3.15 Will be a patch that goes down in history as one of the rare moments where Riot noticeably and substantially drops the ball on something. With Riot turning down the pace of new patches and new champions in particular, but releasing a series of limited times and attempting to expand game modes (with the All for One and 1v1, 2v2 and so on types) the expectation for the quality of the patches has risen drastically.
Especially noticeable after the 3.14 Patch, which for a patch that reworked half a dozen champions, more items and introduced several entirely new gameplay mechanics and remade the jungle, was surprisingly well balanced and bug free. Since the PBE in particular, the chances for brokenly powerful combinations (either champions or items) or bugs has fallen sharply.
So the 3.15 Patch is an interesting exception to this trend. with Riot having nearly two months to work out the 3.15 Patch on the PBE, and with the exception of Yasuo, most of the changes being fairly small balance changes, it should have been something that went off without a hitch. Instead, Riot Accidentally deployed another patch that wasn’t even on the PBE yet, including the Skarner rework. How this happened, or the technical complexities involved are beyond the scope of my own limited knowledge, but I think we can all agree that Riot dropped the ball on this one.
This had several knock on effects, including the incredibly unpopular decision to postpone the deployment of 3.15 until the 18th of december in the Oceanic region, until they can deploy it and all the hotfixes at the same time. As someone who had been preparing for Yasuo for three weeks, getting blue balled like that wasn’t exactly fun.
But that aside, let’s move on to the actual content of the patch.
For the most part, the nerfs and buffs are comparatively minor, and or long overdue. Hardly any of them are unique to the preason. The nerf of fiddle’s fear is consistant with the gradual lowering of hard CC numbers across the board, and had been a long time coming. Sivir had been crying out for a nerf since her remake some time back, and all of this predates the 3.14 patch.On the whole everything was comparatively minor, with one notable exception.
Now do I think that Taric was overly strong in 3.14? Yes. However, the important facet behind this strength is that it wasn’t in his traditional role. The 3.14 patch hadn’t made Taric a godlike support, it had made him an Overpowered top lane or jungle. A taric with an Iceborn Gauntlet, Spirit Visage and a collection of other tank items could frequently 1v1 any member of their team.
Following a Spirit of the Elder Golem>Ninja tabi>Iceborn Gauntlet>Spirit Visage>Omen>Banshees/Thornmail build, 95% of the champions in the league plain lose. The combination of maximum CDR, 460 armour, shatter armour reduction, damage and rapid heals made him virtually invincible in protracted fights.
However, part of his strength was the psychology aspect. 3.14 Taric was a beast that had rarely been seen in recent league times. It was a character that relied on grinding down the opposition through long protracted duels in order to cycle as many Qs as possible. It was a champin that in a game where for the past season assasins have been dominant and champins expend rather than gain relative strength as the fight progresses was fundamentally different in play style and mentality. And a lot of this rested on the fact that ingrained in every league player’s mind was that Taric was a person safe to ignroe in a team fight. Much of taric’s percieved OPness comes from the fact that due to the fact that within a team fight, people instinctively ignore him, which allowed Taric to play to his strengths. If Taric had the same reputation as Jax or Olaf, that wouldn’t be the case. His strength came partially because people didn’t know how he worked or how to deal with him.
It was the potency of Taric top and Jungle, rather than Taric support which forced riot’s hand on this matter. However, in comparison to several extremely minor nerfs to long standing OP champions, the nerfs to Taric were brutal.Unnecessarily so, in my opinion.
Summary: The armor scaling of Gemcraft has been reduced and Shatter had several changes made to it. Shatter’s aura now increases allied champion armor by the correct amount and the armor damage scaling has been reduced. The shred of Shatter has also had its base value and armor scaling reduced.
“We’re happy with Taric’s kit in the preseason, but his burst damage was just too fabulous, especially when he picks up additional armor items to scale off of. Like other supports, we’ll be keeping an eye on Taric as the preseason progresses.”
Passive – Gemcraft
- Armor scaling reduced to 20% (from 30%)
W – Shatter
- Aura amount bug fixed, will now give correct amount of 12% (from roughly 15%)
- Armor damage scaling reduced to 20% (from 30%)
- Shred base values lowered to 5/10/15/20/25 (from 10/15/20/25/30)
- Shred armor scaling lowered to 5% (from 10%)
The numbers are deceptive. taric’s passive was reduced in effectiveness by a third, and shatter went through four different kinds of pain. Scaling was reduced by a third, shred base values reduced, aura effectively reduced, and shred armor scaling halved. A champion hasn’t been hit this hard by nerfs in recent memory (well some might argue that the changes to Zed’s ult is of a similar scale, but besides from that).
