It’s that time again. By the time most of you read this the latest patch will have gone live on the servers, and this one is quite big. As usual, let me break down some of the biggest changes to champions, items and game play that will be found in this latest patch. There are some big changes to Kha’Zix, Wit’s End and the jungle camps that are coming out with this patch. So give this a read before you jump into your games tomorrow.
Annie: Tibbers health and magic resist are being increased at all levels while the cost is being decreased. The intended result is that Annie can now use Tibbers to do more than just blow up her opponents. I believe there is a good chance we will soon see Tibbers used to take early turrets and dragons. I would imagine that a Nasus Tibbers combo could drop an early dragon quite quickly, with only limited damage to the champs involved.
With a string of recent buffs, Annie is quietly becoming quite strong. Her biggest restriction remains the short range of her spells. With the current meta favoring aggressive dash and long range mid champs, Annie has trouble remaining safe while casting her spells. I expect we will see more of her, but she will remain a non mainstream pick at the pro level
Ashe: It’s official, her new passive has finally arrived. Instead of gradually building up a chance to critically strike, Ashe will now build up Focus stacks every second she is not attacking. When she reaches 100 stacks her next attack will be a critical strike. The base amount of Focus will be equal to her crit chance, which can be built through items, runes etc.
I do not envision this making Ashe any more popular than she currently is. It will be nice to actually have her passive contribute more consistently than before, where it basically gave you one crit at the beginning of a fight and that was it, but the additional damage will not be enough to overcome her lack lustre early game and lack of escapes. Ashe has never been a weak champion, but she can be picked apart by ADC’s with stronger early games and can have trouble positioning herself in late game team fights if she is not fed.
Hecarim: Devastating Charge (E) is now able to jump over small obstacles. It might be worth it to carry a ward or two to allow yourself the ability to chase opponents through walls or escape from said opponents by dashing to an in range jungle creep. I had to do some reading to try and understand exactly how the changes on Onslaught of Shadows (R) will work. Apparently the charge used to deal shock damage at whatever location Hecarim stopped charging. This additional damage has been removed, but the actual damage dealt by the charge itself has been slightly increased. The hope here is that a fed Hec can no longer use his ult to dash through your team and burst your ADC, all in one shot.
If you have ever played against a fed Hecarim you know just how daunting a proposition that can be. This change shouldn’t make Hecarim any less viable, but it will hopefully reduce his ability to get ahead and destroy your whole team simply by hitting R. If anything, skilled Hec players should be able to use the changes to his E to make even more plays, and get around the map faster than they could before. If you’re looking to pick up a jungler do not let these nerfs scare you away from choosing Hec.
Karma: The mana cost on Inner Flame (Q) has been reduced and the damage radius has been increased. Her Focused Resolve has now been changed to heal her immediately when the leash is started and again if it makes it to the full duration.
One of these days a pro player is going to take Karma mid and do some serious damage with her. Of course I’ve been saying this for several rounds of buffs and it is still yet to happen. The buffs do not change the fact that her kit still just isn’t the best for a support champion and that everything she offers other supports offer – with better benefits. The change on her W should give her some more sustain in lane, but like Annie, Karma continues to suffer from being a relatively short ranged caster in a meta that does not favor them.
Kha’Zix: Taste Their Fear (Q) now provides a 45% damage bonus when a target is isolated. This ability used to provide a similar base value plus an additional 200% of your AD damage, which will no longer be applied. When evolved, the ability will now also always provide bonus damage based on the target’s missing health, even if the target is not isolated. Perhaps the biggest changes to Kha are to his Void Spikes (W). The mana costs are being reduced at all levels, the attack damage ratio is being slightly increased and the ability now applies a 20% slow even when not evolved. On the downside, the evolved ability no longer applies Kha’s passive and it can no longer be cast while mid leap. Also, the damage reduction applied when Kha is stealthed has been increased by 10%.
These changes are definitely interesting. Kha will now be able to spam his W and have earlier access to a ranged slow. His evolved Q and R will definitely be more viable, especially considering his evolved W has lost a lot of its damage. It may not seem like it but most of the damage applied by Void Spikes was due it triggering his passive. I think Kha will still have a great deal of damage potential but his play style will be changed. To do his maximum damage, Kha now needs to rely more on his Q and less on poking with W.
Not being able to cast the spikes mid leap will also take some getting used to and should make it easier for opponents to flash away from without also getting slowed in the process. I believe Kha will still be a popular pick, but with his mana costs going down and his Q damage going up, we may see him built tankier than when he could do massive poke damage before jumping in to kill his opponents.
