As you may or may not be aware of to this point, we’ve been pretty hard at work trying to address some problems we’ve identified with Nidalee’s gameplay.
Nidalee’s current pattern of nuking from very long range and being uncatchable is problematic for the game. It creates scenarios where there is no reasonable strategy that can be used to beat her, and it edges out most of the interactive gameplay we try to encourage. While working on her, we definitely want to make significant balance changes to Javelin Toss and her overall escapability, but we also want to make a more complete shapeshifting character that uses both forms in most of its success cases. That being said, Nidalee is a pretty cool character, and we don’t want to necessarily rebuild her from the ground up. In light of this, none of her abilities will be replaced by completely new ones, but playing as and against her will definitely be a different experience.
Before we get too far into this, please understand that we are still making minor tweaks and balance changes and that some of this (particularly the numbers part of it) is still **SUBJECT TO CHANGE**!!! With that out of that way…
Probably the two biggest changes to the character are her Cougar kit and her character passive. Aspect of the Cougar will now have 4 ranks and automatically be trained at level 1, and its Pounce and Swipe abilities will direct toward the player’s cursor. As for her passive, it reads close to the following:
Moving through brush increases Nidalee’s Movement Speed by 10% for 2 seconds, increased to X% toward visible enemy champions in a large radius.
Hitting enemy champions with Javelin Toss and Bushwhack causes her to Hunt these targets for 3 seconds, granting Prowl’s increased Movement Speed toward them and enhancing the first of each of her Cougar abilities against them.
This naturally leads to a few questions:
* How big is X%?
* This is a balance decision that will continue to be sorted out up to her release, but we want there to be a very meaningful difference between pursuing and fleeing as Nidalee.
* How large is “a large radius” actually going to be in game?
* Since this is another variable that is still open to balance tuning, we’re not settled on a final value, but we’d like it to give her interesting ways to approach fights.
* And most interestingly, how are her Cougar abilities enhanced?
* *Takedown*: using Takedown on a Hunted target causes it to deal increased damage to the target.
* *Pounce*: can be used to jump to Hunted enemies at about double its normal range.
* *Swipe*: using Swipe on a Hunted target resets Pounce’s cooldown to a set value if it is currently above that value.
* *Aspect of the Cougar*: as a Cougar, Nidalee gains vision of all Hunted enemies.
In addition to these changes, there are numbers changes across the kit. Significant examples include, but may not be limited to:
* Javelin Toss:
* Base damage and Ability Power ratio reduced
* Cooldown scales down with rank in Aspect of the Cougar (R)
* Applies the Hunt debuff to enemy champions
* Cooldown and Mana Cost reduced dramatically
* Ground lifetime reduced significantly from 4 minutes (still pending final numbers)
* No longer shreds Armor and Magic Resist
* Applies the Hunt debuff to enemy champions, and deals the trap’s damage over its duration
* Now only affects 1 target per trap
* Vision duration reduced
* Primal Surge
* Base healing and Ability Power ratio adjusted
* Aspect of the Cougar
* Now has 4 ranks and is trained with a point at level 1
* No longer passively grants 20 Movement Speed
* Cooldown scales down with rank
* Cougar ability base damages and scalings adjusted across the board
* Now fully deals magic damage and has an Ability Power ratio in addition to its Attack Damage ratio and missing Health scaling
* Deals increased damage to Hunted targets
* Now targets toward the player’s cursor
* Can be used to Pounce to targets at increased range
* Cooldown increased
* Killing a unit resets Pounce’s cooldown to a set value if it is currently above that value
* Now targets toward the player’s cursor
* Swiping a Hunted target resets Pounce’s cooldown to a set value if it is currently above that value
*About Ruining AD/Bruiser Nidalee...*
A lot of people seem to be concerned about AD or bruiser Nidalee no longer being possible. I think it's because of Takedown dealing magic damage and having an Ability Power ratio. I should mention that the Ability Power ratio is *in addition* to the current Base+TotalAD damage paradigm. If the concern is just about dealing full magic damage and that will ruin her in top lane, then that's something I'll want to give consideration to. The original post above has been edited to reflect that this ability, outside of switching damage types, is only seeing gains.
