Xypherous on AD Spell Vamp items.

Posted on at 6:15 AM by Moobeat
An attack damage based spell vamp item is something we've been hearing about for quite sometime now. Ideally, this sort of item would benefit physical champions who rely more on their physical damage spells rather than just auto attacks. While we don't have such an item yet, Xypherous has offered up a tasty discussion about it on the forums.

Continue reading for a lengthy discussion on the problems AD Spell Vamp itemization, a few notes about the current state of Talon, and more!

AD Spell Vamp Discussion
Xypherous popped into the forums for a bit today, joining  discussion on why there isn't yet an AD Spell vamp item even thought it has been discussed several times in the past.

Let's kick things off with his initial post, one responding to a summoner stating "Because Xypherous believes it would be too strong on champions like Xin Zhao and Irelia."
"Xin Zhao and Irelia actually wouldn't do well with AD / Spell Vamp - they're better off building life steal / attack speed in many cases. 
The champions in question that benefit from AD / SV the most are tanky fighters with a lot of non-autoattack base damage and the durability to stand there and soak - Essentially, if you can output a consistent steady stream of damage - while being durable enough to benefit from high amounts of in-combat regeneration.

For example, Lee Sin / Udyr / Shyvana oddly enough would benefit the most from an AD and Spell Vamp pairing because they are durable enough to make the non-autoattack drain pattern work and have relatively decent scaling with AD. However, the goal for the AD / Spell Vamp item - as people have continuously requested - is to make Glass AD assassins viable in lane (characters like Talon or Pantheon.) However, as the item tends to work betteron these types of tanky spell damage fighters - this poses a problem in more than one way. 
It gets exacerbated by the fact that these tanky spell damage fighters are the ones that the Glass AD assassin characters have the most trouble within the first place. We saw this in Twisted Treeline with Lord Van Damm's Pillager. It was a good Talon item, to be sure - but it was a great tanky Lee Sin or Darius item that then they used to wipe the floor with Talon.

In the end, if the goal is to help Talon and Pantheon out - it seems counterproductive to release an item that is better on the people who they have the most trouble with."
He continued, noting his interest in trying to get physical damage spell vamp to work.
"That said, I actually do want to focus on seeing if I can make some kind of physical damage lifesteal thing work, that nicely gets it away from the magic damage / true damage dealing characters and focuses it much more on characters who do heavy attack damage scaling spells without a lot of autoattacks.

Running into trouble with it though as the heal numbers tend to be ridiculously insane or pitiful depending on the AoE coefficient I put on it. It's odd that so many of our glass AD assassins use AoE damage as their "burst" combo. It never actually seems to work coefficient wise."
He continued further, discussing the problems with AD/Spell Vamp items:
"If the goal here is simply to introduce more options for AD itemization, I can be on board with that. I'll just make the point that AD / Spell Vamp tends to be counterproductive in the long run as the item tends to simply make glass AD casters less viable at the expense of tanky AD casters - and thus, the additional itemization will simply sacrifice a portion of these type of characters (the squishy AD assassins) in favor of more itemization for the tankier portion of this type of character"
Elaborating even more on items, he discussed the point that when making an item for a particular style of champion, you have to account for how it will effect their competition.
"Oh definitely - I agree with you that this item would probably be applicable to a lot of champions - however, in the items world - all you pretty much have to do is ensure that it doesn't benefit their direct competitor more and you've done the class a net plus - while also allowing for some fun off-builds. This is my main concern with AD / SV, for example - is that what happens is hurting the class that you originally wanted to help.  
BoRK does this somewhat for carries - really good for some carries as a self-peel - but also a decent fighter and assassin item for sticking and initiation. It just happens to be better on carries than fighters, for the most part although I will agree that this case is debatable.

In the end though, this logic is best applied to retuning the champion's kit itself - rather than itemization. Itemization is a fairly broad strokes approach and you have to solve things on the right level. However, champion redesigns are typically more disruptive and harder to undo than itemization adjustments - so there's some tradeoffs between costs and control."

Xypherous also replied to a summoner's question of "assuming you could perfectly design an item for such a specific purpose, will spellvamp on AD assassins specifically make the game better?"
"You're right in that adding sustain options on AD assassins (or even improving the AD assassin pattern) doesn't seem to have a whole lot of gains for the players facing them - nor does improving their primary pattern seem to hold a lot of gains for making the game more fun for anyone but the assassin. 
However, the goal here would be to create backup patterns for these assassins when things go poorly. If an AD assassin cannot burst a character in lane - we should not be providing itemization for him to automatically burst you down, we should be probably some kind of plan B, where he doesn't *need* to burst you down in order to properly fit on his team.