Lissandra: The mana costs and cooldown on Ring of Frost are being decreased. Glacial path’s (E) cooldown will now begin when the ability is first cast. The damage on Lissandra’s ult is being decreased but the slow is being increased along with the duration of the self cast invulnerability.
I am convinced that Lissandra will get some serious playing time soon. She has potential to make some amazing plays with a dash that allows her to clear pretty much every gap in the game. My hunch is that, like Elise, the pros have been practicing her hard and should be close to ready to use her. She is much more of a battlefield control mid than a burst mage, so she does need specific comps to really shine. You cannot go wrong picking her up, and these buffs will only make it easier for her to dash into a lane and lock down everyone.
Nautilus: The damage on Titan’s Wrath has been decreased at mid and later levels.
This won’t slow down Nautilus at all. If you are playing him for the damage you are doing it wrong. Nautilus is a CC machine who doesn’t out damage the other team but can easily make their lives difficult as they become rooted, slowed, knocked up etc. He will still be a very popular choice.
Sejuani: The damage on her Northern Winds that scales from her max health has been reduced. The duration of the slow on her Permafrost has been slightly reduced along with the duration of the stun on her ult.
There was always going to be a pretty good chance that Sej would come out of her rework overpowered. Riot would say it’s because it takes a while to balance a champion properly; some of us might say it’s to encourage people to buy and play her. Either way, these changes shouldn’t hurt her too much. Her area of effect damage and CC remain very strong, and in case you haven’t tried her out, she has a dash that does damage based on the opponents max health – something that will also do respectable damage. She hasn’t become ridiculously popular, but it’s unlikely we will see any less of her than we already do. Unless they finally buff Olaf back to life….Riot please.
Sona: That’s right. Everyone’s favorite musical support is getting some changes. The damage on her power chord is being reduced fairly decently. Her base health and armor are getting a small boost and the power chord effect of her W will now actually reduce opponents damage as was intended.
If you have ever faced a Caitlyn Sona comp, as anything not including a Blitzcrank or Thresh, you know truly just how painful Sona’s poke can be. She basically gets to walk towards you and then shoot you with an ability that requires no aim, goes through creeps and does a bunch of damage (you bet Karma is jealous). I would contend that a lot of lower level Sona’s don’t even use their power chords that well; they can still win just from her Q poke alone. There is no other support that matches Sona’s ability to poke her opponents heavily while sustaining herself and her ADC, and this will not change. Her weakness to being blown up at early levels will remain, but she will continue to be a very tough challenge for supports without the ability to lock her down and blow her up at early levels.
Thresh: He can no longer start to cast Death Sentence (his hook) and flash while still casting it. For those of you who don’t play Thresh you can breath easier knowing that there is one less way for him to get at you. For those of you, like me, who thought learning how to Flash hook was the best thing ever: I’m sorry. We had a good run. I’m hoping that Riot realizes that this lead to some super cool plays and they will bring it back. If their changes to Blitzcrank over the years are any indication they will probably never change Thresh back.
General Changes to Champs
Abilities that disrupt Flashes will now either disrupt the Flash (causing the Flash to not be cast at all) or will, themselves, not be cast. This is a nice cleanup for those times when you tried to Flash, but somehow, had it get magically interrupted.
Due to some tinkering with the timing mechanisms, slows that are applied to you as part of a zone effect should now wear off more quickly once you leave the zone. Riot admits that this is a mini nerf to pretty much every champ with a zone slow, so if you play champs like Lux and Singed you might want to start getting used to people regaining their movement speed a bit faster than they used to once they leave the area of your ability.
Oh and if you are the type of player who enjoys jumping over walls, Riot has tinkered with the mechanics and claims it will now be easier to make the jumps. So take that, angry mob of champions upset over the fact I took their team’s Blue Buff. This time you won’t be catching my Nid because I will not be awkwardly failing that wall jump!
Doran’s Ring: The cost is being reduced down to 400 gold but the health given and the mana restored on kills are being slightly decreased. A lot of mid laners were taking the risk and starting with this item anyways. Now they can do so and also throw in a few health pots for sustain. The stats that this item gives are just too good to be ignored. I believe a Doran’s Ring two pot start will be pretty common for most mid laners who do not require wards to deal with jungle ganks.
Doran’s Shield: The cost is being reduced down to 440 gold. It no longer gives armor but does provide slightly more health regen and blocks two more damage from champion auto attacks. Starting with a Doran’s shield has always been attractive to champs like Vlad or Kennen, who need a bit of regen and early game damage mitigation. This will help them stay in lane longer, but i do not believe it will become a mainstream starting item. Most top laners will continue to favor starts that allow them to take wards top, and starting with a Doran’s Shield is still too expensive (and falls off too hard too fast) to be a useful investment for any champs other than those that already used it.
