Home > LoL News, Red Posts, Riot News > [Red Posts 05/12] Plans for Tahm Kench and Malzahar, State of Dragonmaster Swain and Zed’s Chroma Pack, Development of Dragon Trainer Tristana

[Red Posts 05/12] Plans for Tahm Kench and Malzahar, State of Dragonmaster Swain and Zed’s Chroma Pack, Development of Dragon Trainer Tristana

December 4th, 2015


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Zenonthestoic Final PortraitFollowing on from the Mordekaiser Update Follow-Up, here’s our internal design review for Tahm Kench. Please see Statikk’s post on Mordekaiser for more context on what these design reviews are.

I’ll paste the actual review in this first post, but I’ll also have a much more in-depth and verbose explainer posted as the first comment on this thread. I hope you like words, cause I got a lot of em.

I will leave this thread open until Monday.

Original Goals:

  • Make a tank who is not defined by AOE CC or single target pickoff
  • Offer a powerful and cool support function through ally devour
  • Enable strategic map mobility for two people
  • Can be played in multiple positions: both solo and support

What’s working:

  • Ally devour is a big, cool moment for Tahm and his team
  • Tahm is picked frequently as a support, mostly for devour
  • Tahm is played successfully in top, support, and jungle


  • High level of frustration playing against:
  • MS away from enemy means ally devour is never the wrong move
  • Tough skin means killing Tahm feels like not an option either
  • Ult is mostly used solo, particularly outside of competitive play
  • High damage output means Tahm often chases down and kills people where it feels inappropriate for a support to do so

Possible next steps:

  • Ally W no longer has MS away from enemy (going live in 5.24)
  • Encourage cooperative use of R: minimum wait time but quicker arrival
  • Reassess E tankiness: reduce shield duration and/or grey health duration
  • Investigate why some champions cannot opt out of fighting Tahm (more on this below)

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Zenonthestoic Final PortraitGreetings fellow riverboat captains!

Tahm Kench has been swimming up and down Summoner’s Rift for a few months now. At this stage, we typically do a internal follow-up where we sit down and talk about what did and what didn’t work, guided by our original pre-release goals. We’re making that player-facing. Before we dive in (heh), let me just say we’re very much aware that a lot of you feel Tahm is very frustrating to play against. We hear you and none of the things I’m about to say should take away from the validity of what you’re feeling. We may disagree on the why and the what to do about it, but your feelings are valid and we’ve heard you.

Alright, enough touchy-feely stuff. Let’s talk video games.

When we set out to make Tahm Kench, we wanted to make a “tank’s tank”; someone who can become ridiculously hard to kill while having a strongly felt effect on the game (internally we call these “outputs”: how does the game change for everyone else because Tahm is in it?) We also decided in the very beginning of production that his outputs should fall outside the usual tank outputs of “AOE CC an entire teamfight” or “lock down / pull in one guy and enable your team to kill them”.

Halfway through development we pivoted a little from wanting Tahm to be exclusively a gold-taking solo lane tank to embracing his support identity, but we liked the thought that we could deliver a champion who succeeds in different roles. We hadn’t made one of those in a while (Bard, Rek’Sai, Kalista, and Azir are all very strongly role-bound, and Gnar’s jungling is at best a super niche build) and we thought it’d be neat to enable player experimentation.

Some things we obviously nailed: Tahm is tanky as all get-out and cannot be ignored. His output is a uniquely powerful ally saving move; not only is it strong, it is also super cool. Saving that low health squishy with a flash W creates a strong “holy shit Tahm, you just saved my life” moment for your ally.

Here’s what didn’t work out: we expected that ally devour would be somewhat frustrating for the enemy, but we failed to predict just how bad it would be. We’ve clearly heard your feedback that the champion is frustrating to play against, but we also have other data points to back this up. When supports enter the top 3 of most banned champions, something tends to be off. Soraka’s recent rise in bans due to our changes to Grievous Wounds and the addition of the Windspeaker’s Blessing mastery is one good example of this. Clearly enough of you are so frustrated playing against Tahm that you’re happy to spend one of your three bans on him.

