A guide to Taliyah, the Stoneweaver, League of Legends' newest champion
Taliyah, the Stoneweaver, has been up on the PBE for just about two weeks now. With the recent announcement of patch 6.10, slated for early Wednesday morning, it can be assumed that the new mid laner will be hitting the Rift by the end of the week. So while we all wait, lets chat a little about what Taliyah will be bringing to 6.10.
Taliyah is a champion that is best used to skirmish early on in the game. Using her movement passive in conjunction with her ultimate will ensure that your teammates are never alone in a fight. The Stoneweaver will struggle against scary assassins and all-in junglers, so the mid lane is not necessarily the place that Taliyah wants to spend all of her time. This is the goal on Taliyah, and it is the best way to ensure an early snowball. Think Twisted Fate or Aurelion Sol in terms of roaming potential. Taliyah is a real teamplayer, and opening up opportunities for your team to secure kills all over the map early is a gift that she has been given.
This is a cool champion. A really cool champion that throws rocks and rides on rocks, and puts rocks on the ground. She is engaging to play and focuses heavily on positioning, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that she was designed by Daniel "ZenonTheStoic" Klein, who also made Azir. She gives the player a lot to think about when she is being played and pulling off a great E-W combo feels very rewarding. Is she going to be good? Now there is something that we can talk about. Here are some things that I learned after playing Taliyah for a few games on the PBE.
Passive - Rock Surfing
What it does: Anytime Taliyah runs close to a wall, she will hop on a rock and gain increased movement speed (this scales off of her overall level). As soon as Taliyah enters combat, this ability will go on a cooldown of 5 seconds.
How it works: My initial thought here is to say who cares how this ability works because this champion can surf on rocks. It’s dope. Realistically though, this ability doesn't start to feel helpful until you have a few games under your belt with Taliyah. When I was behind on gold and when I first started playing I would find myself frustrated by the long combat cooldown and wishing that I had a more damaging passive. However, as I gave it time and found myself getting more comfortable, this passive really started to sing. This passive really makes Summoner's Rift feel small, in the best way possible. Getting back to lane is fast (and engaging, since you have the fun little "stand next to the wall" mini-game), and roaming through the river feels like it takes no time at all. While it works so well for roams to one of the other lanes, I think that the speed is most noticeable when you are running into the jungle for one reason or another. I found that anytime my jungler got into a skirmish in our jungle or the enemy team’s, I could be there much faster than my lane opponent. This passive really feels like perfect tool for Taliyah’s early to mid game objective: turn 1 v 1s into 2 v 1s faster than the enemy team can react.
Q - Threaded Volley (Recommended to level 1st, max 1st)
What it does: Taliyah pulls up the earth around her and breaks it into 5 different shards, which she then throws, one at a time, in a straight line in front of her. When she does this she creates Worked Ground under her, a large circle on the map that remains for 3 minutes (time goes down as she levels). When Taliyah runs over Worked Ground, she gains a small boost to her movement speed and Threaded Volley will only throw 1 shard, but at half the mana cost.
How it works: This ability takes a second to get used to. It plays much like new Taric’s stun or a Culling from Lucian. You choose a direction for the rocks to fire in and they will continue to fire in that direction until all 5 have been spent. This means that you have to move so that your shards will continue to hit your presumably moving target. While it is your most reliable source of damage you have to be careful how and where you use it. Because of Worked Ground and a small mid lane, you may find yourself unable to poke your opponent as much as you would like after just a few casts. I always found success by using small pockets of the lane when I was ahead and just going out to poke. This ability causes a real push and pull in the lane. Rather than being constrained by high mana costs, Taliyah only has so much ground to work with, so your Q is never really free. When you save pockets of un-Worked Ground, you leave yourself open for an emergency Threaded Volley to catch a kill, or deter some pressure. It gives you the freedom to use more of the lane. In teamfights, this ability can make things feel hectic, because Taliyah is always moving, and looking for that fresh ground. The longer a teamfight goes in the same area, the harder Taliyah is to play. All of that being said, using Threaded Volley on already Worked Ground can still be worthwhile for surprise damage (especially if you are about to proc Thunderlord’s Decree) or for simply last hitting minions from afar. While there are limits on this ability early, it really starts to expand as the game goes on. When you are able to run around the map more and the game becomes more mobile, you will find fewer tuffs of Worked Ground and be able throw the full volley out frequently with its fairly short cooldown.
