Welcome to the Rework Forge, a series where we theorycraft reworks for Champions that have fallen out of glory over the seasons. Each week I plan to cover one Champion, going over thematic strengths, why that Champion is currently weak and my proposed rework. I’d like to turn these articles into discussion points, so if you have a crazy idea for the Champion in question, I’d love to read it in the comments!
There’s been some talk about Soraka’s issues this year and she’s suffered a lot of reactionary nerfs to her solo-lane dominance. Morello confirmed she’s slated for a full rework, so I figured I’d run this article a little differently. Instead of tweaking Soraka’s existing spells, I chose a completely new path for her kit, while preserving her concept.
Before we get to “Constellation Soraka”, my vision for a better Soraka, let’s talk about why Soraka is even a problem.
Here are the highlights of Soraka’s design:
- Dedicated healer, more effective in combat than outside of it.
- Passive support, focused on sustain and poke.
- Complete lack of movement crowd control, targeted silence for poke/peel.
- Long range on support abilities, tiny danger zone (Starcall).
- No skillshots.
- Dual use of her E, restores mana and peels for allies by interrupting combo-based Champions.
- Decision-making is based on long cooldowns.
- Zero kill potential unless the enemy commits.
- Global heal.
My main gripe with Soraka is that she occupies a really unique theme – celestial being that supports her allies – and wastes it, by being absolutely binary and non-interactive in the game. In fact, she’s so predictable that the only way she can be powerful is through high numbers and when those numbers get nerfed, she’s back to being an underwhelming pick in any lane. She’s a one-trick-unicorn (note, unicorns are just upgraded ponies) in that you know everything a Soraka player can pull off and there’s very little space to show player mechanics or game knowledge.
Starcall is essentially a Shyvana burnout with an MR shred. Her passive, although fitting with her theme, is just there to revert some of the harsh nerfs. Astral Blessing is shoehorning her into a completely passive role. Only Infuse and Wish can actually be balanced without being completely scrapped and that should be an indicator of how awkward Soraka’s current design is.
Soraka’s core archetype is a combat healer, meaning her strength comes from healing and supporting allies during a fight. Aside from that, not a lot of what Soraka is right now seems worthy of preserving. The lack of skillshots isn’t making her design coherent like, say, Akali – it’s just limiting her options. The short range on Starcall also conflicts with her squishy nature and need to save Astral Blessing for her carry. Even in a duo lane, it’s impossible to die to Soraka unless you over-commit. This, coupled with her high sustain, puts Soraka in a position where she cannot initiate moves on her own and is left to just assist other people’s calls. Not that she should necessarily be a play-maker, but making her completely incapable of doing it seems like it doesn’t fit any theme, healer or otherwise.
In short, I’ve broken down the things I believe define Soraka, scrapped what’s boring and outdated on her kit and focused on fleshing out the fun parts of her design.
Soraka dominating lanes alone is a problem, because it prevents Support Soraka from being relevant. Healers aren’t supposed to thrive on their own without the help of their team. If they do, they create a bubble of passive play that only rewards safe picks. In my rework, I’ve sacrificed solo lane Soraka completely. I don’t think she’s worth keeping around if it means I can make Support Soraka a unique character.
Constellations [ Passive ]
Casting a beneficial spell onto an ally creates a tether between Soraka and that ally. For as long as Soraka remains connected to her target, she can cast her spells from both ends of the tether. There is no maximum amount of teammates that Soraka can link this way. Every leash has a total range of 750, after which it breaks the connection between Soraka and her ally. Connected tethers also disappear if the first one breaks.
This one is as wacky as mechanics in Arena-style games go. The thematic inspiration I obviously got from Soraka being Starchild; in a way, you’re crafting constellations through interacting with your team. How this passive ties into Soraka’s gameplay is where it gets intriguing - my goal was to create a kit that revolves specifically around Constellations and keeps as many of Soraka’s established themes as possible while making her a ton of fun to play.
As we go through my ideas for Soraka, I’ll explain how Constellations interacts with her kit.
