Lee Sin finally catching a nerf

They say a watched pot never boils. I say a watched developer never makes overdue changes. Stop watching, people, and Riot just might make a few changes. It looks like Lee Sin is finally going to get a decent nerf in the upcoming patch. It isn’t huge. It’s isn’t tiny. It is a moderately-sized nerf that could actually slow down his jungling and hurt his damage a little bit. I know, I can hardly think of anything to say.

In the patch preview, Morello categorized the Lee Sin nerfs thusly: “We want Lee Sin players to build damage to get damage.” A revolutionary concept. I’m just happy to see one of the longest-standing top-tier junglers finally get a light tap to the genitals. He’ll still be strong, but he won’t be quite so easy.

For the rest of the patch, Jax is getting some new survivability on Counter Strike and Riot is changing the critical chance mastery into attack damage per level. I’m actually really happy about that second change. I’ve had several games in which an opponent — sometimes even an AP carry — gets an early two crits in a row and just screws me out of lane. Nice to see that kind of stuff disappearing.

Patch Preview breakdown

I covered the upcoming rune changes in a post the other day but neglected to provide a breakdown of the champion and mastery changes slated for the Ahri patch.

Twisted Fate is getting a little much-needed love. He’ll have better range in lane and his Pick-a-Card will now require target selection. I have to say, I’m excited to see TF again. I can’t help but miss him around this time of year. This is when I started playing LoL and he was the first champion I really loved. Granted, he was OP as all hell, but still fun.

Tryndamere is also getting a small nerf, though I honestly doubt it will be enough. His healing-per-stack on Bloodlust will be reduced in the coming patch. Really, though, Trynd is just too strong in a solo situation. The fact that he has a heal at all gives him more sustain than just about anyone he faces. With the Cleanse change, I think his kit is just too problematic.

Morello also mentioned bringing back Strength of Spirit for Utility mastery lovers. I’m honestly not sure how putting it deep in the tree will make things any better. The tree is just way too focused on a stat that no one really worries about any more: mana. Because of the way blue buff gets passed around, a mana-focused build is only relevant on Singed and Ryze. Beyond that, we don’t need the mana, and the rest of the utility tree is bad enough that even Ryze and Singed would be better off speccing defense.

I’ll be interested to see how the TF buff plays out, but beyond that, I don’t see this patch having much impact on the game.

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.

Apparently the April Fool’s patch includes champion changes

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So…the April Fool’s patch seems to be a way for Riot to buy some extra time on a sizeable content patch. I thought the patch would just be a Lee Sin release, but it seems there’s much more coming tomorrow.

From Tamat:

At 11:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, March 31st, we will be bringing all game servers offline for the highly anticipated April 1st update! During this time, you’ll still be able to visit our website and forums. Downtime should take no longer than four hours making our current ETA for service restoration at 4:00 a.m. PST, on Friday, April 1st. Comprehensive patch notes are coming soon, featuring sweeping changes to many Champions of the League. Get ready to celebrate Urf Day and see what — or who — is coming to League of Legends!

I definitely didn’t expect this. I just figured Tuesday was light on content, we’d get Lee Sin tomorrow and then have a sizable patch next week. It seems that content is actually coming in tomorrow. Could it possibly include the Alistar remake?

No LoL patch today

Little Slugger Trundle.

I woke up this morning excited to get a look at the Trundle spotlight and then wait eagerly for servers to come back online. No such luck. It looks like today isn’t going to be patch day after all, and though I haven’t been able to confirm it personally, I’ve heard we won’t see the update until Thursday. UPDATE: Tamat confirmed the patch is coming tomorrow (Wednesday).

I’m pretty bummed out, if only because I think Trundle could be a bit of a return to sanity in the design department. Irelia was underwhelming, both in her skillset and her playstyle. She just doesn’t have the fun factor that makes some of the other reasonably powered champions a blast to play and she isn’t really strong enough to be fun to dominate games with. Trundle, on the other hand, sounds like he’ll be a lot of fun, even if he doesn’t crush, and I’ve been itching for something new to play outside the tanky dps metagame.

At any rate, we’ll be waiting a couple days to see the nifty new character as well as the next round of patch notes. Exercise that patience, folks.

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.

