Candy Or Death: DOTA 2′s ‘Diretide’ Event

By Nathan Grayson on November 1st, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

'Tis the season to be whatever this thing is.

By my estimate, there are 327 billion videogame Halloween events, but they all tend to share a couple commonalities between them: 1) they do the bulk of their grim work before or on Halloween, and 2) many of them sorta aren’t very interesting. DOTA 2, though, has dumped out its pumpkin pale to reveal an entire new mode, complete with its own mysteeeeeerious metagame. Meanwhile, it’s keeping the festivities going until… well, nobody’s really sure. That said, the new items expire on November 12th, so draw your own conclusions. For now, though, let us not worry about that. Instead, let’s turn our doting gazes on poor, malnourished ancient terror Roshan. He lurks beneath the break, million-year-old maw glistening with unquenchable candy lust. Awwww. I kind of want to give him a hug.

My desire to hug Roshan, unfortunately, clashes slightly with my stated objective of ultimately banding together with the other team to kill him as he flies into a sugar-born berserker rage. First, though, Roshan hunts for Greevil Taffy while the two teams attempt to collect as much of it as possible. Then, when Roshan drops, the winning team receives a smattering of essences and Greevil eggs. Nourish the latter with the former over the course of the event and, er, something will happen. That’s the mysteeeeeeerious part. WoooooOOOOooooOOOOooo.

It all seems quite well put-together. My DOTA skills aren’t what they used to be, but how’s Diretide going so far, people who actually know what they’re doing? Do you know what’s inside your egg? I mean, I assume it’s, you know, a Greevil, but I’m really hoping it’s actually Peter Molyneux.

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44 Comments »

  1. LintMan says:

    Do you mean “pail”, or is that another UK/American spelling difference?

    Anyway, is DOTA2 out already? Or is that a beta of some sort?

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      It’s in closed beta.

      • Sugoi says:

        True, but I thought almost anyone interested had already gotten an invite. If you have any friends who play the game at all, they’ll doubtlessly wind up with extra keys to give out.

        • Bloodoflamb says:

          I’ve played more than 400 games, and don’t have any beta keys…

          • Sugoi says:

            All I know is that one of my friends who plays DOTA2 frequently has gotten two, and another who plays it almost religiously has gotten several more than that.

            I actually feel kind of like a jerk that one of them gave me a key when I’m not very much into the genre.

        • Wild_Marker says:

          I got an invite on the Crhistmas event, and I traded it for a new Arkham City. God bless steam Trade and the crazy ass hat market.

        • mariusmora says:

          If anyone is interested and don’t wants to wait a month you can try to get it on http://www.steamgifts.com
          There’s plenty of dota 2 beta keys at the moment. :) I just won a key ^^

          Of course, you can be lucky and win it in 2 hours (like me), or spend your life trying haha

    • Edradour says:

      If you sign up for the beta right now it takes approx. 1 month and you get your invite.
      You could say its already released…i mean look at the steam stats http://store.steampowered.com/stats/ i dont think it will get that much more players when its released because its really easy to get in ( plust they lately handed out new beta keys to everyone, atleast everyone i know has gotten 1-2 keys )

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Are you kidding me? Of course it’ll get bigger than that.

        Realize that there are untold multitudes of people with few or no friends who play games like Dota 2, or even on Steam.

        LoL is free to play and has 500,000 concurrent users at times. I don’t imagine Dota 2 will be that big, but I do imagine it’ll get quite a lot bigger after it goes real free to play.

        I also think some people who have received keys vastly overestimate how often keys are handed out, or that people do anything with them. In the year+ I’ve had dota 2, I have 2 bonus keys, and only recently just gave out the second one.

        • Edradour says:

          well i dont know how often you get keys, all i can say is that i received an invite 1 month after i signed up with the hardware survey and a friend of mine got his 2 weeks after he signed up….

      • Kakkoii says:

        Totally wrong. There is no guarantee at all that you will get an invite by doing that survey. I know many people who have taken it more than 6 months ago and still have yet to get an invite, while I got mine a week after the survey.

        I’m guessing for the most part, they have an automated system that randomly picks from people who have done the survey, once in a while. Also, I never got another batch of extra invite this month, even though I play a tonne. That is also random. They are slowly pushing out invites as they expand their server capacity and are more confident in their system’s ability to handle so many players.

