Red Post Collection: Context on Pantheon PBE Changes, More on PBE Miss Fortune and Rengar, No Rumble VU, and Pwyff on Recent Balance Decisions

Posted on at 4:42 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection is HUGE! It includes SmashGizmo with context on the tentative 4.5 Pantheon changes that are now up on the PBE, ricklessabandon with follow up discussion on his PBE Miss Fortune changes, Riot Wrekz chatting about Leona's balance,  Meddler on the Rengar rework, IronStylus confirming no Rumble VU in the immediate future, and Pwyff covering multiple topics, including Lee Sin, Recent balance decisions, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Recent News:

Context on 4.5 Pantheon PBE Changes

Here's SmashGizmo with a context thread on the Pantheon changes that are currently testing on the PBE:
"Hey guys, SmashGizmo here to give some more context and details on the Pantheon changes you've already seen on the PBE today. 
Pantheon's one of the biggest benefactors we've seen from the recent spirit stone changes, and while we don't innately dislike him as a jungler, we would like to both add some options for his opponents against his ganks and smooth out his historically lopsided power curve a bit. 
The current changelist that's on PBE is still very fresh and subject to tuning before it hits live, but here is the current full list of changes: 
Passive - Aegis Protection
  • Now will block the attack of any siege minion or large jungle monster instead of a damage value based on his character level
W - Aegis of Zeonia
  • Stun duration changed to 0.5/0.75/1/1.25/1.5 from 1 at all ranks
R - Grand Skyfall
  • Channel time reduced to 0.5 from 2
  • Landing time (after circle appears) increased to 2 from 1.5
  • Cast range reduced to 2000/2500/3000 from 5500 at all ranks
  • Cooldown reduced to 150/125/100 from 150/135/120
The passive changes are a straightforward modernization of the ability to make it reliably block the minions and monsters that Pantheon wants it to block. 
W's changes are aimed at power curve adjustment and I will be monitoring how much this makes his early ganks less brutal to weigh the gains vs. pain to Pantheon players. 
R's changes are a bit larger in scope and are trying to address a wider breadth of problems. The range reduction is there to allow opponents to ward more effectively versus jungle Pantheon, while the landing time increase is there to give opponents more time to react to an incoming Pantheon gank. The two together may be hurting Pantheon's level 6 ganks too much, but I tend to go overboard with my initial changes and then tone it back with iterations when I get a better sense of what changes are actually accomplishing. The channel time reduction, on the other hand, is aimed at addressing Pantheon's ult usability in teamfights and skirmishes. I'm hoping that this will give Pantheon some stronger options when using his ult more reactively, such as being able to escape dicey situations in enemy territory or quickly repositioning mid-teamfight. With this larger emphasis on mid-fight usability from his ult, I also wanted to reduce the late game cooldown so that he will realistically have it as a play making tool in almost every late game fight. 
Just to reiterate, these changes are hot off the presses and are subject to go through some iteration before they hit live, but I didn't want to leave you guys hanging without any context and missing pieces of the changelist."

Miss Fortune changes back on the PBE

With the 3/20 PBE update, ricklessabandon's Miss Fortune changes have returned to the PBE for testing!

When asked to clarify the addition of " New passive effect: increases the stack cap of Impure Shots to 6/7/8" to Bullet Time ( R ) , ricklessabandon explained:
"the increased cap is a pure passive, and is on all the time (like the passive from sivir's ult). so there isn't an incentive to land basic attacks before/after the ult since the total damage will be the same in either case."
He continued:
"i think you misunderstand. getting 3 basic attacks on someone before your ult does no more/less damage overall than getting 3 basic attacks after your ult, so you should always be looking for the best ults (i.e., hits all the important targets, hits for 8 waves, etc)."
Phreak also stepped in to elaborate on the W passive stack debate:
"That's not what he's saying, though. If you're fighting an individual: 
3 autos, full ulti, 3 autos
6 autos, full ulti
Full ulti, 6 autos 
All deal the same damage to that target.

If for whatever reason you cannot land attacks after the ulti and your only time to land basic attacks is before, then of course, landing attacks vs. not landing attacks is better."

