League of Legends: The Early Gank Gets The Wyrm
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG MOBA Reporter
Welcome summoners, to the patch v220.127.116.11 article for League of Legends, the game that just won’t wipe that Smaug grin off its face. This patch includes the observer mode beta, a reduction in Dominion’s comeback mechanics, a few key buffs to some under used melee characters and Shyvana, The Half-Dragon.
Shyvana is a close range sustained damage dealer, ignoring all utility in favour of massive amounts of area effect damage. All her abilities armane enhanced by her auto attacks, so she benefits from constantly attacking to both build towards her ultimate and triggering a variety of effects from her unusual passive. She’ll likely be enjoyed by those who enjoy melee fighters that don’t focus on dueling, and more on area of effect spam, like Renekton and Skarner.
Her game plan is focused around building fury on minion or jungle creeps before leaping out into a fight with her ultimate, Dragon’s Descent [R]. The cooldown of her ultimate works out at only 50 seconds from her passive fury generation. It can, however, be brought down dramatically through generating fury off her auto attacks, allowing her dragon form to be up in almost every fight she gets involved in. While she is still pretty effective in her human form, she is a near unkillable rage beast with it up, and few champions will want to stick around to fight a crazed dragon spitting out pain in all directions.
Knowing that anyone not farmed to high heaven is going to flee at the sight of your draconic self flying into battle is an important bit of information you need to accommodate for as Shyvana. She only has one bit of crowd control, so you need to be able to make the best use of it to keep someone in the fight, or be in constant communication with your team to deliver a kill for you on a silver platter. Assuming you don’t have a team to back you up, the best way to secure a kill is to sneak up behind your unsuspecting victim and drag them off somewhere using the active component of her ultimate. Using Burnout [W] just before you take flight will burn the ground behind you, cutting off their most likely route of escape, and delaying them for longer while you get your hits in.
Burnout is a great skill though even when it isn’t leaving a blazing inferno in your wake. If you invest in the ability early, it wipes out any minions near you at a truly astonishing rate, making her farm into the end game feel effortless, both in the lane and in the jungle. It also acts as a very fast movement speed steroid she can use as a gap closer when turning into a fire breathing lizard isn’t an option.
Flame Breath [E] makes a very good opener as you’re charging into the fray. While the damage on the ability itself isn’t that grand, it gets better after triggering the extra damage from her passive, combined with the already decent amount of armour reduction it inflicts. Unless you’re using it as a harassment tool, try to use it as close to the enemy as possible, so you can make the longest use of its debuff while auto attacking. If in dragon form, the distance isn’t quite as important as simply trying to hit as many people as possible with its cone effect, to diminish the enemy’s overall defenses in a team fight.
Twin Bite [Q] is a stock standard melee ability that does a lot of damage, and resets your attack animation. It gets more interesting while in dragon form though, letting her smash not only the original target, but also anyone nearby as well. This ability, combined with her Flame Breath is why you really want to try and keep as many enemies as possible in front of her in dragon form. This will maximize her splash damage during team fights. While you can’t really control the positioning of the enemy, you can keep repositioning her to accommodate for their movements, so keep her on her toes at all times.
Take a level in Burnout to begin with. Max it first as it’s her only means of closing distance on the enemy, while also being an incredible farming tool. Twin bite is her level 2 choice. Max it second, as it’ll ramp up her single target damage significantly. Flame Breath is a level 4 pick up, and should be maxed out last. It is mostly useful for its debuff earlier on, and since she benefits mostly from her auto-attacks, focusing on a ranged ability early doesn’t help her much.
For items, start with a vampiric sceptre if you’re heading for a sustained route, or go for boots and a health potion if you intend to invade the enemy jungle early. For a laning build I typically go either cloth armour or boots depending on my match up. In dominion she’s best suited to the stock AD start of a prospector’s blade and boots.
