Ah summer. A time when the heat is sweltering, the kids are out of school, the wage slaves pretend their vacations don't suck worse than work itself did, and Hep C for all who vacation abroad.
A time when people realize "Wait a second, I haven't made a champion in awhile!", and decide to throw something together in half an hour and call the resulting cesspool of virulent half-baked ideas and poorly composed concepts "finished".
*Slaps a ruler on the desk*
Well we won't be having any of that around here! Oh, no we won't! You're here to learn how to turn that sludge heap you call a champion into GOLD! Alright, maybe not gold, it's pretty heavy and honestly silver looks better anyway, even if it tarnishes. Maybe gems? I dunno. I think I've long since passed the usefulness of this analogy anyway.
The point I'm trying, and likely failing miserably, to make, is that we can do better than that! Sure it's fun to make new stuff, and the tiny details can be monotonous at times, but honestly, it's for the better, isn't it? To have something that makes you proud to look back on it, rather than something which resembles the lunch you... deposited... from the E.Coli from that half-done burger down by the pier?
I'll just assume you want the former.
So, class is in session!
Today, we'll be discussing Purpose and Specific Roles.
Oooh, fancy title. It almost makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it? Yeah, I could totally go into marketing if I had that on a few powerpoint slides. Like nothing else for a presentation, just "PURPOSE" "AND" "SPECIFIC" "ROLES" as single words on each slide.
...Alright maybe not.
Anyway, first off we need to cover what purpose even is, and why you need this very early on in champion development. Often people will "finish" their design, then decide after the fact what it was they were trying to build, so this is kind of important.
Second on our "To-do" list, is to go over the importance of making sure the purpose meshes with everything else in the character design.
Third, we then will be discussing the differences of purpose from role. While similar, they're not quite the same, and both should really be developed individually.
Last on the list, we'll then be doing a bit of a once over on the concept of largest purposes in general.
Part 1: There's no escaping reason, no denying purpose, for as we both know, without purpose we would not exist. It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us, that binds us. It is purpose that defines us. ~Agent Smith, The Matrix Reloaded
So, what exactly is this "purpose"? Sure Smith ranted on and on about it, but he didn't do all that great a job of defining it.
In short, purpose is that which defines why you're here. Without purpose, your champion is going to turn out, almost guaranteed, a failure.
You generally want to start with an overall appearance and personality to your champion... essentially, build their "character" before anything else. This ensures they're at least interesting on a personable level that will draw players into them.
After you have a character, however, you then want to instill them with a purpose which suits them. This can even occur in the middle of their character creation process, so it's a little blurry here, but generally you don't want purpose first. It's true what Smith says; it can define you as a person.
The thing is, you don't want purpose to define your character. It leaves them bland and flat, one dimensional constructs that have no life to them. Kog'maw's purpose is to eat. Past that, Koggy just doesn't really have any real personality. Kog's stomach is all that matters, and nothing else has any effect.
For Riven, she's a warrior first, and a proud citizen of a pure Noxus. Her purpose is to reclaim that dream of a pure Noxus, and it defines her to a point, but she had a personality and such before that purpose began.
Now, this is describing purpose on a personal level, but not in terms of game mechanics. For that... purpose changes a little bit.
Kog'maw is listed as being "living artillery", and thus has a bunch of long ranged attacks which really hurt. The thing is, when you start a champion design by listing your end goals for them to have, you restrict them, refusing to let them grow during character creation. They get stifled, and rarely get the chance to grow to be more than they currently are.
Kog'maw had "stomach + food" added to purpose in character... but because the purpose of long ranged artillery had already been focused upon, it never really made it's way into the actual abilities and design as a whole.
If we take another example, let's say... Annie, then we see the two forms blended together fairly nicely. Annie's mechanical purpose is "nuker", but her personality's purpose is "Cute little devil girl", and as such, she's able to blend these two things together, such as through Tibbers being a fluffy adorable psychotic killer teddy bear. Adorable <3
You may notice I've listed two kinds of purpose here. Mechanical, and Personality. These are two things which both need to be addressed, and the lack of one or the other will lead to the design failing, such as how Hecarim has no purpose for his personality whatsoever, as he doesn't actually have one.
So, let's cover these both in detail.
Hello class. Class is in session. Please listen to the monotonous drone of my voice as I speak to you about the origins of tanks.
A "tank" is an MMORPG term denoting a character who is particularly difficult to kill, whose job it is to capture the attention of enemies and keep them away from squishier members of the group. The term "tank" itself, dates back to early WW1, back when it was still being called "The Great War". Tanks, the machines that were huge armoured beasts of war, were known by the code name for the project as "Water Tanks", to throw the enemy off of what the project was about. The name, oddly enough, just stuck after that point.
Alright, history lesson's over. I swear, the whole time I was writing that, I had that monotonous droning voice stuck in my head >.<
So, today we're talking about tanks. Yay tanks!
First off, we'll be going over what makes a tank... a tank... specifically it's the generalized purpose/role of a tank. This is a pretty broad definition, however, and as such...
Our second thing we'll have to cover are the specific things that are considered to be "tanky". There's a pretty good mixture of these things, and no one tank is capable of doing all of it.
Third on the list, will be the differences between the different types of tanks. There's actually a few of them, though often they just get lumped into "tank" in general, despite having different purposes on the battlefield!
The final thing we'll cover for the day, is how to make your own tank!
So, let's get started!
Part 1: Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword! ~Joke comic about a Warhammer 40,000 commisar in a Leman Russ. It looks an awful lot like this: http://i.imgur.com/Wbx63.jpg (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/redirect.php?do=verify&redirect_url=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FWbx63.jpg)
So... tanks. What really makes a tank anyway? Why do you even need a tank on your team? What advantage is there to having a tank over a team that doesn't have one?
Alright, calm down, that's a lot of questions to go through, so let's try to take them one at a time.
What makes for a tank? Well, the easiest way to describe this, that I can think of at least, is to define their purpose. The purpose of a tank, in LoL at least, is essentially to go out of their way to keep their squishier members of their team from getting killed.
That really is about all there is to it, and you'll notice that it's so remarkably vague of a statement that it It really covers "too much", to the point of being meaningless, now doesn't it?
I'll narrow it down in a bit, but we'll save that for a different section. For now, all you really need to know is that tanks are generally A: hard to kill, and B: good at making sure their allies aren't killed, either. Beyond that, everything else is a variation on a theme.
So... let's see the next question on our list. Why would you even want a tank on your team?
Well, this is pretty easy. Often there are a lot of rather high damage people running around. These high damage people also tend to be squishy as hell, to the point that if they don't have someone running up and taking the flak for them, they'd melt instantly, and then be useless to the team.
Back when LoL first came out, you generally had one big tank that would cover their whole team, or at least attempt to. In practice, it often didn't work so well, but fortunately heals were strong enough at the time to cover for the things they missed.
Since that time, heals have been nerfed over and over and over. They're literally less than 1/4 as effective as they used to be, so if you hate Soraka right now, she was insane before when she could cast twice as often for twice as much at half the cost and had an infinite mana bar.
It worked, however, at the time, due to there being lots of people with high damage and low health. You could burst a target pretty easily.
These days... well, the "tanky DPS" dealie of having high damage players going for very hard to kill builds, now means that they can take a little fire, and still dish it back out. This unfortunately means that high powered healing is no longer a viable option, because the old Soraka could literally keep an entire team up indefinitely these days, due to the fact that her team would be far, far harder to kill, and the enemies themselves would also be outputting far less damage due to also being tanky over the concept of a glass cannon.
As such, most of the time, these days, you'll actually find that, although at lower ELO rankings people love to build glass cannon, considering a 1:1 kill ratio good... at higher ELO rankings, they've realized that if you make the enemy run to base, and you don't die doing it, you gained proportionately more than if you killed them but died afterward in the process.
This means that a singular tank is still used often in low ELO, but that they simply can't cover for the fact that their healer now sucks in comparison, and people die a lot more than they used to.
It also means that at a higher rank of ELO, that you tend to get the entire team building fairly hard to kill, and it may not be worth it to even have a dedicated tank, as everyone's relatively hard to kill in the first place and doesn't need to be babysat any longer.
In short, the role of the "tank" is gradually being phazed out, along with the support role. Everyone's getting so homogenized in terms of damage and survivability that it's just simply not as big of a deal as it once was.
Does that mean tanks are bad to have? Of course not! It just means they're not as absolutely needed as they once were.
A "true tank", who has their entire kit dedicated towards doing the job of drawing fire and actually surviving it, still can be a great tool in your arsenal. Furthermore, since tanks are a lot closer to the difficulty to kill of their DPS than they used to be, there's not nearly as much frustration in attacking the tank instead of a damage player, since they both pose a comparable threat in their own way, and it's not so one sided on how easy they are to kill compared to their threat index.
Actually, let me take a brief detour here for a second, to cover a point that has been needing to be covered for ages, and one of which people still get hung up on.
A tank is intended to draw fire. Their job is to get hit in the face so that someone else doesn't have to. In some cases, this has been accomplished poorly, by making champions such as Rammus, where you don't get a say in the matter, due to taunt. Most of the tanks I see on this forum actually use a taunt, which is generally just bad form.
You also run into a lot of lower ELO players who insist "NEVER ATTACK THE TANK FIRST!".
In reality, the purpose of the tank is to be dangerous enough to the enemy team that they WANT to kill the tank, otherwise, at higher ELO, no one would ever attack a tank. And yet... they do. So why?
There's a lot of ways to do this, but here are a few examples of ways tanks piss people off enough to try to kill them:
I've been waiting to write about supports for awhile now!
Anyway, class is in session, and today we'll be covering... oh right, we just covered that part. Well, yay supports I guess?
So, first thing, before I even get into touching on supports themselves, there is something I want to mention in advance.
Supports have been slowly being phazed out of the game for about two years now. Each and ever patch, another round of nerfs gets handed out, the most recent set as of the time of this writing being whacking Janna, Alistar and Soraka over the head yet again. In return, Sona, Lux and Morganna got minor buffs to their offensive firepower, and Zilean got a bug fix which he should've had years ago.
Note the specific changes... reduced heals, reduced CC and so on, but stronger offensive capacity.
Time and again each patch, supports have had their capacity to support diminished substantially, and their ability to do damage gradually increased. Within the next year or two, at this pace, supports won't even exist, and the remakes that most of them have in the works will simply turn them into burst casters with slight support tendencies.
I could go into detail on why this is happening, but it's a rather intricate and complex situation relating to a shift towards bulk and low damage output over sustain and quick, brutal combat. In short, it'd take an entire article to explain in depth, and this is supposed to be about supports, so I'm going to just cut it off here.
All you really need to know, is that if you really want to make a support champion (yay, I lurves supports! ), then keep in mind that they're highly in disfavour at Riot at the moment, and probably are going to be phased out entirely fairly soon. This doesn't mean you can't make one, it just means you have to be aware that the game's overall focus is shifting and has been for awhile, so try to keep your new support caster working along the lines of the recent trend: more offensive power capacity, and far, far, far less team support. If you have a huge heal on your champion, it probably isn't a wise idea.
Anyway, enough about my lamentations over the death throes of the support class, let's get into learning about what makes them tick, and how to make them work within the changing game!
First off, we're going to need to define "support" before we do much else! It's a vague term that gets thrown around haphazardly, so this needs to be narrowed down considerably.
Second, we'll touch on a few of the primary ways that support champions tend to change the outcome of a game, as well as the goals they have in a little more detail.
Third, I'll go a *LITTLE* into depth on the reasoning behind why the current state of the game prefers offensive supports over defensive ones.
Finally, we'll cover where you should probably begin when making your own!
So, let's get down to business!
Part 1: It's time to get down to business, that's why they call it business socks! ~Flight of the Concords
Sorry, couldn't help myself. I was dancing too, to the business socks thing. A sight, which I might add, that no mortal should ever witness for fear of clawing their eyes out in shame. XD
Anyway, so what is a support anyway? People use the term all the time, but what really makes a support... a... support? Other than apparently working for the Department of Redundancy Department.
Well, to put it in basic terms, a support is someone who supports someone else other than themselves.
Alright, perhaps that was a little too basic.
The idea of a support is mostly focused around indirect benefits. Damage people, regardless of whether they're an assassin, a DPS, a burst caster, or whatever, do damage. The enemy players, the turrets, the nexus, the minions, everything in the game relies on killing them with damage. No damage means you physically can't win, no matter how good you are.
Supports work in the method that they don't really rely on damage as their primary method of changing the game's outcome. Instead, they rely on secondary and tertiary effects, such as stuns, knockbacks, healing, shields, debuffs, positioning changes and so on to indirectly benefit their team and harm the enemy team, so that the rest of their team is simply more effective.
This can show up in a multitude of ways, but in the end, a support pretty much is always relatively weak on their own, but strengthens their allies to be far in excess of what they would have been otherwise. The more allies they have, the more useful a support becomes. This ends up leading to supports being heavily disfavoured in Twisted Treeline due to the fact that they simply don't really have enough people to benefit to make up for their general weakness on their own self.
As you've probably noticed a few times now, I've mentioned that a support is typically weak. This is kind of a misnomer, really, as they really aren't. Often a support can take on people 1v1 in clashes you wouldn't even expect possible. Sona can faceroll Vayne if built properly, just as Soraka can make Veigar cry as she outdamages him with ease. They're not "weak" in the sense of being particularly ineffective, so much as they are simply less effective in 90% of situations when they're alone than almost any other champion type would be. Supports thrive when their allies are near, and can make their allies swell with power and strength, but are a bit lackluster when they're alone due to this.
Consider an aura; it's one of the primary tools of support champions, in that it benefits an entire team. On a single target, an aura is kind of pathetic, often not having enough effect to honestly matter for what you give up to get it. When you apply it to five people instead of one, however, it becomes brutally powerful, often being worth twice it's weight in new found power.
In the end, almost anyone can be played "as" a support, by building support items and playing them in such a way as to benefit their team more. Focusing on Ashe's slowing effects, or Lux or Morganna's shield + roots + puddles (Lux's Lucent Singularity is pretty much a puddle effect with how enemies treat it ) can make them act like support champions to a degree. Some are better at this than others.
Your end goal as a support is to ensure that you win the game, same as everyone else, it's just that a support does so through means other than just raw damage.
So what happened to the last few so-called "supports" to be released? We have Lulu, Orianna and Karma. Each of these were touted to be the next new awesome support! Each of them also failed miserably in living up to the name. What went wrong?
The biggest problem all three of these face, is that they require a great deal of farm and damage to do their job. They require hurting things constantly and pouring out the damage to be effective. Their overall "support" abilities are rather lackluster, barely above par for any normal burst caster, and they don't really live up to the damage of a burst caster either. They're somewhere stuck in between a true support and a mage, leaving them in a lame position all around as they can't perform either role particularly well. They're still fun, and they're effective in their own right, but playing any of these three as a full on 100% support is asking for trouble. It can be done, just not nearly as effectively as if you'd used someone more suited to such.
In more simple terms, they failed miserably at the two universal things that define a support: being weak solo but strong with allies, and indirect effects.
