Sunday, June 15, 2014

League Analysis: Gangplank Rework Redux

Note: I am aware of the upcoming rework for Gangplank. It looks promising (it gives Gangplank an AoE attack and curbs some of the ridiculous power from his kit that makes him difficult to balance), so that's something. I'll probably analyze it after I get some games in on him.

Champion reworks are something that are becoming commonplace in League of Legends lately given the increasing interval between champion releases and the need to bring older champions up to date mechanically and the like. These champions are often underused in the metagame at the time of their reworks. Though there are some champions that are heavily underused (Urgot, Sion, and so on), there are reworks on the horizon for them. One champion that is on the list is one that I have already discussed, but a recent Reddit thread and the dubious possibility of a rework any time soon has led me to once again look at the champion Gangplank, especially because my last proposed rework was on the right path but wasn't thorough enough.

A Look At Gangplank's Skills

While I have already highlighted Gangplank's problems in my previous iteration of this analysis, this time I will tear apart Gangplank's abilities (both the current ones and ones proposed by my last rework) and point out some potential flaws with them while noting the rest of his kit. A lot of this section will be a repeat of what was said in the previous Gangplank analysis.

(Passive) Grog-Soaked Blade
  • Grog-Soaked Blade is applied as an on-hit effect and slows affected champions as well as dealing damage over time.
  • While Grog-Soaked Blade isn't a terrible passive due to both the slow and damage-over-time, it doesn't interact with the rest of Gangplank's kit besides Parrrley. Even then, it is more a consequence of on-hit application that does increase the stacking rate of the passive but not much else.
    • It is also worth noting that since the effect stacks, applying one stack won't be that impacting so Parrrleying an enemy from range to apply a stack of Grog-Soaked Blade will apply a minimal slow and damage-over-time effect. The duration of the effect is also short enough that keeping 100% uptime on the buff with only Parrrley is impossible.
  • A passive slowing effect makes Gangplank abnormally strong against immobile champions but is compensated by the lack of significant gap-closing for Gangplank (besides a movement speed steroid), making his ability to match against the mobile and immobile champions very different.
    • It is also worth mentioning having a passive slow that requires minimal interaction to apply is generally unexciting from a design standpoint.
  • The passive effect does not scale with any stats, but increases by one damage (per stack) per level. This makes the passive a little stronger early game but then the damage falls off later.
  • The reworked iteration swaps Raise Morale's passive and active effects with Grog-Soaked Blade. Please check (E) Raise Morale for more details.
(Q) Parrrley
  • Parrrley is a ranged attack that I think is a defining part of Gangplank's kit. Not only can it apply all on-hit effects but it is effectively a ranged attack. In addition, the attack grants bonus Gold if it kills the target (and refunds part of the ability's cost)
  • As mentioned in my previous iteration of the rework, this ability doesn't have too many issues, though early on Gangplank can easily drain his mana by using this ability, even if it's for farming (despite the refund effect).
    • In the rework, I proposed the ability has the same mana cost across all levels in a manner similar to Nasus's change to his Siphoning Strike. 50 mana cost is still more than enough to prevent spamming the ability to harass but it makes leveling the ability first less punishing.
  • The ability granting bonus Gold on kill can make Gangplank rather difficult to balance. While it does emphasize his ability to scale well with items and carry, 4-8 bonus gold on nearly every creep kill can get out of hand quick if Gangplank is allowed to farm.
W (Remove Scurvy)
  • Remove Scurvy, when used, heals Gangplank and removes all crowd control effects on him. Given that there are very few abilities that remove crowd control (like Alistar's Unbreakable Will), this rare mechanic makes this ability another of Gangplank's signature abilities.
  • This ability is reasonably strong and counterbalanced by a moderate cooldown and mana cost that makes it usable only a few times in a fight or during the laning phase and as such it is a decent ability.
  • My last rework proposed the removal of the cast time, which I still agree with since players can pre-cast the ability to use against crowd control and all it does in other cases is it slows Gangplank down.
    • It also proposed the possibility of increasing Armor and Magic Resistance to better help Gangplank's ability to be a tank or fighter as he lacks such utility but free stat steroids, particularly in excess, do not make for interesting champion design.
E (Raise Morale)
  • Raise Morale passively increases Gangplank's Attack Damage and movement speed and, when activated, increases the Attack Damage and movement speed of allies (including himself) for a brief time.
  • While this ability is a great piece of utility (particularly when active), it is also effectively a passive boost to Gangplank's stats, which makes for uninteresting design.
  • As mentioned in the previous analysis, this ability has a cast time but is a movement speed steroid, effectively making the usage of this ability for chasing and escaping less effective.
  • As a basic ability Raise Morale has a long cooldown and has utility that seems to have little impact compared to the rest of Gangplank's kit.
    • Remove Scurvy also has a cooldown that is about as long but this is for balance purposes to prevent Gangplank from effectively becoming impervious to crowd control. In short, Remove Scurvy's long cooldown is justified but Raise Morale's is not.
  • In the form of Gangplank's passive ability as proposed in my analysis, Raise Morale still retains the issue that it is effectively a rather uninteresting stat enhancement effect that could be compensated for by messing with Gangplank's base stats.
    • On a related note, moving Grog-Soaked Blade to Gangplank's E slot and turning it into an active ability was a step in the right direction as Gangplank lacks offensive skills that would potentially make his damage output balancing easier (refer to above for more details on Grog-Soaked Blade's passive effect). However, while the active effect, Grog-Soaked Slash, adds more interactivity with Grog-Soaked Blade, I feel it may be the wrong design direction (though this is largely a personal preference).
(R) Cannon Barrage
    • Cannon Barrage is a global ult that marks a large area, slowing all enemies within it and firing cannonballs that deal magic damage. This ability is fascinating due to the global range and strong utility that it offers.
    • As mentioned in the previous analysis, the damage this ability deals can vary greatly due to the random nature of the cannonballs falling on the area. However, the proposed rework focused on the damage of the ability when the utility of the ability is really strong as it is.
      • In short, the idea of having utility with a global range (and a balanced cooldown) is interesting in itself, so the idea of reworking for damage is nice but not necessarily the best direction for a rework.
    The Proposed Rework

