Soooo as some of you may have heard, we’ve been working on some pretty big changes to Soraka. Hopefully this post will help you guys see some of the challenges we faced with her as a character and how we are looking to resolve them while creating a really deep and interested play experience that no other character in LoL can offer.
Right then, so first thing first. We wanted to carve out a really specific niche for Soraka so that we could make her really strong and unique in that role. The role that we identified for her was as the core healer of the League of Legends roster. So, I’m sure that raises a bunch of alarm bells for a number of you.
“Wait a second, hasn’t Morello said in the past that he hates healers in LoL? What changed?”
Well, there’s a difference between healing with and without meaningful costs and interaction. Let’s talk about that for a second. With Live Soraka (and especially season 1 Soraka, if you were around for that), heals tend to “undo” action at the cost of mana. Specifically, being a sustain fountain that clicks your ally until they are healthy doesn’t create a very compelling gameplay space, and certainly doesn’t feel like a fair interaction to enemies. After all, all they can do is keeping harassing until Soraka runs out of mana. So then, what would feel fair?
That was the core problem I was looking to solve when I started on Soraka. After some early iterations, Morello pitched something crazy to myself and RiotScruffy. What if Soraka had to pay her own health to heal allies, but could then get it back through a separate enemy-interactive spell? ;
This became the driving vision behind the new Soraka, and I’m really excited to share what’s going to be hitting PBE in the next cycle with you guys. This is not going to be a tl;dr post (if you want that version, I’m sure you can wait for blakinola’s). I want to get in depth about every choice that was made and why we felt it was necessary. So without further to do, here’s the kit. (This is going to go in the order most conducive to walking you through my process, so don’t get confused when I start on W).
PLEASE PLEASE note that all of these numbers are definitely not final. We will be doing a lot of tuning over the next couple of weeks.
This is the core of Soraka’s new kit. It’s a 4 second (scaling down to 2) heal that she can use to constantly direct her attention to the ally that needs it most. We are trying to really capture the feeling of the core healer that is constantly managing her allies’ health bars and keeping people alive. As I mentioned previously, the % health cost is necessary to allow Soraka to have such insane potential healing. Using this spell, you can easily heal an ally from almost dead to full health, but you will pay a heavy cost for doing so if you aren’t actively engaging in your offensive loop (Starcall). The Max Health cost was chosen very specifically over a flat health cost so that Soraka would not be able to increase her overall healing potential by stacking tank items (especially warmogs). If Soraka is going to be allowed to keep people alive in fights, she needs to be vulnerable in doing so. Soraka’s positioning and decision making will be a huge point of mastery. That reminds me, the cast range on this spell will be rather short. This is necessary to make sure Soraka is accessible when she chooses to heal and can’t sit 800 units behind the back line and heal from total safety (seriously, this is the most frustrating thing ever to have to deal with). Good news though, she will have other tools on her kit to help her here.
This passive we called “Astral Ambulance” internally. Because Soraka’s cast range on W needs to be constrained, we need to give her another way to reliably reach the targets she wants to heal. This new passive allows Soraka to keep up with the fight and make clutch saves by sprinting across the river to get that heal off.
The second potion of this passive allows Soraka to get the cool bonus effects off items like Frozen Heart while making your healing and damage stronger. This should open up a couple cool new itemization choices for her. It also serves a potential release valve in a future where mitigation itemization allows Soraka to be too tanky. This way we can tune how strong Soraka is in certain areas (healing/damage) without just flat out nerfing her if she is ever able to become too tanky.
That brings us to the new Starcall. I don’t think you guys need much of an explanation of why the previous starcall needed to be cut. It was essentially a ramping damage PBAoE ability on a character that is supposed to be a support focused around her ally. A ramping damage pattern like this is really indicative of tanks, and if we wanted Soraka to be an interactive and fair healer, we had to give her opponent a way to be successful against stopping her healing.
Ideally, we wanted this spell to be very reliable at close range (when Soraka is at extremely high risk) while be equally as powerful but less reliable at long ranges (so that if Soraka is poking with it her opponents can dodge). This led us to a targeting paradigm similar to Corki Q or Twitch W (basically a missile that doesn’t have any effects until the end where it blows up in an AoE). To really accentuate the reliable-when-close paradigm, we also added a small sweet spot in the middle of the AoE (think Leona ult style). If Soraka hits an enemy with the sweet spot, the enemy takes 150% of the damage and is slowed for 2 seconds. You’ll see why this slow is really important to her offensive pattern when we get to E, but one other thing I wanted to point out was that this is one of the few tools she has to stay safe when she’s by herself.
