Soraka and Viktor Reworks Revealed, More Answers from Meddler

Important: Unofficial PBE Patch Notes for 8/30/2014 - Orianna Portrait, New Ward Skins Images, Lore Changes


Soraka Rework

Originally Posted by Riot (View Original Source)

Soooo as some of you may have heard, we’ve been working on some pretty big changes to Soraka. Hopefully this post will help you guys see some of the challenges we faced with her as a character and how we are looking to resolve them while creating a really deep and interested play experience that no other character in LoL can offer.

Right then, so first thing first. We wanted to carve out a really specific niche for Soraka so that we could make her really strong and unique in that role. The role that we identified for her was as the core healer of the League of Legends roster. So, I’m sure that raises a bunch of alarm bells for a number of you.
“Wait a second, hasn’t Morello said in the past that he hates healers in LoL? What changed?”

Well, there’s a difference between healing with and without meaningful costs and interaction. Let’s talk about that for a second. With Live Soraka (and especially season 1 Soraka, if you were around for that), heals tend to “undo” action at the cost of mana. Specifically, being a sustain fountain that clicks your ally until they are healthy doesn’t create a very compelling gameplay space, and certainly doesn’t feel like a fair interaction to enemies. After all, all they can do is keeping harassing until Soraka runs out of mana. So then, what would feel fair?

 

That was the core problem I was looking to solve when I started on Soraka. After some early iterations, Morello pitched something crazy to myself and RiotScruffy. What if Soraka had to pay her own health to heal allies, but could then get it back through a separate enemy-interactive spell? ;
This became the driving vision behind the new Soraka, and I’m really excited to share what’s going to be hitting PBE in the next cycle with you guys. This is not going to be a tl;dr post (if you want that version, I’m sure you can wait for blakinola’s). I want to get in depth about every choice that was made and why we felt it was necessary. So without further to do, here’s the kit. (This is going to go in the order most conducive to walking you through my process, so don’t get confused when I start on W).

PLEASE PLEASE note that all of these numbers are definitely not final. We will be doing a lot of tuning over the next couple of weeks.

W:

This is the core of Soraka’s new kit. It’s a 4 second (scaling down to 2) heal that she can use to constantly direct her attention to the ally that needs it most. We are trying to really capture the feeling of the core healer that is constantly managing her allies’ health bars and keeping people alive. As I mentioned previously, the % health cost is necessary to allow Soraka to have such insane potential healing. Using this spell, you can easily heal an ally from almost dead to full health, but you will pay a heavy cost for doing so if you aren’t actively engaging in your offensive loop (Starcall). The Max Health cost was chosen very specifically over a flat health cost so that Soraka would not be able to increase her overall healing potential by stacking tank items (especially warmogs). If Soraka is going to be allowed to keep people alive in fights, she needs to be vulnerable in doing so. Soraka’s positioning and decision making will be a huge point of mastery. That reminds me, the cast range on this spell will be rather short. This is necessary to make sure Soraka is accessible when she chooses to heal and can’t sit 800 units behind the back line and heal from total safety (seriously, this is the most frustrating thing ever to have to deal with). Good news though, she will have other tools on her kit to help her here.

Passive:

This passive we called “Astral Ambulance” internally. Because Soraka’s cast range on W needs to be constrained, we need to give her another way to reliably reach the targets she wants to heal. This new passive allows Soraka to keep up with the fight and make clutch saves by sprinting across the river to get that heal off.

The second potion of this passive allows Soraka to get the cool bonus effects off items like Frozen Heart while making your healing and damage stronger. This should open up a couple cool new itemization choices for her. It also serves a potential release valve in a future where mitigation itemization allows Soraka to be too tanky. This way we can tune how strong Soraka is in certain areas (healing/damage) without just flat out nerfing her if she is ever able to become too tanky.

That brings us to the new Starcall. I don’t think you guys need much of an explanation of why the previous starcall needed to be cut. It was essentially a ramping damage PBAoE ability on a character that is supposed to be a support focused around her ally. A ramping damage pattern like this is really indicative of tanks, and if we wanted Soraka to be an interactive and fair healer, we had to give her opponent a way to be successful against stopping her healing.

