Patch Day roundup: Leona

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but since I’m not playing (and neither is anyone else) I might as well provide a little reading material for anyone that needs a fix. Today’s patch brings Leona, the Radiant Dawn into the League along with a decent number of balance changes. I’ll be covering Leona in separate posts, but there’s plenty to discuss with the other champion changes.

I’m pretty surprised to see Alistar catch such a nerf. I like the big cow. I like seeing him in games, whether he’s on my team or my opponent’s. He’s just such a pure toon – all CC and bull testosterone stomping down the lane. He’s a great ganker, but I don’t think he really tips the scales into invincibility since his last AP nerf. I’m sure plenty of people will be upset about this one.

The Ashe nerf is overdue and probably not enough, but maybe that’s just me. Personally, I’d like to see her ult go to a flat 90+ second cooldown at all levels. That, or cut the slow/stun duration by a third.

Despite the hate around Guinsoo’s Irelia nerf, she seems unscathed to me. Bladesurge mana cost went up ten at max rank? Yippee. Transcendent Blade got a minor nerf? Again, yippee. Her issue is that she is always at the advantage in a fight. She’s highly durable, incredibly bursty, high sustained damage, resistant to CC, and packing CC of her own. That’s to say nothing of how hard it is to shut down her early farm, which actually got more forgiving thanks to the mana buff on Bladesurge when it really counts – at the lowest ranks.

I’m happy to see Jarvan get continual tweaks. He still does way too much damage with a straight tank build, and likely still will, but it’s a steady step in the right direction. I’m also happy to see some Kog’Maw animation tweaks. He’s slow enough that he really needs those quick response times. Hopefully we’ll see him a bit more often in the carry position.

Both Warwick and Swain caught some sustainability nerfs in the lane, which is a good thing. I’m really surprised Udyr was left off the list, even more surprised than I was when he got the Phoenix buff. I still maintain that the champ is broken, even if it’s somewhat situational. The problem with balancing him lies in the fact that his skillset is totally unique and he can take several different build paths, all of which are pretty different from typical tank or jungle builds. I’ll be curious to see how Riot handles him in the future.

The Yorick buffs seem like they will definitely help him out, but I think his problem is in the pet design, not the numbers. His power level shifts dramatically from game to game, thanks to the percentages on his ghouls, his farm level, and the farm level of his potential revenants. Finding a “just right” point will be very tough – I’m actually not sure it’s possible.

The biggest surprise for me this patch was the lack of a Malzahar nerf. In fact, he got a bit of a buff with the Nether Grasp bug fix. I know he’s on the list of characters slated for some nerfing, so I’m surprised he didn’t get even a little number tweak. The Rabadon nerf will hurt him a little bit, but I would expect to see more Malzahar nerfs in the near future.

That pretty much does it for this patch. Check back tomorrow for some thoughts and impressions on Leona. I’ll probably play a couple games tonight – add me at “The Wiggin Boy” if you feel like playing.

Leona release leads to server downtime

I was more than a little surprised today when I woke up to find a patch preview from sometime yesterday evening. Then boom, servers were down and the game was patching. Leona was in! Then she was not. Then the servers were not in at all. Now we’re waiting out what is expected to be at least a three hour downtime. Bummer.

I’m really shocked Riot decided to release Leona at week’s end. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As I’ve written before, players are used to the Tuesday patch system. To us, that is the rule. That is when this game is patched (as are many others). Why push for a release today? I know Riot couldn’t have anticipated the amount of downtime, but even assuming something goes wrong, Friday is kind of a bad day for it. Players are ready to dive into some games for the weekend, which for a lot of people won’t happen even hours after the servers come up. Once they’re live again we’ll definitely be looking at login queues, which are bound to scare off quite a few people. Waiting a day certainly isn’t the end of the world, but if I had my choice I’d be playing games without Leona rather than waiting to play games at all.

I think I would understand the decision to patch today if the changes were a little more interesting. Did Yorick need a buff? Definitely. Was Alistar due for a nerf? Yeah, probably. Did they need to happen as soon as possible? No, not really.

At the very least, this has let Riot make use of the forum feature that rolled out a couple weeks ago. The big red bar you see above appeared recently to alert players to current issues. It’s nice to have important information readily available regardless what subforum I’m viewing.

Patch day passes without champion release

Frostfire Annie.

I’m happy to report that I wasn’t eaten by bears over the weekend. I did come back to a decent amount of work, though, and there is the usual catching up to do across various gaming forums and RSS feeds. I finally had a chance to check out today’s patch this afternoon and was a little surprised when there was no new champion.

