This is a tentative rework for Kalista, the Spear of Vengeance. In terms of novelty, Kalista has a lot going for her that is unique: she has an orbwalking paradigm like no other, unparalleled ally synergy, and a really cool vision contribution. Problem is, she's also a bloated mess: her kit is massively overloaded with different mechanics, actives, passives (she has 5 passives in total) and conditionals, many of which are redundant, and none of which contribute that much to kit depth. In fact, she usually has so many options at her disposal that she can at least moderately succeed at any choice she makes, which I think is the opposite of depth (choices need to be meaningful and incur costs or tradeoffs). On top of this, there's a lot to her that is supremely irritating: her perma-jump makes it impossible to fight her as a melee champion most of the time, her Black Spear ritual, while not directly a gameplay feature, is tremendously disruptive, and her Rend allows her to upstage her own jungler, among a great deal many other annoyances. She has no clear identity, and what she does well often comes at a major cost in enjoyment to all other parties involved, including her own allies. On top of this, she is so difficult to balance that Riot has resorted to piling even more bizarre effects onto her kit, such as the atrocious nerf to her autoattack scaling: she is one of the very few champions out there who has had an explicit malus added to her kit just to balance her, the others being Yasuo (reduced critical damage), Thresh (reduced attack wind-up bonuses from attack speed) and Ashe (cannot crit on her first attack, though I feel her unique crit paradigm justifies that).
Beneath the heap of obnoxious mechanics, though, is a champion who has the potential to genuinely shine as a totally unique marksman. Her kiting is pretty broken right now, but for all the wrong reasons, and could potentially be made a lot more functional. Her ally synergy, which has often been overshadowed by her more technical power, deserves to be brought out more, as does her unique utility. Basically, if she were streamlined a ton, I feel she could have much more depth and be much more fun to play as, play with and play against. I think if Kalista had to have a niche, it would be as the game's best defensive marksman (she has great team synergy, kiting and static objective control), and the following changes are intended to condense her kit into that identity. Additionally, a secondary objective to these changes is to parcel out her ally-based power into timed windows of great power, instead of the current slew of persistent or low-cooldown bonuses, which would not only give her windows of vulnerability as well (she'd be a lot more dependent on her allies for protection, which was supposed to be the case originally) but also give her a broader range of viable Oathsworn, as right now she's constrained to marking the support for reasons that aren't too exciting.
STATIC COOLDOWN:250 / 200 / 150 / 100
Innate:Kalista can select one of her allies to form a death pact with, placing the mark of the Oathsworn above them for 5 seconds. If the ally clicks on the mark, they become immediately bound to her as her Oathsworn. Otherwise, she can select any ally once more until she has bound with an Oathsworn.
Whenever Kalista or her Oathsworn damage a large enemy while they are near both, the target is revealed for 3.5 seconds, during which the duo's basic attacks have their range increased and cause them to dash to their base attack range from the target when used againt them. This can only occur periodically against the same enemy champion, and can only occur on one enemy at a time.
Kalista's two innates are among the most frustrating in the entire game: Martial Poise is interesting in the sense that it allows Kalista to orbwalk in a totally unique way, but its implementation is horribly clunky, and causes her to offer few to no options against melee champions past a certain amount of attack speed. The Black Spear adds a tiny bit of flavor, but is, at best, irritating due to its ally stun, and at worst, going to get either Kalista, her target or both killed because of horrible timing.
