6.79 Hero Win Rate Shifts [Link]

October 23, 2013

Someone else takes care of it so I don’t have to!

The full chart

The reddit comment thread, including the google drive link to a spreadsheet version.

No commentary from me for now.  Look for some Normal vs Very High stuff as early as this weekend.

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Fashionably Late: 6.79 Patch Analysis

October 21, 2013

Took a few days to look over the preview notes on the upcoming 6.79 patch, so here’s my thoughts on things and what I intend to look into after the patch is released.  In the interest of brevity, this won’t be completely exhaustive, and I’ll rearrange the order a bit for flow

Let’s start with the big ones

* Creeps now meet a bit closer to the tower in your offlane
* Ranged Heroes now get the same denied experience as melee heroes (instead of less)
* XP AoE increased from 1200 to 1300

* Non-Ancient Neutrals now split XP with all heroes in the AoE instead of just the team that killed them
* Swapped the medium pullable Neutral Camp with the small camp

The first four here aren’t too surprising.  It was no secret that the offlaner or ‘3’ role was getting a bit stagnant.  Admiral Bulldog gets a lot of crap about being only able to play 3 heroes, but he wasn’t the only offlaner with a relatively limited roster.

But what strikes me as the single biggest change of the patch is the huge nerf to safe-lane pulling, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it.  I suspect (but can’t prove) that aggressive trilanes have a relatively low success rate in top end competitive matches, but I really wonder if the Neutral XP split would have been enough to address that.

In any case, it appears to be going in, and there’s reasonable speculation that this will lead to teams either running dedicated junglers more often or experimenting with unusual support setups like dual mid or 2-1-2, and also shifting to less XP dependent supports.  I do suspect that teams will try to find new ways to keep greedy lineups viable, but there’s a good chance there will be a surge of hyper-aggression in the laning phase in the short term.

No matter what happens though, there’s going to be a lot of experimenting  in the offlane, and this patch could definitely breath some life into the broad “But where do you lane them?” category of heroes.  There’s lots of potential for excitement there; I just hope it doesn’t come at the expense of a stagnant support pool.

There’s also the concern that Radiant might now have the better safe lane pulling with the ability to pull through to two other camps, but the impact of this particular issue might not register on a pub level.

* Roshan will respawn at a random time between 8 and 11 minutes after death
* When Aegis expires unused, it heals the hero fully over 5 seconds (regen dispels on damage from players or buildings)

But I’ll still be looking at Radiant vs Dire win rates given this.  I don’t know that the effect will be noticeable, but that’s why we have testing!

* Satyr Mindstealer XP bounty reduced from 88 to 62
* Satyr Tormentor XP bounty reduced from 155 to 119
* Mud Golems XP bounty reduced from 119 to 88
* Mud Golems armor reduced from 4 to 2
* Dark Troll Summoner bounty XP reduced from 155 to 119
* Hellbear Smasher HP reduced from 1100 to 950
* Hellbear armor reduced from 5 to 3

There’s some concern that on top of the pull nerf you also have these jungle nerfs, and that altogether 6.79 will drastically reduce the XP available on the map.  I think this might be testable by just looking at team XPM averages before and after the patch.

That being said, I’m not sure jungling will actually be hurt too much.  Dark Trolls and Satyr Tormentors only show up in the later stages of a lot of routes.  The Satyr medium camp gets hit pretty hard, but it was (if I’m not mistaken), the most efficient camp to get, so that aspect of the changes just normalizes the possible outcomes of the random spawning a bit.  Meanwhile, Mud Golems and Hellbear both get what appear to be sizable decreases in their EHP.  Altogether these changes might not drastically hinder the success of jungling, but it’s better to actually test this out yourself than to trust my estimations.

* Buyback prevents gaining unreliable gold (creeps, neutrals, etc) until your normal respawn time finishes
* When buying back, 25% of the remaining respawn time will be added to your next death

I still think this is the patch nerf that Alliance is most resposible for.

There’s some other stuff in this suggestion, but I don’t have anything especially interesting to say.  Evasion stacking is basically an idiot tax for teams that don’t buy MKBs against the Phantom Assassin with an Eaglesong in her inventory.  Also there are nighttime vision nerfs to Drow Ranger, Mirana, Puck, Leshrac, Enchantress, Ancient Apparition, Meepo and Treant Protector and another nighttime change we’ll bring up when we get to Nightstalker.

Moving on to Heroes, I’m going to split things into Buffs and Nerfs.

*There were also a bunch of changes to make spells disjointable, purgeable, or subject to Doom.  I’m not going to be commenting on them because I don’t think these make a big deal in overall hero balance so much as they flesh out some match-up specific counters.  just keep in mind that purges, disjoints, and Doom are more broadly effective than they used to be.

TI3 Nerfs

Alchemist, Batrider, Chen, Dark Seer, Elder Titan, Io, Lifestealer, Naga Siren, Nature’s Prophet, Nyx Assassin, Outworld Devourer, Timbersaw, Troll Warlord, Visage, Weaver

Alchemist

– Chemical Rage no longer provides 250/500/750 bonus HP
– Chemical Rage HP regen increased from 15/30/60 to 50/75/100

Is it a nerf?  Well, at level 1 of the ult you’re losing 250 bonus HP but gaining 35 HP/sec.  In roughly seven seconds you’ll regenerate 250 extra HP, but this is also the phase of the game where Alchemist is still liable to be burst down.  At level 2 it takes eleven seconds (500/(75-30)) to regnerate enough HP to make up for the lost bonus, and at level 3 it takes almost nineteen seconds (750/(100-60)).  My suspicion is that the buff to regen will not make up the loss of bonus HP in most scenarios.  Nineteen seconds is an eternity.

I’m also kinda wondering why this was needed.  Yeah, Alchemist was the 7th most popular pick in the tournament, but his win rate was a reasonable 46.7%.  Maybe this is targeted at hitting the viability of support Alchemist, but it could end up being an overly harsh nerf to the hero.  I guess we’ll have to see how he fares in the patch.

