For those of you who don't know already, Riot recently posted a dev blog outlining their classification of League's champions. This is a massive step forward in setting the grounds for discussion on what classes should do, how each champion fits into this system, how they stand out, what tradeoffs they make for one kind of power over another, etc. Personally, though, I don't entirely agree with the classes and subclasses they put out, for a few reasons:
- Unintuitiveness: The biggest issue I take with the system is that it tries a little too hard to avoid typical names and notions of classes, which have been ingrained in players' minds for years, and often reinforced by other games. Case in point: Controllers. This archetype is meant to group up "Enchanters" (i.e. casters like Soraka, Janna who directly assist allies) and "Disruptors" (i.e. utility mages, which they themselves named), but clearly, this is meant to be the Support archetype, repackaged under another name. Similarly, "Skirmishers" (i.e. light fighters) are placed under a "Slayer" archetype when until now they were always considered fighters.
- Misnomers: This gets more into nitpicking, but I feel some of the names and subclasses don't quite work: the word Skirmisher doesn't really describe light fighters well, for example, because the name implies they go in and out of combat when they usually stay in fights once they enter them. Excluding utility mages from classification and instead coming up with a not-quite-identical Disruptor subclass messes up a lot of champions: suddenly, champions like Karma, Morgana or Orianna, who are all considered to be easy examples of utility mages, suddenly become Disruptor-Battle-Enchanter hybrids or the like, simply because they don't really fit otherwise. Splitting tanks into Wardens and Vanguards only half-works because many "Vanguards" have very different goals and playstyles from each other (tanks like Nautilus and Leona like to lock down and focus single targets, whereas champions like Amumu and Malphite try to affect as many enemies as possible with their abilities).
Because of these, here's my take on the class system, with explanations:
Putting assassins at the top, I think they should be their own archetype. The core of an Assassin is that they're a mobile, bursty melee champion who specializes in killing squishy priority targets. They're the epitome of high risk, high reward, and expose themselves directly to the enemy as they try to take out their victims. While assassins currently tend to all do very similar things (which is a major problem with the entire class, and one of the reasons they're getting updated in the future), I feel there are some distinctions to be made: some assassins super-specialize in single-target burst, others get to chain kills through resets and AoE, and others have enough disruptive power through CC and utility that they get to contribute even when they're not killing people immediately.
This is what I think could cover assassins purely focused on single-target burst and retreat. Hunters tend to have extremely good backline access, whether it's through massive mobility or utility that lets them bypass enemy defenses (e.g. untargetability, stealth), and tend to go hard on a single target, blowing everything they've got as fast as they can before retreating after securing the kill.
What I think covers assassins who tend to be the best among their class at killing multiple targets, whether it's with cooldown resets that let them chain kills, large amounts of AoE damage, or both. Reapers tend to not be too target-discriminate and will look more for opportunities to get the ball rolling than for a specific target.
Might not be the right word (Saboteur could be an alternative), but the idea is that these are assassins with above-average crowd control and/or utility for their class. Rogues are still kill-focused, but tend to influence the enemy team through disruption first, and try to mess up their effectiveness even while not specifically going for a kill.
Riot gets this subtype mostly right, though I think this should include Skirmishers/light fighters (which I renamed to Striders, explained in the tab), for the following reasons: I think the fighter class, as a whole, encompasses DPS-focused melee champions who work well in prolonged fights due to their resilience, and I think resilience covers standard durability (i.e. health and resists) and situational defenses (e.g. shields, untargetability, negation of some kind).
- Core Strengths: Dueling potential, persistent damage, resilience.
- Core Weaknesses: Low reach in combat, generally need a "warm-up" time, vulnerable to kiting.
- Generally Win Against: Assassins, Tanks (a.k.a. melee opponents).
- Generally Lose Against: Mages, Marksmen (a.k.a. ranged opponents).
- Examples: Gangplank, Olaf.
Juggernauts are mostly well-explained in the original blog post: they're the hyper-durable heavy weapon that takes effort to bring to the middle of a fight, but once they're there, you absolutely do not want to be in their line of fire.
Riot frames Divers as the less durable of their two Fighter subclasses, but let's be honest, Divers are pretty tanky, and generally lack hard strengths and weaknesses (a core issue with the class, and the main reason they're getting a class update in the future). If they had to be resumed to a few key features, Divers are generally fighters who specialize in launching themselves into fights and pummeling single targets until they die.
I think "Striders" is a better fit for light fighters than "Skirmishers", since I feel it does a better job of evoking the feeling of weapon mastery (all light fighters depend on an iconic and extremely powerful weapon, usually a blade of some kind) and moving swiftly from kill to kill. Striders focus purely on damage, and rely on kit-based defenses, rather than natural tankiness, to keep going in battle. Since these champions are DPS-focused and tend to be comfortable killing enemy after enemy, instead of retreating, I feel they fall under the Fighter archetype.
I think we all have a pretty clear picture of what mages are and what they do, and so does Riot. Mages are ranged, ability-dependent damage-dealers who specialize in controlling and killing enemies from a distance. Mages are usually all about their abilities, and are generally just vessels for very powerful, separate instances of damage and crowd control. I could/should technically put utility mages here too, since they're usually first recognized as mages, but since they're usually perfectly in between the mage and support roles, they can also fit under Support (I also get to keep my three-subclasses-per-archetype standard :3 ).
