I don’t really feel committed to doing one patch analysis after another, over itme it really feels like a chore that gets me disinterested. But I guess I will have to make an exception for this tremendous change. However, I don’t think I will be listing every single change there is as its much more realistic to highlight the few interesting ones, although as usual, I will strive to be as detailed as possible.
So here we go.
This patch comes with 8, frigging 8 new items and major item reworks.
Enchanted Mango will be a new love, instantly restoring 150 mana (note that its not stackable) for 150 gold. This will give laning and spending starting gold a whole new dimension especially for heroes that spam spells. This has an obvious advantage over your average clarities which get dispelled upon harass, which can be a nuisance when pulling or stacking. In comparison the mana per gold isn’t there, but the opportunity cost is great. I am not sure how this changes the way starting items are used but I can imagine this being worthwhile for aggressive roaming heroes.
Lotus Orb is disgusting to play against. The stats are decent and the active, Echo Shell, is gamebreaking: it simply recasts any single target spell back at the enemy for 6 seconds on a 17 second cooldown. This is way different from Linkens which serve primarily for defensive and slippery purposes, this makes enemies do a lot of math and prediction before dropping their serious single target bombs on you. It doesn’t get bounced off but they will take the full effect of their magic up their ass. It is essentially a Blade Mail that actually reflect spell effects which work only on single target spells. Not too shabby eh? Oh and to top it off, you can cast it on allies, making this even better. It could be difficult to use because of the short duration but the cooldown and decent buildup makes up for it.
We always wanted a cloak of invisibility, but Glimmer Cape is more then that. The active gives 66% magic resistance and invisibility. It might seem like a weak defensive Shadowblade, but the extra feature of fading back into invisibility within 0.4 seconds sets it apart from a single backtrack. This could be one of the best options for initiation. It works on allies too!
All the best team restoration stuff bundled into a pair of awesome boots: Guardian Greaves is here as your go to utility boots. It combines Arcane Boots and Mekansm into one great package that gives one of the most useful auras ever and rejuvenates HP and Mana of your team in a pinch. Oh and it dispels debuffs off the wearer when activated. Sick item to have for every team.
Moon Shard is an odd one, it costs 4.3k, doesn’t do a lot and has a nifty night vision bonus. I am not sure what this item is intended for as it adds a sick 120 increased attack speed but doesn’t do anything beyond that. There is a special consumption active which uses this up for a one time IAS boost. It sounds like a daring attempt from the creators for new future items that can be consumed for a permanent buff, but it doesn’t seem to do anything special except acting like a 7th slot DPS item.
Silver Edge is your Shadowblade upgrade, and looks incredibly promising. The enchanced Shadowwalk backstab does a chunk of damage, doesn’t miss and cripples the enemy’s damage output. The components involve Sange, which is even better as it adds a decent amount of bulk. A lot of strength heroes in the game will love this. In fact, right now I don’t think you can even go wrong with Silver Edge on strength based heroes.
The Medallion upgrade is named Solar Crest, which is essentially a stepped up version of MoC: more armor modifications bundled with a evasion buff. Its one of the better physical EHP buffs in the game, and devastating against enemy frontline DPS when used as a debuff. At 3k, the versatility of this is second to none.
Finally we have the dream of all casters, Octarine Core. This is a first time where spell cooldown reduction is introduced as part of a item’s mechanic, aling with spell lifesteal. This item is built with EHP and regeneration items for the sustainence, and the passives are one of a kind. I have no doubts that this will be one of the most popular items on spellcasters in the coming patch, and will revolutionize a lot of item builds. The new passives are really new, so it is hard to point out how it is going to interact in certain scenarios or with items.
Mask of Madness got a huge nerf as expected, losing nealy half of the movement speed bonus. As again, this only reduces the viability on certain heroes who get this for the lulz, it is still going to be standard on the already popular holder like Void, Juggernaut, Sniper, and Drow.
