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[League of Legends] Ravenous Hydra

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20140121

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[League of Legends] Ravenous Hydra




Ravenous Hydra and you.

On paper, Bloodthirster gives more Attack Damage and lifesteal than Ravenous Hydra when stacked, but Ravenous Hydra gives a solid passive, health regen, has a much easier build path, and a powerful autoattack reset active which temporarily boosts the passive.  From my perspective, in almost all situations on melee champions, Bloodthirster has been outclassed by Ravenous Hydra in burst damage, waveclear, and utility.  It's build path is bizarrely safe on such a powerful, game changing item with primarily offensive stats (Unlike, say, Bloodthirster, Rabadon's Deathcap, and Infinity Edge) and it makes both bruiser/fighter and assassin builds boring, static, and uninteresting since it is an incredibly efficient item.  By not building it on champions where it is efficient, you hurt your ability to pressure the map with clear, burst with autoattacks, and sustain.  By utilizing the passive or Ravenous Hydra, you can clear waves without using your core abilities, which would normally temporarily increase your vulnerability to duels or ganks, since the use of your abilities would consume cooldowns, mana, or energy.  

Ravenous Hydra is far more powerful, safe, and easy than it needs to be.  I'll explain why I feel this way below.




First of all, relevant links for numbers:
http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Ravenous_Hydra
http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/The_Bloodthirster

Secondly, I saw this article, and figured it would be a nice starting point for discussion.
http://www.reignofgaming.net/blogs/a-different-view/gentleman-gustaf/27072-ravenous-hydra-vs-bloodthirster

It compares the value of Ravenous Hydra to Bloodthirster on various popular melee champions, including Kha'Zix, Renekton, Riven, and Zed.  These are, of course, not the only melee champions that can viably build Ravenous Hydra or Bloodthirster, far from it in fact, but they are champions that are picked very commonly for those items, with the exception of perhaps Renekton, who benefits from them but often builds more tanky.  

So lets get into this then, and find out what's bothering me with the current design of Ravenous Hydra.  

-----

Part 1: Math is fun

First off, lets grab the burst calculations from Ravenous Hydra from the linked article.

GentlemanGustaf wrote:Burst
Both Bloodthirster and Ravenous Hydra add 75 AD, so we'll ignore that.

Bloodthirster also gives 25 times your AD ratios to your damage

Ravenous Hydra also gives 1 times your total AD to your damage. Given that your total AD at level 18 should be about 125, and you are getting 75 from Ravenous Hydra, that meas you get approximately 200 damage from the Ravenous Hydra active.

This means that if your spells' AD ratios sum to more than 8, BT is better than Ravenous Hydra; otherwise, you're better off with Ravenous Hydra for maximizing your burst.

What this means is that a champion needs to have a truly incredible amount of AD scaling over the course of a burst combo (or extended fight) for BT to be even remotely effective in comparison.  Let's see if any champions get higher than an AD ratio of 8 during their burst rotations.  The examples present are:


  • Kha'Zix AD ratios on one target is 3.97
  • Renekton (Assuming you empower your Q and W) is 5.25.
  • Riven (Assuming you ult a target which is below 25% health), is 4.6, with a shield of 1.0.
  • Zed (Assuming starting with ult), is 5.5625.


Most other melee champions that can build Ravenous Hydra, such as Talon, Jax, Xin Zhao, Rengar, Aatrox, Jarvan, Irelia, Fiora, Master Yi, Pantheon, Tryndamere, Yasuo, and Lee Sin, work in much the same way, to name but a few.  Hydra is not the most efficient item for many of the champions listed above, but in most cases, it is strictly better than them building Bloodthirster, which is what I am primarily concerned with here.  Bloodthirster is terrible for burst on all melee champions when compared to Ravenous Hydra, which would be fine if there was some other form of tradeoff.  Perhaps Bloodthirster would be better for clearing minions?  Of course not, Hydra has an incredible passive for that exact purpose.  Perhaps Hydra would not be as strong for sustain in lane?  Of course not, the item has a low HP/5 stat on top of existing lifesteal.  Oh I know, the build path for Hydra must be more difficult than Bloodthirster so that the tradeoff is that BT is easier to build, but Hydra is more powerful of a choice, thus creating a nifty risk/reward choice in builds?  No, Bloodthirster is much harder to build in fact, with the massive gold jump of 1550g from BF Sword.  Hydra's largest jump is the Pickaxe at a comparatively minor 875g.  