Starcall [ Q ]
Soraka targets an area. After a 0.4 second delay, a star falls at the location, shattering for 40/65/90/115/140 (+0.4 AP) magic damage and marking enemies hit. For the next 3 seconds, damage from allied Champions will consume the mark and apply 20/35/50/65/80 (+0.2 AP) magic damage and a 35/40/45/50% slow for 2 seconds that diminishes over the duration. Soraka cannot consume the mark on her own.
Soraka passively stores Starcalls, up to a maximum of 3 at any given time. The storage time is affected by Cooldown reduction.
- INTERNAL COOLDOWN: 3/3/2/2/1 seconds between casts
- STORAGE COOLDOWN: 24/23/22/21/20 seconds to add one stack of Starcall
- RANGE: 900
- COST: 35 Mana + 1 Starcall stack
This is giving Soraka a number of mechanics that reduce her solo-lane presence, while making her an excellent ally on bot lane. To start off, Starcall is now a delayed skillshot with a mediocre pay-off if your teammates don’t interact with the spell. If the mark is triggered, however, it quickly adds the threat of a chain-slow. You are actively shifting between the safety that Starcall’s cast range provides and moving in so your ally can get in close and proc the mark. It’s adding a layer of adaptive gameplay to Soraka that will allow her to fit in more strategies and comps.
The storage system fits well here. Because it’s a targeted AoE spell with a long cast range that ignores minion collision, Starcall can become too overwhelming at poking. The solution would be to inhibit it through a long cooldown, while giving Soraka a threat presence against all-ins via storing Starcalls.
The ability isn’t terribly effective at harassing; it’s more about the synergy between Soraka and her ally to get the maximum out of Starcall. Unlike Braum’s Winter Bite, for example, Starcall doesn’t provide the tools for teammates to catch up. I think Soraka should be less about aggressive all-ins and more about strategic plays and having an ally trigger its CC component makes it so you can’t start fights on your own.
Storing Starcalls also provides decision-making for Soraka. If you decide to harass with the spell, you’ll be missing a lot of utility in fights. I like the rhythm this reworked Starcall creates – in a best-case scenario you hit Starcall once, wait for your ADC to proc the slow and then the two of you take turns applying and consuming marks. In general, relying on your allies in order to take full advantage of your kit makes for really intricate Support design. It’s an idea that I’ve translated over to the rest of her kit, but more on that later.
Finally, both the moderate AP ratio on Starcall’s damage and its storage time being affected by Cooldown Reduction retain Soraka’s classic build – Support Mage who wants items that provide utility and CDR, but can also make an occasional use of AP.
How does Constellations interact with Starcall?
Are you saying I can heal and then leapfrog a 1400-range Starcall onto a target, have my ally proc the slow and secure a kill? I am heavily implying it can be that awesome. Starcall on its own can’t trigger Constellations, but its interaction with the passive is a game-changer; because it’s a slow that only your allies can trigger, you can assist with CC even if you have no hopes of reaching the target.
This is a lot crazier in the context of Soraka’s entire reworked kit and I’ll be getting back to Starcall once it’s time to talk about her ultimate.
Celestial Overflow [ W ]
When cast, Soraka begins channeling, increasing her Armor and Magic Resist by 25/30/35/40/45 for as long as the channel lasts. Soraka can choose any number of allies to transfer healing towards. Each half a second of channeling, Celestial Overflow restores 35/45/55/65/75 (+0.125 AP) Health that is equally distributed among targets.
Maximum channel duration is 2/2.5/3/3.5/4 seconds. At the end of Celestial Overflow, regardless of whether the channel time was interrupted, Soraka is healed for 50% of the amount healed by Celestial Overflow.
- COOLDOWN: 14/13/11/10/9 seconds
- RANGE: 500
- COST: 140/130/120/110/100 Mana
Edited: COOLDOWN: 30 seconds at all ranks (for example)
First, the reason why this new spell may look really overpowered in terms of numbers is because it’s a clearly telegraphed channel that your enemies would want to interrupt more than anything. Balancing Celestial Overflow to a point where it feels rewarding to finish the channel and not completely turning lane dominance and teamfights seems complicated, especially when you consider how game-changing, for example, Katarina’s ultimate is. If Soraka’s core archetype is a healer, she should truly be the master medic on the field. This means crazy heals that rely on circumstances, and a channeled heal seems to fit the gap here between fantasy and implementation.
