Patch Chat 6.9 - Playtesting the Mage Update

Hey all, Welcome back to Patch Chat! We’re Riot’s Playtest Team, a group of high ranking League players whose job it is to play the hell out of things (lane tests, competitive testing, etc) and give actionable, objective feedback to designers. Every two weeks (concurrent with the release of patch notes), we’re going to be hosting a discussion here on the state of balance on the current patch. **Take this opportunity to ask us any questions about the state of the game.** Patch 6.9 was a massive first for Playtest Team. With new items, 15+ champions being worked on, and systemic updates to objectives, jungle monsters, and buffs, it’s one of the biggest set of changes we’ve worked on as a team. However, unlike the overhauls of the Preseason, there’s a lot more pressure on us to be as precise as possible so as not to disrupt the game midseason. And unlike the Preseason, we don’t have a followup Preseason patch to correct midway. And so the project began early. Our first playtest of the new mages was on November 30th, 2015, back when “Hextech Protobelt” hadn’t even been thought up. That mage was Brand. Vel’Koz and Malzahar followed shortly on his heels, and over the next two months we would play the six core mages (those three plus Vladimir, Zyra, and Cassiopeia) over 100 times. In late February, the new items began arriving. According to Nicholas “_Nickwu_” Smith, this was what was most difficult about the Mage Update: working on so many things as much. “We couldn’t possibly get enough games on every update to be confident in each new update”. This was a sentiment shared by Mattias “_Gentleman Gustaf_” Lehman, who pointed out that “it wasn’t so much that I didn’t think we’d have the patch ready eventually. It’s that I never knew how we all felt about every change on a given day because there was so much to keep track of”. With two months to go, items in flux, more new changes coming in every day, Blake “_Ex Shepherd_” Soberanis and Trevor “_ThEntropist_” Thernes spearheaded the project that probably resurrected our confidence in the whole patch: alignment meetings. As a new team, we’ve been expanding our process with each patch, and learning from our mistakes the hard way. But one thing we hadn’t had to do yet was tackle a constantly fluctuating project with a full team. In these meetings we would highlight 5-7 core issues we wanted to increase confidence on by the next meeting, detailing the steps we needed to take. Sometimes this meant a specific context for our upcoming playtests to resolve a difference of balance opinion, other times it meant crystallizing our group opinion to deliver more specific and justified feedback to designers. With a renewed sense of confidence under our belt, we would end up running more targeted tests over time, testing the six core mages another 150 times over the next two months, while simultaneously getting 250 games on the other mages, not to mention lane tests. Obviously anything which introduces change into the game adds some degree of uncertainty and imbalance. But as we honed in more and more on the more egregious outliers, and as we each started to enjoy aspects of the update, we became more and more certain that we were creating positive player experiences and trimming out the severe imbalances. So what are we excited about now that the patch is finally hitting live? Nicholas “_Nickwu_” Smith > My favorite rework is Viktor because I love that champion, and I think these slight changes make him more viscerally exciting. The pulsing ultimate is extremely satisfying compared to the sustained damage of the old ultimate and the speed of the laser feels fantastic. While Aftershock is much harder to hit by yourself, the payoff is much higher and rewards you for following up on teammates’ CC or landing a W stun. > Ben “_Cezium_” Burkhardt > Vel’Koz. Because true damage. > Blake “_Ex Shepherd_” Soberanis > Athene’s Unholy Grail. I’ve always been a fan of heal/dps hybrid battle-cleric type of characters - you should see my D&D character! - and Athene’s allows champions to better fill that battle-cleric role. It’s particularly fun on Nidalee, Karma, and Kayle. > Mattias “_Gentleman Gustaf_” Lehman > I don’t really play mages that often, but Warmog’s Armor making it easier to get non-armor linked CDR on tanks has me pretty excited. > Shawn “_I Am The IRS_” Currie > Teemo buffs will always be #1 in my heart > Trevor “_ThEntropist_” Thernes > Zac. His new passive duration is gonna be rad > What do you think about the Mage Update? Have any questions about what it’s like to work as a Riot playtester? Maybe some questions about 6.9 as a whole? As usual, feel free to ask any questions about balance or what exactly our job is! We will be around for the next few hours and will try to answer as many questions as possible. Adam "_Afic_" Cohen Ben “_Cezium_” Burkhardt Shawn “_I Am The IRS_” Currie Miles “_Daydreamin_” Hoard Mattias “_Gentleman Gustaf_” Lehman Nicholas “_Nickwu_” Smith Blake “_Ex Shepherd_” Soberanis Trevor “_ThEntropist_” Thernes
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