Problems with Mordekaiser's Power Budget and How to Fix It.

Let's talk about Mordekaiser. Riot Games, we know you are aware of issues within this champion's kit since he was up for a potential rework that ended up getting shelved. There are a few crucial inhibiting factors to the champion design that prevent his theme from shining. While some suggested reworks have addressed some of these issues, I feel it is very important to address the problem as a whole so that the balancing team can see the difference between bandaid fixes and proper adjustments. I'm going to lay out exactly where his problems are and suggest potential fixes. Of course it would probably be too much to do ALL of these fixes as that would likely make him over powered but you can mix and match some of the suggested changes to come up with some really interesting reworks. First off, we can start off with the building blocks for his intended kit: **- Uses health as a resource** **- Does not use mana** (I list this as a separate point to provide two contexts in the discussion further on) **- Melee with rather short-ranged abilities** **- Gains a shield from his passive** **- Deals AoE damage while having some form of resisting death via his shield or by utilizing spell vamp.** **- Has one of the most unique ultimates in the game which converts a dead enemy into an ally.** These factors collectively result in his _champion identity_. However, Mordekaiser is not given the proper tools to make the most of what he has. In fact, there are even contradictions in his current state that act as a root cause for balancing issues. But don't worry! We can preserve all of these identifiers while making him more fun to play, viable in the meta, and simultaneously zoning in on his theme. But first, we have to talk about his _power budget_. Overall, Mordekaiser is a champion who has an ultimate that consumes a large portion of his power budget, leaving the rest of his kit feeling a bit lacking. So we'll go through each of the points in order to recognize why these factors in his champion identity are being held back. **I'm not trying to argue that these aren't justified gating techniques for his power. My point is that if his ultimate is going to be tuned down or changed, these would be the best areas to move that freed up part of his power budget to.** __________________________________________________________________ **Uses Health as a Resource** This has always been core to his kit and fits his theme well. The problem with this is that he isn't given the same power budget as other champions who share this in common. So here are the problems in this _category_ that need to be addressed. 1.) None of Mordekaiser's basic abilities refund their cost / none of his basic abilities heal him. > Let's look at all of the other champions who use health as a resource! > {{champion:266}} Aatrox has a heal on W as well as a revive on his passive. > {{champion:36}} Dr. Mundo has a health regen steroid on his passive and his Q refunds half of the cost on hit or all of the cost on hit if it kills the target. > {{champion:2}} Olaf gets innate life steal in his kit on W to counteract his health cost on E and if his E kills the target it refunds the health cost. > {{champion:16}} Soraka may not be a fair comparison to start with since she actually heals allies in exchange for her ability costing health but despite that even she has innate sustain on her W's passive effect that makes her Q heal her on hit against enemy champions. > {{champion:8}} Vladimir's Q has no cost and heals him, his E stacks increase his self healing by a percentage amount, and his W heals for a percentage of the damage dealt. > {{champion:154}} Zac's passive blobs always heal him for more than his abilities cost as long as he generates them and picks them up. He also has a revive mechanic on his passive. > > {{champion:82}} Mordekaiser is the ONLY champion who uses health as a resource that doesn't get real health sustain from his passive or basic abilities. The only innate healing he gets is that his ult has 100% spell vamp but that doesn't provide sustain power in the laning phase because he doesn't get it until level 6 and it is on a long cool down that you should not waste just to get health back. > > The only way using his basic abilities can actually function as sustain is if the shield generated blocks more damage than what you originally spent in order to maintain that shield. This means that unless Mordekaiser is tanking tower hits, minion aggro, or trading with enemy champions his abilities simply are not beneficial to use other than the obvious wave clearing reasons. > > On top of this core problem... 