Home > LoL News, Red Posts, Riot News > Ghostcrawler on Tristana Nerfs, Ranged vs Melee and ADC Itemization, State of Sona and Soraka’s Rework, Store Revamp Soon, No Sion Changes before Rework & More

Ghostcrawler on Tristana Nerfs, Ranged vs Melee and ADC Itemization, State of Sona and Soraka’s Rework, Store Revamp Soon, No Sion Changes before Rework & More

September 4th, 2014


News Update September 4 Banner



Ghostcrawler shared the balance team’s thoughts on Tristana and that she’s in need in nerfs that won’t be at Worlds, for fear of changing the game environment unnecessarily for training teams. He also addressed Soraka‘s healer-focused rework, ADC itemization and the age-old topic of Ranged vs Melee. Soraka was also within scope of today’s red posts on the community beta forums, along with Sona and her state post-rework. Lastly, Meddler confirmed Sion won’t be receiving band-aid changes before his rework and an announcement that the in-client store will soon be revamped.

TL;DR in featured comments.


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Tristana Nerfs Banner



Do you guys have any plans to nerf Tristana

Ghostcrawler New PortraitYeah, she needs nerfing. Realistically it is unlikely to happen before worlds. We like for those matches to take place on as stable a build as possible that has been thoroughly tested, so even very good changes can be ultimately risky. We also think it’s reasonable for the players to expect that numbers won’t go changing wildly right in the middle of worlds.

To clarify, she needs some sort of weakness. If we just lower her damage or something, players may just switch from her to Kog or someone which just substitutes one dominant ADC for another. Ideally we’d like to give her some trade-offs so that you can choose her for her strengths or avoid her because of her weaknesses.

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Follow Up

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI said: To clarify, she needs some sort of weakness. If we just lower her damage or something, players may just switch from her to Kog or someone which just substitutes one dominant ADC for another. Ideally we’d like to give her some trade-offs so that you can choose her for her strengths or avoid her because of her weaknesses.

You said: Remember when you said the whack a mole strategy was something you were trying to steer away from? Yet you just keep doing it. 

I think we are saying the same thing.

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So will every game at Worlds be decided by who gets Trist

Ghostcrawler New PortraitAs a few other players have pointed out, she isn’t as popular in Korea.

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So you’d rather nerf Tristana than buff other ADs

Ghostcrawler New PortraitYou get the same outcome whether you add or subtract numbers. You’re just deciding if the number 20 or the number 25 is the target and adjusting all the others to reach it. The same risks apply because if you accidentally get Trist at 26 and Ashe at 23, then players still understandable choose Trist over Ashe. In fact, bringing all the others up is actually more risky — in other words, it’s easier to nerf than buff — because the more numbers you touch, the more the likelihood that you will change something in a way you didn’t anticipate.

A better solution, we believe, is making sure champions have niches — that they have strengths and weaknesses. To use the same example, rather than asking whether you’d play the champion at power level 20 or power level 25, you’re choosing among the number 20, the letter B or the color green. It’s easiest to see this in supports where choosing Thresh vs. Braum vs. Nami gives you different strengths for different trade-offs and also causes the rest of your team and the other team to approach things differently. We want to make sure fighters and marksmen (who typically have the least well-defined niches) feel the same way. Does that explanation make sense?

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Can’t we get the Trist nerfs on Live, but keep Worlds on the old patch

Ghostcrawler New PortraitThere is some value in players not having to remember two versions of the game (live vs. LCS) because it’s confusing, but overall we agree that there isn’t much point in holding back good changes from live. My point was that we are unlikely to see changes in worlds themselves. You might see them on live. (We do know that a lot of players do gravitate towards whatever the pros are using, even if the builds are different.)

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The problem with ADCs is they have too much self-peel

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI agree. They already have the advantage of range. They don’t also need excellent movement, survivability and tons of CC. I feel like we often slapped those mechanics on abilities just to give the ability a little oomph, not because the ADCs really needed to be more slippery. Part of the intent is that in a team fight you need to cooperate as a team to keep them alive.

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You’ll always assume the most popular Champion has no weaknesses

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWell to be fair, a lot of champions do lack weaknesses. But we’re pretty happy with Lucian, Vayne and Kog for example. Even if they start to feel over or underpowered we feel like we have dials we can turn there. If we nerf Trist’s damage right now, she probably just goes away as a viable pick. For example, she used to be weaker mid game where she needed a few more items to become really scary. Now she can get like 1-2 and be good to go. She also used to be weaker in lane, but we toned down Lucian’s lane bullying. Without explicitly intending to, we removed her downsides.

I don’t know what specific changes we would make to her. I leave that up to the live team. I’m just presenting the problem.

