Monday, December 21, 2015

Tower Sieging with Dragon Lance

The following heroes can siege a tower without getting hit, once they have a Dragon Lance.  Towers have a range of 700.  These heroes have >700 with the Lance.

For reference, the Dragon Lance is:
+10 Damage
+10 Attack Speed
+10 Strength
+130 Range (Ranged heroes only)
Can be disassembled
---> Made from Quarterstaff + Ogre Club (no recipe)
---> Transition to Orchid/Butterfly + BKB/Sange

**Heroes are sorted by Role, then by Range (descending), then alphabetically.  Range data from

Carries & Semi-Carries where Range >700 w/Lance:
  • Lina
  • Mirana
  • Clinkz
  • Drow
  • Windrunner
  • Nature's Prophet
  • Medusa
  • Silencer
  • Invoker
  • Death Prophet
  • Viper
Supports or non-right click semi-carries, Range >700 w/Lance
  • Techies
  • Arc Warden
  • Oracle
  • Witch Doctor
  • Warlock
  • Visage
  • Skywrath
  • Rubick
  • Pugna
  • Lion
  • Leshrac
  • Keeper
  • Disruptor
  • Crystal Maiden
  • Chen
  • Ancient Apparition
  • Io

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Global Mobility - Abuses and Synergies with Io

Hero Spotlight:  Io

I was reading the dotapedia on Io/Wisp, and it occurs to me that:

a) he's under-utilized and under-practiced at the pub level
b) if you and a carry practiced with him, you'd have a potent weapon on your arsenal
c) you could build a team around global mobility that would make it disgusting.

Things you need to know about Io:
- He doesn't give health regen to his tethered ally if he's at full HP
- He DOES pass mana to his tethered ally even at full mana.
- He's squishy.  He needs at least some items to make him less squishy (Bracer/Urn/etc).
- You only really need 1 point in Tether
- An early point in Overcharge is optional, otherwise, max spirits first.
- Always take your Ult at levels 6, 11, 16.

Good partners for Io are listed in the Dotapedia Entry, but I'll talk about a few more global line-ups that could be good, with balanced teams & lanes.

Yes, I know the Tiny + Io combo is the most common, so I'll try to show some alternatives.

Team Ideas (with Io):

Lifestealer + Io safelane
NP Jungle
Storm Spirit mid
Spiritbreaker solo offlane

With Agh's on Lifestealer (which is weird, but can put another hero in the Infest, and zip around with Storm Spirit, even without Io!)

Sven + Io + Crystal Maiden safelane
Puck mid
Dark Seer solo offlane

Crystal Maiden is on the team for mana regen.  She can also jungle a bit with Frostbite, and stack for Sven.  Dark Seer Synergizes well with Puck's Dream Coil and Sven's Storm Hammer and CM's Blizzard.

Slardar + Io + Ancient Apparition safelane
Pudge mid
Legion Commander solo offlane (or pick Doom, to deny him to the enemy team!)

Legion commander's heal can be cast on Io w/Tether to multiply its effects!
One of Pudge's main problems is lurking around, hoping for a gank opportunity.  What if you could bring him where he's needed for a quick Dismember?  Sven is usually limited by his mobility - but not anymore!  You leave AA in the lane while you go gank, so he can get a good Ice Blast from cross-map.

Positions 1 through 5 - Farming Priority & Laning

Every Dota 2 team line-up can be classified by the priority ranking by which each hero is given some of the available farm (ancients, neutrals, lane creeps) on the map.  These positions also relate to where these heroes get laned, and the roles they play on the team.

Position 1 = highest farming priority, safest farm (hard carry)
Position 2 = 2nd highest farming priority (mid lane carry or mid ganker/semi-carry)
Position 3 = third-core or utility hero (solo offlane)
Position 4 = greedy support or utility hero (roamer or tri-lane pulling)
Position 5 = low-item support, "ward bitch" (lane support for position 1)

Safe vs. Offlane:  Definition

The easiest definition of safelane is:  the lane closest to your team's jungle, either at the top (dire) or bottom (radiant) of the map.

Up to patch 6.85, the radiant offlane was considered to be easier than the dire offlane, because you could side-pull the large camp into the lane.  You used to be able to stack the Dire Ancient camp from the Dire Offlane, for later farming with your offlane hero (such as Tidehunter or Beastmaster), later map changes to the Rosh pit and Dire Ancients made this impossible, and much less convenient for Dire.

In patch 6.86, significant map changes were made, moving neutral camps around and changing pull timings, such that dire and radiant offlanes are a bit more balanced (hopefully).

Lane Setups and Positions

The most typical team-based lane setup is A, or sometimes B.
The most typical pub setup is C, but is becoming more common in pro play.
Pro teams have also run D and E ... but it's not very common, and is done in specific circumstances.

A) Safe Tri-Lane, solo mid, solo offlane (1-1-3)

Position 1, 4, and 5 in safelane.  Position 4 may be jungling.
Position 2 in mid
Position 3 solo offlane (usually against enemy tri-lane)

B) Aggro Tri-Lane, solo mid, solo safelane (3-1-1)

Position 1, 4, and 5 in offlane, against enemy safelane tri or dual lane.
Position 2 in mid
Position 3 in safelane, solo against enemy solo offlaner.

C) Dual Offlane, solo Mid, Dual Safe (2-1-2)

Position 1 & 5 in safelane (against enemy solo offlane or dual lane)
Position 2 in mid
Position 3 and 4 in offlane* (against enemy safe tri-lane or dual lane)
*Pro teams may run Doom + Lich in this setup, in the offlane, or some very aggressive laners, such as Tusk + Undying or Spiritbreaker + Bane.

D) Dual mid, Dual Safelane, solo offlane (1-2-2)

Position 1 & 5 in safelane
Position 2 & 4 in mid lane (e.g. Tiny + Io)
Position 3 in offlane

E) Dual Offlane, Dual Mid, Solo Safe (2-2-1)

Positions 3 and 5 in offlane
Positions 2 & 4 in mid lane
Position 1 in safe lane (solo)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Positioning Videos

I just found and watched a video by slasher that shows some of the best positioning tips that I've seen in awhile.  He discusses using camera positioning and team-positioning to prevent the enemy from getting good engagements and ultimates.

This is Slasher's "Road to Top 200", focusing on Windranger.  However, the tips he gives are applicable to many engagements.

Positioning and Zone Control, by FiercE:

I like this video more because it talks about some very basic things, that new players don't even think about.  I find the information he shares to be most valuable to support players who are wondering what to do in team fights, and how to stay alive when low on farm.

Teamfight Analysis of Positioning:

A very chaotic teamfight between Na'Vi and C9, broken down to enable you to see why each player on Na'Vi is doing what they are doing.

6.85 Popular Heroes


Pub Tier list on DotaBuff (Article)

Competitive / Pro Tier List (Article)

Discussion / Observations:

There's actually a trend AWAY from heroes with Primary Stuns.  The number of disables that a pro team drafts in general has gone down.  Heroes with longer-range disables are favoured (Gyro missile, Wyvern ult, etc).

"Skillshot" spells are still very popular (Tusk Ice Shards, Lina LSA, SFiend Razes), although different from before (Pudge, Mirana, Earthshaker are less popular)

Trending towards semi-carries as supports, or offlaners as supports (Tusk, Undying, etc).  Emphasis on early-fight heroes and tougher heroes and supports (use of Bounty Hunter, Dazzle, Bane, Ogre, Earthshaker).    Squishy supports are much more rare. Emphasis on roaming supports in the 4-position that can "make plays happen".

Flash-farming carries are much more popular.  Anti-mage is still somewhat popular because of his ability to get ahead in farm once he gets core items.  Carries that can do well throughout the game are favoured (SFiend, Ember, QoP, Alchemist).


A lot of casters are now talking about team line-ups having "sustain".  What's being referred to is the ability of a team to replenish health and mana on an ongoing basis, so the team can keep fighting or pushing.

How to get "sustain"?

