Some patch notes have been omitted due to length and because they were deemed too minuscule to talk about.
The introduction of xp gained by denying your own creeps adds a whole different layer to how people have laned so far. While denying has always been valuable, it is not comparable to how important it is now, especially in the midlane, where there will be one more creep than usually. To make up for this, deny xp has been increased to 70%. These changes alone could see a shift in how pro teams approach the laning stage. The midlane is likely to be more contested and in conjunction with other changes, the offlane could become much, much weaker again.
As a quick example: Denying a ranged creep before 7.06 would result in a 45xp difference. Denying it in 7.06 results in a 35xp difference.
These are some of the changes that will likely cause a change in offlane heroes and approaches. Shrines were an essential part in staying sustainable throughout the laning stage, as it effectively gave a hero at least 2 Shrine heals. One could even argue that there were 3-4 available, with the Shrines back in base, which allowed for a shorter off time from the lane.
The extra melee creep for mid and the return of jungle camps will likely see a lot of carries back in the midlane, but there’s also more potential for dual lanes. Together with the change in deny XP, the midlane seems to be the most contested lane going forward, with sufficient resources to accommodate 2 heroes. If it is a solo vs. solo lane however, it means that each hero has the potential to reach level 2 with the first wave, something that wasn’t possible before.
The fact that creeps meet a bit closer to the offlane tower may be a small buff towards the offlane, but it doesn’t make up for the deficits in lane sustainability and lack of XP gain.
Stacking is back! The 7.xxx era saw a heavy decrease in stacking and pulling, as creep camps spawned only every 2 minutes and a strategic camp block would already deny any pull attempt for the first 3 minutes. Now, supports will have more resources available again and it’ll make it more difficult for offlaners to contest the lane. Additionally, the deny XP mechanic allows supports to gain even more value out of pulling, as they can effectively “farm” both the neutral creeps and their own.
Neutral camps may give less xp and gold, but the sheer amount of camps available make up for it. Before 7.06, a medium camp would on average provide 100 gold every 2minutes or per spawn. It may now only provide 80 gold per spawn, but since it can spawn twice now, it provides 160 gold on average every 2 minutes. If the game goes on for more than 90 minutes, then that medium camp will also provide more gold than pre-7.06 per spawn.
These changes make it more difficult for early tower pressure, but make pushes all the more effective, which helps with the so far difficult highground siege.
These attribute changes make heroes all around tankier, reminiscent of the change in 6.86, where every hero received an additional 30 base HP. The base HP regen may have gone down by 0.25 (which results in a base HP regen of 0 for many heroes), but due to the increased str growth per level and the regen per str, every hero ends up with more HP regen at level 1.
Similarly, all heroes end up with more mana at level 1, though it is a nerf for the lategame, where the lost mana becomes noticeable.
There’s a clear trend here, as objectives provide less and less gold. Taking an “entire lane of rax” (tier3 tower + melee and ranged barracks), rewards only 575 per player (if we assume no deny or lasthit occured), or 2875 for the pushing team. In comparison, this team bounty was 3700 before.
The change to melee creep experience is quite significant, as it reduces the total wave xp to now 210 (from 225). With the new deny mechanic however, it is possible to reach level 2 with the first wave (granted you are getting these as solo experience). Denying the ranged and a melee creep (27xp + 12xp) or all three melee creeps would put one above the 240xp threshold for level 2.
Up until level 4, illusions will provide less gold than before. At level 5, they will provide just as much gold as before and from level 6 onwards, they provide more than before.
While this gold change may be negligible, the damage reduction is worth noting, as it further nerfs illusions heroes, in addition to the Radiance nerf (40->35 damage on illusions).
Aether Lens remains a solid support item and the change makes it much more valuable for support, most of which can make better use of mana regen than health regen.
Any change that removes recipes (or in this case lowers its cost and replaces that cost with a more expensive item) and instead adds an item is a buff. Unlike Aether Lens, Force Staff is not only a support item but also frequently bought on utility cores.
