Champ of the Week: Master Yi

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This is sort of a combination introduction and mid-week analysis post. I had so many long posts earlier this week that this just didn’t make it into the rotation. Without further ado, allow me to introduce this week’s Champ of the Week: Master Yi.

I’ve played Yi with the kind of analytical focus I use for the Champ of the Week series in the past. Back then, it was “The Great Yi Experiment,” during which I tried to assess his viability in ranked. This time around it’s a little more of the standard Champ of the Week fare, focusing on builds and strategies.

I’ll say this from my games so far – Yi really seems to do best out of the jungle. He can be decent in lane but he runs out of mana pretty quickly and prior to level six he doesn’t have any reliable methods for getting out of danger. His primary method of harassment also randomly instakills creeps, which makes it easy to end up pushed against a tower.

Yi’s jungle can be a little iffy, though. It’s very random, at least until you get a few ranks of Alpha Strike or a Wriggle’s. He can get low in the early levels, too, which is why I don’t usually play him against a Lee Sin or Nunu or any other invasive jungler. Once he gets that Wriggle’s, though, he’s easily one of the fast junglers in the game, which makes him a deadly mid-game ganker. I’ve had a lot of success piling on kills in the mid-game, which allows me to snowball to late.

Check back this weekend for the Master Yi Champ of the Week wrapup. In the meantime, leave your questions and suggestions in the comments.

Season 1 Rewards and the Importance of Achievemnts

As the end of Season One approaches, players have been scrambling to rank up for rewards. I’ve been in the mix myself, finally pushing through and securing gold late last night. It was challenging, but that also made it fun, and as a result I’m going to get some rewards. The funny thing, for me anyway, is that I don’t care much about the rewards. I’m not a Jarvan player. I don’t post on the forums much, if at all, but the simple fact that there is a reward associated with a tangible goal made the journey toward that goal a lot more compelling.

There was also an interesting side effect, which is where the whole “importance of achievements” thing comes in. As my rating edged closer to the 1520 mark for gold status, players were more helpful and level-headed. Granted, this is some circumstantial evidence, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the attitude adjustment is due to the fact that players have a common goal beyond just winning.

It’s rare that I play with people who don’t want to win, but there’s really very little incentive to winning beyond, well, just winning. The ELO grind really didn’t mean anything. Players at every ELO rank complain that the players in that bracket are noobs and trolls. There’s also the fact that ELO is an endless grind. I can hit 1800 but what then? More games? Maybe make it to 1900? Maybe fall back down to 1600? There is no tangible reward other than bragging rights to make the ELO grind interesting.

This Season One reward is nothing more than an achievement system, and for me it worked pretty well. I know there are still a lot of players struggling with ELO hell, but let me reiterate this – getting out of ELO hell won’t make your games that much better. There will still be trolls. There will still be feeders. There will still be games you just can’t carry. I don’t think you’ll see a real shift in player attitude until Riot gives us something more than just a win and a ranking to worry about.

Four Tips for Reaching Gold in Solo Queue

Five days ago I was totally content to stick with my silver ranked rating. I had silver in both 3v3 Team and 5v5 Solo, which meant I had a little extra leeway to try my hand at a gold rating. I thought it was impossible. I mean that. I’m not trying to say I did something amazing, just that I was so used to losing because of things outside my control. My teammates would feed or get caught way out of position or ignore teamfights. It’s a mess I usually avoid because the combination of trying to rank up and watching a team fall apart ends nowhere good.

I couldn’t help thinking, though, that I would like to get that Gold rating. There’s not really a reason. I don’t play Jarvan. I don’t post on the forums much, if at all, so the rewards don’t really hold anything for me. I think I was just happy to have a goal in the game, a benchmark with some sort of associated reward (more on this in a post later today). In a game that I thought would be a tough match, my team steamrolled to the final victory that put me over into gold.

Most of my wins happened because I focused on the following four things. They didn’t work in every game, but they were key to most of my victories. If you’re trying to rank up in Solo 5v5, these are four things that can help.

Planning in the Pre-Game Lobby

I know. I know this one is nearly impossible. I know this is extremely frustrating. I know. But try to keep your cool when you queue up. There are enough people shooting for rewards that most of them will try to cooperate. Some of them might even pick for you and trade. I started entering games and immediately saying what I do best – jungle/AP carry/AD carry. Those are my strengths and I know it. I play a decent support, but plenty of people are better than me, so I’m willing to let them take a shot.

