Disclaimer: I'm not related to Days)Yueru. He doesn't deserve Yueru anyway!
This guide is dedicated to Clan fRs (ferals). You guys are the best!
As a keen DotA player for over three years, I have played countless games, pub or IH (inhouse) and it is rather sad that I must now say goodbye to DotA. Now that I’m officially retired from the game, I can finally draw from my experiences and write a more-or-less ‘complete’ guide on Nevermore, my favourite (and to some extent the best) hero of all time. This guide, I believe, will help everyone, from beginners who want to know more about this game to experienced players who are already playing clan wars. This guide will be split into 3 parts (well, actually 4), because it is quite long, but hopefully you’ll get through...but before I start, here's something for those of you who have never seen Nevermore at his finest...or those of you who still think that a 50 minute free-farm Medusa is actually what DotA really is!
Here's a beautifully edited Nevermore the Shadow Fiend montage which will OPEN your eyes to some top-notch SF moments in some of the highest-level Pub, Inhouse and Clan War games around the world. MUST WATCH.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Click on the Links to be taken to that Part immediately)
Level 1: Necromastery
Level 2: Shadowraze
Level 3: Shadowraze
Level 4: Necromastery
Level 5: Shadowraze
Level 6: Necromastery
Level 7: Shadowraze
Level 8: Necromastery
Level 9: Requiem of Souls
Level 10: Stats
Level 11: Requiem of Souls
Level 12: Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 13: Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 14: Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 15: Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 16: Requiem of Souls
Level 17-25: Stats
Early Game Items:
(If your game is not going so well)
AND OR OR
Take the Mid Solo.
For the early game, it's about 75% Farm and 25% Gank.
Runewhore as much as you can.
Farm a lot for the first 30 minutes, then focus on pushing. Never over farm.
Start pushing once you have BKB and preferably Dagger/Lothars on top of Boots of Travel.
Dealing massive amounts of AoE damage in teamfights is what you do.
As you can already see, Nevermore has one of the lowest starting damage in DotA and in the hands of an inexperienced player, soloing with Nevermore against good last hitters such as Viper can prove to be very difficult indeed. However, Nevermore’s ability to solo lay not in his starting damage, but in his excellent missile speed, his attack range and his Base Attack Time, not to mention his ability Necromastery that gives him a tremendous boost in damage in the early-middle game. His movement speed is quite average but not horrible.
His armour is quite low for an Agility hero. He has low strength gain, and for an Agility hero, average Agility gain. However, he does have quite a high Intelligence gain for an Agility hero which makes it possible for him to spam his Shadowrazes in the middle game that makes farming (and carrying with Nevermore) very easy indeed.
Part One: the Shadow Fiend's Arsenal
Gives the Shadow Fiend the power to desecrate regions in front of him at varying distances.
• Damage type: magical
• When Shadow Raze is learned, three independent skills will be given to Nevermore, each one generating a Shadow Raze at a specific distance in front of him. Mana Cost (All Levels): 75 Damage (Levels 1-4 respectively): 75, 150, 225, 300 Cooldown (All Levels): 10 seconds AoE (Area of Effect): 275
Shadowraze (Z) Cast Range: 200
Shadowraze (X) Cast Range: 450
Shadowraze (C) Cast Range: 700
Shadowraze is without a doubt Nevermore’s bread and butter skill. To some extent, mastering Shadowraze is essentially mastering Nevermore. This is really the kind of stuff you see on those You tube ‘DotA Mega Pwnage Videos’ and ‘Nevermore Montages’ and what makes Nevermore the hero that separates beginners from pros. It is with utmost importance the one can ‘raze’ with almost pinpoint accuracy as the AoE of Shadowraze is quite small—the red circles on the diagram are not particularly accurate and the actual AoE is slightly smaller.
Shadowraze costs very little mana compared to the amount of damage it does. The Cooldown on each Shadowraze (the first red circle being ‘Z’, second being ‘X’ and third being ‘C’) are separate which means Nevermore actually has three nukes on his back. This means he can deal a maximum of 900 damage (675 if magic resistance is considered) to a single target in a very short amount of time which makes Nevermore very dangerous indeed especially in the early game, when very few heroes have more than 900 hp. The tricks-of-the-trade to mastering Shadowraze will be discussed in greater depth in another chapter.
Whenever the Shadow Fiend kills a target, he stores the unfortunate soul inside of him. For each stored soul he gains 2 bonus damage until his own death releases half of them from bondage. Ability Type: Passive Damage Cap (Levels 1-4 respectively): 16, 30, 46, 60
• Heroes, denies and neutral creeps also provide Bonus damage through Necromastery.
• The more souls Nevermore has, the more powerful Requiem of Souls will be.
Another one of Nevermore’s abilities that enables him to become a potent force in the middle game, Necromastery is directly linked to his Ultimate, Requiem of Souls and gives his massive DPS (damage-per-second, or just ‘damage’) advantage over other heroes in the middle game.
Unfortunately, Necromastery loses a lot of its effectiveness towards the late-game, as DPS-carries are mostly farmed up and the extra 60 damage become rather minuscule. It is very important, as a Nevermore user, to maintain that ‘edge’ through the middle game as Nevermore tends to be most effective during the early-middle to the middle-late game.
Presence of the Dark Lord
The presence of such a horrible creature terrifies nearby enemies, reducing their armour. Ability Type: Passive Armour Reduced (Levels 1-4 Respectively): 2, 3, 4, 5
• Fully stacks with other armour reduction abilities and auras.
• Is not affected by magic immunity e.g. Black King Bar.
It is difficult to say when it is best to max out this ability. The problem with Presence of the Dark Lord is that it needs to be maxed out in order for it to be effective in any way and in a lot of cases, it is perhaps much better to invest in Stats than to max out Presence of the Dark Lord.
