Greetings, this is dumnem, also known as Theorchero, but you can call me Theo. I'm an experienced Tarkov player and I'm writing this guide to try and assist new Tarkov players learn the game, because it has one hell of a learning curve. We'll be going over a lot of different aspects of this guide, and it is going to be huge. Feel free to digest this in parts. Additionally, this is a work in progress. I will write as much as I can in one Reddit post, but subsequent parts will be in additional comments. Google Docs Version (Note: Link is placeholder atm) Disclaimer: I haven't played Tarkov regularly in a couple months. It's possible there has been extensive changes that I have not kept up with. If there is anything I have gotten wrong or may have omitted, please let me know. This is Primarily directed towards Tarkov Novices. It hopefully includes everything you need to know to be able to go into a Raid equipped for success and to successfully extract with gear. Want to play with friends? Want to have fun and learn Tarkov? Check out my discord here.
Escape from Tarkov is a tactical, realistic, FPS with MMO elements developed by Battlestate Games. It is currently in closed Beta. The game features several maps in which your primary character, your PMC, goes into Raids in order to find and salvage loot and useful equipment to survive and thrive in Tarkov. Death is very punishing in Tarkov. If you die you lose everything you had on you when you die (with the exception of what's inside your Container and your melee weapon) including any equipment you brought with you or what you found inside the Raid. Enemies can be players (PMCs) or 'Scavs' (Scavengers) that are either controlled by AI or by players. Unlike many shooters, AI enemies in Tarkov are deadly - they can and will kill you on sight. It features beautiful and immersive environments, intricate and in-depth weapon modification system, a complex health system, attention to detail with loot placement, and options for combat. Do you want to play slow and stealthy, to avoid fights, or set up a deadly ambush on an unwary foe? Or do you prefer to raw combat, where only your quick wit, placements of shots, and tenaciousness determines who gets out alive? It's your Tarkov. You make the rules.
Tarkov Resources - Useful links
I take no credit or responsibility for any of the content in these links. To the best of my knowledge, these are updated consistently and are accurate, but user beware.
Absolutely fantastic resource. You can visit them here. It is a massive collection of everything that we players have been able to find. They contain trades, user-created maps, lists of ammo, parts, weapons, loot, etc. If it's in the game, it's on the Wiki, somewhere. I highly recommend opening the wiki page for the Map that you plan on raiding in. Factory Customs Woods Shoreline Interchange The Lab ('Labs')
Map Keys and You
Huge collection of all the keys in the game. These are also on the wiki, but this page has them all on one page, and tries to inform the user if the key is worth keeping or using. Check it out here. This section is open to revision. Mention me in a thread (or in the comments below) about a resource and I'll see about adding it here.
Courtesy of Veritas (Send me his reddit username?), It's located here. (Open in new tab.) Contains: Detailed information about: Ammunition, Health, Firearms, Body Armor, Helmets, Rigs & Backpacks, Labs & Quest keys.
Tarkov features several maps - ranging from wide, beautiful vistas to ruined factory districts, to an abandoned laboratory where illegal experiments were being conducted. It is important to learn the maps you intend to play. In order to keep your gear, you must 'extract' at one of your designated exfiltration points. Not all exfils will be active every game, and some are conditional.
To see what extracts are available to you, double tap 'O' to show raid time and your exfils. If it has a ???? it might not be open.
You can load Raids in an OFFLINE status, which allows you to explore the map or practice against AI without losing gear. You do not keep any EXP or gear you find in the OFFLINE Raid, though. To access OFFLINE Raids, head into a Raid normally until you see this screen. Simply check 'Enable OFFLINE mode for this Raid' and you're good to go! You even have a choice on whether or not to add AI. You can also control how many AI enemies spawn, fewer than normal or a great deal more! You can even make Scavs fight each other. (Framerates beware.)
Gate 3 Extract A small, fast-paced map that was primarily created for PvP. Scavs spawn in all the time. Very close quarters, shotguns and SMGs tend to dominate here. PMCs can only access one Exit (Gate 3) without the Factory Exit Key. Good place to go if you need PMC kills as action is pretty much guaranteed. It is recommend NOT to bring in a lot of gear to Factory until you are experienced.
Extract map A fairly large map that was recently expanded. Essentially, players spawn either on 'warehouse' or 'boiler (stacks)' side. If you see a large red warehouse near you (Customs Warehouse), then you spawned on the warehouse side. If you don't, you likely spawned near Boiler side. The location for most quests in the game. Finding geared players here is very easy, so if you are low level attempting to complete early quests (like The Bronze Pocketwatch) it's recommend to AFK in the raid for 20 mins or so, as most players will have moved out of spawns and hit the 'hot' areas already, so it's less likely to be contested, so you may grab your quest item(s) and proceed immediately to Exfil. Contains a Scav Boss, which is a group of scavs with above-average to high-tier gear that has a chance to spawn in Dorms or Gas Station.
Woods Map with Exfil A very large map that is mostly just a large forest, with the occasional bunker, and the Lumber Mill in the center. The Lumber Mill is the primary point of interest, as it contains a couple quest locations and is the primary location to farm Scavs, as Scavs killed on woods is the only known location to find the Arsenal Key, which is the rarest and most valuable key in the game at the moment. Since the map is so large and open, sniper rifles with scopes usually reign king here. You will see a lot of players with Mosin rifles as they are a cheap way to train the Sniper skill (for a quest later on) and are capable of killing geared players and scavs alike. Overall, not usually very populated. An early quest from Prapor sends you here to kill a number of Scavs. A good map to learn the game, as although the loot is not fantastic, you can get experience with how the game runs and operates while fighting AI and possibly getting lucky with a key find off a scav.
Shoreline Map, with Loot, Exfil, etc A very large map, notorious for its FPS hit. Generally speaking, one of the better maps for loot. The primary point of interest is the Resort, but scavs spawn there, and is primarily occupied by hatchlings (players only with hatchet, ie melee weapon) and geared players. Resort has great loot, but requires keys to access most of it. A great map to learn though from new players as the outskirts still contains plenty of loot and combat opportunities with AI scavs. You can hit Villa, Scav Island, Weather station, Docks, etc and come out with a backpack full of valuable gear fairly easily. Location of many quests, including a large quest chain where players are required to kill many, many, scavs on Shoreline.
Detailed map Great, great loot area, but very complex map. Doesn't run very well on old computers. Features a mostly-binary exfil system like Shoreline, but.. kinda worse. Exfil camping is fairly common on this map. Huge map with multiple floors and many many different stores. Communication with teammates is a challenge on this map, but the map is also fantastically detailed. This map features a lot of loot that depends on the kind of store you're in. It's a great place to farm rare barter materials which are valuable to sell on the Flea market or to use for quests. An early quest (from Ragman) sends you here to kill a large amount of Scavs. I'd recommend getting Ragman to level 2 and accepting his quest before going to Interchange, as getting this quest done can take a while as it is and you want all scav kills to count towards progress.
Here's a map. This is a very complex map, so I highly recommend you read the Wiki article and look at all the maps to get an idea of what it's like.
INSURANCE DOES NOT WORK ON THIS MAP.
If you purchase insurance and lose your items on this map, doesn't matter from whom, you will not get them back.
LABS IS NOT LIKE OTHER MAPS. READ THIS SECTION CAREFULLY.
Labs is by far the most lucrative map to play at the moment. You can easily earn several million roubles per hour by killing Raiders (Juiced-up scavs that are ONLY on Labs), looting their equipment, then running to one of the many, many extracts. Extract camping is hard to pull off and pretty much not viable on Labs.
DISCLAIMER: Labs, like much of Tarkov, is under constant development, so issues may be fixed or created without warning. Always check patch notes!
Raiders are the avatars of Death in Tarkov, clad in USEC and BEAR hats, high-end armor, and plenty of firepower to boot. Do not fight Raiders directly. They WILL kill you. Raiders are absolutely broken this patch, and are getting fixed next patch to help fix their exploits of both poor AI and how they're a little.. insane. At the moment, the only way to kill raiders is to camp a hallway, room, or door, and attract the scavs to you, headshotting them the moment they enter before they have a chance to lock onto you. Raiders can see you through and shoot you through surfaces you cannot. This means you have to be very careful when engaging them. They are also often equipped with very high-end ammo, meaning that most faceshields (even Killa helmets) can be useless vs a Scav who spawned with 'big boy' ammo, 7N39. They can shoot your head if it's even slightly visible. They can prone instantly, as they have no ping. If they drop without slumping over, get to cover immediately. Typically, strategies to farm Labs (barring rushing certain rooms for static loot) involve rushing a camp-spot and baiting raiders to your location and taking them out quickly, efficiently, and with no mercy. There are many locations to camp, and since there's so many exfiltrations, it's ultimately up to personal preference. Raiders often spawn with armor (often Troopers and Gen4s) a rig (Sniper or Ana Alpha rig, usually) and a variety helmets and weapons. Always check the ammo the raiders spawn with. If they spawn with ANYTHING other than PS (and 12 gauge) LOOT IT! You can right click their magazine and hit 'unload ammo' to get the ammo without having to grab the mags, which saves space. BS, BT, BP, 7N39, etc can be worth several hundred roubles a round on the market. They're extremely valuable. Additionally, Raiders spawn IFAKS, Morphine, and grenades (F-1 & Flashbangs (Zarya)) with regularity. They can also spawn with random consumables and large clumps of cash in their pockets as well. They can spawn several backpacks, most of them being rather large, if relatively uncommon. Additionally, Raiders can have American names, breach doors, and mumble as if they are a USEC PMC because some of the Raiders are actually USECs. You will learn with experience what the Scavs will or will not say.
Experience Farming on Labs
Labs is perhaps the best place to farm experience on the current patch. Killing a Raider with a headshot awards 1100 Experience. This does not include any looting, inspection (searching bodies), examine, streak, or other experience. Killing a large sequence of Raiders gives additional bonus experience in the form of Streak rewards, usually 100 bonus exp per additional kill. Surviving the raid multiplies all of these sources of experience by 1.5x
Changes coming to Labs
Disclaimer: I am not a BSG developer or employee. This is what I have seen on this subreddit and heard elsewhere. Some might be purely rumor, but other points are confirmed by Nikita. Labs is currently undergoing an overhaul. At the moment, you require consumable Keycards to enter Labs, which may be purchased from Therapist or bartered Mechanic in exchange for 1 Bitcoin starting at Loyalty Level II. They can also be found in drawers and jackets. Scavs can drop permanent keycards that replace most keys used in the previous iteration of labs. The full extent of the changes coming is not known. Remember, you can load a map in OFFLINE mode to practice against bots or to learn the map without fear of losing gear.
Tarkov's Health System
Tarkov Wiki Article Tarkov has a very advanced health system, and while it might seem overwhelming at first, you'll get the hang of it rather quickly. It features a very wide variety of effects and injury, including hydration, energy, blood pressure, blood loss, fractures, contusion, intoxication, exhaustion, tremors and more. Not all of the Health System is implemented yet. Expect changes! Your character (PMC, or otherwise) has a combined Health of 435. Each of his limbs have separate health. Taking damage to a limb that reduces it to 0 'blacks' that limb. Blacked limbs are a problem. They greatly impair the activities your PMC performs, and taking damage in a blacked limb amplifies the damage by a multiplier and spreads that damage among your other non-black limbs equally. You cannot heal a blacked limb. Notes:Bloodloss applies damage to the affected limb and can be spread like other damage to a blacked limb. Treat immediately. Also causes significant dehydration! Losing a limb applies additional effects. Fractures also apply these effects but not the damage amplification (Except for damage if running on fractured leg.) Dehydration is what happens when your Hydration level reaches 0. You can view your Hydration level in your gear page, at the bottom left. Becoming dehydrated is extremely bad. You take constant damage. Taking dehydration damage can kill you if you have a black chest or head. Head/Chest: Bullet damage resulting in losing your head or chest is instant death. Note: Bloodloss resulting in your Head/Chest being black does not result in death, but any damage to them beyond that point will! A back chest will causes you to cough (much like your stomach!) Painkillers: Prevents coughing that comes from your chest. Doesn't help otherwise. Stomach: Massively increased rate of dehydration and energy loss. You must find liquids or exit the Raid soon. Additionally, your PMC will cough sputter loudly, attracting attention. Painkillers: Significantly reduces the frequency and volume of the coughs. Arms: Makes activities like searching, reloading, etc, take additional time, as well as adding a sway, reducing accuracy. Arms have a .7x damage multiplier. Painkillers: Reduces sway, removes debuff Pain. Legs: Blacked legs cause your PMC to stumble and be unable to run. Blacked legs have a 1x damage multiplier. Painkillers: Allows you to walk at full speed and to run. WARNING: Running while your legs are blacked or fractured WILL DAMAGE YOU.
Tarkov features many health items - 'Aid' items, which can be used to restore your characters health and to fix ailments or injuries he receives as the result of combat or mishaps. The two most important health conditions to consider are bloodloss and fractures, which have both been covered above. Some food items may have ancillary effects, such as losing hydration. Since in the current patch the only ailments to worry about are bleeding and fractures, it changes which health items are most necessary. We'll go over them below.
