Making a ranked run with Talon

Since Dominion launched I’ve found myself drawn more and more to Talon, the newest assassin to join the League. I had a hard time loving him when he first launched, but I’m really starting to understand his strengths, even in a duo lane, which can often be frustrating as a melee champion.

I’ve been playing him here and there, but mostly in solo queue ranked. As it currently stands, I’m 8-0 and headed into my 9th game. I’m not sure what to take away from the experience so far. Right now my ranking is somewhere around 1300, so it’s not like I’m playing a marginal champ and succeeding at high ELOs. Still, I am succeeding, and usually pretty wildly.

I think the bigger lesson for me has been that there are champions that just take a little time to learn, and when they click, they really click. I originally thought Talon was meant to be a highly mobile melee champion, using his ultimate for escaping teamfights or stealthing in for the attack. I’m actually having the most success playing him as an almost Akali-like teamfighter – running straight for targets, making them very dead, and then following up with a whole load of AoE damage. Talon isn’t particularly mobile or survivable, but he can easily kill a target before the target can kill him, and that’s what an assassin should be about.


Trundle pre-release ability impressions

Trundle Splash

Trundle drops tomorrow, bringing the field up to a total of 65 champions. The announcement post confirmed the skill list that was leaked around his initial debut, a skillset that I think is among the more interesting in the game.

Trundle is, as far as I can tell, a debuffer. His skills seem to be aimed at breaking the tank/physical DPS metagame by stealing stats from those archetypes and providing support with an AoE slow. In all honesty, my first thought was, “Wow, this is what Mordekaiser should have been.”


Rabid Bite: Trundle bites his opponent, dealing damage and sapping some of their attack damage.

Contaminate: Trundle infects a target location with his curse, gaining attack speed, movement speed, and crowd control reduction while on it.

Pillar of Filth: Trundle creates a plagued beacon at a target location, which becomes impassable terrain and slows all nearby enemy units.

Agony (Ultimate): Trundle immediately steals his target’s health and a percentage of their armor and magic resistance. Over the next six seconds the amount of health, armor, and magic resistance stolen is doubled.

Decompose (Passive): Whenever an enemy unit near Trundle dies, he heals for a percentage of their maximum health.

Trundle is melee, and from the sound of things he’ll do very well with some sort of tanky attack speed build. That does make me a little wary, as it was my chief complaint with Irelia, but his passive is worlds better than hers and he has some additional utility that appears to be castable from range.

I’ll be most interested to see how his ultimate works out. The design seems much more interesting than Mordekaiser’s, to the point that I wish Kaiser had been released with this skillset instead of his own. It has a nice, short duration during which it will still provide a massive benefit to Trundle and a solid debuff on the target. It’s solid against tanks and carries alike, and it doesn’t have the ridiculous all-or-nothing pet system that Children of the Grave uses.

I don’t want to say much more, because his skills could go a lot of different directions. I could see his Pillar of Filth being either very useful or very situational. The same goes for Contiminate. In any case, you definitely will not want to fight him one on one. Check back tomorrow for my full impressions.


And the next hero IS…another melee champ [Xin Zhao]

Is that a cattle prod?

Riot’s announced the newest hero by way of a Dev Diary at PC Gamer and it looks like we’re getting yet another melee character. Despite that little setback, Xin Zhao sounds pretty interesting and has the thing that, in my mind, sets good melee apart from the bad: a way to close the gap.

The actual information about Xin Zhao is pretty limited. He’s a martial-arts-inspired spear wielding fighter with some kind of initiation power and a slow. Zileas put it this way:

We came up with this design build because we wanted to capture the spirit of the free-moving fighters you might see in martial arts films. Xin can move freely about the battlefield, drawing power from attacking his enemies, so he can act as an initiator and maybe even as a tank, while still able to deal lots of damage very quickly. One problem we struggled with was how to make Xin Zhao able to initiate but not be a full tank. We tried a number of iterations on this, trying out different defensive components to his Audacious Charge and ultimate. In the end, I think we came up with a really strong build that our players are really going to enjoy.

As for his abilities, this is all we know so far:
Three Talon Strike: (cornerstone ability) A series of attacks that culminate in a powerful move that inflicts considerable damage to his opponent.
Unnamed ability: Increases his attack speed and causes all of his attacks to cool down his other abilities much faster than they normally would.
Audacious Charge: Quickly charge an opponent and slow them down.

Not the best descriptions in the world, but it is nice to see that he’ll be able to jump into a fight from a distance, a key component to keeping melee from going the way of Olaf. With a gap closer and a slow, he pretty much fits my criteria for a solid melee champion. He also has built-in attack speed increase, which gives some item flexibility for damage or survivability.

Perhaps the biggest news of the article is that Xin Zhao will launch with Season One. A lot of people are speculating that S1 is close, but I think it could be as late as the second half of July, if only because I don’t want to get my hopes up. From the sound of this article, Xin Zhao is pretty much done, but then why not list his other two abilities? Then there’s the holiday weekend to consider, though development schedules often ignore that kind of time off and offer comp time after major features launch. It really could go either way. I’ll err on the side of caution and cast my vote for the week of the 18th. Prove me wrong, Riot. Prove me wrong.


