**Dear 20thCenturyFaux and Rioters working on Leblanc,**
Hi! My name’s Cardi. I’ve been a hardcore Leblanc main since Season Two and I’ve posted various game-related content and critical feedback in the past. The objective of my post today is to discuss my response to Leblanc’s gameplay update. Before I begin I must emphasize that in no way do I bear ill thoughts or *malice* towards the changes – they’re definitely a great step in the right direction for the deceiver. However, it is more helpful to criticize the changes than it is just to offer my gratitude for your great work simply because it presents an opportunity for improvement. Therefore, I hope my positivity is sufficiently implied by the amount of thought and effort I put into writing this post in response to your work. It’s my hope that you’ll find this post both informative and comprehensive as not to let my repeated drafting of this post go to waste!
**My Experience with the Changes**
My initial reaction to the changes, frankly, was confusion. Until I toyed around with the changes in a custom game, I had a hard time grasping them from the text summary of the changes alone. In the custom game, I immediately discovered several things. First, the way Shadow of the Rose is cast was quite clunky and non-intuitive. Second, the way the controlled mimic automatically moves itself upon being summoned is more beneficial to less experienced Leblanc players than it is for diehard Leblanc mains. Since the controllable mimic moves automatically upon being summoned, my enemies won’t form any false expectations of the clone’s movements through experience – over time, they’ll simply learn that both Leblanc and the controllable mimic move (movement therefore becomes an unreliable indicator for my opponents, to the detriment of experienced Leblanc players). It’s actually more helpful for my opponents to expect my clone not to move, similar to way Mirror Image’s clone used to function for the majority of Leblanc’s history. There also exist times where it would be counterproductive for my mimic to move itself, such as when I Distortion (R) in place before returning to my initial (W) Distortion return portal I placed earlier to misdirect my enemies (ex. I dash from patch of brush A to patch of brush B with Distortion, Mimic Distortion in place within B, and then pop back to my original spot in A). The leash effect on the controllable clone can also be extremely unhelpful, activating itself to my dismay at the worst possible times (Zilean’s Time Bombs, Brand’s Pryoclasm, Fiddlestick’s Dark Wind, etc.).
I proceed to play the updated Leblanc another good twenty games or so. These are my final thoughts.
The updated Sigil of Malice is incredibly powerful. The resulting gameplay *feels* quite divergent from that of the old Sigil, that’s for sure. However, the actual gameplay isn’t radically different. Leblanc still relies on a mark activation mechanic to enable her burst damage. The difference lies mainly in the mark’s new cook time, or the delay. Because of the delay, Leblanc is forced to play reservedly in between burst windows (key word being forced). In order to remain effective, she has to constantly commit halfway to exert pressure on her opponents. This in turn places a lot of pressure on Leblanc herself. The upside to all of this is that her Sigil is no longer tied to her Q ability, which frees up the rest of her kit’s available spell combinations. The question we ask then include “Is this the right direction for Leblanc? Does the added delay to her burst adequately prevent abuse cases where her opponents feel frustrated because they’re entirely unable to react to her agenda?” I believe the answer lies somewhere between somewhat and a definitive yes. In other words, we’re getting there. Her opponents do in fact now have an opportunity to slip away and avoid fatal damage whenever they feel disadvantaged by the appearance of the deceiver. But Leblanc must play more deceptively as a result – she *must* create pressure by remaining a constant threat, repeatedly marking her opponents until she can dip in for the opportunistic kill. A persistent problem that this passive doesn’t solve, however, is the potential for Leblanc players to abuse the relatively low unique-target cooldown by building tank items effectively even when Leblanc is designed to be relatively squishy. Also, there are players that feel the mark's cook time is too long - I believe this is something they'll get used to, speaking from experience. The delay isn't absurd; it's entirely manageable and fair. My opinion is that quite a few more games may prove to be fruitful for these players - adapting to the changes is key.
