6.80 Hero Analysis

February 16, 2014

6.80 has been out long enough that we now have a pretty good estimate of its effects on hero balance. There are a lot of places one could go for this information, such as DotaBuff, but when they show you patch win rates what you’re seeing is the win rate over every single game of public Dota, which means the majority of those games will be relatively low skill contests. I take a different approach that allows me to look at hero win rates exclusively in games that the Dota 2 client categorizes as Very High skill. This often paints a drastically different picture than the aggregate win rates. Two recent examples of this are Earth Spirit and Io. According to overall win rates they were amongst the worst, but when you look exclusively at Very High games their win rates improved by over ten percentage points, which painted a much more accurate picture of their potential.

While I’m quite confident in the value of this approach, the downside is that I cannot create a complete list of games and must depend on sampling. This means that the numbers I provide are estimates of the actual win rates, so don’t get married to the positioning of some of the rankings. However, the sample sizes should be large enough that we can be confident that the larger trends represent actual existing trends, even if we have some doubt as to their precise magnitude. With that being said, let’s start off with the heroes that show the largest improvements in 6.80.

680Buffs

For all the supports that were buffed in 6.80, only three show up on this list. Earthshaker’s buffs were pretty sizable, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll see him more often at virtually all levels of play. Sand King and Lina have also exhibited significant improvement. Ancient Apparition narrowly missed the cutoff for this list, but he’s received buffs for several patches in a row and could be on the cusp of becoming a semi-regular pickup competitively.

From a position perspective, the bigger shakeup appears to be taking place in the carry position. We have buffs going to carries who haven’t seen regular competitive play in a long time (Sven and Faceless Void), carries who were nerfed out of competitive contention (Troll Warlord, Morphling, and Huskar despite never seeing the light of day in Captain’s mode), and carries who are commonly seen exclusively as pubstompers (Sniper, Bloodseeker, and Riki). In addition to a couple of long-term climbers who will show up later, there’s a lot of potential here for some undervalued pickups, especially given the decline of the dominance of the defensive tri-lane in 6.79. With multi-core lineups becoming more prevalent and 2-1-2 laning being a viable option, carries who were previously seen as not being good enough to warrant a 4-protect-1 strategy might have a shot at achieving previously unheard of metagame relevance. But the conservative read is that Faceless Void and Sven are the most likely winners because they’re closest to what people are used to.

Brewmaster is a hero whose gains in the patch are unlikely to go realized in most of his games. Relatively speaking, his ultimate is fairly difficult to use effectively, and the cooldown reduction it received in the patch is only valuable if you’re diligent about finding opportunities to use said ult. That being said, among better players it’s looking like 6.80 could be a sizable improvement to his greatest strength.

Centaur Warrunner is in a similar if less extreme boat. Traditionally a hero that does significantly better in Normal than Very High, Stampede is the one element of his kit that appears to become more valuable in higher skill games. 6.80’s cooldown buff to Stampede is a more targeted buff towards players that can regularly coordinate Stampede initiations with their entire team.

In addition to the Centaur, Axe and Sniper are heroes that have traditionally had a low skill skew in their win rates, but somewhat surprisingly their 6.80 changes appear to have gone some length towards addressing this. Unfortunately for Meepo, the bulk of his 6.80 improvement has so far been in lower skilled games.

680Nerfs

Moving on to nerfs, we have a much shorter list with much starker changes. The two huge ones were the twin 6.79 pub terrors of Earth Spirit and Broodmother. Earth Spirit’s nerf was warranted, but perhaps a tad excessive. I wouldn’t be surprised if it got softened in a future patch, such as dialing back the nerf to remnant cooldown. Broodmother is a much more difficult case. She deserved a buff, but the direction of the 6.79 attempt, that is letting her walk off the bloody map, was poorly received. It will probably take some more experimentation to try to find the right flavor of annoying for her.

From a strictly competitive standpoint, Alchemist was the chief casualty of the patch. His 6.80 hit was a sizable one, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be dropped or if teams will attempt to salvage him.

The nerf to Legion Commander looks a lot worse than it is. Moment of Courage got hit hard, but the (relatively few) people who have adapted to this have continued to do reasonably well. You can read more about her post-6.80 fortunes here.

