Red Post Collection: CertainlyT on Yasuo & Zyra, Meddler on Ziggs, and much more!

Posted on at 8:39 PM by Moobeat
Tonight's ginormous red post collection features Meddler discussing the balance team's feelings on Ziggs, CertainlyT sharing his thoughts on Yasuo's power level and gameplay now that he's had a few weeks to simmer on live ( including an upcoming change to his ult and how his passive interacts with Statikk Shiv), CertainlyT on Zyra's balance and where she currently fits on a team, and much, much more!
Continue reading for more information

Potential Ziggs Nerfs

Meddler dropped off a few comments on Ziggs and a few things the team is currently looking at as options to bring his power level down a bit.
"We're currently looking at a couple of cases where Ziggs can be problematic: 
1. As a early lane bully.
2. Mid to late game when poking and well fed/farmed 
Solutions we're looking at right now are: 
1. Reducing his passive damage, base and ratio, at levels 2-6 ish especially, scaling back up to the same values by level 18, to reduce his lane bully presence against a lot of mids.
2. Reducing his Q/E AP ratios a bit, while leaving the bases as is, so a well fed Ziggs doesn't chunk targets quite so much harder than an average Ziggs. 
No guarantees that's what we'll opt for yet, there are a couple of other options we've discussed too, such as making it so his mines deal reduced damage on subsequent hits to minions again for example. That would have the benefit of bringing his farming potential down a bit, which may simply be too high at the moment, would have the trade off though of weakening his siege/counter siege niche as well.

We're looking to get some changes into the balance patch after the next one (the next's locked down at this point)."

CertainlyT on Yasuo

Now that Yasuo has had several weeks to simmer on live, CertainlyT shared this thoughts on his current power level and gameplay:
"Hey guys, 
We're relatively happy with Yasuo's current power level, for a few reasons: 
He wins about as many games as he loses; 
He is terrifying when ahead but still has the vulnerabilities to be defeated by coordinated enemies; 
He is vulnerable to falling behind during the laning phase but still has the tools to contribute meaningfully with careful play; 
He excels in synergistic team comps, especially when learning him, but functions well independently in the hands of an experienced player. 
We're also enjoying most of his gameplay: 
He rewards a broad spectrum of skills -- getting better at him involves improving your mechanics, judgment, and situational responsiveness (both in positioning and build); 
He has a lot of sitational variance -- seldom do two fights play out identically in any given game; 
He succeeds at similar rates at all levels of play, implying that he scales roughly equally with both player skill and opponent skill. 
As such, we don't plan on buffing Yasuo per se. Obviously, he has a few kinks to be worked out in response to player feedback, so there will be changes, but the net effect should be fairly neutral when it comes to power level. 
Specifically, in addition to a bunch of bug fixes, we're looking at the following changes: 
1)Boosting the power of Last Breath by having it grant maximum Flow on cast. The ability is currently lackluster at level 6, causing Yasuo to often fall behind in lane compared to his opponent's ult unlock. This change will make it a better means of turning around a fight or re-engaging while low but keep its power in ganking cases unchanged.

2) Reducing the power of Statikk Shiv on Yasuo in two ways: 
First, Shiv's proc isn't receiving the -10% crit damage modifier that Way of the Wanderer applies to all of Yasuo's other crits. This will take Shiv crits from 200 to 180 damage before Infinity Edge. 
Second, Shiv currently calculates its crit chance twice -- if the attack that procs it crits, Shiv auto-crits; if the attack that proc'd it doesn't crit, Shiv rolls for a crit. With 50% crit chance, you get a 75% crit rate on Shiv procs. This is true across all champions. We'll be fixing both of these in upcoming patches.

The result should address some of the snowball concerns players have correctly expressed regarding Yasuo -- a fast Shiv won't grant as much non-scaling magic damage at a very early level -- and will leave us in a better position to assess his overall power level. We still expect Shiv to remain a core item on Yasuo, but it won't offer quite the power spike it does at present."
He continued, elaborating on the Statikk Shiv changes:

"That change to Shiv was not motivated by Yasuo directly. It just happens to hit him pretty hard, so I felt compelled to point it out. The change was prompted by a desire to better differentiate Shiv and Phantom Dancer, both of which might soon be seeing some statistical adjustments."