The addition of a delay on Distortion’s return is slightly awkward, but not too noticeable if she covers it up by taking another action (such as attacking her opponent or casting a spell). Of all the changes to her kit, the Distortion delay warrants the least of my concern. I could see how it could impact the feel of the champion, but my experience with the actual gameplay is that Leblanc is hardly impacted. Any arguments in favor of removing the delay therefore appeal mostly to the emotions – the delay itself does not restrict Leblanc’s ability to effectively perform her role. It doesn’t even reduce her survivability, beyond the edge cases where Leblanc tries to land some damage with the spell on an opponent under their turret, where she’ll now be way more likely to be hit by at least one turret shot for the action. Additionally, it seems either the spell itself or the terrain has received a quality update of sorts (casting the spell out of range seems to place Leblanc at the maximum possible range of the ability, allowing her to more easily cross pieces of terrain she could only cross before with near perfect cursor placement accuracy).
Ethereal Chains, like Distortion, demands little attention. The change that stands out the most is the mana cost – it’s a lot more forgiving to miss the chains during the laning phase because of the 55 reduction in mana consumption. I could see the cost of this ability being one of the first things that’s increased should Leblanc ever prove to be too successful in the hands of the majority testing her out in the first couple of weeks to months following her re-release.
Finally, Leblanc’s mimic has several big changes going for it, which may be hard to appreciate or notice for the average player. Instead of being tied down to cast only the previous spell cast, Leblanc can cast any one of her spells. The impact of the increase in number of spell combinations freed up by the new passive and this change to her ultimate cannot be understated. My biggest gripe with this ability, however, is that it doesn’t allow Leblanc to actively pull off any meaningful sleight of hand – something you’d expect a magician to be able to do. There’s not much manipulation or misdirection involved in just maintaining a persistently offensive presence. It’d be a whole lot more interesting for the select few hardcore Leblanc mains if Leblanc could actively control how she deceives her opponents – her updated kit just doesn’t allow her to do this. Shadow of the Rose, in most cases, is just something I cast whenever it’s off cooldown. The way it’s activated and controlled are the biggest reasons why I just spam it mindlessly whenever it’s available. First, let’s go over the controls – whenever I’m not using my ultimate to mimic my spells, I’m not making plays. If I’m not making plays, I’m not doing it right. But if I am using my ultimate to mimic my spells, then I can’t cast Shadow of the Rose even if it’s available. What ends up happening is that I cast Shadow of the Rose *just because* instead of using it to actively deceive my opponents simply because it’s wasted potential not to cast it immediately whenever it’s up. When I do cast it, it’s unlikely to be effective on opponents that are even slightly familiar with Leblanc’s new kit, because the clone is AI-controlled and highly predictable. The removal of Leblanc’s immediate burst damage also diminishes the effectiveness of the AI-controlled clone, causing it to be less of a psychological deterrent than it could have been if Leblanc’s immediate burst threat were left intact. As a result of the clunky controls that prevent Shadow of the Rose from being cast when her regular ultimate is on cooldown and the predictability of the clone’s AI, Shadow of the Rose feels like a forcefully tacked on gimmick rather than a tool good Leblanc players can actively manage.
**Attack animation:** I believe it was updated, feels smoother. Thanks!
**Sigil of Malice (Passive):** Suffers from low cooldown syndrome, making it effective even for tank-based builds.
**Shatter Orb (Q):** Suffers from boring name syndrome and marginal increase in effectiveness for ability points spent.
**Distortion (W):** You improved either the range of the ability, the way the ability deals with maximum range casts, or the way terrain interacts with dashes, because the ability seems to cross over pieces of terrain more consistently now.
**Ethereal Chains (E):** Seems not to be updating properly at 250ms ticks – the “lingering” tether effect is reminiscent of an older Leblanc where the chain would still go off even if the target exited the range in time, because of the ability’s slow update speed.
**Mimic (R):** Shadow of the Rose has a clunky cast – you should be able to cast it even when Mimic is on cooldown. The controllable mimic that’s summoned upon casting any copied spell moves itself upon being summoned, which isn’t always desirable. Also, the leash on the clone – it’s almost never desired.
**Overall thoughts: ** Really like the update, it makes Leblanc feel very refreshing to play. The visuals are also *finally* updated (God, they were so ugly and out of place in the current League before). My opinion is that the passive is a bit too strong because of the low unique-target cooldown, and that R has various clunkiness and counterproductivity issues.