Melee Carry Itemization

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TheLastBaron88

Senior Member

10-29-2012

So it's no secret that Melee AD Carries are not viable. Not a single one. So what is it that makes them so bad?
My thoughts on this:

I hear their "Kiteability" being listed as perhaps the number one complaint. I generally think of Ashe and her on-hit slows when I think of kiting, though any slow seems to do the trick. You cannot escape slows of even a small percentage, it seems, unless you are nearly under tower already. Flash is fine well and good, but it only sets you a short distance away, and still leaves you unable to escape, and even less able to chase. Dashes suffer for the same reason. The only reliable defense against melees being kited that I have observed are built-in slow-breaks, such as Garen's Decisive Strike or Master Yi's Highlander. Obviously not every melee can or even should have these, it would ruin League's champion variety and increase mobility creep. Merc Treads are wonderful against hard cc, and are considered THE boot to buy. Some even claim they are OP. But they have no discernible effect against continually reapplied slows, because they only affect the duration of CC. There is just no real defense against that. Currently.

But what if Boots of Swiftness were to have a Unique Passive decreasing the duration and efficiency of slows, specifically? Say they reduced duration and strength of Slow Debuffs on your champ by 25-50% (not firmly decided on an exact number yet). This would mean a 20% slow for 3 secs would become a 10-15% slow for only 1.5-2.25 secs. Since slows are multiplicative, this would be decidedly effective versus stacking slows.

The second issue facing melee carries is an obvious one. They don't have the safety afforded to ranged carries, but are still just as squishy. I have heard a lot of people argue that they are all-around outclassed by Bruisers, who can do more tanking and crowd control at the cost of a little less DPS. I am inclined to agree with this, melee carries are remarkably easy to kill when CCed and focused. Currently, melee carries cannot hope to out tank bruisers even with itemization factored in(and they shouldnt, it would defeat the purpose of having Bruisers). As far as outfighting a bruiser goes, I think what is needed is more counter-tank itemization. Madred's is in need of some adjustment currently, as it just costs too much to build (and as an AS/on-hit item, the bonus AD from Pickaxe is entirely wasted. Someone else suggested bringing Kitae's Bloodrazor into SR, and having that build into Madred's, which I think would be a wonderful idea). And DFG has been nerfed into oblivion. Hopefully it makes its way back to a halfway point between the current worthlessness and previous OMFGRUKIDDING OP that it once was, lol.
But some of the new items being tested in the new map show promise, if you are an AS/on-hit or AP carry.
So why not an HP-shred for AD carries? One idea off the top of my head could be an AD DFG mirror, dealing physical damage based on % enemy health, scaling with your AD, with about the range of Bilgewater Cutlass's active. Though Blade of the Ruined King might do the job just as well, if not better.

What melee carries do well, is raw sustained dps. They generally have better base stats than Ranged ADCs. But ultimately, since AD items give flat bonuses, by endgame a melee carry will ONLY outdamage a ranged ADC by the difference of their base stats, usually a measly 5-10 damage per hit, given the same build. So ultimately, Ranged ADCs get the damage of a melee ADC without the vulnerability that comes from having to get close to the enemy.
One idea I had to fix this would be to make AD items give bonus AD as a percentage of your base AD, just like how Attack Speed items work. That way, a higher base AD would lead to a higher endgame damage. A friend of mine suggested this might inadvertently reintroduce the Tanky DPS Era. Those were dark times indeed. But I don't feel this to be the case exactly, as a carry's dps is based on a combination of AD, AS, and Crit Chance. Most bruisers wouldn't want to build Attack Speed or Crit Chance, let alone both.

Just my two cents (or maybe closer to 50, haven't checked the character count XD ) on the matter. Please discuss below, I would really like to hear some different opinions about this issue.


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TealNinje

Senior Member

10-29-2012

Malphite and Blitzcrank are both champions who might be able to tear down the conception of "melee carries aren't viable;" except that they are perpetually portrayed as tanks or, at best, tanky supports.


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TheLastBaron88

Senior Member

10-29-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by TealNinje View Post
Malphite and Blitzcrank are both champions who might be able to tear down the conception of "melee carries aren't viable;" except that they are perpetually portrayed as tanks or, at best, tanky supports.
How do you mean? Built for damage, I was under the impression that they fit the Bruiser category. They aren't really Melee Carry's in the sense that I understand a Carry to be, in the sense that both of them are remarkably tanky and difficult to kill, even when focused. Squishiness is practically a defining trait for a Carry, I thought. It's what keeps their damage output balanced.
That aside, do they really put out that much sustained damage?


