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The Meta & Ward Slots

Killing-spree bounties, control ward slots, and intentionally changing the meta.

By Fearless, Riot Maple Nectar & Rayven

Welcome to Ask Riot! Have a question?

This week, it’s displaying the killing-spree bounty, control ward slots, and whether we intentionally change the meta.

Q

Is there a chance that control wards will ever get their own slot so you can buy them even when fully equipped?

A

It’s not likely that we’ll implement the solution of building a slot specifically for control wards. We’ve talked about a slot for consumables, both to help with particular roles that end up low on inventory at some point in the game, and to ensure that more players can still play the vision game when they have six items. This is a much more complex issue than folks might assume.

The first issue is that we’re not sure that running out of slots is a bad thing. It’s important that late game is meaningfully different from other phases of the game. Currently, one of the most significant differences is that the map starts to darken. While it can be frustrating to hold off on an item, or have to make difficult decisions about where to use a trinket, those choices can also be meaningful and increase the feeling that stakes are high as games go late.

A second issue is that this a consumable slot is a bit of a band-aid solution. We’re not very happy with a vision system that is attached to the item system. It requires significant amounts of gold, and for most players, it gets strongly position bound. I’d personally be much more excited to start fixing the fundamental problems of the vision system rather than making small improvements to what we have. We’ve been making small iterative improvements to vision for a long time, and I believe we’ve hit the limit of what the system can offer without larger structural changes.

Senior Designer, Game Systems
Q

Do you guys intentionally make changes to alter the meta?

A

Short answer – nope.

While our work definitely has an impact on what is considered meta at any given time, we never go into a period of the year and go “alright, it’s been long enough, time to make poke strats dominant again!” Rather, metas tend to evolve throughout a season based on a variety of factors like regional champion preferences, different skill levels, what you see in pro play, etc., so it’s more like a continual process of adaptation for players as they optimize towards the next best thing as we change the game every patch.

Riot Maple Nectar
Product Lead, Live Gameplay
Q

I have a question regarding hp bars. I quite enjoy the new style and accessibility of information they provide. However, I really miss the killing-spree badges near the hp bar. Are they coming back?

A

Hi, glad you like the update. The Tl;Dr answer to your question is no, at least not in game space. We felt the bounty display was not providing enough tactical value to warrant its high visibility, so we repurposed that spot to deliver more widely-relevant targeting info like defensive windows and timely state changes.

The bounty display was originally intended to add another decision-layer to target selection as well as expose new players to the concept of shutdowns and gold sharing. What we found was that in most cases, if a player was able to kill a target, they would regardless of their bounty status.

Put another way: You’re Rengar and you spot some squishies grabbing blue. You ult and pop whichever champ is closer, smite blue, dip into brush, jump on the other one, and flash m’pengu. After killing them, you notice a shutdown in chat. Or maybe it’s a late game team fight, and you notice the enemy Rammus has a full badge and the backline has one or two. Even taking bounty rewards into consideration, you should still probably go for the squishies.

Anyways, how did you use the old bounty display? What do you miss about it?

Rayven
Sr. UX Designer, Core LoL

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