Riot considering permanent stealth for stealth characters

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In the past two days, the forums have become a fountain of leaks about the long awaited stealth changes and remakes for the two primary stealth characters, Evelynn and Twitch. The changes are not final, and while Riot is definitely taking a risk by leaking these things before they are finalized, it’s very cool to have a little something to talk about while we wait for Season 2 and some other features to launch.

Here’s a quick look at Xypherous’ proposed stealth changes:

1. Evelynn and Twitch are permanently stealthed when they rank their level one stealth abilities. However, Evelynn and Twitch can be seen when they are within X units of an enemy champion (Slightly under vision range), or when they are within a true sight radius.

If they attack, they are revealed briefly for 2 seconds before going back into stealth.

This ‘X’ is being adjusted for feel between the two champions. ‘X’ is smaller than champion vision radius, so you can “stalk” an opposing champion, but it will be farther away.

2. Evelynn and Twitch have a “sight gem” above opponent’s, telling them when the enemy can see them or not and whether they are “safe” (green sight gem), “warning – you are close to being seen, but still unseen” (yellow sight gem) or “being seen” (red sight gem.)

So, once Twitch and Eve rank their stealth skills they become permanently stealthed unless attacking/casting. All other players now have limited true sight, allowing the stealthed characters to be seen if they are within a certain radius of the player. Stealthed players can determine their visibility to other players by looking for a “sight gem” on each player that will change color accordingly (probably utilizing tech from Orianna’s ball distance indicator).

This is definitely the best idea I’ve seen so far for the stealth remake. I’m not a huge fan of stealth in general, but I think that was mostly related to the inability for a non-stealth player to know just how much benefit an enemy was providing to his team. The fact that a stealther could literally be standing under my feet without my knowledge was just ridiculous. This removes that element and forces a lot more careful planning and thought on the part of the stealther.

That said, this system could be very painful for new players to learn, especially in conjunction with brush. The ability to get into brush unseen is very powerful, especially during the laning phase. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a more active lane phase, but it worries me to think that the aggressive play could be so one-sided toward invisible units. This is all speculative, though, so I’ll wait on my critique for a more finalized build. For now, I like the idea, and I like the potential it creates for future stealth characters.

How hard did the ult nerf hit Twisted Fate?

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I’ve only played one game as Twisted Fate since the ult nerf, but it seems to me that it hit him pretty hard. I’m also willing to say, though, that I probably need to spend a bit more time with him to figure out the magnitude of the nerf.

Quick refresher: Twisted Fate’s ult used to be insanely powerful. It granted vision of enemy champions, slowed them all (if you don’t remember this, it was nightmarish), and allowed him to port, all on a pretty short cooldown. When he was reworked, the old Gate skill was combined with his ultimate and the slow on Destiny was removed, reducing some of the power but still not addressing the fact that global ults just stink, especially on damage dealing characters.

Now his teleport has range a bit more like Nocturne’s paranoia, still with the vision functionality. For TF, though, that ultimate isn’t nearly as good. It works on Nocturne because Nocturne is a jungler, constantly roaming, invisible to the enemy team for the most part. TF is a lane champion, though, which means he’s hopefully getting called MIA when he leaves the lane. Now granted, he can go from MIA to behind you much faster than other champions, but if your mid lane is diligent, it should be easy enough to keep his early ganking power down. The fact that he can’t jump from base down a lane now also makes a big difference. It used to be that you could pretty much expect a TF ult every time he went back to base. Now he has to get into position long before casting Destiny.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a good thing, but I think at this point I think I’d rather see him get a full-fledged damage ultimate than have another teleport in the game. Either that, or reduce the range even further, remove the vision component, and reduce the cooldown by like half. As it stands, his kit is balanced around dropping on unsuspecting players, but as a lane player he can’t do that very well for the early game. He’s stuck farming in lane, typically against stronger 1v1 opponents who can burst him down at some point between levels 6 and 11 while he’s stuck running up and down river to get enough range for a proper gank.

Kayle as a barometer of support changes

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I played a normal game tonight that served as a painful reminder of just how toxic support currently is to League of Legends. I’ll spare you the long and drawn out replay and just say that my opponents had a healer and my team did not. Actually, scratch that. The things the healer allowed them to do were so utterly ridiculous that I need to explain.

My team was losing the early game badly, but with some farm and a little map control we were able to regain our footing. We took baron twice, knocked down two inhibitors and I thought we had sealed the game. Not so. As we went to push the third lane, three of my teammates and I got caught in a well placed Orianna ult/Veigar cage combo. I made it out alive but three of my teammates died. The enemy team had five up, all chasing down Fiddle. There was no chance I could stop them so I tried to quickly backdoor bottom lane. I got the turret down in a hurry and moved on to the inhibitor. Pantheon was able to bring me down from the 25 percent HP I had survived with. Despite the fact that we had two lanes down, the enemy team of Tristana, Veigar, Soraka, and a very low Orianna were able to soak wave after wave of turret fire and super minion aggro, tearing down a lane turret, two nexus turrets and finally my nexus.

