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PBE Roundup: Patch 4.12


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Hello everyone! Hyjacked again with your PBE Roundup for patch cycle 4.12. This has been an interesting cycle, featuring wicked new skins for Aatrox and Malphite, a work-in-progress Sona rework, and a brand new game mode… of doom! Riot’s Live Gameplay Forecast for this patch is over here, I recommend checking it out. Keep in mind as always that all PBE content is subject to change.

Content Changes

New Game Mode: DOOM BOTS!

This PBE cycle has seen an introduction of a new and terrifying game mode…. Doom Bots mode. This horrifically devastating mode has three difficulty levels to conquer.

The first level gives all bots empowered spells. Most skill shots will shoot multiple projectiles, abilities have extra effects and the bots themselves have enhanced stats. In the second level, bots gain random passives every time they die. You might see a Wukong with Anivia’s egg passive, a Nasus who leaves a trail of fire everywhere he walks or a Soraka who makes Garen ghosts randomly pop out of bushes to attack you.

In the third level, they have two passives.

A friend of mine and I went into a Doom V Game, and we barely escaped with our lives. Our real-life lives! If you want to brave the horrors of the doom bots, check out this awesome new game mode when it drops on live. If you want to see some screenshots and videos, check out S@20’s report. The Doom Bots of Doom will meet you on the rift…. BEWARE FOR YOUR LIVES!

Intro Bots

In stark contrast to the devastation of the Doom Bots, Riot is attempting to make League easier to get into by introducing Intro Bots. Intro Bots mode is essentially an extended tutorial in which Riot’s goal is to provide more clear instruction for people trying to get into the game. Anyone who’s reading my articles probably won’t need a mode like this, but it looks like a pretty great way for newer players to learn the MOBA ropes. Check out the dev blog about it if you haven’t already.

Balance Changes

Champion Balance

Ahri

  • Orb of Deception (Q) mana cost reduced to 55/60/65/70/75 from 70/75/80/85/90
  • Orb of Deception (Q) AP ratio (on hit and return) increased to .35 from .325

Ahri has always been tricky to balance. There was a time where you couldn’t play three ranked games without running into one, and she was a terror to behold when you were up against her. After being nerfed, however, Ahri picks have been few and far between.

The balance team is aiming to make her a more attractive pick in the mid-lane but without pushing her back to her old overpowered state. A small mana cost reduction and AP ratio increase on her Q should hopefully do just the trick. I will admit, as a jungler I hate seeing Ahri, but I’ll grudgingly concede that she deserves the buffs.

Alistar

  • Trample (Passive)  tooltip no longer lists that it does double damage to monsters.
  • Pulverize (Q) mana cost reduced to 65/70/75/80/85 from 70/80/90/100/110
  • Headbutt (W) mana cost reduced to 65/70/75/80/85 from 70/80/90/100/110
  • Unbreakable Will (R) damage reduction reduction increased to 70% at all ranks from 50/60/70%

Everybody’s favourite Minotaur is getting some love this patch. Alistar hasn’t seen a lot of play recently, as he’s been pretty underpowered for a while. He was a god-tier jungler back in his heyday, on the level of being permabanned in pretty much every game, ranked or competitive.

Seeing that cow come screaming out of the jungle and camping you over and over again was a pretty toxic gameplay pattern, so the bull got the horns and was nerfed into oblivion. Now, however, Riot’s aiming to buff the bull up to a place where he can be a reliable bot-lane support by reducing his extremely punishing mana costs on his Q and W, enabling him to engage more often, and buffing up his early ultimate as well.

However, the ghost of Jungle Alistar is being avoided by making his passive, Trample, no longer do double damage to monsters, which will hopefully make his clear so abominable that he won’t be able to jungle at all. I’m sorry, Alistar Jungle fans, I truly am, but you are all evil.

Kassadin

  • Nether Blade (W) cooldown increased to 9 seconds at all ranks from 6
  • Force Pulse (E) slow duration lowered to 1 second from 3 seconds.
  • Force Pulse (E) slow strength increased to 50/60/70/80/90% from  30/35/40/45/50%

Kassadin, man. He’s just impossible to balance!

Continuing his swing back and forth between UP and OP, Kassadin is STILL on the top of everyone’s ban lists. These nerfs hopefully will take him back off again. His W is suffering an increased cooldown and the extremely punishing slow on his E is being hit hard in terms of duration.

