Red Post Collection: 4.7 Patch Forecast, More on Braum, Current state of Lulu, and much more!

Posted on at 12:38 AM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features the 4.7 Patch Forecast, more discussion on Braum,  Statikk's thoughts on the current state of Lulu, Morello with a few ideas on how to differentiate Heal from Barrier, Riot Draggles with a brief comment on the Amsterdam data center, and much more!
Continue reading for more information.

Recent News

[4.7] Patch Forecast

Here's Riot Jag with the 4.7 Patch Forecast, a recently launched series highlighting some of the issues the balance team is looking at for the next patch.
"Hi guys, the Live Gameplay team is back with the Patch Forecast for 4.7. Here are the major issues we’re looking at. Keep in mind that since we just released patch 4.6, we’re still collecting data and analyzing how the latest changes we’ve done have affected prominent in-game issues. 
1) Reworks Follow-up (continued) 
Gragas may still have a few flaws holding him back from fully transitioning into his new role as a fighter/bruiser. Even after the recent changes in 4.6, we are still unsure if Gragas is in a good spot. Specifically, we want to ensure he can compete in the early game, and also ensure he has the ability to make big plays with his Barrel Roll and Explosive Cask. We’re looking for ways to continue buffing him as a disruptive team fighter, so look for more utility adds to his kit. 
Kassadin recently received a few buffs, particularly when fighting against other magic damage dealers. We’re keeping a careful eye on Kassadin to make sure that he isn’t completely removing aspects of counterplay with his new damage/shield model. Rest assured if he gets picked in ranked games we’ll nerf him again (kidding). 
Skarner is still being worked on carefully. We feel that stickiness is a significant part of his character fantasy, and that aspect is somewhat lacking, so we’re continuing to explore solutions! 
2) Top Lane and the “Renekton Bar” (continued) 
As Statikk stated in his last forecast ( ), we’re continuing to look at champions that we think have interesting top lane gameplay and giving them stronger tools to survive in that environment. We feel like we’re seeing a little more diversity lately (Jax and Ryze have seen a resurgence lately), so we'll be slowing our approach, but look for Jarvan the 4th and Malphite to get a few minor adjustments to better equip them at fighting in the top lane. 
3) Jungle 
We continue to see Junglers taking over games. In particular, damage focused junglers frequently outlevel, outfarm, and outdamage their laning teammates without the level of risk that their counterparts are forced to endure. We are looking into to altering the total gold/experience output that the jungle can provide. Additionally, we mentioned that Spirit Stone might be weighted a little too heavily in favor of DPS-focused junglers (especially health vamp), so we're taking that into consideration with our changes. 
4) Kha’zix 
True to his lore, when we change Kha’zix, he evolves and finds a different gameplay pattern to continue to be effective. The live version of Kha’zix does not have the same need to be opportunistic as the other assassins in League of Legends, and opponents tend to feel like there are very few windows available to fight him. We are looking into some changes that make him a little more vulnerable to fighting back against him, particularly when he is under the effects of his ultimate. 
5) Watch list 
Feral Flare - The vision we had for Feral Flare does not currently reflect the reality of the item on live. While we were hoping this item would add diversity in terms of class selection in the jungle, its effect has been the opposite, as this item is almost dictating jungler picks (as in who can or cannot use Feral Flare effectively) at an extremely high rate.

