Table of Contents
All PBE updates from Patch 5.5 cycle:
- [PBE 24/02] Debonair Galio, Kassadin VU, New Katarina & Kassadin Spell Icons, Tower Updates
- [PBE 25/02] Bard, Elderwood Bard, Headhunter Akali, Secret Agent Xin Zhao, Texture Updates
- [PBE 26/02] Headhunter Akali Splash Art, Animated Victory/Defeat Screens, Texture Rebalances
- [PBE 27/02] New Tank Jungle Item and Enchantment, Champion Buffs/Nerfs, Texture Rebalances
Let’s talk about the 2015 season jungle. Up front: we knew the preseason changes were going to make things significantly tougher, but it’s clear we’ve misstepped along the way in both communication and design. Not only have we not done a great job of sharing our thoughts (present and future), but our subsequent changes to the jungle from patch 5.1 to 5.4 have been nerfs to jungle diversity rather than continuing to deliver on our preseason goals.
First, let’s see how we got here. From the beginning we knew that “strategic diversity” would basically become a meme for the 2015 season, but it’s still something we strongly believe in. A lot of players might associate champion diversity with strategic diversity, but it’s more about one feeding into the other. The former is only about what champions get played – even if they’re doing the same thing – while the latter emphasizes champions who can enable a variety of other strategies on a team (objective control, wombo, lane pressure, etc). With Jarvan IV, Vi, and Lee Sin all fulfilling identical roles (with priority given to whoever’s strongest), we know we’re not there.
In line with the above thought, our goal with 2015 was to support a rock-paper-scissors game of jungle styles: ganking, farming, and counter jungling. What we ended up discovering, however, was that counter jungling wasn’t actually a proper response on par with ganking and farming, so jungling went back to who could gank or farm the best (or both).
It’s clear that we’ll need to reconfigure what available playstyles there are for junglers out there, but for now our big focus is getting jungler diversity up before attempting to tackle the larger problem of strategic jungler playstyles (versus champion playstyles like playing Amumu vs. Vi).
So what do we want to do, and how can we get there? High-level we’re still pursuing strategic diversity in the jungle (and, well, all of League of Legends), but we also realize we need to get champion diversity up to support it. Finally, while we intentionally made clearing camps harder and riskier to better differentiate jungler strengths, this has also made the jungle position less satisfying and fun for junglers, so we’re investigating other ways to improve this.
Short-term, here are some tactics:
First, we’re going to be pushing our experimental jungler tank item to the PBE with this patch. We’ve actually been working on it for a little while behind the scenes, but – as we mentioned earlier – haven’t done a great job of communicating that. TL;DR: Juggernaut is being reworked into Cinderhulk, a new Sunfire-esque item build that gives both tankiness and extra clear speeds to the junglers in need.
In terms of auxiliary changes to help get tank junglers get their satisfaction back, we’re going to be looking at a bunch of tank junglers this patch to see if we can give any small buffs in the early game, along with buffs to Gromp’s Poison Armor Smite reward and some early monster damage nerfs. This does mean we’ll need to look at specific dominant champions who are standing (or pouncing) well above the pack, but we’ll have to tread a fine line of balance here. The goal is to get junglers feeling satisfied and empowered to play the position, but we need to be wary of a world where they’re doing so at the cost of everyone else.
Finally, what’s in store for the future? We still believe in creating a compelling set of unique jungle actions beyond just ganking and farming, but haven’t firmly locked down additional paths to support. We have a few ideas we’re really excited about, but we’re definitely looking at making Poacher’s Knife and Skirmisher’s Sabre more robust and exciting items for the future. We’re also going to be examining the feeling of the jungler “potion tax” where junglers always need to be chugging away to stay healthy.
On the communications front, we failed to recognize the stacking pain we’ve been causing junglers through the patches, and that’s something we want to improve. We need to get better at engaging in a healthy dialogue with players while also highlighting our short and long-term goals for the future, and we will.
Wrapping it all up: if it wasn’t clear from our multiple revisions throughout the years, the jungle is a tough position to get right. The jungle needs to test multiple capabilities while also providing the space for a jungler to have impact on the game through different actions, even though right now it’s more focused on high-damage and ganking prowess (which sounds familiar, we know). That said, we’ve never been more confident in our long-term goals – as ambitious as they are – but we know it’s not fair for junglers to languish while we work toward that vision.
We’re definitely committed to opening up the jungle without just giving out power haphazardly, but we’re also hoping that by keeping these communication channels open you’ll help us guide the jungle to a more compelling, diverse, and healthy position in League. We really appreciate your feedback, and we’re excited to continue sharing more of our plans in the future.
I agree that one of the reasons Poacher’s Knife fails because it doesn’t do anything if your opponents take appropriate steps to stop your counterjungling. We’re working on an update to that item (no details yet). One of the goals is definitely ensuring that it’s a valuable item even if you don’t get a chance to steal camps, and ideally there’ll be some fringe cases where it’s the ideal jungle item for you even if you don’t plan to invade.
I would like it to include at least a soft push towards counterjungling on that item, but certainly not the current version where you get nothing if you don’t counterjungle.