Lulu, for example, has a rather surprising amount of damage built into her design. This goes with the newer design philosophy that LoL's taking, but it's problematic from a support's perspective. All of her abilities have secondary effects which seem supportive, but she can make just as good use of them as anyone else. She has no real need or reason to indirectly benefit or buff her allies, as she does a perfectly good job of just killing stuff normally, and using her support style stuff as a secondary effect.
This goes with the other two as well. They simply aren't that effective as supports because their "support" spells are less effective when supporting someone else, than they are when they're used offensively to harm the enemy.
Annie has an AoE stun... does that make her a support? Not really, since she can do ridiculous damage output as well. Janna can do a slow, a knock up, a knock back, a haste, a shield, and an AoE heal, this does make her a support, but her damage is a bit low in comparison.
The difference between these two is that one is heavily slanted towards damage, and the other finds herself heavily slanted towards the indirect effects.
For someone like Lulu, although she has a lot of indirect effects available to her, she still ends up being far more leaning towards damage than indirect support. Same goes for Karma, which is why so many people have issues with her; she's great if played as an AP bruiser with some support capacity on the side, but unfortunately people view her as only ever being able to be a support simply because she has some support effects... she's a pretty lame support though, honestly.
Soraka has a lot of damage between starcall and infuse, but she's also very frail and unable to maintain starcall long enough to gain it's full effect generally. She can do damage, sure, but she's simply far better at not doing damage, such as how Riven's able to jungle, but why would you when she absolutely wrecks almost anyone who goes top lane? Yes, Soraka's adequate at damage, but she's terrifying as support.
In the end, a support is simply top notch in doing the role of a support, but not particularly all that great elsewhere. The last few "supports" have just been good elsewhere but only moderately effective as supports.
Trying to play them 100% full on passive support doesn't work, and they're not acceptable to be played any other way, so they mostly just languish in obscurity.
This leads to the next section, though. What is a support ability anyway, and what really differentiates Karma from Janna?
Part 2: I love having Janna on my team. She's such a great support that she may as well be a bra, which is probably why she doesn't seem to wear one!
So, there's a ton of ways that support champions can... support. It's that redundancy thing kicking in again, I know.
Anyway, supports have a wide range of tools at their disposal! More than anyone else, actually, since pretty much anything that doesn't fall under "does damage" or "makes the caster take damage", can technically be a support ability.
Let's start with some basic ones!
Heals: These are the most basic form of support spell out there, and the type most people think of when they think "support". If an enemy deals damage, you make the damage go away. It's simple, effective, and can indirectly turn a fight in your favour. Downside, is that it's also very powerful, especially if you can't burst down a target faster than they're healed. Back when LoL was released, insane burst damage was common; these days most higher ELO groups simply flat out don't have the firepower to burn down a champion being propped up by a pre-nerf Nidalee.
Shields: Almost as good as heals, but not quite! A shield prevents the damage from ever happening in the first place, which can save someone's life, but they're all imminently expendable. If the shield isn't used, it poofs, and all that damage absorption is lost. On the plus side, it means shields tend to be able to be a bit stronger than heals, to make up for the fact that, after a shield runs out, a nearly dead target is still nearly dead.
Buffs: What better way to make an ally more useful, than to make them stronger? Make them faster, make them hit harder, make them do a bunch of stuff better than before! This is such a wide open option that it can be used in a ton of ways! Most damage dealers have their own self-buffs, but supports can supplement those even further with additional buffs to go with them! The down side, is that a carry knows whether they need AD or attack speed or crit or whatever. A support won't necessarily help that much... Nunu's attack speed buff is insane, but it doesn't help Tristana out so much, generally. Movement speed is the most common support buff, simply because it's generically useful in almost all situations and for all allies.
Debuffs: If it's hard to help your allies with buffs that will be guaranteed useful, how about debuffing your enemies? Ah, that's more common, since you can generally assume an armour shred is going to make your AD carry smile, regardless of how they apply their damage. Urgot, Tristana, or Tryndamere all love a good armour shred, even though they each itemize wildly differently and would rarely get much benefit from the same buffs.
Crowd Control: This is a biggie. A support with strong CC can directly interfere with an entire team fight, as Janna just loves to show off at every opportunity. If they can't fight back, or can't run, then it doesn't matter if it was 5v4 due to the support doing weak damage; it's now 4v4. Oh and then the support knocked another one of them out of the fight, I mean 3v4. Suddenly, things are in your favour considerably.
Positioning: Several supports have abilities which make enemies either move forcefully (Alistar ), or which make a particular area just flat out unpleasant to stand in (Morganna ). Making enemies move out of position is a highly effective way of changing a team fight into your favour. If someone's forced out of range of the fight, or has to walk too close to your bruiser/tank, it can suddenly swing the battle 180.
Map Awareness: There's a few champions on the support role which can provide immense map awareness. Most of them are primarily damage champions, however, such as Teemo or Ashe, who just happen to have some support ability. That being said, warding is often left up to the support (it's everyone's job, but supports are ideal for taking additional advantage of such), and so is clairvoyance. Toss in some actual abilities for sight, such as Nidalee's traps, or Lux and Orianna's capacity to see into bushes, and you'll soon find that they can be a godsend for avoiding ambushes and ganks.
These are just a few of the tools that supports use. To be honest, many of the abilities that non-supports use still have support mechanics built into them, it's just that a non-support doesn't go far enough with the concept.
Great examples of these kinds of things are like Ahri's seduction, Anivia's wall, Graves's smokescreen, or if Sivir's spellshield could be cast on allies. Most of the abilities in the game can be used by a support to great effectiveness by simply allowing it to affect allies instead of a self buff, though as discussed, many buffs are less than ideal on a support.
Regardless, there's plenty of things to pick from, so feel free to get inventive!
Part 3: You maniacs! You blew it up! ~Planet of the Apes
Alright, so I've mentioned a few times that supports are kind of on the way out. I could discuss this for ages, but I simply don't have the time nor inclination to, as it's a brief period which may not even remain stable for very long. This depends on how they have the game go long term, honestly.
For now, the biggest issue is that the exceptionally high damage output, paired with exceptionally high healing caused people to explode instantly, only to be back at full health an instant later. This got to the point where there was practically no reason to build defensively, since you'd just explode anyway without your healer present, and wouldn't have much difference if they were there.
Lately, Riot has come to the conclusion over the last few years, that this isn't really all that fun to just mindlessly explode, and that it really makes it hard to squeeze in those clutch plays and really awesome high end skills being shown off. If you go from 100% to 0% without getting to interact with the game... well... it doesn't work so well.
So what does one do about it?
The method they've been taking, is to gradually reduce damage across the board, limit the effectiveness of chained CC, and to harshly drop off the usefulness of healing and sustain in general.
In short, they want you to take longer to kill, but for damage that's dealt to you to stay dealt to you, not to vanish instantly, leading to the necessity of burst damage to overcome sustain.
In some ways, this is great! This means that you get way more time to have fun playing your champion, and it's much more likely you'll be able to do your job without exploding into tiny pieces before you even get to move!
The down side... is that it pretty much is killing off the support class entirely, bit by painful bit. Healing and shields are bad, because it's wasted damage that didn't have any effect, thus "temporary". Support buffs to sustain are out, and so on and so forth.
To make matters worse, things like CC are far less effective than before; Janna used to be able to ensure 2-3 kills at her peak of power. Now... well, now you can't kill people instantly just because they're slowed or out of position for a second or two, usually. At lower ELO, sure, where people still try to go glass cannon, but the farther up in the ELO ranks you get, the more you'll notice that being out of position or stunned just isn't as bad as it once was.
Compounded yet again on top of that, things like positioning control is even less useful than it once was due to how much maneuverability has been added to the game. As of the day I write this, Jayce has been released. Movement speed buffs and gap closers combined lead to people like Janna simply being unable to escape. At one time, Janna could kite people all day, now there are people like Ahri or Graves who can chase her down with ease, no matter how much she spams spells to slow them down in their pursuit of her.
Overall, the changes are for the better, but older support designs simply aren't holding up so well under the changes, and will likely be converted over primarily to damage dealers within the next year or two.
That being said... there's still hope. A support can still have a massive impact on a team fight, without relying on things like sustain. Lulu's a particularly poor example, but she's kind of heading in vaguely the right direction.
The new emphasis for the support champions of tomorrow is likely going to be a focus on reducing the effectiveness of enemies. Spells which reduce a targets damage output, or which silence or otherwise limit mobility uses such as dashes, will be of great effect.
Note that CC in general just won't be as powerful as it is even today, since if you live long enough to escape despite being stunned for 4-5 seconds, due to low damage output and high survivability across the board, you'll just not get nearly as much advantage out of such.
Being caught out of position is still going to hurt, just not quite as much as it does today. As such, you'll probably want to still include some form of positioning control, such as Blitzcrank's grab (only do this is you have a way to keep them from killing your team when they get there, such as his knock up! Darius flat out SUCKS because of this, don't make the mistake they did with Darius! ), or puddle effects such as Graves' smokescreen which makes certain areas on the ground highly unpleasant to stand within.
Regardless of what you do, you're going to have to accept that the old days of heal spammers is dead and gone, and they're not coming back. Newer supports just haven't managed to capture the concept of what a support "should" be doing in this new change of pace for the game, and to be honest, it's not really their fault, considering virtually everything has been nerfed hardcore, from CC through to healing, anything a support used to do has taken a heavy toll.
For your own support, however, you can get around these problems, so let's see what we have for options!
Part 4: Meet the new support... her name is... VUNDAHBRAH. ...Why are you laughing? It's a perfectly valid name!
So, since the "old" support style of mass CC + healing is pretty much dead and gone, what's left?
Well... there's still some stuff left, and some which haven't been adequately explored all that well.
Consider things like Graves' smoke screen. I know I've mentioned it repeatedly, but it's for good reason; way back when, ages before his release, or even the announcement of Nocturne, I had a champion with a very similar ability. The idea was that allies could stand in this area of effect and attack while stealthed. Enemies, however, could walk into the area as well and see them, but at the cost of continually taking damage while within the confines of such.
Now that I look back on it, I think it was a bad idea, but not because of the invisibility effect; more so because of the damage. If enemies simply got penalties to armour and MR while in the area, it'd have to be an active decision for them to back out of range, taking pot shots as they run, or to run into range and take even more flak, but be able to hit back immediately.
Personally, I think it needs a lot more work still, before it'd be ready for use, but the concept of positional tools, where enemies have to choose whether to stand in a given area or not is a good one.
This is the kind of stuff that newer supports should be looking into. Spamming BIG HEALS AND INFINITE SUSTAIN simply isn't a valid option anymore with where the game's going. Sure it worked upon release, but it just doesn't work that way any longer.
Aim your new designs towards crippling enemies, such as resistance shreds, or amplifying the damage output of an ally. Consider the effectiveness of being able to toss a 30% damage boost on an ally for even a few seconds as an ultimate, or marking an enemy so that for the next 3 seconds all damage is increased against them.
Heals are going the way of the dinosaur, but damage is here forever. How much damage, however, is a bit of an issue, isn't it? If we assume that Riot's aiming for more health but lower damage, it means that they may sound like they don't really want damage boosts.
Damage in burst to kill, is not appreciated. Damage bonuses which simply allow a target to get harmed more for that "permanent damage" that they're loving so much, such as 20-30% boosts? Oh those are nice...
Consider an ability that cleanses all CC off of a target upon casting, with no travel time (or it'd be severely less useful), or an ability which increases a target's tenacity substantially while it's on them but has a very low recast and moves to a new target similar to Orianna's ball. It'd turn into a game of "who can we target with CC before the tenacity buff hits them first", leading to play and counterplay on both sides.
The idea, is that you're going to have to get substantially more creative in your support champions than you used to. Just slapping a heal and an AoE CC on someone won't cut it anymore.
To that end, there's still a lot of hope for the future, if you roll with the punches supports have to take, then you'll likely be able to make a far more interesting support than has previously been designed.
There's a paradigm shift going on in LoL right now, and yes, I'm actually using that term (almost ) correctly, unlike most managers ^.~
If you go along with it, and build a support champion that works within the new ideals, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised to find you have a far more interesting champion than you would likely have had otherwise!
Supports may stay, they may be phased out entirely. I honestly don't know which way it'll go, since, honestly, it depends on how well Riot themselves understand exactly what they're doing with the changes they've made. Considering their last few support champions, I'm not really sure they do, and they may be removing them entirely and will possibly just rework all the older supports into new damage casters.
You can still do better than this, however. Whether they see the path ahead of them or not is irrelevant. You now see where this game is going, and can plan out your next support champion appropriately, and hopefully, we'll get some really awesome stuff out of such! ^.^
Just... no more generic druids or other holy champions. Try to at least make something interesting, rather than every other "generic healer in any game ever".
Give me a champion that cauterizes wounds with fire, or a freaking dragon that breathes ash, clouding the air. If I see one more champion that's a generic holy priest healer, I think I'm going to scream XD
Anyway, that's pretty much it for today! Supports are shifting in nature, and you now have the knowledge of where the game's going, and what support's position will be in the near future. Now go make me an awesome support that matches these ideas!
ROAR IMMA SKEERY DEE PEE ESS! MAH E-PEEN IZ LYK ZOOOO MUCH BIGGAH THAN URZ!
Alright maybe I'm not that scary. I bet I could be if I tried though. Then again, I think I attempted back on the rage section and we discovered it may not have been the case...
Ah well, for now, let's just get to work, since class is in session!
And today we have... DPS / Carries! Aweee yea!
Oh, wait why's there a section separately listed for burst casters? Aren't mages carries?
Relax little grasshopper, all things shall be made known in time.
First on the list we need to define DPS carries. It's a bit weird, since you'd think this would be obvious, but after one of the recent MCCC(P!) contests, it became rather blatantly obvious that a lot of people here are a little fuzzy on the subject, so this seems like a good place to start.
Second, we'll go over what a melee DPS really needs to do their job well. There's only a few true melee DPS in the game, so pay close attention, since I've got very few examples to work with here!
Third, we'll cover the ranged DPS champions. Fortunately, there's a lot more of these, so it should be easier!
Finally, we'll touch on magical DPS champions. Currently there is... uhm... one. Cassiopeia's the only magical DPS champion in the game currently, since Rumble and Karma are more along the lines of magical bruisers, than anything else (I know, people peg Karma as a support, but she's more of a bruiser who just happens to have some support capacity tossed in). This one may take awhile to explain, so let's get down to business!
Part 1: Oh yeah? Well MY carry can beat up YOUR carry, so take THAT Taric! ~The real reason Taric became a tank/support hybrid.
So, what is a DPS/Carry anyway?
First off, just let me say that a DPS champion or a carry is pretty much the same basic concept, and I don't feel like constantly talking about both, so I'm just going to call them DPS, because I need to grill this concept into your people's heads!
DPS stands for Damage Per Second.
Note the "per second" part in there.
This is the lead reason why mages are almost universally not true DPS champions.
See... unloading 3000 damage in 2.5 seconds is great! It's just... when the next 10 seconds you manage to squeak out only a pitiful 1000 more, it means that once someone's survived your initial barrage, you're really just not that much of a threat anymore.