Presence of the Dark Lord is best combined with Stygian Desolator as the armour-reduction becomes very effective against many spellcasters. In an armour-reduction team strategy (e.g. Nevermore with Vengeful Spirit, Slarder and Templar Assassin), Presence of the Dark Lord should definitely be skilled. Otherwise, stick with Stats, especially when the game is not going your way. Think about it this way: -5 armour, or a free Ultimate Orb? (Well, almost an Ultimate Orb anyway)
Requiem of Souls
Summons evil spirits around you dealing damage to units in the area. Number of spirits is related to the number of souls stored and the movement/damage reduction is related to the distance from the Shadow Fiend. Lowers movement speed and damage of nearby units. The closer the units are the greater the effect.
Ability Type: Active
Ability Hotkey: R
Damage in each line (evil spirit) from Level 1-3: 80, 120, 160
Movement speed reduction, from Level 1-3: 15%, 20%, 25%
Channelling time: 1 Second
Mana cost, from Level 1-3: 150, 175, 200
AoE, from Level 1-3: 1300, 1325, 1350
Duration of slow on all Levels: 5 seconds
• Damage type: magical
• The amount of damage dealt is related to the number of souls captured with Necromastery.
• Requiem of Souls generates damaging lines around Nevermore, 1 per 2 souls stored, for a maximum of 15 lines.
• The closer the targeted unit is, the bigger the amount of lines affecting him.
• Reduces both movement speed and attack damage of units in a 700 AoE.
• This skill breaks invisibility a short time before it's released.
• This skill has a 1 second cast time
Perhaps a difficult-to-explain ability to some, but the mechanism is simple—the closer Nevermore is to the target whilst he casts Requiem of Souls, the greater damage he unleashes upon that target. If correctly used, Requiem of Souls will create devastating damage in a team fight, especially when combined with items such as Kelen’s Dagger (Lothar’s edge, in my opinion, is a valid but easily countered option—will be discussed in much greater depth later)
Nevermore's Ultimate can do a massive amount of damage in team battles. This is taken from one of my many Inhouse games with my friends' clan. Thanks a lot, guys.
If Nevermore’s character model completely ‘overlaps’ with the target (achievable with items such as Phase boot or Lothar’s Edge), the target will receive 100% of the damage from Requiem of Souls, which amounts of 15 ‘spirits’, each dealing 160 damage: the target receives 2400 damage, 1800 damage if magic resistance is considered as well. This is more than enough to kill off literally any heroes in the middle game, though it is quite rare that you will actually have the chance to deal the full amount of damage. Nonetheless, Requiem of Souls is a potent skill that can unleash total chaos and devastation, though it should not be skilled until Necromastery is maxed out first.
Level 1: Necromastery
Level 2: Shadowraze
Level 3: Shadowraze/Necromastery
Level 4: Necromastery/Shadowraze
Level 5: Shadowraze/Necromastery
Level 6: Necromastery/Shadowraze
Level 7: Shadowraze
Level 8: Necromastery
Level 9: Requiem of Souls/Stats
Level 10: Stats/Requiem of Souls
Level 11: Requiem of Souls
Level 12: Stats/Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 13: Stats/Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 14: Stats/Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 15: Stats/Presence of the Dark Lord
Level 16: Requiem of Souls
Level 17-25: Stats
(Or max out Presence of the Dark Lord should Stats be taken between Level 12 and 15, Bold/colored font denotes my preferred build for Nevermore. The skillset after the / indicates an interesting alternative build.)
Perhaps the alternative skill build I’ve suggested between Levels 1-7 is more or less quite unusual, compared to the conventional Necromastery, Raze, Raze, Necromastery, Raze skill build. However, the alternative skill build can be useful if you are soloing well (e.g. versus a weak solo such as Vengeful Spirit) so that you can build on those souls in Necromastery and literally out-last-hit your opponent. In any case, Shadowraze being Nevermore’s main nuke should be maxed out by Level 7 as it is his main farming and ganking skill.
The reason why that Shadowraze is taken at both Level 2 and 3 is because it gives you a decent nuke (75 damage at Level 1 is really just for some desperate last-hits) and gives you the ability to score last hits when you are facing a nasty dual-lane or annoying heroes such as Tinker or Viper. You can basically spam your razes till you reach Level 4/5, fill up your souls in Necromastery, rune-whore (god do I hate this phrase) once in a while and farm up the core items you need in the middle game.
It is hard to say when it is best to max out Presence of the Dark Lord, but I tend to max it out when:
1. My team is playing aggressively and is winning in terms of towers/hero kills.
2. I’ve decided to buy Stygian Desolator for my first DPS item (BKB does not really count) and the -5 armour can really help.
3. I’m playing a clan war and my team mates all have minus-armour abilities (Slarder’s Amplify Damage, for example) and my -5 armour aura can really turn the tide of the battle.
Nevermore’s position in a team:
Getting things like these first...
Is better than getting these first!
Unfortunately, Nevermore is not a DPS hero, unlike what most people think of Nevermore. He is an AoE carry, his advantage over other carry heroes (such as Phantom Assassin) being his insane farming speed and the +60 damage thanks to Necromastery. Load Nevermore up with Satanic, Treads, Butterfly and all those flashy items and give Phantom Assassin the same items. Nine times out of ten, Phantom Assassin will win, assuming, of course, Nevermore does not use his Ultimate, but any carries these days will likely farm a Black King Bar as one of their main items.
Now I’m not saying that you leave the middle lane after you turn Level 7 and spend the whole game trying to raze the hell out of your opponents. You should combine gank with farm (from my experiences, around 25 % gank with 75 % farm) and try farm your vital items before the 30th minute mark so that you have the necessary means to unleash your fury in team battles. Once again, one must remember Nevermore is all about his AoE damage, not his DPS.