Q:

Ideally, we wanted this spell to be very reliable at close range (when Soraka is at extremely high risk) while be equally as powerful but less reliable at long ranges (so that if Soraka is poking with it her opponents can dodge). This led us to a targeting paradigm similar to Corki Q or Twitch W (basically a missile that doesn’t have any effects until the end where it blows up in an AoE). To really accentuate the reliable-when-close paradigm, we also added a small sweet spot in the middle of the AoE (think Leona ult style). If Soraka hits an enemy with the sweet spot, the enemy takes 150% of the damage and is slowed for 2 seconds. You’ll see why this slow is really important to her offensive pattern when we get to E, but one other thing I wanted to point out was that this is one of the few tools she has to stay safe when she’s by herself.

Finally, let’s talk about the E. Soraka’s previous E was one of the better decision points on her old kit, but a targeted silence just wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been. A lot of the time you don’t even realize how much you have or haven’t hurt your opponent. Tryndamere and Riven are both AD stacking melees. If you use it on Tryndamere, it might not be a big deal, but if you use it on Riven she literally can’t do anything. What we really wanted to do here was give Soraka a much bigger moment when it came to play making that still fulfilled the power of quickly silencing a dude quickly

E:

Equinox is an incredibly powerful spell. An AoE silence zone is no laughing matter, and the root at the end allows her to make some really cool plays (dropping it where Lissandra is about to blink to, or underneath an incoming enemy teleport, etc.) The root will scale with level, but once again try not to focus on numbers since these are all subject to change with tuning.

Wish is largely unchanged, but because her old passive was removed (more healing at lower ally health), this scaling was kept on wish but concentrated into a clear threshold.

R:

This change allows Soraka to understand exactly how many “bonus heals” she is going to get when she presses the button, and also makes the spell just generally more powerful when it matters (anytime the ally is below 40% they get the equivalent power of being at 1% with the wish on Live currently). We kept the healing scaling on Wish and not on W because we didn’t want Soraka to allow her ally to drop to dangerously burstable levels just so she could get a slightly better heal on a basic ability. Soraka should always want to keep her allies at the safest health she can (while also managing her own health) and we felt that a bonus heal on W not only encouraged play that was often wrong, it also felt really baity for the enemies. Keeping the “flash heal” button and the big saving cooldown separate allows us to make sure each has a clear and satisfying purpose.
So that’s the kit.

I guess I want to close by talking about how this Soraka is not going to play like anything else in League of Legends. We’re taking a lot of risks by basically allowing Soraka to put herself at near death, but the gameplay experience of the core healer is something we really want to explore. We’re willing to try some risky stuff to accomplish a cool niche champion like this, and we will be watching her really closely on PBE to make sure she isn’t doing anything overly abusive.
We’re really excited about what this champion could provide to players who love to play combat healers, and we’ll be doing plenty of tuning on PBE to make sure she’s in the best place possible upon release. Please remember that regardless of whether she is strong or weak on PBE (or even on release) that we are building a champion that we are comfortable buffing up even if she is weak, so bear with us as we get her into a good spot in the coming weeks.

I’ll be around to discuss all of this stuff with you guys, so fire away with any questions you might have!

SO her W costs 10% of Max Health and she can cast it below 10%. Does this mean that when Soraka is between 5-10% Health her W will kill her? Am I missing something?

The cost will only bring her to 1 if she has between 5-10%. The idea though is that Soraka can't spam heal at 1 health and needs to at least have a portion of the cost. It felt really bad to be locked out at 9% though. The 5% number might change depending on how low we can get without it feeling abusive.

it seems a little odd to have a Mana and an HP cost on an ability

wouldn't the 10% HP cost be justified on it's own?

 

It is a bit odd, but E is such an occasional cast that for her to have mana as a meaningful gate her Q would need to be absurdly expensive. I'll be watching the cost closely.

I like it a lot, Vesh! A few questions though..

1) What's the plan for counterplay on the new E? I hope it's not an instantly-cast silence AoE, that would be kind of really overpowered... I assume there's a delay before it appears. Also, how big is it?

2) Is Soraka completely losing her ally mana restoration? [...]

3) Does Soraka get an indication of which allies are below 40% health? [...]

*Edit: 4) An aesthetic concern about the new Starcall: to differentiate it from other, similar abilities (Xerath W, Veigar W, Leona R), instead of being a meteor or whatever, can it retain its visual of "small star pieces raining on individual champions", just moved to a ground-targeted AoE after a delay? So basically any champ or minion standing in the spot after the delay would get hit by the same effect as it is on live? I really think that visual is core for her.

Pretty sweet ideas here though. I really like how unique this makes Soraka, she always felt rather bland, even for someone with such a big impact.

1) It has our standard cast time, but otherwise appears immediately aftewards. It doesn't slow or anything, so you can simply walk out of it fairly easily. It's tuned so that any champion without boots can escape at regular speed.

