Gragas Rework and Why Pantheon is Getting Nerfed
A post popped up on the PBE community forums explaining the recent changes to Pantheon.
Pantheon’s one of the biggest benefactors we’ve seen from the recent spirit stone changes, and while we don’t innately dislike him as a jungler, we would like to both add some options for his opponents against his ganks and smooth out his historically lopsided power curve a bit.
The current changelist that’s on PBE is still very fresh and subject to tuning before it hits live, but here is the current full list of changes:
- Now will block the attack of any siege minion or large jungle monster instead of a damage value based on his character level
- Stun duration changed from 1 second at all ranks to 0.5/0.75/1/1.25/1.5
- Channel time reduced from 2 seconds to 0.5
- Landing time (after circle appears) increased from 1.5 seconds to 2
- Cast range reduced from 5500 at all ranks to 2000/2500/3000
- Cooldown reduced from 150/135/120 seconds to 150/125/100
The passive changes are a straightforward modernization of the ability to make it reliably block the minions and monsters that Pantheon wants it to block.
W’s changes are aimed at power curve adjustment and I will be monitoring how much this makes his early ganks less brutal to weigh the gains vs. pain to Pantheon players.
R’s changes are a bit larger in scope and are trying to address a wider breadth of problems. The range reduction is there to allow opponents to ward more effectively versus jungle Pantheon, while the landing time increase is there to give opponents more time to react to an incoming Pantheon gank. The two together may be hurting Pantheon’s level 6 ganks too much, but I tend to go overboard with my initial changes and then tone it back with iterations when I get a better sense of what changes are actually accomplishing. The channel time reduction, on the other hand, is aimed at addressing Pantheon’s ult usability in teamfights and skirmishes. I’m hoping that this will give Pantheon some stronger options when using his ult more reactively, such as being able to escape dicey situations in enemy territory or quickly repositioning mid-teamfight. With this larger emphasis on mid-fight usability from his ult, I also wanted to reduce the late game cooldown so that he will realistically have it as a play making tool in almost every late game fight.
Just to reiterate, these changes are hot off the presses and are subject to go through some iteration before they hit live, but I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging without any context and missing pieces of the changelist.
Gragas has been dominating in competitive play and Solo Queue and is being taken down a notch. Not your usual nerfs this time – we get a full rework! (for better or worse)
Although Gragas in his inception was designed as an AP brawler mixing it up with the enemy, he has historically been played as a mid AP nuke/poker. While we were fine with this, the recent resurgence of Gragas as a top pick has brought to our attention the problems inherent in this playstyle.
Gragas currently possesses strengths of long range burst, tankiness and disengage- carried by AP ratios on Q and R being so high that they will effectively two-shot you. This combination of strengths do not make much sense (why do you need tankiness if you are a sniper? Etc.) and are unhealthy for the game.
However, since Gragas was never designed as a sniper, he does not have enough tools he needs to be a valued pick if he is not two-shotting people. Therefore, just nerfing his current damage numbers will ‘Olaf’ him (his win rates are already super low for most players). When we looked at Gragas as a character, it made much more sense to retain the tankiness while hitting the long range burst damage and grant him the tools to succeed while being in the thick of the fight, rather than turn him into a fragile long range sniper, hence the rework. We are attempting to reposition Gragas as more of a bruiser/tank that better reflects the fantasy of being a large drunk dude who gives no @#$@s while ramming into people.
The direction of the important changes are below, along with the points of feedback (both playing as and against) I am mainly looking for!
- Damage reduced
- Now slows Movement Speed instead of Attack Speed
- Now deals more damage and slows for more as the barrel sits out
This lowers his effectiveness as a poke mage (since no one will be standing in the barrel radius for any amount of time) and gives more incentive to ‘combo’ his spells to knock people into a barrel.
The coolest play Gragas makes is when he uses Explosive Cask to knock the enemy into a Barrel that has been sitting outside and we wanted to incentivize that. The new effect on Body Slam will also synergize with this ability.
Do you feel that this ability gives enough payoff for hitting the charged barrel?
Is his prowess as a poke mage too strong for how much cc he brings?
- Much lower CD and duration, grants a one time hit bonus instead of AD.
- Gragas can also move while drinking.
- No longer restores mana.
The current Drunken Rage is a very dull spell that is simply a chore to upkeep. There are almost no cases where Gragas engages without this buff and there is very sparse gameplay associated with the trigger or the effect.
The new iteration hopes to create a more windowed effect to his DR and damage so there is richer play and counterplay. Also a Gragas who is drinking more often is a more awesome Gragas.
Does the spell grant appropriate defenses to allow Gragas to function in melee?
Is there a pronounced success/failure case when Gragas uses his W at the right time?
- Now stuns and slightly knocks enemies back instead of slowing them.
We have moved some power from Barrel Roll to Body Slam to give him the tools be valuable without needing to deal tons of damage. Gragas should be able to function as a mid-teamfight brawler that acts like a brick wall for enemies trying to get past him and gum up the fight.
Does the spell offer a good enough incentive for you to duke it out in melee?
- Deals less damage
Explosive Cask is already an awesome ability that requires mastery to use to full potential with amazing payoffs. However, currently it deals too much damage that dilutes its own strengths (You don’t care about where you knock the enemy if he just dies from the explosion).
We wanted the spell to be focused on its cool and unique strength – a huge radius ranged knockback.