[Updated] Red Post Collection: Meddler discussing preseason & more S4 changes that are still on the way, Balance, Reworks, and more!

Posted on at 10:33 PM by Moobeat
[Major Update ] Added in addition posts with Meddler sharing this thoughts on Ashe's role on a team, testing Kog'Maw's Q as a skill shot, a future Zilean rework, the future of Wriggle's lantern, some upcoming balance changes in the next patch, and EVEN more!

Tonight's red post collection features a smorgasbord of posts from Meddler, including discussion on preseason changes, updates additional S4 changes we've heard about but not seen yet ( such as rune and summoner spell changes ), upcoming nerfs to Spirit Visage and Sunfire cape, what happened to the "fighter project", why Sion needs a rework, and much, much more!
Continue reading for more information!

( Note: Tried to group these up by topic / theme. This is a long one! )

Preseason and Still to Come S4 Changes

Meddler kicked off the discussion by noting there are upcoming adjustments to the League system, commenting on the whereabouts of the preseason rune changes, and his thoughts on the current state of the blue trinket:
"We do have some adjustments to some of the details of Leagues coming. I don't believe we've discussed the specifics yet, should be doing so just before the soft reset that kicks off the new ranked season. 
Rune changes are something we're still investigating, no guaranteed changes yet (though we may try out some experimental stuff on the PBE at some point).

Blue trinket wise we're currently happy leaving the trinkets unchanged for the next patch after buffing both blue and red in the previous patch (reduced CD on red, increased range and a reveal effect added to blue). Blue's not a common pick at present, and is being watched as a result. A perfectly even split of usage between the three trinkets isn't one of our goals though - yellow's a good general pick, blue by contrast's a more situational/champion dependent choice."

He also commented on the previously mentioned  changes to the start of the game ceremony for Summoner's Rift that we didn't see implemented in the preseason patch:
"Still planning to. The idea we had was to do a Dominion style enclosure at the shop as well, to put those slower loading into the game on even footing, and then give everyone a homeguard style buff to get out into the map around the time they previously would have. That tested well so now we're looking at getting the art assets that would need."

As for the preseason changes to summoner spells that never made it to live serves, he commented:
"We're testing a revised set of changes at the moment. Initial changes showed some promise, but also had some issues hence they weren't part of the Preseason changes. Not yet clear if our newest revisions will hit the mark (so definitely no changes in the next patch at least)."

Xelnath also popped in to elaborate on the rune changes:
"We still have a pretty comprehensive rune plan, but there's a lot of side-effects that need to be handled, technology that needs to be properly supported and teams to communicate with. 
I'm afraid I'm not on the pulse of runes, but the rune changes won't be happening before the professional season launches. We're letting people know so they are aware of what to expect. Giving you more internal details won't change that. Sorry, these situations suck - we try to only promise what we can deliver on - but in this case, things got complicated and we missed the mark. 
I take the responsibility for not nailing these details down during preseason. I am sorry."

Item and Mastery Discussion

When asked about his thoughts on the defensive tree beefing up tanks a little too much, he commented:
"The defense tree's probably still too strong at the moment, we'll be looking at that. Nerfs to Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage in the upcoming patch will reduce the power of many of the champions benefiting the most from those masteries though (Mundo and Shyvana for example) and how heavy an impact that has is something we want to take into account when assessing said mastery tree."
He continued:
"We feel the changes to Sunfire Cape (damage scales by character level, lower compared to the current values pre level 15) and Spirit Visage (10% CDR instead of 20%) are appropriate changes regardless of whether the current defensive masteries are or aren't too strong."
He also elaborated a bit on those upcoming Spirit Visage nerfs, explaining why it needed to be tone backed a bit:
"Two things. First off is that Spirit Visage offered such an attractive package of effects that it became a must buy on a lot of champions, while at the same time removing a lot of the play around CDR. Ideally cooldown reduction versus other stats should be a choice - do I want more casts or stronger casts/stronger auto attacks/defensive stats etc? How much that trade off exists/matters is also designed to vary between the different roles (e.g. mages are intended to get easier access to CDR generally than bruisers, in part because they've got much less to do while their abilities are down).

