Arc Warden is a 53%+ win rate hero in all skill brackets this week, maintaining a relatively high popularity. In brackets below Divine his win rate is actually closer to 57% and while it is no secret that Arc Warden is one of the most popular smurf heroes, we believe that he might actually be overpowered. Today we want to discuss why exactly.
For the longest time Arc Warden was balanced around the idea of him being a 2-in-1 hero: his stats and his abilities reflected that. Having access to one of the best XP and Gold acceleration mechanics in the game came with the downside of having poor stats and limited ability scaling. It all changed in the last couple of patches, though.
Arc Warden now has a flat three agility per level increase, meaning he now scales much better into the late game. Extra fifteen agility at level thirty might sound and seem trivial, but it is a lot of extra DPS when Tempest double is taken into account. Perhaps more importantly, it is DPS that Arc Warden doesn’t have to do anything to get: it is just there.
Coupled with the insane level 25 talent that gives Tempest Double a 50% Cooldown Reduction, it makes for a very weird character, somewhat reminiscent of Shadow Fiend from a couple of years ago. Arc Warden can now build utility items, focus on survivability and he will still deal a respectable amount of right click damage come late game.
It is the biggest reason the hero’s playstyle is changing and the reason why he is suddenly winning most of his games, even at pro level pubs.
There are two Arc Warden builds currently in the works in pro level pubs: the mid one, and a carry one. They are almost identical when it comes to skill build: you max out Spark Wraiths, then max out Flux, while taking ultimate whenever possible. Talent-wise you take abilities that increase your damage output, since, ideally, it is your teammates or Tempest Double that do most of the tanking.
What these builds differ in is item builds: mid one sometimes skips Hand of Midas in favor of earlier Arcane Boots, that builds into Aether Lens. The build transitions into Aghanim’s Scepter and, finally, into Octarine Core.
It is a full-on caster build that can get a zoning nuke that deals 340 damage by default and 465 damage at level twenty with the talent. On a three second cooldown. Or a 1.5 seconds cooldown on Tempest Double with the level twenty five talent. The Spark Wraith also reappears once after activation and Arc Warden also sometimes builds Scythe of Vyse, which has a 7.5 second cooldown on Tempest Double.
The “carry” build for the hero isn’t very different: it goes for Hand of Midas and Maelstrom into Gleipnir, before going back for Aghanim’s, Aether and, ultimately, Octarine Core with Scythe of Vyse. The end result is roughly the same: the “mid approach” comes online a little bit faster, but has a harder, riskier time getting to critical talents. The “carry” one is more reliable, but can be over-reliant on the team to create space.
Both builds want to have Boots of Travel, though from what we’ve seen the mid one frequently delays it until after getting the Aether Lens.
The easiest and most reliable way to deal with Arc Warden is to end the game before he gets level 25. You absolutely don’t want to fight into a constantly split-pushing hero who, with any CDR neutral item can continuously keep a target hexed for 10.5 seconds and has a potential 34-second cooldown BKB on more or less a fully functional hero, who essentially has a 30-second respawn timer.
If it is already too late, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of winning. One of them is getting BKB: it doesn’t matter what core hero you are playing and what you feel your priorities are. It is close to impossible to go highground against Arc Warden without a BKB, since he is essentially a wild mix between Tinker and old Techies. Perhaps a BKB+Refresher combo is warranted as well.
Focus down the Tempest Double past level 25. Getting a hero kill is nice and all and Tempest Double cooldown is relatively low, but it is really hard to deal with a ~50% uptime hex from the Clone in a fight. The gold and XP bounty is a nice cherry on top.
Arc Warden really hates being jumped, so investing into extra mobility might pay off. When you are in a winning position and sieging, the main hero will most likely be around Tier 4 towers, sending Tempest Double to outpush, while spamming Spark Wraiths. If you can gap-close in the downtime window between Tempest Doubles, Arc Warden will most likely die. His stats are better than they were, but he is still susceptible to a straightforward close-range beatdown.
Finally, do not be afraid to buyback if you see an opportunity to close the game. They will become rarer and rarer, as the game progresses and sometimes rushing the throne is all you need to win. Arc Warden isn’t the scariest of buyback heroes, since he still needs a bit of time to set up his Spark Wraith army to be fully effective. Breaching high-ground against Arc Warden is exceptionally hard, but staying there and holding your ground is much easier.
Arc Warden might be the hidden imba of the patch. With the changes introduced back in February, as well as extra “notice me” buffs in 7.31c, Arc Warden is now one of those tough-to-deal with heroes, very few players know how to play against.
Will the situation change once people become aware of what to do against the character is still an open question, but for now we recommend banning him in your pubs just in case.