Product Manager’s Perspective: Onboarding in Aigo Capture

“Recently I had the pleasure of playing through a friend’s game, Aigo Capture, and offering tips on how to make it easier for players to understand the game and make it through the tutorial into regular matches. I’ve included my suggestions to him below.

Aigo Capture: Player Onboarding Feedback
My initial impression of Aigo Capture was that it was a complicated and unintuitive game. I didn’t get the sense that I would want to play it repeatedly. But, I stuck with it and now I’m actually a little bit addicted to it! Aigo Capture is great fun to play once you understand how it works but getting to that point (a point of understanding) is incredibly difficult. Fortunately, it is much easier to revise a game’s onboarding system than it is to completely overhaul its mechanics and strategy.
Based on a lifetime of playing games and my experience in the games industry I’ve come to understand that the best way to have a player learn how to play a game is to simply encourage them to dive right into and begin interacting with the systems. Although this sounds astonishingly easy to do it actually requires a great deal of careful thought for it to be executed correctly. Having players learn a game simply by playing it is somewhat akin to designing a product so that someone who has never seen or heard of it can pick it up and immediately start using it. It’s the ultimate design goal and, as with many things worth pursuing, an elegant and simple illustration of a complex system is not easily obtained. Fortunately, we have a number of fantastic examples that we can draw inspiration from and a solid base of a game to work with. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
The current tutorial system front-loads the entirety of the game’s mechanics and UI flow with a series of text boxes highlighting different portions of the game’s systems and attempting to communicate how the game works across these twenty or so tidbits of information. At first glance, you might assume that this is perfectly fine. The purpose of a tutorial is to teach, and what better way to teach than to provide a detailed explanation of a game’s mechanics and then set the player free?

Unfortunately, humans are not reasonable. They are impatient and get confused easily. Which means that even if you describe in detail how every part of the game functions they are most likely going to turn away due to boredom (not wanting to read through all the various text boxes), confusion (reading through all of the different text boxes but not being able to understand all the mechanics or losing track of what’s important), or being overwhelmed (making part of their way through the tutorial but not being able to cope with learning all of the game at once). So, to avoid losing players for reasons other than them just simply not liking the kind of game that you’ve chosen to create we want to design a tutorial that eases players into the depth and complexity of Aigo Capture and makes it abundantly clear how cool the game is.

I have two primary suggestions for Aigo Capture.

1. Instead of many text boxes explaining each component of the game start with one text box providing a summary of the game mechanics and let the player move on from there on their own.

2. Follow the design template of a game like Super Mario Brothers and let the player learn by playing.
Summary of Mechanics
For folks who are unfamiliar with games it can take them a bit of time to acclimatize to a new genre or rule set that they hadn’t interacted with before. We can expedite this acclimatization period by providing the player with a brief description of how the game functions and what its about. Some games do this in their Steam description, or with a brief tutorial video or interperse it with narrative or bypass this process entirely and rely heavily on arrows and visual cues to try and guide the player through understanding what the game is about.

For some games like Aigo Capture, a note from the creator about the game and how it works adds character to the game and makes players feel welcome while giving them a framework for understanding how the game functions. Here’s an example of a user flow and summary of the game that could help new players get to having a ton of fun a lot sooner!

Once a new player has signed up push them immediately into the game play scene and present them with a brief summary of how the game functions before moving them through the tutorial missions where they’ll be learning the specifics of how to succeed at the game. The summary could be as follows
Aigo Capture is a game about capturing units on the board. Based on the cards available in your hand you can capture cards on the board, try and prevent your opponent from making a match or clearing the board or even clear the entire board yourself. It’ll seem simple at first but prepare to be surprised by the depths to which your opponents will go to to try and outwit you. Lastly, remember to watch out for Mega Captures! Good luck!
Learn by Playing
By designing a game to teach players how to play as they move through the game we can avoid many of the pitfalls of complex, discouraging tutorials and ramp the player up with bite-sized pieces of the game’s mechanics that come together seamlessly and leave them with an in-depth understanding of how the game functions without having to go through the unpleasant exercise of reading a bunch of text and trying to memorize rules and mechanics. Basically, we’re leveraging the medium of a game to disguise learning as playing. Interestingly, the learning that the player goes through as they get better at a game is part of what makes playing games in the first place so engaging as that sense of skill, ownership and knowledge increases.
My specific suggestion for Aigo Capture would be to break down teaching new players into a few separate tutorial missions.
1. Basic rules of play
a. Must play card every turn (unless you use the skip a turn power, but introduce this later)
b. If the card you play matches a card on the board, or matches a sum of some or all of the cards on the board, you will capture those cards.
c. If you clear the entire board you get a Mega Capture and earn bonus points for each time you can do that!
d. The round continues until both players have used all of their cards at which points are tallied.
2. Various point rules (illustrate each of these with a separate round where the player is prioritizing earning each type of point & then demonstrate at end with score screen why this is important)
a. Cards captured
b. Power earned (cards captured & power earned is important because of the balancing between lower numbered costs with higher power values and higher numbered cards having lower power values)
c. Elites captured
d. Gold card captured
e. Mega Captures
3. Powers and when to use them (create three different scenarios where it would be most advantageous to use either of the powers)
a. Swap
b. See
c. Skip
4. Dark Matter and calling for backup
a. Why is Dark Matter important
b. Why is calling for backup better than putting one of your own cards out there (for the most part)
5. Introduce the user to the other parts of the system (this you can do quickly with your text box prompts)
a. Quick Match System
b. Challenges
c. Leaderboard
d. Profile
e. Matches
f. Achievements
g. Energy
It’s clear that players who have made it through the tutorial and understand the mechanics of the game do really enjoy it. As is evidenced by my newly minted account being challenged by a veteran player eager to assess my competency in the ways of Aigo Capture.

Although this type of game won’t likely end up being a mainstream juggernaut (too much strategy and not enough action for the average player) I do see it having a vibrant community with a constantly evolving meta and perhaps a fledging tournament scene. Keep up the great work Matthias!”

How to Get Netflix on the Razer Forge TV

“If you’re like me and you got a Razer Forge TV but were dismayed by the lack of Netflix you’ll be happy to hear that it is in fact possible to get it working on your Razer Forge TV despite the launch and support of the device being completely fumbled and the product outright discontinued (apparently the Forge TV has not been discontinued despite many signs seemingly pointing to that fate).

You have two choices, download from the link that I’ve uploaded the APK file to, or from the APK mirror place that I got it from in the first place.

Obtaining the file

  • Getting it from the link I’ve uploaded it to
    • Open  your default web browser app.
    • Type in: “”””
    • Click on the link to download the APK from the link that you’ve been navigated to should be (
    • Install Netflix!
  • Getting it from the mirror site
    • Download the app ES File Manager through the Google Store on your Razer Forge TV.
    • Navigate to favourites and go to Google.
    • Search APK Mirror
    • Select the first search result,
    • Navigate two presses to the right and hit the select button on your remote.
    • Search for Netflix
    • Scroll down and select Netflix 3.16 Build 5294.
    • Navigate down until you see a box around the Google Play store icon and then navigate one to the right. Hit the select button to start your download. Once it’s downloaded go ahead and install.

