Posted by: innerfire | September 27, 2011

Thoughts on Dominion

So, Dominion is now in public beta, periodically available for public consumption, or always available if you’re one of the pros who’re practicing it constantly. For the unitiated, it’s a 5v5 Capture-and-Defend-Points map with a heavy emphasis on speed (through field buffs) that currently caters best to tanky DPS (doesn’t everything these days?) with high mobility. The fun part is that champions who don’t normally do well can excel here – Evelynn and Twitch are favorites for stealth capping points.

I’m currently level 29, and still preparing constantly for Ranked play. Which means a lot of games, saving up for prized champions (current ones on the list are Kennen and Cassiopeia to round out my AP Carries) and a lot of Dominion, since the 15-20 minutes for 50-70IP is an excellent trade.

The thing with Dominion, and any analysis on it, is you have to take into account not only how the game is currently played while people adjust to the new setting and idea, but how it will evolve as the metagame changes. Currently, champions with high movespeed are preferred, especially tanky DPS, as they can rush to where an enemy isn’t defending and take a point before defense arrives. Master Yi, Rammus, and Nocturne are all highly favored choices (especially Rammus right now, as he’s free.) After that, good defenders (Heimer, Alistar, Janna, Lux, Ezreal, Karthus – anyone with AOE or heavy CC that can interrupt/delay capture alone) or global ultimates (Twisted Fate, Pantheon, Nocturne) and solid attack power for taking out defenders (Sion, Mundo, Morgana, Annie, Ezreal) round out the team.

But the fact is, currently, if you don’t have (a good) Rammus, you’re probably going to lose. That’s a problem. With full buffs and some tweaking, Rammus can hit 1700 movespeed, taking the top ‘neutral’ point within 12 seconds, well before anyone else can arrive there. Build him with Warmogs and some tanky items, and now he’s an invulnerable roving point capture, forcing you to defend with 2-3 champions, thus hurting your attempts to attack. Currently, with two friends, we can carry an entire game with just Rammus, Janna, and Heimer – usually within 10 minutes, often achieving 5 point capture.

That’s the current meta – what about the future?

This is Arathi Basin on a faster, smaller scale. The map is less vast, the teams are much smaller, and the games much shorter. Having done well over 1000 Arathi Basin games, the tactics being used are very familiar to me.

Guerrilla  tactics, where you do hit and run, emphasize capture speed and mobility, and either fast enough not to get killed, or fast enough to pull 2-3 onto you long enough for your allies to take other areas.

A common attempt to defeat this is the “Steamroller” where you have 4-5 champions roving from point to point killing everyone and taking the point as a team. The problem with this, as we learned in Arathi Basin, is that it is incredibly easy to take over points behind them, and even 1 good defender can hold the team long enough to capture other points. They will get more kills, but lose more Nexus health in the long run. The only time this will work is with heavy use of minions to quickly take points, or push waves toward contested points.

The last is a basic grab and hold – either 2 or 3 defending, and the rest on constant attack. The problem with this is that unless your defenders are -very- good, it’s easy to get Steamrolled or simply creep pushed. Most champions cannot 1v1 easily, so those that can (Udyr, Nocturne, Sion) are at a profound advantage against the defenders.

Tanky DPS champions continue the meta, with Jax, Irelia, Alistar, etc doing well. Certain high maneuverability or AOE Carries also do well (Vayne, Miss Fortune), but without utility or mobility (Orianna and Morgana) most AP Carries don’t translate well. Then there’s Rammus. Rammus utterly breaks Dominion, as mentioned previously. He absolutely has to be banned on every Draft Pick because of how bad it is. (Other good bans include Akali, Gangplank, Nocturne, and Jax)

So, all that said, where do I stand? 50-70IP for a 15 minute game is excellent – and I’ll likely be playing a lot of Dominion, perhaps badly on purpose or with new champions I want to learn, to farm IP. But as a game, it has no real lasting value. This will be a great game for casual players (who needed something like this) who just want to come in, play a few games, and hang with friends. But it requires no strategy – you’re given all your items and experience, which means the game just comes down to which champion is better made and less nerfed. It’s impossible to balance champions for both Dominion and Ranked – so I doubt they’re going to bother. If you’re interested in more, a couple of pro players make much the same case in the latest State of the League.

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