"Who needs a big brain when you've got teeth like mine?"
That line, plucked from Tidehunter 's stable of bassy, boastful voice-over, tells you everything you need to know about him. The disenchanted former champion of the Sunken Isles is big, green and—relative to certain other Heroes—straightforward enough to play with your brain turned off. He's a mana-efficient, no-frills initiator and a loveable lug all-around.
You can blame his ultimate for this. Screen-wide, tentacle-driven stuns that last for a sweet 2.77 seconds have a way of making everyone —ally and enemy alike—stop in their tracks.
But let's take a step back and examine Tidehunter through a more technical lens. The melee, strength-focused hero is part Aquaman, part Hulk. He's a team player, a Hero who shines brightest when he's with his posse. Almost everything in his armament reflects this. Gush? Slows, damages and reduces armor. Kraken Shell? It provides marginal damage reduction, sure, but it lets him shed unfortunate debuffs. Anchor Smash? Injures and adds insult to injury by reducing enemy damage output. Both from a traditional and a practical standpoint, Tidehunter is built for initiating combat and soaking damage.
Occasionally dismissed as a one-trick pony, Tidehunter is not without his intricacies. In the hands of a competent player, he's is more than a simple bludgeon—he can be a work of art, and a percursor to bigger, badder things. And while that is excellent, this doesn't change the fact that a hammer to the face, regardless of whether it's being wielded by a novice or a veteran, is still a hammer to the face.
Summons a gush of water to damage an enemy unit, reducing their movement speed and armor.
Gush is, quite literally, Tidehunter regurgitating bilgewater and stomach acids on an adversary. What else would cripple and eat through dense armor? Filtered Avian? Please.
With that taken into consideration, it's an unexpectedly lovely ability. The armor reduction from Gush isn't really comparable to the havoc that Dazzle's Weave can wreck on the enemy team but for a skill that comes with a touch of damage and a 40% reduction in movement speed? It works. It really does.
Because it works in so many possible ways, it's easy to forget that Gush comes with an exorbitant price tag. Compared to the other skills in Tidehunter's arsenal, Gush is expensive, so much so that, in the earliest stages of a hypothetical match, it's the only thing you'll be able to cast before you have to chug down a mana potion.
Much like in real life, careful budgeting is essential here. Make the mistake of overestimating how much mana you have after that initial Gush and chances are you'll find yourself in the midst of your enemies with nothing but a sheepish grin to protect you.
Mana Cost: 120 / 120 / 120 / 120
Cooldown: 12 / 12 / 12 / 12
Damage: 110 / 160 / 210 / 260
Slow: 40% / 40% / 40% / 40%
Armor Reduction: 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
Creates a thick armor shell that reduces physical damage and removes negative buffs when damage received reaches a critical threshold. Kraken Shell does not stack with items that provide Damage Block.
Of all of Tidehunter's abilities, Kraken Shell is probably the one with the least immediate value. But that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. Kraken Shell can be great. Regardless of whether we're talking about 28 or 2000 base damage mitigation at level X , any means of cushioning the impact of a hit is amazing and while it doesn't quite scale into late game, that early 15% reduction (on average, most heroes will be dealing roughly 150 to 175 damage per basic attack by the time you have Kraken Shell maxed) in incoming damage is still pretty darn sweet.
More importantly, however, much like the safety belt we so often take for granted, Kraken Shell will save your life. Take this story as an example.
A friend of mine and his team had cornered an enemy Tidehunter in the river near Roshan. Doom seemed inevitable for the unfortunate Leviathan. As Tidehunter's health dwindled away, the Mirana on his team made one last desperate attempt to save her comrade. She hit her ultimate. Tidehunter became invisible. Just as quickly, my friend's teammate responded with Dust of Appearance .
“Pro,” my pal thought approvingly. The fish would die.
For a split second, Tidehunter returned to view before, just as abruptly, he vanished from sight again.
“You did get dusted, right?” A hesitant inquiry over all-chat.
“... why can't I see—oh. Kraken Shell. Damn it.”
Damage Reduction: 7 / 14 / 21 / 28
Damage Threshold: 600 / 600 / 600 / 600
Tidehunter swings his mighty anchor to damage nearby enemies and reduce their attack damage.
While Tidehunter is normally picked for that outrageous ultimate of his, Anchor Smash is what puts him completely over-the-top. His third ability is what separates leviathans from bottom feeders, what anchors him as one of the best initiators ever.
Even after taking the maritime menace's shallow mana pool into account, Anchor Smash, with its low cost and near-negligible cooldown, is still delightfully spammable. Four seconds? 60 mana? It doesn't really get better than that.
But wait, it does: Enemies caught within Anchor Smash's generous radius of effect will receive a 40% reduction to their base damage for up to six seconds.
In a game so often dominated by hard-hitting, autoattack-loving carries like Anti-Mage and Drow Ranger, Anchor Smash is a godsend. At the cost of a measly 60 mana, it allows you to almost halve the damage output from any given hero. Sure, it does nothing against, say, Lina 's ultimate, but it can certainly make Night Stalker less of a reason to wet your pants.
Mana Cost: 30 / 40 / 50 / 60
Cooldown: 7.0 / 6.0 / 5.0 / 4.0
Damage: 75 / 125 / 175 / 225
Damage Reduction: 40% / 40% / 40% / 40%
Duration: 6 / 6 / 6 / 6
Radius: 400 / 400 / 400 / 400
Slams the ground, causing tentacles to erupt in all directions, damaging and stunning all nearby enemy units.
