League of Legends Season 4 Supports the Support

One of the most popular video games in the world League of Legends is about to end it’s third competitive season and big surprise, they aren’t stopping. Although we aren’t quite at the end of the third season (which ends November 11th) it isn’t too early to be talking about what is to come in the highly anticipated Season 4. In between each season, much like any other sport, people get together to decide upon changes to the game. This is in the hands of Riot Games, the Professionals who play the game, and to an extent the public. The big changes we see from season to season are usually brought about after months and months of complains about items, champions, maps, and more and Season 3 was no different. The largest complains received (besides teemo) were about the Support; this is exactly what Riot Games looks to fix.

The support fills a very interesting role within the world of League of Legends. These champions do exactly what the name implies, support other champions. Is your favorite role AD Carry? well you’ve got your support to thank for keeping you alive and giving you one of the most important resources in the entire game, vision. Someone who dedicates themselves to the position of support is someone who understands they are only there to keep teammates alive and provide some crowd control throughout hectic team fights. In the current meta, these support players are left to fend for themselves often becoming ward jockey’s. Spending all of their limited gold income on wards for map vision and items to keep the other players alive. If a support does anything else they are yelled at and berated and often blamed for not warding enough. Well the changes to vision, wards, and gold distribution is about to turn things in the favor of the support.

Systems Designer “Xypherous” has posted on the official League of Legends forum explaining some of the changes that will be coming to the preseason of Season 4.

In terms of our overarching goal: we want to add more gameplay with vision and how vision control works for everyone in this new season. We think the best way to do that is by diversifying responsibility. Looking at Season 3, standard competitive support play involved buying minimal items in order to spend the majority of a player’s income on wards and vision control. More gold = more wards. If a team’s support was unable to fulfill that role, or fell behind their opponent, the entire team suffered.

With a new season comes a new approach to vision: vision will be a team focus rather than an individual one. Here we’re introducing a number of changes to wards and the vision system that give all members of a team the responsibility and opportunity to participate:

  • Ward functionality has been changed. Vision wards (pink wards) are no longer invisible. This makes their placement and protection more strategic in game
  • Each player has a personal ward limit. If you place more wards on the map than allowed by this limit, your older wards will be removed (like the current Sightstone mechanics)
  • All players gain trinkets. These are new items that do one of three things on an appropriate cooldown: place a ward for free, detect existing wards, or scan a distant point

Let’s get down to some specifics:


Ward Functionality Changes

  • Sight Wards (green wards) have been tentatively renamed to ‘Stealth Wards’
  • Vision Wards (pink wards) are now permanent unless destroyed, visible to the enemy team and have 5 hit points
  • Vision Wards now cost less gold

In the current live environment, pink wards are clearly better than green wards in every respect other than cost. This frequently leads to games in which the only end-game approach to warding was spamming as many Vision Wards as a player could afford – in turn forcing opponents to pick up pink wards to counter enemy pinks. What should be an interesting strategic decision became a flat arms race.

With the new setup, the choices become more nuanced: Vision Wards still detect and reveal enemy wards, but, because they’re always visible, must now be actively defended. Vision Wards will no longer both deny and grant vision unless your team has control of that area.


Player Ward Limits

  • Each player can now only place up to three Stealth Wards on the map. Placing extra Stealth Wards removes the oldest Stealth Ward. This includes wards from sources such as Sightstone, Wriggle’s Lantern and trinkets
  • Each players can now only place one Vision Ward on the map at a time

We’ve decided to introduce ward limits as a way to cap the maximum amount of individual team member can contribute to the overall vision game. We’re going to watch this one closely as limiting the number of wards per player can have dramatic consequences on overall map vision, especially during the end-game. Three and one felt like the right numbers, but we’re open to feedback.


Trinkets

Trinkets are a completely new item type in the upcoming season. Here’s how they work:

  • A new Trinket Slot has been added to your inventory
  • The Trinket Slot can only hold trinkets
  • Trinkets are free and can be swapped out at the shop at any time
  • Trinkets upgrade at Level 9, gaining either increased power or a lower cooldown

Trinkets are free and have their own dedicated slot, so all team members can contribute to vision control without sacrificing other areas of development.

The Three Trinkets

Sweeper: Reveals and disables nearby invisible units (including Wards) for a short time. Currently, this does not reveal invisible champions

  • The Sweeper Trinket is useful for denying enemy vision by revealing their nearby wards

Totem: Places a Stealth Ward that lasts for 1 or 2 minutes depending on level

  • The Totem Trinket acts like the current Wriggle’s Lantern active. Stealth Wards grant full vision of a location for a brief time

Lens: Reveals a nearby area of the map for a brief time

  • The Lens Trinket operates like a mini Clairvoyance, revealing areas in the fog of war so teams can scout brush and other areas of the map from a position of relative safety

We’d like to give players more unique options for interacting with vision. Each trinket replicates one of the essential basic vision mechanics and has an appropriate cooldown. We expect that teams will want a mix of vision options available to them in order to counter their opponents’ potential vision choices.

We’re excited about the trinket system because it allows us to introduce a new way for everyone to participate in the vision game in ways that still offer specialization and customization. We’re launching with a set of three trinkets because we wanted the simplest and clearest system possible, but we’re open to expanding the system beyond the original three if it seems worthwhile.


Summary

The short rundown is that one of our main goals for this season is to make vision both more dynamic and less taxing on single players. Our hope is that these options make participating in the vision system more strategically varied for entire teams.

Many of the world’s top pros have been invited on a previously “Secret Mission” to Riot headquarters. This was later revealed to be the test of the new jungle, items, and vision system.

What’s changing in the preseason?

We want both players in a shared lane to experience growth, item choice and the opportunity to get a full set of items. To get there, we are:

  • Increasing the gold income for players who don’t last hit
  • Introducing bonus XP in jungle and lane for players who fall significantly behind their teammates
  • Capping possible expenditures on wards per player
  • Giving players access to free vision items, known as Trinkets

Additionally, new income comes in several forms:

  • Masteries that grant bonus gold to players in a shared lane
  • Improvements to our GP/5 items that reward effective support play
  • Increased assist rewards for players who get significantly more assists than kills

Increasing income, rewarding effective support play and giving everyone access to a basic vision item encourages team cooperation, rewards supportive players and gives everyone the opportunity to participate in the vision game.

Outside of the vision changes, what’s happening to address the above?

First I’ll touch on assist streaks. We’re making it so that players who have significantly more assists than kills will get additional income per assist. If a player does secure a kill, the extra gold from the kill will offset their temporarily decreased gold gain from extra assists.

In addition to assist streaks, we’re exploring masteries that provide additional early game income and we’ve added items that allow support players to gain additional income for supporting their allies, taking objectives and setting up team fights.

Let’s look at a few of the work-in-progress items that I’m talking about:

  • Philosopher’s Stone grants gold every 10 seconds. When a nearby ally kills a minion, you earn gold.

  • Executioner’s Emblem executes minions below 200 health and grants gold to both you and the nearest ally when you last hit. Your ally gains a small gold bonus on top of this. This effect can happen up to twice a minute.

  • Spellthief’s Blade makes it so that your spells and basic attacks against enemy champions grant you gold. It cannot affect the same target more than once every 10 seconds and last hitting an enemy disables this effect for 10 seconds.

There are many more changes to be announced in the coming weeks and months before the start of season 4, coming February 2014.

About The Author: Dan

I'm Dan, and i'm the Editor-In-Chief for New England Gamer. I have a passion for gaming, and hockey and I strive to bring you guys the best news, previews, and reviews on the net.