NOT SO FAST: Rengar in LoL and Shadow Form in GW

Direct Response

Scarizard, opening post on “A Wild Knifecat Appears! (Rengar Discussion)“.

Hey y’all –

So i wanted to talk to you guys about our good ol’ Stabtabby, Rengar. Classick handed off to me his initial refactor of Rengar that he had begun posting about a while back, but internally it was shown that while it certainly buffed him and fixed some issues with his design, more work needed to be done.

Riot’s understanding of “buffing” is completely based on winrates.

What our playtests revealed is that preserving the predatory feel by making his ultimate stronger is all well and good, but proved pretty abusive when it came to his burst potential. In a way, Rengar is a champion that has always been defined by his abuse-cases, either in TripleQ assassinating someone in less than a second from stealth, or double tap W + DFG pentakilling teams from stealth with AP, or simply stacking health + spirit visage splitpushing waves, then escaping from nearly any sort of chase. We’ve come a long way from the latter of these, but if the Pridestalker is to see any sort of return to glory we’ll need to iron out some of the abusive kinks and round him out as a whole.

“Abuse” in its strongest definition – i.e. the most consistent one throughout all games and all developers/moderators – is an item or method that isn’t working as described. One of the more recent examples in League is Jax Zhonyas: an item which is only supposed to give untargettability and invulnerability turns out, however it was coded, to allow Jax to use one of his spells on no cooldown. Those who used this “knowingly”/”intentionally” are “abusing” the glitch; how the “knowing” is determined is another topic.

I don’t know how someone triple-Q’s on Rengar, but double-W + DFG is by this definition not an abuse. Rengar is defined explicitly to have a second more powerful skillset available to him when he reaches five ferocity, meaning double-tap is an available choice for any of his three non-ultimate skills. I agree that AP Rengar was entirely stupid and did stupid damage, but it was not abuse. As for stacking health, there are plenty of people who can build tankier and escape better. It’s not the Rengar’s fault if the enemy team decides it’s a good idea to not buy vision wards or oracles. These are *in the game*. They are *not abuse*. Abuse implies a willing intent (we will excuse those who accidentally come across something of an error, I’m sure that’s how Zhonyas Jax was actually discovered) and repetition to use an item in a way the item by description cannot function in, but can for whatever reason. If AP Rengar was not intended by the developers, tough luck. You’re shit, not the players. Stop calling things abuse when they’re not. While you’re at it, stop calling League a “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena“, because if Total Biscuit thinks your phrasing is shit, it is probably shit. It’s stupid, “Abuse” is stupid, and you’re stupid. I wish I was as good at twisting things as you were though, I have to give you that. There’s a reason nobody reads this blog.

Pridestalker is perfectly fine, and the only reason why he isn’t currently in some sort of “glory” is because he’s been changed so much people have been put off learning him until now. If I’m right that people are put off by constant change, then more change isn’t going to solve the problem; you cannot convince people through a rework that “this is going to be the last rework”, you have to stop reworking everything for a long period of time. And maybe spend time on, I dunno, actually coding things so people aren’t playing the game on rubberbanding 15 second lag with a disconnect every minute, or a LAN/resume replay system so the world championships watched by 8 million don’t have to replay a 90-minute game four times. Not your department? I don’t give a shit. I’ve been told I should be happy people are looking into things at all, doesn’t matter if they actually get anything done; you should be jumping in glee I’m responding to you, regardless of what I’m actually saying. And look, insults are only coming once every paragraph or so. Aren’t I just the nicest guy?

Rounding means nothing. Balance is a stupid idea. We’ll get to that later.

We’re sticking with the direction that Classick originally outlined in his post here (…71487#37371487) – namely reducing the frustration/toxicity of Thrill of the Hunt (Ultimately allowing us to buff the spell in other ways) and driving clarity in his Ferocity choices by having the effects scale with champion level rather than rank of skill. Our other goal is to retain his dueling nature and strength in ambushes and skirmishes, but lower his instagib potential in favor of deferring his up-front damage into longer engagement windows. While he’ll still be a threat, changing him to a sustained damage pattern allows us to pump more power into his other abilities/ferocity bonuses and make his ability set as a whole stronger instead of the current ‘stabcat on AD carry and one or both of us will die’ pattern that makes Rengar so frustrating and binary to play as and against on Live.

