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.

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: Mordekaiser Wrapup

Mordekaiser Wrapup.

As I write this post, I’m in the process of wrapping up my final Mordekaiser game for the week. It’s a doozy. I was 2-0 at level two, and godlike shortly thereafter. The Twisted Fate that went mid for my team had a Deathcap and a nearly completed Lichbane at 20 minutes. Somehow, though, it is a joyless experience.

It may be that I’ve reached critical League of Legends exposure for the weekend. I watched most of the Dreamhack streams, often while playing a game of LoL myself. I spent more time on Twitter this weekend than I probably have since opening my account. But I think it was more than that. I think the real issue was that there wasn’t ever a competitive moment in the game, and that’s when Mordekaiser really seems to shine. I know he can be strong in certain comps, but for individual play, I think he’s the first champion I would seriously advise against.

Riot’s development staff often talks about the “feast or famine” nature of certain characters, a trait that I think perfectly describes Mordekaiser. If left to his own devices, he can get a huge farm going, to the point that he’s virtually unkillable. With the right target under his Children of the Grave control, he can effectively solo three or four enemies, generating massive shield and dealing huge damage with his minion. On the reverse side, if he doesn’t get a minion and doesn’t get a solo lane, he has a hard time staying relevant over the course of a game.

If I could change one thing about Mordekaiser, it would be his ultimate. That spell is just too polar and the poles are too far apart. Mordekaiser’s minion solves all of the problems that face a team after a tough team fight, and I just think it’s too strong. The minion functions as a full life champion, especially if you can get a ranged AD character. It also gains huge health from Mordekaiser’s own pool and it holds turret aggro, meaning a narrowly won teamfight quickly turns into a push. No other character, with the possible exception of Annie, can provide that for a team. Giving him some sort of CC skill in place of the ultimate could be interesting.

If I could change two things about Mordekaiser, I would make the second his shield mechanic. It just isn’t interesting. It allows him to be too aggressive and punishing against newer players and it’s underwhelming against veterans.

On the whole, I’m glad to be done with Mordekaiser week. I tried a wide array of rune pages and mastery builds to deal with his shortcomings, but nothing really seemed to work. Onward to next week. I think I’m going to have to treat myself to someone I really enjoy.

Champ of the Week: Click once, fool

Mordekaiser splash.

It hasn’t been an easy week for the Champ of the Week. I’ve tried looking up some guides, watching a couple Mordekaiser streams, and even cranked a little In Flames up to 11 but nothing seems to help my Mordekaiser game. I really don’t like playing that has no crowd control, and I like even less how dependent he is on positioning to make sure that he doesn’t take a lot of damage in the early game. That said, I’ve had a couple good games, but they really had nothing to do with my own playing. They had everything to do with my opponents.

From what I can tell, most of playing Mordekaiser is trying to bait your opponent into getting close enough for a Siphon of Destruction to land. The spell has a pretty high base, especially against the softer toons in the game, and generates quite a bit of shield. Unfortunately, players can walk out of it, and the smartest players just let you push them and wait for a jungler to come gank. If your team has a great counter jungler and your opponent can’t clear creeps very well, push and push hard. Unfortunately that situation is pretty rare, so you can either push your creeps to keep shield up in lane or you can struggle to stay alive without the shield. I had particular trouble against a Ryze the other day, though he also had Amumu coming out of the jungle regularly to keep me down. It was rough.

As I think more on Mordekaiser’s lane style, he seems relatively balanced, so long as the opponent is someone with decent lane presence. There are quite a few champions without very good early presence who require a big farm to be relevant late in the, and those champions fare very poorly against Mordekaiser. Mordekaiser also snowballs terribly in lane. If he can get an early kill, he’s off to the races. That extra level/level-and-a-half puts him at a huge advantage with ult/ignite combo. His shield also gives him the early ability to tower dive with impunity, which is never fun for anyone.

To be honest, I almost had fun in a game with him today, but it was because the Ashe I was laning against fed me two early kills and I was able to get Sorc Boots and a Sunfire before anyone on their team had completed a solid mid-game item. It’s hard not to enjoy crushing strong champions like Ashe and Warwick, but that situation has been a rarity for me so far.

Check back later in the week for more impressions.

Champ of the Week: Mordekaiser

Lord Mordekaiser.

I’ve had a hard time deciding who this week’s champ of the week would be. I was hoping I would get some inspiration last night, and though we did have some excellent games for Fearless Gamer LoL Mondays, but no one really intrigued me. I was thinking of playing Veigar, but I want to save him – he’s so much fun that I don’t want to use him just yet.

Then it hit me. Play someone that I hate playing.