Medical Items on Wiki AI-2 medkit The newb's medical kit. You receive several of these when you start Tarkov - they'll already be in your stash. Available from Level I Therapist, they are cheap and effective way of healing early in the game. They will not stop bloodloss. Because of this, you also need to bring bandages or a higher-grade medical kit. Affectionately called 'little cheeses' by the Tarkov community. Using it takes 2 seconds, and because of how cheap it is, it's often brought in by higher level players to supplement their healing without draining their main kit (which is capable of healing bloodloss or sometimes fractures). Due to its short use time, it's often very useful during combat as you can take cover and quickly recover damage taken to a vital limb. Bandages The newb's bloodloss solution. Available from Therapist at Level I. A better version, the Army Bandage is available at Level II, after a quest. Mostly obsolete after unlocking the Car Medical kit. Activating takes 4 seconds, and removes bloodloss to one limb. Splint The newb's solution to fractures. Cheap, takes five seconds to use, and takes up 1 slot. Not generally recommended to take because fractures effects can be greatly mitigated with the use of Painkillers. Available from Therapist at Level I, no quest needed. Car Medical Kit The newb's first real medical solution. Available LL1 as a barter (2 Duct Tape) and available for Roubles after completing Therapist's second quest. Has a larger health pool than AI-2's (220, vs AI-2's 100), and removes bloodloss. Takes up a 1x2 slot, so requires to be placed in a tactical rig in order to be used effectively. Cheap and fairly efficient, takes a standard 4 seconds to use. Rendered effectively obsolete when the Salewa is unlocked. Salewa Good medkit for use in mid and end-game. Contains 400 total health and can remove bloodloss. Relatively expensive at 13k roubles per kit, though. Same size as the Car medical kit, so requires a tactical rig to use effectively. Because Tarkov does not currently have effects like Toxication in the game at the moment, this kit is favored by most players who go into a raid with at least a moderate level of gear. Unlocked at Therapist Level II after completing a level 10 Prapor quest, Postman Pat Part II. IFAK Fantastic medical kit, and is the one preferred by most players. Features 300 health and the ability to remove bloodloss and a host of other negative effects that are not yet implemented into the game. It does not, however, remove fractures. Taking up only a single slot, it is favored by players in all stages of gear, and it is recommend to carry one in your Secure Container in case of emergencies. Is available at Therapist Level II for a barter (Sugar + Sodium), and may be purchased for Roubles at Level III after completing Healthcare Privacy, Part I. It is a fairly expensive kit, but due to its durability, its small size, and ability to remove bloodloss, it is a very common medical item used by players of all levels. Grizzly The 'big daddy' medical kit, boasting an impressive total health resource of 1800. It is also a very large kit, taking up 4 slots (2x2) - in order to be able to use this quickly, it would require specialized tactical rigs that feature a 2x2 slot. It removes all negative effects (some costing HP resource), including fractures. Used by highly-geared players who intend on staying in raids for an extended period of time, or by players with additional Secure Container space available in case of emergencies. It is available for barter at Therapist Level II, and purchase at Therapist Level 4.
Using any of these items results in your character being 'On Painkillers' which allows you to sprint on fractured and blacked legs, as well as reducing effects of fractures and blacked limbs, and removing the debuff Pain. Essentially, the only difference between most of these items are the speed of use, price, availability, and duration of the effect. Analgin Painkillers The holy grail of pain medication. With the recent changes, "Painkillers" now have 4 total uses, not 1. The total duration is now greater than Morphine and less risk of waste. Takes a short time to use, and is available from Therapist Level 1 for both barter and Roubles. Morphine Quick application of painkillers. Favored by some highly geared players as it has greater usability in combat then it's typical counterpart, Painkillers. Has a longer duration, but only one use. Is required for a fairly early Therapist (and a late Peacekeeper) Quest, so it is recommend to hoard 10 of them, then sell the rest unless you intend on using them. They are worth a good amount to Therapist and take up little space so they are a valuable loot item. Available from Therapist for Roubles at Level 4, after completing Healthcare Privacy, Part 3. Augmentin Basically a cheaper Morphine. One use, 260s. Not recommended over Painkillers due to its cost. No current barter for this item, so usually it's just a fairly expensive, small loot item to sell to Therapist when found. Ibuprofen Powerful painkiller. Lasts 600 seconds and has 12 uses. However, it is not recommended to use it as a Painkiller. It is very valuable because it cannot be purchased from Dealers, it must be found, and it is a barter component to late-game containers, the Keytool and THICC Items Case. Vaseline Powerful medical item. Cannot be purchased from dealers. Has 10 uses. Removes Pain. Golden Star Balm Fairly useful medical item. It can remove Pain and Contusion (not a big deal of a debuff, goes away on its own shortly) and provides a small bonus to hydration and energy. However, because Hydration is usually easy to restore (Liquids are easy to find as 'common' or 'trash' tier loot), and Energy at the moment can't run to 0 within current Raid timers, it is Recommended to just to sell to Therapist as a Loot item.
Medical Injectors are not covered here. Essentially, they are powerful but niche items with strong side effects. Most recommended use is to store them in your Secure Container and sell them either on the Flea Market or to Therapist for roubles.
To be able to Hotkey a medicine item, they must be in a tactical rig or your pockets.
Tarkov's Quest, Progression, and Experience Systems
Tarkov features a very immersive progression system where your main character (PMC) is going into raids to acquire loot - goods that can be sold for a profit to other players, to Dealers (NPC Merchants), or used to fulfill quest requirements in order to complete them and receive your rewards. Additionally, your main character will increase their prowess in a number of skills, which increases everything from how much they can run, increases the ease of which recoil can be controlled, and even how far you can throw grenades. These are referred to 'soft skills.' Additionally, your PMC is assigned a Level. You can increase your Level by earning Experience - which is rewarded by performing numerous tasks throughout the Raid, completing quests, examining new items, killing other players and Scavs, etc. Successfully extracting from a raid will increase the experience you earn from the raid via a multiplier. Increasing your PMC's level will allow you to complete additional quests, which increases your Reputation with certain Dealers (and may reduce your Reputation with others) allowing you access to better equipment to purchase. Additionally, completing quests will often reward you with large sums of currency and sometimes equipment, and certain quests unlock items for purchase from that dealer. A Dealer's arsenal of available weapons, ammo, mods, medication, containers, and etc to purchase by you is determined by their Loyalty Level - or LL, for short. Certain Dealers specialize in different kinds of equipment, and they will pay different rates or straight up not buy particular items. In a future release, eventually Dealers will offer discounts to the player based off their Loyalty Level. Article on Dealers
Increasing Loyalty Level
Increasing your Trader's loyalty level is extremely important to your progression and overall success in Tarkov. Being able to purchase better Ammo and Equipment is essential to being able to fight other players and secure their loot for your own. Owning Prepare for Escape and Edge of Darkness (EoD) editions of Escape from Tarkov will increase your starting Reputations with Traders. It is unclear if this change will stay after the game's full release. Typically though, you need three things to increase your Trader's level.
This is accomplished via quests. Completing a quest will reward you with an increase in the quest givers' reputation, sometimes an increase in another trader's reputation, and sometimes will reduce the Reputation of another trader. Not all Traders need a certain level of Reputation to increase their loyalty Level to II. Peacekeeper and Ragman, for example, just need you to spend a certain amount of money with them.
Character Level and Experience Gain
The primary gate behind your trade level (and thus your overall economy and gear leverage) is your Character Level. You increase this by gaining Experience. The easiest way to gain experience is to Loot high value areas, fight players, and kill scavs while completing quests. Generally speaking, your level will advance as you play the game at a moderate pace. One way to farm experience though is to avoid looting all-together and just focus on killing a large number of scavs from a safe distance, after learning where they tend to spawn on any given map. This patch however, labs is fantastic for experience gain. (See above.) Another strategy (albeit one that takes longer) is to loot everything, then drop what you don't want. You gain experience for finding items and picking them up, so picking them up to drop them is technically the best way to gain the most exp per kill. You can receive additional bonuses to Experience earned. Successfully extracting will increase your experience by a multiplier, typically 1.5x the experience gained during the raid, escaping also rewards a 300 exp Escape bonus which is added to your total before the multiplier is applied. You can also receive experience bonuses for Exploration, so visiting different parts of the map will reward you with sums of experience, usually 100 to 300 or so. Killing multiple enemies in a row will reward you with Streaks, whose rewards increase as you get more kills. Getting a kill with a Headshot also significantly improves experience gain from kills. You also receive a (very small) bonus when you survive consecutive raids. Note: Completing a Raid too early (via extraction) will cause you to receive a Run-Through status, which reduces experience earned in that raid by 50%. Most Quests require you to be a certain level to unlock, and upon completion rewards you with a lot of exp and usually the ability to purchase specific equipment.
This is pretty self-explanatory. As mentioned above, Peacekeeper and Ragman can be increased easily just be selling and buying from them. If you need to artifically inflate the amount spent, a good idea is to purchase a large amount of cheap items from them and sell them back to the Trader. You still take a significant loss, usually around 50-60% per purchase, but since the money spent counts both items sold to the vendor and purchases, you get about 140-150% credit per item at about half the cost.
Not all dealers pay the same for certain items. It is important to note that a lot of this is my personal experience, and prices can fluctuate as the Developers may change them for any reason. Use your own common sense and check various dealers before selling particularly lucrative items.
Sells AKs, Magazines, many different Ammo types, Grenades, and weapon modifications. I don't tend to sell to him very often, as he doesn't pay the highest for any items that I have personally seen and because you tend to buy most Ammo and mags from him it's not a particular issue to level him up with money spent.
Sells medical supplies, food and drink, and storage cases, which are items that effectively increase the size of your stash because they have more space inside than they take up. Most storage items are restricted to certain item types. Pays most for items like Keys, Statues, Rolers, Bitcoin, etc. Many of these items should be sold on the market instead of to her, but often times it's not worth the hassle.
Pays least for items, sells items for more than other Dealers. Items other players have sold will appear here. Only sell items to Fence that other dealers will not take! Basically a placeholder for an expanded Market.
Sells various weapons, mods, ammo, Euros, and containers. Pays most for items like Armor, backpacks, headgear, facemasks, flashlights, sights, etc. It is important to note, that Skier will not buy Weapons or most Mods. That means for things like flashlights, you have to take the flashlights/sights off the mount or rail in order for him to buy them, but he pays the best.
Deals entirely in Western equipment, UN armor, helmets, etc. Will buy most items, but will pay USD for them. Deals entirely in USD. One good way to get his money spent requirement is just to buy USD, which is used for a later quest from Skier, which unlocks his quest chain. He has a lot of good deals, experiment for yourself. At the moment his MP5 for 10 'bars' knives (scav knives) is an exceptionally good deal and easy to accomplish for new players.
Sells mostly completed weapons with various modifications and unique names, and mods. Sells magazines and some ammo. Offers containers as you progress. His quests are easy to complete, but often are money dumps in exchange for large sums of EXP more than anything else. Pays the most for modifications (except for sights and suppressors) and stripped guns.
Sells backpacks, armor, tactical vests, and helmets mostly. Offers aesthetic clothing. Can obtain LL2 by just purchasing from him, does not require reputation. In fact, his first quest tasks you with that very objective. As far as I can see, he does not pay the most for any items in particular. But he is a very useful merchant once you have him at level 2. He will sell Scav Backpacks, which are an extremely efficient backpack to use as it's fairly large but very cheap.
Rule of Thumb for selling items at most value
Weapons: Strip the weapon! Take apart ALL pieces of it (including gas tubes, separating flashlights from ring mounts, etc), sell what you can to Skier. For the rest, sell to Mechanic. Keys, Food, Medical Items, Statues, Bitcoin, Rolers, etc: Therapist or the Market. For items like this, ALWAYS check the Market first! A lot of these kinds of items are in valuable trades or are required for quests; this means that other players are often willing to pay more for them, above trader prices.
Continued below in a comment, due to character limit.
Introduction Greetings leagueoflegends, I am Kindra Returns V, a Katarina one-trick with one of the highest number of Katarina games played this season. With the Mage roster update on the way, the Assassin update is one that could be coming soon. Since Katarina (along with Talon and Akali) have been mentioned as possible candidates for major changes™, we as a community can discuss what we feel Katarina’s role in League should be before any designers decide on potentially strange directions that might change her identity in ways that will alienate current Katarina players. I initially planned to do multiple smaller posts on different aspects of Katarina, but feedback convinced me to condense the discussion. Even though we may not be representative of the League community as a whole, this is a step in the right direction, and Rioters who frequent this subreddit can pass on anything they find interesting to the right people. Now, without further ado… Katarina’s “Fantasy” When discussing champion reworks nowadays, Riot often uses “identity” and “gameplay fantasy” as foci. In the interest of clarity, I will do the same here. The goal of an assassin is removing the enemy carries from the fight. Some (Kha’zix, Rengar) do this by killing the enemy out of position. Some (Zed, LeBlanc) throw themselves into the fray, focusing the enemy down with a rotation and backing out for a clean kill. Some (Twisted Fate, Ahri) are constantly zoning carries and applying pressure, forcing the enemy to avoid being picked off. Katarina is an assassin that takes an entirely different approach. Lorewise, Katarina is a famed Noxian assassin whose passion for killing is in constant conflict with her sense of duty. Notably, she once chose to take out a passing Demacian general instead of her assigned target, earning her characteristic eye-scar when forced to fight “no matter the cost” to take out her now heavily-guarded original mark. This should be reflected in her gameplay. Most assassins have the goal, and only goal, of dealing with the target that their team wants them to deal with. Katarinas should feel torn. Do they fulfill their responsibility to their team, and eliminate the carry right away? Or do they go for an opportunity to kill something else first, just because they can? In game, this should translate to the Katarina player having to choose, every fight, whether to commit to diving into the fight and cut down the backline in a risky one-for-one trade, or to strive for the reset on a vulnerable enemy that allows them to clean up the rest. High risks, high rewards. A little greedy, a lot selfish. This is what Katarina should feel like. Katarina’s Current State Katarina currently is sitting in a bad place. This is not necessarily true from a balance perspective, since winrate or pickrate-wise there are certainly champions that are worse off. From a gameplay perspective, however, Katarina is not delivering as well as she can, for a multitude of reasons. There are clarity issues, her gameplay is often binary and uninteractive, and is rewarding the right things in the wrong ways. Most notably, her reset mechanic combined with instant AoE burst leads to game health issues (kill one, kill them all) unless a full rotation of abilities has low base damage and scaling. On the other hand, having a full rotation of abilities do little damage to enemies without a reset makes Katarina the assassin most embarrassingly terribly at 1v1s, even against isolated squishy supports. Katarina is dangerous to entire teams when ahead, so snowballing is an important issue to consider. Making Katarina more item-dependent than level-dependent helps enemy teams fight her when behind, but making it too hard to push an advantage incentivizes Katarina players to be passive and KS their way to full build before anyone else. Katarina’s dependency on resets also sometime motivates passive teamfighting, forcing players to just wait for an assist before they can even risk contributing, or wait until the 4v5 has lowered the enemy team’s health sufficiently for her to clean up. Alternatively, Katarinas may build tanky so that they can risk fighting for a reset, weakening their contribution another way by flattening out the high-risk, high-reward rest playstyle to low-risk, low-reward. Both are boring, unthematic playstyles that shoudn’t be rewarded or used as an “optimal way to play” Katarina.
