The new patch brings the end of the first ranked season of Auto Chess and the beginning of the new one in addition to some QoL changes:
Most importantly, however, the new patch has two new heroes and some significant balance implications!
Dazzle: 3g, Troll, Priest
Shallow Grave: prevents 1/2/3 ally heroes from dying for a 4-second duration. Chooses the allies with the lowest HP.
Many high-level players consider him an S-tier unit right out of the gate.
Dazzle is also a big buff to a (4) Trolls lineup (more below) – 1st he is a high-tier troll, 2nd he makes finding the 4 trolls easier – don’t need to wait for Warlord, can get to (4) Trolls without him and then swap out one of the other Trolls in his favor.
He also works great with Gods - he doesn't compete with other Trolls (Witch Doctor is good, but not that good), and with the cooldown reduction and Crystal Maiden he could keep Shallow Grave on almost permanently.
Io: 5g, Elf, No Class
Wildcard: combines with any other two units for an upgrade.
Io has two unique properties:
First, he could be used to replace any other unit you need for an upgrade. For example, two Enigmas + one Io combine into a two-star Enigma. Two two-star enigmas + a two-star Io combine into a three-star Enigma (the same applies for any other unit).
Second, you could roll him right from the start of the game, unlike other Legendary (5g) units, which require an lvl8 courier. Moreover, Io benefits from an unlimited Chess Pool (you could theoretically roll an infinite amount of Io’s in a game, although the chance of rolling him is still very low, so this doesn’t happen in practice).
The implication of this is that he can make reaching a three-star 4 or even 5-gold unit much more achievable in practice. That said, he is an expensive unit to carry on your bench from early-on in the game, especially if you have multiple Ios.
When there are only two players left in a game, both players will receive a fatigue debuff after 5 rounds.
Fatigue: All couriers health points get halved.
The implications of this new mechanic are pretty straightforward – the person that has reached top two on a winning streak and has a big HP pool now has less of an advantage. This means losing-streak, late-game focused strategies might be a bit more viable if you’re shooting for a win.
(6) Knights: All allies have a 35% chance to proc a damage-reducing shield.
This is one of the changes with the biggest implications. Knights have been one of the top rated Auto Chess strategies in the meta so far, but this rework changes the dynamic of the class significantly.
First, needing (3) instead of (2) or (4) Knights is a nerf for two reasons:
This means that if you are NOT going for the full (6) Knights (which was the standard for most Knight strategies), your frontline would be noticeably weaker.
Second, the (6) Knights bonus is also weaker in terms of proc chance than it used to be. The fact that it applies to all units is a good added bonus, but most of the time this wouldn’t be game-breaking. If you are running (6) Knights, you only have space for 2-4 more units in your final lineup, who would most likely be utility heroes and wouldn’t benefit from the shield protection as much. In that sense, the fact that you have a weaker frontline is a bigger nerf compared to the buff of the shield affecting your other heroes.
That said, it’s worth mentioning that (6) Knights is probably currently a stronger counter to AoE-heavy strategies like Mages.
Assassins: Increased Assassin Pieces' initiation delay from 0.5 sec to 0.75 sec.
A slight buff to Assassins in the sense that now the enemy heroes have a bit more time to jump towards the Assassins, which gives the Assassins a bigger chance to jump on the enemy backline. This makes protecting yourself against the Assassins with a corner positioning strat a bit harder, and the better option would be to put 1-2 tanks on the backlines. This option is more problematic in the mid game, however, because it’s not beneficial against other strategies, while the corner box positioning is generally speaking good against most drafts.
Trolls: the introduction of Dazzle
There are now five trolls in the game – Batrider (1g), Shadow Shaman (1g), Witch Doctor (2g), Dazzle (3g), Troll Warlord (4g);
This is a huge buff to trolls for a few reasons:
Troll strats are now the best strats for an early-mid game losing streak because of Dazzle, yet you are not required to play this strat because you can also easily snowball with Trolls.
With this in mind, Trolls + Warriors will probably be one of the highest tier strategy in the upcoming Meta. It is easy to build (i.e. reliable), it does well against most strategies, and in case you’re fighting against Mages (the counter) you can always run Slardar + Medusa in order to reach (2) Nagas sooner than most other strats.
Knights + Trolls is likely also strong, but as mentioned above, Knights are arguably weaker now and Warriors + Trolls are likely higher tier because of it.
Lich ( implications for Gods and Goblins): Temporarily removed Lich from the piece pool, and will be added back later after rework.
There are no changes to the bonuses of Gods and Goblins, but the removal of Lich is a low-key buff to both strategies.
Since there are very few legendary units, removing one from the game increases the chance that you will roll the others. Since with Goblins, you NEED Techies and Gods NEED Zeus to reach the late-game potential of your lineup, removing Lich makes both of those strategies a little bit more consistent.
Dazzle is also a great addition to a Gods lineup, as mentioned.
(Disclaimer: since Io uses different draft mechanics (could be drawn in all stages of the game), we believe it isn’t included in the total legendaries pool of heroes. We might be wrong, however – will edit once new information comes out).
Ogre: Reworked Ogre's Two Heads: Instead of +10% max HP for allied Ogres, Two Heads now grant +5% max HP for all allies.
This is a big buff to Ogre and it makes him a bit more beneficial to have in your mid-game draft. He contributes to your frontline by buffing their total HP. For example, this might make it easier to build a decent frontline in a Mages draft and even go for (6) Mages more reliably.
The Two Heads change, however, is even more meaningful on Alchemist, who is now both a Goblin and an Ogre. This makes him a very valuable chess piece if you’re going for (3) Warlocks – he’s already a good tank, but now he buffs your whole lineup.
Obviously, this is also a slight buff to the Goblins strategy.
Together with the introduction of Io, which makes reaching a two-star legendary a bit easier, Enigma is likely to become the most popular strategy-independent legendary hero.
A small, well-warranted nerf, but it’s unlikely to deter most people from Drafting her. The ult is still great, and the (2) Nagas bonus is a must against Mages.
A small buff, especially to Tier 1 TB – might help you get-off his ult. Still a super-high priority to get him to lvl2, 50HP isn’t a lot.
100 HP would be a huge buff if Venomancer wasn’t a backline unit. Nonetheless, he is a bit better now against AoE nukes and even low-level Assassins.
Not a big nerf, but together with the other Knight changes this decreases the early-game strength of Knights.
Blade Mail is now a top-tier item for frontline units, especially big tanks that take a lot of the focus fire like e.g. Treant in an Assassins lineup. To maximize the damage returned, make sure it’s on your tank that takes the biggest chunk of the enemy focus-fire. If you have a big frontline that splits the damage evenly (e.g. (6) Warriors), the effect of Blade Mail would be less reliable.
Slight nerf to passive right-click heroes like Drow, Troll, and Luna. Since you don’t really have another realistic use of Mask of Death, this wouldn’t change your decision-making process.
A much-warranted nerf – AC is one of the best items in the game. It wouldn’t change a lot, however. If you can, you will always try to build it anyway.
A slight buff to spell-casters, most notably mages like Razor.