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)