We are continuing our series discussing heroes who, in our opinion, are not a great fit for newer players. Today, we are going to concentrate on the mid and carry roles. Some people might disagree with the idea of newer players playing high-impact DPS roles in the first place, but maybe we will retain a higher number of newcomers if they think the game more closely resembles the action RPG you play as a DPS core, rather than the survival horror you play as a support.
At some point, Sniper was one of the introductory heroes in the tutorial, and we believe it is partly the reason for his popularity in the lower level brackets and his popularity as a mid hero. While we can’t deny the fact that Sniper is mechanically undemanding and for this reason alone might be a decent fit for newcomers, there are several problems with the hero worth pointing out.
One of them we already discussed the last time around: Sniper is really squishy and positioning is a relatively hard and broad concept. Given the hero’s win rate, we might be overvaluing its importance and the hero does win a respectable amount in lower level brackets. However the hero has a lot of certain matchups newcomers might not be aware of that can lead to a lot of frustration. Most gap-closing heroes will be a death sentence to this hero, especially given how lower level players are usually considerably more spread across the map and don’t help each other out as much.
The second problem slightly follows from the first one: while Sniper positioning is incredibly important, it is still easier than for most other ranged heroes, hence switching from Sniper to any other hero in the future can be really problematic.
Finally, we don’t think Sniper scales as well as people think he does and that can be a problem in the later portions of the game. Everything else equal, Sniper will have a hard time getting through massive amounts of armor and HP on most other carries. Though to be fair, it can also be a great starting point to discuss Armor, EHP and why sometimes having magic damage procs through Mjollnir and MKB is a must.
Suggesting another hero is definitely a preferred option when it comes to learning Dota, however, this time around the answer isn’t as simple. Just like Offlane, mid requires versatility, but it also requires mechanical skill to go toe-to-toe with an opponent on equal ground and the understanding of where and when to rotate, and what kind of pressure to apply.
We honestly think that Death Prophet is one of the best fits for newcomers, but we are also definitely expecting counter-arguments in the comment section below.
The reason we think the hero is good is because she teaches a little bit of everything to the player. She is not tanky enough to ignore positioning, but not squishy enough to blow up in a second, especially if she gets to use Spirit Siphon. She isn’t a lane dominator like Viper is, but she also has a waveclear that ensures she never comes out of lane too poor and can stand her ground against most heroes.
Depending on the situation, she can gank, she can teamfight and she can push. All of the above can be achieved with more or less the same starting build as well. The hero can also absolutely go late: while she doesn’t scale in a typical manner, she does scale decently well.
Unlike many other mid heroes, she also comes with built-in utility, potentially teaching newcomers that sometimes dealing damage isn’t the only thing you do. Her silence is actually one of the strongest silences in the whole game and should not be underrated, especially with its massive cast range.
In our opinion all of the above qualifies her as a great starting hero for newcomers, especially given how the hero has been trending upwards recently, both in terms of popularity and win rate.
Juggernaut is a go-to carry for all new players and we have absolutely zero problems with it: the hero has a good mix of offense and defense, brings some utility in the form of Healing ward, scales well, and never feels out of place. More or less the same can be said about Wraith King — he is a good beginner hero. You really can’t go wrong with these two.
There is another somewhat popular couple of Anti-Mage and Phantom Assassin, the flashy squad, which are not necessarily the best heroes to start learning Dota with. Especially right now, while both heroes are somewhat underpowered.
However, there is a subsection of heroes who always creep up in beginner games, have decent popularity, win a respectable amount of their games and are still, in our opinion, a bad fit for newcomers. We are, of course, talking about invisibility-based heroes.
Heroes like Clnkz and Riki have always been pubstompers. After countless changes over the years IceFrog managed to make them balanced in both lower-level pubs and the highest level of pro play simultaneously, which is an incredible feat on its own, but we still don’t think they should be the default heroes to learn Dota with for newcomers.
They play differently and their strength of invisibility has completely different uses in low and high level play. In the former, it is mostly a tactical retreat tool. In the latter, it is mostly an initiation and strategic positioning tool. Both of them are effective under the right circumstances, but only one will keep on working consistently as players improve.
In some ways, the problems these heroes have are similar to the problems Bristleback has: they don’t teach players Dota in a holistic way. They just give tools to easily exploit weaknesses of other beginner players. Once players start getting out of the trench through spamming this type of heroes, they don’t even actually know how to play Bristleback, Riki or Clinkz well. They just know how to win against weak players and that stops being a helpful skill at around Archon level.
So we are mostly in complete agreement with the community on both Juggernaut and Wraith King, a little bit suspicious of Phantom Assassin and Anti-Mage, but only because they are slightly underpowered right now, and very much against teaching new players to play invisibility heroes first.
Do you agree or disagree with us? Feel free to propose your own heroes that can be a great fit for potential newcomers.