Patch 7.29 was released in April of 2021 and introduced sweeping but subtle changes to many of the core mechanics of the game. It reworked Bounty Runes, Outposts and added free Teleport Scrolls and Water Runes. Before that, it was 7.28 bringing the Aghanim’s Shard item to drastically alter the build path of many heroes.
Dota is due for a sizeable update, likely to be 7.30, and this often means changes to core mechanics of the game in addition to tweaks to most heroes. The general consensus seems to be that 7.29 and its subsequent letter patches has been a pretty good one, but we’d love to know your thoughts down below in the comments. Whether the patch comes before or after TI 10, here is a wishlist of things we hope Icefrog takes a look at:
Experience is arguably more important than gold and can play a huge role in the pace of the game. As it currently stands, the idea of Outposts is a cool one. An extra objective that gives the controlling team an extra access point for map control once the outer towers fall. This is really the core purpose of claiming the Outposts and is something that should stay in Dota. The added experience bonus is a much less tangible effect and feels pretty negligible in most games. At higher levels of play, it does provide an extra way to ramp up a lead or push for greater efficiency, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most players have forgotten it even exists in an average MMR pub game.
This could be an effect of the tier two towers being so hard to take. It often feels that by the time denying experience to your opponents becomes an option everyone is already adequately leveled to play the game effectively. The way the bonus experience functions is also fairly opaque to the average player and may be better suited to just coming from buffing experience gained from creeps instead. Realistically, if Icefrog removed the experience completely the vast majority of players would probably not even notice.
Patch 7.29 changed Bounty Rune spawns from five- to three-minute intervals and allowed them to stack. It also introduced Water Runes during the first four minutes before the regular Power Rune spawns begin. The reduction of Bounties from four to two was a good change but it now feels like the interval is too short. Remembering to check every three minutes feels like much more of a chore and their placement in the triangle camps has made contesting them much more difficult to do. The old five-minute spawns in the river created an interesting and reliable objective that forced teams to interact regularly. There were complaints that these almost scheduled five-minute fights made the game too formulaic, but the current Bounty Rune mechanics feel too far in the other direction. Even in pro level games, it is not uncommon for teams to ignore the spawn timer. It is often more important to maintain map control elsewhere and only return to pick up the stack of Bounty Runes when convenient.
It is a hard balance to strike as both Bounty Runes and Outpost experience seem to be an attempt to help out heroes or roles that get fewer farming opportunities. At the same time, it doesn’t really feel that rewarding to have to divert from doing more important things on the map to pick them up on such a consistent schedule. Currently, Bounty Runes feel more like something that could just be introduced as higher GPM for all heroes instead. Possibly reintroducing bonus gold to the player that picks up the Rune would make the objective more interactive and important.
Water Runes are a problematic solution to an existing problem. Meant to reduce the randomness of mid-lane impact from Power Runes, Water Runes have achieved that goal. They have also added yet another chore-like task to the game that doesn’t really feel that great to play around. Because the impact of the runes is much reduced, we rarely see supports rotating to contest them. Even high-efficiency professional teams like OG mostly leave the Water Runes to be the mid laner’s responsibility. This has made mid lane much more static than in the past as both players usually pick up a Bottle and simply farm away while trading less impactful harass than in the past. Early roaming has all but disappeared and most mid heroes focus on farm efficiency instead of aggressive outplay.
From about patch 7.25 until its removal in patch 7.29 Necronomicon dominated Dota. The pushing power of heroes like Enigma, Beastmaster, and Lycan made tier two towers quiver in fear. Tier two towers often fell before 15 minutes and the pace of play could quickly snowball out of control. This became even more oppressive when Outposts were introduced as their benefits made quick pushing even stronger than before. To combat this, Icefrog issued several rounds of buffs to the armor and damage stats for towers. When that was still not enough to fight the so-called “zoo meta” split shot was added to the Glyph of Fortification. Finally, Icefrog removed Necronomicon from the game, effectively ending the era of multi-unit heroes dominating the offlane.
It seems like Necronomicon was the real issue but all of the prior buffs to towers remain in place. The pace of play in Dota has drastically slowed as a result and we see this reflected in a much more late game carry-focused meta. Taking a tier two tower now often requires an Aegis to do safely, making it very difficult to snowball an early advantage. Nature’s Prophet is the lower win rate hero in the game and heroes like Lycan, Beastmaster, Lone Druid, Troll Warlord, and Shadow Fiend all fall well below 50% win rate. Split pushing in has become incredibly difficult to do effectively and falls mostly to slippery heroes like Puck who can just kill the creeps and disappear. It feels like the pace of play now artificially stalls once the tier one towers fall and forces teams to go into an idle mode regardless of how well their early game went. Pace of play is obviously a very difficult balancing act but it would be nice to see more variety of options than simply sitting back and waiting for a 25-30 minute timing before being able to progress the game.
Casters and analysts have been talking about the importance of the laning stage for years. Fighting over the creeps for little advantages is still a crucial part of the game but everything has become much less punishing. Denying creeps has far less impact than it used to and pulling waves of creeps into neutral camps feels a lot more like a shared farming efficiency than ever before. Additionally, with roaming mostly out of the picture the static 2-1-2 laning setup is almost mandatory. The buff to neutral creep gold and experience has also made it much more acceptable to abandon a tough lane. All of this means that dominating a lane applies much less pressure than it used to. It would be nice to see denies become more important again or for some flexibility in the distribution of heroes to return as an option.
It has been a fairly strange progression for Dota over the past couple of years. Hero paradigms and itemization have become more and more flexible. At the same time, many of the core mechanics and macro game concepts have gotten increasingly static.