I Wish I Knew How to Quit You Part 3: The International 2014 Adjournment

Newbee vs the meta
Here is an interesting chart I found on Reddit that compiled the information taken from DotABuff.com comparing Newbee’s hero picks versus the current meta. The most important choice that you will make in a game of DotA is your hero.


I have not heard someone say “pick a tank” in ages. I hope you have not either, because that means you are that much closer from escaping The Trench.  In all actuality, “tank” is a loaded term in DotA, but I won’t bore you with the fine details. Just know that generally speaking, this pool of heroes tends to be beefy because STR is the attribute related to HP. Of course, there are exceptions such as Sand King, Io, and Phoenix. Another way to look at these heroes is that their str gains and skill sets serve the purpose of initiating fights and possibly surviving the initial chaos.


If Beastmaster were not a melee hero or had a ranged attack that was not mana-intensive, or could make himself invisible like Gondar, we would probably see him more often, but the current meta relies on strong offlaners who can get more than BM can. I find him to be one of DotA 2’s most underrated heroes, but a solo lane is almost mandatory. It is possible to play a duel lane with him, using his ranged pet to last hit or harass heroes that like to give him a hard time while he’s farming, but he really excels as a mid-lane ganker whose magic immunity-penetrating ult (the stun, not the damage) Roar makes him a great counter to Naix, Omninight’s Repel, and carries that build BKBs as part of their core. I especially adore one of the recent changes with him which is his ability to cast his beasts independently of each other. This way, I just need a bird to scout, but I’m not ready for a hog¸ I can save the saved mana for dual axes or Roar. As I tell all people who play Beastmaster, there is almost no excuse to ever not have abird active. It’s a mobile ward that can travel over any kind of terrain and all it costs is some mana that will be recharged by a nakedsobi mask or urn by  the time the skill comes off c/d. With a scepter, his ult can hit a hero from practically a full screen’s distance, which is great for catching heroes like Snipers who believe their Shadow Blade will save them. Of course, because of his passive—which I once thought was pretty lame–_____ Necbook is a core item because of the increase attack speed. Some prefer blink daggers on their BMs, but  generally don’t roll that way, preferring all the stats ant Aghanim’s Scepter provides. If you wanna go carry with BM, it’s possible with some combination of a Heart of Terrasque, Armored Curiass, and/or Basher. I’ve seen blademail on him a few times, but again, I dislike being in a position where I am taking damage. I at the end of early game, prefer phase boots on him with an urn for regen/heal. I then begin to work on Necbook/scepter, prioritizing one over the other depending on the number of magic immune enemies or invisible enemies. For levels, I take axes/pets solo or pets/axes in lane. Ult at 6, max pets first, get passive last. Moderate impact, moderate skill hero.


Since his premiere in WCIII:TFT, The Panderian Brewmaster has always been one of my favorite hero concepts despite the fact that I have always found “drunken master-style kung fu” puerile. Thanks to Wikipedia here the 21st century I have discovered that “drunken style kung fu”  is an actually legitimate technique. However, Panda lives up to the fictional version of _____ by actually being intoxicated with his spawn animation featuring a hearty guzzling from his keg. That keg is symbolic of one of his most underrated abilities, drunken haze, which gives carries fits because it slows and causes chances to miss. Rarely will you see Panda players use this skill at the beginning of an important teamfight even though they should (this includes myself, d’oh!) because they are trying to combo Thunder Clap with Primal Spirit. Most people know that Thunder Clap is like Centaur’s Stomp but without the stun. It’s very mana intensive, and it is not out of the question to find Panda players taking a point or two into stats rather than Drunken Brawler or Haze in preparation for a Thunder Clap/Primal Spirit gank because it is embarrassing to initiate with Clap and be OOM for an ult. I do want to address Brawler, as it was buffed in the previous patch to provide times when Panda will always do critical damage or always dodge. Good, but when Ice Frog reduced the c/d of his ult by half (the c/d to  his lv 1 ult is now that of his old level 3), Panda catapulted (back) to a top-tier hero where he once was. Usually played as a mid solo or offlaner, it is imperative that he acquire lv 6 quickly so that he can use his ult to almost single-handedly win teamfights before he begins to lose momentum in the lategame. For skills, max clap, but take Brawler if you have trouble last hitting (you should be timing Clap to kill creeps and damage enemy heroes to create space), haxe if the enemy hero is too good at last hitting, or stats if you find yourself needing to spam a bit. Always ult when it comes up.

