LoL: Finally got my 900th win

900-winsThere it is, all shiny looking. It’s not the milestone 1000th, but it’s fun to see each hundred go by. They’ve all been different, and my focus has been on completely different toons. For this one, I’ve made my rounds back to Shaco, and I’m finally getting back into his playstyle. And damn if that clown isn’t fun.

The only unfortunate thing is that the big 900 is that it’s sandwiched between a load of losses. In fact, I’ve only won two games out of my last ten, which is a rough way to go. The good in all of it, though, is that I’ve pulled some nice records despite the losses. It’s been a fun way to change my focus in the games – trying to perform well, even exceptionally well, in the face of defeat. At the very least it’s a great way to start to prepare for Season One.

For the data freaks, I have losses at 14-7 (Kat), 16-4 (Shaco), and 12-4 (Shaco). Oddly enough I have just two losses in which I had a negative K/D ratio, and in both games it was by just one death. I think I can live with that.

Mass Effect movie rights picked up by Legendary Pictures

Justin Shepard.If anyone in the video game industry knows how to tell a story its Bioware. The company is the gold-standard for story based games, so it comes as no surprise that some of its handiwork is drawing attention from Hollywood. THR reports that Legendary Pictures, the studio behind Watchmen, 300, and The Dark Knight, has purchased the rights to a big screen version of Mass Effect.

Obviously, it’s way too early to speculate on this one, but if anyone can do the video game movie right, I’d think Mass Effect gives some great source material. Of course the one guy that comes to mind for Justin Shepard is the guy from Prison Break, but who says it has to be a doppleganger.

Reach: The Good, the Badass, and the Ugly

Most of the time this blog is dedicated to happenings in Riot Games’ League of Legends, but I do occasionally branch out and play other games. Halo is one such game, and I’m always excited by the announcement/experience in the latest the franchise can offer. I got to play a bit of the Reach beta, and there was a lot to like (finally, a needle rifle). There was a lot I didn’t like, too, but I can hold my judgements for a release version of the game.

For now, you can see some of Bungie’s thoughts on the beta in the video above. There are some great shots, and I love that they included an ugly section for all the things that just shouldn’t be happening. Hopefully those will all be fixed by September 14th, when Reach officially launches.

LoL: What feature are you most excited for?

French Maid NidaleeFor the most part I think LoL is in a pretty good spot. The game has at least a semblance of balance, by which I mean I feel pretty free to play a wide variety of toons to some degree of success. That said, there’s still a bit to be desired, and some features have me more interested than others.

I’m most looking forward to Season One. I could desperately use an ELO reset at this point, and having an option for ranked matches that accounts for one to two-man premades differently than four or five man will be really nice. From what the reds have said on the forums, Season One should also bring more stats to the game, which is something I’ve been dying for since my first game. The stats at are great, but they’re voluntary. I’d like to see something that compiles results for all of my games, regardless of whether or not I upload my logs.

I also like that I’ll have a place to goof off without worrying what it will do to my ELO. As it stands, I use a smurf account to mess around and play games with random champions and strange builds. I’d love to be able to do that on my main, which Season One should afford. I’ll screw around in normal games and save my tryharding for the ranked matches.

What are you guys most excited for?

LoL: Early game kill priority has a huge impact on your late game

Not a good target.This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while but just haven’t quite had the words or experience to force me to do so. I finally had that moment though, so here’s the post.

League of Legends is a unique game in a lot of ways. While most competitive games try to level the playing field as much as possible, games like LoL reward players who get kills and penalize those who die, creating a snowball situation that can heavily favor those who play well in the early game. I’ve been a part of countless games in a which what appears to be a better picked or much more skilled team loses because of mistakes in the early game. I know, it sounds like a “duh” kind of situation, but I think I have a decent way of describing the situation for newer players to understand.

There are a lot of factors that affect the outcome of a fight, not the least of which is farm. If you play your cards right early, though, you can make the late game much more agreeable.

Here’s your situation: early game your damage is limited by both your spell rank and your mana/energy/cooldowns. As the game progresses, your damage is capped only by your cooldowns in most situations. Because of this, you need to pick your targets wisely in early fights. Choose targets with low health over higher health, even if they may be significantly more difficult to kill when you account for escape skills. When you blow your entire damage pool and your target lives you’re in a very bad position early game. If that target saved you a little love, they will put you in a hole.

The issue here is that the tankier toons, even if they’re the closest target, will only get tankier as the game goes on. If you miss the kill on them early game, they probably do enough damage to kill you. If you miss the kill on them late game, there isn’t much they can do unless they are a toon with a lot of CC. It’s crucial to keep extra gold away from the tanks as much as possible in the early game. Try to focus on ganks you know you can get early, and it will make your life late game so much easier.

LoL: What do you think of “the Code?”