Clarity issues: Lightly armored assassin sometimes builds resistances or health to survive long enough for a reset
Game Health issues: AoE burst resets lead to a “kill one, kill all” chain that cannot be balanced without low damage on individual ability rotations
Challenging to 1v1 enemies until mid-late, even when they have no cc or escapes, due to lack of single-target damage or “outplay potential”
Ult damage sometimes feels unrewarding early game even with a full channel, the enemy should always be fighting to get out of the zone or interrupt the channel, rather than be willing to stand in the middle and autoattack Katarina to death
Things that are working well:
Ability-based damage rather than autoattack dependency for a flashy playstyle that screams to the enemy “Focus me first!”
“Selfish” kit that doesn’t contribute CC or other utility for team is in character, she brings only damage but brings a lot of it
Squishy melee with no sustain results in challenging laning phase that enemy can exploit before Katarina scales into mid-late game killing machine
Manaless nature is thematically correct (always ready to fight) and gameplay appropriate (players do not have to be scared of going OOM because of a reset)
Gameplay focuses on predictive decision making, identifying opportunities, and timing for outplay potential rather than pure mechanical ability (“Shunpo to dodge Charm” vs “Use ult to cancel the skillshot bouncing blades animation and reset AA”)
Ward-jumping and Shunpo-ing for survivability, for damage, or to reposition is a decision that should be important to make
Enemy teams that have a lot of cc/health/sustain/survival abilities are clear counters to Katarina, while teams ignoring Kat when at low health will be punished
What should come out of an update:
Better strategic identity / Reason to choose Katarina over other similar assassins (e.g. Katarina for resets and cleanup, Akali for single-target damage and stealth outplay, Talon for AoE burst and objective pressure)
More emphasis on importance of choice and timing for reset decision-making, rather than mindlessly moving on after every reset to the next low enemy
Encourage aggressive risk-reward gameplay, rather than passively waiting for resets
Remove instant AoE basic ability, so that resets can be better balanced
Focus more power in Shunpo and Death Lotus since they are defining abilities (Make enemies feel more rewarded for interrupting DL / make Katarina feel rewarded for channeling DL longer)
Suggestions Following are ideas for a suggested rework, with explanations underneath.
Only affects basic abilities
Bounce damage once again is reduced for subsequent targets
Bounce damage does physical damage and scales very well with Bonus AD, no AP scaling
Mark damage remains magic damage, and scales off AP
After it hits the first target, Katarina can reactivate Q while it is in flight to blink to the blade, do magic damage in a small AoE, and stop further bounces
The blink damage scales off AP and increases for every bounce that has occurred, reaching maximum after having bounced on 4 targets
Now a basic ability with very high cooldown (~50 sec at rank 1)
Voluntarily ending it early or fully channeling reduces cooldown by 60%, enemy interrupts set it to full cooldown
Shorter max channel time, low base damage, but high AP and Bonus AD scaling that increases per rank in W
Throws a maximum of 30 daggers per channel, 10 at each of three targets. Rate at which daggers are thrown accelerates over the channel (~4 per second at beginning up to ~8 per second at the end)
Prioritizes enemies with lower percent health remaining
Applies grievous wounds and does physical damage
Blinks to target unit, and disjoints any targeted projectiles currently targeted at Katarina
If target is enemy champion, does magic damage with base and scaling as well as a portion of the damage (scaling off AP) Katarina would have taken from disjointed projectiles
If target is not enemy champion, reduces Shunpo CD by 60% and does no damage
New Ultimate: For a short time after activation, Katarina’s autoattacks and spells do up to an additional (X) true damage to champions, based on the target’s missing health. Takedowns refresh this duration.
X has very low base, high scaling on both AP and Bonus AD
Explanations Voracity The Voracity change is slight, since resets are a core part of Katarina’s identity. It refreshes both Bouncing Blades and Shunpo, reduces Death Lotus’ CD noticeably, but does not affect Katarina’s new ult. That will be discussed later. Bouncing Blades For Bouncing Blades, the bounce damage falloff encourages AD Katarina to once again get in range of her lane opponent to poke them directly, rather than sit back and farm from a distance. Meanwhile, AP Katarina is rewarded with strong burst for strategically hitting her target with a later bounce, at the risk of putting herself in danger. The blink is meant to be the aggressive, less reliable version of Shunpo, with the additional kit mobility balanced by the inability to directly choose a destination. Also important are the scaling changes. By changing the initial damage to scale off AD, Katarina now has to make a conscious decision whether to build AD to focus on poking, or AP to focus on all-ins. This is reflected in the damage type. If Katarina is building AD, build armor to reduce both her melee autos and ranged dagger poke. If she is building AP, the magical mark and teleport will be doing magic damage, so build magic resistance. Death Lotus This is a noticeable difference, with her signature move changed to a basic ability. This was done for a few reasons. First, it still allows Voracity to reduce Death Lotus’ cooldown. Second, Katarina’s signature ability is now a strength to play around even from the start, like Blitzcrank’s grab or Garen’s spin. Katarina’s opponents now have to be careful not to waste CC and overextend, or an early Death Lotus could force them to back. Finally, this opens up options for Katarina to play more aggressively and strategically early, deciding whether to try to snowball mid, wait for the enemy jungler in a bush, or early gank other lanes for even more risk-reward. At the same time, this provides new weaknesses. Without Sinister Steel, Katarina has little waveclear to push or cs, no MS buff to dodge skillshots, and cannot even proc Blade marks on minions without using autoattacks. This will make her laning a weak point that the enemy can exploit, especially if she risks an early roam away and fails. Later on, resets also no longer have instant AoE burst, especially with only a partial reset on her abilities, making them more balanceable. With such a high cooldown, Katarina makes a gamble whenever she uses it. Successful trades and kills will result in the cooldown being reduced substantially, encouraging aggressive play. Failing to use it well will be punished heavily, especially if the enemy successfully interrupts it. It is her main damage source, and without it, she is left with only 2 abilities for a long window. The acceleration rewards enemies who shut it down earlier, potentially only getting hit with a dagger or two instead of 10. Making it physical damage once again increases clarity (daggers are physical), and keeping grievous wounds as one of Katarina’s few utility contributions enforces Katarina’s niche better. If enemies want to live at low heath against Katarina, they can’t just heal, they need to stop her with cc or have a support shield them. Shunpo This is similar to the current Shunpo, but has more power loaded into it with the removal of Sinister Steel. If Katarina wants to use it to dodge damage or chase, it will stay on a low cooldown. But if she wants to use it in a trade, she will be forced to commit to the fight. This is especially important since it is now a single-target magic damage nuke. It is a large part of AP Katarina’s damage, and using it right will help start a chain of single-target resets. Use it wrong, and Katarina has no escape and no damage. The disjoint power re-emphasizes how Shunpo has both offensive and defensive uses. It no longer provides damage reduction, but negating targeted projectiles like autoattacks or certain abilities can potentially win you a fight if used well, and would distinguish Katarina’s mobility from other blinks like Talon’s and wardjumps like Lee’s. When this defensive disjoint is timed at the same time as an aggressive engage, Katarina can turn the enemy’s strength against them. This encourages both building AP to do more return damage, and building less tanky, so that the damage Katarina would have received is higher. Like many other characteristic spells in recent reworks (Poppy dashblock, Taric AoE invincibility), this new Shunpo is very strong, but only in certain situations. Killer Instincts This is a new ability that is meant to reinforce Katarina’s role as the cleanup assassin. After activation, Katarina will do little to no extra damage when fighting healthy enemies, while doing tons of damage to finish off weaker enemies. This has a particular synergy with a fully channeled Death Lotus: it can be applied over 30 times in mere seconds, making it even more important for enemies to shut down Katarina’s channel. The choice of true damage emphasizes that Katarina will kill you when you are at low health, no matter your resistances. Note that this does not scale off %health directly, but increases to a flat amount based on missing health. Enemies are always rewarded for building straight health or shielding off damage to survive. The flat damage prevents tanks from being punished for building tanky, and keeps squishies on their toes instead of encouraging them to build resistance/damage items. The power of this ability is meant to be an important, and small, window where Katarina’s cleanup and reset power are massively heightened. By choosing not to have this ability reduced by Voracity, enemies are able to always know how long until Katarina hits full power again, rather than trying to guess how many resets she received. This also allows the cooldown of this ability to be balanced independently of the rest of Katarina’s resetting kit, limiting her dominance when ahead and keeping her relevant when behind. The Product This rework improves both the clarity and gameplay health of Katarina, while reinforcing her identity as a mobile cleanup champion. Katarinas that build AD will have better poke and sustained damage, and can be built against with armor. Katarinas that build AP will have better all-ins and burst, and enemies can build against her with magic resistance. Enemies can always build health or shield items (Steraks, FotM, Locket) to protect themselves. Katarina herself is discouraged from building tanky, CDR, or mana items, limiting itemization as both a strength (allows for a focus on straight AD and AP that reinforces role of damage-dealer) and a weakness (some item paths are inaccessible or undesirable). Low health enemies are guaranteed to die to Katarina unless their tanks and supports can intervene quickly with CC and shields. Shunpo and Death Lotus are reinforced as Katarina’s unique strengths, encouraging aggressive play when enemies are successfully baited and outsmarted. Moreover, due to Bouncing Blades and Shunpo, Katarina’s strategic niche is reinforced as a very mobile melee assassin that has to commit and lock herself in one spot to do the majority of her damage. At the same time, there are clear weaknesses and counterplay options. Katarina’s abilities are ineffective against minions, monsters, and towers, making her objective control weak. Teams with AoE cc like Amumu, Skarner, or Gnar do well against her, as Katarina has few options to react. Tanky enemies, teams who can stay healthy, and teams that can keep Katarina at a range they like are also strong against her. Summary
Make resets more manageable to balance by reducing instant burst and adding delays in Katarina’s combo without just adding cast times
Add blink onto Q to reinforce identity as very mobile assassin
Reduce Q spam poke power by having bounces scale off AD instead of AP
Remove Sinister Steel, replace it with modified Death Lotus
Shunpo disjoints projectiles
Ultimate adds flat true damage to Katarina’s abilities and AAs when activated, hurting low health enemies more, CD not reduced by passive cooldown reset
These are not meant to be “leaks,” or planned abilities, simply examples of possible ability changes that could be used in the Assassin update. Please provide feedback below, if anything seems interesting this could be our chance to influence Riot’s Champion Update team with potential ideas to preserve Katarina’s identity before it is too late and they cement themselves in a certain direction. And thanks for reading!
