*NOTE: These posts have been updated to reflect our current preseason changes for patch 3.14*
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...
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 bonuses. 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 bonuses, 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:
- Ancient Coin grants gold every 10 seconds. When a nearby ally kills a minion, you earn gold.
- Relic Shield 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 Edge 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)