Welcome to the official 5.2 patch notes! With a lot of our 2015 changes in the process of settling down, we realized we could finally tackle some longer-standing design challenges of the game.
Like Deathfire Grasp (there it is).
We'll get into the gritty details soon (well, immediately after this foreword), but the short of it is that DFG has always been a tough item to balance around and, like Lich Bane, we finally realized if we wanted to have healthy mage assassins in the game, we needed to tackle the problem at its source. Ultimately we came to the decision to remove DFG completely (remember, read the context for more information!), but this also frees us up to give cool things for champions who've been shackled by their reliance on the item (or by our fear of them picking one up).
For the unfortunate news, however, we couldn't hit as many things as we'd have liked for 5.2, so we're spreading a lot of this love out over the course of two patches - 5.2 and 5.3. With 5.2, we've got Ahri and Annie (no, we didn't prioritize by alphabetical order), but you can expect some changes for champs like Veigar, Mordekaiser, and Katarina, along with new 120 AP item explorations in the near future (small warning: the item might take additional iteration time, so no promises!).
Some have noted a sort of 'anti-assassin theme' for this patch, but we're trying to broaden the definition of a successful assassin beyond simply blowing up a squishy target. Alternatively, if an assassin is just too reliable at what he or she (or it) does, that's another challenge for us to tackle. There's always going to be a fine line we'll have to walk when it comes to making healthy assassins, but we'd love to live in a world where assassins have their place in the game along with other types of mages. This will be an ongoing process and we'll keep you abreast as we continue working.
Finally... We hope everyone's doing well with their ranked placements! We'd like to wish you all success in your matches, but that ends up being paradoxical because someone's gotta lose for others to win, so rather than showing any favoritism we'd like to wish you a pleasant time. That's it.
Statistics, right here.
Chris "Pwyff" Tom
When we changed Nidalee's "Hunt" passive to apply to jungle monsters, we also made it so that hunted monsters would be rooted for 2 seconds when debuffed. This was to prevent those frustrating situations when Nidalee would spear a monster over a wall only to have it run out of Pounce range trying to get her. This was included with Nidalee's 5.2 changes, we just forgot to document this one. Sorry!
Is gone :(
Our initial goal with Deathfire Grasp was to make a "tank-busting" item that could do exactly that: bust down tanks when they're knocking on the front door. After the introduction of Liandry's Torment, however, tank-busting was replaced with tank-burning and, instead, Deathfire Grasp became the item for assassins to stack another nuke spell on top of their already burst-heavy kits. While we like to keep itemization options available for those who want it, the sheer existence of Deathfire Grasp has given us a few headaches in the past and present:
1.) Adding Deathfire Grasp to a bursty kit really amps up that "woah what happened to me" moment when someone nukes you from orbit. In the past, when we see mages pick up a DFG to double-down on their burst, we've had to balance around that champion which, in turn, makes them even more reliant on DFG to blow people up (or they get changed so much they find an alternative playstyle). Vicious cycle.
2.) Deathfire Grasp also adds a lot more reliability to a mage's assassination attempts, which means they need to commit less for them. If, for example, Ahri only needs to use one charge of Spirit Rush to nuke her target (with DFG + Q + W), she frees herself to use her other two charges to get back to safety. If we accept this will always happen with DFG, Ahri ends up without a lot of extra 'power budget' to do other cool mage-y things like sustained damage or kiting.
As we mentioned in the foreword, we're looking into champions who will be heavily impacted, but some of our larger projects (Veigar, Katarina, Mordekaiser) have to wait until 5.3. There were also a few mages we haven't given sorry-we-removed-DFG-changes to, specifically because we examined them and realized they either needed the power reduction that comes with losing DFG or they have access to alternative item paths and won't be as affected.
Final note, we're also going to be looking into itemization opportunities for late-game mages, so stay tuned for that in 5.3!
Remember when we said we wouldn't tell you when we were going to turn this on? Turns out we found a few extra bugs (hello Riven) before we could, so we hit the brakes before the deploy. But this time we've got it, so it's back to business as usual. Some time in the next week we'll be turning this feature on so we can effectively track its impact on the game. We just wanted to let you know what the change was. Sorry for the delay!
If you're used to using attack-move to move to places while in stealth, you should probably stop.
Tristana has been updated! Check out the article if you want the full story, or just below if you want the specifics.
Ahri gets a huge movement speed bonus when she throws out her Q. Fox-Fire's been tuned up a bit and deals more damage. Charm no longer amps damage on the target but deals slightly more damage and scales better with ability power.
