The New Jungle: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Hello there summoners, Gentleman Gustaf here to give you the lowdown on the new jungle! Riot has made sweeping changes to the game, introducing new items, revamping masteries, adjusting penetration formulas, changing jungle monsters, and adding a new jungling item tree to the game. So where has this left junglers? Well, when last we saw junglers, they had 4 main jobs.

  1. Early ganks: level 3 ganks with double buff had become standard, and were often devastating, especially for top lane.
  2. Oracle's Elixir ward clearing
  3. Tank Aura items (Aegis + Randuin's on Bruisers, Aegis + Frozen Heart on Tanks)
  4. Initiation/Peel/Dive.

Ultimately, Riot decided that the amount of influence they were able to have early in the game with pressure ganks and the power of ward clearing was too much, whereas the power they had late game with low-economy builds was too low. Many of the changes were targeted at these problems, and some of these changes have been good (for junglers) others have been bad (for junglers) and others have been ugly (force you to make lose-lose choices).

 

The Problem

Jungling in Season 2 had gotten somewhat stale (according to some); you take your buffs and then you want to put some early pressure on lanes and, hey, you probably don't get the kill, but you certainly set your lane up to get a nice 5 cs lead later on, so that's nice. And now that you're at 30% health, you're pretty much stuck clearing or going back, but you don't have enough money for a gold item, so I guess you'll clear low and hope you don't invade, or go back for no reason. In the meantime, if you ganked after only 1 buff, their jungler just took your other buff, so I hope you did a level 3 gank with double buff and a smiteless leash or you're just screwed for experience and gold. So whichever you choose, now you have your philo or your HoG, so now what?

Well, you pressure the lanes, but you feel like your ganks aren't dangerous because you might get killed and fall farther behind? So you try to clear the jungle to catch up, so you go to the blue and take it - well, you give that to mid, (don't worry, he lets you have the first one because he understands that you need that experience). Anyway, by the time you get to your wolves, top has cleared them since his lane was pushed out, so you swing onto the wraiths, but mid is taking them because blue buff, so why not? So you bounce to red and take that - don't worry bro, your AD Carry won't need it at least until the next one, and since you're jungle Amumu/Maokai, it's super good on you - but no golems for you because bot lane took those, and actually, can he have that red because it will help his lane trades? But you stood near those buffs as they died, so you hit level 6, and you realize that your camps are worth so little gold (0, in fact, since you can't take them) that it's time to get back to ganking and helping your lanes.

Checking each lane, you see that they're warded up tight, so instead of getting your second gold item, you get an Oracle's Elixir and plan to get Mobi boots so you can have OP ganks. So you clear wards and people back off, and you drop into your jungle to farm - actually, screw that, you don't want to hurt your lane's farm, because how are they supposed to get 150 cs in 20 minutes without taking your jungle camps while the lane is pushed to their tower? So you go back to gank, but they've re-warded, so you kill some wards and 'hey! you've actually made about 150 gold from ward kills! this could be - oh shit, you just got caught and killed because you had no tankiness. Well, you've almost got 400 gold, so let's go clear some camps again - right, they've all been knocked down. That's ok, walking around the jungle with your gold item got you enough gold to buy another Oracles' Elixir...although you could save up for a gold item.

So you keep playing whack-a-mole with wards and maybe the occasional jungle camp and every once in awhile, somebody doesn't run when their team pings you and you hand another assist off to your lane. So now it's the 20 minute mark and you've managed to scrape together enough gold for an item, so you're pretty OP, or at least, your team is, since you got a tanky aura for them, right? I'm really digging that Aegis. That's like 2k gold; you must be rolling in the bank, so it's time to pick up another Oracle's Elixir! You're almost as tanky as top, so you should get it, because - well because he doesn't really want to; he's trying to decide what to get: he has Trinity Force and Guardian Angel, so there's Sunfire Cape or there's Wit's End or there's Frozen Heart and it's such a hard choice. So it's time for team fights, and I hope you fed your team well because here goes the fight, and I think you CC'd somebody to start the fight and...well, you're dead, but your graves looks like he's doing well; you think you may win this team fight aaaand - awww, their Ezreal beat out your Graves, but he's the only one left alive at least. You were dead, but you picked up the assist on the first guy, so get another Oracle's Elixir and do that again and again until the game ends!

