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A Beginner’s Guide to Dota 2 – Part 3.5: Situational Items

24 Aug 2013  by   Tim McDonald

Hand of Midas sounds interesting, and I’m pretty sure you mentioned that off-hand towards the end of last week’s article. What does that do?

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Hand of Midas is something for everyone! Have you ever been bashing creeps, and wishing that you could not only bash creeps faster, but get more money and experience for bashing creeps? Well, Hand of Midas is for you!

Why are you talking like an infomercial?

Hand of Midas gives you a whopping +30 boost to your attack speed! And not only that, it has an active ability that gives you 190 gold from a creep – any creep* – as well as double experience from that creep! Clearing creep camps has never been easier than with Hand of Midas!

Um.

Now, how long do you think the cooldown on that ability would be? Three minutes? Two minutes? No! It’s a mere 90 seconds! They said it couldn’t be done, but we did it!

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Look at that amazing camp-to-gold action! Just click, GOLD! Click, GOLD!

…um…

And when it comes to price, we must’ve gone crazy. On the high street, lesser products will cost you 4000 gold, but because we get our Gloves of Haste direct from wholesalers we can offer it to you for… not 3000 gold. Not 2000 gold. 1900 gold! And because of the 190 gold, every 90 seconds**, it pays for itself within 15 minutes of purchase! We’ll have it shipped out to you by Flying Courier*** as soon as you place your order. There’s absolutely no reason not to buy a Hand of Midas today****!

* Note: Does not work on Ancients.

** Note: We are not responsible for you not noticing that cooldown has ended, or being too far away from creeps to use the ability at the end of cooldown, or losing gold due to ganks or teamfights when other items would’ve been a lot more useful, and thus we do not guarantee that it will pay for itself within 15 minutes.

*** Note: Flying Courier not available when playing with shitty supports.

**** Note: Hand of Midas is a terrible, cost-inefficient item unless you’re a hard carry that desperately needs gold and are fairly well-protected in lane, or are jungling and thus are unlikely to be attacked, harassed, or involved in fights when basically any other item would be a lot more useful.

What’s wrong with you?

What?

You went all creepy and weird, like those over-enthusiastic people on TV that very clearly hate themselves and their life decisions.

You just described me, except that I’m not over-enthusiastic or on TV. What the hell are you talking about, anyway?

Look, can we talk about another item now? And can you be a lot less creepy about it?

Alright. Hand of Midas is first on the list, so –

ANYTHING BUT THAT.

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Uh? Okay… well, Dagon is an item that lots of people really like, but I genuinely wouldn’t recommend it to most.

Isn’t Dagon a Lovecraftian sea beast?

As well as an actual fertility god, yes. But in this case it’s a stick that shoots death.

Which is sort of fitting for a fertility god, if you think about it too hard.

Get out. Dagon (2720 gold) gives you +3 strength, +3 agility, +9 damage, and +16 intelligence. Upgrading it causes it to give an extra +2 intelligence, up to a maximum of 24 total. So, in short, you can upgrade it up to level 5.

But what does it do? You mentioned shooting death. I like shooting death.

It can also inflict a hideous amount of burst damage, instantly. At level 1, it can do 400 damage – instantly – every 35 seconds. At level 5, it can do 800 damage every 15 seconds.

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Lina’s Laguna Blade is one of the prettiest damn spells in the game.

Ye gods.

Quite. Although a level 5 Dagon costs 7720 gold. Lots of people simply love this item because, hey, free burst damage! The problem is that most other items are more useful for most classes.

More useful than doing 800 damage every 15 seconds?

Let me put it this way – that same money could buy you a Divine Rapier, and a Javelin. You’d be doing an extra 321 damage with every attack, with a chance to do even more. Equally, Dagon’s damage is lowered by magic resistance (I think), so it’s not quite 800 damage. Even if you forget about Divine Rapier, you could grab a Mjolnir or Abyssal Blade and still have cash left over.

