Dota 2‘s recent 7.28b update served mainly as a balance patch addressing the newly introduced Aghanim’s Shard upgrades, but Outworld Destroyer emerged as a notable outlier.
The hero received a litany of buffs to several of his base stats and had small, across-the-board number boosts to his skills and talents. In just two days, the hero’s win rate increased from an abysmal sub-40 percent win rate over nearly three weeks to breaking past the 50-percent barrier.
It’s not all roses for the Harbinger, however. The hero’s weaknesses as a capable carry—namely wave clear and farming capability—are progressively more exposed when players get better. The hero’s win rate peaks at the Archon level before steadily decreasing with each higher skill bracket, according to Dotabuff’s meta trends
It’s especially dire when it reaches pro-level pubs. The hero performs far better in a support role in pro-level pubs, according to Dota2ProTracker at the time of writing—though it’s an admittedly small sample size.
It’s difficult to defy tradition, but Outworld Destroyer’s abysmal 25-percent win rate in the mid lane suggests now is a good time to break away. Here’s why the hero’s new best role is as a support instead of a mid laner and how to embrace his new role and win games.
A mid lane dominator made worse and a poor farmer
Outworld Destroyer’s defining trait as a mid laner was his oppressive capability to literally take his opponent out of the game via Astral Imprisonment. His high base damage, Arcane Orb spam, and impressive base stats were cherries on top.
But the newest iteration introduced with the Mistwoods update has taken away some of Harbinger’s old strength. Though Astral’s improved cast range is a great buff, it no longer traps heroes for a static four seconds through all four levels and prevents your opponent from last hitting. His Arcane Orb now has a cooldown on its first three levels, meaning that you need to max it to get value as a right-clicker.
The hero also lacks farming capability, especially in the current patch. Outworld Destroyer is a ranged intelligence core that relies heavily on his spells to deal damage, thus ruling out several popular farming items like Battlefury and Mask of Madness. His high base attack time of 1.9, good for second-lowest in the game, means that attack speed scales poorer on him than other heroes, further marking equipment like Maelstrom and Hand of Midas as inefficient.
Yet, out went the old, and in comes the new.
One of the best heroes at trading hits
Trading hits is an important job for all heroes. Generally, however, supports on the side lanes are the ones most engaged in doing so to try and create space for their cores to take farm.
Without the hero’s prior history coloring context, his base stats make Outworld Destroyer read like one of the best hit-traders in the game. He now has nearly seven base armor at level one, good for sixth in the hero roster and second for ranged characters. He’s now one of the small percentage of heroes to even have base health regeneration and solid starting damage.
While several lane dominators, like Undying or Lich, rely on copious amounts of Mangoes and Clarities to sustain their high mana usage, Outworld Destroyer doesn’t have that problem. Arcane Orb, Outworld Destroyer’s main trading skill, no longer has a static mana cost, instead consuming a percentage of his mana to deal extra pure damage.
Losing a fixed value means that Arcane Orb won’t hurt quite as much as the hero’s mana drains. But this issue is quickly alleviated once you hit level two and skill Essence Flux. Each Arcane Orb now has a 30-percent chance to restore a percentage of your full mana pool. The two skills’ synergy is clear and allows the Harbinger to be a constant thorn in an enemy’s side.
He doesn’t scale off intelligence as well compared to past versions
Most of Outworld Destroyer’s spells now scale off raw mana instead of intelligence. It might seem pedantic, but it’s a sizable difference in the world of Dota 2.
There are two base items in the game that provide raw mana as a stat: Energy Booster and Point Booster. They build into many items, but the most prominent are probably Arcane Boots and Aether Lens, popular pickups for several support spellcasters.
When it comes to Outworld Destroyer, Aether Lens, which provides 300 mana, is as efficient as a Mystic Staff’s 25 intelligence when purely considering damage done on Arcane Orb and the ultimate Sanity’s Eclipse.
The hero’s mana-stealing mechanic is now tied to Astral Imprisonment instead of Arcane Orb, so casting more spells rather than attacking faster is a larger priority now.
One more small plus to building mana instead of intelligence is making one of the hero’s chief counters, Nyx Assassin, less effective. Nyx’s Mana Burn uses the target’s intelligence as a multiplier, making its name a bit of a misnomer. But it’s great news for Outworld Destroyer players.
Astral Imprisonment is one of the best saves and initiation tools in the game
No matter what role Outworld Destroyer takes, Astral is a multi-faceted skill. Long after the laning phase, the spell’s four-second duration can help an otherwise crowd-controlled friend sit in a safe cocoon, or keep a problematic enemy under wraps long enough for your allies to assist.
Focusing on being a spellcasting support rather than a right-clicker means that there’s even more opportunities for Astral to shine. With Aether Lens and Astral’s cast range buff, the hero can safely sit in the backlines and hone in on important targets on either side.
Keep in mind that Outworld Destroyer can likely still function well as an aggressive mid lane core focused on fighting, especially with his recent buffs and new item addition Witch Blade that’s tailor-made for intelligence right-clickers. But Outworld Destroyer’s lack of wave clear can seriously harm his net worth in low kill-count games, so make sure you have capable initiators or a competent scaling offlaner or support to pick up the slack.
Should the Harbinger become a meta support, it wouldn’t be the first time a conventional core has made the transition.
If you want to learn more about the intricacies of support Outworld Destroyer, you can read this excellent guide from 2B, an Immortal player known for playing conventional carries in the roaming support position.