Basically, Artillery Mages, and the name might not be the best (Bombards were massive medieval cannons, though, so the name could fit). These are mages who like to kill their enemies from really far away, usually well past vision range.
I.e. Battle Mages. Like to fight in close quarters, and tend to engage in protracted combat by dealing a lot of DPS and absorbing incoming damage. Again, the name might not be the best, though I picked "Warlocks" since most warlock-type classes in games tend to have a focus on damage over time and self-sustain (e.g. the Warlock class in World of Warcraft) or even heavier armor, and are generally the mage subtype that gets the closest to the thick of combat.
A.k.a. Burst Mages, champions who specialize in killing specific targets extremely quickly, usually in a single ability combo. I picked "Sorcerers" here because sorcerers in games are usually extremely powerful and offensively-oriented magic users, who kill enemies with a few highly potent spells (e.g. Sorcerers in Dungeons & Dragons).
We all know the Marksman class well. Marksmen are ranged, autoattack-heavy champions who mainly act as constant damage pumps, both in and out of fights. Rito hasn't really separated the class into subtypes, which is probably reason in itself to warrant another marksman update in the future, and I think the core issue here is, as they mentioned, that marksmen tend to do very similar things (and, often, too many of them at a time, which is why they're so important). A usual means of distinction is caster versus autoattack marksmen, though I feel that's more a question of inputs (i.e. "how do I make my champion work?") than one of outputs ("what does my champion bring to the table?"). If I had to hazard a separation, I'd say one subtype of marksmen specializes in ranged dueling, another specializes in AoE and team-wide damage, and another specializes in utility and crowd control.
Basically, duelist marksmen, and here I think Skirmisher is the right term, because these marksmen tend to enter fights just to focus on a single target before exiting and returning again when they're able, relying on their mobility for critical repositioning and on timed windows of power to kill people efficiently.
What's meant to describe teamfight/AoE marksmen (the name might not be the best, though). I feel there's a strong subset of marksmen who have access to really strong AoE, persistent damage steroids or otherwise target-indiscriminate forms of damage that let them specialize in killing lots of targets in quick succession.
Commanders are meant to describe utility/CC marksmen, who tend to specialize in power other than raw damage against other champions, so crowd control, utility, objective control and pushing power.
Let's face it, calling a support any other name isn't really going to change what they do or how they function, which is to support their teammates. Supports are generally characterized with abilities explicitly designed to benefit allies in some way, and work to control fights by determining who lives and who dies by saving teammates and setting up kills.
Another name for Enchanters, i.e. caster supports, usually ranged champions with abilities heavily focused on allies. I kind of take issue with the name "Enchanter" because it presumes that these supports' most valued contribution is to directly empower allies, when they're usually picked for their ability to save teammates first and foremost. Many of these supports also don't have any major means of directly empowering allies besides shields or healing, which is why I think Cleric would be a more appropriate term (clerics focus on protective and healing magic).
What I think should cover support-fighter hybrids (as opposed to support-tank hybrids, which I feel are separate). Harbingers tend to be durable short-ranged champions who rush into combat while assisting allies, and tend to work well in duos where they set up kills and protect their partner in the heat of combat. I chose the term "Harbinger" here because they usually bring impending doom, usually by setting up kills for their partner.
Utility mages with a shorter name (sages tend to have mystical power while also often resorting less to violence, which may or may not be what I'm trying to describe here). Since these are halfway between mages and supports usually, I think it's about as fitting to put them here as under Mages (though players usually think of these champions as mages first, even in the cases of utility mages that have migrated almost completely to bot lane). From a mage perspective, they're mages who trade off damage for extra utility or control, and from a support perspective, they're ranged supports who trade off ally-oriented synergy for additional magic damage.
I feel Riot could've elaborated more on tanks, particularly since there's a ton of confusion around what separates tanks from fighters: as Rito mentioned, tanks are durable, melee champions who don't explicitly look to kill people, but who try to get enemies to damage them one way or another, as opposed to fighters, who are just as powerful if nobody focuses them at all. The true power of tanks lies in their ability to draw attention to themselves, and I also feel the dev blog misses an important subclass, disruptor tanks, even as it mentions tanks' disruptive potential.
Riot gets it right here, Wardens are defensive tanks who specialize in peeling for allies and protecting them, using their bodies to mitigate damage intended for their teammates and redirect it towards themselves instead. Wardens also include tank supports, but I feel it's more appropriate to list the subclass here because most wardens tend to be able to do decently as solo laners. From a tank perspective, Wardens sacrifice offensive capabilities in favor of extra peel and defense, and from a support perspective, Wardens sacrifice reach for better durability.
What's meant to represent lockdown tanks, i.e. tanks with powerful hard crowd control they get to apply near-constantly to single targets. Their goal is usually to pick the most threatening member of the enemy team and prevent them from functioning completely until someone else intervenes.
The missing tank subclass. I think there's a third subclass of tanks who, like Jailors, are offensively-oriented and like to output a lot of crowd control, but instead of focusing specific targets, Disruptors like to catch as many targets as once with their abilities, and specialize in AoE disruption.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you like the above classification? What issues do you think it has?