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Nov 19, 2014

Patch Rundown: Preseason 2015 Part 1


In addition to the official Patch 4.20 notes, Riot's also released a set of insights into their thought process behind the changes in Season 5 as well as their goals and aims for the future.
Highlights include:
  • Increasing Champion Diversity - Change strategy balance so that picking certain champions won't affect overall odds of winning [Read as: Make SSJSuntastic's job harder]
  • Make Turrets Stronger - Reduces champion damage when hit, deals more damage
  • Rift Scuttler - "The Crab" - Minion that runs around granting vision and speed shrine when killed
  • Dragon - More of an investment rather than a simple objective
  • Baron - Gives a very different buff, removed regen, powers up minions
Check out the full scope of details in the video above and the text below!

Preseason 2015: Increasing Strategic Diversity

With the 2014 season winding down, we’re once again just around the corner from the time of chaos that is preseason! Rest assured this isn’t chaos for the sake of chaos or disruption for the sake of disruption; the preseason is an important period of downtime between ranked and professional play to set the foundation for the next year of League’s evolution. Over the coming days we’ll publish a series of dev blogs going in-depth with our preseason changes, including the jungle (again!), objectives, anditems. While these won’t cover 100% of what’s coming, we wanted to cover the big topics before getting to the fun. For now, let’s kick things off on a higher level.

Preseason: Just the Beginning

Preseason is our chance to set the stage. It’s the beginning, not the end.
There will be a lot of changes to League over a short period of time and, with so many variables at play, we’re expecting the game to be disrupted, imperfect, and require a lot of tweaking over time. In other words, while we’re confident we’re taking the game in the right general direction, we’ll correct course as needed as we see the changes unfold.
While we’ve been testing preseason internally for months, no matter what we do, players will have put hundreds or thousands (nearly millions?) of times more hours into these changes in the first week than we ever could. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’re all able to do with this slew of new mechanics and content, and we’ll be looking for your feedback.
On to the good stuff!

Strategic Diversity

This preseason, we’re looking for ways to support more strategic diversity in League of Legends. If your eyebrow is raised right now, you’re not alone - ‘strategic diversity’ is a pretty vague and abstract idea. It’s not just a buzzword to us, but a deep focus of our design philosophy going forward, so to keep everyone on the same page we’ll be breaking down what strategic diversity means to us and how we’re working to increase it in this series of posts.

The Path Less Traveled

When we talk about strategic diversity, it’s a conversation about the ways you look to win - the different paths to victory your team can take. Mechanical skill (insane Lee Sin ward kicks) and tactical decision making (funneling through the jungle to set up a perfect Orianna ult) are important elements of skill in League. We’ve focused a lot in the past at ensuring that tactical and mechanical mastery are powerful and, while we don’t want to change that, we do want to enhance the impact and variety of strategic gameplay.
Through the years, players have discovered a bunch of viable strategies like teamfight-focused (deathball) strats, split pushing, siege / poke comps, objective control, and more. In the past, when one of the aforementioned strategies was so dominant it crowded out all others we didn’t have a whole lot of options to bring it back in line other than nerfing the champions that were critical to its success. Think Shen back in his split push heyday or, more recently, Ziggs and stall comps. Since we believe that League is at it’s best when multiple strategies are battling it out on the Rift, we had to target champions to bring strategies in line to allow others to emerge. We’re hoping the path being set by the 2015 pre-season will allow us to create an ecosystem where multiple strategies can prosper… and kill each other.

Some Nitty-Gritty

A common theme you’ll notice is a focus on specialized offense but generalized defense. What this means is your offensive strategy is going to be strengthened by specializing into it. If you want to opt into a specific strategy, you’re best off picking a team comp and purchasing items that enable this strategy. For defending against this specialized offense, however, we’re going to provide players with the tools they need in a way that makes counter-strategies available to nearly any team comp (for example, an item that will let you engage on an elusive poke comp). This is the intent of many of the changes to objectives or items; they are available to most comps most of the time and can be leveraged as needed. This allows us to add more power to strategic decisions without games just being decided in champion select.
Another major focus is on deepening the demands on players and champions so that there are more ways for a champion to express strength and power. This will be most apparent in the jungle where we want demands to be greater than “can you gank super hard?” We’re looking to re-introduce value to junglers who can clear quickly or safely (think Season 2) as well as keeping the value of junglers who hit lanes hard, fast and early.