Playing Aggressive Junglers

Ever since my Champ of the Week with Lee Sin I’ve been in love with the guy. He can come out of the jungle incredibly early with enough damage to snag a first blood or force the use of Flash from an opponent. If you want to rank up fast, play an aggressive jungler. From what I’ve seen, players above the 1300 mark mostly know what they should be doing, they just tend not to do it. They overextend. They don’t ward or they ward too little. They don’t know jungle routes well enough to CV you or know when you might be ganking.

Aggressive junglers – Lee Sin, Udyr, Xin Zhao, Fiddle and even Nocturne – can come out of the jungle before level six with tools to secure a kill. If you can support your team with ganks, you can help them win the early game, even against champions like Singed and Mordekaiser, which can often win the game.

Buy an Oracle’s Elixir

Vision is everything. Being able to see and predict what the enemy team is doing makes your team’s job much easier. You’ll know where to gank, when an enemy is overextended, when they’re trying to secure dragon, and what sort of items they’re buying. Read the rest of this entry »

Karthus and Cassiopeia disabled

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Both Karthus and Cassiopeia have been officially disabled, thanks to the AoE bug I mentioned earlier today. As I said in that post, those two champions in particular seem to benefit in big ways from the problem, though Riot wasn’t clear on how widespread the issue actually is.

Here’s the official post:

Due to a current bug affecting AOE damage spells, we are temporarily disabling Karthus and Cassiopeia. These champions are disproportionately affected by this issue and will be re-enabled when we release a hotfix. Rest assured that we have a dedicated team working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

This is one of few times that we’ve seen champions disabled thanks to bugs associated with their skills. I’m glad to see it, though. I was getting sick of Karthus hitting me from crazy range.

FG LoL Mondays Cancelled Due to Hurricane

FG LoL Mondays

I spoke to several of you today confirming that I would be running FG LoL Mondays tonight as usual. Unfortunately, Time Warner and hurricane Irene had other plans. My service is currently down as a part of some sort of post-hurricane maintenance. I’m getting a whopping .05 Mbps down, which is hardly enough to load most webpages today, let alone run League of Legends.

If things are back up and running I will be on tonight. Feel free to toss me an invite to a game if you’re up to it, but I won’t be running our regularly scheduled games tonight.

Current Affairs: Have you noticed the AoE bug?

If you’ve been on the forums lately, you’ve no doubt noticed the threads bemoaning an AoE bug. The bug, as far as I can tell, allows AoE spells to land at a larger radius than their animation. Among the top offenders are Mordekaiser’s Siphon of Destruction, Brand’s Pillar of Flame and Caitlyn’s Yordle Snap Trap. Riot has yet to respond, or at least yet to respond in a post that I can find, so it’s unclear whether the bug is official or not. I will say this – I seem to be getting snagged by farm more traps than I used to.

In my mind, this is a really tough bug to assess. It’s frustrating to get hit by more spells than I’m used to, but I can’t help but think that my paranoia about the bug feeds into my analysis of the bug. Still, I did have a Cassiopeia land seemingly every cast on me, even though I had boots at level one. It’s not totally inconceivable that she was just the best Cassiopeia player I have ever seen, but I’d bet it’s more likely that there is some sort of bug.

Have you noticed the AoE bug? Seen a prevalence of AoE casters like Karthus and Cassiopeia?

Champ of the Week: Brand Wrapup

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This week got cut a bit short thanks to a certain hurricane, but I think I had plenty of time with Brand to assess his power level, play around with his build, and as with any Champ of the Week, lose enough games to see some of the champion’s downfalls. For Brand there are few, but they can make a game with him just as frustrating as any other character.

First, the good things. Really, the OP things. Brand’s lane harass is absolutely filthy – probably the best in the game. The range on his E skill, Conflagration, needs a nerf and has since day one. With the big burst and the passive proc, this skill alone can push an opponent off the lane. It’s also amazing when used with his passive effect. Missed your Pillar of Flame? No problem – just Conflag that caster minion and watch the damage bounce when your opponent gets too close. Brand is one of those characters that is such a huge threat that his presence is enough to push an opponent back. He doesn’t even have to be in position, just there and he’s terrifying.

I did have a little bit of trouble against Malzahar, really only because his Malefic Visions allowed him to keep me pushed, which meant I couldn’t exactly stand in the creeps and force him back. Obviously Brand’s ability to do that to most characters is pretty OP, but so is Malzahar’s ability to farm at my tower from his tower. It’s a mess.