Once you’ve finished your install you’ll have to go to Settings > Apps and then select Netflix there to open it.

Enjoy using Netflix on your Razer Forge TV device.

This article was inspired by instructions from MaterializeBD’s Youtube video here.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).


The Creature of the Black Mist: Lord of the House Avernus

“They were fools. Fools without the minds capable to understand. They would never comprehend the true nature of the mists… They knew nothing of the power contained within the font yet they thought themselves to be so superior that they could mock me- the  only one who truly understood its powers- for not falling in line with the others. They did not understand my relationship with the font. It was a well of power that no one before me had ever bothered to investigate further. Every newborn was bathed in its mists but I was the only one who had ever truly recognized them for what they were. They were not simply vapors meant to serve a ceremonial purpose and imbue those of the House Avernus with a slight boost to their capabilities they were much much more. These mists came from a primordial place and had a purpose, a calling that came with them. We had always explained our motivations to hold onto this desolate, craggy and dark piece of land as a valiant and noble defense of the House Avernus but I knew it ran deeper than that. The mists had allowed for us to deceive ourselves in this way but it wasn’t about the House Avernus or our honor it was about protecting this place of power and the mists that swirled up from within from those who might seek to use it for their own unscrupulous means. I knew this because the mists had spoken to me. They saw the potential within and sought me out.

As I was placed in the mists everything became clear. They held so much more knowledge than anyone ever realized or knew. But it was not so simple as telling the others about the powers of the mists. They would not understand. They could not understand. From that day onward, from the first moment where I could fend for myself – I embraced the mists and delved deeper into the mysteries that they held within themselves. With time came comprehension and as I grew more familiar I could reach further into their powers and the knowledge that they offered me. I gained clarity regarding the precarious balance between life and death and how one might succeed in achieving control over its unruly nature. I was capable of imbuing weapons and armor with the power of the mists, calling upon energies held within myself to bolster allies or decimate my foes and of conjuring an impenetrable shield to surround a being of my choosing. A shield of such power that it could protect them from harm, cure them of any ailments and push enemies back when it comes to its glorious end.

My brethren trained with weapons and armor and mocked me for my relationship with the mists. They made jests regarding my lack of a partner and her apparent replacement with the vapors that swirled about me day in and day out. They questioned the absence of a physical manifestation of my powers but those questions were quickly put to rest when I handily defeated any comer in hand to hand combat. Yet, they still lacked understanding and failed to see what I was accomplishing during my time spent in commune with the mists. Those above me questioned the utility of my meditation and unhealthy obsession with the mists. After my display of strength, which was meant to create respect for my time with the mists, they pressed harder demanding to know why I wasn’t putting those talents to use with training, and swords and armor. The friends that I had made in my youth grew distant as their patience regarding my devotion to the mists grew strained. All they saw was a shirking of traditional duties that a royal of House Avernus would be beholden to. They did not see the concentration that my studies required or the battle raging inside between myself and the mists. They would not understand but they could not stop me either. They could never keep me from achieving what was meant for me.

As my relationship deepened with the mists I began to lose touch with the physical world. I was slowly becoming one with them. Some claimed that I was being consumed by them. That I had gone too far. That I was losing control. That they were taking me from their world forever. But I knew better. I had learned from the mists and realized the weaknesses that a physical form forced upon you. A need to sleep, eat and drink. Susceptibility to your surroundings and environmental conditions. Emotions that toyed with your better judgement and encouraged you to make poor decisions. Becoming one with the mists meant that I could tap into their cool, calculating power and bring them to bear on behalf of House Avernus. I alone understood our true relationship with the mists, and, I alone would be capable of extending our reach beyond the caverns of Avernus and out into the world that awaited our noble presence.

Finally, after years of preparation the time to prove myself had come. I finally would have the opportunity to prove all of my naysayers wrong. Our foes had gathered once again for an assault on House Avernus. Except that this time they had a new ally. Streghal, a general known throughout the lands for his combat prowess, his ability to marshal his troops and most of all the strategic depth with which he executed his maneuvers. The House Avernus had fought off many assailants but this was a whole new type of foe. We’d heard stories of their blood thirst, their ruthlessness and their obsession with the font of Avernus held deep within our ancestral lands. They thought themselves superior to us. They called us mist-addled madmen. But they knew not of Abaddon, my years of study and deep relationship with the mists. They would see the power held within me. They would see the true power of Avernus!

The battle grew nearer. The time had come to surrender my flesh to the mists. I paid the font a final visit. As I approached the familiar cracks in the stone the mist seemed to rise up in anticipation of my arrival. It must have sensed my intention to give myself fully to it. To finally achieve my true form. I knelt down, lowered my head and let it take me in. My flesh, forever an impediment to my interactions with the mist slowly faded away. As my muscles and bones left me, I felt my powers growing. The connection between me and the mist grew stronger. Memories and thoughts from long-ago rushed through my mind. Far-away lands, plans laying in wait for the right time, aspirations for the House Avernus and the origins of this blessed mist. It all became clear. Through the mists I could see everything. I could see it all.

I stood up and turned my attention to the battle raging outside the caverns of House Avernus. The yells of the bloodthirsty warriors echoed through the caverns, orders being barked by Streghal reverberated off the walls, swords sliced through flesh, clashed against armor and clattered to the ground. It was unclear which side was winning the battle but it was more feverishly fought than the battles I’d calmly observed many times before. I covered my ethereal body with the armor of my house. The armor glistening and glowing as it found its place on my limbs and torso. I was ready. I’d prepared for this moment for all my life. My time to prove the worthiness of my studies. To show that I was a valuable contributor to the House Avernus. I mounted one of the few remaining steeds and made my way to the battlefield. Everything slowed down as I examined the chaos that was raging before me. And then, I laid waste to those who chose to oppose me.

I struck faster than the foe, saved our warriors with injections of vitality as they were about to fall, sucked away the life of their archers from afar with coils of death, protected our fragile but deadly elders with energy shields that shimmered and exploded as they dissipated, and rallied the troops around me as I struck down our foe with the mark of frost snatching their dexterity for my own uses. Gradually they began to flee in terror as the creature of the black mist (a name granted to me by my comrades that I accepted reluctantly with a hint of pleasure) bore down upon them. The mists surged through me as I delivered swift justice to my foes. Gradually I drew closer to their general, the foundation of their newfound strength,  as I struck aside any who opposed me. Streghal had his brow furrowed in confusion as he sought to understand this being of power before him. He’d planned for any eventuality but hadn’t ever considered this possibility. That confusion quickly turned to determination as he rallied his troops for one last strike at the heart of House Avernus. Abaddon himself.

The troops, encouraged by their commander’s decisiveness, rallied beside him and rushed in unison towards Abaddon. Abaddon shielded himself and annihilated those before him as his fellow warriors fought beside him. But Streghal’s soliders gradually gained ground. Without Abaddon to support and protect his allies they began to fall and as he fought so many at once there was only so much he could do to mitigate and avoid their strikes. Gradually he began to weaken as the occasional stray stab and well-placed projectile took their toll. As the colour began to fade from his vision more bloodthirsty savages set upon him. This was not the way it was meant to be. He could not fall to these vagrants. Streghal’s sharp-toothed grin filled what was left of his vision he laughed as he spat at Abaddon.

