Champ of the Week: Malzahar


The more I play League of Legends lately the more I’ve fallen in love with AP characters. There’s something so satisfying about using a skillset to melt opponents that doesn’t quite translate in the auto attack kills of physical carries. Every team in the Dreamhack qualifiers relied on an AP champion for the utility, control and incredible burst potential those champions offer. This week, I’ll be playing a champion that has long frustrated me as an opponent, one that I have rarely played at length, and a champion that many believe to be underrepresented This week, I’ll be playing Malzahar for my Champ of the Week.

I’ve always been frustrated to play against Malzahar, largely because it’s so hard to shut down his farm. He’s not particularly deadly at early levels, he’s just super deadly to minions and has nearly infinite mana thanks to the kill bonus on Malefic Visions. Malzahar can also melt champions like no other, thanks to the percentage based damage of Null Zone. When coupled with AoE CC like Amumu or even Jarvan, Null Zone absolutely shreds the enemy. To round out the kit, Malz has an AoE silence and a pet for extra damage. Malzahar punishes enemy mistakes with devastating efficiency and provides both push and anti-push to his own team. In short, he’s a great pick.

I’ll be focusing on build order, Summoner Spell selection, and relative power on low-CC teams. Obviously Malzahar shines when his targets are held in place, but how well can he perform in less than ideal circumstances? My guess is extremely well. I think it’s safe to say that the only caster I fear more than Malzahar is Anivia.


Orianna skill list announced

Orianna’s “Champion Approaches” thread is up, which presumably means we’ll have another patch on Tuesday to bring her live. The thread also included the skill list, which looks significantly less like a pet class than may have been suggested in earlier threads. I’m actually glad for that. The other pet characters currently in League of Legends feel clumsy and unresponsive. Let’s put that aside for a moment and dig into the skills.

Passive – Clockwork Windup: Orianna’s autoattacks deal additional magic damage every hit, subsequent attacks on the same target within a few seconds will add more damage per hit. This bonus stacks up to three times.

Command – Attack: Orianna commands her ball to fly towards target location, dealing damage to targets hit but doing reduced damage for each additional target hit. Her ball remains behind at that location afterwards.

Command – Dissonance: Orianna commands her ball to emit a magnetic pulse, dealing damage to units around it. Afterwards, the ball leaves a field behind for a few seconds that speeds up allies and slows enemies.

Command – Protect
(Passive): The allied champion the ball is attached to gains bonus Armor and Magic Resistance.
(Active): Orianna commands her ball to fly to and attach onto an allied champion, dealing damage to enemies it passes through and shielding the allied champion when it arrives.

Command – Shockwave: Orianna commands her ball to emit a shockwave after a short delay, flinging affected enemies in the vicinity into the air a set distance towards, and possibly over, her ball.

I’ll start by saying I’m going to need a video to understand how her skills work. The Q is clear enough, and the W sounds like a version of Lux’s AoE slow, but in reverse – it slows after dealing damage. I’m not sure why her E is split into an active and passive component unless the ball just stays on the target indefinitely, which seems odd. Her ultimate sounds interesting, though I think its effectiveness will depend entirely on the size of the AoE and how easy it is to get the ball into position.

While I understand the idea behind her passive, I have to wonder how its going to work out. Few damage dealing passives really incentivize players to do things that are counterintuitive to the champion. Jarvan, for instance, has a damage modifier, but he also has a skillset designed around getting close to and staying close to the enemy. This passive sounds less like an imposed skill ceiling and more like a source of frustration. If it is too easy to use, she’ll have absolutely wild burst, but if it’s too tough there will be endless complaints that she is underpowered. Here’s hoping Riot struck a balance.


Champ of the Week: Cassiopeia


I’m starting up a new column, mostly because League of Legends is pretty slow during non-patch weeks, not counting the new champion ability posts. I really like writing about League of Legends but I needed a new focus so here we are. I’ll be choosing one champion each week as my Champ of the Week and playing that character significantly more than others and reporting on the experience. After my Cassiopeia post, I thought she would be a good place to start.