“Toxic” my ass. What’s “toxic” are all those players who don’t recognize pick order in draft pick games. You have so many statistics on how those who follow the summoners code win X% more games and how being friendly after a mistake will cause that player to do better; you tell me, how many more games are lost when a pregame lobby fails to recognize pick order? Is this more or less toxic than Rengar players using their ults? I’ll bet you it’s less, because LoLKing has Rengar at a <9% pick rate. Actually fuck the concept “toxic”, I’m not going to use it. Shitty measuring scale, just like “Human Rights” and “Privilege”. You know what it is? Babby’s First Time Losing. U mad? “Toxic” Y u bad tho.

The rest of this is basically saying assassins shouldn’t be able to assassinate. What is an assassin? A single-target nuker. What did ADC’s do in Season 2? Assassinate, except that they did it via a super low cooldown method (autoattacks). If they ran into an enemy team, they’d probably kill someone but they still died. Were people fine with this? Yes. Rengar can do that now, only difference is that he has a higher likelihood of being able to run out alive due to armor and health or whatever. Is that bad? Maybe. Does this have anything to do with instagib? No.

So with that out of the way, here are some questions i’d like to get your thoughts on –

-Do you identify Rengar’s playstyle as one that would be a particularly good fit in the jungle? What improvements would you like to see be made to help him out?

In terms of what his skill and base stats can do right now, he’s shit in the jungle. His playstyle as one being in the jungle, no. And I don’t want him in the jungle. If he’s supposed to be some kind of predator, he should be the Garen 2.0 BushMan he is now, constantly making at least one other guy afraid; not friggin attacking “neutral camps” and getting garbage for gold.

I don’t need him buffed, so nothing for that last question.

-What is appealing to you about the defensive boost Rengar receives from Battle Roar? I’d like to change this from just flat Armor and Magic Resistance to something that can be situationally more powerful and makes him less ‘meatwall’ when he leaps on a target

Appealing is that it has ~0 cast time. I have no idea what this situationally more powerful thing would be; defensiveness on an initiator inherently will mean “meatwall”, regardless if you’re giving him %damage taken decrease or lifesteal. Or do you not understand why the trinity exists anywhere and everywhere in video games?

-What types of improvements or changes would you like to see be made to Bonetooth Necklace? Ideally i’d like to see this moved away from a ‘stat-stick’ and embrace more unique enhancements like his ‘Increases Leap Range by 150’

It’s fine as is. In my honest opinion it was better some previous state where you lost more trophies, but you’ll jump (HERP) at the chance to nerf anything and everything, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut on this one. God forbid I say what I think should actually be changed about Necklace and give you ideas for other things. “Toxic” Yeah, I don’t like kissing ass or sucking dick. “You should respect the developers” If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be spending time thinking out mental math and various scenarios, would I? Can’t deal with some harsh words because I GOT FEELINGS TOO? Have fun being dead in five years then. But we’ll get to that too.

These questions are really just to begin the discussion – i’m certainly looking for thoughts/feedback on a variety of topics, but these are a few that we’ve been talking about on a higher level that have less of a set direction currently. Wav3break, one of our Live Design Interns is working closely with me on this project and will be monitoring this thread alongside me and will help to soak feedback and answer questions y’all may have.

I don’t think you’re actually looking for feedback. You fucked up Karma, and everywhere you and Karma are mentioned, “Scarizard that shithead who doesn’t listen to feedback”. I’m not about to trust a word you say.

I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to those behind you. I really hope that League doesn’t fail. But if it does, and not by some freak accident but by slow decay, I’ll have declared why long beforehand.

Without further ado: Rengar! I choose you!

Here are the changes (Without numbers, as they are subject to change/tuning as always) that we’ve been testing so far:

– Health Regen, Health Regen/lvl, and Health/lvl all increased

Not particularly necessary. Will encourage Dorans/RedPot to counter your nerfs. No, your pretty little overall statistics don’t matter. You said the spikes are getting nerfed, and people think of Rengar as spike, so it’s a nerf.

Unseen Predator
-Now becomes visible at the beginning of the leap, rather than midleap

Makes sense. Should be fine; gives people more time to respond, or alternatively, forces Rengar to start his jump later.

– Attack Speed removed (Temporary for now – planning on putting something else here)

Probably okay. Better would be that the Ferocity-Savagery does not stack AS on top of normal Savagery.

Ferocity Bonus: Savagery
– Damage lowered, Attack Speed lowered, Attack Speed Duration increased


Battle Roar
– Damage increased
– Cooldown decreased
– No longer grants Armor/MR – instead grants damage reduction from Physical Damage/Basic Attacks

So basically “No longer grants MR”. I’ll (shittily) assume you have “damage reduction” perfectly balanced; this is either going to equal or hide a nerf to current armor. Rengar not being able to die to AP doesn’t seem to be the problem at the moment. It also has nothing to do with anything you’ve said about his problems up to this point.

