been to hide away for as long as possible before making a first appearance as the strongest champion on the map - even in comparison to solo laners who have to scrap out their gold against equally matched opponents (we mentioned this in the foreword, but it's worth repeating here). Long-term, we still like the concept of 'carry' style junglers, but we're currently exploring ways to support them in a way that's healthy for the game.
Sunfire Cape is an AoE damage aura item, but its current effect looks most like a a debuff on the wearer, even to the point of being confused with Red Buff's or Ignite's effects. This rework more clearly lines up Sunfire's visual with its gameplay.
To improve aggro awareness and reduce visual noise, we've removed all aggro outlines and added an animated icon above the health bars of minions and neutral monsters. Targeting an enemy or neutral should now be much clearer as an outline around a unit now only means you're targeting it. This approach more closely lines with the intent of the aggro indicator feature, which is to convey game mechanics, not player behavior. Time to work on that combat awareness!
The below changes are aimed specifically at competitive play, and we can talk about them in that light. With the trinket change, we initially went with a longer starting cooldown so trinkets wouldn't have an impact on early game invades, but quickly saw the optimal strategy was to just all-in invade before swinging up (or down) to take out a few towers. Reducing the Trinket cooldown means they'll be incorporated into early game strategies and we're hoping they still allow for aggressive strategies to exist in the pre-laning phase. For the Dragon and Turret changes, we saw very few strategic tradeoffs when it came to fast-pushing lanes with multiple champions, so we're aiming to introduce some in the form of slightly higher rewards for Dragon and slightly higher penalties for teams trying to fast-push lanes. This also let us bring parity back to objectives across Summoner's Rift, as all outer towers now have the same Fortification buff. We'll be keeping a close eye on the fallout of these changes (particularly in competitive play).
We gave Thresh some love on this map and it's helped him see more play (and a lot more success), but now he's just crazy. Like 400 armor Thresh with no armor items crazy.
This change is aimed at bringing the new Kassadin rework a little more in line with other maps.
It's finally here! With Revive being such a dominant Summoner Spell on Dominion, we realized we could take advantage of the unused Trinket slot to create more diversity while also balancing its use case.
We're continuing to update our AI features! Specifically, players have been asking for more Bot options in Custom Games, as well as bots that can Flash, so we addressed that.
We've added a few safeguards to prevent players from accidentally ignoring their friends (so if your friend says this, it's now an excuse).