Saturday, July 25, 2015

why i hate devourer (and why ADC sucks)

We all know the fantasy for playing ADC: you perfectly synergize with your support to crush the opposing bot lane, you get a ton of farm, and you take the tower. Now, you have your Infinity Edge, you’re somewhere around level nine, and you’re ready to take on the world. Then their level eleven Master Yi shows up for the first time and two-shots you.
Devourer caused a sea change in how junglers interact with the rest of the team in solo queue. The jungler has long been a servant of the lanes, a noble, selfless figure that shows up out of fog to valiantly assist the carries in their quest to kill the other carries (and maybe destroy the nexus, but that’s a secondary pursuit). Sure, laners gave the jungler a quick leash at the beginning of the game, but that’s because they literally have nothing better to do with their time. The Devourer jungler is not there to win your lane. The laners are there to buy the Devourer user enough time to win the game by themselves.
There was a general flow to what champions were the most powerful at any specific time: the support has the best level one and two. The jungler has a power spike when they’re the first level three on the map. The solo lanes come online with their ultimates at level six. And the ADC is the focus of lategame teamfights (both in terms of ‘this is the champion that matters,’ and ‘focus this target’). The Devourer jungler sees things in a different way: the first goal is to farm until they have a smite item. Then, they can farm until they have Devourer, which allows them to farm until they have Sated Devourer. Then they’re unstoppable. Of course, hard-farming the jungle isn’t the most efficient way to stack Devourer; that would be securing dragon, crabs, and killing people across the map. That’s not too difficult, though, because Devourer is a really good item as soon as it’s purchased. It simply goes from “good” to “fucking broken” the more it’s stacked up. Did You Know: Devourer is the most gold-efficient jungle enchantment with no stacks. There are several issues at play here: the first is that Devourer is simply way, way too good, but I’m sure it’ll get knocked down a few pegs in future patches. (I was amazed that 5.14 didn’t hit it with a nuclear bomb.) But we can get more complex than a kneejerk This Item Is Too Good. Let’s talk, instead, about the incentive structure of Devourer. Simply put: why is there a farming jungle item in the game at all, regardless of power level? An item that incentivizes hard-farming like Devourer does, where it scales not only on additional items combined with it but stacking specifically on things killed, rewards a certain playstyle. The playstyle that your solo queue Udyr and Yi had already, that of “just stay safe I’m gonna farm.” There are two possible results: either the Devourer user successfully farms enough that they can mash themselves into the opposing team and make them all dead, or their team loses the 4v5 match in the first 20 minutes. Which one of these is a fun gameplay experience for everyone? Being a laner where your jungler is farming and theirs is ganking is miserable; just ask any of the raging post-game midlaners right before I hit the report button. Even if their Devourer user pulls it out, that’s still not a fun experience. Let’s not act like all farming is equal, either. I’m sure a lot of you are solo lane players, but I’m not. I’m a support/jungle player, and when I try to pick something “easy” like Annie in a solo lane (in a normal, obviously; I’m not a masochist) I get completely rocked. Sure, I try to Just Farm, as my team instructs me to do after my third death. The issue is that there’s an opponent right there. And they’d really like to spam dance over my corpse for the fourth time in the first ten minutes. Junglers don’t have this issue. If they want to farm up, they get to do that until there aren’t any camps left. There probably isn’t an enemy five to eight Teemos away from them at all times. They can farm while cleaning their nails and reading thousand-word blog posts they saw on Reddit. And if you’re opposing them… what’s the counterplay to this? Are you really gonna invade that Udyr or Master Yi and 1v1 them? Good luck. The counterplay, instead, is to take advantage of the 5v4. It’s what I’d call non-interactive counterplay, where the solution to the opponent’s strategy is to completely avoid them. Let’s go back to that ADC for a minute. The ADC has always been the I Got This Late farming role; I’ve already mentioned how they’re traditionally the most important champion in late-game teamfights. So here’s what Devourer really means: the ADC has been replaced by the jungler. It’s a role that needs to farm for a long time to be effective. They can carry any teamfight if they’re sufficiently ahead. They even (usually) do physical damage, attack fast, and can take towers quickly. So… what’s the ADC good for? Why does the team need an ADC when the Devourer user can do all that, and their entire kit revolves around sticking to a squishy target and making them dead? Devourer junglers can be rated on a system of how many frames it takes for them to kill the ADC. Why would I play a peel-based jungler like Nunu, when Nunu’s peel is completely useless against almost any Devourer jungler? The ADC hasn’t had a very happy season. They’ve had to endure the Cinderhulk meta, where the ADC had to output damage while the tank could kill them literally by standing near them. Now, they have to deal with even stickier people that can kill them faster… and for what? To output damage in a fight that the jungler can carry instead? This devaluing of the ADC sends shockwaves through the solo queue metagame. If the ADC is less relevant, so is the support, who spends the first part of the game glued to their side. The ADC and support still matter, of course… they can make the other lane even more vulnerable to the rest of the team via starving them of gold. But when I’m supporting, it seems like I’m most relevant for the roams I can do to the solo lanes, to help out the carries that actually matter. One of my favorite parts of supporting is the interaction with non-bot lane players during laning phase. Things like warding, clearing vision, going aggressive at the proper times to set up ganks, and perfectly blowing up their ganks with well-timed CC… that’s what I live for as a support in that phase. But the closer the lane gets to a straight-up 2v2, the less interesting it is to me. There aren’t as complex baits and disengages; all that matters is a drawn-out war of attrition. If I wanted to play on a boring island for twenty minutes, I’d go top lane. This might make me one of the only people on the planet that really enjoys having champions like Lee Sin and Evelynn in my games. But their unpredictability really shakes things up, and I love that. Junglers that push the game away from crazy early-game skirmishes, because they’re spending the time farming instead, make the game worse. I don’t want Devourer nerfed. I don’t want it replaced with a different item with slightly different farming incentives. I want Devourer removed from the game, because it makes the game less fun, regardless of who has Devourer. I usually ban whatever champions in solo queue, because I simply don’t care; now, I ban three Devourer junglers, because I don’t want to play with or against them. (This is my first "serious" League post. Previously, I introduced the world to Vaynespotting.)


