How is everyone on this fine patch day? Good? We are good as well. Excellent.
We were taught to be polite when delivering tough news, so now that pleasantries are out of the way, here we go: back in the foreword of patch 5.2 we mentioned that 5.2 and 5.3 were going to be our Deathfire Grasp-removal patches, but now that we've been hard at work, we realized we could use an extra cycle to build confidence. So that means we've delayed a few dudes we promised would come in 5.3, including Veigar, Mordekaiser,
Katarina(more on her below), and a new +120 AP item to replace the gap left in DFG's wake. We're aiming for 5.4 and are expecting to stick the landing (except maybe the new item, as it's a bigger project and might take longer!).
As an aside, we've been keeping a close eye on all champions who were affected by the passing of Deathfire Grasp and haven't seen a real impact on performance. We're not saying this to justify the removal of an item that many felt were important in their builds (in other words, we're not dismissing your feedback!), but it's an interesting tangent we wanted to explore.
While we're pretty certain at high levels the strategic removal of DFG hurt players who could utilize it properly, a proportionally equal number seem to be benefitting from finding alternative builds that don't rely on using an active. We looked into it and, given the low (low) percentage of players who use their actives, it seems there's a tipping point where replacing your DFG with a different AP item (try a Morellonomicon or two (or five)) nets roughly equal results. Once again, this is probably different at high levels of play but it's true from a broad statistical perspective, so here we are again, talking about statistics.
But we'll repeat: the reasoning behind that info-dump was not to justify the change, just to give some background on the complexities we deal with. One thing we do agree with is that there needs to be another +120 ability power item for endgame mages, and we're investigating that space as we speak. Rather, as you read.
After this long, rambling foreword, what's all this mean about this patch? Just that we're going pretty light, with changes aimed at a few outliers in competitive and normal play (oh dear Ahri). I guess you could say this patch's narrative is defined by what's not in there (hence we spent four paragraphs talking about that), but now you can charge up to 2 wards in an upgraded yellow trinket, so that's very cool. See you next patch!
Chris "Pwyff" Tom
Like we mentioned earlier, we've been working on an update with two notable changes: reverting Sona back to her original base stats and fixing Braum's El Tigre skin audio.
We also wanted to take this time to highlight an undocumented change we made to Oracle's Lens - our specific goal here is tied to our previous trinket changes where we've been steadily increasing Yellow / Blue trinket power to a point where we now think the three have hit rough parity in terms of attractiveness (yes, they're all beautiful) and didn't want to have one at a different price point from the others.
Sometimes when the skins team takes on large projects, they take a 'snapshot' of the champion's files to work on, including certain hard-coded values like base stats and movement speeds. Unfortunately, when the team finally finishes and implements the skin, those old values can be reintroduced to the game, overwriting any recent balance changes made. There have been a few cases of this happening in the past (Kayle's attack speed per level when we released Riot Kayle, Galio's Q when we released Gatekeeper Galio, etc), but rarely with so many 'reverts' to the champion. Unfortunately, Sona went through a small update during the time we were working on her skin, so she's gone back to all of her old base stats pre-champion update. While we considered shipping 5.3 with Sona disabled, we don't think the full extent of these changes merits taking her away from so many, so we're just fully communicating what's happened while we work on a bugfix as soon as possible.
Orb's mana cost is higher, W's base damage is lower (especially at higher ranks), and W / R have lower "target acquisition range" which means they automatically move toward their targets at a lower range.
It's safe to say that Ahri's return back to her kitier, mage-ier (that is a word) roots has been a success, but her new-found mobility has left her feeling a tad overbearing. For someone that skirts the edge of fights so well, Ahri wasn't taking enough risk for the reward (less dashing in, more dashing out). Forcing this fox-girl to walk the line for her guaranteed damage makes expert use of her Orb-speed and Charm, which is where we'd like to leave her feeling - skillful and satisfying to play, but vulnerable when making mistakes.