In response to concerns about this set of changes being a nerf, ricklessabandon explained:
these are pretty significant buffs, barring a few cases i'll mention below. if you still think these are overall nerfs, then it'd probably be best if you explicitly state why so i can clear up any misunderstandings. 
if it's a matter of numbers, you can pull the spreadsheet i'm using for the ult here: 
the only things i'd consider nerfs at this point:
  • small numbers issue i need to smooth out for strut (i.e., an minor unintentional nerf at present)
  • early lane trading damage versus the initial target of double up
  • on-hit damage in builds with ability power
  • physical damage exchanged for magic damage in certain situations (this is either a buff or nerf depending on the scenario) 
and tbh, those are all relatively minor trade-offs given the buffs she's getting (unless you've been building ap and were hoping to continue building ap). 
as for the inquiries about 'ap mage' builds and how these changes affect them, i don't have any serious thoughts on the matter at present—miss fortune's 'traditional carry' and 'ad mage' builds are my first priorities, and i want to get them to a good place before thinking about atypical builds. if you're a fan of that build and want to get me a head start when i do think about atypical builds, then feel free to start up a thread on the matter and include what it is about that build attracts you to it (you can link it to me via twitter or mention me in the post and i'll probably find it).
He continued:

Generally I only see spells dealing magic damage (if your champ is AD based) when the spell isn't meant for damage such as a CC spell 
.ezreal ult and corki ult are good counter-examples to this. same with lucian's ardent blaze, renekton's ult and sunfire cape. magic damage isn't a means to ensure that you don't do damage when you don't build magic penetration so much as it's a means to control the ability's damage curve in specific scenarios.
that said, a huge majority of miss fortune's damage is physical. if you play her on pbe, you can check your damage recap to verify.


Rickless is there nothing you can say about the Q targeting? I really want to know if you've done further tweaks of if it's the same as previously. :(
it has been updated a bit. there's a 'grace' zone near the first target to catch odd cases that would end up as duds when they look like they shouldn't, and the angles were updated a bit. i'll be keeping an eye on it as i spectate pbe games—so far it looks good though!"

Leona's State of Balance

When suggested that Leona's passive be allowed to self-proc on jungle monsters Riot Wrekz commented on her bottom lane presence and his thoughts on her as a more powerful jungler:
"Seems a good time for me to jump in here. 
I handled the Leona changes for the 2014 season and implemented the scaling on Eclipse to help her benefit more from defensive itemization that would allow her to become actualized as a tank in the lategame. Overall I believe this was really beneficial to the character. That said, when we put in those changes we only took 5 off of the stats Eclipse grants with the belief that with more damage showing up in bottom lane (mage/classic supports having access to things like Frost Queen's Claim) the changes would not make her overly dominant. 
Overall Leona probably needed a larger reduction in Eclipse's base power to make up for the scaling changes because of how much you can get out of the scaling at level 1 from runes/masteries. Leona has become quite dominant and this largely shines through in her resistance to poke and the strength of her all-ins. At the turn of the season it was better to air on the side of caution, but now things have stabilized and it is appropriate to make some changes to her early power level and open up more space for other supports to play against her. 
Leona is a healthy and interesting duo laner, making substantial changes to her passive that allow her to be more powerful in solo lanes/jungle would result in her becoming unbalanced and the changes necessary at that time would be deeper cuts to her primary playstyle (duo lane). For example, say Leona was more viable in the jungle. What you end up with is a Leona with far more gold, which then turns into tank stats and earlier mobility boots, roaming around the map substantially more durable than she currently is with a kit designed to lock someone down and kill them. In this case we would need to consider deeper changes to things like base durability, early CC durations, and cooldowns. All of these things are sorely needed by duo lane Leona and are at their current values because of her more limited gold/experience stream. In cases like this the cost of making changes that deviate from the champions primary playstyle to support alternate/offbuilds exceeds the benefit."
He continued, noting that the next release is the first new champion he's worked on:
"The next release is the one i've been working on. Not long to wait!"

Rengar Rework Discussion

As you may have noticed, the Rengar rework was pushed to the PBE in the 3/18 update. and Meddler is already hot on the case answering questions about it!

