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Why is Thunderlords getting nerfed in Patch 62

[ Note ] You can find the changes to Thunderlord’s Decree HERE.

Reinboom Final Portrait“It’s still possible that Thunderlords is over-tuned after all this, but bringing the others more in line with the leader should help us gauge how big the discrepancy is”

This is enacting that part of the 6.1 patch notes.

Currently, though there has been a wave of experimentation shortly after patch 6.1, the trend isn’t towards significantly more diversity.

With Thunderlord’s we’re using it as a moving goal post, it’s the benchmark to hit. Move others towards it -> push Thunderlord’s back slightly -> move others towards it (and in that regard, there will not be a change to TLord’s in 6.3 but we will try to get more changes to other masteries in 6.3 or 6.4). There’s also a couple misses in the current setup we’d like to address. Deathfire has little to no sense of feedback to it and Warlord’s is realistically used by very little of the roster (notably because it has no value before your first significant item).

On this change in particular: I’m purposely avoiding hitting the damage at all because the burst effect is the reason you pick the mastery. Instead, these are in the line of tweaking the accessibility of the mastery. TLord’s right now has up to a 10 second window to get your full proc. This has made the mastery more of a “bonus damage rider” than it has a “intentioned burst effect” for pretty much every mastery. This can be a difficult thing to balance around.

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Why did you reduce the window to proc Thunderlords damage

Reinboom Final PortraitThe duration of Thunderlord’s stacks that are applied on enemies actually resets every time they’re applied.

At 5 seconds, this means I can reasonably accidentally get Thunderlord’s to proc by just back and forth light poking with a single attack or spell every 5 seconds. Discounting the last stack (because that obviously procs it), this means that Thunderlord’s had an uptime of up to 10 seconds.

So that nerf is aimed at hitting “incidental” power in favor of “committed” power. For most multi-hit burst characters (and characters that free-proc it, like MF), this is a nil change.

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You should be looking at nerfing Precision not Thunderlords

Reinboom Final PortraitI’d prefer not to look at any mastery instead of another mastery but instead evaluate all, otherwise you create blindspots.

I do agree that Precision is running pretty powerful, and it might be candidate to drop a bit more. However (and this is just looking at Plat+ data), 1/3rd of Thunderlord’s users actually go Intelligence instead after the last nerf we did to Precision. With Precision, we need to be extra careful since it’s not the only mastery of significant power in that slot.

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Warlords Bloodlust needs to be reworked completely

[ Note ] You can find the experimental Warlord’s Bloodlust rework HERE.

Reinboom Final PortraitWe’re currently experimenting with a Warlord’s rework (this showed up on the PBE during the 6.2 cycle).

The distinct lack of any power at the start of the game for most champions makes it difficult to make it an option for many while not silly for three specific champions. So that’s the primary focus of the rework.

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Would a visual update make the other Keystones as popular as Thunderlord

Reinboom Final PortraitYes, definitely. And I strongly believe the lack of any decent feedback is a major contributor to deathfire feeling weak.

This isn’t a slamdunk case of “well, we need to focus on satisfaction” for the other keystones though. We should and are looking at opportunities, but even looking at other tiers on this line Bone of Stone is actually used about 13% more than Grasp of the Undying. Especially noteworthy that Bond of Stone is distinctly lacking in strong feedback.

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Reinboom Final PortraitFWIW, from what I’ve seen of “optimal” cases, Grasp is almost every melee top laner and Bond of Stone is almost every melee support except Alistar. And then Strength of Ages is every jungler not running Thunderlord’s.

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Can we have more tooltip information on the Assassin mastery like range

Reinboom Final PortraitI agree having more information available for not just Assassin mastery is ideal.

I’m resistant to having too much on the tooltip though. Long tooltips for a lot of players creates a “TL;DR, just give me what’s ‘best’ and let me get in game”. Short tooltips that are more scannable enables more players to make quick judgment calls instead of playing follow the leader.

