Three Lane Highway: four and a half shocking Dota facts they don't want you to know

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes earnest, sometimes silly column about Dota 2.

Dota 2 is a complicated game. Everybody knows that. It's so complicated that nobody understands it completely, and that's why we surround ourselves with experts who are able to pierce through Dota's thick fog of mechanical noise to deliver sound commentary and guidance. Today, I am your guide. Tens of minutes have been invested in bringing you the following Dota secrets: cold scientific facts that they don't want you to know.

FACT #1: Wards exist in a state of quantum uncertainty.

You will note that Dota 2 does not keep track of the amount of gold each player has spent on support items—wards, smoke, courier upgrades and so on. This is not an error. It is impossible for the game to record this information because support items do not exist in the way that you or I readily understand.

Like Schrödinger's cat, wards only exist when they are observed by the rest of the team. Until this happens they are both bought and unbought , placed and unplaced. As a support player you may believe that you have bought and placed wards, but this is not the case until your carry, offlaner or mid agrees that you have done so.

This scenario is complicated by several factors. Every skillshot your team misses reduces the number of wards that you have effectively bought. Every time your carry is killed, your wards cease to exist: you never placed them, they had no warning, and everything—everything!—is your fault.

If an allied Mirana misses enough point blank Sacred Arrows, for example, then it is actually possible to reduce the number of observed wards on the map below zero . Not only did you not ward in the way that this particular player would like, you have not warded in the entire game. In fact you have warded so little that perhaps you are reducing the number of wards in other people's games right now .

"GG support no brain" Mirana might say, as another Sacred Arrow sails past an immobilised enemy three feet away. "Report rubick."

Just as the world seemed complete and unchangeable to the peanut-brained tyrannosaur, Mirana's belief in your failure will be unshakable long past the point where the game is lost. You could protest, but science is on her side: you might think you bought wards, but if you had bought wards, I wouldn't suck so much, now, would I .

FACT #2: Every time you use the 'report' function for anything other than its stated purpose, a child's ice cream melts onto a life support machine which, short-circuiting, electrocutes a puppy.

This one sounds like a bit of a stretch at first so I'm going to walk you through it. Let's say that you're in a game and it's going badly. In particular, one of your teammates—a stranger—is having a rough time. Let's say they randomed Broodmother, demanded mid, and have fed ten kills to Death Prophet in less than twelve minutes. They are pushing right up against their respawn timer. It is actually quite difficult, mathematically, to fail as hard as they are failing.

You don't know them, and you don't know their circumstances. They could be ill, or tired, or simply having a bad day. What you do know is that they suck; that they are, to wit, a noob . You probably suck as well, of course, but the matter at hand concerns Broodmother.

"Lol gg reprot brood" you tap into global chat, like a dickhead.

You open the scoreboard, click Broodmother, and select report. You glance at the options available to you and note that—in actual fact—having a bad game isn't grounds for official complaint. You ignore this and choose 'Communication Abuse'. You opt to leave a message for Valve: "ban feeder nub pls."

You are setting a remarkable process into motion. First, an automated system will analyse your report—and the match from which it originates—to discern whether or not it is valid. Having determined that you are being a dickhead, the report is passed on to the AI that controls Valve's network of 'Overwatch' satellites. These orbital platforms normally facilitate the day-to-day running of the company—predicting global trends, locating talented modders, tracking dissidents, and so on—but a false report triggers several dormant subroutines.

The Overwatch network will then begin searching the globe for a very specific scenario. It will look for an infant with an ice cream, a deathbed, and a small dog. The search can take days, weeks, months, but Overwatch is patient. Having located its mark it will then deploy an array of sun-directing mirrors and lenses. A faint beam of warm sunlight is directed earthwards, at the sprinkled summit of a child's much-anticipated treat.

Melting! Falling! Zap, beep, woof! Silence.


And all of this is your fault; all of this happened because you couldn't keep your shit together. Good job, player.

You might be wondering why Valve would install this functionality in this first place. You might argue that they have better things to do. To which I say: hey, man. They're an open company. If somebody wants to wheel their wheelie-desk over to Overwatch Control and install themselves some child-traumatising spacerays, then who are you to stop them? Stop being such a middle-manager. Jesus.

FACT #3: Regular Dagon usage drains ambient fun from the universe.

Fun is a zero sum game. They won't teach you that in school, but it's true. If you're having fun, somebody else isn't. Fun is, much like Hungry Hungry Hippos or capitalism, about stealing everybody else's marbles and hiding them where the 99% will never find them.

There are a couple of ways this applies to Dota 2. Carrying is the most obvious. Players who auto-lock mid for themselves have something of the Goldman Sachs intern about them, too; I can imagine them using the word 'rainmaker' without irony. But that's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about Dagon. A Dagon is more than a magic wand that incinerates people. A Dagon is a declaration. A Dagon says "this game is about me. This game is a fun-funnel, and the fun-funnel is in my mouth, and I am going to have all of the fun, and there will be none for you, peasant."

FACT #3.5: The sound effect for Dagon is actually a sample of Donald Trump's toupé being blown off.

Here's the setup. You're half an hour into a game and your team is doing well. You're Io or

Necrophos or somebody and you're sitting on a pile of assist gold. You think to yourself: what do we need? You could pick up a Pipe of Insight, or a Veil, but it's kind of late for that. Your mouse cursor hovers over the Necronomicon. This would be a solid choice. When you're listening to your better angels you are a team player, and that extra pushing power, that bonus damage, that truesight: yes, you think. We could make use of a Necronomicon.

We . We we we. Why never 'me'? Why never 'I'? This is when you decide to take matters into your own hands. It's at this point that you make a stand for you . You queue up a Dagon and step confidently into the goddamn winner's bracket.

You'll feel great. You'll punish an Armlet-toggling Slardar with your hair-trigger 'fuck you' button and yell something like "beep boop buh-zap, motherfucker!" I know I have. What you can't know at this moment is that the life you have chosen will catch up with you. This feeling of power can't last. All the fun you're having is actively and exponentially draining creation's supply of goodness and joy. Every innocent Keeper of the Light that you pop is a sacrifice on the altar of your hungering id.

You blaze through the midgame like a streak of light the colour of hot blood. You are a ruiner; you create ruins. You sound like the crack of God's belt. You're the goddamn Laser King. But this story does not have a happy ending. You start stealing farm to make that next 1250G recipe. You do shameful things in the jungle. You bottom out alone in the Rosh pit, cursing whoever decided that you couldn't double-tap the hotkey to turn your Dagon on yourself.

You are responsible for accelerating the Fun-Death of the Universe. I'm no mathematician, but if there was a formula for calculating the impact of a Dagon on a Dota 2 match I'm pretty sure it'd look something like this:

Where n is fun, x is the level of your Dagon, and y is Keeper of the Light's pathetic old man tears.

FACT #4: Everything you believe in is a falsehood. Order, pattern, number, sense and hope are lies you tell yourself to give meaning to a meaningless existence. You are a speck, a mote of nothingness, clinging desperately to the notion that you have a purpose. There is no purpose. Reality itself hates you, and you are doomed.

This is more or less the principle behind solo ranked matchmaking.

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.