Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 13.4 #2

Lead Gameplay Designer Riot Axes discusses his thoughts on roaming champions, lethality mythic items, and balance changes.

Hi folks, Riot Axes here with an off-cycle round of Quick Gameplay Thoughts. I’m going to try something a little bit different this time—I’ll be covering a few different topics instead of just one. I’m also going to be talking about some stuff that is still a bit controversial internally. Not everything I discuss here is going to lead to changes in the game, and not every dev is going to agree with all of this. But I hope that this helps you understand how we think about these kinds of issues.

Roaming Mid Laners

There’s some evidence that the 13.4 changes to early kill experience hit roaming mid laners a bit harder than expected—Fizz, Pantheon, Qiyana, as well as a few others went down. Some of those champions are looking weaker than we’re comfortable with and some of the buffs in patch 13.5 will be aimed at addressing them. Others did lose a bit of win rate, but not enough to make us uncomfortable with their balance. For example, Yone went down a bit but is still looking pretty good overall.

But the data isn’t conclusive—Talon and Katarina in particular don’t appear to have been affected, and we’d have expected them to be among the most impacted, so it’s still possible it was some other effect causing it (Annie gating out non-mages, perhaps?), but it’s something we’ll be interested in watching over the next few patches.

We view roaming as a little too dominant in high level play as of 13.3, so if it has been nerfed a bit as a strategy, we’d view that as an improvement to the game, though of course one that requires us to re-balance some champions around the new state. It’s not high on our priority list so we’re not planning work to nerf roaming, but we wouldn’t be sad to see it as a side effect of this change.

Lethality Mythic Items

We’re considering some changes to Prowler’s Claw and Duskblade of Draktharr in the near future for game health reasons. Prowler’s Claw is breaking the counterplay on too many champions in ways we’re pretty uncomfortable with for high-skilled play. Duskblade is currently fine-ish mostly because we keep it kind of weak. When strong, it tends to break down counterplay on non-assassin champions like Darius and Master Yi for low-skilled play.

There’s no ETA on when we would ship changes, but it’s a problem space where we’re actively looking for improvements.

Buff Strategy

Just a quick update to how we’re approaching buffs and some nerfs these days. Over the last couple years, we’ve tended to do most buffs and nerfs as what we call “bucket changes”—given that we agree a champion’s win rate isn’t quite right, we look for safe numbers changes where we can easily predict the outcome in terms of winrate. We also have a category of work we call “patch work” where we take a longer period of time to do a more careful change intended to solve some larger problem or to make a champion feel noticeably better to play. For context, most bucket changes can be done within a day, however patch work typically takes 1-2+ weeks depending on the scale of the changes.

We’ve always had both types of work in our toolkit, but we’re placing more emphasis on Patch work specifically for buffs right now. It won’t be a huge swing players will immediately notice and we’re still definitely doing smaller pure numbers buffs, but more of our changes for the next few patches will be aimed at improving the feel of a champion rather than simply increasing their win rate through numbers tweaks. Keep an eye out for some of these like Pantheon and Azir coming in patch 13.5.

That’s it for now. Hopefully this gives you a sense of some of the issues currently on our minds, and how we plan to approach them.