Speaking of his ult—and I have not forgotten about it—it deserves its own section because for seventeen-plus seconds, you are controlling essentially three different heroes. Good Pandas players  always get off two stuns per ult with Earth Panda, and three with scepter upgrade (preferably on a carry; the stun has a seven second c/d and should be the first thing you cast). Good Pandas always place one high-impact but low-priority targets (such as Doom or Tidehunter) in a cyclone while dispelling buffs/summons elsewhere. Personally, I’m doing well to get off the cyclone, though in a favorable fight, you’ll have time to dispel the cyclone and kill that hero (too), but it is not always necessary. If you find yourself ulting defensively to avoid dying from a gank (not recommended giving the long c/d of the spell and basically telegraphing to the enemy that they can take a fight with your ult down), make sure you Wind Walk away with him before he gets eviscerated, and try to sacrifice the Earth Panda into a fountain or tower or something. Fire Panda, the DPS Panda, has the HP of tissue paper, but he hits hard. The key with him is trying to actually do some damage without getting one-hit killed.  Panda is one of the few heroes in DotA where the Scepter is an indisputably core item. Earth, Wind, and Fire Pandas gain Thunder Clap, Drunken Haze, and Drunken Brawler respectively as part of the scepter upgrade. Yo, before I wrote this very post, I did not notice this change, so I can only imagine the disgusting damage that Clap with Brewmaster followed by a Clap with Earth Panda right after or before a stun does. If you’re really good, you should theoretically be able to haze two targets in one fight. I CAN’T WAIT! High impact, high skill hero.

(As an aside we know that Valve changed Panda into a red panda to avoid copywright infringement, and though It took some getting used to, I appreciate the creativity in design. Additionally, between Ling Xaioyu’s Panda, Po from Kung Fu Panda, and Blizzard and Valve’s takes on the Panderian Brewmaster, “Karate Panda” should be its own TV TROPE)



The hero formerly known as Centarur Warchief, now Centaur Warrunner, is one of the original heroes who existed in the pre-WCIII: TFT days. Therefore, in the simplicity of his design, he is a high-impact, low skill ceiling, top-tier hero. The most notable recent change to him is that what used to be his ult—simply massive STR gains—now happens passively over time as he gains levels (in other words, his STR, and thus, his HP/damage, scales naturally as he gains levels up to where his STR would have been if his ult had stayed the same). Then he was given a global “haste rune” ult that stunned enemy heroes he and his allies, who would gain the buff for its duration, would walk over. This was rightfully considered MEGA IMBA, so now his ult simply slows. As we know with Slardar’s Sprint, we know this skill is still good because again, global, and it can be used to initiate or escape for himself or for allies. Of course, Centaur is picked because he is tanky, and with one level of Thorns, you will make support heroes think twice about hitting you, because the damage from thorns applies as soon as you are targeted—you don’t even have to be hit! Stompand Double-Edge are a devastating combo, so blink dagger is core on Cent with Hood into Pipe as a highly recommended item progression. I like to lane my centaur as an aggressive offlaner or farming safelaner depending on who is mid. He needs farm for blink. Otherwise, he might get disabled and end up Stomping nobody. 1 level of stomp for FB/fighting, 1 level of Thorns during lane phase. Max Double-Edge.


