Patch 4.20 for League of Legends is all about strategic diversity

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This year’s season for League of Legends may be over, but that hasn’t stopped Riot Games from rolling out one of their biggest updates ever in preparation for 2015. Patch 4.20 brings lots of changes to Summoners Rift, with the big theme being ‘Strategic Diversity’. What does that mean exactly?

Here’s an explanation taken from the 4.20 patch notes.

Strategic Diversity. That sounds like a vague concept, but our high-level philosophy is we want to offer you more paths to victory so that your in-game decisions matter just as much as the champions you pick. In previous years, we’ve lacked the proper systems and levers to balance different strategies against each other, so when teams would discover unique ways to win, we’d either have to watch Ziggs bomb the stuffing out of people in stall / poke compositions, or we’d just have to tackle the manic yordle on a personal level.

In order to counteract these situations, they are making some big changes.

This year, rather than trying to ‘fix’ tactical problems from the previous season, we’re instead introducing a metric tonne of changes to map-wide objectives, a complete rehaul of the jungle and jungle itemization, and a number of strategic item additions / modifications. With these new paths in place, how you strive for victory will vary with each individual game and our hope is that all of this adds up to more far more strategic diversity and experimentation in League.

It’s a really risky thing to do. Riot know it is though, and will be monitoring and making changes accordingly based on general feedback from everybody. Changes to champions are far too numerous to list here, so be sure to check out the official patch notes.

Other than those, here are some other changes you can expect. Please note that this is a brief overview. Following the links underneath each heading will give a far more detailed breakdown.

Jungle

There are some changes to the jungle, including the inclusion of smite buffs, a new river monster, and some balancing overall.

We aim to promote diversity in the jungle with a pacing revamp based on a combination of higher camp difficulty, better experience / gold rewards, longer camp spawn times, and more. We’re also debuting a new set of jungle items that modify the Smite spell, unique buffs for using Smite on basic camps, and a new roaming river camp that grants a unique, team-focused advantage

Here’s what the new river monster does:

Junglers venturing into the river may now encounter the reclusive Rift Scuttler, a durable new monster that runs away from its attackers rather than fighting back. When a team defeats the Rift Scuttler, they’re awarded a vision bubble and shrine that grants out of combat movement speed in front of Baron or Dragon pit.

In order to make it easier for players to transition into this new jungle, the Hunter’s Machete can now be upgraded into one of four different blades. These can be enchanted further depending on what role you wish to fill. To balance this, Madred’s Razor and Spirit Stone have been removed, but some of their bonuses are being thrown into these new items.

Objectives

The objectives in League of Legends have also had some changes. Dragon, Baron, and turrets have been reworked.

Dragon

Slaying Dragon used to yield a large bounty of gold previously. Now, the gold output is much less in favour of some permanent stacking buffs. Securing more Dragon kills will make your team stronger overall.

1. Dragon’s Might: +8% total attack damage and ability power
2. Dragon’s Dominance: +15% damage to minions and monsters
3. Dragon’s Flight: +5% movement speed
4. Dragon’s Wrath: +15% damage to turrets and buildings
5. Apect of the Dragon: Doubles all other bonuses and your attacks burn enemies for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. Lasts 180 seconds

Baron Nashor

Baron Nashor has also had some buffs replaced with two other power-ups. The first is great for pushing, whereas the second opens up the game for some risky moves with the intent of a quick getaway:

1. Empowered Minions: Minions near Champions that are Exalted are now enhanced with Baron’s power. Melee minions become much tankier, Caster minions deal more damage and Cannon minions get significantly increased range.

2. Empowered Call: Champions Exalted with Baron Nashor now Recall much more quickly. This should allow for a very quick regroup when needed and also allow for some interesting risky plays since hiding and getting out is easier.

Turrets

I really like these changes, especially the one to the inner turret. Diving behind the tower and split pushing is a lot riskier now:

Inner Turrets: We’ve added a regenerating shield to inner towers that is automatically shared with nearby friendly champions, making it a little easier to withstand poke compositions (without completely invalidating them) while continuing to reward teams who play smart.

Base Turrets: All base turrets now have a new weapon; a powerful energy beam that not only deals damage but slows the target and reduces their damage output. Maybe this will make that split-pushing Jax think twice before turret diving you.

Items

There are some new items and consumables to choose from when building your champion:

When we looked at all of the high-level strategic opportunities in League, we wanted to create and retune items with a specific focus on macro-level value over micro-level contributions. If more teams can change course in a game through item purchases, rather than relying purely on champion composition, we hope to provide the right tools for strategic innovation to prosper in League of Legends.

I’d recommend clicking the link above to see exactly what new goods the store will have, as again, it’s a bit too much to list right here.

Overall

If you’re the kind of person who hates reading, fear not! Riot have made a video (with two parts) which detail and discuss all the changes. Total viewing time is around 23 minutes.

I’m not a big enough League of Legends fan to really comment on the significance of the above changes. What I can say though is that I am happy they are not complacent with the way the game is. They are always looking to mix things up and take some risks. It will take some time to balance these changes out, but I think it will pay off in the long run, and fans of LoL will be happy.

Last Updated: November 20, 2014

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