Yesterday Riot teased their newest champion Gnar, but today all the details are out and this (sometimes) cute little guy is one of the most interesting champions to ever hit the game. The official reveal page outlines his background, abilities, and even laning and gameplay strategies, but this champion is bringing more to the game than just strong top-laning and late-game tanking. Gnar’s unique ability is an uncontrollable transformation that will force players to anticipate when it’s coming and change their playstyle dramatically.
First of all: Gnar is apparently not only an adorable fuzzball but a time traveler as well. His background is still missing some details, but Gnar is a prehistoric yordle that was trapped for centuries in Runeterra’s True Ice. Time stopped for the frozen yordle until he finally managed to break free of the ice, and this cute critter is much more than he seems.
Gnar shows that Riot still knows how to put plenty of cute into a game that revolves around crushing your opponents
Gnar’s passive is called “Rage Gene,” and if that doesn’t give away what this little guy is all about the fact that each of his abilities have two names should. “Rage Gene” causes Gnar to slowly build up rage in combat. Once his rage hits a threshold Gnar transforms into Mega Gnar.
Now, Mini Gnar (the original form) is an agile, fragile ranged champion that relies on mobility and attack speed to harrass and poke in the top lane. When Gnar reaches max rage and transforms, though, he becomes a much larger, much scarier tank with slow movement speed, no mobility, high damage, and lots of crowd control. Because the transformation is more or less uncontrollable (though not unpredictable) it will require players going against and piloting Gnar to be able to shift between these two playstyles very quickly – and back again once Mega Gnar runs out of rage.
Riot discussed this development decision at length before settling on this implementation for a new champ and after struggling to balance other transform champions they decided they wanted a champion with obvious strengths and weaknesses in both forms – so that neither would be more or less useful than the other overall – and a more or less uncontrollable transform mechanic so that players must adapt to it rather than abusing the transform mechanic itself.
Gnar is the first champion to have this unique transformation mechanic, and because of it he will play very differently between early and late game. For now, though, it seems best to consider him a solo top laner or a support since his both of his forms support either role well.