Summoner's Code.A few weeks back, Riot released The Summoner’s Code, a set of guidelines aimed at improving the community around the League. Now that it’s been a few weeks, though, I wonder how “the Code” is panning out.

I’ve only played DotA and LoL as far as this particular genre goes, but I’ve spent countless hours on a slew of other games, none of which had a code. You know what all of them had? Assholes. Lots of them. And lots of forum posts about the assholes. And lots of forum posts asking people not to be assholes. None of it changed people, though.

I hate to sound like a cynic, but the reality of competitive environments, even casual ones like most LoL players experience, is that people don’t behave rationally when they lose. They lash out. They yell at teammates and opponents, friends and enemies. Some lash out more than others. Unfortunately, those are also the people that don’t care about the code. They don’t care about the community.

The good news is that there are loads of people playing this game who do care, about both the game and the community, and those people are a lot of fun to play with. It’s not that these people live up to the code – I know I don’t – but that they try to be generally good to the people they play with. To me, the code is a ridiculous standard, a plaque on the wall Riot can point to when someone is being a jerk. Worse, it takes credit away from people who were already a positive force in the community and gives it up to some stupid code that was likely the product of a two-hour lunch meeting.

Anyone think the code is doing good for the community?

LoL: A special note about TR posts

I realized this morning that I laid down a lot of “probably” and “will soon be” and “are likely going to be” type comments with regard to changes on a certain secretive and very hush-hush Test Realm that may or may not exist. I thought it was important to remind you that I’m no longer at liberty to address those potential changes, so please treat them as though they were never mentioned. A lot can change between the first iteration of a test patch and the live version.

LoL: Say goodbye to Test Realm posts

Pendragon...RAWR!I really enjoy my Test Realm account. It’s a nice way to see what’s coming up in the game, and it has helped me plan some rune purchases based on changes to mechanics. Unfortunately, it seems TR content has produced a bit of a shit storm for Riot, so it’s starting to crack down on people sharing TR information.

For that reason, I will no longer be posting regarding Test Realm features/changes/heroes/etc. All posts here will now be with regard to live content or content that Riot has officially announced as fit for public consumption.

Trust me, I’m not happy about this. I understand Riot’s position, but having a public Test Realm forum (albeit, this will be changing) has made an NDA a bit pointless. I also think there is valuable feedback to be had even from people who haven’t played with the new changes. Some people are excellent at game analysis, even if the vast majority of people are not.

Ah well, they didn’t ask me. I’m still happy for the TR account and I’d hate to lose those privileges.

LoL: Champion updates on the TR (AKA how they broke Eve)

Eve will be so OP.I’ve covered both Al’Zahar and the sweeping changes to the magic/armor penetration system, but this latest TR patch also includes a number of fairly serious champion changes. It’s also worth mentioning that Riot has removed base critical chance percentages from all champions, as well as their scaling chance to crit per level. It’s a small change toward reducing the RNG factor of early game fights, though I wonder if critical chance runes won’t become a whole lot more popular because of the change, especially since armor pen runes will be terrible for physical damage dealers. Compared to the penetration system changes, though, this is small potatoes. Let’s focus on the champion changes.

Ashe finally got the Plentiful Bounty rework in the form of a directional truesight shot called Hawkshot. For now the particle looks like Ezreal’s ult and casts in the same fashion, though it only covers 15-20 percent of the map in a straight line. It does grant vision to an area, so you can catch invisible targets. The spell kept its gold/kill passive, which is kinda nice, but I don’t think there’s great reason to take more than one rank . That’s not really a problem, since most characters encourage you to focus on two skills and then the ultimate, but it is kind of anticlimactic. Ashe also caught a long overdue volley nerf, bringing the number of arrows down to seven from nine. A lot of people are upset about it, but considering that Ashe is in almost every game and that building her for mana regen and CDR gave an almost unparalleled level of harass says to me it was time.

The only serious change Cho’Gath got was losing up to three Feast stacks on death instead of losing them all. It’s a decent solution to the death problem, though I think it could make him a little strong. Cho already snowballs pretty hard, and giving him the ability to die and be essentially right back at that massive level doesn’t seem like the right solution to his problems.

Teemo’s been the subject of the forum’s ire for a long time, though it took one of the PTR Fridays to get him onto Shurelia’s “list.” His camouflage now takes three seconds for fade instead of four and grants 40 percent attack speed buff for three seconds on stealth break. It’s a nice thought, but how often will you really take advantage of that change in a fight? Standing still for three seconds is a lot of wasted time. Move Quick has changed so that it only breaks on damage from enemy turrets and champions, which is nice. His poison was also changed to deal one tick of bonus damage on hit rather than after the first hit. It’s a minor tweak but should help him a bit with last-hitting.

