Under the Hood – The New Jungle
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The changes that Riot recently released for the jungle were clearly significant, if only based on the number of forum threads created to discuss the issue. But what, exactly, do these changes mean? How do they affect the champions that are familiar with the task of jungling? Let’s analyze the changes more carefully and present some conclusions. After playing some games on the Volibear patch with the initial changes, I felt excited to try new strategies in the jungle and approached it with an open mind and a blank notepad.
Within two days after the patch, Riot announced that they were planning adjustments to increase the rate of gold and experience gain for junglers and to find a method to compensate for jungle time lost attempting to gank lanes. On Saturday, a hotfix went live with these promised adjustments, including a system whereby the largest creep of each minor camp (wolves, golems, and wraiths) would accumulate additional gold and experience rewards for sitting idle on the map. I needed to clearly outline how much gold and experience was available in the jungle after the changes in order to reach any meaningful conclusions.
I specifically focused on the wolf camp and gathered statistics on the gold and experience rewards from this camp during the different patches. The hardest statistics to gather were the amounts and times when the idle creeps accumulated additional value. After playing five games and waiting patiently to kill the wolf camp at ever-increasing intervals, I determined how the banking system works for this camp:
Initially, when the wolves spawn, the largest wolf is worth 128xp and 44 gold and the small wolves are worth 10xp and 5 gold each. However, after 2 minutes of sitting idle, the large wolf begins to gain value. Over the course of the following 2 minutes it increases to a final max value of 167xp and 50 gold. This represent a gain of 1xp every 3 seconds, and 1 gold every 20 seconds.
|BANKING SYSTEM FOR WOLF CAMP|
|First Clear at Game Time||Total Value of Camp|
|1:40||148xp / 54g|
|2:40||148xp / 54g|
|3:40||148xp / 54g|
|4:40 (half bank)||168xp / 57g|
|5:40+ (full bank)||187xp / 60g|
The most important thing to note in this chart is that the accumulation does not begin until 2 minutes after the spawn time. From the time the wolf camp spawns at 1:40 until 3:40, it is worth the same amount. Then starting at 3:40 its value increases stopping at 5:40 when it reaches its maximum bank amount. This means that the banking system will only have an effect on your jungling if you leave a camp idle for 2 or more minutes. Personally, I can gank a lane, go back to base and get into my jungle again in about 2 minutes exactly. This means this banking system is unlikely to effect the most efficient junglers, but may be beneficial to lower level players who jungle more slowly or who spend a significant amount of time in lanes. I like the concept of the banking system, but as it stands right now I find it unlikely to be a factor in high level play. However, given Riots clearly stated objective of making the jungle “more accessible for lower level summoners“, I think this banking system is a significant contribution towards that goal.
After getting a grasp on the numbers behind the banking system, I wanted to find a reliable method for comparing the gold and experience available from the jungle in the most recent 3 versions. To do this, I calculated the value of the wolf camp at initial spawn time and determined how much gold/experience could be earned per minute based on how quickly the camp is harvested. For example, in the pre-Volibear jungle the wolves are worth a total of 201xp at spawn time and their respawn rate is 1:40. That means that if we kill the wolves instantly (idle time o:oo) we will earn 201xp / 1.666min which is 120xp/min. The results of the banking system can be seen in the 3:00 and 4:00 values for the most recent patch.
|COMPARISON OF GOLD AND EXPERIENCE PER MINUTE|
|Wolf Camp idle time||Jungle before Volibear patch||Jungle with initial Volibear patch||Jungle after Dec.5 hotfix|
|0:00||120xp / 31g||144xp / 54g||148xp / 54g|
|0:30||110xp / 28g||96xp / 36g||99xp / 36g|
|1:00||75xp / 19g||72xp / 27g||74xp / 27g|
|2:00||54xp / 14g||48xp / 18g||49xp / 18g|
|3:00||43xp / 11g||36xp / 13g||42xp / 14g (half bank)|
|4:00||35xp / 9g||29xp / 11g||37xp / 15g (full bank)|
* The bold values indicate the optimal value based on the idle time.
** This chart does not account for the ambient increase in value that effects monsters as the game progresses.
What can we deduce from this chart? First, it is clear that the hotfix fulfilled its promise of increasing the gold and experience rewards available to a jungler compared with the initial Volibear patch. This is not the only good news, as we can see that the new jungle offers more gold than we could harvest in any other recent patch. Unfortunately, the rest of my analysis of the jungle changes is not as positive.
