Movement is King
A key concept to understand to prevail in Diretide is that movement is key. The game is won and lost on Taffy brought back to the bucket, not hero kills. During the drafting phase heroes try to snatch up are ones that have low cooldown abilities that grant bonus movement. Heroes such as Clinkz, Weaver, Queen of Pain, Nature’s Prophet and Anti-Mage are all excellent picks, and statistically, according to Stratz, are all top six for bringing back the candy to secure points. These heroes are your runners. Another phenomenally good hero is Storm Spirit as his Ball Lightning can reach your Taffy Bucket fairly easily on the small-scale Diretide map. If you’re into being sneaky then Bounty Hunter and Riki can also do the job thanks to their invis.
A death with candy is unforgivable!
Dying in Diretide is forgivable, especially when outnumbered. However, dying while still carrying Taffy regardless of how many you have is an error worse than death. For every Taffy you are carrying your max HP drops by 6%, so you should all go back home the moment you’ve collected three or four right? Wrong. Diretide is about efficiency, so transfer your candy to the high movement allied hero you picked in the draft and stay in lane to farm more. Scarecrow Stashes full of Candy spawn regularly top and bot, never miss an opportunity to contest them if you want to win. Feed Roshan candy to appease him only if incredibly necessary and pay attention to power runes in his spawn.
If you’re not a runner you’re an AOE spammer
If you’ve secured one, or ideally two, high movement heroes for your draft, then you need to fill out the rest with some juicy AOE. Of the five rounds in Diretide, four of them feature swarms of enemies; skeletons, zombies, ghosts and spiders. Clearing the waves means more Taffy so prioritize heroes with AOE abilities on low cooldowns. The likes of Pugna, Undying, Zeus and Bloodseeker are all exceptionally strong picks and also quite fun to play. The combat in Diretide is relentless so you’ll have time to spam spells to your heart’s content but take care with item picks.
Itemize for Diretide, not ranked
You might have the perfect build for offlane Underlord in ranked but for Diretide you’ll need to adjust your approach. The Diretide map is much smaller and with only two lanes and a timer, it’ll be non-stop combat. So put Tortedelini and ImmortalFaith’s hero guides to the side and think Diretide. If you’re an AOE spammer, you’re going to need immense mana regen and you’ll only really have time to farm one or two high tier core items so choose them wisely. Opt for offensive over defensive items, and don’t be afraid to spoil yourself.
Refresher Orb, while not that common outside of Magnus or Warlock in regular Dota, works beautifully in Diretide. Likewise, rushing an Aghanim Sceptre as a support hero might typically get you reported, but in Diretide you’ll be commended. Diretide matches are quick and generally low stress so experiment with builds. Typical Dota builds do not belong here.
Avoid being blindsided at the buzzer
A popular cheese strat which Valve surprisingly did not address in their Diretide patch on November 2nd was players sneaking to your Taffy bucket right before the buzzer. No matter how ahead you think you might be, have vision around your bucket and if you have a comfortable lead consider keeping one player back to avoid what is essentially Diretide backdooring.
As each hit on the Taffy bucket drops one candy, the likes of Clinkz and Windranger are the devil in this mode. Ban them if you do not plan on picking them. Other heroes that are exceptionally good at this hit and run tactic are Snapfire and Shadow Shaman with a Blink Dagger or Shadowblade, the latter because every hit from his Serpent Wards counts for unloading candy. Massive swings can happen in the dying seconds, so don’t get overconfident and be vigilant right until the end. Even SirActionSlacks got burned by it…
Don’t pay for keys to open chests
There are over a hundred cosmetic rewards available from Diretide according to Valve. Each time you amass 100 Diretide points through Diretide matches or normal matchmaking, you will receive a random award, which often can be the Hallowed Chest of the Diretide. The chest contains 64 potential drops divided across five tiers but there is a catch, you need a key to open your chest, and keys cost around $2.50. Now given you’ve already got the chest you might part ways with $2.50 simply to open it but it’s wiser to instead sell your first chest on the marketplace. Chests are currently selling for over $5, meaning one marketable chest sale will give you enough for two Diretide keys. Alternatively if you’re not fussed about Diretide rewards, you can sell the chests to buy other games on Steam!
Ultimately whether you win or lose you will be rewarded with Diretide Points, so the Halloween event is a far more chilled experience. Matches are best-of-5 and with six minutes per round you can bash out a successful 3-0 game of Diretide in 18 minutes. If you’re on the clock with how long you can play, give it a go using our tips to guide you. Best of luck!