Finally, let’s talk about the E. Soraka’s previous E was one of the better decision points on her old kit, but a targeted silence just wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been. A lot of the time you don’t even realize how much you have or haven’t hurt your opponent. Tryndamere and Riven are both AD stacking melees. If you use it on Tryndamere, it might not be a big deal, but if you use it on Riven she literally can’t do anything. What we really wanted to do here was give Soraka a much bigger moment when it came to play making that still fulfilled the power of quickly silencing a dude quickly
Equinox is an incredibly powerful spell. An AoE silence zone is no laughing matter, and the root at the end allows her to make some really cool plays (dropping it where Lissandra is about to blink to, or underneath an incoming enemy teleport, etc.) The root will scale with level, but once again try not to focus on numbers since these are all subject to change with tuning.
Wish is largely unchanged, but because her old passive was removed (more healing at lower ally health), this scaling was kept on wish but concentrated into a clear threshold.
This change allows Soraka to understand exactly how many “bonus heals” she is going to get when she presses the button, and also makes the spell just generally more powerful when it matters (anytime the ally is below 40% they get the equivalent power of being at 1% with the wish on Live currently). We kept the healing scaling on Wish and not on W because we didn’t want Soraka to allow her ally to drop to dangerously burstable levels just so she could get a slightly better heal on a basic ability. Soraka should always want to keep her allies at the safest health she can (while also managing her own health) and we felt that a bonus heal on W not only encouraged play that was often wrong, it also felt really baity for the enemies. Keeping the “flash heal” button and the big saving cooldown separate allows us to make sure each has a clear and satisfying purpose.
So that’s the kit.
I guess I want to close by talking about how this Soraka is not going to play like anything else in League of Legends. We’re taking a lot of risks by basically allowing Soraka to put herself at near death, but the gameplay experience of the core healer is something we really want to explore. We’re willing to try some risky stuff to accomplish a cool niche champion like this, and we will be watching her really closely on PBE to make sure she isn’t doing anything overly abusive.
We’re really excited about what this champion could provide to players who love to play combat healers, and we’ll be doing plenty of tuning on PBE to make sure she’s in the best place possible upon release. Please remember that regardless of whether she is strong or weak on PBE (or even on release) that we are building a champion that we are comfortable buffing up even if she is weak, so bear with us as we get her into a good spot in the coming weeks.
I’ll be around to discuss all of this stuff with you guys, so fire away with any questions you might have!
Hi everyone, a couple of weeks earlier I shared some preliminary peeks into what the Viktor gameplay update will bring. Today I am here to talk in more detail regarding the kit changes as we near completion.
OBLIGATORY THIS IS NOT FINAL THINGY
We’ve already talked about the passive, and not much has changed from what I spoiled back then. Viktor is able to upgrade his Hex Core 3 times, and each upgrade will allow him to augment a basic ability & grant AP and mana. The completed item will be certainly slot efficient and grant a load of AP in the late game.
We talked about the Q somewhat in intentionally vague terms. The Q is gaining a significant increase in range in exchange for significant reduction in damage. The lost damage will be made up as Viktor will gain a strong damage modifier on his next basic attack, akin to Lich Bane.
This is intended to divorce the utility portion of the Q from the damage portion while keeping it a targeted spell. Viktor should be able to gain access to his shield and speed boost (with augment) from a safer distance, and decide whether he can risk coming in closer to deal the bulk of his damage.
but Viktor’s autoattack sucks!
Not THIS one
The augment on the Q remains the speed boost. The divorce of the utility and damage opens up offensive use cases of the augment (to get closer to land your other spells with higher accuracy), and should be a strong contender for 1st augment.
One last thing, the shield, speedboost and on next hit are all granted upon cast. You can finally shield an enemy’s spells on reaction.
This is all in all a fine spell with very strong potential. However its lack of range makes it very difficult to utilize in non-defensive ways. The spell has also had its range increased significantly (but not as much as live Augment W) to clarify Viktor’s engagement range to be around his R range. In exchange, the enemies will be warned earlier that the trap is opening beneath them. This should both increase usability of the spell for Viktor but keep it feeling fair for the enemy.
The W augment no longer increases range but sucks in enemies that are stunned by it to its center. This will allow Viktor to both function as a very strong follow up AOE burst (someone else probably needs to initiate for him) and enhance his kiting gameplay against the front line of the enemy who he ends up fighting against due to lack of jumps. This is probably the 3rd augment to take in most situations but if you need to kite a lot or foresee a mid level teamfight it could be taken earlier.
The Lazer of Death is an iconic spell on viktor and we have fought very hard to keep its numbers intact on the base spell. Nothing much has changed, it is still the thing we all love and hate.
