Invoker and Midas used to go hand in hand. Now there are better choices.
In today’s meta, Hand of Midas affords little benefit for its cost. Cores have better farming alternatives. Supports, now buffeted with XP tomes, as well as XP and Gold talents, have a bevy of old and new items for the early and mid game. Hand of Midas has since fallen out of favor and has become one of the least useful items in the game.
Midas was once was an item that allowed a team, or a hero, to bet on itself for the late game. The idea was that despite its hefty price, its opportunity cost of early and mid game items, the investment would pay off the longer the game progressed.
It was sometimes a “win more” item, a purchase that leveraged a team’s early game lead to secure their late game. And sometimes it was a comeback item, essentially increasing your team’s risk profile so that you can catch up in gold and xp. Basically, you could rationalize buying a Hand of Midas on any hero, for any scenario.
Support heroes like Crystal Maiden bought it, as she idly jungled. Ancient Apparitions bought it to accelerate their own XP, for that higher level Ice Blast, while aiding their farm towards that game changing Aghanim’s Scepter. And Lone Druids used to buy two of them—because why not—even if your Bear didn’t benefit from the XP gain.
Now, the item is just useless on nearly every hero. Why bet on the late game when so much of the game today is dependent on how the early and mid game unfolds? Compared to when Midas was at its peak popularity, today’s game is faster. Turtling is weaker. Killing Roshan is a more important objective than before. Teams can’t afford to interfere with their item timings by purchasing a 2150 gold item that requires a long game to pay off.
Illidan’s Midas build on his Chaos Knight against Espada in the TI8 Qualifiers
Not only do cores need better items to fight, there are also better farming items. That 2150 gold can be 40% towards a Radiance, halfway to a Battlefury, or just pick up a Maelstrom. Invoker players have since moved away from their once core item and towards Aghanim’s Scepter, which now gives an extra level to all your spells.
Imagine how much a support could help with a Force Staff instead of a Hand of Midas. Or a Medallion and Urn. Or a Glimmer Cape. Today, there’s less space and time for heroes to get a lane and farm the gold for their Midas, and a greater demand to claim objectives.
Midas seems to be a viable item only for Arc Warden, who has unique circumstances to take advantage of it. Phoenix can rationalize a Midas pickup, since she does better with the levels than other item alternatives. And one interesting trend that surfaced during the TI8 qualifiers is Chaos Knight, who was played a several times by Team Spirit’s Illidan. The hero, like LIfestealer, deals an immense amount of damage with just Armlet and Treads. While CK might pick up a Midas since he’s a poor farmer, he also has the strongest illusions in the game to take advantage of the attack speed.
Valve's patch cycles have been quick to address meta trends after major tournaments. Contested heroes and ignored heroes get much deserved nerfs and buffs. Even a few items receive tweaks. But it seems that Hand of Midas has fallen by the wayside. Will it still have a place in Dota?