So let’s talk about this. We have always known that uniquely strong safety moves will create frustration. Some amount of frustration is absolutely a necessary part of the game. Frustration at your plans not working out or the enemy outplaying you is an essential low moment in a PvP game like League, which buys us the high moments when things do work out. So frustration per se is not a bad thing. It’s when a moment feels unfair or like there was nothing else you could have done that we have a problem.

Part of this was a last minute decision to give Tahm MS away from the enemy with an ally in his stomach. This came out of lane testing, particularly when Tahm and his ally lost their lane. It felt like there was absolutely nothing Tahm could bring to the table once the lane started to go against him. Particularly when the enemy kept ganking to drive the advantage home, Devour never seemed to help. We may have overreacted to feedback here.

Devour should feel like a sacrificial move. The Tahm player should feel like he saved an important ally’s life at the cost of his own or of at least a good chunk of his health. The 20% movement speed away from enemies means that not only does Tahm save a friend, he thereby also buys himself more safety. Stripping this mechanic was a no brainer; expect to see this change for 5.24.

There are two more contributing factors to the feeling of frustration I want to talk about real quick. One is that he just seems unkillable, and the other is that he outputs a buttload of damage.

Tahm’s E is a necessary tool for a tank champion, but the exact tuning may be off. The active should be the button that allows him to wade into the thick of things and pick up an ally in need, and the passive should make it so he doesn’t just straight-up lose to any amount of poke. Our current feeling is that both the amount of time over which the shield decays might be too long (turning the shield from an anti-burst tool to a “lol I got two health bars” tool over the duration of a typical teamfight) and the delay before grey health turns back into health might be too long, making it too easy for Tahm to get to full shield. We’ve not made up our minds about this yet, but it’s on our radar.

Finally, damage. Tahm has the potential to do an exceptional amount of damage for a tank. Abyssal Voyage’s passive is tuned to be very strong. On any champion who has the tools to get to you and stick to you easily this would almost certainly be problematic. But we cannot look at a mechanic in a vacuum (the poor guy would suffocate). Against most of our roster, Tahm does not have the tools to get to an enemy and stick to them. Nearly every ADC should be able to kite him, anyone with a mobility tool should be able to opt out of fighting him, and so on. We believe that as long as Tahm’s stickiness and catch potential remain as low as they are, it is okay for him to have the damage he does.

There are edge cases that may need looking at here. For one, if you go into a 2v2 trade that turns into a 1v1 and you’re now in melee range of a Tahm who already has 3 stacks on you, you will likely not be able to get away from him without a kiting / mobility tool. Yes, there are certain champions that don’t have any of these tools and they just never can 1v1 Tahm, which feels bad against a support. So the TL;DR on his damage is: yes it’s very high, but the problem is that certain champs can’t opt out of fighting him when they should be able to. If anything, we’d look at that.

We have some thoughts about the cooperative use of Tahm’s ultimate as well, but I’ve been going on for too long already. How do you feel about Tahm’s current state? Do you disagree strongly with any of the above?

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What are your plans for Malzahar

Malzahar Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitWe haven’t really locked down which champions we’re likely to work on yet, as their ship date is still likely a long way out. For you or any other Malzahar players out there, what kinds of things would you like to see done with him? And what kinds of things would you not like to see or see left alone?

edit: Wow, I went to sleep and woke up and this has 60 new comments. Thanks everyone!

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Will it be possible to improve Malzahars auto attack animation

Repertoir New PortraitA lot of people mention this. Seems like it’s worth giving some love to.

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Why not change the AD scaling on his Voidlings It doesnt make sense

Repertoir New PortraitI think their oddness (especially their AD elements) may be really important to a lot of Malzahar players.

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The Voidlings are unreliable and they should be a core of Malzahars kit

Repertoir New PortraitI really like how you talk about the relationship between Malz and his Voidling. I think figuring out what the Voidling’s – errrrrrrrrrr Steve’s – personality is and how that blends into the pair’s relationship is probably really key to having the most interesting gameplay for Malzahar. Thinking about questions like “What does Malzahar want Steve to do for him?” but also ones like “What kinds of mischief does Steve go off and find himself in?” Personally, Steve is more interesting when he gets into some mischief, as long as that mischief is due to AI that seems reasonable and learnable by the Malzahar player.