Batrider

– Base damage reduced from 48-52 to 38-42
– Vision reduced from 1400 to 1200
– Flaming Lasso cast range reduced from 175 to 100

Base damage nerfs that large are usually pretty brutal.  The effect might be mitigated some by the combo of Sticky Napalm and Firefly, but I still suspect that the entirety of these changes will knock at least a couple percentage points off his public win rate.  Whether he falls off in competitive games likely depends more on how teams react to the laning changes.

Chen

– Test of Faith teleport is now dispellable
– Hand of God cooldown increased from 140/130/120 to 160/140/120

Might be felt, but I don’t think it’ll cripple one of the strongest competitive heroes in any way.  Again, his fate will largely be determined by how the dramatic jungle and lane changes play out.

Dark Seer

– Vacuum cooldown increased from 24 to 28

The ritual cooldown increase on Vacuum continues.  Not a big deal.

Elder Titan

– Ancestral Spirit damage reduced from 120/160/200/240 to 80/120/160/200

Yes, this technically isn’t a TI3 nerf as he was enabled in Captain’s Mode after the tournament; however, he has emerged a dominant force in the post TI3 comp scene with a 73% pick/ban rate in October and the second highest win rate in 6.78 of any hero with at least 100 games played at 58.3%.  So what I’m saying is it’s a largely competitive driven nerf.

In any case, my understanding is that this will make the recently popular 0/4/4/0 build incapable of one shotting creep waves, along with also cutting a significant portion of that Spirit nuke damage at all phases in laning.  It’s warranted, but given the win rates I’m seeing in these late 6.78 pub games for the heroes I don’t know this is the last nerf he’ll be seeing.  Don’t bank on Natural Order taking the hit though.  Icefrog doesn’t like targeting a hero’s raison d’être.  I mean, Relocate still hasn’t been touched…

Io

– Tether now does a -100% MS/AS slow instead of a stun

Kinda feels at this point that we’re going to throw every other aspect of Wisp into a woodchipper to avoid giving Relocate even a relatively modest nerf.  I’m not convinced that teams have figured out how to stop good Wisp comps.  I don’t know if this will finally accomplish that, but I could see a couple teams screwing up Wisp comps only to have its 6.79 demise be drastically overrated.

Lifestealer

– Rage cooldown increased from 17 to 19
– Open Wounds and Infest cast points increased from 0.01 to 0.2

The cast point change might be Lifestealer’s harshest nerf since his rise to dominance.  Ursa getting a .3 to Overpower caused a pretty sizable depression in his public win rate, though Ursa is admittedly the more kiteable of the two.  In any case, Lifestealer is still the most picked carry in professional 6.78, so a major nerf is very much warranted.

Naga Siren

– Rip Tide AoE reduced from 450 to 350
– Ensnare manacost increased from 75/85/95/105 to 90/100/110/120

She’s only OP when Alliance uses her (so far), but like Chen I don’t think these changes will put a huge damper on her potential for success.  Bigger question is whether she can find enough experience as a support in 6.79.

Nature’s Prophet

– Treants’ XP Bounty increased from 20 to 30
– Treants’ Gold Bounty increased from 12-16 to 14-20

Treants finally get that Bounty nerf everybody has been clamoring for.  NP is also likely the hero hit hardest by the Buyback changes I mentioned earlier and the Shadowblade nerf coming up.  He’ll still likely be viable, but just how viable depends on 6.79’s meta shift.  And to avoid repeating that any further, just assume the popularity status of every support and jungler is up in the air.

Nyx Assassin

– Spiked Carapace no longer stuns your hero when your summoned units proc it (the summoned units get stunned instead)
– Impale no longer has unit targeting, it is now only a point targeted spell

I don’t honestly know how big of a deal the Impale change will be in practice.  Hopefully datDota will make it easy to track the pre and post-patch success rate of Impale.

Outworld Devourer

– Base damage reduced by 3
– Items no longer trigger Essence Aura

Like I said, base damage nerfs are a big deal, but this is a relatively small one and might be mitigated in a large part by all the bonus damage OD gets from Astral Imprisonment.  OD’s laning might also be hindered by the loss of Tranquils, Buckler, and Mek (if I’m correctly recalling which items proc) as Essence Aura proc generators.  In any case, OD has actually been a pretty successful hero after 6.78’s movement buff when he’s not countered, so it’ll be interesting to see whether these extra laning vulnerabilities are enough to make him fall off the map.

Timbersaw

– Chakram manacost increased from 75/125/175 to 100/150/200

Really mild nerf that makes his ult a tad less spammable.  Despite the complaints, he’s been a pretty average hero in terms of win rates at all levels, so it’s an appropriate change.

Troll Warlord

– Berserker’s Rage movespeed bonus rebalanced from 20/20/20/30 to 10/20/30/40
– Whirling Axes (Melee) damage reduced from 125/175/225/275 to 75/125/175/225

Same “not actually TI3” caveat as Elder Titan.  My take on this is that the Whirling Axe nerf is to get him out of midlane.  The movespeed change is a bit weird.  It’ll be interesting to see if 10 movespeed per point is enough to make the former one point wonder Berserker’s Rage now a must max after Whirling Axes.  It’s something I’d like to look at more extensively once the patch comes out.

Visage

– Base armor reduced by 1
– Base magic resistance reduced from 25% to 10%

My impression is that this is actually really brutal, especially during the levels when Gravekeeper’s Cloak hasn’t been skilled yet.  Visage was the most-picked hero in all of 6.78 competitive play and still managed a 54.6% win rate, but the Trilane King ain’t looking so royal no more.

