Welcome to patch 4.9! We've got bug changes, moustache trims, and... jungle landscaping (I'll stop), but first a foreword!
For anyone who hasn't seen them, we recently put out our League of Legends Design Values so you can get a better understanding of why we make the changes we make. See a change that doesn't line up with any of our philosophies? Let's have a conversation about it!
As for the patch itself, our biggest change is definitely for Kha'Zix, who's been a difficult bug to balance for some time. You can read below for our full context, but Kha'Zix's big issue has always been his overloaded role identity as both a fighter and assassin. When a champion has the ability to start and end a team fight all on their own, that makes for pretty low teamplay and low counterplay (look at those direct references to design values!). Once again, read below for deeper context!
Outside of gameplay changes, check out the addition of team rewards (UPGRADING WARD SKIN!?) as we continue to reward players for participating in jolly (competitive) cooperation.
And that's all for this foreword! Be sure to check out more of our changes and updates below!
Chris "Pwyff" Tom
Karthus has received a Visual Update and is ready to reap the living in style. Check out the full details here!
We padded Braum's punches, Q does less damage at all ranks, and W gives less defensive stats (also scales less).
It's tough to pinpoint the strength of a new champion while also accounting for how quickly players adapt, and Braum was picked up very quickly as a strong lane bully with his combined high damage and defensive power. When we want to reduce power in a champion, we first look to trim 'hidden' strengths that aren't really appreciated in their core playstyle, like Braum's W, which was giving a pile of free defensive stats to both himself and his protected target. That said, Braum's offensive strengths are also very high for a protective champion, so we also decided to trim back that 'stache.
We reverted the W damage buff and base movement speed buffs to Kassadin from patch 4.6.
Following up on our champion update, we've been keeping track of Kassadin as he continues to become a more and more dominant force. We think we released Kassadin in a good state but then gave him a little too much strength as we saw folks struggling with the new kit. After our buffs, however, we saw a lot of players learning to play the updated Kass (and well), so we're peeling back the layers we added to get him back to a correct power level.
Q does less damage and less isolation damage. Evolved Q no longer deals bonus damage on missing health, but deals more overall damage to isolated targets. W deals bonus damage to monsters. Evolved W now slows enemies by 50% and grants sight of their location to Kha'Zix. Evolved R no longer grants damage reduction (but keeps his increased stealth duration and additional stealth charge).
Up to now, most of our changes failed to give Kha'Zix meaningful weaknesses for an assassin because evolved R's damage reduction was letting Kha'Zix force fight initiations whenever it was up while his high base Q damage was letting him take out squishy targets even when they were actively trying to prevent isolation. As an assassin, Kha'Zix should be an opportunistic killer who needs to find isolated targets to munch on while the rest of his team jumps into the mosh pit of the team fight. What Kha'Zix shouldn't be able to do, however, is directly engage a full team fight with the expectation to live while also taking out high priority targets without isolation.
With that said, our philosophy behind these changes is aimed at reducing some of Kha'Zix's many strengths while refining his core identity as an assassin. First, we pushed more power to his evolutions so that he'll have to think more about the choices he makes in life (or the game). Kha'Zix's base Q is lower compared to live, but his evolved Q is guaranteed to deal more damage to isolated targets in the mid to late game. The added power to W and its evolution was to give Kha'Zix more fallback strengths when evolving W. It's also worth pointing out that while evolved R took a significant power hit with the loss of its damage reduction, it's still offering a lot of extra mobility for Kha'Zix in a fight (doubling his stealth duration while also adding an extra charge).
We'll be watching how these changes pan out, but we're hoping to see more opportunistic Kha'Zixes (Kha'Zixi? Kha'Zii?) who seek out isolated meals in team fights but can't just jump in to scrap with the frontline while also having the mobility and explosive damage to take out the backline.
When we made the Pantheon changes back in patch 4.7, we also introduced a bug where Pantheon could be hit by area-effect spells before he physically landed on the screen. Ultimately we made a fix that leaned more in Panth's favor, where he can 'pop' all projectiles as he jumps off screen (so that pesky Sion stun won't follow him through the sky) and remains untargetable until he physically lands. In terms of other tweaks to Grand Skyfall, we've been keeping a close eye on how Pantheon's performance has been affected by the 4.7 changes, but he's remained pretty strong in both top lane and the jungle. We're going to keep watching for now!
We're very aware of Rengar's champion-eating capabilities (unlike the poor squishy targets he's surprising), but we're going to be watching how these changes / bug fixes affect the kitty before we take any larger action.
Rumble had a few strange bugs that were causing his Flamespitter to deal less damage.
In our zeal to reduce solo lane Soraka's obnoxiousness, we kicked her a little too hard in the shins. These changes may not get her up to par, but we're committed to supporting her beyond these buffs.
Volibuff. Buffibear? Bam, context.
As we continue to keep a close eye on the jungle, we noticed that jungle monster experience rewards were going up with the average level of the map while lane minion experience didn't. On deeper analysis, we saw this inconsistency was amplifying snowballing in the game: if a jungler's team continues to pull ahead (either through ganks or just #winning), the jungler could continuously clear their monsters for additional bonus experience. Ultimately that meant the jungler of a successful team would come out disproportionately stronger than even the rest of his or her team for contributing the same amount of work. While we want to give specific junglers the gold income and capability to 'carry' their team in the mid to end game, a jungler's overall rewards are currently being amplified beyond the four other players who have had their own set of challenges to overcome. All roles should contribute to the outcome of a game, and we're committed to ensuring a jungler has the same potential (not more) as any other.
We initially changed Kha'Zix's isolation damage for Dominion / TT based on his old kit, but now that additional modifications have been made, we're going to revert to his new kit to get a better feel for the overall changes.
The Friend List should make it easy to see which of your friends are available to play with, but its feature set needed a little work. This patch's updates are aimed at facilitating how players use the Friend List, both to find individuals (search bar!) and to quickly check on their Friend Groups (which now contain offline members).
We've added Team Rewards as a new class of rewards to further differentiate ranked team play from ranked solo play. Since ranked teams place a special focus on jolly cooperation, require more effort to coordinate, and embody the teamwork that defines League, we wanted players to have a way to commemorate and celebrate their success as part of a team.
Warding Totems will now use your selected Ward Skin! You can now proudly display your ward skin in game, even if you primarily rely on yellow trinkets to contribute to team vision (but you should totally be buying green and pink wards to help your poor support).
In addition to Pentakill Karthus's VU, we've given texture updates to Pentakill Sona and Pentakill Mordekaiser. The entire Pentakill skin line also has a new team splash image. For metal.