League of Legends: Ghost Riders In The Rift
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG MOBA Reporter
Welcome summoners, to the patch v18.104.22.168 article for League of Legends, the game that’s heading out on a Wild Hunt. This patch includes rune adjustments, UI improvements, yet another round of nerfs to Doran’s items and Hecarim, The Shadow of War.
Hecarim is a highly mobile bruiser with great initiation and loads of AoE spam. His kit is built around getting straight into the middle of an enemy team and injuring as many of them as possible before (most likely) dying. He’s an easy to play character, with most of his kit not requiring any targeting at all. He’s a similar character to Shyvana, Skarner or Renekton, but without their durability.
Hecarim’s strategy is very straightforward. He’s not a precision instrument but rather a charging ball of pain that hurls itself into the enemy like a freight train. Activate Devastating Charge [E] for its movement speed boost and begin closing ground. When you’re in range, throw yourself into the enemy team with an Onslaught of Shadows [R], using its directed fear to scatter your foes and hopefully cut an important target from the pack. Where Hecarim ends his charge will determine the direction your enemies run in, so it can be used in a similar way to Gragas’ Explosive Cask. Now jump on that guy with the second part of Devastating Charge to shunt them closer to your team. All done? Great. Now go nuts.
Bring up Spirit of Dread [W], and just keep hitting everything around you with Rampage [Q] to both hurt everything, and keep yourself alive. It really doesn’t matter who you’re hitting, provided you’re hitting as many targets as possible. This is important for Spirit Dread, which gives Hecarim health based on all damage that is inflicted on any enemy in his aura. So if your teammates are also throwing plenty of AoE spam around him, that will help keep his spectral ass in one piece. If everything is going to plan, you should live long enough to get a good chunk of the enemy team on low life before you try to make a break for it.
If things don’t go well, and your allies don’t follow up on your initiation immediately, expect to hit the dirt pretty quickly. Outside of the great amount of health Hecarim can gain from Spirit of Dread’s aura, he has no way of keeping himself alive. This is a real problem when there aren’t any teammates around to back you up during laning and roaming, making him a very poor duelist.
My favourite trick on Hecarim is to abuse his passive to deny enemies last hits during the laning phase. When an enemy moves forward before targeting the minion they want to kill, quickly move Hecarim directly on top of the minion, making your enemy only able to click on him instead. They’ll then hit Hecarim by accident, and hopefully the minion will then die to attacking enemy minions, denying them precious gold. This is best used against melee opponents because you can then trade on the damage by smacking them with an auto attack and a quick Rampage [Q] in return. For obvious reasons, don’t over use this trick though, since you are still being hit for a fair bit of damage. Many players will get sick and tired of these shenanigans after a few attempts and just try to kill you, so keep wary. While Fizz could also move through minions to try this trick, he was too small a target to make use of it effectively. Hecarim, on the other hand, is one of the larger characters in the game, so you can do this quite easily.
When jungling, Hecarim’s main strength is his ability to invade the enemy jungle with relative safety. His high AoE damage and incredible movement speed allow him to get in, kill something, and then leave before an enemy knows what’s going on. Beware though, because in a straight 1v1, Hecarim is very weak compared to most other junglers. If you see a Lee Sin or Shyvana heading your way, don’t fight them unless you have a massive health lead.
The other thing to remember when jungling as Hecarim is always to use his Rampage to last hit on smaller camps just before you move to larger camps. This is especially important at the start of the game when you clear your wolf camp and move to your golems. Doing this will keep the cooldown buff that Rampage applies to itself intact, allowing you to clear these camps faster, and taking less damage in the process. This is a very important trick to learn in the early levels, but becomes less necessary to perform as you level.
Take a level in Rampage to begin with. Spirit of Dread is next on the menu. From there, which ability you level is really up to you. Rampage has a higher damage output, but Spirit of Dread will help with sustain and team fight survivability at a higher mana cost. As a general rule, Spirit of Dread is better for farming the jungle, whereas Rampage is better for killing champions. Take Devastating Charge when you’re planning on ganking, or going for a kill in the lane, and max it last.
For items, start with boots and health potions, regardless of where you’re heading. Due to being so very squishy for an initiator, you’re going to need to tank up as much as possible if you want a chance at survivability in the late game. Trinity Force is the only worthwhile offensive option on him, given his AD scaling isn’t great, and only works on two of his abilities. I see far too many people trying to rush this item though. Don’t give into that temptation. Build Trinity Force in pieces alongside some defensive items so you don’t simply melt in early engagements. Force of Nature is a good choice against magic heavy teams, giving him more mobility to feed into his passive while also adding to his durability. Sunfire Cape works well with all the rest of his AoE spam, as does Randuin’s Omen. One thing to note though is that cooldown reduction on him isn’t worth stacking. Rampage, his most often used ability, cannot go below 1 second in cooldown, so exceeding 25% cooldown on him is a complete waste of gold. For this reason, I tend to avoid Youmuu’s Ghostblade, because the cooldown is a low priority, and the damage Hecarim would get from the item’s movement speed isn’t cost efficient. It’s also worth noting you should avoid Phantom Dancers for the same reason, as the amount of attack damage Hecarim’s passive will give you from them isn’t worth the cost.
You’re going to need a 9/21/0 page on Hecarim if you want to survive your own initiation. While getting the movement speed bonus from the utility tree might seem tempting, your passive isn’t significant enough to be worth the point investment. Armour seals and magic resist glyphs are necessary. If you want to be specific, I prefer three magic resist per level, and six flat magic resist. A combination of attack damage, armour penetration and/or attack speed marks are great for his early damage output. When using movement speed quintessences, I prefer attack speed marks. When using attack damage quintessences I use six armour penetration and three attack damage marks. The former is better when you’re getting leashes in the jungle, the latter is better for laning and solo queue jungling.
Hecarim, I think, is another one of those characters we’re going to see fairly heavily for a week or so, and then fade away into obscurity. He’s a passable jungler, and a so-so laner, but he doesn’t really excel at anything in particular. The fact that he really needs his team around to keep him alive, rather than having the means to do so himself means he’s simply not a good pick in anything outside of very coordinated teams. When he doesn’t have his team keeping him in one piece, he is far, far too fragile for a character that has to dive headlong into the enemy team in order to be effective. Even in premade teams, he’s still not likely to see that much play, simply because he doesn’t function that well in the mid-game, when independence is an important factor in the character’s viability. What he does isn’t unique, and there’s plenty of other characters that do exactly what he does, but better.
I really don’t understand the nerf to Doran’s items. Yes, Doran’s stacking is very prevalent at the moment, but surely the solution is to simply get rid of the stacking, or give diminishing returns on stacking. The current way of nerfing them is simply making the boots three health potions start even more dominant than it already is. I’m not even sure if that’s possible at this point.
The rune adjustments are a good change, making aggressive load outs more viable. I will confess, I hadn’t run the numbers on this problem, so I wasn’t even aware it existed. Looking at the numbers now though, the changes mean that stacking magic resist is still going to be good in the mid lane (especially if you’re Galio) but it won’t completely mitigate all damage from any offensive runes the enemy happens to be carrying.
This patch brought a bunch of small UI improvements. The best among them has to be the exp bar by the side of your level. This allows for more fancy trickery like heal baiting on the verge of level using catalyst and other fun shenanigans much more easily. The scrolling numbers are judging the exact rate of damage done to creatures in the jungle, but add a bit of visual clutter when fighting champions. While I’m fond of the addition as a regular jungler, I’m thankful you have the option to turn them off.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section, or post in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.