“Looks like even House Avernus’ champion could not stand against me.” He snarled. “I will make short work of the rest of your clan and let you fade away into the nothing that you are.”

“Finish this monster!” He barked as he turned to lay blow upon viscious blow to the noble members of House Avernus.

The hordes tore into him with pleasure as they exacted their revenge. But, as the blades cut into him, Abaddon began to feel a new power surge within him. What should have been ending him was making him stronger. Each blow brought him further to full strength and finally Abaddon fully understood the depth of the power available to him. He had truly mastered the balance between life and death. He shoved his assailants aside and shouted a challenge to Streghal.

“You thought me bested by your puny forces. Are you ready to face the Lord of Avernus, fool?” Pride welled up within Abaddon, he knew he’d proven himself to be a champion of the House Avernus. As the mists swirled around him he let the satisfaction envelop him. Streghal would lose this battle, of this he was certain and the mists needn’t even whisper it to him. He was Abaddon, creature of the black mist, Lord Avernus himself. Let all who stand against him fall. House Avernus would not be belittled ever again.”

Preventing Keyboard Language Switching

“Hi everyone. I’ve been gone for a while but I’m back with what I consider to be a very helpful tip. I’ve been playing a lot of WoW recently and have been frustrated multiple times by my keyboard changing to French keyboard thus preventing me from being able to type “”/”” until I manage to revert it. After some searching I realized that if I hit Left Alt and Ctrl at the same time it switches to my other keyboard. I’ve included a step by step approach below to remove the hotkey for switching keyboards (you can still easily swap between them using the menu accessible through the toolbar).

That’s all for now. I hope you found it useful. Have a pezant day!”

Heroes of the Storm – Black Screen Fixes

“I just started HotS a few days ago as my girlfriend got an invite (I have yet to receive one) and she has been kind enough to let me use her account to play. It’s an interesting game with a very different feel from DotA 2 and I have been enjoying it thus far. But, as soon as I installed it on my computer. I was met by a strange black screen where it swapped between the desktop and the black screen until I would forcibly close the program. After looking online for some fixes I eventually came to a combination of approaches that worked for me and wanted to share them with everyone.

Step 1: If you have a high resolution like 1920 x 1080, set your display resolution down to 1280 x 720. Apparently the game has issues with loading into a higher resolution like initially (on the first run). Once you’re in the game you can return your display to its previous levels and adjust the in-game resolution values accordingly.

Step 2: Once I booted up the game I could only see the UI with a bit of the game showing up in the minimap area. My fix was for this was to follow the instructions posted by Velnrak (a mod) on the Blizzard forums. After changing Antialiasing to Application-controlled for HotS in the Nvidia control panel I was able to see the entirety of the game properly again!

Step 3: If you’re still having trouble, you can try changing the variables file in your x:User/Documents/Heroes of the Storm folder and adding in a value:displaymode=0 to the variables there (a reader also suggested changing it to value:displaymode=1 if you’re still having issues. Might work for you!) . I didn’t have to end up doing this but it may help.

These are the fixes that I found worked for me. Hopefully they help you out as well.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).


The Next Big Patch: Looking over 6.82 – General Changes

“Though the general changes aren’t quite as glamorous as the item and hero changes they also carry a great deal of significance. There are many livability changes (like the fountain change, changes to Ranked All Pick, and pathing fixes) but the majority of the general changes are actually quite significant for those of us who play and love this game. A jacked up Roshan, new rune, increased juke potential and more await!


Fountain area is now at a higher elevation level | Fountain vision increased from 1400 to 1800 | Fountain attack range increased from 1100 to 1200 | Fountain True Sight increased from 900 to 1200

Fountain camping is no longer like shooting fish in a barrel. And, though I do miss beating on the opposing team mercilessly after a crushing victory, it makes sense to try and discourage this type of behaviour. Fountain camping was just an extension of an already painful experience for the other team and 97% of the time served merely to prolong their suffering. The 3% that were edge cases where the fountain camp resulted in the other team coming back weren’t quite enough to justify the suffering that so many had to go through on a regular basis. Note: These stats are clearly made up but I hope they are somewhat representative.

Reworked terrain surrounding the Roshan area | Reworked terrain around the Dire bottom lane | Reworked terrain below the Top Radiant Tier 1 Tower
Reworked the area to the left of the bottom Dire Tier 2 Tower | Moved Dire bottom Tier 2 Tower back very slightly | Added an alternate path to the north of the bottom lane Side Shop
Added an alternate path to the right of the bottom Dire Tier 1 Tower | Added a new ward spot near the bottom Dire Tier 2 Tower| Added a new ward spot near the top Radiant Tier 2 Tower | Added a new ward spot between Roshan and the Dire bottom lane | Bottom Lane Dire creeps now arrive slightly closer to the Dire Tier 1 Tower | Top Lane Radiant creeps now arrive slightly farther from the Radiant Tier 1 Tower 

Added a bunch of extra paths which provide many more options for ganking, escaping and juking. These changes make the game much more dynamic during the laning phase because it is much more difficult to ensure one’s safety by standing in a certain position. The addition of various paths through the trees also makes heroes with flying vision potential (Beastmaster, Treant with Agh’s, etc) as it is more difficult to juke them with the new paths (whereas you have a much better chance now that you can split off in many more directions than you could before). These new paths have resulted in a great deal of confusion for me and my friends but I really like the possibilities that they have added! A great change.

The new ward spots are nice and give some more options for warding later on in the game (they also help with keeping an eye on those crazy new juking spots).

Added a Bounty Rune [?] – 50 XP +5/min and 50 gold +2/min | Two runes now spawn in the river every two minutes. One of them will always be a Bounty Rune | Runes are replaced every two minutes if they are not picked up

The bounty rune is an interesting addition. When I first read the patch changes I thought that it gave you a 50XP/Gold boost and throughout the rest of the game you got an extra 5/2 per minute (with that effect being stackable with additional runes). Unfortunately, for those long of us obsessed with long term returns, this is not the case. But you do get an instant boost in gold/XP when you use it which is nice.

The addition of the bounty rune and the 2 rune spawns per 2 minutes means that there is no longer any guesswork in going to a rune spot. This adds an awesome element of supports, offlaners and mid laners contesting rune spawns regularly which makes the early game a little bit more interesting and dynamic. It also favors heroes that are able to contest those types of situations more successfully.

Finally, this change brings heroes that are able to move to runes quickly and present a significant threat 1v1 into a better position for the mid lane. Along with the changes to the courier (huge cooldown increase for boost) it looks like Icefrog and Valve are trying to dissuade people from spamming bottle crow and going mid with any hero they like. I, for one, favour this change as it really was getting a bit tedious/ridiculous seeing all sorts of silly choices for mid justified by the ability to bottle crow.

Denied creeps now give less experience [?] | 50% experience instead of 36 per.

Denied creeps giving less experience than before means that denies will have more impact in lane. Greater rewards for players with the ability to balance last hitting and denying.