Weaver

– Base attack time nerfed from 1.7 to 1.8

I said earlier that Lifestealer is the most popular carry of 6.78, but Weaver is right behind him.  I tend to believe that base attack time changes are a pretty big deal, but the evidence is shaky.  Juggernaut went from 1.7 to 1.6 and didn’t get much of a bump.  Morphling recently received the same buff and gained a percentage point for his troubles.  In any case, Weaver isn’t really dependent on attack speed at all, so I’m not convinced that this will be much of a hindrance.  He might even see increased usage if he causes a lot of problems for teams in the newly competitive offlanes.

Pub Nerfs

Abaddon, Huskar, Spiritbreaker, Treant Protector, Warlock

Abaddon

– Base armor reduced by 1
– Myst Coil self damage increased from 50/75/100/125 to 75/100/125/150
– Aphotic Shield is now dispellable
– Borrowed Time no longer activates while Doomed

Maybe not a purely pub driven nerf, but his competitive impact hasn’t really been on the same level of Elder Titan.  Since his release he’s been a top 5 hero in win rate at all levels of pub play, so I’m going to attribute this to that, but you could make a case for either explanation.

Anyway, armor reduction is a pretty solid hit that’s somewhat mitigated by his ultimate.  The Coil change is harder to estimate, and the dispel and Doom changes are relatively niche counter cases.  I think we’ll see a small dip in his pub win rates, but he’ll still be well over 50%.  It will be more interesting to see how this effects his draft rate in competitive games.

Huskar

– Agility reduced from 20 + 2.4 to 15 + 1.4
– Berserker’s Blood is now disabled by Doom

(-* Can no longer orb-attack while attack restricted (such as Ethereal or Frostbite)

Good riddance to Ghost Scepter Huskar.  To celebrate this new inability to become immune to virtually everything short of Pure damage on a 30 second cooldown, 6.79 goes a step further and removes a huge chunk of agility as well.  If I’ve done my math right (and it’s too late at night for me to bother checking it), 5 base agility and 1 agility per level translates to -1 armor at level 3 and -2 armor at level 10.  Huskar’s had a pretty crazy amount of success in Very High skill matchmaking since his rework, but I suspect those days are very much numbered.

Spiritbreaker

– Base attack time nerfed from 1.7 to 1.9
– Greater Bash no longer works while doomed
– Nether Strike now uses 1.2 Cast Time instead of a 1 sec magic immune delay (can be interrupted as a result)

Spiritbreaker finally made it into competitive Dota, and all it took was making him the uncontested king of pubstomping, with the highest observed win rate in Very High games and the 2nd most matches played in all of 6.78 (behind Pudge of course).  While Spiritbreaker doesn’t really have carry scaling, the base attack time nerf might significantly hinder his ability to reliably get off Greater Bashes during ganks.  As for the Nether Strike nerf, this video suggests that the cast time change will make his ult very susceptible to interruption.  I don’t want to guess as to how much of a negative impact this will have on the Spacecow, but I’m pretty confident it will be felt.  Which is probably a good thing given how much people hate playing against him.

Treant Protector

– Leech Seed damage per pulse reduced from 30/45/60/75 to 24/36/48/60
– Leech Seed number of pulses increased from 4 to 6 (duration from 3 to 4.5)
– Living Armor cooldown rebalanced from 15 to 32/26/20/14
– Living Armor manacost increased from 25 to 50
– Nature’s Guise cast point improved from 0.5 to 0.3

I’ll probably also receive some criticism for labeling this a pub nerf.  It’s true that Treant Protector has continued to enjoy a good amount of competitive success in 6.78, and he’s certainly one of the heroes most capable of triggering an upset.  But I’d point out that his impact on TI3 was pretty negligible.  If teams anticipate the pick and take the steps necessary to counter it, Treant’s actually a pretty vulnerable early selection.  Granted, if you don’t respect your opponent’s knowledge of the game (or how seriously they’re taking the group stage), Treant is a pretty good way to nab some easy wins.

But he’s also continued to be one of the strongest pub heroes in 6.78 because the disorganized nature of pubs makes him much more difficult to punish, and I think that these Living Armor changes are targeted with that in mind.  The cooldown doubling at level 1 is not nearly as big of a deal for teams that plan and coordinate their Living Armor usage.  It’s a much bigger hindrance to a player frantically spamming it on cooldown, which is honestly a really viable pub strategy at the moment.

People have also been bemoaning this as the death of Treant, but unless I’m missing something the Leech Seed component is actually a buff.  The spell currently does 120/180/240/300 damage, and with the increased number of pulses the spell should do 144/216/288/360 damage.  Granted, it might be more convenient to have the healing component over a shorter duration, but if the duration increase from 3 to 4.5 also applies to the slow component of the spell, then Leech Seed is now a better spell.  Which is good because Treant has way too much of his power situated entirely inside Living Armor.

Warlock

– Fatal Bonds now links the closest units to the initial target, instead of randomly choosing targets in its AoE
– Upheaval cast range increased from 700 to 1200
– Upheaval duration increased from 10 to 12
– Removed Chaotic Offering 100 impact damage
– Chaotic Offering Golem armor increased from 5/7/10 to 6/9/12
– Chaotic Offering manacost increased from 200/250/300 to 200/300/400

Finally we have Warlock.  I talked about him extensively in Team Liquid’s Dead Game article, so here’s the short version.

Chaotic Offering losing the 100 initial damage strikes me as a very big deal.  I think he’ll lose a solid chunk of public win rate off this alone.  Which is good because he’s been one of the winningest (if not THE winningest) pub heroes for several patches in a row.

That being said, I think his other changes, in particular the Upheaval changes, might actually make him a better and more complete hero.  In other words, I think this is another sidegrade attempt in the vein of last year’s Ursa, which would be precisely what his kit needed.

Other Nerfs

Chaos Knight, Clockwerk, Keeper of the Light, Lone Druid, Queen of Pain, Rubick

Chaos Knight

– Chaos Bolt damage and stun values are now inversely related

I lean towards this being a negative change overall, but I don’t actually have much of an opinion on this one.

