By Jordan Nelson
We recently got the newest patch for League of Legends, patch 4.20. This patch is the big one: the pre-season patch. While there have been many changes, some are bigger than others. I would like to take a minute of your time, and explain to you some of the biggest changes and what they mean.
First off we’ll start with the jungle. The jungle has seen a lot of work in this patch, each camp having an increase in difficulty. Besides the two main buffs, red and blue, each smaller camp can now offer a different bonus depending on if the jungler smites the large minion or not. Gromp grants a damage over time buff, useful for clearing everything faster. The wolf camp now grants a floating ward in the blue side of your jungle. The blue sentinel buff doesn’t last as long, same goes for red (with a slight increase in late game damage but a decrease in the slow effect).The raptor camp (which used to be wraiths) grants you a vision buff if spotted by enemy wards. The golems grant a stun every fifth attack on monsters. Finally there is a new addition to the creeps in the jungle, the scuttle crab, which upon death grants a small area of sight (either in front of Baron Nashor or the Dragon) and a speed boost in that small area.
On top of all of these camp changes, the bigger objectives got some huge changes as well. Dragon no longer grants global gold but a stacking buff that increases in power the more times you kill it. This makes dragon control more important than ever. Good junglers, and bot lanes as well, will now be keeping a keener eye on the drake. He should be warded constantly, especially against champions that can solo at low levels i.e. Fiddlesticks, Warwick, and Nunu. Baron Nasher no longer spawns early in the game, instead you must wait until the twenty minute marker to see his ugly mug pop up. His new buff no longer grants regeneration, but makes minions near the champion with the buff much stronger. The canon minions shoot from almost a full tower range away, and do increased damage. The caster minions do crazy damage in the same range, and finally the melee minions are just meat shields.
We’re not done with the jungle changes yet, as we have to address one of the biggest changes of all in the jungle items. Right off the bat we can see that the starting jungle item is only buyable if you have smite, on top of that the price has been raised making it standard for junglers to start with only two potions. We then see that all the old recipes for jungle items are gone, leaving in their place four new items. Each of these items affects your skill, smite, in a different way. The Skirmisher’s Sabre adds additional magic damage to monsters in the jungle, and lets you cast smite on an enemy champion, marking them for six seconds. While marked enemy champions take bonus true damage, have vision on them, and their damage to the one who used Smite on them is reduced by 20%. This item is good for champions that deal high burst in a short amount of time such as Warwick, Xin Xhao, and Udyr. It adds extra damage and allows them to clear the jungle faster, getting more ganks in more often. The next item is The Poacher’s Knife which adds additional magic damage over time to monsters, and a smite cooldown reduction. When killing large monsters in the enemy jungle, and smiting them, the cooldown of smite is halved, you get twenty extra gold, and a 175% movement speed buff that decays over two seconds. This item is great on those counter jungle characters. Expect to see this on a Shaco, or aggressive Lee Sin players.
Next on the list we have The Ranger’s Trailblazer; which deals half damage to all the minions around the one you are smiting, has a reduced cooldown of 15 seconds on smite, adds additional magic damage to minions, stuns all the minions for 1.5 seconds that are hit by smite, and restores 15% of missing health/mana. This item is good for those junglers that have a little more trouble making it through. Expect to see this item on your non-traditional junglers, i.e Annie, Brand, Akali etc. Our last jungle item is the Stalker’s Blade, my personal favorite. The Stalker’s Blade allows smite to be cast on an enemy champion, reducing their movement speed by 50% for two seconds and dealing reduced true damage to them. As with all the other jungle items it does add additional magic damage to minions in the jungle. Expect to see this item on the players that gank more, and need that extra slow to keep champions within their grasp. I think this item is useful on every jungler but particularly I have found it to be extremely useful on Nunu. Casting smite does not interrupt your ult, so you can slow them with your e, cast ult, smite them, and finnish them off before they knew what hit them.
Of course all these items have upgrades you can build into them. The Warrior upgrade adds 45 additional attack damage, 10 armor penetration and 10% cooldown. The Magus upgrade adds 80 ability power, and 10% cooldown reduction. The Juggernaut upgrade adds 500 health, 10% cooldown reduction, and a 35% tenacity boost. Finally there is the Devourer upgrade, which adds 50% attack speed, 40 magic damage, and a stacking magic damage of +1 for large monster kills and +2 for champion kills or assists. Any of these upgrades can be applied to any of the items above, adding for a rich diversity among the junglers repertoire.
There have been some other minor item changes, adding a more tanky vibe to the game. Tanks have been a growing part of the game since season 3, but now we see them integrated as more of a team aspect. The main changes that this patch has brought to the table are teamwork and a harder jungle. While the game can still be carried if one person gets ahead, it becomes much harder to keep the game afloat. The changes to the jungle have made ganking more important than ever, and I think the rewards for helping your lane are much better than just farming in the jungle. Overall Riot has worked hard to make this a more balanced game, and I think this patch has done some great work towards that goal. See you on the fields of justice summoners.