Carries are universally DPS champions. There's no real option in this. For you to carry a team, you have to be able to wipe out the entire enemy team if they don't focus you down and kill you first. To do that, you have to be able to maintain sustained damage over time that's in the levels of "Da FAQ just happened to my face?" and "OH GAWD IT BURNS IT BURNS MAKE IT STOP!".
A burst caster can unload 3000+ damage easy in a few seconds. A DPS is only able to do about 1000 damage per second on the top end, usually, but the difference is... 10 seconds later, if Veigar already blew his load, you may as well ignore him from that point on unless you have a clean shot. Master Yi, if built AD... well... if you ignore him you probably just lost the game.
When the burst caster ends their reign of terror, two seconds after it started, the DPS just keeps going on their little rampage, ripping stuff up because you can't stop them from killing things except for when they're either dead or stunlocked.
This is the key distinction between most mages and most AD carries.
Note that an AD caster, such as Urgot or Pantheon, are honestly more akin to burst casters, despite being AD, and that Cassiopeia, despite being AP, is clearly a DPS champion, and hence, a carry.
So long as you pour out the damage consistently, you're a DPS, and thus, have the capacity to be a carry.
Keep in mind, however, that there's more to it than just damage output. Why do you think you never see Fiora or Cassiopeia running around? Sure you do, on occasion, but it's honestly not that common, and for good reason. Let's go find out what they're missing that makes them not nearly as awesome as the others.
Part 2: Imma cut you so bad, you're gonna wish I didn't cut you so bad!
Alright, so you've decided to make a melee carry, have you? Good for you, skippy, get in line.
Nah, it's not that bad, but there are an awful lot of them on the forum. And an awful lot of bad ideas for them too...
Let's see what makes them work, however.
As any melee champion, as I've said over and over before, there's 4 main things you need:
Ninj like a pro baby!
So, now that we've set the mood... NINJAS!
Seriously, class is in session, and we're covering assassins. Not all ninjas are assassins, but are all assassins ninjas?
No, sadly not, but it'd be neat if they were.
So, let's see what we need to cover today!
First, we need to define what makes an assassin very... assassinyish... it's a real word! ...that I just made up...
Second, we'll cover the key differences between a standard burst caster or a DPS carry and an assassin.
Third, we'll go over what an assassin needs in their kit to do their job.
Finally, we'll cover some ways to make your own assassin design a little more interesting!
Now then, on to business! Or pleasure... can you have pleasurable business? Hrm. Business lunches... mmm.
.......Yeah, so assassins. Right.
Part 1: Secret... aaaaaagent maaaaaaan!
There's a man who leads a life of danger.
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger.
With every move he makes, another chance he takes.
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.
Alright, so assassins. They're... well, they're not all sneaky and stealthy. Some actually run right up into your face, like Poppy, so what exactly IS an assassin?
The main thing that makes an assassin an assassin in the first place, is they are specialized almost purely on killing champions, especially low health squishy ones.
The job of an assassin is to run in, completely slaughter an enemy target, and vanish into the night.
At least, that's the plan, in theory. In practice, things are a bit more difficult to pull off, especially in a team fight.
Overall, an assassin is a single target powerhouse. They can unload terrifying amounts of damage, on par with a burst caster, but more than that, they can also do so when you least expect it. Sometimes they use stealth, sometimes they just come barreling out of nowhere with an overly large grin on their face and a look in their eye that's probably not healthy to anyone who isn't a suicide bomber applicant.
The problems most assassins have, tend to be they're squishy, they lack for much in the way of CC beyond a set up to kill their intended target, they suck at farming, they suck against buildings, they suck in team fights, they suck mid-game onward, and generally are useless for virtually anything other than butchering a single target in rapid order.
There's exceptions to each of those rules, but the generalized point of the matter, is that an assassin does exactly what their name implies, and honestly, not a whole lot else, otherwise they'd be overpowered.
Early game is their forte, to hunt and track down isolated enemies, and tear them apart into tiny little pieces. From jumping a jungler in the middle of attempting to grab red buff, to a surprise appearance in another lane, an assassin just loooves to appear out of nowhere and make their target's health bar disappear like some twisted form of magic trick.
As stated, however, early game is their true strength, when the laning phase is still going on. As soon as people start bunching up into a tight ball, they become progressively more and more useless. For low end ELO games, not that big a deal, as people tend to either run around aimlessly or leave the group to farm solo (free kills for LeBlanc! ), but in a higher ELO game, you'll soon find after about 20 minutes in, no one's ever alone. EVER. There's no easy kills, and going even remotely near anyone means you get stunlocked and torn apart by their entire team due to how dangerous a threat you pose to their support and carries.
Such is the life of an assassin; life hard, die young, and leave a good looking corpse. Your goal is to kill the enemy team so hard and trounce them into the ground that they give up, or are so underfed that your team is heavily advantaged mid game, and hopefully never makes it to late game.
The longer a game drags on, however, the weaker assassins become. Their power is all in their upfront early game burst and harassment, and after that, they tend to become remarkably lackluster.
So... now that we've covered what an assassin is, why is this really so different from other, similar damage dealers?
Part 2: MY FACE! MY BEAUTIFUL FACE! YOU MELTED IT RIGHT OFF!
The two main other damage dealers in the game are DPS carries, which we've discussed, and burst casters.
So... what makes an assassin so much different from these two?
Why, I'm glad you asked, self! (This would be easier with a live class to ask questions >.>; )
As we've just covered with the DPS carries, they pour out consistent, continual damage output. Their primary role is to constantly just keep hitting over and over, anything and anyone that gets near them. You give them items, they give you wins, because nothing's left standing after the carry's through with them.
The assassins... well, they're bursty. Very, very bursty, at that. Their goal is to make that soft squishy carry that built glass cannon simply vanish before they can be a threat. If two carries kill each other, no benefit to either team; if an assassin kills a carry, then dies in the process? Their own team's carry is still up and cleaning house, with a much harder counter.
The biggest difference, really, is how they apply their damage, and to whom. In most cases, carries have some AoE effects, and some single target damage output, with some defensive tools to keep them alive.
An assassin simply goes nuts on an enemy's health bar and makes them disappear before they even get a chance to fight back. LeBlanc is a great example, in that she's an anti-caster specific assassin, whose specialty is in making a mage be ground to dust instantly before they can fight back. Ideally, she'll have them silenced before they can toss up their defensive abilities, and dead before it wears off, and then she'll escape.
Note that a carry has tools for avoiding people attacking them. An assassin is similar, but a bit different; they have tools for getting into combat and slaughtering someone, and their "escape mechanic" tools are specialized towards escaping the rest of their team after they a splode their mage or carry.
This is a subtle difference, in that they get into combat, and they get out fast. If you bring combat to them first, however, unless you die, they don't really have much in the way of tools to get out in one piece, short of killing you. If a bruiser starts to chew on an assassin's face, the assassin's probably dead, since it's unlikely they'll have the damage output to kill a bruiser before their own tiny health bar vanishes.
They're all about pure glass cannon; the best defense is an absurdly high offense. If the enemy's dead, they can't fight back sort of reasoning.
Which brings us to the difference between a burst caster and an assassin.
Annie can probably nail LeBlanc's damage output in the short term burst, so why's she so much different? Why isn't Annie a particularly good assassin?
The difference here lies primarily in what their secondary choices of abilities are.
Annie gets AoE abilities, and some stuff to keep her alive if she gets attacked directly, but she also has wide ranged AoE CC and other things she can bring to a group fight other than "just" her damage. Her CC is more to be used as a tool in a group fight, or defensively as well.
She has limited methods of escape, and limited methods of getting into range to ambush someone in the first place. If you see Annie, you can just run away. The problem is, if you see LeBlanc, you're probably already too late.
The assassins trade off their utility in a team fight for additional upfront capacity to get in and massacre a target, then get back out again before more friends show up. I'd go with Shaco as an example here, but I'm already working with LeBlanc, so we'll continue with that.
LeBlanc will dash in, prevent her target from dashing out, and kill them with her burst, but then has the capacity to leave the fight after her target is dead, before another enemy comes back to finish her off.
The difference is pretty much that LeBlanc is purely specialized in killing off a single target efficiently, whereas Annie is a mixture of single target burst, AoE burst, and utility. When Annie kills someone, she's missing her cool downs and probably doesn't have much hope of escape if Tryndamere suddenly flies out of the jungle grinning like an idiot. LeBlanc, Shaco, Poppy, Akali, you name it... most of them probably still have a pretty good opportunity to survive anyway. They killed their target, and now it's time to go.
Keep in mind that assassins tend to be the most specialized of all the "classes" in LoL. They don't tend to overlap much elsewhere. Sure, Ahri does some assassination duties, but her burst isn't really nearly the same with that of a true assassin, and she has too much additional utility to make up for it. Irelia's labeled as an assassin according to LoL, but really... yeah, that's pretty much anything but true. She's a bruiser, not an assassin, and has almost none of the traits an assassin needs.
Katarina, however? Yeah! She leaps in, butchers a target (or in her case, often many targets), and then leaves instantly afterwards with another Shunpo out. Poppy? She charges in, decimates one target, and then runs away screaming. From Talon to Nocturne, they kill their intended victim with ease, and fade to black.
Beware of false prophets! And false assassins ^.^
Part 3: I've got more tricks than a Q-car, or Bond's latest date ^.~
So, what do we need to make an assassin anyway?
Waaaait a second... all the other posts on this page are +2, but this one's +1?
WHO HATES MAGES!? SHOW YOURSELVES HEATHENOUS CURS!
Well, anyway, class is in session, then!
Today we're going to learn about the wonderful world of mold! Oh wait, that's after class... yeah I'm going to have to get a few of you to clean my kitchen for me for extra credit...
Alright, what we're really learning about is mages. Yay mages! BURST mages! WOO! Since pretty much all the mages that aren't DPS, Assassins or Support tend to be burst. There's not really a lot of options to go around, honestly.
So lessee... first off we'll do the standard dealie of defining what a burst mage is.
Next off, we'll cover the wonderful world of... wait I did that joke already. Rawr, more tired than I thought. Well anyway, we'll be discussing what a burst mage needs to do their job.
Third on the list today, is to touch on their support side aspects, since it's a bit complex compared to other classes due to their specific requirements.
Finally, we'll go over the damage aspect. I know, saving the best for last. Mostly I'm just taunting you, but that's because I'm evil like that. EVIL! Veigar's got nothing on me. Mwaheheee... see? Totally awesome evil laugh.
So, let's get started!
Part 1: IMMA FIRIN MAH LAYZUR BEEM! BLAAAARGH!!!!!1!11!eleven
So, you want to make a mage huh? Think you're just the hot **** don't you, soldier? Well, we won't be having any of that around here, no SIR! Or ma'am. Or other. I dunno. Maybe you could if you really wanted to.
I guess we'll assume you want to or you wouldn't be here. Great, well then why do I keep calling them "burst mages" anyway? Why not just "AP Carry" like everyone else?
Well... for starters, the only AP carry in the game is Cassiopeia as of the time of this writing, as we covered a little bit ago. Other than that, the issue is really just that a carry requires sustained damage output, and a burst mage really doesn't live up to that role all that well, honestly.
To be honest, they're sort of a weird amalgamation in between a support and an assassin for the most part, and I know that sounds strange, but it kinda works. They have their own key points as well, though.
Consider someone like say... Veigar, or even Malzahar. Even though Veigar does his damage almost all upfront, and Malz does his over time, they both unload hard on their target within about 2-3 seconds of excessive killing power. They pour on the hurt nearly instantly, and their target drops like a feather in a vacuum. Ever seen that? It's pretty awesome to see a feather fall like a rock XD
...I suppose I could've just used that simile instead, but whatever.
Anyway, a burst mage has a few things going for them that they tend to do pretty much universally. Some variation on a theme exists, with changes here and there, but the end goal is that most everyone who wasn't covered by the last few chapters ends up here. So, what is the burst mage's capabilities?
Well, they have excessive short term firepower, typically of the AoE variety. They also tend to have some strong support abilities such as hard CC, also often of the AoE variety. Their scaling is high, which helps to make up for their low movement speed and physical attacks, or sustained damage output.
Honestly, burst mages are pretty basic in concept, so how's about we move onto part two, and learn a bit more about all that stuff I just listed off a second ago?
Part 2: Goodness, gracious, GREAT BALLS OF FIRE! ~Jerry Lee Lewis
Excessive short term FIREPOWER: Well, I did say "burst" didn't I? Yeah, mages tend to unload hard. There's a few strange exceptions like Ahri or the update on Xerath, for instance, but generally speaking, burst mages tend to drop their entire load in about 2-3 seconds, with 5-6 seconds being the outside end of things. Once they're done unleashing hell on their enemies, however, they're just not that scary anymore, so it's generally not that good an idea to kill the burst mage first, unless you can nail them with a CC and kill them before it wears off so they can't do their thing. Killing Malz after he's already dropped his combo is just kind of a waste, and it's not going to stop the target from dying, nor really make him any less of a threat, as now that he's on cooldown, he isn't one.
AoE firepower: The vast, vast majority of the burst mages have at least one really strong AoE spell. The idea is that they are able to severely punish an enemy team which is out of position. Everyone bunched up together in a bush next to a ward without realizing it? Say heellloooooo to Tibbers stun! This is also why you don't go 5x squishies in a game, such as massed AD carries. Guess what happens when 5 melee champions are all in melee? You counterpick with two burst mages, and fry the whole lot of them while the rest of your team goes and kills baron or does something useful.
Support spells: The burst mages almost invariably also happen to hold another trick up their sleeve: CC of some sort, usually in the AoE variety. The idea is that mages tend to be stronger early game, and fall off a bit later game once you can eat their whole combo and survive. Get a veil, and they're not nearly as terrifying as they once were. As such, if they ever get to the point where their damage drops off to essentially a mild nuisance, they're still pretty potent for helping out a team. It only takes one Karthus or Anivia wall to turn a team fight from "yay!" to "Oh ****" in about half a second.
Failsauce auto-attacks: Auto-attacks are generally the realm of sustained damage output. Every once in awhile you'll get a mage who can do some physical damage, but it's generally supplementary to their spells, rather than a driving force. Oddly enough, mages tend to have abnormally high AD in many cases early on in the game, often starting with more basic AD than carries. The reasoning is more so that they need to last hit, and it's awfully hard to do that with a remarkably slow attack animation and a slow moving ranged attack. Later on in the game, this tends to fall off pretty hard against anything but towers. The tower dealie is mostly because you do either 100% of your AD in damage, or 40% of your AP in damage to towers, whichever is higher. This means 200 AP is identical to 80 AD in terms of tower damage. When you start rocking like 800 AP in an hour long game where everyone's swinging around their finished builds? Yeah... that tower's going to feel it when you poke it to speed things up.
High Scaling: Generally mages are interested in being at least sort of useful during the game. Back in the old days of DotA, all you had was aghnim's and a refresher orb to help you out for spells. In LoL, you have that lovely ability power ratio to prop your spells up, instead of them just screeching to a halt at level 7. This allows the mage to continue to be relevant later on in the game. Since they need to keep up with the defenses of others far more than supports or assassins do (supports rarely need to kill, and assassins aim typically for glass cannons who barely have any defenses in the first place), their AP scaling tends to be pretty high to let them perform their "melt yo face" maneuver properly.
