6.81b - a brief analysis
We have said in the previous patch analysis Blog Post that there are likely to be some minor tweaks to the patch some time before the International 4. While lacking the scale of a full patch, these small amendments will certainly help dealing with some of the stronger/popular heroes that seem to be virtually in every game as a Pick or Ban, as well as introducing a variety of relatively small buffs to still underused heroes.
As previously, to make things a bit simpler for you to read, I will use colour coding with Green to indicate a minor change, Yellowfor a moderate amendment and Red for a big one. The impact on gameplay will be based on my personal opinion, so feel free to post a comment if you disagree with something.
Shall we begin?
- Ice Vortex slow decreased from 18/22/26/30% to 15/20/25/30%
Another small amendment to the viability of a great support that has somewhat decreased in popularity over the past few weeks. He is still a really viable pick and the nerf received in the vanilla 6.81 was not that significant. These two changes combined, however, will probably make a big enough impact to transition Ancient Apparition from a top tier all-around great hero to a more specific role as a hard counter against tanky heroes with high regeneration values and/or lifesteal.
- Sticky Napalm bonus damage is now halved against non-hero units
This hero is exceptionally great for a variety of reasons--one of them being his flash-farming capabilities that allowed for a very early Blink Dagger. It is not uncommon to start posing a great threat to the enemy team as early as 9-10 minutes into the game. With this nerf, however, the speed with which Batrider can jungle should substantially decrease. Apart from obvious decrease in damage there is also an indirect increase in mana requirements that will occasionally force the Bat to go back to base or bottlecrow. Considering he was the top priority pick/ban in each of the International 4 Qualifiers the nerf is well deserved. However, it might not be enough.
- Shadow Walk duration increased from 15/20/25/30 to 20/25/30/35
There was no clear reason to the downfall of this previously popular offlane hero. In fact, ever since the addition of the neutral XP sharing among all heroes in the area, including enemies, his viability has only increased. In a sense, the hero just got out of trend.
This small buff will not necessarily manifest a comeback of this hero, but it will allow for constant, uninterrupted invisibility at level 1, which might just cut the cake in certain lineups. And there is also an associated long-term mana cost decrease for the laning stage.
- Devour manacost rescaled from 60/50/40/30 to 60
The increase in manacost for this skill will occasionally force some players to make a choice between being able to cast Devour and an extra skill, or not. However, these situations should not be frequent enough to actually have a major effect on the effectiveness of this hero.
- Gust knockback duration increased from 0.5 to 0.6/0.7/0.8/0.9
This buff is a lot stronger that can be initially assumed. The fact that casting a lvl 4 Gust now ensures one free hit on the enemy can make a huge difference between being able to slow and start kiting, or dying to an initiation.
The hero went under the radar of most competitive players for quite a while now, but her successful appearance in the most crucial match of the American qualifiers may signify that there are players out there who understand her strength and are willing to experiment.
- Turn rate improved from 0.6 to 0.9
- Echo Slam's Initial Damage, Echo Search, Echo Damage AOE increased from 525, 550, 500 to 575, 575, 575
A direct decrease in cast point for Earthshaker might have been too powerful and a turn rate increase is a beautiful solution to the persistent problem of the unreliability of Fissure. Landing one should be an easier task now.
The increase in the AoE of the Echo Slam also should not be underestimated. A 75 unit increase in the radius of the effect corresponds to a ~32% increase in the actual area covered.
- Echo Stomp damage increased from 80/85/90/95 to 80/90/100/110
- Midnight Pulse duration increased from 8 to 11
In an ideal situation that skill at level 4 can deal 77% of total health to an enemy target. Of course it will rarely be the case, but the possibility of it is undoubtedly scary.
- Forged Spirits 33% magic resistance removed
- Cold Snap damage reworked from the initial and secondary proc damage of 60/30 to 7xQuasLevel per proc
- Deafening Blast's Disarm is now dispelled when Magic Immunity is applied
All of these things can be considered a nerf, except for the Cold Snap one, which makes it more potent in the later stages of the game and provides some excuse to getting more than 4 levels in Quas.
The Deafening Blast disarm being dispellable is a bigger nerf that can be originally assumed. 4 seconds is a long time in a teamfight and it can make all the difference on the outcome.
- Omnislash damage per slash rescaled from 175-250 to 200-225
- Base Attack Time improved from 1.5 to 1.4
Consistency is somewhat of an ongoing trend in the last several patches. It is unlikely to have a big impact on the hero's viability or popularity, however it is a good step towards a more predictable and calculate-able game.
The further decrease in BAT makes Juggernaut on par with Anti-Mage, drastically increasing his late game potential. More importantly, the IAS requirement for an extra hit during each instance of Omnislash has further decreased to a more achievable 350.
- Pulse Nova damage increased from 66/100/144 to 80/120/160 (Scepter from 100/150/200 to 100/160/220)
It is a nice buff to a rather underused hero, but it is too insignificant and situational to have a major impact on either popularity or Win Rate.