Ferocity Bonus: Battle Roar
– Heal unchanged
– Now deals damage based on Rengar’s level

In other words, don’t itemize for AP Rengar.

Bola Strike
– Damage increased
– Bonus AD Ratio increased

Doesn’t matter.

Ferocity Bonus: Bola Strike
– Now deals damage based on Rengar’s level
– Root duration increased

This is a buff, unless “deals damage based on Rengar’s level” is ever a single point of damage less than his normal Bola Strike, in which case, it again is not “Abuse”, it’s you being up the nose stupid.

Thrill of the Hunt
– Cooldown decreased
– Duration increased
– Movement speed increased
– Enemies will now receive a particle over their head when Rengar can see them; Additionally, Enemies will hear Voice Over on activation if they are in Rengar’s sight range when he casts Thrill of the Hunt

This does not make him worse at escaping, so it doesn’t solve that end of your problems. If anything, the increase in AS duration will just have Rengar splitpushing all day, build M5 and be more annoying than Tryndaqueer.

Particle is almost the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. In any team with half a brain, his location is given away. At least with Warwick he can turn Blood Scent off until the last moment so enemies don’t get a fucking alarm blaring over their heads. If the idea is to alert the enemy that the hunt is on, make it a one-time audio cue. From the wiki, currently Rengar’s ult is “If Thrill of the Hunt is activated within enemy sight, a distinctive sound can be heard by the enemy. If activated outside of enemy sight, they will receive no warning of the ability’s use.” Extend “distinctive sound” to be heard by all revealed by the range of Rengar’s ult. Or, hell, fucking make the audio cue global. There. Was that so hard?

I would’ve written that in stupid mode, but I can only pretend so far. So I’ll get /vg/ to help me out:

blah blah blah binary choices blah blah blah incentivise other skills blah blah situational blah blah good rengars from the great blah blah uninteresting interaction W blah blah Q blowing up carries in the abuse case blah blah

Sound familiar dont it. Just like “making vidya is haaauuurrrddddd gaaaaaiiiizzzz”. I’ll start taking you seriously once I can get a job by complaining that engineering is hard, or get famous by complaining that blogging is hard. Which I won’t, so I’m never going to take you seriously. Just like how I don’t take Obama or any celebrity seriously. “I-I’ve gone to rehab”, “DIFFICULT TIMES”, etc.

How many champions have you ruined since I started playing this game? Pantheon had a global. Taric was good. Olaf was really good. Shyvana is actually still shit because you can’t fucking code correctly, but what you’re going to do is “wait and see” whether or not the fact that her double-attack on Q is now only available after Ult means that her winrate is still under 50%, at which point if it isn’t, you’ll say that you made a decision to just keep it as is, because changing a skill to do what it actually says is a buff.

Why don’t you fix your god damn game?

I tried to read the later posts, but they didn’t change too much. “All of his Ferocity Effects not minding what you were previously leveling has made some cool cases in lane where you’ll max W/E but still choose Q” was something I didn’t see or touch on in my original comments but will either be horribly overpowered or stupid, no “balance” because that’s how minmaxing works. Skipped ahead to try and read “one of Riot’s live balance interns assisting Scarizard”‘s comments, but that was even less readable. Whereas Scarizard is mainly stupid, this intern guy is stupid *and* has two or three buzzwords every sentence. Healthy, Toxic, Abuse, blah blah blah. I’ve deconstructed Toxic and Abuse; you can interpolate for “Healthy”.

The Trinity

I’ve referenced this before, but I’ll pull more from it now. It’s about RPGs, but with a little modification can be applied to much more.

Underlines are my emphasis.

The Basics

There is no “trinity” in RPG video game mechanics.  The trinity exists at a higher level.  At the most basic level there is only two things:

  • Damage Dealing
  • Damage Negation

Damage Dealing
This is very simple and really doesn’t require much explanation.  There is multiple types of damage like: Direct Damage, Spike Damage, Damage Over Time, Magic/Physical Damage, etc…  But they are really fundamentally the same thing and the only complicated thing about Damage Dealing is how it relates to Damage Negation.

The concept of Damage Per Second (DPS) is actually very useful for understanding the relationship between Damage Dealing and Damage Negation.  As I’m sure everyone knows (here’s a “well duh! moment I’m sure) DPS is a theoretical amount of damage a character (player or non-player) will deal every second if averaged over time.

