This is a tentative rework for Vladimir, the Crimson Reaper. Though he's been a fairly quiet top laner for a while now, and has enjoyed decent play without causing any egregious issues, he's one of the worst examples of low decision-making on champion kits: his Q, Transfusion, is cited even by Rioters as an ability that carries too little choice in its usage, his E has the same issues of low interactivity as Soraka's old Starcall, and his passive gives him free stats without contributing at all to gameplay. On top of this, he has numerous issues with his sustain: while his W is a great ability overall, his E's health cost quickly becomes irrelevant, and he scales so hard with spell vamp that it's impossible to buff the mechanic, for fear of over-buffing him and others like him (Mordekaiser, for example). He heals from multiple sources, and his sustain doesn't carry any interesting gameplay. Overall, there's a lot to him that could just be made a lot more interesting.
Despite this, however, Vladimir has a lot of awesome features: his troll pool is always a high point, even if you're a Jinx and he just dodged your ult, and his own ultimate makes him an amazing anti-group champion, able to punish the enemy team hard for staying clumped together. He has a unique niche, and if it weren't for the low overall interactivity of his kit he'd get to be a lot stronger at what he already does pretty well. The main goal of this rework is to make his abilities more interactive, and to turn his sustain and health costs into a proper system that would give both Vlad and his opponent tons more opportunities to outplay each other.
Touch of the Hemomancer
Enemies near Vladimir display a Blood Bank that stores 100% of the damage they receive from his abilities, capping at 30% of their maximum health. Vladimir'sbasic attacks empty his target's Blood Bank if it stored any damage, dealing them bonus magic damage and healing him based on how full it is.
Against minions and monsters, Touch of the Hemomancer can apply a maximum of 「 9 - 50 」「 9 - 50 (based on level) (8 + 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 at each level) 」(+ 10% AP) bonus magic damage and 「 2.7 - 15 」「 2.7 - 15 (based on level) (2.4 + 0.3 / 0.6 / 0.9 / 1.2 at each level) 」(+ 3% bonus health) healing.
Champions have their Blood Bank separated into thirds: Tainted (0 - 33%) blood contributes triple the normal damage and healing, Infected (33 - 66%) blood contributes six times the amount, and Corrupted (66 - 100%) blood contributes twelve times the baseline, providing a maximum of 「 63 - 350 」「 63 - 350 (based on level) (56 + 7 / 14 / 21 / 28 at each level) 」(+ 70% AP) bonus magic damage and 「 18.9 - 105 」「 18.9 - 105 (based on level) (16.8 + 2.1 / 4.2 / 6.3 / 8.4 at each level) 」(+ 21% bonus health) healing.
The Blood Bank empties automatically if the target takes no damage from Vladimir's abilities for 10 seconds.
Spell shields will not block the bonus magic damage or the healing.
Vladimir's sustain is currently all over the place: his Q heals, his W heals and his E amplifies healing, but there's no real gameplay to this system. He has health costs, but aside from the cost on his W, they're ineffective when it comes to gating his sustain. Additionally, his passive is a big case of power without gameplay: his stats give him more stats, and the fact that he becomes tankier as he builds damage just makes him harder to stop once he gets ahead.
To remedy this, I think Vlad needs to have his underlying sustain minigame overhauled: his abilities should have proper, meaningful health costs, and his sustain should balance power and reliability. That's why the above blood meter's rewards increase non-linearly: the longer you hold out when dueling an enemy champion, the greater the potential payoff in damage and self-healing. As I'm making Vladimir's abilities a lot less reliable, it also means he has to decide between using autoattacks to harass enemies after a successful spellcast for a small amount of guaranteed damage and sustain, or waiting for another spell to become available and give him a chance to increase his gains. Because of this, I also think it would be necessary to cap the passive on minions, as he'd otherwise get some pretty abusive healing in lane (minion kills are low-risk, and so shouldn't incur high rewards). The end result is that Vlad still has on-demand sustain, and can even heal himself to crazier amounts than now, especially against groups of champions (that's where he should shine the most), but in order to make the most of his self-healing he needs to commit to fights.
In order to accomodate this new system, I changed a couple of Vlad's base stats: he gains more health per level (which also factors into a slight level 1 increase as well) to make for the loss of some of his free health, but he also has bottom-tier health regen in order to accomodate his new sustain (the healing he gets from minions effectively works as free regen). While Vlad would still scale well with spell vamp (though not abusively, whether it be in this system or an overhaul I proposed), in order to scale best with his passive sustain he'd have to itemize for tankiness, which would still be achievable with items like Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Liandry's Torment.
COST: 5% current health
COOLDOWN: 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 / 3
Active:Vladimir fires a blood spike in the target direction, rooting all enemies it passes through for 0.5 seconds and dealing them magic damage.
This is still Vladimir's bread-and-butter damage ability, though I moved a bit of its power around: it's a lot less reliable, since it can now miss, costs health instead of healing for free, and deals a bit less damage, but in exchange it has an even lower cooldown at all ranks, and provides a small amount of crowd control. While the root would come in handy when kiting melee champions, its primary purpose is to interact with his new E (which you should check, since it works very differently now): since his E is also now a skillshot, and one that explodes into an AoE, a root on his Q would give him the option to immobilize his target for near-guaranteed damage, or use with his E directly Unreal Tournament Shock Rifle-style, and deal massive AoE damage and a fair bit of crowd control.
While the root duration may seem insignificant, I think it would let Vlad secure an opportunity for a lot of different plays: for instance, it could help him hold down multiple targets for a guaranteed Hemoplague, or pin attackers down before escaping with his Sanguine Pool. I don't think the root needs to last too long, as crowd control isn't meant to be Vlad's forte, and he's deliberately short-ranged so that combat with melee champions should be high-risk for him at all times.
