Welcome to the Nexus Dehaka: Let’s theorycraft
There are a lot of questions attached to the newest warrior to join the game. Is Dehaka more valuable than Muradin, ETC, or Stitches in certain situations and if so, which ones? Is he more effective as a Solo Tank or as a Bruiser in a double warrior comp? And what build is best tailored to meet the needs of either role?
We’re still a few weeks away from seeing Dehaka in Competition so until then all we can do is speculate if he'll be viable and in which ways.
Who is Dehaka and what does he do well?
Classified as a Melee Warrior, Dehaka excels at disruption, baiting, and global mobility. Oh, and he’s also extremely tanky. His signature move, Drag(Q), is a short range skill shot that enables him to reposition his target. His first heroic ability, Isolation, is a mid-range skill shot that damages, slows, silences, and reduces vision. Dehaka can take a few hits so he can survive an onslaught while he gets into position to disrupt the enemy team with these 2 abilities.
Dehaka’s Burrow(E) and mount ability, Brushstalker(Z) make him very slippery and ideal for baiting the enemy team into using their cooldowns on him. Burrow instantly puts Dehaka into stasis and makes him invulnerable for 2 seconds. This means with quick enough reflexes Dehaka can draw out enemy fire and burrow before they can hit him. Those 2 seconds can also buy him time to heal himself with his trait, Essence Collection, and other talents he can get, or be healed by abilities like Rehgar’s Ancestral Healing, which has a 1-second delay and is sometimes too late. Brushstalker takes 2 seconds to channel, which means the enemy team has to kill him in that amount of time or he’ll slip away.
Brushstalker also gives Dehaka global mobility with a 40-second cooldown: he can burrow to any bush or vent on the map with our without vision. This means he has a lot of value on any battleground but especially the big ones like Sky Temple, Cursed Hollow, and Infernal Shrines where he can stay behind and help his team get a lead in XP and rejoin before he’s missed.
For Example: On Sky Temple it takes a mounted hero 16 seconds to go from top to bottom. It takes Dehaka about as long to clear a minion wave and brushstalk down to the bottom lane. Also, if he takes Primal Aggression at Lvl 1 and has a full stack of Essence he can solo a bruiser camp at Lvl 6 in about 35-40 seconds. So at 3:30 Dehaka has enough time to clear a minion wave, capture the bruiser camp at the top (clear it but wait to capture it), and brushstalk to the bottom in time for the bot shrine to activate at 4:35. The enemy team either has to leave someone up top to clear the bruisers and will face a 5v4 at the shrine or they will leave their top lane vulnerable and fall behind on XP while contesting the shrine 5v5. It’s a nice play that forces the enemy team into a catch 22 and adds value to Dehaka’s global mobility.
Primal Aggression and Dehaka’s global mobility are also extremely valuable on Blackheart’s Bay and Tomb of the Spider Queen where he can clear minions and mercenaries fast and brushstalk to the turn-in points needing only a small window of opportunity. The same applies to Towers of Doom, Cursed Hollow, and Dragon Shire where Dehaka can brushstalk both offensively and defensively. Primal Aggression does not grant bonus damage to skeletons on Infernal Shrines so consider that when selecting a lvl 1 talent.
Solo Tank or Bruiser?
The Battleground, each team’s composition, and who’s available all factor into which warrior will be drafted, but assuming that Dehaka is the most valuable warrior available, let’s see what factors would determine his role.
As a Solo Tank, Dehaka needs to tank damage and make an impact in team fights. Whether that impact comes from ganking an enemy and creating a numbers advantage, assisting with and expanding an XP lead, or tanking and disrupting the enemy team’s positioning in a team fight it will have to be comparable to the capabilities of top tier warriors like ETC and Muradin.
The optimal builds
Lvl 1: Tissue Regeneration (solo tank) or Primal Aggression (bruiser)
It usually took me until about Lvl 13 to max out the stacks on Tissue Regeneration but it’s probably worth it seeing as how at lvl 10 Dehaka’s health regen is 52 HP per second and at Lvl 20 it’s 60 per second. Relative to Regeneration Master, which gives only 30 bonus HP per second that’s pretty good.
Primal Aggression makes Dehaka’s wave clear good but not great, but his global mobility allows him to clear a minion wave in time to join in on some gank squad fun.
Lvl 4: One-Who-Collects (solo tank) or Hero Stalker (bruiser)
One-Who-Collects turns every minion wave into 21 Essence instead of 14. This means at Lvl 10 instead of only getting 618 HP worth of Essence per minion wave you’re getting 926 HP. It provides more sustain while also helping you max out your Tissue Regeneration stacks faster. My thoughts on Hero Stalker are in the next section.