In short, you're right in that we probably can't make burst assassin's primary patterns a whole lot better - but what we can do is give them alternative strategies for when that gameplan doesn't pan out so that they can still do something that game, rather than being incredibly swingy feast or famine characters."
Continuing that thought
"This holds for a lot of characters - but there are some standout characters in which this isn't a good fallback. Pantheon has some great fallback patterns because his ultimate and his aegis give him some degree of flexibility. Talon or Akali don't really have this option.

To be fair, it could point to the fact that their kits should be restructured a bit to introduce more skillful play or fallback patterns - but see above."

Xypherous even went as far as suggesting re imagining the concepts of lifesteal and spell vamp into "Physical Vamp" and "Magical Vamp".
"Honestly, if it were up to me I'd like to phase out Spellvamp entirely and pursue vamp based on specific damage types - like Physical Vamp and Magical Vamp - It makes the purpose of the item a lot more clear.

I think I'll have time to really drill on it in a couple months - currently we're working on cleaning up some of our other systems that feel worse."
Talon talk.
Of course all the talk of a spell vamp item is tied closely to assassins - Talon being one of them. Replying to someone asking for an update on Talon's balance, Xypherous commented:
"Looking through the data on champions, Talon has done consistently well in the past several months. He may not be a competitive pick that will be seen in LCS - but Talon has one of the highest win rates in the game - frequently in the top 10. That doesn't mean that Talon is fine or overpowered - it just means that if you pick Talon, you'll generally win more games than you'll lose. I'm not going to say that Talon doesn't have his problems or that Talon can't fail - it's just that the people playing Talon at the moment win much more than they lose. 
The rise of Zed has kind of diminished Talon's pick rate somewhat but in that time frame, Talon consistently shows better raw win results - perhaps due to the mastery of the Talon population."

He continued, elaborating further on Zed's effect on Talon picks.
"Talon performs consistently above his peers at the moment - whether that's due to the skill of the Talon population, that remains to be seen. 
Zed is mostly an issue of how he warps competitive play - in fact, Zed suffers from the same problems that Olaf suffered in a lot of ways - Zed is much much more effective at high competitive play than he is at low competitive play, so even when Zed has a subpar win rate for the majority of our player base - we have to hit him because he's so overwhelmingly dominant in competitive. 
That's also why you see the attempt at shifting his playstyle because with his current pattern, it is almost certainly going to ensure that if Zed is balanced and a good competitive pick, 95% of our players shouldn't pick Zed because they will lose.

I don't have the full context on Akali, I apologize. :x"

The Talon talk continued, again comparing him to the more popular assassins.
"I agree with you that Talon doesn't feel as satisfying or as versatile as Zed or Kha'zix. In fact, when Talon has a bad game - you have a really bad game. 
In fact, even when Talon has a good game, the first 15 minutes of that game is typically - "Oh my god, I am getting the stuffing beaten out of me in lane." 
I'm not saying Talon is in the greatest of spots from a satisfaction or a team versatility standpoint, he's clearly not but he doesn't seem like he's as dysfunctional as some other characters we're churning on."

After battling back and forth with our fellow summoners for a bit, Xypherous restated his original commentary on Talon.
"Definitely a fair point and always a danger when dealing with statistics as you can interpret them in a lot of ways - Again, I'm not saying Talon is fine, overpowered or unsatisfying - just that the current players of Talon seem to be doing okay with him."
As this wasn't enough, he elaborated a bit more.
"I'm not saying Talon is fine, overpowered or competitive. I'm simply saying that the current Talon players win far more games than they lose. This is probably due to a combination of them being experienced or familiar with Talon and his matchups and Talon's actual power level.

I'm not saying that Talon doesn't have problems - simply that it seems to indicate that Talon isn't completely dysfunctional at the moment compared to other champions we're working on."

Odds and Ends
Pantheon's name also came up during all the AD spell vamp itemization discussion. After a summoner commented that buying attack speed and crit feels bad on Pantheon, thus severely limiting his build options, Xypherous revealed an experiment he's been messing around with.
"Oh definitely. I actually completely agree with you on this point. 
I've actually experimented quite a bit with making attack speed scale certain key attributes of Pantheon for example. You can easily envision a world where Heartseeker Strike's channel time / tick rate and cooldown were all reduced by attack speed, for example. It's something that I'm actually really keen on trying to do except for the fact that it seems like current Pantheon players really like him and he's really doing well - so there's no real need for change at this point if players are satisfied with him."

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