The next patch is still coming soon™ and many players feel slightly tired of the metagame. Indeed, despite being almost perfect for competitive play, 7.06 has not only been with us for more than four months, but also has several heroes who are easy to execute and hard or annoying to deal with in a pub environment.
It led to many players taking a temporary leave from the game and it is easy to understand them. You either deal with the inevitable Necrophos, Viper or Venomancer or play them yourself. Both of these things get old at some point.
But what if there was a different way to play Dota? What if we could go back to the time when we were first introduced to the game and weren’t bothered with MMR, Rankings, Meta and all that other pseudo-competitive shell over what essentially is one of the best games ever created?
Just for one day, try to strip yourself from all the tension of Ranked play, call your friends you never plays with because they are “bad” and try out something ridiculous and fun, while we provide you with some starting points.
This one isn’t new. You pick heroes based not on what you need, but based on some characteristic. It gets even better if the enemy will follow the idea leading to some tense (but probably suboptimal) battles between “Fire” vs. “Ice”.
Use your imagination to come up with a characteristic of your own. Team of “Underwater Dwellers” with Slardar, Naga, Slark, Medusa and Batrider with that one ridiculous set doesn’t sound too effective on paper, but who cares? And imagine the bragging rights if you actually manage to win with this composition?
You can do the “Bugs” team or “Snow White and Seven Dwarves” with Crystal Maiden, Meepo and three other short heroes (Meepo can’t get Aghs though, or it will ruin the canon). Do the “no legs” strat or if you don’t feel like going all out, you can still go with the regular color-coded team. Just don’t pick green as your team color, it’s a bad color…
There are so many interactions in the game and many of them can lead to ridiculous results. Some things you occasionally see on the pro-scene come directly from your everyday pubs — the Shadow Demon+Centaur start [A]lliance and Danish Bears ran last season was probably met with some scepticism initially, but it actually worked. And there are probably many more strategies that could actually shine given the chance. The strategies presented here are definitely not viable in the majority of situations and will never be seen on the pro-scene, but they can be used as a starting point for you to devise your own evil plan of enemy destruction.
Try to find something that stands out on a hero, but is underutilized. For example, Huskar’s Inner Vitality is often an afterthought. Everyone knows it is a powerful spell, but it’s not what gives Huskar his identity. But what if it did?
It gives a whopping 80% of primary attribute as regeneration to the target, if it is below 35% health. It is usually used as a way for Huskar to sustain himself in a fight, riding this thin line between maximizing DPS and surviving. But Huskar isn’t known for having a lot of stats. In fact, there is a hero whose whole identity revolves around having a ton of his main attribute and that hero is Morphling.
At level 18 with Treads, Stick, Linken’s Sphere and Ethereal Blade, Morphling has 218 Agility and 1100 HP. He also has innate regeneration of 9 HP/Sec from Linken’s and stats. Under the effect of Inner Vitality, he will regenerate 54 HP/Sec which is more or less a level 1 Alchemist ultimate. But that’s not the fun part, the fun part is when the hero gets below 385 HP, where he suddenly starts regenerating 184 HP/Sec, which is >80% higher than what Alchemist gets from his level 3 ultimate.
Naturally, the hero will still be susceptible to different forms of burst damage, primarily magic, but he essentially becomes immune to anything physical. Not only is physical damage more likely to come in smaller instances, but at this point Morphling also has 30 Armor, making for an extremely tanky target.
And that is not even close to the hero’s final form, since there is so much space to grow. Late-game it is relatively easy to get the hero to 250+ HP/Sec regeneration, all coupled with the usual massive burst damage from nukes and a ton of physical auto-attack damage.
You can’t do anything to heroes affected by Naga’s Song of the Siren, right? Wrong. There is at least one thing you can do while the enemy is peacefully sleeping and that is spawning zombies.
The big problem Undying has in the late-game is how easy it is for most teams to destroy the Tombstone before it’s effect truly kicks in. But the zombies themselves are actually pretty strong, with a powerful passive that decreases the target’s movement speed by 7% for 2.5 seconds per hit. And that passive pierces spell immunity, making the life of enemy melee characters an absolute nightmare.
Using sleep right after the tombstone is placed ensures three zombies on each target in the AoE, with a 4th one soon to follow. At this point it is 28% movement slow from the tombstone alone, in a 1200 AoE and that is only on the first hit, right after the sleep! Given the speed the zombies attack at (1.6 BAT) it is possible to slow down the whole enemy team to a crawl before the fight even began, all while dealing a moderate amount of damage AND spawning even more zombies.