As far as trying to make junglers into just one role, that is absolutely contrary to our goals. I realize that that’s how the current jungle feels, but that’s one of the big reasons we feel compelled to act – it’s a problem to be fixed.
The design of Poacher’s Knife assumed that we had made counterjungling broadly desirable. The move speed and such were intended as a useful tool for someone who already planned to do that. The bonus gold was intended to help players understand what to do with the item, NOT to be the primary benefit for counterjungling.
Clearly, that’s not what happened.
We do see counterjungling on live, but it is sporadic and opportunistic – junglers whose plan is mostly to gank lanes happen to see the enemy jungler ganking bot, so they take a camp and get out.
In the short term, we’re going to be embracing that kind of counterjungling and supporting it with an item that might help you do it a little more but isn’t aimed at hardcore, dedicated counterjungle; it might cause you to reprioritize actions a bit, but you’re still doing basically what junglers do. You called out vision, so I’ll just say – vision is a GREAT tool here in some form.
In the longer term, we’d like to land in a place where dedicated counterjungling is a valuable action to take regardless of what item you choose, and then make sure Poacher’s Knife is a strong tool to help you achieve it. You already want to steal that camp if you can get away with it; Poacher’s Knife helps you do that.
So, I personally didn’t communicate the reasoning for a lot of the jungle changes recently in a way that made them look like anything but some pretty harsh nerfs. I understand how painful some of these changes are, and more importantly, how they created a feeling that we weren’t responding to the pain with anything more than further nerfs.
Many of those changes were foundational for the changes we’re going for in 5.5. As an example, giving tanks this sort of power increase and the ability to freely swap between Rangers and Stalkers meant that they quickly power cleared their way to their often mega powered level 6, and then doubled down with lock down power without a trade-off. That change also creates a lot more space for each of the jungle items to have more definition, knowing that each item represents a real choice, not a swap option each time we base.
We really wanted to talk about the changes we were setting up, but there’s a tremendous danger if Cinderhulk hadn’t been successful, for example, and the main reason that we’re sharing our plans for the future now. There is still a risk that things change very quickly for us, but better to deal with that as we have to.
We get where you’re coming from on this, hence why we’re going with these changes sooner than later. There’s certainly a world of ideological design versus player pain and immediate value, and we’re always trying to find the balance between the two.
A new enchantment was added to the PBE recently for testing. It’s aimed squarely at low-damage tank junglers who need it to clear camps faster.
- Grants 350 Health and 25% Bonus Health
- Total cost is 2200 Gold, Recipe cost – 350 Gold (if applied to Stalker’s Blade or Ranger’s Trailblazer the recipe cost is currently 150 Gold, but it’s not intended)
- UNIQUE Passive – Immolate: While in combat, deals 15 (+1 per champion level) magic damage a second to nearby enemies. This increases up to 100% based on time in combat.
We have some big changes for jungle tanks on the PBE today. As you might have seen from our highlight post on the jungle, we’re looking to solve some of gaps between tanks and the rest of the pack with a new tanky enchant as well as making Gromp explicitly reward tanks over other junglers.
First, what was wrong with Juggernaut? First, it wasn’t explicitly improving clear speeds for tanks in comparison to other junglers. Others get to build incremental increases in damage with their components, but tanks just got… tankier without much else. Juggernaut also failed to feel like the foundation of a tanky build, as much as it was simply a decent chunk of stats that could make anyone more durable.
This new enchant builds out of a new component, Bami’s Cinder, which grants +300 HP and a mini Sunfire aura (now the Immolate aura). This gives tanks a boost both in their durability and their ability to get through camps. Once upgraded to Cinderhulk, the enchant gives champions a version of Immolate that ramps up with time-in-combat, rewarding those who are happy to get into the middle of a fight and stay there. The base health on Cinder Hulk is lower than Juggernaut (350 down from 500), but in the place of base stats, Cinderhulk now grants +25% bonus health. This means jungle tanks get more for their gold as they build tanky.
Along a similar line, we wanted Gromp’s Smite buff to do more for tanks that can need the bump in clear power, while not making it a universally powerful clear tool. Gromp’s poison armor now scales up with the bonus health of the owner, allowing tanks to opt into extra clear speed when they need it.
These items are aimed at 5.5, so we’re looking to get lots of coverage for bug fixes and polish to make sure we can see these hit live as smoothly as possible. We can’t wait to test these out with you all!
This is our challenge as well – what conclusion we did come to was that Cinderhulk leads to a stronger “endgame fantasy” (aw yiss season 2014), but you have to want to get to that world to start feeling satisfied. Rengar might not have the greatest lv1 clear but you know he’ll “turn on” at some point, so you know the tradeoffs. Right now tanks just don’t feel as satisfying in the early levels so they can’t see the future.
Some psychological thing about not being able to synthesize the proper mental frame of mind to appreciate something in the future because you assume you’ll be in the same state as now. That was a confusing sentence, sorry.