Now, we know that it's not all risk: if you get those early ganks, you snowball! Not yourself, silly, you snowball your lanes. To snowball, you need other sources of gold, and, please, you don't have those. But you can revel in the satisfaction of a job well done and let your team win for you now! And nothing says fun like letting your team win for you! So when you initiate, you might not die (you will) but at least your Graves will beat out their Ezreal and you'll win the teamfight!

 

You may notice a slightly sarcastic or negative tone in the above description. This is not because I feel negatively about the Season 2 jungle. I actually loved the Season 2 jungle, and I love playing tanks and CC monkeys. I find few things more satisfying than initiating a team fight that we win, regardless of whether or not I die. As a tank, I hope I die first, because it means my team is feeding them their teeth while they beat me up. But I think a lot of players were frustrated with the role, and that's part of what prompted Riot to make changes.

In response, Riot said something like the following:

I've got a a new offer for you! Before, you were having to gank lanes all the time, which was high risk,and if it didn't pay off, you fell behind in gold. Plus, the other jungler would gank lanes, too, so if you failed, your lane would need you to come back in a bit to make up for their successful gank. And that sucked, right? It felt like you were on permanent support duty, and when you ganked, sometimes the laner would kill you anyway, because you were so squishy. So we've got some changes for you. But first, just so we're clear, your complaints are:

  1. Laners take all of your camps.
  2. As a result, you have no gold, so you're forced to get lots of gold items and gank constantly.
  3. On top of that, wards shut you down, so you're spamming Oracle's Elixirs.

Now of course, these weren't problems JUST for junglers. The heavy ganking combined with oracle's elixirs made laning very unsafe at key points in the game, and Oracle's Elixir stacking wasn't so much a jungler problem, but an arms race against laners' wards. So how has Riot worked on these problems?

The Good

More gold

Jungle gold is now distributed a bit differently (more on big minions, and less on the wraiths). And after 11 minutes into the game, the gold values are higher than in the old jungle, so you get more gold! On top of that, camps are now harder to kill, so laners are less likely to mooch off of them early! You also get more ambient gold. This is true of both laners and junglers, but it affects junglers, with their smaller gold pool, more. Finally, the movement speed changes mean that junglers don't necessarily need to start boots, because with masteries and runes itemized for speed, they're almost as fast as laners with boots. This lack of early investment into boots lets them spend their money elsewhere.

New Items

Tank itemization diversity grew a lot with this patch. Have you ever had 2 champions on your team who wanted a Frozen Heart for the CDR and Mana, but you didn't want to waste the aura? No worries, now one of them can pick up Frozen Fist, for a little more damage! Hate all of the big components in building Randuin's? It now builds out of 2 cloth armors! Aegis of the Legion, a jungle favorite, got a late game upgrade!

Then there's Spirit Stone and all of its upgrades. Before, if you wanted more clearspeed, you either picked up a Wriggle's or you built damage, both pretty unappealing to an AP or a tank. Now, you can get a Spirit Stone for mana/health regen and more minion damage. From there, Spirit Stone can be upgraded to make you a better mage (AP/CDR/Spell Vamp), tank (Health/Armor/Tenacity), or dps (AD/true damage dot).

Finally, we come to Sightstone, which is, in my opinion, the best item in this release, and will eventually need nerfs (maybe at least making wards killed by Sightstone give 25 gold) or buffs to counter-items (like Oracle's Elixirs). It gives you access to enough wards to cover the easy (mid) entrances to your jungle, and if your team is already warding, allows you to easily ward to counter-jungle. On top of that, it is crazy combined with Wriggle's on Lee Sin, who will never again want for a ward to dash to.

