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Nidalee & Unhealthy State

ClariS April 18, 2014 User blog:ClariS
Nidalee BewitchingSkin Ch



ClariS Personal Drawing

I see the word 'toxic' being tossed out so loosely to the point that 'toxic' really has no meaning. It might as well be defined as 'I don't like this' because it is literally tossed out at every instance something is overpowered or annoying.

Along with this, I been seeing a lot of Nidalee's posts about her and her being an unhealthy champion. While reading those, so many people keep getting the wrong impression and constantly debating about different points.

So I figured I could attack two birds at once since Nidalee is a great champion to use to define certain terms when discussing about how 'unhealthy' something is.

But due NOTE, I don't believe Nidalee is overpowered overall. Repeat, I don't think Nidalee is overpowered overall, so while reading this, please assume Nidalee is 'currently' balanced overall. Saying that, I still believe Nidalee needs a change.

So now on to the terms (That I define as, so don't take these as the absolute definition) so we our in the same understanding.

Factors of Unhealthy State

Unhealthy is the broadest term of which all over will be encompassed by. Unhealthy is a state when a something is too unfun to play against compared to fun to play as, and this can be due to any multiple reason(s). Everything below adds up to this and if too high (which is purely based case by case situation)
Overpower is something that is tuned to high. In literal terms, it would be something with too high 'numbers', and the word 'numbers' being the key. The numbers of the skill or champion is just too high. High numbers comes from cooldown, damage, cost, range, stats, and duration of effect. Generally, overpowered is a case in where to balance it, you can simply just change numbers to solve the issue.
Anything overpowered is unfun to play against. Anything overpowered is unhealthy for the game.
Risk-Reward / Opportunity Cost
In simple terms, this is what you have to give up (or risk) to receive this reward. To think about this, it's about, what am I doing that I normally wouldn't want to do if I had a choice. Also, you have to think, what's the next best choice if my current choice didn't exist. For example, no range champion would ever want to get into melee range to anyone unless they were given an large incentive to go into that range.
The current strength of the skill really affects this.
Intended Kit Usage
This is something that needs to get address that many people seem to ignore. This is about how the entire kit is being used. If half the kit is being largely ignored (or not using to it's max potential) in the most common playstyle, the champion is somewhat unhealthy and needs large scale re-shifting in power to fix this. A few champion that had these issues were Skarner Skarner, Kassadin Kassadin, AP MasterYi MasterYi, Gragas Gragas.
This is all about the mechanics and playstyle as a whole. When talking about one ability by itself, then it's mechanics what options your opponents can do. If looking at an entire kit, it's about the gameplay that the champion does and what the enemy can do. A good way to look at the pattern and mechanics, just imagine describing the ability or play pattern without any numbers. If your opponent has no room to do any against this general description, then it's most likely toxic.
A huge DISCLAIMER: Toxic has nothing to do with actual numbers. This includes the frequency of which this can occur. Toxic is about what you can do when you and your opponent begin to see you activate it/set it up.

Nidalee being Unhealthy

Now with the terms defined so people don't get a misunderstanding on how I use those terms, let's start talking about some of Nidalee issues. But also note, I'm only talking about AP Nidalee playstyle, not bruiser Nidalee or any other style you may think of, so when I say Nidalee from now on, I'm only referring to AP Nidalee. Also, when I suggest any nerfs, there has to be a buff somewhere else but that can go anywhere and I don't play Nidalee at all so I'm not going to suggest anything.

Javelin Toss.png Javelin Toss

I see people always pointing at this ability being a huge issue being part of AP Nidalee being unhealthy and they are completely right, but many reasons that I see are wrong or missing the point.

This ability is straight up overpowered. It deals way too much damage when considering it's cooldown, cost, and range. It's maximum damage output is equal to most single target ultimate with range that is doubled most single target ultimate on a cooldown that is 80% less than those. It doesn't even need to hit it's maximum range to still be overpowered. If you can hit around the 1000-1500 range, the damage still ranges around 400-575 (+ 120%-167% AP) damage which is still insane. Because of it's insanely high damage and very low cooldown, it's not about how often you dodge then, it's about how often you get hit by at least 1 spear which is very easy when she is tossing over 15-20 of them every minute.