The Kiev Major group stage saw over 250 Midas purchases and while the playoffs saw significantly fewer purchases, it was still a logical consequence to see a Midas nerf. To pay the Midas off, one will have to use it 11 times, the same amount of uses that were necessary prior to its 7.05 change. The additional cost for the recipe will make quite a difference in how fast one can acquire a Midas though. Together with the reduced bounty on Melee creeps, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see delayed Midas timings in this patch.
This is an overall buff to the item. While it loses 0.3 HP regen, it provides 150 more health than before and is also 300 gold cheaper.
This is a huge buff to the item and depending on the meta and its favorite heroes, Halberd may very well become a tier 1 purchase. A 3 second disarm is a time window sufficient enough to allow better positioning against the target, similar to what a Ghost Scepter would do. Unfortunately for the item though, its build up isn’t as great as other items. The stats and benefits it provides outside of the disarm aren’t particularly great, certainly not enough to warrant prioritizing it over other items. It’s potentially a great item for a strength utility core, but even then it’s likely a 2nd or 3rd pick up, rather than a first item.
Much like Force Staff and Heart of Tarrasque, the replaced recipe cost is a welcome and beneficial change here.
Same story as with HoD, but with the added bonus of a significant buff towards its damage and attack speed (for only 200 gold more). The fact that it can be disassembled makes it that much stronger for a variety of heroes. Drow Ranger can disassemble it lategame for a Satanic and Butterfly and Sven could build it into Satanic and Echo Sabre. Mask of Madness is a great item to accelerate the early and mid game farm and this allows heroes and players to not commit to the item full time.
Much like Hand of Midas, Solar Crest proved to be too strong during the Kiev Major. The item is not completely useless and the low cost for this much utility (minus armor, passive evasion and offensive Truestrike) still make it a good purchase, but it might become a more situational item, though that is largely dependent on the meta.
This is a solid buff towards the item and makes a casual, mid game farming oriented purchase more efficient. It unlikely changes the frequency of the item’s purchases though.
This is a strong buff towards Death Prophet, the only hero who has a charged based ability and naturally builds into a Refresher Orb. Earth Spirit and Ember Spirit are two other heroes who could potentially build this item in the lategame, though it seems rather unlikely that this would be a regular occurrence.
The new recipe for Rod of Atos is a much smoother build for supports and allows them to prepare for a purchase early on. Bracer components could even be purchased as starting items and are rather inexpensive, certainly in comparison to a Vitality Booster. While it provides 50 HP and 10 intelligence less, it also provides 6 agility, which translates into almost 1 point of armor, which can be seen as a 6% HP increase. Overall it is a very strong buff for the item and may just make it a more realistic option for many supports.
The way it works now, it is quite a buff. Purchasing an Infused Raindrop and spending all charges but one still allows you to build an Urn. The item still provides 6 stats points but adds 2 points of armor on top.
This is quite a significant nerf to Alchemist, a hero who excelled towards the end of the DAC 2017, but fell off during the Kiev Major. That said, it makes a lot of sense to nerf the hero preemptively, as creep camps spawn every minute again and as stacking will inevitably become an important mechanic/tool again, Alchemist would’ve likely risen to the top if he had stayed the same. He can still farm exceptionally well though, so it’s not unlikely that Alchemist will see an early return.
As an initiator, Axe often also fills the role of utility core. His Aghanim’s Scepter so far has been rather situational and most of the time other items have been significantly better. Now though, it’s worth considering picking it up early. Axe certainly can use the stats and 30% damage reduction is almost as good as a Silver Edge.
While the Aghanim’s Scepter may be “fun” on paper, it hardly seems like a worthwhile purchase in comparison to other items. A BKB on Bane himself would be much more effective and so would a variety of support items, such as Force Staff or Glimmer Cape.