Damage Negation
Here is where things get complicated.  At a most basic level Damage Negation is about reducing effective DPS.  Effective, or Actual, DPS is the amount of damage dealt per second that actually remains after Damage Negation.  Here’s the types of Damage Negation:

1) Ignore It (Your total health determines how much you can ignore)
2) Undoing Damage (e.g. Healing)
3) Delays (e.g. Stuns, Knockdowns, etc…)
4) Damage Reduction (e.g. Protection, Weakness, etc…)
5) Prevention (e.g. Dodge, Bubbles, etc…)

They all effectively accomplish the same thing, they Negate Damage.  Any enemy you fight in a game has a theoretical DPS that they can do.  It’s theoretical because it doesn’t account for any Damage Negation.  Here’s an example I hope will really illustrate why there is no effective difference between the types of Damage Negation.

An enemy, let’s call him Sparky, has an attack rotation that looks like this (numbers are damage for that attack): 1,000 > 1,000 > 2,000 > 1,000 > 5,000 > repeat
If Sparky attacks once per second (to keep the math simple) that’s a 5 second cycle so he has a theoretical dps of 2,000. (10,000 / 5) A player with 10,000 health could survive for 5 seconds without any Damage Negation at all beyond Ignore It.  This means the player has Time to Kill Before Death (TKBD) of less than 5 seconds to win.  If that player can kill Sparky in 4 seconds then no other Damage Negation is necessary […]

How Did ‘The Basics’ Become ‘The Trinity’?

As you’ve no doubt realized most of the basics is obvious “well duh!” stuff.  Even if people can’t articulate it, they know it.  It’s going from ‘The Basics’ to ‘The Trinity’ that I think there is a lot of confusion.  Many people seem to think that ‘The Trinity’ is a natural and inevitable result of ‘The Basics’ but I don’t think it is.  First let’s look at how ‘The Trinity’ came to be.

(I know this isn’t exactly what happened and it was a complicated and gradual feedback loop between players and developers but please pay attention to the point)

Enter the Tank + Healer
Players pretty quickly realized everything in ‘The Basics’ because they’d played games before ;).  They needed to negate the enemies theoretical DPS down to a low enough effective dps that their TKBD was sufficiently extended that their own effective DPS would kill the enemy before they died.  This gave rise to Tanks and Healers.  Tanks and Healers are the absolute easiest way to reduce an enemies theoretical DPS within the mechanics of a traditional MMO.

  • A Tank’s job is to Negate Damage by stacking Ignore It, Damage Reduction, and Prevention at the cost of everything else (in some cases Delays).
  • A Healer’s job is to Negate Damage by Undoing Damage and in some cases assisting the Tank in stacking Ignore It, Damage Reduction, and Prevention. […]

What About DPS?
But it can’t just be Tank + Healer, the Trinity has DPS too.  Well the Tank does do some damage, just not much.  So how can a game make sure players need DPS?  Easy, make sure it is impossible to achieve an infinite TKBD.  If a Tank + Healer(s) can achieve infinite time to kill an enemy before death then DPS isn’t strictly necessary.  They are only “Nice to Have” to make things quicker.  Developers also want to try and keep things interesting and engaging for all involved.  So there needs to be things in place that make the game sufficiently complicated that players can’t be replaced with brain damage squirrels and DPS is necessary.

Tanks have to hold that aggro.  Traditionally aggro works by damage dealt and healing done (to keep those healers on the aggro table) and that’s it.  Whoever does the most damage gets slapped for it.  But since we already have this problem where enemies do too much theoretical DPS for anything but a Tank + Healer level of Damage Negation.  You can’t give the tank more DPS than the DPS because that would be OP.  So we needed to have Taunts.  Taunts do “pretend DPS” in terms of the Aggro mechanic.  Taunts, high aggro attacks and cooldowns give tanks something to manage and focus on to keep things interesting (though it’s arguably still ridiculously easy).

Healers have mana/energy/whatever and cooldowns (time).  They are limited resources a healer has to manage in order to efficiently and consistently undo the damage the tank inevitably takes.  This also keeps healers paying attention (to bars anyway) and the healer will eventually run out of mana and be unable to undo the damage so the TKBD never becomes infinite.  Oh but wait!  Players are smart and are always looking for the easiest way.  If you have more healers you can still achieve an infinite TKBD it just takes a while.  But hey, it’s a guaranteed win if you’re patient.  Well dang, now DPS is pointless again.

Enter Enrage Timer!!  Suddenly DPS matters.  There is a predefined TKBD and it doesn’t matter if Tank + Healer achieves a theoretical infinite TKBD or not.  This also keeps DPS engaged.  They have to play the best they can, optimizing their rotations, to try and beat that enrage timer.  This also makes DPS loot actually matter! (Tank and healer loot always mattered to get higher TKBD)

Huzzah!  We have the ‘Holy Trinity’!

