Sunday, June 19, 2016

Unit Damage - New and Improved!

It's hard to believe it's been two years since my last post. And yet, so much has changed! Some things that I considered too core to the game have changed, and the numbers and the data in the previous posts are now out of date. Well, we can't have that can we. Let's get things up to date!

Over the next few pages, you will see - jungle creeps, Roshan, lane creeps, and various summons. All of them will have damage stats as it applies to various target types.

Just a normal ancient creep. I swear.

Some notable changes you will see:

  • Damage type reshuffle - Damage was simplified to Basic/Hero/Siege and units had many values changed
  • Aura reshuffles - Some auras were moved around, others added. Unit values were adjusted to compensate, more or less
  • New Abilities - all over the jungle and beyond, Ice Frog has bestowed many new toys to our lovely units!
  • Ancient Creeps - changes to various heroes, such as Lifestealer and Chen, made the Ancient creeps much more relevant. This resulted in multiple balance pass-overs.

As a result, I expanded the range of creeps covered by this overview, and improved the readability of the whole thing. Relevant information should be a lot easier to see now.

Before we dive any deeper, here are a few DOTA 2 unit basics:
  • There are four damage types - basic, hero, piercing, and siege
  • There are three armor types - basic, hero, and structure
  • Most small units do basic damage, which is okay against everything
  • Most ranged units do piercing damage, which is good against small units and nothing else
  • Most large units do hero damage, which is good for killing heroes and creeps
  • Structures take massively reduced damage from everything except catapults
  • Units have several attack statistics - minimum damage, maximum damage, base attack time, attack speed bonus, attack animation wind-up and wind-down. 
    • For our purposes, we ignore the animation as it doesn't affect DPS. 
    • The higher the BAT, the slower each attack can occur. 
    • Attack Speed bonuses benefit everyone equally, roughly acting as damage multipliers
    • Damage bonuses scale with lower BAT values, so the lower the BAT, the more benefit there is from +damage
  • Other than damage type, units also have armor which provides damage resistance on a curve.
  • There is no way to pierce armor with physical damage. However, armor can be reduced by a variety of effects.

Ultimately, most of my information comes from the wonderful DOTA 2 wiki. Here is some additional reading if you are interested:

Still with me? Good. How about some numbers?

What comes after two?

First, the light hitters. Here are the new small creeps:

Overall, the small camps now do the same or more damage. The Ghost remains an outlier, doing a ridiculous amount of damage to other creeps, as well as hitting heroes harder than many other units. Other than that, the units here are mostly useful for their abilities which we will cover later. Vhouls and Ghosts remain the chief killers of lane creeps, so keep an eye out for those when you're pulling.

Next up are the medium camps:

The Centaur Conqueror lost his amazing aura, which means medium camps are now weaker on average. However, the Centaur Courser gained his new, stacking, magic resistance aura, which makes the whole thing all sorts of annoying for junglers that rely on magic damage.

Icefrog why

Other than that, those coming here for reasons other than sweet, sweet jungle gold will most likely look for creeps based on their abilities. The Alpha Wolf remains the most versatile, and arguably valued, creep from the bunch, and in a pinch it can do a reasonable amount of damage to anything - including towers!

Next up are the Large camps:

Things got shuffled up noticeable here. The Centaur camp lost their aura, but gained magic resistance AND another centaur. The Hellbears got the missing attack speed aura, and consequentially got a nerf bat to their stats. The Hellbear is now pretty much worthless.

Potatoes contain many essential nutrients for young junglers

A change that surprised me was the Dark Troll Summoner damage type change - he went from a Pierce powerhouse to a ranged Hero damager. While this massively reduced his damage to other creeps, this makes the Troll a slightly more potent pusher, and a much more potent hero killer.

As before, the puny Skeleton Warriors pack a surprising punch, and can melt towers in literal seconds when in numbers. Two Troll Summoners can have a total of 8 skeletons at a given time, which is 136 damage per second to the poor, defenseless tower. Their numbers, and their expendable status, make them absolutely incredible.

Look at me. I'm the hero now.

