Prom Queen Annie and Almost Prom King Amumu now live


For all of the perverts that were waiting on Teen Annie, well, you can now rejoice in your perviness. The Prom Queen Annie skin went live today, along with Almost Prom King Amumu. When is that poor mummy gonna catch a break?



Are tanks too tanky?


This isn’t exactly a revelation, but it’s something I’ve been seeing a lot in my past few games. I’ve spent a lot of games playing Corki and Tristana recently, and I’ve been horribly frustrated by how well a tank can scale.

It actually seems to be a really complicated problem. At first I wanted to blame it on items – Warden’s Mail/Randuin’s Omen is crazy strong against ranged DPS. If you’ve ever chain-slowed yourself against a fleeing Mordekaiser you know what I’m talking about. But it’s more than just the fact that defensive gear (Randuin’s) is arguably much stronger against DPS than the DPS anti-tank item (Madred’s).

There’s at least one more issue, though, and that’s the conflicted itemization between carry items and carry runes. Most DPS players run flat armor penetration runes, which are great early and later against casters, but actually kind of terrible against tanks. They reduce the total effectiveness of Last Whisper, which is a big deal. Last Whisper is still a great item, particularly for the cost, but the fact that you lose any effectiveness whatsoever kinda sucks. You also have to consider that most ranged DPS try to get an Infinity Edge as early as possible. It’s a huge DPS bump, but many of the popular tanks in the game are so good at farming that they’ll have close to 4000 gold by the time you get IE, which means they’ll probably cut your damage in half with items.

The other thing that bothers me is that tanks also have incredible control on top of their high damage and survivability. Taunts, snares, stuns, slows, often a combination of these things, plus very respectable damage output with a Sunfire Cape or two.

I actually miss Alistar these days. Yes, in his heyday he was obnoxious to play against, but it was because of his control and pretty much nothing else. Alistar can take a beating and a half, but you rarely had to worry that he was going to kill you right out. I always thought it was kind of cool that he could pop his ult and rush a turret to push, even if he wasn’t going to bring down your carry. It made him seem nuanced and interesting – a playstyle that was tough to master. The best tanks in the game now are great farmers, great gankers, excellent pushers, and huge damage threats. That’s not really all that interesting, and it’s certainly not very fun.


How long before people start to ban Warwick?


A friend of mine has been playing a lot of Warwick recently and doing very well. That has served as a nice dose of interest for me, since I don’t play Warwick a ton. In the few games I have played him, I’ve been reminded of just how strong he is and how easily he can swing the tide of a game. So when will people start banning him?

A lot of people would say that there are simply better ban targets – Amumu, Morgana, even Twitch – but as I see it, Warwick should be banned over pretty much any of those for the low skill ceiling he has on the utilities he provides. Don’t get me wrong, I think Warwick is as nuanced as the next toon, but you don’t exactly have to know what you’re doing to jungle with him, and he has one of the absolute best lane-ganking abilities in the game. For a lot of players, Warwick is the only toon they know how to jungle, so taking him off the board forces less skilled decisions, and as we get more and more champions, I think that’s going to become the real purpose of the ban. There will be so many champions that players just won’t know how to play them. Take the ones they do, and you’ll have an interesting match.

If you aren’t sure who to take off your ban list to think about adding Warwick, consider Amumu. It sounds crazy, because Amumu is crazy strong. But Amumu really needs to jungle to get off to a good start, and a lot of people just aren’t very good at it. Also, Amumu is one of those toons that tends to get extremely low while jungling, at least early, which gives you a decent chance to kill him and steal his buffs. Amumu is also such a high priority ban these days that most players jump at the chance to play, even if they haven’t played him in a few months. They’re rusty, or just unfamiliar with his playstyle, and end up getting rocked.

I almost feel bad writing this because my friend is such an avid Warwick player, but Warwick causes me so many problems that I really want to see him banned more often.


LoL: Patch Day (Akali)

Stinger Akali.