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Some Supports are clearly better than others\

Ghostcrawler New PortraitTrue, but we did recently update Sona and Soraka is incoming. There have been some pitches for Taric. We’ve had difficulty nerfing Lulu mid a little without nerfing her support ability, but she doesn’t feel that far off either. (And to be clear, she’s fine in mid, so long as that doesn’t push out other mids or push Lulu out of support.) We see a lot of Leona. Janna can do things nobody else can do, so I bet we’re a tiny tweak away from her getting picked.

Caveat: I’m also talking a lot specifically about the NA finals here, because they just happened and I was fortunate enough to watch them live. The sample size is small and those guys, like everyone, have their own personal preferences. They tend to play conservatively (though it’s fun to watch when they don’t) because the price for failed experimentation is pretty high. I’m not sure it should be a goal that each game in a pro match has a different ADC and support from the previous one. (Which is not to say Nidalee getting banned or Trist getting pick/banned most games is the target either.)

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GC Talks Balance Banner



ADC meta is going to stay like that as long as you’re in charge

Ghostcrawler New Portrait Is this because of the discussion a few weeks ago when I said melee need love? 

If we look at the NA finals (which certainly aren’t the only measure of balance but they’re fresh on my mind) we saw Corki, Jinx, Lucian, Kog and a whole lot of Trist. I may have forgotten one. Of those, Trist (and maybe Kog) are the ones we worry about being too dominant.

We think it’s safe to say that the ADC itemization tweaks from a few patches ago, while noble in their goal, ended up removing some of the weaknesses that Tristana had. I’m not sure what steps the live team will take to make sure Trist has some kind of weakness again, but when we last discussed it, we all agreed it was a problem. Interestingly, we see her used less in Korea so it will be fun to see how this all shakes out in worlds.

Again, LCS picks aren’t the only measure of champ power that we use, but we know they do heavily influence picks in normal ranked play.

Apologies for the derail, since the original topic wasn’t ADCs at all, but I wanted to share our thoughts on the issue. If you have feedback on the Cas or Soraka updates, we’ll make sure the respective designers see it.

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Questions about GC’s past, Cassiopeia and Soraka’s reworks


Its Ghostcrawler. What did you expect, a rework that makes any sense?? Let me point you to the many ‘reworks’ we had in WoW… Oh ya, they all went just like this as well.


Ghostcrawler New PortraitI don’t do champ updates and I don’t tell that team what to do, other than offer some higher level design direction. What I am interested in is the long term health of the game. So questions like “How do we position melee so they have a chance against ranged champions without just pumping up their passive stats?” is something I am involved in. So is making sure you guys have some insight into why we make the changes we do. More on that below.


Just a question, how do you explain the fact that since you’ve joined Riot ranged champions have been dominant over melees for the most part of your time being here?


Also since I have been here, Riot has updated SR and announced Worlds in Korea. I also can take close to zero credit for either of those decisions. If I were to secretly or overtly tell the designers that our mission is to make ranged dominant but shhh don’t let any players know of our plan, I’m pretty sure I’d be fired. This is a business, not any one developer’s private toy box.


Would you at least care to comment on why cassiopeia is being changed from the poison dot queen to just a ryze 2.0?


You’d be better off talking to the designer working on that update. IIRC the direction was to give her more of a late carry feel at the cost of some of her lane bullying potential, but I’m pretty sure nobody here wants to see a hyperscaling, CDR crazy snake Ryze.


I’m pretty sure at this point the respective designers (it’s Morello really for Soraka) don’t care about the issues the community has with the reworks.


Couple of things. Morello isn’t doing that update. He doesn’t do those either. He feels like he needs to comment because for so long he told players that we thought a true healer wasn’t healthy for League. We are trying it anyway with Soraka, so he wants to provide context for this apparent change of heart.

Second, we understand that champ updates aren’t likely to be greeted with universal acclaim. Some players like broken champs because they’re broken. Others want to see them fixed, but have a specific direction they’d like to see that is sometimes at odds with the direction we choose. We have been trying to articulate our thinking in patch notes, forecasts and rundowns to make that direction clear. Ultimately we do want players to feel like they have lots of options in who they play, and don’t want them to feel that a favorite champion is doomed to stay non-viable in competitive play. That’s a compass heading and not the kind of thing we can fix overnight. There are a lot of updates needed.

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Do you want Ranged champions to have more influence than Melee

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI think ranged champions are too dominant and I’d like to see melee bring more to the table than “I hit hard if I can ever close the gap.” I don’t think that’s a simple matter of just buffing melee stats, because then the seesaw just tips in the opposite way: ranged can never kill a melee until the latter is in their face, at which point the melee dumps out all their CDs and gets a kill. (It also makes melee vs melee duels pretty boring because they are both soaking a lot of damage.)

We want to rework fighters. It’s a big project and not the kind of thing you are going to see in a patch or two. I know that’s frustrating, but really our only options on large scope changes like this are to talk about them early (in which case it’s frustrating that you see no action for a long time) or we don’t talk about them (in which case it’s frustrating because you don’t know if we even acknowledge the problem or are formulating a solution). The option of “just fix everyone next patch” isn’t really an option.