Quick Preview

We’ll be experimenting with changes to objectives (towers, dragon, and baron), the jungle (a new camp, spawn times, difficulty, items, rewards… well, all of it really), items (more situationally powerful actives!) and some core systems (stats per level, death timers, how health / mana regen works). It’s a lot to take in and will take even more time to master in-game, but we’ll walk you through it as we go deeper into the design decisions behind these changes in the coming days. Every change is geared towards laying a foundation which can support more strategic diversity - no matter which champ you choose on the path to victory.

Preseason 2015: Forging a Diverse Armory

It’s preseason, and that means changes to items! When we looked at all of the high-level strategic opportunities in League, some questions arose. Through items, could we follow the same path as objectives in allowing teams to opt into different strategies? Where would the meaningful choices be found? What would they be? Could there be a method to protect yourself against opposing strategies?
Ultimately, the philosophy we’re pursuing with preseason items feeds into the same goal: strategic diversity - increasing the paths to victory your team can take. As such, we want to create and retune items with a specific focus on macro-level value (meaning pre-fight, or out of combat value) over micro-level contributions. If more teams can pick up the items they need to change course in a game (by which we mean switching to split-pushing or sieging through item purchases rather than relying purely on champion composition) we hope to provide the right tools for strategic innovation to prosper in League of Legends.

Diversifying Item Strategies

Many items in League just add champion power with passive stats. This is important because it's one of the key ways teams have to leverage gold advantages. However, in addition to these kinds of items, we think there is room for more strategic items that allow you to support a particular strategy or counter an enemy strategy. By their very nature, these items won't be must-buys every game, but in certain situations they should be very useful.
As we mentioned in the first Preseason Dev Blog, we want to make sure that most team comps can react to specialized strategies brought by the enemy team. In that blog we mentioned an item that would help you engage on a slippery opposing team: enter Righteous Glory. In addition to giving a pile of health / mana / health regeneration, Righteous Glory’s active gives a large movement speed bonus to both its user and nearby allies when moving toward enemies (or enemy turrets!) before emitting a large, high-impact shockwave that slows all nearby enemy champions.
By granting high toward-enemy movement speed (think Vayne’s Night Hunter passive) to your team at the right time, you can quickly position for a fight. Add to that a powerful area-of-effect slow and your ability to force fights becomes formidable against all but the most evasive teams.
We’re also looking at existing items and seeing what we can improve. For example, Ohmwrecker is an interesting item that occupies a unique strategic space but seems a little undertuned relative to its cost. We think Ohmwrecker has the potential to be a powerful tool to fight against teams that are able to endlessly leverage the power of the new inhibitor turrets to stall out games, so we’re re-doing this item (yes, again…) as a pure tank initiation purchase. In addition to granting bonus health, health regen, cooldown reduction, and its active turret disable ability (we’ve upped the duration by 0.5 seconds), Ohmwrecker now builds up to +30% bonus movement speed over 2 seconds when near enemy or ally turrets. This movement speed bonus isn’t cancelled by combat, so whoever owns an Ohmwrecker will be a significant tower diving threat at all times.
It’s worth calling out it’s not only active items getting a pass with strategy in mind. We tuned Warmog’s Armor so it’s a bit less about being an unburstable meat-wall and more of an anti-poke buy. We’ve kept that +1% maximum health per 5 second regeneration, but it’ll triple to regenerating 3% of the holder’s maximum health if they haven’t taken damage within 8 seconds. The intense out-of-combat regen allows for powerful sustain in long standoffs, helping teams adapt against strategies that rely on endless posturing and poking.
These aren’t the only changes incoming, but are solid examples of the design philosophy we’re following. We’re looking forward to seeing their effect on games as players develop strategies and counter-strategies, and we’ll use the early results to inform future changes and new items.