Madred’s Razor: Now deals a consistent amount of bonus magic damage to jungle creeps with each auto attack.
Wriggles Lantern: The attack damage and lifesteal have received decent increases while the armor has been slightly decreased. The duration and cooldown of the ward have both been decreased and the item now deals a consistent 100 magic damage to monsters (monsters being the jungle creep, not the lane creeps which are technically minions). I like these changes. The consistent damage should make it faster to clear the jungle and prevent you from having to worry about a stray proc messing up your buff transfers. I also feel like it is more useful to have the ward on a lower cooldown so it can be used more tactically than for pure vision. The items that build out of spirit stones will remain better investments for most junglers, but if you are worried about your clear time or do not benefit from mana regen, the new Wriggles should be something to consider.
Spirit Stone Related items now all carry the Butcher passive, which describes their ability to increase damage done from all sources against monsters – not minions. The damage on the Spirit of the Elder Lizard has been decreased by 10. This will not stop the item from being used a lot by AD champs who benefit from the CDR and mana regen. Those aspects of the item, paired with the bonus true damage, will continue to make it a very popular choice. Just remember that it will no longer allow you to do more damage to minions – if that was ever really your biggest concern.
Nashor’s Tooth and Wit’s End have now both received changes to correspond with the removal of Malady from the game. Nashor’s Tooth will now convert your AP into bonus magic damage applied on each of your auto attacks. Wit’s End now gives slightly more attack speed and allows you to steal magic resist from your opponent with each auto attack (stacks five times).
Nashor’s Tooth was always a powerful item for any AP champ that relies on auto attacks. This change will only make it more powerful and popular. The Wit’s End changes are the ones that should be fun to watch. While Nashor’s is more focused towards pure damage, Wit’s End contains a strong defensive component. This item will now be great not only for people looking for some attack speed and magic resist but also for those looking to dish out magic damage and lower their opponents MR. Riot has already stated that this item will even make a decent difference for champs that build Sunfire Capes, and I can’t imagine what it will do for champs like Udyr or Diana who apply magic damage on hit. Wit’s End should regain a lot of it’s lost popularity, and we will see it used on a lot of tankier champs who need the MR but can also benefit from the shred and attack speed.
This is important for everyone to know. Riot has received a lot of complaints about all of the non jungle lanes going into the jungle to gain extra experience before going to lane. Now, all jungle camps will spawn at 1:55 instead of 1:40. The idea here is that it will prevent certain laners from gaining the bonus ability to hit level two first without sacrificing their CS scores in lane. I was never one to leach experience in most of my lanes, but if you liked to use that to get an early level two, I could see that this would be frustrating.
Riot has tried to make it up to junglers by increasing the experience given by the Lizard Elder and the Ancient Golem and by making the other camps spawn slightly more frequently. I am not sure if these changes will be enough to make up for the lack of early leash that the jungler will be losing on wolves or wraiths, but they should hopefully still be able to hit level two off of their initial start. I think there might be some bot lanes that will still consider doing double golems, especially if they against a really bad lane that would simply block them from getting the early XP in lane, but these changes should accomplish what Riot is hoping for from the laners.
Whether or not it hurts junglers will remain to be seen but the thoughts are that it will allow junglers to get early levels faster and will allow junglers with quick clear times to always have camps up and waiting to be farmed. I do worry that this will encourage some junglers to simply spend all day farming and not ganking, but hopefully the allure of kill gold will lure them out from the jungle – just hopefully not when I do not have any wards top.
Throw in new notifications for when your Ranked League Points are about to decay (a great idea though too little too late for 20 of my points 😦 ) and the promised notifications that warn you when you are misbehaving and that should cover all of the major changes. The official patch notes are here if you want to find out about the minor things that I didn’t include. The patch preview video, along with the Champion Spotlight for Aatrox, are below. My guess is that Aatrox will be released this Friday or Saturday, if there are no major problems with the rest of the patch.
This patch has the potential to shake up the jungle and change life for a pretty popular assassin. On the whole, I am happy with the changes that Riot is making – though that might be because I am not a jungle main who fears change nor do I often leach experience. If you are a jungler please let me know if the changes have made things better or worse for you. Oh, and if you are not a fan of Thresh, please resist the urge to gloat about the changes being made to Death Sentence. I just realized that I played him twice today and did not get in a single Flash hook. I am feeling pretty glum about that.