The calculations for DPS (as opposed to Burst) are fairly similar on all champions mentioned above, with the sole exceptions of Riven, who benefits from BT more only slightly, so slightly in fact that Hydra is still optimal in many situations outside of DPS, and Zed, who doesn't particularly like building either and would rather just kite with an entirely separate item, Blade of the Ruined King.

Ravenous Hydra is better than Bloodthirster on most melee champions in almost every single regard and every possible situational comparison.

-----

Part 2: What's a Meta

As far as I understand it, Ravenous Hydra was designed as an alternative item to Bloodthirster for melee champions, in particular bruisers and fighters.  As such, it was given base HP/5 to help with sustain in lane in melee lane matchups, as well as a passive/active combination that only works with melee champions.  This makes the item more viable on melee champions, and less viable on range champions.  This, on paper, is fine.  

My problem with Hydra is threefold:

  1. The item's build path is significantly safer and easier than Bloodthirster due to the lack of BF Sword in the item path.  This drastically changes the flow and power spike timings of melee bruisers, fighters, and assassins by making them much more powerful both defensively and offensively even when behind in gold.  There is no tradeoff or added risk for this new safe build path.  
  2. The item's passive/active combination allows bruisers, fighters, and assassins to clear minions and monsters with a powerful area of effect without using the champion abilities that would usually be required for such fast waveclear.  This creates more unnecessary safety by preserving the cooldowns of your abilities, as well as related mana and energy costs, leaving fewer vulnerability points during farming than another similar item, such as Bloodthirster, would have left.  
  3. The combination of these two aspects of Ravenous Hydra remove a significant portion of Risk/Reward that the previous item in its place, Bloodthirster, encouraged, by giving you a safe item path and a free AoE clearing ability with none of the negatives that made rushing a powerful Attack Damage item interesting to begin with, namely the lack of defensive options that rushing Attack Damage used to imply.

With these three points in mind, let us compare Ravenous Hydra and Bloodthirster on a currently popular pick, Kha'Zix.  Currently, by rushing Ravenous Hydra, which is quite easy and safe to do even when very behind on gold, Kha'Zix will have the ability to waveclear minions quickly without the use of mana on his abilities due to the passive/active area of effect on the item.  Additionally, the combination of the threatening AoE damage, the Lifesteal synergizing with his already solid Attack Damage (which in turn synergizes with the AoE damage), and the HP/5 granted by the item, you are, as his lane opponent, severely discouraged from harassing Kha'Zix in lane, despite the fact that he is a melee, mana reliant champion who would traditionally have difficulty laning against ranged harassment.  This removes a significant amount of risk of playing Kha'Zix in lane without any downside, and discourages interesting lane interactions as well as matchups in champion select.  

Imagine, if you will, if Ravenous Hydra was no longer an option for Kha'Zix.  Lets go through the possibilities.  He now no longer has an additional Area of Effect clear that essentially scales with itself, as well as scaling with the future items he will build.  He no longer gets HP/5 in lane.  Instead, he decides to go for Bloodthirster, which gives him a similar but not identical amount of lifesteal and damage.  However, even with simply the item choice itself, we already have more interactions than Hydra.  Let us say, for example, that Kha starts out with Doran's shield, as many melee laners and even some ranged laners tend to do currently.  He farms against his enemy laner and builds up 1000 gold upon his first base.  He can now choose to build a vamp scepter on his way to Bloodthirster.  However, he can also buy Pickaxe, but it no longer neatly transitions into Tiamat/Hydra.  It instead only builds into these items (assuming Summoner's Rift):

