Welcome to patch 5.4 - the one where we follow up on patch 5.2 with some mage love. Up front: the new +120 AP item is currently slated for a future patch (soon(tm)), but this hasn't stopped us from working on the few mages that needed help in a post-DFG world. Actually, like we mentioned in the patch 5.2 foreword, the impact of DFG's removal hasn't been all that noticeable in champion performance, but there were two we knew would have identity crises (that's the plural) in the aftermath: Mordekaiser and Veigar.
When we went into deep examination of what made Morde and Veigar who they are, we realized that a lot of their identity came down to "blow this fool up (and get a ghost!)." Unfortunately, amping up a play pattern like that makes for some sad times in the world of counterplay, so we had to take a longer look to see what could be done. Ultimately we'll explain more in their individual context paragraphs, but the rundown of the issue is this: when a champion is tuned around a fine line between "functional" and "oppressive," balance isn't a question of number tuning; rather, it's all about finding a healthy direction where that champ can prosper without getting paranoid about fame. Can you imagine a world where Veigar is the best - and most popular - champion in the game? That's a tough vision to sell for his opponents, and we want to make sure his success is warranted. Check out those contexts for more information, but this is an important philosophy to keep in mind as you read through these notes!
And that's it for this patch foreword - best of luck on those fields of justice. As a random tip for success in your solo (or duo!) queue adventures, remember that sometimes it's better for everyone to do the wrong thing in perfect harmony than for one guy to do the right thing in angry isolation. But that's only applicable for a team game of League of Legends and is probably incorrect for anything else. Sorry.
Chris "Pwyff" Tom & Patrick "Scarizard" Scarborough
Did you know we were manually correcting LCS stats in the post-game roundup every time? We take fantasy stats seriously, man.
Janna's passive now only affects champions who run toward her, but the movement speed bonus and range have been increased. Janna's personal movement speed bonus has been entirely moved to W so she loses more speed when she casts it.
As one of the premier supports at defending the back lines, few champions can shut down initiators and divers quite like Janna. That said, it's never made a lot of sense for someone who's so good at denying aggression to also be real good at enabling it (ever been chased by a Janna team?). Bonus movement speed's strong like that. Changing Janna's passive from being 'always good' to 'situationally good' solidifies her as the Queen of Disengage (also the Storm's Fury, apparently). As an aside, we realize that if Janna leads the charge she can still enable some high-speed chases, but a Janna on the frontline is maybe not the best.
Jarvan's flag no longer gives him passive armor. His base armor has been slightly increased to compensate, but this is definitely a nerf to Jarvan's mid-late game survivability.
With the dust settled around the preseason changes, Jarvan's proven himself to be true royalty, standing head and shoulders above the competition on his jungle throne (to be fair, Fiddlesticks doesn't like to sit down owing to bad knees). Unlike his other Warrior-enchant-toting brethren, J4's incredible gank pressure, clear speed and safety make him a threat throughout the game with no real weaknesses for opponents to exploit. Instead of hitting J4's damage, chipping away at his resiliency should punish him for failed ganks without taking too much dunk out of his princely ways.
Though she hops relentlessly in pursuit of betrayers and backstabbers alike, it's easy to forget an important rule in Kalista's passive - she's unable to cancel her basic attacks once committed. Increasing her basic attack wind-up might not sound like much, but it does emphasize her vulnerability at every stage of the game, making her take more time to launch her spears (and, by extension, hurricane-hop you to death).
We're not calling it Riftstep. Rifthop. It's important to note that the mana costs on Riftwalk scale exponentially so while that initial lowered mana cost looks small, it gets real big real fast. Riftskip.
Kassadin is a champion whose fantasy and identity are both defined by a single ability - Riftwalk. While this does makes him super effective as an assassin (as you might expect, ignoring walls and terrain makes it hard to hide your carries from him), it's tough to both respect what makes him unique while also respecting the need for opponents to... fight back. With this change, we're still trying to preserve the dream (one might say a very difficult dream) of letting Kassadin keep his trademark mobility but, unless he finds a specific flank or angle, he also needs to pay respect to the enemy's tank line before rendering his squishy targets Null and Void.
Katarina now needs to deal damage to an opposing champion within 3 seconds of them dying in order to Get The Reset.