He also continued discussing the Flow changes, explaining the "mini-games" of laning with Yasuo and sharing his opinion on Yasuo's laning phase:
"Definitely thought a lot about this concern. What motivated us to make the change anyhow was that the poke, wait, engage strategy against the shield is intended to become less relevant as the game progresses. In lane, being ulted is generally a result of the enemy's poor decisionmaking and so with proper management of Yasuo, it shouldn't be a huge issue. 
As to Yasuo having too many mini-games, I will agree that counterplay manifests on a number of axes (axises?). This is intentional as I feel it makes Yasuo less binary in his matchups. Different champions (and players) are able to better perform at different mini-games, which means that even if your champion isn't good at one, you can focus on the other. As an example, champions without ranged attacks are weaker at poking through Yasuo's shield (e.g., Riven), but also can take more liberties with their positioning vis-a-vis their own minions since they are likely want Yasuo to close on them.

Personally, I find laning against Yasuo more enjoyable than laning against Garen (a champion with two primary axes of counterplay -- maintain range when his cooldowns are available; damage him periodically to prevent his passive from activating) or LeBlanc (shove the lane or she kills your side lanes) because of how many ways there are to improve against him and because my strategy often varies dramatically depending on my champion's strengths, but opinions may vary."

When asked if there were any upcoming bug fixes for Yasuo's R, CertainlyT commented:
"This should largely be fixed next patch with a tech solution that resolves any remaining edge case possibilities the patch thereafter."

When asked about additional changes to how windwall interacts with various abilities, CertainlyT commented that some of the problems lie with where the missiles come out of champions:
"We haven't been consistent with the exact position from which our missiles spawn on champions. Some come from the hand, some from the center of the model, etc. Yasuo's Wind Wall is already 1 unit "thick" so further improvements will come over the next few patches as JHa and I make sure missiles are coming from the right "bone" or position on a champion's model."

CertainlyT also responded to someone commenting that Yasuo "seems "balanced" is because hes new and nobody has dedicated enough time to him.", saying:
"That's possible. He's certainly a very powerful champion, but then again champions should be powerful.

These changes put him in a position where we can better assess his true power level. I would note that many players have already played 100+ Yasuo games, so we are starting to get meaningful feedback which suggests that he is not as dramatically out of line. Since you appear to have very few games with him, I don't think you're in a better position to assess whether or not he is overpowered."

He also commented on the responsiveness of Yasuo's E -> Q combo:
"Yes, the combo should be more responsive after next patch, though of course your circular Q will still be delayed until the end of the dash. Generally, the EQ combo is not intended to be strictly better than the Q by itself, but it should offer the player a choice in how they best perform their Q. In the mean time, smartcasting your Q should increase the reliability of the combo (especially EQ3) due to how the client handles sending and receiving information to and from our servers."
He continued, explaining the advantages of the EQ combo compared to just using Q normally:
"The EQ combo has a number of advantages: 
1) It has no cast time, so does not impair your mobility. Real talk: While dashing through minions to catch an enemy, it's strictly better to EQ minions to build a stack toward your Q3 than to E...line Q. so your assertion that it's "never better" is just hyperbole. 
2) Can hit multiple enemies not lined up, and so offers targeting flexibility. 
3) Is less avoidable in a number of contexts. For example, if an enemy is near max dash range, they will more easily be able to avoid a regular Q than an EQ due to the narrowness of the Q. When I speak about EQ responsiveness changes I am referring to not having to mash Q immediately upon beginning your dash. With reasonably quick decisionmaking, you should be able to decide mid-dash whether you'd like to circular Q or save your Q for a post-dash line nuke. 
4) It forces the enemy to adjust their counterplay, which can often put them in the position you want.

