League of Legends

Nocturne; Problems, Identity, and History. [Long-ish]

LeagueofLegends4 - Nocturne; Problems, Identity, and History. [Long-ish]

With Nocturne being considered for a buff plus VGU and Nocturnemains fooling themselves in to thinking he deserves it over other champions on the list, I felt I should talk about it.

Hi, I am RuneKatashima, a High-ish ELO Nocturne Main with well over a million mastery points and multiple accounts and I have been playing him since Season 2, own all the skins, and even made a comprehensive (but now outdated) guide! I also wrote the book on all spellshields interactions in the game. Unfortunately that book was on ethercalc who has changed their model and I can no longer access it if it even exists anymore. But here's the guide; https://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/official-r-nocturnemains-guide-to-darkness-573831

We'll update it shortly since the new Season is in swing, but I didn't want to say I made one with /u/xstrangecloudx without showing it existed for real.

I didn't vote for Nocturne in the poll, I didn't vote for Shyvana either, who was my next strongest pick. Because I don't feel like Riot is equipped to handle either of these characters (maybe not even Skarner). I know, for a fact, that they do not understand Nocturne.
In Season 7 when Nocturne was getting hella buffs I was asking them to tone it down since Celerity had just been changed to convert MS to Adaptive Force and that was more than good enough. But they did not listen. When I asked for them to take a look at him when he was weak. They did not listen. And when he was getting strong in mid I offered solutions that they did not listen to. The result of all of this is that ended up going through 3 or more cycles of repeated nerfs or buffs that also ended up in additional nerfs or buffs because they had no idea what they were doing. They don't know what a Nocturne player wants, nor his strengths and weaknesses.

Back during the Assassin rework, Nocturne was moved off the list and classified as a Diver only to later be reinstated as an Assassin and the Diver rework never came anyway.

The only Rioter who ever listened to me about Nocturne was, ironically, DanielZKlein who unfortunately passed away in a freak Twitter incident when he called the League playerbase manchildren.

In order to understand Nocturne's problems you must first begin with his symptoms and identity.

What is Nocturne and what is Nocturne?

Nocturne is a champion who plateau's in strength in Gold as a Jungler and Diamond as a mid laner. This has been the case for years. You cannot climb with Nocturne reliably. I've been saying as much since Nocturnemains became a place.

This is because Nocturne is a champion who has the depth of a puddle with a small hole at the bottom of it that is constantly draining the water, no matter how much you try and fill that puddle with more water.

Nocturne is not a rewarding champion to play. He cannot make "big plays" and I don't mean flashy. He can't exert his will over more than 2 people at once. And 2 is a stretch based on his level of income. A Malphite will always be useful due to his ult regardless of his lane state. Nocturne's ult will not always be useful, despite the amount of power people, especially Riot, think it has. It has no right to be considered as powerful as it is. I have played Hundreds of games with friends and can count a handful of times they have said my ult has affected their fight that I didn't participate in. Overall, I'd say it's about 2% of the time. I watch replays too. His own ult puts him in danger due to the lack of tools to operate once he's landed. He can't insta-gib people nor stop people from fighting him and if he becomes CC'd he will die in the duration from most champions. He HAS to rely on his skill using W just to succeed. Nocturne cannot fail any of his skills or he will die. But most champs can. And his spellshield can be stripped easily and from things that weren't even meant to strip it. Over the years the ability has gotten worse and worse as well, blocking less and less things.

It's been a long time since the days of full armor pen builds where Nocturne really could be a cruise missile. I did play that style, but I haven't since Lethality was introduced. People think it's the same, and it isn't. You can't even do it with Electrocute anymore.

So Nocturne must rely on himself, because his ult will often put him alone, and not his opponents, as his voice line would indicate. So the ideal choice to make is to wait until either team engages and attention is diverted and cool downs are used. Indeed, this is the best strategy. A Katarina main could tell you that. But this runs against the best laid strategies that any Solo Queue Ladder Hero would tell you about and in competitive the darkness part is all but useless. Not to mention that Nocturne will let you know he's coming in not 1, but 3 ways. The first being the obvious voice line and Darkening of the screen, then the green umbra blades indicator under you, then seeing him fly towards you starting from 900 range away which is the furthest "nearsight" in the game.

