Along with the huge graphical overhaul of Summoner’s Rift, Riot have added Darius, Hand of Noxus, into the game. He’s a melee champion, and while it might be tempting to call him a tank, he’s more of a tank /slayer/. And he’s more of an overpowered bastard, in the current state of things.
There’s a problem inherent in making a new champion that Riot occasionally falls afoul of. Despite rigorous beta testing, and lots of experience making fair and balanced new additions, sometimes they let loose something that’s just too powerful for its own good. Incredibly fun, but in a way that just feels like a win button.
As things stand, Darius just feels silly. With a combination of the horrible bleed, the increased movement speed when others are bleeding, and the truly ridiculous ultimate, he’s dominating the top lane like no one’s business, and short of a smart team going with someone like Swain to counter him, you’re either going to have a cakewalk with him on your side, or have a bloody nightmare trying to contain the axe-wielding maniac up top.
His first skill, and by far his most used during the laning phase is Decimate, sitting on the Q key. Darius swings his axe in a circle, and the damage is increased in an outer ring, as there you’re getting hit by the blade of the axe, whereas those closer to him get thwacked with the handle. It’s pretty powerful, and coupled with his passive, Hemorrhage, which both bleeds and stacks on targets, it becomes a massive pain in the arse.
On his W key is Crippling Strike, which both buffs the next basic attack (by up to 200% at level 5) and slows the target he hits by up to 40%. The kicker is that the more bleeding stacks are on the target, the quicker it comes off cooldown, so if you’re whaling on some poor AP Mid you’re going to be using this over and over to deal colossal amounts of damage.
Of all his abilities, bar the ultimate, Apprehend, on your E, feels the most ridiculous. It’s not so much the short range cone pull that it gives him on its active as much as the up to 25% armour penetration passive it grants. Couple that with a Last Whisper or a hearty amount of armour penetration runes and you’re going to be chewing through tanks like nobody’s business. And when the tank is the only thing keeping that team kicking that becomes problematic.
Finally his ultimate, Noxian Guillotine, has the kind of rolling barrage of death that previously only Master Yi has been able to bring about. It deals upwards of 650 damage at level three, coupled with attack damage, and it throws Darius up into the air, landing with a huge cleave that, if it slays the target champion, instantly comes off cooldown. It means that, in the latter half of a teamfight, Darius can mop up in seconds, flying from one weakened enemy to another. And with all that armour penetration, he’s not going to have much trouble dealing /all/ that damage.
All of these together make him into a formidable tank destroyer, but beyond that it’s not hard to see how any of these abilities, when working in concert, can really ruin anyone’s day. Even some of the more mobile AD carries can get screwed if they get within range of his Ultimate, because even if it doesn’t slay you it’s going to take a huge chunk of your health off, and more importantly place the lunatic with an axe right next to you.
It is fun to play as Darius, right now, but there’s something effortless about it, and not in the elegant, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants way. It just doesn’t feel like you’re trying all that hard, or even that you need to, and that’s never something you want when you’re playing a game like League of Legends. You want to feel challenged, because it’s in overcoming challenges that you get your satisfaction. I shouldn’t be able to destroy Olaf in four seconds when we’re the same level. I don’t care who I am, that’s not something that should ever happen.
At the moment the general consensus is that he’s woefully overpowered, and that means that Riot won’t take long giving him a heavy nerf, which, while it might be a shame for everyone playing him and having a good old laugh at the same time, is going to make him a more viable option, both to fight against and play with. But maybe once he’s been balanced properly he’ll be more satisfying to play, both as and against.