Poor Nightstalker!!! When I first started playing DotA 2, I was spamming this hero. His early-midgame presence was terrifying, especially in low-tier games where everyone picks squishy carries with no escape like Drow and Sniper, or supports with no reliable stuns like Pugna and and KotL, and nobody wards. Well,  NS has been firmly supplanted by gankers who can remain active during the day and night such as Bloodseeker and Slark. Icefrog tried to buff him by making the day/night cycle change at shorter intervals, but current meta involves one solo, one offlaner, and a trilane, so NS will be hard-pressed to find solo, underleveled, vulnerable targets as soon as he disappears from the minimap. I may not have played with NS in a calendar year, but if you’re in the mid to low 3k range and below, he’s still a great wrecking ball, especially because of his ridiculously high base armor that is almost ten. He is almost always mid solo. Take one level of Crippling Fear, but take Void first in case you have an enemy who is impossible to farm against such as Pudge. Alternate between Void and Hunter in the Night. Personally, I would skip Darkness, his ult, because by the time I was done ganking at night, I could take more levels in Void and Hunter, believing Darkness not prolonging the night long enough to justify taking it. I would only take it the first level gained after nightfall. But with night coming and going in faster cycles, it might be necessary to take it at 6 sooner. Bottle, phase boots, urn for BS. Afterward, judgment is necessary. For juking blinkers, you might need to go Agh to see where they land. Heaven’s Halberd is not a bad choice for evade/HP/Disarm. Basher compliments his naturally rapid nocturnal attack speed. NS drops like a rock the later the game gets, so he’s gotta snowball hard. If you find yourself having to buy a BKB, you probably picked the wrong hero for mid solo. Moderate impact, low skill hero.









Skeleton King recently turned Wraith King to avoid similarities between his character and the Diablo (III) character of lore, like Centaur, is one of the original heroes. He, too, has undergone more changes than simply cosmetic ones. The only one you should concern yourself with is his ult. Well, Wraithfire Blast, Vapmpiric Aura, and Mortal Strike are neat, but it’s all about thatReincarnation which has (finally) elevated WK (in game, I still call him “Leoric” even though Valve named him Osterion) from run-of-the-mill hero to top tier. When he dies, he slows the movement and attack speed of every enemy unit around him in a 900 radius for five seconds. In other words, you don’t want to target him, because you know he will just come back to life. You really don’t want to target him because when he “dies,” he becomes a combat inhibitor. The c/d of this ultimate, like Panda’s after the latest big patch, was essentially cut in half. At level three, WK can “die” once per minute. That’s huge, and makes him a real nuisance lategame. With Anti-Mage and Phantom Lancer, natural counters to WK due to their mana-munching abilities and items (Diffusal Blade), falling out of favor WK has been rejuvenated into the current meta with his low-c/d stuns that have a DoT effect, and his team-oriented Vampiric Arua that can stack with other healing items such as a HoD/Satanic. Now the pros play him as a “transition” hero, who supports during the early/mid game and transitions to carry late game. I always play him as a hard carry, in the classic build of Tread, Desolator. It almost doesn’t matter what you get next because he hits so hard with that negative armor debuff. Blink Dagger has been trendy because of its low mana cost, and WK has awful maneuverability without it. Look, as long as you don’t die without mana, without your ult going off, WK is a hero who will eventually get out of control. He’s the classic hard carries for beginners. Max stun. I usually take stats before I take crit. Begin leveling Vampiric Aura only after the lane phase is overor you want to push because allied creeps will benefit from the aura and push the lane, ruining creep equilibrium. High impact, low skill hero.