The second thing's simply cost versus power. Lot of attractive stats, especially when bundled together, for that price. On those grounds we felt removing some power was needed. The regen/healing boost's the distinctive part of the item, so we wanted to leave that untouched, and the health/MR support that since they help you live long enough to actually benefit from non instant healing/regen effects. Between that and the above point the CDR was the thing we felt should be changed."

As for the balance of support items introduced in the preseason patch, Meddler commented:
"The Live Balance folks are looking into that at the moment. Definitely won't be changed in the next patch, support item balance is something we'd like to try and tune in the early part of the year though."
Xelnath continued on this point, mentioning one idea they are toying with for Frost Queen's active:
"Even after everything that went really well in preseason, I needed a huge break. A lot of stuff has gotten sorted out and I'm excited about some of the changes on the horizon - but now other people own them and should share them as they feel appropriate.

I will throw out one piece I think is worth thinking about - we're looking to improve Frost Queen's active. We're playing with a longer ranged skillshot missile, instead of the medium-short range instant aoe. Assuming the base item is also brought to an appropriate level, would you guys feel better or worse about that model?"

Meddler also fielded a question about the state of Wriggle's Lantern, saying:
"Needs some help. An additional upgrade tier, to something you want more late game, is one of the options we've been talking about, not sure if that's the direction we'll go though. Solcrushed's a good one to talk to about jungle items - I'll ping this thread his way."
Solcrushed jumped in later, adding:
"Regarding the lantern: 
The new Wriggle's was always intended to have an upgrade, which has unfortunately been delayed for a while now. The item's premise will remain the same: a early-mid power dip in exchange for power later on, only it will actually have a power spike later.

As for ETA I can't be too certain, hopefully it will not be too far out."

Balance and Upcoming Changes Discussion

When asked why balance changes usually tend to be nerfs instead of buffs, Meddler explained:
"Our goal when balancing in LoL is to keep the average power level the same. Only buffing leads to a situation known as power creep, where you end up in a constant cycle of buffing to catch up to the buffs you just added, making stable, balanced elements impossible. This extends not just to champions, but other game elements too. 
For example, if we only ever buffed eventually we'd end up with champions across the board who just ignored towers throughout the game, as we kept adding power to all of them to catch up to whoever was the strongest. So, we'd have to buff towers. That would then leave minions unable to do much against towers and, since minion damage is meant to chip away at lanes, we'd have to buff minions. That would leave jungler monsters too weak relative to lane minions.. etc etc. Very much a simplified example, you get the idea though.

Efficiency's also a secondary reason - if one champion out of 117 is far too strong why go through the disruption of buffing 116 rather than just bringing the one down to an appropriate level?"
He continued:
"Nerfing a currently dominant pick down to a more balanced spot may reveal other other powered cases, agreed. Identifying those and looking to address is definitely valuable, uncertainty as to the exact nature of the future top tier isn't reason to leave problems unaddressed though. I'd argue instead it makes a good case for prioritizing monitoring the effects of a change and following up if needed (changes to other champions, reverting the prior changes, compensatory buffs/nerfs if the changes were good but offset balance too much etc).

Regarding unchanged champions becoming overpowered or perceived as overpowered there are some other factors to take into account. Champions are balanced given a set of assumptions about the rest of the game (e.g. available items, masteries, amount of gold they can feasibly earn in the roles they fill etc). If those factors change then a champion's numbers/mechanics, that were balanced for a previous environment, may no longer be appropriate. If the changed factor is a good one for the game overall that means balancing to account for said factor. E.g. If, as a hypothetical example, we identified it was best to remove Grevious Wounds from the game then it would probably be necessary to nerf some champions with strong healing effects who are currently kept balanced by Grevious Wounds."
He continued, discussing "power seep" and noting a few upcoming buffs and changes:
"Power seep, if happening, would be a concern just like power creep. If it was occuring you'd assumedly see things like champions gradually becoming unable to jungle effectively, fewer tower dives and slower tower kills, champions who haven't changed too much since beta (e.g. Tristana) dominating newer releases. I don't believe we're seeing power seep occur, can certainly understand how it can feel like it some days though - nerfs to champions you play suck, and can often feel more significant than equal power buffs (and definitely get more discussion/visibility). Additionally recently many of our buffs have been clustered together in large packages (e.g. Sivir rework, Ziggs changes a couple of patches ago), in contrast to nerfs that are smaller individual changes but in multiple sets.