- Light Strike Array stun duration increased from 1.6 to 1.6/1.7/1.8/1.9
It wouldn't be a true patch without a mandatory buff to Lina. This time, however, it is really small. There is now reason to get more than 1 level in Light Strike Array but this reason is still rather unconvincing, especially compared to the benefits that Fiery Soul provides.
- Howl duration decreased from 12 to 10
- Howl bonus damage reduced from 20/30/40/50 to 14/26/38/50
It might appear that the nerfs are rather subtle, however the expected DPS from this hero has drastically fallen. This nerf tampers with almost every aspect that makes Lycan a beastly pick - global presence, pushing capabilities and killing potential. It is in no way game-breaking, but it will likely change the priority of a Lycan pick/ban.
- Sacred Arrow minimum stun duration decreased from 0.5 to 0.01 (maximum duration is still 5 seconds growing linearly)
- Sacred Arrow minimum damage reduced by 40 (maximum damage is still 190/280/370/460 growing linearly)
In the world of Dota 2 the difference between 0.5s and 0.01s can mean the difference between life and death. These cases are not frequent, however there is no longer a guaranteed 0.5s stun on one of the most versatile heroes and it is for good. Especially considering the huge popularity of her in the last several tournaments.
- Multicast's passive manacost penalty on Fireblast reduced from 30/70/110 to 20/40/60
- Bloodlust can now be cast on Magic Immune allies
Ogre Magi is a VERY greedy support. He absolutely needs his Arcane Boots as well as a decent share of XP. The first change slightly tackles the persistent problem of a low manapool on this hero, while the second one makes his life a little bit more comfortable.
- Degen Aura slow increased from 7/14/21/28% to 10/18/26/34%
This slow buff is rather significant, but the hero overall and the skill in particular are way too specific to be able to derive utility from them on a constant basis.
- Phantom Strike bonus attack speed increased from 100 to 130
A decent buff to a still very underused hero. I have previously stated that I regard this hero rather weak by design, however the last several patches have been adding a decent amount of buffs and with the increased burst potential from a 30 IAS increase we might see some competitive play featuring Phantom Assassin
- Shadow Strike cast range increased from 435 to 450/475/500/525
The increase in the cast range is what could possibly help this forgotten hero to get back into the competitive meta - her ability to harass in the mid lane is really strong and this skill with a single point in it is what made it possible before people have learned to play against her. However, since it is rarely the case that players invest more than one point into Shadow Strike before maxing out everything else, this increase in range is quite underwhelming.
- Smoke Screen cooldown reduced from 13 to 11
Personally, I feel that this skill is what defines Riki. Not his invisibility or agility-buffed damage output, but a very annoying and extremely strong AoE slow/silence. Luckily the horrible 0/4/4/1 builds are a thing of the past even in the trenchiest of tiers.
- Ancient Seal damage amplification increased from 18/24/30/36% to 30/35/40/45%
- Bash bonus damage increased from 40/60/80/100 to 60/80/100/120
A 20 damage increase is rather significant, however the expected value of this buff at level 4 of this ability corresponds to a 5 Damage increase, which is really insignificant.
- Leech Seed damage per pulse decreased from 24/36/48/60 to 15/30/45/60
Just like with a previous nerf to Living Armor, the effect at level 4 of the ability is untouched. However, it is certainly not as scary at level 1 as it previously was. Considering the rise in popularity of this hero and the great utility he is still capable of providing, the nerf is well-placed.
- Snowball cooldown reduced from 21 to 21/20/19/18
- Walrus Punch cooldown reduced from 30/24/18 to 25/20/15
A small overall buff to the hero we expected to see a lot more in the competitive scene with his exceptionally strong ability to save allies from any immediate danger.
- Intelligence growth increased from 2.0 to 2.5
For some reason every time there is a change to a stat growth people start forming wrong assumptions of its effect on the gameplay on the hero. While the effect does add up with levels, the 0.5 increase in Int growth corresponds to extra 65 mana at level 10, which is not that much.
- Focus Fire manacost decreased from 150 to 75/100/125
Despite all the recent buffs to her ultimate, Windranger still suffers from the lack of a dedicated role - she is only a decent offlaner and playing her in the first position is very risky. We don't see this manacost decrease having much of an impact, especially since most players will still probably opt towards more game-impacting skills.
- Lightning Bolt vision and truesight duration increased from 3 to 4.5
- Lightning Bolt search area of effect increased from 250 to 325
Hide yo wards, coz they're dewarding everybody out here...
- Recipe cost increased from 600 to 900
- Static Charge duration decreased from 20 to 15
Ever since the rework to procs the item has been getting considerably more attention from pros. This could not go unnoticed and a decently sized nerf to this item is well-deserved.
Overall I have to admit that this "Minor Tweaks" patch was a lot bigger that I initially expected. In a sense it tries to do a lot more than just deal with the most popular heroes and instead of over-nerfing the big guys it tries to make the underdogs a bit more appealing.
It is going to be a very fun International...