Should I use force staff and glimmer cape to enable my abilities? Should I stay in lane, constantly trading? Should I push lanes and farm jungle?
If I'm playing a support then the way I understand things the answer to all three questions is a firm and emphatic no. Force staff and glimmer cape are bought primarily to enable my cores' abilities. Staying in lane and spamming spells deals damage and burns enemies' gold for regeneration (and sometimes it even allows us to kill enemy laners and take down the turret), but it also leeches xp from the core. Instead, as a 5 I should be constantly pullilng waves, which is a far harder setback for enemy laners while also allows my core to get solo xp. As a 4 I should be trying to interrupt enemy pulls and stack ancients, again not leeching xp. Pushing lanes and farming jungle steals these resources from my cores. A pos 4 is supposed to get the scraps the cores cannot attend to, but a 5 typically has nothing left to eat and thus usually gets almost nothing – that's OK becauese heroes played as pos 5 also need nothing.
The way I stop understanding things is when I read that Crystal Maiden is a typical hard support, one of the hardest supports in the game. I suppose I must fundamentally misunderstand the hero, because I always regarded CM as one of the greedier supports.
Let me attempt a comparative analysis of CM vs Lich:
- Has an absolutely devastating ult, but also an unreliable one – pulling it off means CM needs to position herself dangerously and since it's a channeled ability she needs to stay in such a position for a long time. Force staff and/or Blink Dagger seem mandatory if she's supposed to position herself for the ult (and afterwards escape in one piece if possible). If her ult is not supposed to be immediatelly cancelled she also requires glimmer cape and BKB.
- Aghs enhanced ult, unless cancelled early or countered with BKB, easily kills enemy squishes and glass cannons as well as disabling enemy righ clicker carries.
- If CM is underlevelled her ult is no longer that devastating, questioning its usefulness given the requirements and risks to execute it correctly.
- Outside of her ult, her other two combat spells are Q and W. Q is great for harassing during laning phase since it can easily hit both enemy laners for full damage, but falls off late game. W is outstanding either for stopping an enemy escape or to disable enemy right clicking carries – however, right clicking carries are typically well protected by their team and positioned safely, again raising the need for some positioning devices as well as not being so severely underlevelled and underitemized that CM dies for trying to place a W because an enemy hero sneezes on her.
- Her E allows her to spam her spells. If she plays as a typical 5 she's not going to be in combat often, because she will instead be busy stacking / pulling / warding / dewarding / collecting runes. E will then be essentially wasted.
- While not nearly as good as pushing and farming as some other supps who specialize in this, she can still do this. Can push lanes reasonably well with Q, especially wiht lv 25 talent. W has an explicit buff for farming jungle creeps. Q and W, if cast on the same camp, allow her to clear a jungle camp reasonably fast. Spell spammability from E helps. If enemies try to punish her for pushing a lane she might escape with W + items (just might). The explicit perk of W against jungle creeps seems to hint she is made greedy by desing.
- Shoots his ult at the closest enemy and runs. Doesn't need to put himself into danger and doesn't need positioning = doesn't need items that help alleviate these issues.
- Q can be used to harass enemy laners early on, but seems a bit worse than CM's Q; like CM's Q it also falls off later on. W is outstanding but it is put on an allied hero rather than on an enemy hero, which again means Lich does not need help with positioning and does not need to alleviate his survivability problems. E, like CM's W is a brutal disable that requires Lich to get dangerously close to an enemy and furthermore it is a channeled ability, unlike CM's W. Due to this I've never been able to use E in the middle of intense combat – I suppose it should rather be used as a finisher, to prevent an enemy escape, or (although I'm rarely able to pull it off) to start a gank.
- Has mana problems – cannot spam spells anyway. Needs his time off combat or must be buying lots of clarities.
- Can farm with Q and W, but the spells are not spammable (mana problems). I think the pushing is not as efficient as CMs but I'm not sure – needs checking. Less options for escaping in one piece, his E drags enemies in his direction him which is the opposite of what he would want in such a situation.
The bottom line – it seems to me that unlike Lich, CM does need items and levels to be effective in combat. Without both she can mostly do stuff like (de)warding / stacking / etc, which is good but being relegated just to this hampers her potential considerably. Her kit allows her to get resources in ways a hard support is typically not supposed to use.
Honestly: Where is the mistake in what I wrote above? I really suppose I should stop playing CM because it seems I fundamentally misunderstand the hero…
Side note: People agree that Aghs is a big no-no on CM, but curiously enough, ImmortalFaith lists it as a "core" item for her (alongside other expensive items like BKB and aeon disk) – and AFAIK ImmortalFaith's guides are considered good. (OTOH ImmortalFaith typically lists expensive items for supports: Lich for example gets Aghs and aeon disk according to him)
- Why does ImmortalFaith list expensive items as ‘core items’ for supports?
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More about Dota 2Post: "CM as a greedy support? My hard time with understanding the hero" specifically for the game Dota 2. Other useful information about this game:
- top 10 things that hard support in 1k does wrong without realizing
- What are the “classes” in Dota 2? What I mean by this isn’t roles like 1-5, but what the hero is supposed to do in teamfights, and what stats they are supposed to build.
- The state of the carry heroes.
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