The lonely Dota 2 player frees their mind at night, but they really ought to be ganking instead.
Dota 2’s time of day cycle is a strange mechanic. New players might not even notice it, but experienced veterans know how to abuse both stages’ unique mechanics. In addition to map changes, several heroes have special mechanics related to day and night. Here’s how Dota 2’s time of day system works and how to take advantage of it.
As of 7.28, Dota 2 matches start at nighttime and the first day begins as the creeps spawn. Day and night both last five minutes and can be monitored with the clock between the kill scores. Several abilities can instantly change the time to night or day, such as Nightstalker’s Dark Ascension or Phoenix’s Supernova.
When night comes, every hero’s default vision is massively reduced. During the day, heroes dispel the fog of war in an 1800 unit radius. At night, vision range drops to just 800. This means that ganking is much more powerful at night, especially in the mid lane. Heroes by their tier-one mid tower can’t even see to the opposite side of the river.
By extension, proper warding becomes even more important as night rolls around. Keep in mind that Smoke of Deceit’s break range is 1025, so it’s possible to break Smoke at night without giving up your position. This is also valuable for dewarding, as players can use Smoke of Deceit to safely travel around the map while hunting for wards.
Every Dota 2 hero is affected by the day/night cycle, but some are entirely built around the mechanic. A handful of heroes can change the time of day with spells, and others get vision buffs to counter the nighttime reduction. Here are all the heroes with special vision bonuses based on the Dota 2 time system.
In addition to that group, there are two heroes whose abilities change drastically depending on the time. Night Stalker is entirely built around the day-night system. As soon as the moon rises, Hunter in the Night grants up to 160 attack speed and 50% movement speed. Void and Crippling Fear also become much more powerful. His ultimate, Dark Ascension, allows him to turn any time into nighttime.
Keeper of the Light isn’t quite as invested, but Illuminate gets a big buff in the daytime. The abilities will heal allies if he is in Spirit Form during the day.
Only one item is affected by the day/night cycle. Moon Shard grants its owner a 400 vision extension at night time, which drops to 200 when it is consumed. Noone really buys Moon Shard for the vision, but it’s a nice and flavorful bonus.