First of all, my retirement was rather short lived after my last update. I’ve gotten back to raiding with Static and will likely be raiding with them as long as I have a place with them. Boss guides will hopefully be coming soon for Heroic Throne of Thunder as will my thoughts on the instance as a whole. I’ve also got some thoughts on Holy Paladins and our current predominant healing style that I can talk about at some point. Stay tuned for all that!
Now onto what I want to talk about right now: DotA 2!
I started playing this game a few months ago when a friend sent me a key and really took a liking to it. I don’t know what exactly it is about this game that has kept me interested as usually my only gaming interests (apart from WoW) are very strategy based games along the lines of Civilization V or X-Com. Surprisingly to me this game (which apparently is still in Beta) is absolutely phenomenal. It’s even more surprising to me after seeing that I hated League of Legends, although that was partially because I don’t like having to buy weapons/characters in a game to be competitive.
Defense of the Ancients
This’ll be a quick run down of the game for people who haven’t played it. If you just want my thoughts feel free to skip this.
For those of you who have not played this game: DotA is classified as a massive online battle arena game that carries elements of an RPG and an RTS. It involves a match of 5v5 where the purpose of the game is to progress across the map and destroy your opponents “Ancient”. Each player is able to select a Hero character, currently from a list of 100 and limited to one of each hero per game, that each have different abilities and roles that they can fill. There are also a vast number of items that can be bought to enhance a characters abilities and combat capabilities.
The game starts off with both teams spawning in their fountains directly behind their ancients (which in the image above are the yellow dots on the map). Here the heroes can purchase their items and have their health and mana replenished. This is also the point where Heroes respawn when they are killed and where the main shop that items are bought is situated, although there are also side shops and secret shops situated in other areas of the map.
Each dot on the map represents a structure of importance on the game. As I said before, the purpose of the game is to destroy the ancients (yellow dots), but the ancients are defended by other structures and NPCs that you have to get through first (as well as the opposing team).
The three red lines drawn on the map are each of the main paths, or “lanes”, that connect the two player bases. The Purple dots on those paths are the towers, turrets that defend a lane and are situated as three per lane and two directly defending the ancient, that will attack you when you get close and must be killed before you can attack the ancient. Each lane has a primary, secondary, and tertiary set of towers that must be killed in order. Once a full lane of towers has been destroyed, the Ancient’s towers can then be destroyed. Once those towers are gone you can finally attack the Ancient directly!
There are a few more things to take note of though. The blue dots situated in both bases behind the tertiary towers are a pair of Barracks from which packs of “Creeps” spawn. These are NPCs that will run down each lane and will attempt to destroy the enemy structures, Creeps, and Ancient. Destroying a tertiary tower opens up the Barracks to attack and they can be destroyed just like a tower (although they won’t defend themselves). Once the Barracks have been destroyed your Creeps in that lane will become much more powerful and overpower your enemies Creeps. If you manage to take all three pairs of Barracks all of your Creeps become Mega Creeps and basically destroy the enemy team for you.
That’s the basic gist of the game. I may have just butchered the whole concept, so forgive me if you’re a better player than I.
Like I said, I’m generally not one for this type of game. I don’t tend to enjoy real time team play as you get a lot of people who rage (A LOT in the case of Dota). Yet this game is so intricate with so many different ways to play and do well that I can’t help but be challenged and want to improve. At low experience levels the game is definitely daunting. There is just so much that you have to know to be able to compete properly even in public games. The fact that there are 100 unique Heroes currently is just the beginning of it. There’s so much to know just to be able to play properly: what each Hero does, how to build your items on different Heroes, map awareness, and so on. Needless to say, the game is more of a pain than an enjoyment at first.
Yet every loss just lets you get better. Every time I played a new Hero I played around with different abilities and tried to figure out what items would help me not be a total scrub. Eventually I knew exactly what items I should be working towards on certain Heroes and I started being able to kill people (YAY!). That’s definitely when the game became fun to me. I wanted to play every Hero and get to the point where I could at least be competent with each Hero. I wanted to be able to play any role that could be needed of me, as there are a few, and be able to play it well. My competitive nature kicked in hard, and DotA gave me a lot to work on.
In a lot of ways I think that it’s a success in what would arise if you put two 5 mans up against each other in WoW. There are different roles to fill that seems to fit the same lines: Initiator/Tank (Tank), Hard Carry (DPS), Hard Support (Healer), and somewhere in between all of those. Lanes are separated as is best suited to the Hero composition, as there usually isn’t any real planning in public games, and you do your job as best you can to help your team win. Once you understand the game and the Heroes there’s also the added bonus of planning a Hero or item build meant to counter an enemy player perfectly. There’s also the added bonus the whole real time aspect which makes how you use your abilities and items just as important, if not more so, than how you build them.
Point in case, there is just A LOT going on in this game. For me all that information and planning that is part of the game makes it absolutely phenomenal. I also love the aspect of the game that makes it so that smart planning and gameplay can allow you to win a bad matchup.
Unexpectedly for me, I ended up favoring the support role. As much as beating someone’s face in is a lot of fun, I absolutely love the ability to keep people alive and succeed more in how I use my abilities. Being skilled at gathering gold to build items is fun as well, but there’s just something about being that player behind the badasses that are taking names that calls to me. On top of that Supports are (in my experience anyway) what really makes or breaks a team. A well played Support Hero grants vision around the map through the use of Wards, builds items for the sake of keeping people alive, buys items meant to counter enemies, and is just generally in charge of knowing whats going on and how to win. Its even better when a Support Hero has abilities that can kick someone’s ass while keeping your team alive.
I’m not going to say that I’m good (Hell, I’m not even sure that I’m decent), but this game has definitely become one of my favorites. There are so many intricacies in the game that make it challenging and rewarding when you play properly. I doubt that I will ever be very good, but this is a game that is going to keep my attention for a long time.