Image by Dragon Warrior
We wanted change, and change is what we got, in abundance. There were 14 cores that had their abilities reworked in small to large ways and we won’t know how the changes will impact the meta in the future.
There’s a lot to get into so let’s get started.
Lifestealer is one of the stars of the new patch. When the patch started, support Lifestealer became a thing. Not a meme thing, but a thing that won you games. Since then he’s been reworked and support Lifestealer is now on life support.
His abilities got reworked and their effects switched around a bit. Rage no longer provides attack speed but it gives +15% movement speed. Feast now passively provides the increased attack speed. Infest got reworked and now automatically controls the unit it infests (if not a hero), gives bonus movement speed and health, and heals Lifestealer for 3/4/5% of max health per second while infested (instead of a burst heal).
These are pretty huge changes and the infest change is what made Lifestealer viable as a support. He would just sit inside a core and he would act like a 7th mega item.
His “support” abilities got nerfed in a recent patch but playing him as support may forever be a pocket strategy teams might pull out every once in a while. At least while his infest ability still works like a 7th item.
Another star of this patch is Lone Druid. He went from barely seen in pubs or pro matches to seen often. This is thanks to the changes and buffs he and his bear went through in the recent patch.
It’s been a while since Lone Druid was a strong hero but now he’s a little bit broken. He’s sitting at around 54% win rate this week and around 5% pick rate.
There are a few changes that influenced this rise in win rate and pick rate. The bear was buffed significantly with 15 changes to just the bear, most of them being buffs. Then the jungle item drops happened which is beneficial to Lone Druid since he has 12 item slots so he can use items other heroes would have to drop or share.
Spirit Bear's attack range was increased, armor type changed from basic to hero, attack type changed from basic to hero, Demolish, Return, Entangle are available at level one, health was reduced and gains +75 hp per level of the hero, Spirit Link is now passive, and some other changes.
True Form was reworked and now you gain 500/1000/1500 health that heals you on cast, 10/15/20 armor, sets your melee attack range to 225, has a 40-second duration, and grants you Entangling Roots and Demolish.
Luna was reworked but not much has changed.
Moon Glaives now works with critical strikes, base attributes were increased, and Lunar Blessing was changed from increasing allies attributes to increasing their attack damage and armor and providing Luna with extra night vision.
Luna wasn’t seen very often in pubs or pro matches in the last patch so she was due for a buff. This buff isn’t game-changing or play style changing but it could increase her viability as support. By increasing her starting attributes and changing her Lunar Blessing, she could have a stronger laneing presence.
Lycan had his Scepter and abilities reworked but nothing too crazy.
His Howl now causes all enemies within 2000 AoE to have reduced armor and deal less base attack damage. Howl is also now cast around his wolves.
His Scepter now grants him a new spell, Wolf Bite. This spell turns an ally into a wolf, provides them the Shapeshift properties, grants both of you 30% lifesteal, and a shared 30% lifesteal between both heroes when within 1200 range.
Mars received a buff in some ways but once again, nothing crazy or game-changing.
God’s Rebuke knockback now adds a 40% slow. Bulwark can be toggled which makes Mars locked in a particular direction. He can still move, only 20% slower while the toggle is on, and 70% of attack projectiles within range will be redirected towards Mars instead of his allies. Arena of Blood now destroys trees inside the area.
The Bulwark change is a cool ability change that turns his playstyle into something that a Roman soldier would do which is to move with his shield and protect his allies. It’ll be interesting to see how a creative off lane player will use this to win a game or a team fight in the future.
Clinkz is back and so is his old ability Death Pact. Death Pact replaces Strafe and allows Clinkz to consume an enemy unit, skeleton, or a level 3/4/5/6 neutral. It gives him extra health and bonus armor debuff on attacks. If a hero dies while debuffed, he gains +5 damage permanently and the Death Pact cooldown is refreshed.
His attack range was reduced by 25 range and Burning Army now deals 24/26/28% of his attack damage rather than 80/100/120% of his base damage.
This seems like a pretty reasonable change. Clinkz could pop up out of nowhere, use his ultimate and kill someone before they could even react. The Burning Army dealt too much damage before and now the ability seems more balanced.
Outworld Devourer was changed in a way that caused the community to become upset. People said he’s “dumpster tier” now and there’s some truth to that statement. This week he hovered between 46-48% win rate and under 5% pick rate.
His base attack time was increased, Arcane Orb’s damage was rescaled (with higher maximum damage), no longer has splash damage, and no longer steals intelligence. Equilibrium was replaced with Essence Flux, a passive that grants you a 25% chance to restore your max mana when you cast an ability.