I know the teaser post was made late in the week, and I’m guessing with the office move Riot didn’t have time to fully balance out a champion. With that in mind, I’m really glad we didn’t see a new champion today. In fact, it has made me wish champion releases were just a little further apart. I’ve mentioned that before, but it’s been a while since Riot has actually missed a release date, giving me some time to reflect on the difference.

It’s a nice breather to be able to focus on the other champion changes in today’s patch, even if those changes were pretty light. Annie got some minor buffs, as did Kog’Maw, and Vayne saw a few minor nerfs, but Alistar saw some pretty serious damage nerfs that could dramatically affect the way players build him. Irelia also got some significant changes – mostly to her ult – which I’m interested to test out a bit.

I am a little curious when we’ll see Orianna. I would love to see her put off another two weeks; I can’t imagine it makes financial sense to release her even mid-cycle and then give us another champ a week later. If anything, I suppose I could see pushing her back a week and then pushing the development cycle out a week from here forward.

What do you think? Is this a nice respite from the stream of champion releases or do you prefer to have someone new in champion select every two weeks?

Patch Day 11/16 – The nerfs that didn’t happen

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It’s patch day again, a day that was supposedly going to bring some balance to the game. While I’m pleased with the nerfs Sona caught, some of the Riot posts on the forums led me to believe we’d see significant rebalancing this patch but there really wasn’t much.

That said, here’s the rundown, which, as usual, is only big picture stuff. You can read about all the little bug fixes yourselves.

Amumu got a bug fix and damage reduction to his ult, both of which look really nice. I know that Amumu is strong – anyone with an AOE disable is – but he’s often not a great pick for a team. He’s quite bad in lane, and he takes a jungling spot from your team. Granted, he’s a very strong jungler, but that leaves the enemy free to use a toon like Warwick or Shen or Udyr, all of which are strong picks as well and much less reliant on one big skill. In short, I think this is a good change.

Corki got nerfed, though not a ton. He’ll be extremely scary if he’s ahead, and I’d say, despite the nerfs, he’s still a top-tier carry. His Big Ones deal 60 percent increased damage, down from 100 percent, and Missile Barrage caught a general mana cost and base damage nerf.

LeBlanc got a buff to two of the stats that were recently hotfixed. Her ultimate now has a scaling cooldown and she gains .5 more armor per level. It’s very strange to me that she was apparently so broken she needed hotfixed but that the hotfix was apparently overkill. So why has Sona been so busted for so long? That’s another post for another time.

Lux caught some small buffs, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to make her a force in most games. Her Prismatic Barrier got a missile width increase and a slight AP buff, while Lucent Singularity has increased radius and greater slow values at all ranks. Her ultimate also now ignites her passive debuff if it’s already on the target and then reapplies the mark. Personally, I’ve never been able to make much of her passive. It’s decent against melee toons in lane, but anyone else just avoids the thing. I still think she needs some base damage buffs for her spells, even if they’re small.

Miss Fortune caught some nerfs and a strange little fix. Her auto attack missile speed is slower, though I’m not sure why. It’s not that she’s attacking slower, just that once she does, the actual bullet takes more time to land. It really makes very little sense to me. Bullet Time got some bug fixes that will result in damage nerfs and also had a significant cone width reduction. Make It Rain also got a slight damage nerf, though personally, I’d still maintain that it’s Double Up causing most of the lane problems.

Sona is probably the one place Riot delivered for me this patch. She’s still very strong, still a giant, walking Baron buff for her entire team, but she isn’t quite as easy to play. I still think her design is severely flawed, mostly because she isn’t encumbered by targeting her spells, but hey, it’s a lot better than they did on any other top-tier toon.

Here are the Sona changes:

-All aura durations reduced to 2 seconds from 3
-All aura buff durations reduced to 0.25 seconds from 1

Hymn of Valor
-Attack damage and ability power aura reduced to 6/8/10/12/14 from 8/11/14/17/20
-Mana cost increased to 65/70/75/80/85 from 55/60/65/70/75

Song of Celerity
-Active movement speed boost reduced to 8/10/12/14/16 from 8/11/14/17/20
-Mana cost increased to 65/70/75/80/85 from 55/60/65/70/75
-Aria of Perseverance mana cost increased to 65/70/75/80/85 from 55/60/65/70/75

Crescendo range reduced to 1000 from 1100

That’s pretty much it for the champions. As I said, not a lot in the way of top-tier nerfs. I think Miss Fortune is ever so slightly less problematic, as is Amumu, but Galio is still a ban, no questions asked, and you’ll probably still see Sona on the list as well. The one bright light here is that Riot has talked at length about fixing some of the frustration around the AoE metagame, so maybe those changes (which would affect every champion I’ve listed) are lined up for a later date.

