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November 13th, 2018 Patch - 7 Days Later
7 Days Later
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View the previous post on HeroesHearth here.
View all of my previous blog posts here.

Hello again!  After each balance patch, I've taken it upon myself to track how the balance changes have affected the Nexus.  It's become something of a habit for me, and I thought it might be fun to share my data with the community.

In case you've forgotten what changed in the last patch, here's a link.

Disclaimer (please read!):
All data provided in this post was collected from Hotslogs, which is a database of player-submitted games.  Data was collected between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM EST each day, using the special filter "Last 7 Days (Current Build)".  As usual, keep in mind that my numbers may differ slightly from Hotslogs's "official" figures as the site regularly updates older information as more games are added. Therefore, our data may not match up perfectly, but it should give a generally accurate view of how the week progressed.

Here is a link to the spreadsheet with the data I've collected.  The spreadsheet contains all of my original data, split into two categories: "Composite" (which represents all data across the entire week) and "Daily" (which represents data from each individual day).  If you'd prefer a summarized report, read on!

Here is a table showing the win rates, pick rates, ban rates, and overall popularity of each hero in Hero League and Team League:

Remember, only the heroes whose win rates are highlighted blue/orange with white text have exceeded their margin of error.  Heroes which do not exceed the margin of error are considered to have too little data to confirm that they have changed in any significant way.  Note that the error column assumes a 95% confidence interval.  To put it simply, a 95% confidence interval is a numerical way to measure whether the win rate has changed in any significant way.  If the change to a win rate exceeds the error, then we can assume that there is approximately a 95% chance that the win rate has changed.

The seven-day analysis is below.  Please note that while I try to cover all heroes, not all heroes are in need of in-depth analysis of their changes, so some heroes may have short summaries or may even be omitted entirely.  Also, be aware that the contents of this section are primarily my own opinion of the changes, albeit backed with data.  If you disagree, feel free to explain why in the comments below.

1) Despite Orphea's design intent of being a hero with a high skill cap, her results reflect that of a hero that is most powerful in lower ranked games.  While her win rate has continued to climb throughout the week (even exceeding the margin of error in the process), Orphea's win rate in higher levels of play has remained fairly dismal, ranking her in the bottom 10 heroes in Diamond+ play with a win rate only very marginally better than the average win rate displayed above.  So what's the problem?

I think the problem is that Orphea's design is along the same lines as Kel'thuzad.  Kel'thuzad is a very combo-dependent hero in that all of his abilities are intended to be chained together into one big neat ball of exploding enemy heroes.  Orphea is very much along the same lines in that she requires landing large combos to be the most effective, and that's very difficult to achieve when everything she does is broadcast very strongly and has a delay behind it.  Kel'thuzad makes up for this by having instant-casting and relatively quick-moving chains that he can use to latch heroes in place, allowing him a better chance at landing his delayed abilities.  Sure, it's possible to dodge his chains, and that's the best way to counter what he does (and a large part of why he's less effective at the pro level).  But Orphea has no hard CC to achieve this same effect unless she locks Crushing Jaws as her heroic in every game, and she also has no abilities that are truly "instant".  Everything she does is delayed in some way, including her gap-closing Shadow Waltz.  Because of this, everything she does can be much more easily avoided, which makes her a very inconsistent hero at higher levels of play where juking is more common.  And this problem is likely to remain a problem for professional play even if she's buffed in the future.

I think that Orphea needs some design changes in order to allow her a better chance at professional use.  The problem, of course, is that the pro scene has been very mixed about what needs "fixing" in her kit.  However, I think I've found the fundamental aspect tying most of their ideas together: despite being designed to act as a more "mobile" mage with the ability to chase and flee and juke using her Shadow Waltz, the rest of her kit feels fundamentally like it was designed for an "immobile" mage.  Casting any ability in her kit will always stop any ongoing movement action, or worse (in the case of Chomp), render her temporarily unable to move at all until the cast finishes.  This doesn't fit at all with the idea of the hero being this highly mobile target "dancing" around her enemies.  To that end, I have multiple possible suggestions to improve her kit.

