The League’s roster keeps on growing, adding another assassin to its ranks. Talon, the Blade’s Shadow, looks a lot like Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio, donning a hood and carrying an assortment of blades onto the battlefield. With a focus on burst damage and crowd control, Talon is a great addition to the game, even if he doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before.
Our first few games with Talon were less than impressive, but it was never a question as to how to play him - just how to be good with him. His moves are fairly straight-forward: he has a powerful stab attack that does bonus damage and leaves a blood trail to track enemies by (Noxian Diplomacy), a ranged slow that throws returning blades that do damage both in and out (Rake), and a blink that places him behind the opponent and silences them (Cutthroat). His ultimate (Shadow Assault) sends blades out in a large circle, damaging enemies as they go, and rendering Talon invisible. Once he attacks they snap back, dealing damage again. Like we said - straight-forward. But it wasn’t until we learned Talon’s weaknesses that we were able to really take advantage of his strengths.
Starting off with his Rake ability is important. It’s Talon’s only ranged attack and costs little mana, letting him last-hit minion consistently and lay steady damage on his foes, even against ranged opponents. Maxing out this skill makes him an extremely effective farmer (and and since Rake also slows, it helps him get away, too). His other abilities are more effective against enemy heroes - Cutthroat is great to initiate a battle with a single target, and Diplomacy resets his attack timer, so he’s able to use it immediately after a normal attack, in effect doubling his damage when the timing is right.
And learning about his timing, and limits, is important. Talon can do a massive amount of damage and chase down enemies as well as almost any other hero, but he’s very, very squishy. A few attacks from the enemy team’s DPS will send Talon packing, making him a poor initiator in group battles. In a way, he’s a lot like a caster, save for his up-close and personal combat style. He can use all of his abilities at once without running out of mana or being out of commission for a while thanks to their low costs and cooldown time. So as long as he survives a battle he can usually jump back in soon. Because of this, we found that he was most effective when we played him like a mage for most of the game.
In the games that we were able to get just a little bit fed in, Talon was unstoppable. After picking up a Frozen Mallet or Trinity force (to take advantage of his passive, which grants bonus if the opponent has any crowd-control effects on them) we built straight for crits, taking advantage of his ability to sneak to the back of a battle and auto-attack enemies to death. Using Shadow Assault, which has a fairly low cooldown, lets us stealth past the tanks. Since his blink puts us behind the enemy, it also sends all of the blades from Shadow Assault through them, adding in extra damage. Using this tactic in group battles let us take down the enemy team’s DPS and support before the tanks had a chance to realize what was going on. It really felt like playing an assassin, even when compared to the game’s other assassin-type champions.
We don’t know if it was because of enemy players not knowing how he works, or simply because of how Talon functions, but we found ourselves getting First Blood as soon as we hit level six, as long as we had an adequate lane partner. Being able to use his ultimate, throw down Rake, blink to the enemy, and stab them with Noxian Diplomacy was usually too much for them to handle at such a low level.
But, as we said earlier, none of his abilities are all that unique. We’d like to see Noxian Doplimacy improved to leave a much, much longer blood trail, as we never found Talon actually chasing down an enemy because of it. Beyond that, he feels like an extremely balanced champion, and one we expect to see more of whenever our team is looking for a nice DPS to take down the enemy team’s squishies.
Aug 31, 2011