There are hundreds of items in Dota and much like heroes, most of them will find their use in an appropriate game. The latest mini-patch also widened the pool of viable items, by making a couple of team defensive options a little bit better, while also nerfing the ever-present Wraith Pact. Today we would like to talk about the items that could receive a bit of IceFrog love and why we believe it is necessary.
Looking at the numbers, the buildup and the active effects it is really hard to understand why exactly these items are so unpopular. Medallion of courage provides an early laning pressure through Blight Stone and can then transition into a respectable damage amplification tool: the cast range on Valor, the active armor buff/debuff, is massive.
Similarly, Solar Crest gives the buyer some extra stats, some movement speed and Shine, upgraded Valor, has some subtle, but powerful sub-effects. Increasing your teammates Attack Speed by 50 can be a massive DPS buff, especially with hard and slow hitting cores.
So why are these seemingly decent-to-good items being completely ignored? We feel like the biggest reason is that they don’t provide as much of a game-changing upgrade to warrant a support slot, while also being too utility-oriented for DPS cores. This looks like an offlane item, but in a game so long dominated by Wraith Pact and with the resurgence of items like Pipe of Insight and Crimson Guard, it is really hard to justify spending gold on it.
This problem is very noticeable on the most gold-starved role. Supports typically don’t get a lot of items, so their every purchase has to have an impact. Extra Armor is not trivial in terms of saving your teammates, but it definitely pales in comparison to what Glimmer Cape and Force Staff can offer. The Shine active from Solar Crest is noticeably better, as discussed previously, but it also comes at a pretty high cost. The Valor to Shine active upgrade is not worth a 900 gold recipe to support hero.
On carries and DPS cores the item would make a little bit of sense, if it wasn’t for the Falcon Blade. Medallion of Courage can technically give you more than +14 Attack Damage, since reducing the enemy Armor by five can provide pretty impressive gains. The five Armor it gives can also mean more EHP than +200 Health from the Falcon Blade. The 0.3 Mana Regeneration differential is more or less trivial as well.
The problem is, as a carry, you are typically more afraid of the magical damage in the earlier stages of the game, while Valor and Shine don’t really help you farm as quickly. It takes significantly less time than 12 seconds for you to kill a creep, so most of the time you are farming, it is not being actively accelerated by the Medallion. We can see it as a tempo play on a hero like Phantom Assassin and it was actually a pretty popular build four or so years ago, but between new items like Falcon Blade and Orb of Corrosion it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on any position one carries.
This leaves us with the offlaners and this is where we could see the item and its upgrade carving a bit of a niche for themselves. Between a pretty noticeable Soul Ring price increase and [wraith-pact] nerfs, there is now a small Medallion-shaped hole in Offlane timings. Naturally, you can go for Falcon Blade, but if your hero is about creating space and fighting early, Medallion will give you more aggression. You could also go for Orb of Corrosion, but then you will lack the mana sustain. You could skip all of it and go straight for a team defensive item, but it would most likely lead to you getting a Pipe or Crimson before your team actually wants to group up as five.
We feel like maybe going Medallion on heroes like Dawnbreaker or Mars is a little underrated, though we still wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of small buffs to it. Perhaps the Blight Stone component could keep on applying its passive on-hit effect even when upgraded?
Part of the reason why the current Bloodstone meta is so powerful, is because Spirit Vessel isn’t particularly great. The item even had its cast range reduced in one of the more recent patches, making it even less appealing to supports. The problem is kind of similar to the one Medallion has: supports can’t really go for it, DPS cores really don’t want it and Offlaners usually have other problems to solve.
This problem is exacerbated by the amount of dispel effects in the game right now. This is one of our common complaints, but playing around dispel mechanics sometimes feels impossible. Between Manta, Lotus, BKB, Satanic, Greaves, Eul’s, Wind Waker and Aeon Disk on top of potentially free Flicker, Witchbane, Ascetic’s Cap and Stormcrafter it is just really hard to keep debuffs on priority targets.
As a support, you can’t realistically hope to get Spirit Vessel before the enemy gets one of the aforementioned dispels. As a core, you would rather go Skadi, Shiva’s or simply more burst damage since Spirit Vessel has a very narrow relevance window.
In our opinion, giving Spirit Vessel its aura back makes a lot of sense. It still shouldn’t pierce spell immunity, but having 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 a ~15% restoration reduction aura would go a long way, unless Valve finally does something about the dispels in the game.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you feel like nerfing Bloodstone is still a necessity, or do you think that providing players with more and better tools for dealing with it will result in a more exciting gameplay? Share your thoughts and other item buff nominees in the comment section below.