Most Dota 2 players get excited about patch changes, but most Dota 2 players are also far from professional. It’s about as reasonable to memorize novel-sized patch notes before playing Dota as it is to memorize the Kama Sutra before losing your virginity. Consider this your patch 6.87 equivalent of sex ed. It definitely isn’t everything, but it’ll get you where you’re going long enough and safe enough for you to figure out the rest yourself.
1. The Nerfs Strike Back
As always, the top heroes of the previous patch have come in with some heavy nerfs. That means Invoker, Outworld Devourer, Earth Spirit, Spectre, Beastmaster, Death Prophet, and Enchantress all felt the hammer alongside smaller nerfs for Sven, Vengeful Spirit, and Omniknight.
If you are a pub-stomping spammer, you’ll want to read the changes for your hero of choice prior to playing post-patch.
2. Vision is Premium
As has been the case in the last several patches, vision is taking high priority in balance (a trend geared at the professional scene and high-level play). Beastmaster, Death Prophet, Invoker, and Nature’s Prophet all took vision nerfs to their abilities alongside several game changes making maintained vision dominance more difficult as the game goes on.
Observer wards are now less expensive but now last six minutes instead of seven. The restock time has been adjusted back 30 seconds, meaning there will be forced intervals of less vision due to the stocking changes.
Observer wards also have a larger bounty; these changes make the biggest impact in the early game — where placing predictable wards gives opponents a much larger advantage than in previous patches and supports will start the game with extra resources — and the late game — where maintaining vision will be more difficult.
Gem of True Sight now only gives 900 AOE, meaning half-distance of most heroes’ typical day vision. A new ward spot was also added to the middle of the Dire jungle (seen here) and provides vision of three of Dire’s camps.
Finally in the vision department, a new team ability has been added alongside Glyph of Fortification: Scan. Scan can be used every four and a half minutes to tell your team if any opponents are in an area of the minimap (outside of the Rosh pit). It will not indicate how many opponents, or if they are invisible/using smoke. It simply tells you if there are opponents in a 900 AOE.
This is an enormous change that honestly can’t be overstated. Becoming familiar with its potential applications will likely separate good teams from great teams in the patch to come.
3. New Items in Patch 6.87
Unfortunately, there’s no quick way to learn new items. If you want the fastest route through this section, just remember this: items have largely been added or scaled to provide more action in the mid-game and more options (especially for roaming supports) in the early game.
Bloodthorn is an extremely expensive item for intelligence right-clickers or initiators. It has an active ability to silence an opponent, break any evasion, and create a critical strike for any units attacking the target (including neutrals, creeps, and towers). Expect this on Storm Spirit, Invoker, or potentially Lina mids. Like Orchid, this debuff can be disspelled using Manta Style or a purge.
Hurricane Pike combines Force Staff and Dragon Lance for a high-ticket item providing stats, regeneration, and attack range. It is the ultimate kiting option for heroes such as Drow Ranger, Sniper, and Wind Runner. The new passive can force you and your opponent a total of 900 units apart and allows four attacks without range restrictions against that target (if you can maintain vision). It can also target allies to force a split to avoid AOE spells such as Chain Frost or Black Hole.
Echo Sabre is a mid-priced item made of an Ogre Club and Oblivion staff which gives a passive attack buff similar to Weaver’s Geminate Attack. When active, any melee wielder will attack twice and apply a short disable to opponents’ attack and movement speed. This will not interrupt channeling or actions, nor will it work for ranged heroes. Expect this on strength heroes with mana pool problems, especially those who gank frequently such as Wraith King, Earthshaker, or even roaming Chaos Knights.
Blight Stone is a 300 gold item that reduces armor by 2 upon attack (and now replaces the recipe for Desolator and Medallion of Courage). It’ll be hugely useful for Templar Assassin, allowing her to dominate her lane and take stacks of creeps even earlier.
Infused Raindrops can be used up to five times to reduce incoming burst damage by 120. Consider it a safety valve for mids and roaming supports who may otherwise be vulnerable to ganks; as long as it has remaining charges, it also provides .85 mana regeneration per second.
Wind Lace gives 20 movement speed and is now a component in Drums of Endurance and Euls.
Tome of Knowledge can give 425 experience and can be purchased once every ten minutes for 150 gold. That makes it useful for helping roaming or struggling supports get up basic levels from behind.
Abyssal Blade (reworked) is now wildly more affordable because it can be purchased in smaller chunks. Instead of providing 70 extra damage, it will combine a Basher and a Vanguard. This will now help melee carries afford the item from behind as well as give a much-needed alternative to Crimson Guard. In addition, Abyssal Blade’s active bash (called Overwhelm) has about half the cooldown and half the mana cost. Against heroes with splash damage (Tiny, Kunkka, Battlefury builders, Magnus) this item will be a must-purchase for any melee carry.
Blade Mail was reworked to now function similar to Specter’s Dispersion, meaning a unit with high armor will reflect more damage than he receives. In addition, physical and pure damage dealt into Blade Mail will be reflected through magic immunity.
The other dozens of item reworks are largely scaling changes intended to open up options and action in the mid-game.
4. Terrain Changes in Patch 6.87
Patch 6.86 opened with enormous changes which gave Dire a substantive advantage in high-level play. Although that advantage dropped from over ten percent to about three percent as teams learned to play the new map, many new map changes will create slight advantages for the Radiant side by increasing vision advantage against Dire across the map.
