History Gems: The Great War

Hello there!

My name is oblio and I’ll be your host throughout this series of article about “History Gems”: quality articles, books, videos and all sorts of interesting things about history that you might have missed.

Each article will focus on one specific “gem” I have found and that I consider especially interesting or entertaining. I want to emphasize that I am in now way affiliated with the things I will present. If I will have any connection to them (other than enjoying them), I will mention it explicitly.

The Great War

The star of the first episode is “The Great War”: a Youtube channel dedicated to making short weekly videos (5-10 minutes) about the evolution of the first World War. In case you’re wondering what’s so special about that, this is what’s special: “The Great War” tracks the evolution of the war, week by week, exactly as it happened 100 years ago.

As you guessed by now, the series started in 2014 and will probably end in 2018 (or 2019 if they want to cover the peace treaties as well).

The host of the war is Indy Neidell, an actor who is very passionate about history and especially about the First World War. Together with his merry team from Berlin, Germany, they research and produce each episode at a level of quality you wouldn’t expect from a small, independent team.

Each episode covers the actions that happened 100 years ago, on all the fronts in WW1. Besides the actual action The Great War has special episodes about important events, important personalities or the war or even Q & A sections (called “Out of the Trenches”).

I’d say that the show is a must-see for a history buff, especially if that history buff is interested in World War 1.

So, if you want to get started quickly: The Great War 101:

Highlights from the show, in case you don’t have time to go through the entire collection:

Of course, if you have the time, see all the episodes (it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours).

The full playlist is here.

Ah, I almost forgot. The project is crowd-funded. If you want to contribute you can find them on Patreon: The Great War.


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From Zero to Hero: Rai'jin, the Storm Spirit

Hello folks, I’m oblio and I’ll be your host for a new series about Dota: “Dota History: From Zero to Hero”. In this series I’ll talk about the evolution of Dota heroes from the date they were introduced up to the present day.

Dota’s history is something that hasn’t been covered so far and it can be hard to piece it together from information scattered on the internet. At the same time the creator of modern Dota, Icefrog, is notoriously reclusive so first-hand information is even harder to get. As a result I will not be able to present the reasons for creating a specific Dota hero. But apart from that I will follow the key points of the hero evolution leading to the version we’re currently playing.

So, let’s start!

Storm Spirit

Versions 6.44 - 6.50

Storm Spirit

Raijin, the Storm Spirit was introduced in patch 6.44, on the 3rd of June 2005, as part of a huge content patch. This patch also contained 5 other heroes which have shaped modern Dota. The other 5?

  • Dark Seer
  • Undying
  • Huskar
  • Templar Assasin
  • aaaand Pit Lord (the fabled Dota 1 hero we are still waiting for in Dota 2 :worried:)

We will talk about the others in future “From Zero to Hero” episodes.

Storm Spirit (SS for short) was introduced to fill a very narrow niche at the time, that of the Intelligence (Int) core, or carry / right clicker as it was known at the time. His only direct competitors at the time were:

  • Outworld Devourer aka Obsidian DestroyerTM Blizzard (underpowered at the time)
  • Silencer (considered too situational)
  • Enchantress (too good early game to actually be used as a core, despite having decent right click potential)

Storm was meant to be a more adaptable Int core which would provide solid right click power and decent survivability.

Let’s go through his stats at the time of introduction: Storm Spirit stats at launch

So:

  • 600 range
  • 45-55 base damage
  • 568 base HP
  • 310 movement speed (MS)
  • 1.7 base attack time (BAT)
  • 22 base Strength (Str), 2.5 Str gain per level
  • 1.7 Agility (Agi) + 1.1 Agi gain per level
  • 2.3 Int + 2.6 Int gain per level

As you can see, the “chassis” was nothing out of the ordinary, but still solid.

So let’s move on to the really interesting part, his skill set:

Electric Rave

Storm's first skill

In case it seems somewhat similar, yes, it is basically Wisp’s Overload, minus the HP drain. Keep in mind that Wisp was introduced much later than Storm Spirit so he didn’t exist at the time, neither did Overload. So it was the other way around than what you previously though, it was actually Wisp who copied Storm’s old skill :smile:

Electric Rave was meant to be Storm’s first steroid skill, a way for him to greatly increase his attack speed at the cost of a continued mana usage; when leveled up it provided a solid DPS increase for our spirit friend.

