Thursday, December 1, 2011

Riot’s New Jungle, Part 2: the Good, the Bad and the Interesting

Last post I covered the patch notes themselves and what the implications of them are.  What I did not go into was my speculation on what comes of it.  So while knowing the new timers or what happened is a great thing, the game has just changed.  I still hold the opinion it is for the better, and that is because the pros outweigh the cons.  There are also several very interesting things that may be appearing in the near future.  Feel free to comment on anything I bring up and anything I didn’t!

Before I hop into the pros and cons of this patch, there are terms and mentalities that need to be defined.  In the times preceding the jungle change, jungling was a fairly straightforward role.  I have written many words on how it is not one dimensional, but I still hold that it is straight forward.  If all of your camps are cleared, go gank or counter jungle.  Puts wards on the map.  Help your team.  The list goes on, but really the decision trees don’t offer complexity.  There is room for a great jungler and a bad jungler alike.  Either one will change the outcome of a game, but it is easy to fall behind if your lanes are failing, even if you are great.

These changes bring more consistency and complexity to jungling.  While I hesitate to ever listen to Phreak or Morello, I think they actually hit the mark on this one.  I’ve been enjoying my games and look forward to what’s to come, so let’s break down my pros.

+ Lanes can get more farm

Top, Bottom and Mid lanes can now spend down time or lane pushed time in their jungle picking up some gold and experience.  The healing sigil allows someone that is a ranged carry or tanky DPS to plow through a camp and not lose much health at all.  The reduced health on the wraiths allows the mid take them down extremely fast.  This is going to allow for synergy between the team.  If the jungler is ganking top he can alert mid and bottom to take his jungle.  This will allow good and alert lane players an edge over

+ Counter Jungling more effective

That’s right, I said MORE effective.  The point of counter jungling is to take experience and gold from the enemy jungler.  The reduced income from small minions and increased from large ones, including the overall nerf to the camps makes counter jungling extremely strong.  If you steal a large golem, blue wraith or large wolf, chances are you’re seriously setting back the enemy jungler.  Before the change, you crippled a camp just to get some extra gold and set them back. Now the combination of reduced experience on top of weighted gains for camps makes it such that losing a large minion will reduce the gold and experience you get by a huge percentage.  This is not including any jungler that is new and relies on healing sigils in order to complete their route.

+ More consistent jungle

The jungle previous could be really inconsistent.  A failed gank may have left you in a position not to complete your camps.  If your lanes were all going ok and weren’t able to be ganked, you were left underfarmed.  This was seen a lot at the professional level where lanes aren’t quite win or lose and the jungler has to rely on his farm to get into the game.  With these new changes, you can choose to farm up instead of forcing ganks and situations to get ahead.  It gives a jungler the option to have a good game always instead of sometimes and the great games are now even more available.

+ New items and Champions

There will undoubtedly be new people living in the trees, likely those that want unharassed farm.  Who will end up being in the jungle is still in the air, but what I am excited about is the different item starts.  I actually can start Udyr with no potions and get a strong leash and clear with cloth armor.  This can lead me to go with possibly dropping armor runes and running something like attack speed.  While this isn’t the best example, the possibilities of different items, especially with Wriggle’s Lantern, is exciting.  I don’t have to build Wriggle’s on all of my characters now.  I will be revisiting quite a lot of heroes and trying different items.

+ Still a “jungler niche”

The things that make a jungler good now are mostly amplified by this change.  The reduction in health of the camps makes anyone more sustainable, but the sustained are even stronger now.  While having to kill more hurts a few and helps others, most junglers are great because they can stay in the jungle for a while and gank strong.  This does not change and, as I had assumed originally, you won’t see the laners taking over the house anytime soon.

+ Higher health ganks

The health sigils and weaker camps allow for ganks a lot more often.  While you now have the decision to farm hard or gank, at least both decisions are high health.  I noticed that I can jungle as I will and gank lanes freely now instead of really needing that extra camp and taking a lot of time.  I don’t find myself rushing to finish a camp then go a fight happening, I am much faster to leave immediately.  I typically enter the lane at pretty high health and the reduced time on a health potion means that you can even pop one and have it run its course by the time you get there.