I saved Eve for last because she received the most dramatic changes, changes that Riot has said aren’t complete. Her passive is now a 30% AOE damage reduction, which seems completely ridiculous compared to some of the other passives in the game. From a design perspective it seems to me that a champion has poorly designed engagement or disengagement if you have to give her an amazing damage reduction skill, particularly as a DPS toon. Hate Spike now has built in spell vamp and hits two additional targets (up from one), which gives her some extra lane stay. I don’t mind this change so much but coupled with her new passive it makes her difficult to kill. Her stealth now lasts 40 seconds at all ranks and grants a move speed buff. This was an obvious fix so that you only take one rank of stealth and focus the rest of your points on damage abilities. Ravage now grants the bonus MR/armor reduction regardless of your attack position, which again, coupled with the other buffs is over the top. To cap off the ridiculousness, her ultimate grants cooldown reduction along with 35% flat damage reduction for 15 seconds. Do you see where I’m going with this? They’ve turned her into an unstoppable machine of death with stealth, a two-second stun, massive damage reduction (almost on par with Alistar’s ultimate) and lifesteal. I saw her take down a level 18 Jax who was massively farmed with three elixirs while she was sporting a Rageblade, an 8-stack Mejais and a Gunblade. It was absurd. I’ll save much more criticism for later, but only because Riot said the ultimate is going away. Even with something different, though, I think they made her far too durable for a character that also has the benefit of stealth and a stun. Oracles is practically worthless against her because in all likelihood you won’t kill her, even if you have a couple people focus fire. But I’m criticizing and I said I wouldn’t. Just know that her changes might not go live with this patch, but if they do, you better be ready to see her in every game.

Other heroes got some small tweaks that won’t change much about the game. Rammus will be more mana efficient and a little better at farming. Janna won’t be quite so ridiculous at level one on TT. Zilean caught an early game nerf but a buff to his assists, and Ryze won’t burst quite as hard. I’m keeping a cautious eye out for the rest of the Eve changes.

LoL: Al’Zahar impressions

Al'Zahar in game.I got to spend a good bit of time on the Test Realm yesterday, most of which was dedicated to testing the new hero and the new penetration system. I like Al’Zahar’s spell set a lot, and I think he could be great for team fights despite the recent caster nerf.

Summon Voidling (Passive): After casting 5 spells, Al’Zahar summons a Voidling to engage enemy units for 21 seconds. Voidlings grow after 7 seconds (+50% Damage/Armor), and Frenzy after 14 seconds (+100% Attack Speed).

So far this is hugely underwhelming, but only because you don’t have control over the pet. It’s a great farming aid and can be fantastic for taking down towers, but without control it’s kinda pointless.

Call of the Void: Al’Zahar opens up two portals to the void, After a short delay, power erupts from the voids, dealing damage and silencing all enemies hit.

This is your bread and butter damage spell. It casts like Karthus’ wall and has about the same width as a rank 1. It hits pretty hard, and the fact that it can silence and deal full damage to multiple targets is pretty great.

Null Zone: Al’Zahar creates a zone which deals the greater between a flat damage and a % of the target’s max health.

This is another strong skill for both minion farming and killing heroes. At rank 1 it deals 4 percent of the target’s max health in damage per second and it only improves from there. If you have a good snare on your team, like Shen or Amumu, you will be melting anyone on this thing. The one drawback is the mana cost, but for the potential damage it kinda makes sense.

Malefic Visions: Al’Zahar infects his target’s mind with cruel visions of their demise, dealing damage each second. If the target dies while afflicted by the visions, they pass on to a nearby enemy unit and restore mana to Al’Zahar.

This is one of the best farming skills in the game. By rank two you can cast it on the first melee creep in a wave and then auto attack your way to killing the entire creep wave, following this thing as it bounces. In most cases it’s castable again before the first one has even worn off. It’s much less effective against heroes, but still deals decent damage, and if you can get it to bounce after killing an opponent you might be in good position to get a second kill.

Nether Grasp: Al’Zahar grips his target in an engulfing void of energy, dealing damage each second.

Again, a strong spell. The major setback is that it works like Warwick’s ult. Yes, it disables your target but it essentially disables you as well. Think of it like a less powerful version of Morgana’s ult. It’s a tough spell to time, but if your team can protect you it’s pretty easy to wipe out a unit if you land Nether Grasp on top of your Null Zone.

Overall I think Al’Zahar will fit well into most team comps. The silence is nice, his percentage-based damage hits like a truck, and his ult can shut down a carry. He doesn’t have any CC beyond his ult, though, so make sure your team brings a few stuns. Al’Zahar’s real strength is in his farm. Laning mid I honestly forgot that I even used mana, partly because so many heroes use energy now and partly because my mana was always full from Malefic Visions. You will start to notice mana issues once you start teamfighting, but he is so good at pushing you should have no trouble farming to support some extended damage output. In the games I played he always felt a little on the weak side, but that’s mostly because my teammates were all well above double digit deaths with very few kills. Even at such imbalanced team stats, I was still able to pull a lot of assists with enough killing blows to keep my kills at double my deaths or better.

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