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Power treads give +9 to either Strength, Agility, or Intelligence. You can switch between the "active" attribute. When buying them for my hero, the default thing I'd do is set them to my hero's primary stat.

Power Treads icons

Casters of professional games often refer to "Tread Switching", which I assume means changing the selected stat during the game or even in the heat of the moment. I'm guessing (partly from the related gamepedia article) that this is mostly done to affect regen items like a bottle. I also figured that perhaps setting it to Strength when being chased (for those few extra HP) or to Intelligence to bump up those few points of mana to TP out are valid uses (or are they?).

This leads me to the first part of my question: what exactly is Tread Switching?

Whatever it precisely is, it uses APM and requires some attention, both of which you don't have in surplus as a low(er) ranked player. I'm personally around 3k MMR, so for me it competes with -say- checking the mini-map and hitting/missing a last hit or two. So I'm not even sure how to decide if it's worth spending APM or attention on it.

So this leads me to the second part: how worthwhile are the effects of Tread Switching?

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  • Dota is a game of incremental improvement. Tread Switching is one of those increments. It's impossible to know beforehand exactly how effective it will be, so I'd recommend learning it, as you'll want to do it eventually. Aug 26, 2015 at 19:30

2 Answers 2

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I'll answer in reverse:

How worthwhile are the effects of Tread Switching?

Miniscule, it's a micro-optimization and not needed unless you have spare APM. Better to focus on strategy, map sense and team communication. If you do wish to do it, it's more useful early game rather than late (percent of your total stat pool shifting)

What exactly is Tread Switching?

This is down to dota2 mechanics being copied over from WC3, and it's an arbitrage between percentages and absolutes. Skills commonly use an absolute amount of mana, ex. 100 mana cost for a skill out of say a total mana pool of 500.

Say you are current on STR treads and on 100/500 mana. What happens to your mana total when you change to int treads? Int goes up by 9, each point of INT gives 13 mana, so your new max mana pool is = 617, your pool is also scaled -> 123.4 / 617 now. Voila, you gained 23.4 mana, which you could use to cast a spell.

So skills commonly consume mana in fixed amounts and regens (clarity, soul ring, arcane boots etc.) replenish mana in fixed amounts, while any changes to your mana pool happen in % fashion. By changing your mana pool inbetween casting and replenishing, you can gain an edge. It's not too big with treads, but it can be bigger with arcane boots + soul ring...

Ex. if you're not 500/1000 mana with arcane boots + soul ring. Use of soul ring -> 650 / 1000 or 1. Drop arcanes -> 375 / 750 2. Use Soul ring -> 525 / 750 3. Pick up arcanes -> 700 / 1000 (+50 mana by comparison)

Just one more in the list of intricate mechanisms that can take your individual skills to the next level. But not before map sense, item sense, last hitting, stacking, orb walking, learning about vision and juking in fog, dodging projectiles and a whole lot more :) That depth is the fun.

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  • Thinking I'll stick with the advice from your first paragraph for now. Thanks for your answer.
    – Jeroen
    Aug 27, 2015 at 8:18
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    An example of usefullness of thread switching : Medusa's snake. You cast the snake on Int Threads to lower the % mana cost, then switch back to Agi so that when the mana from the snakes come back it will have greater impact on your mana pool %.
    – Bibz
    Aug 27, 2015 at 18:57
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    I disagree that the effects are miniscule. Sure, switching ALL the time is hard to learn, but being aware that you can switch can change games even at low level. As you mentioned, when you don't have quite enough mana for a spell (e.g. a stun or a teleport), quickly switching to int and maybe having enough then can really make a difference. Being able to do something vs nothing can make a massive difference, even if constant (pro-level) switching for every spell, hit, and regen is beyond you.
    – Samthere
    Aug 28, 2015 at 10:17
  • Oh sure. The utility of that teleport can be high, but if you multiply that with how often you make the clutch teleport play... only happens when you're already good at other parts of the game :)
    – Vivek
    Sep 1, 2015 at 20:28
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I have to disagree with Vivek. Tread switching is extremely useful, but it depends on the hero you are playing. Specifically it is the most useful for Strength heroes with terrible mana pools, like Wraith King, Dragon Knight, etc, but it can be useful for any hero with mana issues. You can use it on Phantom Lancer, for instance, to get that one extra Spirit Lance off to get a kill.

But is it useful in low-ranked matches?

Well, yes. Being able to throw an extra Wraithfire Blast or two, compared to any other player at your rank playing WK, is extremely useful. In terms of learning game skill, are last hitting and other skills more important? Definitely, but this one is certainly not unimportant. I think you will find that it will give you a very noticeable edge against equally matched players.

Is it hard?

I wouldn't really say so. Just put the treads on an easy to reach hotkey and you've already eliminated half the problems.

The other part is you do have to understand something important, and that's how stat bonuses work in Dota 2. Let's say you have your treads on Intelligence. Since you gain 13 mana per point of Intelligence, that gives you 130 mana, right?

Well... kind of. It gives you 130 maximum mana. How much actual mana it gives you depends on how much you had before you put on the treads, and it's proportional. Let's say you have 250 max Mana now, but you're currently at 125 Mana, or 50% remaining. When you put on treads, you will gain 50% of the Mana that +10 Intelligence would give you. In other words, your new mana total would be 190/380. So you are still at 50% mana remaining, but you still get an additional 65 mana because both your maximum and your current mana were increased at the same time. Get it?

This system works the exact same way for HP. And, as you may notice, this system greatly benefits those with low HP/Mana pools over those who have high HP/Mana pools. The 65 mana gained in the last example is important for a hero like Wraith King.

Also, you can realize that every time you cast a spell, you gain "temporary" mana (kind of like a soul ring) if you tread switch to INT first. Then, afterwards, you can tread switch back. That allows a flat mana regen item like Ring of Basilius to regen your mana faster, because your pool is smaller. But you don't care about the fact that your pool is smaller, because the mana you gain from tread switching is proportional. This is the primary reason that it is more beneficial for smaller mana pools; it's easier to regen a small mana pool back up to full, meaning that you can get a high proportion easily.

Once you understand this, using tread switching correctly comes naturally. Just experiment with it the next time you play a treads-building hero with a bad mana pool. It is a good edge to have but not vital for you at this point.

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  • Good answer, quite helpful! But now I'm confused as to which one to accept :D. At the very least I'll try your suggestions, perhaps even with your specific example of WK, to see if this answer worked for me.
    – Jeroen
    Aug 27, 2015 at 21:45
  • I'm not here for upboats, so feel free to accept whomever. Aug 28, 2015 at 13:29
  • I find that both answers are good. Vivek is clearer on the concept, but Lucas stresses that it definetly can be usefull thing, even at low levels
    – Bibz
    Aug 29, 2015 at 11:28

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