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axesandspears

Senior Member

10-30-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLastBaron88 View Post
How do you mean? Built for damage, I was under the impression that they fit the Bruiser category. They aren't really Melee Carry's in the sense that I understand a Carry to be, in the sense that both of them are remarkably tanky and difficult to kill, even when focused. Squishiness is practically a defining trait for a Carry, I thought. It's what keeps their damage output balanced.
That aside, do they really put out that much sustained damage?
Malphite potentially has one of the highest damage outputs in the game with a pure carry build, and there are bruiser builds that can also output a great deal of damage--although Sunfire Cape is still his largest single damage source in any bruiser build. It was much higher before the Brutal Strikes rework. Brutal Strikes was an extra damage scalar that worked by increasing Malphite's total ad by 30/40/50/60/70%, and the current Brutal Strikes still increases ad by 20/25/30/35/40%. Malphite's "extra scalar" gives him one of the highest auto-attack damage potentials in the game, completely ignoring the fact that Brutal Strikes has always granted Malphite a passive aoe on his auto-attacks.

Blitzcrank can have a very high damage potential, but I think he scales better on ap which implies that he wouldn't be all that squishy.

Melee carries are not viable because the team cannot protect them:
  • A champion cannot inflict much damage while he/she is dead (although there are ways to inflict "some" extra damage while dead).
  • By nature, a melee champion is either in the thick of the fighting or doing nothing.
  • A champion in the thick of a fight is very vulnerable to damage.
  • Damage output always comes down to consistent or inconsistent DAMAGE PER SECOND, which implies that the champion must survive for a majority of a fight.
The factors suggest that a viable "melee carry" is literally impossible amongst competent players unless that melee champion has a ridiculous kit compared to everything else. In the "ridiculous kit" case, the champion continues to perform better as a bruiser, and he/she would be undeniably overpowered when built as a bruiser.
Therefore, viable melee carries cannot exist in this game. This does not mean that champions like Master Yi will always be inherently unviable. Those champions merely need to build enough defense to keep fighting in the fray, and net their team and overall advantage in group fights. Many players figured out "bruiser Nocturne" a long time ago already, and he is not much different from Yi, Fiora, or Tryndamere.

By default, all melee champions are bruisers when played competently. Melee champions provide their optimal outputs with bruiser variations.


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67chrome

Senior Member

10-30-2012

From playing Fiora plenty of times I wouldn't really say kitability is a major weakness that needs addressing. CC in general is bad for carries, but having a slow-reducing boot option wouldn't really help there, Tenacity and magic resistance is much more valuable. Having her continue to attack-move to fallow enemies you attempted to lunge onto that ducked into brush when you're trying to catch them would be infinitely more useful for her chasing potential/prevention of being kited.

As for why ranged carries outclass them that's largely because of poor base stat allocation and placing said base stats to make melee carries more damaging on their actual abilities, taking up real-estate on their QWER bar that could have just as easily been placed in level-up scaling. On average, melee carries don't differ from ranged carries in HP, HP per 5, MP, MP per 5, Armor, Base Attack Speed, Attack Speed, and Attack Damage, in most cases if they have an advantage anywhere it's less than a 5% increase (At least at level 18, they generally start with more HP but have lower per-level scaling). The only attributes they get bonuses on to compensate for having 400+ less attack range is getting 1.25 magic resistance per level, and ~15-25 extra base movement speed. So at level 18, they get an unimpressive 22.5 magic resistance to compensate for all of that, and move up to 8% faster.

That problem could easily be solved by increasing their base attack speed by a noticeable margin over RADCs. Fiora can attack things with a rapier 0.672 times per second. Tristana can attack things with a CANNON 0.658 times per second. Caitlyn can attack things with a SNIPER RIFLE 0.668 times per second. If you think this is horribly wrong I do to. Base Attack Speed has the unique property to scale every single physical DPS stat - all % attack speed increases go off of base attack speed. The frequency you can put attack damage to use goes off of base attack speed. The propensity for life steal to allow you to sustain yourself goes off of base attack speed. So buffing the base attack speeds of the melee ADCs would both make them more viable against RADCs (as they really would get more out of AD items), it would also make them more viable than Bruisers that want to try being a MADC (like Jax). Base Attack Speed is what keeps most mages from being an RADC, it should be used to make MADCs equally more potent than their competition.
Case in point: Annie has a base attack speed of 0.579 attacks per second, and scales up to 0.713 attacks per second at level 18.
Caitlyn has a base attack speed of 0.668 attacks per second, and scales up to 1.01 attacks per second at level 18.