SLOW: Ever notice that about mages? They're sloooooooooooooow. Most of them are only about 300-305. The thing is, they tend to have hard CC, and remarkable firepower. It's possible you might die before you even got into range with them if they simply chose to run away. As such, they're not particularly fast. Their items rarely have any move speed, their kits virtually never have move speed, and their base movement is more of a joke than anything. This also happens to leave them perfect targets for an assassin who can burst and CC just as hard as they can, but is far more mobile. Keep your mages guarded!
There's a few other traits they tend to have, but honestly, that's generally the gist of it.
You'll probably be thinking at this point "But Katsuni, why aren't you covering hybrids!?". The main reason you'd be thinking that is you were reading it out loud again. Please stop talking in class, tsk, tsk. Other than that, however, the issue is mostly that I'm mostly ignoring hybrids as there's a ton of them, and there's really not much else to cover on them, other than blending the strengths and weaknesses of two separate roles together.
Sure, Ryze is basically a bruiser / burst mage. He sacrifices some of his burst and AoE for a bit more sustained damage output and more survivability to let him keep that sustained damage going. It's also part of why he's so annoying to fight; strong CC, good damage, good survivability.
Overall though, we're just going to finish up on the burst mages and move onto abilities instead, afterward. So, let's talk about the support side of a mage then, shall we?
Part 3: I swear, if you don't stop calling me OP Janna, you're going to find yourself on the receiving end of some foxglove to the face! ~Ahri (Alright, maybe not)
So why is it that a burst caster is so tricky to set up their support side of things? Well, a few reasons really.
First off, they only get the one form of CC or other support ability usually, rather than a devoted kit. Second, they have remarkable damage output, so you have to be careful to keep them from becoming OP by being able to not just lock someone down like a support, but also killing them in the process without backup. More than that, however, is that they typically don't get much in the way of escape mechanics, since their job is mostly to run in, blow their load, and die afterward since they're pretty much useless with everything on cool down anyway.
This means that a burst caster has to use their one support spell both offensively and defensively, as it's their only hope of escape, short of killing their enemy, and it's their only hope of nabbing a kill as well, much of the time. Take a look at Annie for an example.
She has a "defensive" steroid, but it's honestly not that powerful, and generally just gets overlooked, with players instead having to typically rely on her stun instead.
Veigar, conversely, doesn't even have one besides his stun in the first place, which is the entirety of his methods of running away. He drops his stun on the ground and waddles away, hoping really, really hard that he's able to waddle fast enough to escape whatever it is that's stuck in his stun right behind him, and make for the cover of his allies or a tower.
Most others end up being more or less the same way, though there are exceptions, such as Ahri but she's admittedly more of a hybridized assassin/burst mage with the strange concept of her "burst" being spread out over nearly 4-6 seconds most of the time.
For the most part, you'll notice that, from Viktor to Brand, they just really don't have that much in the way of escape mechanisms short of dropping their only real support ability on the target and hoping that's good enough.
As such, giving them two support abilities similar to Fiddlesticks where he both gets to do a silence and a fear can really be difficult to balance. For the most part, you're probably better off sticking to one, and aiming for damage mostly elsewhere.
The downside of this, is that you really need that one "supportyish" ability to REALLY be awesome as support abilities go! Oddly enough, this often means that burst mages wind up with more awesome support powers than the supports themselves, but on the other hand, it's mostly to make up for the fact that they really just don't do enough stacking effects to matter as much.
Janna can keep nailing you with CC after CC seemingly forever, whereas Xerath drops his stun and... yeah, yeah he's pretty much done after that.
Toss in that it needs to be used both offensively and defensively, and you have a really tricky problem to work with there!
In most cases in the game, so far, this is solved by simply giving them a single hard-CC ability, such as a stun, which is remarkably common.
The problem is, there's only so many ways to apply "stuns target" without starting to feel like just a rehash of old ideas, and normally a silence just isn't good enough on these champions.
So... what do?
This is where you pull out your brainbox and start thinking hardcore on the matter. Hard CC is the "easiest" route, but it's certainly not the only one to choose.
In Ziggs' case, for example, he has no hard CC at all, and instead simply has a slow effect and a knockback which affects both himself and enemies. This has the interesting effect of making him surprisingly mobile for a burst caster, but at the cost that he needs to give up one of his high powered burst attacks to propel himself away from an enemy that isn't already in melee.
Matching your abilities up so that they're fun and interesting, while still giving your burst mage the capacity to both kill and escape to a degree, is a pretty rough job if you rule out hard CC.
On the other hand, it also makes for some pretty neat and unique champion designs as well! Sure you can just go the generic easy way, but to be perfectly blunt, "Damage, damage, stun, damage" for your spell kit is kinda bland. Veigar gets away with it because no one takes the little runt seriously anyway ^.~
Actually, it's more so because he was one of the original "basic" champions and they wanted an easy to use one on the list to go with Annie at release. Since the "my first burst champion" role has already been covered by Annie and Veigar both serving more or less a similar role, with different nuances for specific situations and counterpicks, there's really not much need for yet another one, so try aiming for something a bit more interesting.
If at all possible, actually try to strive to avoid using hard CC at all on your burst mage, and use other, more interesting methods around it!
If, however, you need a hard CC, making it a little more unique or less reliable can be a good way to go (as Ahri has shown us), but you're also going to have to make sure they have other reliable choices to go with such (Ahri can still use her ultimate to escape, even if her seduction misses).
Damage output, however, really should be a fairly consistently reliable choice for a burst mage. The unreliable ones we've gotten lately don't see much play, primarily due to the problem that they honestly just aren't that good if they're only good for doing one thing and that one thing has only a 50/50 chance of working against an opponent of equal skill.
As such, if you're going to make a burst mage whose burst capacity is unreliable, then their CC needs to be reliable to compensate, and vice versa. One or the other, not both.
Otherwise you get the post-patch Xerath who can't land his ultimate to save his life, and his CC isn't in a much better position, leaving him unable to accurately perform either role at any given time.
There's something to be said for high skill cap champions, and that is primarily that "just because it's hard to play them well, it doesn't mean it should be easy to negate them on the enemy's end of things either". There's a big difference between something being difficult, and complex.
Complexity without any benefit to doing so (it doesn't make the champion more fun) is just frustrating to players.
Difficulty without complexity (such as a really slow moving skillshot) doesn't mean you really put in a high skill cap, it just means you made something that should be intuitive annoying to perform instead. Fighting your interface more than the enemy team isn't "hard mode", it's stupidity, which is why FFXI was such a bad joke. Not a bad game, but DEAR GAWD what were they thinking with the GUI?
Anyway, the point I'm getting at, is that you can't just make their skills unreliable and call them high skill cap, especially if it's not realistically within the player's power to control that unreliability. Rolling a randomly generated number where they may be useful, or may not be, isn't skill, it's luck. Firing a super slow moving skill shot that's easily dodged doesn't make it "hard to play" in the "skilled" category, since even if you properly line up the shot and did everything right on your end, the enemy can simply bypass it with ease by stepping to the side.
There's nothing fun about having control taken out of your hands and left to fate, random chance, or the enemy team. It should be your skill against theirs, not just their skill.
Regardless, I think we've dallied here long enough, so let's get to what you've all been waiting for anyway. THE BURST.
Part 4: "There comes a day in every girl's life, when she has to learn that firing orbital death rays at civilian populations is considered to be un-neighbourly. Fortunately, I haven't gotten around to learning this yet and it came with a really neat remote control with shiny BUTTONS!"
~ Kiana Schrödenger (Personal character design =3 )
So, you want to kill stuff, do you? You want to blow **** the **** up? You want to rain holy hell from the sky upon your enemies with the might of the ancients at your back?
Aaaah ah ah! There's a catch!
Yeah, you can't do it in a way that's been done before.
Well, there goes the "4 damage abilities" champion designs I continually see around the forum... seriously, ditch the "every single ability deals damage" idea unless you really, really have something unique and interesting to share.
Just having four abilities which all essentially read "deals damage to target enemy" is not a skill set for a burst mage!
Ziggs gets away with it because he actually has some cool ideas and some methods to get around the problem of the generic hard CC being removed. Ahri gets away with it because her abilities also do awesome things and let her maneuver well.
When I say "four abilities that do damage", what I mean is the seemingly endless slew of champion designs on here where all their abilities DO is damage. They don't have any defensive nor escape mechanics, no maneuverability or other neat ideas, all they get is "I kill stuff" for four spells in a row.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
You want to blow stuff up, you need to do it the right way. Just throwing on every single ability does damage to target is not the way to go about doing it.
No, you're going to go back and read the previous section, and you're going to come back here AFTER you have an awesome idea for how to make your champion do something win for their team that isn't even damage related.
Don't worry, I can wait.
I didn't get more than 3 hours sleep last night, so trust me, I have aaaaaall the time in the world to take a nap right about now.
Alright, I'll assume that you went and did that (don't let me catch you cheating, because I'm one of those teachers who still believes that a smack to the back of the knuckles is a good idea sometimes so GRRR >=O ), so yay, now we can get back to the damage part!
So... how do we go about making stuff blow up real good anyhow?
Lots of ways! There's a bunch of choices, so I'll cover a few of the big ones here.
Direct Damage: This is the "Click on enemy, they die" style spell, where there's no skillshots or anything fancy involved. This kind of spell is pretty good for when you want to reliably be able to do at least SOME damage. Unless you're going for an Ezreal style build (which you shouldn't be, since he already exists), you will probably want to avoid pure skillshots. Note that Direct Damage is typically shorter ranged, and a bit weaker than an equivalent skill shot, to make up for the fact that it's reliable in the sense it's going to hit. Unless you misclick.
Skillshots: These are one of the bread and butter spells in the game, along with direct damage spells. They tend to get extra range and effectiveness, but have a travel time, and tend to hit the first thing they run into, meaning you can miss with them. The idea is that you're trading off reliability for more potent effects. Another interesting advantage of skillshots, is that they can be fired blindly over a hill or into brush. Nidalee in particular has a penchant for showing what a well placed skill shot on a blind fire can do in a good player's hands.
Delayed Effect: Things like Swain's Nevermove are delayed effect, in that they don't take effect immediately upon casting, and instead have a bit of a wait time before they do their thing. This is very similar to the skillshot category in that it's possible to dodge them, generally, so long as the delay is long enough. Some other delayed style effects are spells which can be triggered mid-air, such as Anivia's Q, or can be triggered after they reach a certain destination, like Gragas's barrels which can just sit there, effectively walling off a section of the lane so that you don't want to stand there.
Vector targeting: I luuuurve these! You know Rumble's ultimate? Yeah. That's vector targeting, and it is WIN. I'm saddened that they don't make more use out of this, so you should probably consider it since it's underused, and holds a lot of potential! The idea is that you target where the spell originates from, and the direction it travels. It's similar to a skillshot, but it doesn't necessarily come from you directly, leading to some really interesting interactions. One champion I had awhile back had a dash where she teleported to the first location, then dashed and damaged anything in a straight line across the vector, making for some rather interesting forms of mobility and damage. I wouldn't suggest carbon copying it, but it's an example of the neat stuff you can do with this.
Single Target: Often great for killing one person, and usually a bit stronger because of such. Not so useful for clearing out minions waves, nor for team fights, though.
AoE: This is the basic form of multi-target abilities. There's a thousand variations, so I'm not going through them all, but the most common is a simple circular area of effect where stuff inside of it gets hurt. Works well with delayed effects or skillshots.
Combos: These exist in many champion's ability lists, not just burst mages, but it's most commonly found on burst mages, where they have abilities that play off of each other. Brand, for example, requires hitting with two spells in a row to pull off a stun. This can greatly increase the unreliability of a spell combo though, which can equally lead to overpowering strength when it hits, and overly painful penalties for missing, such as losing 3/4 of the damage for missing only 1/2 of the spells in a sequence.
Spell modifiers: This isn't quite a combo, so much as it is a preparation. One of the champions I was working on (and hasn't quite been released yet) has a spell which drops an item on the ground. If she targets that item instead of an enemy, it adjusts how her spells work, such as turning a single target spell into an AoE centered on the location. There's lots of other ways, such as Katarina's Killer Instincts spell, which affects how her next spell cast will work, and they can be pretty fun to work with, as they give your champion a few options in how to make their spells do their stuff. Consider looking into this as it's a great way to make an otherwise dull champion get some really interesting stuff going for them.
Instant Effect: BAM, you're fireballed in the face. You feel the damage instantly. It's that simply.
Damage over time (DoT): Oh noes, you have the plague! Take 50 damage a second for 5 seconds! DoT spells take awhile to do their thing, which gives enemies time to heal them, shield them, or use other effects to negate the damage such as health regeneration or cleansing debuffs off. As such, the damage output on these are a bit higher, generally, to make up for their semi-unreliability.
Stacking effects: It's not good enough that I just set you on fire. No, I need to set you on fire... AGAIN! AND AGAIN! MWAHEHE! Yep, when you don't just deal damage, but continue to make it worse the more you do it, you've got stacks, and the fact that it takes awhile to apply these can be a big deal. You probably actually won't have one of these on a burst mage, as it's not really a bursty effect, so please stop putting them on your mages. This is more of something better suited to a bruiser (Heeeey that sounds like Darius...), or someone with an incredibly fast way to apply it (Wait, do I hear Twitch's name in there somewhere? ), but in that case, you may as well not be bursting stacks, why not just toss up a single DoT instead? These are neat effects, but they just don't work out well on burst mages generally, unless you build the whole design around such from the ground up.
Centered on Self: These are typically AoE abilities that make standing next to you a rather unpleasant experience. One of my champion concepts from awhile back, had a high damage small AoE centered on herself, and she would dash into the enemies, explode, then dash out again. Another example would be Blitzcrank's ultimate when activated, or Skarner's spam. Generally it makes melee a bad idea for people, and makes it preferable to shoot you at range. As the natural predator of the burst mage is the bruiser, who can survive the initial round of burst, this is kind of counter intuitive, unless you're building a champion specifically designed to fight bruisers, in which case this may be a good choice for your burst mage!
There's a thousand more ways to do damage, admittedly, to the point that this has barely even scratched the surface. Hopefully, however, it's given you a little insight into when you would likely want to use a particular spell for your particular champion.
Remember, you have a goal in mind. If you don't, you should at this point in the game so get one! Pick something you want your champion to accomplish. If you want them to be an anti-bruiser, then sure, stacking damage effects on them could work well, as could combo spells as they're probably going to be walking right into you in a straight line.
If you're looking to fry lots of squishy targets that are bunched up together, however, well... let's just say that the DoT spells may not be the wisest decision.
Figure out what you want to do, and then plan around your options on how to accomplish it.
Note that it's rare to have only a singular goal for a champion's kit, and you probably should consider having a few choices to work with. Annie's got her Q for farming minions early game, just as she has her W for wiping out a whole minion wave in one go, midgame and up. You generally want a bit of a mix and match to set you up for various situations.
