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Buffing Kalista

Hextech materials, weapons of war, and the Spear of Vengeance.

By SmashGizmo, IAmWalrus & Ant In Oz

Welcome to Ask Riot! Have a question?

This week, it’s Hextech crafting, Runeterran war tech, and Kalista’s balance woes.

Q

What’s going on with Kalista? She’s basically unplayable — do you plan to change her style of play to make her more viable? Or do you feel she’s currently viable?

A

Kalista’s a classic case of balancing for top-level pro play conflicting with balancing for the majority of our player base. In general, we try to do our best to balance for both these populations concurrently, but when extreme outliers pop up in either general or professional play, we tend to focus in on solving the problem for that audience, sometimes at the expense of the other. In Kalista’s case, this happened with her rather extreme stretch of professional dominance at the beginning of this season. To recap, she was boasting an over 90% pick/ban rate in professional play in Season 6 when we did a set of nerfs in 6.6 (March). Despite these nerfs, she continued to see competitive play for several patches afterwards and didn’t even fall completely off the competitive radar until 6.18, seeing spot picks (mostly against Sivir) all the way up through 6.16. During this period, her overall performance slowly degraded as well, leading to the state we’re at now, where she’s finally fallen completely out of pro play and is too weak in general play to boot.

For long-term balance strategy on the character, we’re in a bit of a rough spot with Kalista. Her iconic features (unparalleled kiting, Rend trumping Smite for securing objectives, and Fate’s Call protecting your support from picks) are all uniquely valuable relative to the Marksman class. As such, we’re probably going to have to pick and choose which of these outputs get to stay and which have to go so that she doesn’t render other carries obsolete when she is viable. For reference, this is similar to the problems we run into with Azir; when your unique strengths are broad enough that they overshadow a large portion of your competition, the difference between viable and pick/ban status is either razor thin or simply doesn’t exist at all.

All that being said, we’re likely to buff Kalista (and Azir) up slightly during the preseason. They both went through Worlds without being picked, so nudging their power up to see if we can find that sweet spot where they aren’t out of line competitively while being in a better spot for the average player makes sense as our next step. If that doesn’t work out though, we will almost certainly need to re-evaluate the fundamental pieces of these types of kits so that we can balance them better for normal play without centralizing the entire pro scene around them.

SmashGizmo
Game Designer, Live Gameplay
Q

What happens to my skin shards/essences at the end of the season? Will I lose them if I don’t use them?

A

Your Champion Shards, Skin Shards, Ward Skin Shards, and Essence are all safe and will not be expiring at the end of the season. We have no plans to ever expire these items, but we will expire crafting materials from special events, like PROJECT Cores or Championship Jewels (those special event materials expired on November 6 at 23:59 PM). We don’t plan on using these items again after the event has ended, and getting them out of the way allows us to make new, cool crafting materials for future events.

Once the new season starts, we’ll be resetting the chests available for each champion when you receive a high Champion Mastery grade in a game. So even if you’ve already earned a chest for getting an S- or higher on a champ this season, you’ll be able to get another one for your first S- or higher on that champ in Season 7.

Designer, Competitive
Q

Why do Noxian and Demacian soldiers still use swords and axes in a world where black powder and Hextech technology plays such a big role? Garen and Darius could have special armour, but what about the regular infantry?

A

The way we are looking at it is that Runeterra is at a pivotal point in its history – a point where black powder is becoming more prevalent, and Hextech technology has only recently been invented. Both will change the world – particularly Hextech – but that’s not yet happened, as both are likely still quite dangerous, and neither is anywhere near mass-produced. There may only be a handful of inventors that are actually able to successfully craft Hextech devices, and each is a lovingly crafted, individual piece that probably takes years to make.

Remember our Champions are just that – Champions. They represent exceptional individuals in Runeterra. As such, there are more mages, heroes, blackpowder weapons and Hextech present in our Champ lineup than is representative of the average Runeterran.

Hextech is very powerful (it essentially allows anyone to wield magical power, not just the one in a million born with those abilities) but all of Piltover might only have a handful of a Hextech guns – and while ten of those weapons would wreak havoc on the battlefield, it’s not going to stop an army of ten thousand elite Demacian soldiers, or a massive Noxian war-host.

Having said all that, while Demacia is quite traditional, and would probably hold to its way of fighting for as long as it was effective, Noxus would be very interested in new weapons of war, and would certainly be looking to incorporate them into their armies…

Worldbuilding Lead, Foundations

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