How do you fix a problem like Kallari? It’s a topic I’ve often thought about and one born from the simple fact that she is, in her current form, unquestionably poor. I know many disagree with this; they’ll cite their personal personal builds, or win rates, or the fact they once bagged a penta kill. And while Kallari is functional, objectively she’s undeniably inferior to all other melee Heroes.
A key part of what makes any Hero valuable and flexible is their kit and the way that it not only allows said Hero to fulfil their perceived role, but to also work alongside their allies and bring damage, utility or both.
Heroes such as Rampage, Murdock, Grux and Dekker are picked a great deal not just because they’re fun to Heroes to play but because fundamentally, their kit ensures they’re superior to those around them. That’s not to say the likes of Khaimera, Sparrow or Muriel are poor Heroes, but their kits are - when compared side by side - largely inferior. While I don’t want to get bogged down in comparing who’s the best and why, Heroes always fluctuate in MOBAs and it’s part of their charm.
We all tend to have a favorite and all want to believe they’re viable or sought after, and while all Heroes in Paragon are more than functional, Kallari is far behind the pack.
Although much is likely to change in her favor when Monolith is released (the removal of Travel Mode helping her global play immensely) it still won’t change the fundamental weaknesses in her design.
A key part of Kallari’s design is that she can cloak for lengthy periods of time. It’s fundamental to not only her survivability but to also gain additional damage against opponents, when leaving the Shadow Plane. Without the spike damage from Shadow Walk - effectively a backstab - her fragility dictates that she often can’t stand out in the open, slashing wildly (unlike, say, Grux).
The strength of Shadow Wards in Paragon entirely undermines Kallari’s ability to fulfil her role and against coordinated teams or highly experienced players, negates not only her ability to sneak up on players, but to even evade them. The abundance of Shadow Wards - a card that’s arguably far too cheap for the number of charges it provides - can ensure that Agora is littered with Wards from the first few minutes of the game. Even if only three players on a team bring Shadow Wards, that’s a minimum of 6 covering the map and more than sufficient to deny the value of Shadow Walk. Typically, players will also ensure they’ve one Shadow Ward in reserve to drop at their feet should they encounter her.
Shadow Wards are a hard counter to Kallari, her functionality and viability.
If Kallari is to have any value out of Shadow Walk, not only do EPIC need to review the number of Shadow Wards provided by the cards themselves, but they also have to give Kallari the ability to destroy them from within the Shadow Plane.
At the moment, when Kallari is using Shadow Walk she can see all Shadow Wards. She can certainly ask her team to remove them or counter-Ward if she has her own. However, should there be no ally, or if she has no Ward, there’s very little she could do. You might argue, “Well, she should take Wards or stick with her team, then!” and to some extent you might be right. However, it doesn’t seem entirely fair for a Hero to rely almost entirely on a card or an ally, just to make use of one of her key abilities.
While I fully support Shadow Wards revealing Kallari, the current implementation of them is significantly harming her viability. Here’s a few suggestions on how to address the issue:
1. Reduce the radius of Shadow Wards by 25%
2. Allow Kallari to use Slash against Shadow Wards, when she is using Shadow Walk. She will then be revealed, but can continue to kill the Ward.
This would still ensure Shadow Wards are strong, that the provision of two is because they have a smaller radius (as opposed to visible Wards afforded larger sight), while Kallari would still be able to deal with Shadow Wards herself - even if it meant revealing her location.
Lack Of Wave Clear
Melee Heroes aren’t necessarily only suited to jungling. Some can comfortably help in supporting a lane (Kwang) or soloing blue (Greystone) and although I’d always argue a competent ranged Hero has an edge over any melee opponent, it’s unquestionably viable. The likes of Grux and Kwang are adept at laning because they have strong poke and clear: they can comfortably hold their own versus the likes of Countess or Howitzer.
In contrast, Kallari certainly can lane (solo and support) but it often feels like a case of ‘square peg, round hole’. Kallari’s role and purpose is to kill single targets. Her entire kit revolves around it: a single target slow, a single target Ultimate, a cloak that boosts her damage against a single target. And yet whether she’s in lane or jungling, irrespective of build, she’s only ever sub-par.
Although her basic attack, Slice, can cleave minions, if she’s to be viable in lane she needs to build lots of early game health and/or armor. This directly affects her clear and although you can secure last hits fairly easily, any amount of pressure from your opposition can see you pushed back incredibly quickly. Ideally players should always be freezing lane to ensure a steady return of card experience but the strength of minions in the current build dictates that, really, any disruption to your farm can quickly result in your lane being snowballed. If Kallari comes under any pressure from the opposing team’s jungler, there’s almost nothing you can do to defend your tower. No amount of using Slash or Crippling Dagger is going to stop an oncoming wave escorted by two players.
