[Updated] An Introduction to our support changes in preseason

Posted on at 10:50 AM by Moobeat
Update: Added in a lot of discussion to the bottom of the post. Enjoy.

Just as they did with yesterday's vision changes, Riot has posted an overview of the upcoming preseason changes for the support role - including changes to how several support champions will scale with items,  updated gp/5 items that "reward effective support play", Assist streaks, and much more!
Continue reading for more info.

Here's Xelnath with the scoop:

"Hello Summoners,

I'm here today to talk about supports - those zero-CS players who devote themselves (and their income) to warding my gank paths and protecting their team without any tangible character growth in the later parts of the game. As a merciless predator who feeds on the lowly support, I'd prefer to have a low-income, no-item target to prey on in the late game, but as a player and designer...
... fine.

Your pleas have reached us. We have crafted a new world with our dark arts. Behold!

How are Supports in the present day?

First off, let's clarify who we're talking about. There are six roles in League of Legends: mage, assassin, tank, fighter, marksman and support. The current meta in League of Legends usually divvies up these roles into the following positions: top fighter, mid mage, jungler tank (or assassin), bottom marksman and bottom support.
However, "support" is a blanket term that covers three overlapping, but different categories:
  • Player who doesn't last hit while sharing a lane
  • Dedicated ward dispenser
  • Support champions

While we've come to accept a single player performing all three of these roles, if you look closely, you'll see these roles fight each other:
  • Players who don't last hit but share lane have minimal gold income
  • Warding costs gold and warding power increases dramatically with additional wards placed
  • Warding requires you to move away from your allies constantly
  • Supportive champions want to be near teammates, protecting them
From these points, we can see that 0-cs warding duo-lane support players are the poorest players with the highest consumable expenses and the lowest amount of character growth. Duo-laning support players are currently denied the second half of their growth story!

What's changing in the preseason?

We want both players in a shared lane to experience growth, item choice and the opportunity to get a full set of items. To get there, we are:
  • Increasing the gold income for players who don't last hit
  • Introducing bonus XP in jungle and lane for players who fall significantly behind their teammates
  • Capping possible expenditures on wards per player
  • Giving players access to free vision items, known as Trinkets (Please see Xypherous's vision post for details!)
Additionally, new income comes in several forms:
  • Masteries that grant bonus gold to players in a shared lane
  • Improvements to our GP/5 items that reward effective support play
  • Increased assist rewards for players who get significantly more assists than kills
Increasing income, rewarding effective support play and giving everyone access to a basic vision item encourages team cooperation, rewards supportive players and gives everyone the opportunity to participate in the vision game.

Outside of the vision changes, what's happening to address the above?

First I'll touch on those assist streaks. We're making it so that players who have significantly more assists than kills will get additional income per assist. If a player does secure a kill, the extra gold from the kill will offset their temporarily decreased gold gain from extra assists.

In addition to assist streaks, we're exploring masteries that provide additional early game income and we've added items that allow support players to gain additional income for supporting their allies, taking objectives and setting up team fights.

Let's look at a few of the work-in-progress items that I'm talking about:
  • Philosopher's Stone grants gold every 10 seconds. When a nearby ally kills a minion, you earn gold.
  • Executioner's Emblem executes minions below 200 health and grants gold to both you and the nearest ally when you last hit. Your ally gains a small gold bonus on top of this. This effect can happen up to twice a minute.
  • Spellthief's Blade makes it so that your spells and basic attacks against enemy champions grant you gold. It cannot affect the same target more than once every 10 seconds and last hitting an enemy disables this effect for 10 seconds.

Access to these items will allow you to specialize your income to fit your playstyle.

How does this change my experience as a support player?

In a long game, shared lane supports should now expect to be purchasing real items alongside their boots and Sightstone. They'll still have the biggest impact on vision, but now will have combat stats to make them feel like a more full and complete character. A balanced support champion will be splitting their time between warding, helping allies push lanes to take towers and participating in combat to save allies and kill enemies.

