Dota 2: Falcon Punch!
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
Welcome to the first article of an upcoming series providing an in-depth look at major future Dota 2 patches. Although the heroes currently being added into Dota 2 are straight from Warcraft III Dota, not all players are familiar with Warcraft III Dota. Therefore, it is not a complete waste to take a look at new hero additions included in the major patches.
The announcer from Diretide makes his appearance in hope of surviving and winning the largest battle he can find for a round of drinks. Yes, really. He is fighting for the Radiant and the Dire after taking part in a brawl at a tavern. After seeing the amount of damage caused by Tusk, the barkeeper, looking to avoid any further damage, offered a round of drinks to Tusk if he could win the biggest battle he could find.
Introducing Ymir the Tusk, a durable melee initiator fighting with an arsenal of icy spells. He is a very strong ganker due to his ability to trap and stun enemy heroes from afar. Knowing this, running Tusk in a solo lane to quickly speed to level 6 works best. Before getting more into strategies, let us take a look at his arsenal of skills.
Ice Shards is his first ability which both damages and blocks a targeted area. It is cast in a chosen direction where it will travel until it either comes into contact with an enemy hero or reaches its maximum range at which point five ice shards will block an enemy hero. This wall has an opening so it simply forces the hero to go around it instead of completely trapping them. With a massive 1500 range, Ice Shards is a great spell to initiate ganks and team fights.
His second spell, Snowball, works wonders if used correctly with Ice Shards. Tusk and any nearby allied heroes roll into a growing snowball towards the targeted enemy unit. Enemy units in its path are damaged and stunned with the final target taking extra damage and a longer stun duration. This snowball moves 1.5x the speed of Tusk with a minimum speed of 200. It can cross cliffs and destroy trees but if the target is not hit within 3 seconds, the snowball will stop.
Where does all this snow come from?
Frozen Sigil is Tusk's third spell causing him to summon a Frozen Sigil that creates a snowstorm slowing all enemy units (both movement and attack speed) within a 600 range. Initially this sigil will follow Tusk but if commanded the sigil can be moved around as a separate unit. This sigil is very strong (25% movement slow, 60% attack slow) but dies very quickly due to its measly 280 HP and 0 armor. Tusk players must micro this sigil very carefully as it gives a very high gold bounty when killed.
Lastly, Walrus PUNCH! is Tusks ultimate ability. When cast, Tusk prepares his mighty Walrus Punch to deal 3x (4x if target has less than 50% health) critical damage on his next attack. This attack must be hit within 10 seconds or the effect will end. With its very low cool down (18 seconds at max level) and inability to miss, Walrus PUNCH! packs quite a punch.
In the early phases of the game, Ice Shards should be given level priority. With a relatively low cool down and high damage, Ice Shards can easily give you an edge in your lane. When not able to level Walrus PUNCH! or Ice Shards, Snowball should be given any remaining skill points. Frozen Sigil can be passed up a lot of the time until both Ice Shards and Snowball have been maxed out but in certain situations it can prove to be invaluable. The only problem with Frozen Sigil is that it dies too quickly when attacked and essentially acts as a gold mine if used during ganks. In team fights it works better due to there being a lot more going on and players not noticing the Frozen Sigil immediately.
In a solo lane, you will want to farm up and hit level six as fast as possible. At this point, Walrus PUNCH! provides Tusk with a great skill to land a kill in either your own lane or through a gank. Tusk players should be aiming to land Ice Shards and immediately snowballing on top of the enemies leaving them stunned and blocked.
A new way to pass time during the queue!
Tusk is not a hero that can farm and carry a game but one that snowballs if the ganks turn out to be successful. He is similar to Night Stalker as he can be very powerful and carry a team if he gets a lot of kills early on. If ganks are not successful, Tusk does not end up being useless to his team. His spells, if used correctly, can result in great team fight initiation allowing his team to clean up.
After acquiring some gold, players should focus on items to either improve their ganking ability or survivability depending on how the game is going. Tusk players seem to favour building a Shadow Blade to boost the damage of Walrus PUNCH! but I was never a fan of this item. It seems to be easily countered by coordinated teams utilizing true sight. In certain situations Shadow Blade can be a good pickup but only to further increase your lead. It is not an item that will help you to catch up.
Phase Boots seem to be a good choice on Tusk due to Snowball's roll speed relying on Tusk's current movement speed but Power Treads are never bad if tread swapping is used efficiently. I recommend items such as Drum of Endurance, Medallion of Courage, and Heart of Tarrasque. The beauty of Dota 2 is that item builds are never set in stone, they will always be modified depending on every unique game. As a general rule for Tusk, focus on items to improve your ganking ability in the early game. If ganks continue to be successful, damage items such as Armlet or Desolator may be picked up. If the ganks failed or did not put you too ahead, switch to items providing more survivability such as Heart of Tarrasque, Assault Cuirass, or BKB depending on the enemy team composition and your team's needs.
Eul's Scepter is a great way to counter snowball initiation
While Tusk is not the type of hero I would play often due to my preference of heroes that grow in strength with farm, I still had a lot of fun playing Ymir the Tusk. I would definitely recommend Tusk to any Dota 2 player. Even newer players are encouraged to give him a go as he is not very hard to pickup. Tonight's patch added in-game guides to the Dota 2 test client. Hopefully these guides will aid newer players to understand and improve with all heroes.