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Earlier in this year, when Dota 2 patch 7.22 was released and every hero that didn’t have an Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade was given one, VPEsports did an article rating the new Scepters of the patch. With patch 7.23, The Outlanders Update, 25 Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades were reworked, with most of them completely changing what the Scepter upgrade provides for the hero. This gives us the task of going back and rating all the reworked Scepter upgrades. As there are quite a few, the ratings have been divided into two parts, cores and supports. Here, in the first part, we take a look at and rate the reworked Scepters of patch 7.23 for core heroes.

(1) Faceless Void (4/10)

Now applies a Time Lock proc on units at the destination of the Time Walk within 250 AoE. Does not pierce Spell Immunity.

Faceless Void’s earlier Scepter was really good – cooldown for Chrono reduced to 60 seconds. The new Scepter is good for stopping teleports or channeling spells. But as a carry, that’s not what Void wants to prioritize. Also the area isn’t too large and it doesn’t go through spell immunity, which makes it a lot more sensible to get a Moon Shard over a Scepter upgrade as the seventh item.

(2) Sniper (4/10)

Reworked Scepter. Reduces cast time on Assassinate from 2 to 1 and causes it to disable the target for 1.8 seconds.

Sniper’s old Scepter was probably a 2/10, which makes the new one an improvement for sure, but not really something Sniper would want to get. The old Scepter was good mostly for the meme build with Divine Rapiers. The new Aghs upgrade is a substitute for a level 20 talent Sniper possessed before patch 7.23, which was cast time reduction for assassinate. The disable time is an added feature, which can be useful in ganks, but Sniper’s primary role is of damage dealer, which makes Scepter an eighth item for him after consuming a Moon Shard. Even a Scepter obtained from Rosh is probably better of used on another hero.

Note: The disable mentioned in the description is a stun.

(3) Phantom Lancer (5/10)

Phantom Rush speed boost is now always available when attacking enemy units, regardless of the cooldown (agility bonus is still cooldown limited).

Phantom Lancer’s earlier Scepter upgrade, which would make the Spirit Lance travel to multiple targets, had some merits as it could be good for crowd control. The new Scepter doesn’t really have too many merits. The speed boost alone doesn’t do a lot. The initial boost is good to get onto a hero, but once PL gets his lance(s) on a hero, there are a lot of ways to keep him/her from escaping. Diffusal or Skadi are the first ones that come to mind and there is also Doppleganger to chase those pesky Force Staff users. Probably a seventh item for PL.

Note: The description in game says removes minimum proc distance, which is not specified completely in the notes of the patch. What that means is, even when attacking an enemy who is right beside you, Phantom Rush will trigger, which normally happens only if the enemy is 250 units away. This is good for the bonus 44 Agility, which is why it has priority over consuming a Moon Shard as the seventh item. The bonus agility affects the Phantom Lancer illusions as well.

(4) Chaos Knight (6/10)

When you cast Phantasm, causes every allied hero to create an illusion (same stats as Phantasm illusions). Your hero gets an additional illusion as well. Does not interrupt allies.

Can you imagine a horde of heroes pushing at the base thanks to strong illusions from Phantasm? Towers and barracks would be torn down in a matter of a few seconds. Of course, not something for a core Chaos Knight. But we have seen CK been played in the position 3 or position 4 role before. PSG.LGD’s Fy played the old CK as a support and used the old Aghanim’s upgrade successfully with a Metamorphosis Terrorblade. The new Scepter is an upgrade of the old one and if support CK becomes a thing (we have seen stranger things happen in Dota 2), it will definitely be a popular item choice. Only reason it is rated a bit low here is because of the fact that CK is still being played as a core and no core CK will go for a Scepter. Also in games with an Earthshaker and Axe, the Scepter will be detrimental.

(5) Dark Seer (6/10)

Now reduces Vacuum cooldown from 60/50/40/30 to 12 and doubles the width on Wall of Replica.

Note: The description says width, but it actually means the length of the Wall of Replica.

The decrease in Vacuum cooldown is a good change in itself, but the length of the Wall of Replica doubling is major boost Dark Seer’s Scepter provides. If you see the image below, you’ll realize how vast it becomes! In a chaotic fight, it’s not always the easiest task to walk around the wall and doubling it in size just makes it that much more difficult. There is a downside as compared to the previous Scepter upgrade though. The previous one used to increase the illusion damage to 140%, which was amazing if Dark Seer got a good Vacuum – Wall combo. Now Scepter doesn’t really do anything for the combo. It finds more use in zoning the enemy or in defensive situations.

Wall closer to Dark Seer: Without Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade
Wallfarther away from Dark Seer: With Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade

(6) Huskar (6/10)

Life Break now taunts the enemy for 2.5 seconds.