Clockwerk

– Units knocked back by Power Cogs destroy trees in 100 AoE around where they land

Keeper of the Light

– Blinding Light now destroys trees in a 150 AoE around where the target is pushed

Neither of these are big deals as far as hero balance goes.  Just cleaning up some edge cases.

Lone Druid

– Base movement speed increased from 315 to 325 (still 280 in True Form)
– Spirit Bear XP bounty increased from 196 to 300

It’s not entirely clear whether this will be a net nerf, as move speed is pretty rad.  The XP bounty just seems excessive at this point, but I guess Icefrog wants to make sure that bear creep pulling stays extremely risky.

Queen of Pain

– Shadow Strike manacost rescaled from 80/100/120/140 to 110

In general this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but mid lane matchups can be tight enough that the extra mana cost here might be significant.  It’s also technically a buff to the 3rd and 4th ranks of the skill, and it might be interesting to check whether this leads to players shifting more of their early points into those higher ranks and how they fare compared to those who don’t.

Rubick

– Telekinesis cooldown increased from 18 to 22
– Rubick can no longer steal the Aghanim upgrade of the enemy if they have Aghanim and he doesn’t
– Added Aghanim’s upgrade: reduces cooldown from 20/18/16 to 5, increases cast range from 1000 to 1400 and makes all stolen spells be considered to have their Aghanim’s upgrade

The telekinesis nerf is about as impactful as Dark Seer’s Vacuum nerf, which is to say not very.  People are excited about the Aghanim’s upgrade, so let me killjoy a bit: you’re probably not going to see a widespread resurgence of competitive Rubick mid.  It’s fine is you want to go all WoDota in a pub, but Rubick mid fell out of style for a reason, and I don’t see an Agh upgrade being enough to bring it back.

And with the nerf section concluded, we now move on to…

The Skill Reworks

Bloodseeker, Broodmother, Dazzle, Invoker, Lich, Meepo, Nightstalker, Slark

Bloodseeker

– Base movement speed reduced from 305 to 300
– Thirst is now global instead of 6000 range
– Thirst bonus now stacks for each unit that is low HP
– Thirst HP threshold increased from 20/30/40/50% to 50%
– Thirst movement speed bonus reduced from 15/25/35/45% to 7/14/21/28%
– When Thirst is active, movement speed cap is removed on your hero
– Thirst no longer provides armor bonus
– Thirst provides bonus 7/14/21/28 damage
– Thirst no longer grants full hero vision around low HP targets, it only shows their model
– Thirst no longer lasts for an extra 3 seconds when the target is dead

This is the change that has everyone talking — mostly because it lends itself well to animated gifs and Sonic the hedgehog parodies.  As amusing as it is, I don’t feel that bypassing the movement speed cap is going to be a situation that comes up that often or lasts that long in actual play.  The single biggest change here is global vision of anything below 50% at all ranks of the spell.  At a pub level, the effect of this against marginal pub junglers alone will be huge.  It’s one thing to encourage your team to hut down Ursa or Lifestealer; it’s quite another to grant complete vision of their locations and movements and a reminder that they’re free gold.

Will it translate beyond pub play?  It’s hard to say, but I think people at all levels still underestimate Bloodseeker’s raw, mathematical carry potential.  It is important to keep in mind that to get this global vision, Bloodseeker gave up a significant portion of his movement speed in most scenarios.

But who cares about pro games.  Get ready for duo queue Bloodseeker+Zeus and Bloodseeker+Ancient Apparition in every All Pick game for the first week of the patch.

Broodmother

– Spin Web AoE increased from 650 to 900
– Spin Web cast range increased from 600 to 1000
– Spin Web cast point nerfed from 0.2 to 0.4
– Spin Web no longer destroys trees
– Broodmother now has completely unobstructed movement when under the web (can walk over cliffs, trees, etc)
– Removed buffer time when leaving Spin Web (you now immediately lose your regen/movement/pathing/invis bonuses)

I believe it was Fluff who said that Broodmother was the worst hero of 6.78, and I’d have to agree.  Nothing about these changes will improve her anemic late-game, but they will actually give her the potential to be a threat during laning again as opposed to an insert-Sentry-get-kill dispenser.  Have a good enough lane and you can rob your opponents of their jungle; starve your opponents out economically and the late game no longer matters.  It’s a crazy change, but Broodmother needed it, and it certainly fits her MO.

Dazzle

– Weave duration rescaled from 12/18/24 to 20
– Weave armor per second rescaled from 1 to 0.75/1/1.25 (scepter is 1/1.25/1.5)
– Poison Touch damage increased from 8/16/24/32 to 14/20/26/32 (7 seconds worth)
– Poison Touch is now dodgeable
– Poison Touch slow timings reworked

Previous Poison Touch:
=========================
Lvl 1
Slow target by 33% for 1 second

Lvl 2
Slow target by 33% for 1 second, then slow target by 66% for 1 second

Lvl 3
Slow target by 33% for 1 second, then slow target by 66% for 1 second, then stun target for 1 second

Lvl 4
Slow target by 33% for 1 second, then slow target by 66% for 1 second, then stun target for 1 second

Ministuns for 0.01 seconds at the start.

New Poison Touch:
==================
Lvl 1
Slow target by 33% for 3 seconds

Lvl 2
Slow target by 33% for 2 seconds, then slow target by 66% for 1 second

Lvl 3
Slow target by 33% for 1 second, then slow target by 66% for 1 second, then slow target by 100% for 1 second

Lvl 4
Slow target by 33% for 1 second, then slow target by 66% for 1 second, then stun target for 1 second

Ministuns for 0.01 seconds at the start.

Dazzle is probably the least dramatic of the reworks, but I think there’s a chance this change could turn out to be a pretty big deal.  Up until now, Dazzle has had a pair of complementary problems.  1) He wants to put skill points into a lot of things.  2) The first rank of Poison Touch was really terrible.

