Quick Gameplay Thoughts: December 13
It’s Riot Scruffy here and with Meddler out, I’m subbing in for some quick gameplay thoughts. With the holidays, this will probably be the last post of 2019, so we hope you all get some rest and stay cozy someplace warm. See you all in January.
The end of year always presents some unique challenges with our patch schedule winding down and us wanting to get in as many tweaks as we can to tune preseason. Patch 9.24 is our last full patch of the year and just went live this week. We are planning to do a follow up “mini patch” next week with more champion and systems balance (but no major features or mechanics changes).
**Dragon Souls and Elder**
We’ve had enough time and data to do analysis on the impacts of dragon soul and elder dragon buff as end game objective rewards. In general both dragon souls and elder buff are stronger than we think they should be, but some individual buffs are more than others. Our plans for 9.24b are:
* Ocean Soul - big nerf
* Infernal Soul - moderate nerf
* Mountain Soul - moderate nerf
* Elder buff - moderate nerf
* Cloud Soul - no change
**Lethality items follow up**
Overall we’re seeing the updated Lethality items as a bit underpowered across the board. Our current approach is that we want to buff Serrated Dirk by 5 AD to make the build path a bit more powerful and create some more early threat. Additionally we also want to buff Edge of Night by that same 5 AD, so that buying it in the right games (mage / CC heavy) has a slightly higher payoff. Aside from that, the individual items are filling a unique set of contexts and roles well, so assassins now have a few more choices around how they want to focus their builds.
**Support items follow up**
The core concept of only having to buy the support once, and then immediately transitioning into the main item system has landed really well we think. It’s leading to more flexible build options for supports that feel more tailored to the champ you're playing. Another positive effect we’re seeing is a few more viable champs to the support role that would rather not have spent a lot of gold on the old items.
We do however have two areas that we want to improve for 10.1. One is differentiating the stat lines more between the aggressive and defensive options. Relic Shield and Steel Shoulderguard will have some of their offensive stats pushed into health regen and Spectral Sickle and Spellthief’s Edge will have some of their health converted to mana regen for a more glass cannon build. Overall we think that by giving these items more defined stat profiles we can give the users a bit more of what they need. The second change we’re making for 10.1 is increasing the tier 3 quest goal so that we can **remove the farming penalty** once you reach tier 3.
**Sylas Mechanics Changes**
We have some Sylas work coming to PBE for patch 10.1. The core goal here is to shift his mechanics in a way that open up some weaknesses for him in very high level play while making him a viable champ for the majority of players (it’s a buff overall). We’re combining a set of strategies that we think will lead to this outcome:
* Less lane control, but significantly stronger late - having a safe, strong lane leads to being a strong option in all possible matchups. To counterbalance we’re buffing his late game across multiple axes (damage, tankiness, cooldowns)
* Mid viability over jungle - Juggling multiple roles lead to an additional strength as a flex pick. We think we can get him to a healthier spot for mid lane if we don’t allow him to be a strong flex pick in jungle
* Remove tools - E shield. Having a tool for every situation is something that can lead to this problem so we are going to remove the shield on E and give back the power in other places on the kit.
* Lowering skill floor on passive and W - We want to soften a few of the optimizations that many players are struggling to access without pulling out the decisions and skills of experienced players entirely.
**New Champion Release Pace**
The end of this year leading into next year will have a flurry of new champions (Senna, Aphelios, Sett). We are as excited as you about this, but our current goal is not to speed up the pace of new champions and VGUs. The way that we develop focuses on getting it right over hitting perfect deadlines, so sometimes projects can cluster together like these three. Expect things to slow down a bit and 2020 should be fairly similar to 2019 in terms of champion releases.
A related note is that Senna -> Aphelios -> Sett I think are a good representation of our overall approach to champion complexity and difficulty going forward. We want to have a wide range of simple, complex, accessible, and difficult offerings for players of all types so we’re aiming to balance that throughout our new champions and VGUs in 2020.