Patch Day 8/24: Urgot is here


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’).


PTR update shows significant Kennen/Malphite buffs, Kog’Maw tweaks

The latest PTR update patch notes are out and hold some interesting info for some of the lesser played characters. It looks like Kennen will be getting a buff, as will Malphite, and Kog’Maw is getting some work that should make him a little more viable.

Kennen.For Kennen:

Electrical Surge
Ability Power ratio increased to 0.55 from 0.45.

Lightning Rush
Energy cost reduced to 100 from 110.
Can no longer be slowed during Lightning Rush.
Now provides 10/20/30/40/50 Magic Resistance and Armor for 4 seconds.

Slicing Maelstrom
Ability Power ratio increased to 0.4 from 0.33.
Number of bolts increased to 6/10/15 from 6/8/10 (still retains the cap of 3 hits per target).
Removed the cap of applying only 1 Mark of The Storm per target.

Have fun laning against him. I’ve maintained since the beginning that Kennen is one of the strongest laning toons in the game with great teamfighting capabilities. His ultimate was a little underpowered in some situations, but it most cases I thought it got the job done. Now that Surge hits harder, he can’t be slowed in Rush, and his ult hits harder, you will be very hard pressed to outplay him in the laning phase. That ultimate will also devastate team fights. For the mathematically challenged among you, 15 hits at rank three means the entire enemy team is stunned if they stay in for two ticks – yes, two, because of Surge. Granted, that won’t always happen, but it also increases the likelihood that you’ll catch and kill two players, and still have plenty of ticks to chain stun another opponent if he steps in halfway through the ult.


Seismic Shard
Reduced the cooldown to 10 seconds from 12 seconds.
Reduced the duration of the slow to 4 seconds from 5 seconds.
Reduced the mana cost to 70/75/80/85/90 from 80/90/100/110/120.

Brutal Strikes
Changed the active effect to increase Malphite’s armor and damage by 20/25/30/35/40% instead of increasing his damage by 30/40/50/60/70%.
Reduced the cooldown to 16 seconds from 20 seconds.
Fixed a bug where the cleave percent would double dip on bonus attack damage.
Increased the passive cleave percent to 30/38/46/54/62% from 30/35/40/45/50%.
The cleave passive will no longer proc while hitting towers.

Ground Slam
Reduced the mana cost at all ranks to 60 from 60/70/80/90/100.
Updated the tooltip to display how much bonus damage Ground Slam gains from armor.

Unstoppable Force
Malphite should no longer be subject to CC’s while charging with his ultimate.

Granite Shield
The shield now recharges after 8 seconds instead of 10 seconds.
The shield will now automatically restore to full after 8 seconds of not being hit. Previously it would not replenish until a new shield activated.
Fixed a bug where the particle would not appear for a second after the shield activated.
Fixed a bug where the shield strength would not update after buying a health item until a new shield activated.

This is exactly what Malphite needs to make him more fun. Shorter cooldowns, lower mana cost, and a little better synergy between Brutal Strikes and Ground Slam. I also love the cleave removal during tower attacks, as you won’t pick up aggro just from trying to down a turret.


Caustic Spittle
Spell Remade. Now grants:
Passive: Increase Attack Speed by 10/15/20/25/30%.
Active: Deals 60/110/160/210/260 damage and reduces the target’s armor by 5/10/15/20/25 for 4 seconds.’

Bio-Arcane Barrage
Cooldown reduced to 15 from 20.
AP ratio removed.

Void Ooze
Cooldown reduced to 12 from 13.

Living Artillery
Now has a 0.5 AD ratio in addition to the AP ratio.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s obviously tilting him toward AD build, or at least Maldred’s with the passive attack speed buff. I think his real problem, though, was high mana costs, extremely low survivability, and one of the longest attack animations in the game. It forced you to blow skills to last hit creeps, if only because the delay between your attack command and the projectile landing was so damn long.

Riot has been pretty good about leaving vastly overpowered tweaks on the TR until they seem balanced, despite the release of some seriously OP toons recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if we only get one or two of these in the next patch. Personally, I’m hoping for Kennen.


There are more (and bigger) LoL nerds than you think

Kennen Plushie.After finding that video this morning, I opened another thread called “Kennen Plushie” which, as you might have guessed, contains pictures of the homemade Kennen plushie you see. Yikes.

The best part, of course, is that it’s made by a girl, so most of the comments in the thread are something along the lines of “lol a gurl letz make out.” As weird as stuff like this is (I’ve never understood crafting stuffed video game characters), it’s also a sign that the community around LoL continues to grow and grow with increasingly dedicated fans. On the whole I’d say that’s a good thing for the game. Hopefully it means more money for Riot, which means they can hire more people to help resolve the scaling issues with which the game continues to struggle.


Where are all the patched champions?

new_champ_spreadOne of the great things about LoL is the endless possibility for expansion. There can always be new heroes, new maps, new game modes, etc. Those things need to fit well into the game to really serve as expanded material, though. If no one’s playing those modes/champions, they have virtually zero effect on the game.