First Blood bonus gold decreased from 200 to 150

Part of the range of changes made to reduce the impact of early game momentum. 150 gold is still important but 25% less than 200 and a 50 gold difference is somewhat significant early on.

Reworked the bonus area of effect XP | Reworked bonus area of effect Gold and Streak ending

These changes resulted in a huge shift in kill rewards that people were referring to as “”rubberbanding””. Basically, if you had a huge lead and allowed heroes with large net work/kill sprees to be killed suddenly you found yourself even or below the opposing team. These changes were toned down significantly in following patches and were further reduced in 6.82c.

This change only affects the extra Gold given if within an area after a kill.
It does not affect the natural Gold received for killing a hero of a certain Level/Streak.

VictimLevel = Level of the Victim

1 Assist: Gold = 125 + 12 * VictimLevel
2 Assist: Gold = 40 + 10 * VictimLevel
3 Assist: Gold = 10 + 6 * VictimLevel
4+ Assist: Gold = 6 + 6 * VictimLevel
The player that got the last hit now also gets the area of effect bounty.

VictimLevel = Level of the Victim
VictimNW = The victim’s Net Worth
EnemyTeamNW = Enemy team’s total Net Worth
AlliedTeamNW = Your team’s total Net Worth
NWDifference = ( EnemyTeamNW – AlliedTeamNW )/ ( EnemyTeamNW + AlliedTeamNW ) (minimum 0)
NWFactor = NWDifference * VictimNW

1 Hero: Gold = 40 + 7 * VictimLevel + NWFactor * 0.5
2 Heroes: Gold = 30 + 6 * VictimLevel + NWFactor * 0.35
3 Heroes: Gold = 20 + 5 * VictimLevel + NWFactor * 0.25
4 Heroes: Gold = 10 + 4 * VictimLevel + NWFactor * 0.2
5 Heroes: Gold = 10 + 4 * VictimLevel + NWFactor * 0.15​

VictimLevel = Level of the Victim
VictimXP = Total XP of the Victim
EnemyTeamXP = Enemy team’s total XP
AlliedTeamXP = Your team’s total XP
XPDifference = ( EnemyTeamXP – AlliedTeamXP )/ ( EnemyTeamXP + AlliedTeamXP ) (minimum 0)
XPFactor = XPDifference * VictimXP

1 Hero: XP = 20 * VictimLevel + XPFactor * 0.5
2 Heroes: XP = 15 * VictimLevel + XPFactor * 0.35
3 Heroes: XP = 10 * VictimLevel + XPFactor * 0.25
4 Heroes: XP = 7 * VictimLevel + XPFactor * 0.2
5 Heroes: XP = 5 * VictimLevel + XPFactor * 0.15

In combination with these changes, the gold for ending a spree is in turn reduced, from 125->1000 to 100->800.

Factors have now have been reduced to:

* AoE Gold NWFactor reduced from 0.06/0.06/0.05/0.04/0.03 to 0.05/0.05/0.05/0.04/0.03
* AoE XP XPFactor reduced from 0.3/0.3/0.2/0.15/0.12 to 0.23/0.23/0.2/0.15/0.12

Glyph of Fortification cooldown is now refreshed whenever you lose a Tier 1 tower | Tier 2 Tower’s armor increased from 20 to 25 | Tower bounty gold for destroying Tier 1/2/3/4 reduced from 264/312/358/405 to 160/200/240/280 (denied is 50%)

These tower changes are a godsend when playing against pushing lineups. After witnessing the destruction that was the TI4 finals it is a relief to see that the power and momentum available to a pushing lineup has been reduced substantially. DotA is a game about objectives but the complexity and depth of the game was being compromised by the overwhelming power of a pushing lineup.

In Captain’s Mode, the 3rd ban phase order is swapped

This restores a bit of balance to the picking order

Reworked how All Pick works in Ranked Matchmaking

All Pick in Ranked MMing now progresses with each team taking turns to pick heroes one by one. It has brought a surprising amount of structure to the mode and greatly reduced squabbles over lanes, roles and the likelihood of the other team holding out attempting to counterpick. Now, if no one has picked within the duration everyone begins losing gold and a forced random occurs 30 seconds in.

Randoming has also become more difficult as you cannot random and repick into a hero. If you random you are forced to random again, making it a much more risky decision than before.

Aegis duration decreased from 6 minutes to 5

Adds urgency to push after taking Roshan. Again, not giving as much time for teams to build on early momentum. Bumping it down to 5 minutes gives them that much less time to prepare (farm, pick off, etc) before the Aegis expires.
Roshan’s Slam area of effect increased from 250 to 350 | Roshan’s Slam damage increases by 20 every 4 minutes

Roshan was a bit of a pushover in the mid to late game. This change mostly effects heroes with summons that would have been able to take him on quite easily later on by just letting the summons tank. Lycan and Nature’s Prophet are particularly affected by this change. I like it, removes some of the ease of soloing Roshan and pushes him more towards being a team objective.

Centaur Conqueror’s Swiftness Aura has been moved to Hellbear Smasher
Hellbear Smasher Attack Time increased from 1.35 to 1.55
Hellbear Attack Time increased from 1.35 to 1.5
Centaur Conqueror Attack Time improved from 1.65 to 1.5
Centaur Courser Attack Time improved from 1.35 to 1.3
Dark Troll Summoner’s Ensnare duration increased from 1.5 to 1.75
Satyr Banisher HP increased from 240 to 300
Satyr Banisher movement speed increased from 300 to 330
Satyr Banisher attack range reduced from 600 to 300
Satyr Banisher Base Attack Time improved from 1.8 to 1.7
Satyr Banisher’s Purge cast range increased from 200 to 350
Wildwing Ripper’s Toughness Aura now works on Siege units

In general, netural creeps have become stronger and more useful for heroes that can take control of them. Chen and Enchantress are going to be pleased with these changes.

Fixed some rare edge cases with pathing malfunctioning

Yay for bug fixes! Goodness, those pathing issues were so annoying when they did occur. Thank goodness this was fixed.

The following abilities can now be cast on Spell Immune allies: Ice Armor, Surge, Alacrity, Nature’s Guise, Chakra Magic, Recall and Mist Coil

Buffs for the heroes that happen to carry these abilities.

The following buffs are now properly dispellable: Chilling Touch, Thunderstrike, Inner Vitality, Alacrity, Chaos Meteor, Shadow Word, Liquid Fire, Shadow Strike, Warcry, Concussive Shot, Overpower, Mana Leak, Curse of the Silent, Press The Attack, Poison Touch, Flame Guard, Whirling Death, Viper’s Poison Attack, Sticky Napalm, DK’s Frost Breath, Whirling Axes, Walrus Punch’s slow

Nerfs to heroes that use these abilities. But brings a bit more of a standard to the way abilities work and are dispellable.

Dark Pact/Kraken Shell/Aphotic Shield/Press The Attack/Time Lapse no longer have a special condition for purging the following otherwise unpurgeable spells: Poison Nova, Heaven’s Halberd, Ensnare, Eye of Skadi slow

These are buffs to the above abilities are they can no longer be purged in these edge cases. It is also a nerf to the corresponding heroes that carry the abilities (Slark, Tidehunter, Abbaddon, Legion Commander and Weaver).

