Rubick is fun to play, unique to watch, and popular as all hell. But Rubick is actually a fairly new hero, so I’m going to take you back through the History of this iconic hero; Rubick, the Grand Magus. This article has a lot of facts about Rubick in one location, as well as my general perception and experiences with the hero, many of which are shared but have skipped formal documentation by other parties
Such Fascinating Energies
Rubick was added to Dota 1 in July of 2011, and to Dota 2 a year later in June of 2012. He’s also the most popular hero in professional Dota, having been a high tier soon after his addition to D2 Captain’s Mode, and has been played more than any other hero in professional Dota 2. As for the pub scene, he’s been trending towards the top 25% in terms of popularity for quite some time, and is the 16th most played hero in Dota 2. Unfortunately his win-rate is poor, and generally sits around 45% win-rate. I feel this is mostly due to the newer players who pick him up since he looks rather exciting and unique to play, and I feel he really is too.
Originally Rubick was played in two primary roles in the pro-scene; a Semi Carry (Magical) and Support. The Semi Carry Rubick was Solo Mid, and can be seen played by people like Dendi towards the end of 6.74 in 2012. However this has fallen out of favor in both pubs, as well as pros, and is now almost exclusively as a support – especially in pros.
When he was first added, especially to Dota 2, he severely punished players who couldn’t adapt and forge their own strategic counters. Rubick did something that no other hero in the game did; he punished you for not buffering. ‘Buffering’ is the term used to describe the act of using an ability solely for the purpose of denying Rubick the ability cast before it. An infamous example is using Anchor Smash after Ravage, to drastically reduce the window of opportunity that Rubick has to steal Ravage.
Eventually as the months progressed, buffering became popularized, and I feel safe to say is commonplace in today’s pub. If anything, people are generally aware that they have to buffer, but they sometimes slip up at the start of the game, resulting in Rubick getting a good steal soon after hitting 6. Of course, if you ever come across a someone who doesn’t buffer when they have the capacity to do so, you get a glimpse of what it was like in the first few weeks after he was added. It’s painful, and hugely disadvantageous.
Rubick can also do things in Dota 2 that he couldn’t do in Dota 1 due to engine limitations, primarily transforming abilities. This also meant that people were quite excited by seeing a little wolf or dragon running around shooting Fade Bolts. Ultimately even experienced players didn’t know exactly how his ultimate interacted with every spell. Players really went to town on some of the mechanics, some forgetting how it works, suggesting that Reincarnation could be stolen, while others morphed to full agility and fed the entire game.
Rubick’s ultimate is what makes the hero unlike any other, and interestingly enough, has hardly been altered by IF since Rubick’s addition to the game. The first alteration to the spell came in 6.79, where the interaction with Aghanim’s Scepter was changed. This also changed the upgrade for Rubick, including a cooldown reduction to 5 seconds. Besting this, Null Field has never been changed. It has the standard 900 aura AOE, and the very straight forward 5/10/15/20% scaling. Due to how magical resistance works, this improves a hero with 25% magical resistance to 40%.
What a Test This Shall Be
On the other side of the scepter, Fade bolt and Telekinesis have been altered numerous times since inception. Primarily, both these skills were much stronger in the past than what they are now. Fade Bolt cost 95-105 mana per usage on Day 1, where as now it costs 150 at all levels. It also used to have a 25% larger AOE, and a 10 second cooldown, where as now the cooldown scales per level; 16-10 seconds. Fade bolt also did slightly more damage as well.
Luckily for Telekinesis, Fade Bolt took most the brunt of IF’s wrath, and only received 3 extra seconds to its cooldown, which is now a very long 22 seconds, but luckily costs 40 mana less.
Most other things haven’t been changed, such as stats. His movespeed was reduced by 10, but base stats and attributes have remained the same. As jittery as Rubick may be in Dota 2, his stats and Null Field are stable as a… surely there’s a joke about Timbersaw to be made in here somewhere….
A Little Something From The Gift Shop
To today’s players, Rubick’s suggested items by Valve probably look rather crappy. Bloodstone is listed as core and Blink Dagger is completely ignored. Bloodstone actually gives Rubick a lot of what he needs, and especially makes him able to prepare for anything he steals. Such as letting him survive from Burrowstriking into melee range or mana to spam if he gets Ball Lightning. However Bloodstone is widely considered to be more of a snowball item, better on cores (and thus quickly), and also better on heroes who are very likely to expend their entire mana pool.
Blink Dagger and Force Staff really seem to be items of choice these days for Rubicks, for both pubbers and pros. They can do a lot of things for the hero, such as facilitating in clutch Spell Steals, seizing the small window of opportunity created by enemy heroes cast times (and sometimes just a general lack of desire by players to use a skill solely for buffering). It also allows for initiations, primarily in small skirmishes and pick offs, where you can take advantage of Telekinesis + Rubick’s cast point.
Bird’s Eye View
Rubick’s Telekinesis is also one of the few of what I call “Enemy Positioning Altering Skills” in the game. And like other skills, such as Power Cogs and Flamebreak, this means you can put people on cliffs. Some players were really not happy with this, and there’s been quite a few videos floating around it happening. It also happens in pro games, and in Korea as well, where just last week in a NSL Season 3 game a Rubick managed to have two enemies on the same cliff at the same time. Lame snarkiness aside, Cliffs were altered somewhat recently, which made it considerably harder to put people on cliffs, and many rejoiced. But ultimately not for very long as it turned out to be a partial fix, although to me it just seemed like people misunderstood what the fix was actually fixing, and ended up misinterpreting it for something they desired, only to be left with disappointment.
I find Rubick to be one of the best designed heroes in the game. I feel like his entire skill set is fairly simple to understand, yet hard to effectively utilize. I feel like Rubick is primarily about seizing opportunities. Throughout a game there are situations presented to you and you have to choose how to respond, the good Rubicks have a tendency to position themselves in way that make it easier to steal their desired spells, and then build items that let them get in range to steal that spell. They also are able to synergize their new spells with their other spells/teammates spells on the fly, or quickly decide the most optimal place to throw a hero after picking them up, that is, if you want to move them at all.
I feel like this is a skill that is hard to teach someone, but evolves from good game knowledge and sense. This often is what separates the good Rubicks from the bad. Some players seem to spend the entire game attempting to get Meat Hook from a buffering Pudge, only to be left with useless Rot pretty much all of the time, and thus basically being a hero without an ultimate during a team fight. Other players are able to identify the Pudges that buffer, and the difficulty in attempting to steal Meat Hook, and thus opt for something that will have an effect in the team fight, even if it is not the bells and whistles they seek. I personally find it’s easier to steal Meat Hook if you’re not shoving yourself down his throat by attempting to steal it all game (which probably just makes him even better at buffering), instead waiting for him to slip up, and steal it then.
Teaching someone exactly how and when to use Spell Steal is hard, there are lots of situations where a basic nuke is fine, where as others you should save the cooldown because a skill like Black Hole is so easy to steal, stop, and use, and can be detrimental if it’s not stopped.
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