Before starting, a few premises I'm not the best Talon player around: I'm not constant while playing LoL; last time I ranked I ended up in Silver 3 or something; also, I do not have many runes, leading to play the game with only 2 rune pages (with other 2 extremely situational) However, in terms of loyalty, I think I qualify: Talon was my very first champion bought and the very first I mained; he's the one with which I started moving inside the ARTS world (LoL, Dota 2, Vainglory, ecc.); more importantly, he's also the only one that brings me back to this game everytime he gets changed Now, in the past games, I noticed that I met only a single person trying to play him. Big problem is that he did not know how to play him: he seems easy and straight-forward, but he's actually difficult to play properly and a lot more difficult to master (or so I think). This leads to this guide I searched around and found out that most of his guides are still outdated. The ones that try to take on his remade gameplay are either vague or plainly wrong. Because of this, I decided to act The text I'm writing is supposed to hold most of my experience with him. I hope that this helps not only people trying to get started with him, but also those that want to actually write about him, be it in a wiki, on the boards or on their own guide That said, I hope you enjoy this. Comment and critics are highly welcomed, as they will bto hhelp me and this guide :) PS This is a guide to assassin Talon, not bruiser PPS This will be about laner Talon, not Jungler HISTORY Before starting with the gameplay, I want to write a little about how he changed from what he was before to what he is now -From the start, he has always been a strong champion: a feast-or-famine midlaner with a low early, but a powerful lvl-6 powerspike; if he could get ahead, he was unstoppable, otherwise he didn't help his team too much if not by splitpushing. Most of the patches that came out nerfed him in one way or another (either this, or they were bugfixes). His spot among players can be resumed in what is known as the Talon effect. With this, Rito usually refers to a champion that is almost only played by those who main him. Because of this, he/she has a low popularity, but a high winrate. About his skillset, it was basically the same before the rework, except his E. This is an important point -A major milestone in Talon's history is patch 4.17. Before this patch, Talon's E used to silence the target for 1 second. This was extremely strong on Talon, since a good Talon player could 100-0 a target before the silence was over. The main reason he wasn't popular was his low early game, since he could be easily bullied pre-6 (at 6, however, he had an extremely strong powerspike, resulting in him insta-gibbing most opponents) and his heavy all-ins, making it difficult to survive with him agter your burst. When he was picked on the professional scene, Rito realized his strength and nerfed him, chaning the silence into the strange root-slow he had. At first, most Talon players argued about the change, but after a bit of time they started doing well with him again -After the nerf, Talon fell under the radar, until the coming of Duskblade. Because of this item (which had an effect similar to Zed's R), many people started picking Talon, rising his popularity. Because of this, Rito noticed another issue with Talon: His R cd was too short, allowing him to all-in his opponents almost indefenitely. In patch 6.5, he got nerfed again, having his ult cd raised. Despite this, people still managed to play him well -We come now at the rework added in the preseason patch (patch 6.22), which brings us to what he is now PRO/CONTRO Before starting, it is important to know what makes Talon... Talon. After the rework, most players didn't know how to play him again, as his style changed. After a lot of games (and losses, expecially losses), I made this chart I wrote this on another thread. I'm merely pasting it here PRO -High early burst damage in lane: a single well-executed combo can drop most opponents to 2-3/4 of their hp at lvl 2 -Can easily go toe to toe with melee champions because of his damage output -Ultimate gives you AoE dmg, huge speed and invisibility, making it an extremely useful spell for most situations -Highly mobile in jungle, allowing you to both catch enemies and/or flee from them with ease -Can dish out good amount of AoE dmg in teamfights while focusing a single target -Great roamer: with enough items, you can easily farm a wave with a single W + AA/Qs, which allows you to go into other lanes faster; also, you can gank from unexpected places -His skillset works on the concept of hitting enemies multiple times, meaning that stack-based items are highly efficient on him (ex. Black Cleaver) -Extremely difficult to stop once he gets ahead because of his burst, mobility and invisibility/speed (he does not snowball: he avalanches) CONTRO -His only form of CC is a slow, which is unreliable too (second W) -Your burst relies a lot on passive, meaning that not hitting your skill sets you back heavily in a fight. This is further worsened by the 2nd W delay (since only this applies the slow) -Your in-fight mobility skill is a forward dash, which makes you easy prey to most linear skillshots -You need to be close to your enemy without using the Q-dash for you to get the Q-crit -Early game, your ultimate has a long cooldown. Also, AoE dmg briefly reveals you, the damage this skill offers is a bit low unless you use it aggresively (losing the safety it provides though) and sometimes it may come off immediately if you use it in the middle of an autoattack -Most ranged champs can give you a hard time in lane. Also, melee champs with some sort of sustain are difficult to deal as well -While mobile, he relies heavily on positioning and timing (even in lane), without even taking accout of the walls cooldowns -Binary-style engage and reliance on walls to engage/disengage makes it difficult for you to not get focused during a teamfight -His Q counts as a spell now, meaning that you can't use it to take towers down anymore, weakening your split-pushing capabilities -Needs to be ahead to work properly, as he has mediocre bases and high ratios on his skills, as well as a binary-like style of engage, meaning that he can be easily set behind (although he can still be useful with a Black Cleaver) -The more the game goes on, the more difficult it gets for Talon to be relevant RUNES I want to add this point right now since it's the only point I won't talk about it, reason being I never paid any attention to runes while playing him. Sorry MASTERIES In my opinion, Talon must get his mastery choices from only the Ferocity/Cunning trees, reason being you cannot use Resolve ones on a champion that scales so hard on AD. Also, I do not want to suggest a single mastery choice: you can either go 18/12 or 12/18, depending on what you like most. The choices that I suggest for both pages are in bold type FEROCITY -Fury vs Sorcery Talon plays as an AD caster who must kill his target as fast as possible. Attack speed easily loses his spot to Ability damage for this -Fresh Blood vs Feast vs Expose Weakness No reason to get EW at all, since most of the time you'll find yourself alone when killing. About the other 2, FB adds a it of burst, while F helps for lane sustain. If you feel good enough with your laning phase, get FB, otherwise F may be more helpful -Bounty Hunter vs Double Edged Sword vs Battle Trance I don't care what did your favourite youtuber tell you, BT on assassin Talon is useless. About the other 2, BH synergizes well with Talon playstyle, since you are meant for roaming. DES adds more dmg not reliant on kills at the cost of getting increased received dmg. In my opinion, BH is better, but if you feel ballsy enough, you can go DES -Battering Blows vs Piercing Thoughts You deal only physical damage. Enough said -Warlord's Bloodlust vs Fervor of Battle vs Deathfire Touch All 3 can be used by Talon. Main decision is about what you need most: WB gives you sustain; FB gives you more dmg on your AAs and you can easily stack it thanks to your skillset; DT may help you getting a kill thanks to its DoT. I'd suggest WB if you have trouble staying in lane, FB for enemies that force you into longer fights and DT for anything else CUNNING -Wanderer vs Savagery You have enough mobility already. To sacrifice early farming for 3% more speed OUT OF COMBAT is not worth imo -Runic Affinity vs Secret Stash vs Assassin Talon is not a focused jungler, meaning he does not benefit from buffs as other junglers do. For the other 2, depends on your ability to play Talon: sustain vs damage. Choice is yours -Merciless vs Meditation While it's true that Talon suffers from mana problems, to sacrifice dmg so that I can have a bit of more mana in lane doesn't hold. It's better to learn how to manage your mana than to lose damage. This especially on Talon -Greenfather's Gift vs Bandit vs Dangerous Game GG is too situational and makes you lose that bit of restoration that may help you more in fights (DG). Also, Talon needs walls to be effective, not bushes -Precision vs Intelligence Both are good choices. It depends mostly on what you need. If you want to stack Lethality for Duskblade passive plus the movement speed it brings, go Pre. Instead, if you think you need more cd, go Int. I think most people choose Int., but I prefer Pre. -Stormraider vs Thunderlord vs Windspeaker Leaving Wind, which is for healers, it depends on what you need. Storm gives you more speed, which can be helpful when trading and/or chasing/positioning/escaping, while thunder gives you more burst. Basically, utility vs damage. You choose ABILITIES The section is made by 2 parts: one is about levelling order; the other is about their usage Skill order You generally want to prioritize W over Q, getting a point on R whenever possible and maxing E last. The main choice is about when getting the second point on W. Getting it at level 3 will leave you with only Q and W as available skills, but your W deals more damage. Getting it at level 4, instead, allows you to have all of your main skills available at lvl 3 (Q, W and E) In my opinion, it depends on the enemy team. Against good junglers like Lee Sin and Shaco, you will be ganked at either level 2 or 3. While at level 2 you can't do much to escape, at level 3 you have E, giving you more possibilities to evade the gank. If you however get the second point of W at 3, it gets the same as at level 2. Because of this, it is better to focus first having all skils available at 3, then to start levelling them up. However, do remember that against other match-ups (junglers that cannot gank properly at early levels (ex. Warwick)) it can be fine to get second W at 3. The major point is about looking ahead on how the match will unfold The other choice is about what to max first: Q or W. While it's true that a lower cd Q gives you more mobility and that W is unreliable, it is neverthless better to max W first, reason being it is your only ranged skill, which allows you both to play safe when necessary and to clear the minion wave, allowing you to push/roam effectively. The only situation where a Max-Q-first is good is when playing Top against certain melee champions At the end of the day, it should look like this (in case of strong early enemy junglers) W - Q - E - W - W - R - W - Q - W - Q - R - Q - Q - E - E - R - E - E Or this (when per usual) W - Q - W - E - W - R - W - Q - W - Q - R - Q - Q - E - E - R - E - E Skill Usage Passive
Main focus must be given on your passive: it holds a good amount of your damage and is capable of giving you first blood most of the time if played well (this if you can all-in the opponent at level 2 successfully)
Unlike champions like Ekko, your passive can be stacked on champions only by your abilities, while it can be activated only by autoattacks. Because of this, it is important to count the number of stacks your opponent has, so that you can activate the passive as soon as it is up, without wasting time (and abilities)
An important thing to remember is that AUTOATTACKING RESETS THE DURATION TIMER OF THE STACKS. Stacks last on an enemy for 3 seconds: if you autoattack him, the count starts again. This is important to remember for multiple situations/reasons, one of them being it is possible to proc your passive as soon as level 1 if you can manage the stacks on your opponent up until your W goes off cd
When the passive is activated, the opponent bleeds for 2 seconds, making it impossible to stack your passive again during that time. However, as soon as the bleed is over, you can stack it again on the same champions, meaning that with enough skill you can deal enormous amounts of damage on a single enemy
Passive is counted singularly for each enemy, meaning that you can stack it to full on multiple champions thanks to the AoE of your W and R
Remember that as with most other stack-based abilities, your opponent can see how many stacks he has, meaning that he'll play carefully once he gets closer to 3 stacks (or worse, he can bait you into a bad situation)
Your most reliable skill for damage, passive stacking and mobility. Although it is important to have it up often, maxing it first instead of your unreliable W is actually worse
Depending on your target distance, the skill can be either a forward dash (when afar) or a high-damaging stab (when close). This makes positioning an essential skill for playing Talon well
Remember that the Q is considered a spell for both of its ways, meaning that alone it can't proc your passive (it will add a stack though). Can't stress enough how much important it is to remember that only autoattacks proc your passive
It is also an excellent farming tool thanks to its damage and cd refound/heal on kill. However, DO NOT OVERUSE IT: Talon suffers from having a low mana pool, meaning that you can easily found yourself without mana if you start abusing this skill in lane for farming
The close-Q is a critical strike. It is still considered a spell, meaning it won't proc effects based on critical strikes as per usual (lifesteal, Essence Reaver, ecc.). However, it CAN be affected by critical dmg modifiers like Infinity Edge, increasing its damage
The far-Q dash allows you to autoattack IMMEDIATELY AFTER the Q lands. This makes it easier to proc your passive if you were able to land both parts of W before
It is better to go, for most of the times, for the close-Q, since it brings a huge burst in your combo. However, do not be afraid to use your far-Q when in need
Both Qs can be used as an autoattack reset, meaning that it is possible to aa - Q - aa for a good amount of damage
It is possible to use the far-Q to dodge skillshots. However, this requires an enemy unit around that is not the one attacking, as otherwise you'd be dashing straight forward the enemy champion, getting the full skillshot in your face
The bread-and-butter skill: to succed with Talon, one must be able to use it effectively. It is highly recommended to play a custom game to get in touch with this skill
The easiest way to use this is as a farming tool: it has both good bases and ratios, meaning that if playing well it is possible to clear the casters' wave with a single cast
Outside of farming, it is your main poking tool, as well as an important source of both damage and passive stacks
The major issue with this skill is that ONLY THE SECOND PART OF IT SLOWS AND DEALS MORE DMG, meaning that most opponents can evade it with ease, costing you the fight
There are mainly 2 way to ensure that the second part hits: the first one is by using it up close; the other one is by using it when disengaging from an incoming enemy
When using it up close, it is better to use either by going on the enemy with a far-Q first or by using it when the enemy is at a distance equal to your W maximum range, so that once he's slowed you can catch up with him and hit him with a close-Q. The first one provides a faster yet less powerful burst, while the other the opposite
It is better to use the far-Q_W when outside laning phase and the W_close-Q when you either control the lane and the opponent tries to contest it, ambush an enemy from an unwarded bush, drop directly on him by using a wall or when you position yourself after your R near the enemy and you can use it to break the stealth (for these last 2 cases it is better to do a close-Q_W)
When disengaging, you can throw your W directly at them for an almost-certain second hit. This allows you to both escape (enemy is slowed) or to engage him by surprise and burst him down (since he has 2 passive stacks on him)
Remember that your W deals AoE dmg: try to always hit multiple units when using it, either in lane (minions + champions) or outside (multiple champions)
The main reason one would now like to pick this champion. It is a semi-flexible skill that allows Talon to reposition himself by flipping over a wall/structure
E works only on structures and has no other benefit than being a dash, meaning that when in lane you have essentially only 2 skills to rely over. It is important to understand this, since it forces you most of the time to hug walls
Using E will put the wall/structure from which you jumped in cd. This is easily noticable thanks to the colored outlines (red as usual, yellow at half of cd)
The wall cd envelopes the outlines of a structure starting from both the starting and landing point and spreading EVENLY FROM BOTH POINTS. This means that if you use it on the farthest point of the structure (instead of the middle), it is possible to reduce the wall-cd-outline length, leaving you more available points
For the E to be used, you only need your starting point available. This allows you to flip over the same structure twice AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A BIT OF AVAILABLE WALL. Basically, if you have a structure almost completely red, you can still hop over it by jumping from the available point
It is important to remember that while the skill has a base cd of 2 seconds, walls' cd start from 160 secs. Do not abuse your E, as you might cut future possible kills/escapes
Putting points on E will not reduce the cd of the ability. It will, however, reduce the walls' cd, up to a base minimum of 60 secs
Cooldown reduction affects both the base ability cd and the walls' cd, meaning that at 40% cdr the skill has a 1.2 cd with a walls' cd going from 96 to 36 secs (depending on rank). Because of this, you always want to max E last
It is possible to use E on walls/structures made by other champions. However, THE WALLS' CD APPLIES TO THE CHAMPION SKILL, NOT TO THE SINGULAR STRUCTURE. To put it bluntly, if you're against Anivia, you can hop over her wall. However, if the wall is down and after a few seconds she remakes it, you cannot use your E again on it, since the wall is on cd
Remember that while the animation is a flip, the skill counts as a dash, meaning that you can be targetted by abilities as per usual during the animation
E's speed is affected by your movement speed, meaning that strong slows (Nasus' W) can easily hinder your mobility neverthless
Please, never forget this: USING E ENDS YOUR ULT!