When Phoenix and Tuskarr first came out, I shouted from the mountaintops of the DotaCash forums that when the dust settled after the nerfs (Ice Frog always releases OP heroes), Phoenix would be the better hero. People kept playing Tuskarr who was literally snowballing all over the place, while Phoenix became a niche support hero. Well, they both have undergone major changes, with Ice Frog’s last attempt at buffing Tuskarr a desperate one to resuscitate him from irrelevancy.  Meanwhile, Phoenix is probably my best offlane hero. You won’t see the pros play Phoenix because she (I like to think of Phoenix as a “she” because everyone knows that Legion Commander is the only STR hero in the game; Phoenix is probably an “it”) has yet to be added into CD/CM. Why? BECAUSE SHE COMPLETELY SHUTS DOWN CARRIES WITH FIRE SPIRITS. With Tranquil Boots and a Ring of Basilius, spamming Fire Sprits should be a hobby that gives Phoenix players great pleasure. I suggest practice aiming them not just to hit moving heroes, but entire creep waves. Fire Spirits allow Phoenix to farm and harass from a safe distance. Because casting spells causes direct HP removal, they do not break Tranq boots. One has to be careful between auto attacking, healing, and using spells. Usually, by the time I am low on mana and HP, I have reached level 6 and can burn an ult as a finisher for a team gank/fight/solo kill. But I got ahead of myself. Take Icarus Dive first so that you will have a semi-reliable escape from gank attempts, but max Fire Spirits ASAP because they can be used in combination with any ability except Supernova. Depending on who you are playing against will determine if you max Dive or Ray first, but I tend to alternate to be safe. Ray is great early/midgame against Clockwerk and Axe—heroes that tend to attract a lot of traffic around them—without endangering yourself. Then again, Dive goes through cogs, so if you want to Dive right into a Supernova, be sure to do so without manually cancelling dive, and just activate Supernova. Speaking of Supernova, it is best to use when the enemy is not going to focus on you. In other words, it its best used as a secondary initiation skill. So after a Pudge or Clockwerk Hook, Axe Beserker Call, Tidehunter ult, Enigma Black Hole, VoidChronosphere, and so on. In fact, it’s great to cast after being caught by one of these to avoid further damage, because with the exception of Void, none of these heroes will be able to hit the “egg” before it drops. I often pick Phoenix not just to neutralize the carry during the carry phase, but also to “reset” teamfights or win them outright. There are too many tricks to Supernova to name here (such as diving into inaccessible elevation and ulting within the radius of enemy heroes), but the most important rule is to notcast it in an obvious place where it can be ganged up on (and don’t pick Phoenix against Meepo, whose clones count as enemy heroes when striking the egg). In addition to Tranq boots and RoB, I like Mekanism, Wards, and Shiva. In a long game, get aRefresher so that you can double-cast everything. High skill, high impact hero.

Intelligence Heroes

When someone says “pick a support,” this is generally where people look—the hero class that almost always has high impact at the beginning of the game, but fades as the game goes on to give way for the carries. Think of it like this: STR heroes start fights and INT heroes win them. This is the hero set you need to master to “get gud” at the game.


 As I said last time, Lich has been my go-to support pick for years now. I’m talking I’ve been playing with this hero since playing him as mid-solo was part of the meta because his Sacrifice (called Dark Ritual back in the day) would deny the enemy solo precious gold and exp for free. It is now balanced to provide exp for both allied and enemy heroes. Lich now gains more mana per Sacrifice per level, but now it’s best to use before allied creeps reach enemy creeps or in a pinch during a fight when mana is running low. Ice Blast (formerly Nova) is Lich’s bread-and-butter, and combined with Ritual , is why he has been picked all these years as an aggressive lane phase support. I used to almost never take Ice Armor until after Nova was maxed and Ritual was at least level 3, but now that it can be used on buildings, the + to armor on it and the movement and attack speed debuffs to ranged and melee heroes make it a great skill to select against aggressive tower-pushing lineups (and is even better when combined with Treant. Chain Frost received a recent buff that gave him ten bounces without a Scepter, which now instead provides infinite bounces as long as there are two enemies that keep the ult on proc. Sounds cooler than it actually is, because when you cast CF, enemies try to run. In higher tier DotA play, Lich’s presence creates space, because nobody wants to eat a bunch of CF bounces. I’m sure it’s fun to try to rampage in Lower tier games though.

