Dev Notes: Balance in 1.5 and beyond
Patch 1.5 contains a couple balance changes that were originally slated for Patch 1.6 as part of our usual monthly balance cadence. While we’re not going to start making balance updates every patch, we saw an opportunity to quickly turn around a few key changes and get them in your hands, and in the process develop more flexibility around when and how we update cards.
As we covered in our Season of Fortune introduction, starting in August we’ll introduce new cards to LoR every two months, which means we also need to update how we think about and approach balance over the life of a set. We’re still considering how exactly we’ll adjust (hence our interest in experimenting), but look for more info in our eventual preview for next season.
We also want to stay flexible with how we give players insight into what we’re currently working on—things like the “watchlist” section in some editions of the patch notes, or the Epic card experiences we asked for on Twitter prior to Patch 1.4. This time, we’d actually like to provide a brief preview of what we’re planning for Patch 1.6.
Updates we’re currently working on include:
- Adjustments to some of Heimerdinger’s associated cards (his bots).
- Reworking discard units to increase their satisfaction and usability.
- Adjustments to direct Nexus damage on cheap Noxus units.
We hope you enjoy the two changes in this patch, and we’ll see you back in two weeks for more!
– Riot RubinZoo, Live Design Lead
New Mode: Labs
Following the addition of Gauntlets last patch, Labs are a more experimental take on game modes in LoR. Where Gauntlets are aimed at the competitive experience, Labs are all about variety, experimentation, and maybe a little chaos. You can also try them out with a friend— friend challenge now offers a choice between a standard match and the current Lab!
The first Lab, A.R.A.M., is available with Patch 1.5 and features unexpected champion matchups and unpredictable outcomes. Rather than building a deck, you’ll make choices from a random selection of champions when the game starts. The champions you choose will start in your hand and generate a deck for you to pilot against your opponent’s equally random creation!
Every patch after 1.5 will include a new or updated Lab to replace the previous one. Some Labs will experiment with small changes to the classic LoR formula, while others will offer new game modes, or even more extreme takes on cardplay in the world of Runeterra. Each one is a chance for you to join us as we try new things and discover what’s fun, what’s not, and what deserves to be developed further in the future. We’re starting small, but look forward to some bigger, crazier experiments later this year and beyond!
COST: 2 → 3
We measure the overall success of mechanics and individual cards through a number of lenses, including balance, promotion of skill, gameplay variety, and net fun for both players. While Nab creates variety, tests adaptability, and is a core component to several Bilgewater decks, it can also be frustrating when players are seeing it all the time due to its power level. Basically, we think Nab is too common, and it’ll be healthier for LoR if it’s a bit less of a top competitive mechanic for Bilgewater.
With that in mind, we’re reducing the efficiency of the most draw-heavy Nab card—our goal is to retain Pilfered Goods’ potential in dedicated archetypes like draw synergy, Plunder, and Allegiance, while making it less generically and widely powerful. We’re also continuing to keep a close eye on Nab (and listen to your feedback), and will make further changes as necessary.
POWER: 4 → 3
Solitary Monk’s base stats and keywords are the strongest in the game, with an appropriately interesting “drawback” to craft your deck around. Used effectively, she’s a threat that both pushes damage and defends above her cost threshold, while her recall ability can be mitigated or turned to your benefit. We’ve seen this raw power used too effectively in too many different styles of decks, so we’re choosing to adjust her damage output (rather than utility) to focus her on more dedicated strategies.
Card text clarity
This patch, we’re fixing a number of minor consistency issues (many reported by players), such as sentence order, plural usage, usage of “fleeting” and “all,” and targeting wording.
