TL;DR at bottom
Upcoming Ziggs Buffs
So for those of you unaware, Ziggs is getting a flat 20 dmg buff to his Q at LV 5. Now, as someone that has been playing a lot of Ziggs recently, I agree he could use a buff, and I'm glad Riot is looking at him. But I believe it would be better to buff the AP ratio of his Q rather than the base damage, not for balance reasons, but for design reasons.
Ways to increase Magic Damage
For AP champs there are 3 main ways for a champ to increase their spells damage: AP, mpen and AH. A lot of factors play into what stat is the best to buy, including, but not limited to:
- How much AP/mpen/AH you already have (If you have a lot of AP for example, AH and mpen becomes
- If you have ratios in your kit that are not damage, like healing or shields
(this makes mpen less valuable)
- The ratio between the base damage of your spell and the AP ratio (the more base damage relative to AP scaling, the worse AP and better AH and mpen become
I would like to focus on the last of these points. Because as a matter of fact, even before the upcoming changes, Ziggs had one of the highest base damage to AP ratios in the game. Because I'm a huge nerd, I have actually compiled a table with all AP champs I could think of in the game, and their base damage/AP ratio on the spell they max first. I have then computed the 'AP to double' number, which is the amount of AP the champ needs to double the base damage of their spell (it is computed as base_damage/ap_ratio). Most champs in the game have an AP2double value between 200 and 300, as can be seen in the table below. Also note that I have only taken the spells that are commonly maxed first, because the ratio only makes sense when applied to a spell that is maxed. The lower this value is the better it is to build AP on the champ, relative to other damage amplifiers.
|Ability||Dmg at lv 5||AP ratio||AP to double||Comment|
|Ziggs Q 11.12||285||0.65||440.00|
|Ahri Q||140||0.35||400.00||True Damage, so mpen less effective|
|Azir W (Soldier)||150||0.6||250.00||Damage at lv 18, at lower levels the AP to double is lower|
|Cassiopia E||210||0.8||262.50||Base damage of E at lv 18, at lower levels the AP to double is lower|
|Elise Q||160/210||NA||#VALUE!||AP increases Current Health dmg, so not applicaple|
|Evelynn Q||330||1.95||169.23||Insane AP2double ratio btw|
|Fiddlesticks W||360||0.7||514.29||Low ratio, and even worse considering that W also deals missing health dmg.|
|Gwen Q||210||0.5||420.00||Not entirely accurate, since there is max health scaling too|
|Heimerdinger W||270||0.93||290.32||For all rockets hit, slightly higer value for one rocket hit (330)|
|Karma Q||270||0.4||675.00||Super bad ap to double ratio, but she has shields and heals in her kit|
|Katarina Q||195||0.3||650.00||Bad, but most of Kata’s dmg comes from passive|
|Mordekaiser Q||294||0.6||490.00||Taken at lv 18, lower at lower levels (320 at lv 9)|
|Neeko Q||260||0.5||520.00||3 hits on Q has 555.55 ratio|
|Nidalee Human Q||150||0.5||300.00||Max range spear is same ratio|
|Rumble Q||340||1.1||309.09||Ratio not changed while overheated|
|Seraphine Q||115||0.6||191.67||Suprisingly high|
|Shyvana dragon E||380||1||380.00|
|Singed Q||120||0.9||133.33||Extremely high, but his ult gives him AP, so in reality the ratio is higher (223.33 at lv 16 with ult active)|
|Teemo E||120||0.4||300.00||Ratio is higher, because each attack also deals base aa dmg|
|Twisted Fate Q||240||0.65||369.23|
|Twitch E||270||2||135.00||Fully Stacked. Insane ratio, and even worse to build mpen because part of the damge is physical|
|Veigar Q||240||0.6||400.00||In reality the ratio is higher, because Veigar get’s a lot of free AP. Not a champ that should be build a lot of AP on.|
|Viktor E Evolved||370||1.3||284.62||A lot of the AP ratio comes from the second part|
|Zoe Q||220||0.6||366.67||Ratio taken at lv 18, at lv 9 the ratio is 320|
How this relates to the upcoming changes to Ziggs
Looking at this table you might notice that very few AP champs have a worse AP2double value than Ziggs: The champs are:
- Fiddlesticks W
- Gwen Q
- Karma Q
- Katarina Q
- Kog'Maw E
- Malphite Q
- Mordekaiser Q (at lv 18)
- Neeko Q
- Viktor E (not evolved)
Most of these have some reason other than this ratio to build AP: Fiddlesticks and Karma have heals and shields which are not amplified by mpen, Gwen Q also has a max-health ap ratio, so value is not actually applicaple, and Katarina gets most of her damage from her passive and ult, not Q. The only ones that are actaully comparably bad to Ziggs' Q are Kog'Maw E, Malphite Q, and Neeko's Q which has an abysmally bad ratio for some reason. This means that Ziggs is, compared to other AP champs, arguably bottom 4 in how effective AP is, compared to magic pen and AH.
So why is this a bad design choice?
I will note that this number says nothing about how strong/weak a champion is - it just says something about how the champ should be build. Another way to frame it is that Ziggs spells have super high base damage, so magic pen is extremely valuable on him. AH is also valuable on him to some extend, but it helps less with his E, since once you have enough AH to permanently have the trap field up, extra AH is not as valuable. So Ziggs reeeaaally likes magic pen. So much so, that almost every game your optimal build as Ziggs is Sorcs -> Ludens -> Void staff, unless the team you're against is so squishy that Void staff makes you overcap on magicpen. Have such a high AP2double value really hurts build diversity.
I would suggest just changing the +20 base damage to a +5% AP ratio. This would put Ziggs' AP2double value on Q to 378, which is still by no means great, but it is at least under 400. I think this would help build diversity, and let Ziggs feel less bad about itemizing into AP. I do think that this is a smaller buff that the +20 base damage buff, but honestly, I think that buff very scary anyways, and in danger of getting him nerfed later - adding 20 damage to such a low CD spell is no small thing.
If a Rioter who was part of making this decision reads this, I would love to hear what the thoughts behind this change are. Maybe there is some good point in giving Ziggs bad AP scalings that I have missed, and I am open to discussion.