I’ll have another post later this evening regarding the new item and the item changes.

Patch Day 9/21 – The patch for support players

Muse Sona.

It’s patch day once again, this time bringing us Sona, the newest support toon to join the League. Other than Sona there aren’t many changes to the League’s champion lineup. The real changes this patch come to a couple of existing items and a new item, Shurelya’s Reverie.

I’ll let you read over the champion changes for yourself, but there are a few worth mentioning. Garen’s Courage got a small nerf, Kog’Maw’s attack speed bonuses were apparently multiplicative, so that was fixed, and Zilean’s Chronoshift now lasts 13 seconds instead of 15 and the cooldown is 180 seconds at all levels. Oh, Blitzcrank’s Power Fist now resets the auto attack timer as well. That’s really it as far as notable champion changes.

So let’s talk about the good stuff. Along with Sona, Riot’s remade Innervating Locket and added Shurelya’s Reverie to the list of support items. The new items are as follows:

Innervating Locket
Combine cost reduced to 450 from 850. New total cost is 2250.
+430 Health
+450 Mana
Unique Aura: Nearby allies gain 20 hp/5 and 9 mp/5.
Unique Passive: Reduces ability cooldowns by 10%
Unique Passive: When you cast a spell, you regenerate 50 health and 20 mana over 2 seconds. This effect has a 3 second cooldown and no longer affects allies.

Kindlegem
Recipe consists of Ruby Crystal + 425 gold
+200 Health
UNIQUE Passive: Reduces ability cooldowns by 10%

Shurelya’s Reverie
Recipe consists of Kindlegem + Philosopher’s Stone + 500 gold
+330 Health
+25 Health Regen per 5 sec
+12 Mana Regen per 5 sec
UNIQUE Passive: Reduces ability cooldowns by 15%
UNIQUE Active: Nearby champions gain 40% movement speed for 2 seconds (60 second cooldown)

The new Locket is really underwhelming. A slow regen aura? Not really really worth it for the minimal benefit it provides, to both allies and the bearer. It might be decent on Sona, but I doubt I’ll be using it. Shurelya’s Reverie, on the other hand, seems like a great item. I can’t imagine why someone would choose Locket over the new item, but maybe I’m missing something. The buff that Reverie grants is pretty huge, and could make for some tough initiation against a team that doesn’t have one. I’m also glad to see that Philosopher’s Stone has been given a new purpose. It needed something.

The other big change is that disconnected players run home if the automatic recall gets interrupted. Disconnected players also gain 1000 magic resist after a minute out of game, so no more Karthus killing level one or two players with his ult.

That’s about it. I’m hoping future patches bring some fixes to the client, but I’ll be writing more on that later.

Patch Day 9/8 – Welcome to Rootstown

Waterloo Miss Fortune.

While we’re all patiently waiting for the servers to go live, I figure it’s time to cover the patch notes for today’s update. There are only a few serious character updates, and even those go out to mostly underplayed champions. The biggest change is the root mechanic update, which is why this post has the title it does (Rootstown is also a place near my hometown, so I chose it over Rootsville).

Mechanics
So let’s talk roots. Ever landed a Dark Binding on an Ezreal only to watch him Arcane Shift away the second it hits? Sure, he’s stuck for the duration, but he’s stuck off your Tormented Soil and closer to safety. It was a frustrating mechanic, but it can’t happen anymore. Every character with some sort of dash or self-hook (Bandage Toss, for instance) has been updated so that the skills cannot be cast when rooted. It’s not a huge nerf for those characters, but it is a fairly high-grade buff for characters like Morgana and, in particular, Amumu. He’s already at the top of most ban lists, due to his severe magic resist debuff and the strength of his ultimate in a team setting. That ult just got a little stronger, and when used in conjunction with an AOE like Tibbers or Kennen’s ult, or Miss Fortune’s wave of pain, you’re really going to feel that root buff.

This patch also added suppression, so you won’t be able to avoid the full brunt of Malzahar, Warwick, or Urgot when they ult you. Suppression prevents the target from casting or using Summoner Spells, which means your only recourse is a Quicksilver Sash or Black Shield/Banshee’s Veil. It’s a big buff for those toons, but could become a pain in the ass for everyone else. Is it fun to have your ult cleansed? No. But it’s equally unfun to feel like a character like Malzahar gets to one-shot a player of your team whenever his ult is up. I’ll wait to pass too much judgement on this, but for now I don’t like it.

