So we’ve been waiting patiently for the upcoming “big update” for a while now and it seems this week we’ve been blessed with a small patch to fix a few pressing issues within Dota Underlords. I will be reviewing these fixes and hero balance decisions to see how they will affect the current meta. Let’s get into it!
- 2-star and 3-star visual upgrades for Batrider, Enigma, Slark, Sniper, and Warlock.
More awesome visual upgrades! I personally have been loving these so far and more of them are definitely welcome!
- The janitor took out some more crash trash.
Does what it says on the tin – a more stable client is always good.
- Fixed an issue where Terrorblade could Sunder with the wrong unit at cast time, including dead units.
Very welcome fix – this issue could singlehandedly lose you a board (and subsequently a game) in certain situations so it’s a great fix to have and makes playing Terrorblade feel a lot better.
- Can no longer enter combat preview mode on the board when in combat.
This “fix” hasn’t done a whole lot of anything – the reason they added this is a current bug where you can begin overflowing your board/repositioning your units *during* a combat round instead of having to wait until the fight is over.
Unfortunately this doesn’t fix much as the bug is still in the game provided you have enabled combat preview mode prior to combat starting.
- Bloodrage: Now ramps up to his existing maximum attack speed bonus of 500 earlier, at 20% health (was 0%).
This small buff to Bloodseeker is definitely a welcome one. A fairly underwhelming unit with a very hit-or-miss feel to it – he often either cleans up half of the enemy’s board or he dies immediately without killing a single unit. Since the addition of Helm of the Undying he has gained some value especially in the earlier stages of the game.
Unfortunately I don’t think there is quite enough there yet to make an argument for him to be run in a 6 Assassins board. The only time I would run a Bloodseeker in that composition is if I have found good early progress on 3* and if I have Fall From Grace (since Bloodseeker is a Human, it is then possible to achieve 2 Heartless for -5 Armor on the opponent’s units.)
With this change he is even more of an early-game menace though so definitely keep your eye out as I believe he will see a lot more play pre-10 than before.
- Chain Frost: Bounce range changed to 2 (was 4).
So Lich has been the best unit in 6 Mages for a long time. Outside of the Ace effect the unit itself is just incredibly strong. The -65% attack and movement speed slow counters a lot of end-game compositions currently and allows it to adequately stall for time for the other Mage units to wipe the opposing board.
This spell having a 4 cell range on the bounce meant that no matter how spread out your board is the Chain Frost was going to bounce across your entire board. Now with this range reduction to 2 cells there is a higher chance that you can outposition a Mage board in a 1v1 scenario.
I still personally think that the Lich ability is way too strong and the slow needs to be nerfed in some form, but ultimately this range reduction is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of balance.
- Added Meld: When first attacking after teleporting, Templar Assassin fires a projectile that does [50, 100, 150] damage on impact and decreases her target’s armor by [2, 4, 6] for 5 seconds.
The long awaited Templar Assassin buff!
Not quite what people were hoping for – she hasn’t been made into the Elusive/Assassin Ace and still remains a 4-cost unit. Regardless this buff is a good move by Valve as they have added more to her kit which definitely adds value to her and makes her a more playable 4-cost unit. Additional damage and armor reduction for her target are a good addition to an Assassin unit’s kit!
- Leech Seed: If the target of Leech Seed dies before the ability duration expires, the seed jumps to another target for its remaining duration.
Early-game Treant Protector dominance is back!
Once again this unit is incredibly strong early-game. This change fixes the main issue with his already strong ability and turns it into an absurdly powerful ability. This change now means that every cast of Leech Seed is most likely going to tick for the full duration.
The heal and damage aspects of this ability are very strong and with Druid alliance allowing for easy 2* or even 3* Treant Protectors to enter the board you should be scared of facing up against one of these in the earlier stages of the game.
- Walrus Punch: Tusk is now invulnerable while mid-Punch.
