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Hero Spotlight: Pit Lord: "What A Foolish Boy!"

13.10.18 | RehcraM 3058

Introduction

Pit Lord is a rare sight in competitive play, with a peculiar kit and an even more peculiar (and funny) voice line. In this article we will take a look at his abilities and try to get a better grip of why he is used so rarely.

A warrior hero, exceptional at weakening enemies and melee combat. These massive Demons take sadistic pleasure from instilling crazed terror, and then slaughtering their enemies. Attacks land units.

- Blizzard's description of Pit Lord

Rain of Fire

Rain of Fire is very comparable to Archmage's Blizzard, so let us go ahead and compare the two without further ado:

The conclusion we can conduct is nice and simple; if you hit many waves (>3) Blizzard deals the most damage, while Rain of Fire is superior if you only hit one or two waves. 

A strategy that sometimes is seen on ladder is Archmage using Blizzard to harass workers (especially against Human and Orc) from the very get-go of the game. The intention of that strategy is to hurt the enemy's economy and keep him busy, thus buying yourself more time. With our conclusion of Rain of Fire being better with fewer waves and the assumption that the enemy pulls away workers; does that make Pit Lord strictly better with this strategy?

No, unfortunately not - the reasoning being mana. Not only does Rain of Fire cost 10 more mana than Blizzard (75/85), but his mana pool and mana regeneration are also lower. 

Howl of Terror

This ability is what single-handedly has granted him just some spotlight in the competitive scene (well to be precise, the ability and the fact that he is healable with Death Coil). Howl of Terror gives an instantaneous way of reducing the opponent's attack damage output by respectively 30/40/50% in a big AoE (500).

Pit Lord as a third hero has fallen out of favour for Undead players, but he used to compete with Dark Ranger for the spot against Orc! Though Howl of Terror is a great ability, it has a glaring deficit. The percentage increment per level of the effect is rather lack-luster, only increasing by 10%. Translating this damage reduction into increment of EHP we get 43/66/100%

To illustrate why I find it to be so, let us compare Howl of Terror with Healing Spray. The likeness of the abilities is not as big as with Rain of Fire and Blizzard, but bear with me for the sake of the comparison, which I believe still has a lot of merit. Healing Spray heals every unit in an AoE for 30/45/60 hit hoints with 3/4/5 waves of healing. As the spell is cast on allied units you are very likely to fully utilize the ability, so we should be able to sum it all up, so you heal every unit for 90/180/300 hit hoints. This is an increment of 100% from level 1 to level 2 and 66,6% from level 2 to level 3. Whereas the EHP increment from HoT level 1 to level 2 is only 23% and from level 2 to level 3 is 44%.

Alas, Howl of Terror is not very desirable to skill more than once. You would probably still do it due to no better options, but you would not be too thrilled about it. This is also part of the reason why you are not eager to chose him as a second hero (or a first hero), since he does not benefit much from the levels.

Lucifer vs. Still - RBC7 Qualifier #1

Cleaving Attack

Cleaving attack was the only ability getting touched with patch 1.30. The AoE was increased from 200 to 250 and the splash damage percentage buffed from 30/55/80% to 40/65/90%.

I have heard many mixed ideas on this ability. Some say that it's absolutely garbage and only gets picked because you cannot sustain both Rain of Fire and Howl of Terror mana-wise, while others actually claim that it to be a quite good passive. Let us take a look at the numbers and see if we can reach any meaningful conclusion!

If we want to calculate the DpS of Cleaving Attack, it is logical to figure out an expected amount of units it hits. This is an assumption and thus a very relevant source of error in the upcoming calculations. We want to find a representative average value between the best and the worst possible outcome.

As mentioned, the splash radius got increased, so that it is now equal to the radius of Goblin Alchemist's Healing Spray. The visualization above gives you an idea of which units would be affected by cleaving attack, should Pit Lord attack a unit in front of him.

Though it is a mere guess, I think it is realistic (and even conservative) to expect hitting 1,5 units with the splash damage (ergo not including the actual struck unit). This is both for when creeping neutral units and fighting opponents.

Alright, let us look at what we are here for! I will not go in depth with how I calculated the DpS, but I will include the final equations that I used. The calculation is based on raw stats, so no items or buffs. First, the base DpS of the Pit Lord (variable x is the hero level):

Base DpS without Cleaving Attack

If you want to read a bit more about the calculation of attack speed, you can read this article written by Turbosau.

Next, we simply add the damage from Cleaving Attack to the base DpS:

DpS of Cleaving Attack level 1 (1,5 units hit)

Now we can easily calculate the DpS given with Cleaving Attack on all levels, but as we are trying to figure out how good Cleaving Attack is we must try to compare it with another spell. I chose to look at Critical Strike as they are both passives that increase damage output. With the same procedure as with Pit Lord and Cleaving Attack, I calculated the DpS of Blademaster with Critical Strike:

And finally we have our desired comparison in terms of DpS output.


Exact numbers for DpS at level 1, 5 and 10

 

As we see, Cleaving Attack (almost) always deals the most DpS. And if you were to hit 3-4 units with the splash (which is not that unlikely in a clunky fight) your DpS will increase substantially. Does that mean that Critical Strike is objectively worse? Well, as you may already have guessed the answer to that is no. Critical Strike has three upsides that Cleaving Attack does not have. First, and most importantly, you concentrate all your damage on one unit. Second, you deal damage in bursts, which can be very meaningful. The third upside is not directly linked to the abilities, but as Blademaster is an agility based hero, agility would boost both attack damage and attack speed. In other words, it would affect both the numerator and denominator (the top and the bottom of a fraction) in the equation. If Pit Lord got more of his primary stat, strength, from tomes and/or items, he would only get a boost in attack damage (Well, also maximum HP and HP regeneration, but those do not matter for his damage output).

The conclusion for Cleaving Attack is kind of blurry, but under the right circumstances he can dish out an incredible amount of damage!

Doom

Doom is one of the most powerful abilities in the game. Both by the raw power of the Demon Guard in fights and by the fact that you can easily pick off enemy units one-by-one in a late game scenario. It is pretty much undisputed that Doom is an awesome ability, so I do not feel the need to say much about it - it is definitely not the reason he is a bad hero!


I can actually only think of one serious game where Pit Lord was not picked 3rd, and even that was by accident. If you have not watched this game, you are in for a treat. Commentary is by one of the players in the game, Grubby (with the outstanding production quality that we know him for).


Grubby v. Zacard - BlizzCon'05 Grand Finale

Conclusion

Pit Lord has a super weird kit. His abilities do not seem to compliment each other well - rather the opposite. You will not have the mana to sustain Rain of Fire and Howl of Terror together. Rain of Fire encourages you to stay in the back, channeling the spell, so that does not mesh well with Cleaving Attack at all. On paper, the most attractive way of playing Pit Lord is probably by embracing Blizzard's description and going for a melee combating beast with Cleaving Attack and Howl of Terror, but even then he is just way too vulnerable a target.

What are your thoughts on Pit Lord? If you could make one change to Pit Lord to make his abilities compliment each other better, what would it be? Is the solution simple and elegant or would you prefer a rework of all his abilities?

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