    As one can see, Gangplank, even with the rework from the previous analysis, needs quite a bit of touching up. After much thought (and assuming no base stat changes), my new iteration for Gangplank's rework would be the following (with explanations for my design choices, as well as a new format):
    New Passive - Swashbuckling: When Gangplank deals damage with basic attacks or casts Parrrley or Grog-Soaked Slash, he suffers 5% reduced damage from champions, stacking up to three times. This effect is persists while Gangplank is in combat and for 3 seconds after. This effect is doubled against minions and monsters.
    This passive replaces Grog-Soaked Blade, much like the previous passive did. However, I instead went for a focus on something Gangplank lacks, which is a definitive mitigation effect. This emphasizes and rewards Gangplank for trading, particularly in terms of committing to trades during the laning phase, and gives him a bit of durability later on as well. In addition, this passive allows Gangplank to jungle with less worry of dying. It also thematically works with Gangplank since as a pirate he should be proficient at swordplay and be able to partially deflect or "avoid" attacks with his technical skill and agility.
    Q - Parrrley: This ability now costs 50 mana at all ranks.
    There is not anything too exciting to see here. As mentioned above and in the last Gangplank analysis, changing the mana cost so that it is the same at all ranks allows Gangplank slightly alleviates his mana issues without causing a massive issue such as Gangplank's ranged harass becoming too strong early on.

    A change I would consider is to make Parrrley's cast time scale with attack speed much like Yasuo's Steel Tempest since it is effectively a ranged attack, especially since Gangplank doesn't scale too well with attack speed as opposed to other offensive stats. This is not necessary, however.
    W - Remove Scurvy: This ability's cast time is removed. This ability now does the following:
    Passive: Gangplank adapts to his Scurvy, increasing his base movement speed by 3/6/9/12/15.
    Active: Gangplank eats a large amount of citrus fruit, healing him for 80/150/220/290/360 + 100% AP, removing all crowd control effects, and increasing his movement speed by 6/8/10/12/14%.
    Since Raise Morale is being removed entirely, I decided to move the movement speed enhancing effects to Gangplank's W since while the Attack Damage bonus from Raise Morale is unexciting, the movement speed bonus for Gangplank is critical as he lacks a gap closer but is a melee champion.

    Also, I would have considered increasing Gangplank's base movement speed instead of tacking it onto this ability as a passive but that may give him too much presence during the laning phase by allowing him to better dodge abilities and keep up with his opponents. Also, since Scurvy is known to cause lethargy, it makes sense that he could gradually become used to said lethargy.