Drink Up Me Hearties! YO HO!

Because consumables are relatively cheap and last a short duration, we thought they were naturally suited to support dynamic strategies. As your team changes strategies, you can also change which consumables you’re buying.
Elixir of Fortitude and Elixir of Brilliance have been replaced by a set of mid/late game consumables:
  • Elixir of Ruin
    • Grants bonus health, bonus damage to towers, and the “Siege Commander” buff
    • Siege Commander: Nearby minions gain bonus damage to towers. Minions also gain movement speed based on your own movement speed.
  • Elixir of Sorcery
    • Grants bonus ability power, mana regeneration, and the “Sorcery” buff
    • Sorcery: Damaging a champion or tower deals bonus true damage. This effect has a cooldown against champions but no cooldown against towers.
  • Elixir of Iron
    • Grants increased size, slow resistances, tenacity, and the “Path of Iron” buff
    • Path of Iron: Moving leaves behind a path that boosts allied champion movement speed
  • Elixir of Wrath
    • Grants bonus attack damage and the “Bloodlust” buff
    • Dealing physical damage to champions heals for a % of the damage dealt. Scoring a kill or assist extends the duration of this Elixir by 30 seconds.
These are more expensive than the Elixirs they’re replacing and you can only have one active at a time. These new Elixirs are primarily a choice of what is most valuable to your team’s strategy. We’ll be watching these carefully to gauge their effect on the game and will react accordingly. The power level and/or effects of these will almost certainly change over time while we all learn what strategic consumables do for League.

Streamlining Reactive Builds

When you’ve just been evaporated by LeBlanc or cut down by Riven you tend to want to adjust your build appropriately by buying Armor or Magic Resist as soon as possible. However, with the current state of items there’s often needless complexity in deciding what to pick up. Depending on the final item you’re going for, you should be building Cloth Armor instead of Chain Vest (Glacial Shroud vs. Warden’s Mail) or Negatron Cloak instead of Null Magic Mantle (Banshee’s Veil vs. Hexdrinker). Depending on how much gold you have on hand, this can force strange decisions around what is ultimately a reactive purchase.
To smooth this out, we’re changing Chain Vest to build out of Cloth Armor and removed Negatron Cloak from the game (replacing it with Null Magic Mantles earlier in item build paths). This makes the “I need Armor NOW” case much cleaner, no matter what final item you’re aiming for with minimal loss of depth in the decision making.
A number of recipes have been tweaked accordingly but overall the power level of these items is largely the same.

Health and Mana Regeneration: Not Just for Early Game!

Making regen a more regulated stat is important for us to be able to properly support and control poke / siege comps (and any other fight / flight comps that players may create) as well as defenses against them. However, it has been historically challenging to create and maintain compelling health / mana regen items in League for two reasons:
First, flat values that are relevant late are super-oppressive when rushed early, and values that are fair early aren’t that interesting in the late game. 50HP/5 if rushed on a first big item would be absurdly powerful but would be interesting later; 10HP/5 is reasonably strong in lane but once you’re a tank with 3500 health, it just doesn’t mean much. Second, flat regen affects all characters equally, making it hard to target on champions where it can be strong and healthy (as opposed to strong and silly-overpowered).
To address the above problems, we’re changing regen items from flat values to percentages of a champion’s stats. The benefits of a design like this are twofold. By having regen scale throughout the game we can create items providing meaningful benefits early while still remaining relevant late. We also get the benefit of being able to tune regen more effectively champion-by-champion, meaning we can focus strong regen items onto champions where they can be powerful and healthy. This’ll be a new balance and tuning point for us, and will almost certainly be a bit wonky at first. We believe that percentage-based regen will ultimately address the problems we’ve had with regen items, but we’ll need to iterate on these significantly with your help.