As you can see, thew new Poison Touch is completely unchanged at level 4, but at level 1 the skill is drastically improved.  Instead of a single second of slow you now get three, and the damage done is almost doubled from 56 to 98.  This change ought to make Dazzle a significantly larger threat at low levels, which is both the formative segment of every game and a significant stretch of time for a support.  This has the potential to really change how Dazzle gets played, and to be honest I’m kinda pulling for the little guy.

There’s also the Weave changes.  My inclination is that the improved duration on rank 1 probably makes up for the losses, but I think the Poison Touch change will have more of an impact regardless.

Invoker

– EMP restores Invoker for 50% of the mana it drains from heroes (excluding illusions)
– Invoke Max Spells rescaled from 1/2/2/2 to 2

The Invoke change is one of the more interesting directions of the patch.  People wanted Invoker to get a buff to restore some of his laning power, but they didn’t get one, at least not directly.  He’s still a relatively bad laner, but with two spells available from level 3, he has the potential to be a bad laner that’s also threatening.

I’m skeptical that this will do much for his general public win rate, thoughVery High might be another story.  I’m also not convinced that this will be enough to bring him back to the mainstream competitive spotlight.  Regardless, it’s an intriguing experiment, and I’m certainly curious to see where it goes.

One thing to keep in mind is that as a laner with bad base damage who is also ranged, Invoker might benefit disproportionately from the loss of the extra ranged penalty on denies.

Lich

– Frost Armor has half effect against ranged heroes
– Frost Armor slow now stacks with the slow from Frost Nova
– Sacrifice cooldown increased from 35/30/25/20 to 44/36/28/20
– Sacrifice mana gain increased from 15/30/45/60% to 25/40/55/70%
– Sacrifice no longer denies enemy XP
– Sacrifice now converts your own creep for XP (shared in AoE as normal creep xp bounty)

So Sacrifice no longer denies experience, but CAN deny experience if you Sacrifice a creep before it reaches the opposing laners.  At the same time, the cooldown at early levels is long enough that denying one creep per wave will no longer be plausible.  And then on top of that, Sacrifice now grants you creep bounty in an environment where supports might find themselves starved by the lack of pull exp.

I really don’t feel comfortable calling this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up a net nerf, at least as far as public win rates are concerned.  This is especially true if the Frost Armor nerf turns out to be significant.  That spell quietly does a lot of the heavy lifting in his kit, especially during the late game. pointed out as incorrect in comments

Edit: Looks like Sacrifice can be used a second time before the second creep waves meet, so the cooldown nerf is far less problematic than I thought.

Meepo

– Base armor reduced by 1
– Turn rate improved from 0.5 to 0.65
– Earthbind cast point improved from 0.5 to 0.3
– Divided We Stand leveling rebalanced from 6/11/16 to 4/11/18
– Removed 30% stat sharing on non-aghanim Divided We Stand

I don’t know.  Notail thinks it’s a nerf,  If he thinks it’s a nerf who am I to judge?

In all seriousness, the big takeaway here is that Icefrog must believe the level 4 Meepo clone is a pretty huge buff in order to warrant simultaneously nerfing any other aspect of the hero.  I think he’s right to be concerned, but it’s impossible to tell whether it’s an overcompensation or not until the patch comes out and people start playing.

Nightstalker

– Darkness causes enemy vision to be reduced by 25% (affects heroes, creeps and wards)
* Day/Night length decreased from 6 to 4 minutes

There’s been a lot of debate about how the new Day/Night cycle will effect Nightstalker, and it’s a debate I don’t feel inclined to participate in.  I feel that it’s almost guaranteed that the net effect of 6.79 will be a positive one for Nightstalker, with the question then being ‘how positive?’  Rather than try to guess, I’m going to just wait until the results come in.

Slark

– Shadow Dance duration reduced from 5.5 to 4
– Shadow Dance cooldown increased from 25 to 65
– Shadow Dance can no longer be revealed by Truesight

Another change whose merits I’ve seen debated.  My inclination is that the nerfs in exchange for Truesight immunity is going to be a net gain for Slark, and that the extent to which this gain is felt will scale with how often your opponents currently buy Sentry Wards and Gems!

So a controversial opinion there, huh?  This is really another one of those changes without a lot of precedent.  Slark might require more tweaking in future patches, but the idea of making his ult less easily counterable isn’t a terrible one when you compare it to something like Borrowed Time.

Major Buffs

Axe, Bristleback, Clinkz, Death Prophet, Disruptor, Drow Ranger, Kunkka, Leshrac, Lion, Lycan, Necrolyte, Omniknight, Pudge, Pugna, Shadow Shaman, Skeleton King, Slardar, Venomancer, Viper, Witch Doctor

Axe

– Berserker’s Call AoE increased from 275 to 300
– Battle Hunger duration reduced from 10/13/16/19 to 10/12/14/16
– Battle Hunger damage reduced from 15/21/27/33 to 15/20/25/30
– Battle Hunger movement speed slow/bonus increased from 8% to 10%
– Battle Hunger is now dispellable
– Counter Helix cooldown reduced from 0.55/0.5/0.45/0.4 to 0.45/0.4/0.35/0.3
– Counter Helix now hits siege units
– Culling Blade no longer goes on cooldown if it successfully kills a hero
– Culling Blade threshold reduced from 300/450/625 to 250/350/450 (Aghanim upgraded version is still 300/450/625)
– Culling Blade speed bonus increased from 25% to 40% and AoE from 600 to 900
– Culling Blade 40% speed bonus now applies to attack speed as well
– Culling Blade Aghanim allied buff duration increased from 6 to 10
– Culling Blade manacost reduced from 150/200/250 to 60/120/180

Berserker’s Call and Counter Helix get minor buffs.  Battle Hunger gets slight damage nerfs to the later range, but an equally slight boost to the speed boost/snare portion of the spell.  The real meat of the patch change is Culling Blade no longer going on cooldown after successful hero kills, granting much stronger buffs, and having a greatly reduced mana cost.  As long as you can time the reduced threshold, things are looking pretty good for Axe, particularly given the fact that he’s the kind of hero that might benefit from those changes that I said I wasn’t going to bring up any more.  Could Virtus.Pro have simply been ahead of the curve?  Tune in next time for another thrilling episode of Dragon Ball CIS.

