Patch preview: Garen, Galio, and Caitlyn buffs


This week’s patch preview is up, giving us a quick peek at what we can expect on Tuesday. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty slim patch. Phreak did mention that the patch is going to be pretty light on champion changes because there are going to be some larger changes in the following patch to address the tanky problem we’re currently facing. Here’s hoping that stuff will be enough.

In the meantime, it looks like Galio, Garen, and Caitlyn will all be getting buffed. I’m surprised when people complain about viability for Galio and Garen. I saw those toons nonstop for like four months. I might actually be sad if they’re back in the regular rotation.

Caitlyn occupies sort of a strange space right now. I have a lot of really good games with her, but the bad ones I have are usually catastrophic failures. I think a big part of that is the slow cast time on her escape skill. That slight delay before she fires backward and the ensuing slow motion reverse dash make her pretty easy to catch up to. Compare that to Corki’s Valkyrie and I think you can see where she’s lacking.

My biggest concern is that the changes will make her even more frustrating to play against. She already ruins a lot of champions in lane. What will it be like with more attack speed and an extra trap for warding or lane control? I’d imagine things will get pretty messy around her.

All the same, I’m glad to see Riot buffing a ranged champion. I miss the days of the ranged carry.


Patch Day 1/18: So, about that Eve remake…

Outback Renekton.

It’s patch day once again folks, and though the changes have been less and less radical over the past few patches, there is still a decent bit to talk about today. The big point of contention will doubtlessly be Evelynn. She’s had a remake rumored for months, but today she’s getting a heavy swat from the nerf bat. Hopefully that means something about her development in the near future.

Caitlyn’s getting a buff, though I still think her skillset is to confused to be taken too seriously. Piltover Peacemaker is getting a little nerf at low levels and a buff at higher levels, both to base damage and damage scaling. That should make one of her skills worth casting one she has Infinity Edge, but still in limited situations. Her ultimate has also received a base damage increase at ranks two and three, is now treated like a spell (still physical damage, I’m guessing, but blocked by Banshee’s Veil, unable to be dodged, and no longer mitigated by Pantheon’s Aegis Protection). It also loses the ability to apply on-hit effects.

Evelynn. Poor, poor Evelynn. I’ve never been much of an Eve supporter – the stealth mechanic in this game just sucks, and giving a stealther a long, targeted stun that’s usable from stealth and that ridiculous heal on her ult is admittedly too much. Still, this nerf should pretty much ruin Eve back to her pre-jungle days. Her base mana, base armor, and base damage all took a serious hit that, when coupled with the 33 percent damage nerf to the first two ranks of Hate Spike will effectively ruin her jungling. Shadow Walk also got a 10 second duration nerf at all ranks, which I think is a good thing. It’s definitely too easy to stand around setting up ganks, and the old duration allowed her to take one rank and forget the skill, ranking her damage instead. Overall, though, this is one of the biggest across-the-board nerfs I’ve seen. The only thing I can think is that the remake is nearly done, but we’ve been waiting an awfully long time – might be more waiting ahead.

Heimerdinger’s getting a little love this patch. His turrets now work on an ammo system similar to Teemo mushrooms, which I think will be good. Heimer’s problem has always been the time to set up a lane, it just wasn’t as big a deal when he had lots of turrets that did lots of damage. Since the turret nerfs, it’s been even harder to justify playing him. The turret AI has also caught some improvements so that it will be more effective against champions attacking Heimer. Upgrade now increases the number of missiles he fires to five and increases the travel speed of his grenade. I’m not sure if the latter is a good thing or not. People have suggested that as a base buff for him, but to only have it some of the time could actually make it tough to land. Still, this stuff should help him out overall.

Kennen’s Mark of the Storm is getting a long overdue duration nerf, down from 12 seconds to 8. I don’t really know why this took so long. Kennen has always had strong lane harass, due in large part to the length a mark will stay on a target. His primary form of using the mark, Electrical Surge, also got a minimal range nerf. He’s still going to be one of the best lane partners in the game, but it’s something.

