Welcome to the 4.4 patch notes! Last patch, we hinted at long-term changes hitting the lab while we tackled the largest outliers in competitive play. This patch, you'll see the first results of that labor as we bring out a healthier (and hopefully less banned) rework Kassadin who still embodies the theme of a mobile anti-magic assassin.
Our other big change is to Lich Bane, as it was skewing a lot of champion power in unhealthy ways. Specifically, there are champions who have a lot of their power tied to Lich Bane - we balanced them to compensate for the changes - and then there are champions who like Lich Bane for its high burst, low cooldown properties. High burst isn't unhealthy if it's timed and executed properly, but Lich Bane was just a pile of damage for something you're already doing, and it came up much, much faster than other burst damage focused items like Deathfire Grasp. Hitting Lich Bane means we can revisit certain champions in the future and maybe buff them up. We've already begun this process for a few of them as you'll see in this patch.
Statikk, one of our designers, is going to go in-depth on power curves (as in when a champ is the strongest or weakest in the game) later on to help explain some of our changes to champs like Kassadin and Elise, so stay tuned for that. The run-down here is that when champion power curves become too extreme, the champs selected decide the outcome of the game rather than the players themselves. Success in League of Legends should always be a combination of pre-game decisions and in-game execution. We want all players to have the opportunity to meaningfully outplay their opponents at each and every phase of the game - even if there are disadvantages - and champions who automatically win those phases just by showing up negates that philosophy.
Now, less philosophy talk, more patch notes talk! Where there's more philosophy talk! Excellent! Exclamation points!
Continuing the work we did in patch 4.3, we've got some general cleanup and bug fixes.
Old Kassadin's combination of high mobility, strong disables and high burst damage left his victims with very few to no options against him (other than banning him in every single ranked game), especially when he snowballed ahead. Our focus here is to introduce more counterplay to Kassadin's kit, something we couldn't do with number tweaks alone. For example, lowering Kass's damage doesn't make for an interesting gameplay interaction (it just means you can turn around and smash him in the face if you survive the burst), while increasing his cooldowns means he just needs to wait longer before blowing somebody up.
In the end, we opted for a full-on kit rework to reinforce his core theme as an anti-magic assassin with unrivaled mobility. These changes mean Kassadin must rely on his mobility to pick fights while finding opportunities to dive in and out of combat to take out targets. It's worth stressing: these changes are to make Kassadin less of a "blow someone up when you can" champion and more of a mobile attacker who wants to get in to fight while using Riftwalk to stay safe. Obviously, this is a significant change, so we'll be watching his performance very closely.
We've increased Kassadin's attack range and changed his passive so it no longer grants attack speed but avoids unit collision. We reduced Null Sphere's damage and pulled off the silence, although it will still interrupt channeled abilities. Instead, Null Sphere now grants Kassadin a shield on use. Nether Blade now passively deals bonus magic damage per autoattack and, when activated, deals higher bonus magic damage as well as restoring some of Kassadin's missing mana. No big changes to Force Pulse though we did reduce its damage a bit. Riftwalk, on the other hand, has a lot of changes. We've reduced its cooldown and it now scales with max mana instead of AP. Each stack now doubles the mana cost of the next Riftwalk but we reduced the mana cost and the number of max stacks to compensate. It also no longer refunds mana on hitting enemy champs.
We like Annie's versatility, but some of her base damage is too high for how she's currently being used. Our goal is to introduce more interesting choices in Annie's kit (particularly on that Disintegrate buff) as we looked for ways to buff her late game scaling when she builds more traditional AP items.
We've reduced Disintegrate's cooldown by half on any kill (champion or minion). We've also fiddled with Incinerate and Tibbers so they do less base damage but scale better with AP.
Reiterating what was mentioned in the foreword of the patch notes, we like champions that have different strengths and weaknesses at various points in the game, but jungle Elise was an extreme outlier with her super strong spider-of-all-trades early game. This is definitely a nerf, but we'll keep an eye on Elise as she adjusts.
We lowered Neurotoxin/Venomous Bite's damage versus monsters while making Cocoon's stun shorter at early levels and higher at later levels. We also shortened the cooldown of Rappel and lowered spiderling health at early levels but raised it at higher levels.
We've been paying close attention to Heimerdinger since his kit rework and felt he could use a little more late game help. Turret basic attacks deal a hell of a lot more damage than people realize, so we're tying their power in with the “flashier” big sister: The Beam. This way, Heimerdinger must position his turrets for maximum effectiveness on both attacks (basics and beams).
Heimer's got a visual update! We bumped up Heimer's move speed and made some changes to his turrets. Turret health now scales with AP and champion levels, and turret basic attacks now reduce the cooldown of turret beams instead of CDR. Also, turrets are now a little worse at last hitting minions unless Heimer orders them to attack specific ones.