Basher/Abyssal got a rebalance as it was too good for the cost. The regular bonus damage is greatly hurt, but it now deals a huge 60 bonus damage upon bash, which sort of made up for the reduction. Cooldown is nerfed to ensure no bashlocks. Battlefury now has Quelling Blade’s bonuses built in, which was exchanged with 10 bonus damage. Desolator got nerfed as well which is to balance out the fantastic 600 gold discount, making it a great choice for DPS heroes who cannot flash farm. Also, Diffusal now somewhat works on ranged illusions, which opens up more possibilities of item builds.
On the utlity side, Euls got the nerf on mana cost: Cyclone costs a heavy 175 mana to cast, which is higher than a standard level 4 nuke. On the other hand, I doubt this will change the trend of builds involving Euls, which is simply the best item for its price and buildup.
Orb of Venom being lethal is probably one of the most impactful changes for the early game. Boots plus OoV melee gankers just got extremely threatening with this change, the bonus poison is essentially free damage for harassing, which can eventually accumulate into even more easy kills early on.
Radiance is reverted back to its ancient radiant glory (pun intended) with its 17% miss chance on the burn. This stuff is worth considering on many core heroes despite a new increase in price tag, as it sort of made up for the issue of being less relevant in the later stages of the game.
Aside from that, there isn’t anything much major. The remaining interesting parts includes: Offering now works on ranged heroes, the two wards sharing a slot, and a upgrade to BoT which travels to Heroes.
And oh, you can eat wards with tangoes for better effect. I suspect this may actually step-up the skills of the community in terms of supporting and map control because of the increased awareness, so while this is funny, it could be beneficial in the long run.
Now we move on to heroes, there isn’t any new heroes this time around, but heroes got so buffed that some received an extra dimension to them that make them more versatile than ever. However, lets start with the horrible nerfs on the most popular heroes last version.
Sniper. Poor Sniper. Took him a long time to get into the limelight, and he was one of the most popular and powerful heroes in the last version. Strong lane control with the reworked Shrapnel plus buffed passives making him a beast in fighting head on. Sniper is dreadful to play against in all stages of the game, not to mention that he is easily one of the most powerful lategame carry. Devoting a lineup to punish gap closers have worked out really well for teams that run Sniper. Alas, Sniper’s right clicks got hurt in the form of reduced agility gain. One of his most valuable ganking assets, Assassinate, got a damage nerf. To top it off, his reworked Shrapnel got hammered HARD with the new 55 second reload timer. This means Shrapnel still remains useful and have more or less the same versatility, but the decreased availability makes it questionable to spam it for farming and scouting purposes.
Juggernaut got his share of nerfs as well, even though he got a rework in his spells the last patch to tone down his right click, he still remained popular with ridiculously good results in the competitive scene. Now Blade Fury is stripped off its one point wonder status with a ridiculous 42 second cooldown at level 1. Thats bad enough? But no, Omnislash got the valuable ministun removed. Mass TP as a means to counter Omnislash is actually legitimate now.
Troll and Axe are more or less on the same page now. Axe biggest change comes in the form of Counter Helix triggering only when the attack lands, which is actually a big decrease for his EHP as previously he could destroy enemies before their hit lands on him. Now he has to soak up more hits to achieve the same effect, and could mean a world of difference between losing and winning a fight or getting the same amoutn of farm. Troll got it even harsher with no more bonus vision from his Axe spells and no sweet +15 damage from being in melee form. To make things worse, Battle Trance got a huge cut from 7 to 5, making this require outstanding coordination to be efficient with pushes and fights.
Let’s not forget Batrider, who continued to get his ass nerfed patch after patch. This time Flamebreak became a DoT (after Napalm it actually deals more damage), and Firefly deals lower DPS now. The new Bat is now dependent on being good at using Napalm stacks to more or less catch up with his previous performance.
However, aside from the above 5 sad heroes and minor nerfs to some others, the rest got significant buffs and shiny new upgrades. First off, Ursa got a massive rework in Enrage, where it now multiplies the damage bonuses of Fury Swipes instead of a flat damage boost based off HP. Silencer trades of his somewhat awkward disarm, for a crippling slow, which synergises better with his right clicks and Curses. Pugna also got nice number buffs to Decrepify and Life Drain, making an already powerful hero even more viable. Also, the game is adjusted to become less RNG dependant on certain aspects, such as Mirana’s Starfall and Tiny’s Toss, which affects the closest enemy now.
