[Updated] Red Post Collection: Preseason 2015 Experimental Jungle Changes

Posted on at 11:38 AM by Moobeat
Following yesterday's announcement of upcoming experimental preseason changes coming soon to the PBE, Fearless and Axes have posted up an overview of the experimental changes to the jungle!
Continue reading for more information!

Here's the initial post from Fearless and Axes:
"Hi all!

Riot Fearless and Axes here to talk about our goals for the jungle. In the 2015 preseason, we want to improve strategic diversity: both in which champions can get played in the jungle andwhat different options each one has.

This season, a jungler’s perceived strength is largely tied to their ability to gank. While there are those who are functionally better at clearing / counter-jungling / objective control than others, the impact that ganking junglers have can really overshadow other strengths.

To explain more: slow, health-focused junglers quickly lose their advantage after their first purchase because there’s so much sustain built into tier one jungle items. Objective-focused junglers rarely have the opportunity to flex their muscles when a ganking jungler can kill a lane and then take the objective with less risk. Finally, I’m sure all of you remember when we introduced Feral Flare to support heavy farming junglers, but quickly toned it down after release. It was here we realized we needed a larger suite of changes to make these different strategies actually viable, and we’re hoping that this preseason will be our opportunity to do that.

So what’s all this mean?

First, we’re going to be increasing the number of objectives for junglers to take and control, with the goal of giving them more tools to set up plays in a game. We’ll be testing a concept where each camp gives an extra reward when Smite is used on it, with rewards like counter-jungling protection, increased lane safety, or increased vision control of the map. These mini-objectives should create more variance in jungle routes while also leading to more jungler vs. jungler interaction.

Second, we’re planning to increase the base difficulty of the jungle. Up front: this does make the jungle a more complex place (especially for those new to it), but this is something we feel will be necessary as we continue to promote real diversity in the position. Ultimately we want to create a world where a player can pick up Xin Zhao, Warwick, or Hecarim in the jungle just as easily as they can find a place for Elise, Lee Sin, or Kha’Zix. By increasing the durability and damage of jungle camps, junglers will start to value a wider array of strengths. Jungle clear speeds end up having greater differentiation and gradation; area-effect vs. single target, sustained vs. burst, etc, where previously most had enough power to take any camp with similar, minimal costs. The balance between healthy jungling and fast jungling becomes extremely important as high sustain junglers can clear with less risk while fast junglers have the potential for big payoffs alongside higher chances of disruption.

Changes to the the jungle, however, are only half the story. To talk about jungle items, we have Riot Axes:

Right now, jungle items are almost entirely role-based - you’re a Fighter, you want Spirit of the Elder Lizard. There’s a little bit of flexibility, but you’re pretty much buying your baseline clearing power plus the stats you want most later in the game.

In the 2015 preseason, we want to overhaul jungle items to support all sorts of different playstyles. These new items will be oriented around how you want to specialize as a jungler rather than what kind of role you’ll fill later in the game. Your jungle item choice will give you more power as a ganker, say, or more incentive to invade the enemy jungle to steal camps.

Our hope is that some junglers might use these new items to ‘double down’ on their pre-existing strengths while others will use them to shore up some of their weaknesses. In the end, each will have to make a tradeoff. The premiere ganker who also buys ganking jungle items might run into trouble when being counter-jungled, while the jack-of-all-trades might have extra difficulties in a 2v2 gank against their specialized opponent.

Items also matter for the late game, of course, so we want your jungle items to upgrade into powerful and unique items that matter. We’re currently exploring an enchantment system - similar to that used on boots - with enchantments providing the late game power that you can expect from a real item without compromising your meaningful choices of jungler strengths.

Bottom line, we want you to be able to opt into the jungle strategy that best suits you and your team before then customizing your items to fit your champion later in the game. We want to make jungling more engaging by offering you real choices in how you go about taking camps, purchasing items, and punching /slapping /stabbing /smashing /anchoring /biting /draining /ponying /burning /puncturing /clawing /kicking /hugging your enemies in the face.

We hope you’ll check out these changes on the PBE, and let us know if we’re heading toward that target."

When asked about the base difficulty of the jungle increasing and how it will play out for current junglers who currently have low pick rates, Fearless noted:
"The systematic changes are very likely to cause some champs to have real trouble clearing, and some champs to do too well. As we get further along and start to have more data, we'll be making champion changes if needed. 
That being said, we're expecting to see a lot more variance in the health and speed of junglers in their clear, especially in the cases of people who have crazy gank or team fight power."
FeralPony also added in:
"Part of the goal of the changes, along with the preseason changes more generally, is to give us better mechanics on the design side to adjust the power level of playstyles that are lacking. In regard to tank junglers specifically Fearless and Axes have a number of mechanics in place that can be used to assist "tanky" junglers as a class should they prove too weak or underwhelmin"

FeralPony also jumped in to comment on the itemization changes allowing players to choose their playstyle within the same champion pick:
"While this should assist the balance guys is making different junglers more accessible in competitive play (it's not nearly as bad as that in non-competitive), the changes ideally will also help junglers play differently even if you end up with mirror matches, since you'll want different smite rewards at different times, which also makes counter-jungling and the denial of specific advantages more interesting."

