When a teaser image for Dota 2’s 6.86 patch appeared last Sunday, it felt like Christmas had come early. Dota 2 patches are a big deal: they have a chance to redefine the game and most changes are totally unpredictable. This patch didn’t disappoint, and some of the new additions have fundamentally altered how Dota is played. With that in mind, these are eight of the biggest changes in 6.86.
Heroes that depend on passives are in for a tough time
Phantom Assassin got a nice little intelligence boost this patch, but she’s probably feeling down in the dumps due to one specific change: Silver Edge’s break can no longer be purged. Break is a mechanic that disables a hero’s passive skills. This includes Phantom Assassin’s Coup de Grace and Blur, Huskar’s Berserker’s Blood, and Anti-Mage’s Spell Shield. While Silver Edge is expensive and the break is still prevented by spell immunity, any passive-dependent hero has to play with incredible caution. A Black King Bar will be needed to deter any would-be breakers. Bristleback with broken bristles is incredibly squishy, and a broken Phantom Assassin feels like a really bad Anti-Mage.
Aether Lens redefines how some heroes play.
Aether Lens provides two bonuses that were almost never seen in Dota: more cast range on targetted spells/items and a slight buff to all spell damage. At first glance that may not seem impressive, but the 200 cast range buff can redefine heroes and totally alters mid-game scaling. For instance, an Ogre Magi with Aether Lens may suddenly have the range on Fireblast to make him a constant threat in team fights. For Bane, Fiend’s Grip would have whopping 825 range.
For many heroes that can use the item, Aether Lens will compete with an early Blink Dagger, Force Staff, or Aghanim’s Scepter. A hero dependent on getting a quick initiation will probably invest in items that provide faster movement. Though anyone that doesn’t need to start a fight in the blink of an eye might pick up an Aether Lens: heroes like Witch Doctor, Lina, or Zeus. In the case of the former, his positioning can become ridiculously safe with the extra range. In the case of the latter two, the bonus damage supplements the range for some major pain.
Dragon Lance opens up options for ranged carries.
Dragon Lance is another cool addition, providing modest stats and a 130 attack range boost for ranged heroes only. While it will be great on certain heroes, like Enchantress, its effects aren’t as pronounced as those from the Aether Lens. It can be disassembled, so it might see play in tower pushes before being put away for a Black King Bar. This could be extra effective with heroes that outrange towers with a Dragon Lance, and lead to way more early pressure.
The laning item possibilities are insane
What if players could start the game with 12 bonus damage, 200 spare gold, and the ability to pop a small heal every 5 seconds? Four new items were added in 6.86, and two have a direct impact on the early game. For 75 gold, Faerie Fire provides 2 damage and can be instantly consumed for a 75 HP heal. Combine this with a Mango, and it’s possible to lane entirely off of consumables. Or maybe mids want to start with a spare Iron Branch, which can now be consumed to drop a happy little tree. This can be used defensively to escape, or even offensively to trap heroes in abilities like Tusk’s Ice Shards. Early game item builds have always had some divergence, but now there are some very noticeable active effects that cost less than 125 gold. Expect some sick tree-planting plays.
There’s a ton of new potential in the jungle...
The laning gimmicks are great, but what if players wanted to try a previously slow jungler, like Legion Commander? Quite a few poorly-paced jungle heroes have had their potential jungling speed dramatically increased with the addition of Iron Talon. Iron Talon is a 500 gold item that has an active ability to damages any non-ancient creep for 40% of its current HP. It’s not going to provide a massive amount of sustain, but rather provide a new option for survivable junglers that lacked speed.
Legion Commander and Lifestealer look like stronger candidates for jungling now, but the options are just being explored. Ogre Magi, boasting his ridiculous 3.5 HP regeneration, can find himself jungling with relative ease. My personal favorite is Mirana, and not for the gimmicky ancient farming. Rather, a roaming Mirana who can easily alternate between securing kills and picking off creep camps for easy experience and gold. It won’t be a normal jungling experience, but many possibilities have been opened up.
...and some of the classic junglers might be even better!
The oldies-but-goodies weren’t left behind, and classic junglers like Enchantress and Chen have some new tricks. Chen has some handy new options available if he finds himself stealing ancients, and a new magic resistance aura found on Hellbears and Centaurs could have a huge impact on early pushes. An enchanted Centaur Courser or persuaded Hellbear might be able to keep creep waves alive through a barrage of spells. I’d expect to see some almost unstoppable early pushes in pro games with either Chen or Enchantress leading the charge.
Pro Pudge plays are back
There were a slew of Aghanim’s Scepter changes this patch, many of which focused on normal abilities rather than ultimates. Sand King gained massive range on Burrowstrike, Magnus has an Empower cleave aura, and most importantly, Pudge’s Meat Hook has a four second cooldown when he has a Scepter. Not only is the cooldown shorter, but Meat Hook’s damage is also increased to 475. To make the butcher even more dangerous, Dismember now scales innately and heals Pudge for the damage done, all without requiring a scepter. This means that once Pudge snags a Scepter, he’ll have a potential burst combo of 950 pure damage, at least 450 magic damage, and whatever damage trickles in from Rot. He won’t have the mana to infinitely spam hooks, but he’s always a threat now. Supports beware.
It’s time to relearn Dota while playing Dota
Almost everything has changed—even the map is a completely different place. While relearning terrain and routing is going to be rough at first, a lot of the awesome changes from 6.86 require an item or two to fully appreciate. This means that Dota 2 is going to be changing dynamically from game to game, and even during games. An early Aghanim’s Scepter on Sand King will have significantly different impact than a Blink Dagger. While this has always been true to a certain degree, it’s never been so easy to directly adjust heroes at such a fundamental level. This means that every game of Dota is going to require a new degree of adaption, whether it’s playing carefully around break effects as Phantom Assassin, or watching for a Dragon Lance Sniper chipping away at you from across the river.
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