Does LoL need an ‘easy mode?’

Easy Button.

I have a couple good friends that I frequently join up with to play Twisted Treeline. It’s not a perfect experience by any means, but it allows us to play a draft mode together and the games are relatively short. The best part about TT is definitely game length, but the map leaves an awful lot to be desired in terms of balance.

The time issue actually carries over to Summoner’s Rift for me. I rarely queue for 5v5 unless I know I have an hour to spend and even 3s can take 40 minutes if the game goes long. That’s a pretty long chunk of time to commit to a game, especially if it ends up being a loss. I’m sure we’ve all had games that are going so poorly that there’s no hope of victory but teammates hang on and refuse to surrender. Those types of games make me long for a quicker experience.

DotA had an “easy mode” toggle that could be used with each gametype, granting bonus gold per second and I believe extra gold for towers. It increased the pace of the game by allowing players to passively reach a level of farm more quickly, similar to the way Twisted Treeline generates per-second gold faster than Summoner’s Rift. I actually think it would be cool to have an “easy mode” playlist in League of Legends, a mode in which the XP and gold rewards were tuned so that 30 minutes looked like 70 minutes does now.

That mode wouldn’t work very well on Twisted Treeline. The 3v3 map just snowballs out of hand far too quickly. Games would likely be decided by the first fight (and in some cases, they still are). For Summoner’s Rift, though, I think it would give casual players more opportunity to fire up a game while the baby’s napping, in between classes, or just before heading to bed. Speaking of which…


The new death timers have to go


The main focus of this week’s patch wasn’t champions or items or lane balance. This week, Riot wanted to address game pacing. Too many games were dragging out long after they had been decided. Minions got buffed, gaining more damage against turrets, higher resistances, and after 20 minutes, each lane spawns an extra cannon minion. It’s hard to say whether it was the right change because Riot also made a mechanic change that directly conflicts with game time reduction: death timer reduction.

Since Tuesdays patch, champions respawn much faster than they used to. The old system had death timers start at 28 seconds and ramp up to 50 by the time players reached 18. Now it starts at a mere 12 seconds and goes up to 50. In short, the system is terrible. While it does let players actually play the game more often, it also wrecks the game’s pushing mechanics. If the games were too long before, they’re nearly eternal now.

I had a game a few days back in which my team was doing very well. I started off 5-0 as Cho’gath, and most of my teammates had similar farms. We had one of those sprawling teamfights that are so common these days, far past our own minion waves but resulting in 3-4 kills. Before we could bring our creeps up to the turret, their team was back up. At the 20 minute mark we aced our opponents by diving their second lane turret. We killed the turret just as the fight started but still took a bit of damage from it. Again, by the time we had pushed up to and started in on the base turret, a couple of the enemy team were back, able to defend the turret without much trouble. In most games, that would be an inhibitor. Things only get worse with characters like Shen and Rammus. They’re back to turret so quickly and turrets hit so much harder that it’s nearly impossible to push before 30 minutes.

The timers aren’t just bad in teamfights; the timers are bad for the lane as well. It used to be the case that winning a lane fight bought you some time to farm minions and hopefully get some work done on the turret. With a 12-18 second death timer, dying is almost no worse than a simple recall. If you just barely won the fight, that free period in which you could get a few more last hits and do some tower work is all but gone. Lanes last longer, which means the laning phase is much longer, which lengthens a game.

Here again, I like the idea Riot had. It’s boring to spend 30 secs at the base at level 2. That was an important mechanic, though. It taught players not to get careless at early levels and it gave enemies the chance to exploit the advantage they had created. I’m really hoping Riot either reverts this soon or comes up with a way to counteract the effects of champions getting back to lane so quickly. Until then, settle in for some long, frustrating games.


LoL: The Twisted Treeline dilemma

Twisted Treeline.Since the launch of Twisted Treeline I’ve gone back and forth about playing on the map. For a while, I was in love with it. While people were still learning the faster playstyle, it was easy to pick up some quick wins. After a bad losing streak, I swore off TT, though it was hard for me pinpoint exactly why.

I’ve since gotten back into TT and been mostly successful, but it hasn’t been without frustration. I think I finally have a bead on the design behind TT that makes a loss there so much more frustrating than on Summoner’s Rift. The problem behind TT, or more appropriately, the design dilemma, is that the map has to encourage more fighting to produce a quicker game. It isn’t enough that the lanes are shorter, the towers less durable, and the gold generation quicker. The map has to produce confrontation, and the way Riot chose to do that was by heavily prioritizing the two major jungle creeps, Grez and the dragon.

This is actually why TT is so frustrating in comparison to Summoner’s Rift. On SR the buffs are definitely important, but the map is much larger, so sacrificing position in order to acquire buffs can mean the difference between defeat and victory. Teams that ignore buffs can still win the game if the opponent focuses too much on the buffs without thinking about positioning.

Twisted Treeline, on the other hand, is small enough that you can get the buffs without stepping out of position, especially since many of the stronger heroes on TT have ways to get over the walls. The big problem, then, is that players play TT just like they play SR – getting buffs when its convenient but not prioritizing them. This puts the team at a huge disadvantage, so big, in fact, that I’d say you don’t have a chance of winning if you lose those buffs three times in a row. The buffs not only increase your team damage output, they provide enough experience and gold to set your team way ahead, in both level and itemization.

The problem, at least in my mind, is that the importance of the buffs is discreet. Everyone knows that buffs are good, but most players don’t know how good. One way to fix this would be through some sort of spotlight on map basics. Another potential balance change would be to offer bonus gold for killing the wearer of the buff. It wouldn’t have to be the full amount, but something to help a team that either doesn’t know how important the buffs are or hasn’t been able to properly control the map catch back up. It would significantly slow the snowballing effect that is such a problem on TT.

Have you guys seen the same trouble on TT or is something else typically the cause for your loss?


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