@Xelnath: A Complete Argument for Xerath getting an Orbital Laser Cannon of Doom

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David Hume

Senior Member

05-10-2013

tl;dr: Orbital laser cannons are a kind of artillery. Xerath gets a controllable doom beam, which gives him something to micro while his spells are down. Then we take his character concept to 11. Contains a full kit further down.

split from Let's talk about Xerath

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
Let's start with a few facts:
  • Xerath has a 50% win rate across all elos.
  • Xerath only has a 51% win rate in very high elo matches.
  • Xerath's total burst has a 1134 dmg + 3.4 AP Ratio + 40% spell pen - the highest baseline burst in the game.
  • Xerath has a very cool theme and concept

Despite this:
  • Xerath is the 2nd least played Mage across all regions.

The data indicates Xerath is actually balanced in terms of total impact on the game. His best case burst is massive. Yet he's not played a lot.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
Alright, I think at this point, it's pretty clear we need to put some effort into Xerath. I'll be joining the live design team for a little while and putting my time into figuring out the best path to take Xerath down.

The initial kit I'm going to try will be something like this:

Q) Still the line nuke
W) Now a 2-charge ammo version of his ultimate [damage adjusted to compensate]
E) Something that results in CC
R) Siege Mode, but with a longer cooldown and better range.

I'm still concerned that there isn't quite enough to do while planted down in the ground. What do you think? What is enough to keep you busy but not just pop into siege mode to land a Q or W and abort?
Xerath lacks the visceral moments of overwhelming power that mages like Brand, Zyra, and even Veigar can experience when they get ahead, despite the fact that Xerath's character concept is all about attaining ultimate arcane power. Xerath consistently pumps out damage - and that's good enough to win a game - but there's never a moment when you feel particularly powerful. Free 40% spell penetration means that his damage is respectable against tanks, but lets his bases be low enough that he doesn't obliterate low-MR mages and AD carries. His damage curve is flat: it almost doesn't matter who he hits as long as he hits someone. By contrast, when Brand or Veigar manage to cast their ults in such a way that they hit high-value targets instead of front-line tanks, they feel awesome and clever. His damage is also flattened over time: a single Q or E is relatively weak, but they're on low enough cooldowns that he'll get to cast lots of them over the course of the fight. Even his ult is split into thirds. That's better for proccing his stun, but means that his ultimate will always feel less impactful than Ziggs's massive bomb, even though they're conceptually the same skill.

The other issue with Xerath is his rhythm. Every champ has a tempo, with a base beat of autoattacks and position adjustments, high notes of individual skills, and chords when groups of skills become available around the same time. Xerath's tempo is sparser than every other character. Xerath's goal is to not be in autoattack range during a teamfight, he can't move at all during seige mode. That's balanceable from a gameplay numbers perspective, but it means that psychologically it always feels like you don't have anything to do. Positioning is a supremely important skill differentiator for Xerath, but there's no opportunity to micro-optimize positioning during his seige mode. He doesn't get to weave in extra autoattacks between skills if you're at the ideal range. Instead of the little things you do continuously in a teamfight that let you demonstrate your mastery, Xerath just waits for his Q to come off of cooldown again. He's not low skill-ceiling by any stretch; replacing those opportunities to "productively fidget" with enforced waiting just feels bad.

Xerath's awesome character concept of "overwhelming power + artillery mage" just doesn't come through in his game play. His power is never overwhelming, just consistently good. Even the "artillery" falls flat; Xerath's artillery is less "the final argument of Kings" or "the God of modern war" than "yeah, they've been shellin' the compound for, I dunno, 'bout eight weeks now?". Every attempt to answer "Xerath feels like a wet noodle when is ult is on CD" by making it more like Kog'maw's always-available Bio-Arcane Barrage - be it a charge system or making it a regular skill - will just make this problem worse.

"Arcane Barrage" isn't artillery. This is artillery:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQh26wKS6f8

Here's the kit:
R - Arcane Sun: Xerath roots himself in place for up to ~6 or ~8 seconds, summoning a massive beam of fused arcane energy from the sky at huge range, which persists for the duration. The beam moves slowly across the battlefield, damaging and slowing all enemies under it every half second. Enemies under the beam have magic resist reduced by a percent. Xerath can control the direction of the beam with ordinary move commands. While Arcane Sun is active, his skills have alternate effects. (Arcane Sun can be cast again to end the effect early.)

