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One of the major balance issues with Nasus is that he scales infinitely with his stacks – he can go almost full tank and, if the game goes on long enough, still be able to output large late-game damage. This means that the power in the rest kit has to be strictly limited. However, removing the stacking mechanic from his Q guts out a large part of his identity as a champion.
This is an attempt to reconcile these two points by allow Nasus to expend stacks to access more power in other areas in his kit. The overall concept is that by spending stacks over the course of the game, Nasus’s late game oppression can be delayed and also adds decision making on the end of the Nasus player (how much should I conserve my stacks?)
Disclaimer: I do not claim any of these changes to be balanced as they are written – I don’t even believe some of these to be good ideas. This is mostly a brainstorming exercise using ideas that I felt fit within Nasus’ role as a low-mobility, late-game oriented bruiser that excels in 1v1 duels while relying on utility to contribute to teamfights.
The amounts that stacks get expend have been kept in multiples of three to make them easier to directly compare with how many times Nasus must farm his Q to make up for these costs. However, costs would have to be extensively tested to measure how each effect would ‘set-back’ Nasus’ late game power, and make sure the player doesn’t feel like he is fighting his own champion.
Package Number 1
Passive – reduced to 5/7.5/10% lifesteal. Nasus’ basic attacks now heal him for an additional 1 health per 3 Siphoning Strike Stacks.
Q – Unchanged.
W – Basic Attacks against a withered target increase the duration of wither by 0.5 at the expense of 3/3/6/6/9 stacks per hit, up to a total durationof 7.5 seconds. Kills and assists on a withered target refunds all stacks spent in this manner.
E – No longer has the initial damage upon cast. While Spirit Fire is still active, Nasus may reactivate this ability to spend 12 stacks to end the effect and reset Spirit Fire’s cooldown. Nasus may then recast Spirit Fire at normal mana cost. Successive resets in the next 6 seconds cost an additional 6 stacks.
R – No longer converts area of effect damage into bonus AD. Instead grants 1/2/3 temporary Q stacks each time an enemy is damaged by Fury of the Sands. These stacks apply to Q damage and passive additively, are spent first, and disappear at the end of the duration.
This form retains Nasus’ overall playstyle of a weaker laning phase where he focuses on farming , tries to avoid being pulled into unnecessary skirmishes, and waits for late game to come into fights with bigger numbers. Nasus has reduced lifesteal at the start and overall, but allows him to gain greater sustain with farm. This also creates a window early in the game where the enemy laner can more easily bully him around and try to interfere with his farming.
With abilities that expend stacks, Nasus has to more carefully choose when and how he enters fights. Wither has a greater potential to set up ganks and rewards Nasus by refunding the stacks he invests so he ‘stays on track’. However, if his team can’t score the kill, or Nasus uses Wither too frequently in trades without gaining anything, Nasus can set himself back by a significant margin in terms of stacks. Being able to draw out Wither’s duration makes him nigh unfightable if he is able to reach his target. However, he remains just as susceptible to being kept at bay through kiting and crowd control (although this would result in less stacks wasted).
The change to Spirit Fire solves an issue with using the ability: having the fight move away from where Nasus places the AoE originally. This is a huge buff to his teamfight power, allowing him to ensure the armor shred stays on top of enemies to allow his carry to shred through the larger health bars and resistances. In lane, not only does rapid-firing Spirit Fire expend a lot of stacks, but also a lot of mana, and penalizes over-use by gimping lane sustain. The initial damage was removed to prevent cheese with AP Nasus.
Ult no longer just grants a snowball of stats – it now flows better with his kit. Nasus’ ultimate now grants him a window where he no longer has to worry over expending too many stacks and can more freely utilize the extra power in his kit. Enemies in lane would do well to note when Nasus does not have his ultimate, and try to pull him into skirmishes and get him to fruitlessly burn stacks.
Package Number 2
Passive – Lifesteal removed. Grants 1 Siphoning Strike per unit kill.
Q – Grants 2 Siphoning Strike stacks on killing blow (grants total of 3 with new passive). Attack also heals Nasus for 11/12/13/14/15% of damage dealt.
W – Cast range increased to 750. Maximum slow reduced to 47/51/63/71/79. Nasus may reactivate when within 400 units of a Withered target to cease increasing the slow effect and grant him half of the current slow modifier as bonus movement speed for the remaining duration. This effect costs 3/6/9/12/15 stacks.
E – Nasus may reactivate while standing in Spirit Fire to overburn it, allowing Nasus to extend the duration for 3 stacks per second for as long as Nasus remains in the area. Nasus may reactivate this ability a second time to end the effect early and snare enemies in the effect. Nasus regains 3 stacks for each enemy champion caught in this ability. Nasus’s attacks for the next 4 seconds ignore armor equal to the armor reduction bonus. If Nasus leaves the circle before reactivating this ability the second time, the effect ends immediately without snaring or granting Nasus the armor penetration.
Ult – Nasus may reactivate this ability to grant spend 15 stacks and grant him a 100/150/200 damage absorbing shield. Nasus may use this effect up to four times per use of this ability; he spends stacks each time he does and the shield amounts stack with whatever shield value he currently has. There is an internal cooldown of 2 seconds between each activation of this ability (including the initial cast).
Overall a more selfish version of Nasus, as much of the utility here focuses on empowering him rather than enabling his team. This passive iteration allows Nasus to much more easily accrue stacks, but also still hurts early sustain. Tying the healing to a cooldown and mana cost means the sustain is no longer free. This also opens the way to give Nasus a more interesting passive effect, though I am dry for ideas on what to give it.
Nasus gains more control over how he expends stacks, and overall is much more powerful in duels. Movement speed grants Nasus the potential to catch up more easily to opponents that try to dash away, but can still be mired by crowd control that prevents him from getting in range to reactivate. Jumping the gun and activating this effect too early means that the slow (and the movement speed bonus) is less powerful.
Adding a form of hard CC is the iffiest thing, in my opinion, that I have put down here. While as it is written it still has counterplay – both he and his opponents must be within the circle (so one could either dash away or push him out with a knockback) – but it does make him much scarier and much stickier for carries that don’t have hard peel/escape options.
This ultimate makes Nasus more like a raid boss than ever before. I have included, for the faintest hint of balance, a cap to how many times Nasus can shield himself. However, this is very expensive in terms of stacks; the total cost for all four shield values being 60 stacks at all levels. Nasus would have to ask himself “how important is it that I stay alive in this fight?”.
Although I have packaged these effects together as separate kits, there is no need to have kept seperate in that manner. Nor does every ability require a special interaction with Nasus’ stacks. I am eager to hear what you think about the idea of allowing Nasus to expend stacks to empower himself in other areas.