How to Shadowraze Properly and Effectively as a Nevermore user:
Big thank you to Aughing @ Replays.Net for this image! As you can see, your ‘X’ Shadowraze is roughly about the same distance from you as your attack range. The AoE for your 'Z' raze is almost at melee range and the AoE for your 'C' raze can be taken as the distance between Nevermore (who's last-hitting a melee creep) and the ranged creeps on the other side.
As you can see, the AoEs of Shadowraze can seem bigger than how you might have imagined it-and technically if the target you are Shadowrazing is at exactly the 450 range mark, he will receive the damage of all three Shadowrazes. However, it is still important as a Nevermore player to imagine the AoEs of your Shadowrazes a tad smaller than they are in reality, so that you have that feel of the 'pin-point accuracy' that is really required to land a nice, solid, accurate Shadowraze.
A popular strategy amongst many beginners, therefore, is to attack the target first and then immediately press ‘X’.Most of the time, assuming the target is slowed or stunned, the Shadowraze will hit. ‘Z’ is relatively simple to hit as it is literally at melee range, whilst ‘C’ is simply 3 AoE’s away from Nevermore. ‘C’ is possibly the hardest to aim out of the three Shadowrazes and a great deal of practice is required to aim them properly.
There are some cases that really don’t give you the chance to attack the target first and you must use your instincts and your experience to aim those razes. I usually right click on the ground closest to my target before I calculate the distance in my head and decide whether to use ‘Z’, ‘X’ or ‘C’.
In most cases, there are about 4 kinds of scenarios that may arise when you try Shadowraze someone:
1. A stunner (e.g. Sven) comes in and stuns someone. You raze him twice, most likely with your ‘X’ and ‘C’ razes (the 2 second stun doesn’t really allow for all 3 of your razes to hit) and hopefully with a couple of extra attacks, you’ve managed to rack up a kill. This is the safest, and by far, the most common way of killing someone with your Shadowrazes. This accounts for around 70 % of my kills with Nevermore. Heres an example when my teammate Furion and Spectre (some sort of global strategy there, once again one of Loda's creations) helps me gank the other's team's main carry, Drow Ranger.
I was hiding in the Scourge forest when I told my teammate, Furion, to trap Drow Ranger with his spell 'Sprout' so we can gank her. This was an Inhouse game that wasn't particularly serious so there weren't too much wards around.
Boom comes in the Sprout...Drow Ranger is taken completely by surprise. I take my position carefully and...
'X' and 'C', That's it. So easy, but do make sure that you get it right every time!
2. You’re retreating into the Fog of War (your opponents can no longer see you, for that matter) and a bunch of enemy heroes are chasing after you. Because they can’t see you, you turn around and raze them (most likely ‘C’, ‘X’ then ‘Z’) and they walk right into your razes. Or your might cast your powerful Ultimate and they run right into your Requiem of Souls.
This is called abusing the Fog of War (even though it is in fact perfectly legitimate and forms interesting mindgames) and is mostly used when you have very little HP left and you want to pull off a kill—assuming you know what you’re doing. This accounts for around 5% of my kills, but are satisfying in a way as you’ve literally cheated death…and brought demise upon your unlucky opponent.
This example is taken from a test video by a very brilliant DotA player and movie maker, Tews. Let’s see how he manages to rack up a kill using Fog of War to his advantage! (Notice his item build and the fact that Treant will probably have vision of him very soon, so it is up to the Nevermore user’s reflexes to make the most out of those few seconds when he’s invisible to Treant).
He blinks and immediately casts ‘C’. See his reflexes? Practice makes perfect!
Boom comes in that ‘X’ raze as well, even though you can’t see it yet…
And boom comes in the ‘Z’ raze. An easy kill for Nevermore.
3. You managed to get a rune (haste, invisibility etc), but there are no allies around and you’re absolutely sure the guy you’re killing doesn’t have a stun on his back, or a windwalk, or any mana. Let’s just say Zeus who only has enough mana for a single Lightning Bolt. You basically walk right up to him, or try sneak near him, and you raze him and hopefully all 3 razes hit.
To be honest, this is risky game play because there are no allies to help you. Nevermore is a fragile hero and in order for all 3 razes to hit he must be very close to the target first. The main problem, of course, is to actually deal enough damage, as the 3 razes only account for 675 damage and it is important to ‘snuck in’ a couple of attacks so you actually kill him.
Unlike a hero like Tinker who can just nuke the crap out of anyone, using Nevermore’s nukes require patience and a cool head as a single miscalculation or misclick can result in a miss, and the target gets away with red HP. This probably accounts for 15 % of my kills with Nevermore, and most of those kills I garnered in the past few months as Shadowraze takes time to master completely.
See how the great Nirvana.KuroKy did it! He’s one of my favourite DotA players and this is taken from ‘Kuroky the Movie’ by Say_43_Plz. KuroKy had just managed to kill Sand King and Dirge thinks he can solo Nevermore. Of course, he’s wrong.
KuroKy hits Dirge a couple more times and goes for the killer Shadowraze (‘C’), but Dirge just manages to heal himself with Soul Rip! See how much damage Nevermore’s normal attacks and Shadowraze do? Dirge is quite a ‘beefy’ hero, but when he’s up against Nevermore, he’s out of HP in no time. Can KuroKy rack up a kill?
And all it took KuroKy was another raze, this time the ‘X’, and Dirge falls victim to Nevermore once again.
A hero with nearly no HP turns invisible and thanks to the fact your Shadowrazes can actually hit invisible units, you try raze where he’s going to be in a few seconds and hopefully, you pull it off. What I define as ‘blind raze’ is not someone running into the fog for less than a second and having pressed ‘x’ already, I press ‘c’ and ‘magically’ my ‘imbaness’ allows me to hit the guy who tried sneaking into the fog of war.