Bristleback

– Attack point improved from 0.4 to 0.3
– Viscous Nasal Goo is now dispellable
– Viscous Nasal Goo cast point improved from 0.4 to 0.3
– Warpath max stacks increased from 5 to 5/6/7
– Warpath stack duration increased from 10 to 14

I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I don’t actually pay any attention to Bristleback, so I don’t know precisely how large of a buff this is.  Nothing I’ve seen suggests that he’s especially effective at any level of play though, so anything helps.

Clinkz

– Searing Arrows damage increased from 20/30/40/50 to 30/40/50/60
– Searing Arrows manacost increased from 8 to 10
– Searing Arrows is no longer blocked by magic immunity

Like I’ve said, base damage buffs are a big deal, and this is effectively a 10 point buff, albeit with a bit of an extra mana cost.  Searing Arrows ignoring magic immunity is also the kind of interaction that could easily come up enough to make a significant boost.  Clinkz has struggled a bit as of late at both the pub and pro level, and I feel rather confident that he’ll be seeing more success in 6.79.

Death Prophet

– Exorcism Spirit damage increased from 43-48 to 53-58

I don’t know for sure how big of a boost this is in practical terms, and there’s something going on about her ultimate having been bugged and not having enough spirits at certain levels.  But whatever.  If this is as big of a boost in real damage as it looks on paper, Death Prophet could easily become the new Warlock.  Exorcism is already a disproportionately effective ability in uncoordinated pub games, so this might be enough to turn her into a complete terror.  We might also see her first appearances in major tournaments since Moscow Five was a thing.

Disruptor

– Kinetic Field AoE increased from 300 to 325
– Glimpse cooldown reduced from 60/50/40/30 to 65/50/35/20
– Static Storm AoE increased from 375 to 450
– Static Storm max damage increased from 170/220/270 to 200/250/300
– Added Aghanim’s upgrade: Static Storm silences items, and lasts an extra 2 seconds

Broadly positive changes, but as usual, I am skeptical of the impact of Aghanim’s upgrades on characters that typically do not get much in spending money.  I guess I rate the potential trend of Disruptor mid as being slightly higher than a resurgence of Rubick mid.  But only slightly.

Drow Ranger

– Precision Aura damage ratio increased from 16/20/24/28% to 18/24/30/36%
– Precision Aura no longer affects creeps
– Precision Aura can now be manually casted to affect creeps globally for 30 seconds (120 cd)
– Marksmanship attribute negation AoE increased from 375 to 400

This might not pan out to be a huge positive change, but Drow regains her global creep pushing aura in the form of a temporary cooldown.  I’m going to consider this a major buff regardless because it helps make the hero more interesting.  Meanwhile, Precision Aura is now stronger, but the negation zone on Marksmanship is larger.  Overall, I don’t expect to see a positive bump in her public win rates, but I like the Aura change regardless.

Kunkka

– X Marks The Spot cooldown reduced from 16 to 13
– Ghost Ship damage increased from 350/450/550 to 400/500/600

This is one of the smaller buffs that I’m putting in this category, but a straight ult damage buff is still pretty noteworthy.  I don’t think the cooldown change will matter much in most scenarios.

Leshrac

– Diabolic Edict cast point improved from 0.7 to 0.5
– Pulse Nova scepter damage increased from 88/133/177 to 100/150/200

Leshrac was a dominant pick before Diabolic Edict was given a cast point in 6.75.  .5 is obviously greater than 0, but it’s still an important stat for the hero.  There is, however, still the open question of whether going from .7 -> .5 would be as impactful as going from .2 -> .0

Lion

– Mana Drain duration increased from 4 to 5
– Hex cooldown increased from 15 to 30/25/20/15
– Hex duration increased from 1.75/2.5/3.25/4 to 2.5/3/3.5/4

At level 2 getting the most of each use of CC is more important than having that CC off cooldown 15 seconds earlier.  Having less of a pressure to level Hex might also lead Lion to being able to fit Mana Drain into his build early on.  It’ll be interesting to see if people decide to make that adaptation or if .5 seconds of increased CC duration per point is still too valuable.

Lycan

– Armor increased by 1 (Shapeshift total armor is still the same as before)
– Base damage increased by 5
– Howl bonus damage for non-hero units increased from 4/8/12/16 to 5/10/15/20
– Wolves magic resistance increased from 50% to 80%

Just a collection of straight up valuable changes.  Guess Lycan’s spent long enough in the dog house to make up for his crimes against 6.74 humanity.

Necrolyte

– Base armor increased by 1

Armor buffs in general are decent little boosts, but Necrolyte gets so much bonus health from his Death Pulse, Sadist, and typical Mek that he will get more out of armor than your average hero.  I don’t know whether it’ll be enough to get him into the pro circuit, but he’s already a rather effective pub hero and he’s only going to get better.

Omniknight

– Degen Aura AoE increased from 315 to 350
– Degen Aura stickiness increased from 0.5 seconds to 1.0

Omniknight is another one of those heroes like Death Prophet and Necrolyte with a lot of pub success but no competitive draft presence.  He also might be well positioned to benefit from the new competitive offlane.  In any case, it’s hard to precisely guess the extent of the effect of these changes without testing them in real game scenarios, but it combined with a meta shift could be enough to get Omniknight some play.  Maybe.

