This can change the dynamic of the game quite quickly. So far, teams that lose their T2 towers have inevitable also lost their Shrines, meaning that the map control disadvantage shrunk even further within the span of minutes.
Binding Shrines’ vulnerability to a T3 tower seems more well rounded. It also gives attackers an advantage to take map control after breaking highground successfully in just one lane. Before, even if you had taken down rax in one lane, you could not get as much map control unless you had taken down all T2 towers as well.
Icefrog has implemented a lot of quality of life improvements for supports in the past years, so it comes to no surprise that further improvements are made. This allows for both supports to split the gold among them better. Now, technically, both supports could purchase both an Observer Ward and a Sentry for 165 Gold each.
Helm of the Dominator has been the center of attention in 7.xx for many people. It was the most changed item in the new patch and it alone has made it important for players to know which neutral creeps provide what benefit. The item is almost a must-purchase for every line-up, with an incredibly strong +8HP regen aura. It already has affected many popular builds, such as replacing Vladmir's Offering for Anti-Mages.
It comes to no surprise that the item has now been nerfed. The strong regen remains, but the stats bonus, which almost rivaled that of Veil of Discord, has now been nerfed. The bonus gold for dominated creeps is a nerf as well, as now killing a dominated creep basically equals killing an ancient creep.
These are some basic item buffs and nerfs that were definitely necessary. Dragon Lance is definitely a core item on virtually any ranged core and it’s stats are too good to pass up on. That likely won’t change, but it’s good to have it nerfed ever so slightly.
Bloodthorn has gotten very popular as of late, thus increasing the cooldown seems like a natural decision to make.
Ever since the recipe for Silver Edge has been changed, Sange has been an almost irrelevant item. Sange&Yasha is not a popular item and neither is Heaven's Halberd. It seems logical to buff all three of these items. Lesser Maim is an ability that has been buffed for years now. In fact, it used to provide a 5% chance to proc. The now 30% (or 35%) chance will unlikely bring the item back into play though.
Another quality of life improvement in this patch. It seemed rather silly that the Aegis regeneration could be stopped by just a rogue ranged creep that randomly attacks you out of nowhere. As for the Regen Rune, it is quite a buff for the rune. Heroes with spammable spells can now use the entire duration of the rune to farm a jungle with.
This quality of life improvement should prevent inefficient warding, though for now it has caused more bugs than it has helped.
At Dota Pit, Faceless showed how efficiently teams can pull creepwaves to neutral creeps to deny the opponent both farm and xp. Other teams have adapted this strategy and others have at least used this method and other similar ones to have a headstart. The Radiant camp above the T2 could be pulled in a way that would allow the tower to hit the creeps ever so slowly, allowing for an easy and early level 2-3 for any support. Whether or not such methods should be implemented in the game is a discussion in itself, but the biggest issue was that it was inconsistent on the Dire side, giving Radiant a vast advantage.
These are just small adjustments to make jungling and pulling/stacking on the Dire side more consistent and easier. Adjusting the ward spot close to the Dire ancients to not provide vision over Roshan’s runespot seems weird, as the Radiant counter-part does give vision over it still.
Instead of addressing every change individually, we’ll talk about some of the patterns in this patch.
Talents have been the center of attention for 7.02’s balance changes. This allows Icefrog to nerf/buff heroes not overall, but for the state of the game. Some heroes are stronger early game, some later. Either way, most buffs seem to have a common theme. Movement Speed and XP Gain talents have both been very underwhelming so far, so both have either been improved or replaced with a different talent. In general, 7.02 addresses some of the most underpicked talents in the game.
A flat increase to XP Gain or Movement Speed will unlikely see a hero be picked more often, unless that talent was already the picked talent at that point. If any XP Gain or MS increase talent was underpicked before 7.02, it seems unlikely that that’ll change, even with the buff.
Heroes that have noteworthy XP Gain changes are Tusk and Undying. A 35% XP Gain looks incredibly strong on paper, especially since both can be played as a greedy 4 position support or even a 3 position core. Neither’s XP Gain talent was the dominant choice however, so it remains to be seen if that’ll change.
Another, albeit small, theme in this patch was to address + Armor and + HP talents. Additional armor for agility heroes is rather underwhelming, as agility naturally provides additional Armor. Health increases my be nice, but these talents often lose out to their alternatives. As a result, many HP talents have either been buffed or swapped out for better alternatives.
Hero changes that have been omitted have been deemed as too minor to comment on and are unlikely to make a significant impact.