Build
Brand is sort of unique in that his passive doesn’t scale with AP. It does, however, scale with penetration, which poses something of a build problem. If I’m rocking early game I like to pick up a Haunting Guise, just to utterly dominate my opponent. With Guise and Sorc Boots, only the best casters in the game will be able to hold you down. Brand churns through creeps, freeing him up to go and gank other lanes.

Unfortunately, that build doesn’t scale particularly well into the late game if your opponents are building magic resist. Basically, there are two routes as I see it. If my team has plenty of sticking power, I go with a Rod of Ages, Deathcap, and then Rylais or Void Staff or Will of the Ancients. If my team is lacking that sticking power, I’ll opt for a Deathcap to Rylais rush, which usually means stacking a couple Doran’s Rings for early survivability. I’m much more comfortable with the RoA build, and I like the survivability and growth it provides into late game. The other build is still quite strong, though, and definitely worth it if your teamfights will be sprawling affairs.

If I could change one thing…

If I could change one thing with Brand it would be to reduce his cast range on just about everything. Brand is powerful because he can land his spells easily from a distance. He can harass well from a distance and use the massive range on his stun to secure the kill.

If Riot did reduce his range, though, I think they’d have to compensate with a little movespeed. Brand feels woefully slow and vulnerable once an opponent is stuck to you. I know every champion needs a weakness, but because his stun is a directional cast, it’s almost too punishing for someone to get in your face, especially if he got a range reduction.

On the whole, I have a blast playing Brand. He’s one of few champions that feels like he has some variety to his casting rotation, and as with most of my favorite champs, he rewards aggressive play early in the game. If you’re looking to expand your AP carry roster, definitely give Brand a shot.

6 Nintendo Characters You’ll Never Forget

Since their beginnings, when Donkey Kong became the sensational sleeper hit that everyone was talking about, Nintendo has created lovable characters and family friendly games. When it comes to memorable and timeless video game characters, few companies can offer up rivals to match the sweetness, longevity, and pure adoration that fans attribute to many of the longest surviving Nintendo characters.

With Nintendo having pulled in over 12 billion in sales associated with its lovable Italian plumber Mario alone, and the recent release of their new Nintendo DS, it’s safe to say that they’ve touched popular culture deeply.  Whether you’re a hardcore gaming geek or even a borderline technophobe, you’re probably familiar with some of the following long-lasting characters. Let’s take a look at some of these famous cultural icons of the digital world, most of whom have undergone serious transformations along the way.

Bowser

Bowser.Nearly as popular as his arch-nemesis Mario, Bowser has filtered through the dark side of the Mario series in almost every incarnation of the game. He’s the character that’s easy to hate, but only in the most lovable of ways.

Most resembling a turtle gone bad, Bowser might be evil and greedy, and often out to kidnap Princess Peach, but he’s still creating soft spots in gamer’s hearts. He’s the villain the majority of people would prefer to have as a friend. That’s so much so that you might just see a Bowser replica stashed amongst someone’s Ninja Turtle collection!

Princess Peach

Princess Peach.Rescuing Princess Peach is as much a part of many people’s collective consciousness as is taking a shower each day. In fact, more than you’d imagine might well confess to having skipped a few showers along the way so that they could keep playing a marathon session to rescue her!

So famous is her damsel in distress routine that you’d swear there were hints of her character in virtually every Hollywood movie where a hapless maiden awaits the rescue of a suave suitor. 

Link

Link.It can be easy to confuse people’s Halloween costumes sometimes, particularly when they try to dress up as Link, the main protagonist in Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda. That’s because his appearance is reminiscent of the much older legend, Robin Hood.

But with his sword and arrows, Link has managed to enthrall millions of players who wanted to delve into a rescue-the-fair-maiden themed game. Perhaps most memorable for his ‘regular-boy style,’ Link has long been a character that’s very easy to identify with. That might explain why he’s still seen on backpacks across age ranges at schools!

Ganon

Ganon.Whether it’s evil Orcs from the Lord of the Rings, or Ganon from The Legend of Zelda, evil has an ugly face! Don’t be surprised if the evil villain you encounter at your next Mardi Gras dress up party is Ganon, aiming to achieve dominion over all! While already strong and powerful, his character has always fallen victim to the rhetorical question, “What do all men with power want? More power.”