Pudge

– Can now use Blink Dagger
– If you hook a unit onto an unpathable ledge, the unit gains free pathing for 5 seconds
– Flesh Heap magic resistance reduced from 4/8/12/16% to 6/8/10/12%
– Dismember Scepter strength multiplier increased from 0.75 to 1.0

Pudge and Vengeful Spirit both get their limitation against Blink Dagger removed in this patch, but I think this will benefit Pudge a lot more than it does VS.  There’s some other stuff, but what do you care?  You’ve got a Blink Dagger.

Pugna

– Decrepify damage amp on allies reduced from 40% to 25%
– Decrepify damage amp on enemies increased from 40% to 50%
– Nether Ward now requires 3 hits to kill instead of 75/150/225/300 HP (heroes hurt it for 1, others for 0.25)
– Life Drain restores mana if it tries to heal you while you are full hp when targeting heroes

The Nether Ward is an interesting change (that also makes an appearance in Tusk’s sigil).  It should prove to be much more costly to remove in late game teamfights.  Altogether a set of unequivocal buffs.  They might not have a huge effect on his public win rate, but Pugna push teams were already potent on the pro level, if incredibly niche.  These changes might help make him a little less niche.

Shadow Shaman

– Mass Serpent Ward count increased from 8 to 10
– Changed Mass Serpent Ward placement structure

Straight up buff to his ultimate.  I’d estimate it as less important than Death Prophet’s buff, but a bit more important than Kunkka’s.

Skeleton King

– Base Intelligence increased by 5
– Removed Mortal Strike active
– Vampiric Aura now provides full effectiveness on ranged units
– Reincarnation slow increased from 30% to 50%
– Reincarnation slow AoE increased from 700 to 900

Farewell second button.  Mortal Strike didn’t seem to change Skeleton King’s success rate much, so I can only assume its loss won’t be crippling.  Meanwhile, he gets a bit more mana for his stun and his ult, and his aura applying to ranged units should have a positive effect on his overall win rate.  I wouldn’t hold my breath regarding a Dreamhack Winter appearance though.

Slardar

– Amplify Damage armor reduction increased from 8/14/20 to 10/15/20
– Sprint speed increased from 20/27/33/40% to 20/28/36/44%
– Sprint manacost removed (was 50)

Ult is stronger, particularly at rank 1, and Sprint is significantly improved with the removal of its manacost.  Slardar is another character with a decent shot of benefiting from the 6.79 meta shakeup.

Venomancer

– Poison Nova no longer ignores invis/fogged units
– Venomous Gale no longer ignores invis units
– Venomous Gale damage over time rebalanced from 15/30/45/60 to 0/30/60/90
– Poison Sting duration increased from 6/8/10/12 to 6/9/12/15
– Poison Sting dps no longer dispels healing or disables dagger
– Plague Wards now have Poison Sting for 50% of the damage at the current skilled level (When both Venomancer and a Plague Ward affect a target, only the highest dps is applied)
– Plague Wards XP bounty increased from 12/12/25/25 to 20/25/30/35

If I’m interpreting everything correctly, Rank 1 Venomous Gale loses 45 damage, but Rank 4 gains 90 damage, and Plague Wards now applying Poison Sting has some nifty applications for spreading that 15 second slow before a teamfight, or even just giving him some extra potential when it comes to killing neutrals.  As a whole, late game Venomancer looks significantly improved, but the challenge will be finding the levels while still being relevant.

Viper

– Poison Attack cooldown reduced from 4/3/0/0 to 0
– Corrosive Skin no longer works while doomed

The obvious benefit to having no cooldown on Poison Attack at level 1 is that Viper’s early lane harassment will be even more potent.  The less obvious benefit is that he’ll be able to skill Nethertoxin earlier without giving as much up.  This is another hero that I fully intend on looking at the skill build shift post patch.

Witch Doctor

– Death Ward cast range increased from 400 to 600
– Voodoo Restoration AoE increased from 350 to 500
– Voodoo Restoration manacost over time reduced from 8/14/20/26 to 8/12/16/20 (50% of the heal amount)
– Paralyzing Casks now lasts 5 seconds on illusions (same as creep duration)

Death Ward is a pretty strong ult with a frustratingly short cast range.  That’s getting addressed along with some Voodoo Restoration buffs, but I don’t know that it’ll be enough to earn Witch Doctor any competitive success.  He should see a boost in pub play, but I wouldn’t bet on it being a huge one.

I’m a bit pressed for time now.  The rest of the buffs in this patch I feel will be somewhere between small and negligible, but I’ll briefly cover some of the more noteworthy cases.

Brewmaster: Some buffs but the big story is the change to his Aghanim’s.  I don’t think it will have a dramatic effect on his overall winrate because it’s gated behind first farming the Aghanim’s Scepter, and second actually having micro skills.  So it might be a buff for a small segment competent Brewmaster players, but I’m not 100% convinced that long cooldown ultimates are coming back in style, except for possibly Enigma because of an increased emphasis on having a jungler.

Earthshaker: A surge in use is more likely to be driven by ‘clever use of game mechanics’ creep pulling with Fissure than it is about his buffs this patch.

Enigma: Another Aghanim’s upgrade that I’m skeptical about, as he has other, more pressing item priorities.  The real story about Enigma this patch (and Enchantress) will be less about the buffs and more about his role in the meta shift.

Jakiro: His passive being turned into a castable orb is less of a buff and more of a quality of life change.  Same for Beastmaster’s separate Call of the Wild spells.  Nice changes but I don’t think they’ll dramatically effect the heroes’ effectiveness.

Faceless Void, Juggernaut, Luna, Mirana, Phantom Assassin, Riki, Spectre: I might be underestimating the impact of these buffs.  They’re all definitely buffs, but I’m not sure how much of a difference they will make in the long run.  Mirana, Phantom Assassin, and Riki might be the standouts here.