Items for Supports:
- Arcane Boots
- Urn
- Mekanism

Items for Carries:
- Hp-regen items (BFury, Bloodstone, etc)
- Lifesteal items (MoM, HoD, Vlad's)
- Early Mekanism (built on mid-heroes such as SFiend, Viper, Dragon Knight)

- At least 1 healer (see List of Healers)
- Pick heroes with low-cooldown ultimates

Why is this important?

In the "fighting meta" of the 6.85 patch, a won team fight can often result in large gains (i.e. some kills and more than 1 tower), if the team has the items and abilities that they need, to avoid returning to base.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Heroes with Highest Cast Ranges

For the purpose of this list, we're going to ignore Global cast range abilities (AA Ice Blast, etc), because you can find those in my Global Abilities list.

I've also left off heroes with spells that summon or dominate creeps - those ranges aren't that relevant in combat.

NOTE:  This post is still a work-in-progress.

1200+ Effective Range

Wind Ranger - Power Shot (2600)
Jakiro - Ice Path (1200)
Tinker Heat Seeking Missile (2500)
Keeper of the Light - Illuminate (1800)
Disruptor - Glimpse (600/1000/1400/1800 by Level)

1000+ Effective Range

Rubick - Spell Steal (1000, 1400 w/Agh's)
Bane - Enfeeble (1000)

900+ Effective Ranges

Pugna Life Drain (range 900/1050/1200 by skill level)

Crystal Maiden - Crystal Nova (1100 = 700 range + 400 radius)
Puck - Orb (2175 = 1950 + 225 radius)

Jakiro - Macropyre (900, or 1800 w/ Agh's)
Silencer - Last Word (900)

Disruptor - Kinetic Field (900 + 325 radius)

Keeper of the Light - Mana Leak (550/700/850/1000 by Skill Level)
Keeper of the Light - Blinding Light (900 + 675 radius)

800-850 Cast Ranges

Lina Dragon Slave (800 extends to 1025)
Wind Ranger - Shackleshot (800, +575 second target latch range)
Zeus - Arc Lightning (850, +500 bounce distance)
Nature's Prophet - Sprout L4 (850)
Silencer - Curse of the Silent (800 + 350 radius)
Rubick - Fade Bolt (800 + 440 bounce)
Disruptor - Thunder Strike (800)
Disruptor - Static Storm (800 + 450 radius)

700-750 Cast Ranges

Pugna - Decrepify (700)
Puck - Dream Coil (750)
Enchantress - Agh's Impetus (740) ((550 normally))
Zeus - Lightning Bolt (700)
Jakiro - Dual Breathe (750 max)
Chaos Knight - Reality Rift (700 @ L4)
Ogre Magi - Ignite (700, 1400 multicast range)

600-650 Cast Ranges

Lina Light Strike Array (625)
Lina Laguna Blade (600)
Shadow Shaman Ether Shock (600, can extend to 1100)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Team of semi-carries

What if there's no hard carry?

Reference:  List of Semi-carries

Team ideas:
#1: (Dual lanes)
Venge safelane farm + Abaddon safe support
Veno mid
Timbersaw farming offlane + Lina offlane support

#2: (Aggro tri)
Beastmaster solo safelane
Leshrac + Lina + Axe aggro tri
Windranger mid

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Spotlight on Vengeful Spirit (6.85)

I'm writing this article with a hypothesis:  Vengeful spirit could and should probably be played more often as a carry.
Updated for 7.05 on April 26, 2017

Venge as a hero
  • 3rd Highest starting Agility in the game (after Riki and Phantom Lancer)
  • 2nd Highest Agility growth in the game (after Morphling)
  • 2nd Highest overall stat growth in the game (2.55, after Silencer's 2.57) 
  • Higher base attack damage and attack speed than Phantom Assassin (levels 11 & 16).
  • Low-cooldown stun (10s at L4)
  • Powerful skills that scale well with right-click damage (armor reduction, % damage aura)
  • Ultimate that allows re-positioning of self and of allies/enemies, and also acts as a interrupt. 

Pro players have been valuing Blink Daggers and the Force Staff more and more lately - realizing that positioning in Dota 2 is key, and the more the better.  Perhaps it's a holdover from old patches, but Vengeful Spirit didn't used to be able to use a Blink Dagger, which might still be clouding the thinking of some long-time players.

Except for  Pudge (skillshot) and Batrider (Blink + Lasso + Forcestaff), Vengeful Spirit is the only other hero who can literally move an enemy hero into an ambush.  Now that she has the ability to use a Blink Dagger, she can also get HERSELF out of the bad spot that Nether Swap usually puts her in, and rejoin her team, instead.

What Limits Venge As a Carry?

1) Farming Speed
There's a trend lately, towards fast-farming carries, namely Alchemist, Shadowfiend, Queen of Pain, and Sven.  Venge does not have any innate farm-boosting skills, although Wave can help her farm neutrals and push waves a bit faster.  She's also not typically itemized with a Maelstrom for faster farming (but she could be!).

2) Skills:  Self vs. Team
Venge's skills will benefit her team regardless of whether she's the carry or not.  Thus, there's no reason not to take another hero as a carry that synergizes well with Venge, instead of making Venge herself the carry.

How Carry Venge Could Be Itemized

Most players build Venge with a Desolator, to allow her to snowball as a semi-carry, and also to synergize with her Wave for additional armor reduction.  While this is not "wrong", there are other possibilities:

1) Illusion-based Venge
Since Venge's aura doesn't affect illusions, it's not optimal to build Manta first.  However, items that boost base damage such as Skadi, DO take advantage of Venge's aura.  So, if you're adding stat-based damage anyway, why not add some illusions that also benefit from stats?  This results in a Aquila+Yasha into Manta/Skadi type of Venge build, which is pretty decent.

2) Damage-based Venge
Since Venge has better Str-gain (2.6) than some Str-based carries, as long as she has time to get some levels and possibly a minor hp-boosting item (Treads, Aquila) (Drums, or casual Ogre Club, perhaps), Venge can focus on damage.  Items such as Chrystalis, Shadowblade and S&Y come to mind.  Like most Agility-based carries, she also benefits from a Poor Man's Shield in early game.

3) Maelstrom for Farming / Pushing Venge
I think the Maelstrom is an underrated early item.  The proc alone is almost worth a nuke, and it's mana-free on a really low cooldown.  Better yet, it allows faster wave-clear and farming of neutrals!  The only downside is that it doesn't boost Venge's low early hp pool - so buy a casual Ogre Club (you can turn in into an S&Y or BKB later). Also, if you buy the Mithril Hammer first, it doesn't give away your item build - you could be going for a Desolator or BKB, too.

4) Utility-based Venge
While I don't recommend a neither-support-nor-carry build for Venge, because this type of role usually falls to the 3-position, Venge COULD be itemized with utility items, such as an Agh's (low-cooldown swap), Vlad's (team damage boost), or Solar Crest (single target armor reduction).  She could also boost her hp pool and stats by getting an early Mekanism for her team, which has been done in the past by mid-carries such as Shadowfiend and Viper.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Spotlight on Venomancer (6.85)

Venomancer is currently being picked as a semi-carry or a greedy support hero.  With powerful teamfight and push/anti-push, the hero can be a great asset to a team... if you can find somewhere to lane him.

My own experience with Veno is that without farm priority, the hero is extremely slow and squishy, similar to Crystal Maiden (CM), but without the early-game power that CM gives.  This basically means that Veno ISN'T a support, and other than trying to get a very-early kill with, for example, Venomous Gale + Blade Flurry, the hero should be played as a snowballing semi-carry.

