Quick Gameplay Thought: January 24
Hey everyone. Riot Scruffy here, and I’m taking over for the Quick Gameplay Thoughts dev blog every other week. As Lead Gameplay Designer I manage the design teams that work on Champions, Game Balance, Items, the SR Map, Runes, Matchmaking, and Ranked. I plan to bring you all some updates and previews of upcoming work and go deeper into our reasoning and goals with the work that we do. Everything we add, change, and remove from LoL is done for a reason and we hope that our work makes the game better every patch.
**Balance Strategy Refresh**This won’t be news to many of you, but I thought it would be good to do a quick refresh of our balance strategy. The reality of League of Legends is that the game played at different levels of skill is like an entirely different game in terms of which champions and strategies are strong or weak. With this in mind, it’s impossible to have all 148 champions balanced at every level of play.
Our approach is to slice the game into 4 different skill segments where we think balance is meaningfully different:
* Normal (Iron - Gold)
* Skilled (Plat - Master)
* Elite (Grandmaster-Challenger)
And then ensure that every champ is:
* Viable in at least one segment
* Overpowered in no skill segments
The core reasoning behind this is that we think that an overpowered champion can suppress the viability and richness of the entire game meta, so we want to protect players of all skill levels from this unbalanced game state.
**Jungle Followup**With enough time to see the results on the preseason jungle changes, we’re seeing some goals were achieved and some not.
* Small nerfs - the jungle XP and gold are nerfed, but it’s looking like it’s a bit too hard in particular on farming and later game junglers.
* Pathing is more balanced - this goal was definitely achieved, not all paths are perfectly balanced with each other but we’re much closer here than we were in season 9
* Less early ganks more farm - this goal was not achieved, we’re seeing roughly the same amount of early ganking as season 9
The plan - we’re looking to buff up jungle XP slightly and skew towards incentives to farm over gank
* Buffing jungle XP per min for minutes 4-18 and spreading it across the less targeted camps that are often skipped by gank heavy junglers
* Pushing back the minion farm penalty removal to further nerf funnel strategies (which are rare but extremely strong)
**Sett Release Retro**Now that Sett has been out for two weeks, I wanted to share some thoughts on how we think his gameplay turned out. Some of the long term effects of hit kit can’t really be known for sure at this point, but I still wanted to share my early thoughts.
* Low complexity - Sett is a wonderful demonstration of how even in 2020, simple designs can be both satisfying and skillful. We want to do much more of this in the future where we focus on “quality over quantity” in our champ kits.
* Unique but not game changing - Sett brings a few pretty exciting new ideas to the table like damage reflect and turning the enemy tank into a nuke. He isn’t redefining what a champion in LoL can be, but for his goals as an accessible top lane juggernaut, I think he’s on target.
* Balance - Sett’s winrate has climbed over his first two weeks of play and he’s appearing to be a be viable as a top and jungle currently. It’s possible that he may need some slight nerfs in the future, but he doesn’t seem to be significantly OP today.
* Clear weaknesses - Another success worth calling out is that Sett is powerful, but he provides enemies a clear opportunity for counterplay.
**Upcoming balance changes for 10.3:****Akali** - Many of you already saw the Akali changes on PBE. Akali is dominating both pro and elite level play, but she’s not nearly as OP for skilled and normal. With that in mind we’re trying to reduce the amount of control she has over choosing when to fight, which is a core reason why she is such a strong pick at the top tier of play. The upside here is that if these mechanics changes make her a more counterable champion at the top levels of play, we can give her some more conventional buffs to allow her to be viable in regular play. After testing the initial changes, we’re making a few changes:
Moving away from “CC reveals her during W stealth” as it was making the experience unreliable in a confusing way and adding inconsistency to our stealth rules
Cutting R2 speed decrease - this wasn’t getting us a lot of movement for how bad it felt
Keeping R1 as targeted as it’s effectively lowering both her escape tools and her super long range pick potential
Exploring a few other alternatives like early ranks of Q energy cost being higher to reduce her lane trade and push power
**Yuumi buffs** - The Yuumi changes in patch 9.24 have left her with significant new weaknesses that allow us to give her a decent buff. The tactic we’re exploring right now is to buff Q rankups so that Q max is a viable build (letting her have an active playstyle instead of only E max build)
**Aphelios** - We’re adding a max range on caibrum marks. We intend to keep it as a very long range poke effect, but bring it in line with other similar mechanics like Caitlyn or Xerath. Frankly, cross map sniping is not interactive or interesting gameplay, so we’re removing it.
**Senna** - we want to shift a bit of power out of Markswoman position Senna to Support Senna. This probably means we’ll be tuning soul drops for when you get the minion kill vs when your ally does.
These are just a few of the changes in for 10.3 - expect more info next week about the full patch.
Thanks again everyone for playing. I’m excited to be making more posts like this about our design process and thinking. Feel free to drop questions or future topic requests in the comments.