However… for those willing to dive for information and optimize to it, that mindset is exactly wrong. To balance the two we’re actively trying to think of ways of having more “expandable” type of knowledge sources or ways of pushing that information to someplace that will help the information digging group without harming the scanning group. For example, the hover overs on item tips in the shop that was added with preseason is a clear example of this in action.

Mastery tips are a little more difficult, since they are already a hover over and thus we can’t use the same trick twice. So it might be a bit til we figure out where to put it.

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Its important that we know the numbers We shouldnt have to browse wikis

Phreak New PortraitI’d challenge how much that actually matters.

As a user, does it really affect you? If you’re hardcore enough, you’re already going to external websites for your build advice, rune/mastery pages, guides, etc. I find it ends up being a happy marriage between the official website giving you enough information to be able to play the game reasonably. And if you’re really looking for in-depth content, it’s totally fine to look elsewhere.

It does leave players feeling the distaste of it not being available to them first-party, but in terms of function over form, I feel the present-day system works.

Assassin tells you that you deal bonus damage with no champions nearby. So, not for a duo laner, and not useful in a teamfight. The specific number will really never change your gameplay. 1.5% damage is not enough to make you want to mis-position as Zed, or refuse to take your return flight on R after Death Mark.

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Dynamic Ranked New Champ Select Whats wrong and whats next

NaKyle New PortraitUPDATE 1/22 PST Evening:

Hey everyone,

Based on learnings from yesterday’s failed test in Vietnam, we’ve been improving our internal load test. This will allow us to better vet fixes before shipping them to live. We plan on internally testing the queue over the next two days, which unfortunately means you shouldn’t expect Dynamic Ranked or new champ select in Normal Draft this weekend. If tests perform well, we will look to roll out to one affected region (to be decided) on Monday. If that is stable and successful, we will roll out to all affected regions until service is fully restored.

ORIGINAL POST PST 1/21 EVENING:

Hey everyone,

We wanted to share an update on new champ select and Dynamic Ranked ahead of the weekend. We understand it’s been a frustrating week, and are committed to getting Dynamic Ranked and new champ select up and running again.

What’s Wrong:

New champ select and Dynamic Ranked runs on a brand new backend that performed well (after initial hiccups) during live tests in North America and Turkey. However, when we rolled it out live at the beginning of the 2016 Ranked Season, the high volume of games played knocked the new service down in some regions.

What’s Next:

We haven’t pinpointed a solution yet, but once we have a fix we’re confident in, we’ll be extremely deliberate in rolling new champ select and Dynamic Ranked back out to the game. The last thing we want is to return the feature to you, only for it to need to come down again. When we do have a fix, we’ll start in one region, and if successful, roll out to other affected regions.

FAQ:

Q: Do my ranked games count?
A: The placement games played in Dynamic Ranked and/or Solo/Duo queue do count and will transfer when Dynamic Ranked returns

Q: What about Party Rewards?
A: Party Rewards Weekends will be extended to compensate for Dynamic Ranked and new champ select’s downtime

We’ll continuously update this post as long as new champ select and Dynamic Queue remain down. Thank you for your patience.

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Follow Up Banner

NaKyle New PortraitAfter making improvements to how new champ select and Dyanmic Ranked handles high volumes of games, we attempted a fix last night in Vietnam (1/21 PST). The queue showed some improvement, but ended up failing again The team’s been digging into those test results since late last night, learning from them and applying them to our next test. That’s the absolute latest.

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Why is Vladimir a part of the immobile mage update

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Meddler Final PortraitOur main problem with Vlad is his Q. It’s a low CD, targeted, resourceless spell that restores health. It doesn’t have much interesting decision making for Vlad, if it’s ever strong early he just shuts a lot of people out of lane and the main ways to deal with it are to either sustain even more or to punish Vlad really hard when he trades.

Vlad’s also got a bit of a ‘stat check’ issue, where he’ll just reliably outclick a lot of opponents 1v1 without sufficient avenues for being outplayed. That’s not ideal, it’s a lesser issue though since it doesn’t kick in until later in the game when 1 v 1 counterplay is less important than team v team counterplay.

