We’re going to be putting a bunch of marksman stat and item changes on the PBE over the next couple days - wanted to set initial context and talk goals first. (Important note: the changes are not shipping with 8.10 - we’re giving them a longer soak time on PBE than usual.)
Marksmen as a class have been too strong for a while, and express that strength in ways that produce only a few game states. Early setbacks in lane don't put hyperscaling carries behind enough to really matter, so most lane bully marksmen have vanished or moved to other positions. The bullies who remain tend to be champions who can also be late game carries if they win lane, namely crit-scaling bullies like Caitlyn and Rageblade champions like Varus.
(As an aside, we've heard questions about the level of influence supports have on the game. The marksman issues outlined above need to be addressed regardless of the state of supports, though.)
The changes coming to the PBE are meant to ensure that when crit carries fail in lane, it really matters, while also setting other playstyles up to carry better off the back of a good lane. This breaks down into a few themes.
**CRIT-CARRY 'TURN-ON' TIME & RELIABILITY**
Getting to two items (Infinity Edge + Zeal upgrade) usually makes a crit-carry marksman the most valuable champion for their team, regardless of how ahead or behind they are. Two items isn't a very high threshold for that level of impact: in all but the most lopsided games, both marksmen hit their 2-item scaling spike.
We want to push back that moment of 'turning on' so early failure is appropriately punished and going even in lane doesn't guarantee dominance in mid-game. This gives other classes and positions more influence in matches where neither marksmen became obscenely fed in lane, moving us away from a bot-centric 'coin flip' meta.
The primary changes here:
* Reworking **Infinity Edge** to be less impactful early on, with passives that make it less powerful against early game targets and more dependent on scaling through the game as a standalone item, but still extremely powerful later on.
* Simple efficiency nerfs to the **Zeal** items.
Another thing to mention is bot lane sustain has crept back up again. As usual, this means less action in lane, which puts higher priority on scaling champions. So, we also have some nerfs to marksman lane sustain:
* Base health regen nerfs
* **Fleet Footwork** nerf
Not every marksman wants to play the crit-carry hyperscaling game, but crit builds are too smooth and too synergistic, while other builds haven’t been supported well enough. We're planning on better enabling other playstyles - the spellslinging of a Lucian, the raw AD snowball of a Draven - by improving access to the types of effects those builds need to succeed while making crit builds less perfect:
* Reworking **Essence Reaver** to function as a standalone item. It'll still reward combat patterns that combine auto attacks and spellcasts, but without a dependency on crit.
* A new B.F. upgrade, **Stormrazor**, that makes your first attacks in combat more impactful.
* Changing **Last Whisper** and its upgrades back to total armor penetration. This makes it a better scalar for AD and flat armor penetration builds, since it provides better value against non-armor-stacking champs.
* With the switch back to total penetration, **Lord Dominik's Regards** no longer needs the extra boost against tanks the Giant Slayer passive used to offer, so we're removing the effect (and Giant Slayer).
* A Domination keystone, **Hail of Blades**, with similar goals as Stormrazor
* Simple efficiency buffs to **Blade of the Ruined King** and **The Bloodthirster**
Another change on this front is that marksmen are trading 4 base attack damage for a bit more AD scaling (breaking even late in lane phase or a bit thereafter). Since these are flat changes across the class, the difference in base AD between one marksman and the next will be more significant in early lane.
We're well aware of how important base AD is to effective last-hitting in lane, so this stat change will be accompanied by a 'training wheels' last hitting assist, with the intent to remove it over the following few patches.
Looking past marksmen for a moment, Stormrazor, Essence Reaver, Hail of Blades, and Last Whisper's return to total armor penetration are powerful options for AD fighters and assassins, too. We view them as positive additions for those classes in the long run, but will be watching short-term balance carefully.
**OTHER OPPORTUNISTIC WORK**
We’re taking this opportunity to address a few additional pain points, some for Marksman players, some for others:
* We're reducing the late-game burst that crit marksmen deal to squishy targets via the **Infinity Edge** update, which will rework the +50% crit damage passive to one that converts a portion of crit damage to true damage. This focuses crit build effectiveness more squarely on tanky targets—a few crits on a low-defense target will still be highly impactful, but it’s less likely they'll get two- or three-shotted.
* You'll see fewer critical strike chance items early, meaning the impact of crit in lane is lower and lucky rolls won't determine the outcome of trades as often
* The AD stat changes make marksmen less oppressive to lane against. Melee champs know this frustration, but in testing, mages have benefitted significantly as well.
* Small changes to a number of non-crit items available to marksmen and light fighters, likely including Maw of Malmortius buffs and a Guardian Angel tweak.
* Changes to **Executioner’s Calling** and **Mortal Reminder** aimed at preserving their place as niche purchases in the game. These haven't been locked down yet, and you may see a few versions while the marksman changes are on PBE.
As mentioned earlier, we'll have two patch cycles to address your feedback before shipping these changes. Once the changes hit PBE, we'd appreciate feedback on the following areas:
* Are you finding good use cases for each new or reworked item?
* Are these item designs exciting?
* As a solo laner, is interacting with Marksmen understandable?