War of Kings is a blog dedicated to my favourite comic books, books, games and movies.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Under Siege - Ghosts and Wind Walkers

This will be a monthly post on Defence of the Ancients Allstars. I'm not sure why I am doing this, as I hardly play DotA Allstars these days, so I can't give an analysis on how any new items or heroes actually stack up in play. But I did play it intensively against and with really good players for a number of years, and I know the Warcraft mythology far too well, so when it comes to concepts and ability synergy, I do know what I'm talking about.

For those of you who do not know what Defense of the Ancients is, it’s a fan-made mod map for Warcraft III that supposedly takes place centuries after the game. It’s the last war between the Sentinel, an alliance of humans, elves, orcs, trolls and other creatures of good, and the Scourge, a collection of bloodthirsty monsters, witches, necromancers and, of course, the undead. This is supposedly their final battle, with the Sentinel desperately trying to protect the World Tree from the Scourge, whilst attempting to destroy the Frozen Throne, and vice versa for the Scourge. The Sentinel and Scourge armies are computer-controlled, assisted by two team of up to five heroes each, played by you and your friends. There are now 93 heroes to choose from, most of whom are entrenched in Warcraft mythology, though there are a few, like Zeus and Lina Inverse, who are included for no reason in particular. Actually they're there because they were in the original DotA which made no attempt to make sense, and they've been around for so long that no one can imagine DotA without them. In fact, the entire storyline no longer makes much sense after World of Warcraft was released, in which the treaty between the human-elf Alliance and orc-troll Horde fell apart.

So, onto the changes for 6.55 and 6.56. And there are a lot. The most obvious is the new base layout, especially for the Sentinel. It is disconcerting at first, because the bases have remained unchanged since….I forget, but it was a really long time ago. I like the change - the fountain area is a lot more streamlined, you can actually access all the shops at once now that the blood elf recipe shop isn't off in the corner, and you don't have to run up the hill to get to the circle of power. And always thought the placement of the World Tree was a little off, especially when compared to the Frozen Throne.

There are also lot of item, recipe & hero changes, a couple of new items, two new heroes, and two hero reworks. Too many to go through, so I'll just do the important stuff. You can find the whole list here.

Alleria, the Windrunner - This character is obviously based on the Elf Ranger General from Warcraft II, Alleria Windrunner - except that she's supposed to be dead. Either she somehow survived being trapped in Outland and is now a spirit 'windrunner', or this character is just named after her. Her first ability is Staple which staples a unit to a unit or tree behind it. It's a little like Baruthrum's greater stun, in that it knocks back a unit and stuns them, but it also stuns the unit behind them too. Its not called Staple? Its called Shackleshot? Oh. Well, I'm still gonna call it staple. Powershot deals damage in a straight line, dealing less damage every time it hits a unit. It's also useful in that it gives sight and can mow a path through trees. Windrunner is really good - it gives 100% dodge, 50% increased movement speed, and on level 4, 30% movment reduction to nearby enemies. Good for chasing past towers, or just running away. Of course, it lasts for a very short time - five seconds on level 4. Her unltimate is also good, one of the few castable on towers, it gives ger max attack speed on the unit it is cast on, though damage is reduced by 50/40/30%. It might seem a bit strange, with all this and the fact she uses the Ranger model, to see that she is not an agility hero, but an intelligence one. But if you think about it, her abilities do all cost a lot of mana, and there are a lot more item options open to int heroes than there used to be, so its not a terrible choice.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Kunkka, the Admiral Proudmoore (or Captain CoCo, or Jacksparrow, or the Ancient Mariner, or sometimes even Captain Obvious) - Yeah, this is just strange. How can you be an Admiral Proudmoore? Admiral Dalien Proudmoore was a person, not a title. He's not even decended from the Proudmoores, an important family in Warcraft history. And if he's an Admiral, why does his ultimate summon a pirate ship? I'm seriously thinking of sending in an e-mail saying What the Hell are you thinking? Make him Kunkka, the Ancient Mariner! What? Oh, his abilities. Actually, they are quite good. Tidebringer is a more powerful version of the tauren ability of pulverise from the normal game. X Marks the Spot is an 'anti-blink' ability which marks a units position and forces it to return there four seconds later. This synergises with Torrent which is a little like Light Strike Array - it targets an area, and two seconds later water erupts from the ground, tossing everything in the area into the air and damaging it, and his ultimate, which summons a ghost pirate ship which gives allies drunken hardiness (damage reduction for now, but the damage catches up to you eventually) and damages enemies.
Verdict: Minor Loss. He would be an awesome unit, if his background made any sort of sense.

Ezalor, the Keeper of the Light - I always liked KotL and often played him as support for mana intensive heroes like Zeus when I was asked to. I was quite handy with Illuminate, Mana Leak and Chakra. But when left to my own devices, I wouldn't often pick him, mostly because of his ultimate. It summoned a ball of light, that in turn summoned mini-priests that healed you. The ball could teleport anywhere on the map, but still, it was just strange and didn't seem to fit in with his other abilities. But all that has changed. The KotL now uses the normal non-ghostly Archmage model, so presumably he's alive and not a spirit anymore. Illuminate remains basically the same, except it reveals the area gradually now. Mana Leak has been changed to a mana version of Rupture - the mana lost is now linked to movement, and if it reaches zero the target is stunned. Hmm. Good for supporting Anti-Mage, or anyone with the manaburn items (which have been buffed too, see below). Chakra is nerfed - it does nothing except restore mana now. Which is still good. His ultimate is Spirit Form, which turns him into the original ghost-Archmage model for 40 seconds by 'filling his body with light'. Sounds sufficiantly Naaru. In addition to his other abilities he gains Blinding Light, which knocks back all enemy units and gives them an 80% chance to miss for a few seconds, and Recall, which teleports an allied hero to his side. Oh, and Illuminate isn't a channelling spell in this form. Nice.
Verdict: Major Victory! KotL is now a really, really useful support hero, with some neat tricks to help him not die so badly.

