Kayle as a barometer of support changes


I played a normal game tonight that served as a painful reminder of just how toxic support currently is to League of Legends. I’ll spare you the long and drawn out replay and just say that my opponents had a healer and my team did not. Actually, scratch that. The things the healer allowed them to do were so utterly ridiculous that I need to explain.

My team was losing the early game badly, but with some farm and a little map control we were able to regain our footing. We took baron twice, knocked down two inhibitors and I thought we had sealed the game. Not so. As we went to push the third lane, three of my teammates and I got caught in a well placed Orianna ult/Veigar cage combo. I made it out alive but three of my teammates died. The enemy team had five up, all chasing down Fiddle. There was no chance I could stop them so I tried to quickly backdoor bottom lane. I got the turret down in a hurry and moved on to the inhibitor. Pantheon was able to bring me down from the 25 percent HP I had survived with. Despite the fact that we had two lanes down, the enemy team of Tristana, Veigar, Soraka, and a very low Orianna were able to soak wave after wave of turret fire and super minion aggro, tearing down a lane turret, two nexus turrets and finally my nexus.

It sucked, and they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support. I know Riot has said support is going to get nerfed/changed, but I think we can take the Kayle remake and use it as a barometer for the change we’re likely to support over the next 3 months.

Originally, the Kayle changes were supposed to be a serious remake, altering the way that she performs healing and shielding significantly. What we got in the end was a passive remake and some number tweaks. Though she does seem to deal damage a bit better than before, she certainly isn’t in a great position. She heals decently as ever, though, and her ultimate can still be incredibly frustrating to play against. In short, Riot decided to leave her role virtually unchanged, a role that contains some of the most problematic elements in the game.

I think we’re going to see the same thing happen with the other support characters. Riot has agreed that healing is bad for the game, but I have yet to see even a suggested solution to the problem. Chances are, if Riot is going to do anything significant to healing it will happen to all the targeted healing in the game in one patch. Remaking one champion at a time doesn’t solve the problem, it just moves the other healers up the viability list. Unfortunately, I don’t think Riot can afford to significantly change the way support works. Tournament players are too used to it, and for the time being, tournament play is the most exciting thing happening in the LoL community.

What’s more likely is that we’ll see a long string of number adjustments for the support characters in game, reducing heals and increasing the resistance buffs granted by their spells. Reducing the duration of shields and increasing mana costs. Until the launch of Season Two, I think support is going to stay as it is – frustrating the hell out of blind pick players and encouraging the passive tournament play that pretty much defines high tier these days.


Champ of the Week: Soraka Wrapup


The forums provided a serendipitous thread necro for me to wrap up the Soraka Champ of the Week series. In the thread linked here, Xypherous lays out some of the design problems around heals, which I think is a decent place to kick off the Soraka discussion. Soraka is strong as most every other healer is strong – they all remove attrition from a game.

Healing is a really tough mechanic to balance for a game like League of Legends. In order for the healer to have any fun whatsoever, the heal needs to do something during the laning phase, which usually means giving it a somewhat short cooldown. Later in the game it needs to scale in some way to be remotely useful, which means AP builds can be both viable and infuriating. In short, heals don’t really work. Even if a heal could truly provide a judgement call for a player, heals just happen too often to really be balanced.

That’s essentially what I saw with Soraka. If my team was willing to sit back, not rush fights if the enemy ignites were up, or start a poking war, we won. We won easily, too. Even in games where I’ve built a Deathfire or a Guinsoo with Soraka, the wins have been decisive. There’s not much more to say about her.

If I could change one thing about Soraka, it would be Starfall. Though the spell is occasionally lulzy and provides a decent debuff, it doesn’t have a practical range for teamfighting. It’s decent for farming, but again, it suffers from a short range. I’d love to see Soraka get something like Lux’s Lucent Singularity, a skill that could slow in an area on the ground. She would probably need a slight heal tweak due to the increased lane power, but I think she would be more fun.

That does it for Soraka week. Check back tomorrow for next week’s Champ of the Week. It’s back to someone I’m not particularly good with. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.


Champ of the Week: No Surprises Yet

It should come as no surprise that supports are strong in League of Legends. They’ve made appearances in some shape or form in every major competitive event, often as the cornerstone of a team. My experience with Soraka so far has been, well, that she’s strong. She’s pretty amazing at keeping a team healthy, helping them push, silencing the AP carries, even soaking a little damage. There’s really not much to say beyond that without breaking into a discussion of healing and its place in the game and why it’s so strong/such a design problem. I don’t want to do that yet. That’s going to be the end-of-week wrapup.

For now, I’ll say that Soraka is kinda fun to play in a solo lane. I recently played in a five-man premade consisting of Soraka, Nocturne, Malzahar, Leona, and Tristana. I took solo top against Mordekaiser so that Leona could bring her amazing CC to support Tristana. It went surprisingly well, though I did die to a tower dive from Vayne and Mordekaiser – pretty tough to stop that one. By going top, I also got to have a little more fun with the farm, which was really nice. Most of my reluctance toward playing Soraka (or any support) is the passive gameplay. It just isn’t fun. I much prefer to see my character grow in strength over the course of the game – it’s what drew me to the MOBA genre.

For the rest of the week I’ll be testing some strange builds and rune setups to see where I might sneak a little more fun out of the character. Check back this weekend for more focused thoughts on healing as a whole.


Champ of the Week: Soraka


I’ve never been much of a support player. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I like to farm. I like to take buffs. I like to gank. I like to set up champion kills. I don’t like to stand in lane watching my Clairvoyance cooldown tick away. But there’s no way to deny that support can make or break a game, and playing against a good support can be extremely frustrating. Lucky for anyone matched against me this week, I’m not a good support. I bring you this week’s Champ of the Week: Soraka.

Soraka is probably the most straightforward support champion in the game. She doesn’t have any crazy AoE disables, any shields, any CC other than her silence. She just heals, and heals for quite a bit. I have two problems when playing Soraka that I’m hoping to remedy this week. First, I put too much faith in her early healing. That cooldown is long and without any AP the heal is fairly weak at lower levels. As mentioned above, I really like action, so standing in lane and waiting for my carry to get farmed gets really boring. That’s when I tend to overextend or try to harass too much and get my ass killed.

I also need to work on her build. I know a lot of players like to get an Aegis, but I often feel like it comes too late in the game to be truly useful. It’s a good item, I just hate looking at my spells 25 minutes into the game and seeing the base heal amount on all of them. That said, an AP rush usually isn’t in Soraka’s (or her team’s) best interest. I’m going to focus on playing builds that maximize my team efficiency and maybe one or two that can add a little flavor to her playstyle. I see a Deathfire in my future.

Check back later this week for more reports on how I fail as a support. If you have any suggestions, drop them in the comments. I will need them.


LeBlanc bundles and new skins announced

The new bundles and skins for tomorrow’s patch have been announced, and it’s looking pretty good if you ask me. The LeBlanc skins look nice, but I’m really pumped to see another Nasus skin and a cool Soraka skin, even if she is completely off the radar.

You can find the official post in the announcements forum.


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