@gRANT alluded in the AMA today to a coming rework of Mellka’s playstyle. First, Neb asked The Mellka Question, and at long last, there was an an answer:
The responses, gathered over time:
Okay so! As I was planning on making video guides after the Winter Update, and posting the next phase of my written Mellka guide, this is pretty big news. (I am consequently putting those plans on ice, btw.)
Breaking it down:
Her playstyle is getting looked at - so, change is on the drawing board, but not necessarily confirmed.
They want to preserve some of her existing playstyle. Not most, or the essence, but some. I’m not going to read too much into it, but it sounds to me like they aren’t satisfied with how she plays now.
They want to make sure they have “defined roles” and don’t “step on other character’s roles.” The obvious implication here is that they believe that Mellka, like Galilea, presently performs in too many roles. They want to focus on the “mobile harasser” with an emphasis on “venom.”
Okay, so, some speculation and analysis…
I think a lot of people will balk at seeing Mellka and Galilea mentioned in the same breath, but to give the devs the benefit of the doubt, let’s say they’re purely talking about roles and not about their relative power in the meta.
So what roles exist in the game, and how many of them does Mellka perform well in? This list is pretty arbitrary and isn’t a definitive “role list” or anything, but so feel free to chime in.
Mellka is very strong here, although she’s also a risky wave-clear: she has to enter melee range and dive into lane to do it. This makes her less desirable in Meltdown at times (she has to make it to the grinder to catch those minions about to leap in), and she doesn’t come close to the top tier of wave clear (Orendi, Ernest). But she’s still in a top ten of WC, definitely.
Mellka can’t do this. Even health stacking, she doesn’t have the DR, the shield, or the HP shield to pull it off.
Mellka can bully less-experienced opponents into panicking and falling back, because she’s hard to kill and she deals relentless damage. Mellka will never secure a push against a good enemy team, though.
Mellka is better than most at diving deep, confirming a kill or destroying a turret, and getting out. The catch is that she uses Lunge to get out, so she relies on sliding and bunny-hopping, plus Air Stall jinking, to get in.
Assassinating/Single Target Damage
Mellka is decent burst damage, though she’s certainly not top tier (not in a game with Benedict, Phoebe, and Orendi) and she’s competitive, not superior, to direct counterparts like Caldarius and Whiskey. Blade Launcher is key to her burst damage potential, and this limits how often she can reliably secure kills compared to those who can do good burst with their low-timer skills.
Despite this, a good Mellka still enjoys a high kill count and goes overwhelmingly positive because she rarely dies.
Area of Effect Damage
Not Mellka’s thing. Spike, Parting Gift, and canister splashes don’t offer any real AE damage potential. She is a focus-fire character, and the more she spreads her damage, the more ineffectual she is.
Mellka’s got nothing, really. Spike slow is just your average slow. Her wound is good, but now Beatrix is here, the standards for wound just went way up.
Nothing out of the box. Mell is a selfish character.
This is what the devs want her to be… but what is harassment, really? Tossing canisters, spreading venom, and softening waves has never been particularly useful in a game where Benedict can 100-0 targets by himself, Ernest can chase everyone out of lane with a few shells, and Kleese can just lay down rifts and make waves melt.
Basically, one of the reasons that Mellka isn’t played exclusively as mobile harassment is that the role kinda sucks. I figure that insofar as it’s a thing, it’s a way to win pushes without actually being the key pusher… except pushes tend to happen on the back of CC-initiated team wipes or an overwhelming advance from a pocketed Gali, Bolur, or the like. It’s never because a Mellka dropped an extra 35 DPS of venom on everyone.
Venom’s nerf some months back also really compromised the usefulness of venom. It took a 100% duration decrease for only a 50% damage boost, so it’s pretty unimpressive now, and her useless alt melee means she can’t take advantage of the damage amp benefit it provides either.
The reality is that the devs want her to be more harassment and less something else. My guess is that she’s going to have her wave clear nerfed (which will unfortunately seriously hit her ability to level up at a good rate - one of her strengths atm), but will possibly see some buffs to her venom.
Perhaps venom will provide a damage amp to more skills than just melee ones: I wouldn’t be surprised to see venom increase the damage of Spike and/or Blade Launcher, or perhaps even skill damage from other players. This kind of amp-combo support would be a cool route to take Mellka down, assuming she keeps all her fun “slippery squishy” mobility tricks she has now, and I’d be all for it.
I would be thrilled for her to lose her alt melee altogether and have the trigger be used for more venom-related mechanics: a range of canisters with different debuffs. One for pure damage, one with a damage amp, that sort of thing. That would give her a unique support harassment niche and take care of the alt melee problem in one fell swoop.
Or maybe the rework will be super-minor and they’ll just nerf Parting Gift and give her back her old venom duration. We’ll see!