I want to chat a bit about some changes I'm working on as part of the Game Systems team. These changes are being made specifically with competitive play in mind, so we wanted to talk about them separately instead of combining them with the 4.7 forecast posted by the Live Gameplay team. As clarification for the curious, the Game Systems team doesn't work exclusively on competitive changes—we just want to highlight the instances in which we do competitive work. If this dual-post format works out, we may continue doing this in the future. Getting onto the changes themselves, the three areas detailed below will be what I'm focusing on in the 4.7 patch.
*We've lowered the 'game start' timer of trinkets down to 30 seconds.*
When we first introduced trinkets in the 2014 season, we gave them a 'start of game' cooldown that prevented them from being used within the first 90 seconds of the game. Since we couldn't be certain of how trinkets would be used/swapped in competitive play coming from a world that had never seen trinkets, we selected 90 seconds as a conservative timing to guard against potential/unseen abuse cases. Since their introduction, we've concluded that the initial trinket cooldowns need to go one of three directions:
* Push the trinket timing further to effectively remove them from competitive openings.
* Pull the trinket timing back and fully embrace their use in competitive openings.
* Be content with the 90-second timing and fairly predictable trinket use case in competitive openings.
In the 4.4 patch we pushed the initial trinket timing to 120 seconds under the assumption that a healthier variety of strategic openings could exist without trinkets as a factor. What we've learned since then is that the costs associated with many openings, such as traditional 2v2 or 2v1 lanes, is relatively too high in comparison to the common "3v1" or "4v0" openings we often see today (this is influenced by the need for early vision to safely setup a non-4v0 opening, the early power sacrifice to acquire that vision when purchasing wards over gold items or combat stats, and the disadvantage incurred in lane by opting into those setups). At this point we believe that pulling the trinket timing back and allowing teams to incorporate trinkets into their openings will reduce the cost discrepancy between openings in areas where they were a bit too harsh.
*We've added Fortification to the bottom tower, lowered its duration to 7 minutes (from 8), and increased its damage reduction to 30 (from 20).*
While we still feel that Summoner's Rift should have some asymmetry to it (specifically, differences between its top and bottom halves), we'd like to shift the focus of that asymmetry back into neutral objectives (such as Dragon) and subtle terrain differences (such as brush) and away from early-game fragility of the bottom tower, especially given the late-game importance of bottom lane's inhibitor as an objective.
The damage reduction is being increased as followup to the transition away from higher armor values on towers. Currently strategies that allocate 3-4 member of their team toward pushing down a tower within the first few minutes of the game (typically on the second or third minion wave) are effectively 'triple dipping' on advantages since they're more able to hard zone the enemy (resulting in 100% of potential minion damage being applied to the tower), expedite the tower's fall by applying significant amounts of champion damage to it, and increase the minimum allocation of champions needed to respond for their enemies (for team comps that don't meet specific requirements). While these advantages aren't intrinsically problematic (at least in isolation), we'd like to reduce the overall strength of this tactic to some degree given its costs relative to other tactics.
*We've increased the base Gold value of Dragon to 145g per player (from 125g).* [*Total value now 750g (from 650g).*]
As mentioned in the context of the tower changes, we're planning to reinforce the Dragon's role as a contested resource in the earlier phases of the game by increasing its base Gold reward to be a little more attractive for the team. This will mean that Dragon will be worth more at all phases of the game. As with our other changes, we'll be keeping a close eye on this change, and will make adjustments in the future as necessary.