When asked about the values of empowered W's heal, Meddler confirmed they scale on level and on how low Rengar is on health:
"Yeah, base amount + bonus per level (Rengar's level, not spell rank). That total then increases dramatically the lower on health Rengar is"
He continued, elaborating on the values between max and extremely low health:
"We're testing a really large multiplier for missing health at the moment. Minimum heal (if you're at full health effectively) is 12+4 per level. Maximum (when basically dead) is 75+25 per level. Not guaranteed those will be the final values though, we've also been testing some values with a less extreme difference (so much closer to the live values)."

Meddler also commented on being about to use Rengar's Q on tower and feedback on the new Night Hunter Rengar skin:
"Unlikely RE Q and towers, we're looking to concentrate Rengar's power in his hunting more than his split pushing.

I'll pass on that feedback on Night Hunter Rengar, not involved much in skin development myself though so can't speak to that directly."

No Rumble VU in immediate future

With the recent reveal of Super Galaxy Rumble and in response to previous comments about Rumble being so complicated to make skins for due to his out of date rig, many summoners have been asking if Rumble is going to get a visual update in the near future

IronStylus comments:
There will be no VU launched with SGR. 
To clarify what I've said in the past, a VU becomes more feasible, as do more skins, with the new rig. Essentially this skin is an entirely new champion. It corrects issues with current rumble in that it's built from scratch. It opens up the door for an easier execution on future skins and a potential VU down the road.
He continued:
"No VU for Rumble is slated for this year, as far as we've planned out."

Riot Pwyff on Lee Sin, Recent Balance decisions, and more!

Kicking off with a response to a popular video regarding Riot's proposed Lee Sin changes, Pwyff dove into a giant discussion on Lee Sin, criticism on recent balance decisions, counter play, and more!
One big qualm I have with this particular argument (let's not get into detailed why a specific change is good for Lee Sin / game health or not, or maybe later) is that the philosophical approach to Lee Sin was never to make him "the same" or have the same power curve as everyone else. 
We've made it really clear we love varied power curves, but we also value counterplay and Lee Sin was, by his stats and power, winning a certain phase of the game by showing up. If you're literally not allowed to play a champion because they picked a different champion, that's a hard counter and it's not great. The changes we proposed for Lee were always to follow in this philosophy, and while I won't disagree if you feel the changes didn't reflect it, I am a little confused when people say "oh you're making Lee Sin the same as everyone," when even in internal playtests he's following pretty much the same curve as before (he's actually doing quite well, and these are challenger / diamond players who play in competitive playtests)."

Moving on to the Pantheon changes in the most recent PBE updatePwyff commented:
"Because Pantheon's not currently destroyed on live and we're all being hyperbolic. As an FYI, S@20 did not pull the channel reduction we also did where the channel time has gone down by 1.5 seconds."
He continued:
"I'll quote SmashGizmo here - "R's changes are a bit larger in scope and are trying to address a wider breadth of problems. The range reduction is there to allow opponents to ward more effectively versus jungle Pantheon, while the landing time increase is there to give opponents more time to react to an incoming Pantheon gank. The two together may be hurting Pantheon's level 6 ganks too much, but I tend to go overboard with my initial changes and then tone it back with iterations when I get a better sense of what changes are actually accomplishing. The channel time reduction, on the other hand, is aimed at addressing Pantheon's ult usability in teamfights and skirmishes. I'm hoping that this will give Pantheon some stronger options when using his ult more reactively, such as being able to escape dicey situations in enemy territory or quickly repositioning mid-teamfight. With this larger emphasis on mid-fight usability from his ult, I also wanted to reduce the late game cooldown so that he will realistically have it as a play making tool in almost every late game fight. 
Just to reiterate, these changes are hot off the presses and are subject to go through some iteration before they hit live, but I didn't want to leave you guys hanging without any context and missing pieces of the changelist."

The range reduction may be too severe (which seems to be the greatest feedback) but the concern is certainly that at its current range, it's just... man."

Pwyff continued
Originally Posted by Rauron 
That's why this was the wrong thread for discussion. I've been one of the louder advocates of more Riot communication/openness for years now, and even I can tell you that ducking out here is the better option. You brought information that others hadn't known (channel time reduction), and that's about the maximum possible benefit that can be brought.
I shrug off aggression fairly well. 
The reason I hopped into here was because this particular argument just needed pushback on because then we get further and further away from each other in terms of mental models that actual dialogue becomes difficult.