Finally we have Venomancer. Of the three dominant supports of 6.79, Veno definitely got hit the hardest. He’s still absolutely viable in pubs, but he might become a more situational pick competitively. Visage and Crystal Maiden both look comparatively unscathed and will likely continue to be viable.

With the buffs and nerfs covered, here are the heroes that improve the most in high skill games in 6.80.

680NtoVH

I don’t have much to add here. Most of the heroes on this list are the usual suspects, but there are two heroes of note.

Ember Spirit’s first month was relatively quiet compared to Earth Spirit, but the level of pub play on Ember has improved significantly since his release. This improvement is almost entirely confined to Very High play, but it’s there. I attribute it to better mechanics combined with a more realistic evaluation of his carry potential, or lack thereof. He appears to be a reasonably competent momentum ganker, but it remains to be seen if he’ll have some special niche that keeps him from getting overshadowed by other similar heroes, like, say, Storm Spirit.

In 6.79, Nyx Assassin suffered a huge drop in win rate solely off of a change to the targeting on Impale, but in the intervening months Very High players have acclimated to this change. He’s still harder to play than he was in 6.78, but the rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

680Top15

Finally we have the top 15 list for Very High games. It doesn’t necessarily have a ton of predictive power for competitive play, but it’s still something people like to see.

The more things change, the more things stay the same it seems, as the top 3 could have been pulled out of 6.74 two years ago. In fairness to Lycan, he’s been much less conspicuous this time round during his quiet climb back up the charts. His Normal win rate has lagged behind recently, which suggests that his success might be a tad less braindead than it was in the past.

People moaning about Treant Protector nerfs are being ridiculous. His competitive game may have been toned down, but he’s still very strong in a pub environment that is rarely coordinated enough to punish his weaker early levels. He’s also still capable of surprising teams competitively but only as an occasional surprise pick. Start relying on him and opponents will develop antibodies pretty quickly.

In terms of popularity, Mirana has been pretty ridiculous. She has the most games played in my week long sample, and that includes beating out both Terrorblade and Phoenix.

And finally, RIP Skeleton King. See you in the Baller Tier in the sky.


Hysterical and Useless: Jungle Legion Commander in 6.80

February 7, 2014

An excessively sensationalist title, but I need to keep with this week’s theme.

One of the less obvious things a Skill Build Analysis can do is give us a more complete idea of how a patch change has affected a hero.  In 6.80, Legion Commander received these changes:

  • Moment of Courage now only procs one extra lifesteal attack
  • Moment of Courage buff grace period increased from 0.5 to 1.0 seconds
  • Moment of Courage cooldown reduced from 1.2 to 0.9

There’s a lot going on there, but without a lot of complex modeling it’s impossible to know what the net result of the changes is.  Luckily for us, we don’t have to model anything.  All we have to do is look at her stat pre- and post-patch, and we can have a good idea how the changes have impacted her.  And as we’ve seen, DotaBuff’s early results suggests that the net effect is a pretty big nerf and that she was one of the hardest hit heroes in the patch overall.

But Dotabuff results are inexact.  We can’t rule out the possibility that some of LC’s decline could be attributable to an environmental shift, and we have no idea how the increased losses are distributed.  Perhaps some skill levels or playstyles are more affected by the change than others.  Using a new SBA we can look at the win/loss changes divided both by bracket and by skill build, giving us a more detailed picture of the implications of the patch.  In the case of Legion Commander, I made the argument a couple weeks ago she’s more successful as a laner than in the jungle, and now with the nerfs to Moment of Courage in 6.80, that argument has received quite a bit of supporting evidence.

The build usage on Legion Commander is mostly unchanged between the patches, so I won’t be including that today.  What I want to focus your attention on are the success rates of her builds, primarily the Overwhelming Odds (Q) and Moment of Courage (E) builds.

LegComPatchCompBut that’s a lot of info to take in at once, so here’s the short of it:

LegComPatchCompSummary

Across the board, Moment of Courage builds take a big plunge in 6.80, while Overwhelming Odds builds weather the storm far better (aside from High 6.79, which is very likely just sample error).  It’s also noteworthy that the overall decline appears to be much more pronounced in the higher brackets, though I hesitate to speculate why this is.

