My take on the LeBlanc nerf


The LeBlanc nerf is already live, which is really disconcerting to me. It points, as many things have over the past couple months, to an overly aggressive development cycle. As a result, we’ve been exposed to both over- and underpowered champions, though mostly the latter. Personally, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of the recent champion releases, and I think their absence (or overwhelming presence) in ranked play speaks to the flaws in the current pace of development.

Let’s take a look at the five most recent champions starting with the least recent.

Miss Fortune: I know a lot of people disagree with me on her strength, but I still think she is extremely broken. It’s not her late game, it’s not that she has high survivability, it’s that she is nearly impossible to shut down in the laning phase. She can outfarm and out-harass virtually every character in the game, guaranteeing late game success. Also, consider the strength of her Impure Shots – it has a healing debuff, attack speed increase, and passive damage increase, all on one skill. Why does a ranged carry with a powerful slow and a powerful harassment skill need that kind of utility from one spell?

I see experienced carry players wreck more games with her than any other physical carry.

Sona: I know the LoL community was crying loudly for a new support champion, but whoever designed Sona just wanted a champion that could dominate games. It’s clear she wasn’t playtested thoroughly, because a champion that easy to play should not be able to deal that kind of damage, be that survivable, and give her team some of the best buffs around.

Swain: Swain had a really underwhelming release and has one major design flaw – he has to be on top of the enemy team to maximize his damage output. He does have a pretty nice skillset, although it doesn’t fit very well with the current metagame. Still, his pre-buff damage was pretty pathetic and then there’s the Maledict issue. Granted, that wasn’t changed because of a rush job, rather some design issues, but the current version of Torment is nowhere near as interesting as it could have been. The idea of building a champion around Deathfire Grasp is cool and kinda different but we lost that flavor because of some ‘burden of knowledge’ crap that definitely exists elsewhere in the game.

Lux: Lux is maybe the best example of a design rush in the game right now. She was originally supposed to grant her entire team invisibility with a skillshot boomerang, just like the shield she has now. A cool mechanic, but it was buggy right up to release and so was quickly scrapped and a shield thrown into the mix. Lux is woefully underpowered – her spells have weak AP ratios, even weaker base damage, and some of the longest cooldowns around. Her only reasonable spell is her ult. Read the rest of this entry »


LeBlanc nerf is live


The LeBlanc nerf has officially gone live. Here’s the official post:

The LeBlanc hotfix should be our very shortly. There might be some tooltip discrepancies until you relog. Like I mentioned in the previous thread, we wanted to solve two primary issues: the strength of Q-R, especially at level 6, and her mana efficiency.

For Q-R the following changes:
Reduced the initial damage on Sigil of Silence to 70/110/150/190/230 from 80/125/170/215/260.
Reduced the cast range on Sigil of Silence to 700 from 750.
Increased the cooldown of Mimic to 40 seconds from 30 seconds at all ranks.
Reduced the damage amplification on Mimic to 10/25/40% from 20/30/40%. (The tooltip was incorrectly stating 20/35/50%).

To address her mana efficiency we made the following changes:
Increased the mana cost on Sigil of Silence to 70/75/80/85/90 from 60/65/70/75/80.
Increased the mana cost on Distortion to 80/90/100/110/120 from 60/70/80/90/100.
Increased the mana cost on Ethereal Chains to 80 from 70 at all ranks.
Reduced her mana per level to 50 from 56.

We made two minor changes in addition to the ones noted above. We reduced her armor per level by 0.5 since melee need to feel she’s appropriately squishy, and we reduced the damage of Distortion and Ethereal Chains by 5 at all ranks to preserve Q’s position as the highest damage output ability and not adjust skill choices.

We will be carefully monitoring the impact of these changes.

On the whole I think these are good changes, though I can’t understand why she went live in her current form. To me it seems Riot really needs to get a serious test realm up and running, and quickly. A hotfix two days after release means just one thing – they didn’t test enough. More thoughts on this in another post.


LeBlanc getting a hotfix nerf


I knew LeBlanc was strong, but I’m pretty surprised to see this bit of news. Apparently Riot is planning a hotfix nerf for LeBlanc within the week.

Here’s the post from Coronach:

When LeBlanc went out, we were unsure of her power level due to her complexity and skill differentials in internal play tests.

Seeing her on live, it’s been shown that she can be OP in a couple situations.We are investigating tapering down these scenarios slightly in a hotfix tomorrow or the day after, while keeping her fun and very viable. The two key things we want to address are: the Q-R combo, especially at level 6, and ensuring her mana costs are a limiting factor.

We will put out a hotfix in the next couple days, perhaps as earlier as tomorrow afternoon, once we have internally play tested the changes.