With his magic resistance now gone, this is exactly the tool Huskar needs to deal with the likes of Lion and Lina, who can stun and nuke him down after he Life Breaks onto them. Another way is BKB of course, but Laguna Blade becomes a pure damage nuke after Lina gets a Scepter. Also, BKBs have a pretty long cooldown and they don’t stop enemy heroes from using items like Force Staff and Glimmer Cape to escape. A 2.5 seconds taunt allows Huskar enough time to inflict lethal damage. Huskar can’t be stunned mid jump and a Force Staff away or blink away does not rid a hero from a chasing Huskar. Seeing games after the 7.23 patch, it appears a Scepter for Huskar isn’t too popular right now. But in the right circumstances, facing certain heroes, it could prove to be invaluable.

(7) Invoker (6/10)

Scepter now adds Cataclysm to Sun Strike.

The good thing about Invoker now, is that he does not need an Aghanim’s Scepter to be influential in the game. The old Invoker absolutely needed it, but with the changes in 7.23, he can opt to go for a number of different builds. The new Scepter isn’t bad, and combined with a Void, Magnus or Enigma, can do a lot of damage, but it probably isn’t something we’ll see being built every game.

(8) Lifestealer (6/10)

Reduces Infest cooldown to 20 seconds and increases cast range to 600. Causes the Infested target to get the Rage buff (lasts as long as Rage does).

Changes in 7.23b:
• Infest movement speed for heroes is now the same as the creeps bonus
• Infest health bonus reduced from 750/1000/1250 to 400/800/1200
• Infest cooldown begins once you leave the infested unit
• Infest scepter cooldown increased from 20 to 25

Lifestealer’s Scepter upgrade was a solid 10 when The Outlanders Update was first released, but with changes in 7.23b, it’s not that good anymore. Why was it better before? Because every time LS jumped in a hero, that hero would get bonus HP and magic immunity while Infest would come off cooldown in 20 seconds while Lifestealer was infested, so this whole process could be repeated in the middle of a fight. It was a 20 second walking BKB that lasted for 6 seconds and it made LS popular as a support in the early days of patch 7.23. However, now that the cooldown does not begin until you leave the infested hero, LS has to jump out, which leads to the hero losing the bonus HP and movement speed. The Scepter isn’t bad, but it isn’t anywhere close to how good as it was earlier. For a core LS, Scepter as a Seventh item can be a good escape mechanism, as the hero he jumps in can teleport out under the safety of magic immunity from Rage.

(9) Dragon Knight (7/10)

Elder Dragon Form Scepter upgrade now also provides flying pathing.

In the Scepter ratings from the 7.22 patch, I rated Dragon Knight’s Scepter as 6, a good upgrade but not something that would be prioritized over damage and initiation items, or even a BKB, which is what we see in most games. However, with the flying pathing, it provides DK with a better way to chase, escape and have an advantage in Rosh fights. This is of course, added to the benefits already provided by the Black Dragon. We might see Dragon Knights prioritize Aghanim’s Scepter a bit more than earlier.

Dragon Knight flying pathing with an Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade

(10) Necrophos (7/10)

Now reduces Ghost Shroud cooldown to 10 seconds and causes Heartstopper Aura to deal 2x as much damage while Ghost Shroud is active.

At first, I was skeptical of this Scepter until I actually used it in a game and saw how potent it is. Ghost Shroud lasts for 4.5 seconds, so the downtime is only 5.5 seconds. When it is being used, it drains 4.8% of a heroes maximum HP; 6% with the level 25 talent! Of course, it will be reduced now that Heartstopper Aura is magical damage, but it has the potential to do some serious damage. In a one hour game that I played with Necro, thanks to the Scepter upgrade, Heartstopper Aura ended up doing a little over 49,000 hero damage! Scepter along with Radiance can be a disaster for the opposition. The only downside is if the enemy team has a lot of magic damage, Ghost Shroud is something you want to avoid, which is when the Scepter upgrade becomes useless.

Necrophos damage dealt in a one hour game

(11) Sven (7/10)

Storm Hammer gains +500 cast range and you travel along it. Upon impact, it hits automatically lands an attack on the primary target.

Superman Sven is one of the most fun things the game of Dota 2 has seen. Just flying to unsuspecting enemies in God’s Strength and sending them back to the fountain in a few quick strikes never gets old! Not an item Sven would want to get every game, but in games with heroes like Zeus or Venomancer, who have the ability to cancel Blink Daggers from a distance, it can be very useful. Another way it is better than Blink is to fake a retreat till Storm Hammer comes off cooldown and then turn back and smash into the enemy while they are right clicking you. The additional 500 cast range takes the cast range to 1100, which is less than Blink Dagger’s distance of 1200, but more than the penalty Blink distance of 960. Blink along with Scepter might be a bit of an overkill, but there will surely be games where substituting a Scepter for a Blink Dagger will be a good idea. There are certain situations though where the Scepter can land Sven in trouble, like targeting an Ember Spirit who remnants back to base. That just takes Sven along with him and in most scenarios, will lead to Sven dying in the enemy fountain.