Another way to look at the same data is on a point-by-point basis, and that adds another dimension to the shifts going on.  While it’s true that overall build rates haven’t changed dramatically, there is one noticeable shift in how people are building Legion Commander in the 6.80 environment.  It was completely unheard of before the patch ( < 1% of players), but in 6.80 ~10% of Legion Commander players in the High and Very High skill brackets are skipping Moment of Courage entirely during the early game (levels one through eight), and these players are actually doing quite well for themselves.   Here’s what the win rates looked like prior to the patch:

LegCom679bySkill

What you see here are pronounced valley shapes for both Q and E.  This basically is another way of showing that Q->W and E->W were the two dominant ways to build Legion Commander in 6.79.  Q->W almost always took Moment of Courage as a one-point wonder, whereas  E->W did best skipping Overwhelming Odds entirely.

LegCom680bySkill

6.80 changes things completely.  Q is still a bit of a valley, simply because Overwhelming Odds is a pretty dumb skill to partially invest in, but E is now a straight point-by-point decline, and given the popularity of 0/4/4/1, it’s likely bringing Press the Attack(W) along for the ride.

Maybe Moment of Courage got hit harder than intended with this fix for how the Dota2 engine handles the skill, and we’ll see it brought back up in future patches.  On the other hand, maybe this is the new normal that Legion Commander will be balanced around.  After all, it’s not unheard of for a Dota hero to have a passive that should never be maxed first.

In any case, I would strongly recommend not maxing Moment of Courage during the early game in 6.80.  In the comments of my previous Legion Commander post, someone brought up that she could jungle sufficiently well without maxing MoC, and while I do not have enough experience jungling her to vouch for the efficiency on this, it is absolutely worth looking into if plan on level 1 jungling with her.

More to the point, I would say that these results suggest that there now a very large performance gap between laning and jungling for Legion Commander.  Jungling with her might still be worth it if it’s necessary to do so for the continued sanity of your matchmaking acquaintances, but at that point you might be better off with any of the actually competitive jungle heroes.  4/4/0/1 builds putting up a 53% VH win rate in a patch where her overall VH win rate is 44.6% does not paint a positive picture for the viability of her jungle.

And of course you’re still welcome to try to develop new ways to make her jungle work.  These stats aren’t proof that it cannot work; merely that most of the people currently trying are struggling.  Just be aware that the new patch has dramatically weakened Moment of Courage, and that you’re going to have to find ways to compensate for that if you wish to experience a similar degree of success to your pre-patch expectations.


[SBA]Phoenix: In an Interstellar Burst, Back to Save the Universe

February 6, 2014

PhoenixSplash

Like Terrorblade from yesterday, Phoenix is a hero that definitely has a dominant skill build, both in terms of popularity and success.  And yet, there’s something much more interesting going on here to me.  It’s not that I have anything against straightforward carries; farming specialists are an important part of what makes Dota’s gameplay works.  But when it comes down to statistic evaluations, it’s the fuzzy heroes that tend to tell more interesting stories.

And Phoenix is a pretty fuzzy hero regardless of its skill or item builds.  You have this highly mobile semi-carry with nothing in the way of hard CC, so the first comparison you might tend to draw is to Queen of Pain, but that really feels off the more you look at the hero.  You also have some impressively long cooldown times on every ability, which seems out of place for what might otherwise look like a nuking semi-carry.

In any case, Phoenix’s low 40’s win rate at launch was pretty unsurprising if you watched it being played, but since then its win rate has improved dramatically, so let’s break down some stats on how players have acclimated themselves to the extremely new hero.  So first, a brief description of another set of abilities that are really annoying to create a brief description of.

PhoenixSkills

For the more detailed descriptions of her skills you can refer to its Dota 2 Wiki Page.

So let’s have a look at how things are shaking out:

PhoenixBuildUsage

As we move up in the brackets, we see a distinct trend towards Fire Spirits (W) both in terms of primaries and secondaries.