That’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in the new champions. They get played for their launch week and the subsequent free week and then fall completely off the radar. I almost never see Olaf in game any more, and when I do I tend to smash him. Malzahar? Never. Akali? Less than never. Garen? Rarely. Kennen? Nope. Mordekaiser? Occasionally. The only patched champions I see on a regular basis are Shen (who is in nearly every game), Ezreal (same, almost every game), and Pantheon (only because Heartseeker is crazy broken right now).

If you take a look at the champion list at LoL Base, you’ll see that the only one of the champions I never see that has a positive win/loss ratio is Mordekaiser. The rest are negative, in some cases drastically so, which says to me a couple things. First, and most obviously, those characters suffer from some kind of serious design flaw. Though I think several of the champions I mentioned are solid (Kennen and Garen for the most part), the others have trouble providing serious support to a team. It could be that players just haven’t figured out how to play these new champions, but most of them are old enough that someone, somewhere should be playing them or singing their praises, and that’s not really the case.

It’s too early to say where Kog’Maw will fall, but if he follows the current trend, we’ll see him for two weeks and not much more.


LoL: Akali skill list and impressions

Akali, the Fist of Shadow.If you’re keeping up with the announcement forums you know Akali is upon us. She’ll finally be joining her brothers, Shen and Kennen, for battle in the League of Legends. The Test Realm has been absolutely packed with players trying to get a look at her. I was lucky enough to get several games in so I thought it would only be fair to give you guys my impressions. As we now have the “new champion approaches” post from Riot, I can also offer the official skill list for your perusal.

Without further ado, the Akali skill list:

Mark of the Assassin: Akali throws her kama at an enemy, dealing damage and marking her target for several seconds. If she hits a marked target, the mark will deal additional damage. This is your bread and butter AP damage skill, even if it is inappropriately named (seriously, what assassin lets you know you’re marked?). It scales with ability power at a .4 ratio for both the initial strike and the secondary hit. This is what a fed Akali will use to cut you in half.

Twilight Shroud: Akali throws down a smoke bomb at a target area. While in the area, Akali becomes stealthed. Performing an action breaks stealth for a second. Enemies in the area have reduced movement speed and attack speed. This is the most “ninja” of Akali’s skills. It drops a circle on the ground about the radius of Nasus‘ Spirit Fire, visible to all players. When Akali is in the circle she cannot be seen for the duration that the circle is active (I believe it’s 6.5 seconds at rank 1). It also slows attack and movement speed of all enemy units in the circle. It’s not a bad skill, but it’s not great either. I haven’t played it much on 5v5 but on 3v3 I used it mostly as an escape mechanic, though occasionally the slow would get me a kill. I would love to see them give this a small (maybe 15%) movement speed boost for Akali as well. The slow improves along with the duration as you rank up.

Crescent Slash: Akali hits all units around her for damage scaling off both her attack damage and ability power. The bread and butter damage skill, this thing hits in about the radius of Malphite’s Ground Slam. It gains 60% of your AD and 30% of your AP along with a base damage modifier. It’s great for picking other Akali players off in the Shroud when they’re low.

Shadow Dance (ultimate): Akali moves through shadows to quickly strike her target, dealing damage and consuming an Essence of Shadow charge. Akali recharges Essence of Shadow charges periodically, max 3 stacks. This skill gives Akali all of her feel. It has great range, is up – typically with 3 stacks – every time you need it, and can be used for farming, harassment, whatever. Much like Ezreal, Akali can be tough to target when she’s using this skill. It’s only on a two second cooldown and it improves from there, making this your go-to skill for dishing out quick damage. Coupled with Mark, most targets won’t get away from Akali over 40% after a full combo.

Twin Disciplines (passive):
Discipline of Might – Upon obtaining 20 ability power, Akali’s melee attacks deal additional magic damage. The bonus magic damage is increased for every 5 ability power gained afterwards.
Discipline of Force – Upon obtaining 10 attack damage, Akali gains spell vamp. She gains additional spell vamp for every 20 attack damage gained afterwards.
I’m completely unimpressed by this aspect of Akali’s playstyle. Might only hits hard if you have high attack damage (it’s a percentage based increase on your AD). Force only heals well if you have high AP. This doesn’t encourage one build over the other, it encourages a strict hybrid to maximize both your damage dealing potential and your survivability. This is further emphasized with the damage scaling on Crescent Slash and the fact that Mark scales by AP only. If there was one thing I would change it would be her passive. The Mark/Slash issue just points to viability for both builds. Adding another level of dual-scaling encourages those weird hybrid builds the new champions seem destined for. It’s not that I’m opposed to hybrid builds, but that there aren’t enough items to support it. Guinsoo’s, sure, but what then? Until we have better itemization for true hybrids I’ll remain displeased with the effort to push players in that direction.

Despite my distaste for her passive, I think Akali will be a lot of fun She still has excellent damage output, and her twitchy playstyle is something I’ve really enjoyed on Kennen. In fact, I’ll probably build her a lot like I do Kennen – heavy magic penetration with enough early AP to completely carry a team. From just a few practice games I get the feeling that she’ll snowball fairly well as AP but has the farming capability to make AD viable. I still think AP is the spec, though. Ranged damage dealers far outshine their melee counterparts in most situation. Yes, even on TT. There are a select few melee toons that do well there – I don’t think Akali will be one of them. Not as AD, anyway.


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