Q's base damage is down (particularly at later levels), W's range is lower, and W's crazy tower bomb damage is much lower. Less crazy.
Hyper-carries are often defined by a weaker early to mid-game (think Tristana, Jax) as they 'ramp up' into their core items and ability scaling. Lane bullies are the reverse - powerful up-front until their less-than-impressive late-games (like Renekton or Quinn).
Enter Azir. Who is both.
As it stands, the emperor's strengths are at odds with themselves. On one hand, he's a hyper-carry with monstrous late-game damage to both champions and structures; on the other, he's a powerful lane-bully with the ability to shove even the most aggressive opposition back to base. When a champion can cover their weaknesses so well, something's gotta give.
Enhancing Azir's end-game effectiveness goes well with our intended goals for the sand mage, so we're softening his spikes to achieve a more manageable lane along with a little bump to his AD to help him last-hit when his soldiers are slacking off. Which they do. Often.
Moonsilver Blade now displays the number of stacks and remaining duration, W's spheres now orbit much faster.
It's been a while since Diana's fall from orbit, so we're sending a care package to tide her over. Her passive shows you how long it lasts until you need to use it, and quicker orbs on Pale Cascade give her more consistency when embodying the vengeful moon.
Drain's Tether range is lower.
Drain's mechanics are simple - break the tether and you're good. Stay around, and risk losing a duel to a stick figure. Fiddlesticks can still lock you down with Terrify to ensure his success, but lowering Tether's range makes sure enemies can actually escape when he fails to scare them good and proper.
Gnar's gotta better manage his Gnar-Bar if he wants to GNAR!! in Mega Gnar. Gnarly.
From concept to release, Gnar has always been built around his unique transformation trigger and its inherent inconsistency. Will the enemy engage because Mega Gnar's losing steam? Should we begin a fight and have Gnar transform as it begins? These are the types of questions we want his teammates to ask, and the type of situations the Gnar player to manage. When a champion based on unreliability becomes a staple competitive pick (where reliability reigns supreme), we felt like something was up.
Due to a bug since his release (oops), Mega Gnar was lasting a good bit longer than intended - discovering this, we thought it would be a good time to tighten the windows Gnar has to go crazy so we can really accentuate his highs and lows. We're not trying to make Gnar disappear, but teams should have to work a little harder than just picking Jarvan IV. Shots fired.
BARREL SLOWS FOR MORE.
Gragas's last round of nerfs weighed heavy on his effectiveness against minion waves, so we wanted to give him better incentives to roll out the barrel against champions. This buff's on the house.
-10 damage on Q.
Let's talk about Kassadin. Near unparalleled mobility coupled with high damage and precise target selection has historically made Kass among the League's most resilient champions. Right now, our best method of 'gating' this guy (that is, trying to keep him from facerolling over the game) is by intentionally keeping his lane weak in the hopes of staving off what can feel like an inevitable riftwalking nightmare. While we want to preserve Kassadin's mobility-driven identity, he doesn't really have windows of vulnerability necessary for opponents to smack him in the face, meaning most fights are his to lose rather than any outplays his opponents can make.
With all of that said, this is not the change to do that. Sorry. We'll be kicking of some deeper investigations in the future (who'd have thought an ultra-mobile assassin would have game health difficulties), but for now we're just looking to tune him down. Very precisely.
Katarina finishes her attacks faster.
As we called out in the foreword, DFG's removal didn't really impact some its frequent buyers quite in the ways we expected. While we were experimenting with some compensation, one thing from our data became very clear - Katarina is still a very strong champion.
We went back to brainstorming small ways to add power to Kat, but quickly found that buffing an already strong champ might not be the right course of action. This isn't to say she's exempt from further tweaks in the future, but forcing the issue on anything other than quality-of-life changes could very likely cause more problems than it would fix.