The trinity of Tank, Heal, and Damage. The general concept is there by the sole basis of mathematics and the existence of hitpoints, and these three fundamentals cannot be erased. We will generalize whether or not a game is based enough on reducing the enemy’s hit points to zero. If it is, we can narrow down the possibilities of what the game can do and can become.

This is a table of all the possible extreme ranges for a game based on hit points to be in. “+” indicates “maximized” and – indicates “minimized”. There are many other important things which affect this table, and should be evaluated on whether or not they are based enough on reducing an enemy’s hit points to zero. An ideal CTF with a large enough map and few enough players is based on movement speed and not really damage at all. It could be a -/-/- and it wouldn’t matter too much: like a game of Tribes with only pathfinders. Assuming kills matter significantly enough, however, 8 kinds of games are available. I opted to go with Time being a third column from simple Damage Dealing vs Damage Negation because it easily illustrates the TKBD component: A game without heals where damage is high and damage is low (i.e. CounterStrike) is very different from a game without heals where both damage and health is high (i.e. Halo).

The best ideal is highlighted in green: High Variability, or Combo based games.

Let’s now focus on the subset of hit point based games: competitive PvP.

Inherently, these games cannot be any of the first four “High Tank” rows. Extra health/armor, or time, is margin of error: more space to think in, more space to react in, more space to make errors in. A game where one player can execute everything perfectly as fast as his keyboard can send the signal to the CPU and another which stares, dazed, and then slowly puts in his commands not even knowing what he is doing and does anything less than die is not something which a decent PvP game allows. Whatever numbers or mechanics a game decides to use, whether it be numbers explicitly described as health or via armor or “percent damage reduction”, the absolute TKBD must be low enough to be engaging and rewarding as a game to human players. Relative math has nothing to do with this. Similarly, the -/+/- column is not competitive, or a game at all, as it is necessarily based on waiting for whatever the “heal” mechanic is to go on a long enough cooldown timer for your damage to finish them off.

This leaves High Variability, Nukes, and Rock Paper Scissors.

Riot thinks heals are toxic (So is a “Healthy” game by definition also “Toxic”, Scarizard? If so… how healthy is League?) and they’ve shown this by nerfing actual heals, lifesteal, and even sitting at the well, so they limit themselves to “DPS”, “Slow”, “Nukes”, and “Rock Paper Scissors”.  In terms of standard top lane matchups (or even now some midlanes), League of Legends sits fairly well inside the DPS category. The minigame has even made its own jargon – “Can you outtrade them”? Up until very recently when people started realizing that the “laning phase” wasn’t something that began at 2:00 and ended at first tower down, half the game to many people was about poking and not taking poke, eventually wearing the opponent down to a level where you could go in, poke for longer, and finally finish them off. In general this seems to be the direction LoL is aiming for, with Ezreal (no touches to Blue?), Jayce (accel gate changes nothing), and other champions with long-range “skillshots”.

However, this balance doesn’t work once you mix standard top laners into the mix of everyone else. By the nature of base stats, ADCs and mids simply don’t have nearly as much Tank/Time as tops do. So, while tops like Rengar can play the DPS game (the table also works for individual player units), ADCs have to play the nuker game – can I kill Rengar before he kills me? Or so it is believed. Most ADCs have some form of “escape”, as most LoL players like to call it – Trist has jump/ult, Ezreal has shift, Graves has dash, Caitlyn has net. In this sense they do go from being a Nuker closer to a DPS, as that increases their Tank/Time.

The question should not “Should instagibbing be possible?”,

The question should be “Do I have enough Tank/Time?”

Unless the game is broken or horribly designed, instagibbing is never really instagibbing. A 2v2 match on Halo’s Blood Gulch where you are spawn-sniped is a true instagib. Rengar starting to walk at you from 2200 distance away, ulting at 1200 and jumping at you from 200 is not instagibbing. In the Halo example, anything you could’ve done beforehand is completely irrelevant because everything is erased after you die and after you spawn, you don’t even get time to scope, aim, and fire a single bullet at the sniper before you are dead. In the League of Legends example, you could have placed vision wards at smart locations and oracles on a frontliner. If you can’t figure out the front line or where Rengar may be coming from, that isn’t his fault: you could technically kill him before he jumps on you, you just happened to not do it. Going back to Halo, you actually can’t do anything while waiting to respawn.

There’s a difference.

