Reddit user OraCLesofFire submitted an extended GIF of the above documenting just how devastating the recent additions to Dota 2 have made certain heroes’ abilities. One of the biggest changes brought about in the game’s 7.00 patch was introduction of new Talent Trees.
It shows Phantom Assassin (left) hurling a dagger at Nyx Assassin (right). Phantom’s dagger attack has a chance to deal a critical strike on impact, so every once in a while, especially toward the end of a match when every hero is fully powered, it can deal massive damage and kill unsuspecting enemies with ease from afar. Hence the Dota 2 meme “1 dagger and im die.”
But this time, Nyx Assassin completely reversed the result thanks to the game’s recent overhaul making it possible for the hero to reflect double the damage it would have received right back at Phantom Assassin. It’s been cathartic for any one who’s ever played Dota 2 and been slain by the cruel RNG of an incoming dagger to watch, but it’s also a perfect encapsulation of the fundamentally new landscape players have been negotiating since 7.00 was released.
Before the update, every hero had a handful of abilities and three separate stats. At each new level, the player was awarded one point to dump into either an ability or one of those stats. While 7.00 didn’t change any of that, it did add a new layer of customization allowing players to choose between one of two buffs upon reaching specific levels. Usually the trade offs are pretty straightforward, making a hero more offensive or defensive as the game progresses, or prioritizing magic over physical damage or shorter cool down times.
For Nyx Assassin, this means that at level 25 (the max level a hero can reach during a match) the player can choose between adding 40 to their movement speed or doubling the damage dealt by an ability called Spiked Carapace to 200%. In the OraCLesofFire’s match above, they chose the latter, meaning the ability, which takes the damage from an enemy and reflects it back at them, would now do twice as much. In this case, it resulted in whoever was playing Phantom Assassin, one of Dota 2's stronger end-game heroes, instantly killing themselves after an otherwise weak dagger attack completely backfired.
It’s evolutions like this that keep a game like Dota 2 just outside the realm of complete knowability. As soon as casual players and pros alike feel like they’ve come to grasp the lay of the land surrounding a big new patch, Valve blows things up again. It’s part of why being a pro player is so taxing. Practice isn’t just required to perfect technique and execution, it’s necessary to stay on top of a game that constantly asks to be re-learned.
Patch 7.02, which Valve revealed last week, only continued to tinker around the edges of what has come to be known in certain quarters as Dota 3. It even changed some of Nyx Assassin’s talent tree trade-offs for earlier levels, but naturally left the 200% Spiked Carapace kicker intact.