Should Riot consider a testbed queue?

League of Legends.

This is an idea that came out of my latest post about Morello’s meta challenge and I’m interested in what you guys think. I love the idea of shaking up the meta – LoL grew stale for me quite a while ago – but to me that will require some widespread adjustments to the game or a professional team to win several tournaments in a row with a different comp. Riot’s current nerf/buff strategy is to move slowly and make changes over the course of several patches, which I totally understand. They’re trying to produce a consistent service without dramatically breaking the game with an overbuff or a mechanics nerf. It makes sense. I think it has some unfortunate side effects for a genre known for variability and flux.

What if Riot put together a testbed queue aimed at trying some wild play options. The idea would be to allow for changes of greater magnitude to see how the players adapt to the changes. There are definitely some issues to be worried about here, not the least of which is whether players would participate, whether it would eclipse normal queues, and what to do if it did. It could alienate tournament players along the way as well.

I think it also has the potential to breathe some serious life into the game, and to allow people to get more for the money they put into the game. Buying champions every two weeks gets expensive in a hurry. The cost is even higher if that champion doesn’t have a solid place in the current meta (and yes, I’m mostly talking about solo queuers here). A more radical approach to changes could bring more champions into the mix on a regular basis.

Obviously the resource commitment would be monstrous – I don’t even know if this sort of thing would be possible in the current server/client structure. It is interesting, though, to think of what the game would be like with more aggressive changes to the way the game works.


Fnatic wins the all-Euro Season One Championship Final/Patch Notes

Season One officially drew to a close this evening as Fnatic beat Against All Authority to take the Season One Championship. The game was an all-Euro match, thanks to some excellent play by aAa during the loser’s bracket semifinal round. aAa was able to win the match with a bit of an odd comp, thanks to some creative warding and incredible teleporting. It would be enough against Fnatic, though, who scored the final win in the second of the two game series against aAa.

I was a little disappointed to see the North American teams drop early. I’m not a TSM fan, but I though Epik had played really well for most of the tourney. The wheels fell off today, though. I honestly thought they might have been throwing the game with that double-AD, no tank comp. They are certainly a much better team than was shown today.

I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the Fnatic vs. aAa matches as I was in the car when they first aired. I’ve heard they were fantastic, so I’m hoping for some VoD action soon. In the meantime, Phreak and RiotEski put up a patch preview, which I’ve linked above. Lots of changes are on the way – check back tomorrow for a full roundup.


Trundle patch thoughts and impressions (the nerfs that finally happened)

Junkyard Trundle

I’m ready to call today’s patch the biggest thing that has happened to the game since the release of Season One. Today, Riot finally took some steps the reds have been talking about on the forums for months, making changes that could have a significant impact on the metagame. It won’t change things entirely, but it will almost certainly start to shift things in a new direction.

This is one of the first patches for which we’ve seen Riot give overarching design notes along with the line by line changes. Let’s start with those.

This patch is focused upon the following main issues:

Area of Effect damage and disable spells being too powerful
Area of Effect is taking a pretty large hit this patch, especially to the damage on Galio’s Idol of Durand, Morgana’s Soul Shackles and Vladimir’s Hemoplague. After seeing its effect on the game over a longer period of time, we’ve found something more akin to Annie’s Summon: Tibbers is a proper mix of area size, damage, and disable. We have several area-effect skills in the game that have snuck past this and we’re looking to bring these back to acceptable levels.

Strong supports are able to protect powerful ranged carries too well, cancelling their fragility too easily
We’re starting with a duration nerf to Morgana’s Black Shield and Janna’s Eye of the Storm to reward better timing of the spell reactively and to raise the skill ceiling a bit on these spells. If this proves too little, we’ll evaluate the need for additional changes in a future patch.

Ranged carries, holistically, are too safe considering their damage output
While we predict bigger changes will be required, our first adjustments are to lower the movement speeds of ranged carry-style champions to provide more of a tradeoff, and nerf Blessing of the Lizard Elder when used on ranged champions. We’d like to keep ranged carries “safer” than melee, while beginning to provide more tradeoffs that both give melee a place in the game and differentiate the roles of melee and ranged characters.

I was thrilled when I read these. Read the rest of this entry »


Patch Day 9/8 – Welcome to Rootstown

Waterloo Miss Fortune.

While we’re all patiently waiting for the servers to go live, I figure it’s time to cover the patch notes for today’s update. There are only a few serious character updates, and even those go out to mostly underplayed champions. The biggest change is the root mechanic update, which is why this post has the title it does (Rootstown is also a place near my hometown, so I chose it over Rootsville).

So let’s talk roots. Ever landed a Dark Binding on an Ezreal only to watch him Arcane Shift away the second it hits? Sure, he’s stuck for the duration, but he’s stuck off your Tormented Soil and closer to safety. It was a frustrating mechanic, but it can’t happen anymore. Every character with some sort of dash or self-hook (Bandage Toss, for instance) has been updated so that the skills cannot be cast when rooted. It’s not a huge nerf for those characters, but it is a fairly high-grade buff for characters like Morgana and, in particular, Amumu. He’s already at the top of most ban lists, due to his severe magic resist debuff and the strength of his ultimate in a team setting. That ult just got a little stronger, and when used in conjunction with an AOE like Tibbers or Kennen’s ult, or Miss Fortune’s wave of pain, you’re really going to feel that root buff.