In a perfect setting, you'd be equipped with every item that you need, be blessed with phenomenal, catlike reflexes and no lag whatsoever. The enemy will be bunched in a group. You'll blink in, a watermelon-patterned behemoth of death and destruction, and hit R for Ravage. Ecstatic screaming ensues. A disgruntled enemy will sullenly announce ”GG.” “Good game,” you'll think to yourself, as you let a smile unseen curve your lips as the team marches onwards to enemy's last bastion of defense. Yes, this is the sort of MOBA memory you'll stow away as a future story for your grandchildren.
It doesn't always happen like that.
In fact, it usually doesn't. Generally speaking, it's more likely to go like this:
Your Naga Siren will decide it's high time to sing the song of her people. Why? Because she is the prophesied carry, because an ultimate that temporarily emasculates both teams (enemies will neither move nor take damage during Siren's performances) is apparently far more effective than a damaging, screen-wide stun. Because she damn-well wanted to.
"But I thought I was initiating!" She'll remark as your head sinks against the keyboard.
No one ever said it was easy being green. That said, Ravage still rocks. It's one of the reasons that Tidehunter sees so much play. Even at level 1, his ultimate boasts of an impressive 885 radius and a sizable 2.02 stun. As you might have guessed, it isn't too hard to hit your mark with Ravage – all it really takes is the ability to be within the same general vicinity as the enemy. Hit 'R' to win, idiot teammates notwithstanding.
Mana Cost: 150 / 225 / 325
Damage: 200 / 325 / 450
Radius: 825 / 925 / 1025
Duration: 2.02 / 2.32 / 2.77
(Buy these items or we can't be friends.)
For all of his stellar qualities, Tidehunter's almost painfully mana inefficient, a gas guzzler if there ever was one . Consequently, no other form of footwear better complements Tidehunter than a pair of Arcane Boots. To provide a bit of perspective on the matter, Arcane Boots will bolster Tidehunter's existing mana pool by an additional 250 points—that's more than enough for two extra Gushes. Once you throw in Arcane Boots' active ability—it feeds you and allies within a certain radius 135 mana—there's really no other reason to opt for different shoes.
Blink Dagger is Tidehunter's little black dress : simple, perfectly suited for every occasion and an absolutely essential part of his wardrobe. Though a somewhat costly investment—2150 gold isn't exactly lunch money—it's one that is worth its weight in precious metals, primarily because it circumnavigates Tidehunter's biggest weakness: his lack of maneuverability. With a Blink Dagger, Tidehunter won't have to worry about his torpid turn rate or his minimal talent at crowd control. Instead, he'll be able to pretend to be a freakin' ninja albeit one that has more in common with sashimi than the folk who eat it.
Early game is an interesting beast. Depending on who you talk to, the correct method for playing Tidehunter can differ drastically. For some, like a friend of mine who routinely engages in high-level games, Tidehunter's natural habitat is either the offlane or the aggressive trilane . In the former, his role is to harvest as much gold and experience as possible, to disrupt his opponent's attempts at creep-based agriculture and be as much of a pain as possible without compromising his safety. If he's part of a three-way, Tidehunter's role changes a bit. Here, he often finds himself instigating contact between neutral creeps and his own or aggressively spraying bodily fluids of some variety on the enemy.
For others, like Loveless and this errant League of Legends player on DOTAfire , Tidehunter can be more of a supportive character or an aggressor in a two-man show. It varies, really, especially in public games where nothing is really impossible.
Depending on the setup of the match, Tidehunter's skill build will change as well. Should Tidehunter be positioned in the solo offlane or in any other similar scenario, Anchor Smash will take priority over Gush. Inversely, if the Hero ends up responsible for catalyzing kills, Gush often gets maxed out first. Regardless of the situation, however, Kraken Shell is usually left for last. Though it offers increased damage reduction, its importance is far outweighed by the other skills in Tidehunter's repertoire. (Needless to say, Ravage is leveled at every possible opportunity.)
Once mid-game approaches, things become less ambiguous. Ultimately, Tidehunter was created for one purpose and one purpose only: to initiate fights and to mitigate all incoming damage, something that becomes all too easy after the introduction of a Blink Dagger. With the aforementioned accessory, Tidehunter will be able to catapult himself into the center of his unsuspecting enemies to cast Ravage before following up with an Anchor Smash and the usage of Gush on anyone attempting escape.
The rest of the game generally follows the pattern: Blink. Ravage. Anchor Smash. Gush. Rinse and repeat. What usually varies toward end game are the items that you purchase after that all-so-crucial Blink Dagger. If the other team is heavy on stuns or magic damage, it's not uncommon to see a Black King Bar or a Pipe of Insight fitted into Tidehunter's shopping list. Shiva's Guard, however, is frequently the tertiary purchase of choice, thanks Tidehunter's normal placement in any team fight. Should the game drag on long enough, a Refresher Orb can make an appearance as well. More eclectic picks such as Vladimir's Offering, Assault Cuirass and even Radiance have all been made to work—it's largely up to the individual. So long as you don't deviate from the core formula, Tidehunter can be a swimmingly easy Hero to captain.
Cassandra Khaw is a street dancer, an entry-level audiophile, a voracious reader and an itinerant freelance journo for places like Tech Hive, PC World, Indiegames Blog, PC Gamer and more. When not otherwise working at a weird hour, she can be found chasing down confederates in DOTA2 is a desperate attempt to keep them healed. Like every other hipster Asian out there, she started playing DotA about a decade ago and still misses Riki's original Ultimate.