Even if you move from solo lane, to aiding an ADC on red (support role) the same applies. You can’t protect your team mate because your early game damage is so poor, and outside of a single slow, you bring no utility to protect them. Should an enemy jungler once again appear on your lane, your wave clear remains so poor that you’re once again bound to struggle.
Kallari used to be able to quickly wave clear with her old Ultimate ability. Sadly it was removed and replaced.
Is there a solution? I think so. Part of the reason why Kallari can’t hold lane confidently, regardless of how much you attempt to shoehorn her into the role, is because of her wave clear. I’m not in anyway suggesting that she should suddenly become Countess, but minor tweaks could certainly be made to the utility of her Crippling Dagger.
By default Crippling Dagger strikes a single target and slows them for 3 seconds. Its damage by level 15 is fairly high but it’s also relatively unexciting. My thought was what if Crippling Dagger bounced?
Key to making any changes to Crippling Dagger would be to ensure that Kallari remains focused on bringing down single targets. The splintering of Crippling Dagger would only slow the first target and the number of targets affected would be a maximum of three. Finally, its bounce damage would only ever reach 65% of the source, when fully upgraded.
At the very least this would offer some wave clear and provide her with flexibility to lane, or to Jungle. On the subject of Jungling...
Many of the issues described above spill over into Kallari’s ability to Jungle. Considering she’s so poor in lane (comparatively speak) one would think that perhaps her niche remained between lanes. Unfortunately, and due to her lack of clear and self sustain, she’s incredibly poor until mid to late game.
With poor clear, she takes a considerable amount of damage during early minion camps and relies massively on potions to even function. This not only makes her Jungling particularly slow, but she’ll often have to back much more than her Jungle peers. There’s no doubting she can jungle, but once again it feels as though she’s being forced into a role not befitting her kit.
Although I wouldn’t wish to suggest any changes to Kallari when it comes to a Jungling role (EPIC certainly aren’t ever going to give her regeneration) there remains room for Passive abilities in Paragon. I loathed their removal and the addition of a Passive, certainly for Kallari, could work wonders. My thought was that as a variant on Madspore Sash, Kallari could deal a small proportion of any damage she receives back to her attackers: call it Nano skin if you like - a defensive measure of her suit.
The wider discussion however is if EPIC will ever choose to bring Passives back (please?)
Lack of Utility
Outside of her 3 second slow and a global Ultimate, Kallari brings very little to a team. As we’ve already discussed, Shadow Wards hard counter her sneak-attack potential, her Crippling Dagger is single target with a relatively long base cooldown leaving her with extremely exposed. In contrast, every other fighter or “tank” is capable of so much more. Grux can pull when defending an Inhibitor before stunning. Steel can dive with his Ultimate before knocking enemies back as he charges and Kwang can tether before dealing eye-watering burst damage.
If we’re to pretend she was to receive “bounce” on her Crippling Dagger, would it still be enough to wrestle for a space? I’m not so sure.
My final thought for her, to add some much needed utility, would be a minor tweak to her Ultimate ability (Death Sentence). By default it simply transports Kallari to a target, anywhere on the map, and deals additional basic attack damage. When maximized, it’s capped at double damage. It’s largely fine but is easily negated by some Heroes who have defensive or mobility based skills. My proposal would be to adjust the final impact of the skill so that once it physically strikes an opponent, Kallari gains evasion for 3 seconds. Evasion, or Repellent (whatever you wish to call it) would mitigating incoming basic attack damage by 75%.
Kallari looks great, but doesn't bring enough to the table.
Part of the idea behind this is that at the moment, Kallari can only engage with her Ultimate against loan targets and should she choose to against a group (certainly towards mid or end game) she’s singled out and quickly despatched. Often if she isn’t killed, she simply has to Backflip away and wait. This evasion should provide some much needed mitigation and sustain that when combined with her bouncing Crippling Dagger, bring much more utility.
So, that’s my thoughts on Kallari. These are tentative suggestions and I’m in no way stating they’re right. They are however things I’d like to see or at least see EPIC test, just to explore if she has greater potential without a full kit rework. I will add that I really miss her original Ultimate and if it was up to me, I’d have simply made it so Death Wish teleported her to an enemy in Shadow Walk before you could trigger it again, to slice forwards. One can dream.
What are your thoughts on Kallari? Are you happy with her current status? What would you change about her? Let me know.
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