Update Mar 29, 2016: Riot have detailed how the new Hearthstone Tavern Brawl-like rotating game modes will work in League of Legends.
League of Legends is getting a brand new queue, and it's going to feature all of their special game modes. This much was announced at the start of the month - however, exactly how this would be implemented was not. Turns out it's being put in as a weekend special, something for players to do from Friday night through Monday morning, changing each week.
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Many more details were revealed. Here's the highlights:
- Modes will repeat once every 1.5-2 months on their pre-release plans. This is highly variable though, as it will depend on which modes and how many prove super popular.
- Champion mastery and the loot system will work exactly as it does in normal games, with rewards for you or your team mates doing well.
- However, the grading systems will be altered per mode - you'll be rewarded for being good at that particular game's objectives, not playing well by normal League standards.
- Riot are picking the modes based on which were most played when they original debuted, as well as making sure there's a lot of different options.
- Poro King and Ascension are the first modes to be tested on PBE, and are confirmed to be coming to the mode proper once it launches in the main client.
The full post by lead designer Rowan “L4T3NCY” Parker is available on the forums, and goes into some more details. In the comments, Parker confirms that the recently scrapped Dominion game mode could make a return in this queue, as with all modes they've made in the past. You won't be able to earn icons that were originally associated with those modes, however, as they're considered a reward for having been there.
Original story 8 Mar, 2016: League of Legends has had a number of alternative game modes over its life-span. Ultra Rapid Fire (commonly known as URF, natch) is one, reducing the cooldowns and attack timers on all champions. Another is Hexakill, where teams play on six a side, or One-For-All where each team plays as only a single hero between them, usually leading to deadly and hilarious ability chains. Now Riot are introducing an official matchmaking queue for these modes, regularly changing which ones are playable at any given time and providing rewards for competing.
These rewards come connected to the new Hextech crafting system that will allow players to receive skins from crates opened with keys, in a system similar to Valve's various crate-opening shenanigans. For particularly impressive games where the champion mastery system rewards you with an S-rank you'll receive one of the new Hextech chests, while each win provides a key.
An 'upcoming patch' is when the system will arrive, along with an official schedule of what will be available when, but Riot are letting everyone know now because it's also affecting what happens to URF this year. Normally this mode arrived on April 1st, but Riot categorically state that "While we’re pretty sure you aren’t going to believe us anyway, we’re telling you right now that URF will not return on the first of April" but that it will show up twice this year in the rotating queue. The community, in all their wisdom, believes this means the mode will show up on March 31st.
It's a good move. Tavern Brawl has done wonders for Hearthstone's longevity, and this is the same sort of thing, though I think operating on slightly longer timescales between switches. Similarly altered mode All Random, All Middle has long been an immensely popular way to play League - more of those can only be a good thing. The added experimentation will doubtless eventually feed back into design for the competitive side of the game too, as odd occurences give rise to fun, interesting ideas.