Dec 152016
 
Winter Wonder Karma, Snow Day Graves and Santa Braum
Snowdown Showdown 2016

Has the poro found the place? Is it cold is it ablaze?
There’s a feature to recall. Does it give any clue at all?
The poro searches, sniff and look. Could it be something to cook?
Neither here nor there. The poro finds snow everywhere.

The poro knows it is somewhere. White and fluffy the lead is fair.
A snowball flies with ill end. Who could help our furry friend?
Tall stands, protective bash. Our poro has found his moustache!
A snax is due and they join the crew. The party showdown, welcome to Snowdown!

Winter Wonder Karma
Winter Wonder Karma Splash Art Winter Wonder Karma Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Karma as an ice mystic.
Model: New model for Karma and her Mantle of Decorum.
Particles: New particles for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New recall animation.
Sounds: New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: Pine trees and some frost left behind by the Snow Queen or ice-sorceress is the joy of the unusual fauna whom witness her jolly stroll. As far as proper background not much is clearly displayed so much has to be guessed through the ridiculously thick mist that covers everything. In the distance the outlines of houses and a path of snow is visible but that’s as far as it goes. With regards to context, there’s only a thin slice.
The tree branch and horned squirrels on the foreground are a bit sketchy but that doesn’t apply to Karma. Her skin is soft and delicately shaded. Her dress, from the waist up, is nicely coloured with a satin-like texture and dim yet believable gold lining. The fur looks a bit thread-like, similar to her hair, but it’s a subtle effect. The hands have a cartoony design but the barely visible snow marks on her skin are an interesting suggestion of hidden power; perhaps reflected in her ice crowned tiara. The Mantle of Decorum receives more attention on the secondary wings than the central snowflake which appears brittle and small in comparison to the solid, sturdy feel of the wings. From the waist down things get blurry so while the same style is present as in the top half details are unnecessarily obscured.
Adding it all together, this is an unassuming piece that doesn’t aim high yet tries to be more than a simple portrayal. There’s some context given to Karma’s presence but the source is a disappointingly blurred background. The supporting cast of rotund penguins and feral squirrels are passive witnesses without joining on the action despite their, at times, privileged position. Still, the portrayal is quite appealing with nice, even if uneven, sharpness. Therefore, as a presentation card for Winter Wonder Karma it works despite evident issues.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Caught between a Snow Queen and an ice-bender Winter Wonder Karma can be considered an aristocratic or royal snow sorceress. The dress surely speaks of a certain amount of elegance and class that wouldn’t be unsuitable for nobility. The Mantle of Decorum is deceptively simple in its shape: three shards of ice as a floating snowflake crown. The mix of sources is constant as her dress displays fur while alternating thick and thin cloth and even leaves the shoulders uncovered. Such ambivalence sets the skin apart from being a simple tribute without being unbelievable within its fantasy: a snow sorceress surely knows how to resist the cold.
The particles are much more direct yet still quite florid. There’re bright projectiles that precede snow trails for Inner Flame which result in evocative snowflake explosions. Focused Resolve employs a misty link of ice while Inspire relies on a snowflake decorated ice shield that leaves snow behind. Mantra looks particularly attractive because of the bright highlights which complement her look so well. It looks like ice coursing through her body which is a perfect match. Auto-attacks are comparatively simple as large ice projectiles but their beam-like feel is interesting.
Sounds are quite well done. The soft initial sounds of Inner Flame end in the low cackle of snow. Focused Resolve behaves similar but in reverse order while Inspire relies on the crystal-like nature of ice. Mantra stands out with its conjuration of solidifying ice. While visually the ability lights Karma up aurally it reveals more details about the progress of ice over her body. Auto-attacks have a brief icy sound that supports the visuals effectively.
The recall is a mysterious dance that is nothing else but the casting of a spell that turns Karma to ice and allows for her teleportation. It’s a great way of rounding the ice magic in a way that it covers all the necessary activities of the discerning League mage.
All in all, Winter Wonder Karma is a particularly convincing interpretation of the Enlightened One as an ice mystic. The model reaches a good balance between elegance and plausibility being classy yet peculiar. The ice magic is reasonably styled with recognisable yet appealing patterns. The sounds not only support but add to the visuals with a suitable array of different textures. This is all finished win a fitting recall. Still, it’s all an adaptation: from mystical energy to ice magic. Everything about Classic Karma is present in a new form but nothing new is added. The adaptation is effective yet feels conventional as if it simply ticks the necessary boxes. In spite of this, it’s an attractive ice version of the Enlightened One albeit one that could reach much higher with some extra flare.

