Red Post Collection: Zac in tank update, Meddler Gameplay Thoughts Feb 28th, Limited-time icons from Ocean Week, & more!

Posted on at 1:02 PM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection includes Meddler with quick gameplay thoughts for February 28th, a look at the mid season tank update for Zac, new Ocean Week summoner icons available for a limited time, a video from Riot support on what happens when you press Q, and more! 
Continue reading for more information!




Table of Contents


Mid Season Tanks Update - Zac

Shrieve has bounced onto the boards for a discussion thread on Zac's upcoming mid season tank gameplay update:
"Hey guys I’m here to talk about the last champion in the upcoming Tank Update, Zac! As to our overarching direction for tanks I’d refer to Sol’s recent post, but let’s get down to why we’re including our bounciest Vanguard in the update. 
Here's what we're happy with and sticking to on Zac:
  • Elastic Slingshot is a fun, satisfying spell that allows Zac to initiate from a lot of interesting angles and distances
  • Zac’s passive blob pickups creates a uniquely engaging way to sustain himself
  • Zac is the knockback and knockup Vanguard, a natural extension of his bouncy character
  • Cell Division (his revive passive) encourages Zac to utilize the long reach of his initiation to go deeper into the enemy team than other Vanguards
So then why are we picking him up for the Tank Update? While Zac’s strategic elements feel pretty interesting (see above), we feel tactically he falls pretty flat (see below). On top of that, we think we could expand even further on what it means to be League’s shape-changing, bouncy, goo-man. 
Here’s what is likely to change with Zac:
  • Zac’s current kit encourages him to activate all his abilities in a single burst for maximum damage, instead of spreading them out to disrupt and bounce around the enemy team
    • After initiation, there is very little variance or mastery to his combat pattern, consisting of primarily sitting on one target and spamming his Q and W
    • Keeping in line with our overall Tank update goals, we’d like to shift some his reliable damage into additional forms of CC (we already felt that his two passives provide unique forms of defenses)
  • Although some of his abilities hit the mark, we feel that his kit could further stretch the blob man fantasy and give him a more distinct sticky feel in the Vanguard space
    • Stretching Strike does little to explore the stretching punch idea and ends up having a very similar output to Unstable Matter (AoE damage when you’re right next to someone)
    • Let’s Bounce! is a more chaotic version of Wukong’s Ultimate (Cyclone) rather than the potential teamfight-defining moment that Zac’s unique, sticky, bouncy nature promises
We’re looking to turn our resident goo-man into the premier displacement Vanguard, shuffling his opponents around the battlefield with sticky, stretchy, chaotic abilities that feel uniquely Zac. 
Let’s Bounce,
Shrieve 
P.S. we’re not supposed to give you details yet… but yes, his voice now pitches up and down as he changes in size"

When asked about the Q changes, Shrieve noted:
"The Q we're tinkering with has a different range and width profile from the live Stretching Strike. Our end goal is to have something that feels a little more physical and Zac 'goo-like' instead of an instant pop of AoE damage. 
Also you can expect something more interesting than a slow."
Shrieve continued:
"The trickiest part of these updates is that adding something new typically means you have to pull from somewhere else on the kit. Part of this power shift can come from new spells (such as the new Q having a longer cooldown than his current one) or number tweaks on the abilities we are not mechanically changing. If we feel that the promise of a new spell is worth it, we'll spend the time to extensively playtest number tuning across the kit to find a changelist that respects the new spells without gutting the old ones that we liked."
Shrieve also weighed in on Zac's E noting no range changes:
"We've been avoiding range changes on the E."
As for AP ZacShrieve commented:
"Quote:
How do you expect AP Zac to change as a result of this update? Will he still be viable?
With these tanks updates we're shuffling a lot of their burst into either more sustained or less reliable damage patterns so I'd expect some playstyle changes. We're focused on tuning and supporting tank builds but we aren't going out of our way to remove AP Zac."

