League of Legends: Dominion Impressions
Riot announced recently that they would be opening up their upcoming "Dominion" game mode to beta testing to the general public during certain preset times. I was finally fortunate enough to have one of these windows open to beta test the new mode during prime time hours when I am at home and able to play. I just spent the night machine-gunning games of the new game mode with friends, so I wanted to check in and just talk about some of my impressions after a night of trying it out finally.
Right out of the gate you are started at level 3 and 1300+ gold to kick start the game into high gear. Even standing at the spawn waiting for the countdown to start, I noticed that my exp bar at the bottom was constantly ticking up due to a global buff exclusive to this game mode. The strategy starts right away as you decide the best combo of items. The increase in starting cash is a huge leap from the standard 5v5 mode which only starts you off with 475 gold. Do you rush your boots to get to the points faster once the game starts, or do you start building combat items for the inevitable fight that will happen within the first minute? The possibilities here are huge for theory crafters to sink their teeth into, and factor in the inclusion of completely new items and the choices and strategy is even more compelling.
Dominion is not just about about capturing and holding points, it's about combat, lots of combat, and combat right out of the gate. This is a massive contrast to the standard 5v5's on Summoner's Rift, where games start out usually with a laning / farming phase poking at each other. In Dominion when they turn you loose, you are charging head first into a fight usually within the first minute of the game. No poking, no farming, and towers whose damage is drastically less than then the classic game make for a real balls to the wall brawl.
Some other major differences I noticed from playing was the fact that it was pretty rare in most of the games to end up in a situation where all 10 people in the match were in the same fight. Most of the combat is on a smaller scale where you often will find yourself in 1v1 and 2v2 battles. Chances are if too many people are in a single spot, an opening exists for the other points to be captured due to being unattended. Combine this new game dynamic with the fact that combat is literally happening all the time, I found some characters obviously were very useful in this mode while some others were lacking in effectiveness. I didn't see any support champs during my games, and I suspect they will be a bit less viable since a lot of the fights end up being so small in scale.
Rammus as an example seemed to be a good choice because his ability so power ball around at high speed allows him to get to open points and capture them quickly. Mobility plays a big role, so champions with some sort of movement speed increasing abilities do have a new found utility. I found myself trading in my flash for ghost as it seemed vastly more useful. On the other hand, due to the fact that skirmishes are usually smaller, some champions who thrive in these types of situations can be strong. Akali seemed to be on the ban list in most of the draft mode Dominion games I played, and after a few games with her in it I can understand why people do this. Of course at the same time, it could just be the fact that people are adjusting to the new mode and aren't really sure how to deal with new metagame of Dominion. I noticed one game a Cho'Gath had a hard time because of the dominion dynamic, getting killed frequently was problematic for him due to being unable to build up feast stacks and get large. The lack of creep farming and strong towers to hug really changes the game a lot.
The longest match I think I had all night went somewhere around 22 minutes, which is definitely a welcome change when I don't have the time or willpower to commit 30-45 minutes for the average game in the classic mode. Dominion literally floods you with money and experience passively while you play, which keeps the action going and your character advancing very quickly. The fact that the game feeds you so much farm can be beneficial to certain champs whose viability depends on heavy farm and maybe were not as desirable in the classic mode.
Overall though, my verdict from what I played is that the new game mode is a ton of a fun and a refreshing change to the classic Summoner's Rift. If you played League of Legends at got burned out, or just didn't really care of the playstyle of the game, I'd recommend firing the game back up once the new mode comes out and give it a try. I think my only concern going forward is what Riot's approach will be for balancing certain champs in relation to their strength or lack there of in this mode. I guess it is to be expected though that just as there are many champs who aren't great picks in classic, the same will be said for Dominion. If you haven't tried League of Legends yet and are sitting around waiting for the next big MMO, I recommend you give it a look considering it's completely free to download and play. If you did get a chance to play Dominion, drop your feedback below.
Co-Leader of Inquisition