Understanding the Purpose of Late Game Items

In our previous post, we touched on the idea of smart economy distribution. Carries still farming after getting six slots, while their supports are starving for any item is only one part of the problem, however. Today we would like to look at some of the late-game options and discuss when players should get them, from a perspective of a core hero.

Possibly one of the strongest items in the current patch. The main strength of Skadi is its universality: there are very few situations where this item doesn’t do at least something. It gives a little bit of damage, nice survivability, decent extra soft control against mobile targets, and a massive decrease to enemy HP regeneration effects.

We feel like only the latter point truly justifies rushing the item: while all other aspects of it are great, they are not necessarily unique and unless you need to deal with massive heals right here and right now, there might be better, more specialized options.

For the longest time these two items were more or less battling for the same slot on many core heroes in the late game. Both of them are hard control and Abyssal even pierces spell immunity. However, with the relatively recent changes to Abyssal, we feel like there is no point in Scythe of Vyse on heroes like Ursa. The added mobility and overall more applicable survivability stats make the item superior on all melee cores.

On ranged ones, however, Scythe is still absolutely devastating. Too often players get too focused on dealing damage and completely disregard utility. On heroes like Templar Assassin, for example, Desolator will cover most of her damage needs until well into the midgame. Creating conditions under which you can actually use the damage you’ve built is frequently a lot more important than having simply more damage, especially versus mobile heroes.

Bloodthorn is last and probably “the least.” It is a good natural progression for Orchid in the late game, but the item’s effectiveness is highly dependent on the enemy having short BKBs. There are also Manta Style, Lotus Orb, Eul’s and some neutral items that provide dispels, so squeezing the most out of Bloodthorn can be pretty hard. With smart play and patience it can pay off, but it’s not an item you look at and think: “I will need it by the late game”.

Monkey King Bar lost its full true strike to Divine Rapier, but it is still very powerful against evasion. It is also generally a pretty powerful item in the current meta. Armored targets are very common right now, with many agility cores in the meta, so having extra magic damage is never a bad idea. It is frequently much easier to kill enemies through MKB procs, rather than through actual physical damage.

For that reason, we feel like Daedalus feels really underwhelming, at least in the current patch. Damage-wise the item is unparalleled, with the exception of Divine Rapier, but when you add armor to the equation, the situation isn’t so great. Daedalus is currently only really worth it either against low-armor cores or when your team has a lot of negative armor effects. In all other cases, it is going to get outclassed by MKB.

Two survivability options and only one of them is actually viable. There is no reason to discuss Satanic: status resistance, lifesteal and decent stats make the item almost a must-have in the late game and maybe even earlier against hard lockdowns and a lot of burst damage.

Heart of Tarrasque, on the other hand, is much harder to fit into any build. It is not a good item to rush, since it doesn’t give anything but survivability and the enemy will most likely be free to ignore you, since your hero just spent 5.4k gold on an item that doesn’t provide any extra threat. It is not a good item to get after Satanic if you need extra survivability because Eye of Skadi exists. Basically, it is not a good item. There might be some very specific uses for it in very particular games, so let us know if you have any examples.

A rather weird and very specific item that nevertheless has some uses. It doesn’t allow the enemy to escape through typical Force Staffs and Glimmer Capes, but that doesn’t necessarily justify purchasing this item to counter potential saves from supports. Strong or annoying dispellable buffs on the enemy, however, are definitely a good reason to go for Nullifier.

If you see heroes like Pugna, Omniknight, Necrophos, or even Sven against you — consider getting a Nullifier. Continuous dispel will come in handy in, probably, every single fight. It is also a highly underrated item against Oracle, who won’t be able to heal his teammate under the effect of False Promise: it is especially hilarious when the enemy Oracle keeps on casting Purifying Flames on his teammate, despite the continuous dispel, essentially dealing extra damage and helping your team.

It is kind of weird to pit these two items against each other, but they kind of do the same thing: they provide you with extra EHP through Armor, while increasing your DPS through Attack Speed.

Butterfly is definitely a better option for most Agility carries in a vacuum. There is simply no better item in the game to increase your DPS, while still giving something extra. Notable exceptions include heroes like Underlord, Elder Titan and, maybe, Tidehunter, who all can mess up with stat-based builds in one way or another.

Cuirass is definitely better in terms of teamfight: extra armor on supports is never a bad thing, especially when you are dealing with high physical damage cores or physical poke, like Kunkka or Ember Spirit. It is also slightly better in terms of dealing damage to structures and when combined with other negative armor effects, can actually be very strong in terms of DPS increase against heroes.

We would strongly recommend players evaluate pros and cons of each, taking into account enemy composition. MKB is really good right now, so there is a good chance evasion isn’t going to be as effective. Underlord is also a pretty popular hero, so the DPS factor can be somewhat negated. Butterfly is great, but it is naturally countered by many heroes with a default item progression, which is never good.

Making correct item decisions is one of the most important Dota skills: no matter how good a player is when it comes to execution if his build doesn’t answer threats presented by the enemy and doesn’t present meaningful threats itself, winning the game can be very problematic.

We hope that quick overview was helpful to beginner and intermediate players who are still struggling to make correct decisions in the later stages of the game. While most heroes kind of have default item progressions in the first 25 minutes of the game, everything else you buy after that point has to be very specific for success.

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