2) Yes, I'm sorry to say. I tried a few iterations where the zone gave mana to allies as well but it felt really bad and like the primary effect of the spell was "wasted." It was also eating up a lot of her power budget and we decided to sacrifice it in favor of stronger healing and playmaking. I really wish we could have found a place for it, but it just didn't fit with her new kit.

3) Yes. It's a very prounounced self-only particle that plays over the heads of the allies. She also gets special arrows pointing her in the direciton of wounded allies (since she gets movement speed along that vector).

4) It's a star she calls down from the sky at an angle so it retains its missile nature but is still reminiscent of a star coming down and bashing you on the head. I think you guys will like it. In general the new particle effects are WAY more astral in theme. We definitely took it to heart when people were excited about the idea of constellations too!

Oh one question. Am I still going to be able to accidentally heal a minion and let my ADC die? It says ally instead of friendly unit so I think you've removed that, but I want to be sure.

Tooltips aren't final wording - I need to do a pass on them. You can heal minions (so you can heal tibbers for instance if he's tanking a tower) but I am doing some under-the-hood work to prioritize nearby champions who are injured instead of minions. So if you misclick on a nearby minion, the target will be overridden to a hurt ally if they are within a reasonable distance.

So will Soraka have new model animations, or will her body move the same just with new vfx / sfx

Just new VFX, although I believe I've convinced GrumpyMonkey to update her color to be more purple like the splash art.

On the one hand, I absolutely love the direction this new kit is going towards. I am super excited to play her and make those sweet clutch heals.

On the other, I was slightly miffed at first that tanky Soraka wouldn't be a thing anymore, because I am rather tired of super-squishy caster female supports, but then I realised that you guys are rewarding Soraka for building resists, which is a form of tankiness. So I'm actually elated!

That said, I am VERY concerned that Soraka will be extremely unsafe to roam with. Every squishy caster support has a mobility boost, hard cc or both, so if they come across an enemy while they're warding the river/jungle, they can either sprint away or cc the enemy and get out. Soraka is, to my knowledge, the only squishy support who doesn't have this possibility. Her Q and E seem very difficult to use as escape mechanisms, though she might be able to spam Q to slow down pursuers and heal herself as she makes it back to safety.

How is Spirit Visage going to interact with Soraka? Will it increase the self-heal on her Q? If so, I feel it might be one her core items, since it also gives her MR, which she can turn into AP.

She is definitely very vulnerable alone. Moreso than any other champion IMO.

Visage will increase her self heals, but the health it gives will also increase her cost on W. Still a decent option, but I personally think heavy movement speed builds will end up being the most powerful on her.

Her kit is kinda.. ridiculous.. but I know it's on paper and might be okay later on once it's playable.

The biggest issue is that the AOE silence is going to be WAY too strong if it's anything larger than, say, Swain's Nevermove. Maybe very slightly larger.
It has some ridiculous zoning power if it's any bigger than that.

Personally I don't like that her passive can be used in an escape manner, either. If the idea really is that the "Soraka Ambulance" is coming to save people, it shouldn't be also able to be used as a "hey, as long as an ally stays in front of me I can escape you guys easily after a teamfight" thing, (which it will be, as-is). It really should be negated under certain combat conditions so as to not be usable as an escape. What about if an enemy is within X short range of raka it turns off? She shouldn't be in the thick of the battle anyway anymore, if she's caught she should be caught, not outrunning people because her "ambulance" ability isn't being used to heal, but instead run away.
Furthermore, don't like the idea of Soraka refusing to heal someone late in a teamfight because she's more concerned about pretending she's gonna escape Udyr using her passive than keeping the guy carrying the teamfight alive.

She won't get the movement speed anymore once she's in heal range because of this exact reason. She's so fast with the passive up that the only person who can really outspeed her at low health is Rammus. Definitely going to be keeping an eye on the potential abuse cases and I agree it feels weird if she uses it to escape.

I really like these changes especially the silence change(silence aoe!). But I have a question, how will the Q(starcall) work?

It seems like it gives Soraka a HUGE weakness. If it's like Twitch's W, it's not reliable at all from adc range. So all bot laners will have to do is keep their distance, and go in for the guaranteed kill when soraka's with low health.

If she doesn't get to use her q, her health decreases a lot when she heals. If she does use her q, how close does she have to be to an enemy champion for it to be reliable?

This is going to be a tuning thing mainly. It's definitely dodgeable at max range so Soraka will have to manage her risk and health carefully to be successful.