Iterating Toward a New Season

We’ll be looking to keep exploring this space in the future, so expect more items along these lines and changes to existing items in this vein.
We’ve mentioned this in the previous Dev Blogs, but it probably can’t be said enough: all of these changes are subject to a lot of tweaking which’ll be heavily informed by player feedback and what players are able to do with these new tools. It may happen between now and when they hit live servers and it’ll happen over time as we all learn how to best use items (as well as the jungle, objectives and other areas) to enhance strategic diversity in League of Legends.

Preseason 2015: A New Jungle

Fearless and Axes here to talk about the jungle changes coming in the upcoming 2015 Preseason. Our big goal this time around is to bring strategic diversity back to jungle. Currently a small pool of optimal junglers has been skewing team compositions toward a small set of strategic plans, so our focus for 2015 is to let players take the junglers they love and the junglers they want to fit into their team’s strategies. I realize jungle diversity improvements have been a focus a few times in the past (has it been every season?), but this time around we’re taking bigger steps and we’re excited to share our ideas with you.

Rebuilding the Jungle

As I mentioned in the foreword, the 2015 Preseason changes are taking a crack at some problems in the jungle that have built up over many seasons. In the past, our approach to the jungle has been through smaller sets of changes, aimed at fixing only the issues that arose in the previous year. Our fixes did largely address past problems, but they also didn’t have the mechanisms to deal with some of the power balances that appeared later on.
As players mature in their understanding of the game landscape, the strength of a jungler ends up getting boiled down and optimized into a small handful of champs who do roughly the same thing: who can clear the fastest while also having strong dueling / ganking capabilities? This season, for example, we saw a lot of Kha’Zix, Evelynn, Rengar, Elise and, everyone’s favorite, Lee Sin. A side effect with having ‘optimal’ junglers who crowd out other choices is that teams tend to orient their team selection and strategies around their limited choices. For example, if there aren’t any powerful junglers that work in a siege comp, it becomes that much more of a gamble to commit to one.
The 2015 changes are aimed at building a jungle that has components to empower and react to many different actions that junglers take. This allows us much finer control to react to the live state of the game with small changes to the jungle, rather than only having to tune champions and items. In past seasons, collateral damage with each jungle change was very high, where a buff to a few champions creates huge imbalances (anyone remember Feral Flare?). The new jungle aims to give us many angles to attack problems as they arise, to give us more precision than we’ve ever had before. More scalpels, less sledgehammers.

More Decisions

One of the symptoms of a dominant strategy is that players feel like they know the actions they’ll take throughout the game by the time the loading screen is up. After a few dozen repetitions of the Lee Sin vs. Kha’zix match up, we as junglers have a very good idea of how the match up will play out, and the game is very likely to feel very similar to the games before and after. Not only is this not delivering the level of excitement League of Legends should bring, but it takes the strategic decisions out of a role built around strategic choice.
Junglers are the role most free to make strategic decisions throughout the game. Not being bound to lane, they largely self determine their points of interaction on the map. The jungler role is most rewarding and healthy when the strategic decisions of the jungler are as important as their mechanical play. On the other hand, when there are far too few variables in each game, jungle play feels much more shallow and gets focused on tiny optimizations. Without the constant presence of a lane opponent, and without interesting decisions to make, the jungle position becomes less deep and diverse.