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Malzahars current kut is awkwardly split between AoEs and DoTs

Repertoir New PortraitI have to admit, I don’t have particularly strong feelings towards W and Q, but that’s the kind of thing I’m trying to gauge here. For W, I think its uses in zone denial and anti-tank properties are nice and appreciable for the Malz player (and I like it’s old but cool particles), but the actual act of laying down an instant cast puddle under someone’s feet before ulting them isn’t actually skillful. For the Q, it’s a cool cast paradigm that feels pretty darn good to hit, but it’s odd that he frequently layers the suppression from his R over the silence on Q, effectively wasting a lot of the Q’s value.

That’s just mostly how I feel personally. Mostly interested in what others think, however.

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Can you share how Dragon Trainer Tristana legendary skin was developed

[ Note ] Dragon Trainer Tristana is available for purchase. You can find an in-game preview of her HERE.

Dragon Trainer Tristana Banner Single

Galetta Final PortraitYo!

So I was trying to think of any like note worthy things in development of the skin and I have a few.

  • The skin was actually started over a year ago before Tristana’s visual update, and by started I mean concepted based on her old model. But once we saw what champion update was cookin (CUTE STUFF) we decided to wait and re-concept her with the new model in mind. With the new model we were able to make Riggle bigger and it gave us ultimate freedom with her animations.

  • One of the first animation to be completed was her AMAZING death animation….the entire team (like 40 people) groaned and made sad noises when it was shown in our team review. Lol
  • Her animations were done by a team of all male animators, so a team of grown ass men made all dis cute! Even the dance. :3
  • Aside from that stuff we pretty much left nothing on the cutting room floor. We got all of the VO, SFX, animations, and particles that we wanted, this skin was a real labor of love. We really wanted the bond between Tristana and Riggle to feel as real as possible and I think we did it based on the community’s reaction to her. 😛

If you have any more questions let me know, and I can most likely answer them!

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Was Dragon Trainer intended to be a legendary skin before Tristanas VU

Galetta Final PortraitYeah even back then she was going to be a Legendary, but once we started concepting we quickly realized that he old model was going to restrict us greatly. Not just from an animation standpoint but from a modeling standpoint as well, she was so tiny and compact that her proportions compared to Riggle’s just didn’t feel great.

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Did you also make the Riggle ward skin

Galetta Final PortraitI did! I’m super appreciative to the animation team who allowed me to animate the ward. Since I’m currently being mentored by an animator at Riot I was super excited to get to work on an asset for League! I’m super biased in my opinion (for obvious reasons) but I would say pick up the Riggle ward since it’s so friggen cute and it’s one of our only wards that’s actually a living creature! :3

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Will there be future skins thatll use the Dragon Trainer theme

Galetta Final PortraitI think it’s safe to say that, like with most skin lines, we won’t stop with a single Dragon Trainer. When more skins come out and who they are for are up for community speculation at this point.

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What happened to Dragonmaster Swain Will the skin ever be released

Whist Final PortraitWe haven’t forgotten about this skin OP (TheBravoRay, skins-team’s Swain super-fan, talks about it weekly). Not sure when it’ll finally happen, I hope we can do it in 2015 but I can’t promise anything.

Swain needs a badass legendary skin and giving him some awesome Dragon transformation anims would be really fun. Hype hype hype. I wanna animate dragons.

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Follow Up Banner

Whist Final PortraitJust so nobody has any new expectations that will get crushed: Dragon Master Swain is not slotted for production at any point in 2016 currently. There was a glimmer of hope for the skin in 2015 when I posted that, but it wasn’t able to happen.

Sorry, I share your pain :\

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What happened to Zeds chroma pack

KateyKhaos Final PortraitYou’re not going to like my answer, but I’ll try to let you down easy. We have them. They still exist. We have a couple kinks we needs to work out with these and chromas in general.

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Here’s a collection of fanart I enjoyed from this week. You’re welcome to share more in the comments:


Elderwood Fiddlesticks by hiper:



Fiora by Neo-TK/ecmsuitey:



Mistletoe Soraka by Lighane:



Snow Day Syndra and Snow Day Skins by MizoreAme:







Lulu by muju:



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