The E augment on the other hand, has undergone significant changes. It will no longer apply a DOT on hit, but instead an explosion will follow the initial laser’s wake. If Viktor hits both the laser and the explosion, Viktor will deal more damage than the Augmented E on live. This will be a net nerf as the reliability hit is significant, and the spell will be weaker as poke, but stronger for waveclear or in combination with other spells .
I said back then that the R is also undergoing a big change, unfortunately the change we planned did not pan out and the R will stay very similar to what it is on live. Not much more to talk about here.
So there it is, the updated Viktor should become a strong followup mage that excels as a secondary AOE wombo, and deals strong sustained damage against the front line with his Q and R. Hopefully we will meet again soon when phase 2 of the Glorious Evolution commences as I will leave you with one last tease.
Next season, we’re excited to officially announce that we will be expanding the NA LCS and EU LCS to 10 teams. We’re looking forward to this team expansion to bring more diversity of talent and new gameplay into the professional scene in North America and Europe.
In order to fill these new team spots, we’re introducing a onetime event called the Expansion Tournament. The tournament will take place after Worlds and will pull teams from the ladder. Teams that lose in the Promotion Tournament will still have another chance to qualify for the LCS as they will automatically be entered into the Expansion Tournament. We’ll confirm official dates, tournament structure, and format soon, but we wanted to let everyone know it was happening before we all get swept up into the excitement of Worlds.
POSSIBLE CIRCUIT POINTS
We also wanted to share that we’re seriously considering introducing some form of circuit points to the LCS tournament structure. Points would bring more weight to the Spring Split and help make every playoff match more significant due to the awarding of these valuable points. We do have some concerns about the intuitiveness of this point system, specifically as it pertains to new viewers.
We want to ensure the point system enforces that teams should always play their best as well as gives all teams from both splits a fighting chance at advancing on to the NA Regionals and Worlds. We’re currently running simulations to find the ideal solution, but we’d like to open it up to the community for point distribution suggestions and feedback. Tell us what you want to see around potential LCS circuit points.
Based on more teams entering the LCS, we will be updating the format and some policies for next season, and we’ll share the final details after Worlds. We’ll continue to provide insights into some of our thinking and considerations for 2015 along the way to Worlds.
Don’t forget to share your ideas for potential circuit point systems in the comments below. We’ll also be watching the forums and other community channels.
Also the team has certain issues with the validity of the format in that it’s a much different type of strategic planning that rarely is used during the season – doesn’t seem like a great way to end an epic best-of series.
Decided to go for a set of high confidence changes and then assess how they’ve affected Urgot before looking at more experimental changes such as the W mana scaling. Urgot still has some core issues unaddressed, lack of sufficient counterplay at times in particular, so we need to be cautious about just giving him raw power.
We’ll do a rework and it’ll almost certainly include some substantial changes. That’s still quite a long way off though, hence these smaller changes in the meantime to try and get Urgot into a better spot until then.
There are a lot of champions that we need to update. Many factors to into determining what the order of attack is, including art resources, coordination with visual updates, waiting for engineering support, or sometimes just the passion of the designer or having a clear idea for how to update someone.
Combining reworks and VUs together is both more efficient and gives us a lot of more options in terms of how we can improve a champion’s kit. A VU means we’ve got the freedom to create new spells, get different animations, get new sounds etc. Without that we’re working within a much narrower space. Sometimes that’s fine – some champions just need numbers adjustments (even if substantial). For a champion like Warwick though that’s not the case, there are some solid changes we’d like to make but they require a combination of both art and game design changes.
Yeah, we’re going to test out a more consistent version of the ult, hopefully for a patch soon (needs some visual adjustments since the timing’s changing a bit, so can’t commit to an exact timeline). It’s a change that’s part of his rework and has tested well that’s probably a good fit for being pulled forwards by itself.
Vlad’s Q is often the example we also use of an ability with no decision making. Shameless plug: I think we mention it in the design PAX panel this Saturday. It’s the kind of thing we are likely to eventually update.
Not every decision needs to be a huge decision and not every interesting decision needs to have huge consequences for using it wrong. As an example, many Qs are on a pretty short cooldown, because while it is rewarding to use an ability at the right time and feel smart for doing so, it also feels unrewarding to not be able to hit hotkeys very often.
RiotWingfield: Hey Everyone!
Just wanted to clear up what’s going on here. All regions are getting 3 days of double IP. NA is 8/30 – 9/1 while all other regions are 8/29 – 8/31. NA is pushed back a day so people can take advantage of the Monday off for Labor Day.
The post referenced is an error on our end, so we apologize for the confusion. It should be corrected shortly.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.