Hi folks, I’m AzuBK, a designer on the Live Gameplay team, and I’m here to deliver some context and goals for the LeBlanc work on PBE.
**Thoughts on the Assassin Update**
We made a slew of changes to LeBlanc’s kit in the Assassin update in the name of slowing down her time to kill, allowing her to be more tricky at the expense of burst damage. Looking back a year later, these changes ended up being a mixed bag. Some of the changes still make sense in retrospect, like removing E’s slow to give opponents a real chance to break tether range. Others began with an honorable goal but suffered in execution. Her new passive mark, for instance, was meant to backload her damage but made one of the core values of her kit—order of spellcasts—much less important ("spell order doesn’t matter, just wait for the mark").
Enough looking back, though—let’s talk about our direction and goals with this project and how you can help. Our primary goals are to restore as much of pre-rework LeBlanc as possible while taking another stab at the assassin update’s goals of reducing frustration when playing against her. Like with any similar project, we won’t be able to give everyone what they want, but we’ve been testing and exploring internally for the last few weeks and have come up with a direction that we think we can all be happier with going forward.
Starting with the fun (and important) stuff:
* Passive mark is gone and the old **Sigil of Malice** is back. We still believe that pre-rework LeBlanc's instant, ranged burst was too high, but making you stand around waiting for a mark isn’t a reasonable ask for players. We’re instead looking at more smoothly backloading her damage by emphasizing RQ and the second half of E/RE.
* The old **Mimic** cast paradigm is back. Pressing two buttons to Mimic a spell introduced a painful delay, especially for a combo caster like LeBlanc. The pre-rework cast paradigm is also healthier for the game, as LeBlanc exposes herself to more risk by not having access to RW escapes regardless of her spell sequencing, so this is a win all around.
* Feelings have been mixed on the global R-R **clone.** While it holds potential for some tricky outplays, the clone’s most effective uses are scouting and blocking skillshots, which don’t fit with the deceptive illusionist fantasy. So we're reverting the clone changes and bringing back **Mirror Image**. Mirror Image triggers at a moment that’s tense for both players involved (LeBlanc is about to die, and her opponent is about to land a kill), and provides both some guaranteed value and an opportunity to deceive and outplay.
We’ve also got a number of other tuning and mechanics changes, including:
* RQ’s damage is more tilted towards the mark than the initial hit, whereas the base Q cast is evenly split. Q+R poke (inasmuch as that amount of damage can be called poke) was a constant problem before the rework, and we aren’t eager to jump back into the world where LeBlanc chunks opponents out without putting herself in danger. E and RE’s damage are similarly backloaded.
* E tether is slightly easier to break. This change is aimed squarely at the playing against case—we want to give players a more realistic shot at breaking the tether, which frequently feels unfair on live (though again, to a lesser extent than when E used to slow). It’s especially important that this moment is reasonable for both sides given our intent to put more power into the root damage.
* The lockout before snapping back with W is reduced. We aren’t planning to fully revert/remove the lockout for a few reasons listed below, but the delay doesn’t have to be as long as live in order to achieve our goals. We’re also going to count the delay from when the dash ends, rather than starts, so short dashes aren't as punished as they are on live (creating some of the standout worst-feeling cases.)
* The main reason for the lockout lies in how opposing players are supposed to respond to Distortion. With its speed and lack of landing-position telegraphing, it’s not a skillshot that players are expected to dodge, and we're not trying to change that. The play is in whether LeBlanc is going to snap back and when, and we need time for that play to be meaningful. Opponents need a brief moment to recognize that she has arrived and take part in the mind game—it doesn’t need to be a long time—but that moment has to exist.
* The no-lockout model biases toward pro play and low-ping environments. Even with no lockout, many players used the pre-rework W as if it had a short delay, because it had no buffering. Like other highly-ping-sensitive mechanics, perfect snap-back timing isn’t a LeBlanc skill we think is good for normal-vs-pro balance, so we’ll be investigating whether some gentle buffering makes sense here in order to even out that disparity.
* On a simpler note—instant snapback, when executed very well, just isn’t readable for opponents or spectators. Lack of visual gameplay clarity isn’t the sort of deception we’re looking for.
Stay tuned for additional changes on the PBE as well. LeBlanc could ship as early as 8.6 if everything looks good, but might live on the PBE for a few cycles if she needs longer to get to a good spot. Feedback, especially on whether we’ve brought the fun parts of LeBlanc back or not, is welcome and appreciated. I can’t promise that everything will make it in, but, as always, your feedback will help guide the project moving forward.
Edit: Full current changelist below. There's some experimental stuff in here, so I wouldn't expect all of this to go live. Play it, think about it, and tell us what makes sense and what doesn't. I'll be around intermittently to answer questions.
* **Mirror Image** is back, currently no changes from pre-rework state.
> **Sigil of Malice**
* Damage :: 55/90/125/160/195 (+0.5 AP) >>> 55/80/105/130/155 (+0.4 AP)
* Mark Damage :: 55/80/105/130/155 (+0.4 AP)
* Mana Cost :: 40/45/50/55/60 >>> 50/60/70/80/90
* Damage :: 40/55/70/85/100 (+0.2 AP) >>> 85/125/165/205/245 (+0.6 AP)
* Mana Cost :: 70/80/90/100/110 >>> 80/90/100/110/120
* Dash Speed :: 1600 >>> 1450
* Snapback Lockout :: 0.85 seconds from starting dash >>> 0.2 seconds from finishing dash
* Snapback Window :: 4 seconds >>> 3 seconds
> **Ethereal Chains**
* Initial Hit AP Ratio :: 0.5 AP >>> 0.3 AP
* Root Damage :: 40/60/80/100/120 (+0.5 AP) >>> 80/120/160/200/240 (+0.6 AP)
* Mana Cost :: 40 >>> 70
* Tether Range :: 885 >>> 865
* RQ Damage :: 150/275/400 (+0.6 AP) >>> 70/140/210 (+0.4 AP)
* RQ Mark Damage :: 150/275/400 (+0.6 AP) >>> 140/280/420 (+0.8 AP)
* RW Damage :: 60/120/180 (+0.3 AP) >>> 150/300/450 (+0.6 AP)
* RE Initial Damage :: 100/160/220 (+0.4 AP) >>> 60/120/180 (+0.3 AP)
* RE Root Damage :: 100/160/220 (+0.4 AP) >>> 120/240/360 (+0.6 AP)
* Cooldown :: 54/42/30 >>> 110/75/40