However, his slow’s actual percentage is being increased to compensate. The W nerf should see him able to pull off his full combo less frequently, and the nerf to the duration on his E should make him a bit less safe than he is now. We’ll see if this does the trick and finally pulls him out of permabanning. No promises, though.

Kha’zix

  • Taste Their Fear (Q) base damage increased to 70/95/120/145/170 from 55/80/105/130/155. Isolation bonus updated accordingly.

Apparently void champions beginning with the letter K are cursed to be constant headaches for the balance team. Kha’zix has also been bouncing up and down on the end of the UP-OP spring. This patch is seeing a decent buff to the base damages on his Q (keep in mind that the Isolation bonus does an extra 30% damage, so that’s buffed too).

Kha’zix is in a decent spot right now, but his Q sort of needs to be evolved early on to make it worthwhile, so hopefully this buff will strengthen that choice but also make his other moves worth evolving early if necessary.

Consume and adapt Summoners.

Lucian

  • Base Attack range lowered to 500 from 550
  • Base health increased to 420 from 390
  • Base movement speed increased to 335 from 330
  • Base damage increased to 49 from 46
  • Piercing Light (Q)
    • Mana cost now 50/55/60/65/70 from 60/65/70/75/80
    • Cast range reduced to 500 from 550
    • No longer reads “Deals 75% damage to minions”
  • Relentless Pursuit (E)
    • Now reads: “Whenever Lightslinger [Lucian's passive] hits an enemy, Relentless Pursuit’s Cooldown is reduced by 1 second (doubles to 2 seconds against champions).” instead of “If Lucian kills an enemy while The Culling is active, the cooldown of Relentless Pursuit is reset.”
    • Mana cost reduced to 0 at all levels from 60/45/30/15/0
    • Cooldown changed to 14/13/12/11/10 from 18/16/14/12/10

The long-awaited Lucian changes are finally here, but they might not be what you were expecting. I’m not too sure that these changes are going to give Lucian the decisive smack with the nerf bat that we’ve all been awaiting.

Basically, his attack range and the range of his Q are being shortened from 550 to 500, which is admittedly a pretty big nerf. It puts him on the very low end of the spectrum in terms of attack range for marksmen and will limit his trading ability.

However, to compensate, his base HP, movement speed and base AD are all being increased. His Q and E now costs less mana, with Percing Light doing more damage to minions, and now has its (E) cooldown reduced by applications of Lucian’s passive, Lightslinger.

Riot’s objective with these changes was to give Lucian some clearly defined weaknesses and strengths. The problem with Lucian is that he outclasses most other marksmen at pretty much everything and is strong during every phase of the game. This patch is giving him a weakness in his shortened range but is buffing up his mobility, which seems to me like it will make up for the nerf.

He’ll be easier to poke by long-range marksmen like Ashe, Caitlyn and mid-game Tristana but his trading is no different, teamfighting is on similar power levels and his overall damage is actually increased. The Culling is a bit less devastating, as he doesn’t get free Relentless Pursuits from it and so he’ll be a bit easier to slow down or dodge. #

Also, he will be a bit easier to get to in teamfights now, as he has to stand closer to get his damage off. Maybe he will be more manageable, but I’m a little skeptical. Granted, I don’t play marksman often, so perhaps I just don’t realise the impact of being reduced to 500 autoattack range.

Sona

Disclaimer: Sona is getting a rework sometime in the next patch or two. However, it won’t be coming in patch 4.12. It’s looking pretty cool but it’s not finished yet. I’m going to put up the changes anyway, because they’re pretty interesting but don’t get all mad at me when they don’t happen with this patch.

Also, check out the original forum post and the update by Fearless discussing the changes, as well as a detailed selection of pictures and videos for her new VFX from S@20.