+6 Stats at level 15 still seem more intriguing than + 80 Unstable Concoction Damage, especially when considering the general mindset and playstyle of an Alchemist at that stage. Additional Concoction damage may be nice for an Alchemist playstyle that won’t go into Radiance, possibly a support/utility Alchemist. That said, the stat talent is rather underwhelming as well, which is why it was pretty close to the MS talent’s pickrate. Similarly, the additional minus armor at level 25 is unlikely to become popular either for the current Alchemist playstyle.
At a roughly 50% pickrate, Ancient Apparition’s level 15 talents couldn’t be more difficult to decide between. Changing the additional intelligence to a cooldown reduction on Ice Vortex seems to be nice, but it also begs to question whether or not AA will have sufficient mana to actually spam the spell often enough to make the talent worth it. Effectively, AA can now have 5 Ice Vortexes up at the same time, as opposed to 4. Whether that is more useful than the HP regeneration will be seen.
6 strength translate into 120HP. Effectively, this is a buff. There is basically no difference between providing additional strength or HP, aside from the minor HP regen from raw strength, so this change may just allow players to easier recognize and realize what benefit they receive from a certain talent. That said, 20 damage at level 10 is quite significant, so it seems unlikely that the dominance of this damage talent (80% pickrate) will change anytime soon.
Similarly, the bonus Attack Speed at level 15 is great for Anti-Mage as well. While AM is an agility hero that can naturally acquire bonus Attack Speed through agility items, his early itemization (Helm of Dominator + Battle Fury) make this talent much more appealing than a cooldown reduction on Blink. And unless Anti-Mage faces a variety of intelligence cores that warrant a low cooldown on Mana Void, the +25 agility at level 25 will always be superior.
Swapping out the Spell Amplification for additional, flat magic damage for his Shuriken Toss makes Bounty Hunter significantly stronger. Unless he built into a Dagon, the Spell Amplification only boosted Shuriken Toss, providing mere 30 extra damage (natural spell amplification through intelligence not included), as opposed to now 75.
Brewmaster has already seen a bit of competitive play in 7.01 and these changes will further improve his viability. Fire Spirit can’t be blocked by the other spirits anymore (or any unit for that matter) and the additional Thunder Clap damage will come in handy in the midgame.
Enabling Max Goo Stacks at level 15 should greatly increase Bristleback’s midgame impact and it’ll likely out-perform the 200HP talent alternative by quite a lot.
Spawn Spiderlings was already a good nuke that had been nerfed not too long ago. Additional 60 damage at level 10 is a massive increase. The alternative of 25% XP Gain also looks appealing for cases where there aren’t as many openings to kill with the nuke. While the additional attack damage for the spiders may be nice, +8 webs allow Broodmother to have control over half the map at level 25, which is much more valuable.
Dark Seer is one of the few heroes that have and will likely continue to stand the test of time. He’s been nerfed numerous times but remains a relevant hero throughout most metas. So these nerfs to his Ion Shell manacost or MS aren’t anything big by any means. Losing 2% cooldown reduction in return for 13 strength (or 10 Ion Shell damage) is also a minor nerf, but also not big enough to push him out of the meta.
This is quite the nerf for Disruptor. The hero wasn’t overly strong by any means, but a 15% cooldown reduction may have been too good. Providing a -3s cooldown on Kinetic Field is still a strong, as is any cooldown reduction talent. Effectively, it translates into 2.6 seconds between Kinetic Fields, as opposed to 5.6s without this talent, or 2.9s with the old 15%CD reduction talent.
At level 10, Doom can now have a built-in Hand of Midas. Devour has always been that, but the bonus gold now extends to a total of 180 gold with this new talent, while Midas provides 190. And of course, it is more effective than a Hand of Midas due to it’s incredibly low cooldown at level 4 (40s). Midas provides 114 GPM, while Doom’s Devour, with this talent, now provides 270 GPM, as opposed to 150 GPM before this patch. (These calculations assume that the creep can be devoured within the 40 seconds of the spell’s cooldown and don’t account for the gold the creep provides by killing it.)
Losing the armor talent is a nerf in itself towards Doom, as he is notoriously low on armor and usually has to build into armor items. That said, the Scorched Earth bonus damage/heal is a 37.5% increase and thus provides a lot of sustain.
Quantifying the DPS of increased attack damage vs. that of a spell is difficult, especially since either ones impact can vary from game to game. Increasing Doom’s (the spell) DPS seems more natural and fitting though.
