The new patch didn’t change the game a whole lot, but it addressed several very important oversights of the previous patch. The end result is unlikely to shift the meta in a major way, but that wasn’t the intention behind the patch. It was more about working on mistakes, and our first impression is that Valve largely succeeded.
BKB was nerfed in a very straightforward fashion, which is rather disappointing. Increasing the cooldown from 75 to 90 seconds is a big deal, as the window for punishment is much larger and the tempo of the game should be slowed down just a little bit. Meaning there is more opportunity to farm up between fights as well.
It is not one of the potential creative solutions to the BKB problem we’ve been experiencing lately and it’s not doing a lot to dissuade players from building it as their first item. It’s just that the counterplay potential is higher. Patch 7.31 still feels like a BKB Patch and it is unlikely to change any time soon.
Null Talisman nerfs resulted in a very sharp Storm Spirit win rate drop: the hero felt over-reliant on having a massive power spike at minute 25 and while Null Talisman nerf is a good change, it will take some time for Storm Spirit players to adjust.
Changes to Salves are a bit interesting as well: we feel like the intention was to alleviate some pressure off supports during the laning stage and slow down carry ramp up. However, it is also a change that can potentially backfire.
Wraith Pact now being larger, giving a bigger bounty, and dying slightly faster is an amazing change: it didn’t take away from the strong play of having Wraith Pact, but made counterplay to it more straightforward and more rewarding.
We also feel like Butterfly could become the next big thing. The change might sound irrelevant, but five extra Agility out of nowhere is five damage and attack speed, as well as almost a point of Armor. Butterfly was already quite efficient as an item and this change might bring more Agility-based hard carries back into the meta.
Finally, there is Revenant’s Broach, which received some QoL changes resulting in a net buff, in our opinion. Sure, it costs slightly more mana, but 50 mana is trivial in the context of a 6k+ gold Intelligence item. We are still not sure how well it fits into the game, however. In our opinion it is a “solve a problem” item in a very small subset of games, e.g. when playing against heroes like Morphling and Terrorblade and their ridiculous amount of armor or when playing against Necrophos, Pugna, or Leshrac with Aghanim’s and their innate Ethereal effects..
Most of the time it is going to be a “win more” pick up, though: not something your team truly needs, but rather something that allows you to feel even more comfortable in an already advantageous position. This is frequently punishable by the opposing team and that is why we rarely see the item picked up in high level lobbies or in the professional scene. In this regard very little has changed for the Broach.
There were very few noteworthy hero changes in the patch. Chaos Knight stopped being as much of a menace as he used to: his laning stage should be much harder now. Dazzle might be crawling into relevance with the second Shard buff in a row. Two-second Hex in a pretty big AoE can be quite powerful in the right draft, against right heroes.
Both Magnus and Elder Titan received some buffs, with the former getting his Aghanim’s Sceptre improved even further. It now reduces Base Armor by 75%, making it a very viable counter to Agility-based hard carries in the later portions of the game.
Coupled with Revenant’s Broach and Butterfly buffs it feels like Valve are perhaps preparing players for the next patch already: the one where Agility hard carries are going to be significantly more relevant.
Mars receiving nerfs is the balance team explicitly telling everyone to give the hero a rest. For a hero that wins 40% of his pro games, receiving nerfs is not unheard of, but it is pretty rare. Maybe with his attack damage reduction offlaners will stop asking for this now very underpowered character.
Both Slark and Tinker, probably the most annoying heroes in Dota, received some small buffs, but we feel like they are still far from being overwhelmingly scary. Slark should be in a better spot during the laning stage when the hero is at his weakest, but his late-game potential is definitely lower: losing 20 seconds of duration from Essence Shift stacks makes snowballing one good fight into the next one that much harder.
Releasing a big patch in the middle of the DPC Tour would definitely be a bad move so we are not surprised this patch was rather small. The big question is: are we going to get the next big patch between the end of the DPC Tour mid-July and the start of the Major in early August. Or will we have to wait until after the Major.
We sincerely hope it is the former, but we are afraid it is going to be the latter. What are your thoughts on the matter and what are you hoping for in the next big patch?