coloring credit to godxxx
In my coverage of the Forseer’s Contract, I discussed how I broke the 4K MMR threshold, a personal goal of mine. Well, I messed around and played a few more ranked games because hubris got the best of me. A friend of mine who I once taught how to play when he first started surpassed me while playing support (Lion), and I could not tolerate letting well-enough alone. Alas, we both received smackdowns from RNGesus, and are now just another pair of high 3K scrubs. I’d rather be a low 4K scrub, but I am not as desperate as I once was to improve my MMR because I am comfortable where I am in my skill. Every ranked game I played was an ultra-tryhard game, and I would have had better luck had Juggernaut not become such an obscene hero. I honestly have no answers for him because Mask of Madness synergizes with his ult too well, Ghost Scepters are prohibitively expensive for most supports, and the duration of Eul’s is shorter than his ult. He was slightly nerfed post-DAC, and I will probably resort to playing captain’s Mode games to ensure that he is banned every game or first-picked on my team.
Whilst I was feeling sorry for myself (I am over it now), Valve has been busy. They told DotA 2 fans that we should not expect Diretide or Frostivius because they had bigger, better things in the works. The Chinese New Year is here, and thus, rather than New Bloom from last year, Valve gives us Shifting Snows followed by New Bloom 2015 and rolling the Year Beast event within.
I will begin with Crystal Maiden’s new Arcana, the Frost Avalanche.
Despite my low (less than 50%) win/loss percentage with her, Lina is currently my best and favorite character—my many losses with her can be attributed to my teammates forcing me to play her as a support despite the fact that IceFrog “officially” buffed her to semi-carry status over a year ago with her BKB-penetrating Aghanim’s Scepter, her range increase, and her augmented attack speed through Firey Soul. (I also pick her when my teammates give zero effs and pick like four cores, so I give zero effs too.) Consequently, I had long ago determined to forego the purchase of items for her sister and rival, Raylai the Crystal Maiden. Unfortunately, Valve is much too brilliant for poor saps with disposable income such as myself, because they designed the CM arcana to include a FREAKIN PUPPYDOG! THOSE FIENDS! I’m a dog guy myself, and currently do not inhabit a home that can accommodate one, so on earth would I ever be capable of saying “no” to digital pet, even if he is THIRTY BUCKS? To make things worse, I have played CM only eighteen times in the three+ years that I have been playing DotA 2. What was I thinking…
…probably about those excellent animations!
I ain’t even mad about my purchase. Now I just need to figure out which CM item set combinations best accentuate it. Incidentally, my expenditure served the purpose of earning me 4,000 points toward the Year Beast (YB) event, a new game mode that I had yet to discover until a week after I bought the Arcana.
I say “incidentally,” because I did not look at those points as a bonus or motivating factor for acquiring Frost Avalanche. The point inclusion was a completely independent variable. Now I certainly have made use of those points, as you can see my booty below.
Indeed, I have won 30 games in the YB event. Do I ever wish I could meet that kind of success in traditional DotA! Nevertheless, the internet has suffered a panic attack because this is the first time in the history of DotA 2 that—through the Year Beast event—Valve has adopted a scheme where paying money increases the probability that one will win a match. By virtue of me spending $30—and yes, it hurts every time I type that—and gaining 4,000 points I have “paid” for my 25 wins. Of course, the fact that having spent money on DotA 2 undermines any rebuttals that I may have in the face of these criticisms, yet I will nevertheless testify to the contrary: spending money on points for the Year Beast event may help players win, but ultimately, like all things related to DotA 2, wins and losses are determined primarily by the convergence of skill and picks.
Only during one day—when Valve jacked up the daily bonus points—did in the thirty-two Year Beast games that I have played have I encountered players who have accumulated the points necessary to upgrade the beast to level 3. I won’t discuss that day because it was silly, and made every game pick-Zeus-to-refresh-skills-or-lose. All other matches were highly competitive due to the nature of the teamfights produced by the clashing of beasts. I personally used my points sparingly, often finishing games with upwards of 8,000 unspent points, and detested when my team would use God’s Wrath to secure a first blood when it would be better saved to dispatch multiple heroes during a teamfight for a tower. Of course, many players could attest to the head-butting going on such as when a teammate tries to town portal the beast elsewhere while another teammate instructs it to attack a tower. I will not go into details concerning the evolution of the YB mode from its first days to the present, in terms of when the beast would appear or the kinds of skills that could be used when it was present or away, but it is worth mentioning who I believe who were the most essential heroes to play in this mode.
