So, as some of you may know, Riot recently enabled Dominion for a few hours during off-peak times of the day to let players get a little taste of Dominion. What you may have also heard is that Dominion is absolutely bloody amazing. I’ve had a friend call it “everything Arathi Basin wishes it could be” and we both had an absolute blast playing four games before the map was pulled to prevent servers from crashing. And so here we are! This will be a first impression of the new map and items, and my thoughts on the idea overall. Alright, with that out-of-the-way, let’s get started with those juicy items.

Items:

My, my, my, Riot has gone out of their way to create some outstanding items with a flair for the insane. Just going over the small list of things I got to toy around with…

  • Ionic Spark: Probably my favorite of all the new items for any ranged carry, or anyone who uses attack-speed items. Still feels weird having a freaking bow on a dude with a 6 foot lance though. I guess he’s just really dexterous? Anyways, back to the item! Ionic Spark gives 45% attack-speed and 250 health, with a unique passive of blasting up to 4 targets with 100 magic damage. The item is better the earlier you can get it (because 100 damage means a lot more to a mage trying to break through 1000 hit points than one with other 2000), the effect is noticeable and satisfying, and overall the item is an absolute blast to use. I honestly can’t play AD Ranged in Summoner’s Rift anymore, it just feels incomplete without this.
  • The Lightbringer: This is one of those insane items you will always hate but grudging build to counter certain people. The Lightbringer gives 50% attack-speed and 20 damage, and has a special passive effect of granting vision on your target for 5 seconds, every time you land an attack. You will hate this item because it means you get to watch that person with 13 hitpoints walk away from you and live, every time. You will love this item for every time an enemy walks away with 13 hp, and then your jungler comes barreling out of the forest to rack up the kill. Vision is a powerful ally, and so is this bow!
  • Entropy: This… this item. My favorite for all the AD melee I play. Olaf, Riven, Nocturne, Trundle, your time to shine is coming up very soon. Entropy follows a build set I wish Riot would expand to fit other items. First off, the main building component is a Phage. Now, you can always build that Phage into a Frozen Mallet, giving you an on-hit slow and a good chunk of life…. or you can fuse it with a B.F.Sword and create Entropy. Whereas the Frozen Mallet is a good defensive choice while holding offensive power, Entropy is all power, all the time. Massive 70 bonus damage, 250 health, and a 25% chance to slow on every attack. But, unlike the Mallet, Phage also has an active effect, increasing the slow chance to 100% and adding an 80 true damage dot on every swing for 6 seconds. So not only has Riot created an amazing item, but we also have a unique build path. Grab Phage, are you getting killed or being knocked too low? Frozen Mallet. Doing fine and want more damage? Entropy. I would kill for this to be in Summoner’s Rift.
  • Sanguine Blade: Basically a cheap version of The Bloodthirster. It’s not as powerful, but you don’t lose anything when dying. Probably consider this the vastly superior item to Bloodthirster, just because mistakes do happen, and nothing is as infuriating as losing 10 minutes worth of farm in terms of damage and life-steal. 60 damage and 15% lifesteal, gaining 5 damage and 1% lifesteal for every attack, lasts 4 seconds, stacks 7 times.

Sadly, that’s all I had time to play with. Looking over them though, Kitae’s Bloodrazor is a cheaper, but less effective, version of Madred’s, cutting out the main item that doesn’t really help non-junglers or anyone not going for Wriggles. Hextech Sweeper is like The Light Bringer, but for spells, with a 1-minute cooldown area check for invisible enemies. Odyn’s Veil is my favorite defensive item, unlike Banshee’s, it eats 10% of all magic damage, storing it and letting the player unleash the stored energy as a point-blank area-of-effect spell. Priscilla’s Blessing is similar to Shureylia’s, only more ‘selfish’, keeping the speed boost and health/5 seconds to yourself. The other upside however, is a 15% passive capture rate increase.

Special notice goes to the ‘new Dorans’ of the Crystal Scar, the Prospector’s Blade and Prospector’s Ring. Both are roughly twice as good as their Doran’s counterpart but costs twice as much. The health bonus is also unique now, which prevents stacking. Both are excellent items for getting started in Dominion, but the unique passive will keep players from stacking them, hopefully going for some of the new, more interesting items to fill in their early game arsenal, like Ionic Spark. Overall, all of the new items are outstanding and add plenty of fun to the game. Shame the items aren’t in Summoner’s Rift, the chaos they would cause!