Even Ezreal, where he has three separate skill shots, uses each of them at different times. His Q and W just don't tend to be effective at the same points in time. Q hits targets that are far away and unprotected. W hits targets that are closer in range, but hiding behind minions. Both have their value, and if you have a clear shot, you're probably going to unload everything anyway, but you still want to keep in mind that each ability, on it's own, when not just thrown in with a big round of burst, should have a unique purpose on that champion's kit, that sets it apart from the other abilities.
It's through maintaining the rule of your abilities being unique to each other, that you keep your ideas fresh and new, without feeling repetitive in the same design.
If every single ability you have is "target enemy to deal damage" with no other effects, well... what purpose do they have, honestly? One could be melee and hurt more, another could have longer range and hurt less, but honestly it's still rather limited to work with.
Try to emphasize each one being unique, with as little overlap as possible, but still ensure they can be used in tandem to greater effect. This means chaining combos can really spice things up in a positive way!
Anyway, end point is... blowing stuff up is easy. Making it actually FUN to blow stuff up usually requires blowing them up in new and exciting ways. Not just by having neat abilities in and of themselves, but by also having those abilities be varied and interesting compared to each other, as well!
For now, I'm tired as hell. For me, I'm going to bed. For you, class is dismissed!
Actually, it's only #27, but you saw that big 3-07A and believed me didn't you?
Yeah... I miscounted too. Happens when... when... I dunno, I'm blaming being tired for that one but I don't recall it. Anyway!
Class is in session, and today we shall be discussing ABILITIES.
Oooooh. Scary though, huh? We're over halfway through the guide and we're only just now touching on them. Creeeeepy.
Anyway, first off, we're going to cover the "standard" set up for abilities in the game.
Second, we'll go over things like how to work with ability sets which break the standard 1passive/3actives/1ulti rule.
Third, we'll discuss the idea of champions with more than the standard 4 active abilities.
Finally, we'll eat cake. Oh, and talk about when and where you should opt for unique ability sets. That's important too, I suppose.
Soooo yeah! Let's get started, then, shall we?
Part 1: Pushing my buttons.
So, by now, you probably realize that the "normal" concept for LoL is 1 passive ability, 3 activated regular abilities, and 1 ultimate. The passive either doesn't level, or levels automatically at 1/6/11/16 or somewhere along those lines. The 3 regular abilities tend to level 5 times total, with a 2 level break so that you can level at a maximum pace of 1/3/5/7/9. The ultimate ability tends to have 3 ranks, which levels at 6/11/16. Occasionally there are exceptions, but it's pretty rare, and 90%+ of the champions in the game follow this formula.
Now, theoretically, I could end the lesson here, but you wouldn't learn much from that, now would you?
Let's instead take a look over how these abilities work, and why it's such an interesting set up.
Passives: These ensure that the champion always has something to work with, no matter what, and can be a pretty neat way to define a champion's design. Some are very powerful, others are more of a joke. Overall, the strength of your passive tends to rely pretty heavily on the rest of your champion's kit. If their overall design is strong, it's typically a bad idea to feed them free power in their passive to go with it.
Note that passives, despite their name, do not have to be passive. Sure, there are some really lame, boring ones (luls +X stat aura) that don't do anything interesting... yeah, they might be technically useful, such as Soraka's or Fiddlestick's passives, but they're pretty lame. The really good passives, however, are ones with which you directly interact, and change up how your champion plays entirely.
I'll be covering fun passives far more in the next section, but sufficed to say, Ziggs and Sona have awesome passives that make them way more fun to play as, and more effective as well!
Regular abilities: These are the bread and butter that define your champion. Without these, it's probably pretty boring, honestly. These are the spells you get to USE on a regular basis, with low cool down times, which makes them effective throughout the game. Many people focus too hard on the ultimate, and leave their regular abilities as boring or underpowered, and honestly, that's almost always a mistake.
The fact of the matter is, your ultimate won't always be up, especially if it's a standard one with a long cooldown. Ensure your normal abilities are awesome to use, and you'll soon discover that it's well worth it when they make your champion awesome to play as on a regular basis.
If you leave it up to just your ultimate, it's going to be bland, since if it's down, you have a boring champion design without it. Always ensure that your champion is still fun to play as, and effective, without their ultimate around to back them up!
Ultimates: These can really help round out a champion, enhance their strong points to epic levels, or grant them some really interesting effects that make them unique. Strive to ensure that you have an ultimate that really "feels" ultimate, not just in the power it has, but also in how interesting it feels to use.
Zilean's ultimate flat out feels... well... ultimate. It does an interesting effect which can severely alter how a fight goes when it's up. It's fun to use, adds new play options to the game on both teams, and can really let you know he's around!
In contrast, Graves' ultimate is... a joke. A bad one, at that. His Q is generally more effective and, honestly, more interesting to use. His "ultimate" is just a second, generic nuke, that does more damage for his burst. It doesn't define his character, add to his level of interest, or really do anything that makes him more FUN.
Veigar suffers from much the same problem. A third nuke, on top of his other two nukes, where the only benefit it gets is... it does more damage. It "defines" him as a mage that's an anti-mage due to harming people with high AP, but honestly, even this is a bad design as it means it's a bad idea to build AP on a champion that needs high AP, directly screwing with someone else's build in a ridiculous fashion. "Build to counter your enemy" should apply by adjusting your itemization to be more effective. Being 100% forced to change your entire build and scrapping the primary parts of it just because of one person on their team, no matter how bad they are, so you don't get one shot, isn't good ultimate design. In fact, it's poor game design in general, and has been mentioned repeatedly by Riot staff as being a big disappointment. I can't possibly imagine why.
Then... you get other champions like Teemo. Without his mushrooms, he's still Teemo, but they add a new dimension to how he plays. Now he's got map presence everywhere, and it's near impossible to gank him any longer. It grants him an interesting effect which alters his potential game play, and gives him the potential to set up some neat chained effects, with it almost becoming a game of "hide the shrooms" in places where people think they'll be safe to walk (like right next to a bush), or places where someone with an Oracles may walk right into them anyway (immediately around a corner so you can't see it until you've already hit it). Things like this can bring new life to a champion, even if it doesn't really specifically benefit their other spells, because it gives them new tools to work with.
Remember, when you hit level 6, and get your ultimate (unless your champion doesn't have one, but we'll get to that in a bit), you should immediately be going "YAY!" and picking it up first thing! Maokai and Twitch are in the "Uh... I guess... I'll get it eventually..." category in that their ultimates do have a distinctive use, but they honestly just aren't that useful when you first get them, and you're literally better off with just taking another point in a normal ability because of such. do everything in your power to avoid situations like this.
Part 2: I've been breaking trends since before it was trendy to do so!
So, sometimes you get a champion which is... "special". They get a spell line up that just isn't quite "normal". Examples of this range from Udyr, with 4 normal abilities and literally no ultimate at all, to Karma, who has an "ultimate", but she gets it at level 1 for free, and her regular abilities all have 6 levels instead of 5.
These are a little harder to balance, since they don't level in the same way as normal champions. Their power level doesn't get that real spike at 6, or if it does, it does so in a weird way. This can be good, or it can be bad. It depends, honestly, on how much forethought you put into what you're doing.
Giving a support champion no real ultimate (Karma) was a bad idea, as she can't stand up to other supports at all because of this crippling disadvantage. Interestingly enough, she plays wonderfully well as an AP bruiser who just uses her support abilities as a secondary thing on the side.
The point here, is that you shouldn't be screwing with the number of abilities or the order in which you get them, just because you feel like it. The standard 3 regular abilities and 1 ultimate means that the player has to make some tough choices. They can only level 1 regular ability early on, with one other as a secondary to go with it, and they need to set aside room for their ultimate as well. This often leads to a 4/2/0/1 build by level 7, or in some cases, 4/1/1/1. There's exceptions to this, but it does mean you have to make a choice on when to get each ability and which order.
By altering how many abilities you get, you severely screw with this formula, and often pretty much make it so that you're killing off the choices to be made, or just letting your champion focus on a few things. Most Karma players just go q/w/q/w/ back and forth until level 12, as her E, though quite useful, isn't nearly as useful in lane, and can't make use of her mantra charges very well in most situations. It means, unfortunately, that she doesn't really have much in the way of options, really. Udyr ends up with too many options, but specifically, has to pick an ability to sacrifice that will never get to maximum ranks, which is problematic in it's own way. No matter how he builds himself, not only does he not have an ultimate, he doesn't even really have 4 regular abilities; just 3 regulars and one which doesn't even do much.
If you're going to do something like this, make bloody sure from the start that your design actually calls for it. Karma can do this because her entire design is based around the concept of her mantra charges, and those being available at level 1, but too weak to be a real ultimate so not worthy of being added at 6 only.
If you just go "I want a champion who doesn't have a standard set up for their abilities!", then you've probably done something horribly wrong. You don't start with the implementation, you start with the idea you want to implement, and then decide how to implement it.
Picking out the artwork for the wrapping before you even know what goes in the wrapping just generally doesn't work. You might get lucky, but considering how complex champion design is, the chances of that are pretty close to nil.
Instead, you will almost invariably want to start out with an idea that sounds cool, and then be like... well... this makes more sense with a strange number of abilities, so I guess I'll work that into the design then.
You add stuff to your champion because it needs it to work. You don't throw things at it which really screw up how it works simply because you want to. Everything you do in your design should be intentional. If you do something "wrong", or against what I've said here, that's fine, so long as you specifically did so with active reasoning and intent. You need to think the consequences through, and determine it's worth it to do so, because the benefits outweigh the detrimental effects associated with such.
If, at any point, you find yourself just slapping stuff on without even thinking about why you're doing it, then you're not painting a masterpiece; you're playing in the mud. There's a distinctive difference, and that difference is intent.
When you control your design, and everything that goes into it does so for the sole reason that you intentionally put it there, with full awareness of why you put it there, you will simply have a much easier time in making something awesome, than just randomly chucking stuff together and hoping it works.
I know this is a strange concept to many of you, but for srs, think before you act, and carefully construct your ideas by thinking before doing.
Part 3: Oh yeah? Well I'm the Nidalee. I get 7 spells instead of 4. Sup, *****?
Pft, 4 actives? Not enough! NEED MOAR!
Some champion designs simply have more than the standard allotment of abilities. As of the writing of this post, Jayce is the most recently added champion to the game, who also has 7 abilities, similar to Nidalee.
There are other ways to do so, such as spells where, when you cast them, they toggle to a different spell, or abilities where you press one button (say R for your ultimate), and it changes the options you have available (say R activates your ultimate, and whether you press Q/W/E after will trigger different effects to be used by it).
Once again, that rule I just gave you about planning your stuff out? Yeah, that still applies here, too.
It's one thing to carefully and meticulously consider and weigh the benefits of having more than the standard ability loadout, but it's quite another to just go "Lulz I added a stance so now I can have more spells!".
Note very carefully that your abilities should each have a distinctive purpose to them, and that there should be a reaosn why you would use any of them at any given time.
Nidalee, being the posterchild of the "zomg more buttons!" build, shows us how to have more spells in such a way that it actually works.
Many champions have very complex abilities, which have multiple effects built into them. Tristana's explosive shot was probably the first, where the passive effect causes her last hits to blow up minions, and the active can be used as a pseudo-ignite. This is basically two different spell abilities wrapped into one, which is a trend that's gradually getting more popular.
For champions like Nidalee, you'll notice that her abilities are all pretty basic. Rather than building multiple effects in together, her abilities instead have one, maybe two effects total, and are split up into smaller, individual abilities.
As such, you'll notice that, although she may have a heal and attack speed boost together, that's essentially just a single spell with a primary and secondary effect. It's not like Lulu, where literally her abilities are often 2-in-1 spells which have completely different effects depending on the target.
Lee Sin has extra abilities, sure, every regular ability he has does two parts, but once again, his abilities are pretty basic, mostly in line with Nidalee's own kind of stuff.
Regardless of how you split your abilities, however, you also want to ensure that this is done so in a method in which they make sense. This doesn't mean that the abilities themselves make sense (although they still should), it means that abilities like Nidalee's make sense simply because of where they are.
Her melee abilities are all on one form, and her spell caster abilities are on the other. Jayce has melee and ranged, Lee Sin has abilities that mark a target, then do something in relation to that target.
In each and every case, their abilities make sense in that they serve a distinctive and separate purpose from each other. One set of abilities does one thing, the other set does another. It's like two separate roles being taken care of, letting the player choose when and where to utilize each.
Regardless, in the end, you need to grip firmly on control of your champion design. If you want to load them up with tons of abilities, you can do so... but keep in mind that simply having 5 or more abilities instead of 4 makes them flat out more powerful if those abilities are all equal in power to someone with only 4. Ensure that your ability load out is roughly equal in power, both in damage, and utility. You'll notice that Nidalee doesn't have any CC on her, despite having far more than the normal amount of abilities. This is part of her weak points, and her gaps still occur, despite having lots of stuff.
Nemhain, my own champion, has essentially extra spells in that her kit is insanely flexible, able to adapt to most situations... but her limitation is that she can't utilize every ability she has to it's full potential at any one time, much in the way that Lulu can't. There's also the issue that Nemhain's positioning is rather important, as is her attack order, which affects how useful her abilities are, especially when comparing melee to ranged use of her spells.
Always ensure that your champion designs have intentional gaps in how they're made, so that the player still has to make decisions. Don't just keep throwing stuff at them endlessly, so that they can do literally everything.
If you're like "I want my champion to do EVERYTHING", then you've already broken something in a terrible manner. Their overall kit should only cover PART of what they want to do, so that they have to decide when and where to place their itemization and such.
I'll get into that in a later article, so let's worry about that then. For now, just keep in mind that if you really want your champion to have the ability to do "everything", then put a limitation in so that they can only do some of the stuff, some of the time, and eventually, over time, can do "everything", but not all at once. Not being able to change stances for 3 seconds after casting a spell can prevent chaining combos together in an overly bad way, but can still allow for swapping between roles quickly. Doing so, however, also means it's unresponsive to your commands, because you can't always change during the time you'd most want to, and this instills other problems.
As such, be careful in how you add "More stuff". Keep it tightly controlled and under wraps. If you want more stuff, you're free to do so, just don't let it run wild, either.
Part 4: There's a time, and a place, for everything. Except maybe for that thing you just did with your mouth where words came out. You should probably stop doing that.
So, you really, really want a champion with extra abilities, or at least a non-normal ability setup, do you?
As I've said during this entire class, article, or whatever you want to call it, that's fine, but once again, the same rule is going to apply here as everything else.
You have to do so intentionally.
I don't mean "well I want it, so I'm going to do it!" kind of intentional.
I mean more along the lines of "This would solve many issues, and I'm fully aware of the problems it will create, and think I know how to deal with them when they show up".
You CAN make a champion where you just totally screw with their spell order, where Q gets 7 ranks instead of 5, and W gets 3 ranks, and E gets 2 but R gets 5. Alright, it still adds up to 18, but were you really, honestly, thinking about the effect that this would have on the game, or how confusing and seemingly random it would be to the player?
If you said yes, punch yourself in the mouth. Right now. I can't reach you or I'd do it for you.
The point here, is that you need to plan out your champion design, and carefully place each part with intent. You're not just slapping it together because it seems like a good idea, but rather, you're placing the pieces together because they fit best that way.
