Hey everyone, we’re really excited to bring another update on preseason's item system overhaul. This blog will outline specific goals we have for each class of items and a few changes to how some stats work in general. This work is still in progress, so there may be a few changes to these goals by the time preseason goes live.
Stats and Effects
- Healing and Grievous Wounds - Healing has become more prevalent in the game over the last few years, and we’d like to address a few specific problems.
- Healing has become so common that Grievous Wounds has gone from a contextual choice meant for healing-heavy games to a viable option in most games. We're looking across runes, items, and champ kits to trim some healing where we think it's unnecessary, which should in turn reduce the necessity of Grievous Wounds options in builds.
- On the other hand, Grievous Wounds can sometimes feel underpowered when trying to stop a very strong healer, especially when they have snowballed. We're looking to make Grievous Wounds a sharper effect that more effectively counters extreme healing situations, and gives up a bit of its upfront power.
- Cooldown Reduction Rework - We're reworking CDR to enable more flexibility in how we use the stat and create clearer build choices, while still filling the purpose of letting you cast abilities more often. The new stat is called Ability Haste.
- Ability Haste’s power stacks linearly - Currently, CDR’s power stacks exponentially so the more CDR you get, the more valuable it becomes. For example 10% CDR is 11% more casts, while 40% CDR is 66% more casts, and 50% CDR is 100% more casts. Ability Haste will provide a linear power scaling model for more ability casts. So 10 Ability Haste = 10% more abilities cast, 20 = 20% more, 30 = 30% more. This makes it so every amount of Ability Haste you buy has the same impact, rather than an exponential one. The conversion of CDR to Haste won’t be 1:1 because that’d be a flat nerf, which isn’t the intention—you should have the potential to reach the same frequency of spell-slinging, but the way you get there will be more linear. (Worth noting that armor, MR, attack speed, and most other stats in the game already scale this way.)
- Ability Haste is uncapped - CDR’s multiplicative scaling becomes so powerful that we have to have a 40% cap to limit its power. With the new linear scaling model, we don’t need this restriction anymore. This opens up some cool new build options that sacrifice other power to double down on casting fast.
- Tenacity - Tenacity is a unique and useful stat, but we think its interactions across different types of Crowd Control (CC) are confusing and unintuitive. Ideally we want a player to ask the question “is there a lot of hard CC in this game?” and know that tenacity will be an effective counter. Towards this goal we are making a change so that tenacity will reduce the duration of knockups. We’re not going to have tenacity affect displacement (knockback or pull) spells because their primary purpose is movement, not long duration CC. Also, there are a few ultimate spells in the game where reducing their duration undermines the functionality in a negative way (like Vi R), so we will be making these knockup+suppression.
Last preseason included a successful update to starting items for the support role that allowed them to immediately focus on the wider shop for more satisfying options and more choices. We’re applying the same treatment to junglers: Jungle items will be a starting item that requires no additional investment. Junglers should get the stats and resource bonuses they need from this item so they can immediately start working on the rest of their build. We’re still working out the details (like how you can acquire a champion-targeted Smite), but early testing of this direction has been exceptionally positive.
When we first started work on each item class, we laid out all of the items and analyzed their uses over the last few years. That helped us determine more specific goals for how each class of champions’ items will hit our overall item system goals and complement the intended strengths and weaknesses of the class.
- More strategic choices - Marksmen currently suffer from too many “must-buy” items in their build that crowd out most opportunities for situational buying. Our goal is to offer more contextual item choices and integrate essential DPS stats across more items so that these choices become available without giving up a baseline level of damage the class needs to function.
- Agency options - A very common issue that marksmen players report is that they are powerful but overly team-reliant. Overall we think that this is a fundamental and healthy element for the class because it creates a differentiated set of roles to create rich teamplay and strategy (imagine how much less strategy there would be if every class was the same). But we also think we can introduce some items that allow marksmen players to opt into more tools that help them survive when not supported by a coordinated team. These won’t come free though, so to get some of this solo agency, players will have to lessen their best-in-class DPS.
- More impactful with one item - We still want marksmen to be the class that is defined by its late game carry potential, but we are shifting the stats on their first buy slightly so they feel like a more competitive class after one item.