        There’s a difference between easy to get, and totally free. When it becomes available for everyone to just instantly download, that opens it up to the millions of people who are only slightly interested right now. Most people don’t want to have to put effort in to try the game, or pay money. Look at how many players LoL has, that’s a massive market that DotA 2 has to eat from.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      It might be a UK thing, but I’m not entirely certain.

      A pale (n) is an area that is enclosed by borders/fences. Part of the etymology of pail is “pale pan.” Some also theorize that the use of “pale” in this regard might be the origination of “pale ale.” It was common for people to go to a pub (bar, whatever) and order a large quantity of beer to take home. The beer was often dispensed into a bucket, or pail. The most common beers were ales, since producing a lager was much more difficult, requiring cold fermentation. Thus, beer in a pail (or “pale pan”) was colloquially referred to as “pale ale.” At least, that’s one popular theory floating around.

      Also keep in mind that beer was often times much safer to drink than water. One of NYC’s terrible plagues was because the local drinking water was contaminated with feces. In 1832 contaminated water killed around 2,000 New Yorkers in just one month. And, yes, I said “one of NYC’s terrible plagues,” because there were a few. In 1798 Yellow Fever killed around 2,000 New Yorkers. There were also plagues in 1805, 1819, and 1822.

      There’s a bit in David Grann’s book of essays, The Devil & Sherlock Homes, where he talks about NYC’s water supplies and the aqueducts they then built, as well as the new aqueducts they’re building now. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.

  2. SystemiK says:

    So halloween o when the event is officially over?

  3. MrMud says:

    Its incredibly poorly balanced as heroes with movement abilities are able to easily raid the opponent teams stash.
    That said its a fun idea even if its not particularly entertaining for more than a few times.

    • Barnaby says:

      I don’t necessarily agree with this. I do think it’s biased towards certain heroes, but not necessarily ones with movement abilities. Play Puck and tell me how easy it is to raid their candy bucket. I do believe that heroes that scale quickly are the easiest ones to win with. I’ve played Templar Assassin again and again and I usually win when I do. Same goes for Viper. Get a hero that scales well and you will destroy the other team. People play Anti-Mage and Faceless Void almost every game, but since they are hard carries they really aren’t that effective, especially if their team doesn’t win early game.

      To be honest though, I’m playing it mostly for the items as the Roshan fight is super tedious after you’ve done it a few times.

    • Malk_Content says:

      The trick to avoid this happenening to you is simply leave someone big and meaty behind at base. It might not be the most enjoyable of jobs. Remember the more the enemy tries to steal the closer they came to death. Just played a match as Centaur doing that and not a single candy was stolen from me.

  4. Bloodoflamb says:

    “Death, please. No, cake! Cake, cake, sorry.”

  5. Sugoi says:

    This is only tangentially related, but…

    I find it kind of obnoxious and inexplicable that so many of the new TF2 items are restricted to Halloween and full moons, while DOTA2 items are without exception usable year-round. Not so much because the restrictions are unfair (they are), but because it seriously hurts the sales of high quality submissions which really deserve some compensation for their efforts.

    I’d like to see Valve explain the logic behind that distinction, but it seems improbable they’ll comment on it.

    • Barnaby says:

      I imagine DotA2 will move in that direction eventually. I’m actually quite shocked at the amount of items they are giving out for this event. I agree with you though that the TF2 holiday events are quite shitty in what they actually give up and the weird requirements they place on them. Being somebody that has never paid for any items (just the game), it’s pretty disappointing to see how pitiful the drop rates are in TF2. I have to say DotA2′s policy of giving you an item drop every 1000 battle points is a much much better system.

      • Sugoi says:

        My complaint was more that submitters are paid proportionately to how many people buy their items in the store. Since the submitters both did not know that their items might be restricted and the decision to restrict some items and not others seems fairly arbitrary, many of the best items that were accepted may not make much money for their creators.

        This is doubly inconsistent when there are no restrictions at all on DOTA2 items except when they are available for purchase.

        • Kakkoii says:

          Well, I think the main reasoning behind this is that they are a lot more stringent on what items are allowed into DotA 2. We don’t get any extremely silly and obnoxious Holiday or in general items like TF2 does, so it’s acceptable to have them on year round, since they don’t affect the gameplay much and generally fit the game universe.

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      None of the new items are “seasonal” though. That is the big difference.. No one is getting pumpkin heads and witches hats as drops. The new items all fit the character lore as well as the previous items.

  6. pupsikaso says:

    You! Cake or death?

  7. Chris England says:

    I gave this a try last night and was a bit unimpressed. Your character levels and gains gold super fast, so woe betide anybody who doesn’t pick a carry, and it’s nowhere near as interesting or varied as the normal game.