Overall, though, the main target here is the low decision-making and over-reliability of Vlad's current Q: despite his poor early game, he can output guaranteed damage and heal himself for free at all times. The point-and-click nature of the spell means there's no real outplay potential, which is especially bad for melee champions in top lane, and the lack of any meaningful cost means he can use this whenever it's off cooldown and always do well. By giving the ability a real cost (5% current health every 7 to 3 seconds is a pretty big drain) and making it less reliable (though still powerful, especially against melee champions), Vlad could be allowed to have much better rewards when he succeeds in damaging his target.
COST: 20% current health
COOLDOWN: 26 / 23 / 20 / 17 / 14
Active:Vladimir sinks into a pool of blood, becoming untargetable for 2 seconds and gaining 50% bonus movement speed that decays over the duration. Enemies who stand upon the pool are dealt magic damage every half second.
「 Magic Damage Per Half Second: 20 / 35 / 50 / 65 / 80 (+ 5% of bonus health) 」「 Total Magic Damage: 80 / 140 / 200 / 260 / 320 (+ 20% of bonus health) 」
Sanguine Pool is a brilliant ability, and I don't think it needs any core gameplay changes. Its heavy cost and cooldown means using it is always a big decision, and the untargetability it provides makes for awesome clutch dodges and escapes. The changes I made are adjustments, mostly: I increased the base damage ramp-up and bonus health scaling because Vlad no longer converts AP into health, and I removed the slow because I want to move Vlad's CC to his Q. The slow on his pool does give him some sticking power, but also tends to create either-or situations where catching an enemy in the pool makes them even more likely to stay for a bit longer, but failing to do so means they're very unlikely to ever get caught. In exchange, though, I took his movement speed bonus (yes, he gets a movement speed bonus) and buffed both its strength and its duration. Though he doesn't get to CC enemies in his troll pool, he should still be able to pull off great escapes and clutch repositioning, perhaps even more so than now.
RANGE:700 / 175
COST: 5% current health
COOLDOWN: 5 / 4.5 / 4 / 3.5 / 3
Active:Vladimir fires an orb of blood in a line that enters the first enemy it hits and explodes after a 0.5-second delay, dealing magic damage to all nearby enemies.
As with Transfusion, Tides of Blood currently carries little gameplay, with its application being a simple yes/no case based on your target's proximity. I wanted to keep its AoE power and short cooldown, but also wanted it to have a lot more interactivity, so I decided to change it to a skillshot. In exchange for this huge loss in reliability, and the healing increase this gave him, I gave this ability a bit more range, an even shorter cooldown and, above all, an extra combo with his Q that would make both abilities much more versatile. I think the Shock Rifle from Unreal Tournament has a great combo (fire your primary attack, a super-quick bolt, into your secondary attack, a slow-moving orb, to create a massive explosion), and I think this would be an appropriate way to implement it, considering Vladimir is the AoE anti-group mage. That's also why I reduced his E's cooldown to 3 seconds at rank 5, so that it would always be up at the same time as his Q.
Another change here is to the ability's health cost: it scales more smoothly, but scales way after it's been ranked up. What this means is that it's valid to level this up first (you'd get long-ranged damage in a large AoE as opposed to Blood Spike's more restrictive area of effect and root, though the latter has slightly higher damage), but also that spamming this in combat would never be trivial, even in the late game. Considering Vlad's ult requires him to spam lots of abilities within a very short time, I think the gate on his main damaging abilities shouldn't be cooldowns, but rather a proper health cost.
RANGE:700 / 175
COOLDOWN: 150 / 135 / 120
Active:Vladimir infects all enemies in the target area with a virulent plague that increases the damage they take. This bonus damage contributes to the victims' Blood Bank.
Damage Amplification: 10 / 15 / 20%
At the end of the duration, Touch of the Hemomancer activates on all plagued targets, with the damage benefiting from the amplification.
As with Sanguine Pool, Hemoplague's core gameplay is really good, and doesn't need changing, even though it looks like I reworked the ability. I hooked up the ult's damage to his passive, as I think it would make sense for the amplified damage to build towards it and detonate it for massive additional damage, on top of potentially ludicrous healing (he could heal from 0 to practically 100 upon landing a successful ult against a full enemy team). Because this ult is Vlad's primary contribution to his team, I think it would also make sense for his allies, both champions and minions, to contribute to his passive while Hemoplague's in effect, which would facilitate its potential for massive damage and self-healing in teamfights.
While a 20% damage increase at rank 3 looks humongous compared to the ult's current constant 12% amp (and it likely might be a bit too much), the main reason I increased the scaling is because, aside from lowering the cooldown, I don't think there's really any way to make this ability improve with rank. While the amp was made constant at a time when Vlad had too much free damage, here I think it deserves to scale, since it represents Vlad's teamfighting power and should let him bring increasingly greater contributions to fights. While this version of Hemoplague can deal as much damage as its current iteration, that damage is no longer guaranteed (it's no longer a massive delayed nuke unless you heavily commit to it, which you should be doing anyways). A change like this, combined with the above reductions to Vlad's cooldowns and adjustments to his damage and sustain, could make him an AP hypercarry, but I think he'd deserve to scale super-well, as the above kit would still give him a tough laning phase on top of lots more unreliability.
What do you think? I know Vlad hasn't really been in the spotlight for a long time, but do you think he could use an update? Do you think these changes fit Vlad, or would you take him in another direction (or keep him as is)?