Of all the champions in League of Legends, I think I can honestly say there is only one champion I both hate to play and hate to play against: Mordekaiser. Everything about him bothers me. He’s loud. He farms like a beast and gains a shield from that farm. He deals great damage, even when he only has defensive items. And then there’s his ult. That ult. It has turned the tide in more games than I care to count. For all of that, you’d think he would be fun to play. He must be for some, but I’m just not one of those people. That’s right, I said ‘those people.’ I dislike Mordekaiser so much that on some fundamental level I also dislike the people that like him (my apologies if that includes you).

Regardless, I’m going to play him. I’m going to try to find a way to make him work for me. I know he can be an asset to a team – he hasn’t excellent laning power and his ult really can change the outcome of a game. I’ll be focusing on the team comps that work best for him, when he can afford to get a Gunblade, and how to lane with him without completely pushing up to a turret.

It’s going to be an interesting week.

Mordekaiser’s big metal strap-on

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to remember to post this, but one of the unannounced skins this patch is called Lord Mordekaiser. It features the Master of Metal wearing, along with his typical metal duds, a giant metal strap-on.

I would love to meet the art director who saw this and said, “Yup – that’s just what we were going for. Nothing says metal like a huge, spikey penis of death strapped around your waist.”

The case against mindlessness

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I’ve written a lot of posts recently about the overpowered toons in League of Legends and I realize several of them may have come across a little whiney. I often have emotions around a given aspect of the game before I’ve really sat down to put the words behind those emotions, so you guys get to read me working through the crap to get at the heart of the matter. Well, thanks for bearing with me.

This post is a culmination of a few different posts regarding relative champion strength and the overwhelming fury I feel toward champions like Sona and Mordekaiser, so I hope it will be a little more focused and my point of view will be easy to understand.

Most of my frustration with League of Legends in the past few weeks has revolved around the relationship between a champion’s strength and the skill required to provide the maximum team benefit that champion provides. For many of the overpowered champions in the game, the problem is that the champions are both strong and incredibly easy to play. It’s something I think Riot misunderstands, as you can see from the difficulty screen above. There is literally no situation in which I would consider Sona difficult to play.

Mordekaiser falls under that same umbrella. There are players who think it’s tough to know when to fight with him, but I could not disagree more. Your team is there, you fight, and you get a ghost and murder the other team. If they aren’t there, don’t fight, unless you have a ghost with you, in which case you should kill the entire opposing team. In all seriousness, though, Kaiser’s ease of use comes from his shield, which allows him to be a serious threat to any opponent in lane just by standing in range. Consider other casters, like Annie for instance. If Annie wants to deal damage to me she has to get relatively close, giving me the opportunity to deal damage in return. Kaiser has to do the same thing, but his shield removes his personal threat, allowing him to harass at will without consequence. It’s a crappy mechanic to play against, but worse yet, it encourages players to be sloppy and lazy.

The easy to play/easy to win champions actually hurt the game as a whole by allowing players to enjoy success without the skill to back it. One of the great things about this game is that the wide variety of champions can encourage players to get better. When I saw my first good Shaco I thought, “damn, I want to be that guy.” I was horrible with Shaco when I started, but now I’ve probably played 500 games or so with him, so I’m really good. It took time. My first game with Sona, I died too much. Every game after that, I dominated with her. It was easy farming, easy laning, and once I had a locket, easy winning. When those types of champions dominate games, players don’t learn how to gank, how to lane, when to run, when to dragon, any of it, nearly as quickly as they do with a difficult champion.

Then there’s the simple fact that strong champions carry weak players to higher ELOs. I have run into at least ten different players who, after seeing their favorite champion banned or chosen (most often it’s Mordekaiser, I’m not kidding), say something like, “Shit man, they took my guy. Anyone wanna trade? I don’t have many champions.” That’s a problem. I expect players to be able to play a variety of champions and fill a variety of roles, just as I hope they expect the same from me. I know I’m a great carry, but I’m also a very good jungler, a very good nuker, and a decent tank/support player. I own every champion in the game. I can play every champion in the game with a modicum of success. The same can’t be said for the jungle Kaiser I played with over lunch who tried to gank MF middle by walking out of the mid-lane river brush with red buff and trying to auto attack her. No. No, that’s not going to work.

I want to see thoughtfully designed champions, champions with very real, very high skill ceilings. Enough of the MFs and the Sonas and the Mordekaisers. This is the same issue I used to complain about with Sivir, but back in the day, Sivir was just about the only toon with a crazy-low skill ceiling and a crazy-high impact. These days it’s like a free-for-all on high-impact mechanics that require as much thought as relieving my bladder. Biological imperatives aren’t interesting, and neither are mindless champions. Make me a toon that I want to learn instead of someone I could play with my elbows and I’ll remain convinced that this is the game for me for the near future.

