Ability Draft is now officially here for all to play. But the problem is that most players seem generally poor at picking abilities. I’m not going to say exactly what abilities to pick, but rather a few tips in general. While the game-mode is subject to change over the coming weeks, specifically some mechanics, I present an initial 7 tips:
Tip 1: Look At Your Hero
First thing you should do in the mode is look at which hero you have. You need to think about that heroes Movespeed, Base Stats, and Stat growth.
A hero like Centaur Warunner for example has amazing strength gain. You can exploit this high strength gain by getting abilities like Exorcism and Heartstopper Aura, two abilities that require you to be alive to be in effect, and thus are really good on tanky heroes. While you can look at each heroes stats here, I would hope that you have a general idea of heroes’ attributes. Phantom Assassin for example has terrible int growth, which means mana is going to be tight on her, so maybe opt away from skills that require using a ton of mana. There are other important attributes to consider as well, such as Leshrac and Earthshaker taking forever to cast a spell.
This entire Tip is much harder for Newer players to do effectively. For example some heroes have terrible base move speed simply because they have abilities that increase their movespeed, such as Death Prophet. Death Prophet isn’t considered a slow hero, because she’s gets much faster very quickly, and yet her base movespeed is the same as Crystal Maiden.
Tip 2: Initiation is OP
Abilities like Blink are balanced on the hero who owns it, which is a great reason why people love stealing blink when playing Rubick. You can exploit initiation skills, and they are most likely going to be the best skills in the pool. A stun is generally pretty good. But any stun is amazing if you have Queen of Pain’s blink.
People have a tendency to nab the “OP ults” first, but I think it’s more strategically sound to grab the very rare initiation skills first. Abilities like Blink, Invisibility and Pseudo-Blinks are really good. As is Nature’s Teleportation. Basically any ability that goes well with a stun or slow.
The good thing about building an Initiator, is that it has a tendency to ignore Hero Attributes. Basically any hero without good Agility, is likely going to be a good initiator. Even if you are chronically slow and squishy Shadow Shaman, you can actually overcome the issues arose in Tip 1 simply by building a hero with strong initiation. Which leads on to Tip 3.
Tip 3: Exploit Synergy
Creating a hero that has synergy between skills is a key to creating a good hero.
If you happen to have Blink and Unstable Concoction on a Shadow Shaman, it’s actually not that bad you are a slow squishy initiator, because you’ve successfully combo’d very good skills. And the thing about both these two skills, is that they aren’t ultimates, but it’s amazingly strong, with great synergy.
Some skills in the game are designed around a hero’s other skills, Meepo’s Geostrike is great when you have multiple Meepos, but fairly crappy when you have just 1 hero. Conversely, a skill like Aftershock or Sticky Napalm is amazing if you can combine it with the right spells. Napalm would be great with an ability that is a DOT spell, such as Ignite, which has 8 damage ticks.
Unfortunately the mechanics here are hard to entirely test/predict, but logically skills like Plague Wards won’t get Poison Sting unless you have Poison Sting, thus making the skill less optimal. Also logically, Napalm should proc on any DOT etc etc.
Tip 4: Not Everyone Will Farm
Keep in mind that not everyone will become a farmer on your team. So its important to be able to build heroes that can both scale well, and scale poorly. You want to be able to have a carry, just as much as you want a support that can actually do something with low amounts of farm and levels. What this also means, is that you want some heroes that aren’t overly level dependent. Venomous Gale is an amazingly slow, but the better part of it is that it only requires 1 skill point, freeing up levels for your other skills.
Tip 5: Counter Picking is Hard
The problem is if you don’t get a skill fast enough, the enemy will get it.
Focus Fire is often snubbed as a skill by most Windrangers, but Focus Fire is pretty darn good if you have Fury Swipes or Juxtapose. For example, if you’re last pick and you pick Focus Fire as your first skill, you may have got a skill that isn’t the most optimal, but you just stopped the Enemy from combo-ing it with a skill they’ve already picked.
The problem is that you’re now counter-picking, which means that your hero might not be as good as it could be, because your getting a lot of random shit to stop Enemy Hero Synergy. Counter picking is an important part of any drafting in dota, but ultimately a rather complex topic. But you’re rather silly if you don’t give it some thought when picking.
Tip 6: A Good Hero Can Have Only 3 Abilities
A good hero doesn’t need 4 amazing abilities, some heroes do just fine with just 2 or 3.
Rubick for example has Null Field, which although is a good skill, you don’t really level it until much later. This makes him much less level dependent, and still an amazing hero pre level 11. This puts a greater importance on the first 2 ability picks, than the last 2. The Shadow Shaman I described above is a great example of this. Blink + Stun makes him a good hero, even if he ends up with 2 skills that aren’t all that good. Just try and find maybe some mild synergy for the last few picks, and you will still do fine. Realistically you shouldn’t get the 4 best skills for you anyway, try and get good synergy with two picks, and the rest can have slightly milder synergy.
Tip 7: Have Fun, But Don’t Be A Wanker
While this game-mode is obviously intended to be more fun orientated, you should still try your best to win. People will obviously say shit like “Calm down bro this isn’t -CM”, which while true, isn’t fair. Basically, While this mode isn’t Super-Serious, it doesn’t mean you should become a douche. Don’t troll, throw, make terrible decisions under the pretense of “screw you this is a jokey fun gamemode”. You should still have basic Dota etiquette and try to win.
Yes it’s a jovial game mode. No you shouldn’t run around feeding as a result.
Tips in Action:
Even though I had 6th pick, I managed to get blink first, and then put it with a stun. I got even luckier and then got Rocket Barrage giving me massive nukes, as well as making it hard for people to be near me. With Life Drain, people had difficulty fighting me. With the innate int-steal as part of my hero, I had a massive early game mana pool to spam my low cooldown spells (5, 8, 5.5 and 0 seconds respectively). I became a very mobile, stunning, slowing nuker, that would force people to run away. I could also blink away to urn/bottle myself, before coming back in. I could also blink onto a cliff to use Life Drain, which worked well against 4 melee heroes.
I controlled the early game amazingly, before our Windranger came through with physical damage as the game progressed. I also became very tanky with high levels, Urn, Wand, Scepter, Bloodstone and eventually Shivas. Not to mention all the heals through Life Drain, Urn, Bottle and Wand. We also ended up with Edict and Nether Blast on our team, allowing us to push quite well.