Pantheon’s Aegis of Zeonia (his stun) got a serious duration nerf, down to 0.7/0.9/1.1/1.3/1.5 from 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2. While I like the fact that this makes Heartseeker damage at least partially avoidable, it’s not the fix Pantheon needs. The problem is Heartseeker itself. Granted, the stun is what made Heartseeker good, but like most melee, Pantheon needs a way to stick to his target. If the target has merc Treads, he’s only getting a .9 second stun. That’s not gonna cut it. Heartseeker needs to be remade. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t work in a practical setting. It’s either too much damage or too little. There is no reasonable median.

Rammus got a taunt nerf. Ok.

Twitch got a range buff and a similar stealth duration nerf to Evelynn. It seems like Riot is taking steps to prepare people for a change to the stealth system, which I’m ready for. As it stands, the nerf will help, but a couple ranks in and players won’t notice a difference. Will we see the maximum duration for stealthing characters reduced to 10 seconds with successive ranks adding different functionality to the spells?

Zilean’s ult got a duration nerf, down from 13 seconds to 10. Personally, I don’t think this is a big nerf. The best Zileans I see use their ult carefully, landing it just before a target dies so that it doesn’t get wasted. Hopefully this will train up and coming Zilean players to do the same.

That’s it for the major changes. I do want to mention a small Nasus buff – Siphon Strike bonus damage went up from 2 damage per kill to to 3. It’s interesting that this is the only buff he gets when his brother releases, but it is a pretty sweet buff. That’s a LOT of damage if he can get farmed. He still suffers from his other problems, but this will give him a little more burst.

As for general changes, there aren’t many. Critical strikes and dodge chances have been normalized to prevent lucky/unlucky streaks. My guess is that it’s coded to calculate those chances in small groups of, say, seven attacks, so that you see a more consistent benefit from those stats. This should be a good thing.

Check back later today for my Renekton impressions – I’m sure I’m going to love him. Mobile melee champions are always a good time.


Caitlyn impressions, or, why use abilities when you can auto attack?

Resistance Caitlyn

When I first saw Caitlyn’s champion spotlight, I was surprised by her defensive skill set. Her trap, her net, even her ultimate to some degree, are skills to be used to get out of trouble or while you’re well out of trouble’s range. Despite her great range, she didn’t have anything that made me think, ‘oh, that’s how you get kills with her.’ I’ve played a decent number of games with her now and not much has changed.

On the surface, Caitlyn’s design concept is pretty cool. She has big range, an auto attack modifier on her passive, and her skills scale with attack damage, meaning that armor penetration you’re packing is worth something. The deeper and unfortunate truth is that Caitlyn’s usefulness is inversely related to the length of the game. The longer the game lasts, the less effective you become. Here comes the skill breakdown.

Piltover Peacemaker is a great skill in the early game. It hits hard (more than 100 damage at rank one with just a Doran’s Blade), especially if you’re packing armor pen. runes, and it helps you get a big farm going. Once the teamfighting starts, it’s a great tool for hitting multiple targets at once. Unfortunately, the one second cast time means you’ll probably miss here and there, and using it during a chase pretty much guarantees you won’t catch your target. Attack speed items, assuming you have your damage built, also steal its usefulness because it just makes more sense to auto attack after a certain point. That said, this skill is great for snagging a kill through a wall or checking brush, and it still hits a squishy hard in the late game. Of all her skills, this one scales best.

Yordle Snap Trap was sort of doomed from its inception. It’s an interesting concept, but in play, there just isn’t a good balance point. The trap never seems to arm quickly enough, and the stun has only ever helped me get away or kill a reviving Zilean. The fact that they are visible makes them easily avoidable (is she catching blind yordles?) and teamfights are typically mobile enough these days that the trap seems useless. It can be good as a sort of ward, and it will occasionally save you from a gank, but the fact that you’re limited to two of these means, more often than not, you won’t have them where you need them.

90 Cailber Net could have been a really nice skill for Caitlyn. Instead, it’s this weird snare/escape hybrid with conflicting functionality. The skill actually knocks you back when you cast it, so you have to cast behind you if you want to chase with it, wasting the slow effect. If you slow someone with it, you’ve blown yourself away from them which is pretty much only good if someone is chasing you. Unfortunately, the slow isn’t enough to save you from those people in a lot of cases, so you better have a trap ready. It can throw you over walls, like a mini-flash, but you move so slowly, both when you run and as a result of the knockback, that players rarely have trouble catching you. This is a really bizarre skill to me. I’d love to hear Riot’s design process. Were they worried it would be too OP? Look at MF. She’s got an AoE slow without some weird, compromising, ever so situationally useful secondary effect attached.

