League of Legends: I’m Dreaming of a Scaly Christmas
Patch 188.8.131.52 , Cassiopeia and Merry Christmas to all!
By Jason (Hhean) Harper, OnRPG Journalist
Welcome to this first official column about League of Legends; The game in which political disputes a settled by a bizarre assortment of misfits slaughtering one another between harvesting gold from midgets. If this is the way policies and laws are decided in Runeterra, it makes our mundane politics look extremely boring (and time consuming) by comparison.
Patch 184.108.40.206 just hit and the nerfocolypse continues, with some major changes to how jungling affects a team, some major item reworks, some seasonal skins and the inclusion of the new champion – Cassiopeia, The Serpent’s Embrace.
Let’s start by talking about the obvious addition of Cassiopeia. She’s a mage type, focusing in damage over time, and her low cooldowns allow for a very active play style. She is quite possibly one of the best looking, most detailed champions in the game right now, with some very expressive animations. With her and last fortnight’s Trundle, the art team is going the extra mile at the moment, a trend which will hopefully continue as we approach the upcoming graphical update.
It’s also worth mentioning that I found her voice set to be the most consistently creepy of all champions in the game. Not in a Mordekaiser “I’m really trying to be evil” fashion but more that she gives me the impression of a middle aged Hollywood diva, forgotten and looking back at the ‘glory days’ while she drinks hard liquor at 8am in the morning. I honestly expected her to turn to face my camera and say “All right, Mr. Summoner, I’m ready for my close up!”.
While she has art assets that are second to none, a voice set that I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon, and a very active play style, she is, rather unfortunately, completely overshadowed by other champions who can do her job far better. She is designed to be about sustained damage, a constant, unending barrage of pain that has no spikes, but has no troughs either. This works out well in the laning phase provided you aren’t pitted against a healer, but eventually someone will get wise to her constant whittling away and eventually just hit her with full force. She will then usually crumple immediately if she doesn’t have a slow or flash lined up. Most mages will burst her down almost instantly, most tanks can ignore her damage later on, healers will heal at about the same rate she can deal damage, and carries will simply jump into her face and promptly make her die. Most of her game plan is focused on being a pain, but not too much of a pain that someone actually remembers to kill her. She plays a very similar role to Anivia (coincidently they share a designer, Brakhar) in she is great at controlling the space around her and is great at harassing, but unlike Anivia has very little escape options beyond the use of her ultimate.
Her Noxious Blast [Q] is a great harassing tool, capable of last hitting minions and chipping away at enemy champions at the same time. It functions like a slightly more damaging, slightly more expensive version of Karthus’ Lay Waste ability, while also applying a poison that synergizes with Twin Fang. This can be levelled as her main ability, and I’d recommend it if you are struggling to survive long up close, or don’t have someone who can regularly stun or poison in your lane. It also gives you a negligible movement speed buff that mostly can be used for checking if someone is in a bush or not, since the buff only applies when hitting a champion.
Her second ability, Miasma [W] is mostly a farming tool that applies a poison effect on enemies for seven seconds and slows anything that enters it. This, when stacked with a Rylai’s crystal sceptre, allows you to grind enemies to a snail’s pace. This is useful mostly because she has absolutely no escape capability beyond her ultimate, This, combined with her Noxious Blast can be a great tool for harassing people under their own towers, since due to the slight delay in the damage, she can get in range, hit with her abilities and then back out before the damage applies and the tower targets her. It’s also worth noting that this is the first ability in the game that slowly expands in size the longer its is down on the ground, which can net a few cheap hits with people unfamiliar with it. This is usually the second in line for levelling.
Twin Fang [E] is a straight, single target damage ability that you can spam for as long as you can maintain poison on a target. It does good damage, but it needs other poisons to thrive, and is very close range for such a fragile champion. You also cannot move and cast this, which means it is greatly aided by anything that can lock someone else in place, as chasing with this ability is next to impossible. If you’re able to get close enough to a target without them emptying your health bar in under a second, or you have a lane partner who uses plenty of poison (Singed is great for this) then max this out before your other abilities. If not, go for Noxious Blast.
Petrifying Gaze [R], her ultimate, fires a conical blast in front of Cassiopeia. If enemy champions are facing the cone, they will be stunned and if they aren’t, they will be slowed. It also does a fair amount of damage, so this can be occasionally used to blow people up in the area. Most of the time though, it is best used when some melee carry is about to tear your face off. Petrify, then either damage him down or get the heck out of dodge.
Item wise, her recommended items are pretty spot on. Double stacking Doran’s Rings at the beginning of the game helps with both her magic regeneration and her survivability, which she needs like Justin Bieber needs singing lessons. Rylai’s crystal sceptre is really a core item on her, and even if you enjoy experimenting with your builds, and adapting on the fly (the latter is always advisable), Rylai’s should always be sitting in your inventory.
Rune and Mastery wise she is a typical mage, though cooldown isn’t very important on her. 9/0/21 works fine mastery wise. Magic penetration, mana regeneration and ability power are good picks for her runes. While Phreak’s choice of taking ability power on her quintessences isn’t a bad choice, sticking with the staple flat health quintessences is a good choice if you want her to, well, not be dead.
As for things not Cassiopeia related, one of the biggest things that people are talking about is the outright removal of Innervating Locket. This was likely to shut down the tanky play style that erupted out of this item, namely Locket Gragas, but also as a slap in the face to the sustainability of various support characters like Sona, who could camp out a lane and make marshmallows while her enemies failed to kill anything in the vicinity.
The global experience gain and the solo lane experience gain reductions are the previously mentioned jungling changes. With the solo lanes now gaining less, and dragon no longer giving the experience boosts that it once did, it means teams without a jungler will stand a greater chance against ones with a jungler, given the latter will no longer gain such an extensive level lead. That said, time will tell if the doubling of the global gold gain will allow for a significant lead in items that can snowball to victory. The other possible repercussion of this might be that lower ELO teams may try to clump around dragon for the experience, and we may see more team fights on dragon at low skill levels. Then again, trying to predict the actions of low ELO players is much like trying to guess which wall a headless chicken is going to slam into.
One other large change for map control fans (That being, everyone), is the nerf to vision wards and no longer being able to count minion kills of characters you cannot see, namely, junglers. The former change means that a single ward will only buy you coverage of one golem or lizard spawn before it is no more, and the latter means that attentive players can no longer count off on the minion counter how close the enemy jungler is to getting to dragon, and ganking apropriately.
Plenty more changes in this patch, but this is all the space available. Wild Urgots may be seen out in the wild as of this patch, given his buffs, though I’m doubting he’s still going to be a worthwhile addition to any team. The rework to Last Whisper is going to be considered a buff by some, and a nerf to others. The holiday skins are a great bit of fun, provided you have the spare money at this time of year.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, visit the League of Legends section of our forums, or post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section.