Red Post Collection: Plans for Gragas, Nerfs to Yasuo's Shield, Vel'Koz Discussion, and more!

Posted on at 4:13 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection features Meddler discussing Gragas, why it's taken so long to fix up problematic champions, Vel'Koz's mana costs, upcoming nerfs to Yasuo's shield, and the current plans for supports. You'll also find subninja discussing Vel'Koz and a heads up on the Vel'Koz reddit AMA that's scheduled for Feb 24th.
Continue reading for more information!

Recent News:

Meddler on Gragas, Delayed Kit Changes, Vel'Koz, and Yasuo nerfs.

Meddler took a trip down under to talk about Gragas and why changes to the kits of problematic champions are taking so long. Along the way he also explained why Vel'Koz's mana costs seem so low, briefly mentioned upcoming nerfs to Yasuo's shield, and noted the team is waiting on the new itemization changes to hit before tinkering more with supports.

To kick things off, he started what's currently happening with Gragas:
"Short version: 
We agree, Gragas does too much at the moment.

Longer version: 
We're tackling Gragas in two stages. The first, in the upcoming patch, is a reduction of a couple of his ratios, to tone down how much he can burst, particularly when doing really well. Given his mobility, tankiness and sustain top tier burst's not something he also needs. 
Over the somewhat longer term (underway now, but in the early stages) we're looking to rework some of Gragas' kit. Our thinking is that shifting him towards more of a tanky, drunken, AP brawler playstyle is a better spot for him and we're currently doing some early testing to see how that feels and what tools he then needs to function in such a role.

On a side note, why the aggressive post title? Always happy to chat and I don't think I've missed previous threads from you looking to talk about Gragas, my apologies if so. That sort of attitude can be rather offputting though when looking to drop by and chat in a few forum threads."

As for why changes for problematic champions - such as Kassadin and Gragas - take so long to release, Meddler explained the team is at fault and would be pushing out changes to address them while they work on bigger, more permanent fixes:
"Simply put, our bad. With both Gragas and Kassadin we've been working on significant kit changes with the goal of addressing some of their counterplay issues, while still keeping them fun and distinct to play as (something we're very much trying to focus on, rather than simply gutting a champion that's proving problematic). That's proven to be a bigger job than we'd initially expected however, and so they've been an issue for a while. As a result we're cutting some raw power off both of them in the next patch, not with the expectation it'll be a perfect long term fix, but as a way of taking the edge off the game health pain they can cause, while we continue to work on better longer term approaches for them."
He continued, elaborating on Gragas specifically:
"Gragas wise it's simply been a case of higher priorities. There's always more we'd like to work on than we can do at any point in time. In the past, while Gragas did have these same issues, addressing things like vision and support income for example have taken precedence over reworking his kit. At this point however his persistent dominance in mid lane has elevated him to a higher priority than many other projects. "

He continued the Gragas discussion, saying:
"All good, can understand the frustration at how long Gragas has been an issue, just wanted to touch on what helps start good discussions :)

What we change will depend on how well we find he plays as more of a sustained bruiser. Reducing his burst damage for example would make more utility and/or more sustained damage output (whether from his auto attacks or spells) an appropriate addition."

Meddler also commented on Gragas' barrel particle being frustratingly different from the hit box.
"RE area hit versus expected area hit at the very least we'll be making that clear in the longer term changes. I'll see if we can pull that stuff forwards though, no need to wait on that.

Not sure why Santa Gragas' Q is noticeably smaller, will talk to our VFX folks next week, see if there's any reason we can't just match the size of the normal barrel."

Meddler also commented on some upcoming Yasuo nerfs and explained why Vel'Koz has relatively low mana costs:
"If a champion lacks easily identifiable weaknesses, with a great response to most situations then it's likely they're doing too much. Yasuo for example does suffer from this a bit at the moment, the amount of tankiness his passive can offer in particular. Moderate squishiness is an intended weakness for him that isn't appropriately realized at the moment. As a result we're reducing his shield's duration a bit and strength late game in the next patch.

RE Vel'koz's mana costs his intended niche is as as a frequent casting poke mage. As a result while his costs look pretty low on paper he does still burn through quite a lot of mana, hence the mana cost testing and tuning. Given his lack of mobility/reliable strong CC it's not intended that he be as strongly mana gated as some of our other, safer mages - positioning, team support are bigger deals for him."