Level up: +Damage over time, +MR shred
Cooldown: Long. Amumu/Fiddle/Galio/Pantheon ult long.
Cast Range: 1600 (same as current Locus of Power.) The beam can travel to at most 2000 units away from Xerath.
Area of effect: Narrow, maybe a Teemo wide. Enough that you can damage two to three bruisers if they're all on top of each other, but it will be impossible to hit more than one person continuously if they play smart and split up (unless you have something like J4 ult or Singed Glue on your side.)

Notes: The marquee ability for his new kit. There are a few design goals with this. First, it gives him a badass focal point. This is Xerath before he was chained. On top of the ult being awesome itself, we tweak Xerath's VO for the duration to show his complete saturation with delirious, manic power. His energy-body expands, engulfing his coffin-armor, SC archon style. The beam itself is a whiter, more intense color - solid power rather than wispy lightning. If his Scorched Earth skin normally throws lava, this ability is molten steel.

edit: It's been pointed out to me that it might be more Xerath for the beam to come from the center of the earth instead of the sky. I think this changes the feel enough that it isn't just a bigger Viktor Death Ray. Plus it strongly implies that Xerath at max power could explode Runeterra from the inside out.

Gameplay-wise, it gives him something to micromanage during Locus of Power, between casts. Getting the most out of his beam makes you feel like a good Xerath player. It also gives counterplay to his ultimate: get out of its way, or force Xerath out of his emplacement. The beam will move slowly - probably around 200 movespeed, not enough that the base slow or base + Rylai's will prevent you from outrunning it under your own power (but see his other skills.) There was no viable way for high-value targets to dodge Arcane Barrage, so Xerath's damage had to be artifically flattened between tanks and carries. Since he can always choose to have the best case scenario, his best case scenario can't be much better than the average scenario. Now that enemies have a better response than "ow," we can make it more effective against squishy targets. Of course, if the enemy AD carry spends the whole teamfight running away from the beam instead of attacking, Xerath can count that as a win.

Switching to % mr reduction makes Xerath more of a team player and gives a "targeting beam" aspect to the skill: it says, "Hit this guy with your CC, because it will deal more damage and hold him under the beam." It also retains some of his aspect of a mage unusually good at damaging tanks. Good teams will capitalize on Xerath's ult, taking advantage of the extra burden it places on the enemies positioning by giving them no good places to run. Clever Xeraths will come up with ways to use the beam isolate targets or drive assassins away from favored allies.

Possibilities: continuously increasing mr shred or damage over time (rear loading damage increases risk:reward - harder to keep beam on one target the whole time)
rearload damage by having it continuously increase your AP while active? (would be cool to see your AP stat increasing like a gas meter.)
have it replace auto attacking (be a pain to manage both at the same time, and lets you use the attack key to move it - can't use R like Viktor because that cancels the skill)
Level up for +Range?
I'm unsure on the duration; the full 8 seconds might wear out the awesomeness of the beam by the end, but compressing it too much might make it too consistent.

Q - Arcanopulse: Almost unchanged. We increase the range and damage somewhat to reflect that he doesn't have easy access to Locus of Power during lane phase anymore. But fundamentally, this is a well designed skill.

Arcane Sun: When Arcane Sun is active, the Arcanopulse doesn't originate from Xerath. Instead, it's targeted from his killsat beam (still limited by the 2000 unit tether.) The killsat beam instantly sweeps across the area of Arcanopulse's line nuke, damaging all enemies as per regular Arcanopulse damage and re-positioning the itself at the far end of the line. (Can be cast shorter than max range like Olaf's axe.)

W - Arcane Discorporation: Xerath flashes into a cloud of pure energy, dealing damage in a point-blank AoE and instantly rematerializing a short distance away. By "short" I mean like 375 or so, less than Flash. Very very tiny.

Arcane Sun: All enemies in the burst range are additionally pushed back a short (~175-200) distance. Instead of blinking, he becomes immaterial and untargetable for .75 seconds. (same as Fizz, but unlike Fizz Xerath doesn't move. Less than half of Vlad pool or a third of Hourglass.)

Damage: Good. Xerath doesn't get to use this for damage very often, being limited by range, long CD, and opportunity cost, so it can be above average as your reward for not having to use it defensively.
Area: small - Tantrum or Pulverize range. 250 radius at most.
Cooldown: 22s => 14s ish (slightly shorter than Vlad pool, much longer than Fizz pole / Ezreal blink.)
Level up: +Damage, -Cooldown

Notes: This is the skill I will get flamed about. Purists will complain that giving Xerath any kind of positioning reset will take away from his unforgiving positioning. Too bad. Xerath is hard enough to play as it is, and his new ult gives him new ways to express his skill. We can afford to lower his skill floor a bit. It's not like I'm letting him moving during seige mode.