You have mentioned some of the disadvantages of the combo. Most of those just involve the enemy playing well, which is something we should reward, not punish."

CertainlyT also discussed resourceless champions, Yasuo's need to act, and more:
"I see this posted a lot. Mana is only one way to gate a champion. 
In the case of Yasuo, the resource gate on spells is actually inverted. Yasuo is gated by the NEED to act. If the Yasuo player is not successfully casting Q and E, he's falling behind -- Q builds stacks toward his knockup. E builds his passive. Each of them also leaves Yasuo vulnerable. In lane, Q starts at a 0.42 second cast time and E alerts the enemy to his exact position in 0.6 seconds (the time of the dash). Using those momentary losses of control to your advantage as the opponent can help you land skillshots or reposition against him. In team fights, the need to build Q stacks requires Yasuo to find targets (like the Wraiths, minions, or enemy champions that move into his team's lines) before he can cast his more powerful Q3. The E requires him to move around in a fight to keep his passive working, making him less of a target chooser and more of a target taker. 
He also has no inherent sustain, rare for a melee, and most of the time is short range, allowing him to be harassed. We could have given Yasuo mana, bumped his durability/regen up a ton, and given him long range waveclear tools, but instead we made him manaless, fragile, and short ranged. Personally, I think this was the right choice as health as a resource is something that the enemy actually has control over. Mana regen is mostly a function of itemization. It should be more satisfying to maintain proper range while harassing Yasuo out of lane than to build enough armor that Pantheon cannot kill you with spears before OOMing.

That's not to say that resourceless designs are not more stressful to fight against than mana driven designs. Mana-based champions can be tied by avoiding their damage. Resourceless champions must be defeated through offensive action. Creating the proper amount of stress is an important part of design and really hope that Yasuo has the vulnerabilities to make players feel like they can find opportunities to defeat him through skilled ability use, which in turn should make the added stress worthwhile."

He also sparked a discussion on "mobility creep" following some comments on Yasuo's dash ability:
"I've always found "mobility creep" to be an odd choice of words. Would you say that we are suffering from downward "point-and-click stun creep"? It's no secret that we tend to favor some element of mobility in our newer designs. It's also no secret that we tend to favor fewer point and click stuns. Personally, I feel mobility is very helpful for the following reasons: 
First, champions with mobility can be given a lot more weaknesses, particularly when it comes to durability and reliability of CC. Nasus/Darius/Mundo etc. have to be more or less able to buy 100% defensive items in order to be viable. There are only so many Patchwerk-style DPS tests we can put into the game. Additionally, we can provide a lot less reliability to other elements of their kit when we add dashes to champions. Nasus Wither, Nunu Ice Blast, and Sion Cryptic Gaze are not our best spell designs, but are required for these champions to be able to close the gap against ranged champions since in the absence of reliability in their CC they would die to ranged basic attacks should they ever miss a skillshot.

Second, mobility makes the game more volatile. Ever played Udyr against Ashe? You just slowly lose. Mobility allows for the sort of rapid turn arounds or engagements that can swing fights drastically in the blink of an eye. That is exciting and adds an element of unpredictability to the game. Lower mobility champion encounters often "end" well before one champion dies, because the outcome becomes obvious. 
Third, mobility limits the problem of fighter stacking. Historically, when the metagame shifted to low mobility fighters, it shifted waaaay toward low mobility fighters. This is because champions that crowd control their enemies in order to reach them are highly symbiotic. Mundo loves a Nasus Wither, because it allows him to gap close freely and spam Cleavers from melee. Nasus loves a Mundo Cleaver hit because it means he can close to Wither range with 100% certainty and from there he's tough to stop. When we give our melee champions mobility instead of CC, they all have to use their mobility skills to reach the enemy backline and so can be balanced to be satisfying and effective on a team that is otherwise comprised of ranged champions and can be given more specific synergies than "is melee". 
Additionally, I'd like to make a few observations about mobility. 
First, the game will always grow most in the directions it hasn't yet grown. This is almost a tautology. Our early designs tended to be relatively immobile. Our subsequent designs tend to be relatively more mobile because we want to give players novel experiences. Since mobility, and kit designs made possible by mobility, were not well explored on release, it is only natural that we would flesh that area of design space out more fully as the game continues to evolve. We've also evolved the game in other directions including novel sorts of skillshots, new methods of casting, etc. 
Second, mobile champions do not actually crowd out non-mobile champions. We are currently seeing a ton of powerful but immobile champions dominating the scene in every position except the jungle (where wall hopping is currently highly favored). Mundo and Shyvana are arguably the defining top laners at the moment alongside highly mobile champions like Renekton. Orianna is the most consistent mage since we nerfed Karthus earlier in the season (and Kayle will likely be the next dominant mid), alongside the mobile Gragas/Kassadin. Draven, Jinx and Sivir, who have MS boosts but not dashes, are dominant AD carries, alongside Lucian/Ezreal.

