I'm Xypherous, a Technical Designer here at Riot Games. I've been working a bit on the goals for itemization changes as we head into the preseason, focusing mostly on specialization, player self-expression, and adding new gameplay patterns in the game. We wanted to fix a lot of the existing problems that players have with items and try to add more depth in terms of itemization. Let me go over the major goals we have for the preseason item changes:
Clean up / Reworks
We have some items that need a lot of love and some items that simply don't have a place in the current framework in the game. We either made these items relevant for a specific purpose or removed them if they were too problematic to balance. Some super-niche or narrow-scope items have been remade to work on a greater variety of champions.
There aren't enough items to allow each champion to really feel like they have their own unique build. We also want to add more items that allow you to specialize for the particular game that you're in. We˘re adding items to give players in each role alternate primary builds that fill out their teams better. If your carry needs to do more AoE damage, he has an option for that. If your primary AP caster needs additional CC capabilities, there˘s an option for that, too.
We want players to have a degree of specialization in terms of playstyle, and to buy items that complement that playstyle rather than simply giving them the highest raw stats.
Gold and Statistics Pass
We˘ve done a complete gold and statistics pass on the entire item shop. Many statistics have been reevaluated to better reflect how much gold they are worth at a particular stage of the game. Premiums have been adjusted across many items to reflect how difficult they are to build or how niche they are, rather than their raw statistical strength. Items that grant early Resistances / Attack Damage / Attack Speed have all been reevaluated in terms of strength.
Breadth and Depth
One of the most important things we tried to accomplish during the preseason was to ensure that your mid game items didn't pigeonhole you into certain choices later in the game. We've also endeavored to give mid-tier items more late game options so that you don˘t run into dead-ends as the game progresses. If you build Warden's Mail in the mid game, you shouldn't feel compelled to buy Randuin's Omen every game. We wanted to make sure that at each stage of item progression gave you upgrade choices later on.
We know that some of your favorite items might be affected by the coming update. I˘ll be discussing many specific examples in depth leading up to the patch. If you'd like more information on a specific change, reply to the thread and I˘ll answer your question if I can.
Today I'm going to talk about Armor Penetration and its effects on the scaling of our Attack Damage Casters class.
Let's take a look at one of the core items for this class The Brutalizer:
To adjust for this, we're making two major changes:
1. Flat Armor Penetration and % Armor Penetration values are generally being lowered, but now Flat Penetration is calculated AFTER % Penetration
For example: Let's say I have 50% Armor Penetration and 20 Flat Armor Penetration versus a target with 120 Armor.
Currently, on Live, I would ignore 20 of his armor via Flat Penetration (100) and then 50% of the remainder, leaving him with 50 Armor.
After this change, I would ignore 50% of his armor (60) and then 20 of the remainder, leaving him with 40 armor.
In this manner, we can make sure that penetration values can be cost-effective for both late game and early game because now you have an option to synergize the two statistics together if you need to pierce large amounts of armor.
2. Brutalizer builds into more than one thing
The Black Cleaver
Pantheon, the Artisan of War
Spear Shot: Will trigger Black Cleaver once on a single target.
Aegis of Zeonia: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magic damage.
Heartseeker Strike: Will trigger Black Cleaver three times in a cone, as it does physical damage to the target three times.
Grand Skyfall: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magic damage.
Garen, the Might of Demacia
Decisive Strike: Will trigger Black Cleaver once, on a single target.
Courage: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does no damage.
Judgment: Will trigger Black Cleaver up to 6 times, in a circle around him, as it does physical damage 6 times.
Demacian Justice: Will not trigger Black Cleaver, as it does magical damage.
So now, AD casters attempting to deal with highly armored opponents have a way to partially nullify the armor of targets they choose to fully commit to with all of their skills. However, they make a trade-off here; while Black Cleaver is highly effective at negating the effect of enemy armor, the Cleaver itself does not provide all that much Attack Damage as a whole. So your skills will be slightly less effective on targets with high health and low armor, simply because they˘ll be doing less overall damage. Black Cleaver is incredibly effective at shredding targets with lots of armor, but doesn˘t really do well trying to kill a mage with Rod of Ages, for example.
What about Last Whisper? How does this work with Last Whisper?
Last Whisper grants you % Armor Penetration while Black Cleaver reduces the opponent˘s armor.
Let's look at an enemy with 400 Armor. Black Cleaver will reduce their armor by 25%, leaving them with 300. Last Whisper will allow you to ignore 40% of the remaining 300 armor, which means their effective armor against you will now be 180.
We hope that this change helps create a smoother scaling curve for many of our AD casters without causing them to utterly dominate and kill everyone. While these changes allow them to ignore armor much more effectively, the characters in question will be making heavy tradeoffs by simply not dealing as much raw damage as they could have with a B.F. Sword build against soft targets. Additionally, these iterations of The Brutalizer and The Black Cleaver allow our more spell-focused ranged carries like Corki or Graves to have a viable alternative to Last Whisper that will give them great utility if they find themselves on a team with lot of physical damage characters.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!