Enchantress’s Enchant rework, which now refreshes a creep lifespan is incredibly handy for being viable through difficult situations (where camps are blocked or getting undesired camps non-stop). Same goes for Crystal Maiden’s early game, where Crystal Nova’s duration and magnitude got stronger at level 1, along with the sweet buff to the cooldown of Freezing Field.
Sand King got a weird buff for Caustic Finale, which triggers at 30% of its original power if the unit doesn’t die over 6 seconds. This time a slow is applied in an AoE around the target. The last regular buff mentioned would be Bounty Hunter’s new Shuriken(s), as they do incredible amounts of damage for a standard nuke. The new scaling of 100/200/250/325 to 150/225/300/375 is probably the best for a non-ultimate. In exchange, the nuke got a nearly halved casting range, but since the feature of bouncing on to Tracked units got buffed to 1.2k units, this isn’t so bad. I would probably find landing Shurikens very satisfying.
Oh, I don’t really want to go into this, but Oracle got mad buffed for no reason. Purifying Flames got more spammable, and can be used to farm creeps now. The new False Promise no longer has invisibility, which is a joke next to the new feature of constantly purging off debuffs and disables, which is essentially a twisted BKB as it retains the damage delaying function. The only attempt to rebalance was multiplying the cooldown for this, which is well deserved.
Now we tie things up with the various interesting Aghanim Upgrades. For this section I will cover all of the new upgrades.
Alchemist: this ASU is one of a kind. So far he doesn’t have his own ASU, but he can farm an Scepter, and give it to a ally hero in the form of a buff complete with stats and upgrade, without consuming a slot. probably the most interesting patch to have ever happened in a while. Forums are rife with discussions on Scepterbitch Alchemist right now. With Greevil’s Greed, I don’t see how inviable this is. This could very well be the future of the game: Scepter in the form of a buff.
Centaur: easily the most broken and easily abusable ASU in the patch and probably in game. The new Stampede is a global Spectral Dagger for every ally, crossing terrains and stuff. This could mean initiaion of fights from impossible angles and locations: straight into Rosh pits, engage over cliffs, break out from trees..you name it. Expect this to be every team’s go-to strategy for the next tournament meta. And I haven’t even got to the part where it reduces 70% of all incoming damage.
Jakiro: Macropyre lasts a whole 20 seconds. Need I say more?
Legion Commander: Duel now forces you to duel to the death, definitely great stuff even though it may not necessarily work in your favour. Regardless, getting Aghas might be a troublesome decision: early on you don’t always win duels, later on duels can be settled before a regular duel can expire. It is still a pretty good extension, especially for locking down key targets before they can get into a good position. If Duel ever needs an ASU, it will definitely be this.
Lifestealer: This is actually pretty funny and good at the same time. ASU gives you a skill called Assimilate, which works like a reverse Infest: you hold a hero in yourself, and the hero can pop out whenever he wants for 300 damage. Apparently it doesn’t not share cooldown with Infest, so I believe you could Assimilate someone, then Infest into someone, and do a double Naix bomb which can lay out 700 damage without right clicks. Pretty interesting and respectable. At the same time, it doesn’t look practical as it doesn’t exactly improve what he can do or make up for his weaknesses, nor does it naturally synergize well with him. There is a special feature for Assimilation: whatever healing you take is shared by the Assimilated hero as well, which could prove useful for clutch fights.
Lone Druid: Probably the biggest benefiter from new ASU. To put things simply, it allows the bear to function without the hero: the hero can be apart or dead, but the bear can still function and attack. It may seem costly, but this effectively fixes most of LD’s problems and weaknesses. The bear can roam around the map with lifesteal and DPS to farm and catch lone straggling supports, without needing to put the hero at risk. Dying no longer causes LD to lose the bear with this, 10/10 great buff.