The difference is you want to be putting lego blocks together into a masterpiece that shows skill and dedication, not just mashing pieces together and hoping it somehow turns into something other than a mangled mess at the end.
As such, there's only really a few times when you'd really need to specifically do anything to your champion that would make them have extra abilities, or a non-standard 1-3-1 spell lineup.
They have two separate modes: Alright, so they're very distinctive in these modes; one's a caster, the other's an autoattacker. One's a tank, the other's an assassin. Wait, no they're not. Trying to force opposing ideas to work together, such as a tank+assassin hybrid simply doesn't work that way, and just letting them swap stances to do so isn't the right way to do it. If you really wanted to let them do that, you'd just make two separate champion designs. Now, if you want a champion that's versatile, and can pick between ranged AD or melee AD? Go right ahead! They're still similar enough that it works! You could technically even have one that has multiple modes, such as ranged AD/melee AD/ranged AP/support caster, so long as you were distinct in how their scaling worked, so that they could build hybrid for high versatility, or either AD or AP and still get some of the benefits of either. The more you add, however, the more stuff you have to juggle together, and the more complex it becomes. Personally, I'd advise against it, since it's probably not worth the effort.
You want to have lots of simple spells, as opposed to a few complex ones: This is a valid choice as well. Sometimes you might have abilities that do a thousand things on them like Vladimir's pool, which has enough things it does to fill the entire kit of a full champion. You have the option, however, of actively splitting one big, complex spell up into several smaller ones. Instead of something like Heimerdinger's turrets, which do damage, and reduce armour, and splash, and act as meat shields, and slow (with his ultimate), you could instead have a champion that places turrets perhaps, but have multiple spells which benefit them, more in line with Heimer's ultimate, where you can buff your turrets, or cause them to pulse an AoE slow around them, or similar effects. Taking a good idea and exploring it more in depth by utilizing multiple, smaller effects, can work out quite well.
You just have so many awesome ideas you want to use all of them: NO. Seriously, this is not a valid choice. If you want to do more stuff, then make two champions and filter the abilities between them in a way that makes sense. Otherwise, you're going to have to pick and choose which ones work well. Every single ability your champion has should have a purpose on that champion, and not just "I thought it sounded neat" or "I wanted them to have the option to do EVERYTHING". No, you need to carefully isolate the parts that are most important and trim it down a little at a time until only the parts that matter most remain. Sometimes this still ends up being a lot of stuff, like Lee Sin, Sona, or my own Nemhain. Other times, you just end up with the editing room's floor of a movie, with half the movie's footage laying in tatters on the ground because it wasn't needed.
Their design is such that they need their abilities spaced out to work right: If you have a kit that makes sense, but you need it to be broken up across a larger area, either to limit the use of it at one time, or to stagger the effects so that you can't just dump it all out instantly at once like a burst mage, then having extra abilities may be a good choice! For champions like Karma, her design simply didn't work with a standard ultimate, due to the fact that her ultimate would then have to make the effects much more powerful on a longer cool down (bad idea as it ruins how she plays), or would have to have her severely underpowered early on. Technically... she could have just been made with a free ultimate at level 1, and it could be leveled at 6/11/16, but the route they went worked too. Regardless, it was an active choice to make her play a certain way. It may not necessarily have been the best choice, but it was an intentional choice. Same dealie with the Invoker, though honestly, he probably was a bad idea.
There's probably more reasons that I'm missing or can't think of. Honestly, I'm still waking up, so I wouldn't be surprised due to lack of sleep the last few days. Regardless, the point is that there's not really that many reasons for why you would screw with the formula that works. Yes, you can break the rules, but you really need to ensure that it's a good time to break them, not just because you feel like it at the time.
To that end, study your design and carefully ponder if it's possible to build it without altering the standard build so that it would still work properly. If so, you probably didn't need to change anything in the first place, and it might be a good idea to cut back on things to normal levels. If there's no need to change it, then don't.
That being said, if you see a valid reason to make a change, then don't be afraid to do so, just do it cautiously and with purpose, watching out for anything that can go wrong when you make said change.
Change isn't bad, just needless, pointless change is.
And with that, we're done!
Good evening, class.
Tonight we'll be going over Passive Abilities. Those lovely innate skills you get by default! Of course, sometimes champions also get passives in their active slots as well, so we'll go over those too.
For now, sit right back and get ready to take notes, because class is in session once again.
So, passives. Sure they're called passives, but it doesn't mean they should aid passive play, nor does it mean they should be used passively. There's some older passives that really aren't that great, and it shows. Instead, we're going to find out how to make passives that don't make the mistakes of the past, and instead lead to... THE FUTURE!
First off, we'll be going over the idea of non-passive passives. These are essentially activated spells that you don't have to press a button to activate, which sounds a little weird! They can be some of the most fun passives in the game though.
Second, we'll then move onto what kind of passives to avoid; especially ones that are extra-passive passives!
Third, we'll touch on when and where to implement scaling and leveling for your passives. A fair number of champions have passive abilities that grow as they reach new levels, or scale with AP or AD, and this needs careful consideration.
Finally, we'll finish up with power balance on passives, as they are far more heavily influenced by the champion's kit than most abilities in the game.
So, now that we've covered that, it's time to get into the hidden world of the passive-aggressive champion...
Part 1: Well of COURSE the passive should be active, how SILLY of me.
An active passive? How does that even WORK!?
Well, it's not that hard, and there's a few already in the game.
Consider say... Sona's passive. Upon her third cast, her next auto-attack will deal additional damage, as well as an extra effect based on what her last cast normal spell was. Not only do you get to have the interaction of timing your casts to get an extra effect, but you can actually choose what that extra effect is.
This is an example of an excellent grade passive, which kind of makes up for her other spells being a bit more bland.
Ideally, what you want is for your passive to have a direct influence on how you play your champion. Soraka's aura? Well... it's "nice", but it doesn't actually change how you play her. It's passive to the Nth degree, in that it doesn't matter if she had her passive or not, it would make zero difference in how she plays.
There are some half-way ones which change your build, or the order you level your abilities. Consider Akali; her passive is such that Akali players almost universally make a special rune page just for her to ensure she has both halves of her passive get activated. It also has a direct influence on how a player itemizes her in game, but on the other hand, doesn't really change how she plays in combat.
Sona's passive can actually emphasize the idea of not just having active use of it in combat, but it can also affect her itemization if someone wants to build a high-AP Sona build, in which case they're almost guaranteed to get a Lichbane for the on hit effect, since it stacks with her passive, and her regular abilities charge it quickly due to the nature of how they work with her passive (rapid casting to gain charges).
In someone like Riven's case, she actively DOESN'T build a Trinity Force, despite that she's a bruiser with some good damage output, specifically because her passive has the effect already built into it. It also is so kind as to adjust how she plays by having her deal more damage by weaving auto-attacks into her spell spam. Toss in, on top of that, the itemization to not really want attack speed, since she's casting a spell, then attacking, then another spell, back and forth, it really helps define her as a champion concept.
The point is, you want your passive to be interesting, and for your champion design to have some way to actively control it's use. Just because it's a "passive ability", doesn't mean it should be so passive that you don't even notice it's there.
Part 2: Little known fact about this guide's author: I actually won a lazyness contest once. I couldn't be bothered to fill out the application form and won by default. Sad, but true XD
So, you think a passive should be passive simply because it's a passive?
Do I need to break out the haddock again? DO I!? You make me do these things to you, you know. You should probably stop before I get the lubricant out to go with it.
Anyway, there are some really, really rotten passives in the game. Some are more obvious than others, such as Soraka's, which is just annoying.
There are, however, worse passives already built into the game than Soraka's already. Consider Sion's passive... he does... what? 40% chance to reduce physical damage by 40? That's nearly useless in a pokefest, it's limited in value against minions since they tend to deal considerably less than 40 damage most of the time, and it's not even reliable enough to assume it will happen in the first place.
Consider a somewhat newer champion, since most of the worst ones exist back from when the game first came out. Let's look at Talon.
10% bonus auto-attack damage to any target that is slowed, suppressed, immobilized or stunned. Sounds like it makes him want to CC people, right?
Unfortunately, he only has one single slow in his entire kit, namely that of his Rake (W), which has the drawback of being a 2 second slow on a 10 second cooldown, meaning he can't permaslow people. Under ideal conditions, he can potentially get it to refresh the slow for up to 3 seconds total, but even so, that's still pretty horrible.
The fact of the matter is, he has virtually nothing to trigger his passive, and even if he did, it's still fail in that a 10% auto-attack only boost is kind of pathetic on a champion that doesn't really rely on their auto-attacks all that much. He has 4.2 AD scaling on his abilities, and deals an additional +15% damage with one of his other abilities, which affects his spells. In terms of his physical attacks though? He uses them, kind of, but honestly it's only because he has no real reason not to, rather than because he gets much out of doing so. He has no attack steroids at all, and no way to make any use of that 10% bonus auto-attack damage.
If we assume he manages to slow a target for 3 seconds, due to the fact that he honestly has no reason to build attack speed, he's probably going to get about 3 hits in total. This is a whole whopping 30% auto-attack damage across three hits, or equivalent to... well, not much of anything, honestly.
Though the passive sounds interesting and unique, in terms of practical use, you don't honestly notice it exists since it's too small of a value to make you want to build something like a Frozen Mallet to make use of it, and it's near impossible to trigger otherwise since he's really not an auto-attacker. He's an assassin who unloads abilities on someone's face to burn them into the ground from 100-0 in 3 seconds or less.
As such, his passive is excessively passive, despite that it's mechanics could have been tuned in such a way that it could have defined his character.
In the end, however, his passive ends up being little more of value to him than an empty slot. Yes, it does benefit him a tiny bit, but honestly, if you're needing the extra 50ish damage total from his passive to kill someone, you probably are splitting hairs so fine that you likely couldn't tell if it caused the kill or not in the first place.
Avoid making passives such as this, where, no matter how interesting they sound, they simply have negligible effect upon how your champion plays.
Part 3: By the glow of the pale blue night, Skeletor's **** will rise tonight. To end the reign of Old Snake Mountain, the power of Greyskull you can count on! Nothing can stop it's growing power... watch it groooow! Watch it groooooow! ~Skeletor's ****; by Bag Fries
Alright, so sometimes you see passives where they level along with you, as if you'd put points into them, and sometimes you see them scale off of AP or AD, among other things. What kind of time is it a good time to do so?
Mostly, this actually comes down to determining what you actually want your ability to do. In the case of an attack damage bonus, or something which has sustain effects on it, you typically don't want these to be a flat value throughout the game.
Damage, in particular, is blatantly obvious about this. A flat +X physical damage effect, regardless of how it's applied, is not going to be as effective throughout the entire game. If it's good at level 1, it's useless at 18. If it's good at 18, it's OP at level 1.
Note that these are for flat values. Percentage based effects, such as a +X% value, will scale accordingly all game, normally. The primary exception here, is lifesteal and other sustain-based effects.
At the start of the game, when you need to stay in lane for a long time, sustain effects are very, very powerful. You won't be trading hits all that often, and the capacity to play cautiously and regain health over time is a big deal. Later on, once team fights roll around, there's typically enough firepower on the field to burst through most sustain effects, so ramping up it's power a bit isn't that big a deal.
In situations where you need your abilities to maintain value throughout the game, you typically want to increase their effectiveness.
What's the difference between scaling and leveling? Honestly, it's a matter of itemization mostly. Do you want your champion to be forced to itemize for the benefit of such, changing their item build, or do you just want to hand it to them as they progress through the game?
In Riven's case, she gets AD scaling on her passive because it's there to encourage her to build a bit more leaning to the damage side of things than the tanky side of things. Despite that, however, she also gains damage to her passive by default, as well, over the course of the game as she levels, so that it's not completely useless if she itemizes another way, leaving it pointless in it's entirety.
I'll go into more detail on scaling methods such as Bonus AD versus Total AD in the scaling article later on, but for now, keep in mind that you generally use scaling to emphasize an item build. Total AD increases with level, runes and masteries, and you don't actually need to build a single item for it to grow in power, whereas Bonus AD tends to be gained primarily from itemization. Runes/masteries may help it a bit, but not enough to have a major game-altering effect, since it's not including your level bonuses on top of that. AP is basically treated as Bonus AD, as no champion currently in the game, as of this writing, gains AP per level.
Now, that being said, you don't have to make your passives scale, necessarily. In many cases, you might actually want something to be a particular strength level overall, without much change over the course of a game. Consider something along the lines of Fiddlestick's passive; while it's a directly inversely proportional bonus to Soraka's passive, it's a little more active in that it's hard to get any kind of magic shred or reduction in the game in general, suggesting to him to build items which further enhance his capacity to cut through magic resistance than they already do.
With this, however, you don't want it to scale much during a game, as many champions don't get much for magic resistance during a game. It's rare on items, and tends to be in small amounts. The natural scaling in the game is also relatively quite weak, normally only being about +0.75 to +1.25 per level, if there's any at all. As such, the value of the ability is pretty much static throughout the game, as it won't really do enough to bother a tank with 150+ MR, and it's not going to have any change on a DPS who didn't build any MR at all. Either way, it remains about as effective at the start of the game, as it does at the end.
Consider what it is your passive does, and whether it's something which changes over the course of the game normally. As we just covered with MR, it doesn't necessarily do so very much, even if it's possible to itemize for it. Think carefully on the question of "If I increase this value over the course of the game, will it proportionally be more effective at each stage?".
Essentially, you're aiming to have your passive ability be roughly about the same value across the entire game, since you can't put points into it. There may be exceptions, such as Wukong's passive, where you actively want it weak during the laning phase, but strong during team fights, and these you have to take into account directly. In Wukong's case, it's balanced simply to be based off the number of enemies there are nearby, making it more useful in a team fight, rather than scaling it upwards heavily through the game in general.
Always think. This is a strange thing to have to say, especially with a period right after it; I'm not saying think about anything in particular, but just... think. Seriously, think about what you want to do before you do it. Think about when you want your passive to be of value before deciding whether it needs to scale or not. This should be common sense to go "Hrm... what am I actually trying to accomplish?", but for some odd reason it's not.
As such, THINK. For every single part of the champion's design, you need to intentionally be making choices. You don't slap on scaling pointlessly, just because you think it'd be neat. You put scaling on because you have a goal in mind for when and where you want your passive to be useful, and the scaling is used to ensure that it's useful at the times you want it to be.
More than anything else, you're aiming for your design to be done with purpose and intent, not just blindly mucking about. Following the concept of thinking through why you're doing anything on your design, from start to finish, is guaranteed to make it more polished of a design, and more fun to play as in the end.
Part 4: UNLIMITED POWAH! ~Senator Palpatine; Star Wars
So exactly how strong do you want your passive to be, anyway? Sure, we want a passive that has a noticeable effect on how your champion plays, but where to we draw the line between the remarkably different power levels of the passives for Twitch and Darius?
Honestly, it mostly comes down to the overall strength of the rest of the abilities on the champion's kit. If your champion has an overly potent kit which is universally effective in most situations, then you're probably going to want to cut down their passive's power, as it's a consistent benefit to everything they do.