Past the Large Camp, I would like to present to you the numbers for Ancient creeps:

It probably comes as no surprise, but the Ancient creeps are indeed quite powerful. Beyond their raw numbers, they have powerful and overlapping auras as well as unique abilities. In general terms, the smaller ancients are just fodder. The Dragon is a great pusher due to its AOE attacks, the Granite Golem is a great frontliner due to excellent health and damage, and the Thunderhide is a fragile aura/buff machine. 

All in all, they are all magic immune, hard to kill, and pack quite the punch. Except the Rumblehide. That thing sucks.

I think it's too stupid to care, though.

Next up is our dear Roshan. I wanted to showcase how much damage our friend does at different points in the game. As you might know, Roshan gains in all stats every 4 minutes. Here he is for the first 48 minutes... I don't think it matters much past that.

As time goes on, Roshan's percentage growth is smaller and smaller, which is one of the reasons why he becomes less and less of a threat. Still, he's always a force to be reckoned with. Unless you're ursa. I guess bears are superior to Roshan.

Much more fashionable than the Alpine outfit

With the many unit changes, the regular lane Catapult has become quite popular. I was never a fan, so I decided to have a look at what the various lane creeps do:

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the damage output of the creeps, given how plentiful they are. The Catapult, thanks to its unique Siege damage, is in fact one of the best units to hit towers with. I'm still not a fan... but the numbers speak for themselves.

The legend of Carty lives on

With all the common creeps out of the way, I decided to dive into the many, many summons in the game. Here is part 1:

Quite the list, no? There's a lot going on there, so let me try to cover it all:

Necro units remain incredible. They do a lot of damage, they burn mana, they provide all sorts of utility... it's an incredible thing. The low BAT makes them benefit greatly from all sorts of auras, too.

Brewlings were recently changed, giving them all Hero damage. This actually made them a lot deadlier to heroes and towers, and I think many players still underestimate them. With more recent armor buffs, they are something to watch out for.

Warlock golems are OP on paper. Seriously. They were changed quite heavily, and now ALWAYS do their bonus, AOE, BKB-piercing damage on hit. As such, I included this in basic & hero damage tables and well.. see for yourself!

Maybe if we get MORE FIRE they'll pick us...

Visage Familiars weren't really affected by much. They are deadly under regular conditions, and are extremely potent with any +damage buffs -- such as the famous Drow Ranger aura combination. Because of their extremely low BAT, they attack very quickly, delivering that bonus damage faster than anything else.

Venomancer wards were affected by recent changes, effectively increasing their overall effectiveness. Not only do they do more damage, they are now even deadlier to most creeps - jungle or otherwise.

When I grow up, I want to be a jungler!

Part 2:

The summons here are commonly used  to push, and they are very good at it. A relative newcomer, the Greater Treants are absolutely incredible! If you manage to get one, treat it well and sic it at a nearby tower. You won't regret it.

A notable unit on the list, the Eidolons are absolutely fantastic at pushing due to their Basic damage type. Yet another thing that makes Enigma a fantastic pick.

Still gotta play it right, though.

And that's it! Thank you for reading, and I hope the graphs and blurbs add that much to your DOTA 2 experience! And well, next time you clear out a camp... give a thought to how complex and wonderful the creeps you kill are.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

GG Go Next: The Future of the Blog

Hi folks!

It's been some time since my last post, and I apologize for the delay. Specifically, the delay on the second (and probably third) part of the unit ability analysis.

For my part, I've had an unpleasant concoction of real-life events affecting my ability to do pretty much anything. Things like stress and anxiety are not fun. But, I'm not here to complain.

As with a bad match, sometimes you just need to wrap it up and go to the next one. As such, you can expect regular updates to resume. I am hoping to produce an article every second Thursday, and you might see intermediate content as conversations online and emerging topics spring up.