W - Seismic Shove (Recommended to level 3rd, max 3rd)
What it does: Taliyah places a circle on the ground that will erupt after a brief time, doing some damage and knocking whatever is hit into the air. Taliyah can recast Seismic Shove before it erupts and select a direction that she would like her victims to be flung in.
How it works: I am going to keep this section brief because I most commonly used this ability in conjunction with her E, Unraveled Earth. That being said, it has its own uses as well. If you can time it correctly, this ability is great for keeping aggressive champs away from you. Seismic Shove is crucial for deterring ganks and saving yourself from the scary assassins that you may find yourself laning against. While it is an amazing defensive tool, it is also a great offensive tool for when you want to throw your enemies into your team, or perhaps even one of Taliyah’s other abilities...
E - Unraveled Earth (Recommended to level 2nd, max 2nd)
What it does: Taliyah raises some boulders from the earth, covering an area and doing a little bit of damage. Enemies who walk over the boulders are slowed. Enemies who dash over the boulders cause them to detonate early, dealing damage for each bolder dashed over (up to 4 per enemy). Four seconds later, all boulders will erupt, dealing damage.
How it works: OK, so this ability is extremely versatile. Want to use it to wave clear? No problem. Want to throw it out to block a path? You got it. Want to lay a sick trap and then throw the enemy into it with your W? Perfect. There is a surprising amount of depth to this thing, and the moment that I figured out the E-W synergy, Taliyah clicked. So what do I mean by synergy? Well, you know above when it says that champions who dash over the rocks detonate them? Turns out that that includes when enemies are forcibly thrown over them as well (and not just Taliyah’s W. Things like a Volibear throw or a Gnar ultimate should provide the same result). So, the first step to really getting a grip on Taliyah is learning to lay E in a smart place, close to an enemy. Then, you drop the W under them and recast it so that you can throw them in a direction. Throw them over your traps and watch as they take tons of damage. Towards the middle of the game, I was finding that this combo was almost always doing about half of my squishy enemy midlaners health when I had done it correctly. Late game, using nothing but this combo and a few shards from my Q, I turned a full health Anivia into an egg. It feels great to use and looks really stylish. Learn how to use this ability in all of its situations, especially along with the combo, and you will be cooking with gas. This, my friends, will separate the good Taliyah players from the great ones.
R - Weaver’s Wall
What it does: Taliyah throws down a giant rock wall in a targeted direction. The wall, spanning a great length, will knock away any players standing on top of it and will last 6-8 seconds (depending on level). Taliyah can reactivate quickly, as she is casting, to jump on top of the wall and ride it until she clicks off of it or takes damage. Once the wall is out, Taliyah can destroy it by recasting her ultimate.
How it works: This is one of the weirder ultimates in the game, in my opinion. Basically this is a trapping ult and it can work one of a few ways. For example, you could roam down the river and throw your wall between the aggressing enemy bot lane and their tower. Now, they are trapped and have to fight or flash. Or, you could see a teammate running from an enemy, and throw the wall to separate them from their pursuer. In either of these situations, you could also choose to join the party, risking your own life, by riding the wall, or you could run back to your own lane, feeling content about your good deeds. It seems like some sort of weird combination of an Azir ultimate and a Nami wave, but without the damage. Out of all of the things in her kit that make her awesome, this is the most intriguing one. A good Taliyah player could turn entire fights with this ultimate, closing off entrances that her enemies could use to join their allies. Then again, a bad Taliyah can trap her teammates in precarious positions (which I certainly never did, I definitely never trapped a Vayne against a wall for eight seconds). This ability is one that has incredible potential but will probably take some time for everyone (enemies and allies alike) to get used to.