PhoenixBuildWin

Fire Spirits wins out pretty decisively, which isn’t a huge surprise when you think about it.  Let’s put aside the magnitude of the attack speed slow and how it helps enable successful ultimates.  Fire Spirits also potentially receives great damage scaling because the +80 damage you get per rank is per spirit.  On top of that, the fact that each usage of Fire Spirits gives you access to four separate nukes goes a long way towards mitigating Phoenix’s downside of long cooldowns.  On this note, it’s also worth pointing out that additional ranks in Fire Spirits reduces the skill’s cooldown, further improving the uptime of the spirits.

From there the question is Icarus Dive(Q) or Sun Ray(E), and the answer appears to be Icarus Dive.  While the skill has a surprisingly low base damage, the scaling per rank is quite sizable.  You’re also likely to use Dive for initiations, so you might as well get some decent, reliable damage out of it.  Without some kind of a setup, landing a full Sun Ray is much less dependable.  On top of that, much of the ability’s scaling is in % of max HP, which is going to have diminished value in early game situations.  Subsequently, Very High players seem to be favoring a 3/4/0/1 build by level 8, as 30% of them are ignoring Sun Ray entirely in those first eight levels.  This group has also done quite well for itself, with a 53.86% win rate overall.  You could possibly make a case for prioritizing Sun Ray earlier if you’re in an environment where you have a major AoE teamfight ult to capitalize off of, such as Chronosphere, Reverse Polarity, or Black Hole, but Sun Ray builds in general should be seen as the much more situational option at best.

As for items, Phoenix so far appears to have a very low farm dependency score.  This might change some in the future as players acclimate to the hero, Ember Spirit went from rank ~90 to ~45 in the month after his release, but with Phoenix I think it’s unlikely we’ll see a tremendous jump.  Once you have a Mekansm, hereafter referred to as “Best Item in the Game,” you’ve plugged Phoenix’s major itemization hole.  In any case, here’s what we’re looking at itemwise:

PhoenixItems

Very High item trends, as usual, tend to emphasize utility items.  Two items that narrowly missed the cutoff for VH were Pipe of Insight and Rod of Atos.   Atos in particular looks like it could be a good sleeper luxury pickup for the hero due to the slow making it easier to land both Fire Spirits and Sun Ray.

Also of note is the trend away from Tranquil Boots.  They’re still quite popular in the upper brackets, but maybe not 100% necessary.  If your team needs an Arcane Boots carrier, Phoenix appears to be acceptable.  Skipping the early boot upgrade entirely to get your Mek quicker may be an option too, which leaves your boot upgrade options open until later.  While Power Treads are popular in both brackets, I would hesitate to recommend them.  In both Normal and Very High, Treads have a lower win rate than Tranquils despite being more expensive.  That’s certainly not proof the pick is completely worthless, but unless you’re pulling some major Tread switching tricks, I’d probably opt for something else.

I think that covers it for Phoenix.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a bonus SBA to close the week that revisits a recently covered hero that has seen some major changes in the new patch environment.


[SBA]Terrorblade: No Alarms and No Surprises

February 5, 2014

TerrorbladeYou’ll have to forgive me if my heart isn’t in it today, but it turns out Terrorblade is kinda boring.  Who knew?

Well, probably everyone.   Including me.  When I say “boring,” I specifically mean in the sense that his skill and item info carries no big secret.  You may or may not like his playstyle, but either way you have to admit that there isn’t a lot of nuance out there right now.

Still, I promised this last week, so here it is.  Phoenix will come later this week because he/she/it is more interesting, and so I want a larger sample for that.  Other 6.80 stuff has to wait a bit longer because 25% of my match returns are RAD.

First on the list of total non-surprises is that Terrorblade is another top 20 entry in Farm Dependency so far.  Two interesting trends are that his winrate does improve some in Very High, and he actually might score rather high in Normal bracket farm dependency, but we’ll go into this more once I have a more complete sample for all heroes in 6.80.

Moving on to skills, here’s what we’re looking at:

Q — Reflection: Slows an enemy hero and creates an illusion of them.  Scaling: Significant Cooldown reduction and Illusion Damage.

W — Conjure Image: Creates an illusion of Terrorblade.  Scaling: Illusion Damage.