Snow Day Graves
Snow Day Graves Splash Art Snow Day Graves Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Graves ready for a day spreading snow.
Model: New model Graves and his shotgun Destiny.
Particles: New particles for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New recall animation.
Sounds: New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: Even though the background is notoriously blurry that doesn’t prevent it from showing a lot of relevant elements. On the right we have the snow-covered forests being traversed at great height by a recognisable Santa. The entrance appears sketchy with simple Christmas lights hanging but the wood beams are rather convincing despite their roughness. On the left there’s also a good deal to see. Graves’ workshop not only enjoys the mischievous activity of poros but also displays gear belonging to this and other seasons. The paper in front is blank and resembles wrapping which explains the moustache pattern and nice ribbon on Graves’ brand new snow blower; a pity that more of the pattern isn’t visible on the table’s mess of paper though. While the diffuse presentation of the relevant workshop disappoints it’s worth noting how the setting manages to stand above such a limitation.
With candy cane firmly in mouth and a look of appreciation to Santa’s fleeting but meaningful visit there’s no doubt that this present was certainly on Graves’ gift list. Said implement is held with care and its surface reflects the weak sunlight that shines on Graves left side. The surface is polished yet the colours and shading resemble a material in between metal and plastic, neither one nor the other.
The transition of colours on Graves clothes is marvellous. It has a photorealistic feel that is only dispelled by the skin; whether wool, fur, nylon or beard the shading is fantastic. When looked at closely the most irregular surfaces, like the wool or fur, display a flatness that combats the realistic feel yet theoverall effect is remarkable. The magical snow coming out of the blower is subtle but appealing. It’s believable enough while retaining an unreal, supernatural feel. Sadly, Graves’ bottom half is completely absent but the upper half compensates for it with an impressive depiction.
With a background filled with meaning and a portrayal that reinforces the stated context this is a splash art that excels. It’s not perfect and there are various elements that could be better displayed. However, both setting and character’s reinforce each other in the communication of their joint message. Without imperfections and sub-optimal depictions we can effortlessly place it among the best splash arts in League of Legends.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Take comfortable and warm clothes, a blower with some modifications to shoot snow and Graves is ready for a day out. Snow Day Graves is simple but also appealing. The clothes may not be remarkable but are surely believable without any fantastic touches that place them within the realm of fantasy. The blower is also quite credible as long as we ignore its peculiar function. There’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s all well done for a casual winter style. The one thing that does seem like a missed opportunity is the absence of a candy cane between his lips as he does in the splash art. It would be a welcome nod to an old habit that has been replaced by an arguably less damaging one; though with its own set of difficulties too, it has to be admitted.
Both particles and sounds make for a credible demonstration of snow. The auto-attacks rely more on glinting snowflakes than the snow balls and mists used elsewhere. Regardless, the muffled thuds of hitting snow are always a good support for the vivid snow trails. The penguin is a funny even if unusual choice for a canister but the playful sounds round the comical, cartoony approach. Collateral Damage instead of going for, presumably, harmless snow instead chooses ice as its projectile with an explosion that stands out even if the sound is still low and muffled instead of crystalline as ice shards would imply. The recall is a classic joke played at the expense of impatience. It’s noteworthy for starting on the battlefield and finishing at base, at least. The carrot cigar suits the poro head that ensues and rounds the lighthearted feel of the skin.
Overall, Snow Day Graves is an appealing even if basic adaptation. There’s a change of clothes, shotgun and shells which has been seen before; simply not in this particular flavour. Even if the snow is convincing and there’s nothing wrong with the skin it fails to elaborate on the theme as a skin at its price tier would. Not only does it feel overpriced but also too mundane for what can be expected at that level. Regardless, the skin doesn’t lose its appeal and so it’s a good option for a snow-based take on the Outlaw.