A great set of changes with the map and rune changes really shifting the way that the game flows. With the tweaking to the way that the new kill rewards we find ourselves with a nicely balanced patch with plenty of new content to enjoy. I’ve been enjoying it thus far despite my loss streaks.
That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

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The Next Big Patch: Looking over 6.82 – Item Changes

“Items are a hugely important part of the game and, though the changes aren’t quite as grand and far-reaching as the hero changes, these adjustments still make a pretty big difference (especially the new item, bottle and TP costs, the flying courier and ethereal blade changes). So, without further dithering, let us dive into these changes!

Armlet of Mordiggian

  • Recipe cost reduced from 700 to 600

A slight cost adjustment. Reduces the total cost of the item from 2600 to 2500 (~4% less).

Assault Cuirass

  • Assault Aura no longer displays its debuff on the enemy if the carrier is not visible

A nice change for heroes with a shadowblade or innate invisibility who would have had to be careful about the debuff showing otherwise. Now you’ll have to be super aware to notice that your armor has dipped suspiciously in order to figure out that they are nearby.

Black King Bar

  • Avatar spell immunity duration and cooldown are now tied to the hero, instead of the item [?]
  • Minimum immunity duration increased from 4 to 5

No more buying a new BKB to get that fresh duration. I really dislike BKB so anything that makes it a little less prevalent throughout the entirety of the game is a plus to me. This means a lot for heroes that rely heavily on BKB and would have been able to continue refreshing their BKBs once the duration got too low.

Blink Dagger

  • Gold cost increased from 2150 to 2250

:'(, Blink Dagga Dagga. Such an amazing item, it was inevitable that it eventually be toned slightly as it was just too great. I like that they’ve elected to make it a bit more difficult to obtain rather than reversing the removal of the mana cost. This keeps those awesome plays open but reduces it’s strength a bit.


  • Now requires Soul Ring and a 800 gold recipe instead of Perseverance (1600 vs 1750 total gold)
  • No longer grants +10 damage (other bonuses stay the same)

Bloodstone is no longer a huge pit that you throw all of your gold into in the hopes that you will end up getting a lot of kills after you purchase it and have near infinite mana regeneration. With the change from a Perseverance to a Soul Ring you can purchase Soul Ring early on and build it into a Bloodstone later on when it suits you. A great change for heroes that tend to build into Bloodstone.


  • Gold cost increased from 650 to 700

50 gold is one more last hit required to get that bottle for your mid hero. Though it may not seem like much it does add up and puts it a little further out of reach. In combination with the changes to the flying courier and the rune spawn adjustments it looks like they are seeking to severely restrict bottle crowing and have mid be a more favourable place for heroes that can make their way to runes quickly and contest them well.

Boots of Travel

  • Teleport cooldown reduced from 60 to 50

 This adds to the value proposition of BoT. Aside from saving you the 100 gold it now costs to purchase a teleport. It also shaves a delightful 10 seconds off of the usual cooldown for Teleportation. This means that you’ll be able to flee from those difficult situations that much quicker. I really like purchasing BoT later on in the game in order to free up an item slot (usually occupied by a TP) and this makes it that much more appealing to purchase.


  • Butterfly now has an active ability, Flutter, which can be cast to trade Butterfly’s evasion for a 20% movement speed bonus for 8 seconds. 35 second cooldown. [?]

 A great little addition to Butterfly. 20% movement speed increase is nothing to balk at. And as long as you’re fleeing or chasing you won’t mind the temporary loss of your evasion. Adds another dimension to an item that was viewed a little less favourably due to the fact that it could be countered nearly entirely by the purchase of an equivalently costed item (MKB).


  • Cloak, Hood and Pipe magic resistances now stack like all other normal magic resistance do

 Not sure how this was set up before but I imagine it has something to do with the streamlining of various mechanics in the game.

Crimson Guard

    • New Item that is formed from Vanguard and Buckler

Crimson Guard:

Vanguard (2225)
Buckler (800)
Recipe (825)
Total: 3850 gold

250 HP
+6 HP Regen
Passive Damage Block (80% chance for 40/20 melee/ranged)
+5 Armor
+2 All Stats

Active: Guard – Gives nearby allied heroes (750 range) +2 armor and a damage block shell that has a 100% chance to block 50 damage. Lasts 9 seconds. Cooldown 70.
Passive: Damage Block – Gives the wearer a chance to block damage from each incoming attack based on whether the equipped hero is melee or ranged.
Note: Guard only affects heroes. Has the same no stacking mechanic as Pipe of Insight/Mekansm for 70 seconds.


  • Intelligence bonus per level increased from 13/15/17/19/21 to 13/16/19/22/25
  • Energy Burst mana cost increased from 180/160/140/120/100 to 180

 The 100 mana cost at level 5 for Dagon was a bit much and this makes it a little less spammy later on in the game. Most heroes would never upgrade Dagon all the way to Dagon 5 but it does hurt heroes like Tinker (who also suffered as a result of the E-Blade nerf) who now have to manage their mana a little more carefully.

Diffusal Blade

  • Recipe cost reduced from 850 to 700
  • Agility bonus rebalanced from 25/30 to 20/35
  • Feedback rebalanced from 20/36 to a constant 25

 Diffusal Blade now offers more agility at the second recipe level but drains a lot less mana. This helps heroes who pick up a casual Diffusal Blade but is quite a tragic change for heroes like Phantom Lancer who absolutely love the Feedback portion of the item and consider it to be the item’s strength.

Ethereal Blade

  • Ether Blast now has a projectile [?]
  • Ether Blast now only turns the caster ethereal if they target themself

 Ethereal Blade is no longer the do-it-all nuke and protect yourself tool. Now you have to choose whether you want to render your target ethereal and damage them or save yourself. This item gave a little bit too much reach to certain spellcasters in the late game and made them pretty un-enjoyable to play against. Though it was a nerf for those spellcaster types it is certainly a buff for more physical damage based heroes like Morphling who like to pick up an E-blade for themselves.

Finally, the change from an instant to a projectile makes it dodge-able and removes a portion of the absolute certainty that once existed with regards to the final fate of your victim (formerly a quick, painful death).

Eye of Skadi

  • Frost Attack attack speed slow increased from 35 to 45

 Eye of Skadi was basically ignored most of the time so this buff makes it an even more important item to consider when playing a hero that could benefit from it. A constant 45 attack speed slow is quite significant when facing off against the opposing carry in the late game. We may begin to see this item being picked up more often.

Flying Courier

  • Base movement speed increased from 350 to 430
  • Flying Courier now takes 50% extra damage from melee heroes
  • Flying Courier Speed Burst cooldown increased from 40 to 90
  • Flying Courier Speed Burst duration reduced from 20 to 4
  • Flying Courier Speed Burst speed increased from 522 to 650

These changes to the courier make it more vulnerable as boosts come far less frequently. Increasing the damage taken from melee heroes helps them with  trying to pick off the courier (as before it was quite a fruitless proposition for the most part).  Though this change makes my courier much more vulnerable, I do like the fact that it encourages you to put a bit more thought into your decision before pushing on the courier sprint button.

