Wednesday 29 January 2014

Dota 2 - OCD Item Slots (or How To Stop Forgetting Where Your Dust Is)

Following a discussion on reddit, and a missed kill last night, this is just a short post on how I arrange my inventory.  The exact positions are set based on where the hotkey for that slot is; some keys are easier/faster to push than others, so which slot is used for each thing can vary by player based on their fingers and preference, but the point of the post is not which individual slots are used; rather, it is to advocate keeping things consistent so that when you need to use something in a hurry you can do so instinctively, rather than having to think about it and possibly losing your opportunity.

So, as I'm buying items in Dota I'm moving them around in my inventory based on a semi-arbitrary pattern that I'm now used to.  The inventory is, as you are doubtless aware, a collection of 6 boxes arranged in two rows of three.  I'll refer to them by location, i.e. top-left, bottom-middle, etc.  Due to how my hotkeys are arranged*, it's easier for me to push the keys for the top row of items than the bottom row, and so the items in the top row tend to be the often used items, mobility items and the emergency items (items you want to use in a hurry on short notice).

My six types of slot are, in order of easiest-to-activate first: Emergency, Escape/Initiate, Boots, TP,  Truesight/Misc, and Wards.

Top-right is where I put my Stick/Wand.  This slot is thus the Emergency slot.  I now instinctively hit the hotkey for this slot whenever I notice I'm on very low health.  If I'm stunned and taking damage I'll start hammering it.  Items which may replace Stick in this slot: Mek, Drums. Possibly Bottle, or some other consumable heal, but I'll tend to put those in the Misc slot as they aren't instant enough.

Top-middle is the mobility slot: Escape/Initiate.  Force Staff or Blink Dagger go here.  I'm used to double-tapping this when I'm in trouble (to Force Staff out of danger).  If the hero I'm playing doesn't get a mobility item, I'll put whatever their main item is here instead. For example, Diffusal Blade on Riki (double-tap to remove Dust).

The top-left slot is where I keep my boots.  You always get boots, and boots almost always have an active that you might need to use in a pinch (quickly get mana from arcanes, tread switch for HP or mana, phase shift).

TP scrolls go in the bottom-right.   We're getting to the items that you have more time to think about using, but sometimes you do need to double-tap your TP to get the hell out just before they land the killing blow, so TP gets priority over the following two slots.  If I upgrade to Boots of Travel then I move them into this slot too: my hotkey for teleporting is thus always the same, and I free up an easier to hit button in the top-left for some other item.

Bottom-middle is the Truesight/Misc slot.  What this means is that, if the other team has invis heroes, Sentries/Dust/Gem/Necro go in this slot.  If they don't then I use it for whatever else I need to.  Usually that's things like Bottle, Soul Ring, Urn, Mek, Drums, Euls, Smoke.

Finally, bottom-left is the Ward slot.  I play a lot of support, so this slot tends to be fairly dedicated, but if I'm not supporting I can use it for items that don't have an active like Stout, PMS, Vanguard, OoV, or just components in general.

Of course, things might not fall out exactly this way.  I might have Force Staff AND Blink Dagger, or Urn, Wand, Mek and Drums, or any number of other configurations, but in general I keep my items to this pattern and it means that in any given situation I can react a little bit faster.  If I'm about to die I hit the Emergency key and then the Escape key.  If someone goes invis in front of me I hit the Truesight key. Etc.

* I use 1,2,3 for the top three item slots, and z,x,c for the bottom three. This means the physical layout of the keys matches the layout of the item grid, so I never have to think about which hotkey handles which box.  It also gives me really easy access to the top three slots, at the expense of three control groups.  I tend not to play heroes that need control groups, so it's a worthwhile trade for me, and I still have reasonable access to the groups on 4 and 5 if I need them. 

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