By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
Dragonus, the Skywrath Mage, is the latest hero to enter Dota 2's hero pool and become the 100th hero to be ported over to Dota 2! It's amazing to see how Dota 2 has evolved since we first saw the game in action at The International 1. Continue reading on to learn more about Dragonus and other major changes brought by last week's Dota 2 patch.
Skywrath's lore is not as interesting as Ymir the Tusk but it is still worth mentioning. Skywrath is a high born sworn to protect whomever sits within the Nest of Thorns. He grew alongside the eldest Skywrath princess and fell for her. However, while Skywrath was occupied with learning arcane and the mastery of Skywrath sorcery, a violent coup caused the ruthless younger princess to rise into power. Due to Skywrath magic only serving the Nest of Thorns, there was nothing he could do. He clings on to his post believing it to be the best hope of one day restoring his true love to her rightful place.
As suggested by the name, Skywrath Mage is an intelligence based hero but with the rare ability to increase damage done by one of his skills. Although he does not possess very strong crowd control abilities, his skills pack a punch and are on low cooldowns, allowing Skywrath Mage to impact extended confrontations in a serious way.
Arcane Bolt is Skywrath's first ability dealing base damage + bonus damage based on his Intelligence. You do not typically see abilities scale in Dota 2 to ensure heroes are only capable of carrying at certain points of the game. Unless typical intelligence based heroes snowball early on due to easy kills, you will seldom see intelligence based heroes carry a game at its late stages.
The projectile for Arcane Bolt moves slower than a turret's.
This ability has a decent range with high damage, low cooldown and mana costs making it great to spam during the laning phase both for securing last hits and harassing your opponent. The projectile moves very slowly at only 500 movement speed but is not evadable, once it launches it will hit. The projectile will also grant 325 vision around itself.
His second ability, Concussive Shot, is a massive range no target ability that functions similar to Tinker's rockets. The closest hero will be hit, dealt AoE damage and slowed by 40%. This ability deals decent damage but will mostly be used for its slow.
Skywrath Mage's third ability is Ancient Seal which amplifies magic damage while silencing the target. If this ability is coupled correctly with all other abilities, Skywrath Mage can very quickly burst down an enemy.
Similar to many other intelligence heroes, the ultimate is the main reason they are picked. Skywrath Mage's ultimate, Mystic Flare, has a massive range, low cooldown and deals massive damage evenly split amongst all heroes in the area over 2 seconds. The catch is that the very high mana cost, 800 at level three, makes it hard to use more than once. If this ultimate is used on a single hero alongside Ancient Seal, their HP bar will very quickly disappear.
One thing I have noticed about Mystic Flare is that it does not feel like an ultimate. It may have the stats to be considered an ultimate but you cast it and think "That's it?" The animation is very tiny and unnoticeable. It's nothing compared to black hole or ravage. The animation just needs to feel a little more like an ultimate and maybe even some simple sound changes will make it seem more powerful.
Good bye, Lich.
Now, on to how these abilities should be skilled. Besides prioritizing Mystic Flare, Arcane Bolt should be given priority when it comes to leveling abilities. After Arcane Bolt and Mystic Flare are fully upgraded, you have a choice on which skill would be more beneficial. Depending on how the game is going, either Concussive Shot or Ancient Seal may be maxed. However, I find Ancient Seal to be of more use in most cases due to Concussive Shot featuring a static 40% slow. Leveling Ancient Seal will increase the duration of the silence but more importantly increase the magical damage amplification.
Skill priority: Mystic Flare > Arcane Bolt > Ancient Seal > Concussive Shot > Stats
For items, players have the choice between additional mana to allow for spamming (and in certain cases even just using the 800 mana ultimate) or intelligence for extra damage. I have tried building into Bloodstone for mana, health, mana regeneration and health regeneration but this item only helps when you are certain you will be able to land some early kills or pick it up very early on at which point the base damage on Arcane Bolt is high. You definitely need some stacks on Bloodstone to make it worthwhile, otherwise it is much too expensive. To combat mana issues, Arcane boots will be worn.
Instead, it makes sense to focus on intelligence and utility items to both aid your team and deal good damage. Items such as Sheep Stick, Force Staff, and Eul's Scepter are recommended.
Eul's Scepter can be used to help land Mystic Flare.
While Skywrath Mage is able to deal high amounts of damage, I cannot help but see him as a weaker version of Obsidian Devourer. Mystic Flair may deal massive amounts of damage and Concussive Shot is able to slow enemies but Skywrath Mage requires stuns to ensure the full duration is hit. On the other hand, Obsidian Devourer's ultimate is able to hit all enemies for the same amount and hit enemies in Astral Imprisonment.
I have found that Skywrath Mage coupled with heroes such as Nyx Assassin can instantly kill off squishier heroes such as supports but let's be honest Nyx Assassin can do that alone most of the time. There is no need to waste an extra hero slot on Skywrath Mage. And with the high mana cost on Mystic Flair, simple Pugna wards can cause Skywrath to kill himself.
However, do not let this discourage you from giving Skywrath a try. Only the best of the best will have to worry about drafting the best possible roster to do well in games. In public games, it is mostly just about having fun and that is an area where Skywrath Mage does not fall short. It is very fulfilling to see heroes melt before your eyes in your ultimate. Definitely give Skywrath Mage a try even if there may be better heroes. Who knows, with the way the game changes I might be proven wrong by a top team.