Friday, December 9, 2011

Shadowblade: First Impressions

Protip - Follow me on Twitter, I am very active!

My blog has undergone quite a transformation- originally a place for me to rant about things I don't like about S2, it somehow recently became the opposite- a place for me to defend S2 from day-to-day forum insanity. But really, the more I think about it, the more this Blog should really be about one thing and one thing only: Heroes of Newerth. So instead of analyzing forum behavior, let's instead talk about the game at hand!

It's only been a few measly hours since Shadowblade, the latest "Agility" Hero was added to Heroes of Newerth. Since then, I've played around 6 or 7 games with mixed results. And while I can't say I won every game with him (I did win ~half), I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every single one. Indeed, I'm actually very excited about Shadowblade, something which is perhaps in part due to the fact that I neglected playing him in Super Beta Tester games. This lack of knowledge on my part was a pleasant change of pace, as usually I've already gotten the gist of a new Hero by the time they've came out. This time would be different- although I knew approximately what Shadowblade was about (in theory anyways, a "hybrid hero with multiple roles" doesn't really say much these days!), I had no real idea what was to be expected.

First off, Shadowblade is a "hybrid" hero, but not the kind you are used to. Typically what a hybrid means, is that the Hero will be capable of two things, but (if balanced) not a master of either. A good example of a typical hybrid is perhaps Valkyrie. She's a Ganker, but she's also a semi-carry. She is not the hardest Carry in the game, nor is she the best Ganker in the game- she does both roles but only to a certain point. Shadowblade is different in this respect- because unlike these traditional Carries, Shadowblade can actually do multiple things to full extents. Shadowblade is a hard carry, but he's also a pretty hard initiator, and while at times he can be a hard squishy carry, he can also become a hard survivability machine that refuses to die.

To me, Shadowblade is what Morphling was supposed to be but never really achieved. A Hero that could do multiple things. I don't know DotA or DotA2 enough to know how Morphling turned out these days, but back when I played he was designed pretty badly. The option to change between a "tank" and a "agi carry" was managed through two autocast abilities which drained one attribute for the benefit of the other. Your primary attribute would change through this. His adaptive strike would also change depending on your primary attribute. Despite this effort to make Morphling an interesting Hero, Morphling ultimately (at least for me), failed in this regard. He was fun, but for all the wrong reasons. Waveform basically became your bread and butter, the skill he was most known for and his attribute changing mechanic, for the most part, took the back seat unless you really needed Strength to tank through a hectic situation.

By looking at Shadowblade for the first time you almost fear like its going to be the same thing. An ult which is essentially a passive that grants you a percentage of a target's primary attribute permanently? Sounds repulsively boring. But much to me surprise, it really wasn't.

Shadowblade succeeds where other Heroes have failed, to create a balance-able "hybrid" Hero that can actually do multiple things just as well- if only one at a time. Shadowblade's ultimate allows him to change his primary attribute to any he desires, and also gives him a bonus to this attribute depending who he targets. Using this ability, he can switch between a rather squishy but dangerous Agility Hero, or a formidable Strength "tank" (there is a fiasco about whether "tank" is a role or not- to me "tank" is a sub-role that simply means you have a lot of hitpoints). The fun part really comes into play when you use this ability in battle to suddenly change from a full fletched Tank into a squishy hard agility carry in the bat of an eye- a feat no other Hero can really pull off.

But really that's just the beginning. Your other abilities are what truly change the Hero into whatever you want. Gargantuan's Blast gives you a huge heaping load of extra Survivability and works well as an initiation ability (following Feint's Siphon). By using it after you've jumped into a fight (especially when you are using your ultimate to become a Strength Hero) you can be an extremely formidable Initiator, soaking up large amounts of Physical and Magic damage while your team widdles down the slowed masses.

Feint's Syphon is your most versatile spell. In addition to granting you +agility and +damage when used on an enemy (the +agility and movement boost stay on you even after you change forms!) it also provides you with movement speed. It can be used as many things: an initiation tool to combo with your Gargantuan's Blast ability for quick slowing, a simple burst in damage for out-damaging an enemy carry or bursting a support down, an escape mech (although admittedly very weak), or simply a burst in damage to be combod with Soul's Sight. Feint's Syphon can even be cast on yourself for a handy movement speed boost wherever you may currently be. It's your bread and butter and unlike your other abilities, is far from only situational.

Soul's Sight is basically the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of what would otherwise be an only mediocre and possibly boring Hero. Most Agility melee Carries suffer from not being able to maneuver around fights very easily. Their melee attack is a disadvantage right until the very end of the game, where every second of Shrunken Head activation time is precious and every moment not spent wailing on an enemy Hero is time squandered. These hard Carry Agility heroes- Heroes like Chronos or Magebane- they all suffer from this problem. Shadowblade suffers from other problems- primarily a lack of a reliable escape mechanism, no stun or mini-stun. What he lacks, however, he makes up with the ability to be permanently ranged whenever he wants. Yes, you read that right- Soul's Sight has an 11 second duration and only a 10 second cooldown. If desired, although this wouldn't be very practical, Shadowblade could stay in ranged for for how ever long he could sustain the (cheap) Mana cost.

