A new day, a new patch! It seems like yesterday we were trying to assess a massive 1.3.0 update, but SEMC has already pushed out another HUGE release! The list of changes is so long that we won’t cover everything today, but if you’re looking for a specific topic just scan down through the chapter headings and see if I cover it.
SEMC isn’t pulling any punches here. The long-awaited Skin System is here! We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg now (with Tier 1 skins being available) but releasing the system and removing the curtain is huge.
Players have the ability to collect a card after a game, regardless of whether they win or lose. Later, they can use these cards to create the skin of their choice. I have never heard of a MOBA allowing players to use currency earned by playing the game to unlock skins. Until now.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 skins are only unlocked through card transactions, which means that a player earns that skin by playing the game. As LaserCrabs expressed on Shinkaigan’s stream last night, this definitely adds value to the Tier 2 and 3 skins because you will respect how much the person has played when you see their skin in game. They didn’t just borrow their parent’s/sibling’s/relative’s/dog’s credit card and buy it.
I was skeptical of adding a third currency to the game, but I think this enables players to support a free-to-play model. My only suggestion would be to allow players to spend Glory towards cards. Cards could cost an insane amount, but allow players who have Glory piling up in their account to invest it towards something. The only reason I could see this not happening is if they have other plans for Glory.
Everyone loads into the Fold at the same time. This. Is. Huge. It was something SEMC needed to fix before real competitive games could exist. The stage is now set. SEMC has been tracking the load time of different devices through requests to their third-party API, so they know how long it takes each device to load into the Fold. They knew there was a discrepancy, and they worked to fix it for all players.
This change also included some adjustments to the timing of the game. I remember getting into the game between 5-10 seconds in, I’d shop, start to move and the game timer would jump up to 20 seconds. Now that isn’t something players will deal with. When all players have loaded the game will start for all of them, and the clock will read 0:00. That gives players 30 seconds to spend their starting gold and get to the jungle camp of their choice.
Due to this balanced start I can easily foresee players bypassing their initial purchases so they can get to the jungle shop first. That area was highly contested before, but it was easily controlled by the team with the iPad Air 2s. Now it’s anyone’s game.
Joule has almost too many changes to cover efficiently. I’ll try to summarize the good stuff as best I can.
Her perk got an extra 950 gold worth of armor rolled into it, making her extremely durable on the front and sides. Rocket Leap feels much smoother, and scales better with items. Thunder Strike doesn’t cost as much energy when you dump all your points into it, and gets Cooldown Acceleration when you purchase Attack Speed. The stacking mechanic was removed from Thunder Strike, but now enables up to 40% armor and shield pierce if you hit an enemy with your last cast of Thunder Strike. Big Red Button has a lot of text to say “it shoots faster”. The cooldown of the laser was reduced by 20 seconds at max rank.
Expect to see a lot of Joule in lane, especially after Shin went 14-0-4 against FooJee in lane with it last night. Her character information screen even says her position is “lane”, which was definitely changed in this patch because her old role said “bench”. These are aggressive changes that may push her over the top.
I won’t copy pasta anything from the chat I had with FooJee, but he was completely convinced that Celeste is a powerhouse, and these changes just further encourage that. While her ultimate lost some late-game scaling, the base damage at each rank was greatly increase. For starters, Solar Storm’s trailing stars at rank one deal 10 less damage this patch than rank three stars did last patch.
Heliogenesis and Core Collapse both picked up the slack from Solar Storm. Heliogenesis deals reduced damage to minions, but the base damage was increased by an extra 33%. Once Vox is out of the meta, Celeste will be in.
Everyone’s favorite flying dachshund received a number of changes that helped his lane, and hurt his overpowered ultimate.
To help Skaarf, his heroic perk now starts burning 4% of health per second, up from 2%. Also, any enemies burning will deal 50% of the damage they are taking to other nearby enemies. The perk duration was extended by half a second, and his attack speed was lightly increased to be on par with “everyone else”.
Spitfire can now pass through lane minions, which helps harass in lane. The cooldown at max rank dropped significantly from 5.5 seconds down to 3 seconds. To provide a bit of counterplay to Skaarf’s lane opponent the projectile speed of Spitfire has been slowed down from 14 somethings per something to 12 somethings per something. Miles per hour? Kilometers per years? Meters per second? I know ultimately it doesn’t matter because we can associate the difference between 14 and 12 in our minds, but some people are curious, and I’m some people!
Goop was modified so the range isn’t quite as ridiculous as it once was, but the cooldown is much more forgiving in earlier levels.
The biggest nerf was the Crystal Power ratio on Dragon Breath which was cut in half. Riot Games took this same approach to Teemo’s ultimate (cutting the scaling aspect in half) and he was never seen in competitive play again. I’m not sure if SEMC was trying to remove a linear playstyle from the competitive scene, but they may have been accidentally successful. Maybe Skaarf will be strong enough in lane that he won’t rely on his ultimate as much. I expect skipper587 will show us the ways of the new Skaarf.