The deadliest Pentakill on two legs (and not even in the band!), Katarina's a volatile and competitive option for those looking to shut out their solo queue competition. Voracity's long duration means that nobody's ever allowed to reenter the fight with low health, as they're always at risk of setting off an avalanche of daggers and shunpos - even if Kat's across the battlefield. This change is to focus Katarina's rewards on the fights she's intimately involved in, similar to Jinx.
Elevation changes to the new Summoner's Rift made a few situations where Glacial Path's indicator was hidden, turning obvious ganks into extreme ambushes, so we're fixing it. Even Lissandra knows that's not... cool.
Mordekaiser's health costs are down for Q and W. Q gives Morde a range bonus for the empowered hit. W got the Blood Boil treatment, where it buffs both Mordekaiser and his buddy he casts it on. Also, Morde and his buffed buddy get bonus movement speed when moving toward each other. Mordekaiser's ghost gives him bonus health and ability power, rather than attack damage and ability power. Ghosts also get a flat attack damage bonus, as opposed to a portion of Mordekaiser's bonus stats.
It's no secret we've long considered Mordekaiser a thematically confused champion out the gate. Visually speaking, this guy's a walking, talking suit of armor with a giant mace. If that doesn't say scrappy fighter, we're not entirely sure what does. That said, Morde's found far more success in the present game as a bursty AP mage, picking up an early Deathfire Grasp to blow up and, subsequently, convert enemy marksmen into their team's worst nightmare.
So what's all this mean? Well, as customer numero uno for DFG (he actually might have been second with Veigar leading the way, but we're not ones to get in the way of a good reference) we didn't want to just take away Mordekaiser's core build without any form of compensation (although as we mentioned in the patch 5.2 foreword, the results have been a little off of expectation). We also wanted to take this opportunity to try tying Mordekaiser and his thematic identity a little closer together (scrappy tank man!), but when we finally arrived at that world, we realized it wasn't a very exciting one.
And here we are now.
These changes aren't going to solve Morde's identity crisis in the present, but we did find a few ways to clean up his ghostly interactions so he can get the most out of his exploitative ways. Additionally, we really liked the new Creeping Death 'magnet' mechanic we were testing out with fighter Mordekaiser, so we figured we could give some extra utility love when he's hunting high priority targets with a dive buddy. So, once again: not a holistic solution but one we felt was better at preserving Mordekaiser's unique identity.
Simply put, this was a novel idea for Rengar that was unlocked by the addition of Trinkets in the 2014 Season, but it ended up being super complicated and often caused a ton of bugs. By moving it to a buff, we're keeping the exact same functionality but finally allowing Rengar to have a Poro Snax. You heard us.
Dark Spheres got slightly fatter when interacting with E.
Similar to 5.2, we're increasing the consistency of Syndra's Scatter the Weak stun ever so slightly. This has proven a difficult skill to balance (feel-wise) without going overboard, so we've been taking a measured approach to get it right.
Q is now a skillshot that passes through the first target hit to get the second (so farming's a lot easier). W's cheaper on mana and has a lower cooldown. Event Horizon now has a 0.75 delay, but costs less mana, has a higher range, and has a lower cooldown. R's mana cost is down significantly at higher ranks and has a slightly lower cooldown, but has a slightly lower ability power ratio.
Of all the champions that were primary customers of the late Deathfire Grasp, none were more iconic than the Tiny Master of Evil himself. While we recognized and intended to preserve Veigar's role as a 100-to-0 burst mage, flatly increasing the power of a champion with such a powerful combination of crowd control and single-target damage didn't feel like the humane option (for everyone except Veigar).
Freeing up Baleful Strike to cover more range and doubly enable his AP-stacking minigame was a natural change to Veigar's kit and made his laning better. We quickly learned, however, that a strictly better Veigar left opponents with less and less options, especially with the immense power that is Event Horizon. While old Veigar needed to rely on Event Horizon's immediate stun to zone out potential threats, keeping its current iteration meant we either needed to reduce Veigar's damage (but you can't reduce a 100-0 burst mage to 100-20) or tackle his outright reliability. Ultimately we went with the latter.
