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    Dota 2 – Friday Night Dota – Ability Draft Tips.

    I have decided to make a weekly theme for the Friday Blog posts – something that will not necessarily be as useful in terms of actual hardcore gameplay, but will be fun to read. Ability Draft mode fits perfectly in this category (even though I occasionaly try-hard in it).

    Some of you have probably played the mode back in the Dota 1 days – and it is a lot of fun.

    While I try to keep myself in shape and play proper games once in a while, I couldn’t resist trying out the mode in Dota 2. Especially after a somewhat busy week of writing blogs for you guys. It is hard to relax in something you are writing about and analysing so much.

    So, without further ado – tips for the Ability Draft mode!

    State of Mind

    I can never stop stressing how much a correct attitude is crucial to winning at Dota. Yes, I might come to AD to have some fun, but what is more fun than winning?

    I had a very interesting conversation today with a player from the enemy team. I had a Viper hero model and managed to take three of his spells – Poison Attack, Nethertoxin and Viper Strike during the draft. I topped that with Grave Chill.

    Viper is an excellent mid hero and I had no problem winning the lane from a poorly drafted Lycan. I went on with an aggressive build constantly ganking and killing a lot of opponents.

    And that is when enemy Visage started blaming me for being unoriginal, picking skills from the hero I was given and even told me that I “don’t get [the mode]”

    That made me question myself – was I really doing something wrong? And the answer is No.

    I believe the whole idea behind the Ability Draft mode is creating a hero that is ridiculously overpowered. And the more overpowered he is – the better. People can complain as much as they want about “cheesy” tactics or skill combinations, but considering that they had the chance to draft the same skills and be overpowered themselves, there is no way to justify these complaints.

    So, let’s start with the tips!


    The first thing you need to look at is the hero model you were given. Try your hardest not to be a Melee hero.

    If you happen to be melee, you could always draft some ranged orb effects like Searing Arrows and enjoy the ranged properties – it is very important for laning, since supports in this mode are not easily defined and you can face a lot of harass in lane.

    Though, if you are sure there will be someone to help you secure some farm (if you are going to try to carry the game), then by all means pick something more useful.

    You need to make decisions based on what Body you were given – some skill combinations might seem really good on paper, but you will not necessarily have mana to use them. Or using them would force you to get a lot of mana/intelligence items that might not necessarily synergize with the model you were given.

    Another important thing to consider is the cast animation. While Ball Lightning makes sense on Leshrac in terms of mana requirements, it certainly doesn’t if you consider the Leshrac’s horrible cast animation. So, if you are expecting some combination of skills to work, you should also consider whether it can be pulled of an a hero with long cast animation. You can refer to this list to see what heroes have the worst/best skill animations and make appropriate conclusions.

    And to top all that – some of the heroes have particular properties that are specific to their body. That comes in handy when considering an Aghanim’s Scepter Upgrade. I had a game with a friend where he randomed Night Stalker, but couldn’t get his ultimate. He still went for the Aghanim’s Scepter, since he had the Nether Strike and was unexpectedly pleased to get the “flying” vision as well. His other skill was Lunar Blessing and 2800 “flying” vision at night was amazing!

    Other honourable mention in the section would be Silencer. Since one of the last updates transferred the permanent Intelligence gain from Glaives of Wisdom to the body itself, some scaling abilities could really work wonders on the hero!

    …and Magic

    Now let’s get to the interesting part – picking your skills.

    Synergy! That is the most crucial part of whatever you want to pick. You could think of it in terms of item choices – Blink Dagger is very good on Earthshaker because of his Echo Slam ability. You could possibly get Anti-Mage Blink or Queen of Pain Blink to complement it, having a devastating initiation at level 6!

    Another interesting thing, is that there are skills with relatively low cooldowns, that can not be utilised by the original hero as much due to the mana limitation, but could be very good on an intelligence hero. I had a Tinker with a Spirit Lance. Even though it is not necessarily a combo, it worked extremely well, since Tinker has no issues spamming low-cost nukes.