If a video like this becomes "proof" of an argument, that's not good. I watch it and I fully disagree with it because wedo value unique power curves - just not when champions win a phase of the game by being picked - and if our changes don't reflect it, then call us on that (because while the changes might actually be healthy and accomplish their goal, the outcry seems to not see it). That comes down to trust and perception. So I disagree with a video that seems to be echoing a hyperbolic stance."
Originally Posted by Skaarrjj

Look. The way I See it is this. 
People don't want to get nerfed to the point of being underpowered or uselessness. And that generally people are okay with things that are mildly OP. The games more fun like that. 
What's not okay is when things are overnerfed and you might as well not play them, and when something is stupidly OP. But the problem with adjusting lee sin NOW the way you guys are (and I'm a guy who wants to nerf lee sin, I hate him, but I dont want him destroyed) is because for so long you guys have only minorly tweaked him here and there, and you left him alone mostly, as in no drastic changes. You sent the message of "Yeah, well Lee is balanced now". Then you come out of left field with these HUGE HUGE nerfs. 
Champions should not be underpowered, or nerfed to a really bad spot. That's not good for the game. I'd rather keep a champion mildly OP than have him UP. 
I honestly dont believe anyone really thinks that you guys are homogenizing things, even when they type that. 
People are concerned with champion power levels. There's a few too high, and some too low. 
This is a far better articulated point, so I'll respond to it. I think you have two core points: 
1.) Don't nerf things so drastically.
2.) We didn't expect Lee Sin changes. 
The first point I won't reallllly comment on because that comes down to maybe we can find a good line in between. The second point I'm really interested in because I agree. I think we should have found a better way to communicate the Lee Sin changes in a more organic discussion and more openly made aware that there is a problem space where Lee Sin, by being picked, topples that game scene in such a way that he becomes almost a hard counter to many, many things as a single champion. There are very few champions that do that. 
From our own end, one thing I'd ask is for patience. We're actively now trying to get better at this but I'll explain a specific pain point here: scale. We have so many players right now that we were trying to communicate with as many of them at the same time. Unfortunately, that lead us down the path of constructing bullet-proof messaging (or so we thought) that sounded an awful lot like monologues with no discussion. Discussion is inherently a small scale concept, and when you deal with the scale that we're dealing with, it gives me headaches every day. Imagine trying to have an empathetic discussion that brings others to your mental model when there are millions of players out there. How do you even coordinate that? 
But that's not an excuse, it's just what our problem space is. I agree that Lee Sin could have / should have been communicated better over a longer course of time and with more discussion to bring you on board. Leeson learned."

As for nerfing "OP" champions because they drown out certain picks, he commented:
"Power creep is a very scary thing. I won't speak to the whole nuance of it (try to buff things to compete with the most powerful outlier), but I'll mention that if there are only a few outlier power spikes versus a whole pantheon of champions who are struggling against the outliers, occams razor comes into play.

I understand your point but there's a lot to consider here."

When asked about Renekton specifically, Pwyff commented:
"We are looking at Renekton! This is true and I appreciate your candor. This is good feedback without being aggressive."

He stopped part way through thread to address an aggressive post and touch on counterplay:
"There's a super aggressive poster trying to wring an explanation out of me and I may give it (what wasn't necessarily a nerf given that more powerful combat stats were given), but come on guys we're in a civilized setting and discussion. Ultimatums are what kids use and if I respond to threats that turns this whole thing into a "TALK TO ME NOW" thing.

Originally Posted by James T Kirk

My only real question is, "Why is a hard counter bad?" 
I'll answer this particular one. Because we value counterplay. Counterplay as a concept can be boiled down to: "We value what you do." If you walk into lane and meet a bad matchup, you shouldn't feel like you're not allowed to opt in for the first 20 minutes of the game. You should feel like you're as a disadvantage right now, but if you play your cards right (mechanically, tactically, strategically) then you can pull out a win. If I pick Blitzcrank first and the enemy team picks Amumu, I modify my playstyle but I do not just say "well I'm not allowed to play this game."