League of Legends team dynamics in general lead to this item having distinctly anti-teamwork and anti-play patterns, as junglers will feel compelled to ignore their lanes for 10-15 minutes so they can farm up their stacks, while their laners will pay the price for his less team-oriented choices. While we created Feral Flare to be a more 'selfish' jungle item, its current optimal use is to be completely noninteractive on the map. The future of this item may reduce some of the combat stats it gives or reduce the value of the Maim proc at all evolutions. In exchange, we're hoping to buff teamfight-oriented stacks that contribute to the progress of Feral Flare. 
Soraka – Solo lane Soraka has started to exhibit a lot of the frustrating laning patterns that Solo lane Lulu did before her recent changes (although the patterns differ mechanically). In other words, Soraka has a virtually unending supply of easy wave clear and ranged harass, while having very few windows for opponents to fight back without significant jungle help. Champions need to have clearly defined weaknesses as solo laners, or they end up bullying out a large portion of choices in that lane, and we want to do some analysis into if those currently exist for Soraka's solo lane play. 
As a side note, we do think that her current rise to dominance may be due to some of the larger systems changes we've made to the game lately such as the changes to the Summoner Spell Heal. We'll have to take these into considerations as we move forward as well. 
Leblanc – Similar to previous cases like Zed and Kassadin, skilled Leblanc players have the ability to snowball games while not providing a lot of counterplay for her opponents. She has very high mobility, high burst damage, consistent wave clear, and a large array of crowd control to deal with. We’re exploring finding a vision for a Leblanc that has more healthy gameplay. 
On that note, we’re aware that her win rate is on the lower side compared to many problematic champions, but win rate is a data point that must be weighed in with other considerations. In this case, the pattern in which Leblanc engages champions is frustrating and significantly lacking options for the enemy player; when she is ahead in the game this is particularly debilitating for the side lanes she will roam to. 
6) On the horizon 
We are keeping our eyes on various champions that may become a problem, but many of them are tied into system level issues. Two of the major ones are ADC Itemization and Competitive lane swaps, and the systems team will also be doing a patch forecast soon for their take on these topics."

When asked about some specifics regarding LeBlanc, Pwyff stepped in to say:
"LeBlanc is still currently in ideation, but I don't think we ever try to 'remedy' a low win-rate. Win rates tend to be reflective of champion health, so, as an example, LB's low win rate but high effectiveness in high-level and competitive play indicates that she's got a very high mechanical skill ceiling and a very low skill floor (low skill floor meaning when she's first picked up, she's extremely hard to get rolling). 
[edit] as an aside, win rates tend to be "pointers" to health (or an inability to adapt to a current meta). Win rates are very rarely powerful indicators in and of themselves. 
Spitballing here but a change to LB would probably entail trying to offer more forms of counterplay (similar to S3 Zed / Fizz, who LB's play patterns roughly embody) while potentially examining her skill floor to give her more breadth in use (ie: fallback patterns when you can't execute a w-dfg-q-r-e combo in <1s)."
He continued, noting why Fizz was alright for just damage reduction and LeBlanc isn't so much:
"I think Fizz may have just gotten a damage reduction as his gameplay patterns are healthy when he's not dealing astronomical damage. 
Insofar as a champion's skill ceiling dictating balance changes across the board, that's absolutely something we need to be aware of when taking this approach. LeBlanc in particular (and I'll make sure of this as an LB main!) has high degrees of mastery associated with her identity, so that'll be taken into consideration."

When asked about Rengar's absence from the patch forecast, Riot Jag commented:
"We're keeping an eye on Rengar. He falls under the category I mentioned of 4.6 changes that we still need more data to assess."

In response to comments about potential nerfs to damage junglers bringing the rise of support junglers, Riot Jag noted:
"I don't think we'd like to remove damage based junglers from viability entirely, but we would like to see them have to pay certain tradeoffs for the benefits they bring. Nautilus and Maokai don't have to be the dominant junglers for the system to be healthy, but some of their unique advantages like sustain should have comparative value over damage junglers, instead of being co-opted by health vamp on Spirit Stone items."
He continued, talking more about jungle balance in general:
"It's a difficult balancing act to decide what level of impact we want junglers to have on the map. We're usually not happy with them ganking the whole game, nor are we happy with them farming the jungle the entire game either. I think we'd like to provide enough versatility in terms of champion/itemization choices where jungle players have multiple playstyles available to them, but I don't think we're there yet either."
He also noted the team's current stance on the Spirit stone items:
"The Spirit Stone item that we find most problematic right now is Elder Lizard. The junglers that you mention use Ancient Golem; we're unlikely to make them worse, relatively speaking, to other jungle champions."

Jag continued the jungler discussion, focusing on Feral Flare:
"The Feral Flare path was intended for you to be heavily incentivized to farm your jungle up to a threshold (the Wriggle's->Feral Flare transformation), at which point you try to group with your teammates more. As we said we're going to turn away a bit from that, but there's still room for Feral Flare to fulfill more of a carry item niche instead of just "the Elder Lizard item for autoattackers". If the two items do end up being very poorly distinguished from each other then we have knobs we can tweak further (i.e. we can amplify the weaker early-game/stronger late-game power curve of FF through the stacking mechanic)."

