Snowdown is finally here!

It took longer than I expected, though in past years I never really paid attention to the holiday events in League of Legends. I have been playing the game since 2011, but this past year (during Season 3) I played the most, and was the most active in paying attention to the new stuff on offer. I used to just read the patch notes. Now I have things to say. These are the way things are here, I go in waves with everything.

Snowdown is League’s winter event, and during the next couple of weeks, we have new winter-themed skins on offer (Lulu, Sivir, Singed) and the legacy vault is opened on all of the past Snowdown skins. As with all holiday events, there are opportunities to earn new Summoner’s icons, purchase skins, and the new trend brings along a new featured game mode: Showdown. But as will all events, most of what you can “earn” is through making purchases. For example, you can only buy skins for real world money, and some of the new icons are unlocked only after buying some of the themed content (skins, ward skins). This is fine, if you have the money. The limited availability makes it more tempting, because you know you’ll be part of the smaller group of people who ponied up for new stuff. However, that isn’t always enough of a draw. I like skins as much as the next guy. I like to earn new stuff that sets me apart from everyone else, it’s the American way. During the Harrowing I did make a purchase or two and did earn some of the new stuff. This time around, I think I’ll only be getting a couple of the icons, ones that are earned by playing. The first requires 3 wins in the new game mode (I already have two) and the other requires playing in a pre-made, which should be easy enough. Everything else requires a money expenditure, and I’m just not gonna do it this time. Maybe during the Lunar Revel things will be easier.

The trouble with all of these holiday events and sales is that we are supposed to be buying things for other people, and it’s so tempting to just buy for ourselves. I can admit to doing it more often than I should, but I did manage to get everyone something for Christmas this year, so I would technically be in the clear (I did actually bite the bullet on GOG again, but more on that later). However, having spent money on everyone else means I can’t afford this shit right now, as much as I would like to. So I’m going bah humbug right now. Maybe they should make these sales last until the end of January, to give our wallets time to recover?

Ok /rant off. Moving on, the new featured game mode “Showdown” also went live with the event, and I’m not sure on the time frame that we’ll have it available, but it is pretty awesome. Different than I expected, but still fun and a great change of pace. I know that most people play Summoner’s Rift almost exclusively, and that’s where the Ranked games happen, where the pros play as well. But dammit, I need variety, and that’s what’s being added here. Dominion was so-so. ARAM was a big win in my book. The last featured game mode (one for all) sucked, and so far Showdown is a win.

As I mentioned, it takes place on the Howling Abyss map, which is usually reserved for ARAM. That’s where the similarities stop though. I was expecting the game to play just the same, but instead of teams of 5, it would be 1v1 or 2v2. This isn’t the case. Also, instead of stating off at level 3, your champ starts at level 1. You don’t get the bonus starting gold. You do start with a free scrying orb trinket, so it’s nice to see them integrate that outside of Summoner’s Rift. You can also recall to base to heal and buy stuff, which is necessary if the game starts to lag. The win conditions are the strangest yet, and the hardest part to wrap your head around.

When playing by yourself against another player, you start off in a blind draft. You both get your 3 bans, and then make your champion selection. After in the game and heading down the lane, you will meet your enemy in the middle, and creep waves will funnel out as usual. Play will seem pretty standard, but you need to be mindful of last hitting, and be aware of giving up first blood. But you can’t be too passive and let your tower take too much damage either. Sounds pretty much the same right? Well those are the actual win conditions. Give up first blood, you lose. Let your enemy get 100 creep kills before you, you lose. Let them destroy your tower first, you lose. It’s a simple premise, but it’s effective. The games can be incredibly short.

Speaking of which, my first foray saw me playing one on one, and getting my ass handed to me before the 3 minute mark. All it takes is giving up that first blood. After getting a grip on the concept, I played 2v2 for a couple rounds and saw a couple of wins. Twitch/Blitz is a very effective combo, and Ziggs is still my most dominate champion on the map, regardless of mode. His harass is epic. I need to start playing him in Ranked. But I digress.

I vote that this mode makes it to the live game, with a dedicated queue. It beats the pants off of the last one.