When asked about tuning for supports like Annie, Leona, and Thresh, Meddler replied:
"Our current priority for supports is following up on the new items we introduced late last year. The Frost Queen's line in particular's too weak, and Doran's shield is also too strong, both of which are major contributors to champions like Leona, Thresh and Annie crowding out traditional core supports in bot lane at present. Once we've got those items into a better spot (should be pretty soon) we'll see whether we also need to make some champion specific changes too. Gut reaction is we probably will want to look at Thresh, doing so with the appropriate context's important though."

Vel'Koz Discussion

subninja has been browsing the PBE community and responding to summoner feedback on Vel'Koz.

In response to a comment about Vel'Koz's ult having such high base damage ( 500/600/700 ) but a poor AP ratio ( .6 AP ) , Subninja commented:
"I can respond a bit (re: vel'koz) 
So for the R, the high base and low ratio is intentional. What we found from a ton of testing is that when he's ahead, it's really easy for him to get good ults off. Conversely, if he's behind, it can be REALLY hard for him to get ults off. The intent of the numbers here is that his ult should feel RELATIVELY similar in terms of impact, regardless of how well he's doing, since it requires such a set up. When he's ahead, he doesn't need a huge ratio-powered ult to kill people, and when he's behind, if it relies heavily on AP, it's a trap to use it. 
So that's the reason behind the R numbers. I don't think it's too crazy, since it is fairly straightforward to counter."

As for Vel'Koz's mana costs feeling very low, subninja noted that the recent 2/21 PBE update included a change to his E's cost:
"I did make a small change to the E (upped level 1 mana cost basically) - I think this will make casting E more of a commitment, and hopefully even him out a bit. I think given his unreliable abilities and "sustained damage" role, I feel it's probably okay if his costs are a bit on the lighter side."

Subninja also replied to someone concerned the explosion on Battlecast Vel'Koz's Q was a little too big and seems like an AoE explosion, which it is not.
"So the battlecast Q explosion, I agree that it's probably a bit too big. We'll take a look at it, but it may potentially happen a bit after launch."

Join the Vel’Koz reddit AMA on 2.24

As usual, the team behind Vel'Koz will be hosting a Reddit AMA on Monday the 24th!
"Vel’Koz’s arrival is imminent. In preparation for his ingression, we’re gathering some of the team responsible for his creation for a live reddit AMA this 2.24 at 11AM. If you’d like to learn about the monster who wants to learn about you, come along. Your participation is appreciated.

Learn more about Vel’Koz here:

Eye highly recommend you prepare some questions.

"What does it take to become a champion designer?"

Meddler, a lead champion designer himself, also replied to someone asking: "What does it take to become a champion designer?".
"A successful job application! 
On a serious note though, there are a bunch of skills/traits we look for for champion design. Some of the main ones are: 
- Strong analytical skills, especially the ability to dissect LoL and other games and identify how things function, secondary impacts, possible alternatives etc. 
- The ability to work well with a number of different disciplines (visual art, sound design, creative writing etc). Making a champion involves a whole bunch of people with different backgrounds and skill sets. 
- Creativity, both in terms of new ideas and in terms of ways of looking at things/solving problems 
- Good self awareness/self management 
- Communication skills, both written and verbal, with a focus on being able to be concise and structured when needed

Edit: On reflection that's pretty general stuff. If there's something specific you're curious about let me know."
He continued, digging a bit more into what sort of education is recommended:
"You don't need a degree necessarily and we do have a couple of people, including Morello as you point out, who've been successful in design without a university/college education. The sort of education you receive with many degrees (assuming a good programme, lecturers etc) though offers the sort of skills you want for a lot of game design work however, so there is a lot of value there. Also makes it a lot easier to qualify for foreign work visas. 
As far as type of degree goes we've got a pretty wide range in design at Riot, including various types of engineering (software, civil at the least), marine biology, law, economics, psychology and a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting. Really analytical backgrounds tend to be a particularly good indicator of the sort of skillset we're after, that's very much a generalization though, rather than a hard rule.

Welcome RE the Oce forums. It's always nice to chat with people from back home/that general area."

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