As for these changes versus similar goals from earlier seasons, Feral Pony noted:
"If you think back to the earlier iterations of the jungle at different points in League history different traits have been valuable. A long time ago sustain was king, if you didn't have Warwick or Fiddle levels of sustain you simply couldn't jungle. 
More recently we gave junglers a lot of sustain, to the point where basically any champion could jungle. This had it's pros as well as it's cons. One of the cons is that junglers started getting picked entirely for early game dueling/ganking power. - See Lee Sin, Elise, Kha'zix etc as both clear speed and sustainability were guaranteed. 
There are more examples of this (clear speed, early ganks, etc) and we feel there is a middle ground we can hit where more of these attributes are valued. Shifting up the difficulty of the jungle is meant to push us towards that "perfect center point" where more attributes of junglers are valued and differentiated. You might choose a jungler with fast clears to try to outlevel and carry into the mid/late game, while I might choose a jungler with strong ealry game to shut you down, or you could counter with a high sustainability jungler who is difficult to shut down/overpower. A live game is never finished so we won't hit this perfectly, but this is a large step the right direction."

[Fearless, Feralpony, and Axes are still commenting on the PBE boards so I'll be adding new red posts here asap!]

[Update #1 ~3:20 PM PDT]

When asked for some specifics on what to expect out of the item / enchantment changes, Fearless noted they are tentatively toying around with an item that allows players to smite other players:
"So, we don't want to throw out too many details, just because there are a ton of elements in actual flux, and setting the expectation that anything is for sure, or here to stay is a real risk when we release details. 
With the caveat that this could still get pulled, changed, etc., one of the new jungle items allows you to use your Smite on enemy champions. Still figuring out what effect is going to be (damage + slow, just a crazy slow, ???). Mainly just very excited about the patterns that emerge when Smite has more pulls on its usage so that Smite becomes a multidimensional choice."
As for more on the upcoming changes to jungler itemization, Riot Axes elaborated:
"The items will focus on your job as the jungler, augmenting the kinds of actions junglers need to take (invasion, ganking, etc). Can't promise no junglers will ever just disappear into their jungle to farm forever, but the items generally encourage you to take action, not avoid it. 
Now, a successful counterjungler on one team might mean relatively few ganks for lanes - but it will be because of another pvp match happening on the map (directly through combat or indirectly through camp stealing), not because the junglers aren't interested in participating in a pvp game until 30 minutes go by or anything like that. We are looking at ways to let control of the jungle translate into better ability for your laners to roam, but that kind of system would be pretty light and you would not see ganking at today's frequency."

Fearless also commented on champions  higher goals of the changes rather than champion specifics.
"We are likely going to see champs need adjustments do to these changes, but that's not actually how we're hoping to address the situation you talk about above. Consider that for Lee to do this, he generally wants to be equal or higher level, and also wants to be equal or higher health. If lee taking his first few camps has to chose between high health and the ability to clear fast enough to ambush at red, this becomes a more varied experience. It also helps if some of the camp rewards provide some safety against invaders, which currently a few do, each in a different way. 
For those worried about counter jungling being dead, you can steal this rewards as well, setting yourself up for invades. This requires a longer window of time in enemy territory, but we are looking to greatly change up the counter jungling patterns currently seen (or not seen) on live. 
We're trying to create the jungle as a system that provides the tools for the jungler to be successful, rather than being entirely defendant on their kits. Choices made in the jungle and actions taken have proven as important to a player's success in our tests so far. Can't wait to see how players feel when we get these changes to you all."

As for the Jungle becoming more complex from a game knowledge standpoint, FeralPony elaborated:
"There will be some increase in the barrier of entry. We are taking steps on the clarity front to help alleviate those concerns because it is something we take seriously but it's doubtful efforts here will mitigate the increased complexity entirely. 
First steps we're taking involve primarily tooltips and visual effects. The jungle monsters themselves in their tooltips describe the buff and bonus they grant. Most of the visual effects probably won't make the first PBE push but we're focusing on making those effects clear in function and effect when you gain a Smite reward. We're also focusing more on thematic ties for both objectives and itemization to make things a little more intuitive and logical. On the item front I think Axe and Fearless have done a good job clarifying the effects and use case for each of those as well."

As for a way to help players understand the increased complexity to the jungle, Fearless noted:
"These are definitely points we are watching as well. We are increasing the complexity of the jungle. One of the main areas we're still working on (as we start to find elements we are more confident in) is how to best communicate the changes and the overall model. The version that gets to PBE will likely be lacking in clarity, and should improve as we spend more time on PBE."

When asked if the rewards for smiting camps means all of the new camps will have their own special buffs, FeralPony noted:
"In some form or another yes. Though they'll be tied to Smite rewards not just passed out 100% of the time."

FeralPony also commented on the multitude of champions who can currently get by in the jungle but aren't necessarily fit for it:
I take it this means you guys would rather expand on the number of viable junglers within the existing jungler pool instead of introducing the option of giving champions who are not normally junglers, like say Darius or Katarina even, a chance to flex their muscles in the jungle.
Our general stance is less about who can and cannot jungle and more that is it acceptable for some champions to be unable to jungle. This current season the jungle was tuned around increased accessibility allowing anyone to jungle (although some jungled slowly and poorly they were still able to). If unusual champions work their way into the jungle it isn't inherently bad, and we'd evaluate that on a case by case basis. I'd be surprised if Darius or Katarina jungles caused any problems."

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