We value counterplay on a player-by-player basis and a team-by-team basis. Both of those. If we only valued counterplay on a team-by-team basis, you'd probably see individual lane hard counters that get smoothed our with team compositions. We value it all and that's a super important value. I know for me being able to be the "best X in NA" to hit Diamond is a real thing that can happen, and our value of no hard counters is partially what drives it."

When asked about Kha'Zix after his most recent changes, Pwyff commented:
"I think we love the new way Kha'Zix has evolved to be played in the LCS but the windows for counterplay in between his stealth (ie: HE'S UNSTEALTHED BEAT HIM HIM) are super short and allows for him to absorb tons of damage even when the opponent is trying to outplay it. We'll probably be looking at that."

As for certain champion strictly outclassing another, he commented:
"This is a great point. If a champion is literally overshadowed by another pick, we should look to ways to accentuate that overshadowed champion (or tune down the strong champion to highlight their own individual points). I fully admit that with so many champions this gets real tough, but it's an admirable goal. Ziggs was a fantastic example of this. We do have a lot of 'design debt', however, where some champions (looking at you Lee) end up being designed with older values in mind, like having complete kits to do whatever they want regardless of team synergy or composition. It's painful when you want to accentuate their strengths while trimming where you can, because everyone's like "BUT HE WAS SO COOL THERE AND YOU NERFED IT. AND HE WAS COOL IN THAT WAY TOO. AND THAT WAY." It's like... mannnn."

When asked about Rengar's new Q not being an auto attack reset and no longer having an attack speed boost, Pwyff touched on melee AD fighters and split pushing:
"CertainlyT said something in a dev blog (coming soon(tm)) on Wind Wall where he mentions that a lot of melee AD fighters tend to have a lot of "selfish" power packed into their kit (very little in terms of altruistic utility) which leads to a strong feast or famine effect (kill things and feel good, or be unable to kill things and feel bad. No in between). 
For melee AD fighters / carries, a lot of their fallback mechanics (famine) is basically to split push because they just can't contribute meaningfully to a team fight. I won't get into the larger discussion of how to counter split pushing, but if your fallback mechanic is largely to not fight, that's not great. Proxy Singed is the most egregious version of this, but the scale goes down.

Rengar being able to split push super effectively while taking down towers insanely fast makes him want to do that as opposed to actually fighting. When we were initially dealing with the Rengar rework, most high level Rengar players just didn't team fight because they were like "I'M SPLIT PUSHING THAT'S WHAT RENGARS DO MAN." I think that's a problem space they want to solve. We had a game this morning where Rengar was hunting down the enemy Vayne every fight and jumping on her. The chaos he sowed was amazing as we fell into the fight, and only Rengar could have engaged from such a far range. I think that's a pretty cool thing to encourage rather than split pushing all day and providing general pressure. Might be fun for Rengar but..."

Pwyff also commented how the LCS weighs in on balance:
"We are informed by many perspectives, but LCS provides a unique perspective: "If you grabbed some of the best players in the world, made winning at League of Legends their livelihood and then watched them, what would you see?" 
The answer, in a nutshell, is every possible strategic edge exploited to its fullest degree. Then, because we promote esports so much that concept of play trickles down into regular games and has a huge, huge impact thereafter. Did you know Warwick play spiked 5x when Darien picked him? That's insane. 
There's a joke somewhere about 5x0 still being 0, but I'm not going to make it.

Anyway, the whole concept that these are players who are trying to get every possible edge and optimization out of the game, chances are high they're focusing on what lets them win in the most efficient manner. Those are usually high indications of strong outliers. We do focus on those a lot because they have a higher impact on the integrity of the game than weaker champions (this is a fact), but giving love to underused champions is certainly something we've heard a lot. It's just that the community lens tends to stay on the overpowered until we get the game to some state of parity, in which case they then turn to the underpowered."

He also very briefly mentioned Twisted Fate, saying:
"We're looking at TF!"