Fantastic Ms. Ahri's success as a support-killing, pick-making assassin has always been tied very closely with Deathfire Grasp. With the item gone, however, it became obvious that Ahri's unique role in the game was losing focus, so we set out with the goal of moving her back to her original vision as an ultra-mobile kite mage. Technical improvements and updates to Fox-Fire and Spirit Rush should make her feel smoother to play, while Orb of Deception's new mobility effect allows her to both outwit opponents in close duels or remain elusive as she repositions in a fight.
Crescent Slash no longer procs Q, and R's range has been reduced.
We're going to be blunt: Akali is a prime example of an assassin with low counterplay, largely due to her reliability and target selection. While Akali's ability to blow up highly mobile targets is valuable, it also means that once she gets even slightly ahead, she's got all the tools to smash her way to a victory. With these changes, Akali will have to be a little more clever with her use of Twilight Shroud to proc Mark of the Assassin, opening up more difficult matchups against melee champions that she previously dominated. Or, as Akali would say, "As balance dictates."
Sorry, had to.
TIBBERS GETS MOLTEN SHIELD WHEN ANNIE DOES AND RUNS SUPER FAST.
Though Annie is definitely less powerful in a world without Deathfire Grasp, she's still one of the strongest burst-initiators in the game and can still one-shot squishies even with different items. Still, we wanted to give some love to the cutest pyromaniac in League (sorry Brand) and Molten Shield felt like the right place (as it's also her least-interesting ability). Ultimately these changes help push Annie closer to her unique identity as a teddy bear-centric mage (that's a thing).
Just a small fix for consistency, but we wanted to really highlight that Q range. Initially it wasn't actually displaying the full range, so we changed it to do so. This way, when we reduce some power y'all really know what we've had to balance with. This bears repeating: that's a hiiiiiiigh range on Q.
Q and E have higher mana costs.
As a lane bully, one wrong move against Cassiopeia can lose you a ton of HP and send you ducking for cover beneath your tower (or just packing your bags and going home). While it's not impossible to fight back, Aspect of the Serpent's healing just reinforces this non-stop lane bully tactic without much in terms of tradeoffs (thanks to Twin Fang's mana recovery). Increasing Cass's mana costs on Q and E should make it more of a calculated decision to harass or sustain, giving savvy opponents more time to formulate a counter-attack (or at least walk back to lane).
Fizz's damage against an opponent tagged with R is increased by +20%. Q's damage has been significantly reduced in base damage and scaling, W no longer applies Grievious Wounds, deals missing health damage on active, and deals less passive damage over time.
When talking about flashy assassins, it's never long before Fizz comes up. Always a crowd-pleaser, this playful trickster can devastate teams lacking lockdown with a few troll-poles and a well-placed shark. These days however, Urchin Strike + Seastone Trident's active end up doing most of the work, often leaving Chum the Waters either irrelevant or overkill. Pulling power from Fizz's basic spells and loading them into his ultimate makes sure skilled Fizz players can still slip in and take out priority targets, but now gives some room to breathe when he doesn't line up his shark-bait just right.
Second thing: back in 5.1 we made a change to Fizz's Urchin Strike where if you flashed before he physically hit with his Q, you could dodge the damage completely. A: our bad for not documenting the change. B: this is definitely a power nerf to Fizz, but it's one we're intentionally committing to, if just to give a slight amount more 'reaction potential' for his fishy victims. Not a whole lot, but it's something. We may examine other champions with abilities like this in the future - for the sake of consistency - but it'll definitely be something we weigh on a case by case basis in relation to their entire kit.
Not much to see here - discovered a bug with the bug (heh) where the cooldown for Kha'Zix's leap was 2 seconds shorter than intended. That said, this thing's been live for over a year and Kha'Zix is in a decent place, so we're erring on his side. Actual value unaffected.
Nidalee can Hunt (proper noun) neutral monsters. She could always hunt them, but now she can apply her debuff to them. Sorry, we're trying to be clever.
Allowing Nidalee to Hunt neutral monsters not only opens up a viable fallback pattern and alternate gold stream for cats finding themselves behind in a game, but also supports the interesting options she can bring to teams as a jungler. There's a new knife-cat in town. Spear-cat? Spearcat. Stabby spearcat.
Q's unburrowed damage is slightly lower, W's burrowed (technically unburrowing, given its use) damage has been reduced.
The league's latest addition is still Rek'ing more than she should in the early-game. Lowering her bases should help keep her from tunneling too hard onto your carries, while increasing the number of knock-ups she gets in a fight allows her to aggressively re-engage against fleeing opponents or defensively peel when on the back foot (Claw? Tendril? Whatever the Xer'Sai have as appendages).