The actual gameplay effect here is to give him something to do against melee that isn't a zero-gameplay free stat passive. Notice that this skill procs Mage Chains with perfect consistency vs. melee that have closed on you. That's not as counterplay-free as it sounds; this has a long CD, so you can't get your stun now and blink later, or vice versa. The costs for Xerath breaking Arcane Sun early are much higher than Locus of Power - it doesn't come back in just four seconds at max CD. This skill is his "buffer" to help him last his full ult. It's higher reward for the enemy team to break it, so it needs to be correspondingly harder to accomplish. In Sun God form, this can be used as a "gerroffme" or to dodge a skillshot, getting Xerath over his weakness to ultra powerful skillshots that are balanced by long distance and slow missile speeds - once. And if he used the blink to get into position to ult, he doesn't get to use it again to protect his ult.

edit: note 2: I'm really second-guessing myself about this one. I don't think Xerath should have a good way to escape from ganks - current Xerath is deceptively slippery with his speed boost from canceling W and long uptime on his stun - and even a tiny blink plus a stun is huge for single-target kiting. Maybe a blind instead? And given how much I personally want to give whoever invented Fizz's pole one good sock in the jaw, maybe I shouldn't be making anything remotely similar. A spellshield in ult form is probably good enough. Also see the "Statikk Shiv" based passive idea at the bottom of the page, that could be a whole skill replacing W.

edit: note 3: Leaning back the other direction now. Live Xerath has something like 80-85% uptime on the speed boost he gets when coming out of siege mode, which makes him way too mobile for the "emplaced artillery" thing he's supposed to be. Cutting that highly available speed boost in favor of a single, very long cooldown, very short distance blink actually makes him less mobile than before, while simultaneously making his burst of mobility easy to appreciate instead of always present invisible power.

E - Mage Chains: Almost unchanged. We increase the range, with the same justification as for Arcanopulse. Possibly we reduce the stun down to 1s or 1.25s because Xerath has a case (his new W) where he can trigger it consistently without ulting.

Arcane Sun: When the chains hit the target, the killsat beam centers itself on the enemy, instantly triggering Unstable Magic for a stun.

Notes: A simple way to move the killsat beam to the champ that is threatening you personally the most. This prevents you from being utterly helpless when you cast the killsat far away and someone closes the gap on you anyway. We've overall increased the complexity of his kit, so it's good if this skill can stay simple.

Passive: Maybe refund some mana on spell damage to champions? Could let you cost the skills so he's good at harassing champs in lane but will go OOM easily if he just waveclears instead. Not completely sold on this one, but it's the best I've thought of so far. Everyone hates his current passive. I've started to dislike Xelnath's suggestion of stacking %mpen on champion spell hit, because it punishes you for opening with your best spell, and makes ganking from mid unnecessarily awkward. I was thinking something like converting mp5 -> hp5 as a way to make him better at drawn out seige scenarios and feel less bad about spending money on mp5 instead of raw damage, but that doesn't work with Chalice/Blue buff in the game. Gain a stack of something everytime an enemy casts a spell near you, like Maokai? Bonus AP or armor / mr any time you stand still for 3 seconds, not necessarily though his new Locus? Would suck to take a step to case Mage Chains and lose it. An item range enhancer that lets him use DFG/Abyssal properly might be neat, but that's really narrow for a passive.

I'm open to suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hume View Post
Alright, what do you guys think of this passive:

Passive - Locus of Power: Xerath's raw power flows out of him, creating a standing wave of power in THE EARTH ITSELF if he stays in one place for too long. Whenever Xerath stands still for 3 seconds [or trigger on skill use?], he generates a a 125 unit radius field of power around him. [range way smaller than any PBAoE]. As long as Xerath remains within this field, he gains +X% ability power (mini-deathcap). The field can follow Xerath verrry slowly (like, under 100 movespeed slow - basically just recentering on Xerath if he stays in it a full two seconds) but if he steps out of his circle of power it breaks and he has to create a new one.

note: The field having a radius and moving slowly is just to be forgiving if you need to take a tiny step to cast E or to last hit something. Unlike Teemo passive, Xerath is actively doing stuff while standing still and sometimes he might twitch. This gives him a taste of the old nearly always available Locus of Power now that his siege mode has turned into an ultra long CD ult.

