Last week when discussing how powerful BKB is in the current patch a lot of comments concentrated on how it is a necessity: with an increased power of hero spells having stronger magic immunity item is a must. As such, spell damage and strong crowd control spells are considered to be the main drivers behind earlier and earlier BKBs and the item’s impact is so pronounced because of the ability Power Creep. Is Power Creep in Dota actually real, though, or did players simply get better over the years is a question we will try to answer today.
One thing about the whole discussion is rather trivial to refute: at their base level spells in Dota didn’t get stronger. One needs only to look at changelogs to see how most abilities now deal roughly the same amount of damage they dealt almost twenty years ago. Most iconic stuns have also stayed the same duration.
In fact, in the last ten or so major patches, ever since the experimental Attribute system was scrapped, most heroes are slightly better off at dealing with magic damage. There is no cheap early spell amplification and Strength as a stat gives slightly more HP than it used to. The introduction of Infused Raindrops also solves a lot of problems with heavy early game nukers.
With BKB having an average timing of 23 minutes in the professional scene, which is pre level 20 for cores and pre level 15 for supports, there aren’t even many crucial talents in play at this stage of the game, while the impact of neutral items on spell damage is limited to, at most, six percent from either Vambrace or Nether Shawl, or 10% Magic Damage Amp from Grove Bow.
There are also no Debuff Duration Amps at this stage of the game, unless you are playing Rubick. Arcane Blink is a possibility, but it is strictly theoretical, as it costs way too much to be an efficient purchase.
What it means is that at the time when BKB is built on average in the current patch, the game isn’t significantly different from the game we played many years ago. The reason why it might feel like the ability damage and crowd control is stronger early on is because players are just naturally better at the game. They are better at layering their disables and better at maximising their early game damage output.
The early levels of Dota are not power-crept and we believe the reason why BKB is built so early is because the item is simply way too good for the price. If anything, it is BKB that was power-crept in the early game, as an early BKB is no longer punished by very low duration in the later stages of the game. That doesn’t mean that there is no power creep in Dota, though.
Several years ago an excellent post was published, discussing some of the more subtle ways in how the game is changing. Very ironically, it was also one of the last posts before the introduction of Neutral Items in patch 7.23.
The general idea behind the original post was simple: heroes themselves didn’t get much stronger. Talents provide extra options in the later portions of the game and result in significant power spikes at certain timings, but at their baseline the heroes are more or less as powerful as they used to be, up until late game. This point, as discussed previously, still stands.
There was a discussion of a different problem, however, that became even more pronounced: how there was more economy on the map and how it is easier to tap into that economy.
Our initial impression of the patch was that the economy in it will be toned down: the jungle became harder to farm, so no more flash-farming heroes, meaning less GPM on average. This impression was wrong. Heroes farm just as fast as they used to, sometimes even faster. They also have more ways to utilize their farm and it was true for a while.
Between the free Neutral Item slot, free Town Scroll slot, potential Aghanim’s Shard upgrade, consumable Moon Shard and Aghanim’s Blessing heroes can now get stronger and stronger for much longer. The value of an individual inventory slot is lessened, because a lot of power can come from consumed or free slot items.
The interesting question arises, though: who benefits from it the most and even if Power Creep is real, is it actually bad for the game?
One big, somewhat recent paradigm shift in Dota was that “mages” are weak late game. This is simply no longer true and with the introduction of talents, shards and spell amp effects “mage”-type heroes can scale very well into the late game with their unique skill sets.
In fact, as discussed in one of our previous posts a lot of high level pub players and professional teams regularly experiment with non-right clicking carries and for a good reason: they might be harder and less straightforward to execute, but they have a number of advantages in the later portions of the game, usually associated with crowd control or utility.
Returning to the previous section on how there are now more “effective item slots” for heroes in the late-game, there is an interesting question to answer: do they benefit auto-attacking or spell-casting heroes more?
We believe that the answer is obvious: one type of heroes can build, for example, a Butterfly getting more attack damage and attack speed, increasing their consistent damage output drastically. Or Satanic and have the ability to heal from literally one HP to full HP over four or five auto-attacks which will typically take one second in the late game. Or consume a Moon Shard for extra attack speed that doesn’t take a lot.
The most the other can get is +12% spell damage and a dispellable effect that amplifies magic damage by ~40%. Or a 50% cooldown-reliant lifesteal for 10% of your current HP. The aforementioned item that allows one type of hero to go from no to full HP in under one second with ~0.25 cooldown auto-attacks also dispels the magic damage amplification effect of another aforementioned item.
What we are trying to say is that, yes, there is power creep, but it is not Ability Damage power creep, but rather economy power creep. Heroes are significantly more powerful in the late game right now than they were before, and there is still a difference in power levels between conventional right-clicking cores and casters in the late game.
However, with the help of talents and Shards, there is now a wider variety of options available to casters and supports, something that might seem unfair or problematic to old school carry players who are used to the idea of being able to 1v5 in the late game without relying on their team in a team game.
We believe this is where most of Power Creep complaints come from: players who failed to adjust to the new realities of a much more complex and deeper game where the difference between impact of different roles is less pronounced.
