Dueling Fates is upon us! The new patch brought some of the biggest changes the game has seen since 7.00 aka Reborn. Two new heroes, Pangolier and Dark Willow, were introduced to the DotA community on Halloween. Building these heroes in the infancy of their DotA lives is always interesting. DotA has so many nuances in each game that must be accounted for. Builds change based on a myriad of factors in real-time. So how do we figure out a brand new hero like Pangolier?
Pangolier’s ability to control a lane
Admittedly I have been spamming Pangolier in pubs since his release. Mainly in the safe lane, but I think he is better as an offlaner now. He’s a ton of fun to play. His spells have a lot of utility. You really only have to itemize to fight. With abilities that point this hero towards an initiating role.
Let’s start with Donte’s first two skills as they are most important to success in the laning stage. You can use his Swashbuckle to do anything you want. Effective for last-hitting, escape, initiation and even harassing once you get used to aiming it. One skill point on Pangolier’s “Q” provides a 96 physical damage nuke over a huge range. Moving onto his second ability, Shield Crash. This is going to be your bread and butter in the lane. Many of the early builds for Pangolier max his nuke which I think is detrimental. Only two points in Shield Crash will give you a 10% damage reduction buff per hero hit with this ability. Hitting two heroes with a “W” does 150 damage to each of them while Pangolier takes 20% less damage for the next ten seconds; allowing you to be very tanky with minimal items. Which is why I prioritize this ability over Swashbuckle in lane. While the latter provides great damage it’s much more useful for escape and harass in the early game. Shield Crash‘s stacking damage reduction buff and increasing magic damage is too hard for me to pass up. I am able to sustain in lane much more with multiple points of Shield Crash.
They see me rollin’ they hatin’…
Moving on to his passive, Heartpiercer. It is not at all what I was hoping for. The Dueling Fates preview led a lot to believe that Pangolier was going to have an ability that provided a “break” mechanic. Which would have been extremely novel as “break” itself is a rare mechanic with immense impact. Overall the skill is underwhelming as it only lasts for two seconds with a 15% proc chance. Comparatively Spirit Breaker’s Greater Bash has a 17% proc chance. The saving grace for this ability is that it becomes very powerful once you get a couple items on Pangolier and are able to instigate fights. Until then it just does not feel as worth the skill points as his two active abilities.
His ultimate ability is aptly named Rolling Thunder. Another ability that has a bushel of uses, especially in teamfights. With only a 40 second cooldown Rolling Thunder is a 6/7/8 second Black King Bar with a stun and a knockback that does 200/250/300 damage. Seems legit right? You can also cast your Shield Crash while rolling around the map like a Techies dream. It is most effectively used as a counter initiation. The channel time means you should cast it while out of range and then roll into the fight stunning the enemy. Cast Shield Crash on top of enemy heroes right before you pop out. Doing a whopping 600 magic damage and reducing your damage taken by anywhere from 14%-70% of damage. Go ahead and right-click to your hearts’ content because you aren’t dying!
Itemizing the ultimate fighter
Right now it’s impossible to know what the “best” items are on this hero. I’ll share what I have been trying lately as it has felt strong. Starting off with a mango, sages mask, ironwood branch and a stack of tangos. Quickly building into a Magic Wand and Ring of Basilius. You have enough base movement speed to get away with this before building a pair of Power Treads. After this my core items are a Vladimir’s Offering and a Maelstrom. The complete removal of unique attack modifiers allows for Maelstrom to proc off of your Swashbuckle providing another nuker and a farming tool. Transitioning into the reworked Diffusal Blade allows Pangolier to scale his damage and adds onto the effectiveness of your “Q” even further. Anything after this is situational. Adding a Mjollnir for even more damage is an option. More defensive players can build a Vanguard into a Crimson Guard to tank up. Any item that allows you to keep up the aggression is a good choice.
Pangolier has a unique toolkit that allows him versatility in all areas of the game. While no build is perfect, he is a hero who benefits from fighting. Teamfighting at a peak in the mid-late game when teams tend to group up is best. Move around the map with your team once you have your items and you’ll slash your way to some easy MMR.
Featured Image courtesy of DotA 2 In-Game Client
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