Not only does he become ranged, but he gains vision of an area, making Juking impossible. When combo'd with his other abilities, a clear routine for teamfights begins to emerge:

  1. Be a Strength Hero via Essence Shift (prior to engagement)
  2. Initiate with Feint's Siphon
  3. Activate Gargantuan's Blast for Initiation, Slow and Tanking ability
  4. Wait for the initial onslaught of damage to dwindle, then activate Soul's Sight
At this point, you've become a ranged Hero that still has bonus damage from Feint's Syphon. If all goes well, at this point, your team will have followed up and layed waste to many of the Support Heroes- but perhaps there are still Carries that are alive. Usually at this point I hang back and lick my wounds for a moment, before I begin the second onslaught- this time with less crowd control on the field, I can roam more freely and become a glass cannon:
  1. Use Essence Shift on an ideal Agility Hero
  2. Initiate with Feint's Siphon
  3. If the enemy is distracted, simply wail on them until they react
  4. Activate Gargantuan's Blast for the slow only
  5. Activate Soul's Sight for the ranged attack and finish off the wounded enemy
When I had originally begun playing Shadowblade, I thought Soul's Sight was more of a situational ability, or perhaps an ability that was only worth using if I was using Intellect as my primary Attribute (something you should never do, thus making the ability pretty useless). As it turns out, Soul's Sight turns you into a ranged hero, buffs your auto attack damage, gives you a nice vision boost, and has no drawbacks! If it weren't for the fact that Feints Siphon (probably) gives more attack damage overall (although I can't confirm this), I'd be using Soul's Sight to damage enemies all the time. If it does turn out that Soul's Sight gives comparable DPS, I will probably just neglect using Feint's Siphon for anything else than a positioning tool for Gargantuan's Blast (and +Agility and MS boost), which I would then mostly chain into Soul's Sight.

Concluding, Shadowblade is a fun and effective Hero. Unlike other hard Carry Melee Heroes, he suffers greatly from not having a reliable escape mechanism, doesn't have any stun and has very little crowd control (just one Slow). What he lacks, however, he makes up for in his ability to be on your ass all the time. His blink strike, his ranged attack damage and vision- in a teamfight where the enemy can't make a full retreat, it's almost impossible to keep him off you. There is no place to run and no trees to hide behind. I love Shadowblade for what he is, a unique Hero that scales in an interesting way- having a metric crapton of one primary attribute is a very fun and interesting way to be a carry- having 2.7k HP very early in the game is definitely amusing, and if you have an Arachna or Gemini on your team, +40 Agility is basically ensured once you hit level 16.


  1. Well said Nigma. Easy to learn, hard to master in my opinion.

    Get some big plays, big escapes, big ganks, all while mixing in the ability to switch to another role/build on a moments notice.

  2. I am also excited about Shadowblade. He seems like a hero who lets you surprise your enemies. I love that.

  3. My Name is bellinda.....I never believed in Love Spells or Magic until I met this special spell, he is really powerful. The woman i wanted to marry left me 2 weeks to our wedding ceremony and my life was upside down. She was with me for 5 years and I really love her so much..she left me for another man with no reason..when I called her she never picked up my calls and she don’t want to see me around her…so, when I told priest what happened. he helped me to do some readings, and after the readings he made me to realize that the other man has done some spells over my wife and that is the reason why she left me..he told me he will help me to cast a spell that bring her back. At first I was skeptical but i just gave it a try…In 5 days, she called me herself and came to me apologizing..I can’t believe she can ever come back to me again......

    1. I have used after he came highly recommended on several websites when i contacted him. i never regreted my decision to use spell. Now it’s my turn to tell the world all the good things I think about him and his services. my wife who left with my two kids finally came back to me just in 3 days after a spell was casted on her by

  4. I was heartbroken when my boyfriend decided to leave the relationship, so I wrote to and he cast the best spell. Within a 2days of the spell casting, he called "just to talk. After some enjoyable talks and catching up, he asked to see me again. No doubt, he is the best for love problems.

  5. testimony

    I had to write back and say what an amazing experience I had with l am tina. I was desperate for a kind and gentle man to enter my life when I ran into your email doing some surfing. I had a phone consultation with Dr dodogods and I found him to be so helpful, gentle and reassuring. Within a couple of weeks, I met a guy in a dance club who really swept me off my feet. I’ve been with him for several months now and we seem to be the perfect couple. All it took was one visit to Dr dodogods and my life is as good as it has ever been. I need to thank Dr.dodogods for caring about me enough to send me such a wonderful and powerful spell.thanks post by david

  6. loveth

    I have had pleasure of conversing with this gentleman for a number of years. He is my inspiration. He is my rock. Without him I would not be able to look back at my life with such ease and grace, he has shown me how. GOD BLESS YOU / posted by miss loveth

  7. helped me alot. if you need real help then go to hetor he can realy help you out. i broke up with my boyfirend and treid many casters for 6 months before meeting and was able to get him back to me even tho he alraedy had another girlfiend, hecto broke them up and got him back for me, he is the best of the best i highly recoomend him and his service thank you so much i appreciate you and you are truly blesed.