This isn't to say that you can't balance a champion around a passive, however. It's fully possible to make a Sona-esque style passive where the abilities themselves benefit from it to the point of it controlling just how useful the abilities really are, such as is seen with Brand, where his entire kit's effectiveness is dependent upon his passive.
Where's the ideal location? Depends. Depends on what? Virtually everything. Anything from your basic stats, through to your overall kit, your individual abilities, your scaling, and so on, all plays a part in adjusting how strong your passive should be. Seriously, the list is so long that I'm not honestly sure if there's anything that wouldn't adjust how strong you want your champion's passive to be.
Personally, I'm a big fan of passives which directly affect how a champion plays, so I'd probably suggest that you'd be best off, in most situations, by making your passive a key part of the champion's kit, and balancing the whole as one large intertwined web, where adjusting one part affects the rest.
It's not the only way to do so, and some champions in game have dealt with the problem by simply making the active abilities the only thing which matter, and essentially making the passive so useless and pointless that it may as well not be present, to the point that balancing the passive is negligible to the overall effectiveness of the champion.
I don't much like doing things that way, as you're essentially throwing out something which could have been used to make your design more fun and interesting. Every time you say "I don't really need this so I'm going to get rid of it", you're only harming yourself. The more things you have to work with, the better. Yes, it's more difficult to design things that have more variables to work with, but it also gives you more directions from which to tweak and adjust their overall performance from a balance perspective, as well as also granting you more spaces to put neat stuff in.
In the end, if you rip out "optional" stuff, you're only really harming yourself, and your designs, by doing so.
Any excuse you have to make your champion design that much more fun and interesting, is a good one, so TAKE IT. Don't cut back simply because it's a bigger challenge; your goal is to make something awesome, not to settle for mediocre. If you're happy with mediocre, then why are you even designing anything in the first place? The fun is in the challenge of making something awesome itself. If you toss that part away, then you've missed the whole point, and are not just harming your champion design, but also harming yourself by depriving yourself of the best parts of champion design - the actual designing part.
As such, all I can really say more on this point, is to consider your entire champion as a single entity for balance. Each ability, including the innate passive, can be "balanced", yet have the overall design be unbalanced; it all comes down to a matter of the total, cumulative effect.
With that, I'll let you go.
Alright boys and girls, hermaphrodites and gender*****s, blah blah, whatever. This being "all inclusive" thing is a pain. I think I liked it better when we could just go with something simple.
Ah well, anyway, class is in session, so let's get started on activated abilities.
First off, we'll cover why actives are so important, and specifically, why they're generally much more important to a champion's design than their ultimate for defining what they do.
Second, we'll touch on the differences between why you'd use various cool downs.
Third, we'll be going lightly over the ideas of multi-abilities and mixed actives with passives attached. As there's an entire article, later on, devoted to this, it's going to be a pretty quick overview.
Finally, we'll discuss the idea of passive actives. Just as you can have an active passive, you can have a passive active. Who'da thunk?
So, time to get started!
Part 1: Just because you're essential, doesn't mean you're important. ~Despair.com
So you're onto making your regular abilities for your champion huh? Great! Wait... wait what's all this? "Don't know, doesn't matter, fill it in with whatever later" in all slots, but you have their ultimate done?
You do realize, that it's a relatively recent concept that teachers aren't allowed to beat the **** out of students who pull this kind of thing, right? Be grateful I'm a quick learner...
Seriously though, your actives are the true backbone of your champion. An ultimate often has too long a cool down, and is usually too situational to be a defining feature. There are some exceptions, such as Akali, or Darius, but in each case, you notice that the reason that their ultimate helps to define them is it's remarkably short cool down.
The fact of the matter is, your regular Q/W/E abilities are what makes up 90% of your champion's power, most of the time. They're what you rely on in lane, and what you rely on to do the majority of your job. Your ultimate is a nice bonus on top of that, which can open up new avenues of how to perform your role, but it's your basic abilities that truly define what your champion does.
Regular abilities have low cool downs, normally about 5 to 10 seconds, though some go a bit higher, and some really awkward ones can go as high as 30 second cooldowns.
Unless you're doing something really special, you don't get to make a 30 second cooldown on a regular ability to even it out. If I see one more "regular" ability that looks like Vladimir's Sanguine Pool, and your justification is the long cool down, we are going to have some problems. Fortunately for me, these "problems" are easily solved by a call to two guys named Vinnie and Vinny to fit you out for some new cement shoes. Unfortunately for you, well... I think you see where this is going.
The fact of the matter is, you have an ultimate for a reason. The ultimate gets the big long special cool down, normally. NORMALLY. I'll explain the exceptions in depth during the ultimate section after this, but not right now.
For now, simply be aware that if all your abilities have around a 20 second cooldown, your champion is boring, because they're never doing anything, no matter how good their right clicking is. You still need to have buttons to press and things to do.
This, fortunately, segues nicely into our next section...
Part 2: The internet is where time goes to die. Cooldowns, on the other hand, are what causes your heathbar to die.
Alright, so you know having tons of high end cooldowns is bad, but running with every ability on a 5 second cooldown, is a bit too much, in that you probably can't cast them fast enough, and it limits your capacity to do much of anything for stronger effects as well.
Ideally, you might want about one ability on a ~5 second or so timer, one on about a 10 second timer, and one on around 20 seconds. This gives you something to spam out whenever it's up, something for a bit more "oomph" when you need to open up or poke someone really hard, and something that can be used as an escape mechanism without being OP due to being spammable.
Obviously, there's variations on all of this, and it's fully possible to completely ignore everything I just said, but keep in mind that you'll typically want a broad range of cool downs on your abilities so that you can adapt to various situations. Even burst mages, such as Veigar and Annie, have at least something spammable to keep them from being a waste once they've blown all their big heavy hitting spells.
For a quick and dirty rough overview, here's a list of the generalized kind of stuff you'll want for various cooldowns. As per all things in this guide, this is a REFERENCE, and nothing more. There are exceptions to all rules.
3 to 5 second cooldown spells: These are pretty spammy. They're normally cheap in resource costs (such as mana or energy), and they're typically used to either proc things like a sheen effect, or to more or less replace a physical attack for poking capacity on a mage style champion.
Under 3 second cooldown spells: These are when you literally have replaced your auto-attack, or have a toggle ability that can be swapped quickly between on and off. Do not have more than one ability like this unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing, and even then, you'd better have a bloody good reason for it.
5 to 8 second cooldown spells: Useful, without being overly strong. These are generally your bread and butter spells which make up most of a champion's play time. You can use them fairly often and will probably be able to drop such on someone a few times in a team fight. They're rarely very powerful, due to being able to pound them out on a regular basis.
8 to 12 second cooldown spells: These are generally your harder hitters; typically you want some descent firepower here for burst capacity that's great for a poke tradeoff in lane, or unloading damage on someone in a team fight. Most of the effects around this area are pretty simple, something like CC, or raw damage, or some other generalized effect. Be careful in overusing this range, as although it's great for giving you something to do on occasion, you're probably only going to be able to cast it once or twice in most team fights.
12 to 15 second cooldown spells: These are almost a specialized category in and of themselves. Most of the stuff you'll find in this range is almost invariably related to locking down opponents, or escape maneuvers. It's excessively rare to find anything that doesn't fall under those categories, since they're about the only things that can be so potent that they're deserving of such a long cooldown. There's exceptions to all rules, but for the most part, you'll typically see stuff like healing, teleports and so on in this range.
16+ second cooldowns: These are huge on delay, meaning you get to use them *ONCE* in a team fight. They're designed pretty much with the intent that it's going to be a really potent effect which seriously affects how the outcome of a fight goes. A big heal like Soraka's, or a game changer like Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab or Anivia's Crystallize, will fit into this category. All it takes is one cast of something along these lines to drastically alter the balance of power in a fight.
Anyway, this is just a quick overview on such, but generally, your abilities are related directly to their cool downs. You're not going to find a 2 second stun on a 3 second cooldown, just as you're not going to find a low powered ability on a very long cooldown.
That being said, the cooldown of a spell is not the only way to control it's power level, by any means, and there are always exceptions to every rule, dependent upon the rest of the champion's kit.
Part 3: Each ability does ALL the things!
Sometimes it's nice to have an ability which has two or more effects built into it, such as damage and a stun. Other times, it may be more appropriate to split those effects up in various ways.
For example, an ability where, after casting it, you can cast it a second time to cause the stun, but you might not always want to do so for some reason or another. Perhaps it's a resource limitation, perhaps you'd rather have the timing change. Maybe it's one of those things where the longer you wait, the stronger it gets.
Other times, you may want to have it split up in other ways, such as a passive boost which benefits the player in some way, but also has an activated part to go with it. Tristana's explosive shot originally was one or the other, similar to Taric's aura. Using the damage part of the ability would disable the passive explosions when she killed things. This is great for forcing a bit of decision making on the player, though in Tristy's case, she unfortunately had to choose between harassment and farming, which was a bad choice.
For some other champions, of which Lulu is the posterchild thereof, it may be that you have abilities where they have differing effects depending on the target affected. Hit an ally, they're given a buff; hit an enemy, a debuff. This concept allows you to have two abilities which both have the power of a regular ability, allowing for versatility, but making the player decide which one's more valuable at any given time.
Ideas like this can make a champion far more interesting to play as, with more options to work with than normal. Be careful about loading on "too many" things to be done at once, and if you're going to use multi-abilities in this sense, where they do lots of things, be very careful not to have "too much" available to them. It's easy to get carried away! Make sure they still have their gaps and weaknesses!
Anyway, this is a super miniaturized version of a later article, so I'll just leave things here =3
Part 4: Activate the passive! Erm... wait...
There are also "active" abilities which are actually passives, yet don't play a passive role.
Often, on the forum here, I've seen people make the mistake of making true passives for their activated abilities, where they're little more than a stat boost. Seriously... don't do this.
There are actually champions in the game with passives for their active abilities, but let's look at one of the most obvious of these: Vayne.
Vayne's passive, Silver Bolts, is frustrating due to the % of max health true damage, but people seem to have gotten it into their heads that this means they're able to make just any passive.
Nuuu, check out Silver Bolts carefully. Yes, it's a "passive", but you'll also notice that it's highly active in terms of how it's used. You have to get three hits in a row on a single target, meaning you may be willing to chase after someone to land one more shot, or to not change targets when you might otherwise do so.
Despite that it's a passive boost, it completely alters how you play Vayne, and does so on a scale that many activated abilities aren't able to.
That's the reason why you can have an ability like Silver Bolts in the game. It gets treated as though it actually were an activated ability, since you have direct control over when and how it works. For something along the lines of "+X damage" or "Ignores X armour", yeah... you can't just toss that on and pretend that's a real activated ability.
When you add a passive instead of an active, it absolutely must manage to be on par with an activated ability in terms of how you play your champion. Often, it actually has to be even beyond that, because the player will be expecting more out of it than a regular activated ability would, so you really have to go out of your way to ensure it's interesting.
Overall, yes, you can make your active slots be passive abilities, so long as by "passive" you mean "it doesn't require actually pressing a button to use it". That's pretty much the limit of how passive an activated ability can go.
If you really, really want to make it so that you don't have to press a button for it at all, then so be it, but keep in mind that there's an even worse kind of passive out there... the passive where you do have to press a button.
That's right, I'm talking about steroids. They have their time and place where they're useful, but keep in mind that they're about as passive as they come. Sure, you press the button to turn it on, but really, when WOULDN'T you press the button to activate a steroid when you're in combat? If you're not in combat, don't press button, if you are in combat, press button. By all rights, this is a passive ability as you really have about as much interaction with the ability as a book is considered interactive media in that you have to turn the page to continue reading.
Are you done the page? Then... you turn the page... there's no real option in how that works. It doesn't make it an interactive experience.
So, too, does this concept apply to your abilities. Avoid steroids as much as possible, but don't be afraid to use them sometimes, either. An ability that's always active as a passive simply isn't able to be as powerful and useful to the player as one which can only be used for a short time and has a cost associated with it as limiting factors.
If you have a champion that's supposed to be DPS? Then you're going to need a steroid in there to enhance their physical attacks, or you're going to have to replace their attacks entirely with spells. No matter how you do it, though, you're going to be making their overall damage capacity be increased on a consistent basis. In most cases, this means a steroid type ability.
Alright, so you've gotten stuck with using a steroid, no big deal, some abilities really just are passive, and there's not much you can do about it. As such, just make sure that the rest of your abilities are anything but passive to compensate. It's alright to make a single ability a bit bland, if it's a necessity in order to make your champion work, just don't go beyond that point by making things passive which have no need to be, and ensure for each one bland ability, the rest are that much more awesome to make up for it.
In any case, there's a lot more stuff to cover about abilities in general, but we'll be discussing these more in detail later on, so for now, class is dismissed!
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. Also good morrow if you dazed out after the first line and somehow just woke up now after being in a trance for a day.
Not that anything like that would ever happen when reading this guide! Of course not! I'm not boring or dry! Yes, clearly you listen with rapt attention and cling to every word!
At least, that's what I tell myself so I can sleep at night while you snooze through my class >=O
Anyway, class is in session. Complimentary pillows are available located behind your desks.
So today we're going to cover ultimates. Some of you may have been waiting on this, some of you may have been dreading it. Others may be snoring... regardless, let's see what we're looking at today!
First off, we're going to pretty much define not just what an ultimate is, but why it's so "ultimate". This will be "why" you make a spell an ultimate, instead of a normal ability.
Second, we'll cover the idea of the overall benefit that an ultimate should provide your champion. This is very closely related to the first section, so you may see some overlap here.
Third, we'll touch upon the differences between rapid cooldown ultimates, and long cooldown ultimates. Not only that, we'll also be discussing when and where each is appropriate for your champions!
Finally, we'll go over ways to help ensure that your ultimate maintains it's purpose, without falling into many of the problems many people's ultimates do.
So, since we've got that out of the way, let's get to it!
Part 1: The Penultimate Ultimate! Something sounds... off though.
An ultimate is supposed to be, as it's name implies, pretty "ultimate". This is generally a major part of what makes your champion so unique and awesome, and you really want to polish it up nicely.
On the other hand... you want to be cautious to not fall into the pitfall of just making the ultimate awesome, while leaving the rest of the champion design to rot, as far too often becomes the case.
Keep in mind that your normal abilities are what really "defines" your champion. Ahri is still Ahri without her ultimate, though she looses part of what makes her so fun to play and helps her do her job.
So... wait, if a champion still generally performs the same role without their ultimate, then what good is the ultimate if it doesn't define your champion?
Why, I'm glad you asked, self. I was hoping for one of the students to do so, but we wouldn't want to wake them, now would we? ^.~
(I'm not really being passive-aggressive or anything, just having fun with the sleep thing still in case anyone's worried at this point XD )
The answer is that your normal abilities are what defines your champion on a regular basis of what they are, because they can be used regularly; they are what you use in lane, and they are what you use on a regular basis within a team fight. The ultimate, on the other hand, is the icing on the cake; it's the final little strawberry sitting on top of a mountain of whipped cream. It's that finishing touch that just brings the champion from being "pretty cool" up to "ZOMG EPIX WIN" levels.
