The season 4 jungle has become available for testing in the pbe (though changes can still come) and I have been able to test paths with different builds, starts and champions. There is far less to actually test out this time around compared to the transition into season 3 though. Most of what has been implemented cannot really be fully tested as it involves actually gameplay. Things such as the totems, the new items and spawn times can only have their effects observed after players are throw into a game against each other with the intent to win instead of "testing." That said, even the initial results from the first games of the new season will hardly be conclusive. Most of them will have the most obvious uses of everything taking place while more elaborate strategies start developing.
With all that said, there were a few changes made to the jungle itself that could be tested, at least on the PvE side of things. I could only make theories about some of the PvP elements as those cannot be tested until the changes reach the live servers. Unfortunately, the pbe has plenty of players of dismal ability which can completely sink the ability to actually test anything worthwhile. Still though, it was very important to test the new wight camp, the new gold items and the changed monster camps. Riot is telling the players that the jungle will provide more gold and better chances for the junglers to carry while still balancing it out for ganking junglers and such. So far I've had positive results but there are variables that taint it a tad. The fact that I am doing it with no need to gank, no risk of invasion and that ambient gold has changed, affects the final conclusion of this. Yet still this information has been proving useful. I've been constantly grinding clears to refine the paths and to find the most efficient way of doing things. I am still tweaking things so I may even change these still.
I will be showcasing the improvements of my testing as I go. The earlier videos were a bit more crude than the latest ones as the latest ones have be zoning in onto what I feel are the best paths so far. I will also note some of the realizations I made along the way.
For Items - go read this article! http://www.reignofgaming.net/blogs/stonewall/26239-s4-jungle-and-jungle-items-a-rough-idea
Once the wight camp was released, I hit the pbe immmediately to test. The wight camp is placed next to the blue golem camp. It does seem just "plopped" into place though as it just sort of sits in some corner along the road. Nonetheless I slew it rather quickly and realized just how pathetic of a monster it really is. The golems honestly feel more powerful than it.
It feels simply like an opposite side small golems. It does give less experience though and feels more targeted towards single target junglers. The problem is that the small golems were no issue to single target junglers and the wight camp feels pathetic even using aoe junglers.
I cleared the entire jungle while always including the wight camp. In my first attempts I tried doing a top to bottom clear and quickly figured out how much this slowed me down even with some fast junglers. A few ideas were starting to crop up from this and I began to experiment more.
Ignoring the Wight Camp
No matter which champion I picked, fast or slow, the new wight camp just did nothing but slow me down. I decided to try ignoring it all together. It turns out that if you ignore the wight camp you will actually get to level 6 faster than if you had killed it. However, you will get to level 4 faster if you kill it in your first clear.
I did find out that if you did the same thing for small golems then you would get to level 6 at around the same time. I repeat, if you ignore the small golems in favor of the wight camp, you will get to level 6 just as fast as if you ignored the wight camp. This means that the new wight camp can at least be used to farm a side of the jungle with next to no real loss. You can theoretically be camping one side of the map while not having to worry about farm and experience. Currently on live, you normally have to hover around the red buff area to maximize your farm. Now you can hover anywhere and get roughly equal farm and experience thanks to having two similar camps opposite of each other.
That seems to be the main purpose of the wight camp along with making sure you always have something to kill whether it is because you are so damn fast at clearing, you are being invaded or your teammates are stealing your jungle camps.
The Fastest of the Fast
The main question being asked by a lot of players was "how will the wight camp help farming junglers?" Most of the farming junglers in the game also happen to be some of the fastest junglers in the game. I decided to take one of the best junglers at both single target and aoe damage; Shyvana.
I ran plenty of tests using Shyvana. I took defensive masteries for some clears and offensive for others, I ignored the wight camp aside for the first clear and ignored it completely in others. Shyvana's perfect combination of damage along with her waning sustain allowed her to be the perfect champion to test everything out with. I was able to farm all 4 camps with Shyvana without missing any camp respawns. She was so fast she could keep 4 jungle camps on respawn without having to go back to heal once. Once she gained level 6 with a clear that always included the wight camp, I had about 70 gold more than a clear that always ignored it. It turns out that the fastest junglers can farm all the camps, including the wight camp, with no problems and eventually start creating a gold gap between those junglers who do best by ignoring it.
It is very important to note that not all fast junglers can do this. The fast junglers who clear quickly but are not mobile may still be best suited with taking the classic clear paths. This is mostly due to the fact that travel time can slow you down quite a bit and negatively affect your gold per minute. This problem becomes diminished if you were to purchase boots earlier but that would delay your core items.