Nerfs to Venomous Gale:
It should be noted that Venomous Gale's early damage, and Veno in general, has been severely nerfed in recent patches.  Check this out:
6.85:  Damage = 75/250/425/600 (or 56/187/319/450 after typical magic resistance)
6.80:   Reduced base attack damage from 24-26 to 19-21 (total attack damage is now 41-43), and reduced base health regeneration from 0.75 to 0.25

6.79:  Rescaled damage over time from 15/30/45/60 to 0/30/60/90 (total damage from 250/500/750/1000 to 25/500/975/1450)
6.76:  Reduced initial damage from 50/70/70/100 to 25/50/75/100,  and increased damage over time from 10/20/40/50 to 15/30/45/60 (total damage from (200/370/670/850 to 250/500/750/1000)

What do these changes mean?
6.76 - Veno's Gale initial damage decreases, but total dmg increased.  Target can be denied more easily.
6.79 - L1 Gale damage drops from 250 to 25. Veno a lot less relevant until Level 3.  Midgame damage increased.  Veno moves from a support to a greedy support or midgame semi-carry.
6.80 - Once again, Veno's ability to support is nerfed.  Moves further towards semi-carry.
6.81 to 6.84 - little to no change.  Poison Nova ultimate improved due to DoT change.
6.85 - Massive damage nerf to Gale.  Total dmg decrease from 25/500/975/1450 to 75/250/425/600.  While this brings Gale in line with a regular ability (rather than an ultimate), it further hurts Venomancer as a nuker-support.

How is Veno used now?
In pro games, Venomancer has been used in almost any lane, from solo offlane, to mid, to safelane carry.  He is rarely used as a support - and if so, he gets a Midas ASAP.  One mistake some teams make when using Venomancer is not allowing him to get the levels to get his ultimate online soon enough, or to get enough levels to keep his ultimate's scaling relevant.

However, Venomancer can shut down many mid-lane farming carries with a mixture of Plague Wards and Poison Sting (poison sting can deal 32/90/176/288 after reductions, with Wards dealing 16/45/88/144 after reductions, over 6-15 secs).  Unfortunately, Veno's own Sting DoT does NOT stack with the DoT from his wards, nor with itself (if you want an obscene stacking DoT, I recommend Huskar...)

Veno as Ganker
What's interesting about Veno is that, by Level 9 (Max Sting, Max Gale, L1 Ultimate), you can do 288+(600*0.75)= 738+auto-attack damage to one target with 1 cast and 1 auto-attack.  Add a Shadowblade onto this, and you get 175 extra (physical) damage, plus the auto-attack (assuming attack damage of 84 with L9 and only the shadowblade, and enemy phsyical resist of about 25%), for a total of 932 damage (over 15 secs).

Veno as Support
The problem with Veno as support is that you need levels, and you're very slow and squishy.  To me, this says "Blink Dagger", or perhaps "Midas into Blink".  However, you still don't want to jump into the middle of the fray - just close enough to get off your ultimate, and then perhaps catch a couple of heroes with Gale.  Throw down a few Wards to slow fleeing enemies, and your job is done.
As support, you will generally Max Gale and 1 point in Poison Sting, then Max Wards, and always prioritize your ultimate.

So how should I build Veno?
There are two popular skill builds:
1) Sting + Wards (anti-mid or support)
2) Gale + Sting (semi-carry)

Good Luxury Items for Veno:
Aghs:  Ultimate damage is already disgusting.  This makes it more disgusting, and reduces the L3 cooldown.
Octarine Core:  Again, you're trying to get your ultimate cooldown lower, and a lower cooldown on both Wards and Gale is nice, too.
Shadowblade:  As a mid-game item, you can gank quite effectively.  L4 Gale damage is very high for a non-ultimate, and combined with the slow + Shadowblade bonus damage + auto-attacks, you can solo-gank quite well.
Boots of Travel:  Veno also makes a respectable split-pusher, but I'd recommend a Blink Dagger or Shadowblade for escaping.  BoTs allow you to be where you need to be on the map.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Terrorblade Build (6.85) - Earlier Aggression

Terrorblade is a (somewhat) illusion-based hard agility carry.  He's extremely squishy early game, especially against nukes, but has great damage both mid and late-game with Metamorphosis and high agility growth and hard-hitting illusions.  His ultimate is a bit strange, but can be used both to weaken enemies and save both teammates and Terrorblade himself.

- Don't pick Terrorblade against a heavy-nuke (magic damage) line-up!
- DO pick Terrorblade against heroes that like prolonged fights!
- DO pick Terrorblade if you are running a defensive Safelane tri-lane, or have a dedicated hard support to back you up in the early game!

Worst Enemies (by Dotabuff win rate):
- Timbersaw
- Sand King
- Axe
- LC
- Slark
- Zeus
The Pro Scene

In the current meta of 6.85, as of this writing, Terrorblade hasn't seen pro play due to the preference for early-fighting carries, or carries with absurd early-farming speed, such as Shadowfiend and Alchemist.

So if you DID want a Terrorblade who could fight earlier, how could you itemize?

Early-Aggression Item Build:
Start:  Tango, Branch x 3, Shield, Gauntlet.
Early:  Boots, Bracer, Shield, (leftover branches), TP
Midgame*:  Power Treads, Ogre Club, Bracer, Shield, TP
Core**:  Power Treads, Maelstrom, Bracer, TP
Core Ext***:  BKB/S&Y (situational), HoD (once your hp pool and damage have been increased, add lifesteal - it's better if a teammate has a Vlad's, though - it works for your ranged form now with the recent change).
6-Slotted****:  Boots of Travel, Butterfly, Deadalus, BKB or Manta, +2 situational (Heart, Satanic, Skadi, Mjolnir, MKB)
7-Slotted:   Moon Shard

*This combination is largely to buff Terrorblade's terrible hp pool.  The idea here is to get cheap items that will give him toughness.  Because of high agility, he doesn't need armor, and a Vanguard is not a great choice because Terrorblade should be in ranged form whenever he is fighting.  The ranged form is your raw damage boost, which gets boosted further with the addition of crit.
** This becomes your early-fight equipment.  With L4 Metamorphosis and Agility Treads, you'll be doing 256 DPS, with 967 hp, or 1663 EHP / 1289 MHP (Magic EHP).  Mael is also good for farming and wave-clearing either both melee and ranged forms.
***Given that you took the Ogre Club for toughness, you can go for early a BKB against lockdown/nukes, or an S&Y for better chase and damage.  You can later disassemble the S&Y to create a Manta (sell the Sange eventually).
**** The order is which you get items is important, and depends on what composition you are facing.  You will generally just get BoTs to free up a TP slot, but with the decent decrease in cooldown of BoT vs. TP, you may want to get them earlier for farming.  You may also need another defensive item (Heart, Satanic, Skadi), or an MKB, depending on what you are facing).  I personally favour Skadi + MKB.

Skill Build:
General: You want to maximize Metamorphosis, for the raw bonus damage.  Given that you're going for cheaper toughness items rather than a drum for balanced stats, you can skip Conjure Image until later, and take some early Stats.  One level of Reflection is taken for the slow.  Sunder (ultimate) is delayed because of the lack of mana available to cast it when needed; the item build above skips the Aquila, meaning that you need a support with Arcane Boots, and/or you need to conserve mana for fighting.
*First Skill-up:  You should generally NOT skill your first point until you need it.  In some situations, having Reflection in an early engagement (especially 3vX or more) can make a huge difference.
Level 1* - Metamorphosis
Level 2 - Stats
Level 3 - Metamorphosis
Level 4 - Reflection
Level 5 - Metamorphosis
Level 6 - Stats
Level 7 - Metamorphosis (L4)
Level 8 & 9 - Reflection
Level 10 - Sunder
Level 11 - Sunder
Level 12 - Reflection (L4)
Levels 13-15 - Conjure Image
Level 16 - Sunder
Level 17 - Conjure Image
Level 18+ - Stats

** You should be level 4 before the mid-laner comes ganking, so delaying Reflection until this point shouldn't hurt you that much.  When enemies' right-click damage is low, Reflection L1 isn't a great harass tool anyway (40% of their damage for 2 auto-attacks, taking into armor mitigation, is going to be somewhere around 65*2*0.75*0.4 = 40 damage total).

Friday, October 30, 2015

Spotlight on Chaos Knight (6.85)

Chaos Knight is a powerful carry, with both mid-game and late-game strengths.  Unfortunately, he's not terribly strong in the early laning phase (no spammable nuke, no escape skill, not ranged), and can be countered by several currently-popular heroes, including Ember Spirit.  He also lacks the ability to flash-farm and get the lead that he needs to dominate.