Technical Arguments

Morello mentions Guild Wars 1 as an example of how heals are toxic.

This was my favorite build in Guild Wars 1; the game was far from some healerfest:

Deadly Paradox: All of your attack skills are disabled for 10 seconds. For 5…13…15 seconds, your Assassin skills activate and recharge 33% faster. (0s Cast, 10s Cooldown)

Arcane Echo: If you cast a spell in the next 20 seconds, Arcane Echo is replaced with that spell for 20 seconds. Arcane Echo ends prematurely if you use a non-spell skill. (2, 20)

Shadow Form: For 5…17…20 seconds, all hostile spells targeting you fail and all attacks against you miss. When Shadow Form ends, lose all but 5…41…50 health. (1, 60)

Augury of Death: For 5…29…35 seconds, the next time damage would drop target foe’s Health below 50%, you inflict a Deep Wound for 5…17…20 seconds and Shadow Step to that foe. (1, 20)

Dancing Daggers: Send out three Dancing Daggers at target foe, each striking for 5…29…35 earth damage if they hit. Dancing Daggers has half the normal range. This skill counts as a lead attack. (1, 5)

Entangling Asp: Entangling Asp must follow a lead attack. Target foe is knocked down and becomes Poisoned for 5…17…20 seconds. (1, 20)

Feigned Neutrality: For 4…9…10 seconds, you have +7 Health regeneration and +80 armor. This enchantment ends if you successfully hit with an attack or use a skill. (1/4, 25s)

Death’s Charge: Shadow Step to target foe. If that foe has more Health than you, you are healed for 65…173…200. (1/4, 30s)

It was a beautiful build. One with a built-in death timer, where you had almost all the power on what you did before you died.

There were variations of it, none strictly better than the other. You could replace Death’s Charge with an escape shadow step, but then you had no way to get in range to start off any combo. You could remove Feigned Neutrality for a stronger heal that lasted longer and had a bonus effect if you were attacking, but it took longer to cast and gave no armor. It annoyed a lot of people because many things simply couldn’t damage you while you had Shadow Form up, and if you were skilled enough, you would only overlap Echo’d Shadow Form with the original for ~1/4 second, meaning that with the cast time of the next Shadow Form, you would only be exposed with your ~50 health for all of ~1.5 seconds.

That’s what the SF build seemed like, except to Elementalists who brought Meteor Shower or something with ground-targetted AOE, and any Mesmer with half a brain and decides to bring a couple of interrupts and not full degen hexes. All of SF has very short range and the key spells which begin the combination have decently lengthy cast times. If you interrupt an SF assassin, it’s over: if he is not dead, he is at least useless, as pure dancing daggers isn’t particularly much damage in relation to normal assassin builds, or any other class which has a damage build on (for reference, standard health was 500 and a healer doing auto-attacks with common gear did ~15 per hit, ~1.5s interval). The only reason SF build works is because of SF: the ~38 second TKBD was manually made. Rather than making a 38s TKBD by fighting for 38s, it was fought for in “the first five seconds”. In truth the build relied less on “counterplay” or whatever kind of stupid words people like to use these days. Meteor Shower has a 5 second casting time and takes 3 seconds for the first knockdown to occur, and the minimum time to initialize SF assuming you queue all skills up perfectly and don’t have to move is 4.75 (2+.75+.25+.75+1; .75 is aftercast delay), but Meteor Shower was a perfectly fine defense for elementalists. When SF’s decided to not use Echo (.25+.75+1=2) it was often still up in the air what the results would be before it began, because SF has no range.

Range is pretty important, isn’t it?

Just because the game is based enough on hit points does not mean it’s entirely based on hit points.

SF simply didn’t work well at all outside of a certain game mode called Fort Aspenwood. An 8v8, but the map size was large enough and with a fair number of objectives you had to juggle. Here, the greatest challenge to an SF player was the approach. With an effective cast time rivalling an AOE nuke from a mage, the open map was not naturally friendly to SF players (there is no fog of war in GW1, and you can rotate your camera to see behind things). If you managed to find someone alone, and that someone was not a Warrior, and that someone was not near a captured point with NPCs that would attack you, then you could kill them. As much damage as SF did, it was never enough to take down a warrior with any reasonable number of health items or one with a single knockdown prevention skill. They’d simply run from you, and then wait around about the time you had to refresh your combo, then knock you down and kill you, with or without your SF end aiding him. If you brought an initiating shadow step, you can’t run. If you brought an escape shadow step, you would’ve never gotten to him. If you brought two shadow steps, you wouldn’t have done damage, and if you brought no shadow steps you were totally fucked. Indeed around 1/3~1/2 the time, SF was never really a kill build outside of the squishies. It did enough damage to scare them off to heal and wait for cooldowns and more heals, or run back to base (which was really far away), allowing you to do objectives. But SF was not the best at objectives. Mediocre damage, no move speed: you would not pick a team of these to finish FA in record time against a team of afkers.