The Details

Given our high-level goal this season is strategic diversity, each of our following changes (reminder, they’re still in testing!) is subservient to that goal. Whether it be modifying the pace of the jungle, adding new jungle monsters, or giving buffs through Smite, all of the below changes are in pursuit of opening up strategic diversity in both the jungle and for teams at large. By injecting multiple sets of new variables, we can highlight the unique strengths of each jungler so that all have different optimizations and can interact with the jungle in more unique ways.
First, the current jungle is heavily biased in favor of fast-clearing junglers who double up on their sustain through offense. Our first goal was to balance this more equally in favor of other attributes like sustain and mitigation in order to open up the strategic space for jungler power. As such, we’ve given basic camps a pretty hefty base stat increase. We’ve also changed the pacing of the basic camps, increasing their gold and XP rewards, along with their spawn delay. This puts a higher premium on mitigation-focused junglers who can stay healthy to gank after clearing a camp, while high-damage junglers might be more effective at ganking but will have a tougher time keeping up.
We’d previously moved away from junglers being able to full clear their jungle as this meant they were then forced to take action on the map. With the increased power of counter jungling, the new crab camp (more on this in a minute) to take in the river, and the new vision tools from the camp rewards(almost there!), junglers should now have more meaningful strategic gameplay even when their camps are down.
This brings me to my next point: jungle camp rewards. Each jungle camp now grants a buff the first time Smite is used on them (this buff is available each time they spawn). We’ll have more details on these camps as we get them dialed in for release, but the goal of each reward is to provide a flexible tool that junglers can use in different ways based on the current state of each game.
For example, Gromp currently gives the jungler a poison armor that, you guessed it, poisons enemies that attack the jungler, dealing magic damage over time. This buff is great as a starting point to help tanky junglers in their first clear while also providing safety vs. invades as well as some power in team fights and objective control. Each jungler should have a reason to want each camp’s buff throughout the game, so that junglers are always making meaningful choices on what camps to take and how to tweak their routes to fit their larger goals.
Finally, let’s talk about the new Scuttle Crab camp. This is the new monster found in the river that actually runs away from its attackers. The goal here is to give junglers a new reason to venture out of their jungle and contest the crab in smaller skirmishes. Currently, when a team defeats the Scuttle Crab, they’re awarded a vision bubble and movement speed shrine that grants out of combat movement speed in front of Baron or Dragon pit. While the Scuttle Crab itself isn’t dangerous (but is durable), the chase for it can pull champions up and down the river. This means that taking the crab can easily turn into a small fight with a few champs on each side. There are larger team-based implications, like creating a new decision point for mid-laners to roam for vision and safety, but I’m focusing mostly on the jungle impact here.
We’re very excited to see how players use the Scuttle Crab monster, and what crazy strats shake out of this addition.
All of these changes are only half the equation. Let’s talk new jungle items! Axes, I choose you!

Jungle Items: Now With 40% More Smites!

Preseason will include a completely new set of jungle items, built from scratch towards a different set of goals from previous seasons. This is obviously a big change, and before getting into the details, I want to take a minute and talk about why a large-scale item change was necessary in the first place.
The previous jungle items combined your champion’s role (Fighter, Tank, Assassin) with a fairly specific pattern of jungling. Spirit of the Elder Lizard, for example, is an item that’s only good on AD champions dealing sustained physical damage - mainly Fighters. It’s also only good on champions who want to gank or duel before moving back into their jungle to heal up and claim their bonus gold.
While these results correspond with our goals from last season, we saw two problems over time: first, champions whose have a playstyle that doesn’t work well with their optimal role item are left out in the cold. Shyvana is never going to be a great Spirit of the Elder Lizard user because Shyvana doesn’t need a mechanic that stores up gold while she goes and does something else. Instead, Shyvana stays in the jungle pretty continuously because she has a kit that empowers her to safely and quickly clear her jungle and invade but leaves her as a relatively lackluster ganker.
Second, our previous items amplified role problems. When fighter junglers get an item that makes them particularly good at fighting enemy champions as their core jungle purchase - and tank junglers don’t - then whenever that item is strong, fighters will tend to stomp tank junglers out. When that item isn’tstrong, fighter junglers just don’t get picked at all because they have no real fallback item. Fixing this problem doesn’t instantly level the playing field among all junglers - it doesn’t make Sejuani a top tier jungle pick by itself - but it does mean that our jungle items are no longer exacerbating her problems.
There’s also an opportunity here: the new jungle is about diversity of action. In addition to the ubiquitous ganking of Season 4, invading the enemy jungle has become more valuable, there are new and more impactful objectives to contest, and there are more ways to engage in the vision war on the map. Even if you pick the same champion in two consecutive games, the conditions of those two games should result in different experiences. If we can create a set of jungle items which support different important jungler actions (depending on circumstances) then these items can serve as a good tool to help promote this diversity of action in the jungle.
On to the items! We’re retaining Hunter’s Machete as a starting item, but changing how it deals damage and sustains your champion to be nearly role-agnostic - in other words, it shouldn’t be better on a fighter than on a tank. Hunter’s Machete then upgrades to four other items, each of which changes your Smite spell so as to augment what type of action you might want to take as a jungler.
Stalker’s Blade increases your power while ganking, allowing the jungler to play a larger-than-usual role in helping snowball lanes and put the whole team ahead.
Poacher’s Knife provides you with additional power and incentive to cross the river and invade the enemy jungle, stealing whatever camps you can opportunistically take and putting the enemy jungler behind.
Skirmisher’s Sabre gives combat power specially targeted to a 1 versus 1 situation, empowering you to seek out the enemy jungler and try to kill them, to show up during enemy ganks and turn the tide of a battle, or to punish an invading enemy jungler.
Ranger’s Trailblazer makes you faster and safer at fighting jungle monsters, allowing you to stay safer while farming because your health will be generally higher and giving you more time to take other actions.
These items are role agnostic - they can be purchased whether you’re a Fighter, an Assassin, a Tank, or something else (jungle Karthus?), as they don’t provide stats binding them to one role or another. The only requirement is that the action they help you to do has to be important to you as a jungler, whether as a strength that you want to reinforce or a weakness that you’re looking to shore up.
These are items, however, and to want them in your full build they probably need a good set of stats! We’ve also addressed this issue by creating an enchantment system for them to provide stats relevant to your roles. The Warrior enchantment adds attack damage and Lifesteal, the Magus enchantment gives ability power and cooldown reduction, the Juggernaut enchantment adds health, armor, and tenacity, and, finally, the fourth enchantment, Devourer, gives attack speed and on-hit magic damage which stacks up as you kill enemy champions or large monsters. Each enchantment gives roughly the stats you’d get for the total cost of the enchanted item, so the jungle passive from Hunter’s Machete and the additional bonuses on the second tier items come effectively for free on the final items.
That’s it for now! Big changes are coming, and we're excited to take this next step into the jungle's evolution with you.