Here is what I have planned for the near future:

    • Part 2 and Part 3 of Unit Ability Analysis. 2 parts have grown to 3 - there are many abilities in DOTA 2, and I want to keep the articles a reasonable size
Creeps are hard

    • Visage/Drow Ranger interaction analysis. 
Nuclear Launch Detected

    • Crystal Maiden showcase, following her fall from grace in the competitive scene
Thanks for reading the blog, and I hope you stick around for what is to come!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Unit Powers! 1/2

The mighty heroes of DOTA come to the fight with four (or more) powerful abilities. But the creatures of the land have tricks of the own! From the lowly Spiderite to the mighty Roshan, the various non-hero units in DOTA have a plethora of special abilities. Some are well known, while some are obscure. I would like to take the time and analyze them all to give you a better grasp of the options available, and how to take advantage of those powers.

The creep abilities frequently start out more powerful than what heroes can do in the early game, and lose effectiveness as the game goes on. Unlike heroes, they don’t know how to level up – or maybe they just never live long enough. Also quite a few of them are not smart enough to use their best abilities on their own; it usually takes divine persuasion or some vile mind-control magic (or worse) to unleash those talents.

In part 1, we will look at the small and medium Jungle creeps. Those creeps generally don’t have the raw power of the larger units, and their abilities are more complex or do less damage. But some of the best, and less known, tricks live in what could have been 17 gold.

The whole gang!

Small Camps

Kobolds are the the basic creeps of the jungle, having a combination of little HP, armor, damage and no special abilities. The notable exception is the Kobold Task Master.

Kobold Taskmaster

Speed Aura

Movement Bonus: 12% of current speed
Radius: 900

This aura is deceptively powerful – the increase is based on percentage, meaning that faster heroes get even faster. At 12%, this is more than twice more powerful than Drum of Endurance. Speed can be an incredibly decisive factor at any point in the game, so this is a useful aura to have when ganking or pushing as a team.

For Chen, Enchantress and Helm of the Dominator users, this is a weak and fragile creep that is best kept behind just to provide his aura. It’s something you want to bring along with you, but never put him on the front lines as he is weaker than your average melee creep. For Doom, this really depends on what’s necessary; this can be a great aura to compliment the occasional Aghanim upgrade to doom, and to provide that extra mobility for the entire team.

Hill Troll High Priest
Hill Trolls are another more-or-less generic camp, sometimes appearing with the Kobold Taskmaster and other times with the Hill Troll Priest. The best feature of the Hill Troll Priest is that he is the ugliest, lowest resolution creature in the game. Other than that, the Troll Priest is a famously annoying creep as he is likely to stay in the camp healing – or even doing nothing – and mess up pulls and stacks. He however comes with two interesting abilities of his own.


Heal Amount: 15
Range: 350
Mana Cost: 5
Cooldown: 0.5 Sec

A minor heal, this ability is only really useful in the early game to help with laning. It’s cheap and spammable, but only heals 15hp per 5 mana used. It also has really wonky programming, and the troll will heal the closest unit usually ignoring heroes. This is something you would bring into the lane behind the lines, and have your teammate fall back to the troll to get healed. He does provide 15hp per 1.5 seconds.

By the way, there is a rumour that the troll will not auto-heal anymore. That's not true; as a matter of fact, he will heal over any other action such as moving or attacking. The catch here is that the healed target needs to be within the spell's short range; the troll will not seek out distant targets.

Mana Aura (Suggested Icon)

Mana Regeneration: 2/sec
Radius: 900

The less known ability of the troll, he provides a 2 mana per second aura – this is 3 times more effective than Ring of Basilius. Early on, this can provide a really nice mana boost to a jungler or in a lane. It falls of quickly, does not stack with Basilius/Aquila/Vlad’s, but it is one of the best mana regen sources in the early game. Even if it does not deserve its own icon.

Other than that, the Troll abilities are more useful the earlier the game is. He is slow, weak and ugly but has the potential to keep a hardliner or a mid player alive, the jungler from going back to base. If you push in the early game, his aura can be great. Otherwise, forget about this creep after about 20 minutes have passed.

Vhoul Assassin
Vhoul Assassins are an interesting creep in that they are incredibly dangerous to creeps, but are relatively harmless to heroes – to a large part, due to their poison.