Helm of the Dominator

  • Now provides +3 HP regeneration (to match its components)
  • Dominated units now have 250 bonus HP

 Nice little buffs to HotD. The regeneration will help with sustaining it’s holder and bring things a bit more into synergy. The extra 250 bonus HP helps you bring creeps along with you into battle (and not just use them purely for stacking). Neither of these changes are huge but they do help a bit with making the item better.

Hood of Defiance

  • HP regeneration increased from 8 to 9 (to match its components)

 Nothing to see here.

Linken’s Sphere

  • Linken’s Sphere only blocks Wrath of Nature’s initial bounce, not subsequent bounces
  • Linken’s Sphere only blocks Lightning Storm’s initial bounce, not subsequent bounces
  • Nether Ward no longer triggers Linken’s Sphere
  • Lightning Bolt now triggers Linken’s Sphere when targeted at the ground
  • Maelstrom and Mjollnir no longer trigger Linken’s Sphere

 A mix of changes for Linken’s Sphere. Not included in this change log are that Fissure no longer triggers LS and Static Link now does. Not too consequential and people will still be picking it up for the same reasons that they did before.


  • Recipe cost increased from 600 to 700

 After the changes to Maelstrom we’ve been seeing it built on pretty much every hero. The recipe cost increase seeks to make it a little less tempting to purchase on every single hero that benefits from attack speed.

Manta Style

  • Mirror Image vision type changed from Unobstructed/Flying to Ground [?]
  • Recipe cost reduced from 900 to 800

 Manta Style no longer temporarily gives Flying vision when creating illusions. This removes the opportunity for sneaky plays to spot out an enemy hero juking away or a fleeing courier.

The recipe cost reduction is nice and for those of us who aren’t 360 NO SCOPE MLG PRO it’s a net improvement for the item.

Mask of Madness

  • Recipe cost reduced from 1000 to 900

 MoM has seen a lot of play on a few core heroes (Faceless Void most notably amongst them). It’s an interesting item with pretty significant advantages and trade-offs so I’m happy to see it being given a chance to have it’s day to shine.


  • Restore mana cost increased from 150 to 225

 50% increase in mana cost is nothing to scoff at. Makes Mekansm much more mana intensive and pushes it towards being suitable solely for heroes with larger mana pools. Heroes like Doom (who is already struggling with a Devour mana cost increase) will find it pretty difficult to sustain all of his various mana costs along with Mekansm.

Pipe of Insight

  • HP regeneration increased from 8 to 9 (to match its components)

 Nothing major.

Refresher Orb

  • Reset Cooldowns cooldown increased from 160 to 185

 25 seconds on top of the previous 160 seconds adds even more gravity to using this item. You’d better have some pretty significant cooldowns to be resetting if you’re going to be popping it.

Ring of Protection

  • Armor increased from 2 to 3
  • Gold cost increased from 175 to 200

 The armor increase is a bargain when you consider that the gold cost was only increased by 25. It does make it a bit tougher to pre-purchase and bring out to lane with you than before though. Overall, a buff for RoP though.

Sentry Ward

  • True Sight area of effect increased from 800 to 850

 Making life for invis heroes and wards a little more difficult.

Shadow Blade

  • Shadow Walk invisibility break damage increased from 150 to 175

 An extra little punch for shadow blade users. Moving towards strongly encouraging users to try and get that initial hit off before using other abilities.

Shiva’s Guard

  • Freezing Aura no longer displays its debuff on the enemy if the carrier is not visible

 Similar to the AC changes. Helps Shiva’s Guard users sneak around if they happen to be invisible or hidden.

Town Portal Scroll

  • Gold cost reduced from 135 to 100

One of the largest changes in this patch. A 35 gold reduction is not significant for roles that generally would be fairly well off in terms of gold generation but for the hard support roles saving 35 gold is a pretty important change. It looks like Icefrog is moving towards making the support role a little bit less arduous (reduction in cost of boots, wards, etc) which I support to a certain extent as it makes it more attractive for people to try it out and actually support their teammates.

Overall, a bunch of good changes. An exciting new item. Plenty of measured and reasonable adjustments. The large changes are the TP scroll cost reduction, flying courier changes, bottle changes, Butterfly active being added, Ethereal Blade projectile, Mekansm mana cost increase and BKB duration being tied directly to the user.

That’s all for now and I’ll be back with thoughts on the last few changes soon. Have a pezant day!

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The Next Big Patch: Looking over 6.82 – Damage Type Changes

“A few abilities and damage type mechanics have been reworked. There are now three primary damage types and a Spell Immunity Piercing status with each. Each ability now carries a notation in the tooltip indicating these.

The three damage types are Physical, Magical and Pure.

Physical is affected by Physical Armor, Magical is affected by Magical Damage Resistance and Pure is affected by neither.

Magic Immunity has now been renamed to Spell Immunity. Spell Immunity only defines if Spells interact with it, not how damage itself is handled. This means that on its own Spell Immunity status does not reduce any damage.

Black King Bar, Repel, Rage and all other previous forms of “”Magic Immunity”” now grant Spell Immunity status and a 100% Magic Resistance bonus.

In the vast majority of cases, the interactions are still the same, however an example of a case that would be different is if an ability has both Spell Immunity exception and has Pure damage type. Previously the damage would not have any impact, however now it does.

Ability Tooltips now have these fields:

-Damage Type: Physical/Magical/Pure
-Pierces Spell Immunity: Yes/No

If the Damage Type is not Magical it will be colored differently to make it easier to notice. The same is true in cases where Pierces Spell Immunity is Yes.

There have been a few abilities rebalanced with these mechanics in mind. In some cases the intent is to maintain similar balance, in other cases as an adjustment to their balance.


  • Acid Spray damage type from Composite to Physical (still pierces Spell Immunity)
  • Acid Spray damage reduced from 14/20/26/32 to 12/16/20/24


  • Nightmare damage from HP Removal to Pure


  • Wild Axes damage type from Composite to Physical (still pierces Spell Immunity)
  • Wild Axes damage reduced from 90/120/150/180 to 70/100/130/160


  • Primal Split Earth Spirit’s Pulverize damage type from Magical that pierces Spell Immunity to Magical (No longer pierces Spell Immunity)


  • Doom damage type changed from Magical that pierces Spell Immunity to Pure that pierces Spell Immunity
  • Doom damage reduced from 30/50/70 to 20/35/50 (Aghanim’s Scepter from 50/80/110 to 40/60/80)


  • Echo Slam initial attack is now the same Magic damage type as the rest of its damage (initial damage no longer pierces Spell Immunity)


  • Midnight Pulse damage type changed from Magical that Pierces Spell Immunity to Pure that Pierces Spell Immunity
  • Midnight Pulse damage reduced from 4/5/6/7% to 3/3.75/4.5/5.25%


  • Diabolic Edict damage type changed from Composite to Physical (still pierces Spell Immunity)
  • Diabolic Edict damage reduced from 12.5/25/37.5/50 to 9/18/27/36
  • Diabolic Edict now deals 40% more damage to towers (same overall damage per second as before)


  • Laguna Blade Aghanim’s Scepter damage type changed from Magical that Pierces Spell Immunity to Pure that Pierces Spell Immunity
  • Laguna Blade Aghanim’s Scepter no longer increases damage, only the damage type is changed [?]

