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Dota 2, Dazzle, Aghanim's Scepter
Dota 210 months agoSiddharth "Gopya" Gopujkar

Dazzle and Aghs: The curious case of the Shadow Priest’s Scepter upgrades through the ages

Dazzle has been in and out of the meta a lot of times in the past few years, but his Aghanim’s Scepter has never been a popular choice.

Through the ages, Dota 2 patches have favored a lot of different heroes with varied builds. Often times, when a hero enters a new meta after a hiatus, it is with a new inventory. For example, certain patches may favor a Battlefury Juggernaut build, while certain others may favor building a Diffusal or Maelstrom first. There was the one patch recently where Razor went for Hood of Defiance and Bloodstone and terrorized pubs. That’s what keeps Dota 2 fresh – not just the heroes, but the item builds as well as skill builds keep changing with every new meta.

Aghanim’s Scepter is a unique item that can play kingmaker at times. There are specific patches where heroes become popular only because their Scepter upgrades are insane, and to some extent since Dota 2 patch 7.28, the same can be said about Aghanim’s Shard. The old Ancient Apparition where Scepter upgraded Ice Blast, the Superman Sven meta when his Scepter took off, figuratively and literally, and possibly the best example, Morphling in current meta that has evolved around Dota 2 patch 7.33 – all these heroes were picked in large part to their Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade and Scepter was purchased in most of the games.

Throughout some point in the history of Dota 2, most heroes have had Aghanim’s Scepters that even if not the first choice of item, have been reasonably popular. But one hero that hasn’t known that feeling of having a good Scepter is Dazzle, the Shadow Priest. Dazzle has probably had the most reworks to his Scepter, with his current iteration being the seventh one, and none of them have really been impactful. Here, we take a trip down memory lane and see what Dazzle’s Scepter upgrades have been through the ages, and why they didn’t work. One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that for the most part, Dazzle has been a support, so the 4200 gold price tag on a Scepter would be hard to justify unless it was insanely good. He has been a core at times though, and that’s something IceFrog and Valve have tried to push through a few patches, including patch 7.33.

Patch 6.60

Added Aghanim's Scepter. Increases Weave radius to 775. Increases Weave duration to 18/24/30.

It all started way back when Dota 2 was probably in its developmental stage. Back then, Aghanim’s Scepter was made using Mystic Staff and Soul Booster and cost 6000 gold. Very few heroes had a Scepter upgrade, and Dazzle was one of the earlier ones to get it. Dazzle’s ultimate at that time was Weave, which increased the armor of allies in a particular radius, while reducing the armor of enemies. The Aghanim’s Scepter Increased Weave radius and duration from patch 6.60 to patch 6.78. It got changed in patch 6.79, where the armor effect would increase with the Scepter instead of the duration.

(taken from Dota 2 Wiki)

Patch 6.79

No longer increases duration. Now increases armor per second 1/1.25/1.5.

So how good was this Scepter? datDota has professional game data from Dota 2 patch 6.74. If that is taken into account, while this version of Dazzle’s Scepter was up and running, the hero had the following stats-

Hero picks: 4495
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 37
Pick rate: 0.82%

This Scepter, which still had an abysmal pick rate, was not the worst and had its uses against massive armor reduction lineups. The increased armor per second from Scepter helped combat the negative armor, while giving the opposition a taste of their own medicine.

Patch 7.06

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Turns Shallow Grave into a 450 radius area-targeted ability, affecting all ally heroes withing the radius.

Dota 2 patch 7.06 was the first time Dazzle’s Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade got a massive rework, and it was changed to one of his worst ones of all time – the AoE Shallow Grave. Seems good at first, doesn’t it? Let’s look at how it fared.

Hero picks: 826
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 0
Pick rate: 0

Literally 0 pickups in 826 games, and its not that surprising. How often would you be in need of multiple Graves for heroes in a concentrated area? In very specific scenarios when multiple members of your team get hit with a Reverse Polarity or Black Hole. Even then, spending 4200 gold on something like Guardian Greaves is much better. This would probably do better as a talent, or would have had more clout if the 225 heal at the end of Grave was something to work with back then.

Patch 7.23

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Increases Shadow Wave bounce count by 2 and bounce distance by 200. Causes the bounce to apply basic dispel on affected allies.

The next rework actually made it a good support Scepter. A multi hero dispel on a 9 second cooldown seems like a dream, right?  The stats don’t necessarily agree.