As a side effect of these changes, we're also taking a close look at core supports: Janna, Sona, Nami, Soraka, Lulu, Taric, etc. Champions designed specifically as supports have historically been balanced to have negligible income so, if left alone with all that gold, they'll either become overtuned mages or be replaced completely by non-support champions who can outscale them in damage once they hit the midgame.

Rather than wholesale nerfing these champions, we're looking at opportunities to make their unique aspects scale with AP or other stats. For example, the bonus AD on Janna's shield and the movement speed granted by Nami's passive will now scale with Ability Power. Our hope is that support champions in shared lanes can select AP or CDR items they find appealing. This will, in turn, give them a more distinct identity as champions that excel at helping their teammates and being supportive rather than just dealing more damage.

Hopefully this gives all you support players some things to look forward to in preseason. We're going to be aggressively tuning these changes but our core philosophy will remain the same: let every champion in League of Legends experience real growth throughout the game, regardless of their position or role.

We'll also be posting this on reddit where we may pass through to clarify some questions. At the start of next week we'll be doing a global recap to follow up with the most up-to-date information from questions around the world!

-Xelnath (Wizardlock, Right Hand of the 7th Order of Obsidian Blackfire Ebonstone Dark Witchlords)"

As I did yesterday, I'll be adding any additional discussion or red posts to this thread as the day goes on.

Totally New Items

Xelnath also shared a little preview of one of the upcoming , new items:
"We are hoping to make sure you have interesting items too. 
Here's one preview: 
Martyr's Call:
+300 health
+10 health regen per 5

Unique Active: Consume 20% of your current health to give 10% of your max health as a shield to target ally."
He continued on Martyr's Call, saying:
"Tanks are exactly the character class we're targetting with this item. We can increase the HP cost and reduce the shield if Cho'gath becomes the best peeler in the game."

Updated Support Items

Xelnath also commented that the new support items are exclusive and you can only pick up one:
"The new gold income items are completely exclusive. These gold income items build in a path to a cool active effect, but the final build retains their gold income mechanic. Once you start one item, you cannot start another item's path unless you sell the other item. 
E.g. I can buy Philosopher's Pebble, a 375 gold support starting item that gives gold when an ally kills a minion, upgrade it into Philosopher's Stone (850g total) and finally transform it into Shurelia's Reverie.

However, if I own Philosopher's Pebble, I can't buy Executioner's Emblem or Spellthief's Blade."
He also clarified that this applies to item upgrades as well:
"Once you pick up Shurelia's Reverie (which now grants passive gp/5 and the bonus gold on minion death) you cannot start a Spellthief's Blade.
We originally did not have this limit. Then Madlife and H4ckerv2 came to the office and broke the game by having more gold than any other champion in the game by min-maxing the support items. "

As for their location in the shop, he noted:
"These items now have their own shop category and you can only buy 1 of them."
When asked why you can only buy one instead of making the gold passive unique, he commented:
"If we did this, it would look WEIRD. 
+hp regen
+mana regen
UNIQUE Passive - Scavenger: Get Gold from minion deaths. 
(Purchasing Philosopher's Stone prevents Pickpocket and Lootshare items from working. The order of items purchased matters.) 
That's an unwieldy and confusing tooltip. Locking out the items is far clearer.

Besides, there are NOT GOOD GAINS from stacking these items. They all provide regen stats. Woop. Stacking those into the midgame is not a smart plan.

Instead, by making them exclusive we can make the actives significantly sexier."

As for the non support member of a duo bot buying an Executioner's Emblem in an attempt increase their gold income, he commented:
"We tried this out yesterday and found it to be a fun and teamwork driven lane, that makes both players feel better about working together. Because the stats on Executioner's Emblem are not optimized for ADC characters, we do not expect this to become dominant - since picking Emblem too early means you will lose in head-to-head trades.