As for total number of updates in the tank update, Reav3 noted:
"Currently we are only planning on 3 big ones. WE really want to focus down on fewer updates to increase the overall quality of the updates. We likely won't do any small updates this time. The Tank update will be mostly about the systematic changes we are going to make to the whole class rather then the individual kit updates."
Statikk also chimed in:
"I know the choices of Zac and Maokai are somewhat unexpected. The unfortunate truth is that we didn't feel like we could give champions like Malphite, Amumu, and Rammus the attention they deserved given the smaller scope of these types of projects. 
We ruled out Amumu and Rammus early on since they deserve full-on VGUs. 
Malphite on the other hand we took a crack at, but didn't walk away with anything we thought that fit him or the game well enough. We tried things like turning him into a wall (sick Poppy / Vayne combos that never actually worked out heh), echoing earthquakes, etc. that all had some promise but just didn't work out as expected. Maybe we'll figure it out in the future. 
For Amumu, we think there's some small quality of life changes we can do, that could even go out in the fairly near future just to help modernize and clarify some of his current mechanics. But larger scale updates of his abilities are something for the later future. 
Rammus, although there are a lot of cool ideas in our heads, just needs a lot more love to fully realize the potential of his fast-rolling armordillo fantasy."
On Amumu, Reav3 also added:
"We are currently testing some small changes to Amumu. If it does show promise we might just release it before the tank update though, not sure."

Statikk continued:
"Both Zac and Maokai updates should feel pretty familiar to current mains of these champions hopefully. Sejuani is getting a much larger shift on the other hand. 
Zac's Q, W, and R are all areas we felt we could bring to the next level as they are fairly bland albeit effective spells. This doesn't mean we intend to change all 3 of these spells by the way."

When asked for more details on the systematic changes in the tank update, Statikk also added:
"Will look into the possibility of doing a post about the more systemic changes. The largest issue with giving you guys an update now on this is that we are still in the process of figuring out exactly how to solve the systemic problems we're seeing. Either way we could do a post more about the problems themselves rather than any solutions."

When asked about an eventually Nunu visual update, Reav3 commented:
"Quote:
Wait, so there's nothing for Nunu in this update at all other than changes to resistances? That sucks a little.
Nunu is pretty high on our list for a full VGU one day. He needs a lot of work on the art/narrative side as well."
Reav3 continued:
"Quote:
I have a question about nunus eventual vgu. Would you guys ever make as big a change as say, making nunu a yordle? Because on the one hand I think it fits his goody nature very well and you can explore what a freljordian yordle might be like. On the other hand it would obviously be a big change in who he is as a character, bigger than other reworks. But again I think tonally it would be a perfect fit 
Who knows, we could go in many directions with his VGU, yordle is definitely one. Gnar is technically the first Freljordian yordle though :) "
[Still adding in discussion!]

Zac is the third of the three larger mid season tank update reworks to be announced, following Maokai and Sejuani. Mid-season should be around 7.9 or 7.10.