Also, how does swinging a Rapier, Katana, or Cutlass around take sliiiiiiiiiightly less time than utilizing weapons that require you to re-load them after each shot? At least Tryndamere's weapon looks heavy.

Anyways, that would at least help the scaling. If you can split teams up it's not to hard for ADCs like Fiora, Yi, or Tryndamere to solo anything once they have a few items either, and they are all hard to deal with when they have a decent level of life steal. If that Olaf doesn't have exhaust against that Youmuu's+Executioner's Calling Fiora he's already toast. Fiora, Tryndamere, and Gangplank all have an ultimate that allows them to be reasonably to extremely effective in team fights as well, given you use it properly. Currently they are all rather powerful at sustaining themselves with lifesteal, and lifesteal offers enough counter-play to still be capable of shutting them down, so beyond having something that offers better scaling to them (like base attack speed) I don't see to much reason to give them other defensive stats. Invulnerability and untargetability already are pretty powerful defensive mechanics anyways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by axesandspears View Post
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Generally the difference between classifying a champion as a "Tank", "Bruiser", or "Melee Carry" depends on how potent their crowd-control effects are compared to how well they scale with damage, particularly critical strikes. Tanks generally tend to have so much crowd-control they can remain a serious presence in fights even when they build no damage items, but generally always scale with Ability Power so they don't benefit much from critical strikes. Bruisers tend to have potent CC, either through the occasional stun or spammable slows that allow them to stick to targets, cause some disruption, but ultimately require some damage to be built to not be ignored. Carries have peanuts for Crowd Control capacities. For Fiora and Master Yi it's 0 crowd control capacity, Tryndamere has an easily baited slow, and Gangplank has reliable slows. Yi and Fiora both get a sizable AD and AS steroid, so they get more out of AS and AD than eveyone else, and even more from critical strikes. Tryndamere and Gangplank have damage steroids as well, and Gangplank has a nuke that is capable of critically striking, so they can see impressive scaling with criticals also.

Basically that's why while champions like Malphite, Blitzcrank, and Jax can fullfill the same duties as a melee carry they aren't considered as one or played as one, because they lack the incentives to scale with critical strikes, have enough CC to build survival and be threatening, and overall have solid bruiser build paths that are overall more effective for them. They don't need to rack up critical strike chance to maximize their effectiveness.

Also that is largely why Nocturne is capable of being semi-viable building bruiser and melee carries really aren't, Nocturne has crowd-control. If you build melee caries as bruisers they have no advantage over anything, the more survival they build the less impressive their damage output becomes because it is heavily reliant on seeing continuous multiplicative bonuses were most Bruisers have abilities for damage output instead of steroids. Gangplank is the only melee carry that is really viable as a bruiser IMO, he has reliable slows that don't necessitate building Phage if he wants CC at all, and one of his crit-scaling incentives is actually a nuke that remains a solid source of damage regardless of how he builds. Not to mention he's the only one of the four with a team-wide buff, so even if his damage isn't worthy of focusing him he can still help his team out.

TLDR: Building melee carries as a bruiser is a baind-aid fix that doesn't suit their kit, and giving them better base attack speed would allow all AD itemization options to be better on them without needing to create a custom item line for them to exclusively use better than RADCs.


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TealNinje

Senior Member

10-30-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by axesandspears View Post
The factors suggest that a viable "melee carry" is literally impossible amongst competent players unless that melee champion has a ridiculous kit compared to everything else. In the "ridiculous kit" case, the champion continues to perform better as a bruiser, and he/she would be undeniably overpowered when built as a bruiser.
This is where Malphite and Blitzcrank are the exceptions; Malphite has a 1 second window to deal his damage outside of allied CC, or else he loses his best opportunity, so, as a damage dealer, he needs to be built pure damage in order to capitalize on the opportunity. Since he has such high damage potential, he can actually ult into the entire enemy team and, if they can't CC him in time, kill all of them before they can react. Even in full blown teamfights, as long as he has cleanse, he can kill the enemy carry instantly every time without being deterred.

Blitzcrank being an exception relies on not needing to stay in the fight; he can run around the fight until he has the best opportunity to hit the enemy carry, and his teammates will benefit from the different positioning by having better angles to hit the enemy back line. If the enemy team tries to initiate on his team, he can grab the enemy tank before they CC and then break them before they can use any of their resistance abilities. The enemy tank will be forced to use all CC on just Blitzcrank, who is too far away from the enemy team to be targeted, while Blitzcrank's team can save their CC for best effect.