*About Pounce and Swipe targeting...*
Truthfully - and as a Nidalee player myself - I held off on changing her cougar targeting for a long time as we began to explore the character. However, when I finally did, it felt better not only to new Nidalee players, but to experienced ones as well. It took a game or two to adjust to, and ever since it's just much easier to control. I guess it's one of those things that you'll just need to take my word for until you get your hands on it, but I'm pretty sure you'll agree at that time, even if it takes a game or two to adjust to.
Also, there's some scripting logic in there so that she still pounces straight forward when your cursor is far from her (for example, Pouncing back to lane).
*About Nidalee being too squishy to ever go into melee...*
If it ultimately proves true that she just dies too much, this is a problem that we can solve. We could give her resists in Cougar, or while Hunting, or just higher base stats. We could give her high base damages so that she can afford to build a bit tankier. Being too squishy to be a melee character is solvable.
*To clarify on the Cougar bonuses against Hunted targets...*
The first of all three abilities is enhanced for each Hunt application on an enemy champion. So... the first Takedown, the first Pounce, and the first Swipe all are enhanced. An enemy will have to be hit by another Javelin Toss or run over another Bushwhack trap to get these bonuses against them again.
A simple, typical Hunt engagement will start with a Javelin Toss or Bushwhack hit on a champion. If Nidalee chooses, she will approach the target with her increased Movement Speed. If she gets within 700 range (Jax Leap Strike range, for comparison), she can use her enhanced Pounce to jump to their location. She will then use her enhanced Swipe to lower her Pounce cooldown, and her Takedown to deal its enhanced damage. At this point, she has used all of her enhanced cougar abilities against this target, and she'll need to reapply the Hunt via Javelin Toss or Bushwhack if she wants to Hunt them again.
*About how the increased Pounce range actually works...*
The closest comparison for how to actually activate this is Urgot's E+Q. When Nidalee Hunts an enemy, she is given some UI elements (like Yasuo when Q3 is ready) to let her know the range of her increased Pounce. If she hovers her cursor over a Hunted enemy within that range and tries to Pounce, she will jump to their location at that time (like Jax's Leap Strike, not Lee Sin's Resonating Strike which moves to unit).
*To address her being unable to ever fight tanky champs without a shred on Bushwhack...*
We're currently testing some changes to the way that Bushwhack deals damage that splits its damage between a small base and a percent of the target's current Health. This should help to chew through a bit more of the Health bar on tanky guys that tend to have a bit more Health without just getting rid of their resists entirely. The implementation here isn't final though, so we may come up with a better solution by PBE or Release.
*About the hitbox of Javelin Toss...*
We're looking at ways to make Javelin Toss as representative of the particle effect as possible. There are currently a few technical limitations to doing so that Javelin Toss shares with most other missiles in the game, but there is also one small but important thing we're testing right now to make it feel more fair. On Live, Javelin Toss actually visually gains some height as it travels. If you want to check it out, fire a Javelin Toss perfectly horizontally and notice that it slowly increases in height over its distance. The reason this was done is to make it play nicer when it immediately crosses terrain height differences, but I also think it's what leads to those occasions where you see a Javelin Toss that is fired diagonally hit things it shouldn't. Surprisingly, I've received the most positive feedback testing a Javelin Toss that actually approaches the ground slightly as it travels, and that's the version we're still testing today. It may not be perfect just yet, but we'll continue to look at it!
*For Nidalee players worried about me gutting Nidalee...*
I hear you on this concern. I mained Nidalee all of last season as well, and she's still one of my favorite champions. I know we haven't hit the balance mark on our last few champion updates on release, but I think we've learned enough from them to not make that mistake again. One of the great things about making these changes is that we can tune things to where they can feel satisfying and powerful in ways that are reasonable, with her engaging in proper risks and having incredible success cases. I'm really open to feedback that is well thought out and explained, because it's important to me that she's a blast to play following any changes made, so keep it coming! :)