This is big news, considering Riot hasn’t hotfix nerfed a champion like this in a long time (I honestly can’t think of a non-bugged hero that they’ve hotfix nerfed like this). I do think it’s appropriate, though. I just played a game as Lux against a LeBlanc. I was playing well and had a good farm, but despite the fact that she was 2/5 and had just 100 AP, she could take me from full health to half in one Q -> R combo – something like 900 damage. That’s not a big deal if it’s Annie or Morgana, toons whose ultimate cooldowns are a minute or more. Less than 30 seconds, though? Yeah, I take issue with that.

In any case, it’s still a few days out, so enjoy your OP nukage while you can.


LeBlanc impressions


A good friend of mine has long been in love with Kassadin. He loves the playstyle, but he really hates Kassadin’s early game. You know, that long, slow period before you hit level six and really get to have some fun.

We spend a lot of time talking about game design and champion design and what could be done differently. For Kassadin, we often return to the idea that his ult should be one of his three main skills, giving him the ability to blink earlier in the game, albeit with some reduced effectiveness.

Enter LeBlanc. LeBlanc is the kind of toon design that rubs me the wrong way because it borrows an existing paradigm and vastly improves upon it. Every game I played Leblanc I was shocked by how much she feels like Kassadin. Granted, she can’t teleport quite as far, but I think she makes up for it with her insane burst and the added control from her Ethereal Chains. In fact, I played Kassadin against a LeBlanc and got schooled during the laning phase for a couple reasons.

First, she’s ranged. It’s a huge farming advantage against a melee toon like Kassadin because it keeps her at a safe distance. If Kassadin wants to farm, he can either last hit with Null Sphere at the cost of mana, or he can get into melee range and get his ass handed to him. The LeBlanc Sigil -> Distortion combo is nasty against melee toons if done right, and unfortunately, Kassadin is a melee toon.

The thing is, LeBlanc is a lot of fun to play. She’s highly mobile, and it feels great to land your combo perfectly. It makes me sad that they haven’t put more effort into Kassadin’s design because they are so similar, but LeBlanc is just a stronger toon.

As much fun as LeBlanc is, I think Riot dropped the ball in a couple places with her design. First, the fact that she can blink to a location, deal big damage, and immediately blink back feels like really bad design. There’s virtually no risk, unless you manage to get silenced/snared in the .2 seconds you’re at your target location. That kind of mobility should come at some sort of cost, like it does for Kassadin.

The second problem is her passive, which I think fits really well into Zileas’ “or we could just fuck the player” design theme. LeBlanc’s passive isn’t all that effective at fooling the player. Once you know what it does, or know that you can ping LeBlanc before the passive procs and the real one will still be marked afterward, it’s just a matter of waiting the .5 seconds for her to reappear. For melee toons and auto attackers, the passive is actually a bit worse. Those kind of champions right click the enemy a lot, and when LeBlanc disappears it breaks both their auto attacks and their movement path. The players haven’t been fooled – LeBlanc can only be running just a few steps away unless distortion is off cooldown – they’ve been screwed by a mechanic that breaks the way the player plays the game, not the game itself. It’s the same reason Mind Control is such a frustrating mechanic in WoW, or the trick in a lot of games where suddenly your controls don’t work like they should (up is now left, left is now right, right is down, etc.) – those things artificially limit your ability to play the game as well as you otherwise could.

There is a way around it, but it’s something a lot of players either won’t know about or rarely use. When I chase champions, I click the ground ahead of them and use attack-move (press ‘a’ and left-click a spot on the ground) to land my auto attacks. It’s an old Dota tactic similar to orb-walking, and it makes LeBlanc’s passive as useless as it is against a caster.

Overall, I still like LeBlanc. I think she fits into the game much better than a lot of recent releases. I wish she wasn’t so much like Kassadin, and I wish her passive was different, but in the end she’s fun to play and not horrible to play against unless she’s hugely fed.


LeBlanc Champion Spotlight

It’s patch day, and Riot has once again put together a detailed spotlight video for the new champion, LeBlanc. LeBlanc is an all out nuker, to the degree that her ultimate just lets her cast another one of her nukes again, though for increased damage the second time around. From a flavor standpoint, I can’t say I’m all that impressed. When I play nukers, like Annie or Kennen or even Ryze, I like to know that my ultimate is going to cause mass carnage. LeBlanc’s ult only effects one ability, and since most of her skills are single target, I think she’ll end up feeling more like a carry killer – Akali, anyone? – than full on mage.

I’m also a little concerned about her passive. Granted, I’ll have to see how it plays, but the clone idea already exists for Shaco and is fairly easily countered if not for the damage the clone deals. Any time I’m playing against a Shaco, I make sure mark him with a ping before a fight starts. When he hits Hallucinate, the ping stays on the real Shaco. I’d imagine LeBlanc works the same way, although her clone deals no damage, and will likely just stand there auto attacking most of the time. So what’s the benefit? A half second of stealth that will only confuse people who haven’t watched her spotlight/read her skill list? It works for her thematically, but the mechanics are only effective/interesting so long as your opponent doesn’t know how it works. Sounds like weak design to me.

On the whole I’m excited to try her. I do think using her ultimate to chain root someone will be a lot of fun


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