Dota 2's 7.31d patch has shaken up the metagame quite a bit, with Marci now available in Captain's Mode while the previous patch's meta heroes like Chaos Knight and Mars got some well-deserved nerfs.
However, the update's changes weren't exclusive to just heroes. While item changes often fly under the radar, they can be as game-changing as tweaks to heroes.
Some of the biggest item changes in 7.31d include nerfs to Null Talisman, Healing Salve, Black King Bar, and Wraith Pact.
Let's break down those nerfs and how they will affect your games:
No longer grants 4% mana cost reduction.
Now grants +3% Max Mana
Mana regen increased from 0.6 to 0.75
One of the most broken mechanics in the previous patch was Storm Spirit's ability to abuse Null Talismans and its mana cost reduction mechanic.
For such a cheap item, Storm Spirit was able to significantly reduce the mana cost for his Ball Lightning ultimate and come online much earlier than other heroes. Null Talisman getting upgraded after the 25-minute mark was just the cherry on top.
The hero would regularly build six Null Talismans and then purchase an Aghanim's Shard and Aghanim's Scepter, which was a little absurd and something we thought should be changed.
IceFrog decided to completely remove the mana cost reduction mechanic for Null Talisman and replace it with bonus max mana instead.
This is an interesting change, as Storm Spirit can still make good use of Null Talismans even if they are no longer overpowered for him.
One particular hero who likes the new Null Talisman is Outworld Devourer, who relies on his max mana pool to deal damage with Arcane Orb and Sanity's Eclipse.
Three Null Talismans on the hero at 25 minutes provides him with an extra 18% mana, a substantial buff to the hero but not enough to make him as broken as Storm Spirit with the previous version of Null Talismans.
Duration is halved when cast on an ally.
Cost decreased from 110 to 100
Healing Salves now heal allies for half the amount and cost 10 gold less.
This is a drastic change to the laning stage as the whole lane dynamic has been altered.
In previous patches, teams would sacrifice their supports' farm during the laning stage to spam Healing Salves on their cores.
In Dota 2 patch 7.31d that playstyle is no longer economically viable and teams will have to adjust.
Instead of buying Healing Salves to top up their cores, supports will find that sharing Tangoes will be a better way to spend their gold. Cores will need to buy their own Healing Salves now if they need that much healing.
We predict two changes will occur from this nerf to Healing Salves.
Firstly, aggressive dual lanes will be more popular, as teams will try to win the laning stage in order to spend less gold on Healing Salves while forcing the enemy to double down on consumables and ruin their early game economy.
Another potential change will be the rise of healing supports such as Warlock, Omniknight, and Dazzle.
These heroes have been absent from the meta for a few patches now and this change might be what they need to return to the competitive scene.
Why spend gold on Healing Salves when there are several heroes who can sustain their cores in the laning stage?
Black King Bar
Cooldown increased from 75 to 90
Black King Bar was one of the two biggest items in Dota 2 patch 7.31c, along with Wraith Pact.
Almost every core was buying a Black King Bar as their first big item in the game and it was common to see five or six heroes have one by the 30-minute mark.
The cooldown increase makes it riskier to use the item, as there is now a 90-second opening that teams can use to take objectives.
Players will have to be more conservative with their usage of Black King Bars, which will slow down the game significantly.
Model size increased by 50%
Attacks to destroy reduced from 5 to 4
Gold bounty increased from 20 to 100
When cast, it will automatically follow the caster
The item that defined the ESL One Stockholm Major was Wraith Pact.
The Totem the item provided greatly reduced the enemy's damage output and prevented them from using Blink Dagger effectively.
When IceFrog nerfs an item or hero, he generally keeps their strongest aspect intact but gives them more weaknesses and that's what happened to Wraith Pact.
The Totem does exactly what it did in the previous patches but is now significantly easier to see and bring down during teamfights.
The Totem's bounty has also been increased by 80 gold, which adds up over the course of a single game. While we believe the item is still in a decent spot overall, teams will definitely be reconsidering buying a Wraith Pact in every single game in 7.31d.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.