Beastmaster will be more deadly and push intensive from lvl 15 onwards and a value skill point in Wild Axes becomes that much more valuable.
This is quite a significant buff, as it basically enables an early Octarine Core on Bristleback.
A 6 second cooldown reduction on Reality Rift is good and Chaos Knight also benefits from the early mana boost that every hero received. That said, it’s unlikely to see much of Chaos Knight this patch. He’s already not been a popular hero so far and as flash farming heroes return, Chaos Knight has no space in the meta.
Two significant buffs could catapult Chen back into the meta, in addition to other jungle buffs. This allows Chen to be much more aggressive early on and helps him scale better into the lategame.
A 30 second duration increase is a huge buff for Clinkz, who can now spend more with a single use, rather than being forced to use his ultimate multiple times. Yes, there is now a 20 second down time during which he doesn’t have his ultimate bonus, but that is perfectly fine for the hero, as he now doesn’t lose his bonus damage halfway through an engagement.
It may read like an insane change, but ultimately his old Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade was consistently more useful. Weave and its effect are always useful, but more often than not, there’s 2 Shallow Grave targets top.
Removing critical strike from the small wolves is a significant buff. Up until this patch, Ogre Bruisers were the only medium camp neutrals that did not have an ability.
A good buff for Drow Ranger, who can now lifesteal while using Frost Arrows. Together with the changed Mask of Madness recipe and other factors (creep camps, laning behaviour, push timings), she may very well return to the meta.
What looks like a buff is actually a nerf. It’s usually more difficult for supports to gain a level 25 talent than it is to build an Aghanim's Scepter, which means that this effectively lowers the value of the hero’s Agh’s Scepter while simultaneously taking away the additional 300 Rolling Boulder damage.
Much like Chen, Enchantress received a significant buff to her early game impact. A 55% slow at level 1 is something most roamers dream of these days, which is why the duration had to be nerfed on early levels.
Talents are a unique way to bring back formerly “op” abilities and mechanics which proved to be too strong at all stages of the game. Giving Tether a stun from level 1 onwards would be too strong and even at level 8 it would prove to be too strong. As an added level 25 bonus however, it may still be one of the best talents in the game, but it is also rather difficult to reach level 25 as a support, so it may only be a casual occurrence.
A strong buff for Kunkka, whose positioning always had to compensate for the range of the Ghost Ship towards the target. By itself, this buff may not make the hero viable again for competitive play, but it surely makes it more fun to play him.
While yes, this Agh’s upgrade essentially provides a free BKB for the duration of the Duel, it doesn’t really replace it either. Often times, a BKB is necessary to begin a Duel in the first place. There’s also the other effect her Aghanim’s Scepter has, which makes Legion Commander and her Duel target not take any damage from anyone outside the Duel. This bonus isn’t always favorable, especially when the Duel is meant to be a quick pick-off prior to an engagement. Overall it certainly is a buff, but one would be ill advised to see it as a BKB replacement.
The fighting Lone Druid build has been nerfed ever since its introduction and Icefrog seems to further hope that players will return to the old ways. Rabid's attack speed buff is a significant one that could, once again in the right meta, prove to be a valuable enough buff for Lone Druid to return.
Whether or not Magnus remains a top pick is certainly not affected by these changes, as the new Agh's Scepter won't replace any of his current items. What will hurt Magnus is the change to the offlane, which could completely change the approach to playing the game and see an entirely set of desired skills from offlaners.
Monkey King has had an impressive start into his competitive career with a whopping 59% win rate at DAC while being the most picked hero. Despite a nerf in 7.05 and a significantly lower win rate at the Kiev Major, Icefrog still deemed it worthy to nerf the hero again--he was still the third most picked hero at the Kiev Major after all.
