The new DotA 1 map released this week was an event everyone has been waiting for; and since DotA1 patchnotes are applied directly to DotA 2, this is also big news for all the players of the sequel.
Let's have a look at the major changes of 6.75 and find out what the mad scientist Icefrog has got for us this time. This analysis contains my own opinion spiced with quotes from SUNSfan and Neil from DotaCinema, as well as Purge and Luminous to create an insanely competent analysis.
> The gigantic changelog starts with a big boom, the changes to the general gameplay. The biggest change that can be found here is definitely the new banning- phase.
Purge describes: “ [Teams were] limited on banning out heroes you think were [overpowered] and not as focused on heroes you thought the team might use in their strategies. Now there is hopefully going to be less [overpowered] heroes. You still have to ban two overpowered heroes, but then they pick 3 heroes and then you can try to ban based on that so there is going to be a lot more analyzing what they are drafting and banning accordingly.”
This adds a lot of new possibilities for teams to build around new core heroes as well as giving them the option to stop the enemy team from doing the same by predicting their strategies. The pick phase is definitely going to be more interesting from now on.
> A common theme in this patch is Icefrog's apparent push to encourage both ganking and roaming. The gold gain for being in the area of a kill has been increased by approximately 30%, which is a huge buff to the income of gankers and roamers as well as supports and might be enough to make even highly competitive games more intense early on. On top of that, heroes now reach level 7 and 8 earlier while still taking the same time for level 9 which stretches the peak time for skill dependent gankers.
> On top of these changes Roshan will reclaim his aegis after 6 minutes now, leaving both teams unprotected for 4 minutes until respawn. Purges comments on this: ” The most important part is that you can’t just keep it until the next roshan reclaim time and constantly be covered. There is always going to be a window where you can die.”
The hero section starts with two dropdown boxes every DotA player loves to see, a new agility and intelligence hero! Even though they will take quite a while to make an appearance in DotA 2, I will take the time to quickly comment on their roles and strengths.
> Arc Warden is a long-range agility hero with horrible stat gains on his primary attribute. He has: 1) a single target slow and damage skill that only works if your enemy isn’t accompanied by an allied unit; 2) a really strong AoE that grants 100% evasion and massive attack speed to allied units and buildings for a short duration; 3) a long-range trap that deals decent damage to the next unit that walks onto it; and 4) his unique ultimate, that generates an exact copy of himself which is able to cast skills and use items. Neil: "I believe he is a great option for competetive gameplay as he is able to shut down most melee heroes that doesnt have BKB early game with his 2x slow and 2x 100% evasion. He seems like a great early game/mid game carry shut down as well as a great nuker towards support heroes." He is a very versatile hero so I guess there will be a good amount of different builds and roles he can fill.
> Winter Wyvern is a range intelligence hero who is able to: 1) damage and slow enemies with 1000 range auto attacks for a short duration; 2) shoot a projectile that only damages and slows enemies around your initial target; and 3) freezes teammates in place making them immune to physical damage and regenerating a good portion of their life. His ultimate is like a reverse berserker’s call you can force onto your enemy from a safe distance, freezing him in place and making all his allies attack him. His enormous range and strong support abilities make him pretty item independent while granting a lot of slow and protection/heal to his team.
Both heroes are subject of heated discussions and cry-outs since they both wield quite strong sets of abilities. I am pretty confident about the fact that with some balance changes they both seem pretty appealing even to professional players. These two will definitely be seen in competitive games.
Now from these delicious pieces of content to the more serious business of analyzing the changes to the good ol' heroes you know and love.
Resulting from the experiences made with recent tournaments, especially “The International 2”, the new version comes with a myriad of buffs for underrated heroes as well as a bunch of nerfs for the most commonly banned or picked heroes. Most of the heroes got slightly buffed in their role defining abilities. Some examples include, Sniper getting even more range, Drow becoming even more agile with her ultimate at max rank, Bloodseeker's bloodlust and thirst buffs, Viper, Visage, Lion, Meepo, Medusa Magnus, Murloc and Faceless Void tweaks. But besides these nice but little changes that won’t be enough to have a big impact on the competitive scene (they might pop up once in a while), there were changes that really fascinated us and made everyone take out their calculator to do the math.
The best example is Alchemist. The removal of the numbers above his head while casting Unstable Concoction seemed to be a long awaited change for this hero ( Neil: “the fact that you can’t see the countdown number for Unstable Concoction is game changing.”) and the increased damage to go along with it now having an AoE effect made a lot of people very satisfied. The increased usefulness of Acid Spray at low levels to go along with the nearly doubled amount of gold gained by Goblin’s Greed and an even lower base attack-time on his ultimate was more than enough to push this hero over the edge for competitive play.