We don't think anyone picked Sejuani for her top-tier structure destruction capabilities, so we're fixing a bug she had there.
Simple changes here - as a lot of you Syndra mains have noticed, Scattering the Weak felt a little off in 5.1. Attempting to make Syndra's stun match her visuals worked a little too well, leaving the skill underperforming in a lot of cases. We've toned it back to what feels like a 'happy-medium.'
Less attack speed all around.
In the 5.1 notes, we mentioned Zed as a good example of what we refer to as a "Healthy Assassin" - but that doesn't come without its own set of balancing woes. To help bring Zed in line with other champions while preserving his power as a competitive option, we've looked toward his strengths outside of pure assassination - in this case, attacking his ability to split-push by lowering his attack speed.
Zed's pattern of poking from a distance and waiting for the moment to strike is layered with counterplay and complexity. That is, up until his AD items remove the need for his spells, allowing just a few auto-attacks to seal your fate. With a base and scaling attack speed rivaling that of Xin Zhao and Tryndamere, Zed's auto-attacks were as much a menace to champions as they were to towers. He'll still be effective in a side-lane due to his strengths in 1-v-1 duels, but taking power here allows us to keep his damage output focused in landing spells and using combos effectively.
We're continuing our comprehensive pass at the game's older character textures. As with previous installments, our goal is to improve parity with newer releases and make sure everybody looks at home on the newly-updated Rift.
All tier 2 jungle items have been increased by 100 gold, all tier 3 jungle item enchantments have been reduced by 100 gold.
Thus far, jungle items have gotten a little snowbally - particularly for those who can snag a few kills on an early invade to get their upgraded Smite before camps have even spawned.
100 GOLD CHEAPER. Item builds have been expensified by 100 gold to accomodate. Expensified is now a word.
As a mid-game component pickup, Aether Wisp is doing pretty well but it doesn't feel very good to buy early in lane. A price drop should help out when you gotta move fast.
Now builds out of Ruby Crystal! Total cost remains the same.
As many of you pointed out with the patch 4.20 defensive changes, buying a Ruby Crystal versus a Giant's Belt still technically 'locks' you into pursuing either Magic Resistance or Armor, respectively. As we still want to support reactionary purchases with defense, this change goes right along with that!
More ability power, slightly less attack damage and lifesteal.
After losing out on Deathfire Grasp, some champions might be looking for healthier alternatives (speaking from a holistic game perspective), and Gunblade makes sense for a few of them so... here we are. Yep.
That second change is pretty good for all you tragic misclickers out there.
It looks like a lot of changes, but the short of it is that Zz'Rot Portals are now treated as, for all intents and purposes, structures (ie: Towers / Inhibitors). Also Voidspawn now have less magic resistances and deal less damage to structures, but deal more damage to minions in the early game. Also the first and every fourth Voidspawn now get the bonus damage from defensive stats.
As the designer puts it, "Complex items means complex bugs." We've gone in and shuffled around Zz'Rot's coding to cement it as a structure in terms of its interactions with the game (and how it's interacted with). We also made some extra changes to help this thing settle in both its current use and potential counters.
Dragon's attack range and attack speed has been increased (overall damage should remain the same).
We're just making some small adjustments to Dragon to reduce exploits and improve his feel.
We're increasing the window of time that Challenger and Master Tier teams can wait to play before they begin decaying: they now share the same 28-day activity requirement as Platinum and Diamond teams (Gold, Silver and Bronze teams never decay). While a stricter requirement makes sense for solo players who set their own schedules, ranked teams are far more susceptible to conflicts. To be clear, we still want teams to stay active in order to maintain their positions; we just don't want the requirement to be so strict that it discourages them from trying to reach the top of competitive team play.
Assets for our next Featured Game Mode, Nemesis Draft, are included in 5.2 but we won't be launching it this patch! Hold tight!
Prior to this patch a few of our audio sliders were maxed out by default, so the only way to "raise" them was to lower everything else and then increase your computer's volume. With 5.2 we're adding functionality to increase these settings properly - the old 100 is now 75 (so default settings won't sound any different) and the new 100 is louder. For the sake of consistency we've pared a bit off the max of our remaining settings which were set to 50 by default, similarly giving them a numerical default of 75 with no difference to actual volume. Master Volume is the only setting which remains completely unchanged at its historic default of 100.
As part of this change we'll be wiping all custom audio settings with patch 5.2. Make sure to fiddle with them when you log back in!