Preseason 2015: Diversifying Objectives

Welcome back! As mentioned in the overview, changes to objectives like turrets, Baron Nashor and Dragon are a large component of the 2015 preseason. Here we’ll be breaking down some of the changes and the opportunities we’re trying to hit.
Philosophically, our big goal this season is to encourage more strategic diversity in League of Legends. And what’s that mean? Well, this touches a lot of  different areas but it all boils down to making your high level decisions matter (versus tactical decisions like last-hitting, fight mechanics, etc). What champions can I bring? Where do I go on the map? How do I respond when the enemy team takes an objective? What can I do now that we’ve secured dragon? These things currently do matter, but we feel there’s room for improvement.
Objectives are already among the most strategic elements of League. Players have heated debates on what Baron is worth in terms of towers and inhibitors, or whether Dragon is worth trading for top outer turret. How about mid outer? What value do I get for taking mid inner vs. top inner?
With the focus we’re taking on strategic diversity, we saw a number of opportunities to better leverage the objectives that already exist to make the decisions around them more interesting and meaningful. So without further ado, into the fray!


Turrets already do their job well when it comes to shaking up the game; taking a turret means the enemy has less vision and defense to return to, and their playstyle changes accordingly. So when we approached turrets for the 2015 season, we wanted to instead focus on how players were taking turrets, rather than the rewards associated. By changing up tower behavior at different tiers, players will have more strategic space to work with when it comes to choosing their objective-focused team compositions. Some details:
Outer turrets: We wanted to leave at least one set of turrets alone so we could have a ‘basic’ template for players to work off of, and felt the outer turrets were best for this. These will remain unchanged except for the stat tuning mentioned below.
Inner turrets: Taking an inner turret usually requires: a) precise movement (rotations!), b) strategically risky tower dives to push down, or c) a poke-heavy comp that whittles down the opposition before trapping them in from all angles. In the case of situations a and b, there are clear strategic counters available to all teams, but situation c is heavily focused on team compositions with little to no recourse once the match actually starts. For these turrets, we’ve added a regenerating shield that is automatically shared with nearby friendly champions, which makes it a little easier to withstand poke compositions (without completely invalidating them) while continuing to reward teams who play smart.
Inhibitor turrets: Losing an inhibitor turret puts an immense amount of pressure on the defending team - so much so that there have been many games lost where an enemy team has poured all of their efforts into a single split-pushing champion constantly threatening / grinding down a single turret. While we do feel this is a fair strategy when executed correctly (both for the split pusher and his team), there comes a time if the opposing team doesn’t have an equally powerful duelist, there’s simply no stopping the split pusher from wrecking their opposition under the tower and then eating through the lane. We’ve now added a new weapon to inhibitor turrets: a powerful energy beam that deals damage, slows the target, and reduces their damage output. When focused on the same target, the beam ramps up in its damage very quickly, making that minion-bloated split pusher think twice about diving against a reasonably strong opponent under the tower. There will still be many opportunities for split pushers to take advantage of their strengths, but there will be more ways for a team to defend against them rather than just picking a stronger duelist.
We want to call out that we’re not trying to destroy split pushing with the new inhibitor turrets. On the contrary, by making sure that we have good tuning levers (the damage, slow, damage shred and ramp speed can all be tuned to anywhere from useless to ridiculously overpowered on a smooth gradient) we can offer more counterplay against champions that are strong at split pushing, all while still keeping the game healthy. If split pushing becomes dominant as a strategy we can look to the inhibitor turrets as an alternative place to make changes rather than hitting champions. This doesn’t mean that we will never nerf split pushers again (NOPE! NOT PROMISING THAT!), but we at least have more options.