Nocturne hardly survives past Gold because he is not rewarding to play. You need to learn how to W things just to survive, but not thrive. You aren't rewarded for learning all the tells of a spell coming at you. What you get is double your current passive AS boost and a fair chunk of your mana gone. Because Nocturne has THE most awful mana pool to spell cost ratios in the game. This isn't anything. Most champions get that much AS by just clicking a button, and you might argue that he gets some as AS always, but he sacrifices that in his base stats. Nocturne's stat line is quite awful for a melee champion. He sits middle of the road of all champions in the game and happens to be slightly tankier than some Assassins when what he needs is something akin to other divers like Vi, Jarvan, and Wukong. For all the risk he puts himself in. Attack speed is a crap reward, especially since it only benefits you if you're already attacking and lasts a very short amount of time. Not to mention being a very high CD. Then it has the audacity to allow hit-confirmations, ignore certain spells, let some stack abilities continue to stack and some not (Yuumi, Kennen, Viktor), no longer block AA modifiers, and more. In what world can I tell someone Nocturne is an enjoyable champion to play when I have to tell them, "Yeah, you can block bard Q but you still get stunned. You just have to deal with it XD." And it's not just Bard Q, it's Anivia Q, it's Qiyana ult. That's not fun or intuitive! The spell requires a lot of knowledge on making it work with little payoff. Are there instances of Nocturne getting a kill without it? Of course, but usually due to extenuating circumstances like easy targets. He has to block projectile spells like they're point-and-click instant spells because he's melee. His power budget is unironically attributed to this. I could go on about this ability for longer but I'll stop here.

His Q is counter-intuitive due to it's cast time. You want to chase? Here's a very low MS buff, and we'll make you stand still to cast it. The MS buff has no noticeable effect at level 1 unless you max range it and hit, and follow the trail the entire way. For a minor increase in distance. The chase spell is also tied to your AD steroid so it's not a good idea to even fire the thing at max range. You will catch up to them right as the trail wears off.

The spell is also counter-intuitive to the natural learning pattern of a player. It's one of the worst designed spells in the game. Every melee wants to attack and walk with their enemy to stay on them. Even going past them if they can. Nocturne cannot do this because he will lose his Ghosting, MS, and AD bonus. And he wants to walk past people more than anyone due to his Fear (which ticks poorly and they may not even walk backwards at all lol). He's also chained to his trail. He MUST stay on it if he wants to be a champion. Whereas other melees who close on enemies have freedom of movement, including almost all of the ones with MS boost that can go in any direction. They can dodge and weave. Nocturne is not allowed this and it is my opinion a trail mechanic has no place in League except on Trundle and that's for chasing people off his territory. If you want, give it to him.


His E is the most balanced ability except for the fact that it exists in a game where nobody plays by the rules. It does magic damage with an AP ratio, neither of which he will build for and is outdated as a design concept of "reliable" damage because of it. If someone is denying his physical damage it's because they're tanky, it needed to do %hp magical damage if anything. It must channel 2 seconds to CC people and he has to be in range for the shortest tether range in the game. Oh and he has no reliable dashes, just a small MS boost to stay on top.

Don't get me wrong and don't twist it. I'm not saying Nocturne can't stick and nobody has ever been feared by his E ever, of course they can. I am merely citing the problems to which makes him feel bad to play, which will cause that disconnection with new players.

Nocturne is a jobber. You don't see him in highlight reels unless it's as a champion to be defeated. He's a stepping stone villain. There to make others look good, not himself. At best, he is Worf.

His passive is an afterthought to allow him to survive the jungle. It got mega-buffed because he was having trouble in the jungle and now he's a "problem" (48% WR at best right now) in mid lane. Clearly, eventually, they handled it. See above where I said they had to go through multiple cycles to fix it 🙂

But it's still an afterthought. It doesn't lend to his fantasy or realistically to his power and decision-making regarding it is minimal (not absent, just minimal).

I have to give some props to Riot, however, I once had the thought that Nocturne could never abuse an item or rune better than any other champ and that made him stale. FWIW, it's still true in a way. But they at least opened my eyes that it's not a perfect statement when they made Celerity convert bonus MS to AF, that shit was hilarious.

So, what is Nocturne's identity? Well, it's what the players make of it, to be honest. And his identity has thus far been pretty malleable in terms of potential, and it seems that's what the players like. He has versatile item choices, just about any non-AP item is usable on him and many Runes have a place on him, and even more would be if the power of Runes were equal, but they're not.