I will say this: any time CF is cast the first time and it does not result in two heroes dying, it’s a fail. The ult is designed to punish gank attempts and/or teamfights. As heroes become more mobile with blink daggers and force staves, CF becomes less powerful except during Rosh/base fights. With Agh, it can be cast on heroes with active BKBs (but the damage won’t go through), so it is possible to bounce CF against magic immune heroes in the hopes that it will hit a hero that is not magic immune. High level trick, but it is possible. Max Nova/Blast. Minimum of three levels of Ritual/Sacrifice. Take ult when you can. Start out the game by buying chick, RoR, and two GG Branches. Rush Mek. Get phase boots. Buy Wards when they c/d while you save up for agh. In really long/fun game, try for Shiva for the lolz.


When someone says “pick a disabler,” there isn’t a single hero who fits the role better than Bane. Short for “Bane Elemental,” Bane is the incarnation of a night terror with lasting . So while it might seem cool to pick him while running a thematic nocturnal team (NS, Drow, Bane, Mirana, Luna for example), he fits into any lineup, which makes him a popular top tier pick. For awhile, Bane was picked for his Nightmare ability which is not a traditional disable but can be used to shut down a hero for a fight or set up a hero for a follow-up kill such as with Mirana’s Arrow or a reliable stun. Enfeeble is also valued in high level games because it effectively reduces carries into non-factors by debuffing heroes with negative damage. In earlygame, this makes last hitting a…nightmare. Brain Sap is a “nuke” that steals enemy HP and gives it to Bane, providing him with a sort of harass but with a cast range that is quite shorter than say, Lich’s for Nova. Bane’s attack range is also shorter than most other supports—a fact which adds balance to the hero because his skills are very strong. Feind’s Grip is one of the strongest ults in the game despite the fact that it channels (for balance) as the “hold” penetrates magic immune heroes even if the damage does not. Like Lich, Bane was once a mid solo hero who could dominate the map with his nukes and ult but was pushed aside when heroes such as Storm Spirit emerged with unrivaled mobility. Some put a Blink on Bane, but Phase boots is enough for me because it allows me to chase for fights and last hits when my ult is down. I try to get a Soul Ring up as soon as possible for harass since Sap negates the HP loss from it. Using Soul ring when the enemy does not know an attack is coming is key. In the rare instance that you find yourself dominating the map as bane, Scepter is pretty good. In most cases, however, Necbook compliments Grip as the minions from it beat upon whomever is being ulted. That is, if you micro appropriately. Bane, like most int heroes, needs few items to be effective, and while his abilities do not necessarily scale into the late game, they are strong enough keep him relevant even then. Build varies on the level of aggression in the lane, but I typically take one level of nightmare, three Saps and an enfeeble before ult. Moderate skill, high impact hero


Necrophos, formerly known as Necrolyte, was a hero that I did not quite understand in DotA 1. My 5000+ MMR friend once told me that he found him to be one of the worst heroes in the game, because he was a semicarry whose farm could not be put to use as well as other semicarries. I am not sure if that is the case now. Reaper’s Scythe was buffed so that if a hero dies in the 1.5 seconds that the stun/spell is in effect, Necro is awarded the kill (unless Axe interrupts it with Cull, that bastard!). This changed much, because his Sadist grants him regeneration of mana and hp whenever he kills enemy heroes (or creeps), keeping him on the frontline of fights. So not only could Necro farm, but he could sustain himself as a constantly nagging presence in fights, brief or extended. Death Pulse heals all allies and damages all enemies in a moderate radius, and can be spammed. It also can’t be disjointed, so it will follow its target to the ends of the earth. I have once managed to escape to base with a haste rune, heal up, and TP back to a fight only to die because of a Pulse that was cast 30-45 seconds ago. It is a great skill. But perhaps one of the most powerful skills in the game, Heartstopper, is what makes Necro a nuisance. He can take one level of Heartstopper and just sit in the lane and do enough damage to cause the enemy heroes to burn up their earlygame heals. It is the skill that makes him a great mid solo or offlaner, especially because he really begins to shine at level 9.  I try to max all of his skills but Heartstopper, because with max Sadist and Pulse he can flashfarm while replenishing his mana expenditure. Rush Bloodstone and get Shiva. Get BoT if you are against a push hero like Tinker, Furion (Nature’s Prophet), or Krob. In the rare instance that I play him as a support rather than semicarry, I get a mek. Moderate skill, moderate impact hero.