I deliberately chose an offensive bonus stat instead of +armor like his current passive, because when you are under attack, having to choose between running away and having armor sucks. No matter which you choose, after you die you will always wish you had taken the other option. And it's +X% AP instead of +Y% magic pen because 1) magic pen is really hard to appreciate at the low numbers it needs to be balanced in S3 calculation changes and 2) it totally fits his "I acquire arcane power to acquire more arcane power" feedback loop.
GD, do you have any better ideas?

(if you think he's fine as-is, go argue with Xelnath in his thread, not here. Convincing me won't stop Xelnath from "destroying" your favorite champion.)


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gizmo3722

Senior Member

05-10-2013

What I would prefer is seeing an actual lightening mage, I like that he has 2 lightning skillshots, and that he combos his lightning for a ‘stun’ but I think he has a lot more potential to really feel like he’s thundering through the enemy team, heres what I suggest:
Keep his kit as is, everyone loves the w, and the ult, and while I think his passive isn’t the best in the game I’ve never been sad to be survivable as an AP carry, and his damage manages that.
But I think the e needs a bit more of a kick, the Korean suggestion of a combo with other spells (like a stun with ult, slow with q, silence on it’s own) is great, but what I had in mind was a damage increase, something that makes it feel more like a ‘oh you really want to land your skillshots on this target) so essentially your q and r get reworked to feel like they’re causing a thunderstorm, and sure, it damages everyone in the thunderstorm plenty, but the marked targets get extra pain. I’d add an ammo charge to this, to make his burst feel more legitimate, or make it an aoe It’sself.

To me Xerath’s main problem is his predictability. A lot of the AP mages have this problem, ziggs and Xerath just seem to be among the easier to avoid. So instead of having his simple, predictable skillshots, i say either pull a Dianna and make it traveling lightning in a predictable arc, possibly a dual arc, OR, make it the skillshot ap equivalent of the Statikk Shiv, it does tons of damage to the first target hit, then subsequent/reduced damage to the following connected people, so he keeps his wave clear and range ability, but it’s not like ‘oh I’m gonna cast my w, so expect a q now’

i like your idea, but i would like to stick to the kit where possible as is.


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Auxarch

Member

05-10-2013

Holy **** I love that idea for his ult. I can picture it, and boy would that feel badass.

You could make his current ult be an ammo system on his W (with reduced damage ofc).
Passive could be like Teemo's, where if he stops moving, he goes into siege mode (with a cooldown when he breaks it).

Ult could force him into passive and lock him in it for the duration.


Those combined with your ult idea....

I'd play the hell out of that champion.


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Dragonsafe

Senior Member

05-10-2013

I read this as Xelnath getting an orbital cannon of doom.


I don't think i've ever been more scared in my life.


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CynicalGiant

Senior Member

05-10-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonsafe View Post
I read this as Xelnath getting an orbital cannon of doom.


I don't think i've ever been more scared in my life.
What did you think he was going to do with his demonstones?


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MattKatt

Member

05-10-2013

bump


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Mynt

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Senior Member

05-10-2013

It's fun, but so many changes.

I think you had something going with those bonus effects though. Is there a way to work in bonuses in Siege Mode, without inventing a new ability for Xerath?

I'm thinking along the lines of "After entering Siege Mode, Xerath's next spell gains additional power."


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David Hume

Senior Member

05-11-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mynt View Post
It's fun, but so many changes.

I think you had something going with those bonus effects though. Is there a way to work in bonuses in Siege Mode, without inventing a new ability for Xerath?

I'm thinking along the lines of "After entering Siege Mode, Xerath's next spell gains additional power."
I thought about that, but then Xerath becomes a lot like Karma. Not that Karma is bad, but Xerath then inherits all of the problems of making Q2, W2, E2 all feel good. I think you'd always want to cast your long range nuke anyway, so maybe the other stuff would get wasted.


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David Hume

Senior Member

05-11-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auxarch View Post
Holy **** I love that idea for his ult. I can picture it, and boy would that feel badass.

You could make his current ult be an ammo system on his W (with reduced damage ofc).
Passive could be like Teemo's, where if he stops moving, he goes into siege mode (with a cooldown when he breaks it).

Ult could force him into passive and lock him in it for the duration.


Those combined with your ult idea....