It sucked, and they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support. I know Riot has said support is going to get nerfed/changed, but I think we can take the Kayle remake and use it as a barometer for the change we’re likely to support over the next 3 months.

Originally, the Kayle changes were supposed to be a serious remake, altering the way that she performs healing and shielding significantly. What we got in the end was a passive remake and some number tweaks. Though she does seem to deal damage a bit better than before, she certainly isn’t in a great position. She heals decently as ever, though, and her ultimate can still be incredibly frustrating to play against. In short, Riot decided to leave her role virtually unchanged, a role that contains some of the most problematic elements in the game.

I think we’re going to see the same thing happen with the other support characters. Riot has agreed that healing is bad for the game, but I have yet to see even a suggested solution to the problem. Chances are, if Riot is going to do anything significant to healing it will happen to all the targeted healing in the game in one patch. Remaking one champion at a time doesn’t solve the problem, it just moves the other healers up the viability list. Unfortunately, I don’t think Riot can afford to significantly change the way support works. Tournament players are too used to it, and for the time being, tournament play is the most exciting thing happening in the LoL community.

What’s more likely is that we’ll see a long string of number adjustments for the support characters in game, reducing heals and increasing the resistance buffs granted by their spells. Reducing the duration of shields and increasing mana costs. Until the launch of Season Two, I think support is going to stay as it is – frustrating the hell out of blind pick players and encouraging the passive tournament play that pretty much defines high tier these days.

Legendary Tryndamere skin is on the way

Hot on the heels of the Tryndamere remake, Riot is teasing what I can only assume will be Tryndamere’s Legendary skin, Demonblade Tryndamere. The teaser comes in the form of a mock movie poster. It’s a neat little bit of marketing, but I’d like to see Riot really differentiate these things if they’re going to cost $15 or more. Players are still waiting on updates to Magnificent Twisted Fate and some even want Red Baron Corki to get a facelift.

I’m happy with the legendary skins that I’ve purchased, but I’m a little bummed out to see so many good options available that have even gone on sale. Cottontail Teemo? That skin is just amazing.

Today I learned how big League of Legends truly is

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My girlfriend and I are headed on a road trip up to Ohio this coming weekend to spend 10 days or so with our families. We’ve been preparing for the trip for the better part of the week so far – buying snacks for the road, doing laundry, all the boring stuff you do before a road trip. We also wanted to get together with some friends before taking off, which tonight meant dollar tacos at a local bar. They’re good too – way beyond fast food fare, replete with cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese.

A friend turned to me at one point during the meal and said, “I just read that League of Legends has 15 million subscribers. That’s huge, right?” Granted, he knows that’s the game I write about, but he’s not a particularly avid gamer, and certainly not a PC gamer. Still, he not only knew the game, he knew the numbers, and that speaks volumes more than any number could.

To say that League of Legends holds a special place in the gaming industry would be a gross understatement. At the beginning of the week, Marc Merrill gave us proof of the game’s success in numbers so big I couldn’t begin to break them down. My conversation over dollar tacos tonight gave me tangible evidence of LoL’s unique position in the industry.

I’m tempted to quote Spider-Man here, but I think I’ll just say this: keep earning it, Riot. Riot earned my loyalty to the game by honing one of the most energetic and aggressive new genres into an excellent play experience. To keep my loyalty, they need to give us something great for Season Two. I absolutely think they can do, but I’ve also been burned before, and that’s not a good feeling going into Season Two. Here’s hoping the game gets the support it needs. Here’s hoping that six months from now I have random people rattling off news stories about a game over dinner.

Champ of the Week: Tryndamere

Well, unfortunately I’m going to have to push back some of the upcoming changes I have to the Champ of the Week feature, but that doesn’t have to delay this week’s Champ any longer. This week I’ll be playing Tryndamere.

If you check my recent games list, you can see that I’ve already played a decent number of games with the Barbarian King. I made sure to sneak in a few before the remake so I could assess what the changes have given to or taken from his viability. First, let’s talk some history.

Tryndamere has posed some fairly unique problems to the League in the past. For a while it was Cleanse that gave him some ridiculous killing power, back when it could clear Ignite and offered CC immunity. I remember some of my earliest games against Tryndamere being more frustrating than even old Eve games. Even after the Cleanse nerfs, though, Tryndamere has enjoyed insane power creep. He remains the one champion that has allowed me to come back from a game in which all of my buildings were down but the nexus. I got to a point quickly enough in that game that I simply could not be killed and I was able to 2-3 shot most of my opponents.

Tryndamere’s basic design issue is that he gets exponentially stronger as he loses health, but can remain at one health point – his strongest point in the game – for an extended duration thanks to his ult. The old Tryndamere gained crit chance as his health went down. As he crit targets, he gained stacks of Bloodlust that improved his crit damage and could also be spent for a sizable heal.

