By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Kindred does not use traditional he/she/it pronouns. Instead, Kindred is two separate characters that work together; they have an incredible lore, and in addition to the sneak previews we received, the cryptic laughter, and lamb/wolf marks that appeared over players heads at death, we have learned that Kindred is easily one of the most unique champions to come to League of Legends. That’s with 123 champions currently in the game! Riot has been working hard to make everyone stand out in their own special way, editing and adjusting characters where they can. Just the rumors of the impending change to Zilean, making him more of a Time Mage than ever (being able to grant levels to characters? Yikes.) says enough that Riot is ready to try some crazy things to keep every character fresh and unique. Kindred is no exception to this trend of unique and flavored characters. Kindred is a Marksman (AD Carry), but also quite capable of going to a solo lane like Mid, and also thrives in the Jungle. In fact, one of her abilities marks Jungle camps on both sides of the game for her to get stacks to her passive, which gives her permanent, stacking attack damage.
I’d like to take the time to thank players on all ends of the spectrum, CeruleanFrost, Sarkhane, Josh Williams, and Vulkary Sori to play with me to brainstorm the ins and outs of Kindred. As far as Runes and Masteries, I’ve seen a few ideas on how to possibly build her. I’m personally pretty lousy at both AD Carry and Jungling (though I’m better at jungling than carrying as a Marksman), but she is capable of doing great things if given an opportunity. Back to Runes! There are a few ways I’ve seen her be built, and all have their own ups and downs. As far as Quints, 3x Attack Speed, 2x Attack Speed, 1x Life Steal, or possibly 3x Attack Damage, and make your Reds Attack Speed. Yellows are reliably Armor, and for Blues I run Cooldown and Magic Resist per Level. This lets me Q and W just a little bit faster early on in the game. I use pretty standard aggressive masteries with tank splashed in, the basic ADC package. Kindred is, in my opinion, the answer to people trying to jungle Vayne or other ranged champions (and probably the reason for the Sated Devourer ranged nerf), but she needs to be mobile at all times. As far as summoner spells, in the jungle Smite is a requirement, but I like Teleport or Ignite over Flash, just because she’s one of the champions that has a wall-leap and can escape on her own recognizance.
Kindred’s passive allows them to “Mark” a Champion for death. This is easily a double-edged sword. Think about it. If suddenly you have a mark on your head, you might be inclined to not dive or play extremely passively. If Kindred is involved with the killing of that champion (killing or assisting), they gain permanent stacks of attack damage. You can’t do it in combat though, so your opponent’s got some warning before the attack will occur. Wolf (the spirit that follows Lamb around) will target jungle monsters in the game as well as the Neutral Crab. But that only lasts until Kindred gets six stacks of damage, then it stops. Why is this so important? Kindred’s passive promotes counter jungling, and roaming. But everyone can see the jungle target, so with some vision, Kindred might get shut down incredibly hard. This happens whether she’s carrying in a solo/duo lane or in the Jungle, so the temptation to roam is going to be high, but do be careful when going around! If your team isn’t going to support you, don’t force it!
Wolf comes into play in more than just that passive manner. Kindred’s W creates a field, a large circle where Wolf attacks targets within it, and pretty quickly to boot. As long as you are in this field, Kindred’s Q, normally an 8 second cooldown, is reduced to 2 seconds; this coupled with their E (Mounting Dread) can obliterate a target and get a stack without too much effort. The Q launches them and fires three arrows, damaging nearby targets. The E applies a slow, and if you can hit the target three times, it does a bunch of percentage life damage; Kindred is ALL about burst damage. She can do intense amounts of damage in a relatively short period of time but all the enemy has to do is get out of the circle. The circle is large but on its own doesn’t offer CC or move to follow targets, making it a simple effort to get out of.
Again having solid allies to provide extra CC is crucial to ensuring successful marked target kills. In jungle showdowns the circle can provide a solid zoning tool to dare your foes to cross the line into your battleground. Though I have seen Kindred played in lane plenty of times since release. Personally, I like them in the lane more than in the jungle, but you’d definitely need a support that can push a lane on their own, or is mobile enough to keep up with Lamb and Wolf’s constant roam.
And then we come to the most risky part of being Kindred: Their ultimate. R: Lamb’s Respite can either completely change the game, or ruin it for you. Her ult functions in a similar way to Bard, in that it affects all players in the aura for it. Anyone, friend or foe, cannot drop below 10% hp while within its glow. At the end it applies a flat heal to all of the people within it. I don’t see Kindred players using it for just any occasion, because it’s clear you have to think about what you’re doing with it. If your team has a good amount of Crowd Control, you can drop it outside of the enemy range, lock them out, and simply kill them without being able to die. Trapping your foes inside the Baron or Dragon zone is the ideal setting for making this happen. Pairing it with a Bard support can give your team plenty of time to settle and reinitiate a fight when you’re ready. But I have seen something absolutely ludicrous be done with it. An enemy Kindred dropped Lamb’s Respite while in front of the Nexus, and since our team did not have any knockbacks to push them away, they got to push our Nexus down for free without any struggle. You can use it to push towers, to knock down Nexus, or to save Baron/Dragon for your team.
Kindred is capable of obliterating objectives. A bit of attack speed, and with Wolf on Lamb’s side, Baron, Dragon, Towers, nothing is safe from being destroyed in mere seconds. If the enemy team is pushing Baron, Kindred is capable of leaping over the wall, popping W and E, and Qing rapidly to finishing it off first, even better if they have Smite. I’d like to see Kindred as a carry wielding smite too, using Warrior instead of Devourer, I feel like it’s going to help their burst more than Sated will. A bit of Attack Speed will go a long way. But I genuinely feel that if they get countered, camped, or pushed down, it’s going to be pretty hard for Kindred to come back. You also sort of need to build for Kindred, in a similar manner that people do with Yasuo. Even if a few enemies are in Kindred’s ult, you can wear them down, stun them right at the end with Leona, Sona, or Morganna, and just pick them off while your team remains alive. Most supports seem to work well with her, but I feel like Janna, Leona, Thresh, and Braum do the best. Something tanky with CC to keep her Mark pinned down and bullied.