  • Base armour increased to 15 from 12
  • (Passive) Power Chord:
    • Q Powerchord amplification down from +100% damage to +50% damage
  • (Q) Hymn of Valor
    • Creates a 350 unit aura that lasts for 3 seconds.
      • Sona and allies touched by the aura get 40/50/60/70/80 (+0.25 AP) bonus magic damage on their next auto attack. Buff lasts 3 seconds
      • Each ally Sona tags with the aura increases the duration of the aura by 0.5 seconds
    • Cooldown increased to 10 seconds from 7 seconds
    • No longer grants persistent AP and AD aura
    • Mana cost increased by 5 at all ranks (50/55/60/65/70)
  • (W) Aria of Perseverance
    • Initial cast heals Sona plus the lowest health nearby ally for 25/50/75/100/125 (+ 0.25 AP) heath. This heal is increased by 1% for each 1% missing health of the target.
    • Creates a 350 unit aura that lasts for 3 seconds.
      • Sona and her allies touched by the aura get a shield that blocks 40/60/80/100/120 (+0.2 AP) damage.
      • Each ally Sona tags with the aura increases the duration of the aura by 0.5 seconds
    • Cooldown increased to 10 seconds from 7 seconds
    • No longer grants persistent MR and Armor aura
    • Mana cost increased by 5 at all ranks (65/70/75/80/85)
  • (E) Song of Celerity
    • Initial cast grants Sona a boost of 13%/14%/15%/16%/17% + (7.5% for every 100 AP) move speed. This decays down to the amount Sona grants to her allies.
    • Creates a 350 unit aura that lasts for 3 seconds
      • Grants allies touched by the aura 10%/11%/12%/13%/14% move speed for 1.5 seconds.
      • Each ally Sona tags with the aura increases the duration of the aura by 0.5 seconds
    • Cooldown increased to 10 seconds from 7 seconds
    • No longer grants persistent move speed aura
    • No longer grants allies % move speed on cast
  • (R) Crescendo
    • Ranking up Crescendo increases the strength of Sona’s auras
      • +10/20/30 magic damage for Hymn of Valor
      • +10/20/30 extra shield for Aria of Perseverance
      • +2%/4%/6% move speed for Song of Celerity
    • Crescendo has new VFX that more accurately show the affected area of the spell

This is a lot to look through and to visualise, so let me give a bit of a tl;dr:

Basically, Sona’s Q, W and E have been changed to a new format. Previously, the spells would all have an auto-targeting projectile that would be cast on the activation of the spell and then a passive aura that would always be active until you cast another spell.

No, the projectile spells are still there but the passive auras have been done away with and replaced by stronger, smaller auras that only last for 3 seconds, increased by half a second for every champion affected by the aura.

Note that this duration-increasing effect happens whether the champion in question is included in the aura upon its initial cast or enters the aura’s range later on. The cooldowns on all of these new auras have all gone from 7 seconds up to 10, forcing the player to be a lot smarter about when they’re using the spells but enabling Riot to pack a lot more power into the moves themselves.

The mana costs on the Q and the W have been upped by 5 at all levels to make them a little harder to spam, but the increased cooldown should actually make your mana last a little longer.

Explanation

The reasoning behind this rework was not that Sona was too strong or too weak, but rather that her playstyle was a little dull. A lot of her power currently is packed into ever-present auras that are quite strong to have but don’t really bring a lot of strategy or fun to the champion. There’s always one aura up, so the only strategy is which aura to have up at any given moment and a lot of her power is effectively invisible, making her feel a little bit flat in terms of gameplay.

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like Sona as a champion but I think that this new rework brings a much-needed level of depth and decision-making to her playstyle. Her passive, Power Chord, and her ult, Crescendo, have not been changed in terms of basic functionality. Now, let’s take a  look at the moves themselves.

The old Q, Hymn of Valor, would fire two bolts at the two closest enemies, prioritising champions, and then give a passive aura to the AP and AD of any friendly champion within 1000 units.

The bolts function the same, but the new 350-range aura no longer gives bonus AD + AP but instead gives any champions within the circle extra magic damage on their next auto-attack (but only once). This move feels like it’ll be pretty great for trades and even better in teamfights, as it gives a pretty big boost to the first attack done by anyone in the circle.

The old W, Aria of Perseverance, would heal Sona and the friendly champion with the lowest health percentage in the 1000-unit range and then give a passive aura of bonus armour and MR. The heal has been rebalanced to have lower base healing at level 1 and 2 but higher at 4 + 5 and also to increase the amount of healing by 1% for every 1% of missing HP on the target, which is a pretty awesome buff.

The new Aura gives a shield to any friendly target in the range of the circle, which makes this a pretty interesting move, as it gives both reactive and preventative healing. This will also be a pretty great one to use in trades, I think, as the heal combined with the shield will give Sona and her marksman a pretty big HP advantage over their enemies.

The old E, Song of Celerity, would give anyone nearby a movement speed bonus for 1.5 seconds along with an aura of generally increased movement speed. The initial movement speed is no longer given to other champions, only to Sona, but the amount of movement speed is increased.

The speed Sona gets decays down to the amount that the aura grants. The aura grants movement speed to anyone in the circle but at a much higher percentage than the old spell would give. The movespeed given also scales with AP, so this will be a pretty nice tool for engaging and escaping for Sona and her team.