Of course this does not take into account if you were to decide to invade your opponent and steal their camps or if you were to be invaded yourself. It also does not take into account if you were to try to attempt a gank. As far as I can tell, if you were to perform any ganks or invasions you'll simply convert to killing whatever camp you are close to when you return to your jungle.
The Slow and the Sluggish
One of the biggest concerns people have had is whether the jungle changes will actually help slow champions like Warwick and Nautilus. Riot said that junglers who rely on farming till level 6 will receive a strong boost but I find this to be a very silly claim. For starters, the only way this can be achieved is through making it so the game slows down early and lane aggression is neutered (which we know Riot will not do) or by making it so the jungle camps give much more experience (which we definitely know Riot will not do).
Warwick is one of the slowest jungle champions. This is made much worse by the fact that he needs to reach level 6 before he can have success in killing an opponent (who do not have a death wish). Some people actually said that Warwick will be op in the new jungle and frankly they are being a little too hopeful. Here's the deal with Warwick, if he somehow gets to do what he needs to do, he can be very powerful and annoying. His level 6 ganks are still insanely deadly and he is almost unkillable in 1v1 fights. An itemized Warwick is ridiculously threatening (though he can be kited easily by some champions). However, just clears pathetically slow. He needs changes made to his kit in order to make him clear faster. The new wight camp, which was meant to help single target junglers, did nothing for him. He is still ridiculously slow to level 6. Though to be fair the new smite does help alleviate some of Warwick's woes and I will be testing out some elaborate slow paths.
Surprisingly (and the reason I still may have hope for Warwick) slow junglers were made better by the new smite. This seems to only concern jungle champions with aoe damage and/or lots of damage abilities. I tried Nautilus and was surprised at how well I did. To be clear, Nautilus is actually not the slowest jungler in the game overall. He has an abysmal first clear due to his reliance on his shield, low sustain and terrible defenses. However, he quickly picks up steam as the game goes on and demolishes the jungle. The new smite changes have almost completely alleviated his early struggles.
As funny as it sounds, Nautilus is so slow that he is able to abuse smite more than a lot of other junglers. The ridiculous usage of smite allows him to kill camps during his weak early clears without any issue. He can finish off most camps before taking too much damage after his shield has shattered. Nautilus was able to use smite on blue and then smite on the wight making its wrath against him less impactful. His low mobility worked out well for him and this gave me hope for slower junglers being able to clear faster or at least safer than before.
Keep in mind that I ignored the wight camp after the first clear. It seems rather useless once you start gaining lots of clearing speed yet your mobility (or speed still) is nothing compared to the fastest of junglers. The wight camp is doing nothing to help the slower junglers while the new smite is making a world of difference.
It is not easy to test this out so I cannot give a real conclusion about this yet. However, I did test out level 3 ganks as well as what having one kill would do for you. The new changes did nerf early ganking but not ganking in general. If anything, the totem changes are what will probably affect ganking more than anything. The season 4 jungle seems to accommodate most champions and gankers aside from their early shenanigans.
A buff to buff clear WILL NOT get you level 3 anymore. You need to fit a small camp somewhere along the clear (or after getting both buffs) in order to reach level three. Starting red is so far red-blue-camp while starting blue is blue-camp-red. No real difference though aside from burning your jungle buffs up a bit and delaying your first gank for 10 or so seconds. I've jokingly named it the "American" start as you can get to level 3 by clearing your red, wight and blue camps.
I used Nocturne to simulate a clear following a gank and noticed basically no difference. This just confirms the whole notion that there is no difference between the season 4 jungle and the season 3 jungle when it comes to ganking at least when it concerns clearing and ganking. If you kill someone, you will be ahead. It is as simple as that. As I said earlier though, this does not take into account what the totems will do or what the new laning items will do. to ganking.
It honestly does feel like the changes are good and hitting "some" of their intended goals. Slow junglers got a boost in survivability and their early game jungle suckage was padded thanks to the new smite (hopefully it helps Warwick in the end too). Ganking junglers were slightly nerfed but are still strong regardless and can do what they do now but can now farm another side of the jungle without having to travel far from their gank targets. Recovering from invasion is easier while invasions became less impacting due to having another jungle side to farm - though I mean enemy jungler invasions not whole team invasions. Farming has become stronger overall especially with the items you build later in the game.
To make it a TLDR: The early jungle is practically the same but it has been made easier for slow, vulnerable junglers and much better for farming junglers while gankers were slightly nerfed (level 3 ganks). There is almost no real change.
Mid game jungle is by far more different than before thanks to the jungle changes and the totems. That cannot be tested until they reach live and I have a better pool of players to play against. I will make an article about mid game jungling, the impact of the items and totems as well as which junglers are feeling strong.
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