There's a new Dota patch and you need to buy a BKB

Arc Warden

Three Lane Highway

Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2 and wizards in general. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

After weeks of community-wide hysteria, we have our patch notes. We have our test client update. We have our new hero, our anticipated map changes, our new items, our hero revamps, buffs, nerfs, and so on. We are entering the era of 6.86, and I’m definitely still struggling through the is this real life stage of patch absorption.

Clockwerk’s cogs form a circle. You can plant and eat ‘happy little trees’, an inclusion that I’d love to be able to take credit for but almost certainly can’t. Riki has a Riki version of Omnislash, Magnus has an absurd Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade, and boosting ability power with items has finished its fretful immigration process and is now a fully nationalised citizen of the kingdom of Dota 2.

There will be analysis to be done for a good while yet, and I wouldn’t expect the pro metagame to settle for months. The jungle changes alone will see to that: the offlane as we knew it is dead, with new pulling and farming options available to both Radiant and Dire. In the meantime, the rest of us are going to be living through the post-patch period where everybody wants to try the new hero and everybody wants to show off their new cosmetics. With that in mind, my survival guide for the early days of 6.86 boils down to five words:

Buy a Black King Bar

I know, I know. Nobody actually ever wants to buy a BKB. Everybody wants their damage items, their mobility, their lifesteal, their whatever. I have been telling people (including myself) to buy a BKB for as long as I have been playing Dota. BKB is the boring safe option, Dota’s equivalent of putting your Christmas bonus into a savings account. But I could buy a new PC is an equivalent train of thought to but I could buy a magical crossbow that explodes people. Both are tempting. Both are, probably, unwise. You need to bank that cash. You need to invest in the magic stick that makes you immune to wizards.

Reason one: we are going to see a lot of Arc Warden mid. Arc Warden is an agility hero, but nobody is going to build him as an auto-attacker in pub games. The potential to abuse his ultimate is simply too great, too appealing. Tempest Double allows him to create a temporary duplicate of himself that can use all of the main Arc Warden’s items with their cooldowns refreshed. This means, in the first instance, double Hand of Midas. And all of that double-gold is going to go on double Dagons. All of it.

No no no. I hear you saying that double Necronomicon is better, and that double Scythe of Vyse is better, and so on. I hear you. You’re probably right! But have you ever played a pub game of Dota 2? Have you ever played against Dagon Bounty Hunter, Dagon Riki? You are going to play against Dagon Arc Warden. A lot. Every game, probably, for a while.

Still don’t believe me? Fine. I’ll spell it out to you in terrible Photoshop.


This is Dota now. This is Dota for a while.

Who will Arc Warden face in mid? Zeus. He is going to face Zeus because Zeus has an Arcana now, and people are going to buy it, and they’re going to want to show it off. Zeus is also going to benefit from new itemisation options—Aether Lens making sure that no, you can’t run from heaven—and from Arcane Runes, which boost Lightning Bolt obnoxiousness by 30%-plus.

People are also going to figure out how fun and horrible core Venomancer is, with the buff to Venomous Gale. You’re going to get Gushed on from 1800 units by Tidehunter’s crazy Aghanim’s upgrade, or kidnapped by Kunkka’s new upgraded Ghost Ship. You are going to encounter Earth Spirit in Captain’s Mode, god help us. Bristleback will be sneezing on you and all of your friends in a 600 AoE. Disgusting magical nonsense is coming. It is already here.

There is a solution to this problem, as Gyrocopter or Sven or Phantom Assassin or whoever it is that you want to play, and it’s called buying a BKB. Seriously. You should have been building it previously, and you should definitely be building it now.

Supports: buy a Glimmer Cape and pray.

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Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.