But what do the players want? Well, some months ago I asked that very question: https://www.reddit.com/r/nocturnemains/comments/ivydba/what_do_you_actually_want_with_nocturne/
but I can summarize it for you. SPOOK. Well, that's dandy. But how does he play? Well, going by what I could actually glean from that thread and over the years as well as my personal talks with people and personal feelings. We want to haunt people and dismantle everything they do. And we want to occasionally blow someone up/duel someone in to the ground. For that reason, I think build diversity is the third most important thing after keeping his ult. The second being spook. And honestly I feel like spook is part player, part in-game mechanical assistance. The only time I've ever felt some genuine fear is when Warwick's W is on me. I can't risk pushing forward and I can't just go facechecking bushes. The ability is great for setting a mood. Think about that. Fiddle is just cheap jumpscare, that ain't how you run a successful horror movie/novel.

Overall, Nocturne is a decent duelist but not unparalleled. The issue is his power curve isn't treated like other junglers these days. In order to be a successful jungler you need some ability to send yourself over walls and Nocturne's being an extremely long ult CD isn't viable in that aspect. If you look at modern day junglers, they all have some form of terrain scaling. While he trades some of that power for the ability to duel, he's really not that strong at it. He either needs the ability to go over walls or needs to be very strong at dueling. Currently, and it isn't always the case, but currently he has neither.

Personally, in addition to all that. I'd like to keep his W. It's the only thing that gives me a sense of control in this game. The ability to 'nope' someone, you don't get to do that. It also allows me some peace of mind when a champion becomes OP or is released as such. As I can generally 'nope' their bullshit mechanic. I enjoy Yi for the same reason. It just needs to be rewarding. I can't imagine Nocturne without it.

I bring it up like this because Nocturne's identity is malleable, it is. Over the years it has changed without reworking. In season 2 he was a Support-tank and while that started to change a bit in Season 3, he didn't come in to his own until season 4, where he became an assassin with full AD/armor pen builds, even crit, at times. It wasn't long until it was discovered he could succeed with bruiser builds. After all, it wasn't much of a departure from his past. And soon, attack speed and on-hit, in the age of Feral Flare and eventually Devourer. Then these things never left him. Assassin changed when armor pen changed, but the style stuck with most players. Currently, your Nocturne build is a stylistic choice. Some can't move off Lethality, and some swear by Attack Speed. As for myself, as I tell all who come through, you build for the game you're in. And that doesn't sit well with a lot of people who just want to mindlessly follow a build path. But I've convinced some number of people and, miraculously, they have stuck with Nocturne and will say the same as I do.

Finally, a suggestion;

Normally, I like to keep these to myself since I feel like suggestions are hubris and almost a surefire way to make sure they don't get implemented, but I've also learned people do not value your opinion if you can't form some kind of solution. I've thought deep and hard about a rework for the better part of 4 years now. Iterating and iterating. I have something that satisfies me, which I find interesting as usually I would say art is never finished.

But I won't post it. Instead, I'll just say I've left hints throughout this whole post on recommended tweaks (though not what I would do for a full rework) and this last bit that has remained the same regardless of the change at hand being Ezreal or Sion sized.
Remove all damage from his ult and move that power elsewhere. The damage doesn't tie well to any identity of Nocturne. There is no discernible reason why his power should be gated by the activation of this cooldown. The ult, instead, should be thematic.
Make the fog go black, not transparent. BLACK. Most veterans know where things are but I believe real and true darkness is more unsettling. Blur the HuD and prevent it from updating. Long-time vets know their CDs, but this will help put that little bit of doubt in them. I want to test their mettle. Lastly, hide their allies. They're invisible now. You can't target them or see what they're doing. If you have a ground effect or skillshot you can work with that (e.g. Lux shield, how appropriate?). You can still see all enemies. But you can't see your friends and they can barely affect you.

You are alone.

Thank you for coming to my darkness talk.

P.S. I'm willing to elaborate further and at great length if anyone wants to listen.

TL;DR Nocturne isn't rewarding to play, mastery does not beget rank. This keeps him in a poor state and is exactly why people pick him up and drop him. Fun for a few games, but he's just a booty call.

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