A blind raze is when the target has literally vanished off the map for more than three seconds and all you’ve got is your instinct. An experienced player will most likely know where you will target your blind razes and will go the opposite way and landing a blind raze is really the same as landing a no-scope with an AWP in CS: in most cases, it’s about 40 % luck and 60 % map awareness.
This is taken from one of Sogovegeta’s DotA videos, ‘Nevermore the Dark Knight Returns’. He’s one of the most inspirational players out there and this is probably one of the best, actual ‘blind razes’ I’ve seen anyone do. He spots Clinkz with only 2/3 HP and he probably knows that the next couple of seconds will probably end up in his DotA video! (AXAXA)
He lands a couple of hits on Clinkz and as you can see, Nevermore’s attacks are very powerful during the Middle game. He tries to Shadowraze but since the direction wasn’t quite right…
He cancels it, saving him 75 mana and some embarrassment. But what about Clinkz?
There we go! He lands a good solid ‘X’ raze on Clinkz and he’s almost dead. But then, he Windwalks.
In most cases, Clinkz would probably have gone path A, so he razes there with ‘C’ and obviously, no one’s dead. But he’s go that Kelen’s Dagger of his, plus his ‘Z’ raze which he cancelled earlier
And voila! Shadowraze gets in just in time. A testament to Sogovegeta’s amazing blind razes and to some extent, luck!
The hardest razes to land, in my opinion, are in fact not the so called ‘blind razes’ but ones that require some very precise ‘clicking’. As I said before, Shadowrazes require pinpoint accuracy to land (even though there is a small AoE with each raze) and it is important that you understand how to face your opponent ‘properly’ so you can hit them with the correct corresponding raze.
So you may ask—what do I mean by precise ‘clicking?
It is important to do this as fast as possible as multiple adjustments can result in your opponent getting away (which is always annoying) and experience, plus practice, would eventually increases your chances of landing such razes drastically. It is still quite difficult for me, to this day, to land such razes and I would think my accuracy in such razes would be around 50% -- assuming I do not cancel it with ‘Stop’ and readjust myself. Sometimes, a single click could decide whether you land yourself a kill or end up dead. Using the ‘Move’ command on Nevermore and adjust your direction is a bread and butter skill for every Nevermore user.
I was soloing mid against Morphling. I managed to get a couple of hits plus two of my Level 4 Shadowrazes on him and he gets away with only a tiny bit of HP left. I didn't YET have mana for another raze and he turned on Morph to stay alive, and it wasn't when he reached the runed spot, did he have just enough mana for a Waveform.
The first diagram shows a variety of places a Nevermore player might click to point Nevermore at the right direction. The 'X' marks the various spots where one should NOT click because that will position Nevermore towards the wrong way. Try click on the circle around the letter 'A' (which is what I did) and the 'C' raze manages to just hit Morphling and secure a kill in true Shadow Fiend style.
It is virtually impossible to list every scenario where precise clicking is required, but here are a couple of hints:
1. Never actually click on your target. Instead click on the ground right next to the target.
2. If there’s something between you and your target (for example, trees, hills etc.) never try click on the target or anything around it. Instead, click on the foot on the obstacle that enables you to line yourself up with the target (Nevermore-Foot of the Obstacle-Enemy Target).
Last but not least…:
There’re two more things that need to be talked over about Shadowrazes—Canceling your Shadowrazes and Quick-Raze. Mastering those two elements can improve your game in ways you cannot imagine, just like how mastering Quickswitching and Quickscoping can give your AWP game a real boost in CS.
Shadowraze takes around 0.5 seconds to cast and sometimes due to unforeseen reasons, your razes will miss once in a while. Canceling Shadowrazes is simple—before the cast animation of Shadowraze finishes (Nevermore raising his hands to deliver a raze) and raze comes out, you press the ‘S’ or ‘Stop’ key and this means Nevermore stops everything he was doing.
A typical raze sequence (okay, maybe it was a bit broken) showing me doing the 'Z' and 'X' razes before I 'stop' the 'C' raze.
Fluid motion is the key here. Great concentration is required for you to actually stop that raze in time and a lot of the time, rapid reaction time is very important. Try practicing cancelling your razes when you’re bored—just create a single player game and try ‘feel’ that delicate timing of Nevermore’s casting animation. The more your practice, the more fluid your gameplay will be. This also applies to Nevermore’s Ultimate, and unlike Sand King’s Ultimate, Nevermore’s can be ‘Stopped’ an unlimited amount of times. Use the ‘S’ key to throw off your opponents patterns and tempo!
Quick-raze is something that a lot of players haven’t really heard of, but it’s something that every experienced player will always do. This is exceptionally useful if the stun on the target is about to almost wear off, or the target is merely slowed by Shadow Strike, etc. You’re assuming that your opponent is going to travel in a straight line for the next 1.5 seconds and what you basically do is use your ‘X’ and ‘C’ razes (or your ‘Z’ and ‘X’ razes for that matter) in rapid succession. I’ve come to realize that if one simply pressed ‘X’ then ‘C’, Nevermore will actually stand still for about 0.2 seconds after the initial raze before he casts the next raze.
Example of a series of typical 'Slow Razes'...Compare with the 'Fast Razes' down below.
See the difference? It's pretty obvious, isn't it? (By the way this was a solo-mid 1v1 against my clanmate-has nothing to do with me razing Morphling in the previous example!)
Now here’s the trick: press ‘X’ twice (or more times) then ‘C’ twice (or more times) and you will find that the two razes will actually come out faster than if you just clicked once. This is because Nevermore delivers his raze when his hands are in the air—there’s an animation of his hands coming back down that that corresponds to that 0.2 second delay.
