There are hundreds of items in Dota and similar to heroes, most of them will find their use in a proper game. The latest mini-patch has also expanded the pool of usable items, making a few team defensive options a little better while also toning down the ubiquitous Wraith Covenant. Today we want to talk about the items that could receive a little IceFrog Love and why we feel it is necessary.
Looking at the numbers, the structure and the active effects, it’s really hard to understand why exactly these items are so unpopular. Medallion of Courage provides early laning pressure Blight Stone and can then transform into a respectable damage buff tool: Valor, the active armor buff/debuff, has a massive range of effect.
Similarly, Solar Crest gives the purchaser some additional stats, some movement speed and Shine, enhanced Prowess, has some subtle but powerful sub-effects. Increasing your teammates’ attack speed by 50 can be a massive DPS buff, especially on hard and slow hitting cores.
Why are these seemingly decent to good items completely ignored? We believe the main reason is that they don’t offer much of a game-changing upgrade to justify a support slot, while also being too service-oriented for DPS cores. This looks like an offlane item, but in a game that has been dominated for so long by the Wraith Pact and item resurgence Whistle of insight and Crimson Guard, it’s really hard to justify spending gold on this.
This problem is very noticeable on the role with the greatest gold hunger. Backers don’t usually get many items, so every purchase needs to have an impact. Extra Armor isn’t trivial when it comes to saving your teammates, but it definitely pales in comparison to what Glimmer Cape and Force Staff have to offer. The Solar Crest Shine Active, as mentioned, is noticeably better, but it also comes at a fairly high price. The Valor to Shine active upgrade is not worth a 900 gold recipe to support the hero.
On carry and DPS cores, the item would make a little sense if it weren’t for that Falcon Blade. Medallion of Courage can technically give you more than +14 Attack Damage, as reducing enemy armor by five can give you pretty impressive gains. The five armors that are there can also mean more EHP than +200 health from the Falcon Blade. The difference of 0.3 mana regeneration is also more or less trivial.
The problem is that as a carry you’re usually more scared of the magic damage in the early stages of the game, while Valor and Shine don’t really help you farm as quickly. It takes significantly less than 12 seconds to kill a Creep, so most of the time it’s not being actively accelerated by the Medallion while farming. We can see it as a pace play for a hero like Phantom Assassin and it was a pretty popular build about four years ago, but between new items like Falcon Blade and Orb of Corrosion it doesn’t make much sense in every position you wear.
Staying with the offlaners, this is where we could see the item and its upgrade carving a small niche for itself. Between a pretty noticeable soul ring price increase and [wraith-pact] Nerfs there is now a small medallion shaped hole in the offlane timings. Of course, you can choose Falcon Blade, but if your hero is all about making space and fighting early, Medallion will give you more aggression. you could go too Orb of Corrosion, but then you lack mana sustain. You could skip everything and go straight to a team defensive item, but it would most likely result in you getting a pipe or crimson before your team actually wants to group five.
We feel like Medallion might be a little underrated for heroes like Dawnbreaker or Mars, although we still wouldn’t mind seeing a few small buffs. Perhaps the Blight Stone component could apply its passive hit effect even when upgraded?
Part of the reason why the current Bloodstone Meta is so powerful because Spirit Vessel isn’t very good. In one of the more recent patches, the item’s casting range was even reduced, making it even less attractive to supports. The problem is similar to Medallion: Supports can’t really do it, DPS cores really don’t want to, and offlaners usually have other problems to solve.
This problem is currently being exacerbated by the amount of ban effects in the game. This is one of our most common complaints, but it sometimes feels impossible to tinker with the spell mechanic. Between Manta, Lotus, BKB, Satanic, Greaves, Eul’s, Wind Waker, and Aeon Disk in addition to potentially free Flicker, Witchbane, Asketic’s Cap, and Stormcrafter, it’s just really hard to keep debuffs on priority targets.
As a backup, you cannot realistically hope to get Spirit Vessel before the enemy gets one of the above bans. As a core, you would rather go for Skadi, Shivas, or just more burst damage since Spirit Vessel has a very narrow window of relevance.
In our opinion, giving Spirit Vessel back its aura makes a lot of sense. It still shouldn’t pierce spell immunity, but a reliable way to deal with overwhelming lifesteal early on could solve some of the game’s current problems. It shouldn’t be a full 25% Shiva’s Guard experience, but an aura with ~15% recovery reduction would go a long way unless Valve finally does something about the in-game dispels.
What do you think? Do you think Bloodstone nerfing is still a necessity, or do you think giving players more and better tools to deal with it will result in more exciting gameplay? Share your thoughts and other nominated item buffs in the comments section below.