2.) {{champion:82}} Mordekaiser has the 4th LOWEST HEALTH REGEN AT LEVEL 1 IN THE GAME. > So not only is he the only champion that uses health as a resource without sustain, his base stats regarding his sustain are also terrible. The only champions with lower base health regen at level 1 are Soraka, Riven, and Gnar. Though all of these champions are stronger in lane because their power budget is allocated elsewhere to compensate OR the base stat is simply deceiving. > > {{champion:16}} Soraka doesn't de facto have lower health sustain since she specs utility and can benefit from Strength of Spirit, often gets health regen from starting coin, and of course has a self heal on her Q. > {{champion:150}} Gnar is a strong laner and can stay safe early due to his range and ranged slow. > {{champion:92}} Riven has lower base health regen but she has a shield she can cast at no cost plus her power budget is simply allocated elsewhere in her raw damage and mobility. > > Of course these champions also don't use health as a resource other than one of Soraka's abilities. In fact, Riven and Gnar have no ability costs at all. Ultimately, this leads to the fact that Mordekaiser has some of the worst early lane sustain in the game. This doesn't fit his champion identity as a metal man. 3.) Mordekaiser has no incentive in his kit to operate at low health. > Some champions that use health as a resource have abilities that cost a % of current health as opposed to a flat amount like Mordekaiser or a % of max health which remains consistent. Aatrox's Q and E, Vladimir's W, and all of Zac's abilities function in this way which helps them gain power as they get lower health since their abilities are technically costing less. > > Other champions have some sort of steroid that empowers them when they get low health. Aatrox heals more on his W when under 50% health, Olaf's passive gives him bonus attack speed per percent of missing health, and Dr. Mundo's E gives him more bonus attack damage per percent of his missing health. So overall we can clearly see where Mordekaiser is lacking in comparison to other champions that use health as a resource. So something the balance team could potentially do to help him out would be to increase his base health regen, give him some sort of refund / healing mechanic on basic abilities, or give him some sort of incentive to operate at lower health either by making his kit more efficient at low hp or by giving him a steroid based on missing health. Of course it might be a bit much to do ALL of these things but they are certainly options to consider. ____________________________________________________________________________ **Does Not Use Mana** This isn't a very deep topic just something worth mentioning. Most champions who are not limited by a resource such as Mana or Energy like to build CDR because it allows them to spam their abilities with no down side. _Mordekaiser has more trouble than other Mana-less champions when trying to access strong CDR items though._ Mordekaiser also is not given the same kit tools as other Mana-less Mages. 1.) Build path compared to Mana based champions > For starters Mordekaiser obviously has trouble accessing Mana based CDR items because he doesn't want to waste gold on stats he cannot use. Standard mages with Mana can easily use CDR items such as Athene's or Morello's to reach their CDR goals. Standard tanks with Mana can use Frozen Heart. 2.) Build path compared to AD oriented champions > AD Champions like Garen, Gnar, Rengar, and Riven, can easily use the new Black Cleaver for CDR. More DPS focused AD champs like Riven and Zed can also use Brutalizer / Ghostblade to obtain CDR. Not to mention the AD champions without Mana are simply less reliant on abilities and as a result CDR to begin with since their Auto Attacks contribute to a larger percentage of their overall DPS. Mordekaiser is not optimally built as AD so does not access these CDR items. 3.) Compared to tanks > Tanks also get access to Spirit Visage and Locket of the Iron Solari. I personally love the idea of Tank Morde as I feel it fits his champion theme. Here is where his problems start to overlap. Since his innate sustain is so weak, Mordekaiser players typically build Spell Vamp and therefore also build additional AP in order to empower that sustain mechanic rather than tank items. Of course stacking Health regen on Warmog's and Spirit Visage is a way to obtain sustain and CDR but these items have been reworked to work off of base health regen stats rather than flat numbers and are consequently now worse on Morde considering how we have already covered how terrible his health regen stat is. 4.) Mordekaiser especially struggles in obtaining CDR compared to other "Mana-less Mages" which there are not many of to begin with. > There is the Vlad way of stacking WotA and Spirit Visage together to obtain sustain and CDR. Now the problem here is that Vladimir has incentive to dip into both item archetypes of offense and defense because of his passive. He gets bonus HP from purchased AP and bonus AP from purchased HP. Mordekaiser has no such incentive. Katarina doesn't need to build CDR because her passive grants her resets. Rumble and Kennen also don't need CDR as much as Morde because they have abilities that persist over a duration. This logic is a result of the concept of AP per second scaling compared to CDR. Champions such as Anivia, Swain, and Fiddlesticks benefit more from buying AP than they do from buying CDR because they have persistant abilities that do not calculate CDR into their in-fight DPS numbers. Rumble can leave his Flamespitter on and Kennen's ult and Lightning Rush can stay on for a period of time. 5.) Other Mana-less Mages without resets / innate CDR have some form of soft or hard crowd control. > Vladimir's W slows. Rumble's Harpoons and ultimate both slow. Kennen's passive stuns targets. Katarina and Akali do not have innate CC but they do have innate reset mechanics to compensate for not being able to easily access CDR items. So other Mana-less Mages can either do more with their abilities when they are off cool down due to CC or have a way to bypass having to purchase CDR. Consequently, _Mordekaiser has trouble building slot efficient and gold efficient CDR items while simultaneously having no way to compensate for a lack of CDR in his build AND his abilities do not provide extra power via CC to make up for long cool downs without building CDR._ _Potential fixes for this problem on the player's end?