Check out this excellent gallery by Ghost_Jor for the most in-depth documentation so far available of these changes. See the changes yourself in the test client.
5. Pushing just got Harder
Towers are far more defensive now; Tier 2 towers do up to 25% more damage (the same as tier three towers) and all towers give allied heroes within its attack range (700 units) armor bonuses (one armor for tier one and three armor for all others) . In addition, all high ground towers were moved deeper into the base to prevent “chip pushing” strategies from being as effective: getting into your opponents’ base will almost certainly mean forcing an engagement.
6. Banning in Ranked All Pick
You asked for it. You begged for it. You wrote your congressman. Well, now you’ve got it: to open ranked all pick, every player will be permitted to select a ban and half of those proposed heroes will be selected for bans at random. This will definitely impact the versatility of pub matches, but may also make it more difficult for professional and upper-tier players practice specific heroes in suitable matchmaking conditions.
7. Heroes scale differently
All Heroes will begin with twenty extra health (which makes a notable difference for particularly squishy supports or solo laners), but that’s just the beginning. Strength now gives twenty HP per level instead of 19. Intelligence gives you less mana, but now increases spell damage. Experience for early levels has been increased substantially, which will have the specific function of stalling cores at level nine and allowing supports to catch up, then stalling cores again at level eleven.
Here’s some examples: for high-strength heroes, this amounts to about 25 – 45 extra innate HP around level 10. That’s an underestimate because most such heroes would also have built strength items.
High-intelligence heroes such as Invoker or Skyrwrath Mage will have about 3-4% more spell damage at level 11, not including the high-intelligence items they normally buy. Aether lens has been rescaled to provide a 5% increase instead of an 8% increase, but by the time intelligence heroes buy it the overall impact should actually be increased for most intelligence heroes.
This also means intelligence heroes, who traditionally fell off as the late game approached, will continue to scale indefinitely after a year of continued focus on giving more options for intelligence cores.
8. Rosh’s Early Impact Reduced
Roshan features several changes to allow more composition options take an early Rosh. Although his magic resistance has dropped 20%, his overall health has increased notably. In addition, the experience gained is now dependent on the game timer, meaning he is of less experience value until the 52 minute mark. In addition, an armor type change will leave him 25% more vulnerable to creep damage.
In case anybody is curious, Roshan was moved from Strong -> Basic -> Hero armor this patch, meaning creeps do 25% more damage to him.
— Ryan 'Gorgon' Jurado (@TheWonderCow) April 25, 2016
9. Aghanim’s Scepters
Sixteen Aghanim’s Scepter reworks or additions will join the game, and while you don’t need to memorize all of them, here’s a quick rundown of the most notable alterations. Ask your local shopkeeper about the little blue helper today!
Bloodseeker can now have two ruptures, Earthshaker’s scepter will now give him a 900 unit pseudo-blink (which doesn’t disjoint but also isn’t disabled by taking damage), Gyrocopter gets bonus attacks every 1.4 seconds, Oracle’s Purifying Flames can be cast more than twice as fast, and Mirana’s Starstorm actives for free every 8 seconds or when a unit comes within range (whichever is first).
Storm Spirit’s new Aghanim’s will allow Electric Vortex to be a 475 radius AOE stun, acting as a mini-black hole while Winter Wyvern can toggle Arctic Burn with no cooldown.
In addition, several heroes had reworked scepters: notable examples include Phoenix’s Supernova now requiring 13 attacks to destroy at max level. Skywrath Mage’s ultimate now lasting for twelve goddamn seconds, or Shadow Fiend storing up to 46 souls.
10. Less Farm, More Harm
The overall trend this patch was to further increase the length of the so-called “mid-game,” where the primary focus tends to be sieging objectives and taking fights. Creep bounties were reduced, experience to level out of the mid-game was increased, and sources of experience such as melee creeps and Roshan were nerfed. AOE gold bounties were not changed, meaning teams want to hold opponents down more than anything to prevent the possibility of major swing based on one bad fight.
The increased difficulty of pushing reinforces the importance of maintaining map control through pressure and reduces the viability of blitzkrieg push strategies that have increased in popularity throughout the last half of 6.86.
With the reduction of farm and experience from melee creeps, there’s increased incentive for cores to take to the jungle or ancient stacks to scale, especially considering ranged creeps are now worth more.
Don’t believe me? When a lane pushes naturally, the wizards are the last to die. If a core spends time in the jungle or roaming, then returns to lane in time to soak experience from all ranged creeps from multiple waves, the new balance changes mean for every ranged creep that dies near him he gets the same experience as from two melee creeps. Since jungle camps are unchanged, the incentive to sit in lane — especially in the mid-game where levels are typically of upmost importance — is significantly reduced.
The vast majority of hero changes this patch were also minor scaling changes, most of which will contribute to allowing early heroes to be more viable into the late game and late heroes to be more viable in the mid game. This creates an increased incentive to fight for most team compositions.
A load of early and mid game items were introduced or slightly reworked to balance out physical and magical damage throughout the laning phase as well as further increase the viability of roaming supports.
Gorgon the Wonder Cow has been a Dota analyst for years, specializing in patch breakdowns at joinDOTA, DotaBlast, and other outlets for your Dota needs.