Pretty much every balance patch does contain some buffs as well as nerfs though certainly, same team works on both. Anivia, Janna, Yasuo are getting some decent buffs in the next patch for example, with smaller or more situational power increases going to others like Darius, Malzahar and Talon."
Meddler followed up on the buffs for Darius, Malz, and Talon comment in a different thread, saying:
"Just to avoid creating high expectations the Talon, Darius and Malz stuff's all noticeable but small changes: 
- Better placement of Talon post Cutthroat
- Longer period to use the ult's recast for Darius
- Malz's ult now interupts charges/leaps in progress by the target"

As for some Kog'Maw love, he noted that they are currently testing Kog'Maw's Q being a skill shot with longer ranger than it currently has:
"We've just started testing a change that makes Kog's Q a skillshot, with much longer range than the current version, at the moment. The theory's that synching up his spell ranges a bit more should help make the Q a more natural feeling part of his play consistently. It's something I think has a lot of promise on paper, haven't had a chance to play it yet/against it in lane myself though, so can't offer any thoughts beyond the theoretical on it yet though."

Meddler also shared his thoughts on Ziggs and if he could use any tweaks after his recent rise in popularity:
"It's certainly nice to see him getting played, think he's a bit on the strong side though, gonna to look at bringing his power down a little in the patch after next (previous set of buffs added more power than we intended basically)."

Meddler also responded to someone asking for his thoughts on Ashe's balance:
""Why does Ashe, who has no steroid, only 1 AD ratio, and no on-hit damage, have terrible AD?" 
First thing here: Is Ashe's damage too low? Certainly, her damage output overall is low for an ADC. She does bring more utility than any other however so that's appropriate. If, for argument's sake, her damage output is too low bearing that in mind, is base stats the place to give her more damage or would spell rank ups or ratios be a better choice? Ratios give more effect from items purchased, spell rank ups offer power in a discrete moment that's both easier to appreciate and generally offers more opportunities for gameplay/expression of skill. Overall we feel her power's in a pretty good spot at the moment, so if we did want to add damage that would involve looking elsewhere on the kit to compensate for that added power. 
"Why does Ashe, who's the only ADC with no mobility at 325 MS and who's being outclassed in range more and more, have 325 MS when more and more champs get released with gap closers?" 
Here I'd have to disagree that Ashe is getting outclassed in range more and more. From beta onwards she's been one of the highest auto attack range champions, but not the highest, with strong poke, with decent but not the longest range, with a light CC attached that's easy to hit with plus a global hard CC ult. Her lack of mobility and movement speed reflects the amount of utility she brings and that she can contribute meaningfully from a fair distance, without being especially item dependent.
Certainly, Ashe does suffer, if not peeled for, against champions with strong engage (bruisers/assassins especially), so she's not a pick all the time champion. She's also not a good choice if you need a high damage ADC. She brings a distinct set of skills, is a favored pick by some competitive teams but not all, goes well with some team comps but not all, and moves in and out of favor somewhat based off which other champions are currently popular. On those grounds I'd argue she's actually a fairly good example of how a champion should be to give an interesting and diverse champion pool. I can't speak with any expertise as to her exact stats/power at present, the live balance guys are much more informed on that side of things than I am, I do feel her core design's reasonably solid however (though permaslow does create a few fighter health issues).

You mention you feel her kit has some serious fundamental issues beyond just numbers in your linked post. Is there anything particular in that line you'd like to discuss?"

"Fighter Project" and Reworks 

Meddler also commented about the previously mentioned "Fighter project" - a project aimed at reworking several of LoL's fighter champions to define the roles on a team.
"The fighter project turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than we'd initially thought, particularly as we found additional opportunities as we investigated the problems we'd already identified. It's still work we want to do, not necessarily trying to solve so many things in one go though (top lane game health changes will likely be somewhat decoupled from mid/late game fighter niche changes for example)."
When pressured for some examples, he replied:
"I'm simply not a good person to discuss top lane champs current power levels alas, hence my lack of responses to some good posts on Irelia/Fiora/etc earlier in this thread/linked earlier. It's not a role I play enough personally and, not being on the balance team myself, I can't pass on our resident experts' thoughts on them off the top of the head either.

