12 days, that’s how long 6.87 has been introduced. The patchnotes seemed all too crazy, the gameplay itself seemed oddly familiar.
As always, Valve didn’t wait long to implement quick fixes to the patch to prevent any underestimated changes from spiralling out of control. Thus, 6.87b came out just 4 days after 6.87 to address Lich’s popularity and success, as well as Blade Mail, Bounty Hunter and Armlet of Mordiggian.
Now, 6.87c has been released with more balance changes to address individual heroes and their spells and we take a look at each and every one of them.
Infernal Blade base damage reduced from 40 to 25/30/35/40
Doom has been the most contested hero in the entirety of the Manila Major Qualifiers. Rarely does he make it past the first ban or picking phase in pro games,
His pubstats overall may not be impressive with only a roughly 48% winrate, but in just the 5k+ MMR bracket he is sitting at a 54% winrate, while being the 5th most picked there.
The nerf doesn’t necessarily address his biggest appeal, the ability to farm up reliably while being able to provide a strong silence, but it nerfs his ganking power quite a bit by reducing the damage by 60 on level 1. This definitely reduces him impact as a ganker early on, something that teams have utilized him as, often running him on the 4 position. It may not be enough to edge him out of the meta though, considering all of his other advantages and strong points still being viable.
Armlet armor bonus when activated reduced from 5 to 4
A minor, yet good nerf, especially in addition to the 6.87b nerf, that only grants the extra armor bonus upon full activation. The item still is very good for a lot of the currently popular strength cores, such as Dragon Knight or Lifestealer. If you wish to read up about how armor impacts the game, we’ve covered the topic quite extensively here.
Essence Aura now uses Pseudo-Random Distribution
It’s unlikely to see crazy Essence Aura procs multiple times in a row, but the passive is more reliable now, which certainly helps early on in the laning stage and transitioning into the midgame with only a few items, where your mana regeneration is low. It does not however solve the issues that OD is currently facing, as both Arcane Orb and Astral Imprisonment are too weak right now to effectively dominate the lane, like the hero used to. If you want to read up more on Pseudo-Random Distribution, we covered that topic as well.
Wind Lace cost increased from 225 to 235
Wind Lace is no longer available in the Side Shop
Wind Lace quickly developed itself into a go-to item for most heroes, especially supports. The pro scene certainly utilized the item a lot, as it was a cheap and efficient way to be more mobile, the availability in the Side Shop definitely allowed supports to gank more efficiently early on or even be a bigger nuisance in lane, without occupying the courier – an important resource early game. Will you send out your Wind Lace via the courier, 3 mins in? That’s a question you and your team will have to ask yourself, because between Bottle, Ring of Aquila and Iron Talon, there are other early game items that the three cores will rely on.
Silver Edge now has a 300 gold recipe
Another simple, yet good nerf. Silver Edge definitely is a good item right now and a 300 Gold nerf is good to at the very least delay a potential snowball. Even if the nerf seems minor, it’s good to see Valve address this item and it wouldn’t be surprising to see further nerfs in the future, maybe a minor tweaking to up the recipe cost even further to 400-500 Gold.
Arc Warden base damage improved by 4
Ah yes, the Meepo treatment. If the hero is not good enough, give him some base damage! In all seriousness, the base damage is definitely helpful. While his BAT and attack animation may be good, his damage certainly isn’t. It helps his laning stage, a little bit anyway, but it certainly won’t push him back into the pub meta.
Vengeful Spirit Intelligence reduced from 15 + 1.75 to 13 + 1.5
Vengeful Spirit has been a go-to support since forever it seems. The hero is not only good for beginners to pick up, it is a staple in the pro scene. This certainly nerfs her early game significantly. Instead of starting with a Manapool of 230, she starts with one of 206. Effectively, without any stats items or any additional Mana regeneration, she won’t be able to use 2 stuns after one another at level 1. At level 6, she misses out on 2.5 Intelligence, 30 Mana, which puts her Manapool at 290. These values are again without any additional stats items, which is somewhat of a real scenario though. A support Venge will, with a very good early game, maybe have a Magic Wand for stats. As long as you only leave Magic Missile at level 1, you can still utilize it together with a Nether Swap and a Wave of Terror, but it will completely drain your Manapool.
The nerf is good, it certainly acknowledges that the hero has been a strong factor in the early game and now requires more Mana management and maybe a Clarity or two more than usual.
Super Creep gold increase over time reduced from 2 to 1.5 per upgrade cycle
It’s a slight, maybe close to unrecognizable nerf to comebacks. A solid nerf regardless. While comeback mechanics keep the game interesting and allow teams to never give up until the throne really has fallen, it certainly doesn’t feel as punishing losing a barracks these days and depending on the hero line-up your opponents have, they may only be able to take one without throwing all their bodies at it.