Pressing the ‘C’ key twice is a bit like using ‘S’ key except you’re cancelling out his after-animation (that’s how I try describe it). Technically, you can press ‘X’ then press ‘S’ immediately after Nevermore delivers the raze, but it’s just that much safer if you just press ‘X’ twice then ‘C’ twice, because with ‘S’ you’re risking cancelling that raze.
Part Two: Taking the Solo
Starting Item Builds (Solo lane or Not):
One of the more popular items builds. This is the all-rounder, the build that gives Nevermore plenty of heals (against orb-walkers or heavy nukers alike), plenty of damage, and +2 to every stat. The only problem about this build is that you’re rather fragile and you might consider replacing the Slippers of Agility with Gauntlets of Strength—if you prefer. I prefer Slippers because they really help with your last-hits.
My favourite item build, especially for a mid solo Nevermore. Gives plenty of stats, good starting damage and ample heal—assuming your last-hits are adequate. The two circlets give you the flexibility to change them into either Wraith Bands or Bracers. I like this build because it is so flexible and solid to begin with.
This is the build that many experienced players opt for when playing against ‘black shops’ (A badly translated Chinese phrase, meaning playing against a host whose Sentinel allies are sitting in the same Internet Cafe or are talking via voice chat such as Ventrilo) or simply trying to show off against newcomers.
This build is absolutely superb for pubs but is quite rare in Clan Wars unless you’re confident enough about your last hits to rush for a bottle (obviously you won’t be buying the chicken). Since you have 153 gold left, you can easily last-hit a bottle before you turn Level 4 and this build enables you to get a Magic Wand ASAP. Recommended for pubs and pubs only! Cheap, efficient and you don’t have to rely on your allies for the courier as it is VERY important for Nevermore to have a courier to rely on.
A build Nevermore should definitely acquire when soloing mid versus a hero like Huskar or Viper, or any annoying orb-walkers for that matter. The problem about soloing against orb-walkers is that they will completely out last-hit you (assuming they know what they’re doing) before you turn Level 3 and things wouldn’t get much easier even then. Plenty of heal in the form of tangos (Not salves) are needed and the four Ironwood Branches give plenty of Stats. If you’re in a pub game and no one’s buying the chicken (and unfortunately you’re soloing mid versus an orb-walker), forget about one of the Ironwoods and buy a courier. A chicken will go a long way.
AAnother one of my favourite item builds; this one is quite similar to the second item build except I’ve replaced one of the Circlets with an Ironwood Branch and a Salve. To be honest, I think this is the BEST item build for Nevermore because it is so well-balanced—sufficient heal, adequate Stats and 3 Ironwoods to be turned into your Magic Wand later on. This is the recommended build for any Inhouse or Clan Wars and from my experiences, it is definitely the safest build for Nevermore, but it does require relatively good last-hit skills as this build is a tad lacking in terms of starting damage.
Those are probably the item builds most players ‘back in the days’ have affiliated themselves with since Nevermore was first discovered from the list of ‘forgotten heroes’ by the great SK.Loda in version 6.41. To be honest, I am not really fond of these builds because nowadays, getting a Magic Wand is far more important than Wraith BAnds/Bracers and the lavish amount of heals isn’t really necessary for a hero who would rush for a Bottle. I would, however, recommend the 1st and 3rd build, especially the 1st, if you’re soloing mid versus an experienced Warlock player. The tangos really help with Warlock’s harassment and the Clarity gives you enough mana to cast those razes that are necessary for you to scrape those last hits. More information about soloing mid later on.
Unfortunately, this is the most common starting item I see many Nevermore players in pub games begin with, and eight-times out of ten they get completely out-laned and end up with a horrible game. Let me tell you why it’s not very wise to start off with a Bottle:
1. It doesn’t give you any Stats that are vital to your last hits.
2. Considering its hefty price, the Bottle really doesn’t heal much. A lot of the time you will end up trying to heal your HP and the extra Mana heal goes to waste because you only have Level 1 Shadowraze.
3. If you fail to secure that first rune that pops out, the all you have with you is an Empty Bottle. Your opponent will likely try grabbing the first rune and you’re taking chances by guessing what side of the map the rune is located—unless you’re maphacking, of course.
I’m not saying that it is totally stupid to start off with just a Bottle, but there are only a few heroes in DotA that can benefit from starting off with just a Bottle—Magnus being a very exceptional example. It is just so much better playing it safe and getting that Bottle when it matters the most—after your Shadowrazes and Necromastery have been levelled up and you’re ready to do some ganking. After all, there’s a reason why Icefrog put tangos and Ironwoods out there, right?
Dealing with your lane opponent (assuming you’re soloing mid):
Now that you’ve bought your starting items, it’s time to start laning. I believe that in 80% of all Clan Wars and 95% of all pub games, it is wise for Nevermore to take the solo lane. He doesn’t have a stun and is quite fragile in the early game, and his abilities require fast leveling to be 100% effective. Sometimes, you will have to solo with someone in another lane or take the top or bottom solo—this can sometimes be an effective strategy in Clan Wars, though it is rarely seen in pubs as people sometimes squabble over who should take the solo.
It is important to know how to creep-block. Creep blocking is important while soloing mid because you’re slowing down your creeps so that you gain that vision advantage—more than half of the time your opponent cannot actually see you as he’s in the river. This means he can’t see the pattern of your last hits and this can lead to a good game as Nevermore with sufficient last hits is a very potent force later on. I will not describe creep-blocking in too much detail here—simply maneuver your hero in front of the advancing creeps so they’re forced to go around you, but before they do, you move again so they’re constantly slowed. In other words, you’re moving in a zigzag pattern.
Since Nevermore is such a glass cannon in the early game, it is important to do some warding so you don't get ganked (or get ganked as much). In most Clan Wars and Inhouse Games, you probably wouldn't be the one buying the wards, but you will still have to plant them yourself. Of course in Pubs it is rare that anyone will buy wards at all so definitely buy those wards yourself. It's so easy to farm the extra 200 gold back, but it can be really hard for a Nevermore who died 5 times in ten minutes to salvage his game.