    Worth playing a couple of times maybe (presumably to get your Greevil courier from the egg) but it’s a lot weaker an offering than, say, the TF2 Mann vs Machine update.

    • MrMud says:

      I didn’t understand how the Greevil stuff works (or how you even get an egg) from my 3 games yesterday.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        You should get an egg from killing Roshan. Unless you are in low priority from ragequitting/feeding etc in which case you get no drops. Once you get the egg you get essences: Exhort, Wex, Quas as well as some slightly rarer ones, and can use these to craft the Greevils.

        http://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/12dwok/how_different_types_of_essences_affect_the/

        This reddit thread details what combinations make each courier.

        • MrMud says:

          No eggs and zero abandoned games. Guess I’m just shit then, thanks Valve.

          *edit* Turns out I got an egg, just no essences

          • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

            Essences drop over time similar to cosmetic items.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            Perhaps I should of been clearer, the essences are part of the pool of stuff you can get from killing roshan but not from the items you get for the candy race. There is a possibility you could get another cosmetic item but essences are more likely dropped.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Ah yes, Chris, this is a point I didn’t have room to mention in my essay below. Because you get so much XP and gold so quickly, it feels like some sort of instant gratification version of DOTA which obliterates the joy of slowly building up your character in the normal game – and results in carries being the only sensible heroes to play (other than that one tanky guy on defense).

      I understand why they did this, I guess, but it’s yet another reason the mode feels like a dim shadow of normal DOTA.

      Speaking of pacing, I think we should play to a specific candy amount rather than a time limit. I’ve been in ridiculous matches that ended with a candy score of 110-0 after 20 minutes, with one team stuck in their base during phase 2 because they’re just so far behind. At least put in a trigger where the first part of the game can end if one team is just too far behind. :(

      • Malk_Content says:

        To be honest you’ve basically described what can happen in a normal DOTA game. 20 minutes in and your side can’t do anything. At least this one ends faster. Also putting a cap on would remove some of the “omg amazing comeback moments.” Of course in an extreme case like 110-0 like you described that is very shitty for the poor team (I’ve been on both sides of it) but I see that more of a symptom of DOTA2 not having a vote to concede button (needing majority votes from the conceding team of course.)

      • HisMastersVoice says:

        Playing hard carries in this mode is a recipe for disaster unless they have blink/invisibility, and even then they get hard countered by Centaur/Magnus/Slardar camping the bucket. You’re better off playing ganker and semi carry utility heroes since with farming out of the equation, having a strong early and mid level game is essential. Every fight you win early just pushes you further ahead, and I’d rather have Night Stalker at level 6 than a Spectre at level 6 if I’m to fight a teamfight early.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Interesting thoughts. I’ve seen opinion go both ways, and I’ve had success with all sorts of heroes on my team. One thing that is the same as vanilla DOTA: Team play means more than anything else.

          I want to try a couple really different strategies, things like Earth Shaker or Tidehunter with force staff, blink dagger, and stacked aura items during the Roshan fight. But cursory inspection of the mode always gives me the impression that the rapid leveling and huge gold income favor carries over characters like NS, who fall off later on.

          I think there are also two conflicting goals at play here: Winning the prolonged teamfight/skirmish of the candy-collection stage, and killing Roshan as fast as possible. There are heroes I would love to play during the first parts of the game that would be almost entirely useless later (Disruptor, Sand King, Keeper of the Light, etc.).

          • Edradour says:

            It doesnt really matter though, you need 2 carrys with crit to kill rosh in a reasonable amount of time unless you want to get into the hall of fame which is very unlikely if you dont play with a stack of atleast 8 people trying to get into one game together…
            I picked a lot of heroes you normally cant get full items with ( ogre magi ) just to have a little bit of fun, there are so many tryhards in these games anways who’ll always pick magina, tinker and windrunner and thats all you need.
            The most annoying thing right now are the guys who pick TA and camp the bucket, its a very good strategy but come on just for one additional item? :/
            Though i guess you could do it with any burst hero and a shadow amulet…

  8. S Jay says:

    Valve should make some animated feature movies. They are so good at this.

  9. Brise Bonbons says:

    The new game mode itself is a mixed bag. I know a lot of people are enjoying it; personally I find it pretty dull.