Sanity’s Eclipsed was changed in a non-trivial way. Instead of dealing damage based on intelligence difference, it now deals damage based on the difference in the max mana and has 150/225/300 base damage. It also provides buff charges that increase your max mana by 30/40/50 per charge, gaining a charge through arcane orb hits and astral imprisonment against heroes.
In some ways, it seems like Outworld Devourer was buffed and in other ways nerfed. It seems like his playstyle changed in a significant way which caused the initial drop in win rate. As players continue to learn how to play the new OD, the win rate may rise or he may continue to be a dumpster tier hero for the rest of the patch.
Razor’s mechanics and abilities were changed but unless you read the changes you might not have noticed.
Unstable Current was replaced with Storm Surge, a passive ability that increases movement speed bonus to you and your team. The passive damage is now on the ultimate, Eye of the Storm, and it still has the active component.
The most important change is that Static Link now causes Razor to continuously attack the linked target. You cannot attack other targets and it happens while you’re moving without interruption. The drain rate and drain duration was reduced as well.
Snip snap, snip snap! It doesn’t look like Valve can make up their mind about how Riki is as a hero. Years ago Riki’s ultimate turned him invisible but then they changed it so he could turn invisible at level one. Now Cloak and Dagger is back as his ultimate and Tricks of the Trade available at level one.
His starting armor, health regeneration, and movement speed got buffed so he’s not as squishy as he was at level one. His agility got nerfed pretty hard, from 30 starting and gaining 2.5, to 18 starting and gaining 1.4.
Smoke Screen miss chance was nerfed, it no longer slows or reduces vision, and the cooldown increased. Blink Strike now has two charges but its damage was reduced. Tricks of the Trade is now available at level one and lasts for two seconds.
I’m a Riki player and I like the changes. At level one I noticed he’s much tankier in lane. Invisibility was never a great escape mechanism or survivability tool because of dust or sentries, Tricks of the Trade and Blink Strike were always the best ways of surviving and escaping. Now Tricks of the Trade is a basic ability, has a reduced cooldown, and Blink Strike has two charges. All this makes playing Riki much more enjoyable to play in lane and in fights.
Drow Ranger was changed in a large way.
Precision Aura was replaced with Multishot, a channeling ability that releases 12 arrows over 3 waves and deals damage and apply Frost Arrow slow, traveling twice your attack range. This means Drow Ranger can’t push all the waves by pressing E anymore. The shared bonus agility is now on her ultimate and only affects nearby ranged heroes.
Frost Arrows now do 5/10/15/20 damage. Marksmanship no longer instantly kills creeps, the proc is now 40/50/60 bonus damage.
Drow Ranger’s playstyle was like a solo hero who would farm the jungle with her ultimate and press E every once in a while to push out waves. Now, this no longer ideal and Valve seems to be encouraging more of an active playstyle. She has a new offensive ability, Multishot, and her ultimate only affect allies that are close to her.
Not much was changed from Shadow Fiend. His core abilities are the same but his ultimate, Requiem of Souls, was changed.
It no longer reduces attack damage but causes units to run away in fear for 0.6 seconds per wave (up to 2.2 max). This fear doesn’t happen on death Requiem. The radius was reduced from 425 to 350 as well.
Shadow Fiend was a little bit weak and not seen often in games but the change to his ultimate could be a nice team fight spell.
Sven’s defensive ability Warcry was changed and he has a new Aghanim’s Scepter.
Warcry now buffs allies within 700 range to have 6/9/12/15 increased armor and 12/16/20/24 bonus damage. Also increases Sven’s movement speed by 6/10/14/18.
Sven’s Scepter now gives Storm Hammer +500 cast range and you travel along with it. Upon impact, it automatically attacks the target.
Valve continues to experiment and change the Warcry ability and they’ve returned back to where they started.
Viper’s Poison Attack was changed and is now back to where it was. The attack ranged was increased, reduces magic resistance, movement speed, deals dps, and stacks up to 5 times with each time refreshing the duration.
Nethertoxin’s cooldown was increased, the damage increases the longer the target stays inside the area, it no longer reduces magic resistance, and its radius was increased from 380 to 400.
Wraith King wasn’t changed too much, just some changes that help balance his overpowered abilities.
The skeletons had their damage reduced, Vampiric Aura no longer affects creeps, lifesteal was reduced by 6% at each level, and it now provides bonus damage (half values for skeletons).