While Wukong’s Command added armor is nice, as it allows a consistently longer up time due to the added sustain, the lack of a passive bash makes it significantly worse. For 2700 gold, Skull Basher is a fairly inexpensive item to build, especially considering that it has three components that it builds on. Support Monkey Kings have always had the opportunity to build a fairly quickly. Wukong’s Command is mainly used as a teamfight and zoning ability, though the lack of strong attack modifiers/passives and attack damage make it a fairly wimpy support ability.
Overall, Naga Siren's early game has been improved directly, but this is just to counter-balance the nerfs illusions and Radiance have received. In the grand scheme of things, Naga Siren has still been nerfed.
A strong buff that allows Night Stalker to be a more effective roamer early on. It enables him to initiate and gank from completely different angles and can make him a fearsome roamer.
Crystal Maiden reached top tier pick status, partly because Frostbite gained all the benefits of the new root mechanics. Oracle could see a similar jump in popularity, as an early root is often as good as an actual disable.
These are two incredibly strong quality of life improvements for Razor. Eye of Storm's cast point has always resulted in a "stutter step" during chases. Being able to cast it without coming to a halt is huge for a hero who generally has higher MS than most other heroes.
Sand King's jungling potential has possibly been awakened once again. The increased damage to his Sand Storm should allow him to farm the jungle with Sand Storm again. Recently, Sand King has been able to farm the jungle with Caustic Finale, but having both abilities at your disposable provides him with more flexibility.
Shadow Poison was a strong spell going into the Boston Major, so strong that Valve deemed it necessary to nerf its cost by 10 mana. Reverting that change slightly acknowledges that the nerf was possibly too strong. Soul Catcher is now a better spell. You can still position your spell to hit only one target, but if you wish to apply damage amplification on multiple targets, similar to a Veil of Discord, then there's that option too.
Aghanim's Scepter was always a valuable pick up for Silencer. Often times it wasn't necessarily the best pick up and some times you'd even see more utility items, but now it is a must purchase for cores and a definite consideration for supports.
Sven is back. The changes to creep camps alone would make Sven a viable option again, but the added strength bonus make him that much stronger than before. 320/540/800 bonus health is massive and definitely make up for the lower attack bonus.
The aggressive midlane hero became quite a threatening and popular pick at the Kiev Major. Together with the return of creep camp spawns every minute, TA could’ve become a premier pick in the meta again. The agility growth nerf acts as a suitable, pre-emptive strike against that. The new talent will likely still be overshadowed by the Refraction talent, though at the very least it is a real alternative now.
While Terrorblade has been sufficiently nerfed, he may very well still be a viable pick.
A necessary nerf towards Treant Protector, who proved to be a valuable pick at the Kiev Major (4th most picked hero).
While it may sound useful and strong in theory, the Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade doesn’t work out that great in practice. The hero strives as a true utility core and as such needs items that allow him to be one. Relying on Atrophy Aura to enable the rest of his team is an expensive bet for 4200 gold and even though it does now linger through death, Underlord is still best equipped with a variety of utility items.
This Aghanim’s upgrade is very comparable to Magnus’ Agh’s pre-7.06, which would turn Empower to a 900 radius aura for allies. At level 4, it would’ve granted 50%/25%(60%/30% with talent) to heroes and added cleave/splash, which is arguably more valuable and consistent than the damage provided by Atrophy Aura.
Vengeful Spirit was the 6th most picked hero at the Kiev Major and proved to be a valuable pick for many, as she can play both support and core. These nerfs hurt her early game a bit, but it still won’t change the hero’s utility.
If one were to choose both the invisibility and the cooldown reduction talent, there’d be a downtime of only 2.6 seconds during which Windrun wasn’t available. Effectively, Windranger is granted an item at level 20, one she definitely needs to increase her survivability. While this is indeed great and a necessary buff for a core Windranger, it doesn’t change that she remains squishy and that her itemization is less than ideal for a core. She may remain a support, something that pros have run in the past couple of weeks. A more in-depth discussion around her can be found here.