Hello everyone! Hyjacked back once again for another round of PBE updates. This patch cycle has been very exciting! The long-rumoured Shurima Patch is finally coming to the Rift, including a new champion, a new game mode, and a gameplay update to Cassiopeia. There hasn’t been a patch this big since the Freljord Patch, which gave us Howling Abyss. Let’s get right down to exploring the sands!
As always, remember that this is PBE content, and therefore tentative and changeable.
Champion Balances & New Champion
New Champion: Azir, the Emperor of the Sands
A new champion has hit the rift! Azir is a control mage with a minion-based kit. He’s a really interesting champion, so if you want to learn about him, check out Riot’s official reveal and my article on his kit and design.
- Aspect of the Serpent (Passive)
- Old passive, Deadly Cadence, removed (was a stacking mana cost reduction)
- New passive: Cassiopeia permanently gains a stack of Aspect of the Serpent for each second that she has poisoned an enemy champion, for each poisoned unit that she kills and every time she hits an enemy champion with Twin Fang. Caps at 400 stacks.
- 75 stacks: 5% increased Ability Power. Twin Fang restores 6/8/10/12/16 (+0.1 ability power) health
- 200 stacks: 10% increased Ability Power. Cassiopeia gains 25% CDR
- 400 stacks: 30% increased Ability Power
- Noxious Blast (Q)
- AP ratio reduced to .35AP from .8AP
- Movement speed gained changed to 10/15/20/25/30% from 15/17.5/20/22.5/25%
- Cooldown increased to 4 seconds from 3 seconds
- Mana cost changed to 40/45/50/55/60 from 35/45/55/65 /75
- Spell delay increased to .65 seconds from .6 seconds
- Miasma (W)
- Magic damage per second reduced to 10/15/20/25/30 (+.1 AP) from 25/35/45/55/65 (+.15 AP)
- Cooldown increased to 14/13/12/11/10 seconds from 9 seconds
- Mana cost decreased to 40/50/60/70/80 from 70/80/90/100/110
- Slow increased to 25/30/35/40/45% from 15/20/25/30/35%
- Twin Fang (E)
- Damage changed to 55/80/105/130/155 (+.4/.45/.5/.55/.6 AP) from 50/85/120/155/190 (+.55 AP)
- Mana cost changed to 30/45/60/75/90 from 50/60/70/80/90
- New Utility: Now refunds its mana cost plus an additional 3% of Cassiopeia’s total mana when it kills a unit
- Usability: Twin Fang is now much better at checking whether a target is poisoned to give the reduced cooldown
- Petrifying Gaze (R)
- Damage lowered to 150/250/350 (+.5 AP) from 200/325/450 (+.6 AP)
- Cooldown reduced to 120/110/100 from 130/120/110
Cassiopeia has received this gameplay update to try and get her back onto the Rift. A lot of aspects of Cass are changing, so I’ll try and tackle each of these one at a time.
First of all, her new passive, Aspect of the Serpent, is a lot stronger than her old one. As the game progresses, she gains stacks from pretty much everything she’s doing (poisoning champions, killing poisoned targets and hitting champions with Twin Fang).
She has three benchmarks at 75, 200, and 400 stacks that give her pretty significant boosts.
- The first boost (75 stacks) gives her extra AP and a heal on her Twin Fang, which helps her scaling and lane survivability.
- The second boost (200 stacks) gives her more free AP and an enormous 25% CDR. Let me repeat that, 25% CDR. From her passive. 200 stacks is not going to be hard to get within a normal game, so this is a huge bonus. With 5% CDR from masteries, this means that Cassiopeia only needs to buy 10% CDR to cap.
- The third benchmark (400 stacks) sees the bonus AP go from 10% up to a huge 30%, which for those of you watching at home, is the same as the unique passive on Rabadon’s Deathcap. This is, simply put, a lot of AP. The ratios on her Q and W have both come down, so this will help put them back where they should be, and possibly beyond.
Noxious Blast (Q)
Noxious Blast has been pretty gutted in damage. Fortunately, it’s not her main damage tool, but the nerf to Q places even more emphasis on using Twin Fang to keep your damage up. Noxious Blast does give more movement speed than before, however, which makes landing Twin Fang consistently a lot easier.
There has been a lot of debate about how this nerf actually affects Cass in terms of waveclear and poke, but we’ll have to wait until live to solve this debate.
Miasma has pretty much received the same treatment as Q. It’s been hit in the damage department, but buffed in utility, as the slow on it is now much stronger, which also helps get those Twin Fangs off.
Twin Fang (E)
Twin Fang has always been Cassiopeia’s main damage tool, and is now even more so. The damage has been altered so that the base damage is now higher at low levels but lower at high levels, though the scaling is the opposite, being lower early but higher later. This is always the stronger way to do it, given that scaling is more powerful later, as you have more items, and therefore, more damage.
Twin Fang now has a little bit of mana utility to replace the lost mana-efficiency from Cass’s old passive. This really helps with wave-clearing and keeping your mana up, since dropping a Miasma or a Noxious Blast on a minion wave and then last-hitting each minion with E is pretty much mana neutral, or even mana-positive if you have a lot of mana.
