The Curse of Recommended Items: Lifestealer

In pub play this month, Lifestealer players have chosen Power Treads over Phase Boots as the more popular item, by nearly 27%. However, Phase Boots owns a larger win rate at 48%, compared to Power Treads at 46%. Then take a look at competitive stats from datDota, where pros have built Phase Boots 3 times more than Power Treads, while boasting a higher win rate at 54% vs 49%. Have Lifestealer pub players been making the wrong item choices?

Situational?

"Phase Boots is better in almost every situation," says KawaiiSocks, our "resident pro":

KawaiiSocks

On a more serious note, he is singlehandedly writing this blog.

Dota strategy can be a game of situational item choices, but it's safe to say that Power Treads is frequently an inferior, perhaps even bad, item choice. The rare time that Treads may be viable is when you can rely on your team mates for stuns and slows, which in a pub game, may be few and far between.

Sure, Power Treads may also be better in the jungle, but that would be a terrible waste. Lifestealer is one of the strongest carries in lane, as well as being an early powerhouse since he really only needs one core item: Armlet. He's more effective as an aggressive hero than a passive farmer, and Phase Boots fits this playstyle perfectly.

Mobility

Take a look at one of the top plays from 2013, where Fnatic exploits Naix's weakness to the fullest. After a frenetic 5v5 teamfight, Fnatic showed great awareness by recognizing that the Aegis on Lifestealer was expiring. Over the next 10 seconds, all 5 players waited, while kiting a stacked N'aix.

Ever since the range nerf to Open Wounds, move speed becomes even more crucial to playing N'aix. Though you may be able to 3 or 4 shot a hero, your move speed may be the difference between a kill and a frustrating, failed gank.

With already a high base speed of 315, Phase Boots's active will let you close the gap on most heroes. In the lane, you can intiate with Open Wounds and phase through the creep wave. In a team fight, you won't have any pathing issues around summons, wards (even Serpent Wards! escape that trap), and other heroes to get to your target. There are few things more satisfying than a smooth kill with Open Wounds, Rage, and Phase Boots Active.

Item Synergy

Drum of Endurance Drum of Endurance comes to mind as one of the first core items on N'aix, next to Armlet. Drums, like Armlet, seems like it was designed for N'aix: stats for mana pool issues, an increase to move speed, and an active for even more speed to ensure that kill. It's integral for a racecar build with Sange and Yasha and Phase Boots, if you want to dart around the map at maximum move speed.

Pro players have recognized this item's utility. It's been bought in 47.9% of pro games and netted a win rate of 52% when purchased first.

Want to take a guess how often everyone else, us pub players, the general populace, buys Drums of Endurance? Take a second. This month, pub players have bought Drums in 7% of games played.

How Should We Recommend?

Valve's recommended items list has a tremendous influence on the item choices of the public. Though Power Treads vs Phase Boots can be a more difficult choice than it seems, the omission of Drums of Endurance is a glaring error. We should take a page from the pros, and from our own common sense, to determine what goes in the suggested items list.

Are there recommended items for other heroes that you find disturbing? Let us know in the comments and we'll investigate!

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63 comments
Mа§таÐøøм

    I like this post, but i have to disagree with the drums, at least on Lifestealer (on a large number of heros im fine with it). I feel that the drums would slow down his other items, skullbasher, maelstrom, things of that nature. I also see what you mean with the phase boots, but i prefer the treads, because after treads and armlet, the skull basher comes next, and with the attack speed from the treads, i should be-able to get a bash and kill the person i want to kill.

    Mа§таÐøøм

      Oh, and also on the recommended items i find disturbing, vanguard on ranged heros, 1. don't get vanguard, 2. never get it on a ranged hero. Like who thought that recommending vanguard on heros like viper was a good idea.

      Axeleton

        Oh god where do I begin?
        Tranquil boots being recommended on axe despite the fact that he's constantly tanking damage to spin and they're always broken. Same with Centaur.
        Treads being core on Magnus despite his obvious need to spam spells and RP's high mana cost. Similar problem with Brewmaster.
        Battlefury being core on Bounty Hunter despite the fact that he needs to be a factor as soon as possible and can't afford to save over 4k gold on a farming item with mediocre damage output for its price.
        Aghanims being core on Gyrocopter despite the fact that it adds barely any damage and he's a carry who needs damage.
        Aghanims, dagon, or Euls being core on support heroes when they'll rarely have the farm to build them, encouraging new supports to farm because they feel they have to.
        Vanguard being core on Viper despite the fact that Mekansm gives better tank for its price and is much more useful on a ranged hero.
        MKB being core on Clinkz where Daedalus synergizes much better with his damage bonuses.

