My Nautilus design dilemma


After reading Nautilus’ skillset, I thought he was OP. At the very least he had too much going on. Berseking was kind enough to point me to Xypherous’ dev diary for the League’s new champion, a post that broke down the design decisions behind the champion’s design. After reading through it I still think he has too much going on, and the method by which Riot might keep him from being OP–a crappy attack animation/speed and movespeed–are an unnecessary frustration. He needs a limitation on the number of things he can do, not a mechanical throttle on his power level.

I’ll be the first to admit that Xypherous and I have different philosophies when it comes to champion design. He does make some interesting champions, but at least in the case of Nautilus, he is willing to overload on mechanics. If you read his dev diary and watch Phreak’s champion spotlight, you’ll notice there isn’t much talk of weakness. Any talk of a potential downfall in his design is met with “so we gave him X.” Notice the following:

One of the strongest downsides to a self-only shield is that it is effectively ignorable by the enemy team. Unless you are threatening enough so that you must be killed on sight, defensive shielded targets are generally ignored as there isn’t a point to attacking him.

Which was preceded by:

However, if he’s left alone, Nautilus can contribute heavy damage to the enemy team.

This is one major design decision that I just don’t understand about this game. Why does a tank need to deal big damage? Even solid damage over the course of a fight? Isn’t the fact that he has four CC skills enough? Isn’t the disruption caused by his presence enough? Xypherous talks about Wrath of the Titan being a “soft-taunt” because it adds damage if players don’t attack Nautilus. Why does a character with four CC skills need a soft-taunt? This doesn’t make any sense.

What about this – what if the tank was designed to control opponents, either by creating openings for his teammates to get kills or preventing the other team from attack. He would have very limited damage, relying instead on CC to keep his enemies alive. His enemies would then have to make an interesting choice – attack the high damage people in the back and risk getting stuck in Nautilus’ CC or burn skills on Nautilus so that the high priority targets are vulnerable. Instead, Nautilus forces players to burn skills on him or suffer huge consequences. That’s not interesting. It takes away the opponent’s ability to make an interesting choice but, more importantly, it takes away Nautilus’ ability and incentive to make interesting, epic plays.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I’ve been playing DotA. I have a ton of fun playing support and tank champions in DotA, mostly because I’m not stuck spamming heals on my lanemate. I get to harass a lot. I set up kills a lot. Most of all, I get to make big plays during teamfights. Timing a stun for the perfect moment to save my carry from an enemy stunlock, using Force Staff to move my allies out of harm’s way, landing the perfect Shallow Grave to prevent death – these are all things I’ve pulled off or seen pulled off in ways that make me want to play support and tanks. Because those characters don’t often have big damage, they have a chance to move within a fight and have a serious impact on its outcome. Fights feel extremely dynamic because there is a constant target shift going on – players are trying to burn the big damage dealers while avoiding the crowd control of supports and tanks.

I can think of one character who has both big damage and big utility without any real sacrifice and he’s the most broken character in the game: Invoker. Pretty much every other character suffers from some setback, whether it’s mobility, lack of crowd control, position dependent skills, and so on. The game allows players to shore up those weaknesses through itemization, which obviously comes at a cost. On the whole, it’s the constantly sliding scale of damage, control, durability and mobility that makes a teamfight in DotA interesting. Only one character in DotA has all of those attributes without a truly godlike farm. I certainly can’t say the same for League.

I don’t peg all of this on Xypherous – that would be really unfair. He is working within a metagame and a design philosophy that obviously values Nautilus-style design. Personally, I wish Riot was doing more to change the game, but they’re trucking ahead with the current philosophy. For me, that has meant a serious decline in the amount of enjoyment I get from the game.


Nautilus skill list revealed


Riot has released the official skill list for Nautilus and…oh…dear…god. He sounds insanely strong as both an initiator and tank. Unless he has utterly terrible stat gain this guy will be a force to be reckoned with. I would imagine he was designed to play as a bottom lane support, much like Leona, but that all depends on his damage. If he has even remotely decent damage, he’ll be a brutal jungler.

Let’s have a look at Nautilus’ skills:

Staggering Blow (Passive) – Nautilus’ first basic attack against a target deals bonus physical damage and immobilizes the opponent briefly. Staggering Blow cannot trigger on the same target more than once every 12 seconds.

Dredge Line – Nautilus throws his anchor forward. If he hits an enemy, he’ll drag himself to his target and his target to him. If he hits terrain, he’ll drag himself to the terrain and the cooldown is reduced.

Titan’s Wrath – Nautilus places a shield on himself that absorbs additional damage based on his maximum health. While the shield is active, Nautilus’ attacks deal damage over time to units around him.

Riptide – Nautilus slams the ground, causing the earth to ripple out in waves. Each wave deals damage and slows the targets hit. This slow decays over time. Multiple waves that hit the same target deal reduced damage.

Depth Charge (ultimate) – Nautilus launches a depth charge towards a target that picks up speed as it travels. This charge knocks up all enemies it encounters while traveling and explodes on impact, stunning the target and launching them into the air.

I think his passive will be the most binary of his abilities. If it’s anything .5 seconds or lower, it will just be a nuisance, good for interrupting the few channels in the game or maybe breaking up a running pattern, but nothing more. Any more time on the stun and that passive is among the best in the game, especially for a champion with an AoE slow, a line knock-up, and a hook. Holy hell. With Jarvan’s passive there isn’t a ton of incentive to switch targets for a little extra damage. If this passive is a one second stun there is a huge incentive to switch. Did I mention the AoE CC this guy has? Imagine the crazy stunlocks this could potentially create. Yikes.

His other skills seem equally strong – at least as strong as Leona, which is why I’d imagine we’ll see him running in bot lane. Putting him top seems like a complete waste, much like Sejuani. I really hope he isn’t capable of quick jungle clears. If he can jungle it will just be more cement around an already solidified and fairly stagnant meta. I’ll wait for his spotlight to pass more judgement than that, but my god, he looks ridiculously strong.


Nautilus, Titan of the Depths coming to LoL

The next champion to join the League will be Nautilus, the Titan of the Depths. Again, I think Riot did an awesome job with his splash art. I also really liked the sneak peek comic. It’s simple, doesn’t try to do too much with a story, just shows off this drowned guy and he looks pissed.

I have to say, I still enjoy League’s art style a lot. It was one of the first things I liked about the game and, barring a few exceptions, I’ve been impressed with their overall style.

I’m willing to be Nautilus will be some kind of tank, though I suppose melee DPS isn’t off the table. Looking at him, though, I’d have to say tank.


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