This patch also added suppression, so you won’t be able to avoid the full brunt of Malzahar, Warwick, or Urgot when they ult you. Suppression prevents the target from casting or using Summoner Spells, which means your only recourse is a Quicksilver Sash or Black Shield/Banshee’s Veil. It’s a big buff for those toons, but could become a pain in the ass for everyone else. Is it fun to have your ult cleansed? No. But it’s equally unfun to feel like a character like Malzahar gets to one-shot a player of your team whenever his ult is up. I’ll wait to pass too much judgement on this, but for now I don’t like it.

Like I said above, there aren’t many champion changes, despite those for some of the underplayed characters. My guess is that Riot wants to see how the root change affects the game before messing with too many champions.

Corki caught a buff across the board. His attack range was increased 10 percent, his attack speed per level gains got a nice buff and the Missile Barrage reload time is down to 10 seconds from 14. It might not sound like much, but I’ve always maintained that Corki is strong (and super fun to play), so this should make him an excellent pick.

Dr. Mundo got some longevity buffs that could help him scale a bit better. His cleaver now costs more to cast but he heals half the cost when it lands. It’s basically pushing people away from free brush checker and forcing them to use it a little more wisely. Burning Agony costs slightly less to maintain and Masochism now costs more HP at low ranks and less at higher ranks. Sadism also got changed to return 40/55/70 percent health instead of a flat 50 percent at all levels. Again, nice late game buff.

The big news, though, is Ezreal. He received damage nerfs to nearly all of his skills and his base damage. It looks a little something like this:
-Base damage reduced to 45 from 47.6
-Damage per level reduced to 2.6 from 3
-Attack Speed per level reduced to 2.8 from 3.22
-Mystic Shot damage reduced to 35/55/75/95/115 from 40/65/90/115/140

Hopefully it brings him more in line with other carries, though the fact that he can still deal scaling damage to you while exhausted and has excellent escapability makes him very strong. Manamune will also be a great damage source for the emo cartographer.

Malzahar got buffed – Another range buff on his ult, up to 750. Null Zone is more mana efficient at lower ranks, Call of the Void got a slight CD buff and his Voidlings now attack his most recent Malefic Visions target. With all of these buffs, along with the suppression buff, Malzahar is going to be one annoying bastard on the field. I really think the ult buff is way out of hand if he gets suppression. He should at least be put at marginal risk when he casts it if it completely disables his target (I know, it does disable him too).

The rest of the changes are small, so I’ll leave you to read those for yourself. The one thing you may have noticed is that Garen isn’t on that list. I was expecting some significant changes for him, but all we got was a little reduction on the passive component of Courage. So he now gets slightly less amor and magic resistance from killing creeps but it still blocks big damage when activated, and his hybrid of magic and physical damage when wearing Sunfire Cape is still too high for me to feel comfortable with him as an opponent. You may have heard Phreak say in the Miss Fortune spotlight that Garen should never be focused. It’s true, but he doesn’t have any trouble rushing your carries/casters, and a Decisive Strike -> Judgement -> Ignite -> Demacian Justice is typically way more than a squishy toon can handle. Hopefully the next page will have a little more in store for Garen. Same for Kog’Maw – he remains unchanged and could use a slight nerf to either the damage from Bio-Arcane Barrage or the attack speed buff from Caustic Spittle.

That does it for the patch. I’ve written a short post covering the new item, Manamune, and I’ll be posting my Miss Fortune impressions as soon as I have a chance to play her.


Patch Day 08/10 – We can stop banning Soraka now

Enchanted Galio.

Today’s patch brings a new champion in the form of Galio, the great blue gargoyle. Aside from the new champion, the game hasn’t changed a ton. A few characters received some significant attention, but things remained largely the same.

The most notable change in my mind is Soraka, who received a string of small nerfs that should amount to a significant difference in her staying power. Her mana heal now has a longer cooldown and heals slightly less mana, and her global heal got a 20 second cooldown increase at all levels. That could be enough to bring her off some ban lists in favor of other champions (please start banning Amumu, people).

Heimer’s turrets caught a little nerf – they no longer increase damage based on number of hits and the AP coefficient was reduced. They do have slightly higher base damage, but definitely nothing on the order of the old hit method.

Malzahar got some nice tweaks, bumping his movement speed, increasing the range of his ult and Malefic Visions, and reducing the cooldown on Malefic Visions (which already felt very short to me).

Ryze got a little bit of a rework as well, adding a passive cooldown reduction to his Overload skill. To compensate, Desperate Power now has a longer CD. Rune Prison now lasts longer at early ranks and deals damage in DoT form. It’s basically Morgana’s old Dark Binding, which is odd.

Vladimir’s Sanguine Pool got a small CD nerf but his Tides of Blood now costs less HP, Blitzcrank got some CD reductions, Nunu got a Consume buff, and Garen got his attack timer reset on Decisive Strike back. Other than those small changes, there’s not a whole lot to report in the way of champions.

For items, the newer items all got buffs. Wriggle’s Lantern now costs less, which is just what it needed. The Gunblade and Cutlass got damage buffs without a cost increase.

Lots of little paragraphs in here, which should give you an idea of how many small changes came in this patch. I’ll have a Galio impression list up later today. Spoiler Alert: he’s underwhelming.


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