As a long-time fan of the flying-dwarf-that's-not-Muradin-jumping, I was really encouraged to see some significant changes to Falstad in the last patch. While I was a little perturbed to see Wingman disappear, I was mostly geeked to finally see some attention paid to Lightning Rod, since it had easily been the least useful of his basic abilities for years. Given its sizable mana cost and cooldown, it didn't function that well as a "filler" ability, either, since that mana served a much better purpose being saved for as many tosses of the hammer (and Barrel Rolls) as possible. But when they finally made W build viable and modified the AA build, I didn't expect both of those to come at the cost of Q build. We basically went from two builds (Q and AA)… to two builds (W and AA) because the Hammer build is just not viable with the new changes, since it requires far more effort for far less return than the other two.
Dishonorable Discharge is amazing, even with the bug fixed. In most games you'll probably never finish the quest, which is a little disappointing, but the extra damage and the reduced CD(!) make it all worth it. It's, appropriately, the foundation for the entire build. It's also nice that the ability itself replaces Wingman to some degree. Similarly, Frequent Flyer is the absolute foundation for the AA build, since it can also be used to reactivate Tailwind, which means that Falstad can still be a viable solo laner. But Gathering Storm and, thus, the Q build is basically ruined at the moment. The damage "bonus" is so meager that it will be easily outstripped by the other two talents, every game, without fail. This on top of the almost 33% reduction in the ability's damage in the first place makes it pointless.
Minions don't dodge attacks and no one can dodge Lightning Rod while they're in range, but the Hammer can be avoided, which makes it more difficult to generate stacks and, for that matter, get a mana return on it (which is almost as pathetic a return as the damage "bonus".) Again, it's more work for less return than the other two builds. You can see this at later tiers, too. Secret Weapon is still viable for the AA build, since it almost doubles his attack damage before the hammer returns, but BOOMerang simply isn't worthwhile, since the hammer now does so little damage in the first place and the explosion isn't much better. There's more of an argument for Crippling Hammer, except that if you've taken the Q build and are still (somehow) winning, it becomes a "win more" talent. And, in the end, it can't really hold a candle to Aerie Gusts or Afterburner.
So, again, it's really cool to see one of the original heroes get some needed upgrades, but it's also really unfortunate to see a build that some have been playing for most of the game's existence (since right around the time Thunderstorm and Aerial Blitzkrieg were removed) essentially get phased out. The large print giveth and the small print taketh away, as it were.
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