The idea behind the new Oathsworn pact is much more simple: it needs to be consensual, and it needs to be as non-intrusive as possible, so making it a quick, easily usable one-time activation should suffice, without having to go through all the needless pomp of a death animation and its associated disable. In the first iteration of this rework, which you can check with the edit history, the Oathsworn essentially provided blanket buffs to all of Kalista's skills, but in this current version, the Vengeance mechanic is meant to create specific windows of terrifying power against specific targets, which is when Kalista gets to unlock her bunny-hopping murderousness in tandem with her chosen ally. On one hand, this should create windows where Kalista would be genuinely weak and reliant on her allies to defend her, and on the other this should allow Kalista to express greater synergy with her Oathsworn, including synergy that could be exploited in new and interesting ways by non-supports: for example, while her support would allow her to exact Vengeance as soon as it becomes available against her lane opponents, her jungler could gank in new and incredibly powerful ways, extending her influence or rallying to her from massive distances. If she chooses to jungle, binding to allies should also allow her to massively improve her clears and ganks in certain situations, turning her naturally good defensive potential into super-strong jungle objective control.
For those of you who noticed, aside from buffing Kalista's attack speed stats to be the the best out of any marksman, I also made her a manaless champion. That might sound horrifying, but the reality is that Kalista's current mana gating is already incredibly weak: out of her four actives, one isn't really meant to be gated by mana (her W), one has an inbuilt mechanic that pretty much negates the mana cost at later levels (her E) and the other two are relatively cheap throughout the game, even with her low mana. Mana isn't really an appropriate gate to her ability use; rather, it should be her weakness when alone and not out for Vengeance that should force her to return to base after taking a beating from the enemy. She should still have options to outplay her enemies even at her weakest, but those options should entail costs, risks and consistent weaknesses. Chiefly among them in this rework is her extreme and visible focus on single targets, which could be exploited to blindside her, while her relationship with her Oathsworn could be exploited by hunting them down before the duo can really get to work together, depriving her of her most valuable ally.
Active:Kalista hurls a spear in the target direction, dealing 100% AD physical damage to the first enemy hit, applying on-hit effects, and slowing them for 2 seconds.
If you check this blog post's history, I went through several iterations of Pierce, some of which were completely different to the original ability, and eventually I went back to the original model, with a few important changes. Overall, the ability deals significantly reduced damage, as I think poking should not be a strength of Kalista's, and no longer carries Rend stacks, as I feel the interaction conflicted with Rend itself and only really made an impact in abuse cases.
However, there are two meaningful improvements to Pierce here, in addition to a slight range increase: first, the ability slows enemies, which should let her pin down targets from a distance, and second, the ability applies on-hit effects, which interacts not only with Rend, but also with Vengeance. Effectively, Pierce here lets Kalista initiate Vengeance from afar, with the slow allowing both her and her Oathsworn to catch up to their target.
COST: 1 Charge
Recharge Time:90 / 75 / 60 / 45 / 30
Passive:Kalista stores a charge of Sentinel periodically, up to a maximum of 2 stored at once.
Active:Kalista summons a Sentinel to scout the target area.
Sentinel Duration: 30 / 60 / 90 / 120 / 150
Up to 2 Sentinels can be active at once, and deploying another causes the oldest Sentinel to disappear.
Sentinel is a skill shot that sends a pet to patrol across the target location.
While Soul-Marked is popular due to the tremendous trading power it offers in lane, Sentinel's active is itself phenomenally underrated and underused: the vision it offers is totally unique and really good at securing control over objectives, and even at its most basic use it still works as a more interactive ward. I changed the ability a little to make it scale better (Kalista's utility contribution should increase as she levels this up), and also changed its cooldown and recharge time so that it would be reduced by cooldown reduction: it's not a stat Kalista should normally build, but it's weird that this ability's recharge cannot be accelerated by any means. Additionally, I also changed the Sentinels' duration so that they'd last a fixed amount of time, instead of a fixed amount of laps, as the latter model just creates an unnecessarily huge discrepancy in their lifespan.
As for the passive, I removed it and expanded the interaction with Rend to include Kalista's Oathsworn, but even without that I feel the effect is redundant here, since it effectively makes Kalista both top-tier at poking and trading in lane, when I feel her power should mainly come from staying in prolonged fights. Kalista can also use Rend after a single Q or autoattack for extra poke damage, so I don't think she needs to pile on even more of it, nor does she need additional clearing power when her E is already really good at providing that.