- Rules text on the following cards (both collectible and non-collectible) updated for clarity and consistency:
Avarosan Hearthguard | Nautilus’s Riptide | Pool Shark | Reckless Research | Transfusion | Vladimir’s Transfusion | Ancient Yeti | Brash Gambler | Bullet Time | Draven (both levels) | En Garde | For Demacia! | Frenzied Skitterer | Funsmith | Gangplank (level 2) | Greenglade Elder | Insightful Investigator | Iron Harbinger | Love Tap | Maokai | Maokai’s Sap Magic | Miss Fortune | Mobilize | Pack Mentality | Pick a Card | Ranger’s Resolve | Riptide | Sap Magic | Sejuani (level 2) | Sown Seeds | Twisted Fate (level 2) | Twisted Fate’s Pick a Card | Vision | Anivia’s Harsh Winds | Ashe’s Flash Freeze | Black Spear | Brash Gambler | Ethereal Remitter | Flash Freeze | Get Excited! | Harsh Winds | Inspiring Mentor | Jinx’s Get Excited! | Mark of the Isles | Oblivious Islander | Razorscale Hunter | Shunpo | Spectral Matron | Spinning Axe | Sumpworks Map | Ye Been Warned | Zaunite Urchin | Sump Dredger | Kalista’s Black Spear
We’re happy with how last patch’s changes to tri-region drafting have improved its viability, so much so that we’re tweaking things a little further this time around. We’re also reducing the consistency of mono-region drafting, as it’s been a little too reliably powerful for a safer option.
- While drafting a tri-region deck, slightly increased how frequently you’ll be offered packs from the archetypes completely contained within your three regions during your Wild Picks.
- While drafting a mono-region deck, reduced how frequently you’ll be offered the matching mono-region archetype during your Wild Picks.
Freljord has been performing very well in the wake of last patch’s Braum and Anivia changes, so we’re reining in some of its best performing archetypes. Similarly, Noxian Might has overperformed since the Darius and Basilisk Rider buffs and is getting adjustments. Lastly, we’re giving further buffs to Fishbones and Spell Slingers—while their play patterns are unique and enjoyable, they’ve still been a bit too inconsistent.
- Added: Brittle Steel, Caught in the Cold
- Added: Stalking Wolf
- Removed: Ruthless Raider
- Added: Eager Apprentice, Hired Gun
- Removed: Crackshot Corsair, Rising Spell Force
- Wild Pick Bonus Chance increased to Very High (from High)
Fluft and Tuft
- Added: For Demacia!, Fury of the North, Iceborn Legacy
- Removed: Babbling Bjerg, Omen Hawk, Vanguard Sergeant
- Wild Pick Bonus Chance decreased to High (from Very High)
- Added: Blade’s Edge, Death Lotus
- Removed: Legion Grenadier
- Added: Elixir of Iron, Yeti Yearling
- Removed: Lonely Poro
- Added: Insight of Ages, Shadow Assassin, Will of Ionia, Yordle Grifter
- Removed: Double Up, Salvage, Solitary Monk, Spirit’s Refuge
- Wild Pick Bonus Chance increased to Very High (from High)
- Added: Elixir of Iron, Unscarred Reaver
Vault unlock timing
Starting with this patch, we’re updating Vault unlock timing to put it more safely after our patch timing.
- Vault unlock time moved from Tuesday to Thursday at 8 AM (local time based on shard).
- This week’s Vault duration extended to nine days to make the transition.
- Quest UI updated and moved to a side-panel.
- Background of matchmaking queue and VS screen now determined by the board equipped in your loadout.
- Sixty second cooldown added to certain between-card VO interactions so they aren’t so repetitively heard when playing multiple copies of the same cards. Affected units will now play their standard summon VO until the cooldown resets.
- Fixed an issue where rewards could sometimes grant players Skyward Strikes (a non-collectible card) in place of a collectible Common card. Affected players have had all copies of Skyward Strikes removed and Common wildcards (1-3) added to their inventory to replace them.
- Fixed an issue where Draven’s Spinning Axe VFX would leave pink trails.
- Fixed an issue where Anivia would play Eggnivia transformation VFX when transforming into Anivia’s Harsh Winds
- Fixed an issue where Fizz level-up VO wouldn’t play.