Article by Justin Densen
Heading into the midway point of the 2016 season, Riot updated an original aspect of League of Legends in order to change the way teams prioritize objectives. In the Mid-Season Magic game play update the drake objective was altered from one drake to four new elemental drakes and a powerful Elder Dragon. The buffs gained from slaying the four new elemental drakes, Infernal, Mountain, Ocean, and Cloud actually do not differ much from their predecessor’s Dragon Slayer buff. Each drake offers a unique portion of the Dragon Slayer buff that is specific to an element. However, there is one issue with the elemental drakes that really grinds my gears. The Stratus Walk buff Cloud Drake offers is extremely under powered when compared to buffs provided by the other three elemental drakes.
The community has provided constant feedback about this issue, and in response, the balance team has decided to increase the movement speed from the Stratus Walk buff in patch 6.14. One of the aspects of the Stratus Walk buff players were vocal about was their dissatisfaction with a buff that only effects out of combat movement speed. This adjustment does nothing to solve that point of contention, so this modification may not be a significant enough change to appease players, but before we talk trash, throw salt, and say “GG no re” to this wimpy version of Cloud Drake, it may be helpful to attain a better understanding of the buffs that can be earned by slaying the other drakes.
First up, we have the Infernal Drake. This big guy offers up a massive power boost to champion’s AD/AP (8/16/24% per Infernal Drake acquired). If you are losing in lane, which I usually am, this buff can bring you back from the edge, and if you are already winning your lane, you will be better able to punish your opponent with this buff. In my experience, if the enemy team gets two of these bad boys, it’s pretty much FF at 20 minutes, so if this drake pops up during a game, be sure to prioritize it so the tide doesn’t turn for the opposing team!
Next up, we have my favorite drake, Sir Gregor Clegane, or more commonly known as the Mountain Drake. The Earthen Arms buff that is bestowed by this drake offers immense damage towards towers and objectives that allows players to shred anything in their way. Being able to push in lanes and take down enemy teams’ turrets is the primary objective in League of Legends. The less health remaining on a turret when your team starts to group up, the easier it will be to take down the objective. Paired with the power of combat stats from Infernal Drake, teams can turn into unstoppable forces that can crush their enemies in lane and burn down towers. No pun intended.
Ocean Drake is a bit of a curious case. There is no importance or rush to acquire it, but it offers excellent sustainability while laning in the early stages of the game. The health and mana regen the buff provides while out of combat allows players to disengage from their lane opponent and heal up while playing safely under tower. This is a great buff for any player in a match up in which they would normally get out traded by their lane opponent. However, once late game gets underway, it becomes harder to avoid combat and heal up as more team fights begin to break out. If the enemy team wants to fight at dragon pit for Ocean Drake at 25+ minutes, by all means give it up and go secure Baron.
Last and certainly the least, we have the Cloud Drake. Compared to the other three elemental drakes, this guy offers no meaningful advantage from its Stratus Walk buff. The increased movement speed is so low, that to notice any difference in rotation times, your team would need to max out the buff by slaying three Cloud Drakes (+45 movement out of combat). The best strategy for this drake is to completely ignore it and push out your wave in lane.
Now, some people might be saying, “Oh well this is just a bronze 5 player talking and doesn’t get it.” Well first, I’m at the elite rank of Silver 2, so I know a bit about this subject, and second, members of Riot have seen and heard the enormous resistance from the general player base, and even teams in the LCS, to fight for Cloud Drake. This is the reason they decided to essentially double the Cloud Drake buff (25/50/75) for patch 6.14.
With this update in 6.14 the question now is will the out of combat movement speed buff be enough to boost Cloud Drake to be on par with its elemental brethren? Players will undoubtedly express their opinions on the changes soon after release, and with the LCS currently ongoing, professional teams will be put to the test of whether or not to fight for a buffed Cloud Drake soon. I personally feel as though the buff should be changed from out of combat movement speed to a stat that feels more meaningful to players, regardless of the power level. How do you feel about the situation? Will this buff fix the issue, or are more drastic changes necessary, and if so, what should those changes be?