So we're watching this optimistically as a fall-back pattern for lanes that are losing to a snowballing ADC or support."

He also mentioned for Executioner's Emblem:
"The ADC will receive gold equal to the kill plus 5. So they get more gold for coordinating with you."

On reddit, he shared a few more tidbits:
"Yes, the philo passive gold income will be removed or reduced, so you don't get free money for not being in lane. 
Kages is being replaced by spellblade. 
Executioner's Emblem is a proc that triggers when you basic attack with an ally around. This is designed to make it so that supports can help ADCs last hit or the ADC can buy the item, completely control the lane minion flow and funnel gold into the support. 
Pickpocket mastery still exists. 
Build Paths: * Philo turns into Shurelia's Active + CDR * Kages turns into Shard of True Ice - active now usable on enemies * Executioner's Emblem turns into an item that allows you to sacrifice your health to create a shield on an ally (long cooldown)"
To clarify on Executioner's Emblem -
"When a support last hits with Executioner's Emblem - both the ADC and support get the gold from the last hit. In fact, the ADC gets a small bonus since he had to coordinate with the support."

As for melee supports having a harder time with some of the new items, he commented:
"We will probably need to adjust items for melee supports, much as we did for Pickpocket. Melee supports have been pretty feast or famine in lane though - so we're keeping an eye on this for now. 
Help us test it out and we'll fix this up in preseason."

Changes to old items

On Twin Shadows new build path, he commented:
"Twin Shadows no longer builds out of Kage's Pick. As a result it has had its price adjusted (slightly reduced I think, but I won't promise that remains if it remains strong)"

He also noted none of the gp/5 items will build into items that don't generate gold:
"Philosopher's Stone, Kage's Pick and Emblem of Valor have been removed as a component from all items in the game that do not grant alternate gold income. We've replaced those components with ones we felt was appropriate. E.g. Will of the Ancients now builds from a Blasting Wand + Hextech Revolver"

When asked about how these changes and items will work with Kill Lanes ( think J4 / Xin Zhao bottom ), Socratocracy noted:
"I'm glad you brought this up, because this is something we've been concerned about internally as well. We've seen Leona experience much success with the new system, especially if she can pull ahead in a lane. One of the goals of this system change was to improve the viability of other supports. Now we're seeing Leona and J4 see more success as supports in that they are rewarded more for generating kills early on than they currently are. This may be a bit too snowbally, and is something we'll be watching closely. 
However, one thing to keep in mind is that in order to reap the full benefits of the improved support gold generation, champions will need to invest heavily in the Utility tree, which is intended to be a check on, say, Pantheon or Rengar from being able to zone out a lane and come out of lane with a substantial amount of gold. We're continuing to test champions and "kill lanes" like what you've mentioned internally and determine whether or not the new items and gold flow for supports shifts things such that you're better off running Rengar/Pantheon than a traditional support, which hasn't been the case in our testing so far. We want to increase the number of supports that are viable with these new systems, not invalidate the viability of traditional supports. With Trinkets assisting with more early game vision as well, it's not as easy for "sits in a bush and kills you when you get close" champions to zone a traditional bottom lane composition. 
We've tried things such as Annie/Brand and Zyra/Kha'Zix, and have found that the "traditional" bot lane now has the itemization options to allow them to farm aggressively and harass the "kill" lane. In other words, we haven't found any specific "kill lanes" consistently do well internally any more so than traditional ones. 
That being said, if we're off-the-mark in our testing and find that traditional supports are falling behind, as Xelnath mentioned in the bottom part his original post, we're currently working on having the utility of traditional supports scale with items (Janna's shield granting more AD based on her AP being one of these explorations). This should provide additional help in case traditional supports feel like they're being outclassed.

We're continuing to test these kinds of "kill lanes" internally, and are definitely interested in specific lanes you're concerned about. I'd love to hear some of your suggestions on fun, interesting, and awesome lane combinations that you guys think would thrive under the new income generation systems?"

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