The main buff to Twin Fang, however, is the greatly increased reliability in checking for poisoned targets. For those who aren’t aware, Twin Fang is on a 5-second cooldown, but if it hits a poisoned target, the cooldown is reduced to .5 seconds. However, Twin Fang can be inconsistent in refunding cooldown properly, so the improved programming will really help with that.
Petrifying Gaze (R)
Petrifying Gaze hasn’t been changed much. It’s been nerfed in damage, but buffed in cooldown. The damage nerf is really just a response to the new passive, and isn’t too significant — in conjunction with the passive CDR, she should be able to engage more often.
Overall, I think that these changes are pushing Cassiopeia in the right direction. Her utility has undeniably been buffed, which is great, though it is difficult to tell how her damage will turn out.
At first glance, her damage seems to have been gutted fairly hard, but the increased reliability of Twin Fang is very difficult to quantify. Her new passive is also a bit ambiguous, since it’s not yet quite clear how easy it will be to stack it up to where it needs to be. However, the team does have some levers in place, and will probably continue buffing or nerfing her over the course of the next few patches.
New Gameplay Mode: Ascension
A new game mode has come to the Rift, set in the swirling sands of ruined Shurima.
This game mode uses a modified version of the Crystal Scar map. On the Ascension map, there is no nexus, and the Summoner platform is separated from the rest of the map. The only way to get to the battlefield is to use a trinket which will teleport you to one of the five former capture points. The entire map (except for the five outer and one center platform) is covered in a sandstorm that functions like Fog of War, so you never know who you’re going to run into.
The game is essentially a deathmatch with some objectives sprinkled in — These objectives help you acquire the 200 points you need to win the game. There are three ways to earn points:
- Kill an enemy champion: This awards 1 point, or 2 points if the killer is Ascended.
- Capture a Relic of Shurima: These relics show up on the three Speed Shrines around the map. They capture just like Stormshield in a Dominion game and award 3 points each.
- Kill the Ascended: Shortly after the game begins, Xerath in his Ancient Ascendant form will spawn in the center of the map. Killing him in his enhanced raidboss state will award 5 points and a buff to the player who scores the last hit. The player in question will enter a Zhonya’s-like bubble for a few seconds, and then become Ascended, receiving hugely buffed stats in exchange for reduced healing effects. Killing the Ascended player also awards 5 points, but doesn’t transfer the buff.
Ascension has a really cool feel to it. It’s not quite as fast-paced as Dominion, but is pretty close. The objective control often takes second priority to killing opponents, since engaging upon Xerath is a risky maneuver. No one on this map can take Smite as a Summoner Spell, so the only way to truly ensure that your team gets an Ascended player is: Kill the enemy team so that they can’t contest, killing Xerath during your spawn timer.
If one team does manage to Ascend a player, the focus of the game quickly changes. The Ascended player will roam the map, trying to score kills wherever they can. The enemy team will begin to focus their efforts on killing the Ascended, which can be difficult to do. They’re easy to spot, since the Ascension buff illuminates a player and makes them visible both through the sandstorm and on the mini-map. However, the buff gives them a strong edge in fights, so taking one down in a 1v1 scenario is very difficult.
It’s a pretty simple game mode, but fun to play, especially if you don’t want to worry about towers, points, or lots of objectives and instead, just want to run around killing people. Look forward to Ascension coming soon!
There are a lot a slew of cosmetic changes this patch! If you want a list of them that includes a plethora of pictures and videos, check out Moobeat’s report at [email protected].
Kha’Zix has received a new Shurima-themed skin! Check out Guardian of the Sands Kha’Zix if you like metal bug-men from the desert.
Renekton has received a texture and splash update. Steve Irwin’s worst nightmare sounds even more terrifying than before.
Sivir received a few new lines to interact with her fellow Shurima-based champions.
Akali & Orianna
Akali and Orianna, while not Shurima champions, have also received some fresh Splash Art love this cycle:
Ward Skins, Lore Updates, & A Few Particle Effect Changes
Three new ward skins are also coming in to celebrate the Shurima patch, one of the Sun Disc and one adorable ward each for Amumu and Rammus.
There have been a few lore updates as well. Amumu, Ezreal, Cassiopeia, Nasus, Rammus, Renekton, Sivir, Skarner, and Xerath all have received lore updates. With the exception of Cassiopeia, all of these champions have been rewritten to have their origins centered around the Shurima desert.
Zilean’s Ultimate now has a brighter glow effect. I’m torn about this change… on one hand, it’s a good thing because Zilean’s Ultimate currently provides such a subtle visual effect that it isn’t always easy to see. On the other hand, I despise Zilean and all that he stands for, so anything that makes him better is against my moral center.
Urgot has also received a second cosmetic update. His Q has already been made to look nicer, but now his autoattacks look spiffy as well!
That’s all for now, folks. I hope you enjoyed the article, and big thanks as always to [email protected]. See you next time!