And he is directly followed by Nyx Assassin, a hero that is rarely seen in professional games. The rework of Spiked Carapace being able to counter and stun every instance of damage you get for 2.75 seconds gives him what he needs to safely execute ganks and escape. It is also an awesome skill for team-fights if in the right hands.
> Deep down at the bottom of the hero usage list crawls a new incarnation of Pit Lord. He possesses a new aura that every DotA player is captivated by, even though it has yet to prove how great a buff it will become. But it is fairly safe to say that he will get a lot of attention thanks to his channel-free Firestorm and an awesome aura which gives him potent push power and team-fight presence.
In response to this new skill, SUNSfan says: “His aura is very intriguing and I think makes it pretty much impossible to predict what could come from that forgotten hero.”
And with this I will continue with the more debatable changes in terms of impact.
Let’s start with one that might not be as obvious to a lot of people as it should be, the agility buff to Phantom Lancer. While this is only a small tweak on paper, the impact of it is huge. Pushing the agility growth from 2.8 to 4.2 is the biggest stat change ever as far as we can tell. To make this clear: at max level he gets additional agility equal to an Eaglesong and a Blade of Alacrity (4300 gold). This is an increase in attack damage from 126 to 161 (+35 damage), and an extra 35 attack speed and 5 additional armor. On top of that, Phantom Lancer is a hero that scales really well with all 3 bonuses since his illusions greatly benefit from it.
SUNSfan: “One of his issues was he relied so much on items for damage, but now he will have a little of that built in.” This doesn't necessarily mean he will be seen in competitive play, but these changes might make some teams think about picking him up to show the world his potential."
Another change that is bigger than it might look is the new Treant skill. Living armor allows him to focus his regeneration power on one building at a time, healing 200 hp in 20 seconds while being useful as a saving tool for allies on the whole map. This makes him an interesting long-lane hero since he can stay invisible to gain XP while constantly defending every other tower and allied hero. Overgrowth got a buff as well with its cooldown reduced to 80 seconds flat with a 4.5 second duration as a trade-off for not dealing damage anymore. These changes are even more important when looking at the encouragement of ganking tactics as he can now heavily support your mid-lane and use his ulti to put up some good ganks.
Luminous says: “Living armor is the most broken skill in the whole game now”. While I am not as sure on this as he is, it definitely has a lot of potential and should draw some attention from the pro-scene.
Here is a little compilation on other changes:
Necrolyte could be viable in mid-lane now with the added lane sustainability when lasthitting. The new sadist gives him an additional 24 health per lasthit and additional 240 health for each herokill.
Spiritbreaker could also make an appearance due to his insane movement speed and aura coupled with the fact that he brings an interesting combination of nuke and stun on his bashes now. Despite the fact that this won’t be enough to make him a regular pick in competitive games, he will still have his place in pubs (but beware, his charge is not visible as a debuff any longer).
Chen actually got a nerf in my opinion since he now does not max out his port and creep domination simultaneously, which basically means the max level on your port will be delayed because you want to have your third creep as soon as possible. Besides that, you need to level the nuke before slow now as you want to have the shortest possible delay on teleportation, but since the cooldowns are not shared you can actually make use of it.
Doombringer got buffed as he is now able to jungle or gank with any neutral’s skill at level one. The Devour is stronger when maxed out but weaker at low ranks. This in combination with the buffs to Scorched Earth and Level Death brings up the question of whether you go farm heavy or just use Devour level one to get a skill and concentrate on ganks earlier.
Kunkka now has a shortened cooldown on his ship which makes him more viable as a ganker. Being able to cast his ulti for almost every encounter, even to ensure single or double kills without having to worry about not having it for the next teamfight is a huge deal.
Jakiro got a nice buff to his icepath allowing him to block the terrain for the whole 2.2 seconds. Instead of just waiting half a second to let his path disappear you can not enter the AoE for the whole duration without getting stunned which makes it an awesome disable and area denial for teamfights and ganks due to his really long cast range.
Ogre Magi is now able to Blood Lust catapults, which makes him a better pusher. He also now has a cooldown of only 10 seconds on his Unrefined Fireblast, making him a bit stronger if he is able to afford the high manacost.
Last but not least, Shadow fiend got a really interesting buff as his ulti now will passively activate upon death (with half souls counted). This makes him a nasty target to pick out in team-fights and ganks and could result in a huge burst of damage if you manage to kill him.
