The League of Legends preseason is starting, and with it comes a host of changes. The proposed changes for Season 4 are the largest changes that the game has seen in one batch since its release, far outstripping the changes at the beginning of Season 3. How does anybody keep a handle on what’s going on in Summoner’s Rift in these times of change? They read this guide, of course!
Riot was very vocal about their desire to change the Support role in a big way. This is commonly the least played role, a bit below the Jungler role (which is, of course, my favorite). Both of these roles are seeing some new things, but Support is definitely where the biggest changes are coming. The end goal of the changes is to make Support a more fun role to play, as well as taking them away from the “bag o’wards” mentality that has long been the metagame standard. Riot wants Supports to be actually buying the interesting items they’ve come up with, as well as help the role, as a low-income team member, scale in a more interesting and impactful way. So what exactly is changing?
Ability Power Scaling for Utility Spells!
This is an exciting and long-awaited change to Supports. Generally speaking, buying Ability Power items on Supports is considered supplementary to more important stats like Cooldown Reduction. The focus has always been on being able to use those utility spells more often, rather than actually making them better through damage.
To adjust this, Ability Power (AP) scaling for utility spells like crowd-control effects and shields has been added. To put it simply, some stuns will now last longer as you get more AP, and buffs like the Attack Damage (AD) buff on Janna’s shield will be increased by ability power. This side effect of this, of course, is that the base values of the spells are being greatly reduced, as they would become far too powerful if they could be scaled higher with AP. This is going to widen the Support item pool, as well as validating many of the less-used items for supports in the shop.
New Support Items!
Many of the standard Support items are being revamped. The main reasoning for this is to increase the amount of gold that Supports are able to pull in. Traditionally this has been with the use of “Gold per 5” items which increase passive gold gain, which has been used mostly to take a little of the bite off of having to buy dozens of wards every game. In the end, Gold per 5 items just helped the Support get a few of their wards for free, and their overall impact on the game was almost unnoticeable.
To facilitate this shift, Riot has added three new basic items, each with a tier-2 and tier-3 version. The Spellthief’s Edge, Ancient Coin, and Relic Shield will serve as choices a Support can make based on what playstyle they wish to use with a champion; they must make this choice because once the Support has purchased one of the basic items, the others become unavailable.
- Spellthief’s Edge/Frostfang/Frost Queen’s Claim
The Spellthief’s Edge takes the place of Kage’s Lucky Pick. The small blue blade gives some passive gold gain, a small amount of AP, a bit of mana regen, and a unique passive. “Tribute” causes basic attack against a champion to give the wielder 4 gold, which can proc every ten seconds. Killing a minion removes this passive for ten seconds, which serves to keep the item off AD Carries. Frostfang increases all three base stats, and changes the basic attack gold to 8. The Frost Queen’s Claim takes those stats up even further, but leaves the basic attack gold at 8; however, it gains an activated ability called Arctic Embrace, which deals damage to a Champion and slows them significantly.
- Ancient Coin/Nomad’s Medallion/Talisman of Ascension
The Ancient Coin is the replacement for the Philosopher’s Stone; for base stats it has some health and mana regen, and carries the unique passive “Favor.” Favor gives the holder 2 gold whenever a minion dies nearby, as long as you don’t deal the killing blow. This allows the support to pull a small amount of gold while his AD Carry is last-hitting down minions and farming. The Nomad’s Medallion increases the health and mana regen, gives 2 gold per 10 seconds, and doubles the Favor passive bonus.The talisman of ascension further increases the health and mana regen, gives 20% Cooldown Reduction, and adds an active ability. The active gives nearby allies +40% movement speed for 3 seconds, which will be recognized from the current item Shurelya’s Reverie, which the Talisman replaces.
- Relic Shield/Emblem of Valor/Face of the Mountain
The Relic Shield is the item for tank supports, giving a bit of health and some health regen. It also carries a unique passive, “Spoils of War,” which allows the support to execute minions below 200hp with his basic attacks, healing the nearest allied champion by a small amount and giving them the gold for the kill. This will recharge every 30 seconds, to a total of 2 charges for two quick minion executes and heals. The Emblem of Valor loses the health, gains some armor, and changes out its passive for a unique Aura, Valor, which gives nearby allied champions additional health regen. The Face of the Mountain is a heavy tank item, gaining the Spoils of War passive, giving a good amount of health and adding 10% Cooldown Reduction. It also gains the Deadly Phalanx active ability, which consumes 20% of your current health in order to shield an ally for 4 seconds. After a few seconds, the shielded ally creates an explosion which deals damage in an area.
New Vision Mechanics!
The first of the new vision mechanics has to do with how wards will be operating. Our beloved Sight Ward will be changed to a “Stealth Ward,” however its mechanics remain the same; the big change comes with the Vision Ward. The pink ward is no longer stealthed, takes five strikes to destroy, and is a bit cheaper. Also, the vision ward is permanent and will only disappear when destroyed.
This is going to make the Vision Ward a considerable objective in fights, while reducing its ability to turn lanes into ward-fights. The bigger trick here, though, is that placing wards has changed dramatically. A single champion can only have three Stealth Ward’s and a single Vision Ward on the field at one time. This is intended to get wards off of Supports a little bit, and into the inventories of everyone else on the team. The second new vision mechanic is the trinket system. There are three trinkets, which will fill a special item slot of their own, which are free at first and can be upgraded by paying upgrade costs..
- Warding Totem/Greater Totem/Greater Stealth Totem OR Greater Vision Totem
The Warding Totem allows a stealth ward to be placed on the map, which lasts 60 Seconds and has a 120 second cooldown. This does count towards the 3 ward limit, so its just a way to have more wards cheaper, but won’t let you put more wards on the field. The Greater Totem doubles how long the stealth ward stays on the field. This is the only trinket with a divergent path, allowing you to upgrade it further to a 180 second stealth ward, or a permanent, but visible, vision ward.
- Sweeping Lens/Greater Lens/Oracle’s Lens
The Sweeping Lens, when activated, reveals and disables nearby traps and wards for 4 seconds. This is useful for scouting out wards, and can also be used to handle things like Teemo mushrooms and Shaco traps. The Greater Lens increases the radius, and increases the reveal/disable time to 6 seconds. The Oracle’s Lens adds on the ability to detect nearby invisible units, such as Shaco, Teemo, Evelynn, and Twitch.
- Scrying Orb/Greater Orb/Farsight Orb
The Scrying Orb reveals a small circle of the map within 1100 range for 1 second, which is useful for scouting nearby bushes to work out enemy locations. The Greater Orb increases the range to 2000, and the Farsight Orb can reveal an area up to 2500 units away.
These items are considerably more interesting in their function than most of the Support items we’ve seen to date, and I definitely look forward to trying the new Support role out as we move into Season 4. I’m very excited that this role will get some love, as well as the Jungle seeing a few changes, and I believe that the changes will be a huge improvement to teamwork and how the game plays. Can’t wait to see you on the rift!
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