While many of League of Legends’ various champion classes have enjoyed the plethora of changes that accompanied the most recent preseason, one of the game’s most popular archetypes has struggled immensely at nearly all levels of play—mages—and Riot Games is looking towards solutions.
Riot Truexy and Riot Phroxzon, designers on the Summoner’s Rift team, took an opportunity to reflect on changes made to mages within the past year, how they’ve held up with the changing metas, and what steps the team may take to slowly remedy the class into the future.
While the team is still brainstorming healthy options to fix the class, they want to ensure the class as a whole has a clearly defined area it can “excel” in.
Both designers pointed out immediately that the itemization for mages, regardless of what niche they fulfill, has very little variety in the current state of the meta, explaining that most mages forego more damage-centric items that define the class in favor of those that will keep them alive.
Many mage items have also been given higher health ratios at the cost of the ability power they grant, an issue Truexy believes only got worse with last year’s durability update—turning mages into pseudo-tanks.
“The main point is that mages need to build damage to be relevant, but will eventually need both [magic penetration] and some defensive [items] to be relevant late game,” Truexy said in a Reddit thread regarding the discussion. “This funnels your build extremely quickly into the same items every game.”
Phroxzon further explained that the initial idea with the item changes last year was to keep the amount of mage-centric items relatively low “because they needed to fit many diff[erent] champions.” He specifically pointed out Horizon Focus and Cosmic Drive as items that should have been remedies to the problems of the mage role, but have become balance issues that could make them more powerful for other classes instead.
Riot is attempting the first few changes towards specific mages with League Patch 13.4, which is expected to release to live servers on Feb. 23. Within this patch, Veigar will receive larger cast ranges on both his Q and W, which Truexy noted was an initial step to “increase the satisfaction of mages without ‘just buffing damage.’”
No concrete timeline has been provided for further updates impacting League’s various mages, though Riot is fully aware of the issues regarding the class and its itemization, and will be looking at them closely in the future.