When jungling, you should rush a Wriggle’s Lantern as fast as possible, to make her already insane farm even faster, while also giving her some excellent sustain. Phage should be the first item she grabs after her boots, giving her the ability to stick to a target much more easily. From there she has some options. Wit’s End is a perfect fit for her against teams with a good deal of magic damage, giving her both attack speed to help with her passive and also giving her enough defense to survive enemy nukers. Building her Phage into a Frozen Mallet and topping it with an Atma’s Impaler is an excellent way of not only guaranteeing nothing can escape her, but also adding to both her survivability and damage output. Supplement these higher priority items with standard defensive options like Sunfire Cape, Force of Nature or Banshee’s Veil if needed. Due to her defenses being doubled from her dragon form, she doesn’t need many pure defense items as the point of diminishing returns will come much quicker than with most champions. If you want to though, you really can make her near unkillable. But due to her lack of utility she really doesn’t do a great job filling the tank role so be sure to build offensive items. Madred’s Bloodrazer isn’t a bad choice on her against tanky teams, due to it being another nice auto attacking item that also rips down health stacking meat shields.
Go with a 16/0/14 mastery set up when jungling or solo laning, giving you a good combination of mobility, experience gain and offensive capability. On dominion I’ve been using a 16/14/0 set up that lets her accept a bit more of a beating for the early game team fight on the windmill, though at the cost of maneuverability. I’ve been using a similar rune page on her to what I used on Nocturne way back when. Armour penetration marks, armour seals, attack speed glyphs, and attack damage quintessences. More attack speed would likely help her jungling, but I like the armour penetration and attack damage to at least giving her some chance at ganking enemy champions.
I think Shyvana is a terrible choice on Dominion. There simply isn’t enough things for her to hit in order to reduce the cooldown on her ultimate, and there certainly isn’t much of an advantage to her lightning fast farming and pushing capabilities. In Classic though she can be a complete beast… if she’s allowed to farm freely and have a team that covers her complete lack of utility.
I personally prefer her in the jungle to in a lane, where her ability to burn down minion camps is extremely therapeutic. While she’s not the best jungler out there, due to being way too easily shut down by counter jungling and having very few ganking options, her clear times are so impressive that if the enemy jungler is dumb enough to just allow you to freely farm you can come out later on in the game and just murder everything in sight. Her clear speed also allows you to frequently gank, invade, or hold lanes while her own camps are respawning.
I’ve enjoyed playing her quite a lot, and done fairly well with her, even though nearly every game I’ve played as her has resulted in a loss. While I’ve had fun with her, I’m uncertain about her overall power. She’s very simple to play, which I think will help a lot with her popularity; Become a dragon and hit all your buttons until everything dies. I think she’s similar to Master Yi in the sense that she’s great against people who aren’t paying attention and who don’t understand how to shut her down, but suffers greatly against those who understand how to beat her. If she gets gold starved, she really is completely out of a match. Thankfully, her farming is easy work, so this isn’t as likely a scenario as when playing the Ionian samurai.
A quick, special note before I move on to the patch stuff this week – I want to talk about Graves shortly. I didn’t get a say on him last patch due to my own globe trotting activities, but Abubakr covered for me well, and my thanks are with him for that. My own take on the character is he’s one of the best additions to the game in a while. A ranged attack damage carry that doesn’t get forced into simply using auto attacks from miles away? Oh hell yes! He’s fun, he’s powerful, he’s great.
This patch saw the first tests of the observer mode. While the groundwork for this much anticipated feature was added a little while back, it’s good to see that Riot are moving forward with finally getting it out to the public. Just in time for the Dota 2 beta too, a game that is touting its own observer mode as one of its key features. Smart moves there, Riot. While the League’s own observer mode isn’t as robust as Dota 2’s, it certainly gives them some ammunition against Valve’s looming juggernaut.
The changes to Dominion this patch should help some of the rubber banding going on in the game mode, and make a comeback feel earned rather than given. There’s still enough stuff on the map to help a losing team, and it still won’t snowball in a manner like Summoner’s Rift, but it hopefully will stop the sense that nothing in the game matters until the match’s final moments.
The changes to Olaf’s Ragnarok is a net gain for all Olaf players everywhere; Letting his ultimate be both easier to use and allowing the total time where it’s actually useful to have a longer duration, even though the total duration was nerfed. Been seeing him in games recently, and I have to say, it’s been like seeing an old friend again after a long, long time. Wukong still seems a little bit underwhelming to me, even after the recent buffs, but perhaps I simply haven’t run across anyone using him to his newfound potential. AP Shaco being nerfed I only count as a good thing. That build wasn’t always the most effective thing to run into, but by Odin’s beard was that box-in-a-brush gimmick annoying.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.