Unknown said...

As an ADC/Support player, you explained all my problems with this season. I think devourer got introduced as a boxchecker for jungle items, and "sating" was actually an incentive to interact- but this definitely points to the lowered importance of everyone when there's an extra carry role in the game. I think jungle is a very difficult role to develop a game around supporting - no other MOBA actually tells players so explicitly to 1/1/2 with a jungler - but I totally agree that extremely powerful, efficient jungle items make jungler less of the "hero" and more of the "selfish jerk." I wonder, if things stayed this way long enough, whether the meta would just shift to kill lanes?

The real question is what can be done to jungle to make it a satisfying, but not steamrolling, role - in season 4 them emphasized ganking by making clears really, really easy, and it kind of sucked with Kha's and the like on the loose, but this season we've had the whole meta center around the strongest jungle items - challenging smite? top lane buys it. devourer? get WW/Yi/Udyr in here. Cinderhulk? better no bring an adc that plans on autoattacking. (I've even seen midlaners go for runeglaive, being an accessible mana regen ability on spellblade). On paper the smitems are great, but they seem to have pushed the game into this weird state of constantly being controlled by someone who's goldfishing.

Unknown said...

I realize that this is an opinion piece, but some of your points seem factually wrong. For example, Nunu takes a gigantic dump on every jungler trying to stack up devourer. If he does his work well, the devourer guy has it stacked at like 30 minutes, not getting any scuttlers, dragons and only half of their jungle, quickly fading into obscurity.

AD carries still have an important part in the game. In competitive (where devourer is a non-issue, you cant leave your team 4v5), they either provide utility or towerpush (Sivir, Tristana), deal good damage to the strong (cinderhulk) junglers (Kalista, Vayne, Kog Maw) or prevent the opposing ADC from fulfilling their goal, either by bullying them early (Lucian) or beeing stronger than them midgame (Corki). It´s somewhat close in non-competitive matches, the difference beeing that ranged ADC´s are really important for destroying turrets in public matches. Your team of 5 people that haven´t ever met before is probably terrible at coordination and playing the map, which often means taking a turret/inhib is a dangerous gambit since you can´t outrotate the enemy easily if you have zero teamplay. Ranged ADC´s are what allows turrets to die in 5v5 situations, devourer junglers are all(?) meelee, meaning that if they went full damage (and of course they did, it´s soloqueue) they will get easily blown up.

None of what I said changes that devourer is currently a tad too good, sated devourer aatrox and warwick literally 1v4 most teams (speaking from having it done it to enemies, and having it happen to me)

Stroodle said...

Similar concerns were raised last year with Feral Flare (which admittedly was way too good when it came out), but my question is - where do you see champions like Master Yi or Udyr? Even without stacking items, they've always been better late, and Yi in particular has always been a hypercarry-type champion. Yes, the melee adc does more damage than the ranged adc, otherwise why would you play one?

Isn't that kind of the point of assassin or splitpush junglers?

Unknown said..., let us MtG folk know what's going on here. (I mean, I know we suck, but still... :-P ) I wish you'd put your parenthetical at the bottom up at the top, b/c I couldn't tell if you were writing a joke article or making some weird point about how obscure MtG sounds to new players or what.

I never got in to LoL (obvs), but HotS is coinciding with my surge of interest for MOBAs, so that's where I'm headed. I know it's super handholdy, but as someone who is terrible at video games of all kinds, I need that, lol.

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