Supports specifically are also in a much better spot than even three years ago: they’ve been “power crept” to a point where their impact in the late game can realistically compete with the impact of a right-clicking carry and it doesn’t require exceptional skill, talent and tons of luck to consistently pull off plays. Because of it, Supports also typically have more money and items in the later stages of the game, once again reinforcing their ability to actually stay relevant.
The blog post from three years ago we mentioned previously ended on a slightly pessimistic note: it was wary of the potential impact of an ever-expanding economy. For a good reason as well: the average GPM keeps increasing every year and there are more and more ways to use the money. There is no denying the game’s been power crept.
That said, currently overpowered BKB aside, we believe the game is in a very good state despite and maybe even because of the aforementioned power creep. Supports can be incredibly impactful until the very end of the match. Spell casting cores can go toe-to-toe with right-clicking cores at every point in the game. Mobility and Cast Range have been toned down to make effective positioning an actual art form.
There is nothing wrong with allowing heroes to scale indefinitely. There is also nothing wrong with making some roles and some playstyles relatively more powerful. It is a natural evolution of the game.
As long as the game remains tightly balanced and fun to play, Power Creep is less of a problem and more of a tool. In our opinion Valve have been doing a great job in this regard, but what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Dota was better back in the day, before Talents, Spell Amplification, Cooldown Reduction, Shards and Backpacks, or do you like all the new mechanics and can’t wait to see what more is in store?
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I think the game would be in a better state if neutral items were just removed or it dropped a neutral item box instead and allowed you to choose a specific neutral item.
Power creep is real and they fuckd the game when releasing new heroes that fullfil all roles (And talents were pretty much introduced to make some supports into carry and carry into support), that's a bad decision since now all heroes need to be fixed to have that potential multi-role hero design
I think so. Supports and Strength cores scale way to much into the late game now. AGI heroes dont hard carry late game like they used to. GPM for pos 3,4,5 is vastly increased making them come online and able to close out games soooooo much faster. I’m all for shorter games but farm heavy pos 2 and hyper carry pos 1 heroes are completely irrelevant this patch.
Worth noting how there are 5 items building out of mystic staff right now and only 2 building out of eaglesong. This benefits int cores, against which bkb is more valuable… and disadvantages agi cores obviously
I really like this meta. Spell casters are much more interesting and fun heroes than right clickers. They're also higher skill and make games faster. Right clickers do pretty much nothing for 40 minutes except if they can jump on an already won fight to steal a kill or two. Spell casting cores have to play around their mana and cooldowns. Some spells are skillshot and must be casted with care in order to land. Power-creep is real but it isn't an issue in my opinion. The fact that players are getting better also factors
new patch tmr.. no need to think too much today
The game is in a pretty bad state imo. Just not fun to play. I only turbo nowadays.
BKB should give 100% spell immunity when it has full seconds and then when it reaches 6seconds it gives only 60% Status Res
between talents, neutral items, shards, personal couriers, backpacks, TP scroll slot, and agh's blessing, the game has definitely experienced power creep, but as the article suggests, it's not strictly a bad thing. in many respects the game is far more nuanced as a result. personally i think the game is decided a little too early on in the current patch but like the general long-term direction of the game. but i'm also a scrub
Make BKB similar to Blink Dagger. Cannot be activated in 3 seconds if takes player damage.
Tig3r that's probably one of the worst suggestions ever made.
Help me, I am a decent doto player back in 2017 and after 5 years Gap I can't enjoy the game, the game is just now very chaotic. I can't even enjoy watching the game like I used to because visually it is happening everywhere and I don't know what is going on.
BKB has got to be the most boring item of all time to deal with as a caster. As the article points out, carries have a ton of viable options for items. Would you rather try to land a skillshot for 300 spell damage with cooldowns and mana cost, or right click and clear half the screen for 1200 a hit? Unless you are one of a few very specific caster heroes, most caster items do not even contribute all that much to a heroes ability to farm, not nearly to the extent of the standard agi carry items. They have made things much more interesting with shards/scepter/talents, but item wise I don't know why certain things have to be so massively expensive. A wind waker for example is nearly 7000 gold. Yes, you can move in the tornado, but for the same price a carry can get a BKB and a basher. I know its a cherry picked example but still.
The biggest problem I have with the game right now is the jungle. The respawn is way too fast at one minute and makes the game so dull. It needs to either be rethought or put on 3 minutes. Oh my carries bkb is down so he has to jungle. Oh we won a fight, lets jungle. Oh we lost a fight, we need to jungle. Oh we cant go high ground, lets clear their jungle (which will be RIGHT BACK in 30 seconds).
Keep in mind im talking about just solo queue.
> They are better at layering their disables
Maybe the reason is Valve has added status bars at some point and nowadays you don't need any real skill or time sense to stack disables?
I'd like Volvo to remove all that helping stuff like tower range circles, spawn boxes, spell range indicators and status bars at least for competitive dota.
Maybe allow them only for novice accounts with less than 100 games, or below 1000 MMR.
layering disables, you should try to fight dissable from back, or any dirrection. if its happening in 4 hero at front line.
or try at to fight at the weakest layer.