Finally, I would note that we are hopefully getting better at implementing interesting mobility skills. We try now to gate movement in ways that create gameplay for the opponent. Jinx is slow as molasses, until the first kill. Yasuo is a flurry of motion, unless you isolate him from your minions. Rengar has infinite leaps, but only near brush. Even in the domain of free target dashes, we have consistently upped the counterplay to dash abilities over the past year. The most obvious recent examples are Vi, Zac, Lissandra and Aatrox, who all have a special animations/cast paradigms to allow for clever enemies to CC them out of their dashes."

CertainlyT on Zyra

Stemming ( get it? I'm so clever ) off a discussion started on the Yasuo thread, CertainlyT also took some time to talk about the state of Zyra and what role she fills on a team:
"I promised to answer Zyra questions in another thread so I'll preemptively address some concerns I have heard from players over the past few weeks: 
1) I feel Zyra is a powerful champion -- she has best in class counter-engage and near best in class "unique utility" in the area of vision (seeds and plants) and early objectives (plant tanking), supplemented by potent offensive poke potential and a skillshot gated offensive lock down + kill combo. 
2) I am happy to have a Zyra on my team in either the duo lane or in mid. She's more generally powerful as a support but definitely still works mid, just not as a blind insta-lock. 
3) Duo lane Zyra should still feel like a mage, distinct from "pure supports" such as Soraka and Sona. At present, I feel like a control mage when playing Zyra in the support slot, which is proper and fits with both our day 1 design goals and our present vision for Zyra as a champion.  
4) Spellthief's Edge-->Frostfang is just underpowered at the moment. It's the perfect item for duo lane Zyra, but just isn't carrying its weight. When balanced, Zyra's gold flow should be improved and her strengths, both within and outside of laning phase, should feel more pronounced. 
5) Annie is crowding out a lot of mage-style support play at the moment. She's too powerful, too early, just as Zyra was 6 months ago. Hopefully some of our pending tweaks should bring Annie more in line and increase the frequency of play of our roster of non-tank supports.
6) To the extent Zyra were to be buffed in some hypothetical future world, I think her mobility (base MS) and mana costs (while wave clearing) would be the best places to start, but we are not thinking about buffs at the moment because of the aforementioned points. 
7) Finally... 
a) Zyra will always have an element of niche appeal for a number of reasons, most prominently: Her E, Grasping Roots, is so tremendously powerful that players interested in other elements of her kit will find her unappealing. Additionally, as an extremely fragile long range mage players who like having outs when they get themselves into bad situations will become frustrated while playing her. 
b)Real talk -- Zyra is not the most well designed of champions for some very core reasons. Two examples: Plant damage will never feel as powerful as it truly is due to being a long duration damage over time; Her plants are insufficiently differentiated to let the player feel that they are consistently improving their spell use as they play her. It's important to be honest with your own work, and this is something I just have to live with as her designer. In the long run, we may make efforts to resolve some of these, but it will not be easy since they are deeply baked into the kit and I might not be the best person for the job (though I would like to spend some time on it at some point down the line). 
c) As a result of these, even in a state of balance, a lot of people will subjectively feel that Zyra is weak. If you feel as if Zyra doesn't offer a lot to her team, is incapable of dealing damage, or just lacks the tools to succeed, it's entirely possible that Zyra just isn't the champion for you. One of the most unfortunate aspects of her being over-tuned on release is that players developed an attachment to her for reasons that were not long-term sustainable and as such feel weak when the champion ends up being balanced. 
I'd argue that Rumble and Sona are other examples of this pattern: champions who likely should have niche appeal (melee DoT mage and passive aura dispenser) but who become widely played while overpowered only to feel lackluster when balanced.

