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Dota 2: Three Spirits Update

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By Mohammad Abubakr

For those that have been following Dota 2 for some time will know that around Halloween the Diretide event is expected. However, this year the clock kept ticking and there was no sign of an update. Due to no response by Valve, the Dota 2 community quickly began to show its bad side dropping as low as abusing the car company Volvo for Diretide. After the chaos hit its peak and began to settle, Valve finally posted a blog post letting players know that there were plans for a big update but it was delayed. Just this Thursday, Valve gifted us with this promised massive update; the Three Spirits Update.

Without a doubt, this update was enough to please all Dota 2 fans disappointed with the lack of Diretide. This update brings together the three spirits: Storm, Earth, and Ember. Storm Spirit may already be familiar for those that play Dota 2 but the other two spirits are part of the double hero release coupled with this massive update! Due to the size of this patch, we will only be able to quickly go over the two heroes so that more time can be spent on the other features. Once you understand their abilities, it is only a matter of experimenting to learn the heroes.

General Kaolin was buried at the head of a stone army ten thousand strong. Within this jade flowed the spirit of Earth itself and now the great Kaolin Earth Spirit calls forth remnants of his buried army for combat. As hinted by the name, the Earth Spirit’s abilities are all focused around using the Earth element for battle.

Before we get into his other abilities, it is important to go over Stone Remnant as it is used to improve his other abilities. This ability works on a charge system meaning that you only need to have charges of Stone Remnant up to use it and not have to worry about mana cost. You gain one charge every 25 seconds with up to a maximum of 6 charges. When these remnants are placed, they can be used alongside his other skills for improved effect.

Roshan changed his costume this year!

Boulder Smash is Kaolin’s Q ability and it knocks back enemies in the direction he is facing, dealing damage and also silencing if a Stone Remnant is placed. Normally the slam distance is only 800 but coupled with a Stone Remnant, your enemies will fly 2000 units! This ability is great for positioning enemies and even setting up fights as it may be used on allied units!

Next up is Rolling Boulder. This ability transforms Earth Spirit into a boulder to roll into enemy units and dealing damage. If the boulder rolls over a Stone Remnant, the remnant is consumed and travel distance and speed are improved while additionally slowing the enemy attack and movement speeds upon impact.

His third ability, Geomagnetic Grip, pulls the targeted allied unit or Stone Remnant to his location, stunning and damaging (only if Stone Remnant is pulled) enemies who are hit by the flying target.

Finally, his ultimate ability, Magnetize, damages enemies over time in a small nearby area. These enemies become magnetized and cause any nearby Stone Remnants to explode and further magnetize enemies hit by this blast. Magnetized enemies will take damage over time.

It is clear that Kaolin is a hero meant to setup his team for fights. He is not going to be played as a carry in most situations and not aim to eliminate the entire team. Similar to other strength heroes, he will help his team win fights. For this reason items providing auras (Shivas, Mekansm, and Pipe), defense (Heart) and mobility (Forcestaff, Blink Dagger) are recommended.

The second hero, Xin the Ember Spirit taught his acolytes the Bonds of the Guardian Flame but was bested and slain after earning warrior rivals. Even centuries after his death, his following continued and his teaching was passed on and endured by subtle whisper and deed. Touched by the teacher’s lasting legacy, the Burning Celestial reignited the pyre ash of Xin and there emerged Xin, wreathed in flame to spread the fires of knowledge to all who seek guidance.

Xin and Pugna

While the Ember Spirit uses similar mechanics as the Earth Spirit, Xin is focused around dealing damage instead of setting up the team fight. His abilities allow him to sustain damage, lock down enemies, and give chase.

His first ability, Searing Chains, unleashes up to 2 fire bolas that wrap around nearby enemies, anchoring them in place and dealing damage over time. While the damage dealt is decent, the main use of this ability is to lock down enemies allowing Xin to burn away their HP.

Sleight of Fist is his second ability allowing Xin to attack all enemies within a targeted area. Unlike many abilities, Sleight of Fist is able to scale due to its use of Xin’s normal attack. Xin will dash around the targeted area hitting all enemies with his right click (bonus damage is done to heroes) while also applying any attack modifiers. An important point is that Xin will return to his original location after attacking all enemies within the target location allowing Sleight of Fist to be used to harass without putting yourself in too much danger.

Next is Flame Guard which is basically a Pipe of Insight mixed with Radiance. This ability surrounds Xin with a ring of fire consuming incoming magical damage while dealing damage per second in a 400 radius. The damage is only dealt as long as the shield lasts.

Xin also has his own Remnant ability which can be used to position Xin. This ability also functions using a charge system but with a 35 second charge time and a maximum of 3 charges. These Remnants can be cast within a 1500 range but after cast, they can be jumped to globally. Fire Remnants are great not only for escaping but also for initiating or giving chase due to the explosive damage upon landing. Coupled with Sleight of Fist, Xin can be quite difficult to get a hold of.

Unlike Kaolin, Xin can be played as a carry. This means that items such as Black King Bar and Battlefury are to be considered.

The new Showcase View is amazing!

As mentioned above, while heroes were a major addition with this update, they were not the only big features brought with the Three Spirits Update. A feature that was long awaited by myself and many other players looking to introduce new players to Dota 2 was implemented. Now experienced players can coach their friends with built in tools. These tools should allow Dota 2’s learning curve to slightly decrease as new players will have their more experienced friends to watch their back. Obviously a lot of work will still be expected by the new players but at least they can get advice as they play.

The entire item system was revamped after the introduction of a crafting system. I was expecting this system to pop up due to it being present in Team Fortress 2 which is basically Valve’s guinea pig. Now players can use recipes (which can be found through in game drops) to combine their items to create new items. Finally duplicates will come to use!

Additionally, items can be socketed with gems to add on features such as new colours, effects, player autographs and the ability to track stats. Each item can hold up to five gems allowing players to create truly unique items.

Due to this massive changes to the item system, the Steam Market is being cleaned to allow players to readjust pricing.

Finally, Diretide has also been added with this patch! The gist of this mode was covered in last year’s article and won’t be done again as the overall mode remains the same. However, instead of simply aiming to kill Roshan as quickly as possible, Valve has allowed Roshan to be killed multiple times with Roshan gaining strength after each kill. The teams to get to the highest level Roshan kill will be rewarded with prizes. Already professional teams are working to create strategies (some of which have already been hot fixed by Valve) to achieve insane scores. Currently the IG stack (winners of the International II) hold the record with an amazing 89 Roshan kills!

Amazing work by IG.

There are more people this year even in public matches looking to break this record which can cause those simply looking to have a good time to not enjoy themselves. To be honest, unless you are with 10 people you know, you will not beat the record. Leave the public matches to those that want to fool around. If you really want to break the record, get a team together.

In conclusion, I absolutely love this update. The new crafting system will keep me occupied and the hero additions give me even more opportunity to learn. Thank you Valve for this promised update. Hopefully our community will not fall so low when another annual event is delayed.

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