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Why DFG was Nerfed in Patch 4.13, Wave-Clear vs DFG Mages, Gypsylord on Gnar’s Balance State

July 30th, 2014


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Summary

Short update today! On Reddit, Pwyff elaborates on the nerfs to DFG in Patch 4.13 and why wave-clear mages and Zhonya’s haven’t been nerfed. Champion designer Gypsylord addresses community concerns about Gnar being too strong and how his transformation and bounce mechanics work.

 


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Post-Patch 4 point 13 DFG Banner


 


Wave-clear mages are as non-interactive as DFG assassin mages


[ Context ] Deathfire Grasp was nerfed in Patch 4.13.


deathfire graspDeathfire Grasp

  • Cooldown on active increased from 60 seconds to 90


Pwyff New PortraitI hear this now and then – I get that choosing a wave-clearing mage means you may not be taking an assassin mage, but that’s more correlation than causation. The DFG change was specifically focused on assassins, their playstyle, and creating more healthier patterns. It’s a weird conclusion to draw that we’re doing it because we love wave-clearing mages.


As a side note, There’s a comment below about nerfing an underused item – when assassins become strong then DFG often becomes strong as well. When DFG becomes strong, then it comes down to the only assassins who benefit are the ones who can use DFG to its maximum effect.

Touching up on DFG allows us to see what sort of breadth of assassin play there is for AP dudes out there rather than pidgeon-holing us into the idea that all AP assassins must blow up their target with 1 second.

[edit] Some responses from below for visibility. Someone mentioned that I misconstrued the argument – that waveclearing was equally non interactive and we should have hit both:

Ah yes – on that note I agree but I would also argue that there are ancillary changes that tackle this. A wave-clearing stall mage has the general weakness of “IF I’M CAUGHT I’M DEAD,” so assassins being buffed (exhaust / heal / banshee’s veil / chalice) has an impact on them as well. This is a very delicate balance to strike and trying to maintain multiple forms of strategic diversity is tough. We’re already seeing some assassins in competitive play against heavy waveclearing teams and it’s easy to overshoot.

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Follow Up

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Pwyff New PortraitImagine if it wasn’t! I get that assassination tends to be a very blunt definition, but imagine if there are assassins like LeBlanc who are super high-risk high-reward versus assassins like Fizz who are far better at repeated engagements and skirmishing.

It’s oddly nuanced, but when you add DFG to the mix it’s like “WELL THERE’S AN ITEM THAT GUARANTEED MAKES ME FASTER AT KILLING THINGS” so you buy it and it skews things. It’s hard to conceptualize around those kind of patterns when there’s an item that pushes so hard at emphasizing speed.

Not to mention it’s fairly low skill at that (no offence), as it’s like “push an extra button and kill faster.” APM aside, it’s tough to justify placing so much emphasis on that kind of capability.

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Why are you nerfing DFG when Zhonya’s has remained untouched

Pwyff New PortraitSo to be clear: we buffed assassins this patch. Exhaust’s damage reduction went down, Heal went down, Banshee’s Veil (which was broadly aimed at siege breaking but impacts assassins) got a timing reduction, Chalice lost 5 mr (okay not much but still). These are buffs.

I’m not saying that DFG pidgeonholes champions into building the item but a lot of the time if assassins are strong then the competitive meta can get focused on who manipulates DFG the best.

Syndra does build DFG more often than the others on your situational picks, and Annie / Veigar are unpicked for other reasons. LeBlanc / Ahri / Syndra (sometimes TF and lategame Fizz) do build it and those are the AP assassins we’d probably see come up if they do get strong. Even Lissandra there’s a very real danger when she gets played that she instead goes for a DFG and blows fools up (as someone put it).

I’m not saying it’s as black and white as pidgeonholing but I am saying that the danger of burst mages rushing DFG is a pretty unhealthy world. We’d instead prefer to have that power on the mage themselves.

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Isn’t building a Deathcap a lot more non-interactive than a DFG burst

Pwyff New PortraitBecause then the focus can be made on the champion interactions themselves. I don’t think adding an additional input onto a champion’s skill rotation is really a great argument. Take that single input away and maybe we can balance around that.