_ > WoTa is the obvious buy for sustain and CDR but it only grants 10% so we're really looking at how to get closer to the CDR cap assuming we are already purchasing this item. CDR Boots are an option ~~but Sorc Shoes are usually preferred since they improve the power of Spell Vamp via increasing ability damage through magic penetration.~~ EDIT: The wiki still reflected that Spell Vamp was post mitigation but it in fact changed on Patch 5.13 to be pre-mitigation. So Sorc Shoes have lost some of their edge preference wise. Boot choices then boil down to what your goal is. Sustained damage? CDR Boots. Burst damage? Sorc Shoes. So if you are aiming for burst damage, you still struggle in getting CDR from OTHER sources. Twin Shadows grants stats that Mordekaiser likes in AP, CDR, and Movement Speed... but this item isn't very slot efficient in the build late game and provides no sustain early on which is a core problem players attempt to fix in their early purchases. There's Ohmwrecker but this item is more geared towards tanks, which Mordekaiser would need changes in order to access. The only other CDR item that really fits his champion's identity would be Banner of Command as it gives AP, HP, CDR, Health Regen, MR, and more pushing power. Morde can promote a minion mid and go farm a side camp in order to farm in two places at once so this item can realistically be a good purchase on him. It gives you a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything which is a common problem when we talk about slot efficiency in items. _Potential fixes for this problem on the balancing team's end?_ > Increasing his innate sustain would allow him to spec more towards the tank role since Spell Vamp would not be as required. This would in turn open up tank CDR items as viable purchases for him. Alternatively, he could just be given something such as a slow on E to make his abilities stronger in compensation for having longer cool downs without CDR. _____________________________________________________________________ **Melee with rather short-ranged abilities.** Most melee champions are either _mobile_, _tanky_ or _have CC_. 1.) Mobility > Mordekaiser has recently been given a slight mobility buff on his new W mechanic but he has to be running towards a paired ally in order to gain this effect. So unless a minion wave is entering your lane or an allied champion is nearby it does not help him realistically escape ganks in any way. 2.) Defensive steroids > Mordekaiser's passive shield and his W's bonus resistances show that his intended trade-off for being melee lies in his defensive steroids. But his current state on live inhibits his ability to build full tank. Rather, he can be described as a Bruiser-Mage that is hard to take down while serving as a damage threat. In this way he is similar to Swain, Vlad, Ryze, or Kassadin. 3.) CC > The other champions listed directly above in the previous point are either ranged, have a mobility steroid, have soft or hard CC, or a combination of these things. Mordekaiser is granted none of these tools to function in any similar way. In general Mordekaiser being Melee is fine because he has ranged spells. The problem lies in his power budget. Melee champions are given more power elsewhere in order to compensate for their short range. Mordekaiser just needs more power allocated elsewhere in his kit, as it doesn't make too much sense to make him more mobile since he is a giant suit of armor. ______________________________________________________________________ **Gains a shield from his passive** This is fairly unique to Mordekaiser and has always been central to his theme and identity. It can be a bit contradictory though. This ability is very cool but the way it mathematically functions keeps Mordekaiser confined role wise and restricts his options. 