Envenomed Weapon

Damage: 2/sec
Duration (Hero): 10 sec
Duration (Creeps): 20 sec

A weak poison, it does last for quite some time. While active, it deals 2 magical damage per second to all units and lasts 10 seconds on heroes, 20 on creeps.(20/40 damage total) It does not dispel regen items, and can rarely overpower natural regeneration. All in all, it’s a weak ability for a hero to have; all it’s good for is for the Vhouls to clear lane creep waves faster, and to annoy junglers.

Screw you, Na'ix

Ghosts are a handy camp. The little guys are pure cannon fodder, but the large Ghost has a surprisingly powerful slowing attack

Frost Attack

Slow (movement): 20%
Slow (attack): 20%
Duration: 1.5 sec

This is a non-magical, non-orb ability that applies a 20% movement and attack slow to all units and heroes it hits for 1.5 seconds. Notably, this also applies to units that are magic immune such as a raging Lifestealer. 

Seriously. Screw you, Na'ix.

This ability is more powerful than an Orb of Venom (which is 12% on melee) and is closer to Skadi in its effectiveness (35%). Given an average hero speed of 300, this completely nullifies anything other than Boots of Travel. For example, 300 speed hero with 50 speed boots, this would reduce this hero to 280 movement speed on hit.

This is handy to have as a Chen or Enchantress when ganking heroes, especially in situations where you need right-click damage from yourself or your allies. For a Doom, this is a great ability to have when you are ahead early and have potential for kills; other ganking abilities like Warstomp or Thunder Clap have really high mana costs, while this one does not and it synergizes well with Scorched Earth.

Harpy Stormcrafter

Last but not at all least of the small camps is the Harpy Camp. The smaller harpies have nothing special about them, while the Harpy Stormcrafter is one of the most unique creeps on the list.

Chain Lightning

Damage: 140
Range: 900
Jumps: 4
Reduction per jump: 25%
Mana Cost: 40
Cooldown: 4 sec

This is a famous lane winner, as pioneered by some professional games. It has a long range of 900, deals 140 damage on hit, arcs on up to 4 targets with reduced damage, and has a low mana cost and cooldown. This is absolutely spammable, and can annihilate heroes early and even into the mid game.

To put some numbers on it – the Harpy has a mana pool of 540, meaning the chain lightning can be cast 13 times. This is 1820  magical damage to a single target in just 52 seconds, at a range exceeding most attack and cast ranges. If the spell arcs, it deals 105/79/59/44 damage to consecutive targets – for a grand total of 427 magical damage if all arcs connect. In an ideal situation, the harpy can deliver 5552 magical damage to the lane over its mana pool.

To add to the spell’s power, the Harpy has a natural sight range of 1800 during both the day and night; this is the same sight range as Nightstalker at night, and farther than a regular ward. Overall, if you can get a harpy and bring it to a lane, you easily win that lane at least for the moment being. This can also be used by a doom player who has difficulty farming a lane; this would both kill creeps, and quickly push enemies out of their lane.

By the way, this is about on par with Zeus’ Arc Lightning. It does not bounce to as many targets, but deals about the same raw damage as a Zeus’ level 4 spell. Of course you can’t spam it as much, and you don’t get the bonus of the Static Field, but it’s mostly free damage. Not even to mention that this ability is approximately 300% more likely to frustrate and infuriate the other team. It’s mostly countered by players not knowing it exists, or forgetting to cast it in combat.

Medium Camps

The Satyr Camp – perhaps the most varied ability-wise, the Satyrs bring a lot of utility that many players overlook in favour of juicier creeps.

Satyr Trickster


Slow: 100%
Recovery: 20%/sec
Range: 200
Duration: 5 sec
Mana Cost: 120
Cooldown: 5 sec

The lowly Satyr Trickster is perhaps the weakest of all the creeps in the jungle, but he possesses one of the more unique spells. Purge is one of the limited dispelling spells in the game – along with Blood Rage, Demonic Purge, Unstable Current, Brewmaster’s Storm Dispel Magic, Diffusal Blade and Fortune’s End from the upcoming Oracle. This operates in exactly the same way as Diffusal Blade – incurs a massive slow that decays over time, removes many debuffs and damages illusions. The slow only applies to enemy units, but the purge removes both positive and negative effects.

