ByDan O'Halloran, writer at Creators.co
Writer. Father. Gamer. Geek. Not necessarily in that order. @danoh
Dan O'Halloran

Much has changed in the League of Legends jungle in 2016. Well, not the Baron. He's still the Baron. But just about every other monster between the top lane and the bottom has had a major make over. Here's a guide going over the big ones and how it affects your team strategy this year.

The Elemental Dragons

The League of Legends Mid Season Magic patch (aka 6.9) brought with it a surprise. The Dragon in the lower jungle got replaced by no less than five separate drakes. The devs wanted more dynamic and interesting gameplay involved with this monster spawn point so this is what they did. They took the different buffs killing the old dragon gave you and randomized them into new dragons.

Every six minutes for the the first 35 minutes of the game, a different Elemental Dragon will spawn. The same kind of Elemental Dragon can spawn (fire, fire, water, fire, etc.) and only three of the four types will spawn in one game. It's random which types you'll get. But you can tell which one will spawn next by looking at the color of the rune that will glow on the inside of the cavern wall where the dragon appears. This will also appear on your minimap.

Every Elemental Dragon killed will give you a specific buff and killing the same dragon will stack the buff up to two more times. After 35 minutes, the elemental dragons stop spawning and the Elder Dragon appears every 10 minutes. Killing him will increase the effectiveness of any Elemental Dragon buff you have by 50% and amplified damage with every hit.

So, what stacking buffs do you get from the Elemental Dragons and are they worth risking a team wipe or lane presence to go after? I'm glad you asked.

Fire Dragon - This is the best dragon to have pop. Killing it applies the Mark of the Infernal Drake which grants +8/16/24% stacking increased Ability Power and Attack Damage. Make sure you get this before the other team does.

Earth Dragon - +10/20/30% additional True Damage to Epic Monsters and Turrets. Great for your jungler, taking the Baron earlier, and for sieging comps. Take this early and often.

Water Dragon - Restores 4/8/12% missing health and mana every 8 seconds if not damaged by a champion or tower in the last 5 seconds. While this looks good on paper, you are often aren't out of combat for very long except for in the early game. The only exception is the jungler who has sporadic downtime while rotating to new objectives.

Air Dragon - +15/30/45 additional Out of Combat Movement Speed. Good, but not great. It drops when you enter combat and contributes to the movement speed cap. The best reason to clear this drake is to get the next one to pop. Only take it when you have a clear shot and you know where the enemy team is.

Elder Dragon - Grants +45 true damage on all spells and basic attacks against non-turrets over 3 seconds for every Elemental Dragon stack. Also amplifies all Elemental Dragon buffs by 50%.

The same rules for taking a dragon apply as always. Ward the bushes for visions so you know when the enemy is coming to gank you or steal the dragon when you're not there. And don't keep attacking the dragon when the enemy shows up. Take out your opponents then come back to finish the dragon. These can be taken with one or two champions depending on who you're playing, but remember there's safety in numbers.



The Rift Herald

This mutated Rift scuttler grants an early Baron buff to the player that wants to take the effort to take it down (though they'll need help from at least one other player.) The buff granted is Glimpse of the Void and is received by clicking on the shrine left behind by the dead Herald. Glimpse grants 5% damage reduction while no allied champions near and CORRUPTION: At 100 charges, your next basic attack discharges all stacks of CORRUPTION, dealing 15-270 magic damage (at levels 1-18, damage halved for ranged champions). This lasts for 20 minutes and can be extended for another 3 minutes with the Rune Affinity mastery.

It's generally considered worth it to grab this for your top laner since they are usually soloing and it will benefit from the first part of the buff. The jungler can help them take the Rift Herald down early and the fact that the buff is gained from clicking on the shrine instead of last hit means it won't go to the wrong person. Also, the buff won't be lost upon death unlike the other ones in the game.


The Baron Nashor

Baron is still a beast. If your team can take him (and you will need a full team) in the mid-to-late-game you're going to get a big gold boost as well as an enormous 3+minute buff to your attack damage, ability power, and Recall cast time. Your minions will also get a significant power boost in movement speed, attack speed, damage reduction, attack range, and missile speed. Basically everything you've got is on steroids with the Hand of the Baron buff. Unless, you're killed. Then you lose it. So don't die.

Killing the Baron shouldn't be too hard. He attacks the closest target, so you can spread the damage by rotating who is in proximity of him. Just remember he's immune to crowd control except stasis effects. The biggest challenge is, of course, the enemy team coming to take advantage of your weakened state to finish you off and steal the Baron buff. So ward the area well and be ready to disengage.

On the flip side, you can also ward the area well and be ready to pick off your opponents who engage the Baron. They can get greedy and wait too long before paying attention to your team giving you the chance to take them out, grab the Baron buff for yourself, and finish the game while they are left staring at their respawn timers.