Sand King is the avatar of a magic, sentient desert. He isn't simply the king of sand - he is sand, trapped inside armour that happens to look a bit like a scorpion. His is a singular identity expressed by a much broader collective consciousness. To my mind this is a little like Gabe's relationship with Valve, and, more broadly, like Valve's relationship with the Steam community.
Sand King is a melee support hero and his primary attribute is strength. This places him in a class of character that also includes Earthshaker, Undying, Treant Protector and Omniknight. Strength supports are a little more gold-dependent than their intelligence counterparts due to their low mana and reliance on distance-closing items like Blink Dagger.
Sand King is versatile, but the way his skills mesh with one another won't necessarily be apparent to a new player. Let's break them down one by one.
Burrowstrike is classic Valve. It's both a disable, a nuke, and - potentially - an escape, packing tonnes of utility for a modest mana cost. It is more or less effective depending on the skill of the user, but is fundamentally reliable in a way that makes it powerful in the hands of anybody. It can be the spearpoint of an assault or a way of following up on somebody else's initiation; a platform for capitalising on others' success or a means to experiment with new strategies.
Sand Storm is what happens if you use the word 'vision' or 'plan' in an interview with a senior Valve employee. A whirling shroud of avant-garde thinking appears, concealing the man or woman at its centre. Somebody will use the word 'feedback', and almost certainly also the word 'creators'. Then, 'network'. Well-meaning journalists, in this scenario, take anywhere from 25 to 100 damage per second. There's someone in there somewhere, you might think, as your naive writerly dreams erode and crumble. Why didn't I bring sentry wards?
Caustic Finale is an oddity. Some don't invest in it at all, because causing creeps to explode on death is a great way to screw up lane equilibrium. Use it right, however, and that 220 bonus damage at level four can be enough to turn a teamfight. Its inconsistency reflects Valve's work to empower Steam users: sometimes, they explode with creativity! Other times, they explode in a shower of ASCII ****s.
Epicenter. Two seconds of channeling followed by an earthquake that slows movement and attack speed and deals huge damage in a massive radius. You can't ignore it, and you can't escape it. It is a Steam Sale, a new game announcement, and a seasonal Dota event rolled into one. Pulled off perfectly, a good Epicenter shakes the enemy team apart and showers Valve's partners in assist gold. Let's all take a moment to think about serious business people tumbling around their boardrooms while a man bellows 'wombo combo', because that is a fun thing to think about. The problem with Epicenter is that is highly vulnerable to cancellation during the channeling phase.
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