Without your ultimate, your champion should still be a force to be reckoned with, generally speaking. Without it, alright, maybe you'll lose a 1v1 fight against someone else who does have their own ultimate up, but you should still be able to be valuable.
If you have absolutely zero usefulness without your ultimate, then either you need to ensure that your ultimate is able to be up on a regular basis in combat, or rework the entire design so that it doesn't rely solely on the crutch of the ultimate to carry it's whole weight.
If your normal abilities define "what your champion does", such as a bunch of auto-attack steroids, then your ultimate should be that which either emphasizes their role, by emphasizing something they do great already in a more spectacular and interesting way, or by providing them new options to work with.
Part 2: You should be a politician; you put all those words down, and still didn't tell us what an ultimate's supposed to do.
So I did. Keen eyes there... I'll have to kill you later when no one's looking.
Anyway, the power of an ultimate should be, as stated, enhancing your champion's role and purpose, or granting them new ways to do things. Let's take a look at a few example pieces!
Let's start with Ezreal. Without his ultimate up, he's mobile, and has a bunch of skill shot pokes available. He'll keep jabbing you in the face at medium to long range the whole fight, while being hard to hit back. This is the entire point of his design, really.
Now, if his ultimate is up, he gets a new tool at his disposal: the ability to do such a long range skillshot that he can hit anyone he feels like on the map, assuming good aim and they don't avoid it. It adds to his power, sure, but it mostly just emphasizes his skillshot specialty.
Another good example is Pantheon. His kit, sans ultimate, is dedicated to being an AD mage, essentially, where he lands on someone and unloads in their face a large amount of firepower. His ultimate, however, doesn't make or break him, it simply gives him the new option of being able to get into combat in the first place from a much longer range than usual, allowing him to perform his role that much better.
For a bad one... we see Graves. Oh Graves... why is your ultimate so fail? You see... Graves already has his Q, Buckshot, to perform most of the same role that his ultimate, Collateral Damage, does. All his ultimate provides is a second generic nuke, that behaves in a very similar way to his original; it's generally fired at short range, and spreads out from there for burst damage. Which... is almost exactly the same role as his Buckshot ability.
See... simply adding a second ability that does almost the exact same role as another one that the champion already has, isn't really that witty, nor that interesting or awesome. It's honestly kind of lame, when your "ultimate" doesn't really "add" anything to your champion. No one cares about Graves' ultimate, because all it does is make his short range burst even more bursty, without really adding anything new. If it simply made his next Buckshot do double damage, it'd be roughly about equivalent in effectiveness much of the time.
You don't just want your ultimate to be "more of the same", but rather, you want it to really stand out as interesting and unique. Something which really polishes up that design and makes it even more awesome than normal!
Let's see another good one for contrast.
Riven's ultimate first enhances her damage, boosting the effectiveness of all her abilities and suggesting to her player "build more AD", but more than that, it allows her to finish off targets with a nice ranged AoE that wipes out lots of the low health ones in one go.
Her other abilities tend to be good for short range mobility and AoE damage output, but she's not so hot at actually finishing a target if they flash away, or are at low health. As such, her Wind Slash really just stands out as a great way to further make use of her other abilities she already has.
Well then, what about Veigar? Surely he's got a good ultimate since it has a unique effect, right?
Not really, all his ultimate does is "damage". All his Q and W can do is "damage". Sure he has... actually, no, he really doesn't have much variation in the methods of damage, even. His Q and R are almost identical, except for the fact that his Q defines him as a remarkably high AP caster, whereas his R just lets him one-shot enemy mages because of bonus damage. It doesn't change how he plays at all, really, nor does it make him any more interesting or fun to use. It doesn't add more options to how he plays, or give him a combo where he has to use his abilities in a certain order. It's just a generic nuke. Sure it does lots of damage, as generic nukes go, but it doesn't really set him aside as being of particular interest otherwise.
In each of these cases, you have a defining feature of a champion which is simply given new ways to apply it, or which, equally simply, fails to add anything particularly new to the mix.
There are other options, however, besides just these. Some champions get ultimates which simply do something which is more or less unrelated to the rest of their kit at all, but gives them something really interesting they can do which can shift the balance of power.
Zilean, for example, gets the ability to keep an ally alive, which either gives them a several second lease on life when no one can be bothered to attack them, or it can let them revive again after and go back to killing again, wasting the damage that was dealt to them previously.
Both teams get to interact with the ability, and it brings something to the table that he didn't have at all, previously.
Another interesting example is Akali, who gains one of the few "super short cooldown ultimates". Her Shadow Dance is positioned where it is, as an ultimate, in that it allows her to be useful in lane, without getting overly strong, but once she has it, she now has the capacity to do her assassination style role much more effectively than before. She lacks for ways to get into range, short of summoner spells, her Twilight Shroud (Which is an obvious hint to not stand near it), or standing in bushes or out of line of sight. As such, her ultimate grants her a highly effective method of doing her job better than she could before.
It's not as flashy as some champions, and it doesn't really define her as being a high damage output assassin, but it does define her partially due to it's very low cooldown, as once she has it, she plays quite differently pretty much for the rest of the game. It's an escape to leap to enemy minions or neutral creeps, just as it is a way to get into the fight in the first place.
So this brings with it one nagging question though... why does her ultimate have so low of a cooldown?
For that, we need to slip into the next part of the article!
Part 3: Once, years ago, I used to go to a Sonic the Hedgehog forum. There was an odd dichotomy... most of the guys liked Sonic, while the girls had a thing for Knuckles. It finally made sense, when someone compared their catch phrases... Sonic is known as "The fastest thing alive", and Knuckles is "Hard as nails".
So, in the sense of the Sonic vs Knuckles dealie above, we have another comparison to make. Quick cooldown ultimates, versus long cooldown ultimates.
Now, normally a champion wants a mixture of ability cooldowns, as we discussed in the previous article on activated abilities. If you focus too heavily on one side of things, it can make them very bland, either by having nothing to do while their stuff is on cooldown, or not having anything potent enough to pull in those clutch plays, when the difference between hitting or not is negligible due to spammability limiting the individual effectiveness per hit.
For an ultimate, this is your chance to truly shine, usually, by placing in a really long cooldown which can have teamfight changing properties, such as a powerful initiation, or an AoE hard CC effect.
Then again... there are exceptions to this rule...
As we covered with Akali, her ultimate is used to partially define her play style, and if you look at other champions such as Swain, or LeBlanc, you'll notice their low cooldown ultimates really heavily affect how they play on a regular basis. Even champions like Lux or Katarina, soon show traits of their ultimates becoming a key aspect of what makes them who they are, due to their capacity to reduce their ultimate's cooldown to an acceptable level for fairly frequent use.
Seriously, stack 40% CDR on Lux, and when she hits 16, she spams out a two screen long AoE nuke that HURTS, making her excellent for sieging power, as she can soften up an entire enemy team if people are indecisive about actually starting the fight or not, as is often the case if there's no clear openings for an initiation.
The point is, sometimes you want that extra little "oomph" that can really define a champion in a much more articulated manner. Their ultimate is fully capable of doing this, if it's on a low enough cooldown that it can be used more than once per fight.
In cases like Ahri and Xerath, who have begun to work within the trend of a staggered power ultimate, similar to how Akali and Teemo are, though using different mechanics to employ such, they're able to have their presence felt a little more notably, by weaving it into a spell order, but without the issue of being able to do so on a highly rapid rate all the time. Ahri can still be caught without her ultimate, whereas it's much harder to nail down Akali since she gets hers back, at least partially, much quicker.
The real question you need to ask yourself, at this point, is whether your champion needs something which defines who they are and how they play in regular combat, or if they need something really potent and powerful for those one shot bursts when they need it most.
For assassins, you'll find most of them are interested in quick kills early on in the game, such as LeBlanc, Akali, or Katarina. You may also notice that these same individuals are very good at doing very rapid use of their ultimates.
For others, such as Poppy, she's more of an anti-carry, and is a bit of a late bloomer as assassins go, because her focus is on completely demolishing a player, even if they're surrounded by their allies. As such, she is interested in making that one big entrance into a team fight as potent as possible, rather than flitting about the map and wrecking people one at a time in quick succession.
The real question comes down to "what do I want my champion to do?". If you don't know, then you can't answer the next question of "should I give them a low or high cooldown ultimate?", because you need to know what your intended purpose for the champion as a whole is before you assign defining characteristics which state what their purpose is.
The general rule of thumb, however, is that if you have a champion that's probably going to be in combat for awhile, such as a tank, you give them something that involves short term positioning; either theirs or their enemy's, as they likely don't have much else to do that with. Malphite's a pretty good example of this, and he also shows that these kinds of "big powerful positioning tools" tend to also be very long cooldown, but very potent as well.
If, however, you're interested in making a champion who darts in and out of combat quickly, or may show up for a few seconds, do their thing, then fall back, and return again... you generally want their ultimate to line up for their gameplay. You may, however, also want to give them a tool which they can use at that one precise, perfect moment when they dart back into combat and can pull off a clutch play, so this isn't a guaranteed rule, by any means.
The fact of the matter is, it's up to you. Overall, the same rules for cooldowns apply though.
Keep in mind that any cooldown that's over 60 seconds, but below 90, is kind of a waste. If someone dies endgame, it takes them around a minute to revive in most cases on Summoner's Rift. Toss in travel time back to the fight, and a 60 second cooldown ulti is already ready to smack them around again. As is a 90. There's very little difference between the two, in most situations.
Now, a 120 second cooldown is something you reserve for something that you save for major team fights only. These are pretty much always game changers that will affect how the game plays as a whole.
The only ones which tend to creep much past 120 seconds any longer, are almost always global ultimates, which have such widereaching effectiveness, due to being able to be used at a time time to affect anywhere on the map, that you have to essentially factor in the travel time it'd take to get into position to use a spell again normally, into the actual spell itself, since there is no travel or positioning time for these.
Keep in mind, that if I see another person putting an insta-kill overpowered ultimate on their champion, and simply increasing the cooldown to 10 minutes, Imma smack them inna fayse!
Seriously, a cooldown does denote power to a degree, but if it's such a long cooldown that you never use it *coughrevivecough*, it has no impact on the game, or is overpowered. Your ultimate should be there for you at the moment you need it most, so long as you didn't waste it frivolously or were forced to use it for some other reason recently.
In short, simply giving something that's overpowered through the roof a longer cooldown, does NOT compensate for it!
Anyway, short cooldowns? Consider that 40 seconds goes down to 24 with 40% CDR gear, so it may as well be labeled in with Soraka's heal as a player has to be assumed to aim for such a build, such as on Lux.
We've actually just run into a few problems, so let's see some other issues that people have with their ultimates then, shall we?
Part 4: If there's one thing I hate about bad ultimates, it's how they feel like they're unfinished. It's like bad writing, where someone doesn't finish their train of thought, or they
There's plenty of ways to do something wrong. There's plenty of ways to do something right, as well, usually. Ultimates in particular, are a bit tricky to get used to, because it's tempting to just make them be "ZOMG BIG EXPLOSION!".
In hindsight, it rarely turns out to be all that entertaining, however (poor Graves...), and usually just feels like a cop out.
So what are some of the worst mistakes to make when doing an ultimate? Let's go over a few quickly!
More of the same: I covered this earlier in this article already, but it needs to be stressed further because it's so common of a mistake! Don't make your ultimates simply bigger versions of abilities you already have. Each ability a champion has should have a unique purpose. Yes, you can have a little bit of overlap with abilities that do multiple functions, but if every ability simply reads "damage, damage, damage, damage", you seriously aren't designing anything, you're just scribbling with crayon. This doesn't mean that your abilities can't all have damage, it just means that damage can't be the only thing they do!
Completely unnecessary: Often there are champion designs where the ultimate is tossed in simply because they thought of it as a cool idea, and... it has no benefit to the champion. At all. Look up at the passive section and read over that little rant I did about Talon's passive. Many of the designs on the forum here suffer from the same problem with their ultimate, where it sounds "neat", but it doesn't actually help their champion any. This doesn't mean that an ability can't give them new options to work with, but it does mean that if you give an AD carry an ultimate that does very low magic damage but scales with like 1.5 AP, it's kind of pointless. Tristana can do it because she has good AP ratios all around and her abilities work well together as a mage, but if you literally only have melee effects with no other AP scaling? It doesn't matter how cool your ultimate is, if it doesn't belong on that champion. Save the idea, write it down somewhere, and put it on another champion who can appreciate it better.
Leaving a hole which is required to fulfill their role, which a regular ability can't cover: Here is why Karma is never going to be a truly valid support champion. She makes for a wonderful AP bruiser, and can even be treated as an AoE Burst Mage, but despite having three "support" abilities, she lacks hardcore for her ability to turn a fight around with a well timed clutch play of her ultimate. Mostly because she doesn't really have one.
Just bland and boring compared to their normal abilities: Vladimir's Hemoplague is... well... boring. Every other ability he has is more interesting, to the point that it Hemoplague just feels lackluster, even though it's not that bad on it's own.
Using hidden power: Maokai suffers from this pretty badly... he can toss heatseeking plant grenades, go flying across the battlefield, and knock people senseless while healing himself off spell spammers! Oh and he can put a circle on the ground that his team ignores because it's benefit is more or less unnoticeable most of the time. Yes, it's technically useful in a team fight, but you really, really want to avoid anything that's "hidden power" in an ultimate. You want to FEEL the power, and know that when you blow your cooldown, **** just got real. You don't want to blow an "ultimate" and just feel like you may as well not have bothered. Make them big and flashy!
The ultimate that just keeps giving: Ever see one of those ultimates that has like 17 abilities rolled into one? Yeah, if you made one of them, stop doing that. Ultimates are meant more for clutch plays usually, that perfect moment when you use it at just the right instant, when all the stars align, and it changes the entire game. If you have an ultimate that does so much **** in such a spread out way that it's not clear if you even got all you could out of it, then it's going to feel lackluster. Especially avoid anything that has opposing functions on long cooldown ultimates! You can put choices like Lulu's on normal abilities, since you can choose when to use each one. Do NOT do this on ultimates, since you can't just wait for the cooldown and to try again! (Yes, I've made this mistake myself; I've learned my lesson the hard way! ) It sounds awesome, but it really isn't.
Anyway, that's a few of the biggest offenders that I can think of at the moment, though there's likely a great many more to be concerned about.
In short, you want your ultimate to be clear and obvious in it's purpose. If it's got contradicting concepts, such as benefits one way if enemies are closer, and benefits another way if they're farther away, it's not really doing it's job properly, and it'll feel awkward to use. Make it big and flashy, and strive to "feel" that power it has in it. Trundle's ultimate is strong (though not so much anymore due to a shift in how people build their team compositions and how they itemize in general anymore), but it does a ton of things in a small amount to two people, making it feel much weaker than it is. Avoid auras if at all possible!
In the end, your ultimate is the thing which really makes your champion stand out as unique and special. Their normal abilities are what makes them work on a mechanical level so that they're fun, but their ultimate is what really makes them truly awesome, so be careful when handling it!
I've got to go make supper, so for now, class is dismissed!
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