Aithusha, the Enchantress (or, if you prefer, Bambi) - Enchant's creep control is reduced by 40 seconds, but I never used it to control creeps much. Do you sense my dislike for having extra units to control? But the major change here is the swap of Untouchable and Impetus. Untouchable's change to a normal skill comes with no actual nerf - its maximum level still slows by 90%, it just starts at 30% now as it has four levels instead of three. Impetus is now her ultimate - it gives 15%/20%/25% now with 0 cooldown and it ignores magic immunity. Ouch. So overall this seems like a buff to her - it makes her less of a early killer but a better late-game hero.
Verdict: Hmm…I'll say Minor Victory but I'll know better when I get a chance to play her.

Magic Stick - This is an interesting concept. It gains a charge every time someone else casts a spell near you (ally or enemy) and when you cast it, you instantly regenerates 12hp and mana for each charge. I think that means that casting it resets it back to zero, rather than you having to cast it twelve times. Maximum of twelve charges, which means up to 144hp/mana, not too bad in early game for only 210 gold, especially for low health heroes. Of course, if you're soloing against someone like Naiax or Sven, its useless, but if you have a spammer ally, or you're a melee/short range hero fighting a spammer it'll be very useful. I'm thinking it'll be good for my favourite hero, Luna. It looses its usefulness in late game, and even with all the recipe changes it's not used to make anything, but such items will always be needed.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Phase Boots - Cheaper than power treads, gives 5 extra movement speed, plus thje ability to phase for a few seconds - a 10% move bonus with no pathing. No pathing apparently means you can walk through other units, but not through cliffs and trees. Unless I'm doing something wrong. But hey, I'm sure every DotA player have died due to being slowed by their own units more than once, so phase will be loved. So now you have an extra boots choice besides the standard Power Treads and the high-end Boots of Travel - and choice is always good.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Sentry Wards/Dust of Appearance - This is a serious nerf to sentry wards, range reduction and they last half the time. But Dust of Appearance more than makes up for it. It works just like the dust from normal Warcraft. I believe it doesn't work on Techies wards, or the Templar's traps, but the three assassins, Broodmother, Rooftrellan and Gondar had best beware.
Verdict: Major Victory! Oh the times I have wished for dust!

Teleport Scroll/Boots of Travel/Glyph of Fortification - Now this is interesting. Reduced casting time on teleport, and the ability for multiple people to tele to the same are is a marked improvement - with the drawback that you can't cheat an opponent out of a tower with tele armour boost. I never liked that anyway. But to make up for it, you can now boost the armour of every building for a short time with the gyph of fortification - but its not an item, it’s an ability of the consumable shop that costs gold. So you have to be at the fountain to do it. Which I think is perfectly fair - it means its harder to stop towers falling, but easier to protect creep generating buildings.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Lothar's Edge - All the change really does is make this a general item, instead of an agility item. If you're an agility hero you now get 4 less damage from it, but its made up by a 10% attack speed bonus. If you're strength or intelligence, you get 17 more damage, plus 10% attack speed. This is now really useful for low-health spammers like Crystal Maiden. It's cheaper overall, but you now need a Mithral Hammer, which can be hard to save up for. It will definitely be replacing Yasha in my speed Luna build - which means I will now be able to escape better too. Yay. Unless they buy dust. Not yay.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Diffusal Blade/Manta Style - In opposition to Lothar's, these two items are now even more agility-hero skewed than they used to be. Diff Blade now gives 10 extra agility, and two extra mana burnt per hit, and it only costs 300 more. Plus, with the redistribution of the cost (you now need an extra Blade of Alacrity for 1000, with a reduction in the recipe cost to 850) you don't need to save more than 1000 gold at a time (before you needed 1550 for the recipe). To upgrade to Manta is still the same (1100 for vitality booster, 1400 for recipe). Manta now gives you 7 extra agility total, and 4 extra mana burnt per hit total. There iso change to the diffuse or image abilites.
Verdict: Major Victory!

Sange & Yasha & Sange & Yasha - Sange used to hava 10% chance to slow movespeed 10% for 6 seconds. It now has a 15% to slow 20% for 4 seconds. What does that mean? Well, I hardly ever bought Sange, so I'm not an expert on it, but it looks like a buff to me. It would make sense, as in my experience Sange was bought a lot, but only by the ok players - the really good DotA players opted for other orb effects. Yasha now gives 15% attack speed instead of 10%. Sange & Yasha combined used to have 15% chance to slow movespeed 30% for 6 seconds, and gave 15 extra damage and 15% movespeed. It now has 15% chance to slow movespeed 30% and attackspeed 15% for 4 seconds, with only 12 extra damage and 12% movespeed bonus. For 300 gold less.
Verdict: Eh…too much numbers. I'm just confused. I never used S&Y anyway, and I'm not about to start.

ULTIMATE VERDICT: MAJOR VICTORY! This contains major improvements, and even the stupidness of Admiralcaptain Whoonearthknows can't detract from it. I can just ignore him anyway.

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