Friday, January 18, 2013

League Analysis: Gangplank - He Who Is Underplayed

Like numerous other multiplayer games, it is certain that there is going to be some level of imbalance. In the case of League of Legends, certain champions are incredibly overpowered for some reason, whether it's due to new items, new masteries, or buffs/nerfs/bug fixes to champions (which can alter the meta, which could also increase or decrease the viability of champions). The same goes for champions that are underused or underplayed.
In this case, I am going to go over Gangplank, a champion who's been rarely played for quite awhile and has been used on an ever decreasing trend due to an outdated, clunky kit (in comparison to other champions, especially the more recent ones), among other reasons. I will list revisions to Gangplank with explanations, highlighting issues with Gangplank's current kit as they come up (either from my own experience or from research, mostly in the form of forum lurking).

Introduction to Changes

Here you will see the suggestions I have to improve Gangplank. However, you may be wondering why Gangplank needs these changes to begin with, since saying he's "underplayed" isn't really descriptive and doesn't explain his current state in League of Legends. With that said, here are some issues I can think of when I look at Gangplank:
  • The first con that immediately comes to mind is that his laning isn't particularly great. While he technically has an "escape" due to his W ability clearing CC, and he can gradually accumulate more gold than other laners, he's extremely vulnerable to harass to the point that the heal from his W (plus pots, regeneration, and lifesteal) can't overwrite the damage from just about any top laner imaginable. The same goes for mid.
    • The con makes sense to a point if he has stronger late game scaling, which he does to a point. However, there are other choices, such as Jax, which actually have some counterplay in the laning phase while scaling into a lategame monster.
  • His jungling isn't that great. Not only does he have no AoE outside of his ultimate and items, his single target damage isn't even that good (and sadly doesn't scale as well with attack speed runes as many other jungling champions). Even with his Q bonus gold taken into account, his slow clear times result in him acquiring little gold or experience. He also doesn't have any hard CC, which makes his ganking power rather limited.
  • His kit overall is generally confusing and inferior to other champions. For instance, his E increases movement speed, implying it could be used as a chasing tool, but it has a cast time that stops movement (his Q and R do as well but the slow would generally "compensate" for the lost movement in the case of R and his Q is effectively a ranged attack, which do have hidden "cast times").
    • Furthermore, Gangplank only has a single ability he uses regularly, which is his Q. This really cuts down on his skillcap and also makes the playability of Gangplank rather bland (although abilities, like his R, do require some skill and general awareness to use properly, but I don't think this really compensates enough).
Passive (Grog-Soaked Blade Becomes Raise Morale)

I would move both components of Gangplank's E, which is Raise Morale, to his passive effect. Gangplank would passively gain 4 + (1 per 2 levels - 22 total) Attack Damage and 2% + (1% per 3 levels - 8% total) Movement speed. In addition, when he uses an ability, he gains double the effect for 8 seconds and grants half the bonuses to allies within 1200 range (this effect has a 20 second cooldown).

While this change seems clunky, it is in preparation for giving Gangplank another ability. However, while Gangplank needs another (preferably offensive) ability he can use frequently, I didn't want to remove the effects of Raise Morale. It is an awesome piece of utility and thus I made it his passive effect. Don't worry about his old passive as I'll be moving that somewhere.

This also removes a flaw with Raise Morale that involves casting the ability to improve mobility which ironically hampers chasing. This is further emphasized later.

Q (Parrrley)

I honestly don't see anything too wrong about Parrrley. While some aspects of it, such as it applying on-hit effects, may need to be revised at some point, I don't think these changes need to be made. As for other aspects of the ability, I would only consider revising the base mana cost to always be 50 (to make it a more attractive option to level for laning since you won't drain all your mana trying to get some creep score, since even with the mana refund it is possible to do so), but that's an optional change really.