E — Metamorphosis: Transforms Terrorblade, giving him a ranged attack (with a slower Base Attack Time) and bonus damage.  Scaling: Bonus Damage and Duration.

And is there an emerging dominant build?

TerrorBuildUsageAs you can see, Meta->Conjure(E->W)with one early point in Reflection is by far the most popular build in all three brackets.  The only real significant competitors are Meta->Reflection(E->Q) and Reflection->Meta (Q->E).  And does the build perform well enough to warrant this kind of popularity?

TerrorBuildWin

For the most part it does.  There are a few builds that outperform it in certain brackets, but that’s to be expected with how small the samples are for most competing builds.  Only Q->W outperforms it consistently, and in that case we’re looking at a build with less than 1% of the total share.  That being said, the gap isn’t huge between builds that open with Meta and builds that open with Reflection, so you could maybe find some justification to experiment there.  One somewhat interesting feature is that Conjure Image looks like a pretty bad primary, but possibly the best secondary.  It could be the case that the scaling on Conjure Image is actually pretty important for Terrorblade’s midgame farming and general combat presence, but until levels 8 through 12 he doesn’t have the stats and mana to ever justify maxing it over either of his other skills.

In any case, if you’re new to the hero and you’re looking for the safe and extremely common build, it’s 1/2/4/1.  The only significant decision being whether to take Reflection or Metamorphosis at level 1, and for that you need to evaluate your laning situation.

Moving on to items, we again don’t really have any surprises.

TerrorItemsSange and Yasha declining isn’t much of a surprise given its status as official core item.  I’d be more inclined to believe that SnY just delays your Manta Style, but SnY doesn’t perform terribly here.  One thing of note is that there’s not a lot of evidence of SnY disassembles and neither Sange nor Heaven’s Halberd has a significant amount of usage in any bracket.  This list also reminds me that I should maybe look into 6.79 -> 6.80 item comparisons, as Ring of Aquila actually looks reasonably competitive for a cheap item that’s likely to be sold off.  One last item of note, Radiance Terrorblade is a distinct minority.  I can’t say much else beyond that as Radiance winrates are notoriously unreliable.


6.80 Win Rate Shifts: A First Look

February 1, 2014

Dotabuff updated their win rate page to support 6.80 filtering today, and you know what that means: painfully premature win rate speculation!  Even if it’s early, we can still see some clear winners and losers emerging.  Just keep in mind that some of these trends are likely illusory products of the short time frame and unusual matchmaking conditions, and on the flip side of things, there may be real trends in the patch that are getting lost in the aggregate.  I hope to have a N/H/VH breakdown in no more than two weeks that might shed further light on this, along with some Terrorblade and Phoenix stuff early next week.  Moving on…

The Winners

DotaBuff680Winners

The biggest boost of the patch goes to Meepo unsurprisingly.  6.80 expands on the buffs he received in 6.79 by boosting his ult schedule up one more level at all ranks to 3/10/17, as well as changing it to provide a significant reduction to his revive timer.  The benefits he gets from this are straightforward and obvious, but it remains to be seen to what extent this boost will  into success in higher skilled games where he has traditionally struggled.

And while we’re here, I’d like to point out that Dotabuff’s method for differentiating 6.79 and 6.80 games may be systematically underestimating the degree of change between the two patches.  On Meepo’s personal page, his win rates for 1/30 and 1/31 are 48.93% and 47.90%, which must average out significantly higher than his listed 46.90% in 6.80.  Additionally, on the 6.79c listing both Terrorblade and Phoenix have games, which suggests to me that Dotabuff’s boundaries between the patches may be fuzzy.

Coming in next is Axe who saw both a sizable HP Regen buff as well as boosts to his Berserker’s Call ability.  Well come back to this again later, but Base HP Regen is pretty big boost, especially when it comes to public win rates.  I don’t feel that the cooldown improvement on Berserker’s Call is terribly significant, but adding half a second of disable to the first rank of the skill will make his early CC much more potent.  Like Meepo though, Axe is a hero whose win rates have traditionally trended downward in the stronger skill brackets, so we’ll want to look at individual bracket returns before we draw any conclusions on how significant these changes are.