Heimerdinger has received a visual update, including one hell of a haircut! Check out the full details here.
Late game, Caustic Spittle's lower cast range often clashed with Kog's Bio-Arcane Barrage empowered attack range, so we're clarifying Kog'Maw's role as an artillery-lobbing, tank-shredding, spittle-spitting, purple people-eating, puppy-monster… thing.
Caustic Spittle is now a straight line skill shot with a longer range. It has a higher base damage and now shreds the target's armor and magic resistance.
We're giving Nautilus some love so he can be a little safer in the jungle while scaling better into the late game (particularly with his slow early game).
Continuing our Sivir watch since her rework. These nerfs mean Sivir can't create an unhealthy lane by auto-pushing her opponents to the tower without interacting with them. The higher mana costs combined with a buffed mana restore on Spell Shield means Sivir needs to take more risks to keep using her abilities.
We said we'd monitor Skarner after his changes, and we're continuing to do so. The buffs in patch 4.3 were a good direction but it looks like Skarner could use a little more reliability.
8 seconds is really all the time a soul needs before it realizes it can escape from Thresh. The shorter window to pick up souls means Thresh will have to take more risks as he tries to collect distant souls.
Using Rapid Fire is about timing and opportunity (not mana costs!), so we're clarifying its use.
Twisted Fate was another Lich Bane fan who relied on its extra damage to stay strong. Now that we've knocked Lich Bane down a few notches, we're giving the Card Master a couple buffs to keep him happy.
Vi deals a lot of damage when building tanky and we want to incentivize her to go back to what she does best: punching things. The change to Assault and Battery gives a little more breathing room for her opponents between her oppressive early ganks while also giving foes more opportunities to capitalize on poorly planned ults.
Vault Breaker has a lower base damage now but scales better with AD. We also raised Assault and Battery's cooldown at early ranks and reduced the knockback duration and distance to secondary targets.
We fixed a bug that caused Karthus to lose certain item buffs for varying amounts of time when he became a spirit. We'll keep an eye on Karthus after this patch as this fix is a significant buff to his damage while in his undead-er form.
We're updating Final Spark's targeting indicator so players who use quick cast can see the range of the spell easier.
With this change you'll still have to figure out what Valor likes to do, but at least you'll know when he's taking a break and won't help you out on his own.
We fixed a bug that caused Yorick's Omen of Death'd target (well that's awkward to write) to lose certain item buffs for varying amounts of time when they became a zombie. We'll be watching Yorick after this patch as this fix is a significant buff to Omen of Death.
Historically we've run into a lot of problems with champions who use Lich Bane because of its high-power AP burst, so we're taking a look at the item itself. Lich Bane is designed to be a damage supplement for AP champs that incorporate basic attacks into their spell rotations, unlike Deathfire Grasp which is for champions who want to optimize their burst damage. This adjustment lets us take a look at champions who traditionally depend on Lich Bane for their damage output. We've given a bit of power back to Diana, Ezreal, Fizz and Twisted Fate for now and we'll keep a close eye on the state of the game after this change to see if we need to help out anyone else.
We're lowering Lich Bane's damage.
A lot of players were relying on the early Warding Totem to protect standard invade paths, which ended up preventing meaningful aggression. We like that invading can be a team strategy, so we're hoping this helps out. Plus, lowering the swap cooldown for trinkets should allow for more flexibility.
We're currently working on the Wriggle's line of items and, in patch 4.5, we'll be introducing an "evolution" to Wriggle's Lantern where it transforms into a more powerful item called Feral Flare when you accumulate a large number of monster kills. Once again, that item will hit in 4.5 but you can play with the minor Madred's and Wriggle's changes for now.
The specific goal here is to fill in the “missing link” of jungle items for basic attack reliant champions. We really want to give 'carry' junglers an item that focuses on a weaker early game for mid to late game payoffs.
Madred's Razors now gives attack speed rather than armor. Wriggle's Lantern now gives attack damage and a little more attack speed rather than armor and attack speed.
We like the offensive pressure that comes from taking Teleport, but its defensive use (ie: lane recovery or base protection) could use some love.
We're continuing along our goal of making gameplay more readable, satisfying, and visceral. Also pretty.
The crocodile can be pretty overwhelming in a 3s match, so we're taking a little power off.
As a zone control mage, Syndra was designed and balanced to fend off 5 attackers, but she can be oppressive in 3v3 matches.
Talon's invisibility is really strong on wardless maps, so we're upping the cooldown a bit to compensate. We're also lowering his mid/late game burst because really, it's too damn high.
Thresh's soul pickup rate on Dominion is pretty low in comparison to SR, which leaves him lackluster in the stats department. So, we're giving him some help to hit parity with other tanks and supports.