Meddler's Quick Gameplay Thoughts: Feb 28 

Meddler's back with another round of quick gameplay thoughts. February 28th's post includes discussion on marksmen, keystone masteries,  the patch cycle, and more!
"Hi all, 
Some stuff our on minds below. As usual things mentioned here aren't necessarily final and this certainly isn't a comprehensive list, just things in a good place to be talked about today. 
Marksmen 
As per the post a couple of weeks ago ([link] we think Utility Marksmen, AD Caster Marksmen and lane bully marksmen are in reasonable spots generally (some exceptions). Crit marksmen definitely still need some work though. For crit marksmen the bulk of that work's going to be in mid-season when we'll likely make some changes to crit and/or armor pen functionality (see testing out different approaches, so hopeful on that stuff, but it's not guaranteed yet, might end up doing something else). 
We had some small tweaks that will affect crit marksmen, and marksmen in general in 7.4 (Warlord's Nerf, Fervor Buff, Last Whisper situational buff) too. Apologies for the disconnect between opening patch notes context (talk of big changes) and what was actually in the patch. That was the result of a misunderstanding between people on what we'd be tackling in 7.4 versus what we were targeting for mid-season. 
Keystones 
As you've probably seen we've got changes to DFT, Bond of Stone (soon to be renamed) and Warlord's Bloodlust on the PBE at present. We're trying to get significant functional changes to Keystones out of the way in one patch if possible, addressing issues with their patterns so that, ideally, we can just focus on numbers tuning for them for a while. That pairs with the reduction to damage contributions from masteries in 7.4 which was the other improvement we'd identified we wanted to target in the shorter term. 
Patch Cycles 
On a different note I figured it might also be interesting to some people to talk a bit about how our patch development cycles work, in particular why we stop making gameplay changes beyond a certain point and how that impacts how quickly we can respond to some things. It'll also probably be really boring to other people so suggest bailing out here if that doesn't sound like your thing. 
Each patch gets locked for bug testing, compatibility checking etc a week before it goes live. That means that with 7.5 for example, which we're currently working on, our last day to make gameplay changes is tomorrow, and even then anything new we add should be pretty minor (want to get the bigger changes that are harder to assess and check for bugs changes in early). That means we've got a week between 7.4 going out and 7.5 getting locked to make changes. 
The big exception to that is anything that needs tooltip adjustments. Since those have to be translated into other languages those need to be done earlier again (ideally by the Friday a few days after the previous patch, at latest the Monday after that). It takes a couple of days to get a read on the new game state after a patch too. As a result we start working on a patch before the previous one goes out, based off what we think will happen, and then adjust as needed if our predictions were wrong. For bigger unexpected tasks it can mean we need to take a patch longer as well. 
Or, to put that into a rough timeline, since that's a bit of a block of text:  
  • 1 week before Patch 7.4 goes out we stop working on patch 7.4 and start working on 7.5. 
  • Patch 7.4 goes out. 
  • 2 days after patch 7.4 we get a read on how that patch has impacted balance. We've then a couple of days to make additional 7.5 changes if they affect tooltips and a couple of days more again if they don't. 
  • 1 week after patch 7.4 goes out we lock down 7.5 completely and start on 7.6 gameplay changes.  
We will occasionally hotfix changes in too of course, those add significant extra risk of bugs though, particularly for some types of changes (stat adjustments tend to be pretty safe, things that change game logic like how spells function less so). As a result we try to use those really sparringly, since they get less testing time than changes developed normally and can lead to champions/items getting disabled etc."
As usual, Meddler hung around the comments to answer questions:

When asked about the schedule and why they don't tweak balance for the last two days, he added:
"We stop working on a patch once we get to the point where we need all the remaining time for testing and high priority bug fixes basically. We'd love to continue to make changes right until the patch ships, but need a decent amount of time to ensure the patch will be stable. 
2 days doesn't give us a comprehensive understanding of a patch in the slightest, just reliable enough initial reactions (what's really out of line? Did our changes land roughly as hoped?). For bigger changes (larger updates, new champs) we won't try and make a call in the first couple of days generally, since as you say it takes a while for people to learn and adapt. Exception is if something's so far out of line it's obvious even then. We look at a range of stats (average Elo, high Elo, different regions, by game time etc) when assessing impact of changes. Important to mention though that stats are useful, but not what drives our decision making process (they're a tool to be used carefully, not something that should drive priorities themselves). 
Glad this patch has been treating you better."

As for how the marksmen itemization changes may work out for champions like Yasuo, Meddler noted:
"Quote:
How will the marksman changes affect Yasuo? As a Yasuo main, I'm both excited for buffs and scared of buffs because of how the community treats Yasuo players.... I don't want permabanned Yasuo again.
I'd expect we'd need to make some adjustments to a few non marksmen if modifying crit (Yasuo, GP, Trynd etc). Likely goal would be to keep them at their current power level approximately."