1.) My biggest issue with Mordekaiser's passive shield is that the skill cap for using it is much lower than other shield abilities in the game. > So there is the obvious counter argument that Mordekaiser can generate a shield right before trading damage in order to use it effectively. This statement is correct however it isn't a conscious decision that has to be made because it is just naturally what happens. You go to trade, deal damage, generate a shield, take return damage, etc. > > What I mean by this is that there are situations where Mordekaiser should be able to consciously choose what his intentions are. Are you trying to generate a shield? Or are you just being forced to use your abilities for other reasons? > > The best example I can elaborate this with is say Mordekaiser is nowhere near an enemy and is just wave clearing. You want to use your abilities to wave clear but you don't care about generating a shield because there is no threat of damage to you. Yet in his current state you are still forced to sacrifice health in exchange for the shield. > > So here is an example of how the skill cap could be raised for his passive shield. This isn't necessarily the exact change I would like to see just an easy example. > > Let's say Morde's E remains the same. It costs health and generates a shield. Now let's say that his Q is changed to either cost no health OR have some sort of cost refund mechanic upon minion kill(s) BUT does not generate his passive shield. This gives the player a DECISION to make. Don't need a shield or want to spend health but want to wave clear? Use Q. Want a shield to tank damage? Use E. > > This may not necessarily be the best change but it would make his passive shield more interactive with the player, raise the skill cap on it, and make it more dynamic. 2.) The shield is produced via doing damage. > This concept in and of itself is fine. The reason this becomes restricting is the math behind it and how it is calculated. Rather than producing a flat amount on-hit, it produces a shield based on a percent of the damage you deal. 17.5% of the damage dealt to minions / 35% of the damage against champions is converted into a shield. The shield caps at 120 at level 1 and 630 at level 18. So at level 18 in order to produce a max shield you either have to deal 3600 damage to minions or 1800 damage to champions. Realistically in order to deal enough damage to produce these numbers you have to build damage items. The upside to this is that Mordekaiser deals AoE damage and so even if he builds defensive he can still generate decent shields off of base damages as long as he hits multiple targets. This highlights Mordekaiser's strengths as a team fighting champion which we will get more into in the next point. 3.) The shield is better when in a lane OR in team fights than it is in duels. > So Mordekaiser wants to use his abilities to hit minions AND champions in lane in order to successfully trade by utilizing his defensive steroid on his passive shield. The problem with this is that it pushes the wave and exposes him to ganks. The shield is also better in team fights which is awesome and is something we can highlight as a champion strength to further push his identity in a unique direction. The problem though is that outside of being around minions, fighting by jungle camps, or being in a team fight... his shield is pretty bad in 1 on 1 duels. His kit appears to recognize this flaw and attempts to fix it by empowering his Q when only hitting a single target. However, hitting 4 targets with the lower damage Q tends to generate a higher shield than hitting just one target with the empowered Q anyway. So this does not change much. One of his strengths is that he is a great pusher _BUT he cannot split push well because he has low mobility and his passive is weakest in 1v1 situations._ _This also means that during the laning phase after he has pushed his wave and cleared all the minions, he has far less ways of generating his defensive steroid and is even more exposed to the threat of a gank._ So the main issue with the way the shield functions is that it inhibits Mordekaiser players from building full tank if they want because they feel they need to build damage in order to utilize the passive shield. This is counter-intuitive to the concept of shields as they generally grant a flat health amount and you can increase how much effective health is actually given from shields by building Armor / MR. 4.) Compare Mordekaiser's shield mechanic to other champions that play a similar role > Diana for example is an AP champion with a shield that chooses to build items such as Abyssal Scepter or Zhonya's in order to maximize the effective health of her shield while still building damage. Diana is much more mobile than Mordekaiser and can get on top of her targets to utilize Abyssal Scepter's aura better, can play as an assassin so more easily utilizes the Zhonya's Hourglass stasis after diving the enemy backline, and also has innate CC. So it is more difficult for Mordekaiser to chase after this archetype. This is why Mordekaiser generally isn't played as a burst mage except in games where vision control is dominated to allow lurking or in lower elo where ADCs don't position as well to stay safe from your damage. 