Naturally, this will only work against melee cores, since most ranged ones will have no problem destroying the tombstone regardless, but melee cores is what you usually pick Undying against in the first place. And if a melee target uses BKB when Naga uses her song, she can still net him, preventing him from attacking the zombie-spawning nuisance.
For extra oomph! get Refresher’s Orb on Undying and Aghanim’s Scepter on allied Phoenix.
There are currently four heroes who have some way of reducing the enemy attributes: Silencer with his innate ability to steal intelligence, Timbersaw with his main stats 15% (21%) reduction, Slark with Essence Shift and Outworld Devourer with Arcane Orb. Three of them always reduce the enemy intelligence, while one only reduces intelligence on intelligence heroes.
And the hero who can capitalize on the enemy team being intelligence-starved is well-known. Outworld Devourer preys on stupid enemies and with a whole team dedicated to making the enemy team stupid his Sanity's Eclipse can snowball out of control extremely fast. Not only do you get a significant amount of extra damage on it for pretty much everything any of your allies does, but you also ensure that the enemy stays stupid for your subsequent encounters.
Image by blossomalex
What if the enemy couldn’t attack you? Or, more precisely, what if he couldn’t deal damage to you using his auto-attacks? Well, you can find out by picking Tidehunter, Underlord, Dragon Knight, Vengeful Spirit and Bane or Razor.
Each of these heroes possess an unique ability to reduce the enemy attack damage, and in the case of Tidehunter, Vengeful Spirit and Underlord these effects have no downtime. It essentially creates a situation, where the enemy simply can’t auto-attack you. They can still use spells, disable you, do other nasty things, but their attacks will merely tickle, especially to a cast of characters that are quite tanky on their own.
But how do you win fights with this, you ask? Well, you don’t. The only reason heroes should be fighting in a game of Dota is to either protect objectives, or to take objectives. So, if you come knocking on the enemy door while the enemy can’t do anything to you, at least follow-up-wise, you are free to ignore them completely and slowly chew through their structures. Imagine the faces of your opponents when they realise that the Underlord player has been afk for the past couple of minutes after a-clicking their base.
Though, it has to be said — this strategy should be used fast, until the enemy realises the whole idea and starts stacking bonus damage from items. You still have Razor or Bane to deal with a single runaway, but past that point you will have to play a regular game of Dota and that wasn’t the initial intention.
Also, don’t forget to really try to sacrifice your Vengeful Spirit to the enemy, preferably their core. Run in circles around enemy, all-chat some profanities and spam the taunt button — just make sure you are killed.
At some point during the last season the meta was dominated by illusion strategies. Fortunately, it didn’t last too long and several heroes received their well-deserved nerfs, making Dota a battle of real heroes once again. This strategy tries to return back the glory days of illusions in a rather unique fashion.
Farming efficiently is hard. Getting experience is also hard. So why do the heavy lifting if the enemy can do it for you?
There are several heroes who can create illusions of the enemy with their abilities. The neat part of it is that these illusions don’t become stronger when you get stronger, they become stronger when the enemy does. So, if you were to pick Dark Seer, Shadow Demon, Terrorblade and Morphling, you wouldn’t have to do anything in the game, apart from getting to level 7 on 3 out of 4 heroes.
Use your spells, create as many illusions of the enemy as you can and let their own net worth advantage be their downfall. After all, there is five of them and god knows how many of you. And if the enemy has some hero that is very likely to make illusions themselves, pick Enchantress to finish your draft. Works especially well versus Phantom Lancer.
As mentioned previously, probably none of the strategies discussed today are actually strong or “in the meta” or anything but a fun way to play Dota. Fun and different.
It is common for parts of our community to complain about “stale meta”, “imbalanced heroes” and sometimes it is justified. The HOHOHAHA patch was a mistake and we all know it, Valve knows it and IceFrog knows it.
Patch 7.06 is not a mistake. It is a masterpiece and a testament to what Dota has developed into. But similar to how there is a limit to how long one can marvel at a piece of beautiful art or an amazing scenery, there is a limit to a patch lifespan. Unless you find a way to make it more interesting yourself!
So go ahead and draw a moustache on that Mona Lisa, or float a giant Rubber Duck near the Cliffs of Dover. Who knows, maybe it will actually make it better?