Notable spells that can be purged: Ghost Walk, Surge, Skeleton Walk, Amplify Damage, Guardian Angel, Track, Aphotic Shield, Vendetta, Open Wounds, Insatiable Hunger, as well as all forms of Blind, Hex, Ethereal Form, Silence.

Excuse Me Sir, Do You Have a Moment to Talk About Obelis?
This will also deal 400 damage to summons, outright killing weaker units like Lycan Wolves, Eidolons and more.

In other words, many significant buffs can be dispelled. Purge can also be used to set up kills as it slows similar to Open Wounds from Lifestealer. Unlike Open Wounds, the spell can be maintained permanently as the duration matches the cooldown (5s). It also will remove many buffs that would otherwise negate open wounds, such as Surge, Shukuchi and Haste. The catch here is that the spell is expensive (120 mana), has a very short range of 200 (melee range is 128) and the creep that carries it is very vulnerable and slow.

As a result, the practical application of the ability is either by doom, or by keeping the creep in the rear to provide dispelling services when really necessary.  If used by doom, this can guarantee kills on a pick-off, or prevent important buffs from acting in the late game. If used by others, this is likely to be a rear support unit.

By the way, in DOTA 1 this ability would get used by the creep (maybe not anymore). You really should be grateful it's gone, a poorly-timed purge can really ruin your day.

Satyr Mindstealer

Mana Burn

Mana Drained: Up to 100%
Damage: 100% of mana burned
Range: 600
Mana Cost: 50
Cooldown: 18 sec

Another utility spell, the Mana Burn is a fantastic ability only hindered by its cooldown of 18 seconds.  For 50 mana and with a range of 600, this burns 100 mana from the target. There are certain heroes, like Bristleback, who rely very heavily on their mana pool and are virtually disabled when the mana is gone. This ability is useful in winning lanes early on, and securing engagements at a point where enemies have little mana available to them. A simple example is Queen of Pain – she is likely to have 300-400 mana in the first few minutes of the game; this creep can easily halve that in only two casts.

A good use of this for Chen or Enchantress is to send the satyr into mid/hard lane to help your teammates win that lane; 100-300 mana lost early on can severely disable someone’s escape or kill potential. For Doom, this ability can be used early on to severely reduce the amount of threat the enemy lane can offer, useful in anywhere if Doom is laning.

Centaur Conqueror
The popular kid
The Centaur Camp is a fairly well-known camp due to the high desirability of the creep by junglers. The larger Centaur has very high HP, and good abilities.

War Stomp

Stun (Heroes): 2 sec
Stun (Creeps): 3 sec
Damage: 25
Radius: 250
Mana Cost: 100
Cooldown: 20 sec

The better known aspect of the Centaur Conqueror, this is a powerful 2s stun that can become significant when used well, especially in combination with other hero abilities. It has a short range of 250 (melee range is 128) and deals a measly 25 damage – but all this is irrelevant as this is a free stun to the team, and can make a difference between a teamfight won or lost, an enemy teleporting away and so on.

Of note, this is one of the abilities that the creeps will use on their own. The way it works is if there are 3 or more targets within the casting range, the ability will activate. When jungling, if you'd like to avoid the stun, keep fewer targets in range. Alternatively, you can sometimes bait an enemy hero with their creeps into the centaur, and enjoy the free stun.

Swiftness Aura

Attack Speed Bonus: 15
Range: 900

A somewhat minor aspect of the Centaur Conqueror, this is still a very helpful ability. It will boost the DPS of non-hero units by as much as 15%, helping with pushing and team fights. It also completely negates the negative effects of Ancient Apparition’s chilling touch, and further help heroes that need to hit fast. Then again, who doesn’t?