Do I understand from one of your replies that the new silence has the exact same cast time as the old silence? Neither shorter nor longer than on live? Does it also have the same maxrange to silence, or is it shorder or longer than on live? Soraka's E was always my most core playmaking tool, and I'm anxious to know that it hasn't been nerfed in either way.

The range is a larger by a small amount at the moment (obviously subject to change during tuning).
Most spells have a standard cast time. The ones that are longer are super noticeable (jinx W/Rocket, Ez ult, cass ult, etc).

  1. You didn't want her to be tanky so you gave her a passive that rewards tankiness.
  2. Looks like she can kill herself with her W.
  3. I hate the CD on her new starcall.
  4. So her W costs 10% of her health on a 4 sec CD and her Q heals her for 1%-2% of her health on a 10 second CD. Does not compute. She'd basically have to hit the entire enemy team to refund the cost of casting her W once... if she doesn't build health.
  5. Her E is just wrong for her... she needs poke and she's now got no bloody damage in her kit.

I rate this rework as a double facepalm.

[...]

1) This actually does the opposite. This literally prevents her from having extremely efficient tank stats and with a max health cost W you can't build health for multiplicative scaling. This criticism is just factually incorrect.
2) She can't kill herself in the same way Mundo and Vlad can't. She can put herself to 1 HP though, and it's going to take good judgement to manage your health correctly.
3) Sorry.
4) The cooldown on Q ramps down, the health return scales very well with AP, and if you hit 2 targets you basically get back the cost of a single W. Being lower on health also makes this even stronger and easier to get back up.
5) Sorry that you feel this way. I believe E is one of the coolest parts of her new kit and allows her to have really cool zoning and play making ability to keep herself and her ally safe.

The 40% border on her ult basically means that a Morellos will make it completely useless. I do feel like at least 45% would be appropriate.

One item shouldnt kill a large amount of a champs ult. Especially not one that can be bought on a utility support and/or midlane. The enemies should be forced into a trade off in order to counter the heal: You want to make Sorakas ult heal less? Get ignite instead of exhaust for example. This would allow Soraka to have a window where she can prove her skill as the core healer with the good timing between 45 and 40% hp where Morellos procs and not to get countered by one cheap and effective item.

The first part of the passive feels really weak to me. It wont have no real use on lane besides running to safe your adc from base to lane. But I guess that the passive has range, so it would still be rather meh + you shouldnt leave your ADC alone anyway. Something like "Soraka regenerates HP dependent on the % of missing HP she returned to allies" would be really usefull on lane and in teamfights.

Will the slow on Q scale with levels? If not, then it is way too weak. A 20% slow is literally nothing compared to pretty much every other slow ability in the game. The Q+E combo seems like Viktor W+R to me, but Viktors W allows him to actually combo it.

In general this update seems really promising, but as a support main who still plays Soraka and enjoys doing so I am afraid it wont help her because of the reasons listed above.

Edit: I am also missing the ability to give mana. I feel like W should give mana as well, so in seiges/fights Soraka has to decide whether she wants to give this Ziggs the mana to do this final bomb or if she wants to safe this Malphite.

Soraka is the only champion that can give complete sustain on lane, its her identity and what makes her really unique after all those supports with heal and the Sona changes is the ability to sustain your laning partner with mana.

If there would be a possibility for her to do so - I dont think it would be gamebreaking, but it would still make her feel close to the one Soraka we "grown up" with.

The passive is meant for her to keep up in teamfights. She's definitely weaker early than some and picks up a TON in mid game. Her curve still needs some tuning though.

Q slow will scale with levels. These are just the unbalanced level 1 tooltips.

As for Morello's, it's just as effective at hurting her healing as it was before. If the bonus triggered at 45%, that means that an enemy with Morello would have to drop your ally into a range of 41-45% and you'd have to hit wish before they take any other damage.


Viktor Rework

Originally Posted by Riot (View Original Source)

Hi everyone, a couple of weeks earlier I shared some preliminary peeks into what the Viktor gameplay update will bring. Today I am here to talk in more detail regarding the kit changes as we near completion.

OBLIGATORY THIS IS NOT FINAL THINGY


Passive

We've already talked about the passive, and not much has changed from what I spoiled back then. Viktor is able to upgrade his Hex Core 3 times, and each upgrade will allow him to augment a basic ability & grant AP and mana. The completed item will be certainly slot efficient and grant a load of AP in the late game.


