The Big Gameplay patch might not be here, but we have a whole new hero to keep us entertained and for the first time in a very, very long while we got an actual new carry in the game. One that looks promising, but might need some serious buffs, from the looks of it.
We think it is very much possible to flex Muerta into other roles, but she is a carry first and foremost. She might not have the strongest of steroids or the best farming tools, but she can dish out very serious damage, as long as she has the gold for it.
On top of it, her stats are among the highest for an Intelligence hero. Most notably, she has a 3.0 Agility Growth — the second highest growth in the game for Intelligence heroes. Her Attack Speed and Armor in the late game are well above average. She also has a very respectable 3.3 Int Gain and the only stat she is lacking in is Strength, with only two extra points per level. But who needs tankiness, when you can be Invulnerable?
Well, technically, Muerta is not invulnerable, but it is a hero that breaks the axiom of Spell Immunity and Ethereal Form not being stackable. With her ultimate, Pierce the Veil and Black King Bar active, Muerta can be impervious to both physical and magical damage types.
She can still be stunned by BKB-piercing abilities, like Primal Roar, and she can still take Pure damage from abilities like Sonic Wave, but for most intents and purposes she is, in fact, unkillable. At least for a period of time.
Moreover, in Pierce the Veil we also get the return of a very old classic: transformation projectile dodging. Back in the day, it wasn’t just Manta Style that allowed you to dodge spells with invulnerability. Lycan’s Shapeshift, Dragon Knight’s Dragon Form, Alchemist’s Chemical Rage, Lone Druid’s True Form and Terrorblade’s Metamorphosis could all be used to dodge single-target projectiles. This was removed some time ago, but with Muerta’s Pierce the Veil reintroducing this mechanic to the game, there is a chance it makes a full comeback on a whole roster of transformation heroes.
All of the above might sound a little too broken, but we don’t think it is. Very few players knew it, but purchasing Ethereal Blade, using it on yourself and then pressing BKB would give you the same Invulnerability, even in the last patch. Actually, it worked like that for quite some time now. This wasn’t particularly abused, because it isn’t necessarily that strong.
There are two big distinctions in favor of Muerta, though: the duration on Pierce the Veil level three is double the duration of the Ethereal Blade and, more importantly, Muerta gets to attack you.
What are the main characteristics that make for a good carry hero? Some might say it is the damage output, some might point to farming speed, others will concentrate on survivability and macro aspects.
The reality is — right now there is no easy definition. Heroes like Nature’s Prophet who don’t really have a steroid can carry off the back of their farming speed and pure attribute gains, while heroes who can’t really farm, like Ursa, can make up for it with farming-oriented items. Essentially, the game is free-form and sandbox enough to allow for many different types of carries, so for the sake of the Muerta discussion we are just going to define DPS core heroes as “heroes who simply don’t do enough to be a support”.
Sure, she has a very interesting and extremely versatile ability in Dead Shot. Even without the talent it has an insane reach for some backline poke. It can also be used to force people to run away from you, or, even better, force them to run towards your team. The potential for creative play is very high, but we feel like it isn’t reliable and consistent enough to warrant support play.
Not even the full range of Dead Shot
The Calling is an interesting and seemingly powerful tool, but we feel like the counterplay potential against it is very high. With a 30 second cooldown it is also very restrictive in how it can be used in a fight, but at level four of the ability it can deal up to ~1000 magical damage to a group of targets, so it can be very interesting as a stack farming tool.
At the same time, Gunslinger is definitely a very strong steroid. It is essentially a 50% (70%) chance to attack twice in a single animation. It is great in a teamfight, but it truly shines in a 1v1 duels. Because Muerta can, in fact, hit the same target twice with both pistols. So for the start of a fight it is an extra chance to proc items like Gleipnir on secondary targets, while by the end of the fight it is, essentially, a 50% (70%) 2x Crit. That can Crit itself and provide other benefits like Lifesteal.
Muerta at level 30 has higher base auto-attack DPS than both Juggernaut and Phantom Assassin
The added magic damage on ultimate is just a cherry on top, one that can come in very handy when playing against high armor targets. It can be quite confusing to use against BKB targets and could be on of the reasons Muerta isn’t doing too well right now, but in theory it is exceptional against heroes like Morphling and Terrorblade, as long as you engage after they’ve used their BKBs or you have enough lockdown.
Muerta release is definitely soured by the absence of a long-awaited major patch, but at least we have a new hero to play with. One that is filling a niche that hasn’t seen many new releases in a very long while, while also introducing something new to the game.
All in all, we are probably as disappointed as many of you are. Perhaps even more so, since writing interesting content for Dota is problematic when there are no changes to the game for so long.
At the same time, we remain cautiously optimistic: there has to be a reason for the big patch to be delayed and it will most likely be worth the wait. In the meantime stay tuned for mini-patch trend blogs and Muerta discussions.