Strong utility/AoE/burst skill with mediocre bases and good ratios. However, do not expect to be able to use it at its maximum potential most of the time
When using it, you turn invisible, gain movement speed and damage nearby units. Reactivating the skill converges the blades on you, ending both the invisibility and the speed boost
Enemies can be hit by multiple blades, but there is no multiple damage, nor multiple stacks added (all blades count as a single source, divided only by waves (2))
Ending the ult with a basic attack or Q will converge all blades on the target, ensuring that he'll be hit by your second wave
Your ultimate allows you to reposition yourself quite easily thanks to its speed boost. Because of this, it is an exceptionally good escape skill. Remember however that at the end of it, the blades wil lconverge on you, giving away your position
When in fight, it allows to reposition yourself incredibly fast, allowing for some outplaying potential thanks to its added stealth
Most of the time, however, you'll have to use this skill offensively (which is, ending it as soon as possible by attacking the target), as without it your burst is not that great (unless you're doing very well)
The stealth counts as invisibility, meaning that you can be seen only by enemy turrets. However, do remember that taking damage while invisible reveals you briefly
While using E immidiately ends your ult, using R during E's flip will not, making it a good combo for engaging on targets
Be careful when using Q and R together: as of now, using far-Q will automatically issue an autoattack due to a bug, which means that if you use R right after your Q, the autoattack WILL END YOUR ULTIMATE ASAP, leaving you in a bad spot most of the times
ITEMS Before seeing all of them, it is important to understand what Talon needs As an AD-caster champion, he benefits mostly from AD and cooldown reduction. Also, because of his roaming capabilities, strong burst and overall-nice bases, he benefits in both ways by getting lethality/armor pen, since the items that provide it also give him more movement speed. Lastly, since he deals damage on multiple instances, stack-based items are good on him as well Longsword There is a reason why there are a lot of jokes about it between talon mains. This item is the major staple in your build, as from it you build most of your other items. Because of this, it is always better to start with a Longsword and 3 potions than with a Doran's Blade and 1 potion. Besides the item build paths, it gives you early AD, which both scales with your skills and helps your farming Corrupting Potion On old Talon, this item was rarely seen, as good Talon players can easily manage their mana in lane and avoid poke from the opponent. As of now, it is actually a good choice, especially against ranged opponent. The reasons to pick it are multiple: gives you both health and mana; it refills everytime you go back; when using it, you gain a small DoT that may help you while poking or engaging. Its major drawback is that building the next item may be slower. It has both its pros and its contros Boots Boots are always a mandatory choice, especially against champions with skillshots and/or when in need to roam a lot. About a Boots start with 4 potions, I'd reccomend it only against champions heavily reliant on spammable skillshots and difficult to engage on (Syndra, Ziggs, Xerath, ecc.). Remember, however, that getting boots first you lose both early farming power (Longsword) and no-cost potions (Corrupting Potion) Tier 2 Boots Talon benefits mostly from boots that either make him go faster for better roaming (Mobility, Swiftness) or that give cdr (Ionian). Mobility is usually your main choice, as Talon needs to roam alot to mantain his lead. Also, building lethality/armor pen gives you momvement speed out of combat, meaning that your roaming speed increases the more lethality items you buy. About the other 2, I'd get Swiftness early if they have mobile champions or lots of slows, otherwise I'd just go for Ionians. Later, if you implement another cdr item in your build (after Black Cleaver and Yoomuu), you can sell Ionias for Swiftness. Remember however that Mercury Treads and Ninja Tabi can be good choices depending on the situation/state of the match, since it is difficult for you to not get focused while assassinating Pickaxe While more gold-efficient than Longswords, I'd suggest getting it only later. The reason is that it builds on items that either you won't need now or never (Death's Dance, Last Whisper) or that you must finish only at the very late game (Ravenous Hydra). Getting 2 Longswords instead is better, as you can then build them for better early items (Warhammer, Dirk, Tiamat) Vampiric Scepter Frankly, it is not the best choice of Talon for multiple reasons: you do not engage in long fights; Q heals you already; getting 2 Longswords instead helps more, since you can build them into core items sooner. However, it can be a good choice when you get harassed/need to duel the laner a lot and you cannot roam too much (enemy playing safe, no pushed lanes, ecc.). About its building path, you can use it only for 3 items: Ravenous Hydra (always built LAST), Mercurial Scimitar (Against CC-heavy compositions) and Death's Dance WarhammeDirk What you will usually buy the most. They build both from 2 Longswords and cost the same, meaning that the only choice you have to do is between cdr or lethality/out-of-combat mov. speed. Remember that together they are used for Yoomuu and that, while from one side Warhammer allows bulding for safer and useful items (Death's Dance, Black Cleaver, Maw of Maltorius), Dirk is used for more assassin-like items (Duskblade, Edge of Night) Tiamat Used to be the main Talon item, right below Yoomuu. It gives AD, hp regeneration and the Cleave, allowing both to farm waves fast and add more burst to your combos. As of now, however, I see it as a niche item: W deals more dmg than before, allowing to farm the wave quickly; also, you do not have a way to keep the target in one place (if not with 2nd-part W), meaning that you can easily miss the Cleave and interrupt your combo; lastly, it has poor stats outside of its Cleave, which you may not need. This does not mean that it is useless, as it can be an excellent choice as a wave-clear item when against champions against which you cannot lane no matter what, while also increasing your AoE dmg during fights. By the way, if you pick it, remember that YOU NEVER, EVER UPGRADE IT TO RAVENOUS HYDRA IF NOT AS YOUR LAST ITEM Phage A good item. It is usually taken when building Black Cleaver, buliding with Warhammer. It is a considerable choice when having trouble in the early game or when you want to play aggressively against slippery targets (by killing a minion you get bonus mov. speed that helps you engage) Hexdrinker Hexdrinker is what you usually look into when going against AP champions with a burst difficult to avoid. It can easily give you the edge in early fights, as the shield prevents most executions. Remember that when you upgrade it to Maw of Malmortius you reset the shield's cd. However, do remember that it does not build into Edge of Night (you can consider this the safer version of Edge) Quicksilver Sash If Hexdrinker is for when you need to tank magic burst, Quicksilver is for when enemy has a lot of hard CC, especially champions with suppression (Malzahar, Warwick...). As an early item, it doesn't give you any AD, which may hurt you more than getting CCed. In the mid-late game, however, it can be a good choice, depending on how much of a threat you are to them. Most importantly, IT DOES NOT WORK FOR AIRBORNE, meaning that if you actually bought it to counter Yasuo, you deserve to get stomped without mercy Last Whisper Gives Bonus armor penetration, meaning that you'll need it only later in the game. However, since most of the time you'll be killing squishies, you won't need it (since you'll have Black Cleaver and lethality), unless the enemy team is tanky as fuck B.F. Sword An extremely useful pick if bought early no matter of your starting items (Longsword/Boots/Corrupting Potion), it gives you a lot of AD while also buliding into Duskblade. If you managed to get a lead when buying it, you have good chances to start snowballing hard. When going back for the first time, if you can buy it as your first item, it is better to pick it, since the other items can be bought slowly by stacking Longswords (unless you think you might need something else more) After this, we can now see the main finished items, the ones you should be aiming for most of (if not all) the times Yoomuu's Ghostblade One of the most important items for Talon (if not the most). Easy to build and the cheapest of the items you need. It provides almost every stat you need: AD, cd, lethality, out-of-combat speed. The most important thing is however its active: a speed boost that is not lost while in-combat, allowing you to engage and disengage quickly when assassinating. Before, it was the very first item on every Talon build. However, after they removed the atk speed in the active and Talon's Q stopping being an autoattack enhancer, it lost its untouchable position, as it could not be used anymore to push lanes fast. In fact, while it is recommended, if you are able to get a Duskblade first, it's reccomended to get it instead. However, do remember that the mov. speed boost Yoomuu provides can be a better early choice than duskblade (depends on the enemy team) Duskblade If you managed to get a B.F. Sword in laning phase, this item is a better first choice (although it costs more). As far as stats go, it provides AD, lethality and 2 passives, both of them synergizing with Talon's playstyle. First passive gives you sight of nearby traps/wards, making it more difficult for the enemy to track you down (extremely important on Talon, as he needs to not be seen before engaging). Second passive gives you bonus true dmg on your first autoattack when not seen by at least 1 second. Not only this bonus scales on lethality, but it also means that you can proc it twice in a fight thanks to your R Edge of Night Basically a Banshee's Veil that instead of giving you health, gives you AD and lethality, at the cost of giving a less reliable shield. About stats, besides the all-needed AD, lethality and out-of-combat mov. speed, it also provides MR, meaning that it is better to get it when against AP champions. However, because of the stats and the shield, it can be a good choice regardless of their dmg composition (its main wanted feature is the possibility to be immune to a single CC ability that can ruin your engage). Remember that it is not advised to channel the shield while invisible, since, although your R lasts 2.5 seconds (channel is 1.5 secs), you can easily end being hit while doing it, putting it on a 5 secs cd Black Cleaver This item has always been good on Talon: as a first item, as a lead item, as a back-up/safe item, it doesn't matter. You name a situation, it is always good to get it. The main reason is that it works on stacks and Talon's skillset allows him to stack it to full in less than one second on multiple enemies. Not only that, but it gives you a huge cd reduction, AD, health (which helps you to survive) and a passive that gives you mov. speed when you hit an enemy. If you don't knwo when it is the best to get it, it can be picked when you happen to fight often together with your team and/or when an enemy threat is getting too tanky For the last items and for alternative ones, these are the usual choices Death's Dance AD, cdr and probably 2 of the best passives for Talon: you heal from any kind of physical dmg you inflict, not only from your autoattacks, making you quite resiliant; also, a percentage of the damage you take is delayed for 3 seconds, giving you more time to burst your opponent. It is usually got as one of the last items, since it is more important for Talon to stack lethality/armor pen before getting the healing. However, if you think you may need it, do not get it between your first items: think of it as a third/fourth (excluding boots) choice that can also scale as the last Infinity Edge Infinity can make you a nightmare to the enemy team. However, it is MANDATORY to be able to get close-Qs most of the time. As I said before, the close-Q is a spell that crits. While it won't be affected by effects like those from the Essence Reaver, it can be affected by critical modifiers, meaning that instead of dealing 200% dmg, you now deal 250% dmg, while also having 20% critical chance (it's not enough, but a lucky crit can be devastating). However, do remember that this is an option going totally on the offensive side, which requires a good amount of both macro and micro skills: unless you feel REALLY secure about your ability to play Talon, go for safer items Guardian Angel Guardian Angel is basically the safest choice Talon can ever get: you sacrifice dmg for armor, MR and a Zilean ultimate. Excellent choice if you find yourself getting always focused while engaging on their squishies. However, do remember that you then need to stay with your team to get the full advantage of the GA, as otherwise you'll most probably end up dead again if you are alone Mercurial Scimitar In terms of stats, its AD is a bit more than that provided by Edge of Night, with the same MR and lifesteal, but no lethality. The main reason to actually get this item is for the cleanse against heavy-CC composition. Outside of that, you'd not want to get this Ravenous Hydra The veryveryvery last item you'll finish. It is basically a tiamat with better stats, lifesteal and a better cleave. Getting it or not depends mainly if you think you'll need the Cleave for this game or not Maw of Maltorius Your go-to when you need both to tank magic dmg and to survive longer fights. Upgrading the Hexdrinker to this gives you a passive that grants bonus AD and lifesteal when the barrier procs (bonus end when you are out-of-combat). However, this item can have a sense ONLY if you're against multiple AP champions, since if they don't deal you magic dmg, both the barrier and the bonuses won't proc Lord Dominik's Regards/Mortal Reminder Basically, the items for when you decide to finish your Last Whisper. If the enemy have champions with high sustain, get Mortal. If they have champions with lots of health, but no sustain, get Dominik. If they have both, Mortal is better (unless your ADC gets it; in that case, you can go Dominik) Dead Man's Plate If you ever find yourself needing both health and armor, this is a good item. Its passive gives bonus movement speed while also giving you a slow on your next autoattack, meaning that it can actually help landing the second part of the W. Remember however that the only damage you gain is from your first attack only (100 dmg), meaning that while you get hp, armor and utility, you lose in damage. Consider wisely if you need this or not Finally, there is also a list of the items that I think you should not go for when playing Talon Any item that gives AP Talon deals only physical damage and scales only on AD. 'Nuff said Any mana regeneration item Mana regeneration is for champions that are in need to spam their abilities. Although Talon is actually mana hungry, he does not need such a thing: you may feel the need that you need it in lane, but out of it, it won't help you at all. You will be better if you learn how to manage his mana instead Doran's Blade Multiple reasons: he does not need the lifesteal; he'll waste early gold for better starting items; he has already strong duelling potential in the form of a early-level burst (he won't search for prolonged fights); doesn't build into nothing. You're better with either AD, refillable pots or movement speed Poacher's Dirk There are reasons why nobody builds this item. It forces you to play risky (trying to get enemy camps while still not having enough items to get them fast/safely) and even if you get it later in the game, to wait a minimum of 3 minutes to transform it (becoming too slow to beneficiate of it truly). This without even considering that to take enemy camps without risking, your team needs to be ahead. It is better to just go either for Longswords or directly for the Dirk, since it allows also for more flexibility in the build (ex. chaning to Warhammer when needed) Sheen Sheen goes well with champions that either have high base dmg, can go tanky or can spam low-cd abilities continuosly. Talon's base dmg is closer to average thank high, he can't afford to build tanky (getting a single tank item on him is highly situational and even then he should be having only one) and he does not have abilities with that much cd to benefit from the passive (without considering that his playstyle consists about unloading all of them as fast as possible) . Also, while this item provides cdr, it doesn't provide any AD and the mana, while useful, is not something you should build Sterak's Gage Same story with sheen. Also, passive scales on maximum health, which you won't increase if not with the Black Cleaver. If you really find yourself in need of health, getting an actualy tank item is better Trinity Force One of the items with the highest cost in the league, which will provide you everything except what you truly need (you basically truly beneficiate of only half of this item). Also, since it builds on Phage, you'd have then to either waste a passive slot if you get Black Cleaver too or to not get get Black Cleaver at all, which is stupid Essence Reaver No. Period MATCH-UPS Unless you are a Talon OTP (which frankly I'm somewhat close to it), you won't pick him always. The guide is meant for people who want to play Talon seriously while still not having enough experience. This said, recognizing in which situations you should consider picking him or not and how well you can go against another champion is required for any kind of champion you want to play and/or main The section will divide itself into 5 sections: champions with which you go well, champions with which you do not go well, champions that you counter, "fair" champions and champions that counter you Champions with which you go well Talon is generally played either mid or top. Because of him being an AD assassin, having an AP champion on the other lane is an excellent choice, as in this way opponents cannot itemize effectively for the both of you. Also, Talon thrives in enemy teams lacking coordination, meaning that champions that either provide AoE disables or that can force the enemy team to remain separated is good
For top lane when you're mid, champions like Kennen, Maokai, Rumble and so on
For mid lane when you're top, others like Brand, Orianna, Veigar, Ziggs and so on
About junglers, as long as you have a difference in type of damage between mid and top, both AD and AP champions can go. However, do remember that in case you end up having both lanes running an AD champion, an AP jungler is heavily suggested Going on, Talon works best with junglers (but also laners) that can engage on enemies while bringing a lot of CC, since he can then back it up with his high burst without getting focused. Also, junglers that can set up good early ganks are appreciated as well, since they can help you gain the lead you need. Junglers that can do both are the best
For CC junglers, champions like Nautilus and Malphite
For good ganks junglers, champions like Lee Sin, Xin Zhao and Ivern
My aim with this kit is to bring back the old LB burst and feel while fulfilling the demands Riot has for her to be healthy and balanceable. I think at the very least I've come up with some interesting ideas Riot might not have considered to keep some of the "op" things from her old kit but incorporated in a way that widens the window for counterplay. As well as deepening the kit wherever there was space left to do so. And with that I give you the LeBlanc, Katarina and Rengar 3-way lovechild kit.
(1) Sigil Of Malice - (has no coolodown for procing on repeated targets) LeBlanc's abilities mark enemies with Sigil Of Malice. After 1.5 seconds her malice reaches its peak and her next ability that damages the enemy is empowered and its cooldown reset.
