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Champion Update: Nunu

The end of an era?

Today, I've been hit with a sudden sense of ennui, which here means that I'm writing an article about playing video games cause it feels like I've got nothing better to do.

Today, I found out that they're changing Nunu.

While part of me is bouncing with excitement like the energetic baby-book protagonist that Nunu has become, another part of me is wistful, perhaps wary even.

League of Legends over time has shown that more than anything else, the developers are focused on change. And while change can definitely be a positive thing that keeps things fresh and exciting, it can also be a jarring and alienating experience, the likes of which make a person feel betrayed. 

For example: 

Someone told you they brought the oreo ice cream cake your mother purchased every year for your birthday to a party, but they had actually brought a cookies and cream layer cake special ordered from a Japanese Michelin Star Patisserie because they figured all your college friends would like it better.

Certainly, this new cake is amazing. Its plating is superb. Its flavors deemed superior by cooking authorities and 15/15 taste tasters selected it over every other available option through ten rounds of quality assurance examinations. Critics have deemed it the best cookies and cream cake to ever grace our uncivilized tastebuds and we should be grateful to High Lord Cooking Mama for allowing us to ever even smell it.

But it's not what I came back home for. And "home" here is the keyword.

Let's face it: Nunu was dated at best and archaic at worst. When we looked at his character model, it's clear some work was done to prevent him from showing his age, but his kit couldn't hide it. While he had a bunch of skills that a seasoned eye could excel in the jungle with, there was a lack of cohesion in the overarching philosophy of how he actually should be played. While the yeti looked like a fighter, once you got beyond his deceptive appearance and superficially accordant skills, people often fell into one of two camps: tank or mage. This was because his kit was one part melee jungle brawler and one part half-baked battle mage.

With Nunu, you had the ability to support/jungle/top/mid, counter jungle, control objectives, delete squishies, control 2v1/2v2 situations, powerfarm, and turn teamfights. But you couldn't do this all at once. Nunu's design, whether intentionally or inadvertently, allowed for flexibility in playstyle that let players who understood the champion and the meta completely overwhelm inexperienced players with tactical knowledge expressions. Sure, they had to lean into Nunu's individual weaknesses to truly bring out his strengths, but that was one of the great beauties of early League; taking your knowledge of the game and playing it how you wanted to. Nunu is one of the few remaining champions who had that freedom, not because he was designed to scale with every defensive or offensive stat, like Ornn, or craft a different playstyle around every kind of offensive stat set up, like Kai'sa, but because it wasn't clear what to do with him, so you could do whatever you wanted as long as it worked.

While I'm very much excited for this new coat of paint, I'm seeing a converse argument appear in League's design philosophy. At first, much like Nunu, I didn't know what League was, and honestly, I don't think the devs did either. And that was nice because we discovered together what champions could be, and that changed the way the game was played. These days though, League has discovered how the game is played, and that in turn tells us what our champs can be.

I'm not against change. I generally embrace it. But I'm human. And to a human, the feeling of losing something is often much worse than getting something of equal value:

And while I know some parts of Nunu will taste the same, I also know this isn't the ice cream cake I came to the party for.

If you'd like to see the Champion Roadmap or Dev Blog that the Nunu Changes were announced in, click here.

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Champion Update: Nunu
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