It has lots of pieces but only put together they form art
Singapore Major ended a little less than a week ago with iG being triumphant, and Valve has finally released the promised patch. Beforehand, the community split into several camps: someone thought that Dota 3 was coming, someone expected only several minimal changes, some were skeptical and predicted the patch's postponement. But everything went on schedule: on April 9th an update comes out and there it goes... a very, very interesting update. In short, looking ahead, it can be described as follows: no serious gamechangers, IceFrog rolls Dota back to the state of a couple of years ago, while small changes have affected almost everything and, coupled with new minor mechanics and map rearrangements, the gameplay is fairly refreshed. It's like you handed in your 2018 Ford to a dealer and got a 2021 Ford in return: everything seems familiar, but the new parts make the difference.
There will be a lot of text below because too much will have to be explained. Let's start with the new hero Dawnbreaker, but not in too much detail, just the basic mechanics. Then, to gameplay mechanics, guessing how they will affect. And the third part will be about heroes and items, nerf and buffs. Obviously, a summary and a little prediction in the end. Let's dive in!
Dawnbreaker, also known as Valora, is a melee damage-dealing and healing hero. She can do AoE damage based on her attack power, can throw her hammer and jump to it, can heal her teammates while attacking opponents and Dawnbreaker's Ultimate Ability allows you to teleport to your ally from any point of the map and damage/heal all nearby heroes.
You can read more about Valora at Dota 2 official website (props to Valve: they made a great page with all skill descriptions and their animations).
What is this hero, you may think. Carry? Midlaner? Support? Offlaner? Roamer? We have a theory.
It seems that Dawnbreaker was made for one specific purpose (or tactic, if you like): solo-laning and farming a-la Spectre but in the offlane or being an aggressive pain in the back for the enemy carry.
So, while her distant teacher Keeper of the Light is supposed to be a classic support hero, Valora is a strong pos3 offlaner. First, she can heal herself, which is a great thing for solo-laning: stack and pull, play aggressively and annoy the enemies. Just like Tidehunter but with a heal instead of damage decrease/shell. Second, she can continue farming when the game shifts into second gear because her ulti allows jumping straight into the fight whenever she wants. Third, the combination of her skills will allow your team to fulfill your attacking and fighting strategy and out-survive your opponents.
Though, it is just a theory that might be ruined after a short period. Time will tell.
So far, even the community does not understand what to do with Valora, because her winrate percentage at the moment (less than a day since the release) is near 36%.
Okay, now to the most fun part.
Over the past year, IceFrog has too often rolled back gameplay innovations to older versions of Dota. Shrines? Goodbye. Aghanims and skills? Return as it was before. Now the 'Plusses' from the old era have returned. What's next? Will the side shop re-open its doors at the edges of the map? All kidding, but let's take a look at the main and most significant changes.
Some of them might seem unnoticeable or not that important, but overall, there is much more space now to hold fights. Also, with the next point on the list, the battles to get the Outposts will be more sterile as they have been moved to no-highground areas.
Now there are even more reasons and motives to get the Outposts.
Water Rune grouped with the Bottle item update (now it costs more and regens less) changes midlane gameplay drastically. Now midlaners will have to harass each other even more, the random factor is mostly reduced, so the battle will become more fair and just, and only pure skill will decide the outcome. Or ganks, surely.
A good old Anti-Mage buff, eh? With this addition, carries can turn back into games earlier so the overall pace of the game will become higher.
Gameplay update summary.
As we can see, the developers are really balancing things, not just doing random stuff that might be fun. Outposts are now more vital, but the map has been changed so the teams won't have HG disadvantages. Movespeed reduced but turnrate adjusted. Supports' life eased by additional TP scrolls, but they now cost more. And other minor changes that might not seem that necessary but the whole picture needs them to be there. It really feels that IceFrog now is not just a guy who invented the game; it's now a bunch of geeks who know what to do and there is an obvious pattern in what they do. There is a plan.
And while the return of additional stats being quite an obvious leap towards the classics, a slightly deeper IceFrog's idea is that with a decrease in movement speed, increase in turnrate, reworked spell range, and updating the midlane gameplay, we get a very serious laning phase (as if developers themselves were from South America) with minimal opportunities (and needs) to gank.
Also, all this is backed up by a new hero, which is aimed at melee and AoE. Valora hints at what Dota will look like: close fights. First, lane-camps-rune, then towers/outposts, which were reworked to give more space for fights.
Oh yeah, well, and the Necronomicon and the fast push are now gone. Thank God!
Almost every item and hero has seen changes in this patch. We will not touch all of them, so you can visit dota2.com and take a look yourself. Here, just the most important things and how they will work and affect the game.
Midlaners, we are sorry.
With this, the fast-push meta with Zoo Beastmaster/Zoo Lycan has died. Moreover, Lycan's winrate has already dropped by 11% to an overall 38%.
Still, there is one little thing to not be missed: with Techies being buffed (yes, we're not joking), Necros gone, and there are still only 10 max Sentries available... Imagine.
Items, including neutrals, has been reworked in a way that now we will see more auras (they became valuable again), more armor and less MS. Once again underlining the meta idea of the patch: close combats.
Once again, all the buffs/debuffs are available on the official website. Let's discuss only major stuff. Also, Aghanim Shards were reworked on lots of characters.
Aghanim's Scepter. Grants new active ability - Hunter's Boomerang. Tosses a boomerang in an arc at the target enemy. Upon contact, it returns to Hoodwink. The boomerang will deal 350 damage as it passes through or hits enemies, and apply a Hunter's Mark that causes affected enemies to be slowed by 20% and take 25% more spell damage, and have 25% reduced status resistance for 7 seconds. Cooldown: 18. Manacost: 125
Aghanim's Shard. Grants new active ability - Decoy. Hoodwink sends a decoy illusion with Scurry to the target location. When the illusion is attacked or hit by a targeted ability, it is destroyed and plants a tree in its place that applies a lesser Bushwhack to enemy heroes around it. The Illusion lasts 12 seconds. Cooldown: 60. Manacost: 50
A picture below may hurt you. Beware.
Fun Fact: Mirana is the only hero not to get any changes.
IceFrog slows down movement speed and abilities range for sure, but at the same time increases the game's dynamism. Additionally, we have even more goals and objectives during the match, and the development of heroes is now almost fixed on the lanes. Roamers will now be either very valuable (depending on the hero) or completely useless. Middle lane has turned into 1v1 classic arena because supports will have more important stuff to do than ganking. It is noticeable that the meta is now leaning towards shortening the distance between characters, so AoE skills and Battlefury carries will become the most popular and strongest heroes of the patch.
Why A Mosiac Masterpiece?
Because all the changes we've seen in 7.29 were made in connection with each other. As we've noticed before, the balance has been lept almost ideally, but if you take some updates out of this patch, you might lose the whole picture of it.
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