[Continued] Braum Q&A

Following the official reveal,PBE debut, and mini Q&A session on Braum, Wrekz returned to chat more about our mustached strongman.

To kick things off, Wrekz shield slammed a question regarding Braum's W and why he can't use it to hop to wards.
I've seen a fair amount of this. I understand the sentiment because ward-jumping on the champions that can do it is a lot of fun. During his development we considered this but decided it wasn't right for Braum. Overall Braum's pattern is not intended to be all-in the way other melee supports are. Braum has powerful abilities and works with allies to make best use of them. By enabling ward jumping Braum becomes less reliant on working with his team to initiate, which we felt was a big loss for the character. One of the things that makes Braum really unique is his defensively focused protector gameplay, and Braum trades away strong initiation potential for defensive power. 
Finally, regarding the passive, its tuning has been adjusted such that Braum and his ally can proc is reliably if they are paying attention and positioning well to take advantage of it. If Braum was able to gap-close rapidly it would necessitate dramatically re-thinking the way his passive works which is not something I believe leads to the best version of Braum. 
I definitely understand the sentiment of people requesting this, but it is not something we are interested in acting on at this time."

When asked if abilities like Lux's laser or Rumble Ult will be stopped by Braum's E, Wrekz noted:
"Lasers go through Braum's shield, this includes things like Lux R, Vel'Koz R, Lucian Q. This to make the ability consistent with Yasuo's wind-wall.

Vector targetted things Viktor E for example, are treated like any other projectile, and will stop when they hit him."

As for ground targeted projectiles, he commented:
"For ground targetted projectiles Braum intercepts them in-flight and takes their effect. This means things like Nami Aqua Prison hits him when it travels over the shield rather than when it hits the ground and knocks him up, Ziggs Q hits him when it passes into the shield. I didn't want to create situations where Braum destroys things without them impacting him at all, and this functionality lets the ability be the most understandable as a safe-zone behind him even if it means the Braum player gets crowd controlled more. This is part of the reason why he is so defensively focused, he is drawing in a lot of extra hits and needs to be able to take them."

Riot Opeli also chimed in, commenting on Braum's Freljord alliances:
"He's aligned with the Avarosans. He's a friendly guy with a heart of gold - he's also interested in uniting the Freljord"

RiotLamz, the animator for Braum, also popped up on the forums, saying:
"Pleasure animating him for you folks! hope you enjoy, tried to fit as many animations in as possible!"
Lamz continued:

Because punches, headbutts, and dropkicks are more manly than shield bashing. 
And he uses his shield when he applies his passive and attacks towers, it looks like.
LOL this ^, and the fact that he does use his shield for several other things as well.. Ult, Q, E etc 
We thought more variation here was the right approach, he has a huge gauntlet to punch things! :)

