Strategy 1

The Weaknesses of a Burst Taka

Taka let me farm

Previously, I shared a video that introduces how to play a weapon power Taka and it has received a lot of positive attention from the Vainglory community. Admittedly, there’s also been some reluctance to adopt this play style due to how comfortable players have become with Taka burst builds. The focus of this post is to explain the inherent weakness of burst builds and why it is a good time to make the switch to a weapon power build.

When I say “burst builds,” I’m referring to most builds that include Tension Bow, Aftershock, and/or crystal power (CP) as core items.  These are the most common Taka builds and are largely about creating sudden bursts of damage, hence “burst build.” If executed correctly, burst builds can oftentimes delete your opponent from the battlefield with just a couple of screen taps. This is really the pinnacle of being an assassin hero and the reason I initially fell in love with Taka.

That being said, burst builds are fairly easy to counter and opponents get smarter and smarter as you rise in skill tiers. In no particular order, here’s the primary list of weaknesses for a burst Taka:

  • Underpowered early game
  • Useless when waiting for cooldowns
  • Countered by shield defenses
  • The crystal damage meta

Now, before i jump into the specifics of these weaknesses, let me clarify something: playing a burst build is not “bad.” People see success playing Taka with all sorts of builds and I have personally played burst builds for a long time. In fact, you should ignore me if I ever say you NEED to play or build Taka a certain way. It’s a game and you should be allowed to enjoy it however you want.


Underpowered Early Game

It’s a pretty unanimous belief that Taka has a notoriously weak early game. In fact, on a recent stream from Super Evil Megacorp (SEMC) here’s what Zekent said:

“Taka [is] really, really, REALLY bad from level 1 to 5.” (link)

A lot of Taka players have become dependent upon their abilities and/or proc items (e.g. Tension Bow and Aftershock) for damage output. As a result, many players feel like Taka is fairly worthless until he hits level 6 (i.e. gets X-Retsu) or until he farms enough money to build Tension Bow (often around level 6 or 7). This why we might see a lot of Taka players ignore their team for first six or so minutes of the game. However, I know from firsthand experience that a smart opponent will not let a Taka passively farm for the first six minutes of the game. Instead, he will bully a Taka out of his own jungle, starve him out of gold and experience, and make it so that Taka never becomes relevant to the match. I think this is why we often see a sharp decline in successful Taka players around The Hotness and higher skill tiers – opponents simply get smarter.

This early game weakness can be solved though. A large part of why Taka is lacking in the early game is due to traditional burst build progressions. If you’re going for Tension Bow first, you have to build a Six Sins and a Piercing Spear, which are two of the most gold inefficient items you can build, giving you very little offensive power for the money you spend.  Likewise, if you’re going for a CP build, any crystal items you purchase will only help with your Kaiten (A ability), which you can only use once every 7 seconds (assuming you can maintain 5 Ki stacks). In both builds, not only is your team fight power diminished, but it also slows down how quickly you can clear your jungle, thereby affecting how quickly you gain gold and levels.


Useless When Waiting for Cooldowns

Here’s a scenario you’ve probably seen before:

  • Taka jumps into the team fight.
  • He hits an opponent with his X-Retsu (C ability), his Kaiten (A ability), and possibly a Tension Bow or Aftershock proc.
  • He then attempts to put a box on his head and run away until his X-Retsu and Kaiten come off cooldown (~7-10 seconds).

This is how a burst build Taka operates – hit and run – hence why I sometimes call him a “one shot wonder.” There’s four potential outcomes from this strategy:

one shot wonder matrix

Notice there’s no positive outcomes in this chart. There’s two negative outcomes and two neutral ones. The only one of these outcomes that is close to being positive is when the target dies and Taka lives; however, it still leaves you [temporarily] in a 2v2 team fight while Taka resets himself. It’s very possible that I’m being slightly harsh or unfair here, but I’ve played with and against enough Takas to know this is largely rooted in truth and that you’ve probably noticed the same thing.


Countered by Shield Defenses

Even with a Tension Bow, the majority of Taka’s burst comes from X-Retsu, Kaiten and sometimes Aftershock, all of which is crystal damage. Building off of the previously described weakness – being a “one shot wonder” – if an opponent builds shield defense (e.g. Kinetic Shield, Fountain of Renewal, or Aegis) it will greatly reduce the damage of Taka’s abilities, thus greatly diminishing the chances of successfully eliminating his target. And if a one shot wonder cannot eliminate his target, his value on the team greatly diminishes and he becomes more of a liability than a help.

“What about Broken Myth?” Broken Myth is probably the best counter to opponents who build shield defense. However, building up stacks of shield pierce on a Broken Myth requires you to be actively engaged in combat for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, the hit-and-run tactics of a burst Taka are not conducive to taking full advantage of Broken Myth. For more details on how Broken Myth operates and when it’s effective, check out the complete guide.


The Crystal Damage Meta

Let’s take a look at which heroes are played the most and considered most powerful right now. For a complete view of the current meta (i.e. what’s popular), read Keldegar’s most recent post.

  • CP Vox (crystal damage)
  • Skaarf (crystal damage)
  • Celeste (crystal damage)
  • Krul (crystal damage)
  • Koshka (crystal damage)

As you can see, the current meta has an overabundance of crystal damage. In many games I can reliably build shield defense without any regard for armor since the opposing team doesn’t have any weapon power carries. Per the previous weakness, this is hugely problematic for burst Taka because his Kaiten and X-Retsu will barely put a dent in opponents who have shield defense, leaving him fairly helpless to complete his job as assassin.

As a strategic side note, it’s ideal if you have at least one weapon power (WP) carry and one crystal power (CP) carry on your team. This forces your opponents to pick which damage source they’re going to defend against, leaving them vulnerable to one or the other. That being said, there’s a severe lack of viable WP carries in the current meta, even more so for the jungle. I believe the rise of WP Taka can be a good step towards solving this problem. Out of all the jungle carries, his kit is probably best suited for the role of a WP carry, with maybe the exception of Glaive. Fortunately, I have seen some WP Joules on the horizon. Likewise, I believe Krul and Ardan might be able to fill this niche, but that’ll take a lot more experimentation and play testing before a good build emerges.

In summary, I think it’s the perfect time to introduce a viable WP jungle carry and Taka has the greatest potential to fill those shoes.


Stay Tuned

That’s it for today. Once again, Taka burst builds are not “bad,” they just have several inherent weaknesses that I’m seeking to remedy. In my next post, I’ll help you overcome these weaknesses by talking about how to build an optimal WP Taka. However, building a hero correctly is only half the story, so further down the road I’ll also be introducing a play guide for WP Taka that will teach key strategies and tactics.

— Gadianton


Other posts in this series:

1 Comment

  • Reply
    May 21, 2015 10:23 pm

    I totally agree the Taka burst build has dropped significantly off the meta and as you said especially Crystal meta. As a emerging Taka player in high ELO I was wondering if you give more mechanical stuff like team comps and build mechanics like what to buy at certain times, also maybe a guide on advanced stutter-stepping techniques would be immensely helpful. Thank you for all the work you do Gadianton and Broken Myth.


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