Speaking of Krob, Death Prophet is one of the hottest flavors of the current meta. That’s because she is part of a “deathball” kind of strat where teams want to end games in fifteen minutes. Though she can flash farm and push lanes with Carrion Swarm, it is her passive, Witchcraft, which augments all her abilities, from cooldowns to mana costs to AoE to movespeed  number of ghosts with her ult, Exorcism. Her Silence was buffed to always have a large radius, but that skill is merely a bonus compared to the package. By the time her ult is level 3, Krob devours buildings, and combined with a Furion or a Shadow Shaman (Rhasta), no enemy structure can withstand the fury. I typically do the “race car build” with her to augment her already naturally high movespeed. That means Drum of Endurance, Eul’s, and BoT. A naked point booster will suffice for HP because her ult healing her at the end of it is redundant, and Heart is only effective when you are not taking damge. Pipe is also an option to provide battle-regen, and Shiva makes Krob tanky. In high level games, I have had to build BKB so that I become immune to the damage done from tanky heroes wearing Blademail. Krob is a simple hero. Just keep pushing towers or force fights when your ult is up. She is best played as a mid solo or offlane hero. The faster she gets her ult, the better. Low skill, moderate impact hero.


I said a little about Lina earlier, so I’ll just say this: I play her as a semicarry, not a support. With farm and experience, she scales incredibly well into the late game. A lot of DotA 2 players are experimenting with her and Deadalus or Moljnir to see if the right click damage that Firey Soul  provides is enough to make her ascend from her traditional role as carry. Personally, I think her skills are enough, especially with the buff to her Light Strike Array to almost two seconds from one and a half.  Dragon Slave is a reliable nuke that allows her to flash farm with Light Strike later in the game. Her spells are mana-intensive despite her naturally high regen, so you want to be careful so that you don’t end up in a fight without enough mana to cast Laguna Blade, the skill that makes her fun to play. Not only is it the most powerful single-target spell in the game, but with a Scepter, it penetrates magic immunity (but not resistance). The only thing more satisfying in DotA 2 than sapping a BKB-wielding carry for 1000 damage is getting a kill with Pugna’s Nether Ward. I am of the opinion that the sky is the limit for Lina, especially with Blink. With QoP falling out of favor because she’s too squishy to be in the middle of fights and Lina’s range being extended to compliment her already long-range capabilities, I expect her to rise in popularity. I personally play her as a mid solo or in a lane where I’m not stuck babysitting. Lina needs farm. Urn because you will either kill a lot or be around people who die because of your overwhelming ult, Phase Boots to augment your auto attack. Consider a Bottle for extra regen or runes in case nobody else wants them. These days, I always go Scepter, but a void stone in preparation for a Staff of Vyse (sheepstick) will suffice, too.  


With naturally high armor and attack speed, AGI heroes are the hero types that everyone wants to play, everyone wants to master. Truth be told, I don’t even like playing with these heroes because of how much a bad carry can ruin your game, and there are far more bad ones than good ones. Still, there are a few that I feel I can really stand behind.


