Game balance is an aspect game developers scrutinize when they implement tons of variables, which are abundant in action RTS games, and the slightest modifications can be magnified tenfold on the game’s mechanics. The developers at Valve Corporation have implemented some good balancing measures in “Dota 2,” but they continue to exclude some puzzling heroes from the Aghanim’s Scepter list.
Heroes can buy Aghanim’s Scepter, a powerful item that increases the power of some heroes’ best spells, each of which is unique to every hero. In the past, the item’s full power was reserved for more spell-oriented heroes, like Lina or Lich or Lion, and few, if any, non-casters could use it. Since then, the number of heroes who can use the item has grown dramatically to include agility- and strength-based non-casters.
For example, Brewmaster can use it to buff his ultimate ability, which turns him into three separate units: a tank, a caster and a fighter. With scepter all three heroes become a powerful team on their own. Being a strength-based carry, like most other carries, Brewmaster should rely upon strength-based items to help him carry a team. Scepter is dominant on him, but it isn’t a necessary item for him to dominate. But other heroes who can use scepter cannot rely on it to help them win games.
Axe, a strength-based tank, can upgrade his ultimate ability, but it isn’t useful for him to spend the money on scepter because the mana cost of the ability is high, so dropping its cooldown to six seconds only hampers Axe by running his mana pool dry. He is a hero who is much-better suited for tank-based items than scepter. There are other heroes who can use scepter but should not choose it before more-important items, heroes like Razor, Darkterror, Abaddon and others. Even Rylai, who is a spell-based caster should reject it.
For Tiny, scepter increases not only his ultimate ability’s base power, but also it increases his melee range, turns his normal attacks into cleaves and allows him to do more damage to buildings. Tiny is a pure caster, but scepter turns him into a powerful fighter, too. It’s a great item for him. Then, a hero like Enigma, who is also a pure caster, cannot upgrade his ability with the scepter. Or Ancient Apparition, who is another pure caster, also cannot upgrade his skill with scepter. Yet agility carries like Viper can, and strength carries like Spiritbreaker can.
Developers will need to be creative to include all heroes for scepter. For easy-to-implement spells, the skills’ mana cost, cooldown or damage should be reduced up-front. That covers heroes like Rooftrellen, Sven and many others because most heroes have simple ultimate skills. For skills that aren’t easily upgradable without being overly powerful, like Sniper, Rikimaru, Skeleton King or Weaver, a flesh-out of mechanics is necessary: Sniper’s skill could upgrade to penetrate magic immune units; Rikimaru’s could reduce the skill’s fade time, or the upgrade would increase the agility percent of Backstab; Skeleton King’s skill could inflict damage in an area instead of only slowing; and Weaver’s skill could go back 10 seconds instead of five seconds.
Aghanim’s Scepter needs an overhaul. Every hero’s ability can be enhanced, and Valve should at least update the list, but ideally, the developers would spend some time on the item and find a workable upgrade to every hero’s ability.