(2) Short Temper - Cooldown reduction has no effect on LeBlanc's damaging abilities but instead reduces the cook time of Sigil Of Malice (0.75s with max cdr) and the cooldown of Shadow Of The Rose.
Q - Magnifying Glass - (cooldown 6/8/10/12/14/16s) Leblanc channels for (0.5/0.7/0.9/1.1/1.3/1.5s) and magnifies a small orb of light through ethereal glass that hits the enemy. (interacts as a laser) Empowered - The light beam reflects off all nearby maliced targets and blinds them for 1 second.
W - Distortion - (cooldown 6/7/8/9/10/11/12s) LeBlanc warps space and time to dash to a target location. She can snap back to the point she cast this spell for 4 seconds after it's off cooldown. Empowered - LeBlanc gains a spell shield that blocks the next enemy ability for 1.5 seconds.
E - Ethereal Chains - (cooldown 6/7/9/12/16/21s) No longer a 2-hit spell. LeBlanc hurls heavy ethereal chains that slow the enemy by 10/20/30/40/50/60% for 1.5 seconds while held within its tether range. Empowered - The enemy is rooted for 1.5 seconds.
(1) Encore - (cooldown 12/24/36/48/60s) LeBlanc repeats her last used ability. (50/100/150/175/200% damage of repeated ability) Empowered - LeBlanc goes invisible for 1 second and gets a short burst of movement speed.
(2) Shadow Of The Rose - (cooldown 60/75/90/105/120s) LeBlanc's Encore turns into Shadow Of The Rose when it's off cooldown. Shadow Of The Rose's cooldown is separate and does not affect the cooldown of Encore. Once activated, Encore can be used normally. LeBlanc goes invisible for 1 second and projects a clone next to her that mirrors all of her movements and abilities along the x-axis relative to the direction she is facing when she casts this ability. (clone duration 2/3.5/5/6.5/8s) (clone damage 20/40/60/70/80%) (clone health 25/33/33/50/66%)
Disclaimer: These numbers are estimates. Is there something that's broken here? Probably, but I'm just trying to give the gist. Numbers can easily be changed, it's the core that's important. As far as damage goes I'd imagine she'd have strong scalings that keep her relevant into late game. Specifically I think if a person puts 6 points into Q it should be a feared ability and have serious one-shot potential on its own to compensate for the 1.5s channel time. How Q Might Look: I envision during the channel time LeBlanc would put her hands a bit forward as a turbulent glass-like disc is summoned before her. When the channel finishes the turbulence settles and she sees her reflection in the ethereal glass as she puts her hand up to it and generates a small glowing orb of greyish light that magnifies through the glass into a beam that fires at the enemy. Note on Q: I deliberated for a while on the drastic change to Q, changing it to a channelled laser. But I think it fits so nicely in her kit and fixes a lot of her balancing issues that it outweighs the unfamiliarity. For one I think it works better thematically, "Shatter Orb" is kind of random IMO. But even if you don't like how I implemented it thematically, having Q be a channel makes it a much less safe ability and more outplayable while still allowing it to be very high burst, maintaining its assassinate potential. Getting a good channel off would require good positioning from W and R, or good deception (hiding on a bush) making the kit more cohesive and giving her a tradeoff for the strong mobility. Also it helps give her added decievetrickster pressure if she channels it with multiple enemies in its range. They all have to respect it since they won't know which was targeted.
Bread and Butter Combos Instant snap back on W is back! - but you gotta earn it. The old QW is still viable, let the malice cook and then W in to get the empowered reset (and a spell sheild to boot). There's more flavors though. You can land an E first, starting the malice, then W in for the reset and a quick trade, or stay in with the spell sheild for a bit and get some extra poke before the snap back expires. These are reversible now too. So you can W in first, wait for malice, fire the Q off to get the empowered blind then fire another Q immediately after for a pre-6 double Q. Then if you're level 3 and have E up, you can let the second Q cook and hit the E for an empowered stun to end the trade and catch some last hits. Another flavor of the same combo would be E(cook)QQ and W can be saved as an evasion tool. The W is more versatile now as well. Getting the reset for the instant snap back is nice but deliberately not getting it is a viable option as well. If it doesn't get reset, at 1 point the snap back on the W starts after 6 seconds up until a max of 10, so if you W away to escape there's now the potential for a surprise re-engage thanks to the prolonged snap back. I think there's more potential in this option than even I've imagined yet. If you max it out at 6 points then you can only snap back after 12 seconds up to a max of 16 (without a reset). That's a long ass time with serious re-engage potential. But of course it's a double-edged sword since if you W into the wrong place there's not much recourse for escape unless your flash or R is up. One other trick I thought of with this new W is that you could Q or E a jungle camp and then W into it after it cooks, then R over a wall to engage and finish off a kill or blow up a squishy, then immediately W back to safety. I feel like it's a stronger ability overall if used in the right hands and weaker if used without much thought or planning. Wave Clear and Mobility This kit would have two main options for wave clear. Both W and Q would be viable for this. If you maxed Q, it would be pretty similar to how she clears in post-rework - you W the wave and then Q will bounce on all maliced targets. But in this kit, to do that safely you'd likely want to hit a minion first with E, let the malice cook, then W onto the wave making sure to hit the maliced minion to get an instant snap back, snap back and hit a safe Q for the bounce. If you max W instead for your wave clear you'd want to start similar to the Q-max way by hitting a minion in the wave first with Q or E and then W-ing into the wave so you get the reset and snap back instantly if you need the safety. If you don't need the safety then W will still do lots of damage and you can simply W the wave and wait the 12 seconds for it to come back up. The New Ultimate LeBlanc's new ultimate has two faces: the familiar mimic ability, now renamed to "Encore" to fit better with her theme, and Shadow Of The Rose which gives her an active clone to play with. Like all her other skills, it can be deliberately capped at 1 point to have an Encore with just a 12 second cooldown and a SotR at 60s (or ~30s with max cdr). The tradeoff of the low cooldown will be the skill's damage and utility. Encore will only do 50% of the repeated ability, and the clone from SotR will have a short 2 second duration, just 20% damage and only 25% health. However, it's going to be up more and almost to a spammable level, for the players that want to make a lot of clone-based deception plays over a high damage build waiting for long cooldowns to come up. Another interesting thing about her R is that it can get a reset. So let's say you max out her ultimate to 5 points, giving you a 60s Encore. Your mimicked ability will do a hefty 200% damage, and you can reset the full 60s cooldown if you proc sigil with it! But if you don't get that sigil proc you're going to be boned for a while. And SotR gets pretty insane with 5 points as well. It will have a 120s cooldown (~60s with max cdr) and an 8s clone with 66% health dealing 80% of your normal damage. The plays you can make with something like this would really only be limited to your imagination. You could activate SotR and do a WR in two opposite directions dealing massive damage in two places at once since your damage is on the abilities themselves instead of her passive. Or you could manipulate the reflected clone's direction so it hits the same target along with you, adding an additional 80% damage from the clone to any combos you land on the target. It would be great for escapes as well. Activate SotR and then W in two different directions. The clone is fully targetable and deals damage as well so if used cleverly it would be hard to know which is the real LeBlanc. Different Play Styles This is by no means exhaustive, just a few off the top of my head. Play-Making Trickster - Single point in W for added mobility, maxing Q and E for the burst in Q and to keep R a low cooldown. For items and masteries you want to cap out cdr to 45% to get SoM and SotR cooldown as low as possible. Play style will include activating SotR in a bush by nearby enemies and W-ing out of it, sending your clone into them to fish for expensive cooldowns, then snapping back on your W after 6 seconds (or walking back if its faster) and using R to mimic-W in close range, then hitting your E to get a 60% slow, walking up a bit further if you need to so your 1.5 second Q channel will go through, and firing the Q which can easily one-shot a squishy, then using the R snap back after 6 seconds to disengage. One-Shot Tank-Melter - For items we're going full damage, so RoA, Rabadons, Void Staff, etc. Max Q, W and R, leaving 1 point in E. E will be used primarily to start SoM. We have massive damage on our R, Q and W now, but any misstep could mean lights out since our escape's cooldown is very punishing and we have very little utility on E. A play might include W-ing over a wall then activating SotR and immedately using R to mimic W onto our target(s) dealing 280% the normal damage of W if we hit with our clone as well. Now sigil is cooking on all the targets. So right after we channel our Q which has a 1.5 second channel time, but we're in range close enough from the R and it's going to bounce off all of them so they need to expend multiple cooldowns if they want to escape. If the channel goes through it will do 180% damage if the clone was in range as well and they're blinded for 1 second from the empowerment and our Q is immediately back up. We can use E now to start another SoM on a nearby target and immediately cast Q again to get the 180% right after, blinding them again and putting Q off cooldown for a second time. By this time W is about to come back up and we can use it to reposition/escape if we need to, with a third Q ready for whatever else needs to be done.
With this kit it's easy to know when you're in the most danger around LeBlanc, are you maliced or not? This fulfills Riot's demand for making her threat more telegraphed, enabling more counterplay. I tried to move everything op about her old kit onto her passive (instant snap back and root on E) without it being as binary as "she proced her passive so she did 2k true damage to me ggwp". I feel like LB should be the champion equivalent of Mejai's - if she gets ahead her one-shot potential is real and katarina-esque in its spammability granted she gets good resets, but unlike old LB a failed rotation or miscalculated engage/escape will likely result in very punishing cooldowns or her life. When you lock in LeBlanc it should feel like you're laying down the gauntlet. If old LB was a gamble stating "I'm going to pop off or lose this game" then this LB is the gambler that put his house's mortage on a roll of cee-lo. Each successive point in the same skill massively increases that skill's potency, but at the fatal cost of its cooldown. The solution? Unleash your malice (get empowered reset) or die trying. With each ability maxing at 6 points, and 5 for her ultimate, thoughtful point allocation would be as much a part of her build as itemization. Deciding to cap an ability early at just one or two points, stunting its potency and cooldown, would allow for quite different spell rotations and play styles to be possible. Okay that's all I got. If you feel so inclined leave a comment and let me know what you think. Any feedback/criticism is appreciated. Thanks for reading!
The fire mage Kael’thas recently received a significant talent rework with the Dehaka patch. As discussed by crawlingenchilada, his winrate is definitely not hot right now (around 44%) despite his continued high popularity; issues include reduced effectiveness of multiple talents as well as gimped kit mechanics (double casting Living Bomb, Gravity Lapse speed and duration). Here are my thoughts on achieving the theme of his kit in relation to his changes and at the same time bring balance to the hero.
I like to main Kael’thas, I've had him at level 20 for a while and recently hit 700 games played on live. I am deeply invested in Kael’thas gameplay and am both excited but serious about the continued development of this hero. I wouldn't be writing this much if I didn't care so much; he feels like the face of one of my gamer lives at this point... I'd buy any new skin in an instant. I played him so much on the PTR that I leveled him to master and more, and have still been playing him nonstop since the patch's release. To share my own statistics, my winrate with Kael’thas has dropped from nearly 60% to about 45% over his last 2 patches. I was very unhappy when Kael’thas was nerfed at the time of Li-Ming's overpowered reign. This felt like a slap in the face to Kael’thas players such as myself. Granted, his nerf was a long time coming. But the context was out of place. At the time, playing Kael’thas required significantly more skill than Li-Ming for multiple reasons: worse mobility, less range, less burst. Whereas previously one could land 1.5 second Gravity Lapses to make "stunning" plays, with the change to have less stun duration and the nerfed Arcane Barrier percentage, his tools to engage became totally inferior. His Q build with Flamethrower was the only thing reliable – a build wherein most of your gameplay came from only 1 ability in the kit! At this point, he is majorly reworked, and I've been having a refreshing amount of fun this talent-tree overhaul. He has creative new talents such as Gravity Crush and Sun King's Fury. The former allows a stronger 1v1 style of gameplay, while the latter enables Kael'thas to keep up momentum in fights whereas before he was a total sitting duck after casting his abilities. You can trade off Gravity Crush for Sunfire Enchantment in situations such as Battlefield of Eternity where damage on unstunnable targets adds up, or if landing your Gravity Lapse is less reliable. I find myself picking between his level 20 talents too... although they are fairly lackluster in general. He also buffs his E duration upon use of Verdant Spheres (D). This is nice when you need that extra moment of lockdown. While I would argue that his increased talent diversity is a significant success for his design, and as such he is in a better place than before because he's on the right track to fully using the abilities in his kit in tandem, there are still issues that need to be addressed in order to balance out his winrate and fully manifest the theme of his kit.
Allow me to establish a dichotomy between the theme of Kael's kit and that of Li-Ming, while at the same time differentiating theme from balance.
In contrast to the queen of constant arcane barrage, Li-Ming, fully engaging with Kael’thas revolves around the successful use of Gravity Lapse (E). Whereas Li-Ming is poke-poke-poke lasers popping in and out with teleports to flirt with the kill until "oops I just killed you with that orb I sent your way", Kael'thas is all about engaging properly. Flamestrike (Q) can be cast to land poke damage, but in order to utilize his entire kit he must get up close and personal. He achieves this by launching out the (E) whirlwind to stun his opponent and buy the time he needs to apply some Living Bomb (W) fire and ideally get more DPS/value out of the exchange than he expects to receive. If this isn't the case, he shouldn't even be closing in... for once his stun subsides, he's like a sitting duck – he has no mobility. Whereas Li-Ming can shoot everything from a distance, and gets even more revved up after dealing critical damage, Kael'thas intends to get a significant nuke out with his engage then take the time to cooldown after his stunning moment of glory. This isn't necessarily inferior in theme, it's just the nature of his kit. He's airy and combustive. He raises his arms, his target raises too, and things explode. However, it needs refinement with this approach in mind to be more competitive with the easy button mashing, skillshot-dodging wizard.
