Nilah might resemble old Mordekaiser in League, but Riot has learned from mistakes
Nilah is just about to hit Summoner’s Rift in League of Legends, but there’s one controversial part of her kit that will give players flashbacks to old Mordekaiser: her experience-sharing passive. Don’t be too scared though — Riot have learned from their mistakes when designing her.
Nilah, League of Legends 161st champion, has finally been revealed. The Joy Unbound is fighting back evil by wielding one of its most powerful demons, all with a smile plastered across her face.
Her kit is without (direct) comparison in League of Legends. While her skirmisher bot lane style is reminiscent of Yasuo or Samira, she does everything her own way with a big emphasis on boosting the power of enchanters.
However, there’s one part of her kit that’ll be controversial to players and that’s her Joy Unending passive. One half of it boosts healing and shielding given to her by allied champions, sharing a bit back with them.
The other half, though, reduces the experience loss by sharing it with an ally in lane. This has been a core mechanic of bot lane for some time. The AD carry and support will always be a bit underleveled throughout the early game due to experience sharing.
Nilah can mitigate these losses though and hit breakpoints earlier than the enemy laner. No more waiting until nine minions for Level 2 — the Joy Unbound can reach it a creep or two earlier (assuming perfect last-hitting).
This is cause for concern for some players who remember the original Mordekaiser rework which shipped in 2015. Back then, the Iron Revenant could gain full experience from minions he killed regardless of how many allies were nearby to split the XP. It transformed him into a snowballing monster in the bot lane who would power past the enemy carry in levels.
While it was removed in his second rework in 2019, Riot have brought it back in some capacity with Nilah — although with deliberate changes to avoid a repeat.
“Generally the team’s feeling is the old Mordekaiser’s passive was a problem not because of the exact mechanic but because of Mordekaiser’s kit itself,” developer Blake ‘Squad5’ Smith said in a press interview.
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“We focused on the ground up from having this character be successful as a bot laner whereas Mordekaiser was fitted as a rework into the bot lane which had its own problems where we were trying to solve some elements by giving him his dragon and the burst damage.”
This distinct difference means Nilah’s passive is designed with the duo in mind, rather than just herself. Riot also knows the power reducing experience sharing gives, and has inbuilt some weaknesses into the Joy Unbound to combat this; the fact she’s melee being one of them.
“Nilah will be acceptable because her experience in the bot lane is designed more like a traditional bot lane carry so players should be a little bit more comfortable playing against her versus old Mordekaiser who was very bursty and had a lot of elements that were pretty out there,” Smith added.
The other half of Nilah’s kit, sharing healing and shielding across her team when she gets empowered, is arguably more broken in the developer’s eyes. In fact, they went through some wild iterations of the buff during early testing.
“Right now she shares healing and shielding, but initially she shared all positive buffs which was pretty intense,” Smith explained. “That included attack speed buffs and other unique things like Vayne ultimate.
“We decided that was too much and not necessary, but it was pretty cool at the time.”
With all that in mind, Riot are keeping an eye on how Nilah lands and whether her passive completely shifts the bot lane meta. The lever to balance her experience sharing is there, and the developers are sure a repeat of old toxic interactions won’t happen again.