First, the devs should reduce the delay on her Chomp with a corresponding reduction in power so that it works more effectively as a means of improving her overall flow in combat.  Being stuck in one place for just over 0.6 seconds doesn't seem like long, but it can really make the ability much harder to land at higher skill levels, leading to problems with her damage consistency.  Second, I think the devs should make Dread's "eruption" require a secondary activation within a certain limited period of time, instead of triggering automatically with a delay.  As it is right now, Dread is a relatively flavorless variation on Arthas's Howling Blast.  Sure, it has different range, a larger AoE, and no hard CC....but it's still at its core essentially the same base idea, and most Orphea players won't think too hard about its use in battle because it has no real utility to it.  With this change, Orphea's Dread now has a completely different flavor to it.  Now it's way more useful as a zoning tool by allowing some limited degree of area denial.  Plus, this also doubles as a way to curb Lurking Terror's power by making it so that the "eruption" and Lurking Terror can't both be cast in the same "pool", reducing the overall burst of this combination while still allowing Orphea players to use the zoning "pool" as a way to play mind games with her opponent.  Is this pool going to be just a slow, or is there a Chomp lurking in those chaotic waters?  The dimensions it adds to Dread make the investment well worth it.

Finally, and perhaps most critically in my opinion, the devs should adjust Orphea's abilities so that they no longer interrupt movement commands.  This would allow players to move and Chomp at the same time, as well as introducing some fun skillful interactions with Shadow Waltz's "darting" movement and Chomp by allowing a player to land a Shadow Waltz, hold their dart, "pre-cast" Chomp, and then dart in at the last possible moment to land their Chomp.  It would have relatively little effect at lower skill levels due to the skill required to sync their movements and abilities to this degree, but it would vastly improve her flow for higher-skill players who practice the timing extensively.  It would also empower some of her currently less desirable talents like Backbiter by giving her a Zeratul-esque poke combo: dart in, Chomp, dart out.  Backbiter is much weaker right now due to how difficult it is to land Chomp, but with the smaller delay and increased mobility of the suggestions outlined above, I think talents like Backbiter would become significantly stronger choices.

Of course, this last suggestion will take a considerably larger amount of dev work than either of the other two changes I've pitched here.  I also acknowledge that she's going to need a lot of number tweaking as a result of making such a change, likely including some damage reductions.  And yes, as someone who has previously railed against mobility creep, I am aware that this potentially sets a dangerous precedent for a mage.  But I strongly believe that if the goal is to make Orphea into this skillful hero that darts and dodges around her opponents while dropping lots of damage on them, then she needs a kit which will greater enable her mobility overall, and that means having ability casts that don't slow her down.  As you can no doubt tell from this long and rambling post, I'm very passionate about the new Nexus original hero and she's rapidly becoming one of my favorite assassins in the game, but I think there are some additional changes they could make to push her to greater heights at the highest levels of play.

2) None of the heroes covered in the "multiplier sweep" saw statistically significant adjustments to their popularity or win rate.  This isn't too surprising since the changes would only affect how spell power stacks onto them (which requires having spell power effects that would stack on that hero to begin with), or in some cases, only changes the tooltips themselves (meaning the way that the hero works didn't change at all).  All the same, despite it being a relatively uneventful shift, it's still exceedingly smart of the devs to start working on correcting the game's many inconsistencies as far as how the game functions with different heroes.  Having less inconsistencies in design will also make balancing newer heroes a bit easier long-term, so it's a positive on multiple fronts.

Looking for more of my work?  My last HGC article focuses on Kerrigan, the revamped Queen of Blades, and her performance at Blizzcon.  That article is located here.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts to this article in the comments section below, or on Twitter at my handle @CriticKitten.  I look forward to your replies!

Hope to see you again next time!
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