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Samizul on Soraka & game design

By Feanor - 11th September 2013 - 20:21 PM

A member proposed a rework for Soraka by adding several new mechanics to her spells and tuning her a bit. Samizul, a champion designer, went in depth about what he likes and dislikes about champions and their abilities. A very interesting read!

Consecration (Passive)- Ally champions and units within 1000 range of Soraka gain 16 magic resistance.
(No changes from live)

Starcall (Q)- Soraka summons a shower of stars to fall from the sky upon target allied or enemy champion (including self). Allied champions in the are of the star fall restore 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 / 150 mana over 2 seconds. Soraka does not gain mana from Starcall. Enemy champions in the area of the star fall take 70 / 110 / 150 / 190 / 230 (+50% AP) magic damage and are silenced for 1.25 seconds.
Mana Cost: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Range: 700
(Completely reworked the ability. The ability is a target based point and click, and has the AoE of the star fall the size of Lux's Lucent Singularity. I made the ability target based because of the fact it silences and gives mana, but could just be a regular AoE if people like it more. Took mana regeneration and silence from Infuse, but reduced the amount of mana and time of silence to compensate for the AoE.)

Astral Blessing (W)- Soraka blesses a friendly unit, restoring 60 / 120 / 180 / 240 / 300 (+35% AP) health. Additionally, if the target is hit by an enemy auto attack or spell in the next 3 seconds, they restore an additional 20 / 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 (+15% AP) health.
Mana Cost: 80 / 100 / 120 / 140 / 160 mana
Cooldown: 18 seconds
Range: 750
(I reduced the heal initially and removed the armor bonus and compensated with a slightly lower cooldown, a slightly lower mana cost at later levels, and added the additional heal if they take damage, which increases the overall heal from the original.)

Celestial Embrace (E)- Soraka sends out a cone of celestial energy. Allies hit by the wave gain 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 10 armor for 5 seconds, and Soraka gains half the amount. This effect stacks up to 10 times. Enemies hit by the wave take 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 / 150 (+40% AP) magic damage. Additionally, every third cast of Celestial Embrace slows enemies by 40% for 1.5 seconds.
Mana Cost: 20 / 35 / 50 / 65 / 80 mana
Cooldown: 2.5 seconds
Range: 600 Cone
(Completely new skill, removed Infuse. Kept spammability of old Starcall, but changed it from a centered AoE to a cone. Moved armor increase from old Astral Blessing for a ramped up version that can last longer. Removed magic resistance decrease in favor for a form of crowd control. When slow is available, a tell will be available to enemies/allies similar to the graphic of Annie's Pyromania.)

Wish (Ultimate)- Soraka restores 200, 320, 440 (+70% AP) health to all allies.
Mana Cost: 100 / 175 / 250
Cooldown: 160 / 145 / 130 seconds
Range: Global
(No changes from live)

So, what do people think? I plan on coming up with other iterations of kits Soraka could use, but would really like feedback so each iteration can be better then the last. I want to make a Soraka that lets me keep the fantasy and uniqueness that only she has, while at the same time giving her tools she needs in the current meta. Maybe you have ideas for how to tweak the current kit; maybe you have an idea on a new ability that could work; or maybe you think my idea is bad, let me know with a comment. I want to know, and make sure to leave criticism why as well so I can work on it.

Riot's answer

This seems like a well written post Falkor. I've got a couple points of feedback. I'll go ability by ability rather than talking about the entire kit since one of your goals is obviously to not change her playstyle much from live.

P - Why not change this? It's almost a free Aegis aura on a passive, which is really strong late game but doesn't come up a ton in lane. Personally, I find stats-only passives pretty flat, and they get even harder to feel the power when it's an aura, where the power has to be amortized over up to 5 champions, but as few as 1. This passive has always annoyed me because, while strong in certain situations, it's hard to feel and there isn't much play around it.

Q - AOE silence - scary! (though I'm working on an even scarier version of an AOE silence) I'm not sure why the mana regen is over time - you're reducing how powerful the spell feels because getting a chunk of mana is always more noticeable than even a ton of regen over time. The very brief duration is probably taking too much power off of it - you could probably afford to have it rank up from 1->2 seconds. Otherwise it seems cool. This ability does have the classic problem where you want to drop the AOE on both enemies and allies, which makes can make it feel like the player is never using it optimally, but I don't know that it's a total dealbreaker here - the original didn't have this problem because it was single target.

W - This is probably the most interesting ability, and it has some good and bad ideas. I like that you're going for a combat oriented heal. We try to give our heals some sort of combat utility so that their power is not just in the sustain, which is why her heal has armor on it. You've tried to solve this problem by making the heal bigger if the target is actively in combat, but your solution creates another problem. You're putting a buff on a character where, if the enemy attacks them, could actually heal more than the attack deals. Imagine a support Janna thinking she's helping by AA-ing a just-healed target (generally, a perfectly reasonable thing to do) but in this case her AA actually nets the target health. We try to create designs where enemies never feel punished by doing what is normally a correct choice.
I assume you want to remove the armor stats buff but still give combat utility, so maybe have the next AA or spell damage drastically reduced? Then Soraka could time her heals the way Janna times her shields, getting clutch "blocks" on incoming AAs or spells, and the enemy wouldn't ever feel bad for having attacked, because they still did some damage, and they can note that Soraka player timed her spell very well.

E - This has the "no optimal use case" issue even more so than the Q. I believe Karma had a similar spell which we removed from the game for similar reasons. I also don't think her kit can support a counting mechanic like Annie's because she also has to be constantly watching the map to help allies with her ult, and keeping track of both would be a bit much. You've also designed this as a spammable spell, but players are going to want to hold the slow version when it's available. Finally, having CC on an ability but not on demand can be frustrating, especially as a support who has to be very reactive. Only thing I like here is changing her spamming spell to something directional rather than AOE. What else do you think you could do here?