Santa Braum
Santa Braum Splash Art Santa Braum Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Braum dressed as a Father Christmas.
Model: New model for Braum and his shield plus new flames for his shield.
Particles: New particles for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New recall animation.
Sounds: New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: Straightforward but fitting, there isn’t much context that isn’t obvious to the naked eye. In that regard, the background consisting of a mere night sky over a snowed pine forest is little more than a frame. The poros aim to add a bit of meaning to an otherwise direct portrayal but they do little. The queue to ask for presents and receive in kind is brief and unassuming. It doesn’t help the fact that the thick brushstrokes that make the fur of the poros give a noticeably sketchy feel. The shield doubles as a portable fire-place surrounded with presents and the dim colours used in all cases continue the feel of a draft. Even the light of the flames is weak and subdued; especially for the chosen setting. For all their simplicity, the Christmas lights hanging from the fireplace actually look rather nice.
Braum, as expected of most portrayals, tries to escape this pervading feeling. The sharp lines and elaborate shading helps but a familiar problem remains. The colours used are dim and the brushstrokes thick. When looking at hair and fur the effect is good at a distance but from up close the granularity is low. The light from the fireplace looks binary without a soft dégradé from bright to dark areas. This abrupt change surely doesn’t help the fact that either areas lack colour variety. The pose also strikes as exaggerated and the face too stern. It’s clear that Braum is bombastic and strong but the general portrayal seems to try too hard to capture that feeling to the point that he appears aloof and distant instead of warm and welcoming. At least the poro on his left shoulder adds some comic relief even if it’s only a small touch. The fact that both his boots are hidden, something easily solvable by moving the presents on the right a bit to the side prevents a full view of his clothing.
All in all, this is a portrayal that doesn’t go beyond presenting how Santa Braum looks. It could be considered that there’s an impromptu gift wishing session but that’s as far as the piece is willing to go. Even though it’s a suitable and effective portrayal it feels more serviceable than evocative.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Santa Braum is a simple costume and doesn’t have any ambitions to be more than that. There’s a slight air of wrestler due to the open coat, oversized shield and Braum’s boastful personality that is largely ignored. It’s his jolly side which actually meshes better with the Santa angle but some depth would’ve been welcomed. Besides the costume there’s the shield turned portable fireplace which is as preposterous as it is unwieldy. Regardless, the whole of the skin is consistent in its suspension of disbelief so it can be funny; even if not forever.
The particles embrace poros and gifts alike. Concussive Blows relies on a large poro icon that results in an explosion of poros that, to be fair, wouldn’t be unfitting in Classic Braum; considering his close relationship with said furry beings. Both Winter’s Bite and Unbreakable base themselves on presents with large, classy ribbons that surely stand out; though Unbreakable is only colour changed, ribbon aside. Stand Behind Me has a disappointingly subtle golden shield that seems too shy given the effusive demonstration of Christmas spirit elsewhere. Finally, Glacial Fissure starts with a puzzling eruption of candy canes which result in a row of snow-tipped pines which are a great addition to the recognisable frost flanking them. While there’s much retreaded ground the ultimate adaptation is fitting and clever.
Sounds are particularly subdued and uneventful. It’s possible to notice the difference yet all seems familiar. The aural adaptation strikes less as a support for the new visuals and more as a way of finishing the consistency necessary for the skin. The recall is a clear allusion to Santa but with poros to carry the sleigh into the air. Simple, elegant and effective: a good choice in few words.
When all is added together one can’t shake the feeling that everything is done in too direct a way. It’s as if the shortest path was chosen even if that meant reusing assets. The result is effective as the Christmas message is evident but also lacking in flourish. For what it attempts to do it works but, apparently, without going out of its way or exploring any additional angles. Fans of Braum and Santa will find it an acceptable proposition provided they don’t ask for anything elaborate.

Conclusion

This Snowdown Showdown receives three skins with charming potential but implementations that let opportunities pass. There’re good concepts behind the skins that could be developed to be more than straightforward yet always end up more direct and simpler than they should. These are good skins with the pervading feeling that they could’ve been more. Regardless, if you focus on what they do right you may find something interesting though a bit expensive. One by one, the summary goes as follows.

Winter Wonder Karma is a skin that captures ice magic very well. With an interesting costume that evokes elegance and mysticism alike only the Mantle of Decoum looks simple. The particles communicate the ice magic effectively with the notable contribution of the sounds and the great touch of a fine recall. However, it’s a skin that follows the usual pattern that adaptations take. There’s nothing novel, everything is simply adapted, which can prevent the great potential of this appealing skin from flourishing.

Snow Day Graves. It’s a basic adaptation that relies on the tradition change of clothes, weapon and projectiles. The result is certainly appealing but also simple for what a skin at its price tier should offer. There’s an evident lack of elaboration even if the snow is quite convincing. If taken for what it is, then it’s a good option but one without much fanfare.

Santa Braum, a skin evidently tied to Christmas but also, by design choice, chained to it. There’s the small potential of a wrestling Santa but that is ignored in favour of a direct adaptation to the concept. The particles are nice though straightforward and sometimes rely too much on the classic assets. The sounds barely stand out but the recall is a great finishing touch. Therefore, this is a skin that manages to provide what it intends to: a somewhat basic costume with some extras.

