Let’s talk about the 2015 season jungle. Up front: we knew the preseason changes were going to make things significantly tougher, but it’s clear we’ve misstepped along the way in both communication and design. Not only have we not done a great job of sharing our thoughts (present and future), but our subsequent changes to the jungle from patch 5.1 to 5.4 have been nerfs to jungle diversity rather than continuing to deliver on our preseason goals.
First, let’s see how we got here. From the beginning we knew that “strategic diversity” would basically become a meme for the 2015 season, but it’s still something we strongly believe in. A lot of players might associate champion diversity with strategic diversity, but it’s more about one feeding into the other. The former is only about what champions get played - even if they’re doing the same thing - while the latter emphasizes champions who can enable a variety of other strategies on a team (objective control, wombo, lane pressure, etc). With Jarvan IV, Vi, and Lee Sin all fulfilling identical roles (with priority given to whoever’s strongest), we know we’re not there.
Welcome to patch 5.4 - the one where we follow up on patch 5.2 with some mage love. Up front: the new +120 AP item is currently slated for a future patch (soon(tm)), but this hasn't stopped us from working on the few mages that needed help in a post-DFG world. Actually, like we mentioned in the patch 5.2 foreword, the impact of DFG's removal hasn't been all that noticeable in champion performance, but there were two we knew would have identity crisis (that's the plural) in the aftermath: Mordekaiser and Veigar.
When we went into deep examination of what made Morde and Veigar who they are, we realized that a lot of their identity came down to "blow this fool up (and get a ghost!)." Unfortunately, amping up a play pattern like that makes for some sad times in the world of counterplay, so we had to take a longer look to see what could be done. Ultimately we'll explain more in their individual context paragraphs, but the rundown of the issue is this: when a champion is tuned around a fine line between "functional" and "oppressive," balance isn't a question of number tuning; rather, it's all about finding a healthy direction where that champ can prosper without getting paranoid about fame. Can you imagine a world where Veigar is the best - and most popular - champion in the game? That's a tough vision to sell for his opponents, and we want to make sure his success is warranted. Check out those contexts for more information, but this is an important philosophy to keep in mind as you read through these notes!
On 02/25/15, starting at 01:30 PST, ranked queues will be disabled in preparation for patch 5.4. At 03:00 PST, the servers will be shut down and all games currently in progress will end in a draw and stats will not be recorded. We estimate the battlegrounds will be unavailable for 6 hours.
On 25/02/2015, starting at 03:30 GMT, ranked queues will be disabled in preparation for patch 5.4. At 05:00 GMT, the servers will be shut down and all games currently in progress will end in a draw and stats will not be recorded. We estimate the battlegrounds will be unavailable for 6 hours.
I love immobile champs. The last years have been the worst.
Mobility creep only grows year after year... Why would I pick brand instead of lb? She can burst easily, is much better at laning phase, much safer and can escape easily from a bad situation.
Brand has much higher team fight potential damage and is better at taking objectives. I'm curious as to why the first of those points isn't particularly poignant. You have any thoughts on that matter?
Mind you, I'm not disagreeing. I played Brand vs. Kassadin the other day, and felt the same way. Kassadin's lane felt stronger, his priority-target burst felt more accessible, and I knew that he could push deeper and harder because he had good escape potential. Likewise, I just got finished watching Faker's LeBlanc vs. a Heimerdinger in solo queue. The Heimer actually outplayed LeBlanc quite a few times and yet, even as Heimer's team went on to win, I kind of felt bad for the little guy because he did get zoned some in lane, and when he capitalized it seemed more like LB's mistake than his stellar play.
@Meddler what's the status - Tanks and Jungle - can we get Update ? , that silence is "sad" . PLEASE
We're aiming to buff a number of tanks in the jungle in patch 5.5 and/or patch 5.6 (5.3's the current live patch, design work on 5.4's just finished for context). To start with that'll involve looking at tanks that are struggling a bit (definitely Zac, potentially Nautilus, Nunu etc).
We're testing changing Smite to measure from edge to edge, rather than from center to center, and then reducing its range. That means that against big targets (like Baron or Dragon) it will have the same effective range it currently does (they've got enormous models, other monsters like Blue/Red it's very slightly shorter against, think half a step's worth). Against champions by contrast it will have a noticeably lower range. One of the reasons behind that change is the belief that Chilling Smite is making skillshot/free targeted offensive dash junglers (such as Lee Sin, Jarvan, Amumu etc), more reliable in early ganks than they should be.
On 02/11/2015, starting at 01:30 AM PST, ranked queues will be disabled in preparation for patch 5.3. At 03:00 AM PST, the servers will be shut down and all games currently in progress will end in a draw and stats will not be recorded. We estimate the battlegrounds will be unavailable for 6 hours.
On 11/02/2015, starting at 03:30 GMT, ranked queues will be disabled in preparation for patch 5.3. At 05:00 GMT, the servers will be shut down and all games currently in progress will end in a draw and stats will not be recorded. We estimate the battlegrounds will be unavailable for 6 hours.
How is everyone on this fine patch day? Good? We are good as well. Excellent.
We were taught to be polite when delivering tough news, so now that pleasantries are out of the way, here we go: back in the foreword of patch 5.2 we mentioned that 5.2 and 5.3 were going to be our Deathfire Grasp-removal patches, but now that we've been hard at work, we realized we could use an extra cycle to build confidence. So that means we've delayed a few dudes we promised would come in 5.3, including Veigar, Mordekaiser, Katarina (more on her below), and a new +120 AP item to replace the gap left in DFG's wake. We're aiming for 5.4 and are expecting to stick the landing (except maybe the new item, as it's a bigger project and might take longer!).
As an aside, we've been keeping a close eye on all champions who were affected by the passing of Deathfire Grasp and haven't seen a real impact on performance. We're not saying this to justify the removal of an item that many felt were important in their builds (in other words, we're not dismissing your feedback!), but it's an interesting tangent we wanted to explore.
TL;DR – They are near impossible to balance around if you stick true to their core concept. Their concept isn't actually fun and lacks reactive counterplay, something that is a core component to the game.
We've been talking about the assassin role a lot lately, as you can probably imagine as part of the whole DFG discussion.
While counterplay is a League design value, assassins probably deliver on it less than some roles, and to some extent that's okay. I say that because playing an assassin is often about getting the drop on someone and taking them out before they can respond. That lack of response can feel like lack of counterplay, but we're okay with it as long as assassins still have some weaknesses. (The alternative is that we conclude we can't really support an assassin play style at all, which we think would be unfortunate). High mobility and burst damage are pretty important for assassins so they can accomplish what they are supposed to, but that means assassins have to give up something elsewhere, such as CC and of course tankiness.