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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dominion Impressions

Riot has started publicly testing Dominion. I had a chance to play a few games yesterday and overall I think Dominion will become like Twisted Treeline - a game mode that some enjoy but is seen as less popular than Summoner's Rift. Also, given the simplicity of Dominion, I can see more players raging at each other than in Summoner's Rift.

Riot designed Dominion to be faster-paced, more action-oriented, and quicker than the other game modes. A simple comparison is to think of it as Arathi Basin in WoW - each team's goal is to capture and hold nodes and the more nodes you hold, the faster the enemy's nexus will lose health. In Dominion, each champion starts at level 3 and you gain xp and gold at a faster rate. Even though your gold/minute may be higher than Summoner's Rift, the items you buy are still very important. I would even say that a well-thought out item build is even more important than the other game modes because the game will likely end before you finish your build. Indeed, in each game I was only able to buy 3/4 items (including boots).

Kills/deaths mean less in Dominion
What I really like about Dominion is how action-oriented the game is. One common criticism of Summoner's Rift is that the game is too passive, meaning that there is no action until one team makes a mistake. In Dominion, however, there is no laning phase and the game becomes very reactionary. For example, if you see the enemy team heading towards one of your undefended nodes, you'll need to either move to that node to defend or take one of their nodes - standing still isn't an option (unless your defending a different node). As a consequence of how action-oriented Dominion is, the only time you really have a chance to buy items is when you die. It's simply not feasible to go "b" during the game because there will almost always be a node to defend or one that's vulnerable for attacking.

The game is definitely quicker too. In each of the games I played yesterday, each was decided by less than 50 points, and each lasted about 20 minutes. Once people get better at the game and teams become more organized, I think it's entirely likely that games can be won in under 10 minutes.

In sum, I think the fact-paced nature of the game will turn away many who enjoy Summoner's Rift. Champion skill is overshadowed by player tactics, and deaths do not mean much because each champion respawns very quickly. Also, because of how fast this game is, a player's poor decision-making skills will be particularly harmful. For example, if one team sends 5 champions to one node, the smart thing to do would be for your team to separate and capture two of the enemy's nodes, not rush to defend. Even though this is common sense, not everyone knows this and I can see teammates raging at each other over similar miscues.

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