Much of the buff and nerf activity in patch 6.6 for League of Legends are based around champions of unique specialties. They can be grouped easily enough by lane or role, but their exact utilities are unique from combatant to combatant. Some of these champs have been eroded to the sideline by simple neglect, while others have found that the meta has changed the way they were intended to be played, and they now need correction to keep the vision in tact. Oh, and a sparkle dragon. Let's get to it!
At some point during this patch cycle, angry space dragon Aurelion Sol will be playable. His beauty is only matched by his quest for vengeance. His sustained damage at mid range is quite unique and flagrant. I love just how crazy different his laning phase/team fighting mechanics are and how dramatic his model is. His skills are something else as well.
Sol's passive, Center of the Universe, plops three stars in orbit around the dragon. These are absolutely essential to his kit, as they do magic damage and apply on-hit effects each time one passes over an enemy. Unless he's hit by hard crowd control, these stars will perpetually move around him. These have direct mechanical relationship to his W, Celestial Expansion. When toggled on, his stars are pushed to the Outer Limit of his orbit, essentially giving them a longer range. They also do more damage on contact and revolve around Sol faster. There is a mana cost to activate, and it also drains mana for as long as it is toggled on. When Sol runs out of mana, or the ability is toggled off, the stars return to their inner orbit path. Sol can auto attack separately from these revolving stars, so on-hit slow effects from items like Rylai's Crystal Scepter is looking like an auto-buy because of it, along with its health bonus and its AP boost. His stars will actually execute minions under a certain amount of health as well.
Sol's Q, Starsurge, is a very interesting skill shot. Taking the tootsie roll center of a newborn star and launching it in front of him, this looks like it'll become his main damage source outside of his passive. When the Starsurge leaves his Outer Limit range (or is reactivated) it explodes, doing damage and stunning everyone under it. Until it reaches the Outer Limit, though, it grows in size slowly. Proper nurturing of this little star involves following its flight after release, for which Sol will receive a move speed bonus towards doing. The longer you follow it, the bigger it gets (up to a maximum size). It won't do more damage when it's bigger, but the bigger the star, the bigger the explosion, the more folks stunned.
Comet of Legend, Aurelion's E, has some passive and one active component. Passively, when moving in the same direction consistently, Sol gains movement speed. Slight turns lower the speed boost, while big turns end it completely. He also gains stacks of Escape Velocity while moving, sort of like charge items (Statikk Shiv, Rapid Firecannon). When his stacks are full, Comet becomes an active, retracting Sol's stars and sending him soaring across the map in a straight line for a very great distance. He can't change direction while doing so, and he can be knocked out of the air by enemy attacks, but he can basically hit almost anywhere in the map from the center of mid lane. He passes over obstacles and terrain while doing so, which may be more vital to the crazy ganking ability he possesses than the raw distance. The wombo combo with this has been activating Comet of Legend right after launching a Starsurge, and nurturing it across the map to hit enemies from out of nowhere with a bunch of damage and a wicked stun.
His ultimate, Voice of Light, is a long range line skill shot that does a lot of damage, and knocks enemies inside of his Outer Limit out to the edge, putting them in line with his orbit. This plus his Q becomes his self defense mechanism versus enemies that get under his stars, which is his huge weakness.
Other notes: Aurelion Sol's model is uncharacteristically long for League of Legends models, but that doesn't make him an easier target. The visual effect that his lower body is under, the filter that makes it look like he's almost half corporeal, is a sign. That opaque lower half of him can be targeted by skillshots, so aim high when it comes to him. Also, his stars orbit so far away from him that he's pretty much impossible to hide, so I wouldn't even try. He's also visible in the fog of way during his Comet flight, so Aurelion is meant to be seen, not sneaky. Even so, this champion has gotten me really excited to try out mid lane again.
Welcome to the Jungle
Last patch, a specific suite of Jungle players saw their futures look a little brighter through some much needed buffs. This patch, things get a little more complicated for a number of jungle champions.
Not strictly a jungler, Master Yi happens to excel in that space, and is seeing a strange bit of play that pales in comparison to the white knuckle, full offense builds he's used to personify in the past. Nowadays, people are content with letting on-hit effect synergies do all the damage, while building him more defensive to reduce the risk usually associated with being a team-killing mass murderer. With a shift in ratio basis from total attack damage to strictly bonus attack damage, Yi players will now have to commit to Blade of the Ruined King in order to see the sort of facemelt they're used to. For the record, this is a nerf - instead of multiplying out a percentage of damage from the total attack damage (natural + item bonuses), this takes it strictly from item bonuses.
Shyvana has been quite the predator this season, and she has become one of the those eye roll inducing characters you see at champ select. She isn't impossible to counter play, but the moments you have to do so are limited in the early game because she'll be spending so much time in the shadows. Her nerf is a bit of a double wammy, though. Twin Bite, her signature move, is getting its scaling lowered earlier, which is acceptable. The big issue comes from the nerf of one of her signature items, Titanic Hydra, which has taken a huge hit to damage. Together, she's doing way less damage mid game than she used to.
Nidalee is seeing a couple of nerfs as well, but these look to be focused towards the professional end of the spectrum, play wise. By that I mean some of the more meta mechanical ways the character interacted with things are being changed. Like Pounce no longer resets her auto attack pattern, so you can't get bursts of AD damage anymore. Monsters that are under the Hunt condition thanks to her Prowl passive are no longer rooted, either. So she can't just beat up on camps from complete safety anymore.
The cooldowns on Kha'Zix's Q and W were reduced, which may seem like a half measure relating to his super skewed feast or famine sort of nature in the current environment. The key to cool down reductions is to increase the amount of times a character could use an ability in an extended combat scenario. So no, his damage isn't increased on usage, but the frequency of that damage is higher.
Like the Jungle, there a few champions known for filling the support slot who have and their knobs twisted this patch.
Alistar's heal has gotten less effective on allies, healing at 1/3 of the self heal rate instead of half. This is to balance Ali's support options, because he can't be both one of the best engagers in the game AND have a crazy good sustain for he and his partners. In the pro scene, he had become one of those auto includes that people brought in their teams no matter the overall comp. This should leave room to at least consider other options confidently now.
Janna finds her AD bonus while her shield is presently getting turned down a bit, as well as the time knocked back enemies are disabled thanks to her ult. She's the ultimate keep away champ who is at her best when frustrating divers and assassins, but her incredible denial game was making any attempt to dismantle her a problem. Hopefully, this evens the playing field on bottom lane.
Karma is seeing some juice thrown her way. In a world where being a high scaling support means better late game play, Karma is seeing herself getting left out in the cold, pick wise. To counter this, the flat shield gained from her empowered E is going up, as well as the percentage bonus it gets from her ability power.
Though not a support, Kalista has been tweaked to be more support dependent. Her attack speed is lower, and the rate at which it grows per level is also lower. The damage bonus provided by the passive element of Sentinel is lower, but the W got a new passive that adds bonus attack speed so long as her oathsworn is nearby. She's still the highly capable duelist she always was, but now the pairing/oathsworn business is more heavily emphasized. If you want to continue being a killer Kalista, you and your support have to make like Future and Metro.
For more information, including the new Lux mechanics and new (and improved?) Zz'Rot, read the full patch notes on Riot's website. How do you feel about these adjustments? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter, and go to the Leaguepedia and study up! You'll need it.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.