Ember Spirit has been one of the most popular heroes in this patch, and especially the higher tier bracket (27% pickrate in 5k+ MMR) enjoys playing the hero. The new magic damage build was largely inspired by the talents and the new playstyle also increased his winrate significantly (54% in 5k+MMR). He’s also been well recognized in pro play and is a top pick/ban in most events/qualifiers. It seemed only natural to see him nerfed, even slightly. Taking away a bit of strength in his early game seems appropriate and allowing Root abilities to disable Activate Fire Remnant seems only logical at this point, considering all the other mobility based abilities that Root disables. This allows certain heroes to be more effective and definitely increases the value of Rod of Atos.
The other hero next to Ember Spirit that has been at the center of attention in this patch. Lone Druid is a force to be reckoned with both in high tier pubs (52% winrate in 5k+ MMR) and in pro play (2nd most contested hero in on-going DAC Qualifiers).
The new, more fighting oriented build is possible through the hero’s talents alone, so it was logical for those to be nerfed. That said, these nerfs aren’t big enough to really hurt the hero notably. It likely won’t be the last nerf towards Lone Druid’s talents.
Luna has been a top carry in the meta for a while now. Her ability to seamlessly transition from teamfights into taking objectives is top tier and close to unmatched. She is a symbol of the what the current meta is all about, but that, and her dominance in hier tier pub games (30% pick- and 55% winrate in 5k+MMR) is also why it made sense to nerf her.
Reducing the base damage is quite significant, especially for when Luna needs to contest the farm against an actual opponent in lane. Lunar Blessing’s reduced night vision will also cripple her early- to midgame, as usually Luna players will max it 3rd or at most 2nd.
We discussed Lycan roughly two weeks ago and determined, that the hero is quite strong at the moment. The new Helm of the Dominator complements him well and his new Howl allows him to have high impact without good micro. So while his consistently high winrate (53-55%) raises concerns over his balance, these nerfs are significant enough to warrant letting him back into Captain’s Mode.
Reducing his agility gain is huge and amounts to 5 agility lost (or rather “not gained) at level 11, which translates into 1 lost armor and 11 lost attack speed. While Lycan usually builds into attack speed granting items/auras anyway, the lost armor is definitely noteworthy. (A more in-depth discussion on armor can be found here)
This is quite the early-game nerf towards the lately popular Magnus fighting build, which includes Echo Sabre and Daedalus. It’s still a viable build, especially later on as the 15% Empower buff will make up for the damage difference and outweigh the lack of it earlier, since it also benefits teammates.
Being able to shoot out Sacred Arrows every 13 seconds is quite something. It may not be sufficient at level 20, as 50 damage seem to be consistently more useful, but it is at least a viable alternative, in comparison to the additional armor.
Monkey King has only been in the game for about 2 months and already he’s been marked as one of the more annoying heroes to deal with. Slight nerfs in 7.01 were good and timely, but apparently not enough, even though his winrate (50% across all brackets) didn’t really warrant it.
That said, the nerfs to Jingu Mastery aren’t significantly bad and the bonus damage at level 15 more than makes up for it. What hurts is the reduced base armor and the nerf to Wukong’s Command. Before, Monkey King could zone out opponents from objectives (towers or rax) with an Aegis, quite effectively as well.
A necessary nerf, given Shadow Demon’s popularity and success in pro games (most contested support in DAC qualifiers so far and 68% winrate).
As previously discussed, Treant is back with a vengeance and is currently the hero with the highest winrate in the 5k+ MMR bracket. These nerfs seem fitting, as they address Treant’s early game potential, though it seems unlikely that they will have a huge impact on his winrate.
Another popular hero in this patch, Underlord holds the second highest winrate in the 5k+ MMR bracket. Much like Treant, these nerfs address his early game strength, though just like Treant, it may not be enough. Pit of Malice and Firestorm are strong enough spells still.
Weaver may not hold a top position in terms of winrate, but she’s become a top pick in competitive play (4th most contested hero in on-going DAC qualifiers). The Swarm has proven to be a valuable spell, possibly too valuable with even just 1 skill point in it. As a result, it has been nerfed appropriately.
Just two weeks ago, we concluded that focusing on a new build could revitalize her and that . “that build may just be a patch [...] away from reality”. It may take longer than just a patch. These new talents and buffs certainly cement the idea of a different playstyle, a support, or non-core Windranger. The problem stays the same however, that the idea isn’t well supported by the talents. Additional Windrun Slow is definitely a support choice, but it also competed with +4 mana regen, which seems almost always better. A support Windranger wants to transition into physical damage at some point, but no talent supports such a transition, or even provides utility outside of a little bit more survival.