  • Frozen Mallet
  • Guinsoo's Rageblade
  • Infinity Edge
  • Last Whisper
  • Maw of Malmortius
  • Zephyr


This means that if he desperately needs Attack Damage in a single item, but cannot afford BF Sword, he needs to make decisions.  Do I get this Pickaxe, significantly increasing the damage that I do with my AD ratios at the cost of hurting the smoothness of my build path, or do I instead get Vamp Scepter for stronger sustain but less damage?  Perhaps I should simply get two Longswords and potions to build into a Brutalizer, or maybe a Longsword and a Doran's Blade?  Decisions like these are what makes League interesting.  But with Hydra, these decisions no longer exist.  All of the items but Doran's Blade listed above build into Hydra.  There's no risk to just getting a Pickaxe, and there's no downside to staying in lane until you have a BF Sword because you don't need it.  Even if you get Bloodthirster, you'll still need to consume mana and abilities to clear minion or monster waves, resulting in the need to purchase items like Mana Potions or Tear, or to simply conserve your mana at the cost of clearing more slowly.  Decisions.  Risk/Reward.  Interesting interactions between champions.  

But now there's Hydra.  

So there's no risk, no power spikes, no periods where you are weak and periods where you are strong.  There is a simple incline of power that goes steadily up as you build incredibly inexpensive items until you have fully built Hydra.  And now that you have Hydra, it is significantly harder for laners to interact with you due to your increased sustain and additional ability that both waveclears and adds burst.  No downside.  No waiting riskily in lane to build up gold for larger items at the cost of temporarily being weaker without them.  No consuming valuable resources like mana or energy, leaving you more vulnerable to surprise attacks, encouraging map awareness and proactive map vision as a side effect.  Just Hydra.  

And that's a shame.  

-----

Part 3: How Fix?  I fix.

Right now, Hydra works as an item.  It functions.  I simply think it could be a much more interesting item.  Here are some options.  


  1. Reduce the cost of Tiamat and remove the passive, but keep the active.  What this means is that the area of effect would only activate during a small Active window, and would otherwise not take effect passively.  This still adds a waveclear and burst skill to your arsenal, but adds a risk in using it.  Even with the short cooldown of the current active of Tiamat, there is still a significant vulnerability period after use, assuming it no longer has the passive.  This means that using the active to clear a wave while deep in enemy territory and without vision leaves you vulnerable to ganks, since while it is on cooldown you no longer have an AoE or an autoattack reset.
  2. Design two items that Tiamat builds into, one oriented around the AoE and burst of Hydra, and the other item designed around the Lifesteal of Hydra.  That way, a melee champion can choose to have high burst and AoE at the cost of not having lifesteal (they will still have the HP/5 from Tiamat), or instead, choose to have an easy early game AD/Lifesteal item that is not as strong as Bloodthirster, but is easier to build (No BF Sword) and still has the Tiamat active (but not the passive).


Decisions.  Risk/Reward.  Interesting interactions between champions.  That's really all I'm asking for.  Ravenous Hydras are just boring in lane, and lead to farmfests where you can't interact with the enemy champion in interesting ways, and your only recourse is to try to cause map pressure by proxy-ing waves, rather than interacting at all with your lane opponent.  I've fought as plenty of Riven/Lee Sin/Kha'Zix matchups, and I can tell you that the lane matchup and interactions are immediately more interesting to me if both champions have Bloodthirsters rather than Hydra.  All three of those champions need to spend cooldowns on their abilities to clear quickly, which can be the difference between life and death in a subsequent duel or gank.  But why risk buying anything but Hydra as a first item when it's efficient for everything you need and offers no risk in build path?  

And that's all I'm typing on this for now.
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