Passive: While Rend is not on cooldown, Kalista and her Oathsworn's basic attacks leave a spear in their targets, stacking infinitely and remaining until the target leaves combat with them.
Active:Kalista rips all spears from the target enemy, dealing physical damage for each spear within them and rendering them temporarily immune to Rend.
At its core, Rend is pretty simple: the longer you fight an enemy, the more power you get to use at the end to finish them off. However, currently the ability's loaded with a ton of other effects that, in my opinion, add nothing to the ability: the current full refund on minions means Kalista gets free waveclear on top of semi-random dueling power, the initial damage means she gets to poke really well, which I think is contrary to the whole basis of this ability, and the slow is the worst culprit, since it muddies this effect's success and failure cases: Rend is an execute, so it should work best when killing its target, but the slow means Kalista gets to succeed a fair bit even when she fails to kill her victim, and subsequently finish them off. Coupled with her already amazing kiting potential, she absolutely does not need an additional means of independently keeping enemies at bay or within range.
As a result of all this, I stripped off a ton of effects from the ability, and made it unit-targeted. However, I increased its overall damage per spear (Kalista would be able to execute targets faster, and would quickly override the initial loss in damage in prolonged combat), made the cooldown per-target (Kalista should be focused on killing single targets, but could get to nuke different opponents at different times), and added synergy with her Oathsworn, which would reinforce the latter's contribution to Kalista's power by supplementing her combat strength when focusing the same target (I'm basically condensing Soul-Marked's effect into this). The end result should be a Rend that doesn't provide as much initial damage or any crowd control, but that provides much better execution power, especially when Kalista works in tandem with her Oathsworn ally (as she should). Rend is essentially an autoattack steroid for Kalista, and this change would make it a steroid for her Oathsworn, too.
COOLDOWN: 120 / 90 / 60
Active:Kalista activates her Oathsworn ally's mark if they are within range. If they click on it while able to dash and cast abilities within the next 3 seconds, they are drawn next to her and placed in stasis for 4 seconds.
During Fate's Call, Kalista's bound ally can right-click the target location to dash there, stopping at the first enemy hit, knocking up all surrounding enemies and landing themselves at their maximum attack range from the target.
Knockup Duration: 1 / 1.25 / 1.5
If Kalista cancels Fate's Call before her Oathsworn activates it, or if the ability is not activated, it goes on a 3-second static cooldown.
Fate's Call is, as with a lot of abilities here, an interesting effect marred by its implementation: the pull and knockup are both tremendously cool when pulled off right, but the ability can also be really frustrating when used without the Oathsworn's consent (e.g. Kalista pulling her ally away just as they were about to land the killing blow on a champion), and also when used on the Oathsworn when the enemy team spent a lot of resources to lock them down with crowd control.
To remedy this, I changed the active to a kind of click-the-lantern effect which would give the Oathsworn full control over when they'd get pulled, but only when they'd be in control, so the enemy team would still get a chance to kill Kalista's Oathsworn when focusing them with CC, which would make this less of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Since this means this active wouldn't always activate, I also put a compensatory reduced cooldown just in case. I reduced the ability's knockup, though, since I don't think this ability should be used to upstage Malphite at his greatest contribution.
The Sentinel patrols the area until the end of its duration, moving to the target location, returning to its cast location, and pathing around obstacles.
The Sentinel has its sight restricted to a cone in front of it.
Upon detecting an enemy champion, the Sentinel chases them for 3.5 seconds, alerting Kalista and her Oathsworn to their presence with a scream, and disappears at the end of the duration.
What do you think of the above changes? Admittedly, this is the most recent of live champions/champion reworks that I decided to do a custom rework for, but I feel sufficiently enough time has passed to acknowledge that Kalista needs some serious changes to her kit (the recent attempts at balancing her are also evidence in support of this, in my opinion). Do you think these changes would solve Kalista's issues? If not, what am I missing? What would you want to change or keep on her live kit, and the above kit?