Luna: Ah, the ASU Eclipse allows the caster Luna to be a reality. You can now rain Lucent Beams on enemies without having to throw your fragile body into danger zone: either bombard an entire area with blue moonlight from 2.5k range away, or center the Eclipse on a more durable ally. Its nice to have options.
Morphling: he gets the coolest ASU in this patch. He gets an extra ability, Hybrid, which makes him become a allied hero with all the non-ultimate spells, and comes with Morphling’s own attributes for a good 20 seconds. Hoenstly speaking, this would be really broken and fun if it wasn’t for the short duration. I can see this being an attempt to make Strength-based Morphling legit, making up for the lack of DPS by transforming into other heroes and making use of their learnset.
Naga: I am not sure how this helps the mainstream carry Nagas, but this one does it regular job of putting foes to sleep and allowing your ally to setup, bundled in with audio enchancer that heals your allies in the song for a healthy 6% a second, totalling in a massive 42% HP restore for your entire team. Not sure if one could revolve a team around this, but it is certainly good to know that Song now can function as a game turning tool, rather then a extended timeout.
Nature’s Prophet: Wrath of Nature summons a Treant over units killed, and a larger Treant is spawned over hero kills. This is actually a very neat upgrade in the long run as the boosted Wrath does a lot of damage and nets in a lot of creep kills, which would spawn quite a number of treants all over the map, giving vision, map control and lane pressure. From one of the worst ASU to something that could be must-have, this ASU can go a long way.
Nyx: Ah, I always wondered if the Warcraft 3 Nerubian ability would be coming back. Burrow is essentially another form of Vendetta, where Nyx digs below and becoems immobile. In this form, Nyx get improved regeneration and enchanced abilities: 1k cast range on Impale, 900 range on Mana Burn. I would rate this as a must-have as it improves Nyx versatilty by a lot.
Outworld Devourer: Every hero that connects with Sanity’s Eclipse get put into Astral Imprisonment. Not sure how useful is this in practice, but what is coming to my mind right now is Aghas into Refresher, where a double ultimate can possibly wipe out teams in a flash, alone. I still think the long ass cooldown could do with a reduction.
Shadow Demon: Demonic Purge now gets the nifty new disable, silencing passives. Not too outstanding, but its a buff nonetheless.
Techies: Ah the lovechild of many. At this rate this is going to be a terrorist criminal more than a hero. Aghanim gives it an enchanced minefield sign, which protects all mines and traps from Techies from being detected. This may sound uncounterable in theory, but it is actually kinda weak in practice: 125 AoE is pitifully small and only one sign can be put out at a time. While this is not a big deal in the big picture, Techies is just as disgusting as before. If anything, the reduced delays are a direct buff to his mine games.
Tinker: Well shit, the remade ASU boosted Laser refracts to other heroes in the vicnity, which is not only aethetically pleasing to see, but also incredible effective when defending against pushers. With the buffed Laser, Tinker can theoretically perma-blind heroes, do there is that. Aghanim Tinker is looking more viable than ever.
Weaver: We are near the end of the list. Now this is a funny one as all it does is reduce the cooldown of Time Lapse, and make it useable on allies. There is this thing about ASU on DPS carries, it is extremely awkward to make decision on ASU purchases as they look somewhat clumsy in already established builds. Still this is good to have, and if support/utility Weaver becomes a thing, this Scepter upgrade definitely has a hand in that.
Wraith King: Finally, we end this analysis with one of the most ridiculous upgrades on this patch, the ASU Reincarnation. What happens here is allies that are killed turn into Wraiths, which function as normal heroes that die straight after 5 seconds. What happens here is around you, your allies shall have their deaths delayed by extra 5 seconds, allowing them to throw everything they have at the enemy before going down. On paper this sounds incredible, but at the end of the day, those who become Wraiths are bound to die, so this is not exactly an AoE Shallow Grave. Still, this can potentially extend fights to last over 10 seconds, where certain lineups do really well against. Your enemies area backed into a lose-lose scenario, kill you first and they will get punished by your Reincarnation, kill your allies first and they have to fight over extended periods of time against Wraiths and get overwhelmed.
I guess this generally concludes this little critique. I hope others find it insightful despite how rushed it is.