5.) Other champions with shields have an AP ratio or % max HP ratio on their shield strength. > AP examples include {{champion:43}} Karma, {{champion:61}} Orianna, {{champion:68}} Rumble, {{champion:117}} Lulu, {{champion:99}} Lux, {{champion:112}} Viktor, and even the aforementioned {{champion:131}} Diana. In fact, disregarding Mages that have shields EVEN TANKS with shields tend to have either an AP Ratio on them such as {{champion:98}} Shen and {{champion:14}} Sion OR their shields scale off of a % of max health (and sometimes such as in Sion's case they even scale off of both). > > Now it may seem fair to argue that Mordekaiser's base shield strength is higher and therefore doesn't need a ratio but it is important to note that in order to generate a full shield he has to pump out a lot of damage. This is a unique mechanic but it makes his shield strength hard to define from a base value perspective as he may not get much of a shield at all in duels or if he doesn't build damage. **How to make Mordekaiser's shield a fun mechanic rather than a limiting and restricting function?** _Option number one_ would be rather than a percent of damage dealt it could just generate a base amount per enemy hit. This would mean that his build path is more open to adjusting for each game rather than being forced to build damage in turn raising the champion skill cap by adding more decision making processes into playing him. This also means that his strength as a team fighting champion is highlighted since he will generate stronger shields in team fights by hitting more opponents. And it means that his shield can be a valuable part of his kit regardless of what he builds. _Option number two_ would be to lower the base value generated but add an AP Ratio and a % of max HP ratio. The ratios don't have to be very high as long as you have both ratios present. This provides an incentive to double dip into both offense and defense like Vlad's passive does in order to highlight the champion identity as a Bruiser-Mage. You can actually do both of these changes if you fine tune the numbers properly. ______________________________________________________________________ **AoE damage is central to his kit as well as some form of sustain during fights.** > This has pretty much been covered throughout the other sections. Nothing is wrong with this part of his identity other than his sustain is low due to other factors. Suggested changes can bring out this definitive part of the champion. _______________________________________________________________________ **Unique and game changing Ultimate** Honestly Mordekaiser could be reworked to build full tank as a bandaid fix because his Ultimate is so good. This is why the rework that Riot Games was working on would have been very successful in the short term but ultimately not fixed his long term identity issues. The potential rework to Mordekaiser was compared to Garen in that he would have been tanky and ran around being annoying with small consistent damage. The key difference that was overlooked is that Mordekaiser's ultimate makes him relevant no matter what. He can literally do nothing but be a tank as long as he gets a ghost from his ult. Of course, this doesn't make his play style have much depth and is the main reason why Riot put aside that rework concept. So let's talk about the current ways to properly use his ultimate to its full potential and how we can expand upon that. 1.) Mordekaiser can be put into a team comp with a strong assassin or two so that he can put his Ultimate on an enemy ADC and let his ally assassins take them out for him in order to get him a ghost. > Other champions have allies that try to assist them in accomplishing goals within their kits. For example, champions with resets like Katarina, Tristana, or Kha'Zix have their teammates simply focus down whoever is low health or is being hit in order to grant them resets. The team changes their priority targets in order to highlight these champion strengths. Mordekaiser functions in a similar way in that he can have mobile assassins on his team who can finish off who he selects as the desired ghost. There are several problems with this function though. Assassins are not that great in the current meta for starters. It's also not very mechanically intensive to just put your ultimate on someone and let your allies do all of the work for you in finishing the target off. On the other hand, Mordekaiser can't very well finish off an enemy ADC by himself because he is so immobile and short ranged. So they usually just escape alive, kite out the duration of the threat, or simply life steal through the damage while being protected by their front line. 2.) Mordekaiser is great as an anti-dive champion to protect allied carries. > Since Mordekaiser isn't very good at taking out enemy ADCs on his own in team fights, the next best thing is to get a ghost of a strong enemy bruiser. His ultimate deals % HP so is actually very good versus enemy tanks / bruisers. If an enemy is diving his back line it means that Mordekaiser's low mobility isn't much of an issue because he lets enemies come to him, or to his carries to be more precise, and just body guards. This also fits into his theme in that he seems like a knight in shining armor to his carries for protecting them and helping to kill the biggest threats to them. Of course, Mordekaiser's more sinister appeal is in the eyes of the enemy champions who see him as this evil being who stands in their way of winning the team fight for their own team. Mordekaiser can also place his W on his carry in order to give them bonus defenses and to increase both of their mobility while fighting the enemy dive threat. A Rylai's and Liandry's pairs