Riot's done it again. Perhaps even more disastrous than The Black Cleaver item The Black Cleaver fiasco of Pre-Season 3, players have already found a way to completely abuse one single Item Tree and put junglers out of a job.

Targon's Blunder

Let me introduce you to the bane of Pre-Season 4: Targon's Brace item Targon's Brace. Targon's purpose was to be a gold generation item for Tanky Supports like ThreshSquare Thresh and LeonaSquare Leona who are faced with early sustain problems. However, the strong passives on the item are being exploited by players in every game of any Elo (or MMR or whatever)

The Power of Duo Targon's

Execute minions below 200 + 100% AD

Easy enough to understand. Allows lesser skilled players to obtain more last-hits without much effort. This isn't the main problem, though.

Killing a minion heals your nearest ally for 2% of your max health

This example I will use ThreshSquare Thresh starting with a Relic Shield item Relic Shield. At level 4, rushing Targon's, he will have 916 health with defensive masteries.

Targon's Brace item Targon's Brace has a maximum of 4 charges, 1 generating every 30 seconds(1 every creep wave). 18 Health per heal, 36 per minute, not game-changing either, right?

You're looking in the wrong direction. Targon's also provides 12 Health Regen. That's 144 health every minute!

Add those two over a 15-minute laning phase:180 x 15 = 2700 Health. For two champions, that is 5400 more Effective Health for both champions throughout the laning phase.

This also doesn't account for regen from items, base regen, or the increasing regen from the item as your partner gains more health.

Killing a minion grants your ally gold equal to that kill + 10

This powerful mechanic can add 2 Melee Minions to each wave, and another Canon Minion every 3 waves.

Each Melee Minion is worth 20 gold, each Caster Minion is worth 15 gold, and each Canon Minion is 40 gold. They gain +1 Gold Value after the first wave, and +1 each 5 minutes(+2 for Canon Minions).

The normal gold worth of the first wave is (20 x 3) + (15 x 3) = 105 gold. Compare this to the gold worth with duo Relic Shield item Relic Shield: (20 x 6) + (15 x 4) + 20 = 200 gold. Almost double the normal amount!

Over a 15-minute laning phase, the potential value of a normal lane is {3 [(20 x 3) + (15 x 3)] + 40} x 10 = 3812 gold, factoring in the increasing value of minions.

Over a 15-minute laning phase, the potential value of a Duo Targon's lane is {3 [(20 x 4.6) + (15 x 3)] + 80 + 20} x 10 = 5597 gold (147% potential gold) Each laner gets 73% of the possible gold.

Two laners can equally share 73% of the potential gold (a duo top), or one laner can opt for 110% of the potential gold while the other gets 37% (carry and support).

How this affects Junglers

One of the reasons why junglers even exist is the increase the overall gold of the team. With the power of Duo Targon's, that is no long a true statement.

Changes to Jungle Monsters

With Pre-Season 4, jungle monsters are now tougher, stronger, and give less gold and experience across the board.

  • Gold Potential of clearing the entire jungle in Season 3 was 324 Gold.
  • Gold Potential of clearing the entire jungle in Pre-Season 4 is 381 Gold.

More gold, right? Not exactly. With tougher mobs, the jungle takes longer to clear, not to meantion that 60 gold is coming from the new Wight Camp. With an additional camp, only the fastest and most sustained Champions (ShyvanaSquare Shyvana, Lee SinSquare Lee Sin, and UdyrSquare Udyr) will be able to farm every camp and squeeze every penny out of the new jungle. Gold and experience is more spread out throughout the jungle, and slow clearers, or those who prefer to gank, will receive less gold per camp than before.

Oh, and did I mention that Blue SentinelSquare Blue Sentinel now only gives 10% CDR?

Smite Changes
  • The OLD Smite Smite did 460 + (30 x lvl) on a 60 CD (potential damage is 1840 in 4 minutes)
  • The NEW Smite Smite does 390 + (33.88 x lvl) on a 40 CD (potential damage is 2340 in 4 minutes)

Both reach 1000 True Damage at Level 18, so this is a buff, right? WRONG!

This change to Smite nullifies an entire jungler tactic: invasion.

  • Jungle invasion is now much more dangerous with the new abundance of vision early and lack of vision lategame.
  • Junglers have an additional camp that will always respawn if you steal it, so invasion is less effective.
  • Stealing a buff also won't get you to level 3, and will take longer than in Season 3, making early steals too hazardous.

Control Junglers, Nerfed (Goodbye, NunuSquare Nunu)

Tougher to Gank

Access to Warding Totem item more vision early also means that junglers are having a harder time ganking. This is very hard on slower junglers who rely on ganks as their primary source of income. Vision denial early is very hard. Most ganks either relies on the Sweeping Lens item Sweeping Lens trinket, buying a pink ward (a risk on an already low income), or some champion mechanic. Right now, the best jungle picks for ganking are those that can bypass wards.

A Note on Sweeping Lens

The Sweeping Lens item Sweeping Lens trinket is potentially a buff to ganking when used correctly. Lens nullifies wards, and apparently makes you not appear on the minimap with revealed by that ward. This mechanic can actually allow many junglers to gank through warded areas, but remember that you only have a 4-second window on a 3-minute cooldown, or a 6-second window on a 2.5-minute cooldown.

Many Ganking Junglers, Nerfed.

Wriggle's Deception

The new Wriggle's Lantern item Wriggle's Lantern was advertised as a Farming Jungler's best friend. 40% increased gold from Jungle Monsters. It is a good item choice for some champions (Master YiSquare Master Yi, TryndamereSquare Tryndamere, AatroxSquare Aatrox, ShyvanaSquare Shyvana) who could potentially farm up safely.

However, for 1800 gold, Wriggle's only gives 20 armor and 25% attack speed outside of the jungle. That is only 1233 gold's worth of stats. You then need to continue to farm the jungle, which you cannot do, as the power of duo Targon's Brace item Targon's has accelerated the flow of the game, causing midgame teamfights to come faster, and all you have is a Wriggle's.

Farming Junglers, Nerfed.

Spirit Line
  • Spirit Stone item Spirit Stone items have also been nerfed across the board, do to the "increased gold" in the jungle, which is a nerf all around.
  • Spirit of the Ancient Golem item Spirit of the Ancient Golem was hit hard, but it's still the best item for junglers. It grants a stack of 1 gold every 1.5 seconds, up to 80, which can be cashed in by killing a jungle monster. This in essence is 6.66 GP10.
  • Spirit of the Elder Lizard item Spirit of the Elder Lizard and Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item Spirit of the Spectral Wraith both have their gold income from ganks, which is now unreliable. 40 gold for kills, assists, dragons, and barons. 10 gold for Large Monsters. You'd need to net a kill every 60 seconds to match up the gold income of Golem.
  • Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item Spirit of the Spectral Wraith also no longer has spell vamp as a stat, only a regen specifically for junglers.

In Conclusion

Targon's nerfs already coming, but junglers still need a buff to boost their power in competition with laners.

Hopefully, the nerf to Targon's will actually allow junglers to be usable again.