The Bad

Maybe not more gold

Remember that extra gold you were getting? Well, it turns out that you now need to dump 300 gold into an item that just gives you clear speed equal to Season 2. But at least you have a huge minion killing advantage, so the lanes don't steal your camps? Well, problem is, as a tank/bruiser, you actually kill camps slower than people who build damage. So mid-late game, your carries do more damage to minions even despite your bonus, unless you're ballsy enough to build dps on a melee champion. Solution? Stack BC's because they're OP. Creative players like Chaox have been running bot lanes that include champions like Lulu/Zyra/Ashe who can still clear the golems at level 1 just fine. By the time the jungle gold starts to surpass that of Season 2, the laners are already clearing your camps with some regularity. And the boots you don't need to get? It's not so much that you don't NEED to get them, and more it's that you'll die if you start with them instead of machete on most junglers. Worse, there's no more HoG, so some junglers are left entirely without a gold item to get (although Sightstone more than makes up for HoG).

So considering that jungle tanks want boots + HoG + Philo + Aegis + Glacial, and jungle bruisers want boots + HoG + Aegis + Phage, your jungle clearing item basically phases out your non-Aegis item, Sightstone replaces HoG. So if you're a jungler who loved Glacial/Phage, you're pretty sad. If you're not, you might feel ok about the trade until you think about how much the minion damage cost you, and guess about 750 gold. Isn't that the ambient gold increase for a 40 minute game?

Speaking of gold items, let's talk about Philosopher's Stone. Now, if you choose to get it on a jungle tank, you're stacking it with Spirit Stone for HOLY REGEN BATMAN. Good luck having real stats in the first 5 minutes of the game. If you don't need Shurelia's, no big deal, just skip Philosopher's Stone. But if you do (Skarner), you're basically set to choose between clear speed and mid-game items you need.

And speaking of Spirit Stone, what if you don't like the stats the upgrades give you?

But Gentleman Gustaf, who doesn't like Health/Armor on tanks? Or AD + a dot on AD champs? or Spell Vamp/CDR?

I will admit to really liking the AD and AP Spirit Stones. What the latter has done to Fiddlesticks is beautiful. And honestly, the tank one is pretty good on most tanks. That just leaves one of my favorite champions in the game: Skarner. Skarner LIVES for CDR, and I can't begin to imagine cutting Glacial Shroud from his build.

Remember how I said Sightstone was good? Well it really is good enough that I would expect to see at least 2 per game (jungle/support), and I would also like to see 1 top. I wouldn't even entirely be surprised to see one mid; triple gold was a brief craze mid, why not double gold plus free wards? I've been in games with 4 Sightstones as a jungler, and let's just say ganking gets a little bit harder when everybody keeps their lane bush and their jungle-access bush warded. If each team has 3 sightstones and just replaces wards as they go down, ganking becomes very, very hard. This has enough of an effect that, to quote Stonewall (about Mundo):

Stonewall

I've seen players just grab a cloth armor on him (with armor quints too) and grab a quick doran's shield and just farm all day. They don't even gank much - they just farm and stack ruby crystals which end up becoming ever item he wants.

To add to the Sightstone buff, Oracle’s Elixir was nerfed. And to add insult to injury, if you pick one up to combat Sightstone, you’ll soon find out that Sightstone wards only grant 10, instead of 25 gold per kill.

Ugly

The ugly news is this: there is nothing really wrong with most of the jungle changes. In fact, I think most changes implemented were quite fantastic. It's just that many of the changes were aimed at the same problem, and when you stack them, you fix the problem too hard. So we're going to have to make choices.

Sightstone is a really cool item for you. Oracle's Elixir really needed that nerf. But both together takes the toxic 'no wards are safe' situation we had in Season 2, and turns it into the equally toxic 'really, lanes have nothing to worry about ever if they know what a minimap is'.