Anyway, if anyone has questions, I will be around periodically for the next hour or so."

When suggested that Riot buffs Zyra's health, CertainlyT replied:
"Zyra's fragility is an intended weakness. She's a long range poke mage who, when properly played, forces the enemy to deal with her plants as well as with her. If an enemy can close the gap, they deserve to deal substantial damage to her. If she lacks the tools to stay safe, I'd prefer to buff those tools rather than her raw durability. That's why I mentioned base MS as a hypothetical area we'd look at when hypothetically buffing her, hypothetically. Did I mention you should not run around quoting this thread as a promise for buffs?"

CertainlyT also commented on how Zyra's plants target enemies, replying to someone who suggested they function more like Heimerdinger's turret AI -
"I strongly disagree with the Heimerdinger approach. Having plants automatically attack your opponent in response to them taking offensive actions against you is not something that we'll see on Zyra while I have a role in her development. Players should succeed based upon their actions not because the game casts spells or performs actions for them. Learning to control your plants should be an important part of the process of mastering Zyra. At present, I think it lacks sufficient visualization for the player to improve in this area. That's definitely something I would like to improve over time (small steps so far)."

On Zyra's plant's proccing item effects, he commented:
"I really like how Zyra's plants can apply spell hit effects like Liandry's. It differentiates them from some of our other pets and makes them feel like they are an extension of Zyra herself. We were able to do this because her plants are low durability and finite lived. In iterations where they didn't strictly meet both of these criteria, spell hit effects were frustrating and absurdly powerful."

When asked why Zyra - a powerful, long range mage - has such a short cast range on her ult, CertainlyT commented:
"Because her ultimate is a counterengage tool. Zyra and her plants poke you to death with the threat of rooting and knocking up enemies foolish enough to wade past the plants to her.

As to plant durability, I think it's in a great spot with the notable exception of AoE DoTs, such as Anivia's R, Singed's poison, or Miss Fortune's Make It Rain. Plants die way too fast to those. We need to design a system to differentiate those from single target DoTs and single application AoEs that can be implemented at reasonable cost and which doesn't impose excessive burden on future designers. I'll work on that!"
Continuing on her ult, CertainlyT replied to someone asking about the attack speed increase her plants get when hit by it:
"I think a better approach would be to re-think the attack speed increase and replace it with a more noticeable and satisfying damage amp. That would also give more flexibility since AS is frustratingly non-linear when given to finite lifetime pets. Zyra also uses our scripts to control her plant AI and that limits us to 0.25 second intervals so making small changes to plant AS is not possible without doing some bad things (like sending your client a ton of extra network packets)."

He also commented on Zyra's passive, noting that improvements to the targeting / functionality could be made with newly developed script:
"No, the present functionality is suboptimal. I should go back and fix this now that I am less of a scripting noob. We also have some new technology that Xelnath made for the Xerath rework which could prove helpful here."

Finally he commented on why some champions are classified as "niche picks" when "non-niche" champions are allowed to generally be more powerful:
"Good question! A few answers: 
1) In terms of gameplay niches, I think having generalists and specialists is fine, provided the reward for playing a specialist in the right situation is high. I'd point to Brand as a generalist mage -- decent CC especially post-Rylais, good laning phase (1v1 power), great team fight aoe damage (where mages typically excel). That doesn't make Brand a bad design. 
2) However, most champions should excel uniquely in an area or two. We certainly have some champions that are too generally powerful at the moment. It's a delicate process though, because our Live team wants to make the right changes as so typically does not rush to action before thinking about the champion's kit as it fits the game.