    There are 3 phases: Pre-game, each player sees a random item they will get if their team captures more candy in phase 1 and 2. Phase 1 lasts 10 minutes, in which teams steal candy from the opponent’s bucket or pick it up when Roshlings (megacreeps that accompany waves) die. In phase 2 (another 10 minutes), Roshan enters and selects a player that he will attack unless given candy, while phase 1′s candy stealing continues. Note that the more candy you give Roshan, the more armor he has in phase 3.

    After phase 1 and 2, the players on the team with more candy get the items they were shown during the pre-game. Then Roshan runs to a clearing and becomes attackable, and every player is given max gold to buy a full set of items. You are now shown another item (which has a small chance of being an essence, necessary for the “hatching your egg” metagame), which you will win after both teams kill Roshan. Note there is no penalty for dying at this point, enemy players are immune to your attacks, and it is otherwise very difficult *not* to kill Roshan in this stage. It just takes a really long time if people are bad at avoiding his (very repetitive) instagib spells.

    There are a number of glaring issues with the mode in general:

    Because of the nature of the game mode, there is basically one optimal team setup: A sustaining brawler (ideally with a debuff to put on Roshan later) to defend your candy, and several high-mobility carries, ideally with blink of some sort, to steal their candy.

    I am guessing that showing the item you will win for phase 1 and 2 before playing is an issue, but I can’t be certain. There has been a leaver right at the start of game every damn time I’ve played…

    Phase 1 and 2 work at cross purposes with phase 3. In phase 3 you want everyone to be max level, ideally, to kill Roshan faster; but in phase 1 and 2 you’re fighting each other for candy, and you want to out-level the other team. This isn’t a huge issue, but it feels like everyone should be bumped to max level to fight Roshan, else it feels like playing well in phase 1 and 2 punishes you in phase 3 by making the final fight take longer.

    Essences have a very low drop rate in my experience, exacerbating the sense that the mode is drawn out and takes longer than it should do, and the next point….

    The biggest issue, this mode just feels shallow. There is very little variety, which is ridiculous given that DOTA’s greatest strength is its diversity of objectives and heroes. There needs to be more to do on the map, for players who don’t want to pick Slarder or Anti Mage every game.

    Anyway, I hope this is informative, I really don’t mean to rant, but the original article didn’t explain the mode very clearly (which I can’t blame Nathan for, since the info from Valve isn’t very clear).

    • Edradour says:

      Its a fun little game mode for halloween….srsly what did you expect? It will be disabled in 2 weeks and maybe returns next year with a little bit more refinement but its not meant as a serious game mode to go along with the classic one

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Well, if they expect me to play it several dozen times (in order to fill my egg up), I expect it to not be stale and formulaic after the first couple games. :(

        I understand Valve didn’t need to do it and we should be thankful, etc. But how hard would it have been to make some of the neutral creep camps drop candy, or to make destroyed towers drop candy; you know, anything to add an alternative gameplay choice other than “run to enemy bucket, take candy, blink out”.

        • Jon says:

          In the second phase, where Roshan is roaming around, the hard neutral camps do drop candy.

          If you’re constantly getting raided then don’t put your candy in the bucket. You can hide it anywhere on the map you want.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Interesting, obviously I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info!

            I do want to point out that in trying to keep my OP brief (see how well that worked), I failed to mention some of the really great stuff in this update:

            Amazing new art all over the map, including wonderful little details like dismembered hands running around on their fingers and Roshan’s Terminator “thumbs up” as he sinks into the lava when killed.

            Charming Death Prophet announcer. <3

            The mechanics of phase 2 are actually really interesting, and Roshan running around the map petulantly demanding candy is hilarious.

            I love the fact that teams must cooperate to kill Roshan at the end. And his abilities (and the fact that giving him candy raises his armor) are quite interesting. I just wish the fight was a little shorter for average groups (though clearly good groups killing him in under a minute indicates we could be doing something different).

            The super generous item drops which go way beyond what is necessary are a fine marker of Valve's generosity, I think.

            *

            Maybe I just need to make an effort to play the mode differently, and I wouldn't find it quite as boring in practice. Dunno.

        • Vorphalack says:

          ”But how hard would it have been to make some of the neutral creep camps drop candy”

          They do, after phase 2 starts. Every jungle creep has a chance to drop a candy. I won a game last night by farming up Lycan during phase one for a super fast jungle farm, then chain clearing the jungle for 10 mins with a courier following me to hold the candy. Got a great reaction from the enemy team when I dumped 40 candy in during the last 15 seconds to bring us ahead from a 30 deficit ¬ ¬

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Guess it’s time to experiment, then. Thanks for the tips!