Patch Day is once again upon us, this time heralding the release of Akali, the Fist of Shadow. It’s a patch I’m excited for, mostly because the ninja trio is finally complete. There are some other good changes, though, including a Shen nerf, a Master Yi semi-buff (more on this later) and, an Amumu buff, and some minor changes for several other heroes. This patch also gives us Gentleman Cho, so be ready for well-dressed alien epicurean exploits.

First, we should talk Akali. As mentioned in my initial review, she is too hybrid for the current itemization. If you’d like more than just my opinion, consider that Phreak’s Akali spotlight recommends Mejai’s Soulstealer and Sword of the Occult if she’s going to do well. It makes sense to a degree, but it also points out a significant gap in the itemization. The best thing after Guinsoo’s Rageblade is two high risk/mediocre reward items? Seems to me the 1235g for Mejai’s would be much better spent toward some real AP for Rylai’s or a Brutalizer on the way to your Ghostblade.

The Master Yi situation seems like a stopgap to me. It might keep the Yi fanatics from crying quite as much but he still suffers his old fate. He’s highly susceptible to CC, often requires his ult for escape rather than attack, and offers none of the team utility of other melee DPS toons. I’ll take a Garen/Pantheon/Udyr/Mundo/Shaco/Warwick/Gangplank and even Tryndamere over Yi any day of the week. Yi’s only strength is backdooring towers, and if he’s left to do so your team likely would have won anyway. He is undeniably better than before, but to a pathetic degree. It’s like “improving” a car by giving it a sunroof. Nice? Sure. Does it improve the functionality of the vehicle? Not so much.

The Amumu buff will be especially nice for the first 6-8 levels. That’s typically the worst part of Amumu play because of his long cooldowns and pathetic early-game damage. With an attack buff and some cooldown reduction for Tantrum, he should farm much better and generally seem more enjoyable at every phase of the game.

I’m willing to wait to pass judgement on Udyr until I hear a little bit more from Udyr players. I rarely play the shapeshifter, mostly because I struggle in the jungle (I know, it’s sad). I do know a few Udyr fans, so I’ll see what they make of the nerf before I offer any targeted opinion. I will say that using Treeline as the baseline for buffs/nerfs seems ridiculous when Mundo is so god-forsakenly strong on that map and hasn’t even been grazed by the nerf stick.

Enjoy the time with the new champ tomorrow! As always, I’m sitting on enough IP to buy her several times over, so you can bet I’ll be playing her as soon as possible.


LoL: Where are the competitive champs

One of these toons doesn't belong.I understand that balancing a game like League of Legends must be pretty tough. If you cater too much to the best players you’ll make a lot of casual players extremely unhappy. The skill ceiling for many toons will simply be too high, exacerbating the gap between competitive players and casuals. Too far in the other direction and the game seems to lack a team dynamic.

As things currently stand, most players organize the champs into tier lists to give a sense of where they fit within a team dynamic. Since the holidays, Riot has released a fair number of champs, only one of which really makes the highest tiers – Nidalee. She’s often first pick in competitive play and typically swings the battle in a big way. With every new champion announcement I always wonder if we’ll see a new competitive champion, but it has yet to happen. Ezreal is probably the closest, but next to Nidalee he seems fairly lackluster. She has many of his benefits plus better map control and more gankability. She’s also much more mana efficient.

In part, I think the lack of more “top tier” champions is that competitive play typically involves a ban system. Implement too strong a hero and it gets banned immediately. Since the Jax buff I see him banned first in every draft game I play and for good reason. If he gets any farm at all he kills entire teams. I would like to see the release of a some top tier champions, though. Currently the best picks for tanks are Alistar, Taric, Malphite and Amumu, probably in that order (Taric and Alistar could be reversed depending on your team). Most games see two of those banned, leaving few options for either team.

I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for the next champion release after Shen. Shen, like Gragas, will likely be in an odd position with regard to a team. He could fit well with other AOE disable toons, like a Malphite, but there will likely be better options. Malphite ult with an Annie ult is infinitely better because of the AOE damage from Tibbers. More often than not, if you’re living for more than 10 seconds or so in a team fight it’s because your team is dying or the other team is woefully low on DPS, in which case you were likely going to win anyway.


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