As a game that has literally transformed through the ages, from a random, completely unbalanced custom map to a unique, rather complex arena, DotA could very easily be a synonym to diversity. This element is what keeps players hooked on it after years and years of play; each major update may very well alter the gameplay a great deal, thus completely changing the meta.
In the most recent patches, we have seen a great deal of new material being added, a lot more than usual. New heroes, hero remakes and lots of new items have been bestowed upon us, and the community’s reactions describing the game vary from “awesome” to “flashy” to “chaotic” to “clowny”.
I will post a series of articles in an attempt to analyze this new material and confirm whether it has offered the game what it needed or not, as well as to express my thoughts on what balancing tweaks I’d like to see.
And to start off, let’s take a look at the new items presented in the 6.84 patch.
Yes, all 8 of them.
As an old player, I can assure you that 8 new items in a single patch was something surprising at first glance, to say the least, and not necessarily in a good way. So much new stuff in a single stroke makes it harder to balance out the heroes and how they correspond effectively. I find it hard to believe that each and every one of those items had the purpose of fulfilling a specific purpose, to be a piece of the puzzle that was actually missing. The reason I say this is because Icefrog used to add items solely for the purpose of balance back in the day.
For example, there was an old patch when the meta favoured physical damage dealers paired with great deals of minus armour; you would see slardar+dazzle+templar+vengeful in every game. In the next patch, we were introduced to the ghost scepter, thus giving other lineups a fighting chance.
Back to our time though. To be honest, this felt like a father’s attempt to take his spoiled daughter’s mind off their problems by buying her brand-new, flashy presents.
But, perhaps I was overreacting, I do tend to do that, after all. Let’s find out then:
–Enchanted Mango: Maybe a cheap and effective way to aid heroes in the laning stage and make room for some more aggressive plays and jukes. Not a bad addition, as it now seems, but as a basic item it couldn’t possibly affect the game too much anyway. I still give this a thumbs up.
–Lotus Orb: This one. . . even now it strikes me as randomness expressed as an item. It practically nerfs disablers, above all. Generally, heroes with plenty of single targeted spells are strong disablers, like Bane and Lion. Were chained disables considered to be overpowered? Did the developers feel that carries could be caught and bursted down too easily? Perhaps. I think though that what Lotus Orb has achieved is to make positioning less important. Yes, this item can be fun, but speaking strictly from a balancing perspective, I still don’t like it.
–Glimmer Cape: I am absolutely positive that this one needs to go without any sort of discussion. It was utterly broken when it first came out, and after a long, tiring series of nerfs, it’s still extremely powerful. It’s a very easy way of bailing out of difficult situations, or at least forcing the enemy to buy tons of dusts. Again, it feels as if positioning is becoming less important. Simply put, it doesn’t matter if you screw up, your support managed to gather 1950 gold and will bail you out. Super thumbs down.
–Guardian Greaves: The idea of merging two main utility items into something stronger sounds fair. But I can’t fail to see a pattern here: the negative buffs removal from your hero still allows you to miss your timing without paying the price too much. A well timed silence on an Omniknight, for instance, could change a fight completely. Said Omniknight would have to be careful of his positioning. Too close and he gets disabled, too far and he can’t use his spells effectively. As of 6.84 however, he simply buys Greaves, which equals problem solved. Strike 3.
–Moon Shard: Besides eating one when inventory is full, only a handful of heroes can actually make good use of it, such as Tiny and Slark. I think this didn’t really change much, I don’t mind having it around.
–Silver Edge: Invisibility is something that is easily countered, so an upgrade to Shadow Blade wasn’t a bad idea. The extra HP probably won’t save you from running into 5 enemies and a sentry like a moron, so I can welcome this one. The Break and damage reduction effects provide a window of opportunity against certain well-fed carries, mostly. What Silver Edge offered was a buff to snowballing and pickoffs, two options I felt were growing less effective. If I had to pick which one of these new items was the most reasonable addition, it would be this.
–Solar Crest (oh, the humanity.) : This was EXTREMELY cheap for what it offered. With a mere 3000 gold you could turn Roshan into easy money, the opposing carry into a blind idiot who can’t seem to hit anything, or your own carry into a seemingly immortal monster. All that with 0 manacost and 0 effective cooldown. After the nerfs, it’s not used that much anymore, though I believe it’s still quite strong. All in all, the main idea of a Medallion upgrade wasn’t too bad. It gave us hell for a few months, but it’s sort of worked out by now.
–Octarine Core: A.K.A. the old Aghanim’s. I think the idea on this one was to buff spellcasters/nukers. The thought by itself isn’t wrong, as most nukers have the drawback of only being able to damage heroes and not structures, however Octarine did way more than that, including helping to turn Leshrac into the beast we had to put up with, and giving us endless games with despicable radiance+manta+octarine rats. I don’t dislike it though, it’s nice to see some carry potential in a way other than right-clicking everything that moves with 3 Daedaluses.
Sufficient time has passed and my wrath has been quelled. I don’t hate this patch as much as I used to. There are certainly more options to go around, and versatility is something I like to see. However, I still see that very same pattern of trying to make the game easier in a negative way at times.
To be continued next time, featuring the items introduced in 6.86.