As for Nocturne, he commented:
"I wouldn't say he's in a terrible spot right now. The fear changes didn't help him a lot (probably the most, as he typically tethers and stay behind the feared target. Maybe we should explore something there, I can ask but no promises at all) but his ult is just insane. Vision blackout + guaranteed engage is extremely chaotic and I feel like this is getting a little hyperbolic on the concept that every other early game jungler does it absolutely better with no room for debate."
He continued:
"Nocturne still has an incredibly long range guaranteed engage pattern that, if used properly on overextended lanes, is almost a guaranteed gank. Hyperbole aside (Vi, for example, needs to burn her Q to ult if she wants to get in range without you noticing, and then she can't catch after the ult. If she gets in range to ult and uses Q to follow up, it's dodgeable if she misses), I honestly think that once you have your guaranteed engagement, adding more stickiness to Nocturne would just make him absurd. I think there's a very close world somewhere where Nocturne may thrive if the other kings of the jungle were to bow."
When asked if there are additional plans for SkarnerPwyff replied:
"I think we're committed to Skarner in the long-run. Honestly speaking, Skarner's big problem was his feast or famine effect, where he'd either be getting to everyone (because he's mega strong) and killing face. Or he'd be so weak he couldn't engage, in which case he was... split... pushing? Something. Skarner I think was a failure to overcommunicate, so definitely a lesson, but he's being watched. We did make changes in 4.4! 
[quickly to respond to your Morgana point] Morgana doesn't hit feast or famine though because she's got insane utility. If she's ahead, she's a stupid bully with black shield + flash + ult. When she's behind, her fallback pattern is to poke with soil, snare for a teammate, ult defensively to peel and black shield. 
I realize we're not talking about specific points (or this'd go all night), but the concept of feast or famine is that when you're in famine mode, you are literally useless. Skarner ult and Q required him to face tank and that meant if he was behind, he really had no path forward. No fallback pattern except I guess to ult the tank when he dives the ADC and peel for them."

Returning back to Lee Sin and his identiy, Pwyff commented:
Originally Posted by Wyl

It's been a while since I last posted on the forums, but I'd like to bring my 2 cents here. 
While I agree with you you're NOT trying to make every Champion the same, I'm vividly against the changes you propose for Lee for some reasons that I'll explain in the following. First of all, you're changing part of the essence of what makes Lee Sin. He's the blind monk who jumps everywhere, he has a clear pattern, his jungling is the funniest and most interactive of all Champions, he's the hardest , and yet one of the most rewarding champion. He has a great early game, arguably too strong, and falls off hardcore late game. He falls so hard that even if you're really fed, it won't matter much later. THAT's what you need to change. Not his identity. He's balanced by the fact that he's too strong early and unsatisfyingly weak after. What about Renekton ? Or from another perspective, what about Nasus, Kog'Maw, Veigar ? Champions have identity, they fill niches. You released a given Champ with a given identity. If you try to change that identity, people won't like it. Lee Sin is the best selling Champion, the most loved Champion in the League IIRC. I think that's enough of a reason that he has the best design and you have plenty of feedback available. 
So where I disagree is that I don't feel he's the 'hardest' to play. Someone made a comment way back that Lee Sin has an insanely high skill ceiling (he does) but his skill floor is not as low as you think. Good players know how to get around his riskier abilities (W to a ward, Ex2 and then land a Q no problem) and he has so many tools and stats that he just seems risky (but totally isn't making risky plays, or else he'd actually die when he fails). 
Renekton is very strong early game and we probably want to maintain that, but around level 6 Renekton just kind of eats your face and is done (regardless of what you did before). 
Lee Sin's identity is this:
- Risky early game champion that must reward you for playing well or punish you for playing poorly.
- Strong early game champion, weak late game champion. 
Our core design approach did take these into consideration and we tried to uphold them. The risky early game finally became risky with these changes. Before, Lee Sin was AT LEAST guaranteed a parity start, but usually got an advantage in the early game just for being him. Late game Lee Sin falls off guaranteed, but even if he makes really cool risky plays he doesn't have a meaningful outlet for it. So our design approach was to give him that early game risk (finally) while also offering a late game outlet (not the greatest one, but at least one in which he can still feel like he can contribute without pulling off insec plays all day).

I'll mention that we're very much listening and taking your feedback into consideration with Lee Sin. There may be a world wherein these changes get modified once more (or don't get shipped), but I'll maintain something: the rhetoric and approach are valid. We can disagree here and talk it out, but mannnn I'm sleepy now."

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