Considering the comments on the PTR and the buffs/nerfs and what I’ve seen mentioned on the forums and elsewhere, I thought I’d throw in my two-cents.
Ghouls… General census is that they still suck like they always have. They only provide fringe use in limited scenarios. Amusingly, a ghoul that HAS frenzy researched WILL STILL LOSE to a footman off of blight. This will probably change with the extra 10% attack speed, but the ghouls will be even more irrelevant by the time T3 rolls around.
-Giving ghouls a bit more HP would probably be the easiest buff. Their fragility makes them particularly susceptible to spells, especially when certain heroes hit level 3 and can nuke them even harder.
-Giving them access to Ghoul Frenzy in T2 wouldn’t change things too much. It would let ghouls beat out grunts who don’t have berserker strength in a force of equivalent gold value (That’s 5 ghouls against 3 grunts. The grunts win again if they have their upgrade.) Splitting Ghoul Frenzy into a movement speed boost in T1 and an Attack Speed bonus in Tier 2 would let them retreat when wounded in early skirmishes and let them remain a little more relevant or potentially be an actual threat.
-Now here’s something crazy. What if they gave less XP than they do now? What if they only cost 1 food? What if they were 10 or 15 gold cheaper? Having one or two of those could be rather interesting.
-Even crazier? What if they had an ability that dealt more damage to units suffering from some kind of debuff, like the Lich’s frost or the Cryptlord’s stun? Abomination’s disease cloud? Depending on how this hashes out, Ghoul Frenzy could be a very worthwhile T3 upgrade (Or maybe it would let them leech or restore life through attacking instead? Could be tied to Cannibalize) - This might open UD first hero choice up a little more. Sure, the Death Knight could make them faster, but running the Lich or CL would have a little more synergy early.
Gargoyles suffer from the same fragility as ghouls except they have a slough of other problems. Problems like being a more expensive hippogryph that loses to hippogryphs in exchange for being able to sporadically tickle ground units while also having the build time of a wind rider. Furthermore, they can be trolled by Crypt Fiends.
-Like the ghouls, a buff to HP would probably help them. They could also probably use a reduction in build time.
-Similar to the crazy idea for ghouls? Could be more interesting is having their armor being Fortified instead of Unarmored and stoneform giving them a passive runic-bracers style spell-damage reduction when not in statue form. Or maybe only one of those, since both might be a little excessive unless their stats are changed.
As for the Heroes? The Sacrificial Dagger isn’t going to help cut down their reliance on the DK on it’s own. It’s only going to make the DK that much better. UD will probably need a shop restructuring and likely some small buffs to their other innate heroes to make it an actual choice.
The dead horse people have been beating came back to life and I had to beat it back to death with something a little different - Most people are saying UD lack healing. It’s more accurate to say they lack RECOVERY. The healing salve heals about 9 hp/sec, and the regen scroll 6hp/sec. Yes, cannibalize and burrow are a thing, but they rob your army of it’s mobility while those skills are used. Time is money. Time is XP. The undead also have no way for their heroes to effectively recover mana until they get Statues, so they take even longer to get back into the fight after things go south - I think this is probably the biggest issue.
Currently, the UD NEED the DK because his Aura rectifies many weaknesses. When it comes to ghouls, the movement helps them reach ranged units faster while coil is better at keeping them alive. It gives the army a source of passive recovery when not on blight. (It doesn’t match the recovery WHILE the army is on blight, but it does work in combat so they kind of at least have that).
-All the Lich probably needs to be a potential first pick is for Dark Ritual to cost no Mana. That would allow him to nab 62 mana from a skeleton instead of 37. An Acolyte would net 69 mana. An extra second or two on Frost Nova’s debuff would probably be overkill.
The Dreadlord? Sleep could probably use a little bump. Maybe in the form of some kind of debuff where the unit takes extra damage from the attack that wakes it up (Much less for spells) - or they’re hit with some kind of ‘groggy’ debuff where they have a short 3second slow to their movement and attack speed or are unable to cast spells? He probably wouldn’t need this if Ghouls got some kind of buff.
The Dreadlord? Sleep could probably use a little bump. Maybe in the form of some kind of debuff where the unit takes double damage from the attack that wakes it up (Much less for spells) - or they’re hit with some kind of ‘groggy’ debuff where they have a short 3second slow to their movement and attack speed? He probably wouldn’t need this if Ghouls got some kind of buff.
The Crypt Lord could probably use some extra starting HP and Armor to bring him in line with the Pit Lord who has identical strength, and the death knight who has more armor with less agility. Only other thing I can think of is taking a page from spiked barricades and adding a small amount of flat damage to the % return… Or maybe Carrion Beetles also get Spiked Carapace if he has it?
Thematically, I love the UD’s themes that involve using corpses and sacrificing units. With that in mind…
-Remove Sacrificial Skull and give the acolytes the ability to kill themselves to blight the ground where they die! Replace that with an item that works like the clarity potion, except you have to sacrifice a unit and the restoration over time is based on their HP at sacrifice. Ideally it shouldn’t be usable on summoned units. Or maybe it requires a corpse instead?
-Sacrificial Dagger is a cool idea, though I think the heal is probably a little on the strong side. If anything, something like that should replace the scroll of healing in the UD shop. I’d expect a weaker early item to either sacrifice a unit to grant units around it a heal over time based on it’s HP similar to a regeneration scroll… Or for it to be a multi-charge item that uses a corpse to give the UD a short-lived regen-scroll effect they can use as they travel from camp to camp. (80hp over 15s?)
-Again with the Acolytes because it amuses me. If you use an acolyte as a sacrifice, they give it a small boost - maybe an extra 10% in healing/mana above the value you’d normally get? Would work for any of these items and for death pact/dark ritual. They’re already flinging themselves into pits to make shades - they could stand to be a little more fanatical in their support of this death-cult.