W (Remove Scurvy)

Remove Scurvy is also an ability I wouldn't change too much. It's a pretty strong piece of utility as it is. However, I still have two suggestions regarding the ability:
  • Firstly, I would change the cast time to instant. The overall power of the ability won't change because a player could use it to remove a CC as soon as it is applied with the proper timing anyways. What it would do is allow Gangplank players to use Remove Scurvy to instantly activate the new passive (though there's significant risk involved).
  • Secondly, I would put some consideration into allowing Remove Scurvy to grant some Armor and Magic Resist for a short duration. This is mostly because of his melee status, meaning he should probably have bruiser-level durability. However, to prevent Gangplanks with more glass cannon builds from benefiting too much, the bonus should be a percentage increase in Armor and Magic Resist.
    • This one is the more optional change of the two. It could probably make Gangplank overpowered.
E (Raise Morale Becomes Grog-Soaked Blade)

As I mentioned before, Gangplank's old passive isn't going to be removed. Instead, I decided to add the passive effect to his E, which would also have an active effect. The ability would be something like this:
  • The passive effect, Grog-Soaked Blade, would deal a small amount of magic damage each second (example - 4/6/8/10/12) and slows the target (example - 4%/5%/6%/7%/8%) and is applied by basic attacks (including Parrrley), stacking up to three times. Lasts for 3 seconds.
  • The active effect, which is Grog-Soaked Slash, would damage all enemies in a small frontal area for physical damage (example damage - 40/65/90/115/140 + 0.25 Total AD) and apply Grog-Soaked Blade. In addition, Grog-Soaked Slash deals an additional 10% damage for each application of Grog-Soaked Blade on the target.
    • The active effect would cost a low to moderate amount of mana (40/44/48/52/56 mana) and have a 6 second cooldown.
I made this ability the way it is for the following reasons.
  • Gangplank can have a surprisingly powerful early game (level 1-3), but abruptly loses this power. This is due to his Raise Morale, Parrrley, and Grog-Soaked Blade. Grog-Soaked Blade is a major offender because it made it easy to slow opponents down and the passive deals quite a bit of damage early. This is why I effectively brought the damage of Grog-Soaked Blade down at lower ranks (while also reducing the slow effect a bit). I feel the new active will only counterbalance this partially at lower levels (it will at least require some interactivity outside of right clicking your opponent and allow for some counterplay).
  • Gangplank seriously lacks AoE. He also needs another ability he can actively use. This addition will help out his jungle and could also help him clear minion waves while laning too. The fact it deals bonus damage against targets with Grog-Soaked Blade is partially due to synergy but also to emphasize target focusing. The fact it applies Grog-Soaked Blade is to give a little extra sustained damage (mostly in the jungle). 
    • Keep in mind it's not possible to have 100% uptime on multiple targets using Grog-Soaked Slash alone even with 40% CDR.
  • The active effect is instant, doesn't require a target, and has a short cooldown. Thus, it can effectively be used to apply the active effect of Raise Morale at any time when out of combat if needed.
  • Most importantly, it gives Gangplank another offensive ability to use in general. This will raise the skill cap by a small margin.
R (Cannon Barrage)

This ability is pretty cool. It's a global slowing field with some additional damage. On top of that the area is pretty large, allowing Gangplank to cut off players or fire it right into a teamfight to help give his team an advantage. However, one thing that is often (probably rightfully) complained about is the RNG of the cannonballs, which could make the difference between an enemy losing half their health or losing no health at all. With that said, I would make one suggestion:
  • Reduce the damage of the cannonballs by about 33%, to 50/80/110. The AP scaling should also be reduced (down to 10% of total AP, for instance).
  • Add a second component to the ability that gives Gangplank the ability to shoot a wave of cannonballs at a smaller area (300 area radius) within the larger ultimate targeting circle for some magic damage (200/300/400 + 10% * AP), This ability would have a slight (.25 second) delay to give players a chance to avoid it.
  • By casting the second component of the ability, no more cannonballs will fire (but the slowing area will remain). This is to add a sense of risk and reward (this implementation is optional).
By doing this, the RNG of the ability is reduced and the change could potentially allow for chances to snipe (though it's not unfair since players can avoid it).

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