This change is a surprisingly big deal for Tusk – no longer will his punch get interrupted and not cast. This adds a lot of value to Tusk as he was already played due to the alliances he has (Warrior and Savage) and now this change makes playing him feel a lot better than it did previously as it has tackled one of the main issues with his kit.
- Shadow Word: Now heals 75% of the total heal instantly, and the remaining 25% over the duration of the buff. This results in [168, 337, 675] instant heal and [56, 112, 225] over the remaining duration.
- Damage per second changed from [50, 100, 150] to [75, 150, 300].
Some big changes for Mr. Warlock! The buff to the damage side of his ability is only icing on the cake when it comes to these changes.
The biggest issue with Mr. Warlock’s ability was the heal being cast on a target who would subsequently die almost immediately – effectively wasting the cast. Now there is an instant heal followed by a heal-over-time effect which is leagues better than it was previously. The initial heal now fixes the issue of the unit immediately dying as there is now a buffer of health added.
So what does this mean for Mr. Warlock? Honestly not a whole lot – he’s definitely a higher value unit in the earlier stages of the game now, especially within Bloodbound compositions and early 2 Warlock pairings. However, I don’t think we will see Mr. Warlock being run in end-game boards just yet outside of niche situations such as the player having one or multiple Big-Time Contracts.
Ultimately though I will say that this is a good change and the unit is far from unplayable so I am expecting to see a lot more value placed in picking him up early from now on.
- Added a small health difference buffer to prevent Deadeye units constantly changing targets.
Nothing to write home about here – it’s a good change and fixes a pressing issue with the Deadeye Alliance but ultimately it’s still far from playable in the later stages of the game. For this Alliance to really be worth going for it needs either more added to it or more units given the Deadeye Alliance as currently in order to run this Alliance your choices are severely limited.
- Raise Zombies: Range changed from 2 cells to 1.
The long-awaited nerf of Tombstone has arrived!
…And it’s a disappointment. Valve has completely missed the mark with this decision. The biggest issue with Tombstone is the fact it’s a 2000 health 20 armor contraption. Meaning it’s an incredibly strong brick wall you can push into your composition with base stats comparable to some of the tankier units in the game.
Instead of addressing this issue Valve decided to nerf the range of the item. Taking this range down into covering only 8 squares instead of 24 means the thing that made this item unique and interesting is all but pointless. And it still has those ridiculous base stats!
So is Tombstone still playable? I would say yes, it’s definitely still a playable item. It’s not good in every composition now but it still lends itself well to things like 6 Mages that benefit from having an extra tank being thrown into the mix.
In future changes I would like to see the Raise Zombies range change reverted and the base stats nerfed instead as these were the reason the item was so dominant in the previous patch. Alternatively the item could have been moved to Tier 5 which would have also solved the issue. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what direction Valve decide to take this item.
So what does this mean for the game? Unfortunately these aren’t the big changes we’ve been waiting for and the meta won’t shift massively from this patch.
However there will be some differences in play – with these small changes Elusive compositions feel even more playable than they already were. And with an uprising in Elusive compositions we will naturally see an increase in Assassin boards by extension as they perform very well into Elusive boards.
Ultimately I think the main thing to look out for this patch will be the increasing amount of 6 Assassin boards. Ever since the Alliance was reworked 6 Assassins has felt very viable and these changes just cement that. Currently there is also a bug with passive abilities in which they are granted 1 tier higher of the ability than they should be (e.g a 2* Phantom Assassin has the passive ability of a 3* Phantom Assassin) so that coupled with these changes definitely paves the way for Assassin compositions to become very viable.
All in all I am very excited to see where this patch leads us. While it isn’t the big meta shift we were all hoping for it’s still giving us some welcome changes and attempting to keep the game somewhat fresh as we wait for the big update to drop.
Thanks for reading! Keep a tab on Valve’s blogpost page for Underlords to stay updated on all patches.