The case against mindlessness


I’ve written a lot of posts recently about the overpowered toons in League of Legends and I realize several of them may have come across a little whiney. I often have emotions around a given aspect of the game before I’ve really sat down to put the words behind those emotions, so you guys get to read me working through the crap to get at the heart of the matter. Well, thanks for bearing with me.

This post is a culmination of a few different posts regarding relative champion strength and the overwhelming fury I feel toward champions like Sona and Mordekaiser, so I hope it will be a little more focused and my point of view will be easy to understand.

Most of my frustration with League of Legends in the past few weeks has revolved around the relationship between a champion’s strength and the skill required to provide the maximum team benefit that champion provides. For many of the overpowered champions in the game, the problem is that the champions are both strong and incredibly easy to play. It’s something I think Riot misunderstands, as you can see from the difficulty screen above. There is literally no situation in which I would consider Sona difficult to play.

Mordekaiser falls under that same umbrella. There are players who think it’s tough to know when to fight with him, but I could not disagree more. Your team is there, you fight, and you get a ghost and murder the other team. If they aren’t there, don’t fight, unless you have a ghost with you, in which case you should kill the entire opposing team. In all seriousness, though, Kaiser’s ease of use comes from his shield, which allows him to be a serious threat to any opponent in lane just by standing in range. Consider other casters, like Annie for instance. If Annie wants to deal damage to me she has to get relatively close, giving me the opportunity to deal damage in return. Kaiser has to do the same thing, but his shield removes his personal threat, allowing him to harass at will without consequence. It’s a crappy mechanic to play against, but worse yet, it encourages players to be sloppy and lazy.

The easy to play/easy to win champions actually hurt the game as a whole by allowing players to enjoy success without the skill to back it. One of the great things about this game is that the wide variety of champions can encourage players to get better. When I saw my first good Shaco I thought, “damn, I want to be that guy.” I was horrible with Shaco when I started, but now I’ve probably played 500 games or so with him, so I’m really good. It took time. My first game with Sona, I died too much. Every game after that, I dominated with her. It was easy farming, easy laning, and once I had a locket, easy winning. When those types of champions dominate games, players don’t learn how to gank, how to lane, when to run, when to dragon, any of it, nearly as quickly as they do with a difficult champion.

Then there’s the simple fact that strong champions carry weak players to higher ELOs. I have run into at least ten different players who, after seeing their favorite champion banned or chosen (most often it’s Mordekaiser, I’m not kidding), say something like, “Shit man, they took my guy. Anyone wanna trade? I don’t have many champions.” That’s a problem. I expect players to be able to play a variety of champions and fill a variety of roles, just as I hope they expect the same from me. I know I’m a great carry, but I’m also a very good jungler, a very good nuker, and a decent tank/support player. I own every champion in the game. I can play every champion in the game with a modicum of success. The same can’t be said for the jungle Kaiser I played with over lunch who tried to gank MF middle by walking out of the mid-lane river brush with red buff and trying to auto attack her. No. No, that’s not going to work.

I want to see thoughtfully designed champions, champions with very real, very high skill ceilings. Enough of the MFs and the Sonas and the Mordekaisers. This is the same issue I used to complain about with Sivir, but back in the day, Sivir was just about the only toon with a crazy-low skill ceiling and a crazy-high impact. These days it’s like a free-for-all on high-impact mechanics that require as much thought as relieving my bladder. Biological imperatives aren’t interesting, and neither are mindless champions. Make me a toon that I want to learn instead of someone I could play with my elbows and I’ll remain convinced that this is the game for me for the near future.


LoL: Patch day (Garen)

Red Riding Annie and Grandma Warwick.The Garen patch is finally upon us and with it comes a load of changes to both the client and the game system. On the whole, I think this will be one of the better patches for the game, even if Garen is a bit underwhelming.

For starters, we obviously need to cover the new champion, Garen. He’s going to run you 3150 IP or 585 RP so I hope you saved up. It’s a long, slow crawl to 3k for most people. His skill list remains essentially unchanged, which leaves him in a weird sort of melee DPS/hybrid role with very low utility. He’s still highly susceptible to hard CC (stuns/snares) but he does have a slow immunity, which will be nice for chasing. Unfortunately, chasing is usually a bad thing, unless you’re running cleanup after a teamfight, in which case its usually best to just push.