Arena, AB, and other modes didn’t work for SF at all because too much focus or too little focus killed the build. With too few people, there aren’t enough distractions to keep you from dying to someone who gets you on cooldown, or just a couple of people who can heal long enough for your mana pool to run out (Perma Shadow Form was never truly permanent). Or they’d just kill all your teammates – Arena had pretty small maps and no respawns. On the larger AB with 12v12, there were fewer objectives and plenty more people. On top of the fact that SF has average damage on high cooldowns (5 second cooldown on Dancing Daggers – your only true damage dealer), you were always with other people. SF completely fails around other people, because AOEs targetting your teammate standing next to you completely ignore your core skill. And everyone carried AOEs into AB. You’d do less damage than the tanks, you had less crowd control and conditions to inflict than a tank, and you could not truly chase nor run. By the time you had caught someone, someone else would’ve found out or respawned and ran to your location. It was at first a novelty and it was on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and people cried OP OP OP. Then people figured out a way around it.

Many ways around it.

So many ways around it that PvX wiki doesn’t even bother having a page for this build anymore.

Rock, Paper Rock, Scissors Rock

It all gets back to our basic design philosophy. Our games aren’t about preparing to have fun, or about grinding for a future fun reward. Our games are designed to be fun from moment to moment.

– Mike O’Brien, ArenaNet

What we really want to do is create a good variety of champions so that every player has a few to several champions that they just get absolutely stoked about, instead of having a whole slew of champions that everyone’s kind of just lukewarm about.

– Morello, Riot

I really want to believe in Riot, but every actual move they make is in the footsteps of ArenaNet. No, I’m not going to believe just because you say “We understand that it’s been really frustrating for you guys – trust me, we feel the pain”; No, I’m not going to agree with “But the fact of the matter is it was an unforeseen issue and they’re looking into it asap. Just be thankful that the time was put in”. You want a good game with a happy playerbase, you’re going to earn it. I’m not your mother. I’m not your brother. I like all the pretty girls and the nice art, but that has nothing to do with the game. Aion was the prettiest game in existence at the time of its release, TERA was the sexiest game in existence at the time of its release, look at if they got anywhere. They didn’t. That’s why TERA was made by people who left the Aion team.

All in all, Guild Wars 1 for a significant period of time was the ideal High Variability game. Basic attacks dealt a fair amount of damage, everyone did good amounts of damage and healers did a good amount of healing. TKBD was high enough so that the game wouldn’t be entirely dominated by twitch-response players, but had a solid ceiling by the fact that mana regen was not a trivially overpowered stat (except for maybe certain Elementalist builds, which ended up exhausting their mana pool anyways due to their powerful spells lowering their maximum mana) and free healing at some kind of base was either nonexistent or way too far away.

But then they decided it was too much variability, citing the fact that in random arenas you literally had no idea what you were going to be put up against out of the thousand skills and millions of possible combinations, and went ahead and made a “balanced” game.

And balanced it is. Everyone does damage. Everyone has a heal. Everyone can inflict conditions, and everyone has condition removal. Monks don’t really heal and can’t even if they wanted to because you have basically no choice in skills, and assassins (now thieves) can’t do damage for the same reason. They balanced it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.

They’re also still one step ahead of Scarizard, Morello, and Riot: there’s no such thing as a nuker. No one does damage, everyone has a bajillion health, and, better yet, they introduced a new mechanic that would surprise even Shirou Emiya:

People no longer die when they are killed.

“But they’re not the same, the classes still have unique things” Sure, of course they aren’t. I’ll even give it to you that the differences are more than cosmetic. I can give you all the “differences” you want and you can nitpick down to the last bit of computer code.

The question is, do these differences matter?

As far as I can tell, and it’s been 11 months now so no more of that “It’s still in Beta” or “It’s a new game” bull shit, you and I both know it was in development for eight goddamn years and is now out for another one, the differences don’t matter. Above I explained the beauty of the SF build as a niche and fun pick for FA, I’m sure there were other builds that worked similarly in other game modes. Is there such a thing in GW2 now? Anywhere? No. World vs World vs World, literally hundreds of players (did they finally get to thousands?) and every one of the seven “Conquest” structured 5v5 PvPs plays exactly the same. They even tried to copy League, right down to the fact that professions have locked-in skills, but it doesn’t play like League, and did they really not see that coming? It really doesn’t matter that much anymore if you have five monks or five assassins, or five hundred monks and five hundred assassins, because health is trivially large, mana regens trivially fast – or wait, there is no mana anymore – and time via Downed State has effectively been extended to infinity. About the only thing that changes over the course of a battle now is how broken your armor is.