Celestial Overflow is Soraka’s bread-and-butter spell, it’s why you’d want her on your team. During lane down-time, for example, Soraka can top up her carry from half health to full at level 9 if she finds a safe spot to channel the spell. It’s an obvious game-changer later on; on AP Soraka, interrupting it would be a matter of win-or-loss, much like any channelled ability, since it has a 1:1 AP Ratio for the full duration. On a Soraka that itemizes for durability/utility, it’s still a great spell from early to late game, especially given its 5.4 second cooldown with 40% CDR means you’re almost always channeling it.
Starcall’s low mana cost and ammo system allows me to solve potential issues with Celestial Overflow in lane by aggressively gating the use of the spell early on. It’s a really expensive channel and relies on good positioning and map awareness. The end result should be a powerful heal that doesn’t win the lane on its own.
Because Soraka can only be healed from Celestial Overflow if she’s first healed allies with it, this rework kills solo-lane Soraka. As I’ve explained earlier, I don’t think a solo-lane healer and split-pusher is healthy for any lane and striving to make it viable only brings more issues than it solves.
Wait, doesn’t this make Constellations…
insane? Leapfrogging a channeled heal across your teammates is probably as much fun as it sounds and it’s giving Soraka so much flexibility in teamfights. If her allies are positioned properly, she can essentially split Celestial Overflow onto everyone from a massive distance. Like Starcall, it’s another utility spell that can be brought straight to the front line by clever use of Constellations. The synergy here allows Soraka to quickly maximize the use of Constellations, by casting Celestial Overflow on all her allies and continuing with a barrage of Starcall.
Infuse is boring and straight-forward, but I’d like to keep it that way. For one, I really like the dual use of the spell and that it’s giving a choice for Soraka players how they want to spend the cooldown. I’d like there to be a better balance between silence and mana-gain, especially late-game when you almost always want the silence, but overall Infuse serves an excellent niche for a dedicated healer. The mana return is what makes Soraka a viable lane partner for some Champions and I don’t want my rework to change that.
Infuse is an interesting mix with Constellations, as it allows you to silence someone from really far away. It’s great when you interrupt an important cast in the middle of a teamfight, but Soraka’s poor mobility and range often prevents plays like that and Constellations fits nicely in the context. It also lets you feel godly, like you’re playing Black & White again, controlling those who oppose you however you wish. If we step off the fantasy rails for a bit, a long-range targeted silence is a balance concern and I’m not sure Infuse doesn’t need a rework of some description. As it is, I like how it fits with the rest of Soraka’s kit and her theme.
… is the same! In fact, I only changed the name, because a prophecy is connected to seeing ahead, and as you’ll soon see with Constellations, that’s exactly what her ultimate allows her to do.
But first, here are some thoughts on why Soraka’s global heal is in a good place and shouldn’t be reworked. It’s a really-long cooldown heal, which solves the issue of spammable, high-number heals in a MOBA game. It’s also globally ranged, meaning she can have as much impact on the course of the game as Twisted Fate. It completely fits Soraka, both in terms of gameplay and her celestial theme.
Prophecy procs Constellations on your entire team if they’re close. It instantly lays out the map for Soraka in terms of possible tactics and it doesn’t require as much positioning and build-up as maximizing her range through Astral Overflow or Infuse. The ultimate combines all previous synergies with Constellations; it allows you to immediately put down Starcall, reach allies with Astral Overflow quickly and silence priority targets with Infuse. This interaction makes sense: Constellations won’t be procced on regular use of Prophecy because of its global range. The only time it really shifts the power level is in a teamfight and that’s fine, considering you’re not making use of Prophecy’s range then.