I'd play the hell out of that champion.
I like the passive. Seige Mode Teemo sounds cool. (and better than Teemo - have you ever honestly seen a enemy Teemo use it effectively? I'm sure you use it well, but when ever the other Teemo uses it you're like "I still know where you are, thanks for not CSing for 3 seconds.)

The basic problem with making his ult as a regular skill is that Arcane Barrage is crazy consistent, crazy easy to apply damage at crazy range. It can't be something he always has access to, or his lane case becomes dumb. You'd have to increase the delay to Brand W / Cho'gath Q levels, if not additional delay increases to his existing Q.

If landing skillshots is fun and skillful, dodging skillshots is fun and skillful. Laning against Xerath should let you feel just as skillful as the other guy, especially if you manage to win lane.


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David Hume

Senior Member

05-11-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo3722 View Post
What I would prefer is seeing an actual lightening mage, I like that he has 2 lightning skillshots, and that he combos his lightning for a ‘stun’ but I think he has a lot more potential to really feel like he’s thundering through the enemy team, heres what I suggest:
Have you played Kennen? One of the guys I used to play with back in college played Kennen exclusively, even though he wasn't very good with Kennen, for no other reason than that he thought the lightning and the lightning-combo-stun idea was badass. He'd make little zapping sound effects every time he used a skill and yell "BAM! STRUCK BY LIGHTNING!" whenever he got an important stun. I'm not a huge Kennen guy, but based on that testimonial it sounds like Kennen might push all of your buttons the right way.

Not trying to be dismissive, although I understand it could be read that way. My personal top 3 most important things about Xerath are: 1) Artillery Mage. 2) Arcane Power. 3) Seige Mode mechanic. I personally like that his power is "arcane" damage, raw magic, rather than any particular element like Brand/Anivia/Kennen etc. It's okay if it looks like lightning, though, because lightning is cool. I agree with you on that much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo3722 View Post
Keep his kit as is, everyone loves the w, and the ult, and while I think his passive isn’t the best in the game I’ve never been sad to be survivable as an AP carry, and his damage manages that.
But I think the e needs a bit more of a kick, the Korean suggestion of a combo with other spells (like a stun with ult, slow with q, silence on it’s own) is great, but what I had in mind was a damage increase, something that makes it feel more like a ‘oh you really want to land your skillshots on this target) so essentially your q and r get reworked to feel like they’re causing a thunderstorm, and sure, it damages everyone in the thunderstorm plenty, but the marked targets get extra pain. I’d add an ammo charge to this, to make his burst feel more legitimate, or make it an aoe It’sself.

To me Xerath’s main problem is his predictability. A lot of the AP mages have this problem, ziggs and Xerath just seem to be among the easier to avoid. So instead of having his simple, predictable skillshots, i say either pull a Dianna and make it traveling lightning in a predictable arc, possibly a dual arc, OR, make it the skillshot ap equivalent of the Statikk Shiv, it does tons of damage to the first target hit, then subsequent/reduced damage to the following connected people, so he keeps his wave clear and range ability, but it’s not like ‘oh I’m gonna cast my w, so expect a q now’

i like your idea, but i would like to stick to the kit where possible as is.
My complaint about my proposed kit is also that it's radically different and maybe there's a subtler way to get the right effect.

Not sure how much change his E needs. I agree that the range on it in seige mode is frustrating as hell, but when the skill works, he has over 30% uptime on hard CC (at max CDr). Maybe that's actually an argument for changing it... ? I didn't change it much in my proposed kit because the completely new ult + alternate skills adds a ton of complexity to already complicated Xerath and I didn't want to make the problem worse.

Your mention of Statikk Shiv inspired a new potential passive:
Every time Xerath hits an enemy champion with a spell, he gains a stack of Arcane Static. On autoattack, if he has at least 3 stacks of Arcane Static, he consumes them all for bonus on-hit magic damage that chains to up to four nearby targets. Deals more damage with more stacks. This is a Xypherous passive - an incentive to auto attack on a champ who feels like he shouldn't care about autoattacks (compare Orianna, Ziggs). What this one does specifically is - if you successfully spent most of the fight in seige mode landing spells like a boss, but not in auto attack range - when you come out of seige mode, you get a super-charged autoattack to make up for all of the ones you missed. So instead of "I can't autoattack right now " its "I'm chargin' mah lazors right now, I'll do an autoattack in a minute and boy will you feel it. Prepare your body. "

Might be too cool for a passive and make more sense as new W, actually.


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