- Carry- Sniper, Troll
- Semi-carry/mid-Zeus, Necrophos
- Teamfighter-Warlock, Undying, Tidehunter
- Healer-Omniknight, Dazzle
- “Secret Weapon”-Axe, Bristleback Phoenix, Winter Wyvern, Elder Titan
Seriously, I picked sniper the majority of my games and won because his range removes him from almost every danger but a double (or triple) God’s Wrath. Troll is good because he’s just a steamfrolling carry right now who can kill with minimal farm (Jugg still has to farm). Zeus is obvious with his global ult and Static, while Necrophos assists in “deleting” heroes off the map for long periods of time. Warlock’s Chains remains strong as always, and he disperses heroes with the push power of his golems while channeling Upheaval, rediscovered as one of the most powerful skills in the game. Undying excels in the earlygame and if he can get going, will remain relevant and unkillable late. Tidehunter remains an excellent teamfighing pick even though he is picked less because of a nerf to the damage that Ravage does. Omni and Dazzle are great for keeping the team alive during clashes and base defenses. Axe is a stupidly versatile hero who can do practically everything but carry. Bristle is a good pick because with heroes clustered around the beast(s), he gets easy Quill Spray stacks. Phoenix remains a sleeper, but between Fire Spirits, Dive, and Supernova, I picked “her” because with all of the chaos, nobody is going to concentrate on her egg, especially when combined with Upheaval or Undying’s Tombstone nearby. Elder Titan is a pick that was not even considered, but would have been dominant with his Natural Order lowering resistances, Astral Spirit getting stacks from bunched heroes, and Earth Splitter after heroes engage.
But all of that is old news now.
What is not old news, however, is the new hero:
Winter Wyvern (WW)is a unique hero to say the least. I’m not fond of her design, for she looks as plain and ugly as Dragon Knight’s Dragon Form, though it appears that Valve tried to give her a little more personality with her “crown” and…are those strands of hair? I also do not care the playfulness of her VA coming off as seduction; many heroes, such as my current favorite Lina are similar with their VA, so perhaps it is just my discomfort of a dragon trying to “sound cute.” Puck has that covered, anyway.
Unlike Oracle, who was introduced last patch as a support (apparently, most players have yet to figure out how to play him with is dismal w/l %), I am finding difficulty properly categorizing WW because of her unique skillset. Yes, she has a heal/protection spell, a nuke, and a teamfight ult, but Arctic Burn is giving me fits, for it only lasts six seconds and gives her the range of Sniper for its duration. Does that mean WW should get Treads instead of Arcane Boots like a traditional support? Or is she really more of a utility hero like Elder Titan, whose itemization is as dynamic as the teamcomp of his team or the enemy’s? Time will tell, but right now, players are still figuring her out. Of course, these stats are problematic due to Year Beast event matches.
I have already mentioned Arctic Burn, and my confusion concerning how to best use this skill remains. Yes, she gains the ability to fly over impassible terrain like Batrider’s Firefly, but she does not gain bonus vision from flight, yet she does gain bonus nightvision. Wut? I have already mentioned her bonus attack range, but the health DoT (damage over time) does not stack, so it is best to attack multiple enemies individually during Burn’s six second duration, meaning WW will hit less targets because she will probably have to turn before firing. Her projectile speed increases, but not her BAT (base attack time), so even though her enemies will be slowed when they are hit, players will still need to figure out how to hit as many targets as possible in its short duration.
Splinter Blast is a wonky nuke, and a skill that will most likely relegate WW to a highly situational pick like a Pugna rather than a more common staple like Jakiro. It does not damage the primary target, but instead, all secondary targets within a a 500 radius. The 1200 cast range is good, but I am not sure how this synergizes with the rest of WW‘s skillset. Burn slows as well as this skill, but they alone are not sufficient to kill, but set-up kills. The best supports in the game like Vengeful Spirit and Lion have stuns and burst damage. Io has slows but is a global taxi for an ult. WW seems to do damage but the actual killing like the purer supports Dazzle and CM, but the supports getting play in the current meta are stone cold killas like Skywrath Mage. One thing is for sure, WW killing steals will be skill shots since she needs additional targets for this skill to ricochet.
Cold Embrace is the heal/protection spell discussed above, healing for four seconds 20 base damage plus an incremental percentage per level up to 6% per second at level 4. It also renders the target completely immune to physical damage. With it’s low casting cost of 75 mana at all levels, this spell scales hard through the endgame, and maintains its usage even when heals typically become too small for endgame health pools and incoming damage. Physical immunity is always a boon against right-click carries (right now, Troll in particular), but Embrace also freezes its target, and mobility is the name of the game in DotA. Perhaps Embracing a hero in danger is the true synergizing spell of WW’s skillset, attracting enemy heroes to close in and penetrate the Embrace with spells or waiting for its duration to end, leaving them vulnerable to Splinter Blasts and a Winter’s Curse.
I would like to think Winter’s Curse as the equivalent of a big teamfight ult like Enigma’s Black Hole or Tidehunter’s Ravage, but mechanically, it works more like Legion Commander’s Duel (though with less priority) because it is a single-target, BKB-penetrating ult. It freezes its target in place, and all of its allies within a 350 radius (think Magnataur’s Reverse Polarity) attack the target for its (short) duration of 2.5-to-3 seconds. Early game, this is not an impressive skill because few heroes are capable of heavy auto-attack damage. Late game, however, WW can get a Troll or the carry of your choice to completely massacre a nearby support if this skill is timed correctly. Some might use it to target the carry, but supports autoattacking for 3 seconds isn’t going to get it done as fast as 4-6 slotted carry taking out a Witch Doctor or some other devastating hero. For this reason, it may be better to farm a Shadow Blade rather than a blink dagger to optimize casting potential. I plan to see much experimentation with Winter’s Curse to see how effective it is in practical use. For one thing, if positioned correctly, it sets up enemy heroes to eat a Splinter Blast.