Tristana Trouble or; Crits ain’t that fun.

There are issues in League. The issue I will not be discussing here is the Eve support I had in my most recent game rushing a Hextech Gunblade while aimlessly waiting around for the opposing Jhin to forget that we had an Evelynn. He had as much fun as it sounds.

What I’m talking about is what I was saying about having to buy crit that game. You sit there and you just… right-click.  Obviously moving around helps and using W and da da da… but I was mainly just right-clicking on my opponents and they were dying. Obviously killing things is what damage dealers do… deal enough damage and an enemy champion dies. But it felt damn boring.

And so I declared: /all “crits arent fun.” (who cares about grammar in client?)

“they are if they come from a barrel” replied our Gangplank alongside “its great when GP gets ahead”

To which I (saltily) dismantled what makes Gangplank Barrels hurt so much.

Let us for all intents and purposes say that this GP actually gets his TF and Infinity Edge and is at lvl 13 (with barrels maxed and lvl 2 ult with Death’s Daughter) with 200 AD (from assorted runes and masteries. Gangplank at this point has 88 base AD so deals +176 on triforce proc.

200 AD + 176 triforce + 120 Q damage + 200 barrel damage = 696 physical damage. A crit barrel would do another 300 on top of that, dealing 996 physical damage while also ignoring armor. You then have ult on top of that with Thunderlords dealing 180 + (130+30 Thunderlords for the sake of argument) + 180 (true from Death’s Daughter) = 520 damage. Any target below that threshold is going to give GP even more gold.

Now the combo in question is hard for non GP mains because it’s hard to get a triple barrel down. But for those who know how to do it, it’s the rough equivalent of not having your ADC ass handed to you in 1.81 seconds.

It does not become a matter of skill at that point, only a matter of when. And that when is at the complete mercy of a Random Number Generator. So all of the Gangplanks seek to rid that RNG factor by forcing themselves to fill the rest of their slots with Attack Speed that actually help more when hitting towers and getting the shit scared ADC pummeled within 1.81 seconds. That is not very fun for the opposing party, but it’s mathematically sound and so is, theoretically, balanced.

And so we return to Tristana, who somewhat is in that same niche. Trist has the longest range in the game (669, surpassing Caitlyn’s 650 at level 16) but doesn’t have the massive crit steroids that Cait has. (E)xplosive Charge may have a max 2.42 AD steroid, but it won’t crit. And there was a slightly more interesting iteration of Tristana that I think is somewhat important. Between 5.5 and 5.7, Tristana gained two new interactions on her kit.



  • Rapid Fire.png Rapid Fire
    • Tristana’s basic attacks during Rapid Fire reduce the cooldown of Explosive Charge.png Explosive Charge by 0.5 seconds (1 second against champions).
  • Explosive Charge.png Explosive Charge
    • Cooldown increased to 16 / 15.5 / 15 / 14.5 / 14 seconds from 16 / 15 / 14 / 13 / 12.

These two meant that Tristana could increase her E damage output (her only other skill based damage source being her ultimate) by hitting an enemy multiple times. Its kind of fitting with her very ‘tank-busting’ persona and weapon of choice being a Best Friend AT rifle. Now this worked against tanks, but it also worked against turrets and that really made her too good. So it was removed in 5.22 alongside a couple other heavy nerfs. It still didn’t work with crit.

So when it came down to a Silver Trist build, getting a Black Cleaver would maximise this cooldown reduction feature. Of course that’s as Silver tier as it sounds, but when you’re talking about attack speed based cooldown reduction there’s always going to be room for this sort of logic. It also increases any crit damage in the same way that armor pen increases crit.  And Trist still doesn’t have any crit mechanics. So why are we pigeon-holing Tristana into buying crit when she can work just as well with anything else? Sure Crit is the ‘easiest way to increase DPS’ but then you get yet another binary play style that has resulted in the issues we see today. Okay maybe that’s going a bit too far when we have too little to go on when it comes to critical strike.

Critical strikes are supposed to simulate a lucky hit by dealing bonus damage. In a casual match of D&D in your basement this is fine because you know that you got a nice 20 (5% chance) roll on the dice and it felt REALLY good. This idea then gets ported into Warcraft 3. The values here for Blade Master is a 15% chance to deal 2/3/4 times the damage. Then Dota comes along and shifts the idea away from loads of units vs loads of units to a 1v1 environment. Suddenly things become much more down to the wire. Getting lucky here tips the balance of power HARD.

When it’s two dozen units vs two dozen units, crit supposedly balances out to give bonus damage equal to ((crit chance X crit multiplier) + (non-crit chance X non-crit multiplier)) or, in the previous case, 0.15*2 + 0.85*1 = 1.15 damage multiplier and since it adds up over tons of damage instances. But when it comes to individual auto attacks that deal upwards of 500 damage, that variance becomes very dangerous. You know the feeling of getting those lucky crits to win against the enemy ADC. It can also work the other way around. After Lifesteal, the health difference created becomes even larger. This is one of the main reasons why Warlord’s is such a dangerous mastery that is very likely to be reworked at least once more.

In the MOBA genre, Crits are dangerous. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. In League though we can buy more chances at crit. Crit is a chance, a lucky shot of hitting the right spot on the body. That’s what’s fun about it, getting lucky. If you take the crit and turn it into an 80% or 100% chance to crit, it’s not as special. It just becomes bonus damage. And that bonus damage is not exactly lame, it’s simply bonus damage. But if you don’t get a crit then it feels like you’re unlucky. It goes from “Hell yeah I got a crit!” to “Ah shit I didn’t get a crit.” and this forces this feeling of “I NEED THAT 100%“. This is what you mean by building crit. This is compounded the further your crit damage is from the standardized 200%. It’s that nagging at the back of your mind that tells you to get crit, to always crit and never not crit. Then you don’t get a crit and that feels bad. You can max out at 100%, but then you’ve spent 4 items minimum on crit chance and you have 1 full item slot free which (always) involves Last Whisper and selling boots for Bloodthirster.

That’s not ADCs having item choice. That’s ADCs having their own dedicated items to give the illusion of choice. The same can be said for several other types of builds, though this is more relevant to ADCs currently with the “ADC 2017” meme that’s damn near everywhere. Except it’s been the same ordeal in 2016, 2015, 2014 and, although this is likely not the cause, it is a product of an original concept so ingrained into League’s system and culture that it cannot be removed aside from a specific request from Riot and the entire community, which is a complete and utter impossibility. And I am completely fine with this, but going forward I think it is important to look at crits as what they are and further conceptualize the identity of Marksmen yet avoid further categorization like the Plague.

Of course ADCs are going to try to buy any item they want. One game later I decided that going for an early Edge of Night against their Ashe was a good idea. Thing is that Ashe was Plat while I had a pre-30 support.

:     ^)


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