Faceless Void is an interesting case.  He received two fairly mundane buffs.  The first of these is a cooldown reduction on Chronosphere, which is of course nice, but it is late-loaded and provides zero benefit at level 6.  Generally buffs and nerfs that make a large change in a hero’s overall win rate come into play earlier in the game, so my suspicion is that this change isn’t driving the numbers that we’re seeing.  Time Walk also saw a significant reduction in its mana cost, going from 120 to 90.  This should allow Void to use the skill more liberally in the early game and is probably a bigger win rate driver than the cooldown change.  But the real X-factor in these changes is the buff that grants Faceless Void 1000 movement speed inside of Chronospheres.  How much this impacts the average success of a Chronosphere is just straight up hard to estimate.

Whatever the case, I’ve been less pessimistic than average towards the hero in the past, and these changes have a shot at turning him into a sleeper pick in the upcoming months.  I’d compare him to Naga Siren in that his value as a pick depends greatly on how practiced your team is at setting up and capitalizing on big ults.  The one thing holding him back is an outdated adherence towards treating him exclusively as a late-game, 4-protect-1 pick, when Chronosphere allows Void to contribute as early as 6.

By contrast, Earthshaker is an incredibly simple case.  In 6.80 he moves faster and has higher strength gain.  And while 6.80 Faceless Void might have potential to be a dark horse selection in competitive play, more Earthshaker is almost a guarantee.  Oh, and manaless Blink Dagger should probably be mentioned too.

Sniper is another straightforward buff with Take Aim providing x*20 extra range per rank of the ability.  I still strongly suspect that my Sniper Skill Build Analysis will hold up, but I’ll redo the test once we’re a little further into the patch.

If you were wondering where all the +1 Armor buffs were in this patch, it turns out that Sven is hogging them all.  +3 Base Armor is a rather non-trivial amount of effective HP at all phases on the game, especially on a hero tied for the 14th highest starting Strength, the 22nd highest Strength growth, and one of the biggest motivations to stack strength in his ultimate God’s Strength.  It wasn’t that long ago that Sven was (briefly) the terror of competitive play, and maybe this is big enough to get him back in the spotlight.  Oh and Warcry has a slightly shorter cooldown at all ranks.

Continuing the theme of simple changes, Riki’s only buff was .75 more HP Regen.  I mentioned during Axe that we’d come back to the importance of HP Regen, but this wasn’t actually what I had in mind.  In any case, the change adds a bit more stability to Riki’s somewhat fragile laning phase.  Will it be enough to turn him into something more than a situational pick/Wisp tether receiver?  Probably not, but it’s still a significant boost.

Lina being this high is a bit of a surprise to me.  Her two major changes were increased duration and movespeed on her passive Fiery Soul.  My thoughts were that a buff solely to Fiery Soul would be more negligible due to how much priority her other abilities have, but perhaps I have misjudged.  In any case, it’s an intriguing direction for Lina buffs given how unique of a mechanic Fiery Soul is for her, and perhaps a Lina SBA is in order for the new patch.

Ruining the trend of simple patch changes, Troll Warlord’s changelog is a bit of a doozy.  Both changes were to his passive Fervor which now has a flat number of stacks per level and a scaling amount of attack speed per stack.  To try to quantify things a bit, in previous patches at rank 4 of Fervor he could achieve 40 increased attack speed after 2 attacks on the same target.  Now he can achieve 64 attack speed, but it requires 4 attacks so the ramp up time is doubled.  At lower ranks its a mixed blessing, but ranks 3 and 4 were undeniably buffed.  It could be that the late game benefit outweighs anything he might have lost due to the increased ramp up time of early ranks.  An alternate, and perhaps not competing position is that the early ranks of Fervor mattered at least as much for killing neutrals as they did for killing players, and for killing neutrals the added ramp up time is negligible.

And closing this top 10 list,  we arrive at Sand King.  Sand King’s lone change is a sizable radius boost on Sand Storm at lower ranks of the skill.  To tell the truth, I’m not especially well-versed on the implications of this.  My understanding is it allows him to jungle more effectively at early levels.  If my understanding is correct, then we could easily see more Sand King play as the jungling support in a traditional defensive trilane, like the old standard of Sand King/Leshrac or perhaps combining with the new and improved Lina.  Also free Blink Dagger.

