Over the course of the last month, we frequently emphasized the importance of tempo in the current metagame. Having an edge early on frequently lead to a dominant midgame and victory. Partly because of that and partly because of the new talent system, several heroes have seen changes in their playstyles and itemization.
Veil of Discord immediately comes to mind as one of the new meta items, since it enables both the new Magic Damage Ember Spirit as well as allows QoP to become even more of a threat in the early and midgame. However, the item’s usefulness is not restricted to these two heroes—from a pure stats perspective, it is very efficient on a variety of different heroes.
Naturally, it also resulted in a meta-response, with more and more heroes opting for an early Hood of Defiance. Typically seen on tanky, offlane heroes, this item is a best-response strategy against potential enemy threats.
While these two items were locked in this love/hate relationship, another “headwear” has been creeping up on the meta—looking at the core itemization in both Dota Pit and ESL One Genting, it is clear the Helm of the Dominator is the fashion trend of the season.
In the recent past, patches have changed a lot and now Drums are not as efficient as they used to be—they are clearly no longer the most efficient option--providing a decent aura, but not making it up for the price in terms of stats.
HotD beats Drums in terms of health regeneration, while costing exactly the same. Drums do provide some extra MS, which is undoubtedly nice, so they should always be a consideration, however, in terms of sustain and utility, they are definitely better left in the support domain. Moreover, if MS ever becomes an issue, Kobold Taskmaster can solve it with ease, always providing more benefits to you and to the team.
In a HotD vs. Veil matchup, Veil is a definitive winner on all intelligence heroes, and can even be a consideration on non-intelligence ones, with high amounts of magic damage. Almost 7 extra armor is a very strong argument, however it also costs more and, once again, at least partially, some of its benefits can be supplemented by a properly chosen neutral creep.
As such, Helm of the Dominator is good on virtually any non-intelligence, core hero—its stats spread doesn’t favor a particular hero type, and it provides this great extra power in the early stages of the game, with a lot of sustain built in as well.
While not exactly being a power spike for the team, it allows for a very smooth transition between the game stages—it is almost as effective as Yasha in terms of DPS, while having the added benefit of a smaller price tag and extra survivability.
If you’ve played Dota for at least a year, you should remember how popular Beastmaster was at some point. It is no secret that most of his utility came from the extra map control provided by hawk and his ability to consistently slow enemies and disable targets through BKB. However, the Inner Beast aura should not be underestimated—a team-wide DPS increase from it was certainly powerful. It only slightly tipped the scales in the teamfights, but was immensely useful during pushes, increasing the rate of tower destruction by a huge margin.
The same can be said about the Helm. While the aura it provides is significantly less powerful, it is almost always a two-for-one—most neutral creeps have very strong team-wide auras, with some of the options grossly undervalued.
However, strong auras are not the only thing the Jungle Creeps have to offer. Many of them have very strong abilities, which became increasingly easy to effectively realize with the added movement speed.
The utility you can get from them ranges from simple, yet effective, Centaur stuns, to powerful, in the right scenario, purges or even +30 HP regens from Hill Troll Priest.
This versatility definitely comes at a price—you will have to learn to manage multiple units effectively. But, as discussed in our previous blog posts, it is a skill worth developing in any case.
Efficiency, tempo and early game are the current keys to success, it seems. With substantial power spikes coming from the early level talents, it is now much easier to snowball. HotD allows this snowball to keep on rolling, providing opportunities for gaining additional map control.
The item more than pays for itself, since it can be used to set up ganks, facilitate push and teamfight and even deal with some of the more annoying debuffs. If used correctly, it can almost give you an “extra player” level of advantage.
That said, be vary—in the days to come, you will not be the only one utilizing the potential of this item.