Advanced strategies for Sins of a Dark Age are described in detail below.
How to Play - Advanced
You’ve decided that the Recommended Items for your Hero are bunk and that you can do much better. But how? Well, most abilities in the game “scale” both as ranks in the ability are earned and as stats are improved by purchasing items. The amount that an ability improves per stat point purchased is called the ability ratio.
High ability ratios mean that points purchased in the stat have a huge effect on the ability’s power. Slag’s “The Big One,” for example, gains one point of Magic Damage per point of Special Power, a ratio of 1:1. On the other hand, Torrace’s “Bombardment” gains only 0.3 Magic Damage per point of Special power, a ratio of 0.3:1. It is much more efficient to purchase Special Power for Slag.
By tinkering around with different builds you may be able to discover for yourself which items are best purchased for a hero. If the ability ratios are low, perhaps it is a sign that you should focus on items with utility (unique Actives or Passives) rather than pure stats, or to emphasize a different stat altogether. There is no one way to correctly play a Hero as long as you understand how the items you buy affect your abilities. Above all else you should always be flexible, building items that account for your opponents as well as yourself.
Jungling isn’t just about earning experience points and gold. There are also key objectives within the jungle that you can acquire for your team. Each half of the map boasts a few epic monsters, the Troll (guarded by Wisps) and the Witch Doctor (protected by Horen Raiders). In the river near bottom lane between the two teams there is also a Hydra. Killing these units grants powerful buffs and in the case of the Hydra a team-wide bounty of gold. As Jungler you should focus not only on earning gold/experience and setting up ganks, but also distributing these buffs to the teammates who would benefit most.
The Troll’s buff, Troll’s Might, is best acquired by a Tank or Carry as its heal scales with maximum Health and its slow helps ranged Heroes chase fleeing enemies.
The Witch Doctor’s buff, Shaman’s Wisdom, is best acquired by a Mage or another character reliant on abilities and mana.
The Hydra’s buff, Hydra’s Swiftness, is best acquired by a Jungler or Carry as the Attack Speed boost helps with camp clear times, and the Movement Speed buff with chasing enemies.
Try to ping (Alt + left click) epic monsters when you’re willing to give the buff to other players, or communicate with them in chat. You may even want to switch places with them, covering their lane while they head into the jungle to get the buff.
Beyond the buffs, it is also important to counter-jungle the enemy whenever possible. You can slow the enemy Jungler’s leveling and item progression by sneaking into his half of the jungle and killing its monsters yourself. Due to fog of war, he won’t be able to tell that the camp is empty until he is beside it, wasting valuable time. This is especially devastating if you can manage to kill an epic monster, as it will take at least 5 minutes for the monster to respawn.
Quests are unique to Sins of a Dark Age, and thus one of the most interesting systems to master. In addition to the discussion of Match Quests, quest resolution, and broad strategies found in the How to Play – Intermediate section, it may also prove fruitful to study each quest in detail here.
At a certain stage of the game, usually when fewer towers are standing to provide islands of protection, it becomes increasingly dangerous to farm or to stay in a lane last-hitting minions. Teams start to naturally cluster together and either gank enemies who aren’t smart enough to group up, or to threaten quests and objectives.
Try to get a feel for when to stop farming and to gather with your allies. Once your team is together, try not to wander out of position. Wait until the enemy is vulnerable and then initiate. Due to their abilities, certain heroes are better at initiating then others. Rachna can dive into the enemy lines using “Terror from Below.” Xeros can use “Slayer’s Mark” to appear beside an enemy and kill them before they realize the fight has even started. Once you’ve initiated prioritize who your team wants to kill (you can ping them with Alt + a left click), and try not to split up. If you are a Jungler, Tank, or Bruiser you may also want to consider peeling for the main damage dealers, using your crowd control abilities to stop anyone who tries to attack them.
Winning a team fight in the late-game is key to winning objectives, quests, and the match as a whole—as respawn timers lengthen, you’ll be left with huge chunks of time to work unopposed.
Another thing that advanced players do to gain a leg up on the competition is to keep a series of timers going in their heads. There’s a reason Sins of a Dark Age has a game clock that is always visible to players. Quests, epic monster spawns, even minion waves all happen on an explicit schedule. Monitoring this schedule will allow you to establish a strategic presence on the map, rotating to objectives before lesser teams or players even know what’s happened. A few sample timers include:
The Hydra spawns at 3 minutes, then respawns 6 minutes after death.
The Troll and Witch Doctor spawn at 1.5 minutes, and respawn 5 minutes after death.
The first Quest begins at 8 minutes.
Minions spawn every 30 seconds.
Gaining a lane advantage doesn’t always come down to getting Hero kills, last hits, or completing quests. Sometimes it’s about zoning instead, ensuring that enemy Heroes don’t get theirs.
To zone the enemy you have to make them afraid to come forward. You can do this by winning an early one-on-one engagement, auto-attacking melee heroes from range, or hiding in the Brush, making the enemy always paranoid about a gank. Enemies who are kept out of range of minions will not earn experience or be able to last hit. Extremely skilled zoners even know how to move enemy Heroes across the lane towards their allies, setting up team fights or ambushes.
As a team you will want to be unpredictable, appearing then disappearing across the entire map. The best way to accomplish this is to invest in Portal Scrolls as well as the Portal glyph, and to keep your eyes peeled for a good opportunity to enter the fray. In fact, at least half of good map presence is good map awareness; you can’t teleport to a fight and turn the tide if you don’t know that it’s happening in the first place! Keep watch over the minimap and buy wards. Establish a pattern of disappearing into the Brush, so your enemies won’t know when you have truly left to gank. If you really want to be sneaky, place a ward within the Brush so an ally can teleport to it using the Portal glyph—when doing so, a Hero can travel from top to the bottom lane in a matter of seconds!
So you’ve mastered all in-game mechanics, eh? You can quickcast faster than Lassidar, aim a skill shot better than Torrace, and smash your enemies’ faces in better than Grugg. Where do you go from here?
Well, one way to keep improving is to explore what are called Hero Kits. Hero Kits are a suite of metagame stats that you can improve as your account gains experience and levels after each match, similar to the way Heroes gain levels within the matches themselves. Each level gained provides you with one point to spend on:
Attack Power: Increases the Physical Damage dealt by basic attacks and abilities
Flat Armor Penetration: Increases the Armor you ignore when determining Physical Damage
Attack Speed: Increases the speed of basic attacks
Special Power: Increases the Magic Damage dealt by abilities
Flat Magic Penetration: Increases the Magic Resistance you ignore when determining Magic Damage
Cooldown Reduction: Reduces a percentage of time from your ability cooldowns
Max Health: Increases the amount of Health you have when at full capacity
Armor: Increases the Physical Damage you ignore from enemy basic attacks and abilities
Magic Resistance: Increases the Magic Damage you ignore from enemy abilities
These points will improve your Heroes independent of their own stats, and can provide you with an edge when properly combined with items, abilities, and glyphs.
Players can also equip Hero Gear to their kits, or weapons and armor created using Sins of a Dark Age’s crafting system. There are four Hero Gear slots open at all times, but you may only equip Hero Gear items that do not exceed your current Gear Point value. Gear Points are earned every three levels. These weapons and armor complement the items purchased during a game, and often feature a unique passive effect, providing players with subtle utility.