The Losers

DotaBuff680Losers

Earth Spirit being a distinct #1 on this list should surprise no one.  He received a sizable list of changes that I will not go into here, but suffice to say most of them were nerfs.  As I mentioned in my blurb in the TeamLiquid Patch Impressions, Earth Spirit’s 6.79 win rate increase from Normal to Very High was the largest I’ve ever seen.  From what little I’ve seen, that success disparity still exists in 6.80, so the hero may be significantly stronger than that sub-40% win rate suggests.

On the competitive side of things, Alchemist took a beating this patch, likely as a result of his top 10 finish on the list of most commonly picked heroes in competitive games and his top finish in win rate among those 10 heroes.  The loss of night vision distance is more important than you would think (for a fairly liberal definition of the word ‘you,’ anyway), but the big driver here was likely the hits to Unstable Concoction.  Max damage Concoctions should be much more difficult to land reliably, but that’s a fair balance direction given Alch’s dominance during this last patch period.

Moving back to pub, Broodmother’s 6.79 rework is getting re-reworked before she ever sees the light of day in Captain’s Mode.  She was doing well in Very High games, possibly not absurdly well, but this nerf was more driven by mass dislike of the implementation of her 6.79 buffs than balance concerns.  I see these changes as a back to the drawing board moment for the hero, and in the meanwhile a version’s available that’s way less likely to make her opponents hate life.

When I was talking about the importance of HP Regen, Venomancer was who I had in mind who lost .5 in this patch.  Sure, he also lost 5 base damage, but I’m inclined to believe that Poison Sting makes up for that in a lot of scenarios.  He’s still very much a usable hero, but 6.80 is noticeable downgrade in all scenarios.

I’m not even going to try to summarize the changes Legion Commander saw to Moment of Courage this patch.  I don’t see this as a balance change so much as it’s trying to improve the implementation of MoC in the new engine.  If the new version proves to be a nerf, numbers can be tweaked in a future patch once the behavior of MoC has stabilized.

Visage is no stranger to comp-driven nerfs, and 6.80 brings him two new ones in the loss of 5 movement speed and increased mana cost on his slow.  In exchange, his familiars get true magic immunity, but it’s still a net nerf.  Regardless, I suspect he’ll weather this well enough, as he ate nerfs in both 6.79 and 6.79c and still was the third most picked hero in the patch while putting up a 52.5% win rate.

Timbersaw loses 3 base strength.  It shouldn’t cripple him in general, but I’m inclined to believe that he may have already been a bit overrepresented in comp play, so this might be harsher than what Visage is dealing with.

In another straightforward nerf, Outworld Devourer lost 50 range on Astral Imprisonment.  It may not seem like much, but AI is the cornerstone of Outworld’s mid domination, so it’s not surprising that even a relatively small range nerf can noticeably shift the outcome of his laning matchups.

As the most picked hero in 6.79 by a sizable 180 game margin, a Crystal Maiden nerf was almost inevitable, and to be honest, she made out pretty well all things considered.  A loss of 3 base intelligence hurts, but from a mana perspective her Brilliance Aura softens a lot of the blow.  I would not significantly downgrade her viability over this.

And finally we have Death Prophet.  In 6.79 she became the new Warlock of pub games, and her 6.80 nerfs were targeted at reducing the impact of Exorcism by increasing its cooldown by 15 seconds.  I believe though that her recent changes are an attempt to put her into consideration as a competitively viable hero, so in exchange for her nerf she got an increased area of effect on her Silence.  When it comes to pub play, Exorcism is the big driver for Death Prophet’s win rate so it’s no surprise that 6.80 is a net loss on that front, but in more highly skilled and organized environments the outlook for DP in 6.80 is a lot less clear.  It still seems doubtful that she’ll be picked up with any regularity, but it’s certainly not for lack of trying.

And that about wraps things up.  For anyone wanting to look through the results themselves, I’ve sloppily converted it to a google spreadsheet.  Altogether it’s not much, but keep on the lookout for further patch delving next week.