However, he's been given small buffs lately, namely that his Chaos Strike passive now gives armor reduction when it crits, and a few patches ago, his Phantom Steed ability also has a 50% chance to give an extra illusion.

This doesn't change Chaos Knight all that much, however - he still needs to be itemized the same way, for the same reasons, and his skill build is also unlikely to change much.

Spell Combo:

Chaos Knight's spell combo is:

Phantom Steed + Rift + Chaos Bolt + Rift.  

Done correctly, this should net him a kill in the early and mid game.  The problem is that CK doesn't have enough mana from stat gain to cast this combo!  This often leads to people delaying skilling up his ultimate until he can be itemized for additional mana.
At L1 Ult = 125 + 50 + 140 + 50 = 365 mana (CK barely has enough mana if he has Treads on Int)
At L2 Ult = 200 + 50 + 140 + 50 = 440 mana ( "  " )
At L3 Ult = 275 + 50 + 140 + 50 = 515 mana ( "  " )


Chaos Knight suffers from a small mana pool and terrible Int growth.  This means that if he wants to cast his spell combo he needs some Int from items.  He ALSO needs teammates with Arcane Boots or Mekanism, if he wants any sustain - otherwise he's back to the fountain after each fight.

Early Items for consideration include:
  • Wand - some stats, but not a lot; wand charges accumulate usually AFTER the combo.
  • Bottle - replenishable regen, but no stats or mana pool gain.
  • Null Talisman - cheap early mana, but no upgrade path.
  • Power Treads - switch to Int before casting Phantom Steed, then switch to Str.
  • Drums - solid midgame item, also benefits illusions (stats).
Of all these items, I believe Power Treads should be your first go-to, although it's more expensive than Wand, Null, or Bottle.  Because of that, you should buy a Robe of the Magi after brown Boots, instead of a Belt of Strength - this will allow you to go for that early kill.

Big Items:

Items that CK really wants include:
  • Heart
  • AC
  • Manta
  • Skadi
  • (Boots of Travel)
Situational Items:
  • Armlet (really good early damage, but needs a "health recovery" item)
  • BKB (if lots of magic damage or stuns)
  • S&Y (good only if finished early - can be disassembled for Manta + Halberd) 
  • HoD (good for early lifesteal if no Vlad's on team, Alpha Wolf companion)


Because CK needs a good start, you should lane with a support that combos well with him, such as AA, CM, SS, Lion, Lina, Disruptor or Jakiro.  I feel that using defensive supports with him (such as Dazzle) are a mistake, because it reduces the chance that CK can get kills and the early boost in farm that he needs to dominate other carries and snowball.

Pro Scene

Roaming Support:
CK saw a little bit of play in October 2015 as a roaming support.  This choice is a high-risk, high-reward play that didn't pay off in the game I watched (link TBD), and leaves CK without any contribution in the mid and late game, and no catch-up mechanism.  I think the issue is that CK really needs at least level 2 before he even starts to roam, and level 7 before he becomes truly dangerous.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Team Creation by Item Preferences

Idea:  Build a balanced team by the type of items that are most beneficial for those heroes, such that the team-based item purchases are also balanced and optimized.

Hypothesis:  The value in this exercise is in DOING the exercise, not seeing the results.

QoP --> Scythe, Orchid
Dark Seer, Ogre Magi, Doom, and Phoenix --> Shiva's Guard
Necrophos, Viper, and DK --> early Mek
Axe and Slardar --> Vanguard into Crusader
Abaddon, Centaur & Phoenix --> Pipe of Insight

Team ideas:

DK mid
Centaur Offlane
Venge + Slardar roaming
QoP safelane solo
weakness:  few teamfight ults

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

6.86 Predictions

Okay, so I've watched a TON of pro games lately, and I'm getting good enough to predict wins fairly accurately based on drafts alone.

So.. I'm going out on a limb here, and giving my predictions for the future.

Last Edited:  December 9, 2015.

Deadly combinations of Note in 6.85:
- Shadowfiend + Ember or Beastmaster usually heralds a win.
- Wyvern + Bane support combo.

Nerf bat incoming:
- Shadowfiend (Raze damage will likely be decreased, possibly to something like 80/140/200/260), to reduce his flash-farming ability.  His win-rate at the pro level is too high right now.
- Ember spirit will receive a nerf (Flameguard damage absorption amount, probably.  May also get a slight nerf to remnant recharge time).
- Tusk will have some of his nuke damage reduced, or cooldowns increased.  His Ice Shard range may be decreased.
- Wind Ranger's Shackle Shot duration will be reduced slightly (currently rivals many ultimates).
- Winter Wyvern:  ultimate cast range decrease.  Cold Embrace will be nerfed.
- Slardar:  Ult's armor reduction may get reduced slightly, and will only give vision of the hero itself.

Popular but balanced:
- QoP will not be buffed or nerfed.  She's a strong laner, but very squishy and can be brought down.
- Broodmother:  popular, but balanced and can be countered.  Often countered by laning choices.
- Gyrocopter: will likely be untouched.  Suits some team line-ups but not others.

Still needs work (buffs or re-tooling):
- Legion Commander:  despite her recent buffs and popularity, picking her usually means a loss (in Pro games).  Needs slight re-tooling to balance pub vs. pro play.
- Crystal Maiden:  will receive a minor buff, probably to base strength or strength gain.

What you will see ( or see more of ):
- Armor reduction drafting strategies (also enables quick Roshan kills)
- Vengeful Spirit as a carry
- Keeper of the Light will be drafted more often in competitive games, especially for his Chakra magic and anti-push.
- More carries buying Desolator to gain an early fighting advantage.
- Pro teams picking Omniknight or Abaddon to protect against armor reduction and physical damage
- Elder Titan to counter Agility carries
- Huskar, because of trend towards early aggression (possibly dual-offlane or even dual-lane safelane until L6).  Huskar with Maelstrom may be a thing (so he can farm / wave clear / push).
- Luna, with support picks to compensate for her low hp (Abaddon, etc).
- Warlock, especially in low-tier team games.  His abilities, I feel, are underrated.

Trends that will continue:
- Early aggression and mid-game aggression
- Continued dependence on drafting heroes with "vision" abilities (at least in the pro scene), such as Nightstalker, Clockwerk, Beastmaster.
- Picking at least one "greedy" support, or a support that could transition to semi-carry
- Heroes such as Spiritbreaker and Beastmaster will still be strong picks
- Slardar will remain a "pocket pick" for many teams
- Dazzle & Witch Doctor will continue to be strong supports.

You'll see less of:
- Shadowfiend, after a nerf.
- Ember Spirit, after a nerf.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Team Ideas: Pub Winner Teams 6.85

Using Dotabuff's top heroes by winrate, I've once again put together some viable teams for pubs for patch 6.85.

#1: Top Tier, Balanced
Ursa, Abaddon, Lich
Undying (offlane)
Zeus (mid)

You get a bit of everything in this line-up; Roshan, Ganking, Healing, Teamfight.
This can be run as a 1-1-3 or 2-1-2.
Laning: I recommend Zeus mid, Undying (and Lich) offlane, and Ursa + Abaddon safelane.  You could also jungle Ursa and solo Undying, leaving Abaddon+Lich in safelane, and use Abaddon as a third core.

#2:  Ganking
Spectre + Omni + WraithKing
Zeus (mid)
Spiritbreaker (solo offlane)

This isn't a teamfight lineup - it's a gank lineup with Spectre as lategame carry. Send in SB, Haunt in Spectre, and use Zeus ult to soften up targets.  Omni can keep the tough melee heroes alive in teamfights, but you need to be ahead by this point, because your early teamfight ultimates are underwhelming.  You also might be able to get away with a jungling Wraithking if it's a low-level pub (he's not a bad jungler with Vampiric Aura).

