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League of Legends' mid-season update includes a big mage rework and a brand new Dragon system

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We knew about the mages, but this is a completely new approach to the Dragon objective.

Just moments after releasing notes for Patch 6.8, Riot has followed up with a preview of the mid-season update that will be going live with Patch 6.9. There's a lot to digest here, but there are three main changes: a mage rework, an AP items rework and a complete rework of Dragon. Also notable: death timers being decreased in the 20-30 minute range, jungle XP is getting changed a bit and tower damage will amplify more on repeated hits against champions.

Let's get into it!

1. Mage rework

We had heard about this for a while -- Riot was unhappy with the status of many mages in the game, and was planning on completely reworking some while making small tweaks to others. Now we know more about that!

Malzahar

First off, everyone's favorite Void Prophet has a new splash art:

He also has a new passive, Void Shift. If Malzahar hasn't taken direct damage over a period of time, he takes "massively reduced damage" and is also immune to crowd control, which will be very useful for a mage who has in the past struggled with lower mobility.

His new "W," Void Swarm, summons a Voidling (his passive used to do that). New Voidlings are spawned after the first time a Voidling "attacks a champion, large monster, epic monster, or assists in killing a unit."

Brand

The fire mage's passive, in addition to the old effect of lighting targets on fire (doing damage over time and giving added effects to his other abilities), now deals a "large percentage of the target's maximum health in an area-of-effect" if you can stack it three times on an enemy. That passive procs with his ultimate, meaning he's even more potent in team fight situations, if less potent in 1 vs. 1s.

Vladimir

With the removal of spell vamp items (more on that when we get to the item changes), Vladimir needed some fine-tuning to keep him viable (or, as close to viable as he has been). Transfusion, his "Q," now grants him bonus movement speed and damage on his third cast in a row. Tides of Blood, his "E," is pretty radically different. He charges up over a period of time, expending more health the longer he charges, before releasing it to do area-of-effect damage. The ability slows him while he's using it and slows his target when he releases it.

Zyra

Instead of just planting seeds with her W, Zyra's new passive spawns seeds around her periodically. Deadly Spines, her new "Q," grows a line of damaging spines.

Vel'Koz

Plasma Fission (his "Q") now refunds half its mana cost if it kills a unit, and the indicator showing which direction it is going only appears for Vel'Koz. There's a new interaction with Lifeform Disintegration Ray (his ultimate), as well -- it no longer applies his passive, but deals true damage against enemies that do have his passive already applied.

Cassiopeia

Cass has a new passive, delightfully called Snakes Don't Need Boots. She gains movement speed per level, and it does not stack with Boots, so don't build them! Miasma (her "W") now prevents enemies from using movement abilities when struck with it. Twin Fang (her "E") now heals her as well.

Smaller reworks!

(All straight from the mid-season page)

Annie: Tibbers now viciously mauls Annie's stunned targets.

Swain: Decrepify now sends Beatrice to a target location to cripple enemies.

Fiddlesticks: A new passive means if Fiddlesticks stands still for a moment, he'll gain a movement speed boost.

Ziggs: Satchel Charge will execute turrets when they're under a certain amount of health.

Syndra: An updated passive allows Syndra to spawn -- and pick up -- more Dark Spheres!

Xerath: Barrages that successfully hit enemy champions grant an extra barrage, up to a maximum.

Anivia: Glacial Storm now expands over time and deals bonus damage at maximum size.

Veigar: A new passive grants Veigar Extreme Evil (Ability Power) for hitting enemy champions with spells, killing minions, and takedowns.

2. Changes to AP items

Before we get into the AP items, one note from Riot Meddler: boot enchantments are being removed.

First, the new Hextech trio:

Next, some updated old items:

Finally, 10% cooldown reduction has been added to both Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass.

3. Elemental Dragons

You read that right. Rather than a Dragon that respawns every six minutes after you kill it, granting different buffs based on how many teams your team has killed it, there will now be four different kinds of Dragons. Which one spawns will be completely random.

Meet the Dragons!

At 35 minutes, the Elder Dragon will replace all other Dragons. It will be harder to kill but will grant a "powerful burn-over-time on spells and attacks and a buff that is stronger for each elemental stack you have."

Some explanation from Meddler:

Our intent is to use different dragon buffs, and to a lesser extent, dragon encounters, to also create situations each team can adapt to and take advantage of. If that's not happening, in particular if it feels like which dragons spawn is too decisive by itself, then we'll look to fix that.

Another note from Meddler: as a result, Baron buff is going to last a bit longer than before to help distinguish it from Elder Dragon.