Crescendo hasn’t been changed too much, but every rank in Crescendo will increase the power of all of Sona’s other moves, giving it a bit more scaling.

Overall, I think this rework’s pretty great for Sona. The numbers might be a little on the low side, and it’s a little tough to hit a lot of champions with such a short-range aura, but I think it’s great for Sona to shift her power away from constant small buffs to more focused big buffs. It makes her more interesting to play (in my opinion) and also makes her stronger, as she gets to choose where to apply her power instead of wasting it during times when nothing is going on.

As I said, this rework is a work in progress, so expect to see a lot of changes in the next PBE cycle as well.

Item Balance

Ardent Censer

  • Ability power increased to 40 from 30

Ardent Censer is a pretty awesome item in theory, but is still being outclassed by other support items. This buff should make it feel a bit more attractive as a buy on those supports with frequent heals and shields.

By the way, if you support mains out there haven’t yet tried this item on Janna, do it. Shields that give AD and AS at the same time are quite strong.

Bloodthirster

  • Shield lowered to 50-350 from 50-440
  • Out-of-combat shield decay now happens after 25 seconds up from 15
  • Lifesteal increased to 20% from 15%
  • Lifesteal is now unique

Bloodthirster has been pretty harshly kicked to the curb since its rework into a defensive item in patch 4.10. Riot’s looking for ways to buff up the power of BT while still keeping it a more defensively-oriented item.

Riot had been toying with the idea of giving it a passive +10% bonus AD but doesn’t seem to be sure about the idea. I personally don’t think it’s a fantastic idea as it would conflict with their objective of making BT a more defensive pick than IE. What they’ve done instead is to nerf the overhealing shield pretty significantly, but allow it to stick around for longer before it starts decaying, as well as buffing the lifesteal on the item from 15% all the way up to 20%.

That’s a lot of lifesteal, certainly more than on any other item in the game, so it’s been made unique so that stacking bloodthirsters won’t give ridiculous amounts of healing. Hopefully this will make BT’s lower offensive power made up for by the intense amounts of healing it will give.

Essence Reaver

  • Total Cost increased to 3400g from 2650g
  • Now Builds from BF sword + Vamp Scepter
  • Attack damage increased to 80 from 60

Essence Reaver is a pretty niche item slated towards marksmen and other AD champions who run out of mana easily, but still is being overlooked in favor of stronger items. This patch is seeing it brought up to the level of BT, IE and Mercurial Scimitar in terms of AD, bringing it out of the middle tier of AD items and up to the top, adjusting the price accordingly.

Hopefully this will make it a bit more worth the item slot, especially since it now builds out of a BF sword.

Hunter’s Machete

  • Tooltip changed to “Passive: Auto attacks deal +10 physical damage vs. monsters.” from +10 AD vs monsters.

This is actually a small nerf to Machete, simply because the new passive only modifies autoattacks and not spells that scale off AD. However, I’m unsure if this is an actual change to the item or just a tooltip clarification. If it is a nerf, it will make some AD-scaling champions’ first clear a little slower, but beyond that not have any impact, as most junglers upgrade their Machete to Spirit Stone, Madred’s Razors or Quill Coat on their first back.

According to a helpful reddit commenter, this is just a tooltip update, not a functionality change.

Manamune, Muramana

There are no changes to Manamune and Muramana in this patch, but RicklessAbandon has been experimenting with an activatable true-damage passive. You can take a look at the current edition of the changes over at his post on the PBE forums if you’re curious.

Twisted Treeline Items:

Grez’s Spectral Lantern

  • Builds out of Madred’s Razors + Dagger + Long Sword + 180g
  • Total Cost: 1765
  • 15 AD
  • 30% Attack speed
  • Unique Passive – Maim: Basic attacks against monsters deal 75 bonus magic damage and heal 10 Health on hit.
  • Unique Passive: Gain 30% increased Gold from monsters.
  • Unique Passive – Trap Detection: Nearby stealthed enemy traps are revealed.
  • Unique Active: A stealth-detecting mist grants vision in the target area for 5 seconds, revealing enemy champions that enter for 3 seconds (60 second cooldown)

Grez’s Spectral Lantern is being reworked to look more like Wriggle’s on live (although there’s no Feral Flare for it to upgrade to). Its attack speed total is being buffed from 20% to 30% and its passive changed from a 20% chance to do 200 magic damage on-hit to a constant 75 magic damage and 10 healing on hit, but the 12% lifesteal has been taken off.

