Despite having been around for over a decade now, Dota is a hugely successful game. Surely, the balance of the game is a large reason for that, as it is quite intricate, yet still very appealing. But that is something that has been discussed over and over again.
No, this is not about the well balanced heroes and their interactions. It’s rather about those little things, things one could only find out by experimenting with various mechanics and interactions, things that may only present themselves years after having learned the game, despite being a hardcore enthusiast since the beginning of it all.
Now some of these “tricks” or tidbits are rather well-known, some are just too tedious to do them all the time, but they all add value to one’s gameplay and performance.
This famous video of pro player Aui_2000 shows him stealthing his way into the enemy base as Bounty Hunter and effectively destroying 2 items of the enemy Tinker. How is that possible? As Tinker, you tend to spend all your Mana and with a Manapool of roughly 3000+ in later stages of the game, it can take a while to replenish it all. Dropping stats items that increase the Manapool will logically decrease it, thus accelerating the replenishing process. This method can and should be used with every other hero though. It can save several seconds per trip to the fountain and should become a habit.
A variety of players do it even outside of the fountain, to maximize the usage of regenerative abilities or items such as Bottle or Healing Salves. Beware though; it’s an easy way to lose gold if enemies are around.
Another way to manage Mana and/or HP and maximize it, is to switch Power Treads from attribute to attribute. Switching the current attribute to Agility allows oneself to get the most HP and MP out of a Bottle charge.
There are other applications for Tread Switching as well. As an Anti-Mage, it should become a habit and almost muscle memory to Tread Switch to Intelligence before blinking and then switching back to Agility. Especially in the period between Battle Fury and Manta Style, where AM will rotate between jungle and lane, it’s imperative to do so, as one would otherwise run out of Mana quite quickly.
Both Tread Switching and item dropping benefit from the fact that no matter how a hero’s attributes are changed, the percentage of HP and MP remaining stays the same. Imagine a hero at 1000/2000 health. Dropping a Vitality Booster won’t drop them down to 750 Health, but rather to 875/1750 HP. Using a salve will then heal them to 1275/1750, and then picking up the Vitality Booster will leave them at roughly 1460/2000. Without dropping the Booster, using the Salve at 1000/2000 would only have healed back to 1400/2000.
For many, drawing “aggro” is a foreign concept. The idea behind it is, that creeps’ laning position can be manipulated, by attack clicking an enemy while being close (500 radius) to enemy creeps. The creeps will change their priority targeting towards the aggressor. By walking away or attack-clicking allied units, aggro can be lost and the creeps will continue to battle other creeps.
This is used to gain a favorable position in the lane. It’s especially important in the midlane, where both sides will fight on equal terms for their lasthits, or rather they will fight to create unequal terms in their favor--by aggroing creeps. “ChaQ’s ultimate guide to advanced middle lane solo” perfectly illustrates the advantages of aggroing. That said, knowing how to harass the opponent without drawing aggro is equally important, though that’s for a different blogpost.
The concept of creep aggro requires an enemy hero to be visible and clickable; an attack command needs to be issued after all. If no enemy is in sight or in the lane to begin with, yet correcting the creep equilibrium is still necessary (it can bebeneficial in order to get rid of double ranged creeps for example), then aggro can still be acquired by issuing an attack command on a hero in a different lane.
Passive attack abilities that rely on Pseudo-RNG can be manipulated into ones favor. The more often you hit a creep without bashing or critting it, the more likely it is for your following attack to do so. That can be additionally abused by stopping an attack before it lands--that attack will still count towards the increasing probability of the next attack being a proc, granted it didn’t proc the ability before being cancelled.
Pathfinding in Dota 2 is far from perfect. While it has been refined over the years, players still find themselves directed into places they don’t want to be and inexperience with the pathfinding can lead to death.
Direct Pathing allows a player to move into the direction the move command was issued to, without taking pathfinding into consideration. Meaning if a hero happens to walk into an obstruction, he will walk into the obstruction instead of trying to walk around it. While there are simple applications, as to not accidentally walk outside of a treeline if juking is a goal, there are more advanced ways to use this method.
Heroes such as Shadow Fiend or Slark can benefit from Direct Pathing as they have abilities that require the direction they’re facing to be perfect. All those Shadow Raze highlight clips on various YouTube videos are mostly possible due to Direct Pathing. Walking up to a cliff and razing highground is much more difficult if the movement command had to be perfectly placed in front of the cliff, as opposed to on the cliff itself. With Direct Pathing, it doesn’t matter where the movement command is issued to, the hero will simply walk in that exact direction.
To enable Direct Pathing, enter
cl_dota_alt_unit_movetodirection 1 in the console. Alt-clicking to a location will now use Direct Pathing.
The following tricks are simply mechanics that you may never have known existed, but are easy to pick up on.
The fountain’s regeneration aura is still active on heroes even seconds after they have left the fountain. This allows you to fill up an empty Bottle even outside of the fountain. If you tp into a lane and immediately pick up a Bottle, you can not only fill it, but also use a free charge, resulting in effectively gaining 4 Bottle charges. It is why your midlaner pings you when you tp into his lane.
Another teleport related mechanic concerns invisibility. Clinkz, Bounty Hunter, Nyx Assassin, Weaver and Invoker can use their invisibility spells while using a Town Portal Scroll without interrupting it’s channeling. Shadow Blade and Glimmer Cape can be used while tp-ing as well.
As Dota continues to grow, be it with new heroes or items, such interactions will only continue to be more important and more and more mechanics will appear. These are only a fraction of all the mechanics in the game that would either require experimenting or simply being told. The game is over a decade old, but with all the new things one can discover, it really never gets old.