- Fill some item gaps - Some games and matchups make marksmen feel like there is a missing item for what they need. We’re looking to offer appropriate options like an AD Armor item, more spellcaster marksmen options, and maybe others.
- First item choice - Mages today suffer from a set of first items that don’t have clear tradeoffs or situational purpose, making their first item choice basically predetermined in each meta based on which item is tuned the strongest. In contrast, we think their mid/late options are pretty rich with some unique counter effects and actives. We’d like mages to have the same rich choices in their first item.
- New iconic effects for artillery mages - We have some exciting ideas to create a fantasy item for artillery mages that emphasizes their unique range and skills.
- Ability Haste as a choice - With the rework from Cooldown Reduction to Ability Haste, we can use the stat to create another decision point in mage builds. This allows for some super Haste-focused builds and other powerful builds that give up Haste for other gains.
AP Fighter and AP Assassin Items
We want to serve a decent sized group of champs with a new class of items. Because AP Fighters and Assassins are a fairly rare type of champion, we ended up grouping them for the purposes of building a core item set. This ended up working out well because they tend to need damage early in the game and skew tanky or bursty with later choices.
- Tailored early build items - These AP champs have been borrowing from mage items for as long as they’ve existed. We want to offer some early buy choices that match the patterns and stats that they want. Things like damage/durability hybrids and manaless items are working well in our internal testing.
- Bridge into tank or pure AP later - Like AD fighters, we don’t think these champs need to build entirely within their own category of items to have a great item experience. Depending on the champion or game, we want them to transition into tank or pure AP items to finish out their builds. This lets them get the full set of choices available in those parts of the system and offers a lot of flexibility.
AD Fighter Items
- Tailored defensive options - Fighters today only have “one size fits all” defensive options in Sterak’s Gage or Death's Dance based on which champ you’re playing, regardless of whether the enemy team has more physical or magic damage. We want to expand on Fighter-specific defensive items to give some more specialized options.
- Core item diversity - Core fighter items like Black Cleaver or Trinity Force bring fighter builds both the power they need and iconic play patterns, but there aren't decisions being made by fighters early in their build. We want to sharpen the current options and introduce some new ones that can compete for the crucial early slots in a fighter’s build.
AD Assassin Items
- Choices beyond ordering - Assassins have a few good choices around which items to buy first, second, or third, but we think they lack a wider pool of more situational choices that most classes have. We hope to add a few more options so assassins have more build variety from game to game.
- Intentional late build options - Assassins today have to fill out their late build by pulling from other classes, and many of these choices feel suboptimal. We're going to look at what types of items they need late game and where it makes sense for them to draw from other classes (like fighters do) versus having a specialized assassin option.
- More options to adapt to team strategy - Tanks need to fill a wide variety of functions for their team, so we want to make sure they have build options to support them while getting the necessary defenses to be a meatshield. Do you need to match a split pushing Tryndamere? Hard engage on an Azir? Protect a Kog’Maw carry? All of these directions should be clearly supported by new options.
- Filled out magic resist options - The current MR options are a bit niche and feel like they don't offer strong options to deal with teams that require effectiveness against multiple AP playstyles at once.
- Enhance tank utility - Tanks create value for their team by being immovable damage soaks while also providing CC and other utility. We want to create more items to showcase the utility attributes of tanks beyond their baseline defenses.
- Late-game capstone items - We’ve seen a satisfying type of item across a few other classes that's only efficient when bought late game, but creates a satisfying capstone that feels like it completes your build (like Deathcap). We hope to create one or two of these items for tanks to be excited about in their very late game slots.
- More options for build variety - The current enchanter item ecosystem is dominated by a few items that outshine other options, to the point that most enchanter builds are the same 3 items every game. We think the pool of viable items is too shallow, so we intend to upgrade underused items into viable choices and create some enchanter items for new spaces.
- Solve Active Overload - More than any other class by far, enchanter items end up with many more actives than we would like in a single build. We’re taking a few different approaches simultaneously to keep enchanter builds in the 1 or 2 active item sweetspot that we think is ideal.
- More clear strengths on each item - A couple items fall into the “good at everything” category where they provide defense, CDR, healing, mana regen, and an active. We want to have more focused items with a clear purpose.
We will continue to iterate and share our progress with you all as we approach preseason. We’re excited to get this work on PBE in the fall for an extended period so that you all can tinker and give us feedback from real experience.