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The ADC itemization changes harmed the game

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt was something the design team as a whole wanted to do. The problem we were trying to fix was having such static, pre-determined build orders for ADCs. In retrospect you can argue that the change caused more overall harm to the game than good, but at the same time, if we’re super paranoid about making any change with long-term ramifications, it just means we’ll make fewer changes overall.

If anything, the ADC itemization changes (in 4.11 IIRC) illustrate how hard it is to touch one part of the game without touching everything else, which further complicates really big projects like a melee rework. We can try to make larger changes in preseason where players tend to be more understanding of disruption, but there are probably inevitably going to be times when we make a change for a good reason, but have to follow it up with a lot of other changes in subsequent patches.

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We don’t like you because of what you did to WoW

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWhat I did on WoW is get out on forums and twitter and talk to players. That is the only reason most players even know my name and not many of the other leads. I plan on still communicating though, hopefully even more so.

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Soraka and Sona Banner



Current state of Sona and suggestions for buffs

Here’s a link to the whole post; it’s a good read if you’re interested in an analysis of post-rework Sona.

Fearless New PortraitHey all, just wanted to hop in here and say that I have read this post and have been thinking about what next steps Sona needs or can support. Initial thoughts are that while Sona is slightly less successful, she’s still very much on the winning side, so justification for straight buffs is pretty weak.

Usability changes are still something I’m very much interested in attempting, but finding ones that don’t increase her power dramatically may take some extra time. I can’t commit to anything, but I did want to let everyone know that we’ve still been talking about Sona, and we do want to make sure she’s satisfying, even if she’s not in need of straight buffs.

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Will other healers receive changes like Soraka in her rework
Scruffy New PortraitSoraka is an exception in this case: we want to give her healing that is so much stronger than any healer we have ever tried in League before that the health cost becomes a necessary tradeoff.

Healing like Sona’s or Nami’s is within a more ‘standard healing’ amount that wouldn’t need a health cost to stay balanceable.

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What would make Soraka’s heal better than Sona’s

Scruffy New PortraitTo sort of simplify it a bit, Soraka has pretty much the same heal as Sona’s W but on a 2 second cooldown instead of a 10 second cd.

So both the overall sustain and the burst healing are more. This is where health cost comes in, we want her to have extreme healing power that she doesn’t just spam and has to think about when to use it and how.

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Soraka’s new passive seems pretty bad

Vesh New PortraitOk so let me explain a bit about the reasoning here.

The goal is to let armor and MR purchases still make Soraka tanky, but in the correct ways. For each point of armor and MR you have, each individual health point becomes a higher effective amount. The ways we don’t want Soraka to be tanky are in the short window of burst, because we feel that Soraka needs to be vulnerable if she’s allowed to spam low CD heals on her whole team.

We -do- want Soraka to be survivable over the long run of the fight however. This means that the health return she gets for landing Q restores similar amount of -effective- HP in the long term because you still have 80% of the mitigation as raw stats and 20% of the value as AP that is effecting the value of the heal. Does that make sense? 

Defensive stats still make her scale defensively, but a lot of that defensive power comes from her health regen being stronger, and when she has resists each point of HP is “worth” more, causing the value of the health return to scale in two ways at once. This way we can adjust how much of her long term tankiness needs to be dependent on hitting Qs and how much should just be stats. If we find that the health return isn’t offsetting the lack of resists, we can simply increase how much AP she gets per point of resits. It’s already in her favor currently (each point of armor/MR is worth 20 gold and AP is worth 21.75 I believe).

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Why not make Soraka’s W heal cost a % of Current HP, not Max HP

Vesh New PortraitThis gets asked a lot so let me explain. As you get close to the 50% mark, you create a pretty binary situation where if the enemy doesn’t have the tools to burst you, you basically get to sustain your carry infinitely as your costs get lower. Additionally, it creates weird incentives about how much health you ideally want to have to be the most efficient. With the % current model, it’s actually way more efficient to keep your health low, but we don’t really want to *encourage* people to tank their health down for efficiency. ideally, you want to stay as healthy as possible all of the time.

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Will the Store be revamped

Saberprivateer New PortraitThanks for the question. We ARE working on revamping the store as well. The first target for the Unlock team will be the boost page. This is part of a larger effort where we’ve been getting feedback from players and diving into the overall design. In parallel with that the team has been working hard on improving the infrastructure. There is a lot we can do to improve the experience in the store!

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Will Sion receive changes before his rework like Urgot

Meddler New PortraitFair question, in this case I’d argue what’s good for one champ doesn’t suit another though. That’s because Sion’s kit update is a lot closer than Urgot’s. Urgot’s is sometime next year, and not at the start, at the very earliest. Sion’s also in a better spot effectiveness wise than Urgot was. His kit’s pretty disjointed, but it’s more feasible to be an effective team member as Sion at present than it was on pre 4.15 Urgot. 

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at [email protected]