As her ultimate, Caitlyn has the poorly named and woefully executed Ace in the Hole. It’s a snipe that, though it never misses, can be intercepted by a teammate mid-flight. I say woefully executed because it was a great thought. Dwarven Sniper was a lot of fun to play, but it really sucked if he pulled out ahead of your team. Squishy toons just got bombed from a mile away with no chance to avoid death. The intercept idea was pretty cool, but it’s really frustrating as Caitlyn for a couple reasons. First, her ult doesn’t hit very hard. Even when you have a ton of damage her ultimate feels really underwhelming. Interceptors often just shrug off the hit instead of being significantly damaged as a result. Second, the projectile is slow, making it really easy to intercept. Last is the cast time. As an attack damage champion, you’re losing a lot of potential damage by stopping to channel that ult. It is good for quick skirmishes, mostly to tag a champion for some assist gold, but in a teamfight you’re losing damage by stopping to channel her ult, and I can almost guarantee you won’t hit your target.

On the whole, Caitlyn’s abilities rely too heavily on channels without the added benefit of AoE or heavy single target damage. By mid to late game you’ll be better off auto attacking than using your skills, and your skills don’t compliment an auto attack playstyle. She ultimately fails because of a confused design that is too tied to concept with little attention paid to practical application.


Caitlyn official skill list and first impressions

Here it is, folks. Caitlyn’s skill list has been announced via the usual ‘Champion Approaches‘ post, giving us a look at her abilities and her artwork. From the sound of things, her skills are indeed a good bit different from Miss Fortune’s, but I’m still not impressed by her art design. She’s a sheriff, right? So why is she wearing a costume dress with a crinoline poking out underneath? Maybe she’s the sheriff of the circus. I’m not trying to play the feminism card here, but why not put her in a duster and a wide-brim hat and make the skin shown a purchasable skin? My two cents, as always. On to the skill list.

Piltover Peacemaker: Caitlyn revs up her rifle for 1 second to unleash a penetrating shot which deals physical damage (deals less damage to subsequent targets).

Yordle Snap Trap: Caitlyn sets a trap to reveal sneaky yordles. When sprung, the trap immobilizes the champion and deals magic damage over 1.5 seconds.

90 Caliber Net: Caitlyn fires a heavy net to slow her target. The recoil knocks Caitlyn back.

Ace in the Hole (Ultimate): Caitlyn takes time to line up the perfect shot, dealing massive damage to a single target at a huge range. Enemy champions can intercept the bullet for their ally.

Headshot (Passive): Every 8 attacks (attacks while in brush count as 2), Caitlyn will fire a headshot, dealing either 150% damage to a champion or 250% damage to a minion.

Wait, she has a skill called Ace in the Hole? Is she TF’s lover? Wasn’t it the burglar she couldn’t catch that was leaving the playing cards
? So many questions for the design department on this one. Okay, back to the skills. I promise.

She definitely sounds like an interesting control champion, and it looks like she’ll be able to play as both AP and AD, which is nice. It sounds like her Q is a bit like Mystic Shot on Ezreal, just that it goes through units. That should give her some good farming capability, but might make harassment a little too easy. We’ll have to see what the range is like.

If you look at one of the screenshots I’ve linked, you can see that she has two traps down at golem at once. Granted, she could have run away after setting one, but that seems like an odd thing for Riot to put into a screenshot. I’m guessing traps have a fairly short CD, maybe low enough to let her jungle?

The net sounds like it could be good for running away, but not so much for chasing. It makes me wonder again about the cooldown. The only reason I could see for the knockback would be so that she can’t chain snares on you, but that seems strange.

I always loved Dwarven Sniper from Dota, so I’m excited about her ult, even if it is poorly named (there was a blog that thought her ult might be named ‘The Long Arm,’ which seems more appropriate). I like that Riot has taken away some of the frustration of playing against Sniper by allowing allies to block the shot. I don’t know how often that will be a good idea, but at least it gives a teammate the option to save you.

That’s it for now. As always, I’ll be playing her on release (actually might have to buy her – I’m running low on IP since the Cataclysm release) and posting my play impressions shortly after launch. It’s not clear when we’ll actually see her, but I would guess Thursday. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll show up a day early.


Related Posts