Not So Big Bad Wolf

I couldn’t decide on whether the title for this post should be: “Why Warwick is a Terrible Jungler” but managed to fight the urge. My flatmate has recently picked up League of Legends, reportedly the biggest E-Sport in the world even above StarCraft – probably because it’s hard to lose LoL in three minutes without knowing why or learning anything, making the online community somewhat more accessible. I say somewhat because the community itself can be very good at alienating new players by virtue of the fact that an awful lot of people read ‘chat’ as ‘insult’, but it’s always satisfying to find the good, co-operative and friendly players out there.

Since he’s started, I’m using a lower level account so he only plays new players while getting into the game. As a result, I’ve gone from owning every champion to owning one outside of the free-to-play rotation: Warwick, the Blood Hunter. For those of you that don’t play, he’s basically a werewolf who got stuck in the wolf mode. Due to some confusion in champion select about where people were going in our team I got stuck Jungling (prowling about the map and surprising the enemy team while killing the monsters in the map area called the jungle). Normally impossible at low player levels due to a lack of customisable player skills called Runes & Masteries, this was fine because Warwick is a great Jungler. Let’s check out Warwick’s ability set:

Passive: Warwick does 3-10 additional magic damage dependent on his current level with his melee attack, and heals for an equal amount. This effect can be stacked up to three times if he attacks within a certain time, totalling 9-30 additional damage & heal per hit.

Hungering Strike (Q) – Deals a chunk of damage to someone within scratching distance and heals Warwick for 80% of that damage.

Bloodfrenzy (Name possibly incorrect) (W) – Gives Warwick a big attack speed buff, and nearby allies a smaller buff.

Blood Hunger (E) – A passive which when activated reveals all enemies within a large-ish area under half health. As long as one enemy is revealed they get a de-buff to let them know they’re being hunted and Warwick gets a hefty speed boost.

That Supress-Caress Thing (Name definitely incorrect) (Ultimate/R) – Warwick pounces on his target, immobilizing and disabling them for two seconds and tearing into them several times, applying all normal melee damage, critical chance and item effects.

So his W helps increase his damage output once he’s in melee range, and his E helps him get there. After level 6 the plan is to use his R on someone, jumping them and hopefully taking them below half health so your E triggers. The Q is extra damage and, along with his passive, helps him survive the chase and make the kill.

Except that it’s a cake – or a lie, if you don’t know the reference. Warwick is good in the jungle; he’s very forgiving, with all of his healing, and you don’t even need the start jungle item or the Smite player power (although I missed both sorely in my efforts, having to use both Heal and Barrier in my first jungle circuit). After getting a couple of levels and attack speed items to capitalize on his passive on-hit healing, I was doing fine.

When it came to ambushing the enemy, my team saw nada until I was level 6 or 8; I just had no way to close the distance between myself and the enemy. The move speed buff is okay but not significant enough at low levels to really help, and if they weren’t below half it didn’t trigger anyway. The Q has a dismal range so despite its high damage potential is somewhat curtailed if Warwick is hit with any move speed de-buffs, stun, slows or any of those really useful ambushing skills he doesn’t have. This lack only exacerbates his problems.

At level four I let my team know I would be jungling slowly and not to expect any ganks (trans: ambushes) for some time. I managed one, technically, by running into a lane when the enemy were over extended – but due to my lack of move speed enhancing items, their above-half health and some good reactions by the time I got where they had been the fight had moved some way towards their tower. Fortunately their retreat had meant my teammates had been able to chase and damage them a lot, so my move speed buff triggered and I got in range to use my W, buffing my allies, and I got a technical assist when they kill him. It certainly wasn’t a vital assist as I’m sure they would have got it anyway.

Did things heat up at level six? Not particularly. I think I got two Ultimate-provided ganks which directly contributed to kills before I forced my teammates to tear down their lane towers. After that I prowled around the map trying to catch people off guard. This grew less and less successful as the enemy team reacted sensibly to dying while alone and grouped up.

I bought Blade of the Ruined King and Ravenous Hydra for damage, attack speed and additional vampire power on my basic attacks – as well as the move speed buff/de-buff from Blade – which meant I tore most of the enemy team apart when I got to them, but rapidly died afterwards despite rampant use of Q, Summoner Heal and Summoner Barrier. I bought Sunfire Cape for area damage, health and armour and was considering Guardian Angel for Lazarus-shenanigans, then we won.

Yeah, woo, we won! Warwick can’t be bad then, right? Wrong; I’ve won with Urgot on the team – occasionally even won as Urgot myself. Bad Champions can still win, and teams can definitely win while having bad Champions with them. Player skill definitely contributes a lot; Warwick didn’t. He was basically a tanky melee-damage item carrier. This is fine, for top lane. Hell, I usually run him as a tanky mage-support because his Q scales with Ability power – give him Liandry’s Torment, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Frost Queen’s Claim then you get yourself a tanky mage support with a couple of slows, a lot of chase potential and an attack speed buff who can still dish out a chunk of damage!

As it was I felt like a wet paper bag all game, or maybe a spiked concrete brick mounted on an electric wheelchair; I was unlikely to die and if I ever made contact with someone – or they sat on me – they were in for a world of pain, but despite various movement enhancing items (Rapid Fire Cannon, Mobility Boots with Alacrity enchantment) any slow or stun basically meant my target escaped. Heaven forbid they had flash; that was just a slap in the face.

I haven’t tried Magewick in the jungle for a long time. I don’t think it’s a good idea without Smite but I’ll probably give it ago. Maybe I’m not a born Warwick player, or perhaps I expected the wrong things from him. Either way, my lesson from the games I had last night is that Warwick is good in the jungle, and a great way for new players to learn jungle routes and get in the swing of things (Tarzan call optional). When it comes to leaving the jungle, Warwick appears to wash his hands of the matter unless the target is nearly dead anyway. Maybe that’s just how he rolls the jungle role. I prefer bringing people down from full, and giving my teammates in lane as much opportunity to bring someone down as possible. Conclusion: Screw the werewolf and give me Sejuani, Queen of Frost Boars any day.

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