Healing got some massive nerfs this patch. Alistar now has greater self healing by 20 percent at all levels, but his allies will now only receive half the heal value. Ouch. Taric got cooldown and value buffs to his heal, but radiance no longer heals allies. Radiance also costs more mana for both startup and upkeep so you’ll probably have to break out that mana regen rune page if you still want to play him. Rally also got its ally heal removed, though the cooldown came down a full 90 seconds.

Katarina caught a big rework, giving her more base health and some survivability in the form of new Killer Instincts mechanics. The active Shunpo effect now reduces incoming damage by scaling percentage per level, giving her the durability to jump into a fight and ult when it’s actually useful instead of waiting until it’s over like she’s basically had to recently. Killer Instincts now adds a persistent damage buff and the damage ratio on her ultimate got a 10 percent buff. Overall, she should be decent now, though I doubt she’ll be great.

Morgana got some nice cooldown and mana efficiency buffs for her skills as well as the addition of a stacking MR debuff from Tormented Soil. Having played as her and also against her on the TR I can tell you she is truly horrifying. Just pray she doesn’t ever catch you alone.

Shen got reworked a bit, which will hopefully bring him out of the godlike tier on TT. The feint damage block will be excellent, but I think the cooldown increase, duration nerf, and nerf to damage blocked (now 180 at max rank) will be enough to keep him in line. AP Shen may be a bit more viable though. I’ll have to check on his AP ratios and relay what I can after some testing. Stand United also caught a nerf, bringing down the shield value, duration, and removing the refund if the ult is cancelled for some reason.

Other than that most of the changes were fairly small. Nunu got some buffs. Mordekaiser received some shield tweaks. Fiddlesticks got a long overdue nerf. Sion and Rammus got some small efficiency buffs. Tryndamere got a bit of a buff and Jax caught another small nerf (which still isn’t enough).

As for the game on the whole, there are two new items – one for tanks, one for physical damage dealers – and the assist system got a rework for debuffs on the target and buffs to the attacker. It should give support some much needed love. Matchmaking also received some changes to make things a little more smooth. Players should now be matched more appropriately by both level and ELO (it scares me that this wasn’t always the case) and full premades should be facing other premades more often (again, why wasn’t this happening or being discussed?).

Last but not least we got some skins. Garen gets the typical duo treatment, while we have yet another silly skin for Warwick (Grandma), a corresponding Annie skin (Red Riding Hood), and a skin for Sivir. I have to say, I hate Sivir – I think she is one of the most poorly designed toons in the entire game – but the Warrior Princess skin makes her look hotter (yeah, bangs are hot) and the extra armor makes her look kinda badass. If it didn’t cost 975 RP I would totally buy it and potentially right click my way to a huge winning streak with her.


LoL: The state of Sivir

An original Sivir skin.I decided to try something new recently and give Sivir a go. I’ve always hated her, mostly because I’ve seen her pushing power completely dominate a game. She’s always seemed like an unstoppable force in the right hands, so I figured I should see if it’s really the toon.

Let me just say that I think Sivir might be the best character for mid in the game. She bulldozes creeps for very little mana and has no trouble with champions that aren’t built for extremely high survivability. I’ve faced casters, tanks, and carries all mid and had very little trouble, even against the good players. Some of them slowed my farm, forcing me to take Spell Shield over Boomerang Blade, but no one has been able to completely shut me down.

As of this post I’ve won 80% of my games as Sivir. My losses were actually in premades during which I suffered from unskilled teammates. In one game I was paired with a level 13 Annie. We lost. Badly. In the other games, though, I’ve been such a force mid that I have to wonder about her balance. I don’t think she’s particularly good for solo queue. Without solid team coordination she has too much pushing power that, when coupled with a move speed modifier and a spell shield, gives her the survivability to truly own a game.

Really, I think this latest patch has caused most of the problems. She has always been strong, but with the heavy prioritization on farming, Sivir can easily level gap people in ways only the best gankers could previously do. The upcoming patch should help, reducing the range at which she can farm and increasing gank XP. I’ll update this post with a little more in-depth match detail when I’ve spent more time with her.


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