No matter how well you creep-block, however, you’re eventually going to have to face up to that opponent who’s also trying to solo and out-lane you. In DotA, there are only a handful of heroes who solo mid constantly and here I will try give detailed explanations of those potential enemies and how to counter them—including various dual lanes.
Despite the fact Admiral is a melee hero, if played well he can pose a serious threat and he may even out-lane you if you don't play carefully enough. The problem is how to overcome his advantage in terms of lasthits, because his Tidebringer gives him a big AoE cleave and extra damage, which means he can harass you and score last hits at the same time.
My advice would be to scrape as many last hits as possible before you hit Level 3, and when you do have your Level 2 Shadowrazes, start using them to harass AND get last hits at the same time, preferably when you see Admiral coming forward to score his last hits. Make sure that you have enough HP to stave off an occasional Torrent because if he manages to land a Torrent and you only have about 100 HP left, you're pretty much dead. Otherwise, Nevermore will probably land a slight advantage over Admiral, as long as your last-hits are reasonably solid.
Beastmaster’s potency as a solo is mainly due to his ability to harass, his summoning and his devastating Ultimate. His Wild Axes deal considerable amounts of damage and have 1300 range, while his Quilbeast summoning slows Nevermore down considerably and Nevermore will find it difficult to Shadowraze Beastmaster as when a hero is slowed; his ‘turning speed’ is noticeably slowed as well. Beastmaster will most likely try stick with you at melee range so that it is impossible to try and land all 3 razes on him. The presence of his other summoning, Hawk, makes it difficult for you to take the runes. With enough mana, HP and his summoning, a Level 6 Beastmaster easily outclasses the Level 6 Nevermore in a 1-on-1 situation.
Most of the strategies Nevermore employ to lane against Admiral also apply to Beastmaster. It is of utmost importance that Nevermore establish lane dominance early on. Nevermore does have an easier time soloing against Beastmaster during the first 3 Levels than Admiral, and it is important that you normal attack Beastmaster whenever possible so he's forced to regenerate his HP.
Unfortunately, there are no real counters for his Hawk other than warding and keeping a close eye on Beastmaster, and soloing versus Beastmaster can be very challenging indeed, especially if he knows how to play Nevermore himself!
Pudge’s potency as a solo hero is mainly due to his ability to keep himself ‘up close and personal’ with his ability ‘Rot’ whilst doing considerable damage in the process. For a fragile hero like Nevermore, should Pudge manage to get up ‘close and personal’ with you, you are pretty much dead. His Meat Hooks are not actually as dangerous as they seem but can prove dangerous, especially in a psychological way as no one wants to be hooked to their doom.
Assuming Nevermore plays well, however, it is very difficult for Pudge to actually get any sort of edge over Nevermore, as long as Nevermore does not get killed. It is very important that Nevermore beats Pudge in the race for creep-blocking, as the last thing Nevermore wants is Pudge lurking in the darkness, waiting for you to come within reach of his meat hook. It is important that Nevermore knows where Pudge is and even more important that Nevermore keep some sort of ‘obstacle’ between himself and Pudge—creeps, for example. Nevermore can easily out last-hit Pudge, provided you have some sound last-hitting skills.
Last, but not least, be very careful when you’re going for the runes. If Pudge finds you and manages to Hook you, there’s no doubt that you’re just going to end up as food.
Dwarven Sniper when used correctly, can be incredibly annoying and a nightmare to lane against. Not only does he have the fastest missile speed of all ranged heroes in DotA, but he has a passive that gives him bonus damage and a ministun once in a while, adding to your misery. The Presence of his Ultimate means that one must think twice before entering a fight with Dwarven Sniper, because if Nevermore loses, he will most definitely die from Assassinate.
The only problem with Dwarven Sniper, however, is that he somewhat shares Nevermore’s problems: fragile HP and very low starting damage. Out-laning Dwarven Sniper requires very sound last-hitting skills and a lot of practice, as Dwarven Sniper’s missile speed is incredibly fast and it is up to individual last-hitting skills to determine who will eventually have that edge after Level 3. The good thing, however, is that while even if your last-hits do go a bit downhill, you still have your Shadowrazes to rely on and to harass/last hit with, whereas if Dwarven Sniper doesn’t out last-hit you completely, then his lack of a spammable nuke would mean he would get out-laned very quickly.
I do believe that Nevermore does have an edge over Dwarven Sniper, assuming you’re VERY careful with your last-hits. Against Dwarven Sniper, I would recommend the moving-around-then-last-hit strategy instead of holding your finger on the ‘S’ key and try get your last hits that way, because that leaves you vulnerable to Dwarven Sniper’s constant harassment. Sniper will get a bit more annoying if he has Shrapnel, but your Shadowrazes will kick in and his lack of a spammable AoE nuke will be his downfall. Likewise, clarities aren’t really an option because it is easily interrupted.
Broodmother can be a nightmare to solo against. The main differences between Broodmother and other melee solo-mid heroes (such as Admiral) is that she has her Webs which allow her to not only move faster but stay invisible for the whole time, which means it is very hard for Nevermore to figure out her pattern and adjust one’s last-hitting strategies correspondingly. Broodmother has a spammable nuke that can cause problems later on, and if she ever considers maxing out Incapacitating Bite first, then Nevermore will be in some very serious trouble. The presence of her Ultimate means that a head-on fight is virtually suicide.
The key to soloing against Broodmother is making sure that (1) she actually does solo mid (as in some Clan Wars and Inhouse games she does solo the side-lanes) and (2) if she does solo mid, then Sentry Wards are a must.