Q

We talked about the Q somewhat in intentionally vague terms. The Q is gaining a significant increase in range in exchange for significant reduction in damage. The lost damage will be made up as Viktor will gain a strong damage modifier on his next basic attack, akin to Lich Bane.

This is intended to divorce the utility portion of the Q from the damage portion while keeping it a targeted spell. Viktor should be able to gain access to his shield and speed boost (with augment) from a safer distance, and decide whether he can risk coming in closer to deal the bulk of his damage.

but Viktor's autoattack sucks!
Not THIS one

The augment on the Q remains the speed boost. The divorce of the utility and damage opens up offensive use cases of the augment (to get closer to land your other spells with higher accuracy), and should be a strong contender for 1st augment.

One last thing, the shield, speedboost and on next hit are all granted upon cast. You can finally shield an enemy's spells on reaction.


W

This is all in all a fine spell with very strong potential. However its lack of range makes it very difficult to utilize in non-defensive ways. The spell has also had its range increased significantly (but not as much as live Augment W) to clarify Viktor's engagement range to be around his R range. In exchange, the enemies will be warned earlier that the trap is opening beneath them. This should both increase usability of the spell for Viktor but keep it feeling fair for the enemy.

The W augment no longer increases range but sucks in enemies that are stunned by it to its center. This will allow Viktor to both function as a very strong follow up AOE burst (someone else probably needs to initiate for him) and enhance his kiting gameplay against the front line of the enemy who he ends up fighting against due to lack of jumps. This is probably the 3rd augment to take in most situations but if you need to kite a lot or foresee a mid level teamfight it could be taken earlier.


E

The Lazer of Death is an iconic spell on viktor and we have fought very hard to keep its numbers intact on the base spell. Nothing much has changed, it is still the thing we all love and hate.

The E augment on the other hand, has undergone significant changes. It will no longer apply a DOT on hit, but instead an explosion will follow the initial laser's wake. If Viktor hits both the laser and the explosion, Viktor will deal more damage than the Augmented E on live. This will be a net nerf as the reliability hit is significant, and the spell will be weaker as poke, but stronger for waveclear or in combination with other spells .


R

I said back then that the R is also undergoing a big change, unfortunately the change we planned did not pan out and the R will stay very similar to what it is on live. Not much more to talk about here.


So there it is, the updated Viktor should become a strong followup mage that excels as a secondary AOE wombo, and deals strong sustained damage against the front line with his Q and R. Hopefully we will meet again soon when phase 2 of the Glorious Evolution commences as I will leave you with one last tease.

[ ]


More Answers from Meddler

Originally Posted by Riot (View Original Source)

[On Varus potential tweak]

Way of regaining mana? Do you think maybe giving him a mana-return effect on popping W stacks would be a good idea?

Something like, giving back 2/4/6/8/10 mana (example numbers, obviously) per stack popped? That would incentivize him to at least take somewhat of a risk, as he'd still need to get close to apply the stacks.

Could be something along that line potentially. Depends on whether mana's what he most needs (not just wants) to better realize that late game poke contribution and whether it should be a restore that requires he get into auto attack range or not though.

What's the justification for keeping critical strikes in the game?

One of their big uses is that they add some unpredictability to fights. That creates moments of reactive play (quick, the unexpected's happened, what do you do?) from a type of champion that's often more predictable than others (ranged ADCs tend to have more predictable positioning and other actions than many champs due to their squishiness, sustained damage output and status as target takers, not target choosers). Crits add a bit of risk to otherwise safer encounters - if the enemy ADC is massively behind but has a bit of crit you'll need to treat them with caution, just in case they get on a lucky streak. Similarly if they're massively ahead there's a chance they'll get few crits and their output will be low, meaning even against a fed character with reliable damage there's potential reward for good plays that wouldn't be achievable if they had a perfectly even level of damage.

So...Azir is not said sand-mage?

already love his design...though one question rises for me - if you have more than 1 minion, will it be intended to have every minion hitting an opponent applying on-hit-effects?

Azir is what the sandmage concept became. We concluded that the character we wanted to make was a leader, an emperor in fact, with dreams of empire again. Using that theme as the basis for his kit made a lot of sense as a result, with sand as a supporting element/tool not his definition.

In what ways are the mastery and rune systems factored in during design?

Runes and masteries primarily impact the balancing part of a champion's development since they're generally pretty straightforward stat effects that affect most of the champs of a given role equally. Long term (really long term, not this coming pre-season) that's something we might investigate, see if there's value in making their impacts more varied, that's very much a hypothetical at this point though.

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