» Revert the default stun duration of Gravity Lapse; allow Living Bomb to be recast to restart its duration Here's my "long-winded" argument... Previously, a stun would grant the sun mage enough time to followup with the classic D-W-Q-W. You had the distinct play of not only getting off one Living Bomb, but exploding it into another one because you rewarded yourself that additional explosive opportunity by Lapsing the enemy. Now, with less of a stun, there's less from the sun. Here's how casting feels right now with less stun duration... you're reduced to poke-levels of damage by lighting people with a W and maybe landing your Q underneath. You can't double cast your Living Bomb (W) anymore. Kael'thas no longer has enough time or mechanics for his thematic moment of glory; he has to try and Li-Ming attack (read: poke, damage without fully commiting/engaging) his opponent. Then he waits, and he waits, then finally his stun is up and he can again try for a combo. Or maybe he doesn't even bother to land his stuns anymore, seeing as he only gets off a single W anyway. He prefers to D-W poke for free, and leave it at that. Or perhaps he went with that weak Convection talent and does all this with Qs only, fearfully forgetting about the rest of his kit or else risk the stacks he has gained. To fix this lame experience, Gravity Lapse needs its duration reverted. And double bombing should still be possible, but with the altered effect of simply resetting the duration. Gravity Lapse's reduced duration is also woefully inadequate for peeling yourself from the likes of Illidan or Diablo. It's so extreme against Illidan, in fact, that I feel a severe pang of inadequacy due to lack of counterplay whenever in the Illidan dive situation. I call this woe Gravity Lack. Without a reliable Arcane Barrier or Bolt of the Storm either, Kael’thas has very poor survivability in general. He isn't played at all in the pro scene for a large part due to this reason – the pros always capitalize on lockdown, so he doesn't survive at all if he gets even the slightest stun focus. Li-Mings can teleport out of so many scenarios. If you find yourself wondering why she has a better winrate, I would argue this is the primary cause. And to be sure, it's not like before I could get away from everything; quite the contrary. But very rarely now do I have those moments where I land the clutch stun and happen to slip away from death. My Gravity Lapse felt like a valued option before; now it feels like a mere delay of the inevitable. A microstun, practically a whack from the old Muradin Avatar. It's good for canceling, at least. You might remember there used to be a talent, Gravity Throw, to extend the duration of Gravity Lapse (and destroy minions). Let's be straight – nobody really ever picked it. But the one time I did find use for it was awesome, I was able to disable the enemy Cho'gall just enough to secure ogre kills. Two stuns for one made Gravity Throw that much better, and Chain Bomb that much worse at spreading. It was a rare moment of talent diversity in old Kael'thas. Wonderfully, D-E does now extend the duration of Gravity Lapse by 50%. I think this is a fantastic way to reorganize the old Gravity Throw talent. I find myself D-Eing on single targets now, especially to combo with Sun King's Fury, or to allow the rest of the team just enough time to followup with damage. Synergies like this are what I think distinguish mains such as myself from less-experienced Kael'thas players, who tend to be carried more purely by the preeminent mindsets of "land the big Qs" and "spread as much W as possible"; I know when the usually surpassed gains of D-Eing are amplified to surpass alternative Verdant Sphering. In the case of Sun King's Fury or having your team ready to match with damage, longer stun can mean more total damage than two W's or a D'd Q. Especially since W can't be double cast now. However, oftentimes paying for the old stun duration with a D isn't worth it, and feels like too much to ask, for the reasons listed above combined with this loss of Verdant Sphering another ability instead. I also had the thought to instead give Kael'thas a movement speed buff whenever casting Gravity Lapse. This would follow along with the wind theme as well, and similarly allow him to engage/disengage more feasibly by accelerating in and out instead of just walking back and forth unexcitedly. Regardless, however, I think it feels too weird to have such a brief stun when the ability costs a whopping 85 mana by default and the animation is all about that big tornado of wind – which turns out to not do a whole lot. » Reimplement the Nether Wind speed buff I would say that before when I automatically picked the old Nether Wind I got it primarily for the speed. It helps reduce reaction time for the opponent. This is also the premise of Fireflies on Li-Ming – for a long-distance ability, speed is quite helpful. You see, it's pretty damn easy to dodge a long-distance Gravity Lapse when it spins toward you at only mediocre speed. I have trouble guaranteeing ranged stuns, no matter my proficiency at aiming, without the speed as well. Dodge-guessing is not an option for me at long range. I really only benefit from range when they don't see it coming, perhaps through a wall (like to disallow an immortal stun dodge on Battlefield of Eternity), or have no other path to take (such as through their gate). And fast speed or slow, the low-range targets are rarely dodged anyway. You pretty much have to miss, or they have start sidestepping the same moment you start casting, in order for the stun to not collide with its target. Speed and range are basically a paired issue to themselves. And with just increased range on Nether Wind, but this reduced new duration of stun, what's the point of increased range on his Gravity Lapse if by the time Kael’thas gets in range, the target is no longer stunned? Well, this part would be solved by reverting his stun duration. » Unlock Arcane Barrier immediately, with a lower starting percentage, and increase its scaling derivative; trigger it as a side effect of Gravity Lapse instead of via a massive cooldown Here comes a "barrier" of text, I hope it's not too "arcane" to read... Arcane Barrier tends to come in way too late, and way too little... Late because the game is usually decided by the time you acquire it. If you are winning, it will merely allow you to engage a little harder under fire. Nothing a bit of sustain-under-fire-style healing wouldn't mitigate without a thought. But if you are losing, it rarely provides enough shielding in dire situations to save your life – this is what I mean by too little... For such a huge cooldown, it should be making a significant difference. With a longer cooldown, its effect increases accordingly, and then the result becomes more of a binary outcome, by which I mean it really has to do its job or else totally fail. It either works or it doesn't. You have to pick a serious time to use it, too, because if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, start Arcane Barrier, but turn out to not be the one who gets attacked, it gets seriously wasted. Right now, Arcane Barrier in the losing game scenario is just such a binary ability – you either shield yourself, live through enough of the Diablo flip and its ensuing lockdown damage to blow some wind out and run to safety, or don't have enough shielding to get off that saving stun and it hardly matters whether it was activated or not. It's not like it's making Kael'thas unstoppable the way Johanna's trait shields her; he has to literally have a huge chunk of damage to absorb if heavily locked down or else it's all for naught. Now the issue really rears its head because 100% of your mana is rather difficult to make substantial with globes. As an Arcane Barrista, your job is to get enough globes to be able to pass this binary threshold when the time comes. That's very tough; I often don't even get an Arcane Barrier running until the catapults era in casual play – it usually happens in TL when I'm consistently teamworking for globes, or in the Lost Cavern where there are enough globes to form a galaxy. The other thing is, it has a large 45 second cooldown. That's in the ballpark of heroic ablities! There's a particular wizard who with Diamond Skin can get a sizable (20% health) shield with every teleport, the cooldown of which is only 5 seconds and don't forget it has its cooldown reset instantly with her trait, putting her large shield off cooldown as well! I suggest instead of fumbling any further with Arcane Barrier percentages, we do away with its binary performance and embrace low mana-percentage amount by giving it greater frequency. In my iteration, casting E would proc Arcane Barrier just the same way Li-Ming's teleport E procs Diamond Skin. He would usually acquire his shield whenever engaging/disengaging, just like Li-Ming does. The two heroes manage their engagements in a different manner (stun vs. relocation), but could both deserve a shield in such a scenario. Why have to wait through a massive cooldown every time you want to pull up a shield? I think it makes more sense to be a frequent, smaller bonus than a larger, Johanna-reminiscent "extra bar". I think this approach is more appropriate and modern anyway, also given the latest Ice Barrier direction with Jaina toward shields resulting from ability casts, instead of from an activated mini-heroic ability on a large cooldown. Furthermore, I suggest Arcane Barrier be an available effect right after picking the talent. Why bottle it off until later? We should be able to feel the real results of questing as we go, feel our power to shield ourself grow, like developing an expertise in wards. Of course, it would have to be changed to a very small starting proportion. Unlike Li-Ming's constant shielding value, though, Kael's would be unique in that he wants to nurture the power; his has the advantage of potential maximization via the power of questing. Right now, Arcane Barrier is a constant percentage, which scales according to the rate at which globes are collected. I figure this is probably linear or sublinear in most games, assuming the rate of globe collection is either consistent throughout the game or greatest at the beginning. So in the new iteration, it would scale superlinearly. This way, it isn't too strong early, but it is closer to a reverted percentage later, still based on the number of globes collected. This can be handled by increasing the mana-shield percentage value at each level-up, just like other talents' numbers adjust as you level-up (for example the heal on Fel Infusion). Wouldn't it be fun to have a minor mana-shield early on? It'd be as natural an ability as casting a "ward" (shield) in Skyrim. Plus, it would be a very real way of staying in tune with your increasing mana capacity. (This is actually how I thought it would work at first when skimming the patch notes – I was really excited for such an intuitive combination of previous Kael’thas gameplay components. Unfortunately it was just myself interpolating what seems intuitive.) How does this change impact player mentality on both sides? Enemies trying to slay Kael'thas recognize his shielding effect more consistently, and as such know when to expect it and aren't annoyed by any sudden unexpected lack of kill. Kael'thas himself isn't frustrated by what sometimes turns out to be a wasted 45 second cooldown. What I'm asking for is the reverse-Sindragosa treatment on Arcane Barrier. The Diamond Skin treatment. The Cho'gall hammer treatment. » Have Kael'thas explode with a Chain Bomb upon death I think it makes perfect sense to remove Bolt from Kael'thas. It was a good move, because Li-Ming should be unique in her blinking mage ability. Besides, thematically, he shouldn't have a generic defensive option. And admittedly, it's hard to design him a different defensive option other than a big shield and have it satisfy both uniqueness and theme. But Kael'thas could use some kind of deterrent instead. Have him explode the effects of Chain Bomb to nearby targets upon death, just as if he were an enemy hero killed by his own Living Bomb. Include this in the W ability description. He should go out with a flame! Jaina slows her death down with lategame iceblock, but Kael'thas is fast to die and let loose some fire! Li-Ming either dodges/ force displaces or doesn't! All three can have ability shields. Kael'thas grows his over time by collecting globes, Jaina wreaths her self in protective ice for as much as she casts, and Li-Ming has a consistent percentage spell for shielding. Yay for uniqueness, yay for theme! Three unique mages, with fully characterized kits! Perhaps Kael'thas' winrate would be about 50% with these changes, I would very much love to see. I wish I could mod it and experiment for real. My Current Playstyle
As a result of the current issues, I find I do best with Kael’thas when I'm in a win-more, chase scenario, where I excel at extending the lockdown on targets that Dehakas have licked into your team. I've been playing with a skilled Illidan player in buff-the-Illidan (Tassadar + Rehgar), along with Dehaka, comps. I get the Gravity Lapse vulnerability at level 4, Backdraft at 13, and Sun King's Fury at 16. I am able to setup kills for my team by bursting down single targets. I can 1v1 many squishies by catching them with an extended D-E, dropping my Q and lighting my W, then Sun King's Fury autoattacking them to death. Bloodlust combos really well here, as well as the slow from Rehgar's totems. Depending on the outcome, Backdraft slow will help me chase or escape more easily too. Pyroblast combos with The Hunt to dish out single-target focus to enemies without a full heal, saving shield, Brightwing, or Void Prison kind of backup plan available.