Skywrath Mage: Scaling int is probably the least noteworthy of the stat buffs, but the Agh upgrade does sound pretty cool.  Maybe not top tier competitive item build cool, but pubs are important too.

Items

There are a ton of changes involving item pooling, courier upgrading, bottle and consumable prices, and wards.  Other people have done a much better job discussing these than I could, so I’ll leave that to them.  At the level of the vast majority of pubs these shouldn’t be terribly major changes, and most practical item starts should continue to function with only minor modifications.

As for the noteworthy item changes, I’ll just point out a few that stand out to me.

Necronomicon is significantly stronger now that Hand of Midas and Helm of the Dominator can no longer affect your units.  I expect to see a surge in Necro purchases — maybe as high as a 2% usage rate! (in Very High) (and not because it’s bad)

Shadow Blade’s cooldown increased from 18 to 28.  I’ve already documented the almost stupid surge in its usage since it was buffed a few patches ago.  This nerf is more than warranted.

Tranquil Boots are finally that support boot they were meant to be instead of a temporary carry holdover for easy laning.  As excited as I’m sure you all are to insta-lock Crystal Maiden, go to lane with a Ring of Regen and Ring of Protection, and slam down that Tranquil completion with your first 500 gold, keep in mind that as cheap as they are, Tranquils still come with an opportunity cost in that you’re not buying one of the other rather good boot upgrades (not to mention diverting your early gold away from consumables and courier upgrades).

Edit: Early reports seem to indicate that this level of cautious evaluation was completely unnecessary.

Veil of Discord now builds from Null Talisman instead of Robe of Magi.  Veil is a long neglected item, and this change might help that out while giving Null Talisman starts an option of a second build path.  It may or may not succeed in making Veil a popular item, but it’s a good direction for the game regardless.


[Skill Build Analysis] Spectre

October 11, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve done a SBA, so I thought I’d take a look at one of the more unusual cases from Dota 2 Hero Winrates by Game Duration.  Spectre stood out as the only hero with an extremely favorable late-game profile in the top 15 heroes in VH win percentage (5th in late-game skew; 12th in overall win percentage) while also boosting the single highest win percentage in the sample in games with a duration lasting longer than 42 minutes.  For all the negativity I’ve seen thrown her way, Spectre has actually been a rather solid carry in pub games since the 6.75 buff to desolate.  This success hasn’t quite translated to the competitive scene, her win rate there in 6.78 has only been 43%, but she’s still an actually viable hard carry option for standard matchmaking games.

Let’s start by looking at her skill builds.  First for reference:

Q: Spectral Dagger— Nuke that slows target while speeding up Spectre and allies.  Allows Spectre to pass through impassable terrain.

Scaling: Damage, Move Speed, and Mana Cost go up.

W: Desolate — Spectre (and illusions) do bonus pure damage every time they attack an enemy hero with no nearby allied units.

Scaling: Damage goes up.

E: Dispersion — Reflects a portion of incoming damage to her enemies.  This damage is not taken by Spectre.

Scaling: Percentage of damage reflected goes up.

So first the build breakdown.

[Spectre]Builds1-1

As an experiment, I also made a chart detailing the raw number of games observed of each build in the sample (Normal is slightly inaccurate in raw numbers, but is proportionately accurate).

[Spectre]Builds1-2

The big trend here as you move up out of Normal towards Very High is a trend away from Dispersion builds and towards either Spectral Dagger or Desolate builds.  As usual Split builds also become less common.  Now let’s add in win rates.

[Spectre]Builds2

And unsurprisingly, those two builds (Q->W and W->Q) are also the two best performing builds in High and Very High.  They’re close enough that I’d leave it up to personal preference on which to max first.  Dispersion is definitely a huge portion of Spectre’s late game presence, but Spectral Dagger and Desolate combined with smart ult usage is what gets you to the late game.  You can add a point in Dispersion somewhere between levels 2 and 4, but past that you’re really better off skilling for aggression.  Incidentally though, builds that entirely skip Dispersion in the first 8 levels don’t actually do so bad, so full on Dagger+Desolate appears to be a relatively viable option as well.

Incidentally, 75% of VH Spectres skill Spectral Dagger first compared to only 50% of Normal Spectres.  Probably the right call there VH players.

Moving on to items, we have what will probably be a pretty unsurprising set of findings for many of you.

[Spectre]Items

Let’s start with the boots.  Spectre’s Desolate benefits from attack speed, so Power Treads seem like the obvious choice, but Phase Boots are actually the hot pickup in Very High and are actually more successful overall (56.86% vs 53.54%).  Like Lifestealer, players are often emphasizing mobility over raw DPS.

As far as core damage items go, we see Manta Style, Radiance, and Diffusual Blade as the standouts in Very High.  My impression from the stats is that the two most prominent build paths for Spectre are Radiance into Manta or Diffusual into Manta, with the Diffusual build being slightly more likely to sidetrack to Drums of Endurance.  Meanwhile, on the Normal end of things we have Crystalus (Daedalus came with only a -3.9% decrease) and Sange and Yasha.  Daedalus can be passable as a late-game luxury here, but it appears to be outclassed by Heart and Butterfly given the way they synergize with Dispersion and Desolate respectively.

I’m actually a bit skeptical on Drums.  The observed win rate for that item in Very High is 56.03%, while the observed win rate for Vanguard is 57.79%.  It could be that Spectre is just highly likely to sell them off in winning games, but a similarly priced item getting outperformed by Vanguard is troubling, and I’d honestly prefer to look at what’s going on here more in depth sometime in the future when mass parsing is a possibility.

So to sum it everything up.

1.  Spectral Dagger -> Desolate and Desolate -> Spectral Dagger look like strongest builds overall.

2. An early point in Dispersion is fine, but it should not be maxed before your other two skills.

3. At least two of Radiance, Diffusal, and Manta should be considered core.  Heart is the standout luxury purchase.