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Fascinating. A quick summary of the thoughts I've seen here:
1. Offensive stats.
2. More power on consecutive spell landings.
3. Defensive bonuses on siege mode.
4. Increased range.
5. Grant vision on landing skill shots.
6. Leave it alone.
Going to run through these briefly.
1. Raw offensive power
These type of effects rarely add gameplay and when they do, it is hard to detect.
2. Consecutively increased damage on landing skill shots.
These kinds of effects are great on characters who have multiple skill shots to land. They punish people who ignore the skill shot in general. Kennan's stacking stun in is a decent example of this done right. In Xerath's current set of abilities, this doesn't work - he only has one skill shot on an 8 sec cooldown. This means the duration of the debuff would need to minimally be 10 seconds long. That implies that the enemy needs to be extra evasive for 10 seconds, which is a pretty long time.
If the duration is shorter, then its basically the same as saying Q deals bonus damage when popping E, or his ultimate does bonus damage on landing the spell multiple times. If either of those designs is desirable, I believe these would be better implemented directly.
3. Defensive bonuses in siege mode.
Right now, siege mode has a 40% Spell Penetration that is very invisible. I could see swapping that to 40% armor and magic resist + immunity to displacement effects, then adjusting the offensive power someplace more visible. However, if W provides no offensive bonus at all, that means he reaches full potential at level 12. Which, credit to CertainlyT: "Is a scary, scary thing."
4. Increased range over time.
This is the Tristana passive model. It works pretty well, since it makes her a higher risk target in early play and an amazing teamfighter later in the game.
This model could work on a bombardment mage like Xerath. That said, wouldn't this passive would conflict with the design of Locus of Power? We could get an equivalent experience by increasing the range bonus of his skills with rank-up on either Locus of Power or per-level on a given ability.
5. Grant vision on hitting a target
This works really well on Diana's Q, letting her catch a fleeing opponent with R. However, there has been a constant "vision" creep in the game over time. This is incredibly frustrating to champions balanced around short-duration, long-cooldown, stealth jukes, like Kha'zix, Talon or Rengar.
While this is probably the safest of the recommendations made here and plays into his ability to continue to bombard, it does risk playing into the vision creep meta. That said, his ultimate already grants vision of the target area - which is usually the opposite of what you want.
I like this idea overall, but I question if it alone can replace the defensive power loss.
6. Leave it alone.
I feel the problem with the existing passive is unclear optimization and absence of gameplay. If the counter to long-range Xerath is to get in his face, then this passive significantly impairs this. This passive also has no gameplay - as a high AP Xerath, you do NOT want to get close to AD assassins.
There is some validity that a high armor AP is a good thing to have in a world where AD mids are popular. I agree here, but if so, you want this effect to be strong in the laning phase of the game. Xerath's passive is barely noticable in the laning phase and is basically the same as picking up a cloth armor for free.
I think the questions for any designer who looks at Xerath's passive is:
What should his passive try to achieve? Is this power appreciated?
Does this add or detract from to the experience of playing Xerath?
Does Xerath need to be pushed further into his long-range niche?
Does Xerath need to have a glaring weakness covered?
Does Xerath need a strong passive at all?
I would say a solid passive for him would be something similar to Cassio's, except for damage. As he uses more skill (regardless of landing said skills) he steadily builds up more "charge". The bonus damage on it could just be a minimal change at the beginning, but could be rewarding for managing to keep it maxed... without ooming yourself in the process (meaning the counter play to it would be that keeping himself at full power would usually mean he was pushing himself oom. Make him miss just a few spells and all the bonus damage he built up will be worthless once he runs out of mana to sustain it). W could not count for this though with its highly spammable nature as well as being resourceless..
I think that Cassiopeia style passives are very rewarding. However, does Xerath have the toolkit to keep an effect like that running? Cassiopeia's Q is very short cooldown and she has W and a no-cooldown E to keep that effect stacked.
Xerath has two 8-second abilities (Q is 5 sec at level 9) and his ultimate is on an 80-60 sec cooldown.
It would reward you for landing full combos, it doesn't have to be 5 stacks, it could be 3 or 4. E(1)+Q(2)+R(3)+R(3/4)+R(3/4). I'd say that's noticeable.
That's basically saying "reward him for landing all 3 shots of his ultimate". If that's the path we go down, wouldn't directly saying that be more clear?
Mage Chains into a guaranteed stun via ultimate is a very powerful tool for shutting down an enemy AP, AD or Support from afar. I don't think it needs to be AoE to feel good on Xerath.
The ammo system could feel very good on his ultimate, but it would need to be reduced from 3 charges to 2, or the damage dramatically reduced in exchange for the oppressive feeling created by letting him stun more frequently in lane. That's a reasonable design direction.
I guess my question is... where's the siege? Should we not try to tweak him to better represent the archetype?
Justifying the current design: It is currently concentrated into long-range, hard hitting W->Q combos on a 4 sec cooldown.
That said, this is a good question. What do *you* feel is missing that other characters bring that make them better siege champions?
Lux feels more like a siege champion than Xerath ever has. Dat long range poke, both of which have good CC.
I think this is just indicative of Lux being too good at everything, moreso than Xerath being bad at siege.
In your opinion, is this true?
Eh, I was being brief to save myself a long post. Her toolkit is very broad and potent. She gets shields on top of strong poke and a 3000 range super-nuke on a 30 second cooldown.
I think if her ult's cooldown was as long as Xerath's it would be less of an issue. Instead, it's shorter, her Q *and* E have built in CC and just in case she wasn't safe enough, she has a shield too.
It's very hard to imagine a world with Xerath is competitive with Lux around... yet this is the state of our competitive game. It leaves me with much to think about.
Tell me what you think of my post on page 17 Xelnath - we have very similar opinions.
That was a very good post. I read it in detail and it was insightful to me. I'm afraid I'm too tired to breakdown what was good about it; I have to be unnecessarily careful with what I type, lest people misinterpret "first kill in lane" into "first blood always" and other silly misquotings.
That said, I did check your LoLKing to see what you actually played these days.
I think Nidalee's spears are also OP and create too much of an unexpected opportunity with diminishing follow-up ability due to the tuning of the scaling with distance damage. A great example of why that mechanic would be bad on Xerath.
No idea how feasible this would be balance wise, but how about a passive that gives him increased damage on his skills in relation to how far away the target is from him? Basically, hitting an enemy with your ult nearly a screen's worth away will do noticeably more damage as opposed to hitting the enemy when he's right next to you. Would be a nice way to promote Xerath's ranged-artillery playstyle.
This is just a trap idea. It was tried out internally and the conclusion was that you just always felt weaker unless you were sniping from max range.
This is a problem because if you stay at max range (the ideal for both damage and safety) you are an untouchable opponent who does insane damage. Imagine Nidalee spears hitting instantly, but now you're stunned with a triple ultimate on top of it.
When you design abilities, think about what it feels like to be the victim of that ability as well. My favorite example of this was TF2 ubers. Ubers felt great as the user, but you were powerless against them as an opponent.
If TF2 Ubers had been frontal immortality shields, then at least you could get behind the heavy-medic combo and the positioning of the medic relative to the heavy would be effective, while still retaining the "bust up the stacked sentries and heavy entrenchment" niche it was meant to handle.
I am definitely a jungler at heart, but I do feel like I understand Xerath, and to a greater extent, the game.
Yes, you're a very good player and I took your insights to heart. Thank you for contributing.
... isn't that Zac's passive verbatim?
Seems so. /shrug he probably has work to do!
If you knew what I was doing now, you would be asking me to stop posting. No, I won't tell you... yet.
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Omg I just figured out what is causing this.