Viktor Impressions

Viktor.

What better way to make my return to the MOBA field than with my impressions post for the newest champion in League of Legends? I’ll tell you. DotA 2. Yes, I’m finally in the beta, but more on that later. For now, let’s talk about the man-machine, Viktor.

You may remember Morello announcing that Riot had plans to introduce more complicated heroes and mechanics into League of Legends over the course of 2012. Viktor seems to be the first of that wave, adding a new item-based skill customization along with a somewhat complicated skillset. While I love the idea of adding more complexity to the game, the actual gameplay needs to support mechanically complex heroes. With Viktor, that just isn’t the case. Hopefully we’ll see more playstyle changes to League as a whole. If not, complex heroes will simply be outshined by champions like Annie and Brand, champs that deal huge damage through a simple set of skills.

Personally, I haven’t enjoyed my time with Viktor, pretty much for the reasons stated above. His skills are too complicated to use without enough benefit for using them well. I feel like I have to work twice as hard for kills that would be easier with many other champions. That’s not all bad – champions with a decent skill ceiling are usually enjoyable to play. In most cases, though, high skill ceiling means knowing when and how your skills should be used, not just that it’s difficult to land them. That’s Viktor. His beam can be very difficult to land in a chase situation – it’s certainly easy to avoid – and without augmenting his stun, he can be pretty easy to outrun.

That said, he has some insane burst. When all of his skills land, he hits hard. His ult works essentially like Tibbers, dealing a big burst in the beginning and a damage over time as it “churns.” With an augment on his beam, he’ll one-shot most any carry.

I don’t think Riot’s going to need to change him much unless a streamer unlocks a truly godlike build/playstyle. Viktor does things that a lot of other champions in the game do, it’s just that all of those things – his stun, his big damage, his AoE power – require a lot more effort than similar champions. He’s also just not all that exciting, which is why I think I haven’t seen him picked much. If I compare him to Fizz, I see one champion with an interesting skillset that adds a couple new mechanics and has a high risk/reward threshold, and one champion that plays like most AP casters. I’ll leave you to sort out which is which.

Champion Sneak Peek: Vayne, the Night Hunter

Vayne concept.

I really thought the Monkey King would be our next champion, especially considering the amount of artwork that’s been done on him. I would imagine Riot is trying to avoid the Lee Sin situation – lots of hype, little conversion – so we’re getting a different champion next week.

That champion is Vayne, a sort of Van Helsing inspired vampire hunter it would seem. I’m guessing she/he/it (pretty sure it’s a she, but it could be a he with very delicate legs) is a ranged DPS champion, a class that is woefully underrepresented in the current metagame. Could Vayne mark the return of the ranged carry? Check back this weekend for the skill list.

Rumble ability list announced

Riot announced the Rumble ability list this afternoon, a list that looks remarkably similar to another champion in the lineup. I’m also pretty worried that we have yet another Tanky DPS champion joining the League. Shield ability? Check. Ranged slow? Check. Damage modifier? Check. Dear lord.

Here’s the list:

Flamespitter: Rumble torches the area in front of him with his flamethrower dealing damage to all units in a cone for several seconds. While in the “Danger Zone,” this spell deals additional damage.

Scrap Shield: Rumble creates a shield blocking incoming damage for several seconds and granting a short duration speed boost. While in the “Danger Zone,” the shield’s strength and speed boost increase.

Electro-Harpoon: Rumble launches a projectile that deals magic damage and applies a stackable slow on the target. A second shot can be fired for no additional cost within several seconds. While in the “Danger Zone,” the damage and slow percentage is increased.

The Equalizer (Ultimate): Rumble calls down a line of rockets over the target location. Enemies in the scorched area take damage over time and are slowed.

Junkyard Titan (Passive): Rumble’s abilities generate heat. When Rumble is above 50 heat, he is in the “Danger Zone,” causing all his basic spells to have additional effects. When Rumble reaches 100 heat he overheats, silencing himself and causing his physical attacks to deal additional magic damage. Rumble loses heat over time.

