[ Updated ] SmashGizmo's tentative plans for Olaf

Posted on at 5:17 PM by Moobeat
Update: Added in a bazillion more posts.

Following up his "Let's Talk About Olaf" thread, SmashGizmo has posted a set of tentative changes for Olaf. These changes will be hitting the PBE soon but until then enjoy SmashGizmo's analysis of Olaf's problems and what he is doing to fix 'em!
Continue reading for more information.

Here's SmashGizmo's draft of how to fix up Olaf:
"I'm not 100% sure about PBE deploy times, so I can't say exactly, but suffice to say that the initial changes are in and starting to get some testing internally and they will go to PBE the next time PBE patches.

Sooooo that being said, let's get into the nitty gritty... Keep in mind that all the changes you see here are subject to heavy iteration before you get to see them on live. Numbers may shift to varying degrees, mechanics may be added and/or dropped, etc etc etc.

Olaf Changes, V1.0
  • Slow no longer decays
  • Now has a minimum throw distance of 450 units
  • Axes now stick in walls and structures rather than going through them

Slow decay on this ability ultimately doesn't make sense to me. The slow decaying accentuates the power of re-applying the slow repeatedly and lessers the impact of hitting the epic long range axes that seem like they should feel the best to hit. If I need to re-tune the slow numbers from here to be slightly less severity or duration, so be it, but I can't conceptually get on board with this ability having a decay on its slow. 
Minimum distance is being added to this ability to limit Olaf's ability to abuse repeated minimum distance Axe throws on top of Melee range targets. Ultimately this pattern is counterintuitive, adds a lot of burst to Olaf and makes the gameplay confusing to opponents who can't even see the axe in the ground since he immediately picks it up. 
The wall sticking change for Undertow actually just started as a cool thematic idea from CertainlyT, but it also happens to solve a couple big issues I was running into with Undertow. The first is that it lets Jungle Olaf circumvent the minimum distance on Undertow to preserve his fast clear by standing near a wall and repeatedly throwing axes. The second is that it strips a bit of extraneous power off of Olaf in terms of scouting (i.e. checking baron over and over with it) and sniping, which ultimately aren't very cool places for a Viking to have power, which frees him up some power budget to spend on cooler stuff. 

Vicious Strikes
  • Mana cost reduced to 25 from 40/45/50/55/60
  • Now provides 1% enhanced healing from all sources for every 2% health Olaf is missing during the duration

At the end of the day, this ability feels like it should be cooldown gated, not mana gated, so I've reduced the mana cost to a fairly negligible number to reduce this ability's strain on Undertow. 

The scaling increased healing effect on this ability is meant to supplement Olaf's fight-your-way-out pattern and better communicate to players when they want to use their W. It also opens up a tuning lever on his lane-sustain so that he feels less oppressive when ahead and more resilient when he's behind. I also hope that this clarifies Olaf's itemization options (in particular, opening up lifesteal items more for him), though that remains to be seen as I'm not really convinced that players plan around this interaction with Spirit Visage (same mechanic) at the moment.
  • Mana Cost removed
  • Cooldown changed to 120/100/80 from 100
  • Active duration changed to 5 from 6
  • New Passive Added: Olaf gains 10/25/40 Armor and Magic Resist passively
  • Active Changed: Olaf removes all disables from himself and becomes immune to them for the next 5 seconds. During this time, he gains double Attack Speed from Berserker Rage

As with Vicious Strikes, it feels crummy for Ragnarok to constrain your ability to cast Undertow and as this will only ever be used once per fight, I've just stripped the mana cost off completely. 

The larger changes here are about clarifying Ragnarok's purpose and counterplay. After looking through feedback on how players perceive the counterplay and discussing this with numerous designers, I've come to the conclusion that Ragnarok is a more interesting and healthy ability if it functions as a trade off rather than a god mode. With this direction in mind, I've added a passive Armor/MRes component to give Olaf the tankiness he needs to be a front liner with no mobility and made the Ragnarok button press decision more about becoming unstoppable in order to do damage, at the cost of the resilience from damage. Hopefully this opens up the option to the opposing team to focus fire down the un-CCable monster coming for their Carry, rather than leaving them feeling completely resigned to Olaf being able to get to and kill their Carry. With this being the new decision point surrounding Ragnarok, I've scaled the duration back 1 second, as I believe that Olafs should now be casting Ragnarok slightly later in teamfights once he's closer and facing imminent CC rather than using it at the start of his approach to mitigate all the incoming damage. I also think these changes holistically add a nice side effect of giving CC-users a small satisfaction out of forcing Olaf's ult by hitting his resists, thought this is admittedly pretty minor.

So this is where I'm starting with my changes. Feel free to let me know what you think and I'll try to address any concerns you guys want to bring up. As I said before, this is an early iteration and I expect to be doing a whole bunch of iterations before getting to where we need to be with Olaf."