Why not Blood Mage Soraka? (Infuse healer)
I’ve heard this being discussed on forums, even Morello agreed it was a good solution to the healer-in-MOBAs problem. The concept is you sacrifice your own health to heal allies, so the risk/reward ratio of a healer is better adjusted than just straight-up healing someone. Though I appreciate the gameplay concept, I don’t think the blood theme fits in any way with Soraka as a celestial being. One of the reasons I chose Constellations is because it fit her theme perfectly, while contributing to the concept of her new kit.
Scrapped idea for Astral Overflow
I was considering adding a protection layer on Soraka while she was channeling her heal. She would ignore the first instance of crowd control directed at her while using Astral Overflow, allowing her to sacrifice the cooldown of the spell to instantly dodge engages like Leona’s Zenith Blade, a Thresh hook and so on. In teamfights, it would give her better odds at casting a full-duration heal. In the end, I saw too many scenarios where you’d have no counterplay to Soraka. Especially if you have only one instance of Crowd Control, you’d be completely incapable of disrupting Astral Overflow.
Why are you completely deleting Soraka’s old Starcall?
Starcall reminds me of pre-rework Evelynn’s Hate Spike in that it’s a zero-decision spell that has to be spammed. Its the only way Soraka can deal damage and takes time to ramp up, so it’s borderline useless in an all-in. On the same note, if you’re playing the poking game with Soraka in a 1v1, Starcall will always secure lane dominance. In a solo-lane scenario, the spell becomes either an instant wave-clearer if Soraka’s ahead or measly DPS if she’s behind.
Starcall is even more problematic if you’re playing Soraka as a support. If you decide to poke with it you’re getting yourself in too much danger as a squishy mage due to its low range. You’re also pushing the lane, which makes no sense on Soraka since you don’t have any tools to save your carry from a gank.
How are you balancing Astral Overflow in combination with the huge range from Constellations?
Here’s my thought process for Astral Overflow. Because it’s your primary source of proccing Constellations (ultimate has too long of a cooldown, Infuse is single-target), you’ll be often left with this choice – do I risk getting close to my ally that needs a strong heal, or do I transfer a weaker heal via Constellations, but from a safe distance?
This trade of heal strength for extra range is Soraka’s risk/reward ratio for Astral Overflow. I placed the maximum channel duration at 4 seconds precisely to take her out of the fight for longer. Personally I think anything over 4 is making Soraka too static, but numbers are just hypothetical so a longer channel time could solve your concerns.
Astral Overflow would be difficult to get right in terms of numbers. My calculations for when it feels balanced were based on a lot of hypothetical scenarios; for example, can I literally tank the enemy bruiser as an ADC with Soraka channeling the heal specifically towards me?
There will be a lot of edge cases with the spell that need to be properly tested in-game. It’s super powerful, yes, but keep in mind that channeling not only means you’re vulnerable and a priority target; it also means you can’t do anything else for the duration of Astral Overflow.
Why is Starcall applying CC from so far away?
How I theorycrafted Starcall in relation to Soraka’s new passive boiled down to this: how can I make a 1400 range CC on a normal spell that uses an ammo system not broken?
The answer is I add a delay on Starcall that allows players to dodge the ability with a movement spell, but makes it impossible for them to dodge it just by walking if aimed correctly. Eventually, once cooldowns are exhausted, Starcall will connect if it’s targeted on a single enemy. I also tie the CC component to an on-hit trigger from an ally, meaning that your teammate has to follow-up on your Starcall and that’s another variable which makes it a reactive, uncertain spell.
What is life?
Life is one’s journey through this novel-sized article.
This rework was lot of fun to theorycraft, because I had to start from scratch with Soraka. I was practically free to explore her archetype and push it in any unique way I could think of. It’s a lot harder to do than, say, just number tweaks (as was the case with Ashe), because what sounds like a viable idea may fall apart due to an abuse case, underestimated power and so on.
I’m pretty happy with the direction of Constellation Soraka, though it probably has a lot more issues than I could think of right now. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments, both on the rework I’ve proposed as well as any reworks you guys have come up with. What direction should Soraka’s design take?
New to the series? Here are all my previous entries on the Rework Forge: