People tend to be driven strongly by habit, with this habits often being informed by positive feelings around the outcomes that results from the initial behaviour: I am no exception to this rule, and the way in which I play DOTA is not exempt from this. The most recent habit, having moved on from the “Blink Dagger and Hand of Midas on every hero I play in mid” phase I’ve been going through, is at once both a more and less flexible habit to have, and rather than a set of items that allow for a diverse number of ways in which to play the game, it is a hero choice in Vengeful Spirit. Since I started playing the game, I’ve had a fondness and a degree of success that could be extrapolated to the point of a natural affinity for heroes that sit in the range between a “true” attack damage carry hero and a support hero. This range of “semi-carry” heroes, or heroes that can transition from an early support-based role into attack damage later in the game, can be shown to be an area of success for me through the means of statistics that don’t run too far into the realms of “lies and damn lies: according to my Dotabuff profile, Visage, Vengeful Spirit, Necrophos, Venomancer and Silencer are all heroes that I have a high win-rate with, and all are heroes fit this mould.
Of course, to say that I have a preference for a certain class of heroes probably doesn’t speak to anything approaching a habit, with it pointing more to a preference that I have for playing the game in a certain way in general. The habit, and pattern, that seems to be establishing itself is the correlation between my playing Vengeful Spirit and a higher than average chance of victory. With the way in which DOTA is a team-based game it is potentially dangerous to draw a correlation between my own comfort with a hero and team victories. It is uncertain as to whether my contribution to these games is genuinely positive or whether my contribution to games is simply not a negative one: maybe rather than setting up great plays for my team, I am actually just staying out of trouble for myself. I’m happy enough for the latter to be taken as a mark of success. Perhaps this is twenty-two years’ worth of cultural conditioning owing to my nationality speaking, but if it’s not a loss, it is very much a victory.
To say that Vengeful Spirit is a hero of comfort may be confusing to some: this is not a hero like Bounty Hunter or Riki who can rely of invisibility to avoid death, nor is it a hero like Queen of Pain or Anti-Mage who can use their blink to escape from trouble. Vengeful Spirit is a fairly weak hero in terms of her ability to stand up to damage in the early game and doesn’t get much damage herself for a while into the game. The sort of comfort that is being spoken of here is the sort of synergy that one can feel with a character’s ability set: just as in games like Battlefield or Diablo one can feel that their character class suits the things that they like to do in those games, DOTA provides that same potential for identification with a hero’s verb set that allows players to play the game in their own way, with the operation of items within the game allowing for further specification of one’s character either to personal preference of situational need.
The identifying factor that makes Vengeful Spirit, for the moment at least, “my hero” is the fact that her abilities centre around disabling enemy heroes and amplifying the damage that they take, both in terms of armour reduction and a buff to the attack damage of allies. Due to this, she maintains relevance throughout the game: in early game, she is able to set up kills for heroes who have a bit more poke at that stage of the game; moving into the late game, she retains this ability but owing to the not-insignificant stat gain that she gets through levelling up, can build into a great deal of damage and further armour reduction of her own with items. Given that the majority of players see Vengeful Spirit solely as a support, being able to solo kill enemy heroes who see you as an easy bit of gold and experience to be earned due to their hubris is incredibly satisfying. This sort of utility also ensures that Vengeful Spirit can be made to work in almost any lineup, which can be useful where there is infighting within a team if one is matchmaking solo: no one is every going to moan at someone who is going to buy wards for at least a small portion of the game while someone forced into playing a “pure” support concentrates on buying a big-ticket item that will cost all the more due to enemy movements being unknown.
As I mentioned previously, the thing that I enjoy most about playing DOTA is when there is a sense of camaraderie attained from working together with a group of people to attain a common goal: Vengeful Spirit, due to her flexibility, is a great hero for this. Her suitability for picking up pretty much any sort of item ensures that you can always fill in the gaps in a team if you’re given enough space to farm up the gold for those items. While that can be a battle sometimes, it would be rare that the game would go so badly such that a Vengeful Spirit wouldn’t be able to do so. The hero is such a good team player in this regard, and therefore is always a good answer to the question “who do I want to play?” if there is any uncertainty.