Dota 2 balance master and lead developer IceFrog truly never changes. As promised by Valve, Patch 7.28, known also as the Mistwoods Update, is now live on the game’s servers — bringing with it a brand new hero, new items and hero abilities, and a whole heap of incredible balance changes.
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) December 17, 2020
A New Hooded Challenger
The highlight of the update of course is the new hero: a bipedal fox named Hoodwink. Hoodwink is a ranged agility hero, described by Valve as a disabler and nuker with built in escape mechanisms. She is modeled to be a denizen of the forest, with nature-themed spells to match. Hoodwink also has an affinity for the trees on the map, granting her bonuses when she is near them — similar to Treant Protector.
Hoodwink’s arrival makes her the eighth original Dota 2 hero concept, following Snapfire and Void Spirit. You can check out our full breakdown of Hoodwink’s abilities and play style here.
New Tricks Up Every Hero’s Sleeve
Mistwoods introduces a brand new consumable item called Aghanim’s Shard, which are fairly obviously based on the crystal adorning Aghanim’s Scepter. Costing 1,400 gold each, Aghanim’s Shard upgrades individual hero abilities or add new ones, based on each hero’s respective Aghanim’s Shard tree — which work kind of like talent trees.
For example, when Clockwerk consumes a Shard, he gains a new ability called Jetpack — which allows him to fly with 15 percent bonus movement speed for six seconds. Clockwerk also has flying vision while Jetpack is active, allowing him to scout areas hidden by the fog of war like treelines and elevated points of terrain.
Aghanim’s Shards can only be purchased 20 minutes into the game however, limiting its usefulness until the mid game arrives. This is presumably in line with the removal of the neutral item Tome of Aghanim in Patch 7.23a, as it was available far too early in the game to be balanced. Tome of Aghanim was also completely free (if it dropped for your team), in contrast to the considerable cost of Aghanim’s Shards. Still, this will undoubtedly add a new dimension to decision making when it comes to item builds, especially for ability-dependent heroes like supports.
The Latest Toys
Aside from Aghanim’s Shard, new weapons and other equipment have been added to the shop in the Mistwoods update, with a whopping 12 new items for heroes to purchase and play with.
For instance, Gleipnir is an alternative upgrade path for Maelstrom, which sets it apart from Mjollnir. Requiring Rod of Atos, Maelstrom, and a 700 gold recipe, Gleipnir provides upgraded stats from its components while keeping the Chain Lightning passive on regular attacks. Unlike Mjollnir, however, Gleipnir’s active ability is entirely offensive, as it roots all enemy units in a radius of 450 units — hitting them with a 220 damage Chain Lightning in the process.
Then there is the Mage Slayer, which builds from the Cloak, Blade of Alacrity, Claymore, and a 600 gold recipe. It grants the wielder 20 percent magic resistance primarily, but its appeal comes from the fact that it reduces the spell damage of heroes that its wielder attacks by 35 percent for four seconds. This could very well be the bane of nuke-heavy supports everywhere, though its effectiveness in practical gameplay has of course yet to be seen.
Perhaps the most shocking additions to the list of purchasable items though is the new trio of Blink Dagger upgrades, which all build from Blink Dagger, the attribute relics from the secret shop (Reaver, Eaglesong, and Mystic Staff), plus a 1750 gold recipe. These are called Overwhelming Blink, Swift Blink, and Arcane Blink respectively — and all of them have passive effects that trigger upon landing at the targeted area when blinking. Swift Blink for example gives the user +25 agility, 30 percent bonus phased movement speed, and an additional 40 damage and 40 attack speed for six seconds upon arrival.
Expensive items for sure, but these upgrades could very well increase Blink Dagger’s inventory slot efficiency in late game scenarios.
New neutral items have also been added to the game, though some have been “cycled out” of Dota 2, as Valve describe it in the changelog. Things like Vampire Fangs and Repair Kit can no longer be obtained, replaced by new pieces like the Bullwhip and Elven Tunic. Some of those that survived the neutral item purge meanwhile have received balance tweaks.
By The Numbers
As usual, Mistwoods also includes sweeping balance changes across the board, with almost every hero in the game receiving buffs and nerfs. The poster boy of the previous patch Sven, has, as expected, received some pretty significant nerfs, and could very well be phased out of the metagame as a result.
His God’s Strength (R) has had its bonus damage reduced slightly at each level, with the third level receiving the largest reduction at 30 percent total. Storm Hammer also no longer applies an instant regular attack when cast with the Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade in tow, reducing Sven’s immediate burst damage in teamfights.
Snapfire has also been adjusted accordingly, as her solo mid playstyle was a defining aspect of the 7.27 metagame. Her mana costs have been tweaked up and down, and her Aghanim’s Scepter ability Gobble Up no longer does a flat 400 damage on impact. Instead, its damage is based solely on the current level of her ultimate, which means that it will take a lot of time for the impact damage to reach its highest potential. Whether this will discourage players from buying Aghanim’s Scepter on her is another story however, though it is certainly now objectively less effective.
Many other heroes and items alike have been altered in this patch, and there’s just far too many for us to cover in this article. For now, you can check out the changelog in its entirety through the official Mistwoods Update landing page.