League of Legends: Make Like A Tree…
Patch v188.8.131.52, Maokai, EXP/IP changes and welcoming our robot overlords
By Jason (Hhean) Harper, OnRPG Journalist
Greetings fellow summoners! This is the patch v184.108.40.206 article for League of Legends, the game in which cases of electric shocks are on the Ryze (Okay, that was bad). This patch includes a rework to Ryze, the inclusion of the much anticipated co-op mode, reworks to how EXP and IP are gained from matches and Maokai, The Twisted Treant.
Maokai is a magical tank, designed around hunting mages, and punishing area of effect spam. If you’re familiar with characters like Malphite, Cho’Gath or Galio, you should feel right at home with him. He’s a more conventional champion than some of the ones released recently, with both an ultimate that is gained at level 6, and a fully functioning mana bar.
His passive, Sap Magic, empowers Maokai after five spells are cast near him, allowing his next attack to regain a percentage of his health. This allows him to keep his health topped up in the early game (this is especially true if you are partnered with a spam happy champion like Ryze or Ezreal) and also allows him to regain some surprisingly large amounts of health during team fights.
Arcane Smash [Q], is a short range skill shot that slows and damages everything it passes though, while also knocking any enemies next to Maokai airborne. This ability can be used for farming, though its better used for chasing people down using the slow or using the knock airborne effect to shut down an enemy mage or carry. This ability is fairly useless on its own, so you should only max it out after you have finished with levelling Twisted Advance. This will usually make it either your second or last pick in levelling order. Grab a level of it at level 4.
Twisted Advance [W], is a targeted ability that allows Maokai to be moved next to an enemy before dealing a bit of damage and rooting them in place. This is a great ability when used in conjunction with Arcane Smash, rooting vulnerable targets on the spot before knocking them into the air. Pick this up ate level two, and max it second. In some very select cases this can be levelled first, usually if you think team fights will begin very early in the game, or if you are under heavy pressure under your tower, and think the extra root time will help rack up some more damage by binding enemies inside its range.
Sapling Toss [E], really does what it says on the tin. Maokai throws a little gibbering sapling to a location of his choosing, causing damage on impact. The little guy then gets up and runs to the nearest enemy before exploding. This is, hands down, the most comical ability in the game, and I giggle a little every time I see a sapling running around, squealing as it goes. This is an incredibly versatile ability, in addition to being Maokai’s (second) most damaging attack.
This is a great farming and harassing tool, even more so due to the fact you can force the enemy into choosing to be hurt by it, or giving you gold. Most champions will try to position themselves just behind or inside the caster minion wave during the laning phase. This is great for Maokai, as you can throw the sapling between the enemy champion and the minions, either forcing them away from experience (allowing the resulting explosion to gain you gold) or let them stay still, and take significant amount of damage.
The Sapling gives Maokai line of sight, which can allow you to target his Twisted Advance through walls, or into bushes when you need to. It also hangs around for some time, allowing Maokai to scout ahead of himself as he advances, or check lane entrances to be aware of incoming ganks.
The only real drawback to this ability its high mana cost, so be conservative with it earlier on while mana is still an issue.
Pick it up at level 1, max it first.
His ultimate, Vengeful Maelstrom [R], is a great anti-ultimate. When a team fight is about to kick off, drop this baby down and everyone in the area will take reduced damage while you have it up. If you tap the R key again, every enemy in the blast will take damage equal to the amount absorbed. This heavily punishes large, area of effect ultimates, and teams that don’t correctly focus single targets.
This ultimate can be a game changer, and is the main reason Moakai should be on any team. Using him to counter pick against stun locking, AoE teams that are clearly intending to focus on team fights is going to be an important addition to any draft mode pre-game strategy. This ability also goes very well with a lot of soft crowd control, snares and slows especially, as they keep the enemy able to attack while still keeping them stuck in the area for as long as possible.
A note for those on a team against a Maokai. Do not fight inside this ultimate! This might sound obvious, but I’ve been seeing so many people leaping into the Maelstrom after its already up. Pull back and force the Maokai to either pop it early or waste a large chunk of his mana. The moment it comes on cooldown, attack without remorse. You have roughly 15 to 20 seconds before it comes up again, which is more than enough time for a team fight.
Start out with a Sapphire Crystal, a health potion and a mana potion. Build this into a Catalyst at the first opportunity, preferably picking up your level 1 boots in the process. This is the core of his early game.
From there, you can go three ways depending on how the match is going. If the enemy are heavy on physical or magical damage pick up either a Sunfire Cape or Banshee’s Veil respectively. The Veil is almost always a good choice as a later item, even if you choose not to rush it. If you’re doing well, and you want to press the attack, build to a Rod of Ages. That should be the first and last mage item Maokai should have on him though, as any more and his tankiness suffers greatly. Your items should emphasize resistances and health, though steer clear of Warmog’s on him. Unless you concentrate wholly on using Sapling toss for farming, he simply won’t get enough minion kills to make that item worthwhile early enough in the game for it to be useful. Rylai’s is a good late game item on him, giving his Sapling a slow, allowing him to be even more of a crowd controlling monster, and also giving him a nice health boost on the side.
Maokai is a very solid, well rounded champion. He’s the only champion since I’ve been writing these articles that feels like a character that will be seen often in games over the long term once people start to realise how insanely useful his Maelstrom and Saplings really are. I have a feeling he’s going to see some nerfs in the upcoming patch though, simply because he appears very powerful to teams who don’t understand how he works and who make poor decisions around his abilities.
The new EXP and IP gain changes are a net boon to the playerbase. There is now actually a reason to not just surrender at 25 minutes (Or, due to the changes on the surrender timer, at 20 minutes) when you’re trying to max out your IP gain. I can only see this as a win/win for Riot, since players get more IP to play with, and Riot get less IP farms hurting their server stability, which in turn means less screaming loonies on their forums.
At the time of writing, unfortunately the new co-op mode isn’t in yet. It looks like a fun playground to test out new builds though, great for putting theory crafted builds a test run before putting them ‘into the wild’. It will also act as another stepping stone for new players to use to get comfortable with the game before getting stomped down on by (only slightly more) experienced players in the usual matchmaker.
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. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet. Now is the perfect time.