Sorry in advance if this isn't completely coherent/organized. Multitasking ftw.
So with the recent changes to supports I'm starting to feel like the devs don't want us to play supports at all as they are intended. With the new focus on bonus will (or switch from bonus health to will) to return most of our skills to pre-nerf levels, it seems like they want us to focus on an incredibly difficult stat to stack, and one that does not typically come with the more offensive stats (entropy is defensive, lantern/deadshot have negligable PD/AD boosts from bonus will), and that's not even getting into the fact that you need to cast spells every 3s for 10 minutes just to get the maximum bonus will.
I can understand why it was changed from health. Lots of great items gave health and damage, cosmic staff, royal seal, lobos, all things that let supports be incredibly tanky and still do decent damage, and that kind of defeats the purpose of a support character.
But this has swung it too far in the opposite direction, and the benefits aren't nearly large enough to justify will stacking, especially because ITS JUST NOT WORTH IT. And this is clearly evident by just taking a cursory view at the recommended builds, and the ones listed on Dawnbase. None of the "high scored" builds has any of these characters playing their roles. Arcane plays tank, Robin bruiser, Zatanna/Ivy Blasters. Why even call them supports?
As noted above, bonus will is not only the most difficult stat to stack, but also the least rewarding (seriously, how many times have you ran out of will end game that you truly needed multiple items stacking it rather than just a dreamstone). It has pretty much the worst scaling in the game, and only through massive amounts of spell spamming can you even unlock the full benefits. It also offers very little offensive benefits, while costing an immense amount of credits/time to accumulate, compared to the previous health bonuses.
Using an older item list since my work internet doesn't approve of dawnbase, I calculated it costing roughly 13000 credits for ~2000 will. At a 10-15% rate for the abilities I'm concerned about, yields bonuses of roughly 200-300 bonus to abilities.
The items listed are deadshots eye AND lantern, entropy aegis, and metallo's heart
For the scaling duration the scaling is roughly .04% and 1% per 333 - .8 and ~6, respectively
Note that for these 4 items, two are tank oriented, and only Harley of the 4 supports can even slightly make use of deadshots AND lantern.
I haven't had much experience with Ivy, so I'm not going to discuss her, and Robin/Arcane don't really focus on heals/shields, so my main focus will be on Harley and Zatanna, and to a lesser extent Robin.
For Harley and Zatanna, both of these characters have a heal (though Zatanna's is tied to a shield effect). Both scale with Bonus will at about 15% (~300 bonus).
Harley, Robin, and Zatanna all give move speed bonuses. Harley's speed is improved by will (at theoretical max Will will be roughly 3% better than old limit), Robin's and Zatanna's get a roughly 1s benefit from having 2000 bonus will.
While this seems like not a great issue, the problem is found in the enemy itemization. The three most prevalent items in the game, Coda Blade, Royal Seal, and Lobo's, renders these abilities to nigh uselessness. No other item has such a drastic effect on a single class of characters. There is no ruduce all power damage output by 50% item, no disarm, no 50% crippling blow to reduce basic attacks.
And these items cost FAR LESS than the effort it takes to scale these skills. Getting both of these items costs less than half of the supports, while also granting them AMAZING BENEFITS. The support gets skill block, 20% attack speed reduction (which doesn't extend far enough to effect most ranged heroes), and an insignificant amount of PD/AD from force of will/will force. Not to mention to truly max out, Zatanna, Arcane, and Ivy are forced to get attack damage, and Robin PD.
For the speed bonuses, the clearest issue is the absolute prevalence of royal seal/Lobos. Aside from Zatanna, the slow from each of these items are LARGER than the speed bonuses from the skills, completely rendering the abilities moot as soon as the targeted champion is attacked.
Note that I understand that some abilities can help peel away the pursuer (such as knockbacks), but this focus is to show why stacking will is far inferior to building the character improperly.
Let's look at each individually.
Zatanna: Why waste all your hard earned credits getting a 2s duration buff (to offset a 1s nerf)....when you could just get a royal seal and another power damage buff, and spam an actual nuke, dealing massive amounts of damage and accomplishing pretty much the same thing, while also getting more hp and PD in the process. Her spammable nuke is why everyone makes her a blaster rather than a support.
Robin: 13000 credits to build up will, offsetting the nerf by 1s. Doesn't actually let someone escape from an enemy with slow once the fight is triggered. Or...you could go full bruiser, knockback the enemy for a massive amount of damage and then slow them with bo staff. And use a lobo's to then keep them away from your running teammate after you initiate.
Harley: She's more unique in that her buff is her passive, and tied to her ability use, particularly her heal. Stacking will offsets the nerf by 3%, but is still inferior to the slows. Her knockdown allows to rescue teammates, but just as well, you could have built a royal seal and just pied them instead, slowing the enemy (or even multiple enemies!) by 20%, while simultaneously giving your teammate the 12.5% speed buff from BFF, giving u a change of 32% speed instead. So by building for a hybrid offense, you actually benefit your team more than trying to actually be a better support.
In summary: why spend all the money on slight improvements to your buffs, when you could build offense instead, and gain a larger benefit (since the item slows are better than all but Zatanna's speed bonuses), sometimes being able to apply the move changes to more than one unit (in the case of Ivy, Arcane, Zatanna, and Harley).
Healing and shields:
Coda Blade (and the power equivalent). ***? 50% reduced healing, 50% reduced regeneration. Pretty much on the game recommended list for nearly every AD champion. Costs 2500 credits.
Harley's Heal will bonus is completely negated (goes back to essentially base heal), essentially giving the enemy team a 10k gold advantage. Same for Arcane and Ivy's passives.
Zatanna fares slightly better due to the heal only coming after a shield which probably would be gone by the time the heal procs.
Once again, why lose all focus on damage for a skill that will be essentially negated by a core item for many champions? These heals are not significantly large in the first place (especially late game), even with stacked will, to warrant the "support" focus. Out of combat healing is nice for lane pushing, but these characters need something to use when fists fly (which in this game, is very frequently).
Any of these suggestions could be done in any combination, and feedback and discussion is more than encouraged.
Improve scaling across the board for bonus will. If I want to dump massive amounts of credits to boost my will and spend 10 minutes casting a spell every 3 seconds, I should have massive heals, massive shields, and enduring buffs (within reason of course, not asking for 20s dynamic duo buffs or anything, but one that extends to it's cooldown isn't entirely out of the question).
Remove (or at the very least reduce) the 50% heal penalty on coda blade. The regen hit is more than enough to deal with the tank characters. The extra hit to the supports is unneeded, and does nothing but force them into an offensive role which is too attractive already.
Change the buffs to add either resilience, reduce the effect of snares, or make them immune to them entirely for a few seconds (so they can peel, for instance, a 1s immunity allowing to get out of melee range before it can be applied again). This will help your teammates escape and function in the actual support role.
I want to be able to play a support as a support. To stand there and keep my allies alive. But I increasingly find that building the supports as another role entirely is a far better way to achieve that goal than to play support. If my buffs (with scaling) cant cause my allies to run faster than their attackers due to slows being larger than them, it becomes more beneficial to slow down the enemy than speed up your allies, or kill them entirely.
I have two options as Harley, for instance. I can either pie smash for massive amounts of damage by focusing on AD/PD while slowing all my pursuers. Or I can do a 600 heal that will be reduced to 300 by an item that cost a fraction of mine, a heal amount smaller than most spammable q abilities, and watch as my allies all die because they aren't able to escape combat because my buffs are inferior to nearly every champions core item.