  8 Responses to “League of Legends: Snowdown Showdown 2016 Skins’ Review”

  1. Thanks of the review 😀 love the Karma skin 10/10

    • Not at all. Winter Wonder Karma has a lot of potential and it surely is a charming skin. With a bit of extra work it would present its theme in a more attractive way. Regardless, it’s a good skin that fans of the Enlightened One can enjoy.

  2. Hey Zero, a late Merry Christmas and early Happy New Year to you~! The reviews for the League of Legends skins are quite well done, as usual, though I have had some… other skins on my mind lately.
    I apologize for such a topic on a site dedicated to League of Legends skin reviews, but you’re the most reliable source to consort when it comes to skins. So I do not know if you follow, but Blizzard has their own Christmas event – Winter Veil, which I find to be a really nice event, except for one thing – in Heroes of the Storm, the Winter Veil skins from last year aren’t back separately, instead only available in a bundle. Said bundle is at a generous 40% discount and includes festive skins for heroes Stitches, Jaina, Rehgar and Sylvanas, plus a Reign-deer mount. The one that that I mainly want is Sugar Plum Sylvanas, a nearly perfect skin and probably my favorite of all in that game, but the rest of the skins are very nice as well, only problem is Stitches and Rehgar aren’t really my playstyle, though I can always play them in bot games, which I play most of the time. The price of the bundle comes down to 30 euros for 4 skins and a mount, each normally worth ~10 euro.
    There is also a bundle for this year which includes skins for heroes Nazeebo and Lunara, plus a Special Snowflake mount. This one comes with a smaller discount of 25%, resulting in a ~22 euro price. Both the skins are really nice, the Gingerbread Nazeebo catching my eye more with its delicious ability effects, while the Lunara one is more modest but still attractive.
    I would be so, so, so grateful to you if you could quickly give a few thoughts on all these skins and which bundle might be better to get, if any.

    • A, late, merry Christmas and happy New Year to you too.

      We don’t mind discussing other games. We are aware that there’s a world outside League; even more so now that casual players have been almost encouraged to move on… Giving a look to Heroes of the Storm has been interesting. We mainly checked Sugar Plum Sylvanas as it’s the skin you seem more interested in getting. We are unfamiliar with most things of the game but from what we could check we can see the appeal of the skin.

      The new fairy-like model is very charming though the particles for the abilities and auto-attacks that we saw seemed only re-coloured. The banshees receive new fairy wings but they are coloured in such a monotonous way that added to their constant movement and brief apparition it’s quite difficult to notice. Regardless, from what we see it’s a rather nice skin. For instance, the Master skin seems to re-colour abilities and auto-attacks in a dark tone so it seems to be the standard practice in Heroes.

      The problem is that it’s bundled with a lot of other skins that you don’t show much interest in. If you flat out don’t like them then it’s an increase on the price of the skins you do want. We aren’t sure that one skin is worth paying double for; as an example, no calculations made. From the new skins Gingerbread Nazeebo sounds interesting. It seems that abilities are mostly re-coloured, cleverly, but still, with some minor changes.

      There’re some comments about a 50% sale that happened last year that didn’t happen this time. From the look of things, skins from this year would be added to the Classic Bundle which ought to return next year with a similar discount. It’s an interesting proposition but the discount probably doesn’t make up for the additional skins that keep getting added to the bundle along the ones of interest.

      To be frank, it seems like a lot of money for too little. We see the allure in the skins you mention but as with any bundle the discount seldom makes up for the extra content you have to purchase along what you actually want to buy. It’s the way bundles are designed so it’s usually the exception, when you like all that a bundle includes or all the contents of the bundle are good yet somehow haven’t sold well, that is of interest.

      As it stands, waiting will only make the Classic Bundle bigger. If there were some way of getting the skins individually, perhaps some limited skin sale or similar that happens sometime in the year, then that would be the time to get the skins you like. As it stands, we have to admit that for all the charm that the skins have they price ends up being too high.

      There’s a caveat: you do mention that you mostly play bot games so that the skins that aren’t your main target could receive some use. In that case, prefered game-style or not, it’s a matter of whether you find the heroes interesting enough to play them and if the skins are attractive enough to see use. In that case, it largely depends on your view of the skins. While there aren’t drastic changes in any of them they seem to try to appeal.