While many people may feel really happy now because their favorite hero got a buff, let us remember all the poor players receiving punches in the face with this patch, especially Lycan-fans.
On a side note, I have to say finally! After being one of the strongest heroes in the game for a very long time, this patch he received the nerf-bat and it hit him hard. Level 1 wolves got their HP halved with a 50% magic resistance to make up for it. This means his wolves will still be as hard to kill with push-stopping nukes, but he has a way harder time jungling as the manacost has been increased as well. It is arguably enough of a nerf to say he's just not viable in the jungle anymore. Purge seems to be sure about this stating: “Lycan is not able to jungle anymore without having a high level in spiritwolves. You have to lane lycanthrope now; you can’t jungle him anymore.” While it was a pretty hard nerf this should not be overrated too much like Luminous is stating:" He still has a high reward. But you have to get to it. So it is a high risk high reward." He still is one of the best pusher and carries in the game, it is just not as easy to bring him to his full potential which is a pretty good change.
Following Lycan is another hero that was constantly banned in TI2, Dark Seer. While he got a lot of minor nerfs to go along with the ridiculous Naga ulti + Vacuum combo being fixed, it’s pretty safe to say that he won’t lose his place as a safe-ban or pick since his long-lane power is still over the top with his various strengths for team-fights still being in place.
The third hero receiving well deserved nerfs is Morphling. He can no longer cast and attack while in waveform. In addition to this, Morph manacosts are now increased by 50%, leaving him with serious mana problems in early to midgame, therefore drastically reducing his ability to change his stats at will. This should be enough to reduce his usage by a fair amount, but SUNSfan thinks more should be done, “he shouldn't be able to morph while silenced/stunned”.
Naga got some indirect nerfs as well since she is no longer able to combine her ulti with Dark Seer for a no-brainer combo. Her early game power and her illusions lost quite a bit as her base damage is decreased by 12.
> The last hero being seriously nerfed this patch was Phoenix, a hero we won’t see in DotA 2 for some time. But the fact that he was changed from a really powerful initiator to a relatively fragile support hero really surprised me. The changes were so big that I am not quite sure how he will live up to his new role. Time will tell.
> By far the biggest change in here was the decrease in price for Observer wards; they now cost 150 gold instead of 200. Congratulations to all support heroes for being able to afford more than boots and a bracer now!
> Shadow blade received a buff in duration and is now built with a new item called the Shadow Amulet. The 1600 gold item grants 30 attack speed and allows its wielder to turn invisible while standing still after a 2.75 fade time in which you are able to start channeling skills. The effect might be useful in certain situations but overall the fade time is just too long to be of great use. It still is a refreshing addition to the Shadow Blade and will probably be subject to some changes in upcoming patches.
> BkB got a nerfed as it is no longer sellable. Refreshing the charges now costs you the full price of the item instead of half. As a result, this method will be seen less often.
> Armlet was buffed by granting an additional 3 HP regeneration while it is turned off to go along with only a 1 second cooldown.
> Helm of the Dominator got change as you are now able to take control of a creep every 60 seconds while removing the ability to stack them. This allows you to nearly always use one creep and makes it impossible to stack them up within 15 minutes.
> Ethereal Blade got an interesting change since it can now be used on allies, therefore creating possibilities to save your teammate from an enemy carry. It also now uses the primary attribute of the holder instead of always agility. The item will most likely still be most viable on Morphling as it still grants agility, but Obsidian Destroyer or the buffed Drow might be an interesting option as well. It could potentially be transformed into a treads-like item in a future update, making it grant the attribute you are building it with.
The major focus of this patch was definitely to encourage more ganking/ roaming strategies in addition to increasing the possibilities for supports to gain and spend gold more efficiently.
The increase in rewards for kills, the huge amount of buffs to strong ganking heroes, the removed guaranteed safety of the Aegis, and the new ban-phase will lead to a lot more action-oriented games and therefore more interesting games to spectate. I am really looking forward to the new patch for DotA 2. It will probably contain the whole 6.75 changes as well as up to four heroes. They are all quite close to being finished and also received little buffs in 6.75. Let’s just hope those were made to prepare them for their arrival in Dota 2. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed.
Links and Sources:
Purge’s Analysis: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZRI4zzi5R0)
Luminous’ Analysis: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUCgUmaqGhE&list=UUAso7Q0eHZIwi0jt79p3gLA)
Playdota Patchnotes: (http://www.playdota.com/changelogs/6.75b)