Beastmaster’s Boar Poison no longer pierces Spell Immunity
Quite frankly, it shouldn’t have in the first place. Beastermaster’s boar is certainly a strong summon that already stabilizes his laning stage a lot. His ability to stun a target with Black King Bar activated is already a game changing one. He is everybody’s darling at the moment, being the second most contested hero at the recent Manila Major Qualifier.
It won’t nerf him enough to affect his pickrate, nor should it really affect his winrate, but it at least makes that boar a bit less annoying. Just slightly.
Greevil’s Greed no longer benefits illusions
My professional opinion? R.I.P. Alchemist.
Seriously though, maybe somebody will find and innovate a way to make him viable still, but the Radiance, Octarine and Manta Style build certainly isn’t viable anymore. Alchemist is a hero that needs to get ahead, but staying ahead isn’t enough, he needs to double the opponents networth with this and many other itembuilds, as it doesn’t provide him with much damage and his survivability is also weak. It’s a purely farming and map dominating item build, a tweaked version of Naga Siren’s. Except Naga Siren’s illusions are more reliable and deal more damage. Alchemist can barely siege highground with his illusions and his farming speed won’t even be close to what it was before. Maybe we’ll see a return of a ganking Alchemist, maybe Mek Alchemist. The new build-up into Abyssal Blade which requires a Vanguard could open up new avenues to play the hero, transitioning into a more traditional carry again with a Mjollnir as the main farming tool.
Right now though, the Alchemist as we know him, is gone. China has nothing to fear anymore! For now….
Storm Spirit Intelligence increased from 23 + 2.6 to 24 + 3.0
Flashbacks to 6.84 might be imminent, as Storm Spirit might be staging a comeback! The here got nerfed quite a bit in 6.85. Not only was Static Remnant’s Manacost increased to a fixed 100 Mana, the activation cost for his ultimate was doubled (from 15+7% to 30+8%). However, Storm will now have an additional 3 Intelligence now compared to before, which adds up to 36 Mana, almost negating the increase in activation cost, at least for early levels.
Coupled with the new Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade introduced in 6.87, we might just see that comeback.
Slardar base movement speed reduced from 300 to 295
A minor nerf. It hurts Slardar’s early game a little bit, potentially decreasing his kill potential in the laning stage, but the later the game goes, the more negligible this nerf is.
The BAT increase used to be 0.1. It could be a negligible buff, but one that would need to be seen in practice. Seasoned Terrorblade players should notice it. The reduced damage taken on Conjured Image is quite significant though. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This paragraph initially describe the BAT change as a nerf, although it is a buff]
Stifling Dagger base damage increased from 60 to 75
Let’s face it: As much as Phantom Assassin is fun to play, the hero and its randomness are not the key to success in most cases. She was picked up once in over 200 Manila Major Qualifier games and in pubs she’s sitting at a pickrate of under 8% in 5k+ games.
The damage increase is nice, but is unlikely to affect her much, although early trends show a 2% winrate increase. The following change might have an influence in that though.
AoE Bounty Gold based on level reduced from 8/7/6/4/4 to 6/5/4/3/3 per level
These values are close to those of early stages of 6.84, which got buffed in
6.84c. Two hero ganks are less rewarding now, something that has definitely been used a lot. It made certain heroes strong and reliable, such as Batrider and Beastmaster, who could set up a kill quite easily and together with a support they would be able to secure it without a big rotation. While they still can do that, the reward will be significantly lower. Thus, solo kills should be more rewarding in comparison to before, buffing heroes with innate solo kill potential, such as Phantom Assassin or Slark.
Grave Chill cast range increased from 600 to 650
Visage remains a niche pick for now, but now he can use Grave Chill outside of his attack range to actually get into attack range, which should increase his ganking and kill potential.
Jinada slow reduced from 18/22/26/30% to 15/20/25/30%
Bounty Hunter was the third most contested hero in the entire Manila Major Qualifier and is the second most picked hero in 5k+ pub games, with a 41% pickrate. Jinada was already nerfed in 6.87b from a starting 22% to 18% and now has dropped off even further. Like 6.87b however, this nerf does not change the fact that he brings a lot of value to your team with his map presence and with Track. The AoE bounty Gold increase may affect him more, as he thrives in setting up kills in lanes and won’t be rewarded as much anymore, but that nerf makes Track even more valuable. A more detailed break down of why he is viable and what playstyle to expect from him can be found here.
Overall, 6.87c has certainly addressed a lot of heroes. The three most contested heroes of the Manila Major Qualifier received nerfs, minor, but good nerfs. It’s likely to see quite the meta shift from here on out, as the AoE Gold bounty nerf seems quite significant. We could see a change of pace and potentially drafting as well. Either way, the changes mostly seem to make a lot of sense, although some seem rather negligible.