Drow Ranger has been my go-to carry for years. She’s a pubstar, but she’s the classic glass cannon type that I love. I tend to take one level of Gust in case I or an ally gets ganked. I like to max Frost Arrows so that nobody escapes, but the pros will do more orb walking than auto-attacking. I usually take one level of Precision Aura during the lane phase, and level it as I accumulate more AGI items. Stats also come in handy, because Drow gets stronger the more AGI she has–straight item damage does not stack with Precision like AGI does. Marksmanship is one of the weaker ults in the game even though she hits like a sledgehammer early. This is because after level sixteen, Drow begins to decline, so she’s really more of a midgame carry who knocks down towers and wins teamfights in a few shots. If she finds herself in a late game, she will always find herself outclassed. With Treads, Yasha, and HoD, she can solo Rosh at level 12-13, but it will take her a minute or two with no runes. I like to smoke into Rosh and take him no later than the twenty-minute mark if I can help it. After Yasha, I get a Crystalys if I am falling behind to hit harder sooner, and a Manta Style if things go well. Use the images to afk push. If things are going really well, I get Eaglesong (more AGI) and finish the Butterfly later. I don’t play her often anymore because I have found that when I win with her, it is more because of my teammates than myself.  Low skill, low impact hero.


Luna is the closest to Drow that I can get who isn’t considered a bad pick. That is because she does not have a peak like Drow does, especially with Moon Glaive, because the bounces do a percentage of damage, and the more damage you get, the more damage you can do exponentially. Luna also comes with a nuke, Lucent Beam, so she is not completely helpless during the lane phase and can finish off heroes who are too aggressive and get caught out of position. Lunar Blessing can stack with auras such as Vengeful Spirit’s and Drows, so she compliments other lineups well. Eclipse has a cast delay, and is not as powerful as one may think unless Luna solos mid. I play her as a sort of hard carry, taking advantage of her naturally high move speed and enhancing it with Yasha-to-Manta. HoD to Satanic in long games, but she really shines like Drow with a Bfly. If you’re doing well during the lane phase, Midas is not a bad idea since she can flash farm. I did not mention this with Drow, but both should take advantage of stacking the Ancients for fast farming. Luna can also push because of Glaive, so during pushes, be sure to prioritize structures rather than heroes. I have killed heroes inadvertently while chasing the primary objectives. Moderate skill, high impact hero.


If I am going to list a hard carry, it will be Spectre. She did have a notably successful appearance in a high-profile match in The International even though Void was enjoying most of the spotlight, so I’m fine. Like all hard carries, she needs a babysitter to get going, but once she does, only Medusa can really outcarry her. What makes Spec a nightmare is Dispersion, a stronger version of thorns which scales with Spec’s HP. The more she has, the more damage she does to enemy heroes who hit her. This is why Heart is a core item on her and items that you usually see on AGI heroes such as Bfly are discouraged. You *want* to get hit in the lategame for more damage. Because of her strong AOE presence, Radiance is a necessity, especially because her Spectrals during Haunt do damage with Radi no matter where Spec is herself. You will also see Drums and Phase Boots on her for more mobility, HP, Mana, and damage. Desolate is kinda meh, because it is best in the earlygame when “free” bonus damage is a huge boon, but Spec is a fifty-minute hero, so the skill is counterintuitive IMO. Spectral Dagger, as if Haunt didn’t do this already, assures that no hero can escape her, but it also ensures that Spec can escape herself. Often, you will see Diffusal Blade  on Spec, often used to keep heroes from running from her, but also used to debuff heroes like Ursa so that she can kill them. The key to Spec is to continuously farming while using Haunt to harass or pick off heroes in teamfights. Kill Stealing (Kill Securing) is not just encouraged with this hero, but a necessity because she has almost zero flash farm capability, and a Midas would actually slowe her down. Pick with caution, or, when you have teammates you trust that can get you out of the earlygame lane phase with respectable farm. Gotta get that Radiance in ~20 minutes to have a chance.  High skill, high impact hero.