League of Legends: Pix Or It Didn’t Happen
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG League Reporter
Welcome summoners, to the patch v188.8.131.52 article for League of Legends, the game that has but slumbered here. This patch includes nerfs to some vampiric health regeneration, a flashy new sword and Lulu, the Fae Sorceress.
Lulu is an aggressive support champion, with numerous crowd control abilities in addition to her wide array of buffs. Her key drawback though is that, much like Janna, she has no sustain in the lane. She’s a good deal more complex than most supports, but gets a massive amount of versatility in return. As a result, she has a slightly weaker laning phase than most supports, but has a very strong late game due to her extraordinary team fight capabilities.
Her passive, Pix, is a faerie that follows Lulu about, and fires three projectiles at anything Lulu targets with her autoattacks. These projectiles can be stopped by other enemies getting in the way of the intended target, so unfortunately you’ll need to line up your auto attacks in the same manner as a skill shot if you want to maximise its damage. Pix is similar to Orianna’s ball in that it is a spell effect that moves about like a physical object, though Pix’s movement is tied to targets, rather than being able to move freely in the manner of Orianna’s ball.
Help, Pix! [E] enables this movement, sending the faerie onto a target of your choosing. When placed on an ally, it will shield them and attack when they do, also giving them the gold if one of the shots causes a last hit or champion kill. On enemies, this is a damaging, single target nuke that grants you sight on the target, reveals stealth and will attack anything you do. While shielding your allies all the time seems tempting (you are a support, after all), this is really only worth doing in the late game when keeping key targets can be very important. During laning, and a fair way into the mid game, this is best used as a nuke. The threat of a Help, Pix!, followed by a Glitterlance can hit hard enough for most AD carries to think twice before getting in range of Lulu.
Glitterlance is a dual-skillshot that will pass through targets, damaging and slowing anything it hits. While Lulu fires one shot, Pix will fire another to wherever you clicked as well, allowing for a wide range of tricks. At level 2, for example, she has an overwhelming burst when simply hitting an enemy with Help, Pix! and then having the fae shoot them in the face with Glitterlance. Later in the game, she can tag someone in front of her with Pix and fire her shots far into the distance, shooting fleeing enemies or slowing ranged carries so her melee teammates can dive in and beat them to a pulp. While she can use this trick on a minion to extend her reach in the laning phase, this shouldn’t be a common trick, as the cost of blowing both her damaging abilities for one poke is rarely worth the damage it causes.
The following is a quick trick I picked up for when Pix isn’t attached to another character. Pix moves around by being leashed to a target, so will always trail behind Lulu at a set distance, unless she moves towards Pix, which will cause it to stand still until she reaches the limits of its leash range again. With this knowledge in hand, you can position Pix in order to perform a X shaped Glitterlance, creating a wide hitting conical effect using no-one but Lulu alone. This is done by performing a broadside-like maneuver where you run sideways just before firing your shot, placing Lulu and Pix side by side rather than in front of one another. This is not only a great farming tool, but also allows you to slow entire enemy teams during a team fight and harass multiple targets in the lane. Getting used to this odd quirk is essential to maximising both her damage, and her ability to control the flow any engagement.
Whimsy [W] is a very straightforward piece of kit by comparison. When used on an enemy target, it functions like a super powered exhaust, shutting down an enemy’s offense completely. When combined with the heavy slow on Glitterlance, it essentially becomes a short duration stun. Note though that this makes a very poor harassment tool in the lane, as while its crowd control is very potent, it deals no damage at all.
On an ally, it’s a speed steroid and AP boost, which can assist in initiation or escape, or add to the magical damage of your team. Ideally, this ability is best used on a tank that uses AP as some part of their initiation, like Cho’Gath, Galio, Malphite and so on. Most of the time though, use Whimsy for its crowd control effects unless you feel the buff is absolutely necessary to help start/end a fight.
Her ultimate, Wild Growth [R], has two main uses as well. The ability will knock all enemies up and away from a friendly champion before giving them a slowing aura and a temporary health boost. This makes an excellent follow-up to a tank’s initiation, and can even make a fairly sub-par initiation, like a Rammus powerballing into the enemy team, into something truly terrifying. The secondary use is to wait a second or so into the fight and watch for who the enemy team jumps on. Ult that person to either buy time for their escape (if they’re squishy) or to begin locking down the whole enemy team with glee (if they’re tanky). This is always best used as early as possible in a fight to get the most out of the slowing aura, so make your decisions quickly.
