Core Gameplay Lead Designer Andrei 'Meddler' van Roon dropped by the forums to leave a few words about upcoming balance changes. Specifically: Patch 7.5, which is the one coming after the next patch, will be oriented to address ongoing balance issues around tanks and Lethality-based items.
We've been doing some balance planning for patch 7.5 in the last couple of days. Particularly noteworthy targets include likely nerfs to Edge of Night and Varus and continuation of work on Fizz and Blade of the Ruined King that wasn't ready in time for 7.4.
Lethality's buff in 7.2 has definitely done the job of making once-ignored items relevant to the game. In fact, it did it a bit too well. The 20% increase to flat armor penetration from the start's made its item sets a must-have for poking champions like Varus, who want to get as much as possible out of a single spell.
Edge of Night, in particular, was a huge beneficiary from this. Not only does that spike to Lethality's total damage output help it, but the cooldown reduction on its spell shield drastically improved its users' survivability in a fight.
That was probably supposed to help Assassins get in safer against a field of crowd control effects. What it really did was allow ranged poking ADCs like Varus to get away with murder. Who said ADCs were irrelevant again?
Tanks, on the other hand, find themselves in an ambiguous situation with Meddler's latest thoughts.
We're currently testing taking a moderate amount of power amount out of defensive stats on items (Health, MR, Armor) and adding some of that to base stats on Vanguards, Wardens and Juggernauts at least (possibly some others if testing goes well, to be determined). Goal there is to make it so those classes that need to be a certain level of tankiness to function in the first place get to that point more consistently, while also not becoming close to immortal if they get too large a lead. Showing some promise and some potential problems, but definitely looks worth further testing as a possible mid-season change.
On the surface, this seems like a nerf to tanks. Upon closer examination, there's some opportunities to be found here. Higher base stats on the traditional tank roles actually ends up helping them: it makes laning easier, early trades more profitable, and reaching the itemization you need for late-game relevance easier to accomplish.
The real bad news is to non-tanks, whose defensive itemization will take a major blow two patches from now. Being squishier in the face of improved Lethality items doesn't sound all that great, especially for a class like ADCs who were already struggling to remain relevant.
On the other hand: this might count as good news for beleaguered Aatrox players -- the few dozen of them that are left, at any rate. It's all but inarguable that the poor edgelord could afford to have an actual edge in his advantage, and a bit of extra tankiness when he goes in would make a world of difference.
Who else in League of Legends might benefit from this tweak towards base stats?