#3:  Armor Reduction
Slardar, Venge, Witch Doctor
Elder Titan (offlane)
Medusa (mid)

This is an armor-reduction team, focusing on physical damage.  (Don't run this against Omniknight!).
Laning:  I would run dual lanes on this if you're low-tier (ET + WD).  You can also roam Venge from the safe tri-lane (also stacking for 'Dusa).  Medusa is actually quite a decent mid with the changes to Mystic Snake.
Itemization:  Slardar needs a Blink to initiate, to enable Earthsplitter, which sets up a really good Death Ward (enemies are slowed).  Medusa's Gaze, if she's in range, can also multiply the physical damage taken.

#4:  Teamfighting
Sven, Disruptor, Silencer
Undying (offlane)
Queen of Pain (mid)

This is a team-fighting lineup, with a fairly nasty tri-lane.  If you wanted to run dual-lanes, send Disruptor with Undying.  Tombstone + Kinetic Field is quite strong.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Spotlight on Doom - 6.85

With a recent buff to Doom's Scorched Earth, I expect to see him played quite a bit more in the 6.85 patch.  His increased base attack damage and survivability give him a much needed boost as an offlaner, and while he makes a terrible mid, he could still be run as a jungler or safe lane farmer.

Doom Build (Solo offlane)
Doom as a utility hero (offlaner) is mainly about removing a high-impact enemy hero from the fight, using Doom.  After the ultimate is cast, it doesn't even matter if Doom himself survives, although if he does well, he can easily move into a semi-carry role, or become even more annoying with a Refresher Orb and/or Agh's Sceptre.

Start:  Tango, Boots
Early:  Basilius or Stout Shield
Core: Power Treads, Halberd
Late:  Refresher

Skill Build:
Scorched Earth
Scorched Earth

Doom Build (Solo Safelane)
Start:  Tango, Health Potion, Branches
Early:  Boots, Midas
Core:  Phase Boots, Drums

Doom Build (Jungler)
Start:  Tango, Stout Shield
Early:  Quelling Blade, Basilius
Core:  Phase Boots,Vlad's, BKB

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spotlight on Legion Commander - 6.84c

I submit that Legion Commander can be used as a carry, a support, an initiator, a mid, a ganker, and a jungler, and as such, is one of the more flexible heroes around.  He's also quite good at Level 1 (see Level 1 Brawlers), and can snowball quite heavily.

Unfortunately, poor use of the Duel ability can lead to a quick loss.  Thus, it is better to Duel dangerous but squishy supports, such as Zeus, Lina, or Pugna.

Recently, if you look at dotabuff, LC has been having a rough time lately, due to being counter-picked, although still picked 18th overall at the time of this writing.  The recent popularity of certain heroes, such as Lina and Wyvern, have also hurt LC's win rate lately.  It is also suicide to Duel against the recently-popular Leshrac, if he has his Pulse Nova and/or Edict active...

Insane Items for Legion Commander:

Silver Edge - a new item perfectly suited for the ganking LC; disabling your opponents' passives can be a massive benefit.  Just make sure to attack once to get the bonus before you trigger Duel!

Desolator - This beautiful item has recently come down in price slightly, and is perfect for a 1v1 where nukes aren't involved.  This item also allows ranged teammates to contribute significant damage to the Duel because of the armor reduction (Sniper, Viper, etc become VERY good teammates!)

Darn Useful Items for Legion Commander:

Blink Dagger - a useful item on any melee initiator, LC is no exception.  Just don't blink too far ahead of your team, or you might be Duelling your enemies 1v5.

Black King Bar - it's very frustrating as LC to never be able to Duel because of Silences or Stuns.  Opponents like Drow or Death Prophet often require LC to have a BKB to have much chance of initiating.

Pipe of Insight - Believe it or not, this is a Dueling item.  Not solo-dueling of course, but it helps against heavy-nuke teams where opponents can't easily nuke LC down once he begins a Duel.  LC can usually afford a support item like Pipe because of her decent farming ability.

Assault Cuirass - like the Desolator, this item's armor reduction gives great benefit, but it also gives something LC lacks - attack speed.  As you gain bonus damage, gaining attack speed gives more and more benefit to your DPS.

Team Building Suggestions

Despite LC's versatility, certain heroes really help her to shine (or suck, if on the other team):
  • Vengeful Spirit:  More armor reduction and boosted attack damage?  And a Swap to get her out of a losing Duel?  Yes, please!
  • Sniper:  Long-range, reliable damage to help win duels is GREAT.
  • Enigma / Tidehunter / Dark Seer / Winter Wyvern / Magnus:  All of their ultimates make great distractions to help win Duels.
  • Dazzle / Omni:  Well-timed Repels or Graves help win (or lose) clutch Duels.
  • Lion / Lina / Zeus / Nature's Prophet / Ancient Apparition:  Why win a Duel fairly if your teammate can nuke heavily, possibly with a Global range?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tips on Winning Pub Games

Play a Carry:  especially in lower leagues, few people can last-hit decently, and fewer still can close out a game quickly.  Chances are, you’ll eventually get levels and farm, and a carry hero will serve you very well if the game goes long.  Try to pick carries that are useful in the midgame as well (stay away from PL, Antimage, Morph, etc unless you are very familiar with one of those heroes).  The later the game goes, the better it is to have more carries on your team (even if they are just semi-carries like Tusk or Axe, for example).

Play a Healer:  heroes like Abaddon, Omni, Legion, Necrophos, and Witch Doctor are valuable additions to pub teams, where the opposition usually has trouble coordinating their burst damage.  Healing can really turn a gank or teamfight around, or allow you to sustain a push.  Simply buying a Mek can also help tremendously.  Some pro teams go Mek first with their mid (Shadowfiend or Viper for example), because the item is so good in those first teamfights.

Play a Teamfight Hero:  chances are that there will be teamfights that decide the game, and some heroes have really good teamfight abilities.  Taking towers after a teamfight win, before you opponents can do the same, can allow your team to snowball (see Heroes with Short Ult Cooldowns).

Play a Jungler:  if no one has taken a jungler, consider doing so.  It’s very unlikely for a pub team to really shut down a jungler hard, and the mere fact of having a jungler means that more XP is available to your team, because the top and bottom (dual) lanes aren’t splitting XP.  However, you have to be sure that at least one player is willing to solo lane against a duo, and picks a hero who won’t get destroyed by doing so (see Strong Offlane Heroes).  The trick with a Jungler is to LEAVE THE JUNGLE occasionally and GANK A LANE.  Adding a jungler weakens your lanes, and you have to make up for that by helping the lanes as soon as you can (usually by level 3 or 4).  If you're going to gank mid, consider being a bit more next-level and use a Smoke.

Learn a Mobile Hero:  for some reason, heroes like Nature’s Prophet, Tinker, or Bloodseeker, who are highly mobile, tend to win games if played well.  These are SINGLE heroes that can turn the game around for their team, but the trick is to know when to split-push and when to join or start fights.  You need to develop good location and map awareness to play these heroes well.  If that’s not your strong suit, then play a healer instead, and follow a carry around.

Stay with your Team:  if you’ve noticed that your team has grouped up, don’t leave and go off on your own.  You’ll either get picked off, or your team will lose the next teamfight 4v5, and it’ll be your fault.  Even if everyone is just milling around for a bit, be patient and don’t just wander off without saying anything.

Don’t stay too long:  This tip can only be acted upon once you have some game awareness – there will be times that you’ll just throw your life away if you try to take one more objective, or kill one more fleeing hero.  Take the easy objective, and then go back to regen or farm; only when your team is undamaged, with ults available, should you keep on pushing.

Buy a Ward once in a while.  Wards win games, but it’s rare in pubs that one player will volunteer to buy them all game.  You can help your team win by buying one, for 75 gold, once in awhile (it’s 2 creep last-hits…)

Buy a Smoke and Gank with a Buddy:  Some pub teams actually DO use wards, but if you and a buddy buy a Smoke and go ganking, you’re fairly likely to get a kill.

Match their Jungler or Ganker:  if the other team jungles, your team should jungle as well, or dedicate someone to gank their jungler repeatedly.  It does less good to kill several heroes once, than to completely shut down one hero who could otherwise become a big problem (like Nature’s Prophet or Ursa).

Buy a Shadow Blade:  I don't know what it is about pubs, but no one wants to buy Dust or a Gem.  Thus, the Shadow Blade is among the best escape and ganking items that exists.  Just don't forget to attack once to get the bonus damage, before using any nukes.