What Broodmother will do, however, is try scrape last hits with her Spawned Spiderlings and when you go for the runes, she starts pushing your tower. You might consider buying a TP if your tower is getting pushed too hard. On the other hand, she might have maxed out Incapacitating Bite first (rarely seen but VERY effective versus Nevermore) and it is up to you to avoid Broodmother at all costs and use your razes to keep her HP at a relatively low level, as Broodmother can easily kill you with her Ultimate even if you’re fighting her right under your tower. Broodmother is probably one of deadliest enemies Nevermore will solo against and a great deal of skill and a cool head is required to pull it off.
Thanks to his version 6.66 buff (notice the pun), Doom Bringer has become one of the most popular heroes out there and due to his semi-carry, semi-gank role, he's often placed as a solo. And the vast majority of the time, he's going to solo mid. A lot of people say that Nevermore gets easily outlaned by Doom, to the extent that there was a huge forum war on Crowley's Guide to Doom on who's going to have the advantage in the 1-v-1 situation. If you have the time you can try read all of the posts (including the flaming and my intervention which somehow ended up with a reference to one of my favourite animes), but for those who don't, here's a couple of tips to make your life easier.
Doom has high starting damage which means last-hitting for him is a piece of cake. He has Devour, which means he can rush that Bottle ASAP and grab the runes before you can. His Level-Death ability is quite spammable and if used right is probably on-par with Shadowraze. He's probably going to try out-last-hit you completely, wait till you're Level 5 (and obviously by then, thanks to the exp gap he will be Level 6), then use the Level-Death plus Doom combo to kill you off. So how do you stop him?
First of all, pick up some stats to help with your last-hits. Doom isn't going to spam Level-Death till you're Level 5 (since it only does the extra damage if you're Level 5) so it's highly likely that your last-hitting skills will decide who's going to come out on top. He will most likely out last-hit you completely when you're Level 1, so when you turn Level 2, spam your Level 1 Shadowraze to scrape as many last-hits as possible. Solid Shadowrazes are the key here. Don't bother trying to kill him, but do harass as much as you can and definetely rush for that Bottle. The one who gets to the runes first has the initiative. So definetely train up on your last hits. Clarities aren't really an option since he can simply interrupt it with Level-Death and you really can't stay back from the creeps otherwise the exp-gap is going to stretch a lot.
Hopefully, he hasn't out-last-hit you completely and by now, both Doom and Nevermore are Level 5. Now comes the tricky bit. He will start spamming his Level-Death and not only do you have to make sure you heal up that HP ASAP, but also that you harass him back with at least 1 or 2 Shadowrazes. This is really a battle of the nukes. Abuse the Fog of War and really try get inside the guy using Doom's mentality and think "Hmm, is he coming towards me to get a last-hit, or is he trying to nuke me?". This will help you to get those two Shadowrazes in and keep Doom's HP on-par with yours. Once Doom gets his Ulti, avoid him unless you're sure he doesn't have enough mana. Remember, Doom is much easier to play than Nevermore and his skills are point-and-click types, so definetely be careful of his nukes. Honestly, if both players are about the same strength (and both are reasonably decent DotA players), the situation is about even. It's quite challenging to play, especially for Nevermore, and Doom will continue to be a major threat throughout the game.
Thanks to the latest Hero changes, Nerubian Assassin’s Spiked Carapace ability has been replaced by Urna Swarm, which means Nerubian Assassin now has a considerable advantage in soloing as his Scarabs can now scout for runes. His mana burn can easily destroy your mana pool and it is difficult to kill him as he will always have that Impale to count on. In most cases, Nerubian Assassin will likely put 1 point in Urna Swarm, 1 point in Mana Burn and max out Impale ASAP. Nerubian Assassin should not be underestimated as a solo.
Once again, the trick to out-laning Nerubian Assassin will be getting in some solid last-hits and make sure that you farm that Bottle as early as possible. Nerubian Assassin will be spamming his Mana Burn a lot, so Raze him whenever you can and try your best to snuck in some last-hits with that Raze too. Your job as the solo is to make sure that Nerubian Assassin doesn’t level up too quickly and doesn’t grab all the runes, because Nerubian Assassin would mostly likely target your allies in the side lanes rather than taking the risk of killing you by himself. Warding and miss calls can help your Allies a lot.
If there’s one hero in DotA who can out solo Nevermore completely, that hero has got to be Viper. Viper's starting damage is quite high compared to Nevermore’s, so he already has that last-hit advantage. His missile speed is equal, if not faster than Nevermore’s and his Poison Attack deals a lot of damage and is easily spammable if combined with hit-and-run. Nethertoxin gives Viper a huge amount of extra damage, and his Ultimate is simply deadly. In fact, whenever I see one of my opponents pick Nevermore, I would often pick Viper in response and I have won the vast majority (around 95%) of such encounters!
Viper does have his weakness though. He doesn’t have any kind of nukes and Viper also lacks a stun, which means you can easily TP away (assuming you have enough HP to withstand at least 4 hits from him before you TP away) if he ever tries to kill you. It is important in the Nevermore versus Viper scenario to learn how to scrape last hits with your Level 1 and 2 Shadowrazes. Viper will harass you constantly with his Poison Attacks and he will most likely be very aggressive when it comes to snatching last-hits, so definitely load up on Tangos so that your HP stays at a relatively high level and that Viper’s Nethertoxin doesn’t kick in.
In the vast majority of cases, Viper will probably hit Level 6 before you do, and you must be extra-careful! Assuming Nevermore and Viper have the same amount of HP, Viper will come out as the winner in 85 % of head-on encounters. Make sure that you know where EXACTLY Viper is when you try scout for runes, because if Viper gets his hands on Nevermore in a 1v1 situation without any Allies, Viper will most likely win. Buy a TP!