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JustMyBassCannon

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Senior Member

10-30-2012

Melee carries are mechanically designed improperly; it's not their items, but rather their innate kits.


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TheLastBaron88

Senior Member

10-30-2012

It is interesting to me that Melee Carries don't work in this game. I think the core issue is that they don't have any real advantages over Ranged ADCs, particularly when teamfights roll around. I have heard that other MOBAs like HoN and DotA actually have plenty of viable melee carries.
Now I don't actually like either of those MOBAs, I find the characters and art style of League to be much more appealing, and the gameplay to be just a little less snowbally. What is strange to me, is that out of these three MOBAs, League actually has the LEAST cc, particularly as far as duration is concerned. In other games, you can literally be CCed for the length of an entire team fight. How is it possible for melee carries to survive in an environment like that, when they cannot even manage to be viable in League?


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A Wild Xuta

Member

10-30-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLastBaron88 View Post
How is it possible for melee carries to survive in an environment like that, when they cannot even manage to be viable in League?
To pick two random heroes, one of them has Zilean's ult. Another has a normal skill that makes them spell immune.

Also, DOTA at least has Black King Bar, which you can just plain buy and provides a ton of damage and an active that adds spell immunity.

There's also Linken's Sphere, which is basically Banshee's Veil except spells that don't target units get by it and it's pretty good on carries stat-wise.

Basically? It's because they can just blissfully ignore the CC while only Olaf, who isn't a carry, can do that in League.

There's also the case where some can just out-perform other carries. Anti-Mage has mana burn on-hit and an ult that nukes a targetted enemy and those around him based on the targetted dude's missing mana, and has a decently-ranged blink. Ursa has an insane attack speed buff and deals more damage with each strike (which works with life steal and I think critical strike) that doesn't cap. Phantom Assassin has a unit-targetted blink that gives her an attack speed buff against the target, true damage long ranged farming that can also function the help initiate due to its slow, and a critical strike that deals x4.5 damage at max rank.

In DOTA, carries carry hard. Some, like most ranged carries, just don't do it as well. So it's more that simply because League is less snowbally that melee carries don't work; if they did, it would make the game a lot more snowbally.


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TheLastBaron88

Senior Member

10-31-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Wild Xuta View Post
To pick two random heroes, one of them has Zilean's ult. Another has a normal skill that makes them spell immune.

Also, DOTA at least has Black King Bar, which you can just plain buy and provides a ton of damage and an active that adds spell immunity.

There's also Linken's Sphere, which is basically Banshee's Veil except spells that don't target units get by it and it's pretty good on carries stat-wise.

Basically? It's because they can just blissfully ignore the CC while only Olaf, who isn't a carry, can do that in League.

There's also the case where some can just out-perform other carries. Anti-Mage has mana burn on-hit and an ult that nukes a targetted enemy and those around him based on the targetted dude's missing mana, and has a decently-ranged blink. Ursa has an insane attack speed buff and deals more damage with each strike (which works with life steal and I think critical strike) that doesn't cap. Phantom Assassin has a unit-targetted blink that gives her an attack speed buff against the target, true damage long ranged farming that can also function the help initiate due to its slow, and a critical strike that deals x4.5 damage at max rank.

In DOTA, carries carry hard. Some, like most ranged carries, just don't do it as well. So it's more that simply because League is less snowbally that melee carries don't work; if they did, it would make the game a lot more snowbally.
Excellent Post. Thanks for this, not super familiar with DotA itemization, personally. So then DotA melee carries behave more along the lines of Fed AD Sion or Fed Tryndamere, with built-in GA and the option to build an Olaf Ult? Sounds very one-sided. Might be why I don't play it, lol.
So then you would agree that the only way to make melee carries viable in league is for them to be able to out-DPS Ranged ADCs by a more significant margin, since they don't get safety from positioning and can't build defense without sacrificing DPS? I mean, the only survivability extreme Melee DPS characters generally build is lifesteal, since it synergizes with their damage. And if they are going to go down, then they have less time to inflict damage anyway, limiting their overall damage output.
Semi-related question, how viable was Release Tryndamere? I have heard a lot of people say he was a terror, but others that I trust who say he really wasn't that OP at all. Since the nerf, it is unanimously agreed that he is not viable in competitive play, but was he ever?


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