Lone Druid

  • Spirit Bear death now deals 10% max health as Pure damage instead of 100/200/300/400 composite damage


  • Heartstopper Aura is now negative regeneration instead of HP Removal [?]


  • Land Mines damage type from Composite to Physical (still pierces Spell Immunity)
  • Land Mines damage reduced from 300/400/500/600 to 225/300/375/450
  • Suicide Squad, Attack! damage type from Composite to Physical (still pierces Spell Immunity)
  • Suicide Squad, Attack! damage reduced from 650/850/1150/1550 (350/400/450/500 partial) to 500/650/850/1150 (260/300/340/380)


  • March of the Machines damage type changed from Magical that pierces Spell Immunity to Magical that does not pierce Spell Immunity

Vengeful Spirit

  • Wave of Terror damage type from HP Removal to Pure that Pierces Spell Immunity


  • Fatal Bonds now shares the same damage type that is dealt into it, before it is reduced [?]
  • Fatal Bonds damage percentage from 20% to 25%
  • Flaming Fists damage type from Magical that pierces Spell Immunity to Magical (No longer pierces Spell Immunity)


  • Last Will damage type from Pure to Magical (Still does not pierce Spell Immunity)
  • Last Will damage increased from 400/500/600 to 550/675/800

Urn of Shadows

  • Changed from HP Removal to Pure

Additional Notes:

1) Composite Damage: This damage type has been removed. There are no longer any abilities which use Composite Damage.

2) HP Removal: This is no longer considered a Damage Type, and its remaining uses are as an alternative cost to Mana for spells to use (Sunray, Burning Spears) or as functional HP modifications (Armlet, Sunder, etc). These are now considered usage costs in the game and are never lethal.”

Casting: It’s a Lot of Work but very Rewarding!

“For those of you who have been following my work, you know that I’ve been working on improving my casting ability by commentating on various games (a lot of them from TI4). Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of having the opportunity to cast 9 of the qualifier games for the DotA 2 Canada Cup. Despite my attempts to prepare for it, it was quite the different experience from casting games on my own with a very limited audience (or, most of the time, none at all). The first day was a bit rocky as I adjusted to all the hidden difficulties behind running a stream for a tournament like having music available to play before and after games, the challenges with camera control, keeping one’s voice in good shape, and many other considerations. With the help of Capt’nCanuck, the organizers of the DotA 2 Canada Cup and our wonderful viewers I was able to make great strides and really improve on my casting.

Below are some of the games I had the pleasure of casting!

[youtube_video clip_id=””GPGZCiYA43I”” hd=””true”” width=560 height=315]

[youtube_video clip_id=””hHlHrpMwSe0″” hd=””true”” width=560 height=315]

Having been so involved in a tournament made me ever so cognizant of the rigors of running a tournament, providing the commentary and making sure everything is going on as it should behind the scenes. I look forward to continuing to work with other excellent organizations and having the opportunity to witness more exciting DotA firsthand!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).


Random Chrome Lag on my New Computer: The Seemingly Effective Fix

“I set up my shiny new Lenovo Z-40 70 (which I purchased reluctantly with the paltry $100 off coupon that I was given by Lenovo for their price error) and was enjoying it immensely until I set it up with my dual monitors and Chrome was lagging inexplicably (there wasn’t too much of a CPU load). I made sure that my drivers were set up and updated properly and even checked to see if my bios was up to date. After much frustration and considering just using another browser (a sad moment as I would have to let go of a lot of addons that I am fond of) I happened upon this post by Vincent Palmer suggesting that I uncheck  something called “”Predict network actions to improve page load performance””. Apparently it worked wonders for him and many others in the thread. Since it’s just a simple setting I gave it a shot, and, voila! My lag problems have evaporated since then.

For those of you wondering how to go about doing it, simply go to settings. Click on show advanced settings and then find the offending option (it’s just under the privacy options) and uncheck it.

I’m not sure why this option seemed to be causing me issues. But so far this fix has allowed me to continue using Chrome without having to suffer from incessant, seemingly random lag. Let me know if it helps you guys out!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).


The MMR Plateau: An Update

“Having reflected on what it is that I need to focus on I’d hoped that I would see a noticeable improvement in the outcome of my ranked matches. But, so far, it hasn’t been the case. I think I can chalk up some of the losses to misfortune but I cannot justify attributing all of my failures to the gods of chance. So let’s try and figure out what I did wrong.

Out of the last four games that I played I randomed in two of them and lost both those games. The one game that I did win (as Viper) I waited patiently and sought to choose a strong answer to their potential choices for mid. I also did a good job of directing my teammates and made some intelligent item choices (like getting a blink to accelerate my destruction of the enemy team). We overextended from time to time but mostly made good decisions (like taking Roshan later on in the game to ensure that our advantage was secured).

In my other games I either randomed (Brewmaster, Templar Assassin) or chose a sub-optimal hero (Skywrath). My game as Brewmaster actually went really well but we didn’t push our early advantage enough and Lifestealer did a really bad job of farming and playing Lifestealer. I made the mistake of getting an AC (hoping to help our team on the carry front) as opposed to getting an Agh’s (which would have helped the strength of our early pushes). Overall I feel pretty good about that game despite it ending in a loss. It’s making me reconsider my recent devotion to the mid role as I find that sometimes people do terribly mid but it’s much more rare to find someone who can actually play a hard carry really well.

My Skywrath game I was supporting my friend Kata in bottom lane (on the Anti-Mage) and we were doing reasonably well but it was a constant brawl there and AM was unable to get the farm he needed until much later in the game. I made the mistake of taking my Arcane Bolt rather than Concussive Shot first. Usually Arcane Bolt is a decent choice but we would have been able to secure a first blood had I leveled Concussive instead. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong decision but I could have simply waited to skill my ability until I needed to take action and retained that flexibility. Upon further reflection, Concussive first would generally be better in a tri lane as the slow will allow you and your teammates to put out more damage than the initial burst of damage provided by Arcane Bolt. I made some good plays later on in the game but we lost our bottom lane barracks to a really stupid decision from WR and WK not to TP back and help. Then AM and WR bickered for the rest of the game rather than focusing on playing intelligently and coming back. We lost gradually and there wasn’t much that could be done to stop it.

In my game as TA I fared reasonably well against Brewmaster mid but he was a problem in terms of trying to actually kill him and finish him off (which is something I generally like to do when I’m in the mid lane). An attempted gank on Brewmaster (suggested by Bat Rider) went horribly wrong with Enigma coming to turn it around on us into a double kill. Later on Batrider tried to blame it on me attacking Brewmaster to get his health down but I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have killed him when he was at full health before he could use his ultimate. Batrider had a really awful attitude and after a failed gank in the jungle a little later on (him and Riki tried to go on Brew without sight of the lane and most of the enemy team missing) he elected to feed the courier and sell all of his sentries. Generally, I like to try and turn games around and keep trying but there was no way we were going to win with someone deliberately feeding.