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Why Cass VelKoz Vlad Zyra Brand and Malzahar in particular

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Meddler Final PortraitStatikk and the other folks working on the mage update will be talking in detail about why these particular champs. At a high level our goal with these class updates is to increase distinction between characters. With the mage update especially we’re also looking at some champions that are distinct, but when functional aren’t healthy for the game or are in an ok spot already but have a fair bit of untapped potential for differentiation.

Ought to bring more distinct things to a team:

  • Vel’Koz – Really distinct to play as, cohesive, feels fair to play against. Doesn’t bring enough distinct to a team though, so lacks a clear strategic niche or specialized tool offered. Goal with him will be to offer clearer situations where he’s the right pick when you want AP poke.
  • Brand – Pretty similar to Vel’Koz overall, in that he lacks a clear enough niche, so primary gameplay argument for picking him is when he’s the most damaging AOE mage. Needs a somewhat more distinct toolkit basically.

Distinct, but have significant game health challenges:

  • Vlad – Does distinct things, but can be really unhealthy. Work on Vlad’s going to involve a lot of ‘how do we preserve the core of what he does while adding ways to play against him’.
  • Malz – More game health issues than anything else. Counterplay’s not great in particular, with Malz needing to just click on you and kill you given his squishiness, immobility, lack of reach, vulnerability to item system counters. Has a lot of distinctive stuff going on though.

Untapped potential/Confused identities:

  • Cass – Confused identity, unclear niche (sustained damage almost marksmen like pattern, versus poison spreading potential, versus stacking power, versus counter initiator etc). Work on Cass will need to start with constructing a clear picture of what her concept should be (suspect that’ll include stripping out the stacking gameplay, though that’s a guess).
  • Zyra – Does reasonably distinctive things, but has the potential for quite a bit more. Also ends up either a strong bully or struggling to function a bit too often.

Finally, as with the marksman update in preseason, we’ll also be making some small tweaks to a number of other mages at the same time as these bigger changes (things like the Q reset on Twitch for example).

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Why did you leave out long-range mages like Lux Xerath and Ziggs

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Meddler Final PortraitWe decided we’d be best off focusing on a couple of sub types of mage here, which are basically sustained damage mages and pick mages. Artillery mages (Xerath, Ziggs etc with really long range) and supportive mages (Ori, Karma etc) are groups we might tackle later, though it wouldn’t surprise me if there was more value in tackling a different group instead (assassins or some types of tank instead).

 

As far as Lux/Xerath/Ziggs go I do think there’s a bit more overlap there than’s preferable, particularly between Lux/Xerath on pick/burst a dude and Xerath/Ziggs on clear waves/poke champs repeatedly. Lux does bring a more supportive kit than the others though, Ziggs gets more area control/mobility but gives up reliability against champions, and Xerath’s got phenomenal backline access. As a result there’s an ok current state distinctiveness wise. Potentially means they might just need smaller adjustments, rather than larger scale work, to pry them apart a bit.

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What exactly are your supposed problems with VelKoz

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Meddler Final Portrait

Some discussion from last month that covers Vel’Koz’s state:

http://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/5dJN5vf7-meddler-velkoz-thoughts

TLDR: Healthy, fun to play, distinct to play as, fair to play against, needs to have a more distinct reason to be brought to a team than he currently has .

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Meddler Final PortraitWe understand there are a number of people that don’t want changes to Vel’Koz and as discussed think there’s a lot about Vel’Koz that’s already really good. Not disputing or ignoring that sentiment. We believe though that every champion needs to bring a distinct purpose to the their team and that Vel’Koz doesn’t deliver well in that regard. That makes him a great candidate for some work – good generally, but with a specific problem area that brings him down overall.

In terms of scope the changes to most of these changes are unlikely to be large, do expect them to be bigger than ‘hardly noticeable’ though.

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VelKoz is fine Listen to the community and dont rework him

BelugaWhale Final PortraitWe hear all of you on Vel’koz, and our opinions on him are actually very similar to yours. We love his combos, his geometry, death laser, and true damage. There is very little likelihood that his abilities will be changed in how they are used (with possible exception of his W), or his play significantly altered.

