One of the most interesting -- though potentially frustrating -- aspects of online-centric games such as Valve's Dota 2 is how they continue to grow, change and evolve over time.
Dota 2 in particular is extremely well supported, with special events, new characters and items being added to the game all the time, helping to keep it fresh and interesting for even the most dedicated of players while simultaneously helping balance the experience and keep it as fair as possible for everyone. Sometimes it means a favorite character gets a boost; sometimes they get a nerf. You win some, you lose some.
The recent New Bloom Festival update for Dota 2 is a significant one. Not only does it bring with it another new character to add to the already bulging roster of playable heroes -- Terrorblade, the demon marauder -- but also a new way to play: Random Ability Draft mode.
In order to play Random Ability Draft, you'll need to have played enough games to raise your Dota 2 profile up to level 11, by which point you will probably have a firm grasp of the game's mechanics and likely have some favorite characters and abilities, too. In Random Ability Draft, each player in a match is assigned a random hero, and each of those heroes' abilities are placed into a pool. One at a time, players take turns to pick abilities for their own hero, potentially allowing you the opportunity to play an established character in a completely new way.
It's an idea borrowed from collectible card game tournaments, where a "cube draft" is a popular format for competition. Here, a large pool of communal cards is made available to all players, and participants take it in turns to draft their decks from the cards available. Dota 2 characters typically only have four or five different abilities, so the scale is much smaller, but the principle is the same -- it's a format designed to test players' adaptability to unpredictable situations, and to determine whether or not they have the knowhow to make good tactical use of a potentially peculiar combination of abilities.
To find out more about the New Bloom Festival update, check out the official site.