        Just to name the stuff that shouldn't be there, not to mention stuff that should like that battlefury should be core on Antimage and not situational, drums and MKB should be situational on most hardcarries, force staff and ghost scepter should be situational on most supports, no mention of blademail or force staff on Clockwerk, etc.

        The meta changes all the time though, and I understand that Valve might not be able to keep up with every time item builds change, but the point stands that a ton of new players just grab the recommended items without thinking and it hurts their play.

        While we're at it we need to change some of the roles that Valve assigns the heroes. Necrophos should never be played as a support, Earth Spirit is not a carry, Rubick and Nyx should be labeled as supports, etc.

        eggs

          @Mastadoom I've thought about the item choice synergy with treads and proc items such as mjolnir and basher, but he has Rage to scale with it. Of course, it's situational, but I do believe the Phase Boots has more situations than Treads to be a better overall choice. In a pub, being able to close in and initiate with open wounds can tend to make or break a kill.

          im so bad at artifact

            "Pro players have recognized this item's utility. It's been bought in 47.9% of pro games and netted a win rate of 52% when purchased first. "

            But what are the stats when compared to other items like Midas or Armlet? This stat doesn't mean much on its own.

            Shelleg3s

              Can anyone tell me why battlefury is a core recommended item for Bounty Hunter? I played the hero once but I refused buying a battlefury for him that game.

              Mа§таÐøøм

                @Shelleg3s Battlefury is recommended on BH because valve wants you to play him like a hard carry.

                明光村真·老年选手

                  valva‘s recommend items are just for us to take a look at.making choices actually depended on real matching experience.Buy the one you like, and that would leads to a great success.I dont care what our teammates purchased, performance on their items does matters most.
                  the stat is just for fun.

                  Soultrap

                    This reminds me Purge's video.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOmcaqEqyYo

                    Perfect example of worst item picks.

                    Mа§таÐøøм

                      @soultrap what do you mean worst item picks, every thing i learned about dota item picks was from that video. :)

                      Wink

                        One of my favourite blog posts to date. Amazing. And please talk about Vanguard!!

                        Soultrap

                          [ESP*] Wink
                          Ask this guy http://dotabuff.com/players/7286980/matches
                          He knows everything about Vanguard. =)

                          Wink

                            @soultrap
                            Ohmyfuckinggod
                            I actually wanna break something

                            ok wtf is an lg/lb

                              Drum built in 7% of matches?!?

                              Seductive pain

                                Battlefury for bounty hunter is not so bad.
                                Mana, hp regeneration, maximum dmg for this price (4350)..
                                I think it's pretty good.

                                la the yeezy

                                  ^dude it fucking sucks. you know whats better with 4350 gold? A bottle, drums, and a vlads. If you want mana and hp regenaration plus damage, why not build deso and bottle. Bh is a teamfight hero not a farming hero

                                  Soultrap

                                    @Wooolfgang
                                    3 items can't replace 1 item.

                                    my_d00m

                                      But he's absolutely right. Bounty is no carry, but more of a utility hero. This is why you get Vlads, Drums, maybe even AC on him.

                                      Mr.Novák

                                        Battlefury on BH fuckin sux and always will. Battlefury is not a damage item, its a farming item. Bounty doesnt want a farming item, because he shouldnt farm, but fight.

                                        And ad topic, yeah, i also built treads on naix when i started to play dota (where LS was almost exclusively jungling hero)) but then i tried phase-drums-armlet-sange and yasha - basher and its really, really, really good. The problem with mjolnir is, that its a 5k item that gives you almost no damage, just attack speed - and you have already rage for that.

                                        coustic

                                          @Lemur4ek
                                          the point is, that bf is a farming item, whereas bh isnt a farming hero, he needs to be effective as early as possible.
                                          for nearly the same money u get a desolator providing only 5 dmg less but 7 minusarmor which leads to way more dmg early than bf is dealing. furthermore the minus armor u provide is good for ur entire team not only for urself. in addition, by building an aura item like vlads or drum, u help out ur team, especially ur supports even more and u can get something out of it aswell, which is great bonuses, like armor, regen, lifesteal, etc. for less money than u need for bf and u can roam and gank way earlier.
                                          maybe and only for one reason u can go bf when u have utility heroes like magnus or ds where u profit from the cleaved jinada-strikes, but even then im convinced there are better choices. personally i even prefer hex on bh over bf, but thats just my opinion

                                          Vandal

                                            There are times that recommendations are bad for what's not there at all rather than what is there. Example: Sniper has MKB no where in the list, including situational. GL if they get butterfly or are PA.

                                            Soultrap

                                              You all are wrong. Bounty Hunter needs same items as Nyx Assassin. So all you need to do to kill someone: 1) hit from invis 2) use ultimate 3) use ethereal blade 4) use dagon 5) toss shuriken.

                                              Marcus Butthurticus

                                                Oh Dagon...do people understand that Dagon is shit end game? I Seen QoPs and Natures go it, get lot of kills but stop growing end game and lose the game. Cause of said stupid build with lvl 5 dagon.

                                                Soultrap

                                                  Dagon never becomes shit as long as carries build zero survivability items like desolator, daedalus, MKB, MoM and run around with 1k hp.

                                                  coustic

                                                    @Soultrap
                                                    dunno if u troll but there is this one item called bkb, that the whole community somehow hates but thats mostly the solution to such dumb builds

                                                    Soultrap

                                                      @[MRL]EXisTenCe
                                                      And ghost scepter counters other builds.

                                                      This discussion goes nowhere. Ok, lets just say: there are some really bad items builds but they are very rare, in most cases it comes down to player's preferences and play style.

                                                      AUTOMATIC

                                                        can you please use heroes and not heros in your blog posts

                                                        KawaiiSocks

                                                          Fixed)

                                                          C O M A N D A N T E

                                                            That guy who said mjollnir on N'Aix has no idea about dota. 1) Naix doesn't need mjollnir, he needs AC, which gives huge advantage to him, armor, as and armor for everyone, and -5 armor. 2) Phase>Treads on N'Aix in every situation + drums and yasha. Noone even escapes from u (:

                                                            Jorges Sanz

                                                              The root of the problem here is valve not recognising or acknowledging the fact that the metagame is and has always been determined by a community of players usually within the competitive scene. Valve should provide more user friendly features that allows players to "incorporate" community input into item, hero recommendations etc...

                                                              KawaiiSocks

                                                                I would like to disagree on the Mjollnir point. I personally regard it as a very situational item, but it has its use against squishy agility carries, which tend to have a LOT of armour but a very limited HP pool.

                                                                For example, Mortred (Phantom Assassin) has 1746 HP and 17 Armour without any items at lvl 25. So, she has 3526 EHP (without evasion) against physical damage, which is quite a lot. A -5 armour from Assault Cuirass will bring it down to 3003 EHP against physical. So a generic hero with 100 Attack Damage will have to deal 30 AutoAttacks. A generic hero with Mjollnir will have to deal only around 20 autoattacks, since procs of lightning are magic damage.

                                                                And there is an active factor to it that has been buffed.

                                                                It is a very simplistic explanation of why sometimes (very sometimes) Mjollnir can be > Assault Cuirass, but if you are facing a lineup of squishy Agi/Int guys stacking on armour, it can help. And it is a possible farming item for some ranged carries (not exactly superior in terms of farming to Battle Fury, but scales a bit better, while providing a lot of AS). Though I am not a big fan of farming items in general and in the current meta they are usually a waste.

                                                                Strongmind1993

                                                                  Don`t buy midas on naix even you see ppl buy it at competetive scene that`s different. At pub just go phase,drums,armlet and kill all after that situational basher/abysal/deso/ac and whatever is next doesnt matter much

                                                                  Jorges Sanz

                                                                    Another thing to note, if Im not mistaken, its been more than 2 years since the inception of dota 2, I don't think item recommendations (especially for heroes introduced early on) has changed one bit at all... Valve is really making some huge oversight in not making community friendly features for the game "console"

                                                                    KawaiiSocks

                                                                      @BogiDoto
                                                                      One of the points I can't stop making - Midas is a very, very, very bad item. It is only good on Invoker who can get it early, since he REALLY needs that XP boost.

                                                                      @Yan
                                                                      Yes, that's the reason we see BF Bounty, BF Jugger (ok... it can be built sometimes, but very rarely) and other bullshit. People are developing really bad habits before they even start playing D2 properly(

                                                                      Though, if I am not mistaken, Bounty used to be a decent carry with a Crit/Evasion steroid and a rather nice GPM capabilities. And the -armour from track was a cherry on top.

                                                                      Soultrap

                                                                        @KawaiiSocks
                                                                        Never talk shit about other people's items builds. Because you never know... Once I saw Crystal Maiden with desolator in pro match. I was shocked, but think about it for a second. Carry with desolator is like a glass cannon. Why not to let supports to provide this minus armor debuff, while carry can build something like Skadi or Satanic and that will be very tanky carry, he can stay longer in teamfights and do that DPS.

                                                                        So EVERY item is situational. Midas can be very, very, very good item, if there is Chen in opposing team and you play hero with some extra damage on each attack (Viper, Silencer, OD, Enchantress etc), 30 attack speed will never be wasted on them.

                                                                        Same about Battlefury, if have heroes like Magnus or Dark Seer and there are illusions-based heroes in opposing team like Phantom Lancer or Chaos Knight, Battlefury can deal HUGE damage in teamfights.

                                                                        Soultrap

                                                                          @KawaiiSocks
                                                                          I want to tell you my story, btw.
                                                                          I started playing DOTA2 5 months ago. And I never played Warcraft nor any kind of MOBA games before. So I just installed the game and jumped right into the action. My first hero was Dazzle (because of his hair, feel sad they changed it). And you know what? I won that game with 16-3 score (I was like dominating alfa-male). What I want to say? I don't know... Maybe I want to say that Dazzle has low skill requirements. Or maybe I want to say that if you constantly see people picking bad items, keep in mind that server automatically selects players with about the same skills for each match. That means you are no better than them.

                                                                          151A

                                                                            I was gonna come on here and try to talk smack but all the points on here are very legit for the most part. The CM deso part is interesting just because her attack speed is so slow that it seems like a massive waste to me, especially when the majority of team fights that CM gets an oppertunity to be auto attacking(assuming that shes already dumped all of her CD's and damage spells/debuffs), shes likely to get rocked.

                                                                            That being said, in regards to this article, I actually enjoy the fact that many players in "pub" style games pick the suggested items makes me happy because being a VERY oldschool player, I've seen so many different iterations of the 'Metagame'. What that usually allows me to do is be very adaptable to pick the items that other players arent picking up. Or just adjust my current metagame to that which is outside of the "suggested item build". I haven't played dota 2 in a few months now but the best example i can give off the top of my head is the Razor refresher aggy build. People who never came across this build and would build him traditionally as a glass cannon tank or maybe sometimes with the builds involving Vanguard are dealt with rather easily. However, there were a lot of times I could win because people don't know how to adapt to these builds that are outside of the ordinary. And that is where adaptability comes into play. In conclusion, its just the fact that playing as Naix, smarter players just know to build phase boots where as the others follow the suggested items. Knowledge is power and Dota is a game of knowing the right items/recipes at the right time!

                                                                            Soultrap

                                                                              @TaNuKi!
                                                                              Desolator reduces 7 armor for >>>15 seconds<<<!!!
                                                                              You need to land only 1 autoattack and that will be enough for the rest of teamfight.

                                                                              Gustaphos

                                                                                To stay true to the post, I think a DOTA BUFF best % win rate items should be built. I feel there should be a group dedicated to this at the dotabuff team ;)

                                                                                King Ghidorah

                                                                                  The main problem is most people rather randoming/playing different heroes, instead of maining a few. Thus, they are not in a situation where they can prepare for their hero - they have to use what is suggested to them.

                                                                                  And it should be no surprise that in general 98% of all pub players are unable to adapt.

                                                                                  Soultrap

                                                                                    @Smaug
                                                                                    So, you played 2900 matches as OD and built same items every time. Does it helps you to learn the game? I guess not...

                                                                                    KawaiiSocks

                                                                                      @Soultrap - concerning the teammates being in my skill range. I completely agree, Valve might have not given us the best matchmaking ever, but it certainly tries. The thing is that I am currently at 4100 Solo. And I have said countless times that I am rather bad at the game - my reactions are a bit slower than of a proper 4100 and in a messy teamfight I sometimes lose myself. But what I have is a vast knowledge of Dota 2 Mechanics - how everything works and how I can use it to my advantage. This information includes skill interactions, items that counter specific heroes, heroes that counter specific heroes etc. etc. etc. So, I can always find a way to make my skill/item build optimal in response to the enemy team and its lineup. Because of that I manage to win more games than I should with my inferior micro skill - Strategy over Tactics situation. The odds are in my favour before the start of the fight, so I can compensate for my lack of flash reaction. I hope that gives some explanation why me and eggs try our best to provide some extra coverage and discuss items, strategies, metagame, psychology etc. of Dota 2 - we really want the community to develop but we can't possibly provide people with more Dexterity - unlike in the game of Dota we can't just give each of our subscribers an Eaglehorn))

                                                                                      That being said, we still really appreciate the feedback)

                                                                                      Soultrap

                                                                                        @KawaiiSocks
                                                                                        Can you please show in your next blog some examples of your "strategical" items builds?
                                                                                        Maybe with Purge-style replay commentary video. =)

                                                                                        I would be very grateful.

                                                                                        KawaiiSocks

                                                                                          @Soultrap
                                                                                          Everything I have written so far deals with overall "macro" strategy of the game, so I guess you wouldn't mind if I kept writing in my own fashion.
                                                                                          Also, I have considered videos and commentary, but we are not quite there yet.

                                                                                          Soultrap

                                                                                            @KawaiiSocks
                                                                                            Тяжело мне на английском писать. Можешь мне на нормальном человеческом языке объяснить к чему тут видео Fnatic? Они здорово рассчитали время аегиса, но тема ведь не об этом. К тому же у лайфстилера на видео есть и phase boots, и sange&yasha. Т.е. со скоростью у него всё в порядке, а ты говоришь что его слабостью воспользовались, как будто бы у него вообще ни одной ускоряющей вещи нет. Не понятно короче...

                                                                                            KawaiiSocks

                                                                                              Видео, показывающее насколько Лайфстилера просто кайтить - даже с полным запаков в "Racecar" билд. Это одна из самых крупных проблем у милишных кэрри - без саппорта/дизейблов, от них достаточно несложно убежать. Компенсировать это надо.

                                                                                              По содержанию вопросы не ко мне - это не моя статья, хотя она мне очень нравиться. В данном случае я занимался только переводом. И старался делать его максимально приближенным к оригиналу.

                                                                                              SpellHeart

                                                                                                I always go Midas on Naix, right after brown boots. Also I think, along with Nature's Prophet and Invoker, he needs to have Midas in core or at least situational items. Reasons are obvious:

                                                                                                1. This hero is the strongert carry at first levels. He is very bulky and tanky. He needs no any early survival items cause of his Feast, he needs no any damage boost cause of Feast again, and he needs no rushing BKB cause of Rage. So you can easily buy Midas without losing any lane effectiveness.

                                                                                                2. Again, if you go Phase Boots (and you need to go them), Naix greatly lacks attack speed. Midas is one of the best option. Then just go Drums and Armlet to cover all other disadvantages (stats, movespeed and damage). I always get Midas+Drums+Armlet as fast as Drums+Armlet in other game.

                                                                                                3. Experience. All Naix' skills must be maxed as fast as possible, their power scales good, so you want to max them and your ultimate too for greater advantage (400 damage on 25th minute when Naix with Midas gets his level 16 is still great AOE nuke). Also his stats gain (mainly Intelligence) per lever is not so great, and you need to be couple levels above almost any enemy carry to have enough base stats.

                                                                                                Good article, btw, ty for posting, bratishka)

                                                                                                theMTC

                                                                                                  battlefury on bounty hunter. god dammit nothing makes me angrier

                                                                                                  lemmah

                                                                                                    Well, I don't usually look at recommended items, but i don't understand why there is no Armlet for Sven

                                                                                                    Heal Arious

                                                                                                      I checked my lovely Tranquil Boots after your post and strange stats I can see on dotabuff - 2.6mln tranquil boots goes to Crystal Maiden (yes, great boots and from the recommended items) ... but of one most seldom bought item on Crystal Maiden is the Animal Courier ( 2027 ) and Flying Courier ( 284 )? w0w ... http://dotabuff.com/heroes/crystal-maiden/items ... it is at least strange. And the Crystal Maiden is most buying char for the Courier ... http://dotabuff.com/items/animal-courier .