Making jungler specific items for powering through a tankier jungle is a brilliant solution, but it locks junglers into very specific items which they may not really benefit from, just to clear. Upgrading all of the jungle tanks old items, but then mandating that they get another item that does a similar (but not as good) makes me feel like I'm being taunted by Riot.

Giving you more gold is great. Forcing you to dump most of it into minion only stats to jungle is not. On top of that, resistances have gotten more expensive, while damage has gotten cheaper. So have fun being a tank.

Nerfing your early game and buffing your late game slightly isn't really a fair trade, because it was due to that early game (and early gold items) that you had a late game at all!

AD junglers seem to come away the clear winners, with a few exceptions, and I think this is for four reasons:

  1. Fewer sustain issues. AD junglers have lifesteal and are often manaless.
  2. Machete synergy. The more a champions kit is invested in damage, the more they loves machete: anybody who has a lot invested in shields (Skarner/Nautilus), heals (Maokai/Cho), or sheer tankiness benefits less from Machete. On the other hand, anybody who just brute forces through the jungle (Shyvana/Mundo/Darius) scales extremely well with Machete.
  3. Warding. Tank junglers are more easily counter-jungled, worse duelists, and slower clearers. So they're exactly the sort of junglers who would benefit more from an early sightstone. However, they're exactly the champions who need the early mana sustain from Spirit/Philo Stone. Bruiser junglers, on the other hand, excel at invading and ruining the other jungler's day, and the early wards from sightstone allows them to do so even more aggressively.
  4. Black Cleaver is scary.

So what do I think about the new jungle? I like the idea of giving junglers more gold, and I agree that early ganks were too strong. But in execution, I'm not liking it all that much, and I feel like every game went too far.

The old jungle felt a lot like Tetris: you watched what was happening and going to happen, reacting with precision to be where you needed to make things work. And when you got a small edge, it felt like all of the pieces dropped into place and you got a little bit more ahead. You couldn't really control all of the pieces; sometimes they sucked, sometimes they were nothing but line pieces, but you did the best with what you had. But the new jungle, for me, feels like Futilitris; the pieces come down and you occasionally feel like you do something, but it doesn't make a difference in the long run, because even when you do get ahead, all you get is the ability to kill minions faster. You're competing against the other jungler, because everybody else will be ahead of you unless you're beyond fed.

I'd like to see a few small changes.

  1. A way (items/runes/masteries) to make jungle mobs give junglers more gold would be fantastic. Barring that, simply making the increase in damage due to Machete beat out the tankiness increase of the jungle mobs would be nice.
  2. Stacking Philosopher's and Spirit Stone is awkward. I'm not really sure how you solve that. But you can't put minion damage on Philosopher's Stone (laners would love you), and you can't put gold on Spirit Stone without adjusting some stats.
  3. Sightstone wards need to give 25 gold. Oracle's Elixir could maybe use a buff, too.

What's coming from here on out?

I have two plans for the next few weeks of posts. First, I'll be revisiting my AD Carry work. To those of you who are thinking 'don't you just have to plug in the new items and penetration, and shouldn't that take no time?' you're pretty much correct. I'll still be splitting the series up into groups of AD Carries to keep posts manageable. Second, if you've followed other posts in this thread, you'll know that Nasus is my favorite champion ever, and I also happen to think he benefits a lot from the Season 3 changes, so I'll be doing a guide on him.

 


 For more of my work:

-- Find old posts @ the RoG forums and new posts every Wednesday (3 PM) and Sunday (9 AM).

-- Feel free to find me in the "A DIFFerent View" chatroom on the NA server.
-- Contact me at [email protected]
-- Follow me on Facebook and Youtube for updates on all of my new articles, videos, and streaming.


 Song of the Day

(I know it's a repeat, but it's so fitting)

 

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