The Fields of Justice have never been more dangerous than when Rengar, the Pridestalker, prepares for the hunt. With a new resource system, an optional item in the shop, and a dynamic passive that interacts when he’s stealthed or in the brush, Rengar‘s bringing many new mechanics to strike down his prey. To learn more about these new mechanics, we went straight to the source and talked to Trevor “Classick“ Romleski about Rengar’s kit.
A new item is available in the shop called the Bonetooth Necklace, an item that is only purchasable by Rengar. Can you tell us about this new item?
Classick: We wanted to find some cool gameplay that lets you become the trophy hunter, gives you the feel of being Rengar. Since he’s the ultimate trophy hunter we wanted to make it feel like Rengar was getting more and more powerful as he collected trophies from his kills. He becomes more self-fulfilled, since that’s his big thing – he looks for the biggest prey. We tried to create a sort of side quest if you choose to go with the Bonetooth Necklace. If your focus is on picking up kills and gaining power over time, it might be a good decision.
So Rengar’s item is optional?
Classick: That’s correct. The Bonetooth Necklace is not integrated into Rengar’s inventory when the match begins. You have to purchase it from the shop. Rengar can’t begin the game with the necklace, so he won’t snowball too early. This is a departure from Viktor who begins each match with his item in his inventory. Viktor’s augment feels like it’s a part of him, built onto him as opposed to Rengar who has the option of wearing his item or not. You can also sell the item back to the shop after you purchase it, in case you change your mind about going down the Bonetooth Necklace path.
The Bonetooth Necklace has an “opt-in” feel, where you can choose to participate in the side quest and rack up kills to get more powerful, or not. It’s up to you how you want to play Rengar. It’s riskier play, sure, but it can pay off. And if your trophy-hunting exploits don’t go exactly as planned, you don’t feel like you’ve lost much. You can always sell back the item and swap your playstyle.
Here’s another cool part about the necklace: you gain trophies on kills and assists. In order to discourage Rengar players from kill stealing against their own team to collect trophies we made it so assists also count, slowing up the rate at which you add stacks to the necklace, but stopping this specific type of potential abuse. You can play Rengar and not worry about having to stack up kills alone.
What about the concern that this snowball item might make Rengar’s power feel inconsistent?
Classick: You’ll notice that the Bonetooth Necklace gains and loses its power at a slower, more consistent rate than other snowball items. You can rack up kills and benefit from the bonuses that the necklace provides, but unlike other snowball-type items in game you only lose a small number of trophies from the necklace on death. You’re not going to feel the pendulum swing of power that might come with an item like Mejai’s, so advancing with the necklace isn’t going to feel like a waste of time if you die at a high trophy stack. You shouldn’t rapidly change in power unless you have a huge number of kills or deaths in a short period of time.
What about this item snowballing in competitive play?
Classick: Competitive play was one of the reasons we went with an opt-in item, really. The competitive scene changes rapidly and the option is there for Rengar players. In many pro-level games the number of kills is usually lower than that of a normal game on Summoner’s Rift, so the item might not look as attractive. Rengar is not just his item – it’s an aspect of his play that you can choose to take part in or not. His viability is not based on the Bonetooth Necklace. It acts as an investment like a snowball item, not an integral piece of his kit.
Ferocity is a new type of resource. Could you explain how Ferocity works?
Classick: Rengar builds up a point of Ferocity each time he lands an ability on a champion or minion, up to five points. When you hit five Ferocity points, Rengar’s abilities come off cooldown and you get to make the choice of which empowered ability you want to use. We wanted to make it so you never felt like you were wasting your empowered ability – it’s kind of like you get a new set of three empowered spells to use. This was a very important piece of the kit.
Basically, we didn’t want players to be upset at the choice they were making preemptively. For instance, if you hit five stacks with his Q, but wanted to use his Q as your empowered ability, you stand around waiting for Q to become available again. With this system you get to use any of your three empowered abilities when you hit max Ferocity. There’s a lot of mindshare being used up when you have to cautiously link up your abilities so that your final empowered spell is the one you wanted to use and we wanted to avoid that.
Since Rengar is a build-up character, exploiting his enemy’s weaknesses while he builds up his points for an empowered finishing move, we decided to always have those three finishers available no matter what. Rengar is about making the right decisions and being methodical, and being given the tools to do it without constantly second-guessing your decisions. Your empowered spells do not overlap with normal play – they appear when they are available, you make a choice, and you continue to play.
What challenges did the Ferocity system pose?
Classick: We designed Ferocity to be forgiving, which meant you had to design abilities that could be used two in a row and still be balanced. You still want the tension there, so you can choose whether to spam one ability or not, without either being too punishing or too overpowered. That’s why a lot of his skills are targeted attacks, so when things get mighty hectic during a teamfight, it’s obvious where you can use his abilities. Finding abilities that flowed together, all felt good, and not straight-up overpowered were his biggest challenges.
Could you tell us a little about Rengar’s basic attack leap from brush and his personal stealth?
Classick: Rengar is a brush monster. Rengar’s leap attack from the brush and stealth originally started as a joke, actually. We thought it would be funny if he could just lunge out of the brush at you, since he was a freaking lion. At the same time, I wanted to shy away from the “leap on E” type of attack that a few champions already have and give him more of a situational leap. I really like Shyvana’s gap-closer; she has to use it based on the situation because it’s tied to her ultimate ability. Rengar becomes more powerful in the right environments and less powerful if his opponent can successfully counter-play by moving the fight away from Rengar’s powerful spots. Environment counter-play was definitely a focus.
So yes, he can move rapidly through the brush, while providing his opponents with options for playing against him. Rengar feels territorial – he owns his brush. You’re entering his lion’s den, so to speak. Having that feeling of dread and terror that Rengar might be prowling in a bush is something we want you to feel, capturing his territorial nature. You’re going up against a lion where he is king.
While playing against Rengar, however, you have to use your own skills to avoid his play style. If you’re in top lane, for instance, there are plenty of counter-play options that involve skirting the bottom part of the lane to avoid his brush leaps. Aggressive brush warding can alert you to Rengar’s position.
What happens when there is no brush to use?
Classick: You keep the leap when Rengar enters his stealth from his ultimate ability, Thrill of the Hunt. The leap works exactly the same from stealth – you’ll see the ring and be able to use your basic attack to jump on your desired target. Even without brush, Rengar can activate his ultimate and close the gap on his fleeing target, or jump behind enemy lines and land on top of a squishy carry. He picks his target and collects his trophies.
I found in playtests that Rengar was weak in defense situations, like defending inhibitors. Adding in the leap to his ultimate as well as brush made it so the crucial gap-closing component was still available to players but also limited enough that he definitely feels like he’s got more of an advantage when there is ample brush to use. The ultimate acts as temporary brush, in a way.
Do you anticipate any crazy brush plays?
Classick: I can only imagine the awesome moves that our players are going to pull off with Rengar. I’m especially excited about the fights that play out in high-brush density areas like near Dragon, the tri-bushes, or near the red and blue buffs. Rengar is going to be leaping all over the place, but he’s king of the jungle, so you should be ready for it. There is a lot of Flash interplay with his leaps that could prove tricky in the right hands.
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