In effect, the Nerfs take away the one thing that made 3.14 taric so terrifying- his ability to pose a damage threat to carries.
This isn’t exactly a new trend either. taric is one of the most fiddled around champions in the league. This is his third major rework to date, and he’s always had an air of a champion that while listed as “support” always seemed on the edge of becoming something else. Back when Riot last remade Taric when they made his Q CD reduce on every attack way back when, metagolem AS jungle taric briefly became a thing, before Riot did exactly the same thing to that as they did now.
And this all beggars itself to the question. Are there some champs that we just accept are better than others? Not that their unabalcned, but that rather that this champion should always be more effective than this champion, and riot shouldn’t interfer with the status quo as it stands?
It’s true that Taric mechancis aren’t hard to master. With no skillshots of any kind, what seperates a good taric from a bad one is mostly correctly staggering abilities to make the most out of his passive and iceborn, along with correct positioning in fights. Compared to a champion like Lee Sin, or Zed, or Riven, that’s a low mechanical skill cap.
However, this game is getting older, and people are investing the time to reach the skill caps on characters. Lee Sin is currently a strong pick from Bronze to Challanger, and is one of the most popular picks in Silver, precisely because his skill ceiling is so high. Compared to older champions with noticeably less dynamic skill sets, Lee sin is not only stronger, but is designed and stated to be stronger.
And that’s all well and good, up to a point. But if there are 30 odds champions that can only be played in now Low ELO because of Riot intentionally makes them weaker than higher skill cap champions because they are lower skill cap, then we have a problem. Namely that a high skill cap champion, say a riven, vs a low skill cap champion, say Malphite (This is not a lane match up, but rahter a comparison of how much of an impact the two can make on a game) between players of even skill favours the Riven, not because the player is better, but because Riven allows the player to make more plays by virtue of her design. The same can be said of Lee Sin, Zed, and potentially Yasuo.
Mobility creep is one of the greatest threats to the game, but skill cap creep is of equal importance. Hell Yasuo is a champion that has practically no CDs, is an AD caster and has an ult that only works if certain conditions are met Ideally, every champion should be a viable pick at every League and level of the game- that is true balance.
Supports are in my opinion the most maligned group of this phonema. Not the position itself, but the character class. With a few noticeable exceptions (particularly thresh and Zyra) the majority of supports are one trick ponies who exist to perform one particular combo (Sona Ult, Alistair Headbutt-Pulv Combo, Nami ult and Stun, Blitz Pull) and, eh not much else.
Riot might say that it’s attempting to make supports stronger, but there seems to be a tacit acceptance that Supports will never be able to have as much an impact on the game as any other character class. It has gottent ot the point where Supports are being supplanted in their original role by other champions. Fiddles and Annie come to mind immediately, but Lee Sin support has been a thing for a long time now- not because his kit is complimentary to the position, but because he’s lee sin.
Taric was notable not for the strength of his jungle (it’s slow, but safe, and his ganks are mid range if nothing else) or the power of his late game (Despite being a monster tank with sustained DPS, there are stronger late game champions by miles if very few tankier champions) but because he is listed under support and achieved a status of pre-eminence outside the support role. That hasn’t happened since AP alistair was a thing.
So how is Taric in 3.15? Well, his jungle is still viable, his top is still viable, but it’s no longer has the potential to solo carry. It’s no longer strong. Could a solo top lane taric compete with a reneketon or Riven in lane? Perhaps. Would it be able to beat them soundly, or exploit upon his lead to create openings for his team like Riven or Reneketon can? No. And with his damage effectively slashed in by 25% to a third all things considered, Taric is regulated once again to the stun/heal/aura bot he was pre 3.14. His ability to make plays, or dictate the direction of the game is limited.
The problem with 3.15 Taric is not that its weak. It’s just that there are multiple markedly better picks in every one of his positions. And if there are markedly better picks, then the character won’t be played. This is a champion that created a different play style, one of patience and perseverance rather than the fury of glass cannon fights- And I’m sad to see him go.