Every so often, League of Legends puts out temporary "featured game modes" that can be so much fun they leave fans begging Riot to keep them in the game permanently. Others just fizzle out. "Black Market Brawl" sounds like it's going to be in the first group.
Played on the main Summoner's Rift map, Black Market Brawl adds mercenary monsters into the game's already chaotic mixture. According to a post on League's forums announcing the mode, five-person teams will play the game like they normally would — pushing back and forth to try and destroy one another's bases. The only difference is that during all this fighting and killing, each player will accumulate gold coins called "Krakens":
Golden Krakens are a new currency you'll earn to spend on hiring and upgrading your brawler minion.
Earn and spend Krakens to hire the brawler minion of your choice, then upgrade them however you want.
Krakens are acquired by:
— Every 60sec = 1 Kraken
— 1 kill = 2 Krakens
— 1 assist = 1 Kraken
— Baron/Dragon = 1 Kraken per team member (5 total)
— Counter jungling a large monster = 1 Kraken
These coins can then be used to hire "brawlers." They're like the normal minions that spawn from your base and rush along a lane to attack whatever enemy thing they come across first, except much more badass:
There are four types of brawler minions. Each game you will spend Krakens you've earned to hire one brawler minion type of your choice, then upgrade him as you see fit throughout the game. Once hired, your brawler will replace a regular minion and spawn in every wave of all 3 lanes for the rest of the game. Each brawler minion has 3 upgrade paths (Abilities, Attack & Defence) you can pursue to customise them how you want. Upgrades can be purchased from the new "Brawlers" tab in the item shop at fountain using Krakens.
Reading Riot's description of the hire-able brawlers, my mind immediately jumped to Heroes of the Storm — Blizzard's newly-launched competing MOBA. A big change Heroes made to the MOBA template was turning the jungle from what it is in League (a series of increasingly tough monsters that you fight and kill to receive experience and character buffs) to a handful of monster camps peppered across each map. HOTS players can either fight these monsters to subdue them or bribe them, but either way, the point of taking jungle camps is to get them to come and fight for your side of the battle.
But since this is League we're talking about and NOT Heroes of the Storm, things are a little more...complex with the mercenaries. You can customise these minions by levelling them along different paths over the course of the game.
Take this cute little ranged support unit called an "Ocklepod", for instance. It starts out by summoning shields for nearby minions, which will presumably help them push farther into enemy territory on their own. Then it becomes stronger and stronger over the course of a game, until finally gaining another ability as well:
Initial hire: Your Ocklepod casts a magic shield on allied minions every 10sec, blocking 80 dmg. The shield lasts 10sec.
Lv 1: Your Ocklepod has 10 MR. Spawns a moving Clairvoyance every 30sec. After a 4sec reveal delay, it grants vision to a nearby area for 4sec.
Lv 2: Your Ocklepod has 20 MR. Shield now blocks 150 + (1 x Ocklepod's AD) damage.
Lv 3: Your Ocklepod has 30 MR. Clairvoyance is now cast every 10sec, and the reveal delay is reduced to 2sec. Duration and distance travelled of the Clairvoyance is increased by 50%. Shield now blocks 300 + (1 x Ocklepod's AD) damage.
There's also a pack of rabid dogs, and a golem-looking creature.
In addition to the monsters, Black Market Brawl is also adding a wealth of new in-game items players will be able to use. It's not clear if these are exclusive to the new game mode, but my hunch is that they will be — at least to start. That's because some of them have hilarious-sounding troll potential. Like this "puppeteer" one, that summons up a string to attack the caster with other champions, and then lets him yank them towards him
Recipe: Chalice of Harmony+Kindlegem
+50% Base Mana Regen
UNIQUE Passive - Mana Font: Restores 2% of missing Mana every 5sec.
UNIQUE Passive: Basic attacks mark champions with a string for 6sec. Moving further than 1000 range away from marked champions will break the string.
UNIQUE Active: Pull all champions Marked by Puppeteer within 1000 range towards you. Units move a maximum of 250 distance (45sec CD).
Oh man. Pull all marked champions withing 1000 range. The cross-team chat for these games is gonna be really entertaining.
Riot didn't say when exactly it's planning to release Black Market Bay other than mentioning it will go live "soon" in League's public beta. It's a very pirate-heavy time for League right now, though. In addition to this new featured game mode, Riot also revealed reworks of its two main pirate champions today. They're also putting on a special timed event that will dress up Howling Abyss — another of the game's main maps — so it looks like Bilgewater, the fictional city all the water-themed champs come from.