+ Buffs able to be passed

This is a bit progressive, but I can see buffs being passed more often now.  I think a non-red or blue dependent jungler can coordinate well with their laners to pass this off and make a strong laner.  While this could be done before and the buff timers have not changed, junglers now have more options for farming and ganking, so the buffs are not as critical.  With the increase of sustain for most of the cast in the jungle, blue buff is much less needed and the nerf to red makes it a stronger option for a laner instead of a jungler.  You’ll still see Shyvanna and Master Yi taking reds and Fiddle taking blue, but many can forego them now.

- Bigger downside to failed ganks

Earlier I said that the jungle is more consistent, and while that is true, there is more consequence to multiple failed ganks now.  The reason it is amplified is that the enemy jungler, if they chose to farm, is now a lot farther ahead of you.  If you fail a gank, it’s never been the end of the world, however the more time you waste not killing camps now, the worse off you’re going to be.  Everyone in the game, aside from you, will be gaining more farm and you cannot afford to not be jungling.

- Early level 2 gank gone or harder

The days of starting double golems and going bottom/top are gone.  You can smite the wraith and then do golems, but the timing isn’t as quick.  This allows the lanes to be closer or actually level 2, which defeats the purpose of level advantage.  This will  run into issues with bottom lane especially because a level 2 Alistar support is much more of a pain than a level 1.  This isn’t the worst thing because I always felt the level 2 gank was a gimmick anyway, but it still removes an option.

- “Bad” junglers are even worse (non-AoE)

My perfect example for this is going to be Fiddlesticks.  Fiddlesticks requires a drain to kill minions, and that is fine against strong minions.  But this doesn’t work for the same reason that you can’t drain every minion in the lane when laning.  Having increased amounts of things to kill provides a huge sustainability issue to single target, low sustain junglers.

- AoE is overpowered

On the other side of that coin is the AoE junglers.  Someone such as Amumu is far stronger now because he can cast a Tantrum or two and he’s done with the camp.  Having to worry about high health is an issue for AoE style champions, but that issue has been removed.  Right now, AoE damage is very strong and will make junglers such as Rumble viable as well as current junglers such as Lee Sin, Maokai and Amumu stronger.

- Slightly less experience gain overall

This will likely be changed by Riot, but I really feel less leveled in the jungle.

+/- Roaming Resurrected

Roaming died because of a variety of reasons, but I have a feeling it is coming back.  You can have strong roaming characters replace junglers on a team.  Roamers can sustain themselves easily in the jungle between ganks and this not only allows roaming jungle to have lane presence, but can feed the jungle to their lanes.  This will lead to a weaker link on a team when it fails, but a good roamer will win games by making his lanes extremely well farmed, constantly buffed and always getting ganks.  You better watch out for Evelynn, Twitch, Alistar and Blitzcrank in the jungle, I’m calling it.

+/- Sustainability and speed much stronger

One thing I’m not sure on, but provide interesting jungle picks, is that sustainability and speed are much stronger.  Someone like Udyr who has AoE damage as well as incredible sustain will become even stronger.  He will never have to return to the shop and can farm up his camps immediately.  This really will lead to jungle matchups where your lanes can pick safe characters such as Ezreal and Karthus and a farming jungler to counter a very strong ganking jungler such as Rammus.  It is another team dynamic to consider now and I think that it will produce some very interesting results.

+/- Wriggle’s is equivalent to smite?

Smite is still a strong spell, but I am starting to question its necessity.  I think on a few, strong junglers, Smite can be foregone for a Wriggle’s Lantern.  I ran a Wriggle’s on Lee Sin and killed the jungle so fast that I didn’t even have time to use smite.  It isn’t as necessary on the camps since they are all weaker, so somebody like Trundle, a Wriggle’s can get the job done.  I think that smite might be another offensive option a jungler can take advantage of now because as long as you have strong jungling, you will not need it as much.

 +/- Increased team synergy opportunity

I think it’s great that a team can now flow in and out of the jungle as well as the enemy’s jungle. This will allow professional teams to have advantage over other people and more disaster to be had for solo queue teams.  I really think it will introduce some great team synergy and will allow more MIAs and uncertainty as to whether they are jungling or ganking another lane.