At first I was worried we had a Blitz clone, but he actually seems to be closer in skill style to Urgot. I am wildly unimpressed by the skillset and, as mentioned above, mostly worried about having yet another Tanky DPS to deal with. From the sound of things, his Harpoon will be extremely easy to land, giving him the ranged harass that often makes Tanky DPS toons such a problem in lane. I’m not excited for his release. Not one bit.

Brand, the Burning Vengeance is up next

Brand, the Burning Vengeance.

The champion sneak peek is up for Riot’s next addition to the League. Brand, the Burning Vengeance will be joining the game in the next patch.

Here’s the official blurb:

Here at Riot Games, we’ve been positively burning with anticipation to tell you about this next champion. And that’s not just smoke and mirrors! If you’ve ever come under fire from critics for leaving a candle unattended, forgetting to turn the grill off, or an over-enthusiasm for fireworks displays, he’s sure to spark your interest. Start getting fired up for Brand, the Burning Vengeance. He’s a real spitfire who is sure to attract all you combustion connoisseurs out there like a moth to a flame.

Hey, did we mention that he’s on fire?

His concept art is pretty cool, and, judging by the look of the image, could be his splash screen. I wonder if we’re looking at some sort of fire mage, maybe even Annie’s father? That would be an interesting bit of lore. You gotta feel at least a little bit bad for this guy – Lee Sin’s hype is a hard act to follow.

Nocturne preview release on IGN

Last night IGN released the first gameplay footage of Nocturne. The footage is basically a champion spotlight, without all the detail devoted to showing the champion’s individual skills. It’s a nice look at what he can do. I really love the fear tether idea. It’s not entirely new – just a remake of Leblanc’s Ethereal Chains – but it adds nice flavor to the character. Check the video and, as always, let me know what you think about Nocturne in the comments.

Patch day 2/16: Maokai brings the wood

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It’s patch day again, boys and girls, and we can finally say it happened. That’s right, today we were given a major feature release. Well, sort of. The major feature from today’s patch, Co-op versus AI, won’t actually launch until later in the week. It is built into the client, though, so that’s a step in the right direction. And, of course, today also marks the Maokai release. He’s got some of the coolest champion art in the game and what looks to be a decent skillset. I’ll be covering him in a different post later this week. For now, let’s take a look at the rest of the champion changes.

Amumu got a buff, though it looks to be mostly to his jungling, which is odd. I’ve never had problems jungling with Amumu. I know he isn’t being played much these days, but that’s what happens when a champion is FotM for like five months straight. I’m sure people will be sick of playing Rammus soon too.

Anivia got the expected nerf. It seems pretty serious to me, but I don’t really think that’s a bad thing. I used to play Anivia quite a bit in the pre season one days. She is crazy strong, and when she’s got golem, which is virtually all the time if your teammates are smart, she’s an unstoppable force. I’m also glad they added a more discernible buff system for her ult. I’ve probably asked 10 times over the past two weeks “how do you know if her ult’s up again?”

Pantheon got another change to Heartseeker that I really like. It now takes the skill .5 seconds longer to deal full damage. That’s something I hadn’t considered in my post about Heartseeker balance. With the duration nerf to his stun and now this he might be a bit less frustrating to play against.

Rammus got a speed nerf to Powerball. As I mentioned before, I don’t think it’s enough. He’s still too good at chasing and too strong out of the jungle. I’d love to see them make Powerball more of a quick boost – make it reach full speed quickly and nerf the duration in a big way.

Ryze’s rework did make it live, but I’ll be covering that in another post.

The Vlad nerf is kind of underwhelming on paper, but I think it could play out well in game. His passive now grants 1 ability power per 40 health instead of 25. Sanguine Pool also no longer grants a speed boost and interacts properly with turrets. I still think it’s ridiculous to give a gold multiplier to a guy who farms extremely well, but we’ll see how things turn out.

That’s it for champion changes. EDIT: Just realized this didn’t post yesterday for some reason. I’ve got a slew of posts lined up for tomorrow afternoon. Check back for more on Ryze, Maokai, and the item changes for today’s patch.