If you want to see these abilities in action, check out the Taliyah champion spotlight.
Taliyah is one of those mages that just needs a decent amount of AP to get going, and isn’t really dependant on mana. That is why we should focus less on items like Rod of Ages, and more on great items that have cooldown reduction and straight AP like...
Morellonomicon - Taliyah is a spell caster, and thus benefits most from Morellos as her first item. It is cheap, it has an exceptional build path and the stats are great. Taliyah scales really nicely, and so building AP on her is never a bad thing. All of this combined with the sustain stats (flat mana and the mana return passive means that you will never have mana problems again), the 20% CDR (which is crucial for making her a rock throwing machine-gun lady), and the grievous wounds passive make her a force to be reckoned with before you even hit 20 minutes.
Rylai’s Crystal Scepter - First of all, this item is just great right now, and could be recommended on most mages. That aside, Taliyah has a lot of ways to proc the passive and slow everything. The slow is great, and makes keeping up with opponents easy, but the health and AP (we are gonna keep coming back to AP by the way) will keep her healthy while also devastating her foes.
Luden’s Echo - This is a great third item for a couple reason. First, it is easy to proc. Taliyah hits a lot of things with a lot of spells. Secondly, Taliyah is all about going fast with her passive, so the 10% movespeed certainly doesn’t hurt and it helps her charge the Echo even faster. Finally, the passive will end up doing 10% of her total AP in damage, and as we have talked about before, we are building as much AP as we can.
For the other two items, you are gonna be looking at building situationally. You could either look into making that AP amount climb higher with a Rabadon’s Deathcap, or you could look for pen with Liandry’s Torment, Void Staff, or Abyssal Scepter. Keep in mind that Liandry’s and Abyssal both make for great defensive items as well if you are struggling to stay alive (see also: Zhonya’s Hourglass in extremely dangerous situations).
Sorcerer’s Shoes OR Boots of Swiftness - This one is gonna come down to the situation and your playstyle. If you want to roam and if you think that you are going to be running around the map being the best team player you can be, I would highly recommend Swifty boots. If you are going against the tanks of the League of Legends worlds, or you are more concerned with packing a punch on your own, opt in for Sorc shoes and blow people up.
Taliyah's release skin, Freljord Taliyah
The last thing that I really want to talk about is her teamfighting, which seems to be pretty quality. When you combine all of her abilities together (especially when you have some CDR), Taliyah becomes a rock slinging hazard that is impossible to dodge. She fights really well in the jungle, because the smaller the arena, the more area can be covered by her E. Not only that, but she has the potential to hit more enemies with her W and using her R to close off exits and entrances becomes a lot easier when you have jungle walls all around you. This will limit her Q usage, however, but the potential gain from a close quarters fight is worth it. Speaking of her Q, this ability actually makes her a very versatile fighter. When a fight breaks out in an open lane, her other abilities are a little harder to use, but her Q becomes a constant stream of rocks flying in her enemy's direction. Taliyah will force the player to think differently depending on where on the map Taliyah is at any given time.
If you want to know my thoughts on mages right now, I have already commented on the new mage update in a different article (including Taliyah). Taliyah is a strange champion, and she certainly makes me pause every time I try to lump her into a mage category. Right now, with her current scaling, I would put her into the camp of the caster mage or a damage/burst mage like Brand. She isn’t mobile enough to be an assassin and she also doesn’t do LeBlanc levels of damage to one character. Instead she casts and casts and casts until everything around her is dead. This is great news, because the last real caster mage that we got was Vel’Koz, released way back in early 2014.
So when we look at viability, I would say that things look promising. Her damage is great and so is her scaling. Her laning appears to be a little rough against some champions who have all-in potential, but she certainly isn’t as vulnerable as our big-eyed, tentacle-y friend. Her viability in the competitive scene is going to come down to how effectively people can use her ultimate ability to devastate skirmishes and separate teamfights. When I look at Taliyah, I see a champion with a lot of depth and potential, which is all you can really ask for in League of Legends.