It is important to note that Lulu is very dependent on her team composition. As a support she can only enhance the abilities that her team already possesses, so she can range wildly in power depending on what she’s trying to help. Her ultimate, for example, is useless without a tank on her team, and I’ve been finding it ideal that she have two highly burly characters to choose between in team fights. Her ultimate, shield, speed buff, and ability power enhancements make for some fearsome initiations, but it all goes to waste if she doesn’t have a good target to put them on.
She’s best suited to laning with carries that have some form of attack speed steroid, or are likely to build attack speed early like Vayne, Kog’Maw or Tristana. This will get the most out of her Help, Pix! when it’s being used on an ally, as Pix’s damage only scales based on the number of shots fired, not off the target’s attack damage or any other factor other than Lulu’s level. Even better if the character has some form of AP scaling, for synergy with Whimsy’s buff. I don’t think her lane partner is as important as having a tank around for her end game, but it still is an important factor to consider.
Take a level in Glitterlance to begin with. Max it last. Help, Pix! should be her second leveled ability, and maxed first. While you can take either Glitterlance or Help, Pix! at level 1, I prefer the former due to its AoE being far more useful in any early team fights. Take Whimsy at level 3 or 4, depending on how close the enemy in your lane are to death – If they’re nearly dead, then you’ll need the crowd control from Whimsy to help finish the job. If they still have plenty of health, get another level in Help, Pix! to nuke those uppity sods down, or shield an ailing carry. Max out Whimsy second, and turn everything into squirrels in the mid game.
For items, start with a faerie charm, three sight wards and three health potions. If you’re going in a solo lane use boots and health potions. Her priority should always be wards, and ward control. Early GP/10 items like Philosopher’s Stone and Heart Of Gold are a must on all supports to deal with their lack of income. Shurelya’s Reverie is a core item on her, but anything else on her later is up to you entirely. Tanky items and auras are usually your best bet as a support, if you ever have money left over from all your wards and oracle purchases.
I’ve been using a 0/8/22 mastery page on her, though I think with further experimentation I’d be tempted to sink more into the utility tree, or maybe have a spin with some points in offense for better lane pressure. Armour marks, mana regeneration seals, magic resist glyphs and gold/10 quintessences have been my stock support page for some time, and Lulu hasn’t given me much reason to change.
So, is she worth picking up? Well, if you’re a support player she’s a no brainer. We’ve been stuck with the same limited pool of support characters for a year and a half now, so anything to add a bit more variety to how you play the game is a welcome change. For someone wanting to break into the support role, I’d go for one of the cheaper options, especially given that Lulu is quite a complex character for someone still trying to get the basics of supporting their team. If you’re not fond of supports, then she’s not for you.
She’s a strong pick when she has the right team, though her lack of sustain combined with the nerf to heal can make it hard for her AD carry to stay in the lane. She’s great for forcing the enemy AD to prematurely go back to base, but this plan can fall apart when dealing with sustain heavy supports like Soraka who can simply ignore her damage. Her team fight capabilities are excellent, with a massive suite of buffs and disables to swing a fight in her team’s favour. Her reliance on her team composition makes her a less than ideal solo queue choice, which is likely going to be the biggest hindrance to her popularity in the long term.
The long term effects of the blue buff nerf may be the most significant part of this patch. With blue’s mana regeneration being decreased, it will hurt the sustainability of a good number of mages in the mid lane, possibly opening up other options for that spot. The best case scenario is we might get some other roles being worthwhile to be put in mid. The worst case scenario is we start seeing Vlad in every game again.
The new item, Maw of Malmortius looks like a fairly good situational item for bruisers getting into the thick of team fights. It’ll most likely become a fairly common choice on Tryndamere, though likely as a third or so item. Gold wise, its cost efficient, but isn’t really good enough to warrant changing up your core builds just yet.
While the vampiric changes might look significant at first glance, they really aren’t. While all of this seems like it might hurt the sustain of AD carries in the lane, it doesn’t hit them at all, since Doran’s Blade wasn’t affected. Vampiric sceptre is usually only used by junglers as a stand alone item, but its only typically used by more exotic junglers like master yi. The bloodthirster changes are actually a net buff to the item, making it give less sustain at low stacks seems bad until you realise that with these changes you’re likely going to be at higher stacks all the time anyway. The Wriggle’s Lantern nerf won’t hurt junglers all that much, and is mostly a hit to the wriggle’s/phantom build used by some EU teams.