The offensive capabilities of Grez have been buffed, both the attack speed and the average magic damage done to targets, but the item is now less gold-efficient because the healing only happens on monsters. However, the item now gives 30% bonus gold from monsters a la Wriggle’s and Feral Flare, so it will make up its gold-value deficit after a bit of farming.

Grez’s Lantern also no longer builds into the Lightbringer, which is now its own item. Grez’s Lantern has inherited the trap-detecting passive from Lightbringer, though, making it a third item (on top of Lightbringer and Hextech Sweeper) to buy against trap-laying foes such as Teemo.

Ichor of Illumination

  • Duration lowered to 3 min from 4 min

Ichor of Rage

  • Duration lowered to 3 min from 4 min

Both of the ichors on Twisted Treeline have had their durations lowered. These ichors are meant to be bought to finish out games, as they both give similar stats to a summoner’s rift Elixir but with bonus damage to buildings. However, the nerfed duration should put more pressure on a team who has bought ichors to close out the game quicker.

Lord Van Damm’s Pillager

  • Attack damage increased to 80 from 70

Van Damm’s Pillager is the Twisted Treeline version of Infinity Edge (despite a different build path), so this change is clearly just to match the Summoner’s Rift change to IE.

The Lightbringer

  • Total Cost 2280g
  • Builds out of Wicked Hatchet + Cloak of Agility + 350g
  • 30 Attack Damage
  • 30% Critical Strike
  • Unique Passive: Critical Strikes cause your target to bleed for an additional 90% of your bonus AD as physical damage over 3 seconds and reveals them for the duration
  • Unique Passive- Trap Detection: Nearby stealthed enemy traps are revealed.
  • Unique Active: A stealth-detecting mist grants vision in the target area for 5 seconds, revealing enemy champions that enter for 3 seconds (60 second cooldown).

The Lightbringer has kept its old trap-and-stealth-detection passives, but has been otherwise reworked away from a more bruiser-oriented item with lifesteal, health, armour and AD into a more marksman-oriented crit-AD item, with a passive like Wicked Hatchet’s to make crits cause bleed DoT effects.

Quill Coat

  • Unique Active: A stealth-detecting mist grants vision in the target area for 5 seconds, revealing enemy champions that enter for 3 seconds (60 second cooldown).

Spirit of the Ancient Golem

  • Unique Passive – Trap Detection: Nearby stealthed enemy traps are revealed
  • Unique Active: A stealth-detecting mist grants vision in the target area for 5 seconds, revealing enemy champions that enter for 3 seconds (60 second cooldown).

NOTE: These changes affect Twisted Treeline only, not Summoner’s Rift! Quill Coat and SotAG have been placed back on Twisted Treeline after being taken off for patch 4.11.

The items are mostly unchanged from their Summoner’s Rift counterparts but the ward that exists on both items in SR has been replaced with the TT-style bush-revealing mist that is also present on Grez’s Lantern, the Lightbringer, and Hextech Sweeper SotAG also has the trap detection passive (Pesky Teemos!).

This is a pretty interesting change, really, as it means that there are four items now with this vision-granting passive, two for junglers and two for laners. This change should hopefully make it a little easier to keep tabs on the enemy team in Twisted Treeline, as anyone who plays it will know that the lack of wards can be frustrating.

Cosmetic Changes

Mecha Aatrox and Mecha Malphite

Aatrox and Malphite are both getting awesome new skins this patch. The style is somewhere between Transformers and Pacific Rim, as you might be able to tell from the splash arts. Check out S@20’s report for pictures and videos.

mechamalph mechatrox

Mecha Ward Skin

Aatrox and Malphite are bringing a ward with their new skins. Check it out!

mechward

Headhunter Caitlyn

Headhunter Caitlyn is back on the PBE with a few updates, but I’m still not sure if she’ll be included in this patch or if she’s still a work in progress. Keep an eye out.

Exhaust VFX

Exhaust is getting another VFX update to look somewhere between the current one and the old one. I think it looks great and a lot more obvious now. More clarity!

new_exhaust

Sunfire Cape VFX

Sunfire Cape is also getting a more obvious animation. It’s pretty much how was before but bigger and more obvious.

newsunfire

 

That’s it for this PBE cycle! Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks to Moobeat and Surrenderat20.

 

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Hyjacked

I'm Hyjacked! I'm a jungle main in League of Legends. I'm an English-born US resident and I write patch coverage articles here at Cloth5. I'm currently in my final year of university, getting a Bachelor's in mathematics.

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