Intermediate strategies for Sins of a Dark Age are described in detail below.
Not all Heroes are created equal—in fact, many excel at different tasks. Attempting to play your Hero in a way that does not complement their core role can put you at a disadvantage. Sample Hero roles include:
- Assassin: A deadly one-on-one fighter who isolates foes for a kill
- Bruiser: A damage dealer who sacrifices some offense for defense
- Carry: A Physical Damage dealer who grows increasingly powerful over time
- Jungler: A hero who slays monsters in the jungle and secures kills for teammates
- Mage: A Magic Damage dealer with deadly abilities
- Support: A hero who aids his allies with heals and buffs while also debuffing the enemy
- Tank: A hero who can absorb damage that would kill his allies many times over
A well-balanced team that covers most of these roles will be better prepared to face a broad variety of challenges. When selecting your Hero, consider what role your team might be lacking.
Quests are one of the key mechanics in Sins of a Dark Age, optional objectives that players and teams can tackle for a variety of rewards.
- Quests occur regularly over the course of each match, lasting anywhere from seven to ten minutes each. Completing a quest will earn your team a reward, often in the form of gold or a unique quest item—a special item that provides bonus stats or abilities for a limited time. Only players who are alive upon the quest’s completion gain the quest item.
- Quests that aren’t completed by either team expire and no reward is given, no matter how much progress the teams have made.
For more information on Quests, click here.
There are a variety of control schemes that govern abilities, and determine not only how the ability is triggered but also whether it successfully hits. Mastering each will make you more effective in battle.
- Unit targeted abilities trigger upon selecting the ability, then left-clicking the target unit, either an ally, an enemy, or yourself. As long as the target is clicked, the ability triggers successfully.
- Self targeted abilities automatically apply an effect to the Hero casting the ability, usually strengthening them in some way.
- Skill shot abilities must be selected and then aimed by moving the mouse; they fire when the player left-clicks. Skill shots can travel in a straight line or even a curve depending on the template. Unlike unit targeted abilities, skill shot abilities can often miss.
- Area of Effect abilities trigger in a specific area, usually a circle or a cone. After selecting the ability, players can move this area with the mouse, then left click to cast. Alternatively some area of effect abilities trigger in a radius around the player.
- Toggle abilities boast an effect that can be turned on or off each time the ability is activated.
Once you’ve mastered the different ability control schemes, you may want to consider rebinding your keys so you no longer need to left click the mouse.
- Smartcasting automatically selects a target for your ability based on the ability type. Unit targeted spells that are able to target friendlies will self cast on yourself or the nearest friendly Hero, unit targeted spells that can only target enemies will be cast on whomever you're attacking, and area of effect spells will be cast either at your location or your attack target's location depending on whether the spell effect is helpful or harmful. By default, smartcasting is mapped to the ability hotkey + Alt.
- Quickcasting eliminates left clicks for unit targeted abilities, skill shots, and area of effect abilities. Wherever your cursor is when the ability hotkey is pressed, that is the unit targeted, the direction of the skill shot, or the target for the area of effect. By default quickcasting is mapped to the ability hotkey + Shift. You cannot see the templates when quickcasting abilities, but the split-second you save could be (as Vexie would say) the difference between life and death. Many intermediate players set abilities to quickcast by default.
Matches can be won or lost based on the distribution of heroes across the lanes. Players looking for an advantage should keep the following details in mind.
- Each minion, monster, or enemy Hero killed is worth a set amount of experience points. These experience points are divided equally among all Heroes within range. As a result, the more Heroes there are in a lane, the slower these Heroes level up.
- Over the course of a match this can make a big difference. It might seem like outnumbering the enemy five-to-one in a lane is a good idea, but when that one enemy is five levels higher than the Heroes trying to kill him—it won't be pretty, let’s leave it at that.
- This is part of what makes Junglers a viable strategy. By earning their own experience points in the jungle they ensure that at least one of their teammates gains levels at an accelerated rate. The trade-off is that this teammate can be overwhelmed if outnumbered, and is more vulnerable to ganks (see Vision below).
Another subtle element of gameplay in Sins of a Dark Age is something called last-hitting.
- While all minions and monsters award experience points upon death, players will only earn gold if they “last-hit” the enemy, killing the enemy with an ability or basic attack.
- The player who earns the last-hit is awarded a set bounty of gold. Allied Heroes in the vicinity earn a fraction of the amount. The more allied Heroes, the smaller the reward.