Champions
Like I said above, there aren’t many champion changes, despite those for some of the underplayed characters. My guess is that Riot wants to see how the root change affects the game before messing with too many champions.

Corki caught a buff across the board. His attack range was increased 10 percent, his attack speed per level gains got a nice buff and the Missile Barrage reload time is down to 10 seconds from 14. It might not sound like much, but I’ve always maintained that Corki is strong (and super fun to play), so this should make him an excellent pick.

Dr. Mundo got some longevity buffs that could help him scale a bit better. His cleaver now costs more to cast but he heals half the cost when it lands. It’s basically pushing people away from free brush checker and forcing them to use it a little more wisely. Burning Agony costs slightly less to maintain and Masochism now costs more HP at low ranks and less at higher ranks. Sadism also got changed to return 40/55/70 percent health instead of a flat 50 percent at all levels. Again, nice late game buff.

The big news, though, is Ezreal. He received damage nerfs to nearly all of his skills and his base damage. It looks a little something like this:
-Base damage reduced to 45 from 47.6
-Damage per level reduced to 2.6 from 3
-Attack Speed per level reduced to 2.8 from 3.22
-Mystic Shot damage reduced to 35/55/75/95/115 from 40/65/90/115/140

Hopefully it brings him more in line with other carries, though the fact that he can still deal scaling damage to you while exhausted and has excellent escapability makes him very strong. Manamune will also be a great damage source for the emo cartographer.

Malzahar got buffed – Another range buff on his ult, up to 750. Null Zone is more mana efficient at lower ranks, Call of the Void got a slight CD buff and his Voidlings now attack his most recent Malefic Visions target. With all of these buffs, along with the suppression buff, Malzahar is going to be one annoying bastard on the field. I really think the ult buff is way out of hand if he gets suppression. He should at least be put at marginal risk when he casts it if it completely disables his target (I know, it does disable him too).

The rest of the changes are small, so I’ll leave you to read those for yourself. The one thing you may have noticed is that Garen isn’t on that list. I was expecting some significant changes for him, but all we got was a little reduction on the passive component of Courage. So he now gets slightly less amor and magic resistance from killing creeps but it still blocks big damage when activated, and his hybrid of magic and physical damage when wearing Sunfire Cape is still too high for me to feel comfortable with him as an opponent. You may have heard Phreak say in the Miss Fortune spotlight that Garen should never be focused. It’s true, but he doesn’t have any trouble rushing your carries/casters, and a Decisive Strike -> Judgement -> Ignite -> Demacian Justice is typically way more than a squishy toon can handle. Hopefully the next page will have a little more in store for Garen. Same for Kog’Maw – he remains unchanged and could use a slight nerf to either the damage from Bio-Arcane Barrage or the attack speed buff from Caustic Spittle.

That does it for the patch. I’ve written a short post covering the new item, Manamune, and I’ll be posting my Miss Fortune impressions as soon as I have a chance to play her.

Patch Day 8/24: Urgot is here

Urgot.

Though today is just barely slower than yesterday in terms of work and moving responsibilities, I can’t hold back on my patch impressions any longer. Yesterday’s patch had some sweeping impact on the state of the game. Urgot brings another new skill type to the game with his swap, but maybe more importantly, both Heimerdinger and Shaco caught significant nerfs – nerfs that could drop them off most players’ ban lists.

I’ll put together a complete Urgot review a bit later today, but for now I’ll say that he seems to have been designed as an Ezreal counter. The stun/swap combo means Arcane Shift only takes Ezreal back to the front of the battle, instead of outside harm’s way. He’s also extremely mana efficient as he harasses, so it’s easy to see him taking mid against a lot of the squishier carries.

The Heimerdinger and Shaco nerfs will be getting a dedicated post as well because they are so big. Riot has always said that it would trickle nerf, but in my mind they should have considered both toons for significant remake if they were planning to nerf this hard.

On to the less significant changes. Kog’Maw caught a rework to his Caustic Spittle, which now provides passive attack speed bonus in addition to the armor penetration active. Kennen also got most of the proposed changes. He now gains armor and magic resistance while in Lightning Rush, Maelstrom can hit more people, and Surge got an AP buff. In my mind it makes him highly desirable. Vladimir was only half nerfed – his Transfusion has a slightly smaller range but his Tides of Blood is larger.

Malphite also got some nice changes. He should be more mana efficient, and his Brutal Strikes now also grants bonus armor, synergizing with Ground Slam and providing some nice staying power, especially in the jungle. Lastly, Soraka got a small tweak in that her Infuse provides half mana to the target and half to her (Soraka gets the full amount on self-casts). Mana cost on her heal has also been marginally increased.