Get that nerf bat ready, I’m ready to see this guy get hit! Vox was SO dominant in 1.3.0 that it was destined for him to be taken down a notch.
Vox dominated games with his impressive and simple AoE damage coupled with his high mobility and infinite sustain. What a ridiculous combination. They lowered his base movement speed from 3.4 to 3.3, which wasn’t enough in my opinion. This guy has a leap (that deals damage!!!) on a no second cooldown! Why wouldn’t he have the lowest movement speed in the game?
Vox lost the Crystal Power ratio on his ultimate as well. This isn’t as hero-breaking as the change to Skaarf was because the base damage is already so high (300/450/600), it’s a ridiculously low cooldown (80/55/30), and he doesn’t rely on it to win team fights or games. The delay between the initial line and the shockwave trigger has been increased from 0.8 to 1.0 seconds.
Other important changes to Vox will be covered below in the items section. Eve of Harvest was adjusted, as well as Aftershock, two popular items on the strongest carry in the game.
When the “on-hit effects” change was made to Krul it didn’t account for abilities adding stacks of Weakness. Anytime Krul hits an enemy with a basic attack or an ability he applies a stack of Weakness for Spectral Smite. Because Dead Man’s Rush was both an ability and an auto attack it was instantly applying two stacks. I thought this was by design, as DMR counts as both. However, it was determined that it was a bug, and was changed in this patch. This is a slight nerf to the zombie warrior, but the changes to Aftershock may have affected Krul and his place in the meta.
Flare Guns were dominating the meta by being too spammable and too strong. I’m pretty sure this is a direct buff to LostBoyToph because now he won’t be required to spend 6,000 gold each game on Flares! Flare Guns now reveal a 6m radius anywhere on the map. Fourth grade math makes me think that the Flare Guns will still be good (because radius is not the same as diameter), but won’t make it as easy to have perfect knowledge of the enemy team. I assume Scout Traps will be bought in bulk, so expect to invest in early boots and stay quick on your toes!
Nothing is more gold efficient at level 12 than an infusion. Vainglory games are short enough that you can be level 12 by 12 minutes, and then your best course of action is keeping an infusion active at all times. To limit the effectiveness of this purchase they reduced the duration from 3.0 minutes to 2.5.
Contract has always been a staple for junglers, and now it got better for everyone involved. SEMC took something good and made it gooder. The Contract owner now earns 30% of the kill bounty of any minion or monster, but if the jungle monster attacked the person with Contract, then they also recover 80 health and their ally gets 15% bonus gold. Good luck convincing your allies to let the jungle monsters hit you first!
It used to be good on anyone (I saw a Krul with two of them), but now it’s better on certain heroes. The percentage life damage was scaled back to 15% at all levels, so it doesn’t get stronger as the game goes on, but the internal cooldown was lowered from 2.0 to 1.5 seconds. That makes this item stronger on any heroes who can quickly spam their abilities, namely Koshka. Period. Remember when we got to the end of the HEROES section and we hadn’t gone over the Koshka nerfs yet? Oops. I can’t think of another hero who could take advantage of that cooldown change. I’m confused why they would buff the strongest hero in the game.
Eve of Harvest
This item really helped push Vox over the top, as he was taking advantage of it the most. In an attempt to balance Eve of Harvest the Crystal Lifesteal was reduced from 25% to 20%, but consequently the Crystal Power provided was increased to 65. I believe this will still be the first item that Vox builds. Crystal Lifesteal is an amazing stat that procs on every ability that deals damage. Because all of Vox’s abilities can hit multiple targets (or hit multiple times) it makes it too good. I expect this to be the most popular Vox item moving forward.
The black sheep of Crystal Power items, Frostburn got some love from SEMC for being sub-par. Before the patch everyone who wanted to buy Frostburn would buy a Shatterglass instead because it was almost double the firepower. With a bump in Crystal Power from 85 to 100, Frostburn is looking more enticing. Normally, someone would pay for an increase like that, but Frostburn maintained its old sticker price. 15 CP for free, come and get it!
Did anyone think this item was overpowered? Oh, everyone? Ok. Well they changed it. A lot. The barrier used to be based on a flat health amount, which made this item very strong in the early stages of the game. However, now the barrier is 20% of your missing health, rather than 200 flat health. Adagio has just over 1650 health at level 12, which means if he had one health left this shield would buff him for 330 health. In order to be more effective than before you need to be critically low (not preventing a Koshka engage) and have a decent health pool. This does make health builds slightly more effective if you want a Reflex Block active on any of your items (Reflex Block, Crucible, Aegis).
Aside from the modified shield value (with a potentially larger blocking capacity), the shield duration was slightly lowered as well. Now you’ll only have one second of window, which will increase the skill cap for performing a successful block.
I apologize for the brevity of this post! This patch was massive! It seems SEMC dramatically change certain heroes each patch to keep the gameplay interactive, and ever-changing. My guess is that someday SEMC will start number tweaking to establish balance between the heroes. While some are stronger than others (in a Rock-Paper-Scissors kind of way) I believe that balance can be achieved. First item of business: deal with Koshka.