When asked about the Jayce nerfs, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Is Jayce still getting nerfs?
Not yet at least. We were considering further nerfs in 7.5, but ended up pulling them until we've seen how the combination of previous nerfs and Ghostblade/Edge of Night/Black Cleaver changes impact him."
When asked about thoughts on UdyrMeddler  noted an experimental change that previously had in testing:
"Quote:
Hey meddler can I ask an OT question, do you ever play on OCE since iirc you are from New Zeland and as for an on topic question what are your thoughts on some traditional junglers struggling in the jungle at the moment like Volibear or Udyr
I've played occasionally on OCE when back home, or in Australia, for work or a holiday. I don't do so regularly though given the ping's much higher than the NA servers. OCE server was also created after I moved to the US, so I never built up a friends network there specifically, though some people I know do play there mainly now. 
Udyr needs a bit of balance work in general. Not a high priority right now, given we've been focusing on bigger things, we did test some possible changes a few weeks back to see if they were a direction worth more exploration though. Something that showed some promise was allowing him to level to 20, thereby finally getting to max out that 4th spell and giving him a late game boost. Confidence in that direction's still mixed though, given some concerns that that's not when he really needs power added most and that if we're doing level cap exceeding other characters might be much stronger thematic fits. Probably get back to looking at that again at some point though."
When asked about the PBE Varus nerfs, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Are you leaving the varus nerfs in even though edge of night got nerfed?
Yes, we think Varus needs nerfs despite the Edge of Night nerf. Initial assessment is that it hasn't hit him meaningfully, probably in part because its active is also useful against him."

Meddler group responses:
"Quote:
1) Does the new Bond of Stone work with Forbidden Idol, Athene's and Ardent Censer?
2) How will it work on champions like Kayle who can switch between ranged and melee?
3) Are there any plans for Ohmwrecker and Banner of Command in the mid-season update?
4) Why did you shove Banner into a Tank Support niche when Ohmwrecker exists and does poorly?
  1. From memory yes, it does work with Forbidden Idol, Athene's and Ardent Censer. Censer especially's an interaction we're cautious on, conclusion off testing so far has been it's probably ok so we'll leave it proccing healing effects and adjust if necessray.
  2. Kayle should offer the full scaling when melee, half when ranged (what she's tagged as changes, in the same way form swappers work).
  3. No major changes for Ohmwrecker/Banner, possibly some stat adjustments.
  4. We like the split buildpath locket/Banner offer and a split pushing active's a reasonable pairing with a defensive item. In terms of Ohmwrecker overlap we've never had a version of Ohmwrecker we've been particularly happy with. I expect we'll likely remove it and reuse the name for something else (it's an old 'Refer a Friend' reward reference so we want to keep it around in some form as a result)."

Limited-time icons from Ocean Week 

"Beware the depths." The Koi Nami icon and Ocean Week Nautilus icon are available in the shop  through March 1st, 2017 at 23:59 PT. These two icons were previously available on OCE as part of Ocean Week 2017 and 2016.
"We recently celebrated Ocean Week 2017 in Oceania and have released the Koi Nami Icon and last year’s Ocean Week Nautilus Icon, which all regions can reel in for 250 RP each from 2/27/2017 at 11:00 PT until 3/17/2017 at 23:59 PT."

What Happens When I Press Q

New Riot Support video looking at lag and what happens when you press Q!

"To get more tech help, tools, and info, visit support.riotgames.com 
Whenever you do anything in League, a miraculous technological journey begins where everything can go horribly wrong. Professor Milk and Riot Player Support present the story of what happens when you press Q."