+/- Higher skill cap on the game

While the mechanical skill cap has not increased, there is a much better ability for better and worser players to excel.  A strong jungler can now counter jungle much harder and gank far more often.  A great laner can now pick up more farm when he can and find ways to gain advantage over his opponent.  These changes have really set a new standard on what can be done in league of legends.

Riot's New Jungle, Part 1: The Patch

Riot’s New Jungle, Part 1:  the Patch
As many of you know, Riot recently changed the jungle.  While many are throwing their outrage around saying this isn’t fair (I was one of them), these changes are for the better.  Not all change is an improvement, but Riot did a great job on this one.  There are more tweaks to be had and negatives to the change, but there is a lot of ground to cover.  This post will be on just the Riot patch notes and their significance.

            Jungle Adjustments
-          Small camps now respawn faster, but have reduced rewards

This drops the spawn time from 1:40 to 1:00.  This is lightning fast compared to before, and makes it such that a jungler can continuously farm until they choose not to.  This will also help lanes level and farm faster and harder.

-          Small camps now have a healing sigil

This will help sustain any junglers looking to be in the jungle for an extended amount of time.  This doesn’t heal for that much, but it does help clear the camps easier.  It also gives something to counter jungle and I think will make certain champions viable in the jungle.

-          Neutral monsters now have their health, damage, experience reward and gold reward increased with game length

This is awesome.  It gives junglers a reason to stick in the jungle as well as counter jungle at the later levels because the rewards are much better.  An extra 20-30 gold per camp per few minutes is really helpful in coming back from a gank instead of encouraging pure farm.

-          Neutral monster experience range reduced to 400 from 800 the killer will always receive experience

This is a relatively minor change that will help the solo queue out most.  The experience range now on hard leashes pushes the limit and I have had more than my fair share of my teammates not leaving fast enough.  The end stipulation makes it so that a caster on the other side of the trees still gets experience, despite being out of the radius.

-          Ancient Golem and Lizard Elder camp experience increased slightly and gold reduced slightly

This will slightly impact the jungler.  It’s there to give a faster level up because the other camps don’t give as much experience.  The decrease in gold is likely a shot at the scaling feature they added, but I will not complain about getting more experience when I give blue to my mid.

-          Crest of the Ancient Golem now grants 25 flat MP5, but 1% regen from 1.5%  and now effects energy as well

This change to blue is well needed.  The 0.5% reduction of mana is nearly negligible on most, with possible exceptions being Ryze and Tear of the Goddess builders.  The change to help energy will make Shen easier to jungle with and makes someone such as Rumble viable as well.  The increases regenerations on top of cooldown for energy characters is a welcome change.  Blue buff will now also help someone such as Kennen in the mid lane, whereas it only helped increase cooldowns before.  Blue buff is just as strong as ever.

-          Blessing of the Lizard Elder melee slow % reduced to 8/16/24% from 10/20/30%

This one is a small hit to jungle ganks, but should make it a bit less free win on a red gank.  I have had times I swear the enemy stopped moving entirely with Skarner slow and red buff being applied.  A 2/4/6% difference is going to be felt in rare situations and if you’re hurting for movespeed, run the quints.  While this lowers the viability of some champions slightly (Shyvanna and Master Yi come to mind), it is not a significant impact on most. It still gives those with CC a secured kill and potentially offers one to those without.

-          Dragon and Baron immune to armor and magic resist-shredding effects

This helps prevent those early dragons and barons done without teamwork, those darn uncoordinated teams!  This is a response to the jungle being a bit easier and will make Dragon and Baron more of a team objective, but only slightly more so.  This will really just force the team to coordinate more than “Hey, the Teemo with Malady and Karthus solo’d Baron” and will somewhat prevent Fiddle’s solo’ing capabilities.

-          Monsters will heal 5% immediately when retreating, but are easier to re-aggro.

This is going to help prevent “double leashing” from blue buff, where it runs all the way back to spawn and heals itself up while you bash on it.  Believe me when I say it’s frustrating and sometimes game ruining, so I am glad this is fixed.
All in all, the jungle changes are much more reasonable than I had imagined.  I feared for my life and drank up a storm when I heard the ideas, but Riot handled it in a reasonable, balanced way.  I have a feeling that experience and gold will need to be tweaked because I do feel slightly weaker in the jungle than I did before.  Look for part 2 of this article: the Good, the Bad and the Interesting.