About myself Hello, I’ve been a long time lurker, but this is the first time I’ve actually decided to post something on Reddit, so apologizes if I’ve messed something up by making this post. After the hero and talent reworks from this last patch and the recent discussions about changes for Arthas and him being rather lackluster, I was inspired, and bored enough, to take a closer look at him and try to do one of my favorite video game characters some justice (or at least more interesting). Full Disclosure: I am not an Arthas “main; I am not a game designer or balance specialist; I have been rank 1 multiple times (currently climbing back after a losing strike) but have rather mediocre MMR (low diamond); I have been playing since the alpha and have about 2400 games, nowhere a huge amount; I am not a pro or even TL player; and this is my first and only MOBA (not counting the original Warcraft DOTA). Why a Talent Rework for Arthas? As evident by numerous other posts about the state of Arthas, his popularity across all levels of play, his win rate, comments by the Blues, and general perception, Arthas has fallen behind other heroes in the game and has done so for a long time. Arthas’, as one of the primer Blizzard characters deserves attention. While his kit is niche and arguably clunky, my goal is to improve Arthas almost solely through changes to his talents and to refine and reinforce his role there, so as to make his niche a desirable one while still being clearly defined and not meta-encompassing. Through focusing improvement via his talents rather than kit or heroics, Arthas will fundamentally remain the same, but will now offer kore choice in how he is played to suit different playstyles and contexts, and for the actually Blues, easier to make marginal adjustments to. The changes laid out in this proposal are not intended to drastically change Arthas into a new character or to make him the new OP, first pick/ban, although I have tried my best to be conservative with his power level and for this to result in a minor overall buff to him, as Arthas is by no means bad, only subpar and somewhat boring. Ultimately, the overarching goal of this proposed rework is to make Arthas a more interesting and enjoyable character to play. If a hero is fun and interesting enough, even if subpar, people will find ways and opportunities to use them (sometimes unfortunately cough Nova). While this rework does not address the largely problems that Arthas faces which are inherent to his kit, the greatest flaw with him currently is uninspired talents and a dearth of excitement, something which I hope will be changed though a revamping of his talent tree. Unchanged Talents For reference here is a link to Arthas’ current talents and kit: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculatoarthas As I decided to get rather extensive with my changes, for simplicities sake here are talents which are unchanged: • Rune Tap • Obliterate (D) • Army of the Dead (R1) • Summon Sindragosa (R2) • Immortal Coil (Q) • Absolute Zero (R) Talent Rework I have attempted to match the wording used by Blizzard in similar talents when possible, and to make the functions of each talent as clear and concise as possible, although I am sure that they are not all worded well enough. The names are completely subjective and again I have attempted to appropriately flavor them to match their function and the tone and lore of the character, so please focus instead on the actual workings on the talents rather than their names. Additionally, as stated before, I am no game designer, and so take the numbers when provided as approximations of balance, as in game testing at all levels of play, for each map, and with all compositions would be needed to determine actual, functional values. Level 1: • Bone Shield – Upon hitting an enemy hero with a basic attack, gain a charge of Bone Shield, which blocks 50% of the next heroic attack (an auto-attack or ability). Stores up to 3 charges. o A situational hybrid of block and spell shield, weaker than both separately, but with clever play can be very strong against enemy teams that don’t counter this. Emphasizes your role as the front line and makes you tankier the more aggressive you can be. Synergies with AA buffs to promote more comp considerations. Possibly leans too much on being aggressive and perhaps should be able to grant charges from auto attacks made on any enemies, not just heroes, however then that may be too powerful. • Death Strike (D) – Heal for 100% of the damage dealt by Frostmourne Hungers o Encourages greater thought on when to use your D (not getting around that phrasing), and adds some Blood DK fantasy to Arthas. Also gives you burst healing which scales very well with later talents. • Harvest Soul – Collecting Regeneration Globes permanently increases health regeneration by 2 and mana regeneration by 0.1 o A stronger version of Regen Master and Conjuror’s for a hero that wants both health and mana regen, however provides no burst healing. The 2 health regeneration is more or less equal to Regen Master with Amplified Healing, without having to also give that to Arthas and making him better with healers. The fantasy of Arthas should include being the sole source of his own healing and being forsaken by the light and healers, not getting healed more by them. • Immortal Coil (Q) (same) – Death Coil also heals when used on enemies. When used on self, the amount healed is increased by 50%. o A reasonable talent that tried to split the difference between damage and healing, but just resulted in being worse than both Frostmourne Feeds and Stoneskin, now gives you a reason to be casting Coil on yourself in the early game and lets you get more aggressive when ganking kills or laning, but doesn’t scale well with other talents until late in the game unlike other options. Level 4: Utility tier that gives you some options which help to round out your build, and adapt to the enemy team’s playstyle. • Cull the Weak – Deal 100% more damage to Minions and Mercenaries. Reduces damage taken from Minions and Mercenaries by 50%. o Helps Arthas with laning, mana, and thus lets him gank more. Reinforces the fantasy of being the Arthas that destroyed Stratholme, betrayed the mercenaries that fought for him, and lead the armies that killed most of the population of the Eastern Kingdoms (yay lore). Too strong on heavy rotation maps, maybe, but Arthas never had much trouble with laning besides mana and not being able to use his kit for what its intended for, and notably this does not affect map monsters (e.g. the Immortal or the Spiders) or structures. If Johanna can have this at level 1, why can’t Arthas get his own version at level 4 when he is more group focused? • Damnation (D) – Increase the damage bonus of Frostmourne Hungers by 25% for every 10% of life you are missing o A combination of Destruction and Embrace Death which makes Destruction, which was reasonable, more interesting, and Embrace Death, which was terrible, usable. This offers much more room for personal skill and reinforces the idea that you are a strong frontline and a killing machine. Perhaps you want to get focused and then surprise a greedy squishy. Also makes healing an Arthas more interesting by moving away from the idea that you must always heal a damaged ally, especially a tank, and providing for more big yet simple plays with good communication. The damage bonus is potentially too powerful, particularly when paired with shields, so more number crunching would be appreciated. • Might of the Frozen Wastes (W) – Howling Blast cooldown lowered by 3 seconds and is free when Frozen Tempest is activated. o It’s hard to make talents for Howling Blast, given that it is so binary: you either hit the root or you don’t, but it feels odd and makes an ability seem bad if there are no talents which affect it. Damage is in other parts of his kit and this can effect no one to the whole enemy team, and prevents them from leaving. This talent is simple, if boring, but does provide a solution to Arthas’ mana problems. See further before for a suggested replacement talent, as I personally feel this is on the weaker, and most importantly, boring side of my suggestions, however those who play Arthas would of course have a better idea on if this is the case or not. • [ Winter is Coming or Frost Presence] (E) – Frozen Tempest now applies its slow twice as fast. o Simple, but not boring, as often the slow applied by E goes unnoticed, this instead brings it to the forefront and enhances your ability to provide peel. Scales very well with your tier 13 talents. Punishes melee or those without escapes from getting caught with your E and helps Arthas a little bit with his issue of being kited, something which in principle seems silly for the Lich King. Level 7: Refinement tier where you get to choose a talent to enhance your decision at level 1, also Shadow Trap. • Rune Tap (same) – Every 3 Basic Attacks heal you for 3% of your max health. o Its Rune Tap. Previous Arthas’ only talented healing outside of Regen Master (which he couldn’t abuse without Amplified Healing) and Army of the Dead (an ult) this is unchanged as it still fits in with his Death Knight theme and self-healing. Significantly enhanced by addition healing and migration talents in the level 1 tier, and new tools for keeping enemies close to you within the tree help to offset the rather long amount of time needed to get any worthwhile value out of this. • Obliterate (D) (same) – Frostmourne Hungers also hits enemies near the target for 50% damage. o As with Rune Tap, this is improved by other new talents in the tree and still feels like an appropriate improve on his kit. With additional survivability options beyond Rune Tap in the early/mid game, this is now a more attractive option and fits into a potential D build or further enhances your mercing ability. • Chains of Ice (W) –Enemies hit by Howling Blast are also slowed by 40% for 1.5 seconds after the root expires. o As a replacement for Frost Strike, this maintains the same effect while moving it to Howling Blast to improve the game flow when used. When on D, often you would have already used W to catch them and the slow was either wasted or only secured another auto attack or so. Now, the slow more naturally fits into how you use your abilities and can effect groups of enemies, offering more value. W becomes more interesting as you can now either choose to use it primarily for the root, which requires you to be in close range for effective use, or use it as a long range slow, reaching your target once the root is expired but they are still slowed. Possibly annoying to play against, but also forces more decisive usage of one’s escape. • Shadow Trap – Activate to summon a Shadow Trap beneath a target which knocks back and deals minor damage after 2 seconds. Lasts 3 seconds. 60 second cooldown o A small size Wave of Force or a Tychus/Medic Grenade for those who never did the Lich King fight in WoW, but also the immediate mark of someone who knew the basics of positioning and someone who didn’t, something which fits quite well with Arthas’ kit. Very strong, perhaps too much so if used right, but serves to make up for his lack of hard displacement an effectively allows you to talent into an interrupt, something every other tank has besides Leoric. Possibly should activate after 1.5 seconds to force greater precision when used with Howling Blast (as the root would prevent the knockback). Would be too strong if directly attached to Howling Blast, as the two are de facto linked together in practice already, although if this is indeed too strong, a weaker version attached to W would be the place for this concept or even as a replacement for the base W itself. Helps to offset lackluster heroics with its innate, yet hopefully skill intense, power while also capturing more of the flavor from Arthas’ character history. Level 13: • Remorseless Winter (E) – Increase the radius of Frozen Tempest by 50% and the slow applied to up to 60%, but no longer deals damage. o The radius I am aiming for is approximately Azmodan’s Globe of Annihilation, so ignore the stated radius increase which is likely wrong. Talents which provide trade-offs between buffs and nerfs, like the old Cold Embrace, offer the chance to give grossly-powerful improvements at the loss of power elsewhere in the ability, something Cold Embrace previously failed at by over valuing range and undervaluing a team-wide 25% vulnerability debuff. Here, the trade-off is focused on team power vs individual power. A massive, largely unavoidable team-wide slow is very powerful, but is more palpable if the person providing it can’t kill you, or can’t kill you fast enough. Reflects the fantasy of Arthas not being dangerous solely because of his individual power, but also due to the power of the army (Team) he leads and commands. Potentially too annoying to play against with such a large slow, however given that all it does is slow and there are characters which can out range it despite its large size, it may be fair. Would be very interested in discussion about how slows in the game feel and how impactful they really are. • Biting Cold (E) – Frozen Tempest Damage increased by 50% and its slow lingers for 1 second on enemies leaving its radius. o A damage option for those who want it, but with the added change of helping you against kiting and peeling for your team safely. The buff to this talent is possibly unneeded and too much, however a straight damage buff by itself, while possibly impactful, is boring and does nothing to change your playstyle. If a tank is getting damage talents, they should also be doing something for their team, otherwise you simply turn into a tanky assassin and create confusion between your character’s role. Arthas may be a bruiser, but he’s a bruiser who slows and offers peel and these functions should be reinforced and reflected by his talents as appropriate. • Chill of the Throne (E) – Heroes and Summons affected by Frozen Tempest have their Attack Speed slowed by 40% o In refocusing Arthas around slows, attack speed should be included along with movement speed. This talent further punishes players for getting caught by Arthas, while improving his and his team’s survivability, and encourages Arthas to not be as scared to rush the frontline, and for the enemy team to try to bate him out of position and murder the backline. Helps players to learn the value of overextending and positioning and rewarding those that do so correctly. Likely too powerful at 40%, which was chosen to keep it in line with Imposing Presence, given the area it affects and ease of use, and I am likely overstating how this will affect the enemy team’s playstyle. • [Death Does Not Stop or Might of the Scourge] (D) – While Frostmourne Hungers is activated you are Unstoppable. o Another trade-off talent, giving you a vastly more powerful version of Relentless, and arguably Johanna’s trait given the potential uptime of this, in return for not being able to auto-attack and making A-clicking in melee very risky. Forces more strategy use of your D, reinforces the feeling of being an unstoppable (literally), evil, undead overlord, and solves most of your issues with kiting. Both helps and hinders your role of being the frontline, as you can approach and bate the enemy unheeded, but once you get to them you either have to give up being Unstoppable or not hit them or risk getting too close. A situationally more powerful Relentless that has (likely) lower uptime and requires self-restraint for proper usage. Has the potential additional benefit of lessening the important of Cleanse for Healers, as if you know how to use your D properly, you won’t have to rely on being Cleansed if you go too close to Zagara’s Maw, for instance. While very powerful on paper, I’m not certain of this being broken, given the lower uptime, self-limiting nature of it, and being able to be countered by staggered stuns from the enemy team. Level 16: • [On a Pale Horse or Invincible’s Reins] – Increase your Movement Speed by 10% and casting abilities no longer dismounts you (auto-attacks and your D will though). o Thematically appropriate for Arthas specifically and the Death Knight class generally, while also providing a fun visual and helping Arthas with mobility issues. The main benefit of this is solving the issue of Sindragosa being difficult to cast from the front, and thus does lower the skill needed in using Arthas’ abilities. However, by level 16 other heroes are getting talents that provide more than strict utility and quality of life improvements, and so by not offering any direct power beyond a moderate movement speed buff, this talent is hopefully still reasonable. • Death Pact – Activate to gain 40% of your maximum health as a shield for 5 seconds. Cannot benefit from external healing for 5 seconds. o This talent represents the opposite of the above talent, all direct power and negative utility, functioning as both a significantly better Stoneskin and as a significantly more punishable Stoneskin. In a QM and likely even a HL situation, this is strictly better, however in TL or in the presence of enough coordination and focusing by the enemy team, this can be countered and deny Arthas his healer(s) leaving him dead. Points for change on this talent include preventing Arthas from benefiting from any healing effect, increasing the duration of the shield and/or debuff, and increasing the shield and the extent of the debuff or a combine of such. Of the talents I have suggested, this seems to me the most unbalanced when taken in conjunction with Unstoppable on D, however I am not sure if Arthas would benefit if they were included on the same tier. • Succession (D) – Frostmourne Hungers cooldown lowered by 3 seconds. Takedowns reset the cooldown of Frostmourne Hungers. o Takedowns include both allied and enemy heroes who die. In order to allow the existence of D granting Unstoppable, Frostmourne Feeds had to be removed as an option, and so this is its conceptual replacement, which also seeks to add some more flavor to Arthas by reinforcing his patricidal and soul-devouring aspects. This can be either better or worse than Frostmourne Feeds, with its variability partly offset by the included cooldown reduction. If an ally dies, then this serves as a minor comeback mechanic for the fight, and if an enemy hero dies, as a win-more mechanic and an opportunity to get greedy with kills and chase. Given the potential to deny the enemy team a comeback, it’s possible that the cooldown reduction aspect should be removed or lowered, or for an internal cooldown to be applied to the reset effect. • Necrotic Plague (Q) – Death Coil will ricochet between nearby enemies, even when used on yourself. o Like Howling Blast, Death Coil is also difficult to create talents for. This is intended to amplify the healing done by Immortal Coil with the chain effect, while also providing another means of damage and displacement for Arthas, helping to create of rhythm of spreading out and grouping up when facing him, remanence of a raid encounter. Although this doesn’t really change how you use Coil, it does add some more prominence to the ability that it currently lacks. While effectively serving the same purpose as before, only doing it more so, this talent will now change how the enemy team reacts to seeing Death Coil and take advantage of the spell’s travel time. Plus, a bunch of evil skulls flying out of people would look neat, and sometimes that is reason enough for something that is otherwise boring to exist. Level 20: • Legion of Northrend (R1) – 3 additional Ghouls are created. Ghouls heal for an additional 25% more and no longer expire. o Swapped for the 5 second increased duration on the Ghouls for them being permanently, allowing for the banking of Ghouls. Forces greater emphasis on killing the Ghouls rather than just focusing Arthas, as if he lives he gets to keep them and has the potential to get 2 cooldowns worth up at once. In practice, likely nothing changes about how this talent affects the game and is more of a quality of life improvement over anything. • Absolute Zero (R2) (same) – Sindragosa flies twice as far. Enemy heroes are rooted for 2 seconds, and then slowed by 60% for 2 seconds. o Turns a lackluster ult into a very impactful one, no reason to change this as it serves its purpose. • [Wrath of the Lich King or Heroic Mode] – Take 25% less damage while above 50% health, and deal 50% more damage while below 50% health. o A replacement for Hardened Shield that fits the character better. Allows Arthas to tank when needed and to transition into a bruisedps when he’s close to dying, further reinforcing the fantasy of being an unkillable, unstoppable monster that deserves to be the single most hated figure in WoW. • There Must Always be a Lich King – Your Respawn Timer is reduced by 15 seconds for every other dead allied hero. o Made this solely for the name, and have no intention of this being a viable talent. Realistically, this provides a minor comeback mechanic in the vein of similar talents at 20 for Uther and Johanna, however requires your team to effectively be all dead for full value, and if you’re getting multiple full resets off of this, then at this point of the game a lone Arthas can’t stop the enemy team from destroying the core or capturing all the objectives. One additional talent that I couldn’t find a place for, but thought was an interesting idea. Can be slotted in to replace any of the above which may be too weak or too strong: • Forsaken by the Light – Increases self-regeneration effects and healing by 50%
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