- While it may be tempting for Support players to try to earn gold through last-hits, Carries are called Carries for a reason. Given enough gold they will become killing machines, strong enough to carry their teams to victory. Support players should only try to last-hit if there is no Carry in the vicinity, or if the Carry is unable to do so themselves.
- Along the same lines, placing two damage dealers (Carries, Assassins, Bruisers) in the same lane risks slowing down the item progression of both players. Be aware of this and if you aren’t a Carry consider ceding last hits to the other player, buying gold per second items or jungling for your gold instead.
Items provide powerful stat bonuses and in many cases what amounts to an extra ability with Active or Passive effects. But which item should you buy and when? Here are a few tips.
- Conscript items are meant to provide an early-game boost to a Hero’s fighting power, improving a broad variety of stats. In the later stages of a game they are less useful, and you should consider selling your Conscript item back to the shop. This will provide a small boost in gold, and open up a slot for a more powerful item.
- If it looks like you won’t be earning many last-hits due to your role or the set-up of your lane, consider buying a gold per second item. These items increase the amount of gold you passively earn each second, and over time can prove a wise investment. The earlier you can buy one the better.
- Look at your Hero’s abilities, and the type of damage they deal as well as the stats they increase. More often than not you should buy items that support the stats that your abilities draw from. Mages usually focus on Special Power, and Carries Attack Power, while Tanks can improve their effectiveness buying Armor, Health, or Magic Resistance.
- Look at the enemy team’s abilities. What kind of damage do they deal? If you are getting outclassed in the early game, it may be worth forgoing an offensive item to buy a defensive item instead. With any luck this will increase your survivability, and you will be able to make it to the later stages of the game without dying too frequently or feeding the enemy team.
Even if you’re new to MOBAs, you’ve probably already heard this term many times. But what does feeding mean, and why are your teammates yelling at you?
- Think of it this way. MOBAs are like reversed wars of attrition. Rather than trying to gradually wear down the enemy’s resources until they no longer have the will to fight, you are trying to rapidly build up your own resources, growing more and more powerful as you earn levels, acquire gold, and buy items.
- Heroes are worth more gold than any other unit in the game (with the possible exception of the Siege Dragon and Hydra). If an enemy Hero kills you, not only do they earn a HUGE chunk of gold towards their next item, but you lose out on gold and experience you would have earned staying in the lane. This leads to a phenomenon called “snowballing,” Heroes growing exponentially more powerful over time.
- There are a few systems in place to prevent snowballing from getting out of hand, and to allow players to turn the tables through skill or strategy. Heroes on a kill streak (i.e., snowballing) are worth additional gold when killed. Heroes on a death streak are worth less gold each time they are slain.
- The bottom line is that while it may be a visceral thrill to earn player kills, the most important thing in Sins of a Dark Age is to avoid dying. Try to keep abilities or glyphs in reserve that could aid your escape, position yourself intelligently when last hitting, and always keep an eye on the map, whenever possible investing in vision.
An awareness of the map, or vision, is often what separates winning teams from losing teams.
- By default the Sunken Forest is engulfed in fog of war. Vision is only granted in a radius around Heroes, minions, and structures. This radius is reduced at Night. Anything beyond that radius is invisible, allowing players to disappear into the jungle or the depths of their lane then reappear somewhere else.
- Disappearing strategically is one of the best ways to set up enemy Hero kills. This is called ganking, and it usually falls upon the Jungler, though any hero can leave their lane and try to surprise the enemy. Often gankers will take advantage of Brush (which provides Stealth, hiding players even when in range of vision) and the jungle walls (which block line of sight) to close the distance and secure a kill. Gankers with crowd control abilities are especially dangerous, Stunning, Rooting, Slowing, or knocking back enemies who try to flee.
- To avoid ganks, there are a variety of things you can do:
- Keep an eye on the minimap so you know at a glance when a Hero is missing.
- Ping the minimap (Ctrl + left click) when a Hero in your lane leaves, or “call MIA” (let other players know they are missing in chat).
- Place wards near jungle chokepoints to keep an eye on Brush and likely gank paths.
- Use abilities or items that grant vision (ex: Torrace’s Bombardment) when you think enemies may be hiding nearby.
- Be aware of when the enemy can see you. If you are alone, especially far from the safety of a tower, you will be a tempting target.