The last change that is actually very cool is that elixirs can be purchased when you have six full slots and will auto-activate. No more selling and repurchasing items.

That’s about it for the patch. The other posts I mentioned here will be up in short order (especially now that the servers are set to ‘busy’).

Patch Day 08/10 – We can stop banning Soraka now

Enchanted Galio.

Today’s patch brings a new champion in the form of Galio, the great blue gargoyle. Aside from the new champion, the game hasn’t changed a ton. A few characters received some significant attention, but things remained largely the same.

The most notable change in my mind is Soraka, who received a string of small nerfs that should amount to a significant difference in her staying power. Her mana heal now has a longer cooldown and heals slightly less mana, and her global heal got a 20 second cooldown increase at all levels. That could be enough to bring her off some ban lists in favor of other champions (please start banning Amumu, people).

Heimer’s turrets caught a little nerf – they no longer increase damage based on number of hits and the AP coefficient was reduced. They do have slightly higher base damage, but definitely nothing on the order of the old hit method.

Malzahar got some nice tweaks, bumping his movement speed, increasing the range of his ult and Malefic Visions, and reducing the cooldown on Malefic Visions (which already felt very short to me).

Ryze got a little bit of a rework as well, adding a passive cooldown reduction to his Overload skill. To compensate, Desperate Power now has a longer CD. Rune Prison now lasts longer at early ranks and deals damage in DoT form. It’s basically Morgana’s old Dark Binding, which is odd.

Vladimir’s Sanguine Pool got a small CD nerf but his Tides of Blood now costs less HP, Blitzcrank got some CD reductions, Nunu got a Consume buff, and Garen got his attack timer reset on Decisive Strike back. Other than those small changes, there’s not a whole lot to report in the way of champions.

For items, the newer items all got buffs. Wriggle’s Lantern now costs less, which is just what it needed. The Gunblade and Cutlass got damage buffs without a cost increase.

Lots of little paragraphs in here, which should give you an idea of how many small changes came in this patch. I’ll have a Galio impression list up later today. Spoiler Alert: he’s underwhelming.

Patch Day 7/17: An OP champion approaches

Vladimir.

It’s patch day once again folks, this time heralding the release of Vladimir, the League’s first true vampire champion (sorry, Eve, kicking people with spiked high heels makes you ridiculous, not vampiric). This patch is also highly anticipated because of the Xin Zhao nerf.

First things first, let’s talk about Vladimir. I am nervous as hell about his position in the game. Any time you give a toon the ability to increase multiple stats by buying one item, I’m concerned. That was (and to some extent continues to be) the problem with Jax, and it will almost definitely be a problem with Vladimir. If you haven’t seen his Champion Spotlight yet, you should. It’s a little unnerving to see how early he can ignore towers and just how much damage he can deal with literally zero ability power.

The other big news is the Xin Zhao nerf. His attack speed scaling is getting a serious reduction, the AOE on his slow has been significantly reduced as has the magnitude of the effect, and his ult got a 20 percent reduction in percent-based damage and a slight nerf to base damage. He’ll still be disgustingly strong, mostly because his mana costs are so low and the fact that his ult is always up from the Battle Cry synergy.

The rest of the champion changes are either bug fixes or very minor. Kog’Maw, of all champs, got a small range nerf to his Bio-Arcane Barrage and a bit of a buff to Caustic Spittle. Comparing him to someone like Xin Zhao it seems ridiculous that his mana costs are still so high. Heimer got a little grenade nerf and Shaco took a small Deceive CD nerf. I don’t think either change will be enough to bring them off the permaban list, but with Vladimir almost undoubtedly filling one of those spots we might see a little more variety.

Other than that this patch is pretty unremarkable. My guess is Riot wants to wait out Season One a little longer to see which champions need a shift.

Vladimir patch should drop this week

Vladimir on TT.

Riot has posted the skins and bundles pack for the upcoming Vladimir patch, which usually means we’ll see it in the next day or two. Of course, I’m going out of town during a major patch again so my impressions of the actual gameplay may be a bit delayed.

His skins look surprisingly cool, though I think I like the clean, colonial looking getup the best. It also looks like he will be ranged, as many people have been wondering. Corki is also getting his one millionth skin in this patch. I don’t think Riot understands that more skins do not make people want to play a character more. In a way, it breeds a bit of animosity from Singed fans and the like – toons that only have one or two skins, basically.

Zilean also gets a new skin, epically themed for dropping his peace bombs on the heads of his enemies. Hopefully we’ll see patchnotes soon so I can cover the inevitable Xin Zhao nerf.

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