Do not Blame Your Team For Losses:  you can always improve your own play, even if it’s just increasing your last hits while in lane.  While other players may make big mistakes, or be far less skilled than you think you are, you are being matched with them because your team should have an approximate 50% chance of winning (or at least 40-60%), given the matchmaking algorithms in Dota.

Pick something to practice every match:  It's a good idea to have a personal goal every game, whether it's to improve your last hitting, improve your lane harass, or to reduce your death count.  Good players who are get better quickly, are the ones with specific goals.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dota 2 Best Level 1 Brawlers

If you meet these heroes at Level 1, solo 1v1 at the rune spot or elsewhere, don’t attempt to go 1v1 with them... unless you’re also a brawler or you’ve brought a buddy.  In reality, there probably WILL be someone else around, but this should give you a bit of a heads up before you start to brawl.

Caveats about L1 Brawling:
- I’ve had to do this list assuming no items, or similar items. I can’t possibly calculate every L1 item build.
- If your opponent has a Stout Shield and you don’t, a 1v1 brawl isn’t a good idea.
- Try to eat a tree (Tango) part way through the fight.  This small act separates the good from the dead.
- Don’t waste a Health Potion unless you’re sure you can take First Blood, or you’ve already escaped and need to get back in lane quickly.

Toughest and highest physical damage at Level 1:
(no items, damage shown before armor reduction of target. Heroes in order by EHP):
Spirit Breaker.  A massive 927 EHP (1st overall) and a respectable 40.3 DPS, not including if he skills Greater Bash.
Ogre Magi.  2nd highest EHP (832), and 40.87 DPS.  He’s also going to Ignite if he’s smart, for another 130*0.75 = 98 dmg after reductions.
Dark Seer.  3rd highest EHP (795), and 41.58 DPS.  His Ion shell will destroy you in melee, for another 750*0.75 = 563  dmg after reductions.
Ursa.  4th highest EHP (781).  While DPS looks like a mere 32.43, Fury Swipes increases dmg by +15 per attack…
Nightstalker.  5th highest EHP (781), and 43.47 DPS. Also – Void for attack slow and 90 dmg.
Sven.  6th highest starting EHP (760), and 43.31 DPS.  PS – Storm Hammer to the face for 100.
Beastmaster. 7th highest EHP (746) and 45.54 DPS.  Also – two Axes is 140 physical dmg.
Legion Commander. 9th highest EHP (741) and 40.71 DPS.  Typical L1 skills are also very favourable in 1v1.
Faceless Void.  12th highest EHP overall (725), and 45.36 DPS.  Also Time Lock or Backtrack.

Note that this is not “win” order, which depends greatly on what skill the player takes first, and somewhat on items.  Dark Seer, for example, will destroy anyone 1v1 if he skills Ion Shell first, and manages to get into and stay in melee range.  However, he might choose Surge first, instead.  Similarly, Faceless Void with Backtrack or Time Lock is a tough customer, but may take Time Walk first, as an escape skill.

Honourable Mention:
Bloodseeker.  A respectable 705 EHP and 40.88 DPS.  Thirst and Bloodrite are both annoying L1 skills to face.
Centaur Warunner.  EHP of 696 and 38 DPS is not bad, but Return will destroy you, and Double Edge is a whopping 175*0.75 = 131 dmg which he can use to finish you off, as he can’t kill himself with it.
Omniknight.  EHP of 692 and DPS of 38 is okay, but his Purification is PURE damage, healing & dmg for 90 (him/you).  It’s a 10-second cooldown, and he has mana for two of them.
Juggernaut.  EHP mediocre at 645, but 46.80 DPS and “Spin to Win” dmg of 400*.75 = 300 at L1.
Templar Assassin.  EHP only 616, but 40.32 DPS, and she’ll have Refraction for bonus damage and 3 absorbed hits.  Anyone with a DoT ability will still destroy her (Ogre and Dark Seer, especially).

Bad News for Brawlers.
The following non-Brawlers will still destroy you if you’re too far from a Tower:
Skywrath Mage.  Has a high movement speed (315). Arcane Bolt does 100 dmg, a 5s cooldown, and he can cast 5 of them on starting mana.
Undying.  If he skills Tombstone, you will likely not get away (slowing), and his zombies will destroy your L1 self.  If he drops the Tombstone right next to you, attack it!  Even if you die, the Tombstone is worth gold if killed.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Team Ideas: Delayed AOE Ultimates + Setup Heroes

These ideas started with Warlock's Upheaval skill - a massive slowing AOE, designed to hold enemies in place so that other, delayed AOE abilities could hammer them.

Setup Heroes:
Dark Seer

Damage Heroes:

-        Disruptor (Static Storm)

-        Gyrocopter (Call Down)

-        Elder Titan (Earthsplitter)

-        Enigma (Midnight Pulse)

-        Crystal Maiden (ult also slows)

-        Witch Doctor (Death Ward)

-        Jakiro (Macropyre)

-        Death Prophet

-        Sand King (Epicenter)

-        Kunkka (Ghost Ship)

-        Keeper of the Light (Illuminate)

-        Phoenix (Supernova)

-        Shadow Shaman (Serpent Wards)

-        Tinker (March of the Machines)

-        Weaver (Swarm)

Slow & Kill Team Idea:
Witch Doctor/KotL/Veno + CM/Jakiro + Phoenix/ET (offlane) + Warlock (mid) + Gyro (carry)

(Multiple large ults w/slowing in AOE)

Dota 2 Heroes with Bash

The following heroes have a Bash skill:

  • Troll
  • Slardar
  • Spiritbreaker
  • Faceless Void

You could probably even form a team with them, laned as follows:
  • Troll (mid)
  • Slardar (roaming support)
  • Spiritbreaker (solo offlane)
  • Faceless Void + 1 (Witch Doctor, Jakiro or Disruptor)

Heroes with Low-Cooldown Ultimates

This post started out as "teamfight ultimates", but the spirit of this post includes heroes that can fight frequently, and thus includes more single-target ultimates, and heroes in general with low-cooldown abilities.

At the time of this writing, heroes such as Slardar, Tusk, and Witch Doctor are popular in the Pro scene, somewhat because they don't have to wait on the cooldown of long ultimates to fight.

Heroes with Low-Cooldown Ultimates:
(Cooldown time shown in brackets)
  • Ancient Apparition (40), 
  • Gyrocopter (55/50/45), 
  • Timbersaw(4), 
  • Anti Mage (70)
  • Disruptor (90/80/70), 
  • Treant (70), 
  • Undying [Tombstone* 60, Golem 75], 
  • Witch Doctor (80).  
  • Troll Warlord (30), 
  • Skywrath Mage (60/40/20)
  • Leshrac (1)
  • Storm Spirit (Longest CD spell is Vortex at 21/20/19/18)
* Many players consider Undying's Tombstone to be his "true" ultimate.

Single-target Ults w/low CD:  
  • Sniper (20/15/10)
  • Wind Ranger (60) 
  • Tusk (20/16/12)
  • Spirit Breaker (80/70/60)
  • Huskar (12) 
  • Legion Commander (50) 
  • Lina (70/60/50)
  • Pugna (22)
  • Pudge (30)
  • Shadow Demon (50, 40 w/Aghs)
  • Slardar (5)
Honourable Mention (at higher levels or Agh's):
  • Lion (160/100/40)
  • Lich (120/90/60)
  • QoP (Agh's = 40)
  • Beastmaster (Agh's = 45)

“Always Ready to Fight” Teams (heroes with low ult cooldowns)

Team #1:
Sniper mid
Gyro + Skywrath + Witchdoctor safelane tri
Timbersaw offlane solo

Team #2:
Spiritbreaker + Disruptor offlane
AA mid
Troll + WR safelane

Team #3:
Disruptor, Undying, Sniper, Ogre, Troll

Team #4
Clock, Disruptor, Skywrath, Gyro, Huskar(mid)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spotlight: Winter Wyvern - 6.84 Builds

Winter Wyvern is still trying to find its place in most line-ups, but almost everyone agrees that the hero's main purpose is lane support and teamfight.  It's the kind of hero that wears the enemy team down, with a possible burst initiation using her ultimate.