Patch 7.4: Cho’s Fancy Feast 

Short and sweet article taking a deeper look at the Cho'Gath R changes in patch 7.4:
"Cho’Gath was our first Void monster, and it’s fair to say parts of his kit haven’t aged well. Last week’s patch brought a suite of adjustments that scrubbed some of the rust off of his ultimate, Feast. Missed the patch notes? We’ve got you covered. 
TL;DR - Cho doesn’t lose Feast stacks on death and can earn infinite stacks off champs and epic monsters!
A Feast that wasn't filling 
Across League’s history, Cho’Gath was the only champion who got numerically weaker from dying. Losing Feast stacks cost the bonus health they granted as well, making Cho that much more likely to die in the next fight. This left him in an unenviable spot: how do you feel great about a tank that can lose his tankiness? Short of “get so far ahead you literally never die”, that question had no good answer. The reverse-snowball effect had to go. 
“Make Feast stacks permanent” was the obvious fix, but raised a small mountain of problems during testing. Feasts’s unreliability has been core to its design for years - everything from how Cho’Gath gains stacks to what stacks do has been tuned around the risk of one bad fight costing Cho hundreds of health points. With no other changes in place, perma-stack Cho would have been busted on release. The straightforward approach would have been to water Feast’s numbers down to ‘fair’ levels and call it balanced, but making Feast less exciting seemed... incorrect. 
Feast now stacks infinitely if Cho chews his way through the biggest prey. 
Fortunately, there was a solution that covered both the fairness and excitement problems. 
With stacks now permanent, stacking itself could be harder to accomplish. Tying it to a test of skill, rather than rote cooldown management, would in turn allowing us to remove the max stack cap. You read that right - Feast now stacks infinitely if Cho chews his way through the biggest prey on the Rift. We tossed him a few ‘safety stacks’ to ensure a Cho who falls behind can get back on his feet (otherwise we wouldn’t have solved anything), but he’ll need to eat a few objectives to break even with his pre-7.4 bonuses - let alone outscale them.

Modern dining etiquette 
What does this mean for all you Cho players? First, Cho’Gath’s super-tank Late Game Fantasy™ comes at the cost of a squishier early- and mid-game. Stacking takes longer than before and stacks don’t grant as much health as they used to. Approach early fights with caution while you adjust to Feast’s new pacing - just because stacks persist through death doesn’t mean grayscreening is advisable. 
Second, think carefully before cashing in your five minion/small monster stacks. Holding Feast’s cooldown for a gank isn’t as time-efficient as fast-nomming minions, but using R to secure an early kill keeps your safety stacks on reserve for occasions when low-health enemies might be harder to find. This is ultimately a case-by-case judgment call you’ll get a sense for over time. 
Finally, Feast’s new bonus health ratio does a lot of work in teamfights. This is moreso the case for tank Cho players, but AP builds also join in on the fun once stacks start coming in. Take the ratio into consideration when deciding what to buy! (PS: If you’re looking to experiment with new builds - say, Titanic Hydra or Sterak’s Gage - remember that Practice Tool now exists! What a time to be alive.) 
A single updated ability doesn’t solve all of Cho’Gath’s problems, but it goes a long way toward ensuring he’s got a place in a roster of 134 champions. Best of luck to all the Cho mains out there, and be sure to bring your appetite!"
Riot Aether popped on reddit to note the goal behind this kind of communication:
"Hopefully yes! We want to do a bit more for players who don't read the Patch Notes, for whatever reason. Stuff like this hopefully opens up the middle ground, and maybe makes the patch notes less intimidating for players who haven't gotten to make a fair choice on whether the patch notes are for them or not. ~3000 words of design speak can be rough to parse if you're starting from square one. (Incidentally, I'm also pushing the team to cut down on the jargon in patch notes this year.)"

Quick Hits

[Quick hits is our own collection within a red post collection, often including easy to digest stories, specialized information, and/or repeat info you may have missed in other posts!]

1) Michal 0xDEADB33F Ptaszek has posted the latest Riot Games engineering blog on Riot Messaging Service! 
"Hey there! My name is Michal 0xDEADB33F Ptaszek, and I’m a software architect at Riot. Today I would like to talk about communication. But not the kind of communication you’re probably thinking of. I want to talk about the other, more exciting kind of communication: LoL players communicating with chat servers during a tense game; authentication servers communicating with the LoL client on login; microservices that route state changes between clients in the middle of the night - you know, that kind of communication. "
2) RiotEambo tweeted:
"We've performed a redeploy today to fix the blackscreen issue in champ select - please let us know if you continue to experience this!"

Reminders

To round out this red post collection, here are reminders on current promotions or limited time events!
  •  As mentioned in the 7.4 patch notesAll Random Ultra Rapid Fire (ARURF) is set to return to live in the RGMQ from 3/3/17 - 3/6/17.

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