This is a tentative rework for Varus, the Arrow of Retribution. As a marksman, Varus makes some very unique contributions, providing a good amount of crowd control on top of sniping, tank-busting and initiation capabilities. Problem is, though, he doesn't shine as best as he could in those aspects, mostly due to poor kit optimization. His passive steroid is the biggest offender, giving him a stat he scales really well with (attack speed may be Varus's core stat), at the cost of poor usability and weak numbers. Other parts of his kit are also loaded with mechanics he doesn't really need, such as the Grievous Wounds on his E or the on-hit damage on his W, and dilute the overall strengths of his kit. In order to shine, Varus needs some of his abilities to be trimmed down in order to be optimized.
Varus's Blight mechanic is central to the champion, and so I think it makes sense for it to be his innate. On top of this, I think his current AS steroid is not particularly interesting or even satisfying to use, since at best it's a constant 20% boost in lane, and at worst a critical stat you can't access when you need to (e.g. when killing a priority target). Despite the attack speed being essential to him, the bonus doesn't synergize well with Varus's strength as an initiator, so I think it's worth removing it entirely and instead improving Varus's attack speed scalings in other ways. The phrasing for this ability might seem really bizarre, but an important point to consider here is that I'm also proposing to rework crit, so what the above is really saying is that Varus needs to strike his target three times (with basic attacks, but also potentially with his abilities) to mark them with Blight, and not that he'd be able to Blight targets at random.
While I also removed Varus's on-hit magic damage, I added an additional active for both him to use as a Blight trigger. On top of this, I also changed his attack speed a bit (base reduced to 0.625 from 0.658, growth increased to 5% from 3%), which would make him shift naturally from a caster in lane to a faster-hitting autoattacker later on. On the other hand, I also reduced his autoattack range to 550, down from 575: while I do want to make him great at sniping, I think that power should translate more to situationally amazing range, instead of just a permanent advantage. This, along with the above changes, would make it harder for Varus to trade in lane, but in exchange he'd have much better tools to use in teamfights, where he'd be able to attack from a huge distance. I also reduced his movement speed to 325, down from 330, as he's gaining a lot of safety with these changes, along with some indirect mobility (he spends less time slowed by his Q).
Another change I wanted to make is to have abilities only detonate Blight upon dealing damage: while that doesn't sound like a big difference at this point, considering Varus's standard abilities already deal damage instantly, it becomes more important when considering interactions with some of his updated spells (his W and E, especially), as well as spell shields (spells that don't deal damage don't detonate Blight).
First Cast:Varus begins channeling his next shot over the next「 1.25 / attack speed 」「 2 seconds, reduced by 1% per 1% bonus attack speed down to a minimum of 0.5 」seconds, up to a maximum of 4 seconds, retaining his ability to move but disabling his basic attacks and other abilities.
Second Cast:Varus fires, dealing 100% AD physical damage to all enemies the arrow hits, increased to up to 200% AD, based on how long Piercing Arrow was channeled. The arrow travels farther the longer it was channeled.
Piercing Arrow is a point-targeted pass-through linear skill shot.
The main change I'm making to Piercing Arrow is adding synergy with attack speed: right now, the ability's great for poking enemies when not in a fight, but when in combat it becomes cumbersome to charge up. In fact, after a certain amount of damage items, charging this up would reduce Varus's DPS, especially when he builds a lot of attack speed, so there's a certain degree of anti-synergy to this. To solve this, I think it's worth having the ability charge up faster as Varus builds attack speed, which would allow him to fully charge Piercing Arrow even mid-fight.
For a champion whose largest source of damage comes from chaining abilities and basic attacks, it's strange that Varus only has two active basic abilities, both of them with fairly high cooldowns. Parting Shot is meant to be the solution, giving Varus access to a nuke that, if chained properly, would allow him to detonate Blight stacks about as soon as he builds them up. Having the ability detonate after a short delay would allow Varus to land an extra attack when trading, and would also allow him to pick off enemies trying to run away, even if the arrow doesn't stick directly to them (he could also use that to his advantage when poking in lane). As a side note, I think Runaan's Hurricane has the potential for awesome synergy with Varus, since his AoE abilities would let him detonate multiple Blight stacks at a time, and a quick AoE nuke with Blight-based CDR would make the item work even better with him, allowing him to quick-fire Parting Shots in heavy fights.
Hail of Arrows has a certain degree of anti-synergy: as a damaging ability, it's something you'd want to save until you've traded with your opponent in order to detonate Blight, but as a persistent AoE with multiple debuffs, it's also something you'd want to use while trading in order to outperform your opponent. The above changes are there to try and resolve that contradiction by making the ability a powerful trading and sniping tool (Varus would be able to autoattack enemies from a larger distance than any other marksman), which can then be used to damage enemies after Varus is done trading. I removed the Grievous Wounds debuff, since I don't think it adds anything to the ability (it's potentially super-strong, but never really visible), and instead buffed the slow slightly, reduced its mana cost and added the infini-range bonus. While it would probably be a little tougher to deal damage with this ability, it would give Varus the possibility of dealing far more damage via long-distance Blight stacking and detonation.
Active:Varus flings out a tendril of corruption that infects the first enemy champion hit, temporarily rooting them.
Root Duration: 1.5 / 2 / 2.5
The corruption then spreads to more targets, firing secondary tendrils after a 1-second delay towards nearby uncorrupted champions, applying the same root. This effect can repeat indefinitely, though targets can only be corrupted once per Chain of Corruption.
Chain of Corruption is a linear colliding skill shot.
Chain of Corruption is a pretty awesome ability with a unique mechanic behind it, but it's also sort of trapped by its own functionality: it has massive reach, and so needs to give targets time to move away, but also needs to root the main target for long enough to not make the chaining mechanic weird (i.e. having the main target corrupt enemies as he's moving around), which is why it has such a freakishly long early root duration. I think it would be worth changing the targeting paradigm a little and reducing the duration needed for it to spread (it would spread through the front line faster, but wouldn't hit the back line as easily unless they're clumped next to their tanks), and I also staggered the root duration to be much more manageable early on, though much stronger at maximum rank, which would allow Varus's role as an initiator marksman to shine even more at a stage where everyone would be much more able to outmaneuver him.
What do you think of these changes? Do you think they'd improve Varus, and do they improve his core strengths? Would AD and AP Varus still both be viable with this kit?