Oh look, a 700MB patch for Dota 2. What could that mean? It’s either new hats or big changes, and as it transpires – it’s both!

Firstly, the Juggernaut Arcana that was promised at the previous The International is now a thing in this patch. It makes Juggernaut all blue and weird looking, gives him a bunch of new animations, changes the effects for crits/Bladefury/Omnislash, offers “a dragon spirit ancestor to aid Juggernaut in times of need”, changes his voice, and grants a hero portrait and an emoticon. I have to be honest: it actually looks pretty badass, particularly the “dragging sword through the ground while running” thing. If I ever played Juggernaut I’d be tempted. If you want to make your Juggernaut glow blue, then it’ll cost you $35 right now, or probably a bit less whenever it turns up on the community marketplace.

If you’re less a boring carry and more an underappreciated support, then don’t worry: you can look shiny too! Jakiro’s finally been given a hero remodel, so he now looks slightly less like he’s fallen down several flights of stairs.

But only slightly.

Finally, before we actually hit the patch notes, there’s a new Captain’s Mode UI to match the 7.00 updates. Teammates can suggest picks and bans, the Captain role can be swapped, and STRATEGY TIME is a thing.

Right. Let’s talk 7.03, which takes its name (“The Bladeform Legacy”) from the Juggernaut Arcana.

I haven’t gone over the patch notes in too much detail, but most of the changes seem like minor tweaks rather than sweeping changes – although we are talking about minor tweaks to basically every hero, so hey. Then there are the more general changes, which will have a bit of a bigger impact on the game’s flow.

First, Monkey King is now in Captain’s Mode, and he’s been tweaked appropriately. XP and gold have also been adjusted, presumably to slow the pace of the game slightly: you now need 15% more XP to go from levels 1-6 (a total of 300 more XP, divided up between the levels), and levelling from 9-13 remains the same, but has had the XP redistributed. Whereas 12 to 13 previously required 1200 XP, it now requires only 900 – but the preceding levels require more XP to make up the gap, so it all evens out.

This prick: appearing in professional games, as of whenever the next professional games happen.

AoE hero kill gold and XP bounties (including comeback gold and XP) have been reduced by 10% across the board. Tier 1 team bounty has been reduced. Passive gold income is down by 10%. Melee creeps are now worth 2 less (but their upgrade cycles now increase the bounty by an additional 1 gold), while ranged creeps are worth the same but their upgrade cycles are down by 1 gold per cycle.

Scan has a lower cooldown time (210 seconds, from 270), shrines have a base HP regen of 100/sec from 120/sec, all towers have 4 less base armour, and Tier 1 towers now have 100 more HP. One slightly more interesting change to factor into the “less base armour” is that towers now actually gain armour from enemy players being near them. Every enemy player within a 1200 AoE of the tower now increases its armour by 2, which isn’t huge, but should make early snowballing slightly less effective.

To put that into perspective: Tier 1s now have 100 more HP, and will have less armour if it’s just creeps or one hero hitting them. If two heroes are attacking them, they’ll have the same armour as they did in 7.02. If the entire enemy team is there, the tower will have 6 more armour than it had in the previous patch. Not a huge change, but I’m curious to see what effect it has.

Next up, items! Blight Stone can’t be bought in the side shop anymore, Mask of Madness grants an extra 20 attack speed, Helm of the Dominator is more expensive and gives you less stats, Dragon Lance has one less agility attached to it, Ultimate Orbs cost 50 more gold, etc. etc. There are a lot of little changes like that (although the Helm and Blight Stone ones are, admittedly, perhaps not quite so “little”). Drum of Endurance’s recipe costs 125 less, which probably isn’t enough to move it out of the “highly situational” position it currently occupies. Two interesting tweaks, though: Moon Shard can now be cast on allied heroes, and TP scrolls now have an 80 second cooldown, up from 70. You might disagree, but I find those two a lot more intriguing than “Rod of Atos has a bit more range” or “Hurricane Pike’s cooldown increased by 1 second.”

I love the concept that Juggernaut’s standard mask is free, but his mask that’s been broken in two costs you twenty quid. Valve are working on the “we break it, you buy it” principle, I guess.

And then heroes, which have obviously had a lot of changes. Most are minor tweaks to talents, either in terms of numbers or shuffling them around a bit. Kunkka’s level 15 talent has been increased from +15 movement speed to +20 movement speed, for instance.

As you’d expect, some of the more popular heroes have been nerfed – but maybe not by as much as you’d think. Centaur Warrunner has 1 less base armour and the Scepter-upgraded Stampede damage reduction has been dropped from 60% to 50%, which isn’t exactly minor, but the other popular initiating offlaner – Slardar – has arguably been hit harder, with Corrosive Haze lasting 7 seconds less and his stun duration reduced by 0.25 seconds per level. I’m not sure which I’d say is “bigger”, but Slardar’s are going to impact him a lot earlier and a lot more consistently. Lone Druid has 4 lower base damage, his Rabid cooldown has a 15 second increase, and his Level 15 talent has dropped from +55 damage to +50 damage… but I don’t think these are going to hit the first-ban hero too badly. Oh, and Juggernaut’s Healing Ward now has a much higher bounty, moving from 25 gold to 75 gold plus experience.

A few beleaguered heroes have also received sizeable buffs. Shadow Shaman has more armour and a whopping 18 extra base damage, counteracted somewhat by an attack range reduction. Death Prophet can now opt for +50 Movement Speed at level 20 instead of +25; and at level 25, +400 health has been replaced with +600 health, and +6 Exorcism spirits is now +8. Puck now has a level 25 talent granting a whopping +420 gold/minute. Queen of Pain can opt for more strength, more damage, and more health; and her Level 25 talent that reduced the cooldown of Shadow Strike now removes the cooldown of Shadow Strike.

I’m out of relevant pictures, so here’s the obligatory Dota 2 kitten to break up the last bits of text.

As I said – most of the current “big” heroes have been rescaled slightly, rather than heavily nerfed, while those who’ve been going unpicked have had buffs of one sort of another. Even there, though, some of the changes are rather minor; Phantom Lancer hasn’t had much love lately, and I don’t think the change that makes his Spirit Lance illusions giving 5 gold as a bounty instead of scaling with level is going to turn him into a hot pick.

Do have a look at the patch notes yourself, though, because there’s a lot I haven’t mentioned here, and there’s inevitably some nuances I’ve missed. As I said: I’ve only had a brief glance over them, so I may have missed something huge.

Dota 2 patch 7.03 is out now, and should be downloading in your clients already.

Tim McDonald
Tim has been playing PC games for longer than he's willing to admit. He's written for a number of publications, but has been with PC Invasion - in all its various incarnations - for over a decade. When not writing about games, Tim can occasionally be found speedrunning terrible ones, making people angry in Dota 2, or playing something obscure and random. He's also weirdly proud of his status as (probably) the Isle of Man's only professional games journalist.

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