Hero picks: 46
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 1
Pick rate: 2.2%

This was also the time Dazzle started moving away from the support role. In Dota 2 patch 7.30, Weave was replaced with Bad Juju, which gave Dazzle a 50% cooldown reduction on all skills and items. This was the time for Midas mid or offlane Dazzle, and no one really cared about dispelling allies when you could have a BKB with half the cooldown. Even though Bad Juju reduced the Shadow Wave cooldown to much lower than 9 seconds, Dazzle’s Scepter remained unpopular.

Patch 7.25

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Bad Juju instantly attacks the 8 closest enemies 800 radius around Dazzle whenever he casts an ability, prioritizing heroes.

Now that Dazzle was a core, IceFrog and Valve tried to change his Scepter to reflect that, giving him one of the worst Scepters he’s had possibly along with the AoE Grave one. The numbers speak for themselves.

Hero picks: 165
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 1
Pick rate: 0.61%

If a hero is going right click, it makes more sense to invest 4200 gold in a damage item rather than one that can launch an AoE attack once every few seconds. Also in one on one situations, the Scepter had no effect whatsoever. And it wasn’t even all enemies in a radius, so it wasn’t necessarily the best illusion counter. It wasn’t a surprise this Scepter didn’t get popular.

Patch 7.28

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Increases Shadow Wave heal by 60 and damage by 80. Causes the bounce to apply basic dispel on affected allies.

For a few patches, the Shadow Wave dispel Scepter was back and it even brought additional heal and damage for the spell with it.

Hero picks: 55
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 1
Pick rate: 1.8%

But by this time, Dazzle had been out of the zeitgeist for a while. He was a fringe hero, and if he was picked, it was for his anti-burst protection with Grave. No Dazzle has been picked to spend 4200 gold to provide allies with a basic dispel.

Patch 7.31

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Adds a new ability, Good Juju. Now also passively reduces Dazzle’s item cooldowns by 50%. Adds an active component that resets all item cooldowns of the targeted ally or self. The active component has a 250 cast range, 250 mana cost and 180 second cooldown.

Dota 2 patch 7.31 got rid of the cooldown reduction for Bad Juju and replaced it with armor reduction, so Dazzle started coming back into the realm of supports once more. The Good Juju Scepter had potential, as it gave the hero the ability to refresh an allies items, meaning double BKBs for cores. But this was also when Refresher Orb started getting popular as a regular pickup for heroes like Razor, and there wasn’t a need to have a hero do it.

Hero picks: 323
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 5
Pick rate: 1.5%

The two patches, patch 7.31 and patch 7.32, were some of the longest we’ve had in the history of Dota 2. A total of 7591 games were played on the two patches, and in terms of popularity, Dazzle was the 83rd hero out of an available 123, with a pick rate of 4.26% over the two patches. Again in hindsight, it isn’t a surprise with all these factors that Dazzle didn’t get picked as an item refreshing machine. If he ever was picked, it was for his anti-burst abilities. This was also the general period when his Aghanim’s Shard rose in popularity where he had the AoE mini hex with Poison Touch, and he also got the heal after Shallow Grave talent. Those things lured teams towards the Shadow Priest. The Scepter, not so much.

Patch 7.33

Aghanim’s Scepter reworked: Shadow Wave can now be cast on enemy units, bouncing and damaging enemies while healing nearby ally units. Shadow Wave cast on enemy units deals 150% of the ability values.

That brings us to where we are now. Dazzle is now a Universal hero after the changes from Dota 2 patch 7.33, and based on his latest Scepter upgrade, it seems like he is pushed to be a core again. But if anything, his numbers have just gotten worse.

Hero picks: 8
Aghanim’s Scepters bought: 0
Pick rate: 0%

The hero is not being picked at all right now, possibly because he doesn’t have a clear role as such in the game. His seventh Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade does make him any more lucrative, and until the Shadow Priest receives a sizeable buff.

The tentative release date of Dota 2 patch 7.34 was recently revealed. In less than a month, we shall have the patch on which The International 2023 (TI12) will be played. Hopefully, Dazzle will be a part of conversation from the changes in patch 7.34, and who knows, maybe he’ll even have a new Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade making all the headlines! After all, eight times, the charm, right?!

Siddharth "Gopya" GopujkarA Mechanical Engineer who is as interested in the mechanics of DotA 2 as every machine he studies. Pursuing his Master's at the Michigan Technological University.

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