Note: Sven flying to an enemy who teleports out stops Sven where he is and does not make him follow the teleported hero.

(12) Kunkka (8/10)

Provides the Torrent Storm ability. Active, causes a visible torrent to spawn every 0.25 seconds for 5 seconds. Torrents spawn randomly in a 1100 area around you (in alternating quadrants). Cooldown: 70, Mana cost: 250.

Torrent Storm is a tool of total chaos in a team fight and completely disrupts the opposition’s team fight. The torrents being random, there is no way of attempting to sidestep one. The ability releases a Torrent every 0.25 seconds for 5 seconds – which means a total of 25 Torrents are released! Torrent Storm paired up with the +120 Torrent damage (level 15 – takes the total Torrent damage to 420) and +100 Torrent AoE (level 20 – which increases the radius from 225 to 325) talents can be a major team fight changer. Professional games have seen the new Scepter picked up for Kunkka in quite a few games and there is no reason for it to stop.

(13) Lycan (8/10)

Grants Wolf Bite. Target an allied hero to convert them and provide Shapeshift properties (including melee). Grants both of you 30% lifesteal, and a shared 30% lifesteal to heal the other one when within 1200 range of each other. Cooldown: 80, Mana cost: 150.

Magnitudes better than Lycan’s initial Scepter upgrade which he got in patch 7.22, which was probably one of the worst Scepter upgrades the game of Dota 2 has ever seen, if not the worst one. Lycan hasn’t been a stable meta hero for a while, but the last time he was, he was played as a position 3 hero a lot of times. An offlane Lycan making a Scepter for a position 1 ally like Sven or Ursa (heroes who are easily kited) can work wonders. Imagine a Sven with God’s Strength activated running at you with 650 movement speed – terrifying! Remember, a Shapeshifted unit cannot be slowed and has a 40% chance of dealing 150%/175%/200% critical damage. That is a partial Daedalus built in! The shared lifesteal is a concept from Dota Underlords and gives both heroes more tankability. All in all, a good Scepter upgrade for an offlane Lycan. A position 1 Lycan is always on a timer to push quickly and finish the game, so Scepter probably won’t be a priority in that case.

(14) Magnus (9/10)

Now reduces Skewer cooldown to 4 seconds, cast point by half and removes mana cost.

Changes in 7.23c:
• Skewer Scepter reduces mana cost by 50% rather than 100%
• Skewer Scepter cooldown increased from 4 to 6 seconds

Before the change in 7.23c, Magnus’ Scepter upgrade was a straight up 10. With the change, I’d say it’s still pretty good with a rating of 9. Professional games still see the Scepter being used quite a bit. The first major item a Magnus goes for is an Echo Sabre, which provides mana regen. The original mana cost of Skewer is 80 and Aghs brings it down to 40, which is not too high and with an Echo Sabre or Soul Ring still makes Skewer a spell that can be spammed. Why is that such a good thing? It gives Magnus initiation, an ability to chase, an ability to escape and forcibly displace enemy heroes. It also acts as a movement tool while farming the jungle which, along with the new Empower, helps Magnus clear the jungle as easily and quickly as an Anti-Mage with a Battlefury.

(15) Slark (9/10)

Pounce now has two charges and travels double the distance/speed.

The new Slark Scepter is a common pickup in pro games as the second or third item. Leap distance increases from 700 to 1400 with the Scepter, and the two charges mean he can effectively leap 2800 units to escape, which is quite the distance. The increased speed literally makes Slark fly! Looks scary if you’re playing against him, to be honest. The second Leap comes in handy a lot of times in offensive situations as well, to latch onto a second hero when the initial target dies or chase a Snapfire who escaped the first Leap with a Firesnap Cookie. And which of us hasn’t missed an easy pounce once in a while? Pretty sure veryone including the likes of Miracle and Ana have, so if you’re thinking you haven’t, you need some deep introspection! The Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade gives the hero a second chance to make up for an embarrassing missed leap as well.

(16) Doom (10/10)

Infernal Blade stun duration increased to 1.75 seconds and +2s DPS duration. Applies Break.

The best Scepter upgrade of 7.23, hands down. A 1.75 second stun with a 4 second cooldown that also applies break? It’s just amazing. The earlier Scepter was good too, with Doom applying break, but that was situational. The new Scepter is something Doom doesn’t have to get, but is definitely advisable considering the stun. Doom can now keep a target broken for the entire duration of a fight, which is a big counter for heroes like Spectre and Bristleback.

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