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This article is outdated. Please refer to the "Upcoming Rework" section on Xerath's champion page for an up-to-date version.
This is so incredibly tentative. This is also the first rework where the Riot employee in charge—Xelnath—has been so interactive, open and honest with the community. Assuming we—as a community—remain "responsible, mature and capable of being level headed" (his words): we may see more of these.
First Cast: Xerath starts charging, increasing the range of Arcanopulse over the next few seconds.
While charging, Xerath cannot attack or use his other abilities and his movement speed is slowed. After a few seconds or if Xerath is interrupted, Arcanopulse will fire automatically.
Second Cast: After a brief delay, Xerath fires a beam of energy in a line the deals magic damage to all enemies hit.
Active: Xerath calls down a blast of arcane energy, dealing magic damage and slowing enemies in a target 200-radius area after a 0.5 second delay, and briefly providing sight within a 300-radius area. Enemies hit directly take bonus magic damage.
Magic Damage:(+X% AP)
Bonus Magic Damage:(+X% AP)
COST: Unknown mana
Active: Xerath fires a very thin bolt of energy forward in a line, damaging and stunning any enemy champion it pass trough for 0.75-1.25 seconds.
Toggle: Xerath anchors himself to his current location with a 0.5 second casting time. While anchored, Xerath's abilities gain massively increased range and are free to cast; he gains 25-30% damage reduction; and becomes immune to displacement effects.
Additionally, his basic attacks are disabled.
Anchor Cost: 50 / 60 / 70 mana per second
Mouse Click: Xerath fires a mortar at the cursor's position, dealing magic damage over a moderate area. Xerath can only fire one mortar every 0.5 seconds.
Mortar Cast Range: ~5300
Magic Damage:(+X% AP)
Mortar Cost: 10 / 15 / 20 mana per mortar
His Locus of Power and Arcane Barrage have been switched. This decision was made to fix Xerath's biggest turn-off: waiting for his ultimate. That said, Xelnath also wanted to give Locus of Power more-- power - as it's perhaps Xerath's most iconic feature, but it's used so sparingly.
Xelnath originally described Overwhelming Power as "% magic penetration based on your max mana", but recently he described it "you can buy mana to gain magic penetration". The exact scaling is unknown, but with "15% magic penetration at level 6" I would estimate 1.5% of maximum mana, 3% of bonus mana, or there is a base amount of magic penetration.
With the loss of Locus of Power as a basic ability, Xerath's felt severely underwhelming. As such, Xelnath added the range-increase directly to the skill. He opt'd against having the damage increase as he didn't want Xerath's to feel they had to charge it at close range.
Xelnath stated that when fully charged the maximum range is the same as on live. However, with the current 0.75 second casting delay the skill felt too easy to dodge (charge time + casting time gave too much time to react). As such, the casting delay and minimum range were reduced. I'd estimate a minimum range of 600-750 (compared to 900 on live). Cooldown increased at early ranks from 7 / 6.5 / 6 / 5.5 / 5.
Recently, Xelnath said "all now around ~1000 range, except Q which can be charged-up to 1550 range."
Xelnath had difficulty converting Arcane Barrage into a basic ability with regards to the damage and cooldown. It initially used a stock system (like Zyra, Vi and Teemo), compared to the current barrage system. When Xelnath hosted a poll with several hundred Xerath players, the players voted in favour of more power on longer cooldowns. As such, Xelnath substantially increased Arcane Barrage's damage but made it single-cast. In response to playback tests, players felt like "direct hits" should be rewarded.
Xelnath describes it as "an Essence Flux that stuns". The current Mage Chains was proving too strong with two pre-6 damaging abilities. That said, Morello also felt Xerath needed at least one skill that happened instantly (as all his other skills have casting times, and his current Mage Chains is a triggered stun). Xelnath described the duration as 0.75-1.25, which is too short for a per-rank scaling. It's unsure if the duration was an estimate, or whether the duration is actually different depending on conditions.
The enhanced basic attacks were added to solve the problem of "waiting for something to do" while all your other skills are on cooldown, which is currently an issue with Xerath's kit; and the bonus armor and magic resistance was in response to complaints about how potentially bad it's going to feel if you have to cancel your ultimate in a tough spot. It's one thing to cancel an ability that's on a 20-4 second cooldown and another to cancel your ultimate.
His attack-replacer initially behaved like Twitch'sSpray and Pray, and would fire on each attack (and thus scaled with attack speed). However, these proved insanely difficult to land (i.e. the target could easily avoid the damage).
Considering the fact Xerath's abilities are free while using his ultimate, 50 / 60 / 70 mana per second over 8 seconds is around the same mana you would consume on live. Obviously, you can stay in Locus of Power longer now and there is something else to spend your mana on.
There have been half a dozen iterations on his ultimate. They are currently trying one where it now lasts for a fixed duration (again), but the mortars are substantially more powerful and have ~5300 range. In this version, Xelnath didn't mention a range increase on his basic abilities - though.