More patch impressions

Spooky Gangplank.

This patch included a lot of changes, so I’ve been taking my time playing through the various champion tweaks and remakes to get a good sense of where everyone stands.

Outside Kog’Maw, I’ve spent most of my post-patch game time on Ashe, getting a feel for just how much Hawkshot would change the game. It will. A lot. I can’t believe she gets a free CV on a 60 second cooldown. Just unbelievable.

I’ve also been playing a bit of Morgana to test out the Dark Binding changes. I really like having the damage upfront. It doesn’t change the fact that her ult is totally cleansable, which sucks, but it’s nice to have a bit of burst for a last hit and some lane damage.

I played one game as Gangplank and remembered right away what I don’t like about a lot of melee toons – they have no way to close the gap. Toons like Jax and Pantheon have leaps to get on top of the target. Hell, even Yi has Alpha Strike. Without a similar skill, melee just takes an eternity to farm to the point that they can be useful. Even with the Raise Morale changes I found it extremely difficult to contribute against Kog’Maw, Ezreal, Pantheon, Kaiser, and Shaco.

Pantheon is still crazy strong, as I mentioned in a post about Shurelia’s Q&A. Heartseeker damage is so high and so hard to avoid that it’s easy to get him rolling early. From there you just need to pick your battles wisely and it’s pretty easy to get a win. He still struggles against tanky teams because his DPS won’t outscale their health in the late game, but if you get a good enough farm in the first 20 minutes or so, the game won’t be lasting much longer.

The only major rework I haven’t messed with is Veigar. He’s still ultra-squishy with low mobility, putting him about the bottom of my barrel.


LoL: Akali impressions (live)

Akali on TT.I’ve only had the time for four games today with Akali, but between that and my time on the TR I feel like I have enough data to offer up some initial impressions.

First, I like Akali. The energy system provides just enough spam to keep me happy while still limiting DPS output to a reasonable degree. That said, the fact that Akali is melee makes her incredibly susceptible to CC/AoE damage dealers, and without her own hard CC she can be easy to counter.

For my first game I set out to try AD. It was broken for most of her duration on the TR so it seemed right to give it a go. Akali is a great farmer, especially if you have a lane partner capable of some decent harass. I had quickly put together my Rageblade and a Phage (which I didn’t love). My burst was solid and I was healing well from her passive, but I was missing something. My next item was a BF sword, and in the time it took me to farm that (which wasn’t long) I watched my damage go from good to just below mediocre. She doesn’t have enough of a CC to keep an opponent close and her Mark of the Assassin (Q) and ultimate are both laughable as AD. Mark is so bad as AD you shouldn’t even waste the energy to use it. By the time I had a Bloodthirster and Infinity (yeah, my farm was huge in an average length game) I was cutting people down fairly quickly, though mostly through right clicks, which kills a lot of the “feel” of the character. Crescent Slash feels extremely lackluster the further the game gets, mostly because of the crappy damage coefficient. I know she’s meant ot be a hybrid toon, which is fine if you have a mix of AP and damage, but consider a skill like Volley, which is used at range, covers a wide radius, gets 100% of your attack damage plus bonus damage and shares a similar cooldown. For the number geeks, at 300 attack damage, Crescent Slash will deal 310 damage (180 from AD ratio plus the 130 bonus damage). Volley, by comparison, would deal 380.

For the second game I went AP and was similarly disappointed. The ult felt better, but her ratios are pretty bad for Mark (40%) and downright deplorable on Crescent (30%). Without a monster farm she is hardly something to fear, especially since she has to be on top of you to deal any damage. The only person I felt like I was rocking was a Zilean who had built zero survivability, and once he was down I was usually out of energy, leaving me woefully exposed to his allies. Consider that at 300 AP – which is a lot if you aren’t sitting on a 20-stack Soulstealer and can’t benefit from Archangels – her Crescent is dealing a meager 270 damage while Mark is hitting for 540 (including the proc). Compare that to Anivia’s Flash Frost – which you can proc for extra damage if you’re good – hitting for 660, stunning, slowing, and synergizing with her other nuke. I think increasing her ratios a bit would make AP feel much more viable. Since shroud deals no damage, she needs the other skills to hit hard. I feel like her passive is meant to counteract her melee vulnerability, but by level 10 a 20% spell vamp isn’t going to save you from much. In most cases you’re healing back something on the order of 60-90 damage for each cast. That’s fine if you’re at a distance and capable of running but when you’re buried in the mix it’s not going to help.

On the whole, I think it’s still very difficult to make melee DPS viable without some sort of survivability. Garen works well because he has both passive and active damage reduction, a speed boost, and slow immunity. Though you could argue that Shroud adds survivability, your enemy still knows where you are and can spend AOE skills to blow you up without much trouble.

As I play her more, you can bet I’ll be making more posts about her viability. Stay tuned.


Related Posts