Lvl 7: Essence Devourer (solo tank) or Feeding Frenzy (bruiser) or Symbiosis (bruiser)
This tier has two options that might compete with each other. As a Solo Tank the more disruption you can cause the better...as long as you can survive doing so. CDR on Drag gives you a lot more disruptive potential. With an attack speed of 1.1 per second and a 1.5 second CDR per hit every 6 basic attacks resets the ability assuming he’s sticking to a target. Also, since you’ll be more reliant on disruption with this talent choice there might be more synergy with Hero Stalker at Lvl 4, which gives you health on takedowns. 1100 HP at Lvl 10 and 1632 HP at Lvl 20. Or go Symbiosis for increased DPS, which Dehaka doesn't have too much of.
The trade off is Essence Devourer. It increases health received from regen globes to 18% of Dehaka’s max health. At lvl 10 regen globes heal for 666 HP and 986 HP at lvl 20. That could add up quite a bit.
Both talents are hard to pass up so the battleground and team compositions will likely be the deciding factor. If you’re on a map like Towers of Doom or Cursed Hollow where positioning around objectives is key the ability to spam your Q might be more valuable. If you’re on a map like Tomb of the Spider Queen or Dragon Shire, which have constant rotations and a lot of fighting in lane Essence Devourer will have huge value.
Lvl 10: Isolation (solo tank and bruiser)
It does damage on impact, silences and slows the target for 3 seconds, and if that wasn’t enough, for 6 seconds it also reduces the target’s vision so that they can only see a short distance and are cut off from vision provided by allies. This provides a window of opportunity for a coordinated assault while a support or a hero with counter play like Zeratul and Zagara is out of the way.
Dehaka’s other heroic, Adaptation, is basically an Avatar with a 5-second channel. He can engage the enemy team full force and if they can’t kill him in 5 seconds he’ll get 60% back of whatever health he lost. This also adds to his escapability by covering him while his Brushstalker channels. My one concern is the enemy team’s ability to hold fire when they see Adaptation activated like they do with Kharazim’s Divine Palm. The question will be whether or not the enemy team thinks they can afford to ignore Dehaka for these 5 seconds because of his Drag ability’s potential to disrupt.
Ultimately (no pun intended), I still think Isolation will have more value because Drag, as disruptive as it is, may not be enough on its own to make Dehaka as impactful as other top tier warriors and has other options for self-sustain.
Lvl 13: Ferocious Stalker (solo tank and bruiser)
With a 60% movement speed bonus for 2 seconds coming out of a bush after brushstalking, Ferocious Stalker gives Dehaka some scary pounce potential but the bigger reason for taking it might be the OP synergy it has with Apex Predator at lvl 20. A global mount on a 10-second cooldown means every 13 seconds Dehaka has a 60% speed boost from any bush on the map. Short range, long range; it doesn’t matter. Who needs a mount when you have God tier omnipresence?
Lvl 16: Rapid Regeneration (solo tank) or Paralyzing Enzymes (bruiser)
It’s pretty simple; the first adds to your tankiness while the second makes it easier to prolong a forced over extension or secure kills. This might be situational based on how the game is playing out.
Lvl 20: Apex Predator (solo tank and bruiser)
As previously mentioned above, global mobility on a 13-second cooldown (cooldown + channel time) might be OP.
Enhanced Agility (Lvl 1): when fully stacked Dehaka gets a permanent movement speed increase of 15%. That’s almost as fast as Lunara and might make up for his extreme immobility while his mount is on its 40-second cooldown.
Whirling Dervish (Lvl 13): This is Dehaka’s version of Relentless attached to his Dark Swarm (W). If the enemy CCs are causing too much trouble this might be worth taking for some survivability.
Consider that in addition to his talents that enable minions, hero takedowns, and globes to amplify the value of his trait, Dehaka can also increase his health regen and heal from his Burrow. That is a lot of healing potential. I think this hero's skill cap is very high because of how difficult it will be to synergize his talents and abilities with smart timing, global awareness, and target selection.
Speaking of global awareness, here's a Quick tip: Ctrl + F5-F8 creates a map hotkey. When pressing a bound F5-F8 key your view will jump to that area. This might be useful for Dehaka's playstyle as you can hotkey various bushes for quick escapes.
On paper and from first impressions it looks like Dehaka could be a viable option as a solo tank or as a bruiser. His health numbers in certain categories are some of the highest in the game and his global mobility and disruptive potential will be difficult to ignore.
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