Kled, The Cantankerous Cavalier, is the latest addition to the ranks of League Of Legends [official site]. I've been away from LoL for a little so it's more than past time we discussed the bloodthirsty yordle's skillset, lore and miscellaneous other bits and bobs.
He's one of those characters where there's a mount involved and the mount is part of the skillset so I'll be interested to see whether play makes them feel like a true duo or whether it's still more like playing a single character that just happens to be drawn in two bodies.
Let's go with lore first because it's a Thursday afternoon and I feel like this is a good time for storytelling as I drink my coffee.
The storytelling/character development is an interesting one to me because it's Riot creating a kind of mascot for going in and going hard in fights as a kind of in-universe inspiration for rank and file soldiers. Think of it as a personification of the values commanders want from their cannon fodder - a love of combat, a willingness to charge when ordered, a belief in the glory of bloodshed, a total absence of cowardice...
So he's kind of an idealised mascot who also happens to exist in Runeterra. The description actually explains him as a combat meme in the vein of Kilroy. I have no idea if this is the sound of Twitch chat eating itself right now
When designing Kled's abilities, we went out of our way to avoid giving him anything that felt defensive or "safe." Everything Kled does is about incentivizing and rewarding aggressive, risky actions. He has to charge straight into battle to get the shield from his ult. Even when he uses his unmounted “disengage” move, Pocket Pistol, he's firing a gun blast to knock himself back.
To offset Kled's ham-ness, or perhaps to make it seem even more extreme by contrast, his mount is a cowardly lizardy chickeny creature called Skaarl. I like the dynamic that's explained by the character creation team, but I want to muck about with it in-game and see how it bears out.
With that in mind, here's how Kled and Skaarl's kit shakes out:
Passive: Skaarl The Cowardly Lizard
Skaarl functions as a sort of life-bar buffer for Kled. He takes damage in place of Kled when Kled is mounted and he's affected by bonus health effects from abilities and runes and whatnot. When his life bar gets to zero he doesn't die, but he does run away leaving Kled on his own on the battlefield which alters his other abilities.
When fighting solo, Kled's abilities change and he gains movement speed while heading toward enemy champions. Kled can restore Skaarl's courage and bring the craven critter back by attacking towers, champions, or epic monsters.
Q (mounted): Beartrap On A Rope
This is a beartrap on a rope. What, you want more information? Sheesh. It deals damage to enemies it passes through and latches onto the first enemy champ it hits. If you stay close to the latched target for a few seconds it also yanks them back and applies a slow and some damage.
Q (unmounted): Pocket Pistol
This is pretty simple - a narrow cone of bullets with a knockback effect.
W: Violent Tendencies (passive)
Basic attacks cause Kled to go into a frenzy which gives attack speed to his next four basic attacks. The last of the four frenzied attacks does a bit of extra damage based on the recipient's maximum health. There's a cooldown so it won't be going off all the time, but it's one of those things where you'll need to learn how best to budget its usage and when it might be better not to absent-mindedly batter a minion wave.
E: Jousting (mounted only)
A dash which deals damage to enemies along the way and give a temporary move speed buff. If you hit a big neutral monster or a champion you can reactivate the ability to dash back through them for another round of damage.
R: Chaaaaaaaarge!!! (mounted only)
So this is another charge but it builds a shield as you go as well as leaving a kind of move speed buff in the wake of the pair that allies can benefit from. Skaarl homes in on the first enemy he encounters and rams them to deal damage.
I feel like it's interesting that this seems to gate off certain abilities if your totally not-trusty steed has buggered off. Also that you have to play aggressively to actually lure him back to you. There's also a significant management element when it comes to Kled - management of Skaarl's courage as well as the passive frenzying and so on.
The problem for me is that I'm one of nature's lurkers, though. I'm a back-liner who likes casting spells and GTFO-ing while other people get up in the enemy's business. I like ranged attacks and mages and NOT RUNNING INTO THE MIDDLE OF BATTLE OMG OMG WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.
I am Skaarl.