Looking at the difference between the old jungle (pre-Volibear) and the new one, you will earn less experience in the new jungle unless you can clear the camp within the first 25 (approx) seconds of its spawn. At a theoretical maximum (if you could clear a camp instantly as it spawns) the new jungle offers significantly more experience, but in reality this is probably not the case. Unfortunately, it is most common to leave camps idle for about 1 minute (+/- 30 seconds), and this is exactly the the range where we received better experience rates from the older patch. If you feel like you are leveling up slower in the jungle, you are right.
If you want to know what you can do about this, I can only suggest one thing: change your champion. There are only a few champions who have the ability to clear the jungle quickly and repeatedly and therefore receive some of this additional experience which is theoretically available. As many individuals are already beginning to point out, junglers with AoE abilities produce much faster clear times. At the top of this list resides Pheonix Stance Udyr. To provide some examples of this I tested Pheonix Udyr, Gangplank and Warwick in the new jungle. For the test I chose a short jungle path that each champion would use (shown in the image on the right – blue>wolves>wraiths>golems>red), started with cloth armor and 5 health pots, and used no runes. I’m not saying this is at all optimal, but these were the constant factors in my tests.
Udyr: with 0/21/9 masteries I was finished at 3:45
Gangplank: with 21/8/1 masteries I was finished at 4:05
Warwick: with the same 21/8/1 masteries, done at 4:22
Look at those results for a minute. It takes 20-37 more seconds for the single target champions to clear this simple route, which is between 4 and 7 seconds more per camp. This is a total clear time of 1:50 for Udyr compared to 2:10 and 2:27. These results mean that Pheonix Udyr is 18% and 34% faster than Gangplank and Warwick (respectively) for his initial clear. Imagine this difference compounding throughout the game. Just let that sink in for a second and understand why people have been feeling that single-target champions are worse right now. Now, it is important to note that I’m not advocating that it should take exactly the same amount of time for these three junglers to clear all the camps, I am simply pointing out that the deviation between their current clear times is enormous.
Sadly, I did not run a similar test during the pre-Volibear patches, so I do not know what the clear time of these champions was previously. However, I can argue that if the old jungle witnessed the same time differences then it went unnoticed in the past due to the longer spawn times. This would occur because a champion who clears a camp 5 seconds slower would only suffer this “wasted time” once every 1:40 instead of every 1:00.
Now, lets talk about why Udyr is able to clear the camps so much faster. The first, and probably largest, factor is that he simply does more damage per second with Pheonix Stance than Warwick or Gangplank can muster. However, I also believe that the choice to create one “key” monster for each camp and significantly reduce the strength of the “side-kick” monsters has allowed AoE champions to rule the jungle. This is because they can kill the entire camp without “wasting” very much attack damage. For example, if a monster has 175hp and your champion does 80 damage per attack (ignore armor for this example), then it takes you three attacks to kill the monster and your wasted-damage is 65 (3*80 – 175 = 240 – 175 = 65) and your wasted-damage percent is 27% (65/240).
Conversly, if you have some AOE effect that does 15 damage per second, you can choose to attack this monster two times and your AoE will finish it off. In this case your attack damage is not wasted and you are free to use it fully on another monster in the camp. With a little bit of micro, an AoE champ can easily reduce their wasted attack damage by very large amounts. This can easily be shown to be more drastic because of the reduced hitpoints on the “sidekick” monsters. If, in my previous example, the monster had 415hp, then the single target champion would have to attack it six times and your wasted-damage would still be 65, but your wasted-damage percent would only be 13.5%. Or if it had 895hp, then you would attack it twelve times, your wasted-damage would still be 65, but your wasted-damage percent would be 6.8%. The higher the hitpoints of the target, the lower the percent of wasted-damage.
It is interesting to note that Gangplanks passive somewhat mitigates the problem of wasted-damage. Grog Soaked Blade does a small amount of damage over time, which means that with some careful timing, clever players can optimize their damage dealt and avoid wasting auto attack damage.
Due to a lack of information regarding the scaling of the gold and experience for jungle camps into late game, these tests are only able to provide a broad overview of the new jungle and make basic comparisons with the previous patch. There are clearly many more nuances to be discovered in this new jungle, and these tests should serve as a launching point to conduct additional experiments and explore new builds and routes.
Overall, I support Riots objectives with these changes, but I feel that they have unintentionally reduced the effectiveness of single-target champions in the jungle to an almost unusable level. Further tweaks are required to satisfy the new goals without completely disrupting such traditional jungle-loving champions as Warwick and Fiddlesticks. Riot has been monitoring the changes well so far and responding to the statistics they can gather from the live environment, so I think we can expect to see more tweaks and adjustments over the next few weeks.
But whatever adjustments may come, it is clear that we must bid farewell to the jungle we knew and loved and be prepared to learn the tricks of the Season 2 jungle.