However we also want players in a draft to see their comp, their opponent’s comp, and pick Vel’koz thinking “this would be a great game specifically for Vel’koz” rather than simply “this would be a great game for any long range mage with a lot of AoE”. For scope context, currently the plan for Vel’koz is much more along the lines of Caitlyn, who also kept essentially her entire kit, but had it unified around headshots.

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Statikk New PortraitIt seems your guys’ expectations on how much we’ll warp some of these champions just because they’re in “the 6” is quite large and drastic. Guess it’s understandable given some of our track record. It’s important to consider that our changes have ranged from as small as Darius and Miss Fortune to as large as Mordekaiser and Graves.

Our current plans for Vel’Koz might literally be the smallest scope changes we’ve ever done in a class update. In fact, I could understand how some people may not even really perceive it as a significant update and more of a “patch note.”

Either way, your downvotes are loud and clear. You don’t really want Vel’Koz to change much. We don’t really plan on moving Vel’Koz’s core at all – just want to amplify what’s already there.

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Why not put up another immobile mage for a rework instead of VelKoz

Repertoir New PortraitThe answer to this is that small mechanical/gameplay tweaks may require much more substantial visual or audio effects to make work. As an example, imagine that we were to change Vel’Koz’s W and E so that they also had minor split-shot/geometry elements (this is just theoretical example; it isn’t the plan for him). Even if the gameplay effect of the change was small, we may still need some significant visual’s to have that not look super janky when it happens.

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Why pick Zyra over Azir as a counter engage mage in need of a rework

Zyra Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitThey occupy different spaces, in that Zyra is a different kind of mage than Azir.

For what it’s worth, Azir, frankly, tends to have too many strengths (this was especially true earlier in his life).

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What will the scope of these reworks be Same as Fioras update

Meddler Final PortraitNone of these updates will be close to Fiora sized (think roughly same scale on average as the marksmen changes).

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Will AD Malzahar remain a viable option after Malzahars rework

Malzahar Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitI’m looking to leave some enjoyable version of AD Malzahar intact after his update. It may be different, but I’m hoping that it retains the spirit of what’s going on with it.

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Repertoir New PortraitThe hope is that Voidlings can be a meaningful source of damage and gameplay for Malzahar regardless of build.

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Were Heimerdinger or Anivia considered for a slot in the mage update

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Statikk New PortraitHeimer didn’t make it far. We feel he is really Distinct and Cohesive as the turret dude, and mainly lacks in terms of game Health (mastery and counterplay surrounding turrets in particular). Similar to Fiddle though, he has huge strategic weaknesses and strengths that opponents and allies can play around. He is still a prime candidate to get some tweaks and tuning with the sweep though.

Anivia was actually very close to being selected. Ultimately though, Anivia is already pretty Distinct (all her spells outside of E are pretty unique), Cohesive (frost phoenix), and fairly Healthy. We think Anivia can shine even with something as little as a ramping effect based on how long enemies remain in her R (this is all hypothetical off the top of my head…) and few other additional number tweaks.

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Will AP items also receive changes to go along with the mage updates

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ll likely include some item changes with the mage update. Expect those will be smaller scope than the marksmen ones though.

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Why didnt Shen receive a new voiceover with his update

Shen Banner Single

WAAARGHbobo Final PortraitI’m not on champ up. But in general, its a very, very small team working around deadlines. Rewriting, recording, processing and then having all 17+ languages localized and recorded takes several months. And because they are always trying get the best work done they can, they have to prioritize. So if a champ’s VO is “acceptable” they might instead use that time to work on another champ whose VO is “awful.” Eventually, they will make their way through the whole lineup several times… but they can’t high polish every aspect of a champ– all the time.

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As usual, here’s a small collection of recent fan art:

 

Winter Wonder Orianna by Alona:

0XRekvJ

 

Syndra by 커피55:

dt2qE8R (1)

 

Sona by Phikaak:

tSCaZLE

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.