Champion Sneak Peek: Moakai, the Twisted Treant

Moakai, the new Rooftrellen.

It’s time again for another champion sneak peek, this time bringing us artwork of Moakai, the Twisted Treant. Here’s the official blurb:

Sometimes, when you look at the League of Legends champion lineup, it’s easy to feel like you’ve seen it all. You’ve seen light mages, thorn mages, mad scientists, illusionists, ninjas, and warriors with gigantic swords. But there’s something that this next champion has that none of them do: roots. That’s right, while you may have been engaged in epic, pitched battles with trolls, gargoyles, ogres, scarecrows, minotaurs, mummies, and mutant armadillos, I bet you’ve never had to fight a tree before! Introducing Maokai, the Twisted Treant; a groundbreaking new champion in the League of Legends whose bark may or may not be worse than his bite. You decide.

If you’ve been on the forums in the past month or so you probably new that he was coming, along with Jarvan IV, who we should see introduced in a fortnight. Moakai was originally teased in PC Gamer with the image you see above. He was accompanied by the text:

Who: A tree hit with magic that became a hero
He Will: Plant acorn bombs; teleport on top of lightly armored enemies
Release: Feb 15

So far, the article’s right on, though we never really know what skills will make it live. The acorn bomb sounds interesting. Will we have a Teemo rival at last? I can already feel the frustration of another teleporting champion. Shen has been the bane of my existence recently. I don’t know how much more I can take.

Look for Moakai next week.

Champion Sneak Peek: Karma, the Enlightened One

Karma model viewer.

The sneak peek for the new 3150 champion has arrived. Karma, the Enlightened One will be joining the League next Tuesday if things go according Riot’s usual schedule.

I want to first commend Riot for not only giving us a model viewer for the sneak peek, but for making her black and putting some clothes on her. It’s just a simple mermaid dress but I already like her design better than any of the recent female champions. Let’s hope we don’t get a burlesque/boobie tassel skin for her on patch day.

Here’s the official blurb on Karma:

If you’re a fan of Ionian champions, or just a fan of fans in general, you’re really going to take to this next champion. It is my pleasure to introduce, Karma, the Enlightened One, to the League of Legends. Along with a pair of particularly deadly looking fans, Karma brings an elegant look and a particularly level headed disposition to the League of Legends. Keep an open mind. After all… we can all use a little enlightenment.

All of the standard questions remain unanswered. Ranged or melee? Caster or DPS (I’m almost positive she’s not a tank)? Mana, energy, fury, or no resource system? Check back this weekend. I’m sure we’ll have details by then.

Another ‘emo’ skin on the way?

Amumu's date?

About a half hour ago Guinsoo posted the tweet you see pictured. It sounds to me like there’s another emo skin on the way to pair up with Emumu. The real question: is it a skin for an existing champion or something for the new champ? Could it be a mummy skin for whoever is set to release next Tuesday?

Renekton ability list announced alongside the ‘Fury’ resource system

Renekton.

It’s been a busy week, and I’m sad to say it has set me a little bit behind on my forum reading. I did get a little bit of time after dinner today to check out the recently announced ability list for Renekton, including his new resource system. Let’s dive in, shall we?

You can’t talk about Renekton without talking about the new resource system. Renekton uses ‘fury,’ which, from the sound of things, should work like most any warrior in any RPG you’d be familiar with. You hit stuff, you get fury. You use fury, you hit stuff harder. It’s a bit of an odd system for League of Legends, because you really need to be able to cast, even when you haven’t hit anything in a while. Riot deals with that by (as far as I can tell) making Renekton’s abilities free to use. By using them while he has enough fury, Renekton augments his abilities in some way. It seems a little confusing, but I’m sure it will make sense once I can play it.

I’ve interspersed my commentary with the ability list because there’s a lot to cover. My comments are in italics. Here’s the list:

Tyrant’s Reach: Renekton cleaves, dealing damage to nearby enemies and healing for 20% of the damage dealt. Each target hit grants 5 fury, up to 25. Heal amount is tripled against champions up to a hard cap.

