Last time we discussed items that could definitely use some love and today we are going to concentrate on the opposite. There are several items that feel a little too good: they either cost too little or do too much. While most of them are not necessarily overpowered, they are strong enough to have a restrictive impact on the meta, hence we believe they need a couple of small nerfs.
Bloodstone is Satanic for mages. There is a place for such an item in the game, but we feel like it should be doing less.
Compared to Satanic it has a significantly lower actual cost and a lower overall investment. Satanic demands supporting items purchased prior. On its own, it doesn’t really do much: you need Attack Speed and Attack Damage, as well as a potential Black King Bar to use Satanic effectively.
Bloodstone is self-sufficient. For a 4400 gold cost certain heroes get an item that gives them all they need. It provides a ton of mana, a lot of extra survivability, can be built as a first item from Arcane Boots and it doesn’t need anything else to function on any hero with sustained magic damage.
Moreover, unlike Satanic, a hero doesn’t even need to actively participate in the battle to get the benefits. One of the reasons Gyrocopter is one of the biggest Satanic carriers is because with the help of his Aghanim’s he can keep hitting enemies even when disabled, making him considerably harder to burst down. Same mechanic was available to Mars until recently and was patched out of the game once professional players started abusing it.
Any ability damage hero with sustained damage or proc damage can be effective with Bloodstone even when disabled. Leshrac is probably the best Bloodstone carrier, but heroes like Razor, Viper, Bristleback or even Pudge can really benefit from it.
On top of it, it also tops up mana for the using hero, making it the ultimate sustain item. It doesn’t cost anything to activate, provides good stats and can be safely built early. That is a problem, in our opinion.
We would hate to see the niche of “ability damage Satanic” gone, but there have to be some costs associated with it. Perhaps Bloodstone shouldn’t restore mana: Anti-Mage wasn’t even considered a proper Leshrac counter simply because the tempo of the disco pony is way too high for him to deal with and his Mana Void is highly ineffective against the ridiculous mana sustain Bloodstone provides.
Perhaps returning the 10% HP cost for Bloodstone activation could also be considered. It fits the item thematically and would be a big enough nerf for low-HP Bloodstone activation turnarounds.
Or maybe the item simply gets a little bit more expensive to be more in line with Satanic. All of the above solutions and many more are a possibility and we hope to see at least one of them implemented.
The problem with Witch Blade is not immediately apparent. Everyone knows it is a high-value item with low recipe cost that enables a lot of mid Intelligence heroes. It has a strong scaling nuke, but it isn’t too oppressive or too overwhelming to be considered problematic. Even though it was possibly one of the most problematic items in the current and previous patches.
The main problem with the item is the recipe cost. For 600 gold you get a 200+ damage nuke that continues getting stronger and stronger. You also get +6 extra intelligence when compared to Robe of Magi and an extra +2 Armor from Chainmail. The projectile speed is mostly irrelevant, though it does come in handy sometimes.
Even Dagon comparisons are favoring the Witch Blade, as the stats the latter gives can support a more right-click oriented playstyle. With the extra six armor and extra attack speed a lot of intelligence heroes now get to stand their ground and fight in the early game, as opposed to play around their cooldowns.
As an item that fills a niche it is brilliant. It gives nukers some extra damage, allows them to be a little more aggressive and incentivizes a more active playstyle, as it isn’t the most efficient farming item. The problem is, it is so good at what it did and what it does, the game had to adapt to it.
If you look at many Intelligence hero changelogs past patch 7.28, you can see how most of them got direct nerfs. For example, over this period Puck lost a lot of his laning prowess with a considerably lower starting damage and a much slower Illusory Orb. There were also multiple Dream Coil damage and cooldown patches over this period.
Void Spirit received almost nothing but nerfs over the same time, as did Storm Spirit. More importantly, these heroes are not getting significant buffs even though most of them are sub-50% win rate in higher level brackets.
We think that a lot of it has to do with Witch Blade. Having an ability to purchase an extra nuke as your first item, while getting your teamfight stats up at the same time is definitely taken into consideration when Intelligence hero balance is discussed.
Most builds on such heroes almost assume a mandatory Witch Blade, which doesn’t feel healthy, as the heroes have to be balanced around having this really powerful item relatively early. Playing without it feels inferior, but Dota being Dota adaptability is still key and sometimes you simply can’t go for Witch Blade, as you may need some specific defensive item.
The end result is as mentioned earlier: a lot of Intelligence midplaners are currently struggling to have positive or even neutral win rate and part of it is Witch Blade resulting in them getting nerfs earlier or not getting buffed right now. By making the item slightly weaker, while also buffing other Intelligence mids, the balance can be preserved without the item being a cornerstone of all mid play.
What are your thoughts on the two items we discussed today? Do you agree with us and what other items would you like to see nerfed in the next patch? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.