It’s really hard to overstate the Centaur Conqueror can provide! Interrupting spells and teleports, negating initiation, securing kills following your own initiation… A few simple examples are – leaving the centaur on a cliff and running past it. When the other guys follow, they will not see the centaur and get stunned. Or, a pesky Slark pounces you – just stomp on his invisible tail and watch him lose half of his invisibility. You can even keep a centaur in the back, to run up and annoy anyone with major channeling spells such as Shackles, Black Hole or Assassinate.

This ability is sometimes picked up by Doom players to provide that extra bit of ganking power. When caught out of position, 2 second stun is an eternity. It’s also 265 gold for Doom.

Ogre Frostmage

The Ogres are a fun little camp. They have a lot of health but little damage, give good XP and gold, and carry one of the best abilities in the whole wide jungle.

Ice Armor

Armor Bonus: 8
Slow (movement): 30%
Slow (attack): 20%
Slow Duration: 5 sec
Duration: 45 sec
Range: 900
Mana Cost: 40
Cooldown: 5 sec

This is essentially one of Lich’s most important abilities, but on a lowly creep. It adds 8 armor, slows melee attackers’ movement by 30% and attack by 20%, has a very long casting range and a tiny cooldown. This is almost identical to Lich’s level 4 spell! Lich has 1 more armor and half effect on ranged attacks, but actually costs more and lasts 5 seconds less. The frost armor is very unobtrusive, and hard to spot at a quick glance – and can massively increase the durability of any of your heroes. With a duration of 45 seconds and cooldown of 5, it’s easy to have it up on most or all of your team. Seriously, this spell is fantastic and incredibly underrated.

About the same thing, really

For that reason, it’s also a great pick for Doom! This can actually be more beneficial than carrying the ability on the creep, as the Ogre himself is disgustingly slow. He is, in fact, slower than the Wolves of Icewrack. I guess we know what the wolves prey on. This in essence provides most of the late-game benefit of Lich while still having the rest of Doom’s toolkit.

Alpha Wolf
Wolves have had a surge in popularity lately, as more and more people are becoming aware of what the aura does.

Packleader Aura

Damage Bonus: 30%
Range: 900

This provides an incredible 30% physical bonus damage in a huge area (900). This is twice the damage bonus from a Vlad’s, and almost as much as Vengeful Spirit’s level 4 aura. It applies to heroes, lane creeps and summons vastly increasing the damage of your team. As a result, this makes the creep very desirable by Chen players and Helm of Dominator users. One thing to know is the bonus damage is calculated from base damage plus your main stat from items, not bonus damage from items; your Rapier will not be affected by this.

Because of this ability, the Alpha Wolf is one of the better pushing creeps, especially early when you rely more heavily on lane creep damage. He remains useful as the game progresses, but loses strength as the enemy heroes gain more damage and learn to kill the creeps ASAP. While this is applicable to all creeps, this is more relevant with the Alpha Wolf who mainly benefits the team by being alive and nearby.

When jungling, this ability affects all other nearby neutral creeps - including wolves and other spawns. This can make a medium camp surprisingly dangerous; be sure to take this guy out asap if stacking.

Critical Strike

Critical Bonus: 2x
Critical Chance: 20%

Similar to Lycan’s wolves, the jungle wolves carry a 20% chance to hit for twice the damage. In other words, this is a level 2 Juggernaut crit for free on the creep. This contributes quite significantly to their individual DPS – as many junglers have discovered. It’s not very useful on the creep though, as the wolf is usually brought along for the aura; you can’t really afford to put it in the front lines to die, regardless of how great a pusher the wolf may be.

The downside of the wolf is how fragile it is; as a result, this is another fantastic pick for Doom as his superior survivability and speed allow the aura to always be present for the team. Many doom players pick up the Aura/Crit combination early on for ganks – and it works really well with Doom’s speed, survivability and natural damage.

Just look at those beady eyes. They brim with hatred for all living things.

And then, there are Mud Golems. Screw those guys! Hard to kill, deal decent damage, immune to magic… I don’t even want to talk about them. They just take up jungle space that could have been any other useful creep.

Magic Immunity

Effect: Evokes an irrational hatred from Chen, Enigma and Enchantress among others