well with this champion identity since it provides more peel for your carry by slowing the enemy and also grants more % HP damage to help take care of that tanky threat. Of course these items also synergize with the potential concept of a champion that aims for both offense and defense since they both give AP and HP. **The second method has more success in the current meta, is more interactive with the player actually playing Mordekaiser rather than leaving everything up to teammates, and has a balancing goal that Riot Games is familiar with working towards. Plenty of champions have been balanced around the idea of having anti-tank damage while having some form of protecting allied carries. Overall this could be considered a core part of the champion identity due to how unique the ultimate is while working toward a common meta goal. This also gives more insight as to where exactly to apply buffs to his power budget since you know what you want to work towards.** _____________________________________________________________________________ TLDR _**So now what?**_ Let's get to the problem solving. Well it is clear that Mordekaiser struggles to sustain his ability costs early game. So improve this somehow. Maybe increase his base health regen, grant some form of cost refund on kill for one of his abilities, or give him some sort of healing component on an ability. Alternatively (or additionally), give him some sort of steroid to better function at lower HP. Maybe increase his AP per % of missing health, grant him additional CDR per % of missing health, or make his abilities cost a % of current health rather than a flat amount so that their costs go down as he gets lower HP. Buffing his base health regen would certainly open up his itemization options as building additional health regen items would have a higher base stat to work with. Players might be able to actually make choices regarding whether they want to sustain via dealing AoE damage or if they want to focus on building defensive to help better protect their other carry. Maybe give him a slow on his E? Though this isn't necessary if other changes happen, it can definitely open up the options for how to rework the champion. This is a way to reward an ability with a long cool down for a champion that struggles to build CDR. Though, if you give him low health incentive such as additional CDR per % missing HP you don't need abilities to be as strong when they are off CD since they won't have as long of CDs. You may not need this if Mordekaiser gains incentive to build mix offense and defense such as Rylai's via reworks to his passive or W. It may also not be necessary if his new power budget properly allocated enough resources elsewhere. It is certainly an option though. As mentioned, his shield mechanic is a bit clunky and there are various ways to clean it up. Give it a flat amount per enemy hit in order to leave item choices in the hands of players OR give it a small AP ratio and % max / % bonus HP ratio to give incentive for mixed Bruiser-Mage builds. The other option for improving Mordekaiser is of course to focus in on his strength as an anti-dive champion by reworking him as a tank that protects his carries and focuses down enemy assassins / bruisers. Honestly he can still accomplish this goal without being reworked as a full tank though. It just seems to make more sense for him to be either a Tank or a Bruiser-Mage based on his design. ______________________________________________________________________________ **Thanks for reading! I hope this has given insight into Mordekaiser's problems so that the community can give better feedback on potential changes to him in the future and so that maybe a Riot employee can pass these ideas along to the balancing team. Also, there is a lot of juicy discussion in the comments section so try to see if the things you want to bring up in response to this have already been talked about or not.** __________________________________________________________________________________ _Community suggested additions to post:_ * His "Dynamic HP" due to shield fluctuations is a very interesting part of his kit with the potential to be very high skill cap, but as a DPS source you're focusing on getting out as much damage as possible and therefore don't really wait / save abilities to weave them together at times that would grant the most benefit to the shield. Potential reworks could make this mechanic a larger part of his game play. * Some community members like the fact that he is a champion without CC. While it may be difficult to make a Bruiser / Tank / Mage mix character that has no CC it is a challenge that they'd like to see Riot Games pull off. * It might be easier to balance Mordekaiser towards a specific role / lane such as Top or Mid rather than trying to leave him ambiguously okay-ish at both. * More evil animation for ultimate. HUEHUE * It seems to be a general consensus that his ultimate consumes a large portion of his power budget and makes the rest of his kit feel lacking since it has so much OP potential. Changing his ult a bit could allocate more room to improve the rest of his kit.
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