Anyway tldr would be we’re looking to make early clears a little more satisfying so players on these tanky junglers can feel like they want to get to the Cinderhulk and beyond. It’s partially perception design and partially power design. But we’re definitely trying not to ‘double down’ on these buffs.
Totally reasonable feedback, but there are some elements getting over looked here. The first would be build order. It’s pretty rare that a fighter goes jungle item into Randuins. Fighter’s generally are going to opt into damage items, and eventually grab some health. This means that Cinderhulk is less effective for most of the game for them.
Tanks, on the other hand, will often opt into builds that are very defensively oriented. The nature of defensive stats also mean that the effective health growth on tanks means that even with early frozen hearts, Cinderhulk is going to make tanks noticeably more tanky, while also giving them better access to their gold income.
This is still a bit simplistic, but there’s a reasonable case for Cinderhulk favoring Tanks, and if we find that the current tuning doesn’t make this true, we have the space to change that quickly as needed.
We are considering changes similar to this for other Enchants. Right now, Warrior and Magus are both pretty extreme power spikes, but don’t do much to amp up the rest of your build. There’s very likely some very cool opportunity space to make these items feel better and more like the item that makes all your other items better.
It’s possible, but they’ll get less effective health out of their builds, as they spend more gold on offensive stats. Having some space for them to opt into that trade off is ok. If it ends up being dominant, we’d likely reduce the base health the item gives, and look to increase the long term scaling.
[ Note ] Gragas received buffs to his base mana pool and the maximum damage on his W to monsters. You can check out the buffs HERE.
edit: to be clear by the way this is just a band-aid, not anything in place of actual gameplay/rework changes. those are still coming _^
[ Note ] On the PBE, Nidalee’s trap no longer deals a % current HP damage, but the base damage has been buffed and a 0.2 AP ratio has been added. You can view all her changes HERE.
We’re testing a nerf to Nid’s traps specifically to target her jungle clear speed. She’s currently an extremely fast clearer which, given all the other tools she has, is a strength we don’t think she needs.
That’s correct – we’re not trying to push her out of the jungle entirely with these changes, but we are looking to noticeably reduce her clear speed. Her W’s damage against monsters would be significantly lower under this version, given how much health they have, , even with the buffed base damage.
Can’t think of a good reason off the top of the head, inclination is to standardize that to 100 like most other mana using champs with regular ults. I’ll bounce the idea off the balance team, see whether we want to throw that change into the next possible patch.
[ Note ] You can now view the ‘recent playstyles’ of players on your friend list.
Where’s my updated tooltip?
We’re still in the process of rolling it out. We’ve enabled it in NA and LATAM regions so far. We are rolling out slowly so that we can keep an eye on any issues that may come up and isolate them without affecting other regions.
What do these icons mean?
As many of you noticed, these icons are consistent with Team Builder. The first icon represents the position you typically play the displayed champion in. The second icon represents the role you most commonly fill with that champion.
What even is “Recent Playstyle”?
Our goal with this is to help people looking at you get a quick idea of what you like to play. We look at your recent games, find the champion you play most often, and then the role and position you most often play with that champion. We have special handling for game types where you don’t have agency over you champion choices. This includes the random display for people who play a lot of ARAM, and exclusion of data from other game modes (such as Nemesis Draft).
We think there might still be improvements on what is shown here, so please keep the feedback coming!
[ Note ] Veigar received extensive changes in Patch 5.4. You can check them all HERE.
Our conclusion was that an instant stun, at that range, at that cooldown was blocking Veigar from being a healthy (and therefore able to be made powerful) champion. Adding a delay was the best way to preserve what we felt was the core of the skill (lock down an area, at a range that doesn’t require Veigar to be completely in the middle of the fight).
As a general update our initial take is that Veigar’s looking too weak after these changes. Options we’re looking at include having E stop dashes once the walls are up (people attempting to dash out get stopped and stunned), starting the delay at the start of Veigar’s cast time rather than at the end and reducing the delay on W. None of those are guaranteed changes yet of course, but that’s the sort of direction we’re thinking.
It’s likely we’ll have at least some follow up changes in the next patch (5.5). It will take a little while for people to adapt to the changes to his kit though and for us to assess how that goes. Design changes for patch 5.5 are tentatively scheduled to lock mid next week and that means if bigger changes are appropriate they’ll be in 5.6 (or potentially later).
The niche we’ve got in mind for Varus is a combination of poke and moderate ranged initiation/counter initiation, primarily via his Q and R respectively. We’ve been feeling he’s a bit weak at those for a while and have been gradually buffing him as a result. That’s involved increased mana regen late last year to support poke and increased R width recently to improve his ult’s reliability. Additionally in the upcoming patch (5.5), we’ll be changing his Q cooldown to begin at start of channel, not when he fires the arrow off. That should give him access to more Q casts late game in particular, and make charged shots (as opposed to saving the Q to proc Blight) a bit more attractive.
DJ Sona’s debut album has inspired a wave of awesome community creations. Check out this creative collection of Kinetic, Concussive, and Ethereal fan art to celebrate your favorite track! Don’t forget to click the artists’ names to see more of their work.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.