Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 13.3

Lead Gameplay Designer Riot Axes discusses the evolving preseason meta and some top of mind issues.

Hi folks, Riot Axes here, the Lead Designer for Gameplay on League for a little over a year now—though some of you may know me from Sett, Vex, or Pantheon’s rework among other projects. I’m responsible for overseeing all of the gameplay design work on League including the Champions team (new champions and champion updates), Summoner’s Rift team (game balance, in-game systems, preseason development, etc), Modes team (ARAM, rotating game modes), and Game Loop team (matchmaking, ranked, champion select, and related systems). Basically, while I don’t work directly on any of these teams, I am involved in mentoring the designers on the teams, and I work with the design leads on direction-setting for their work.

For that reason, I’ll be writing most Quick Gameplay Thoughts going forward. In this space, you will mostly see discussion of the overall state of the game and larger projects we’re working on. For example, discussions of lane agency, adjusting class itemization, or our goals for new champion design are the sorts of topics you can look for here. I generally won’t be talking much about specific champion or item balance, but other devs will still be chatting about them in the Patch Notes and other blog posts.

Uncertainty in the Meta

Before getting into any specific topic, I want to note that there have been a lot of changes over the last several patches dating back to preseason. That means that things are changing pretty fast in the metagame. It’s always risky to discuss future priorities because they’re subject to change—new information may come to light, the needs of players can shift, etc. And that’s particularly true after this much change while things are still settling.

With that said, here are a few things we’re currently looking at.

Bot Lane Meta

The meta in bot lane is in a weird state, with a number of related problems we’re trying to solve.

First, we’re looking at enchanters and ADC supports (and Heimerdinger) being too dominant in pro play. In the patch 13.3 we’re looking to add some power to melee support picks. We’re also looking at some larger systemic solutions, as we don’t believe that this is an issue of just champion balance.

The emerging meta of fast ganking bot lane in both high skill solo queue and in pro play is on our radar as something that needs correcting. Besides looking at the champions in the meta, we’re also acting on Umbral Glaive and increasing early ward availability a bit this patch to help laners protect themselves, and are looking to trim some power from the jungle (more on that in a moment).

We will be actively monitoring this situation, and it’s likely we will need to do more follow up over future patches.

Jungle Power

The good: Jungle queue health has significantly improved in a way we think is likely to remain true even as we iterate. The bad: Jungle influence on the game is currently too high, particularly in how it is expressed through fast ganking.

Changes to Yellow Trinket and Umbral Glaive along with some tower buffs should help laners defend themselves a bit better, but we are also working on some direct nerfs to the role.

There’s been some question of making power farming more worthwhile in order to reduce how often junglers gank—we’re potentially taking a small stab there, but we want to be cautious about anything that increases the net power of the role. But that’s an example of the sort of thing that we’ll consider as we work through the problems with the role today.

Looking Ahead

Looking towards the later parts of the year, we are beginning to explore a few spaces. Big disclaimer time—as noted before, we’re currently headed into a highly disrupted and uncertain meta, and our priorities are very likely to shift often as new issues emerge. With that said, these are some of the things we’re currently considering for summer, after MSI at earliest:

We’re looking at enchanter (and general Support) itemization from a satisfaction standpoint. Enchanters don’t have enough options that feel good and are reasonable purchases in enough games. Additionally, Supports don’t make many item decisions in the first place, so there’s a lot of weight on the ones they do get to make being compelling. Not sure what tactics we’ll use yet, but we’re considering a number of things.

Another area of exploration is the state of mages in mid lane. Mages have generally been falling in play rates and general satisfaction for a while. Many of them have moved to Support instead, but when we poll players on champion frustration, Mage supports are reported as among the most frustrating champions to play against in the entire game. Some of the topics we’ve discussed internally include item satisfaction, tools to protect yourself as an immobile champion being ganked in mid lane, and how important roaming is to the success of a mid laner.

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.