SAW in his current state is one of the hardest heroes to balance properly. He is very clunky to use, and his very high damage potential almost never comes to light since SAW is often forced out of this damage potential, either by cc, atlas or burst damage. The main cause of this is SAW’s horrendous movement speed of course. In this rework, I’ll try to fix a lot of problems SAW has without straying away from his ‘high damage, low mobility’ ideology too much.
Here are some problems SAW faces and what it means for trying to balance him. These things have to be fixed or at least taken into account somewhere in the rework to make SAW balanced, or at least more interesting.
- difficulty. SAW’s low mobility very much limits the different ways SAW can do damage. Right now, the way SAW deals damage is by just sitting still while basic attacking, which isn’t very engaging and more importantly, it isn’t very difficult to do. For SAW to be balanced, he needs to require at least some kind of effort to justify the high dps he does. High damage for little to no effort is hard to balance.
- engagement. First of, WP SAW isn’t very engaging to play. CP SAW is actually quite interesting though. I think SAW’s abilities need a bit more utility and the amount of button presses needed to play him effectively should increase to compensate. Secondly, SAW lacks engage in a more literal sense. Teamfights often drift away from him and the only thing he can do to catch up is to use roadie run, which leaves him without any stacks of spin up. This in turn makes him pretty much useless for the remainder of the teamfight.
Now that I’ve established some areas I want to focus on in this rework, let’s get started.
Health up from 683-2023 to 700-2200
energy up from 150-315 to 150-350
range down from 6.6 to 6
atk speed up from 100-120%
Despite the fact that SAW is one of the most buffed up characters in the game, he has some of the lowest HP in the game, which doesn’t make much sense. I completely reworked the way his suppressing fire works, so I gave SAW a little bit extra energy, but I’ll get to that. The range and atk nerf is compensated later, and that change allows SAW to scale better over the course of the game. The atk speed buff has the same purpose.
- amount of stacks down from 12 to 10
- attack speed bonus per stack up from +18% to +20% (for a total attack speed bonus of 200% at max stats)
- speed decrease per stack down from -0,12 to -0,04. (for a total movement speed decrease of 0,4)
- the speed decrease is temporarily ignored when SAW receives any kind of speed boost, such as from using a boots item or from activating roadie run.
SAW’s bonus attack speed can go up to 200% now, as apposed to 216%. Counting the +9% base attack speed buff, this is a -7% net nerf, which isn’t a very big deal considering it’s easier to stack up more quickly with this rework. The speed decrease has been toned down significantly. SAW can reach 2.8 movement speed at max stacks, which is still much slower than Phinn, but at least it is more bearable than before.
- cooldown changed from 13-12-11-10-9 to 12 at all levels
- The amount of spin up stacks at the time of activating this ability is subtracted from the cooldown of the next roadie run.
- pressing the button for suppressing fire during this ability clears all stacks of spin up. If the stacks haven’t been cleared, SAW will have the same amount of stacks as he did before he used roadie run.
Now it’s getting interesting. The cooldown changes allow SAW to be much more mobile during fights. With just a bit of cooldown reduction items, SAW can actually use roadie run twice in a row. SAW can also run into a fight with all of his stacks intact now, and still have roadie run up as escape. SAW can reposition himself to different areas to suppress much more quickly with this change, which means that SAW can finally be the siege machine he was designed to be.
Suppressing Fire (reworked)
Suppressing fire is a toggle now. When activated, SAW roots himself into the ground, instantly gaining spin up stacks equal to the level of the ability (so 5 stacks max). His basic attacks slow enemies (by 25%, down form 45%) and have 0,2-0,4-0,6-0,8-1 bonus range, so up to a max range of 7. The bullets have a slightly different colour to indicate this. Every basic attack fired during suppressing fire consumes a small amount of energy.
- bullets fired during suppressing fire pierce through one target, dealing 50% of damage as crystal damage to the next target in its path. These piercing shots can trigger the slow too.
- SAW cannot move at all during this ability. If you press and hold the screen as if you were trying to move, SAW will instead face and shoot that way, allowing you to aim basic attacks manually. You can also still just target any enemy unit you want to attack that target automatically.
- this ability can be canceled by roadie run at any time.
- the cooldown of this ability is linked to the cooldown of roadie run. If roadie run is on cooldown, so is suppressing fire. SAW can only receive the bonus stacks from this ability when you use it after it came of cooldown from using roadie run. So if you just toggle this ability off and on without using roadie run inbetween, you will not get the bonus stacks every time.
This ability technically works the same way as the current suppressing fire, but the difference is that you have much, much more options with this change. You can cancel it at any time, or continue firing as long as you have enough energy. You can also aim your fire, covering much more ground. It also gives CP SAW a bit of sustained damage, which is nice. Overall, it´s much more streamlined and versatile this way, making SAW way more interesting to play.
- amount of shells down from 5-7-9 to 3-4-5
- damage up significantly (by whatever is balanced). A shell always deals base weapon damage as well as bonus crystal damage based on missing health.
- each shell now has a distinct cooldown of 20-15-10 seconds.
- each shell has to be loaded into the canon manually. You can stack up to three shells into the canon at once. You can also just load one shell into the canon which allows you to decide when you want to fire a shell and when not to more effectively.
This change gives you much more control over shell usage. Right now, SAW wastes a lot of his shells on targets that aren’t low on health, simply because he cannot choose when and when not to fire a shell. This change fixes that and makes the shells more dangerous as well.