Back when Storm was still new it was said that you could see if the Storm player was inexperienced by his leveling up of Electric Rave first.

Barrier

Storm's second skill

I think this skill might seem a little bit similar to another skill you know from another hero. And the same thing happened here as well. Ember Spirit’s Flame Guard was inspired by this skill. The old Barrier did not do AOE magic damage, it just absorbed it, as its name suggests. Also, unlike its newer cousin, it was targetable so you could cast it on allies.

All-in-all, nothing to write home about, but still a solid skill.

Storm's third skill

Now we’re on somewhat more familiar territory. The old Overload was similar to today’s except for 2 aspects:

  • it triggered once every 8/7/6/5 attacks instead of triggering after spell cast
  • it slowed and dispelled (purged) the target instead of just slowing it

The synergy with Electric Rave is obvious as you could trigger Overload a lot once Electric Rave was leveled up. This skill was the “sleeper hit” in Storm’s original skill set as Storm’s creator underestimated the effect of a spammable AOE nuke combined with a purge.

In the initial version, 6.44, this skill could purge basically everything making many heroes which relied on buffs completely useless (Sven and Broodmother ulties, which at the time were dispelable). When coupled with any Vacuum-like effect 1-2 procs of Overcharge could be quite devastating, which was worrying for a passive, non ultimate skill on a ranged hero.

Lightning Grapple

Storm's ulti

Storm’s original ulti and the hardest thing to understand about the original hero. It could serve as a:

  • pseudo blink/escape skill
  • team initiation skill in either direction: either solo initiation or dragging n ally with a solid initiation along or even possible blink + Grapple enemies in, a la Batrider blink + Lasso

When I said that it was hard to understand, I meant it was hard to actually see the role of this skill in Storm’s overall skill set.

As a solo initiation tool it was mis-placed on a hero without huge AOE or solid lockdown, Overload’s purge not cutting it in an age of solid stuns.

As a team initiation tool when used to carry an ally it was decent but because it wasn’t instant it was lackluster in this role (it had a travel speed similar to today’s Ball Lightining).

As initiation for pulling an enemy out of position it required itemization not really benefiting the mana-hungry, damage-wanting Int hero (since this required Blink Dagger or at least a dubious Shadowblade aka Lothar’s EdgeTM Blizzard) and even worse, turned the would be carry into kamikaze similar to Vengeful Spirit, hardly a role you want your 10000 gold core to be in.

Despite a rather haphazard mishmash of skills, the Dota community adopted Storm, at least outside the competitive scene (this version was never used in the competitive scene). The allure of massive attack speed proved too strong and many a Storm died bravely fighting Trolls and various invisible Rikis monsters while wielding Daedalus (BurizaTM Blizzard) and Divine Rapier. Yours truly liked the hero and played him as a more utility oriented, rat-like creature with items such as Necronomicon, using Lightning Grapple and Barrier as escape skills.

Still, when the novelty factor wore off and the initial ridiculous factors was removed (Overload purging its targets), Storm could be considered one of the less popular heroes in Dota. And as we will discover later on in this series, his 5 brothers from release didn’t fare much better, except for pub darling Huskar.

Version 6.44 - 6.49

Except for bug fixes, no major changes happened… :unamused:

Version 6.50

The first major change in young Storm’s life!

I’m actually kidding, Icefrog gave him the Doom treatment, +1 armor.

Versions 6.51 - 6.57

Quiet on the Storm front.

Version 6.58

All of a sudden, lightning struck! And it did so on Christmas day!

Icefrog posted an update on this blog with a teaser for the upcoming 6.58 version, showing a remake for Storm. The speculation was rampant for a few weeks, until Icefrog actually released the much awaited 6.58 version.

There was a bit of confusion when the new Storm was unveiled, but that soon gave way to a lot of excitement as Storm as probably the first hero with a 0-cooldown (CD) ability: Ball Lightning.

The remade hero took the Dota world by storm (bad pun intended) and became one of the common competitive heroes after a bit of finagling with his stats.