Nexus turrets: These are currently unchanged but are already unique by the fact that they are paired. We may look into more changes here in the future though.
All turrets: It’s worth noting that all towers have had their defensive stats changed slightly. However, this is mostly to help clarify how much damage a player will do to them and doesn’t affect their overall durability too much.
These changes all tie into the “generalized defense” concept we mentioned in the first preseason Dev Blog. We want to let split push or heavy dive comps be strong, but we also want to make sure that champion select isn’t even more impactful than it already is. To make sure we can achieve both we’re adding release valves to these strategies that are available to all teams, no matter their comp.


Dragon and turrets have always had very similar rewards -- gold. Often teams will trade these objectives and end up in roughly the same spot they were in prior.  Additionally, when there is a large difference between comps that can take the Dragon quickly versus team comps that can take down towers quickly, most teams orient themselves around which is the most efficient reward for their time. By differentiating these rewards when a trade occurs, both teams can end up with different strengths and options as to how they progress the game from that point on. For example, a team that’s taken multiple turrets might have a more open map to pressure their opponents, but a team that has a lead in Dragon kills might pose a much larger threat as they get closer and closer to their 4th / 5th stack. These create interesting strategic tradeoffs between both teams as they balance their rewards, rather than simply distributing gold at various points in time.
Specifically we’re removing most of the gold reward from the Dragon (last-hitting it is still worth a game-changing 25g), and instead adding a permanent stacking buff on kill. Each stack grants an aspect of the Dragon’s power, perhaps his piercing claws, durable scales or powerful flame. Upon collecting all aspects of the Dragon, champions become immensely more powerful for a short time, and then subsequent Dragon kills reactivate the power. Each team’s stacks are totally independent, so Blue could have 2 stacks and Red 4 stacks; there’s no resetting or interrupting.
These buffs are specifically tuned in power to make trading Dragon more interesting, especially early. The early stacks are not as immediately valuable as the raw gold from other options on the map (for example, a turret), but without an early investment, the later power of Dragon is totally unavailable.
Since this is an entirely new model, we’re sure there will be changes over time, but currently the stacks look something like this:
  1. Dragon’s Hide: Blocks a small amount of damage from single target spells and attacks by enemy Champions
  2. Dragon’s Scales: +X% Total Armor and Magic Resist (currently looking at 5%)
  3. Dragon’s Flight: +X% Movement Speed (currently looking at 5%)
  4. Dragon’s Claws: +X% Armor and Magic Penetration (currently looking at 5%)
  5. Aspect of the Dragon: Triples all other bonuses and your attacks burn enemies for a high amount of true damage over 5 seconds.  Lasts 180 sec.
Our goal here is to make one or two stacks provide modest (but not game-changing) rewards, three stacks should provide a substantial reward, with a full investment to five stacks presenting a serious threat to ending the game. The full Aspect of the Dragon is a huge power spike, but given the rarity of it (currently would happen in ~2% of games) and the investment required, we want it to be extremely powerful. By contrast, three stacks (by current behavior) should happen more than ten times as often, and so is a more tempered reward.
These new Dragon rewards add much deeper decisions when different team strategies clash. If a team is pushing hard for a fast win, investing in Dragon fights is unlikely to be an optimal use of resources. However, a team looking for an end-game deathball would be well advised to start stacking Aspect of the Dragon as early as possible. When these two strategies are pitted against each other, the end-game threat of the deathball team will force some interesting decisions on the fast push team.
Speaking of pushing…