Irelia's definitely someone we'd want to make some ability changes on (possibly just a mini rework, like the upcoming Skarner changes, possibly something bigger) as part of our larger fighter work though, not just adjust balance numbers."

When asked if Soraka is up for any buffs now that the preseason changes have settled in, Meddler commented:
"Nothing in the immediate future at least. She has some pretty negative effects on the laning experience when she's really strong, so she's not a champion we'd be happy seeing as a dominant, picked all the time support. Not impossible that she'll get some small buffs at some point, we don't feel she's grossly underpowered though.

Soraka is a candidate for some bigger changes at some point (rework or mini rework). There are a number of other reworks, ranging from the small (upcoming Skarner changes) to the huge (Sion changes it's still too early to talk in detail about and will be for a while) that we'll be looking at first though."

Speaking of reworks, Meddler also took the time to explain why Sion is in needs a big overhaul to his kit:
"The AP build's the biggest issue. It really only utilizes around a couple of skills, one of which removes most of the counterplay from the other and it fails to deliver on Sion's thematics (giant hulking undead warrior with a brutal axe). Combine that with a passive that lacks gameplay, an ult that often doesn't deliver a high moment and has readability issues (who's getting the heal? How close would they need to be to get it? Was my ult really just an AS/LS steroid?) and is too binary r.e. its effectivness, without appropriate skilled play on the Sion player's part, and there's a lot of stuff we'd like to fix/potential to make Sion a more cohesive, distinct champion."

As for plans or details on future kit updates for Zilean, he noted:
"Zilean wise, yes, we'll likely do some work on him at some point. Biggest focus of that will actually be 'Can we do more with time mage as a concept?' For example, is there more opportunity for a skill that's time mage specific, and really thematic, than just 'speed up an ally/slow down an enemy'? It's a decent feeling skill that allows some cool plays certainly, but we feel we may be missing out on some opportunities to do cool stuff that wouldn't fit on other champion's themes. No specific plans yet, we'll certainly start chatting about direction once we've got something a bit more concrete, not just high level goals.

Some gameplay issues to consider as well too e.g. early bomb spam frustration given lack of counterplay, exacerbated by the fact he gets all or most of his rank up damage during the laning phase, itself something it might or might not be appropriate to change."

When asked if Galio is line for a rework, he noted:
"Nothing in the short term, another champion on the list for the moderate future (whether you'd call the changes balance or mini rework not sure yet)."

S4 Start and Next Champion

When asked if he could give us a more approximate date on when the S4 ranked reset will be coming, he commented:
"Apologies. Would if I could in a useful way, but patch release timing's not my area of expertise and has enough moving parts there's always risk of change until pretty close to release."

As for hints on the next champion, Meddler commented:
"Nothing I can share at present about champion 118 timing sorry, we generally prefer not to talk details about a champion at all until pretty close to their PBE release. 
We are definitely still planning to release a support champion in the early part of 2014, that hasn't changed.

R.E. concepts to explore - yeah, zone control's got a bunch of untapped potential, I'm pretty convinced casting from offset locations (Lulu's Pix/Zed's Shadows) also has a bunch more that could be done with it, some of which overlaps with zone control. Clickable objects like Thresh lantern offer some interesting opportunities too, though wouldn't want to overuse them. Would also love the chance to play around with some more global/semi global effects at some point, see if we can solve some of the issues things like Shen's ult create, while still offering that sort of experience and the reward for global map awareness like that."
He continued, commenting on the rate at which Riot puts out new champions:
"Our current new champion production rate's similar to that of 2013 and we don't have any immediate plans to change that (so roughly a new champion every month and half to two months depending). That's in large part because we've shifted some of our focus to other things, champion reworks and visual upgrades in particular, something we started doing around mid 2013. There's a lot of value for the game in upgrading the visuals on those older champions and in getting their gameplay/balance into a good spot, not just in adding new champs to the roster, hence some shift in focus."
Xelnath also commented on our next champion, teasing:
"I'm a little sad it's premature to start hinting at the next champ. I've been eyeballing some amazing puns for when the time is right. Since you guys will read way too much into everything I say, I'll try to remember that silence is golden and all of the cake in this post is a lie."

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