W now hits everyone in Slicing Maelstrom, rather than only those who'd been marked. Slicing Maelstrom also now only hits the same target every 0.5 seconds.
For someone that runs into your entire team (talk about a big risk), it's pretty lame when the difference between a game-winning 5-man stun or an over-confident failure comes down to random chance. Slicing Maelstrom's unique feel as a multi-hit storm is cool, so we're just looking for ways to amp up that electric boogaloo. Haaayaaa!
No power change, just some proper documentation going on right here.
Not much to see here. Last patch when Nidalee became a monster-hunter we added functionality that rooted them (because it's a huge bummer to trigger the hunt from fog of war, only to pounce and miss everything you just hunted), but we forgot to add it to the notes. This patch we remembered. Hooray!
UPDATED 2/10/2015: We actually misrepresented this so we're going to reformat it to accurately reflect the change properly. Specifically Nidalee was able to reliably reset some of her ability cooldowns through specific mechanics, and this led to a pretty decent power spike for players who knew how to properly use it. We've since fixed the issue in 5.3.
Stacked Deck builds on towers (still doesn't affect them), and Destiny sends an "On My Way!" ping when casting Gate.
We're always looking for ways to help out champions in need, so we've slipped TF a few extra cards under the table. Stacked Deck now builds up on towers so you can pressure enemies even while pushing, and Gate uses an 'On My Way!' ping a la Rek'Sai to make coordinating cross-map ganks less of a gamble. Still a gamble. Just less.
R got fatter.
Varus's unique team-disengage has always been near the top of marksmen when it comes to strategic niches, and it's something we're excited to see more of. In an attempt to brighten his mood, we're amping up a bit of that reliability.
Zyra's plants now have range indicators for her.
In our never-ending Crusade for Clarity (tm), Zyra's getting hooked up with sweet range indicators for each of her plants to help her really appreciate the things they do for her. Appreciate your plants, Zyra. Please.
We're aware this is a small nerf to Sivir and Nocturne, but this was definitely not an intended behavior.
We're continuing our comprehensive pass at the game's older character textures. As with previous installments, our goal is to improve parity with newer releases and make sure everybody looks at home on the newly-updated Rift.
Read the note please! The Farsight Ward has some unique properties.
Map vision is actually an underestimated tool that teams can use to press an advantage or come back from a deficit, but not many players think about it like that, so we're suggesting you should. Relating specifically to Farsight Orb, if your first idea was that now you can place long-distance teleport points for the most amazing ganks ever, TOO BAD. This little guy's untargetable to ally teammates to prevent just that (and free ward hops).
Yellow trinket's upgrade now stores up to 2 charges.
Map vision is actually an underestimated tool that teams can use to press an advantage or come back from a deficit, but not many players think about it like that, so we're suggesting you should. Yes, we're repeating ourselves. As for Greater Stealth Totem, the change itself is straightforward - we're hoping to give some extra tools back for teams trying to recover from a deficit, and this lets them (somewhat) combat aggressive sweeping teams.
Just giving fighters and tanks a little help when dealing with mages in lane.
He's like a piece of terrain. A big, fat, purple piece of terrain you can't move through.
Fire's pretty distracting, man.
Nemesis Draft, our next Featured Game Mode, will be released later on during patch 5.3! More information soon - keep an eye out for all the details!
We haven't talked too much in the past about player tooltips - the hovercards that appear in your friend list when you mouse over another player's name. We want player tooltips to be a convenient, accessible point of reference for basic player information, but there are a few areas we noticed we could improve upon. This update will be activated in the days following the initial patch!
Our traditional layout relied on text, simply shrinking if any attribute was missing (e.g. not all players have a ranked division). As a result, tooltips were inconsistent between players and often became bloated as more and more information was recorded. By contrast, the new design will give each data point its own space: if something is missing, that space will simply be left blank. This should make the tooltips less cumbersome to use.
Which is good, because we'll be adding them to your game lobbies.