Balance – I

Before I start up the stream here shortly, I figured I’d give some of my own thoughts after the latest shitstorm of community opinions on LoL balance. Unlike in World of Warcraft, League of Legends does not have an established community of sober theorycrafters built up over years of experience, a vital asset and foil to Blizzard’s attempts at making the game better. LoL simply doesn’t encourage that kind of behavior: it’s a competitive multiplayer online game accessible to the masses. These days in WoW, you can trust the high-level theorycrafters to have some idea of what they’re talking about; they often know better than the developers themselves to some degree, although not all the time.

Last week, Lucian got “nerfed.” Specifically, his basic attack range got reduced by 10% from 550 to 500. While 10% isn’t the biggest number to throw around in the history of statistics, it’s a pretty significant loss at the margin for ADCs. The community, of course, declared Lucian to be dead and went crazy with its pronunciations of doom, which led Riot to overreact and overcompensate him with massive mobility buffs, leading to the unstoppable, faceroll nightmare we now find in solo queue. Good job, community. I’m sure you took responsibility for your panicked, emotional temper tantrum and rethought how you look at champion balance. Except for the part where you didn’t. Now you’ve got millions of people having to endure idiot Lucians who can get away with anything because you didn’t want to analyze the changes to him in a mature, professional way. Your childish panic attacks have consequences, in case you didn’t notice.

Now, a scant few days later with nerfs on the PBE again, we find the community declaring the end of Elise. Just like the last end of Elise when she got “gutted” too, which never happened. Thresh is also losing some minor assets among the shitzillion he already has, and people are crying about that. Deathfire Grasp is being nerfed, by that meaning getting its cooldown increased from 60 to 90 seconds–just like so many other major cooldowns in the game. Heaven help us. Assassins are dead, right? Poor Ahri, says Reddit.

Thoughts on a few champions:

Elise – I don’t play as a jungler, so I can’t comment on the specific consequences of each nerf. The only thing I can reiterate is that she was “gutted” recently to no consequence, so I’m suspicious of all the doom and gloom surrounding this. However, her nerfs are beside the point. All decisions about Elise or any of the other junglers stem from the overbearing monster that is Lee Sin, which the community outright refuses to let Riot nerf. Am I supposed to cry for the community when it’s the source of a huge balance problem? Fuck you, LoL players, especially the pros: you know Lee Sin is a balance joke that needs to be toned down to size for the health of the game, but you don’t fucking give a shit. You like him being OP, plain and simple. You like being able to pull of all the shit he does without consequence because it makes you feel superior and badass. Fuck you. You’re not that skilled; you’re not that awesome. Every other jungler in the game suffers because of your fetish with this guy. Let Riot do its job. Nobody likes playing against Lee Sin. Nobody.

Thresh – this is the Lee Sin of botlane. Not even Braum is as bad as he is. This fucker has been superior to other supports since Day 1 of his release, yet everyone cries every time Riot tries to trim him down. Holy crap, they nerfed his ultimate, which no longer deals massive AOE damage? UNNECESSARY. Because having massive damage on an ult that cuts off all escape and utterly disrupts teamfights is necessary to make Thresh viable, right? Same with the AoE shield nerf on his lantern. Thresh has to have that too to be competitive, not just the other things he can do with his whole kit, which, as I’ll remind the reader, amount to the following:

  • Incredible engage
  • Incredible disengage
  • Two slows, one effectively a root
  • Two positioning displacement abilities
  • Hard CC
  • A hostile gap closer
  • A friendly gap closer, something that no one else has and can’t be stopped
  • Vision from range
  • Shields
  • Significant poke from range
  • Innate tankiness
  • Burst damage competitive with other supports

Yeah, Thresh is just dead as a doorknob if the damage on his ultimate and the shielding capability of his lantern is nerfed. What happened to “Thresh is all utility!” or “Thresh will always be viable”? Oh.

Lulu – Like many people, I don’t like seeing Lulu being turned into an annoying mid/top champ instead of the utility support she was designed to be. I love Lulu as a support to death, but she’s fucking up the game right now with her presence in the other lanes and it’s gotten out of hand. Half the reason late-game hyper-carries seem to work now is because teams can viably stick utility mages into their comps and protect them so well. I appreciate the thought behind the strategy, but Lulu affords teams this with little cost. Nerf her. Compensate support Lulu if needed, but get her out of the other two lanes.

Banshee’s Veil – Good change, though the numbers might need to be tweaked, as always. The real problem with “League of Lategame” isn’t that games reliably go into lategame, despite the wailing from all the assassins and Dravens of the world, but that there are lots of little factors that hinder teams from closing the game out after getting an advantage. Veil is one of them. It disrupts engage and teamfighting by routinely negating the threat of powerful abilities. That’s what it’s supposed to do, but it shouldn’t be so thoughtless.

Frostfang and Co. – the item gives way too much gold for little risk, the exact opposite of its stated design intent. Good change.

Nomad’s Medallion and Co. – the item needs just a bit more utility. Gives very little reward for little risk, as it should, but the reward is too small, I think. Good change.

Not much else to say. I’m going to go actually play the game now instead of pretend I know how to design it.