Baron Nashor has always been intended to be the siege-breaker; the ultimate answer to a team turtling and refusing to die. It achieves this goal but also, somewhat paradoxically, hands out a bunch of siege-resistance stats (regen) and has always felt somewhat lacking in terms of visceral impact. To really level up Barons reward (to go with his shiny new model), we trimmed some of the power that wasn’t really contributing to his purpose, and added that power back in a way that drives home the fact that Baron Nashor is the ultimate stall-smasher.
The Health and Mana regen have been removed from the Exalted with Baron Nashor buff and replaced with two new power-ups:
  1. Empowered Recall: Champions Exalted with Baron Nashor now Recall much more quickly. This should allow for a very quick regroup when needed and also allow for some interesting risky plays since hiding and getting out is easier.
  2. Empowered Minions: Minions near Champions that are Exalted are now enhanced with Baron’s power. Melee minions become much tankier, Caster minions deal more damage and Cannon minions get significantly increased range.
Pushing recklessly with Baron will now be more risky because the massive regen is absent, but cohesive efforts to crack an enemy team, by any number of means, should now be more rewarding.

The Objective Picture

In the end, our hope is that by creating uniquely incomparable rewards for different objectives, we’ll be able to promote strategic diversity by differentiating each game based on the accomplishments therein. A team who controls map objectives and wins by mounting pressure should see victory in a different way than a team who, for example, fast-pushes their way to a win.
As with all of our preseason changes we expect to iterate quite a bit. Things may change between now and when the changes go live, and they will almost certainly change as players show us the exciting ways these new powers can be put to use!

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  1. New jungle sucks so hard now. The monsters are so hard to kill and you became behind very quickly

  2. People will adapt. Which champions have you tried clearing with? If you read the notes and high level design changes, Riot is looking to bring assassin junglers and gank artists more in line with junglers who focus on tankiness and sustain. Yes, if you're trying to run glass cannon KhaZix, he's gonna take a lot more damage than the opposing Nautilus.

    I essence this makes Kha weaker, but only in the jungle. His ganks are no riskier because he'll be at lower health or he has to back more often since he doesn't have as much sustain. Give it some time to shake out. It's the first 12 hours of the release.

  3. I'm really excited to get home and practice some Shaco jungle to see if what the impact is for him. Having a hard time deciding which of the jungle items will be best and if I can still pull off those early invades after getting first buff. Curse you work and my dependency upon a paycheck!

    I will say this though, in between rounds of Candy Crush, I was entertaining myself with all the QQ on the forums yesterday waiting for the patch to launch. It's baffling to me how people can get worked into such a lather when a free-to-play video game is delayed. Perspective people, perspective

  4. Ryan ShurtleffNovember 20, 2014

    Incoming a huge influx of Warwick and NuNu....With the dragon buff changes, Nunu should be pick/ban every game.

  5. Thats crap, what you are saying.. Ive played Xin and Warwick. The new jungle is pretty nice..
    Though i think the new "AS + Mage dmg on hit jungle item" is pretty sick on champs like Ww and Xin..


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