One of the heroes worst hit by this remake was Akasha, the Queen of Pain (QoP), who for a long time just couldn’t compete with the nimble spirit. Her AOE damage was surpassed by the AOE damage from Storm Spirit and the mobility granted by her Blink skill couldn’t compete with Storm’s Ulti. It took many versions for this balance to be reestablished and for QoP to be seen again on the competitive scene more frequently.

For completeness’ sake this is the full list of changes made after this 1 major remake.

Version 6.64

Buff: Base Intelligence increased from 23 to 26.

Version 6.67

Nerf: Attack range lowered from 500 to 480.

Version 6.69

Nerf: Intelligence base and growth reduced from 26 + 2.6 to 23 + 2.2

Nerf: Electric Vortex mana cost increased from 100 to 100/110/120/130

Version 6.70

Buff: Intelligence growth increased from 2.2 to 2.6

Version 6.72d

Buff: Base Strength increased by 2

Version 6.73

Buff: Overload bonus damage increased from 30/45/60/75 to 30/50/70/90

Version 6.74

Buff: Ball Lightning now properly dodges projectiles

Version 6.75

Buff: Static Remnant cooldown decreased from 4 to 3.5

Version 6.78

Buff: Electric Vortex cooldown decreased from 20 to 21/20/19/18

Version 6.80

Nerf: Base movement speed reduced from 295 to 290

Version 6.82

Buff? Nerf? Not sure: Ball Lightning mana cost per 100 units from 10 + 1% to 12 + 0.7%

Version 6.83

Buff Turn Rate improved from 0.6 to 0.8

Version 6.84

Nerf: Storm Spirit movement speed reduced from 290 to 285

Nerf: Ball Lightning flying vision from 1000 to 400

Buff? Nerf? Again not sure: Static Remnant no longer ignores ancient units

Phew, that was a long list of changes! And the most interesting things is that Storm is relatively a new hero. And one which has gone through only 1 major remake.

So this story will get a lot more interesting in the future :smile:

If you’d like this episode, as well as future episodes to also have an accompanying video on Youtube, write so in the comment section below.

If enough people vote for videos, I will start work on them (including for the older episodes) and I will send an update when they are ready.

See you around and hope you enjoyed this first episode of “From Zero to Hero”!


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The vanishing history of Dota

When I started thinking about this blog I wanted to tell the story of Dota and Dota 2, from their earliest days in 2003. I started gathering information, carefully bookmarking things I found on the Internet.

As I advance with this project I’ve come to a sad realization: Dota history is vanishing.

The earliest days of Dota haven’t been recorded anywhere, it’s just oral history. To properly write the history of Dota interviews with people who have been there from the start will be required. So I will try to have those interviews with Dota’s creators and key personalities from the early days. But this will take time, and by then they might forget important details. So there’s a good chance we will lose forever some of the most important moments in this history.

Cobwebs

Of course, not everything will be lost, there are already articles and interviews on the internet. But the internet is a harsh mistress: many of those community maintaned sites are no longer running. Many of them were PHPBB forums which are now vanishing from the internet. Even larger ones are threatened.

The original Dota site, dota-allstars.com, belonged to Pendragon, which was a sort of “community manager” for Dota. He’s since moved on to co-found Riot (aka League of Legends) and he caused a lot of bad blood when one day he just shut down the site & forum and put up a billboard advertising LoL on the site.

Luckily for us Icefrog had already drawn a large part of the community over to playdota.com. But some brilliant pieces of Dota history were lost forever. Yes, I know that years later, after he almost killed the community, Pendragon released the forum database and da-archive.com appeared but it’s mostly broken, unfortunately :weary:

Anyway, I want to bring back the atmosphere of those early years of Dota and I hope you accompany me on this journey! :smile:

And just for fun, here’s a brilliant article written by FoxNetworks a long, long time ago on the dota-allstars.com site (maybe in 2007?). I painstakingly recreated it on playdota.com with the help of the Internet Archive (aka the Wayback Machine), a brilliant effort to save old sites. If you can, donate to help the Internet Archive as they’re an awesome non-profit.

Enjoy FoxNetworks’ article and if you have personal stories or resources about Dota’s history, please comment below.


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Personal opinions about history, news, computers and programming.