League of Legends has some great concepts tied to the use of item effects to enhance champion damage, but there are a few problems with how they currently work, and the Grievous Wounds debuff is a prime example.
According to the patch 6.9 notes, Grievous Wounds is a stat debuff that reduces all healing the afflicted target receives by 40 percent. A few items and abilities apply the effect. For items, Morellonomicon, Executioner’s Calling, and Mortal Reminder apply this effect, and for abilities, the summoner spell Ignite, Katarina’s Death Lotus, and Varus’ Hail of Arrows all initiate this effect. Morellonomicon is unique in that it only applies the debuff if the target is below 35 percent HP.
Considering the limited number of items and abilities which proc the Grievous Wounds debuff, why is it so potent?
First off, Morellonomicon is a go-to item for virtually every AP damage champion. Massive AP bonus, a 20 percent cooldown (half the standard max), Grievous Wounds, +400 mana, and mana restoration on kill or assist make it an ideal item for almost every caster champion in the game. Considering that a properly built mage can easily burst a fighter down to low HP, activating Grievous Wounds is far from a challenge.
Any AD carry can grab an Executioner’s Calling relatively cheaply, and since it builds into the tank killing Mortal Reminder, it provides a major boost against several champions that focus on regaining HP in combat.
Aatrox, Swain, Warwick, Vlad, and a handful of other champions excel at surviving an engagement by regenerating health, often in the middle of combat. However, a single shot from an AD carry sporting a Grievous Wounds inflicting debuff can stop them short. In fact, when facing these champions, Grievous Wounds is the easiest way to shut them down.
Aatrox and Warwick are especially susceptible to the effects of Grievous Wounds. Each of them receives significant healing off passive abilities which increases when they get lower to zero health. However, GW will short out those abilities, making the key survival mechanics for these champions worthless. Swain also suffers from GW. Since his ultimate can provide him with massive healing, GW cuts him off from that sustain.
The purpose of the GW items and abilities is to reduce healing, which is needed when facing HP boosting champs. Soraka, Sona, and others can provide immense sustain during intense team fights and extended skirmishes, and as such, some counter does need to exist to counter those champions abilities. However, when a single item can completely shut down the effectiveness of so many champions, a rework, whether of the item or for each champion, needs to be implemented to rebalance the current issue.
Furthermore, a number of combinations exist to keep the GW debuff in effect for quite some time. Deathfire Touch and Liandry’s Torment provide damage-over-time (DoT) effects which extend the effect of GW. Runaan’s Hurricane’s three bolts can potentially spread the GW debuff to multiple champions with a single shot.
Riot has attempted to balance the GW debuff for a while, nerfing the effect by changing it from the original 50 percent reduced healing to 40 percent not long ago. However, when a champion’s strength is their ability to survive at low health levels due to built-in healing mechanics, GW items completely negate that capability.
So what could be done to improve the situation?
The Grievous Wounds effect itself is not the problem. It is an effective counter to Swain, Soraka, and Sona without completely relegating these champions to obscurity. Swain still gains a significant amount of HP from his ravens even when afflicted, and considering the meta build has him as a tank, he can still perform adequately under the influence of GW. The use of Spirit Visage can also help negate the detrimental effects of GW.
However, Aatrox, Vlad, and Warwick (even after his rework) still lag behind when facing GW. Aatrox especially is rarely seen even in normal play because he is so reliant on his healing abilities.
One solution is to adjust some of the parameter of individual champions in relation to GW. If Aatrox has a full Blood Well, perhaps he could gain immunity to the GW debuff. For Warwick, when his triple-heal ability is active, he too should gain immunity.
Ultimately, Grievous Wounds is a useful, valid tool in fighting against health gain, but in its current state, it may be too effective at doing just that.
What are your thoughts on the Grievous Wounds debuff? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by League of Legends/Riot Games]