**Riot Fearless** and **Axes** here to talk about our goals for the jungle. In the 2015 preseason, we want to *improve strategic diversity:* both in which champions can get played in the jungle *and* what different options each one has.
This season, a jungler’s perceived strength is largely tied to their ability to gank. While there are those who are functionally better at clearing / counter-jungling / objective control than others, the impact that ganking junglers have can really overshadow other strengths.
To explain more: slow, health-focused junglers quickly lose their advantage after their first purchase because there’s so much sustain built into tier one jungle items. Objective-focused junglers rarely have the opportunity to flex their muscles when a ganking jungler can kill a lane and then take the objective with less risk. Finally, I’m sure all of you remember when we introduced Feral Flare to support heavy farming junglers, but quickly toned it down after release. It was here we realized we needed a larger suite of changes to make these different strategies actually viable, and we’re hoping that this preseason will be our opportunity to do that.
So what’s all this mean?
First, we’re going to be increasing the number of objectives for junglers to take and control, with the goal of giving them more tools to set up plays in a game. We’ll be testing a concept where each camp gives an extra reward when Smite is used on it, with rewards like counter-jungling protection, increased lane safety, or increased vision control of the map. These mini-objectives should create more variance in jungle routes while also leading to more jungler vs. jungler interaction.
Second, we’re planning to increase the base difficulty of the jungle. Up front: this does make the jungle a more complex place (especially for those new to it), but this is something we feel will be necessary as we continue to promote real diversity in the position. Ultimately we want to create a world where a player can pick up Xin Zhao, Warwick, or Hecarim in the jungle just as easily as they can find a place for Elise, Lee Sin, or Kha’Zix. By increasing the durability and damage of jungle camps, junglers will start to value a wider array of strengths. Jungle clear speeds end up having greater differentiation and gradation; area-effect vs. single target, sustained vs. burst, etc, where previously most had enough power to take any camp with similar, minimal costs. The balance between healthy jungling and fast jungling becomes extremely important as high sustain junglers can clear with less risk while fast junglers have the potential for big payoffs alongside higher chances of disruption.
Changes to the the jungle, however, are only half the story. To talk about jungle items, we have **Riot Axes**:
Right now, jungle items are almost entirely role-based - you’re a Fighter, you want Spirit of the Elder Lizard. There’s a little bit of flexibility, but you’re pretty much buying your baseline clearing power plus the stats you want most later in the game.
In the 2015 preseason, we want to overhaul jungle items to support all sorts of different playstyles. These new items will be oriented around how *you* want to specialize as a jungler rather than what kind of role you’ll fill later in the game. Your jungle item choice will give you more power as a ganker, say, or more incentive to invade the enemy jungle to steal camps.
Our hope is that some junglers might use these new items to ‘double down’ on their pre-existing strengths while others will use them to shore up some of their weaknesses. In the end, each will have to make a tradeoff. The premiere ganker who also buys ganking jungle items might run into trouble when being counter-jungled, while the jack-of-all-trades might have extra difficulties in a 2v2 gank against their specialized opponent.
Items also matter for the late game, of course, so we want your jungle items to upgrade into powerful and unique items that matter. We’re currently exploring an enchantment system - similar to that used on boots - with enchantments providing the late game power that you can expect from a real item *without* compromising your meaningful choices of jungler strengths.
Bottom line, we want you to be able to opt into the jungle strategy that best suits you and your team before then customizing your items to fit your champion later in the game. We want to make jungling more engaging by offering you real choices in how you go about taking camps, purchasing items, and punching/slapping/stabbing/smashing/anchoring/biting/draining/ponying/burning/puncturing/clawing/kicking/hugging your enemies in the face.
We hope you’ll check out these changes on the PBE, and let us know if we’re heading toward that target.