Summoner Spells:

Sadly, we only have two new toys in this category to play with, but both are fun enough.

  • Garrison:  By far the more fun of the two, and the most adaptive, Garrison adds a fun little layer to the game. This spell takes the place of Fortify, but will effect one turret, friend or foe. Hitting your own turret with Garrison will interrupt anyone trying to capture it, granting it much higher attack speed and regeneration rate for 8 seconds. Garrison at the right time can be the difference between keeping the lead, or losing the point. Hitting an enemy tower, however, has another fun little effect. For 8 seconds, the tower will deal 80% less damage, letting the champion tower-dive with impunity. Properly knowing when and how to use Garrison can be a game changer in Dominion, as certain champions can easily hold a tower by themselves. But if that tower suddenly stopped being such a benefit… well, pity the champion left alone.
  • Promote:  Probably my least favorite, just because it doesn’t feel very satisfying to me. Promote turns one minion into a tower’s worst nightmare, massively boosting stats, size, and granting gold on each kill to the summoner who promoted it. However, I prefer keeping high mobility on the Crystal Scar, and often won’t stand in one place long enough to back up my promoted little monster. If you can stand by it, the anti-tower minion will wreck absolute havoc. If you like to roam the map though, perhaps Garrison or one of the order summoner spells would be more valuable to you. A good spell through and through, I just prefer to not sit next to the minions when there are champions to kill.

The Crystal Scar:

And here we are at last, talking about the map itself. One thing I absolutely love about Dominion is the size of the map. It’s large enough to feel imposing and truly epic, but small enough to allow quick travel from point to point, even quicker when you account for Speed Shrines. Health Relics are placed about the map and heal for a small amount when picked up, allowing for some spectacular comebacks if the player keeps an open eye for them. The points themselves are always in vision, as is the ‘lane’ that circles The Crystal Scar, so you will never have to worry about having your points ninja-capped by someone you didn’t see in fog of war.

There are also two main sources of buffs in Dominion. Since Baron and Dragon are gone, riot has supplied alternate methods of giving yourself an edge. The first is through the new Quest system. From time to time, you will receive a quest, with involves keeping one point you own defended and capture one point you don’t. Successfully completing the quest gives a 10% damage bonus to your entire team, which encourages players to take risks and go for the gold. With both sides trying to get that buff, fights are common in the center most area as players on both teams run head long into each other, trying to get that edge. The second buff comes from two powerful relics in the center of the map, one for each team. These only effect the player that grabs it, but increases their size, grants a self-healing shield, and deals bonus damage on attacks . Only one player can have the shield for their team, so making sure whoever gets it can use it the most is important. Or who ever looks the most ridiculous towering over the battlefield. That’s important too. The Storm Shield Relics keep action in the center, setting up fun locations for ganks as players filter in trying to take that power relic for themselves. The area surrounding the relic is also in permanent vision, so don’t think you’ll be able to grab it without anyone noticing!

This next one has nothing to do with gameplay, but it a huge plus for me either way. Th map is incredibly detailed and has tons of small things that breathe a lot of life into it. While there are the obvious things like the massive claw or the spinning windmill, there are smaller moving things like gears and cranks that give the whole image a sense of completion. And then there are the things most players won’t even notice. In getting up, I accidentally kicked my laptop’s desk, shaking the mouse. Looking at the screen, I’d scrolled down into a corner… to find a house, fully deck out with everything it would need, but with no lights or movement. A chilling reminder of what the Crystal Scar is and the lore behind it, and a nice piece to really bring the history of the area into even more focus. While the map is obviously based on a mining town, it’s those little glimpses of the town itself, and not the equipment, that humanize the area.

Overall, Dominion is an absolute blast to play. The map is fresh, the game play is solid, and the gold is flowing. I only have minor complaints overall, but honestly nothing I can really peg as bad on Dominion. I think towers fall just a little too fast, making it hard to get in range and save it before it goes neutral, but it’s much better than being able to perma-hold points or losing the tower before you can even make it. Likewise, the most annoying thing about Dominion isn’t anything directly on Riot, but on the players. I’ve seen lots of people walk away from a nearly capped point running down a kill. I’d prefer if one of those tips at the beginning told of reduced gold for killing a champion, or gold bonus for capping towers. Or both. As it is right now, a lot of players are still focusing on K/D/A instead of capturing points, but that will (hopefully) change as people become more accustomed to the map.