Yuumi’s latest rework has just hit live servers! After a few years of tumultuous balance changes, we’re here to talk about the work behind the rework of our feline friend and our plans for her future in League.
Since her release, Yuumi’s story has been a tail of two cats. On one hand, she was a cute, cuddly support that seemed thematically perfect for newer players to ramp up to the controlled chaos of Summoner’s Rift. On the other, Yuumi ended up being one of the most powerful supports in the game when perfectly optimizing her untargetability, auto attacks, and crowd control.
This combination left Yuumi as one of the most mained characters on the roster, but also one of the most frustrating for her opponents. Last year we decided that it was healthier for the game to pick one side and support it fully. A few months of work later, Yuumi returns with a new passive, some shiny new VFX, and, hopefully, a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
When designing a champion, gameplay and thematic resonance mean a lot when players try to find their first “main.” When a player sees Yasuo for the first time, they’re expecting the fast-paced combos that come with being a wind samurai and queue up to find that thrill. Others may look toward mages, and find Lux or Brand to be the pinnacle of a spellcaster fantasy. This played a big part in defining our goals for Yuumi. While a flighty enchanter that bounces between allies for a high-octane experience is a very compelling champion, trying to fit it into Yuumi’s current theme and playerbase felt like it could cause more problems than it would solve. So we decided to focus on creating the best Yuumi we could for those looking to learn League with friends… or people who just love cats.
With the above in mind, we approached the rework with the following major goals:
The first major shakeup for Yuumi is her Passive, renamed Feline Friendship (P), which is split into a healing portion and the new Best Friend mechanic. Previously, Yuumi’s Zoomies (E) was the source of her healing and main enchanter fantasy.
With healing as her most frequent output, it meant that Yuumi could refresh ally health bars out of combat, which required us to heavily tax her mana costs and cooldown of her former E. We’ve swapped the outputs around, giving shielding to Zoomies (E) and gating healing to only be in combat with champions (and her ultimate which we’ll get to later). This should keep her powerful at defending her allies, but will limit her ability to permanently keep her allies in fights with healing.
The other portion of Yuumi’s Passive is all about building a Best Friend.
Whenever Yuumi helps her attached ally kill enemies or minions, she’ll start building a bond (displayed on Yuumi's health bar and the feet of her Best Friend). Whomever has the strongest bond with Yuumi will enhance her abilities when she’s attached to them. Playing the game naturally will help Yuumi buff her lane partner and get the best scaling results, as most of her benefits are great on ranged auto-attackers.
However, if you do make the decision to ditch your old partner, Yuumi will have to pay a pretty big cost to build up a new bond. There were two primary goals for this change: make laning phase matter to Yuumi, and make laning with Yuumi feel better for her carry.
With Yuumi’s ability to follow any ally indefinitely, her strength was always as powerful as her strongest ally. This meant that putting pressure on Yuumi in lane hardly mattered if anyone on her team was doing well. And this experience was equally painful for Yuumi’s carry.
Carries with enchanters are a lot of fun, and a weak early game is tolerable when you can potentially become an invincible carry machine later. That tradeoff doesn’t really exist with Yuumi, where you often endure an arduous laning phase only to see your support quickly run off to the assassin and have them steal your 1v9 fantasy. We’re hoping that Best Friend is a thematic win that also helps address some of these issues. Being with your Best Friend should feel powerful and exciting, with effects that help most champions, but specifically help ranged auto-attackers the most.
Yuumi’s signature ability Prowling Projectile (Q) is also getting a significant revamp. With its unique control scheme, Prowling Projectile has become a highly reliable spell in coordinated play.
In its previous version, if your attached ally had a dash, it was easy to close the distance and hit the enemy with a targeted, slowing nuke at near 100% accuracy, which was very difficult to balance. If it did damage, AP Carry Yuumi surfaced, which was a huge game risk due to her untargetability. If it slowed more, then it was an equally risky form of targeted crowd control. This meant that we had to adjust the consistency of the spell.
The new spell will still keep a short duration of mouse-control, but will quickly shoot off into the distance—kind of like a mouse chasing a laser pointer. With less guaranteed hit rate, this should allow us to put more exciting outputs on the spell for peeling, healing, and other buffs without Yuumi dominating in coordinated play.
Keeping with the theme of balancing the power Yuumi can display while untargetable, You and Me! (W) also has a few minor changes. We found giving large amounts of reciprocal offensive stats on an untargetable spell meant that snowballing as Yuumi felt pretty hopeless and turned any character into a scaling powerhouse.
We’re shifting Yuumi’s Passive outputs to be more defensive oriented, and focusing them on her Best Friend. This means that Yuumi should be one of the best enchanters at keeping one target alive, but if that target isn’t already ahead from winning their lane, then they won’t take over the game automatically.
Next, is the perfectly named Zoomies (E). As mentioned for her Passive, switching her main defensive spell to her shield introduces a healthier pattern that allows Yuumi’s players to express their mastery with perfect parries and emergency saves.
One additional toy we’re giving the cat is the ability to grant small amounts of mana to allies. We noticed that without a heal, Yuumi often lacked a good reason to ever cast Zoomies out of combat. For a character that doesn’t need to click to move, this led to a much less engaging experience compared to the previous Yuumi. Adding a small incentive to fly around out of combat to share mana, or just top off your laner pushing a wave was one way to add a small, unique activity for Yuumi while riding your allies.
Finally, we have Final Chapter (R) (hahaha… ha). Just like Prowling Projectile and You and Me, we’re shifting Yuumi’s power from consistent offensive power and crowd control into more defensive strengths. Her old ultimate was a powerful feast-or-famine spell. If your ally wasn’t on the same page (cue laugh track), Yuumi would find herself shooting magical waves into nothing. With good coordination, the spell was an undodgeable root which was ideal for mobile fighters and frontliners. This seemed out-of-place if we wanted Yuumi to feel better about being on her backline carries.
So we’ve removed the root and instead replaced it with the ability to heal allies. This makes the spell significantly better when aimed across the front line of a fight, catching allies and enemies, but significantly worse at running down a single enemy while attached to a fighter. Similar to Prowling Projectile, Yuumi’s ultimate will now also follow her mouse, letting her heal those pesky teammates that refuse to be helped (or to slow down enemies rudely running away).
And that wraps up the latest chapter for Yuumi’s recent rework. We hope her new set of abilities can get her to a better spot for all players while also staying true to her original enchanter fantasy that her mains have come to love. Thanks for playing with us and see you on the Rift!