That’s Ganon to a T, whose lust for power is never satisfied while the game is turned on. So deep is his lust for complete dominion that you’d be forgiven for thinking he might have originally been based upon the real world Napoleon Bonaparte! However, with his dark armor, cape, and thick boots, you won’t be accidentally mistaking Ganon for the meticulously French styled Napoleon any time soon.

Mario

Mario.Synonymous with Nintendo itself, Mario is the name that replaced the original, very bland ‘Jumpman.’ In need of a quick hit to save the company from sure oblivion, Nintendo managed to put out the successful Jumpman in time to save the company. The lovable character that jumped about got his name from the then Nintendo landlord, who stopped by to collect the overdue rent as the game was being produced.

Few stories begin so toughly and end so well! Over 12 billion dollars in sales and licensing revenues later, it’s clear that Nintendo had a true hit with its mustachioed wonder. It’s hard not to think of Mario in daily life, when coverall wearing handymen arrive on the scene to repair anything from a leaky faucet to the potholes in the road!

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong.About as famous worldwide as King Kong, Donkey Kong’s naming origin was less auspicious than King Kong’s arrival in New York City. Donkey Kong means ‘stupid gorilla,’ so it’s not quite a flattering name choice! But without the existence of this particular gorilla, Mario might never have had so many chances to prove his mettle, and thus win so many hearts.

Perhaps because he was a ‘stupid gorilla with a girl’ so similar to King Kong, Donkey Kong is memorable on par with the legendary Empire State building scene that contains the first ‘Kong.’ The damsel in distress routine was never done better than when there was a giant gorilla around!

CONCLUSION
If creating a large part of video game history is as important to the popular culture as the movies that Hollywood churns out, then one could be forgiven for ascribing Nintendo with nearly as much importance as Hollywood. Future generations will always have those initial, simple 1980’s characters to study in detail, just like old films. But, far more fun than simply watching the characters on a silver screen, the beauty of Nintendo’s efforts is that they created something that can be participated in. And that’s something that creates lasting memories!

Hunkering down for Hurricane Irene

As many of you know, I currently call Wilmington, NC home. Yes, that’s the same Wilmington that meteorlogists have been saying could soon be wiped off the map by Hurricane Irene. Alright, things aren’t that dire just yet, but I’ve left town just the same to bunk up with some friends in Durham. As such, I won’t be online in League for the next couple days and updates here might be a little sporadic.

Does Ignite need a damage nerf?

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I’ve been playing Brand this week for my Champ of the Week, a champion with incredible harass and bursting power capable of easy kills as early as level three. It’s been a lot of fun, but I can’t help but think that he’s a little OP, a problem that gets exacerbated by the use of Ignite. I run Flash/Ignite on Brand as I do on just about every AP carry in the game. It adds a little extra burst to his rotation and gives me the power necessary to get through healers, lifestealers, and spell vampers (vampires?). As with any “must-have” skill, I can’t help but wonder if Ignite isn’t a little bit broken, at least from a damage perspective, so I bring the question to you. Does Ignite need a damage nerf?

One of the big problems with Ignite is that it scales with level and is typically carried by characters in solo lanes. As a result, characters with a level advantage further the gap above duo lanes and junglers with that increased damage. I was playing a game the other day as Lee Sin in which a Cho’Gath, who had 3 levels on me, hit a Rupture, Ignite, and Feast for 100% of my HP. Ignite accounted for nearly 300 damage. I think I was level 10. Doesn’t that seem a bit excessive? He already has a huge advantage in level, so why give him additional free damage? I think one possible solution would be to tone down the damage-gain-per-level a bit and make Ignite deal damage based on the target’s level, not the level of the caster.

I don’t think we can get rid of Ignite altogether. Characters like Mordekaiser, Akali, Udyr, Lee Sin, and Nasus all justify the existence of the skill, to say nothing of healers. Ignite is also incredibly useful for getting through the Tanky DPS in the game. Unfortunately, Ignite is almost necessary to bring down the tankier characters, but that necessity makes the skill too effective against characters without a 3000+ health pool. Take Talon – he’s a melee assassin that has no way to escape a fight without Flash. Once he ults, he’s done, and being that his ult is his best offensive skill, it doesn’t make sense to burn it for escape. He’s already more susceptible to the kinds of AoE damage we see from Annie, Brand, Malzahar, and their kind. Ignite unnecessarily amplifies his vulnerability, making him an easy kill in most situations.

Now that you have the case against Ignite, at least in its current form, what do you think? Does Ignite damage need a rework or is it just fine where it is?

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