He continued, answering several summoner questions:
so definitely quite a bit of changes. I like them for the most part. The added armor and MR passive is great for olaf and frees him up for more damage items and options or for being an even more powerful tank for the team. i can deal with the undertow change, many wont like it but i think it is intuitive and fun. 
what I dont particularly like is that there is no boost to some of olafs other abilities now that there is a range constraint to undertow and his armor pen has been removed entirely. could you go into more detail as to where the power from these mechanics and stats have been redirected to?
Taking off the slow decay on Q is pretty huge in terms of adding power back onto Olaf's Q, IMO. The difference in feel in the playtest today was pretty massive from the experience on live. I don't want to derail forward progress by looking back too much, but I do just want to throw this out there that I do think Olaf's peak power before we nerfed him was certainly too high in competitive play and the nerf aspects of the Q changes are all aimed at hitting it's old power in the competitive arena while having fairly minimal impact across lower skill players. 
In addition, the healing buff on W is a considerable buff to Olaf's windowed sustain, which should let him better outlive fights through lifesteal. The whole idea is to shift this missing power towards his passive/W/R gameplay, as this gameplay extends Olaf's engagement window, allowing his opponents more time to play against him rather than getting vaporized once he gets on top of you. Likewise, the shift from Armor Pen to Attack Speed is again aimed at extending Olaf's engagement window. Armor Pen was allowing Olaf to burst harder vs. low armor targets (due to Q benefiting largely from it), which was one of the biggest pain points of playing against Olaf and I'm hoping that shifting the burst potential of that armor pen will 1. allow Olaf to brawl other frontliners better with sustained damage and lifestealing and 2. force him to stick to carries for longer to kill them rather than bursting them down super quickly.
Edit: I am also wondering with the mana changes and the new minimum distance added to undertow why mana is even on olaf now, the previous infinite axe issue should be resolved with the minimum travel distance. keeping him tied by mana seems silly if only undertow is using it
I've discussed this quite a bit earlier in the thread, but the tl;dr on this is that mana constraining his Undertow is what allows the pattern of the ability to not be abusive, and I'd really like to preserve Undertow's use pattern because I think it's thematic and awesome.
It sounds like the passive Armor and MR are lost when Ragnarok is cast (and maybe also while on cooldown)?

They are only lost during the active duration of Ragnarok. It would be pretty awful if they were lost while it's on CD IMO. Basically my feeling is that Olaf feels super clunky when Ragnarok is down and when he's in this clunky state in teamfights, he needs the defense to make up for the fact that he's very kiteable and pokeable."

He continued, diving deeper into his thoughts on the Undertow change:
"Strongly disagree. Undertow has an awesome chasing pattern and an awesome thematic. I threw my axe, and by going to pick it up again, I get to throw it again. This is just friggin' sweet, one of the coolest abilities in our entire game IMO. What doesn't make it cool is repeatedly slamming your axe into the ground at your feet to deal unreasonably high burst that then forces the rest of the character to be balanced around an abuse case. I dunno, please argue with me here if you really think I'm off base with this, but I think having a 0 minimum distance allows players to use this skill in an unintuitive way that forces the rest of the skill to be worse for the sake of balance."
and a small note on that change:
"Probably shouldn't have put a number to the minimum range...

Olaf's pick up detection on Axes is fairly generous and I played with that number quite a bit before arriving at 450. With no boots, throwing at minimum range, it'll take you about half a second of walking towards the axe before you pick it up. The intent here is solely to prevent repeated axes at your feet and if people disagree with my tuning of this number, I'll tweak it until it feels right."
"I've thought of a floor and it feels like an inelegant solution because it creates weird optimization regarding when you're supposed to pick up the axe. 
The other option I've considered is having the pickup's cooldown decrease scale multiplicatively with CDR as opposed to additively with CDR (think Hecarim's Rampage mechanics), but with the variable times when you can pick up the axe, this starts to make optimizing really messy again.

Basically, I just want Olaf to feel good about picking up the axe when he wants to throw it again without needing to consider further optimization and I think the flat reduction feels good for this and that the minimum range both feels appropriate and solves the 0 range abuse cases. I will continue to monitor how up close and personal axes feel on Olaf and explore other options if this proves problematic, but based on the initial testing with minimum range, I think it's promising. I can understand the concerns about the feel of low range axes with a minimum range, but I do want to urge you to not be too hasty in your judgement of the mechanic based on the range number (subject to tuning as appropriate), as ultimately what matters here is that low range axes feel appropriate to Olaf players and fair to opponents."

Xelnath also jumped in with a friendly reminder:
"I want to emphasize an important point here. This is the beginning of our testing cycle on Olaf's changes. If changes don't play out well, we won't ship them. However, we're picking changes that remove invisible, uncounterable power and making sure players understand why they died and understand how they can handle that situation better next time.

What mechanics do you think we should adjust on Olaf to help us achieve those goals? (Visibility, Clarity, Counterplay, Learning)"

SmashGizmo capped off the discussion by presenting a new idea on Vicious Strikes:
"Probably need to get to bed soon so that I can get ready to head out to Evo tomorrow, but I want to ask yall something else before I go.

How would you feel if the AD bonus from Vicious Strikes was just a (higher) flat number instead of scaling off total health? I'm currently finding this tooltip to be a big gross nightmare of mechanics and am wondering if the health -> damage component of this skill is really adding anything to it at this point. Changing this to a flat value should make offensive itemization feel better since he loses the theoretical hyper scaling off of defense and the base numbers could be scaled to the point where they make Olaf sufficiently threatening even if he built tank."
"Largely depends on the numbers. From how I see it, Olaf is building his largest health items within his first 2 items most of the time, and maxing W last. Which means he's probably usually sitting at somewhere in the 2.5-3k ballpark at level 13 with a rank 1 W (35ish AD). By level 18, he gets to rank 5 W and ~4k hp (75ish AD). So the growth from mid to late game is roughly 40 or so AD during his W's uptime.

If instead it was something like 20/35/50/65/80 bonus AD, we're instead looking at his level 13 with a rank 1 W giving 20 AD and his level 18 rank 5 W giving 80 AD, adding an extra 50% scaling to the ability between levels 13 and 18. It's weird because at first glance it looks like the one with the ratio will scale harder, but since it's scaling up with your base HP while staying at rank 1, you're getting a larger portion of the power earlier. Of course, this approach runs the risk of Olaf going all Irelia on us and maxing W in lane and being a giant sustain jerk, but I still think there's potential to adjust his power curve in a healthier way towards late game even by removing the HP ratio."

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