That’s not to say Dagon isn’t useful, but it’s certainly not as useful as a lot of newbies think. By the late game, a strength hero with a bit of farm will have at least a few thousand HP – so it’s not quite as effective against the big targets – and, frankly, if you’ve managed to farm 7720 gold, chances are you should’ve been buying other items again.

It’s mostly useful – surprise! – situationally. It’s great for taking out squishy targets, or supplementing other burst; I wouldn’t normally recommend it on Lion or Lina, but if provides a nice extra push to their high-damage Laguna Blade or Finger of Death spells. Nyx Assassin can make good use of it to supplement his own instant damage for stealthy ganks before a target can even react. Necrolyte can use it to push people below the instant-kill threshold of his ultimate. But if you’re picking it up because “omg damage”, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

This is getting long, so we’ll deal with one more item and then close this out.

Alright. Of the remaining items – Orchid Malevolence and Scythe of Vyse, I guess – which is generally more useful?

Bah. I’d probably say Scythe of Vyse, but I really, really like Orchid Malevolence. Can I talk about both? I’ll be quick, honest.

Oh, go on, then.

Huzzah. Okay, so both of these are generally items you’d want on intelligence heroes, and probably supports, at that – although a semi-carry could make use of Orchid, as could a ganker.

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Orchid Malevolence (4125 gold) gives +25 intelligence, +150% mana regen, +30 damage, +30 attack speed, and has a truly evil active ability: you use it on an enemy hero and they’re not only silenced for 5 seconds, but they take an extra 30% damage. That thing has a cooldown of 18 seconds. On an intelligence hero (or someone with a low mana pool, even) it’s a phenomenal item for increasing damage, and for picking off lone targets.

Personally, I like it on Windrunner. It synergises well with Focus Fire – her ability that massively ups her attack speed against one target, at the cost of doing reduced damage – and it’s fantastic for picking off annoying heroes with blink abilities like Puck, Queen of Pain, or Anti-Mage.

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Scythe of Vyse (5675 gold), on the other hand, is an unbelievably versatile disable. This offers +10 strength, +10 agility, +35 intelligence, and +150% mana regeneration… and its active ability turns the target hero into a critter for 3.5 seconds. They just… can’t do anything. They move incredibly slowly. They can’t attack. They can’t use abilities. It pretty much knocks one hero out of the fight for as long as it lasts. This has a cooldown of 35 seconds, but it completely shuts down a hero for that duration. You can use it on a heavy-duty type who’ll ruin your day, so that you can quickly take out a teammate or two, or you can knock out an irritating healer for a little while. Also: half of the characters refer to it as a Sheepstick, which is just great.

Again: situational. These items are costly, and you’ll want to pick one based on what you’ve got and what you’re up against. If they’ve got loads of enemies with blinks, or ability-based stealth, then Orchid Malevolence can give you a chance to kill them – if you already have enough stuns and disables to keep them from running away or just outright killing you first. On the other hand, Scythe of Vyse can pretty much lock anyone down for a healthy period of time.

So, rather than give actual advice, you’re really just saying “You shouldn’t buy any of these without thinking about it first?”

Depressingly, yes. A lot of Dota 2 comes down to knowing what to do and when – when to engage, when to pull back, when to sacrifice yourself for the carry, when you’re not going to be able to make it. This is as true of items as anything else. There’s no better teacher than experience (although experience and a mentor can’t hurt).

The best I can really do, here, is give you reasons as to why items are good and bad, and hope that you can figure out for yourself when they’re worth the cash as opposed to other items. What I will say is that – as with Vlad’s, and Mek – some of these are things that you’ll almost certainly want someone to get, even if it’s not you. Scythe of Vyse is useful in basically every game, but it’s a question of who picks it up and when.

What I’m trying to do is give an idea of standard newbie mistakes, as well as vaguely introduce you to the sort of thought processes you’ll need to get better. You’re not meant to memorise this item list, nor are you meant to take everything I say verbatim; I have no doubt that at least one person reading this will – within a week – get into a game in which a Dagon could probably have saved the day. But to actually get good at Dota 2, you need to be able to figure out when items are necessary rather than just following a standard build guide.

Next week, I’ll actually talk about how to play support classes. Probably.

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