A Closer Look at League of Legend's Upcoming Kindred Rework

Kindred 1
(Photo: Riot Games)

Riot Games has been on a tear recently when it comes to reworking champions, and it looks like they're not ready to stop yet. Earlier today Riot announced changes to Kindred that amounted to a full rework, a move which came as a surprise to many players. While Kindred has certainly needed a rework for some time – her current kit is one of the most impossible to balance in the game thanks to her rather ridiculous passive – she certainly wouldn't be a champion that you'd expect Riot to tackle not a month after the vanguard champion update. Nevertheless, a Kindred rework is coming, and if the proposed changes go through it will definitely shake up the metagame in a big way and put Kindred on the map.

If you need a quick refresher on what the proposed changes are, take a quick look before yo uread on. There's a lot in there, so take your time. Got it? Good.

So, let's start this discussion from the top and talk about Kindred's new passive. The biggest problem with Kindred on the live server is her outrageous ability to snowball games via her passive. When Kindred succeeds on a hunt she not only gains the gold from killing a champion, she also gets half a Bloodrazor in damage for free to boot. It's not at all uncommon to see Kindred's passive hit for 10% of a targets current health per auto attack by the late game, which is absolutely nuts and trivializes tanks even more than a Kog'Maw would. While the post-rework Kindred will still gain significant DPS from her marks thanks to the attack speed she now gains from Dance of Arrows, it comes in the form of a damage multiplier, not just upfront damage like she gains at the moment. Kindred need only build attack speed on live and her passive will do the work for her. The exact opposite will be true post-rework.

While her new passive certainly still has some similarities to her current one, it's the differences that are interesting. Of those, the elephant in the room is definitely the range she gains from her marks. Frankly, I have no idea how this is going to play out, since it has potential to be absolutely insane or completely useless. The fact that you don't see any change at all until 4 marks is the most concerning part, as in a kill-starved game that may well mean that you don't see her first range increase until the mid game. That being said, 75 range is the difference between Caitlyn's auto attack range and Varus', which is quite a lot. The real question, however, is how it will affect Kindred's abilities. While it's pretty obvious how it will affect Mounting Dread, it isn't entirely clear whether the extra 75 range on Dance of Arrows will come in the form of a longer dash or a longer range on the arrows that Kindred fires at the end of the dash. If it's the former than Kindred is going to suddenly be a nightmare for melee champions to deal with, as a simple 75 range buff makes Dance of Arrows amongst the longest-range mobility skills in the game, and the only ones that compete with it – excluding Riftwalk – don't have 4 second cooldowns. The fact that it's possible for a ranged DPS champion to have both an incredibly spammable and long range dash on top of Caitlyn-level range is crazy, but that is exactly what the new Kindred offers...if you can get there.

The question is, will she ever manage to get there? To answer that we need to take a look at how the rest of Kindred's kit is getting changed. Dance of Arrows is, for the most part, getting buffed, since the damage that it gets from Kindred's passive at the moment is laughable and won't be missed, certainly not when she gets a massive attack speed steroid in return. By the time you hit four marks, which you should be aiming to do every game as early as possible for the bonus range anyways, Dance of Arrows is not only a mobility skill, it's also a near-permanent uptime 50% attack speed steroid. That's terrifying no matter how you slice it.

In order to access that constant attack speed buff, however, you have to keep yourself on Wolf's territory during Wolf's Frenzy, which is rather hard to do at the moment since the ability can only be cast immediately around Kindred. Thankfully, that's changing in this rework as well, and Kindred can now center Wolf's Frenzy on any point within 500 units, regardless of the terrain between her and the target. That's doubly important now since Wolf's auto attacks to targets in his territory now also deal the percent damage that Kindred's passive lost. That change alone would move Wolf's Frenzy away form being the fire and forget skill that it is now, but now that it also enables a crazy steroid in the form of Dance of Arrows it's arguably Kindred's most important non-ultimate ability. It rarely used to matter whether Kindred was on Wolf's territory before this rework, but now fighting her while she's on it will be akin to a death sentence, and her ability to snowball into the items she'll need to her more ADC-oriented builds will be utterly dependent on using Wolf's Frenzy correctly.

Mounting Dread is also seeing changed, but they're nowhere near the scale of the other two abilities. The interesting part about these changes is the execute, which is a strange touch for an ability that is usually used as an opener. Kindred has no form of crowd control outside of the slow from Mounting Dread unless she has red buff, so it seems unlikely that attempting to gank while it as a closing ability instead of an opener is going to be a popular option. Still, it's hard to ignore the damage that it can deal, and it's difficult to tell exactly how large of a change this really is. While the damage from Mounting Dread was always nice, it was the slow that people really cared about, which is still intact. Odds are that players will still just fire it off the moment they go to gank like they always have, and difference in damage between the live version and the reworked one doesn't seem large enough to matter much.

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So what's the final verdict? This might sound like a cop out, but it's extremely hard to tell. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd rather have a 5-item post-rework Kindred than a pre-rework one, but the question is whether or not she can live up to that fantasy. Because the current Kindred gets most of her damage from her passive she can eschew building damage entirely in favor of items like Bloodrazor or the Black Cleaver. That's not going to be possible after her rework, since she's now reliant upon her items to make her individual auto attacks stronger than a pea shooter. Considering Kindred also has abysmal base auto attack damage – a measure meant to offset the percent damage from her passive – it's really unclear whether the direction Riot is attempting to take Kindred into is one which she can actually go.

Even if you operate under the assumption that Kindred can still put on enough pressure from the jungle to not simply be a liability, you have to ask whether it's worth it in the end or not. Kindred has 81 attack damage at level 18. If you wanted to, you could start the game with that much attack damage on half the tanks in the game with an aggressive rune set up. While that wasn't a problem when Kindred could rely on slicing off 5% of her targets health every auto attack, it become a huge problem when you're trying to build like a traditional ADC. Yes, the new version of Kindred can get the same attack range while having mobility that would make Kassadin drool, but she gives up a lot in exchange. Does it really matter how mobile or difficult to reach the enemy ADC is if she's also doing no damage? Will the new Kindred do no damage? These are the questions that I'll be looking to the PBE for answers to, because if your jungle ADC can't do enough damage to be considered a real ADC it doesn't matter what else they can do.