He caught a remake today that changed all that. Read the rest of this entry »

Wukong patch goes live without Wukong

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For the second patch in a row, balance changes have been activated prior to the release of the champion for the given patch. Riot’s giving the same reason for the delay – the company wants to be sure the servers are stable before activating the champion on live. With the numbers report issued by Tryndamere this morning, I understand a bit more clearly why this is such an issue, even if I’m not in love with the practice.

There have been a couple other issues with the patch so far as well. Apparently Kayle’s passive isn’t shredding total armor and magic resist values, but rather just base values. If the target has a Banshee’s Veil, he/she still gets the full MR benefit of the item. If the community was unhappy about the remake in the first place, they certainly aren’t pleased now. Riot has confirmed the bug and is looking for a fix.

That said, I’ve already seen a lot more Kayle and Galio presence in games. We’ll see if the buffs/reworks will be enough to keep people interested over the next week or so. How has your patch day been so far?

Wukong Champion Spotlight is live

Riot posted the Champion Spotlight for Wukong this evening, giving everyone an early look at the League’s latest Tanky DPS champion. I’m not going to bother sugar-coating this in any way; I’m not happy to see another champion join the League whose optimal build is Trinity Force and probably a Wriggles. Yuck.

But that’s me, and who knows, you might be really pumped about him. He definitely looks like he’ll be fun to play, but I’m skeptical about the spotlight for a couple reasons. For starters, his kit looks really strong, like, too strong. His harass combo is just too good when coupled with a stealth ability. He’ll likely be a nightmare to lane against because of it, but I’m willing to bet he’ll also jungle well. Secondly, Phreak was 30-6 in the main spotlight game, so it’s tough to say what the real numbers on his kit are. I think the skills are definitely strong mechanically, but they might have weak numbers.

In either case, Wukong is out tomorrow, so we’ll all have some time to get to know him. I know I promised the Champ of the Week tonight, but it’s going to have to wait. I’ve got some neat ideas that I want to use to unveil him (spoiler!).

What do you think about the Monkey King spotlight?

FG LoL Mondays for the next couple weeks

FG LoL Mondays

My schedule is going to be a bit erratic for the next three weeks so I won’t be holding official game nights during that time, including tonight. I might be around for a game or two this evening – if I’m online at “The Wiggin Boy” you can always invite me for a game. Just shoot me a message and remind me that you read here. My friends list is officially out of control.

I’ll try to be around for at least one other Monday night over the next three weeks but I really can’t promise anything. After that, though, we’ll be back to normal. Check back later tonight for this week’s Champ of the Week. I’m planning something a little different for upcoming Champ of the Week spots – if it doesn’t make it into the initial post for this week it will certainly be in the wrapup.

Champ of the Week: Lee Sin wrapup

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After playing Lee Sin for a week I finally started having some real fun with him last night. I’m not sure if that’s just what it took for me to start to utilize all his mobility effectively, or if I wasn’t trying hard enough. Whatever the case, I played three games with Lee last night and had a blast, even in a game that I lost.

I’ve always been drawn to high mobility champions and Lee Sin is sort of the highest of the high mobility, provided you can land Sonic Wave and manage your energy. One of the hardest things to adjust to with Lee Sin, at least in the jungle, is to forget about buffs. He doesn’t need them to gank well and they do too much damage to him. I save buffs until I have a Razor because at that point they’re very easy to take and increase his already excellent ganking skill by quite a lot.

Lee Sin will be in a very interesting place if Guinsoo’s proposed jungle remake goes through. The new jungle is supposed to respawn smaller creeps faster, reduce the reliance on buffs a bit and nerf lizard so that it no longer slows. Lee Sin already burns through jungle creeps much faster than they can respawn. Improved respawn timers could put him in a class all his own, even if the experience in the jungle gets a significant nerf.

Though I like the mobility offered by Sonic Wave/Resonant Strike, I can’t help feeling that the 10% missing health component is a little bit broken in the lane. This is a tough one to reason out because it’s really hard to tell how much damage it does. I know this – when I see a character under 50 percent health, I’m positive I can get a kill if they don’t have Flash or some other escape ability. That’s true for a lot of characters in the game, but not for quite as many melee champions. I think the real issue is the mobility of Sonic Wave. Lee’s mobility is unique in that it works based on two ever-shifting points of control: his position and his opponent’s. By maneuvering a bit in lane, it’s pretty easy to guarantee Sonic Wave strikes, making that 50 percent kill simple enough to land.

For all of his 1v1/ganking power, Lee doesn’t shine in teamfights, which is probably a good thing. As I mentioned in my last post, he really has to wait for the right moment to engage. I often find myself using Resonating Strike to bait the enemy’s attack, dash out with his W to a teammate, and then dive back in when I see an enemy get low. I really started to fall in love with Brutalizer for the extra cooldown reduction, and with 25 armor pen on the runepage, 6 from masteries, and 15 from that item, Lee Sin can push players into that 50 percent range really fast.

I’m really starting to understand why Lee Sin players are such fanatics. He’s an extremely aggressive champion in a game that is becoming increasingly passive. It’s a nice change, and though can be tough to get used to I think he’s definitely a champion worth learning.

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