Hand of Fate possesses a strange kind of appeal for me. It adroitly plucks a happy nerve that I didn’t even know I had, one that is deep in the quagmire of my psyche. Because of this, I find it difficult to put into words just why this game resounds so strongly. This is new territory, compelling and frightful.
After loading the game, I will often stay on the main screen and soak in the environment presented before me: I approach the dealer’s table empty-handed. He greets me with a mesmerizing cloud of cards, flaunting his power to control. Are the cards whispering or is that sound just the breeze flitting through the main hall of the citadel where the dealer’s table now sits? The music washes over me, adding to the intoxicating effect. I look into the dealer’s eyes and wonder how many players before me sat in this very chair. How many failures have these steely eyes witnessed? How has he honed this game, refined it? What does this current iteration hold, and how will the dealer adjust it after I am through? Yes. I sit trying to gain a deeper understanding of just what is happening here, and how this new-found wisdom can alter how I play the game once it starts. The game seems so simple and I can become so very powerful, and yet the dealer is the one drawing the cards. Who truly has the upperhand?
…Of course, all of this is not really applicable to the game; I could just log in and go, go, go. But Hand of Fate is presented so soundly, so confidently – it is so utterly sure of itself that I can’t help but fall under its spell. Even now, after completing the main story mode, I still play endless runs because the game is just that much fun.
At some point this weekend, while in the depths of Hand of Fate, Sir Tony Buttonmasher will message me. Like a finger tapping on the fish tank, the head-splitting boom will jolt me, jolt me back to the immediate world.
“doto?” He will ask.
“k”, I will reply.
And just like that, the gears will shift from immersive single-player happy time to international multi-player potato fest. We’re never the potatoes. Never.
Lately, I’ve been mostly playing offlane. I do not have the patience to be a hard carry and I got bored playing support all the time. I want to start kicking up dirt right at the horns. Offlane affords me the opportunity to be ham-fisted and just a little bit reckless. And I. Am. LOVING. it.
Phoenix was a surprise pickup for my limited yet growing hero roster. I tried him (yes, Phoenix is a ‘he’) in a bot match and was initially repulsed, nothing about this stupid fire bird made sense to me. James Buttonmasher suggested I try again. Long story short: Phoenix is now my most successful hero and is on the fast-track to becoming my most played. He is the embodiment of what I want out of Dota: I want mobility; I want disruption; I want team fights; I want to befuddle enemy carries.
Offlaners may not have the stats to crow about, but that’s because their influence is on a grander scale. They operate outside the bounds of K/D/A. They adapt. They create space. They are the wild cards.
What are you playing this weekend?