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(Off-topic) Are you nerfing Thresh because of his popularity

Pwyff New PortraitI agree that it’s not the best context and I probably should have done better. The argument is circular, but Thresh being a reliable, top tier support is partially due to his popularity but also because he’s just so damn strong across the board. He’s got insane teamfight presence but he also happens to be one of the best support skirmishers around. He’s just so well-rounded that it’s tough to really reduce power without hurting his identity.

As for Thresh’s position in the LCS / OGN / competitive play, he’s in the top 3 supports of pick/ban. Consistently he has passed 75%+ across the board and while popularity is never a core statistic we use purely, it indicates a degree of reliability and a disregard for strategic use that we can’t ignore. If Thresh can just be picked whenever and wherever (hello Lucian) that’s not the best.

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Mini Gnar’s W does 14% of Max HP as magic damage at max rank

Gypsylord New PortraitSo yes Gnar’s W does a decent chunk of damage. I won’t comment on whether or not it’s OP (numbers can change) but I will throw out 2 things to think about.

Gnar’s range is very low which requires him to put himself in some degree of danger when AA’ing enemies. It starts at 400 and reaches 502 at level 18.

The number of W procs Gnar can get is gated by the fact that every AA brings him closer to transforming at which point he loses access to his ranged AA’s and his W proc.

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Follow Up


Why does Gnar’s range scale up

Gypsylord New PortraitBasically 500 range Gnar was too oppressive in lane while 400 range Gnar was somewhat useless in teamfights. Scaling the range allowed us to realize the play patterns we wanted throughout the course of the entire game.

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Isn’t that Tristana’s signature mechanic

Gypsylord New PortraitWhile the base mechanic (gains range per lvl) is technically the same I feel they pan out very differently in feel and fantasy. To me this component of Gnar’s passive reads “your range goes from bad to less bad.” Tristana’s passive reads “your range will eventually become THE BEST IN THE GAME!”

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How does Gnar’s passive transformation work

Gypsylord New PortraitHere’s the nitty-gritty on Gnar’s transform. I’m avoiding listing numbers as they are subject to change.

  • Gnar gains X rage every second while he is in combat. In combat is defined as dealing or taking damage.
  • Gnar gains X rage whenever he AA’s a unit or hits them with a boomerang. Minions and monsters give 25% rage.
  • The amount of rage generated (X) starts low and increases with level, maxing at level 11.
  • Gnar’s rage will fall off slowly if he spends a very long time out of combat (much longer than Trynd or Renekton).
  • When Gnar reaches 100 rage his next spell will be cast as Mega Gnar and cause him to transform. If he casts no spells he will transform after 4 seconds.
  • Mega Gnar lasts for 15 seconds.
  • After transforming back to mini form Gnar will become tired and be unable to gain rage for Y seconds.

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Why does Gnar transform automatically at 100 Fury

Gypsylord New PortraitAt 100 rage he can transform using his next spell. If he doesn’t cast a spell for 4 seconds he’ll transform anyway.

Gnar is tuned so that it isn’t about “if” he’ll transform but “when.”

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Does Gnar’s passive heal him when he transforms

Gypsylord New PortraitGnar keeps the same health % when he shifts from big form to small form so that his passive doesn’t give him too much free healing over time.

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Does Gnar use his Ranged or Melee ability when he transforms

Gypsylord New PortraitMelee. Though if he uses his E it’s a combination of the two versions (bounces as mini Gnar, AOE landing as big Gnar).

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Clarity on Gnar’s bouncing mechanics from Hop E

Gypsylord New PortraitGnar does need a targetable unit to bounce, so if you go untargetable as he’s about to land and there are no other units around he will indeed hit the ground and stop. It is possible to bounce over walls, you’ll need to line up a jump onto a unit pretty near the wall in question though and won’t be able to get through the thicker walls, since as with the initial leap the bounce range isn’t enormous.

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Can Gnar be played as a jungler

Gypsylord New PortraitIt’s possible, pretty challenging though because of the way his rage generation/form swap works, so getting access to the tools you want for specific camps/ganks is tough. Having said that while our best guess is that Gnar will be most effective in solo lanes could certainly believe there are some jungle options out there. Really interested to see what people discover.

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