Two months ago, Hoodwink was released in Dota, and our initial impression was cautious, to say the least. We felt the hero was too derivative and filled the same exact niche as Windranger, while also having a similar visual style: the comparisons were unavoidable. Today, we would like to revisit our initial impressions and see whether Hoodwink managed to carve her own niche in the game.
The first thing that happens to every new hero is the community trying to figure out where and in which role they could realistically play them. Hoodwink is no exception. Given her kit that doesn’t scale too impressively but has a decent variety of utility and nuke damage, a support role or a tempo core one did fit the hero well. This is the reason we primarily see Hoodwink as position two, three, or four.
Statistics-wise, we would argue that the offlane as either three or four are the best fit: Hoodwink can be played Mid or as a position five, but for the former she doesn’t scale nearly as well, hence will require extra skill to pull off, and for the latter, the hero is slightly on the greedier side.
Of the two roles left, we think the position four is slightly more viable. Not because Hoodwink is weak or isn’t fit to be an offlane core, but rather because it requires your team to have a frontline hero in some other role. “We need a tank” is both a meme and a pretty serious strategic concern: any lineup could realistically use a hero who goes in first, forces enemy reactions, soaks up the initial burst damage and disables, while also providing vision for their team.
Hoodwink can’t reliably do that, so if you intend on picking her for a position three, make it clear to your teammates beforehand. Something like an Earth Spirit, Tuskar, or Clockwerk in lane would go a long way when it comes to your chances of winning.
Overall, when it comes to the hero’s role, we think Hoodwink doesn’t pass this specific uniqueness test: she more or less fits into the game in the same exact way Windranger does, being a 2/3/4 flex hero. There is more of an emphasis on the tail end of this numbered sequence, at least in terms of high-level play viability, but the heroes are still somewhat interchangeable.
There are two main Hoodwink builds right now: one maxing out Bushwhack and one maxing out Acorn shot. The first is the default one: Hoodwink should be active, setting up kills and ganks, so having more nuking power and more disable time is always nice. Second is the greedier, farming route. Either is typically accompanied with a value level of Scurry, but it is entirely optional.
Talent-wise, quality changes to abilities typically work better than the simple stat upgrades: the Bushwhack cooldown reduction does lose out to +175 health, but by a very small margin. At level 15 Scurry Camouflage is just annoying to deal with and unless your team already has invisible heroes, it is probably a better option than +14 Agility on a hero that rarely wants to stand still and auto-attack. The level 20 talent that gives -3 Armor corruption can be good, but to understand when, why and how it can be good you will need to read and understand how armor works and the follow up to this discussion. In all other cases and by default, going with improved Sharpshooter is advisable. The same goes for level 25 talent, unless you are playing some sort of DPS core Hoodwink.
This is where we start seeing some deviations from Windranger. On paper the heroes look very similar: each has a disable based on tree proximity, each has an escape and elusiveness tool, both have a farming tool and very similar “charged up arrow” type of spells.
However, the simple fact that Bushwhack, unlike Shackleshot, is both a disable and a nuke, makes all the difference: suddenly, you can max out this spell and suddenly you become a lot more of a kill threat, while Windranger is decidedly more about poking, harassing and zoning, at least when it comes to laning stage.
Overall, we feel like Hoodwink does pass this particular uniqueness test, even if barely. While Windranger and Hoodwink are interchangeable as flex picks that can be used in three roles and while their abilities are thematically very similar, as soon as the laning stage starts, deviations in playstyles start manifesting and only grow in strength as the game progresses.
If there is an item that defines Windranger, it has to be Monkey King Bar. If there is an item that defines Hoodwink, it is Gleipnir. At first glance, the 6k+ price tag can seem overwhelming, especially for a support hero, but the great thing about Gleipnir is that its most expensive component costs 1600, while the build-up consists of individually useful items.
Rod of Atos works as a way to set up for a Sharpshooter shot, Maelstrom works as a farming tool and as extra damage during team fights. The recipe for Gleipnir is only 700 gold, meaning you don’t waste much money. The stats it provides are overall great and the active is strong in both team fights and during ganks. It is a perfect fit.
But how does Hoodwink compare to Windranger Gleipnir and MKB aside? We would call this comparison inconclusive: while both heroes want Blink Dagger and usually a Black King Bar, when played as a core, there are a lot of deviations stemming from a simple fact that Windranger needs to auto-attack to deal damage. And the fact that Hoodwink doesn’t have an Aghanim’s Scepter or Shard yet.
In this blog post, we set out to find out how Hoodwink is played after the community had a chance to experiment with her, while also comparing this end state to Windranger — a hero we felt Hoodwink was too similar to in our initial impressions. We are happy we were wrong about the similarities between heroes, but we still feel like we weren’t wrong enough.
Going forward, we would really like to see heroes drift even further apart: this agility caster and an intelligence right-click damage dealer share slightly more than just theme and color scheme. Do you agree with the sentiment or do you think Hoodwink is already unique enough? What do you think her Aghanim’s Scepter and Shard are going to do? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.