The bottom line is this - characters with inflexible kits are often balanced on a knife's edge, and the slightest change to a range or damage value can be the difference between unplayable or overbearing (Hi Ryze!). While Veigar's reliability when it comes to "blowing fools up" has decreased, the added laning flexibility and higher late-game scaling should help make Veigar more than a one-trick pony. He has to work harder for his one-shots, but has the tools to earn them in a way that feels fair...ish for his opponents.
E'S MAX STUN DURATION IS DOWN.
Shocking Orb was originally designed as a 'melee-friendly' crowd control - better at keeping opponents at bay from afar, but worse at stopping people that had already closed on him. In practice, it amplified his already-potent long range burst when used offensively, giving him really high pick potential for such a siege-focused champion. We're toning back the max duration to be less punishing for those brave souls looking to close the gap and stomp his face in. (Mask? Arcane headplate with eyesockets? You get it.)
Q is now a lobbed skillshot that can land on an opponent or sit on the ground. If you land two, you get a 1.5 second stun (!). W no longer interacts with R so you don't have to play this weird "spam W" mini-game to get your ultimate back. At max ranks, E slows at 99% movement speed. Ninety nine percent.
IT IS TIME. It wasn't too long since the Chronokeeper was last in the spotlight, but to bring him back in a healthy way meant taking the time to sort through his problems one by one. Zilean's always had a ton of neat tricks (especially his signature move, Chronoshift), but has been held back, balance-wise, thanks to his oppressive "I'm-going-to-click-on-you" laning strength. Massive changes to Time Bomb seek to not only remedy this with a healthy dose of counterplay (skillshot sticky-bomb!) but let us play up the spell's exciting double-hit case by making it the largest non-ultimate AoE stun in the game (say that 10 times fast). We looked for a proper Zilean quote to end this, but all in good time.
So very complicated.
It's been a little bit since we last addressed splash art changes but as with last season, we're continuing our long-term project to update some of the oldest splashes in our game.
This patch also includes an updated splash to go with Tristana's recent champion update. While we had wanted to bundle a new splash with the rest of her changes, we heard a lot of feedback from the PBE that our first update didn't feel like the new Tristana. So, we made the call to hold onto Tristana's new splash to address those concerns while moving forward with the rest of her changes. Fast forward two patches and we're much more confident in the updated update to Tristana's splash!
Sidegrading jungle items now costs gold.
We probably overthought on this one. Our initial goal was to let you change strategic course in the early game without incurring a setback, but most were just using it to switch to the "best" lategame smite before picking up their enchant. Well then.
We were intending to make this change to match the Oracle's Lens cooldown change from Patch 5.1 but only the tooltip went out (the cooldown is still 60 seconds). We'll fix this next patch!
-5 damage. Done.
The Warrior enchant seems to be outperforming of its other enchantment counterparts, but we're still in the kitchen cooking up our long-term solutions. That said, we can afford to whip up a light stat adjustment snack in the meantime. Never write patch notes while hungry.
Just doing some additional cleanup work for Zz'Rot Portal to help it adjust to life on the Rift.
Smite's range is shorter when used against champions, but isn't THAT much shorter against jungle monsters (and in a few cases, unchanged), due to the way hitboxes are designed.
Time to be honest: the power of Chilling Smite is just too high. We love that it adds a new tool to the game, but it's shoring up champion weaknesses so well (that is, every champion who uses Chilling Smite extends their engagement range to ~675) that we know we'll need to do this range reduction sooner or later. Otherwise, Chilling Smite just becomes a necessary purchase in order for everyone to compete.
A Summoner (spell) has left the game.
We've been working over the past several months to standardize blue and red as team colors for League's UI and environmental designs. The last step in the process is to fix the discrepancy between UI and environment for red side (well, North side now), which plays with red minions and structures but blue healthbars and minimap icons. When active, Relative Team Colors ensures your team's minions and structures will always be blue while the enemy's will always be red, mirroring the information provided by your UI.
Turns out we had this in our files for some time but they weren't hooked up properly. Are now!
The patch note is the context, so the context can be the patch note: You now have semi-locked cameras!
Not sure why you guys were trying to save stuff in the middle of a game but now it won't mess with your camera! (...whoops.)
Our first test of the updated player tooltips ran into some issues last patch. We're fixing the problem and adding in a few more features in the process!