      Ultimately, it’s a simple question: do you like and would use the products you buy enough to justify the expense? If so then buy them because you won’t regret it. You like them and will use them so the money won’t be wasted. This is where your interest tints the appeal of the bundles. Because for every product that you don’t like and won’t be used then the value goes down and the expense more significant.

      Also consider if there are other heroes or skins competing for attention; especially those that haven’t received much play and that you want to play. In few words: is there enough time and opportunity to play the heroes and the respective skins? The main point is trying to make the money spent worthwhile. If you what you buy doesn’t generate a benefit then it’s a net loss. Hope that considering things from a few different angles can help you reach a better decision.

      Enjoy the holidays and let’s hope for the best in 2017.

      • Thank you very much for your thoughts. I should have perhaps mentioned in the original comment that skins in Heroes of the Storm work very differently from ones in League of Legends, in comparison their quality when prices are taken into account is most definitely lower, which is nothing unexpected considering the ages of the two games. Master skins usually change only the model and keep particles intact, so Master Sylvanas has no particle changes though it is one of the better Master skin in my opinion because of the interesting model.

        Most of Gingerbread Nazeebo’s abilities are recolored, it’s true, and it has the inconsistency of retaining green poison for the chocolate frogs’ explosions and the Ring of Poison talent you can take, but the main appeal are the gingerbread zombies which, with their evil chuckles and festive music, certainly take the spotlight. It is common for skins in Heroes of the Storm to have their abilities not fully changed to match the theme, but with time it is easy to see them improving, though one can’t help but notice the lack of cheaper ones (the ones costing $7.49 / 7.49€, equivalent of 750 skins in League) in the past months.

        Speaking of which, do you think the price difference between regular and epic skins (7.49€ for regular and 9.99€ for epic) matches the difference in skin quality? Of course, for older epic skins it often doesn’t, but you can look at Zagara’s two skins costing money and see what an odd case of model reuse they are. They both seem like great skins but the minimal ability changes for Desert Queen make it questionable, you’d basically have to pay more to get an elegant lady-monster hybrid instead of a simply deadly monster that looks more complex and interesting than the classic. (plus has better alternative tints)

        On, and lastly on the topic of me having time to use the skins. That is exactly one of the driving factors to get the bundle now, because I do have plenty of free time but who knows how much I will have in months. I tell myself I could wait and perhaps next Winter Veil they’ll offer the skins separately and even at a 50% discount, but a lot can happen in a year.

        • To a point Heroes of the Storm seems to be retracing League’s steps in skin development. What used to be great at 975 RP, a change of model, now is relegated to 750 RP; should be 520 RP but that’s another topic. Ideally, the quality of skins should quickly increase and so newer skins should have many different changes that encompass the whole of the abilities.

          As things stand, we have to make the most of what is actually present. If you have the time and desire to play the skins then perhaps you should. The future is completely unpredictable so there are two possible outcomes: a better chance to get the skins appears or not. However, if you also are unsure that you will have time to play when a better chance may happen then perhaps waiting isn’t the ideal option.

          It largely depends on your options and how probable they are. If you know that for next Winter Veil you will have time and that a better bundle or individual discounts are possible then it would be a good option. What should be considered is the most beneficial outcome for the purchase. Little point in buying something when you don’t need it but if you do need something then sometimes paying a bit more is understandable.

          • You’re right, though at the end of the day, this is digital cosmetics we are talking about, they are never actually needed as much as they are simply desired. It’s the same with non-cosmetic products in reality, like tobacco, drugs, alcohol, etc., which are all so much more wasteful (and harmful) than spending money on pixels, and I find that good encouragement to spend some money on digital cosmetics I really want in a game I enjoy.

            Thank you again for the consult. I hope if I need help with skins in Heroes of the Storm, since I don’t see myself going back to League the way I was before anytime soon, I’ll be able to reliably consult you again. Have a magical New Year’s celebration, and as always keep up the good work~!

          • Have a great New Year too; we are glad to be of help. You can always drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to assist in purchases. If we have time and end up being so inclined we may even add Heroes of the Storm to the site; disclaimer: just an idea. After all, while many things can be said about Blizzard, they do seem to be doing some good things. It’s always a possibility.

            Indeed, there are always worse alternatives to skins. In the end, it’s a matter of whether the benefits outweight the risks. With many products it doesn’t even if the mind may delude us into thinking that is so. The consolation is that with skins the worst you can lose is some money and time; provided that some sense is taking into the equation.

            Enjoy what’s left of the year and let’s hope for the best in 2017.

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