Current State of Lulu

Given her recent rise in popularity as a mid laner rather than a support, Statikk answered summoner's calls to provide the balance teams current opinion on Lulu after the 4.5 nerfs.
Thanks for the quick and thorough responses guys. 
I'll present you guys with our current perspective on Lulu. 
Firstly, we genuinely think she's still very much a viable Bot Lane Support champion. Through both internal tests and external monitoring of the Live and Competitive game, we think she still brings a lot to the table. 
Admittedly, we've probably significantly weakened Support Lulu players who maxed E first instead of Q, and maxing Q will probably the way to go right now (not sure on this, only theoretical). Unfortunately, we still fundamentally believe that her E damage pattern doesn't present any compelling gameplay which is why we went forward with that change. At the end of the day, we'd prefer if Support Lulu's who max E first are doing it primarily for its defensive shielding capabilities. 
Secondly, Lulu is probably still stronger as a Mid champion in the current game landscape than she is a Bot Lane Support. 
We're honestly a little torn here on this one. In past situations, we'd take a huge hammer swing to ensure that she was a stronger Support rather than a Mid, but when we do that we are essentially "enforcing the meta" so to speak. More importantly than being a really catchy phrase, "enforcing the meta" reduces experimentation and discovery of new things in the game and it honestly sucks when we have to do so in order to maintain the integrity of the game (but we have and will continue to do so when necessary). Ultimately, we think that this is a pretty important aspect of LoL - to provide you guys with a never-ending path of discovery and mastery in the game. 
So instead in this case, we've decided to instead to ensure that Mid Lulu wasn't overly dominant, rather than just destroy her viability in the solo lane. Unfortunately, this does mean that we need to take into account more factors whenever we make any changes to her now if we want to preserve both playstyles. 
I will say, if we do make changes again to address her power level in Mid Lane, we will most definitely have to compensate her in Bot Lane. The most interesting part of Lulu's kit is the offensive / defensive use cases for each of her spells, but they become problematic when she's not actually making any tradeoffs when she chooses one over the other. One idea we've thrown around are putting some damage incentives back into offensive Whimsy - for example Polymorphed targets take additional damage or have reduced Armor/MR. This means that a Lulu who wants her full damage combo has to risk committing forward rather than being able to safely hold onto her defensive W to easily initiate or escape at will. 
As it currently stands, we have no plans for further changes to Lulu at the moment since we'd like to continue to see how she trends in the following patches. We are always working on tons of projects an you guys can get a glimpse of our current focuses in the 4.7 Patch Forecast ( ). 
Sorry if this is ultimately disappointing news for you guys, but I appreciate the time you guys took to bring this up.

The difference between Barrier and Heal

Building on his comments from yesterday, Morello continued to discuss ways to make Barrier vs Heal different.

As for simply making the shield strength stronger, Morello replied:
"But then it runs into the same problem - which saves me better, outside of a few weird nuances."

When asked for his thoughts on allowing Barrier to make the user immune to CC until the shield is broken or expires, Morello noted:
"I've liked this as a "combine with cleanse" model too."

Morello also shared a crazy idea he's run into:
"We have - it's not a bad idea, but I think we can make it more distinct on the "protect" aspect. 
My favorite and fucking-terrifying idea so far is 1.5 second 100% damage reduction. Does a forbearance-style effect with Hourglass and pool/etc."

Amsterdam Data Center

When asked if there is any new news on the new EU Amsterdam data center, Riot Draggles commented:
"Hey everyone, we're still putting the update post together, which is coming from different teams working on the project. We haven't forgotten about it, but this may be presented as a March/April update, in addition to providing a bit more context on the datacentre generally."

[ Continued ] Let's Talk About Sona

Following up all the discussion from a few days ago, Fearless returned to his "Let's talk about Sona" thread to reply to a summoner upset on the stance that Fearless sees Sona as not rewarding:

She is not satisfying to whom???
I find her highly rewarding... ...Why do you try to force on us a perception that she is not satisfying? That's like if i would say: "Lee Sin is not satisfying to play" just because i personaly do not play well with melee champions. 
That was me speaking in absolutes again. Apologies. A better statement would be that Sona is not nearly as satisfying as we'd like for a majority of Sona players. There will always be players who love a champ just how they are, who "get" everything they do, and love them as they are. One of our main goals of getting feedback on Sona was to identify the elements that mattered most to players who love Sona as she is. It is a mega important goal for us to make sure those elements either are changed as little as possible, or even improved (with better feedback and visuals) when possible, to have more players enjoy the same things you love.

I would point out, without trying to put words in your mouth, that you didn't mention two of Sona's core abilities in your list of things you loved. This has been pretty consistent in this feedback. Sona players love Power Chord and they love Crescendo. Plenty of people love her Valor poke. This gives us a very clear goal: minimize impact on those things that people already love, while making the elements that very few people appreciated more interesting/interactive/fun.

Thanks again for calling out something I hadn't said very well. Please let me know if this makes more sense now? We know there are a lot of players that love Sona as she is now, and if we change Sona, we'd have to feel like Sona is still the champ we all love."

Team Builder Stats

As of the most recent patch, Team Builder wins still do not properly add to a summoner's normal win / loss totals.

Lyte commented on this, reassuring us that they are being tracked and will be added to normal stats in the near future.
"Stats are all being tracked, and we intend to just add them to Normal Stats in the near future. We wanted to finish some other features on Team Builder first, but this stats fix is on the list of things we'll be doing."

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