Because of this ability being overpowered, it creates a lop-sided risk-reward situation for her. It's so overpowered that AP Nidalee can basically live off from Javelin Toss alone and completely ignore all her other damage abilities to be viable (hence a one-trick pony). It's such a one-trick pony, but it, it's extremely viable one-trick pony. This is a huge problem as this under-utilizes her entire kit, namely, her cougar form.

And why this ability is not toxic is because it mechanically is not a problem. It's a far-range linear skillshot that damages the first target it hits, and the damage increases the further it travels. Right there, there is a lot of counter-play with just avoiding it, or having a minion shield you, and the second mechanic is something people always want. For instance, when people kept discussing about new passives for Xearth, that was literally the mechanic they kept suggesting, 'doing more damage the further the target is'.

Lastly about this ability, I don't understand why people are constantly avoiding the damage when suggesting fixes. The most simplest change that is required to prompt a healthy playstyle is a straight nerf to the damage. If you want Nidalee to do anything else (for example, use her Cougar form offensively), then Javelin Toss can't seem viable enough to be all her damage because when given the choice, any sane person will choose that style because there is low risk with potential high rewards.

Primal Surge.png Primal Surge

Primal Surge is Nidalee's most toxic component. It mechanically falls under zero gameplay because all Nidalee ever does with this spell is just stay back and heal. If you can't kill her in one hard dive, then your dive will basically give you a net result of 'nothing', because within most one cooldown rotations, she is erasing the majority of the damage you done to her.

Though, this also falls under overpowered as that insane AP ratio and low cooldown promotes that unhealthy play. There are many numbers changes that can occur to balance this ability, as a whole, but there is little gameplay that this ability creates or promotes that it would be a good choice to rework mechanically to give her more interaction.

Aspect of the Cougar.png Cougar Form

Not an issue, but I just want to point out, it has a lot of damage. A lot of damage. It literally contains more than half of Nidalee's possible out put (the other half being on her Javelin Toss). It just requires her to put herself at risk which many don't see worth it for the time being, (a part being that Javalin Toss has such a better ratio in risk-reward).

It needs help, one being mechanically ease of use and second being other things that I don't really know at the moment.

The Argument of Countering Her=

Now on to the little rebuttal that often comes when the Nidalee topic is brought up, 'she being very easy to beat'. For all those people that always uses this rebuttal, UNDERSTAND THIS VERY POINT:

  • Even if Nidalee can be hard counter or beat, that doesn't make her a healthy champion.

Having a few hard counters for a toxic champion does not make it healthy. This forces a situation that Riot has openly stated they don't want. Matches should not be determined by champion selection.

If you lack that hard far range engage, with a long lockdown, she is gonna be one of the most annoying champions to face if she is anywhere near your current strength. So I want to make myself clear on this, the reason why she is unhealthy is not because she cannot be beaten or countered. She is unhealthy because she forces this extreme binary situation with no good medium.

The state of how healthy a champion is has actual very little to do with the actual balance she has in comparison to every other champion in the game.

Overall State

As a whole, Nidalee's kit is not that bad. When looking at her kit as a whole, she has the same strategy like Jayce Jayce, poking from afar in human form, then coming melee range to execute the enemy in cougar form. The main issue that arise is that AP is better off 'currently' to not put yourself at risk and just continue to poke.

Nidalee need a large scale change that shifts a lot of power away from her human form (or more accurately, promote her to at least auto-attack more). That is a fact. A simple number nerf to Nidalee is hurting a rather average champion, but there is definite issues that needs fixing. Like that fact that Cougar form is largely being underused, mainly being used to just run away.

Does this require actual reworking of abilities? Not technically, but it would be nice, namely her Primal Surge and her innate passive (because it's rather lack luster and could be used to help Cougar form). Give her more incentive to be at least in attack range and you give your opponents more chances to fight against Nidalee. This will reduce how unhealthy she is as a whole.

Final Statement

There are many possible fixes, but this blog post's goal is just to illustrate core issues that needs fixing. Over generalizing issues helps no one as people begin arguing over different points and can't find that middle ground in where they can actually begin a discussion.

For example,. Yes Javelin Toss is avoidable, but it's overpowered. Yes Nidalee can be beaten, but she is unhealthy. Yes, you can pick a hard long range CC to negate her, but she is still extremely frustrating to play against. Stuff like that, so I hope this blog post helps.

Thank you for reading this.

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