Here are some build ideas, based on the new items:

Lane Harass:

Ability build:  1-2-1-3-1-4-1 (to level 7, early Arctic Burn)
Starting Items: Wardx2 or Courier, Tangos x 2, Clarity, Ring of Protection
As Needed:  Wards, TP Scrolls, Health Pot for carry, Flying Courier
Core Items:  Tranquil Boots, Medallion
Luxury:  Solar Crest

Team Support

Ability build (early Splinter Blast): 2-1-2-3-2-4-2 (to Level 7)
Starting Items:  Wardx2 or Courier, Tango, Health Pot, Clarity, Ring of Protection
Early:  Basilius
As Needed:  see above
Core Items: Boots, Vlad's
Luxury:  Veil of Discord

Team Ideas:

Safe: Gyro + Wyvern + Treant
Mid: QoP
Offlane Solo: Axe or Bristleback
Idea:  Two initiators with a Taunt, and followup from Overgrowth and AOE damage

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Team Theme: Argh! Kill it!

This Dota 2 Team Theme focuses on heroes that spawn things that the enemy needs to deal with quickly.  Not killing them results in a bad situation for the enemy.  This team idea asks:  "what if the enemy was forced to choose between them, while getting hurt by the ones they were forced to ignore?"

Heroes with Dangerous Spawns

  • Pugna (Nether Ward)
  • Undying (Tombstone)
  • Phoenix (Supernova egg)
  • Shadow Shaman (Serpent wards)
  • Warlock (Infernal)
  • Juggernaut (Healing Ward)
Honourable Mentions: Tusk (Sigil)

Heroes with Channeled AOE Ultimates:

  • Witch Doctor (Death Ward - isn't targetable, but WD needs to be stunned ASAP)
  • Crystal Maiden (Freezing Field - a channeled ult, similar to WD, above) 
  • Enigma (Black Hole) 
(6.85 item that helps these heroes:  Glimmer Cape - Fade while channeling)

Side Mention

These are heroes that summon things, but the summons aren't so deadly that they need to be dealt with quickly:
  • Visage (Gargoyles)
  • Lycan (Wolves)
  • Invoker (Forge Spirits)
  • Enigma (Eidolons) 
  • Weaver (Swarm)

Team Ideas (with Lanes)

Mid: Warlock
Safe:  Juggernaut + Phoenix + Pugna
Offlane: Undying
Combo:  Warlock drops Infernals, casts Fatal Bonds, then channels Upheaval.  Pugna drops his Nether Ward somewhere nearby, Phoenix soars around dropping Fire Spirits, and Undying runs to the middle in Golem form and drops Tombstone.  Pugna can Decrepify the Tombstone to keep it alive longer.  If enough enemies are busy with Zombies and caught in Upheaval, Phoenix goes Supernova and Jugg spins / casts Omnislash.

Mid: Juggernaut
Safe:  Weaver
Jungle:  Enigma
Offlane: Phoenix + Undying
Ban: Rubick, Death Prophet (Silence), Drow (Silence)
Author's Note:  I think this is my favourite:  trapping the enemy inside a Black Hole while Phoenix Supernova is burning, Zombies are wailing, Juggernaut is spinning, and Weaver's bugs are eating.  Whichever teammates aren't in the Black Hole aren't going to be able to stick around to help... and if they did, they would probably just die.  The line-up has decent sustain and push, with potential split-push from Weaver, and the big ultimates don't always need to be stacked, so at least one could be still available for the next teamfight.
Downside:  Anyone not caught in the Black Hole can basically just run away.

Mid: Phoenix
Safe:  Invoker (Exhort)
Aggro Tri: Jugg + Witch Doctor + Crystal Maiden

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gold-Efficient Items Greater than Their Parts

Many items have patterns that "create" the bonus feature of the item.  However, others are made up of individual components, and may have an effect greater than the sum of their parts.

Efficient Dota 2 items:

Boots:  Tranquil, Power Treads, Arcanes

  • I won't get into these, but know that upgrading boots is always efficient.

Oblivion Staff:

Components:  Robe of Magi, Quarterstaff, Sage's Mask
Component total:  +6 Int, +50% mana regen, +10 Attack speed, +10 damage
Assembled total:  +6 Int, +75% mana regen, +10 attack speed, +15 damage
Net gain:  +25% mana regen, +5 damage

Rod of Atos

Components:  Staff of Wizardry x 2, Vitality Booster
Component Total:  +20 Int, +250 hp
Assembled total:  +25 Int, +325 hp, +on use slow (60%)
Net gain:  +5 Int, +75 hp, +effect

Scythe of Vyse

Net gain:  50% mana regen, +Hex effect

Aghanim's Sceptre

Net gain:  +ultimate upgrade only (no stat gain)

Monkey King Bar (MKB)

Components: Javelin x 2, Demon Edge
Component effects:  2 @ 20% chance of 40 dmg, +21 x2 dmg + 46 damage (total +88 dmg)
Assembled effects:  +88 dmg, +15 atk spd, +true strike + mini-bash 100 dmg
Net gain: +15 atk speed, bash damage +60.

Sange & Yasha (S&Y)
Components:  Sange, Yasha
Component Effects: +16 Str, +16 Ag, +15 Attack Speed, +8% movement, +10 damage, Lesser Maim
Assembled Effects:  +16 Str, +16 Ag, +16 Attack Speed, +16% move, +16 damage, Greater Maim
Net gain: Greater Maim, +6 Damage, +1 Attack Speed, +8% movement, +10% proc on maim, +6/3% slows on maim.

Hard-to-evaluate items

Ring of Basilius (changes % mana regen to flat mana regen)
Shadow Blade (Shadow-effect is modified from ring)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dota 2 Patch Notes 6.83 - commentary

See the Dota2 Patch notes from 6.83.

Significant hero changes this patch:

Chen - further buffs to abilities and Ancient golem
Disruptor - decreased cooldowns and mana costs
Gyrocopter - larger ult area, changes to Homing Missile
Lina - several decent damage buffs
Sniper - giant buff to Shrapnel

Heroes that should see MORE play due to small changes:

Chaos Knight (Rift buff)
Crystal Maiden (Frostbite, Ult both buffed)
Juggernaut (base Ag+, crit buff)
Lion (+7 base dmg)
Nightstalker (various small buffs)
Shadowfiend (Raze dmg buff)

Heroes that will see LESS play due to small but significant nerfs:

Ogre Magi (yet another nerf to Fireblast)
Brewmaster (Armor nerf is not insignificant for mid laner)
Death Prophet (Str growth reduced)
Faceless Void (various small nerfs)
Tidehunter (Ravage dmg nerf)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Team Theme: Close is Dead!

Heroes you don't want to stay close to:
  • Undying (Tombstone + Golem)
  • Phoenix (Supernova)
  • Doom (Scorched Earth)
  • Warlock (Infernal)
  • Shadowfiend (Ult)
  • Bristleback (Quill Spray)
  • Dark Seer (Ion Shell / Wall)
  • Tusk (Ward)
  • Witch Doctor (Ward)
  • Omniknight (Purge)
  • Axe (Helix)
  • Juggernaut (Spin)
  • Clockwerk (Battery Assault)
  • Pudge (Rot)
  • Razor (Storm)
  • Leshrac (Edict, Pulse Nova)
  • Necrolyte (Aura, AOE)
Team Ideas based on above theme:

Mid:  Phoenix
Safe:  Omni + Tusk
Jungle:  Doom
Offlane:  Dark Seer

Mid:  Pudge
Aggro tri:  Phoenix, Undying, Omniknight
Safelane solo:  Razor

#3:  (greedy dual-lane lineup)
Mid:  Leshrac
Safe:  Axe + Necrolyte
Offlane:  Bristleback + Warlock

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Team Ideas by Winrate - Jan 2015

Top Heroes of this meta, by Dotabuff winrate of the month, and some team ideas based upon those rankings:

Best Supports Jan 2015

  • Abaddon
  • Omniknight
  • Crystal Maiden
  • Silencer
  • Venge
  • Lich
  • Warlock
  • Earthshaker
  • Witch Doctor
  • Ogre Magi
  • Dazzle
  • Veno
  • Treant

Best Mids Jan 2015

  • Necrophos
  • Zeus 
  • Silencer
  • Warlock
  • Spiritbreaker (situational)
  • Sniper
  • Medusa
  • Veno (situational)

Best Carries Jan 2015

  • Spectre
  • Troll
  • Juggernaut
  • Riki
  • Medusa
  • Axe
  • Sniper
  • Sven
  • Slardar
  • Luna
  • Ursa

Best Offlaners Jan 2015

  • Omniknight
  • Slardar
  • Centaur
  • Undying

 Team Ideas based on Hero Winrates Jan 2015

Tri-lane:  Spectre + Lich + Omni
Mid:  Zeus
Offlane Solo:  Centaur

Tri-lane:  Juggernaut + Crystal Maiden + Warlock
Mid:  Necrophos
Offlane Solo:  Riki (just soak XP)

Dual offlane:  Silencer + Axe
Mid:  Sniper
Dual Safelane:  Medusa + Witch Doctor

Dual offlane:  Juggernaut + Crystal Maiden
Mid:  Zeus
Dual Safelane:  Sven + Vengeful Spirit

Team Idea: Hard-hitting melee w/stuns

I had the idea that if you had some hard-hitting melee, you really want your opponents to stay still while you beat on them.  Hence, hard-hitting melee carries with lots of disables on the team.
 I personally prefer stuns to slows.

Melee-Favourable Teams:  

Trilane: Sven + Venge + Windrunner
Mid:  Leshrac / Lina (followup stun, pusher)
Offlane: Centaur

Trilane:  Wraith King, Disruptor, Ogre Magi
Mid:  Medusa
Solo Lane:  Undying

Trilane:  PA, Sven, Disruptor
Mid: Slark
Offlane:  Beastmaster

Trilane:  Sven, Warlock, Venge (or Troll?)
Mid:  Puck
Offlane:  Centaur

Trilane:  Sven + Venge + Crystal Maiden
Mid:  Tiny
Offlane:  Enigma

Hard Melee w/ slows

Sven + Disruptor + Elder Titan
Warlock mid
Undying solo offlane
Idea:  Warlock and Disruptor allow Tombstone to stay down unmolested using Kinetic field and Upheaval, and yet keep enemy heroes in range of the zombies.  Meanwhile, Sven can lay waste with right-clicks and Elder Titan can follow up with an Earthsplitter, which should be difficult to dodge.
Counter:  This team is countered by split-push (Nature's Prophet, Tinker), and BKB heroes (Luna, Dragon Knight).


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teams with varieties of disables

Types of disables:

  • Silence
  • AOE Stun
  • AOE Slow
  • Slow
  • Primary Stun (targeted)
  • Secondary (delayed) Stun

see Heroes by Disable Type

Silences:  Bloodseeker, Death Prophet, Doom, Drow, Earth Spirit, Invoker, Puck, Silencer, Riki, Skywrath

Team Ideas:

by Ability:
Secondary Stun:
AOE Disable:

Slow:  Venomancer (support)
Stun:  Wraith King (carry)
Secondary Stun:  Lina (support)
AOE Disable:  Magnus (offlane)
Silence:  Death Prophet (mid)


Stun:  Ogre Magi (support)
AOE Disable:  Gyrocopter (carry)
Secondary Stun:  Leshrac (mid)
AOE Damage:  Tidehunter (solo offlane)
Slow + Silence:  Skywrath Mage (support)

Slow:  Jakiro (support)
Stun: Sven (carry)
Secondary Stun:
AOE Disable:  Warlock (support)

CM + AA + Sven
Tidehunter solo offlane
DP mid

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dota 2 Patch 6.83 Review - Part One

From the recent Shifting Snows Dota 6.83 update...

Summary of Gameplay changes:

  • Barracks destruction provides more team gold, less individual gold
  • Some buffing abilities now affect magic immune.  'bout time...
Here's a quick summary of hero changes and what they mean:

Who got buffed:

  • Abaddon:  slight buff to ultimate.  Meh.
  • Alchemist:  Greevil's Greed buffed.  Alch can farm faster, should be relevant sooner.
  • Windranger:  Focus Fire & Power Shot buffs.  Higher semi-carry potential, easier skill shot
  • Bounty Hunter:  Buffs to Track cooldown & self-gold.  Teamfight buffs, ganker buff.
  • Bristleback:  buff to Quill Spray dmg.  Slightly better laning.
  • Chaos Knight:  Reality Rift dmg buffed, Phantasms last longer.  Comes online earlier.
  • Chen:  more units, can now summon units to you.  Large buff.
  • Clinkz:  slight attack range boost.  Slightly better laning.
  • Crystal Maiden:  buffs to all damage skills.  Better ganking, teamfight.
  • Dark Seer:  slight armor buff, cast time buff.  Meh.  Are they hoping to see more of him as an offlaner?
  • Dazzle:  slight attack range buff.  Slightly stronger lane harass.
  • Disruptor:  cooldowns decreased, mana cost of Glimpse rescaled.  Slightly stronger overall.
  • Dragon Knight:  Corrosive Breath now stays for Levels 2,3 Dragonform.  Slightly better push mid to late game.
  • Drow Ranger:  Illusions now benefit from Marksmanship.  Carries slightly harder with Manta.
  • Earthshaker:  Buff to Enchant Totem (mana cost reduction).  Slightly better early game with Enchant Totem + Aftershock.
  • Enchantress:  now moves even faster (335!).  I have no idea why a speedy prancing Dryad needs to be even faster..
  • Gyrocopter:  Buffs to ultimate, slight buff to homing missile (using Force Staff).
  • Huskar:  slight buff to Inner Vitality.  May result in stronger laning.
  • Juggernaut:  More agility = better early laning, Blade Dance ult slighlty early-mid game.
  • Kunkka:  Buff to "X" skill. Icefrog attempts to encourage more use of this powerful skill.  Mostly affects Kunkka as a support, and late-mid game.
  • Leshrac:  slight buffs to Edict and Lightning.  Slightly better for push and positioning.
  • Lifestealer:  An interesting buff to infest, where you can now use a creep as transportation.
  • Lina:  Fairly large damage buffs.  Lina likely to return as a ganking support or mid.
  • Lion:  better early right-click for harass, slight utility optimization on Mana Drain
  • Luna:  slight buff to Glaives and Eclipse.  Not sure what Icefrog was trying to fix here, but the problem is usually Luna getting to the higher levels, not doing damage once leveled and geared...
  • Morphling:  buff to Adaptive Strike stun.  Slight utility improvement.
  • Nightstalker:  Buffs to early laning and to Crippling Fear.  I view the Darkness changes as a slight buff, allowing more frequent use and the standardization to enemy vision is a boon.

Who got nerfed:

  • Brewmaster:  Armor & Thunderclap nerfs
  • Death Prophet:  nerf to strength growth (2.2 to 1.9).  Snowballs less hard, slightly weaker later in game compared to previous.
  • Earth Spirit:  Rolling boulder nerf
  • Elder Titan:  nerf to Astral Spirit damage.  Slightly less strong in lane.
  • Faceless Void:  Time Walk debuff nerf, Chrono cooldown nerf.  Hero offense slightly weaker.
  • Jakiro:  Liquid fire damage nerf.  Slightly weaker push and lane harass
  • Meepo:  slight nerf to respawn time after level 16.
  • Ogre Magi:  Nerf to Fireblast damage and range.  Booo!

Who got rebalanced / small fixes

  • Axe:  Changes to Battle Hunger
  • Bane:  Nightmare cooldown now static by level
  • Bloodseeker
  • Broodmother:  nerf to Broodling vision (1400 --> 1100 daytime)
  • Io (Wisp):  No turning required - slightly less delay on cast, nice fix because how can you tell which way he's facing, anyway?