When it rains, it pours, even for Riot

Flooding in NC.

Servers are still down, and in the wake of the Milkfat fiasco (which I’m planning to cover in depth when I have the time to really dedicate to the issue), Riot’s having a hard time containing all the rage. When you stack a very short list of patch notes on top of it all, the community has exploded in a fit of rage.

Normally, I’d give you an extended rundown of all the problems, the issues at stake, what have you. I’m tired, though, and I can really empathize with Riot this time around. Last week I saw more literal, physical rain than I have seen in my lifetime (some accounts are saying it was six months worth of rain in five days for North Carolina), and after traveling home I’ve had more hangups, mixups, and unexpected turns of planned events than I care to detail.

The long and short of it – try to be understanding today. Though much of what Riot is dealing with is self-inflicted, it’s still a lot to juggle. Hopefully they can prove, as they have in the past, that they can handle everything and walk away with a little dignity.

Vladimir patch downloads still haven’t started

Just a quick note for those of you who don’t spend much time on the forums. Patch maintenance has been extended, which is why everything is still down and the downloads haven’t started yet. I am a little concerned about the lack of download, though. I’ve been able to patch as far as four hours in advance, so we could be seeing, uh, extended extended maintenance today.

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.

Painful reminders that Riot is young, still growing too fast

Evelynn is dodge-worthy.

Today we got another patch, this one full of bug fixes and small tweaks to existing characters. It also brought some painful reminders that Riot is still a very young company and growing to fast to handle its exploding community.

I’ve written a lot, both here and on the official forums, about the queue dodge penalty system. It sucks. It doesn’t work. People still dodge and troll and do whatever they can to avoid playing with certain players or champions or whatever. This most recent patch actually increased increased the queue dodge penalty. Instead of rewording things, I’ll copy my thoughts from a forum thread I created today.

No one likes to get queue dodged. It sucks. Adding a penalty doesn’t encourage players not to queue dodge, though. It encourages people to attempt to force a teammate to queue dodge. Increasing the time penalty will only make this problem worse.

The whole point of the penalty was to encourage players to make an informed decision about whether or not to drop queue. An informed decision shouldn’t force you to always make a bad decision. I don’t want to join a game with an AFK player or a player who chooses revive/smite Eve and threatens to feed if he doesn’t get mid solo. I also don’t want to wait six or a ridiculous fifteen minutes for another game while that player gets dumped right back into queue.

And let’s say I actually start the game and our friend leaves or goes AFK or feeds or any number of things trolls do just to get to the next game – what’s the penalty for that player? He has effectively ruined the game for 9 other people and in most cases wasted at least 25 minutes of time for 9 players. Even if he leaves it doesn’t count against him in any fashion whatsoever. He gets a leaver mark that can’t be seen until he has likely already ruined a game? That’s like covering up the scarlet letter until Hester Prynne has nailed every married man in town and then telling their wives they should have seen it coming.

Get rid of the queue dodge penalty. It didn’t fix anything when the penalty was two and ten minutes. It made the game creation process much, much worse. I realize the queue dodge system sucks but this little band-aid won’t stop the bleeding. Figure out something new (new lobby system, perhaps?) that will actually address the problem.

In short, the dodge penalty is not doing its job – improving the game experience by reducing dodged games. It’s actually making things worse by incentivizing players to troll, which is terrible for a community.

The reason I think this all points to Riot’s immaturity as a company is that they’ve remained quiet about it, responding to few if any of the posts regarding the dodge problem, and there are a lot of them (posts). Riot is trying to force this system, which is a crap solution, to work when it just doesn’t, instead of implementing a new lobby system or some other player management system that accounts for things like dodging and leaving.

Granted, they might be working on something, but the dodging has been an issue for months. I wrote about my first experience with the queue dodge penalty back in February. The development cycle for these kinds of fixes is way too long, most likely because Riot is understaffed, so the company comes up with these bandages when what they really need is surgery.

Thankfully the community has started to turn around. When the queue dodge system first came out, anyone willing to speak out against it was downvoted into oblivion. Players are starting to realize, though, that the current system sucks and it really needs to be fixed. There’s a lot of support in the forums for reverting the change. Even if the old system wasn’t any better, it certainly wasn’t this bad.

Get on the forums and show some support.

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