3) It's easy to feel like a champion is a generalist when they are just an overtuned specialist. Zyra is a good example of this. She was always clearly at her best when counter-engaging or supporting an engagement with follow up CC. She also happened to offer so much damage that you couldn't trade with her profitably in other situations. This means that trimming a bit of power can in some cases go a long way toward letting a champion stand out for their distinct strengths."

Meddler Quick Hits- Diana, Akali, Zed

Meddler commented quickly on what he personally thinks about Diana, Akali, and Zed's currently balance state:
"Note: Personal opinions only here, not necessarily representative of the live balance team. 
Zed I feel's in a pretty good spot. He can be really effective when used well, offers some good opportunities for skilled play and, after the recent set of changes, has better counterplay too than previously. He's not must pick or ban anymore and goes well with some, but not all, team comps/match ups. 
Akali I feel is actually in a pretty strong spot right now, particularly with the removal of Oracles giving her W a bit more power in many circumstances. Bit surprised we're not seeing her as a really strong pick at the moment, gut reaction is that that might be more due to the current trend towards somewhat tankier comps than any issues on her part.

Diana could do with a more defined niche I feel to make her a more attractive pick sometimes, but not all the time. The combination of some tankiness, a hard CC and potentially multiple gap closers makes her really challenging for a lot of champions to deal with, so just adding raw power to her creates some issues as we've seen in the past. Could be a good candidate for stronger strength in one regard and a compensatory weakness somewhere else. Not something I've put much thought into though so that's just an off the top of the head comment."

Two Taunts; One Kit

Meddler also fielded a question on if a champion could have two different taunts on his kit and not be toxic in design.
"Wouldn't personally consider it inherently toxic, whether it's good design would depend on what reason you had for wanting multiple taunts (as opposed to other CC types) on the kit though. Taunts give you varying effectiveness against different roles, less effectiveness when doing poorly, the ability to somewhat reposition the target and increased accessibility to effects that trigger when your champion is hit. If it's appropriate that a champion doubles up on CC that fits those criteria (and almost certainly some others I'm forgetting) then sure, two taunts might be a good choice. Not something I'd expect to be a common situation myself, not an inviolate 'never do this' rule though."

Fastest Skill Shot

When asked what the current, fastest skill shot in the game is, Meddler noted that he believe's it is Jinx's Zap.
"In terms of speed the missile travels at off the top of the head it's probably Jinx's W (Zap) which from memory's around 3200. Zap does have a noticeably longer than average cast time though, so in terms of time from button press to an average target distance some of the other fast skillshots will be around the same effective speed."
Meddler also noted that both Anivia's Q and Lissandra's E are the slowest:
"Far as I know yes, both it and Lissandra's E have a speed of 850 units/second."

Ricklessabandon on what he's been up to

ricklessabandon jumped into a thread regarding some future Irelia work, addressing a summoner commenting he doesn't feel summoner's would have much say in a thread on any updates she might receive.
"regardless of whether or not we make changes to a given champion, i don't think anyone is going to stop you from discussing those changes as long as you aren't breaking any rules and are relatively civil about it. just treat each other with respect and you'll be fine. :3

if what you're asking for is a discussion thread with a lot of involvement with the developer working on potential irelia changes, that's completely up to the developer that ends up working on her. in any case, i don't believe anyone is working on her at this time—i think she's a bit further down the line."
When asked where he's been lately, he replied:
"part of it is being busy, the other part is that a lot of my work has been on bigger projects that don't lend themselves to general conversation (i.e., not many people are chatting about the stuff i'm directly working on).

once season 4 stuff is all wrapped up i'll be able to work on moderate size projects again, which would include champions like galio, irelia, et al that need more than a small number adjustment or two."

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