    Checking the heroes of both teams is extremely important. While the “bodies” themselves are merely vessels for the magic of their choice, it could save you a lot of time when looking for a nice combination. For example, if you see Jakiro in one team and Dark Seer in the other, you can be sure, that somewhere in the mess of a skill pool there is an amazing Vacuum + Ice Path combo. And it only took you several seconds to deduce that.

    The time constraint is annoying, and without thinking ahead or taking short-cuts you can be easily outdrafted.

    Also – if you have a very strong combo in mind, but it includes 3 or 4 spells, most of the time it is not going to be worth it, since the ability can be taken before you have the chance to finish the combo and you will be left with 2 possibly suboptimal spells. So from here and on, the combinations discussed will be limited to 2 skills.

    My favourites

    I wouldn’t go over your usual “perfectionist” Dota drafts ample in our own forums. Instead, I will go over some combinations that I have drafted myself and found extremely good.

    Most of them involve the “on-cast” aspect I find extremely strong when there are low cooldown, low manacost spells in the pool.

  • Quill Spray + Static Field – simply hilarious. While one of the spells requires time to kick in effectively, the other one is excellent for initial damage. I have managed to draft the Reactive Armor on top of that and you can imagine the consequences. I was just running around pressing Q and laughing maniacally.
  • There is a Passive combo I have seen against myself that I’ve found very similar and extremely good:

  • Nethertoxin + Feast – it was on a ranged hero, and I guess you can imagine the outcome.

  • Sticky Napalm + any DoT – very strong. Get several charges of sticky napalm on the enemy, throw some Damage-over-Time ( Dual Breath is the best, since it deals damage every 0.5 seconds, activating the Sticky Napalm accordingly) and just watch your enemy cry. I didn’t manage to get Dual Breath + Sticky Napalm yet, but the combo works wonders with Warlock’s Shadow Word. And one can imagine the awesomeness of the combo with almost double the damage!

  • Aftershock + Viscous Nasal Goo – another somewhat effective and extremely rage-inducing combo. Have you figured it out? With 1.5 stun from Aftershock and 1.5 cooldown on Goo, you can create an annoying “Circle of Doom” in a 300 AoE around yourself. Something like Enigma’s Black Hole, only infinite. With a 30 manacost on Goo you can keep the enemy occupied for a while.

  • Enchant Totem + Walrus PUNCH! – ~1500 damage at level 7. Enough said. Possibly one of the strongest combos in game. Didn’t have a chance to try myself, but I don’t think it can get better than that. Also, Enchant Totem is a skill you really don’t want to miss. It is very strong.

  • Greater Bash + Ranged Hero – a very strong late-game combination that is even better if you have Attack Speed buffs (had it with Focus Fire, would prefer something like Battle Trance more). Enemy simply can’t reach you. In fact, any “bash” ability is great on a ranged hero – keep an eye on them.

  • Ranged Hero + Strong Passive – you can have Fury Swipes or Mana Break or any other good passive – it will simply work. And if you are Ranged and Agility keep an eye on the Essence Shift.

  • I couldn’t possibly list every combination, but the ones I have provided should give you the basic idea of what can work well in the chaos of AD.

    Another tip I would give is to never go full passive!

    I have tried it a couple of times with extremely good passives and it simply doesn’t work if you are melee and will require a lot of levelling and farm to work if you are ranged. Always have at least one “utility” spell – something like Windrun could be a lot better than an extra Buff to DpS.

    Closing Comments

    To finish the post, I would like to give some tips from the “miscellaneous” section.

    Some extra tips would include counter-picking – you see a very powerful combo on the table, with one of the components taken away by the enemy – pick the second piece just to prevent someone from being too overpowered.

    Another thing to mention is “specialisation”. If you are doing something – do it like no other hero can. Don’t try to support if you have a late-game skill set. Don’t try to turtle if you have a push composition. Do what you can do the best.

    Moreover, while the mode is mostly “for fun” it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t upgrade the courier or buy wards. For some reason a lot of people disregard this.

    I truly hope that you are now a little bit more prepared for the Ability Draft mode. And, as always:

    Thank you for reading! Do not hesitate to leave comments in the comment section below!

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