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The Problem Behind Balance

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Well, I had been wanting to make this blog post for a while now, and even though I typed up a totally different one earlier today, I figured it was time for this one as well. Keep in mind that these are my opinions and I will do my best to explain the logic behind them.


So, balance. The thing that Riot has been trying to attain since they created the game. Most people are convinced that they are failing, I personally am one of them. The problems: Players will always find new ways to use champions, Item changes over time can buff/nerf champions without the players even realizing it until they play a bunch of games, older champions/champions that are not played a lot are not high on the priority list.

There you go, the three main issues as I see them.


Issue One.

Players will experiment, of course thy are going too, Mage Fortune, AP Tristana Smurf, and Jungle with Kayle Charlie's Angel, Jax Brightest Blub on the Street, and Wukong The monkey from Planet of the Apes. Riot cannot anticipate every single thing that random players might try to do. Unfortunately what this means is that a lot of the time players can blind side each other completely and find something that is "OP" because no one expects it, once people figure it out then it becomes usually subpar compared to the "traditional way". But Riot does what they can in this regard, the first thing that comes to mind being Lucian Morpheus's ultimate, used to be able to do over 10,000 damage when he built a very gimmicky glass cannon AP build, because of the raw damage they nerfed his AP ratios before he even left the PBE.


Issue Two.

Item changes can have a very large impact on how champions function, and the items change quite frequently, however every champion reacts a bit differently than other chapions do. For example, Madred's Bloodrazor was an item in Season Two, it basically did what Blade of the Ruined King does, except more damage and no healing component. It was the day of ADCs running the show, Kog'Maw Vomit Factory and Vayne The one that stole the Twitch Rat's weapon were in every game because they were so good at abusing the passive of it, Kog'Maw Nickolodean's Slime Supplier could melt through tanks like they were made of paper mache. The item was removed at the beginning of Preseason Three, and replaced with blade of the ruined king because ADCs were too strong. Unfortunately, this left assassin hanging out to dry, it was a core item on most assassins in the game at the time. Another example is the change to Tiamat, they removed the ability to stack them, and reduced the aoe healing aspect, again making assassin a bit weaker on the terms of "No more insane aoe damage for assassins" which was honestly a necessary change.


Issue Three.

Older champions and the champions that are rarely played are almost pushed under the rug in regards to buffs and nerfs. A few examples; Shaco The Joker has had every aspect of his kit nerfed in his lifetime, less slow on his Two-Shiv Poison.png Throwing Knife, less range on the blink on Deceive.png insta-gib, Jack in the Box.png scary box of doom now last 1/10 of the duration they did upon release, and overall his ult just isn't very impactful throughout most of the game besides taking Dragon/Nashor or pushing down turrets.

What it meant at the time: Shaco Manic Jester was banned or picked in every single ranked game, no questions asked, so they nerfed his kit to make him on par with the champions of the time, and continued nerfing him until he was no longer an issue. Having no inherent benefit to playing Shaco A Harlequin Baby anymore, people stopped playing him for the most part, and as such he began collecting the dust bunnies under the rug and making them have tea with him while he wore his Mad Hatter outfit. There you go, just ruined the whole plot of the Mad Hatter being in wonderland, you're welcome.

What it means now: {[ci|Shaco|Why so Serious}}? is very rarely played still, because his early game is still good when he is against squishy teams, but late game he brings almost nothing to the table in comparison to all the other assassins who have tank steroids, cooldown resets, and low cost/highly spammable abilities. Overall, Shaco The Real Slim Shaco is the prime example of a lackluster champion due to neglect as newer champions take the stage.


Issue Three Continued

Rarely played Champions. Galio Galio, Urgot Urgot, Xerath Xerath, Rumble Rumble, Viktor Viktor *tear* (of the goddess), Skarner Skarner, Yorick Yorick, Kog'Maw Kog'Maw, Zilean Zilean, Sejuani Sejuani. This month's top 10, least played champions according to lolking.com. That's right, for a month, everywhere in the world in normals. (In ranked solo queue only two of this list have changed) I realize that Skarner Doom Scorpion and Xerath Tesla Coil are currently being changed on the PBE, but think for a moment, When was the last time one of these champions recieved a serius buff or nerf, not a power shift, just a flat out nerf or buff. I'll wait, go on, think for a second, can you name anything? Because I cannot, Other than Skarner Vice Grip's changes and power shifts on the PBE and the same thing with Xerath Lightning Rod, the most recent thing that has changed significantly is that {ci|Yorick| Alas, poor Yorick}}'s Ghouls grant 5 gold to the killer, up from 0. Rumble Rage With the Machine had his flamespitter tweaked a while ago, but it was just a shift in power, less scaling normally, better scaling while over 50 heat, other than that I can think of nothing.

Champions that are rarely played are not put under much scrutiny, their true strengths and weaknesses can't be addressed well, because well, no one really plays them. You cannot tell the real strength of lesser played champions because you cannot see their strength in various situations easily, as such they will not be buffed/nerfed according to their true, consistent power, as such Riot tends to just leave the champions as they are until they begin causing a problem.


Summary

Yes, I realize that this is probably looking like some kind of report on a research topic, and I apologize for that, I am very bad at explaining things, so if you stuck around this long, I applaud you.

So the actual summary, Riot has done a poor job of balancing the game apropriately due to a few major hurdles. Of course, this is, again, my opinion on the matter, and you are free to think what you want, but I took the time to type all of this up because I wanted to see what other people think. Am I taking shots in the dark? Am I making sense? Lemme know, and as usual if you have a point to make don't be shy, I want to hear it, even if I don't agree.

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