I’ll let you read through most of my initial thoughts there – no sense rehashing them. After a few games with her, my biggest problem is that her W is easy to land but low damage and her Q is difficult to land but really big damage, especially with a bit of AP. I know it makes sense – the higher damage should be harder to land – but it’s tough to know which spell to prioritize. Do I go for the cast with the highest potential damage or the reliable, albeit smaller damage?

For now, I’m rocking W after Twin Fang, just to get some reliable burst out of that combo. Later in the week I’m planning to try a build that relies very little on Twin Fang for damage. Hopefully my Noxious Blast skills will be to the point that I can make some use of them.

Check back throughout the week for more on Cassiopeia and in coming weeks for more Champ of the Week profiles.


I still can’t play Cassiopeia


Among the changes this patch were a couple buffs to Cassiopeia. I was kind of excited because I’ve always like the idea behind Cass, I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of her. After playing with the changes I gotta say…not much has changed.

A little disclaimer: I did much better in one game with Cassiopeia than I have ever done, but it still didn’t feel quite right. You might say the buffs worked, and to some extent I think they did. The Twin Fang cast speed increase was a good thing, same for her ult. Her ult also seems a bit more reliable now, which is good.

The thing I still can get, though, is all the different ways she has to cast. She just requires a crazy amount of mouse movement to land all her different spells at the same time. I think the big problem is Noxious Blast, which is on a mouseover cast. I understand the thinking – it has a relatively short cooldown so it needs to be easy to cast. That’s all well and good until your target starts moving. And then that target starts casting spells. Spells that you need to dodge. Maybe I’m just lazy, but this equates to a massive number of clicks to land a couple spells.

This becomes a bigger and bigger problem as Cassiopeia’s opponents get more and more bursty. If Brand can blow me up in 3 spells but it takes me 5 or 6 to do the same thing, chances are he’ll fare better in most fights. I think Brand is a good counter example because both he and Cassiopeia are high energy combo casters. When you land that combo it feels amazing. With Cass, though, I feel like I’m much more taxed to land a somewhat inherently difficult combo.

That would be a fine thing if it felt like a skill ceiling but it feels more like a click ceiling. Is there something I’m missing here?


Ionian Boots of Lucidity are too much good for too little cost


I spent a lot of my post on the caster item changes trying not to say anything definitive. This post is different. For this post, I know exactly how I feel and what needs to be said. The Ionian Boots of Lucidity are way too damn good for their cost. Period.

My philosophy on AP used to be pretty simple; build spell penetration before AP. It was a more effective way to increase your damage output and the spell pen items were cheaper, in most cases, than the high-tier AP items. Basically, building a caster was always some sort of tradeoff, just like an AD toon. Instead of attack speed, damage, and armor pen, you want CD reduction, AP, and magic pen. Some people would say that the boots just balance out casters against AD toons, but I really think they’re too strong.

The casters in the game have been balanced around the difficulty of obtaining cooldown reduction for a long time. Most of the CDR items were niche tools, designed to help against certain comps but not so great against others. The bread and butter of a CDR build used to be Frozen Heart, but it was only good against AD-heavy teams. Soul Shroud is a support item and wastes a lot of stat points for most casters, and Deathfire Grasp could typically be bypassed for a better AP item. Most casters I saw sat around 20-30 percent CDR and stacked AP. Now, I can have 30 percent CDR as soon as I make 900 gold, which can be as early as level four or five.

For any champion who relies on a rotation of spells – Annie, Ryze, Zilean, to name a few – the boots are insanely good. If CDR is to AP what attack speed is to AD, then these boots are supposed to be equivalent to Berserker’s Greaves. The difference is that mages are built for a big burst and then a period where they don’t do a whole lot of damage before that big burst comes back up. Physical damage dealers rely on individual attacks for nearly all of their damage. Early in the game when their damage is low, Berserker’s Greaves don’t do so much. The Boots of Lucidity, on the other hand, do a lot.

The changes to high-tier caster items already brought the mages in LoL in line with the AD carries for the most part. There are still a couple AD carries with kiting abilities that a mage can’t quite match, but for the most part, a mage’s damage output is just fine without giving them cheap access to cooldown reduction. I’ve lost one game as Zilean since the new boots released, and even in that loss I was better than 2:1 on my K:D ratio.


Related Posts