This “perfectly balanced game” is now equivalent to a game of chess, only everyone only has pawns and the board is 100×100, and I meant “everyone” because so long as the board can fit you you can play. It is a game of positioning and numbers only, and this is a natural effect if the inequalities in hit points have been “solved”. Reusing an example from earlier, Tribes with everyone playing Pathfinder: it turns into simply CTF, or King of the Hill, or whatever the objective happens to be.

This I suspect is why there are no true arenas in GW2: no one would ever bother to play it. There has to be objectives on the map, objectives not only because they’re defined by the game mode as how to win, but objectives because everything else is completely irrelevant. Killed someone? They’re not dead, they’ll be back right there at half or full health once their buddy from ten seconds away strolls his ass over. The only differences between classes now are, truly, how, how fast, and how often they obstruct movement. Last I checked about nine months ago, GW2 Mesmers were the OP class because they had the best skills of this kind. If the fundamental utilities haven’t been changed, then they’re probably still the OP class.

Assuming the instagib is removed from Rengar and the game proceeds in the direction of no nukes and “Perfect Balance”, then in five years League will be GW3 and the only champions that will be played will be those who have the utility of ground control, whether this be Trundle’s Pillar and Anivia’s Wall, Lulu and Janna’s movespeed, or Blitzcrank and Thresh’s hooks. Tryndamere will probably stick around due to splitpushing power, same with all the Tryndamere 2.0’s. All other champions, not so much. We’ve already seen this in a couple of iterations, namely the patches when it was League of Gapclosers and League of Crowd Control. Are you SURE Rengar is more toxic than this?

I can accept quite easily and quite quickly that a a high health high damage killing a low health high damage in ~0.5s may not entirely be fun, but the direction being taken is wrong, and what the immediate proposed changes are doesn’t matter. My memory is not that shitty, I remember when some things were nerfed. Season 2 to season 3? One of the roles basically disappeared overnight.

If the idea is that everything should take longer to die, then the problem isn’t solved by just making Rengar spread his damage out more over time, it’s also related to movespeed, map size, and probably most importantly, cast times. A significant reason of why it took so long to kill people in Guild Wars was because average cast time was 1 second, with higher damage skills going up to 5. Can you imagine League of Legends having a 5 second cast time on anything on anyone? I’ll be at my second tier turret, thanks. But if you don’t change cast times, then you’re going to have to deal with most things being quick, and if things are quick, they better do damage; no one’s going to play a game where they have to have quick reflexes in order to tickle the enemy. And if you lower the damage enough, people just aren’t going to think at all. It’ll be purely reactive, and not in the sense that playing Janna is purely reactive.

Rengar is an assassin, not a bruiser, unless the idea is that assassins shouldn’t be in the game, at which point Riot should be dealing with Zed, who has more escapes, can go over walls, is much more popular, and has a higher average winrate. “Someone else being wrong doesn’t mean you’re not wrong” That doesn’t make your decision making not shit, and I’ve already lined everything else out anyways.

Rengar has clear counters, and has few of the traits that make other top laners stupid. He can duel, but he can’t waveclear. He can go in, but he can’t come back out. He has one stun or slow, or both, but then there goes his damage. He’s melee. Everyone knows to not fight Rumble in the jungle; buy pink wards and/or don’t fight in the jungle on Rengar’s side of the map. It’s not like he has a long range huge AOE which slows and does huge damage over time, he has to actually walk to where you are. There are clear ways around him, just like there are clear ways around the 3v1 lanes. There is nothing broken, nothing abusive, nothing toxic.

Unless you consider not knowing how to play against something “toxic”, in which case Garen would like to have a word with you and your lvl 5 account, and I would like you to give me your job. GunZ was actually broken, but people adapted to it, found it fun, and the devs said “ok, we’ll make sure that thing in the game engine you exploited is in the sequel too“.

Heaven forbid you turn League of Legends into a game of team checkers.


3 thoughts on “NOT SO FAST: Rengar in LoL and Shadow Form in GW

  1. Pingback: New Blog – “Game Theory” | All Else Is Halation

  2. Pingback: NOT SO FAST: Rengar in LoL, Shadow Form in GW | Game Theory

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