When Renekton has more than 50 Fury he heals for a large portion of damage dealt. Consumes 50 Fury.

Few skills in LoL scream ‘jungler’ quite as loudly as this. With auto attacks generating fury along with that cleave he should be healing very quickly. The only way this isn’t a jungle skill is if it has a massive cooldown, but I doubt that. I know it is possible to jungle on Nasus (I do it myself here and there), but this skill will serve you much better in the early game than Siphon Strike.

Ruthless Predator: Renekton’s next attack will swing twice dealing a percentage of his Attack Damage as physical damage and stunning his target for a short time. Applies on-hit effects.

When Renekton has more than 50 Fury, his next attack will swing three times dealing a percentage of his Attack Damage and stunning his target for an increased duration. Consumes 50 Fury.

This is where Renekton gets the sticking power Nasus so badly needs (don’t you dare say ‘what about Wither’ – that skill is almost completely countered by Merc Treads). When coupled with the dash skill below and a Phage/Trinity Force/Frozen Mallet, Renekton will be attached to you like a facesucker on anything not named Sigourney Weaver. To me, this is basically a delayed auto attack reset, likely for slightly reduced damage. A reasonable combo would probably be Slice/Dice and if you’re over 50 fury, hit Ruthless Predator, if not, use his cleave/auto attacks to break 50, hit RP and finish your target.

Slice: Renekton dashes forward, dealing physical damage to targets along the way. If he hits a target he gains the ability to use Dice. .
Dice: Renekton dashes, dealing physical damage along the way.

When Renekton has more than 50 Fury during Dice, he deals 50% additional damage and shreds the armor of targets he hits. Consumes 50 Fury.

This is an interesting skill because it is probably the first hard counter to Flash in the game. If you Slice to a target and they Flash, you Dice to them again. Even Kassadin would have a hard time getting away if Renekton takes Flash. This skill is also your setup for everything else. Depending on the cooldown, I would guess you’ll take one rank of Slice/Dice and max the other two.

Dominus (Ultimate): Renekton empowers himself with dark energies, gaining increased size and health for 15 seconds. While empowered, he deals additional magic damage and generates bonus Fury every second.

Here we have the thematic tie to Nasus, as well as a defensive skill to add a little survivability. It’s strange that he deals bonus magic damage in this form. I’ve never liked it when Riot hybridizes a champion’s damage; it makes that champion very difficult to build against in an otherwise balanced team. Again, I wonder about the cooldown. I personally think Nasus’ ult CD should be half as long as it is, but maybe that’s just me. This guy has enough other high-impact skills that this one doesn’t have to be incredible (as an aside, it sucks to write that – this is his ult and as such it should be epic).

Reign of Anger (Passive): Renekton gains 10 Fury per autoattack. Having sufficient fury empowers Renekton’s abilities with bonus effects, but this drains Fury. Out of combat, Renekton loses 5 Fury per second.

When Renekton is below 40% life, he generates 50% more Fury.

Again, this is a case for Renekton as a jungler. Melee does not do well in lane as it is. The quick Fury decay means he needs to be auto attacking fairly often to keep enough available for use on champions. In a way, it’s sort of a beautiful system for a jungler. In the early game he’ll probably struggle to get to that 50 Fury during a gank. The Fury will decay while he’s positioning in the brush and he’ll need 4-5 auto attacks plus an ability or two to get to the 50-point stun from Ruthless Predator. With Slice/Dice and a mobility summoner spell, though, I could see him sticking to targets in the early game with or without Fury. We’ll see.

On the whole, I’m really interested to see how this guy turns out. It’s strange that Riot is releasing what appears to be a very strong jungler after it’s been mentioned several times by several people that they want to reduce the importance of jungling. That could mean jungling nerfs are getting close, but it could also be that pure melee toons thrive in the jungle because they get crippled in lane and there’s no easy way to fix it. Let’s hope it’s the former.

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