So in conclusion, I suppose I learnt from my last few games. I definitely noticed that if you start the game off with a good attitude and laugh off mistakes it helps with preserving your team’s morale and keeping from falling into a pit of despair. Now let’s see if I can turn it around for the next few and start making a push for 4600!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).


Featured image is from ravkavka on deviantart

The MMR Plateau: Is It Possible to Break Through the Ceiling?

Update: I did eventually hit my goal of 5K! Once I settled on it and really worked towards I eventually made progress, :).

“I’m a fairly accomplished DotA 2 player currently sitting at about 4300 MMR for my solo and party ratings (usually it is 4400 solo and 4200 party) but I’ve been noticing that for the past few months I have been hovering around that rating. Now, there is nothing wrong with being at whatever particular rating someone is at but I like to always try and improve as I play games (as you may have come to realize while reading my posts) so, in the interest of improving my play and creating some interesting content, I’m going to air my perceived weaknesses and see if I can improve on them over the course of the week. Ideally, I’ll see an appreciable gain in my ranking as a result of such reflection.

Off the top of my head, I can list a few things that I think are likely limiting my success.

1) Picking a hero that I feel like playing as opposed to a hero that really fits the composition and does exceptionally well against the enemy team.

Everyone has a hero that they treasure dearly and love to play. Sometimes we let that affection get in the way of reason and logic and play them despite it perhaps not being the best decision for the current situation. My heroes that I am guilty for picking despite there perhaps be being better options are Tiny and PL. These are two heroes that are a lot of fun but I often find myself frustrated by a loss despite having done exceptionally well in the game. But if we look at these occurrences over a period of time a pattern begins to emerge. That despite my most valiant efforts I am handicapping myself and my team by picking a hero that isn’t quite optimal simply because I feel like playing said hero at that moment.

Now, obviously my choice of hero isn’t the only determinant of how the match goes but if we look at the games below we can see that it definitely contributed to our loss in some sense in all of those games. Tiny is an awesome hero (and one of my very favourite ones) but he is not a hero you can pick blindly against any lineup.

So hero choices is one part of the equation, the next big thing is item choices.

2) Item choices.

Looking at Tiny again we can see that there are certain items that I favour and pick up in pretty much any situation. Looking at my last 20 matches I get a Shadow Blade, Agh’s, and Bottle pretty much every game. And, if given the time, I get BoTs and AC and maybe Manta. Now, these are all pretty good items for Tiny, but perhaps I need to reexamine my choices based on the heroes I am against and whether we are leading or not. BoTs are great because they allow me to push and farm much better, but, at the same time, that’s 2500 being put towards an item that doesn’t really help me fight immediately and I could be getting a BKB instead. Speaking of BKBs, I like to avoid getting it on Tiny because in the late game he is so tanky and has so much stun and burst that often times you don’t need but I think I need to reexamine my item choices in game and consider getting one based on the other team’s composition despite my disdain for it. Sometimes, it just makes sense to get a BKB. Even if I really really don’t want to.

I see this trend in my other games and am generally aware of it but so far, I haven’t really done much to improve on it. I also notice that I neglect items like Wand (which makes sense in a lot of cases and can really be a lifesaver) and in-between items like Wraith Bands, Bracers and Drums. These items don’t allow me to accelerate quicker towards a late game state (which, given the long term point of view I tend to take in a game is what I am generally aiming for) but they will likely help me make it through the mid game and could prove to be the difference in team fights that we are losing and make the late game less arduous.

3) Lack of leadership.

Just today, I played a game with my brother which meant that I am generally queued with people who are lower in MMR. I drafted what I felt was a pretty excellent team (Luna, Venge, Alch tri safe, Clock off, Huskar mid) and did quite well in my role but after a decent start the tri-lane started dying and getting picked off and generally doing badly. I kept trying as well as I could and Clock and I managed to stave off the enemy team for a while but it wasn’t enough in the face of the constant feeding by our supports and our carry. Additionally, I let my temper get to me and wasn’t thinking clearly and got picked off a few times myself.

This is a situation that I am sure you are familiar as we all have those games of DotA where we are just getting pummeled mercilessly. However, I’ve found that if I am able to rise above the current situation and continue playing calmly, identify the causes for our lack of success (in the case of this game – bad positioning, being picked off and poor initiation), seek to rectify them and provide guidance to my members that often times we can reverse the situation or at least put up a much more substantial fight. It’s difficult to do when the human response is to play the blame game or to simply withdraw due to frustration and abdicate all responsibility but those are not the right things to do. If you truly do want to improve, being a good leader (or at the very least, a good team member) is an incredibly important component of that. Everybody wants to do well and if they are struggling to catch a break in the game do your best to give them a break and get them back on their feet. When you win that big team fight and the mood on the team swings and you start pushing the enemy team back it’ll be worth having held back all the f-bombs you were so tempted to release in a fiery storm of rage.

4) Playing when tired.

DotA is a demanding game that asks much more of you than most. If you fail to pay attention for even one moment then you can find yourself dead, missing an opportunity or just generally falling behind. Therefore, it is imperative that you be able to perform at the required level. Unfortunately, for most of us, being tired takes away from our potential to perform at an optimal and, despite my more analytical side, I have played many a game at a point in the day where I was tired, sleepy or just out of it. So, if you really want to focus on improving your MMR you need to take proper care of yourself and make sure that you’re ready to go when you choose to accept a queue (and take steps to wake up like running on the spot, splashing your face with cold water or having some sort of stimulant). If you don’t feel up to the task have  a nap, go to sleep or play an unranked game instead. If you are really tempted think about it this way, if you are tired and end up playing badly you’re likely to feel shitty about the game you just played or get angry when things don’t go the way you would have liked them to and be worse off than when you started.

This is a lesson I really need to apply seriously and will be trying my best to do so in the next week or so as I undergo this experiment.

5) Keeping the push up when we have an early-game oriented team.

Another one of my weaknesses is my tendency to favour the late game. This works out just fine from time to time, but with the current shift in the meta towards early line ups it is not a luxury that I am always able to count on. I have found myself in one too many games where my team has had an early advantage but failed to capitalize on that advantage adequately and let the other team catch up and eventually overwhelm us. Though it’s fun to farm and certainly less stressful than pushing and taking objectives, ultimately, the game is about destroying the enemies’ Ancient (which VG and Newbee demonstrated quite powerfully during TI4). If you have an early game focused team don’t let your early successes fool you. You need to build on that advantage and keep on beating the other team or else you’ll find yourself at a growing, irreconcible disadvantage as the other team gains more gold and experience.

Don’t let your emotions get to you.Think about what it is that you could be doing wrong and actively seek to improve those things. Just remember, you’re the common factor amongst all the games you play. So, at some point it becomes a matter of you not getting any better rather than your teammates failing you. Look to yourself for answers and you will improve. Look to others for excuses and you will never improve yourself.

Look to yourself for answers and you will improve. Look to others for excuses and you will never improve yourself.

As part of this experiment I will be looking through my replays (and perhaps casting some of them) in order to see if there are any other mistakes that I make on a regular basis and are dragging me down.

Come check this out again on Friday for another update!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

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