Where are all the patched champions?

new_champ_spreadOne of the great things about LoL is the endless possibility for expansion. There can always be new heroes, new maps, new game modes, etc. Those things need to fit well into the game to really serve as expanded material, though. If no one’s playing those modes/champions, they have virtually zero effect on the game.

That’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in the new champions. They get played for their launch week and the subsequent free week and then fall completely off the radar. I almost never see Olaf in game any more, and when I do I tend to smash him. Malzahar? Never. Akali? Less than never. Garen? Rarely. Kennen? Nope. Mordekaiser? Occasionally. The only patched champions I see on a regular basis are Shen (who is in nearly every game), Ezreal (same, almost every game), and Pantheon (only because Heartseeker is crazy broken right now).

If you take a look at the champion list at LoL Base, you’ll see that the only one of the champions I never see that has a positive win/loss ratio is Mordekaiser. The rest are negative, in some cases drastically so, which says to me a couple things. First, and most obviously, those characters suffer from some kind of serious design flaw. Though I think several of the champions I mentioned are solid (Kennen and Garen for the most part), the others have trouble providing serious support to a team. It could be that players just haven’t figured out how to play these new champions, but most of them are old enough that someone, somewhere should be playing them or singing their praises, and that’s not really the case.

It’s too early to say where Kog’Maw will fall, but if he follows the current trend, we’ll see him for two weeks and not much more.

LoL: Garen and Mordekaiser are so similar it’s silly

Garen, Might of Demacia.When I first saw Garen I thought, hey, he’s just like Tryndamere. At a second glance, though, I realized he’s actually more like Mordekaiser than any other toon, to the point that I wonder if the two champions were designed by the same person.

Consider the following: both champions have an attack damage modifier in the Q slot. Both have damage mitigation for the W. Both have a limited AOE attack for the E, and both have a finisher for their ultimates. Now, I realize the comparisons seem a bit arbitrary since most champions skills are based on one of these systems (attack damage modification, AOE, etc.) but in terms of playstyle I think these two will be more similar than most. Both are best built for heavy health regen plus a nice dose of attack damage, and both can soak a lot of damage for a team but offer very little utility.

The only reason I mention any of this is because it explains some of my disinterest in Garen. Mordekaiser was only interesting for a few games for me – I just don’t enjoy his playstyle – and I think Garen will suffer the same fate. I’ll likely play him in a few games, but the stand-and-try-to-deal-damage-with-no-CC isn’t really compelling.

LoL: Patch Day

Vandal Jax.It’s patch day again, bringing us a slew of changes to some of the less popular heroes, a much needed (though still lacking) TF nerf, and the new champ, Mordekaiser. The patch also gave us one highly undesirable feature: queue dodge penalties. Overall, though, I’d say I’m pretty happy about this patch.

My favorite part so far has been the Jax remake. I’ve played two games with him and he seems like he’s in a good spot. The extra HP makes a big difference and the Leap Strike change gives him a nice escapability buff. He’ll still struggle at times, as all melee DPS does, but the changes make a significant difference. Also, that Vandal skin is badass.

I’ll be taking a look at the Warwick changes later today. I had a Warwick in one game, but he was awful so I won’t say he’s a good judge of the situation. The mana changes alone should be a boon.

The TF nerf seems good, though it doesn’t address his real problem – map control. I played a game as Jax with Mundo, Ryze, Pantheon and TF in which our Ryze went AFK around level 9. We still stomped them, mostly because our TF held his port for the perfect moment in just about every situation. Sure, he does less damage, but when he’s stunning people consistently and turning even fights into landslides, I can’t help but think they nerfed him for the masses but he’s just as good for skilled players.

Mordekaiser actually looks to be a lot of fun. The fact that you can cast his shield on creeps makes him a bit like Dark Seer from Dota, though it’s only allies. That would be an interesting change if they feel he isn’t laning well. He does seem to harass decently enough, and his ult is pretty cool. I’m not going to spend the RP on him and all my IP has gone into runes recently, so I’ll have to wait for a free week to give a real analysis.

Lastly, the queue dodging penalty. This thing is so stupid I hate to even write about it. Every time you leave during champion select you get a leaver mark on your account. The first leave gives you a three minute queue penalty. The second brings it up to 10 minutes, though that timer does reset 8 hours after your first leave. I can’t understand why they would implement this when there are so many legitimate reasons to leave at champion select and no options to deal with those issues. AFK summoners are just part of the problem. There are also team composition problems, and the fact that matchmaking will still pair you with people on your ignore list. Add to all of this the fact that people are still dodging like mad and it’s pretty clear that a dodge penalty is about the worst solution Riot could have come up with.

You can find complete patch notes in the announcements forum.

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