    The active movement speed bonus synergizes with Gangplank's crowd control removal and gives him the ability to chase enemies down effectively since the ability no longer has a cast time, though a few ranks are required to make the active bonus strong enough to do so.
    E - Grog-Soaked Slash/Intoxicate: Raise Morale has been removed and is now Grog-Soaked Slash/Intoxicate, which does the following:
    Passive: Gangplank's basic attacks poison the enemy, dealing 6/9/12/15/18% Total Attack Damage as magic damage over 3 seconds. This effect stacks 3 times.
    Grog-Soaked Slash (Active 1): Gangplank slashes in a hemispherical area around him, dealing 40/65/90/115/140 * 0.25 Total AD Physical damage to all enemies in the area and applying Grog-Soaked Blade. This ability has no cast time, has a 8/7.5/7/6.5/6 second cooldown, and costs 40 Mana.
    Intoxicate (Active 2): Gangplank can use this ability for up to 4 seconds after casting Grog-Soaked Slash. When activated, enemies affected by Grog-Soaked Blade become intoxicated, slowing their movement speed by 20% + 6/7/8/9/10% for each stack of Grog-Soaked Blade for 2 seconds. This ability has no cast time, no Mana cost, and is tied to the cooldown of Grog-Soaked Slash.
    While this looks similar to the previous version of Grog-Soaked Slash, there are several fundamental differences. The first of them is the Grog-Soaked Blade passive no longer slows but instead only deals damage over time. This is because I felt a slow that required minimal interaction to apply and maintain provides enemies with minimal counterplay was unhealthy to have in a champion kit.

    Grog-Soaked Slash is a little different as well in the sense it can now be smartcast in any direction and no longer deals increased damage based on the number of Grog-Soaked Blade stacks. While the interaction that led to a damage bonus was nice, having the additional offensive punch (particularly during trades in lane), jungle clear, and wave clear is sufficient. In addition, applying the stacks alone is helpful due to Intoxicate.

    Intoxicate gives Gangplank an active slow to replace his passive one. It's strong enough that a player can Parrrley an enemy, then cast this ability to slow them, but far more rewarding if Gangplank applied multiple stacks of Grog-Soaked Blade for a stronger slow since Gangplank can no longer keep up a persistent slow. The active slow is strictly a stronger slow at all ranks than the original passive slow when fully stacked. In addition, this gives Gangplank excellent utility potential since he can apply stacks of Grog-Soaked Blade through Grog-Soaked Slash to multiple enemies, then slow them all with Intoxicate.
    R - Cannon Barrage: The ability now lasts 8 seconds, with cannonballs dropping at slightly greater intervals (the total damage dealt is the same). Now grants 15/20/25 Attack Damage to all allies within the area plus an additional 2 seconds after leaving the area.
    While I didn't like the free Attack Damage passive on Raise Morale, I liked the idea of having an Attack Damage steroid for the team. With that said, I added it to Cannon Barrage because the ability is essentially a global range utility ability as it is, though it is often used against enemies. With this additional utility, it becomes far stronger when used defensively (like when allies are getting dove on) and it could be used to buff allies to help them finish enemies as opposed to using the ability itself as a finisher and trying to rely on cannonball RNG.

    Closing Thoughts

    While Gangplank is playable as a champion due to his strong scaling and utility, he's struggled since his nerfs and changes to items that were strong on him (such as Atma's Impaler). Furthermore, with the power creep of new champions, champion reworks, and the ever-changing nature of the game, he has had an increasingly difficult time performing in roles he used to excel in. Gangplank is also a little uninteresting to play overall due to a low amount of offensive interaction (though he does certainly take some skill to play). I'm hoping there's at least some sort of rework on the horizon for him.


    1. I believe this is the healthiest most true to Gangplank rework that can be done, if only riot could see this and would emulate this in their own version of Gangplanks rework that they are releasing soon. Too bad. This is a really great idea, I really enjoy the idea of his new e.

      1. Thanks. I felt like E was the main focal point of Gangplank's kit that was worth taking a second glance at. I can't deny the fact I like what his current iteration of E, Raise Morale, brings to the team but it not only feels like free stats (which apparently Riot hates now), but it doesn't give Gangplank that much when he is desperately in need of some additional personal utility of sorts, particularly in terms of offense.

        A problem that may happen if Gangplank were to get reworked like this is his power level, particularly in the form of scaling somewhat like a marksman may be very high. As it is, his kit potentially gives him the ability to be very strong, but he's held back due to metagame (particularly since he relies on items and lategame but games end faster, etc)/current ability set and so on.