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Raising the Stakes, Rapier Style, In DotA 2

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Now that DOTA 2 is officially out of its deceptively long beta phase, I’ve been throwing a bit more of my time at it to try and resuscitate the skills I had back when I played DotA 1 in Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (skills which arguably never existed). As anyone knows, in DOTA 2 you not only have to walk before you can run but you have to suck long before you can succeed and the entire process isn’t really as easy on newcomers as some might like (despite or probably because of the underdeveloped tutorial section).

Still some of the funniest mistakes I’ve seen new players make revolve around a single item and its use: The Divine Rapier.

For anyone that didn’t know, the Divine Rapier is a weapon which can be bought which adds an incredibly amount of damage for its ingredients (giving +300 despite having materials which only total up to +84) but it has one catch – if you die while holding this item, it drops on the ground for anyone nearby to pick up (something it shares with the Gem of Truesight used to see invisible heroes). This drawback, coupled with its hefty price, ensures that you can play dozens of matches without ever seeing a Rapier in use – but when you do, it’s almost always a gamechanger.

This kind of item is (as far as I know) unique in terms of MOBA games. There is no equivalent in DOTA 2’s biggest rival League of Legends, where the comparatively higher survivability would make it tricky to ever get the Rapier away from whoever purchased it (admittedly Heroes of Newerth did have a similar item, but all of their items are more or less copied from DotA so I don’t know if we really count that one).

Anyway, it’s an interesting example of how a single item can change the entire way a game is played – basically turning a game of DOTA 2 into a tug of war over who can seize control of this immensely powerful item and who can hold on to it the longest. There are various strategies surrounding this ofcourse, from cycling your teams stuns on the enemy hero with the Rapier in order to keep them locked down to farming the Aegis from Roshan in order to give them a second chance if they do die, and this sort of metagame is one of the strongest examples of the unique game culture which DOTA 2 has cultivated.

Funny as it may be to watch new players supply the enemy team with a weapon of mass destruction and essentially lose the game for their team (and I’ve been on the receiving end of that plenty of times myself), the existence of items like this that force people to rethink the way they are playing – even in the middle of a match – are indicators of the deep level of sophistication that DOTA 2 offers.

Even if it’s often as simple as “oh I thought this looked like a nice item to get”.

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