Tinker is probably one of Nevermore’s most renowned archenemies (that includes Viper and Broodmother) because the two heroes share quite a lot in common, ability-wise and strategy-wise. Both heroes rely a lot on their nukes, and both heroes will mostly likely buy Boots of Travel as their first major item. However, while Tinker is a Disabler-Carry, Nevermore is an AoE-Carry. It can be hard for some beginners to play this particular scenario.
As I said before, both Nevermore and Tinker rely a lot upon their nukes, and the main problem for Nevermore is that the Laser + Missile combo will beat his two Shadowrazes any day. Tinker will likely harass you with an occasional Laser here and there and once your HP drops beneath a certain level, he will simply nuke you to death. Thus to counter Tinker, know Tinker! I know from memory that Tinker’s Level 4 Nukes correspond to 550 points of total damage so whenever my HP drops beneath that, I will always try heal up or go back to base. I play Tinker a lot as well, so I know the exact knick-knacks of his nukes. Sometimes, the best way to counter a hero is to play that hero a lot, so you know how that hero works.
The advantage of Shadowraze is that it costs far less Mana than any other nuke in the game and if you can grab the runes before Tinker does, then Tinker will have a very hard time soloing you afterwards. With Tinker, it’s all about getting those nukes in and grabbing those runes. If Nevermore manages to get to those runes before he does, Tinker will be at a disadvantage. Mind you, Nevermore’s 3 Shadowrazes do far more damage than Tinker’s Laser + Missile Combo, so if you manage to somehow sneak in 3 Shadowrazes, killing Tinker will be a piece of cake.
It is becoming more and more common for Lion to take the solo nowadays. Lion can be quite annoying to solo against, mainly due to his Impale + Mana Drain combo and Lion can do massive amounts of damage once he hits Level 6 and gets his Ultimate. Lion does have quite an easy time last hitting versus Nevermore and he will constantly harass you with his Impale + Mana Drain combo until you HP falls so low that he can nuke you straight away when he hits Level 6.
Once again, last-hitting is the key here. Make sure you really pay attention to how Lion last hits, then adjust your last-hitting patterns to counter that of Lion’s. Lion will most likely start harassing you when you turn Level 3: he will Impale you, then immediately cast Mana Drain. What I tend to do in this situation, if he tries to do the Impale + Mana Drain combo, I will simply Shadowraze him (usually my ‘X’ and ‘C’ razes) and a fragile hero like Lion will lose almost half of his HP if I manage to snuck in some normal attacks as well. Trust me, I’ve even gotten first blood this way! Just grab those runes, and you’ll have an advantage over him.
I think Medusa is a hero that many Nevermore players find extremely annoying to solo against (least that's what soloing against Medusa is like for me). The main problem lies in her Ability, Mystic Snake, which combines both harassment with mana-steal. It's very easy to score last-hits with Medusa and her Mana Shield gives her quite a lot of protection, even in the early game.
I would say that it is fair to apply the principles of soloing against Lion onto Medusa. Whenever she comes forward and casts Mystic Snake, unload all your Shadowrazes on her and try out-nuke her. Definetely buy a lot of regeneration and do watch out for your last hits, because you would want that Bottle ASAP and have the runes under your control. If she gets to the runes before you, you're in some real trouble.
I’ve decided to list Harbinger, the Obsidian Destroyer as well because should you find him on the opposing team, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be soloing mid versus him. Harbinger, if played properly, is a dangerous foe for Nevermore. His main weapon lie in his ability, Astral Imprisonment, and his strategy would be to spam Astral Imprisonment (especially when you’re trying to get those precious last hits early on) and basically snatch away those last hits and precious points of Mana from you. His passive aura, Essence Aura gives him a huge mana pool and if you aren’t careful enough, he can nuke you right away with his Ultimate, Sanity’s Eclipse.
To be honest, there’s not much you can do when it comes to soloing against Harbinger. My advice would be using your Shadowrazes to scrap some last hits and try to outlast him in the race for better creep stats because once you have Bottle and Level 3 Shadowraze, then you’re at an advantage. It is so important that you have some VERY solid last-hitting skills (I say this for a lot of heroes, but it’s particularly important when you’re soloing someone as annoying as Harbinger) and really try getting those last-hits and denies in.
You have to be VERY careful when you see Harbinger turn Level 6, because by then he would likely have a lot more Intelligence points than you do, and a couple of normal attacks + Sanity’s Eclipse can potentially lead to an easy kill for Harbinger. Just be careful, get those Shadowrazes in and once you start grabbing those runes, Harbinger’s lack of a spammable AoE skill will be his downfall.
* * *
It is virtually impossible for me to list every single hero here, but I am sure that those principles will more or less apply to every single hero out there. There are some heroes that you might solo against but I didn’t bother to list, nukers such as Queen of Pain and Lich and orb-walkers such as Drow Ranger and Silencer. I’ve decided to list the heroes that I had the most trouble soloing against.But see how it goes. Play as much as you can and learn the tricks-of-the-trade for each and every hero you will solo against. Nevermore is a brilliant solo and if played well is almost unstoppable when it comes to soloing mid.
Occasionally in Clan Wars and some Inhouse Games, you will find your opponent have decided to form a dual lane such as the 2 examples above (the Sand King + Lina combo is getting quite rare nowadays, but is very commonly seen back in version 6.48) because they can basically dominate a lane and make it risky for you to try and grab some last hits.
Fortunately, Nevermore is one of the few heroes in DotA who has the ability to face up to a dual-lane and still have a decent game. I would suggest that if you face a dual lane, you can either try switch lanes with your Allies (which is always the best option) or use your ‘C’ raze or scrape a living.
In most dual-lane combos, there would be an initiator (for example, Crystal Maiden will Frostbite you first before Admiral follows up with a Torrent, so Crystal Maiden is the initiator) and your job as the solo is to keep a safe distance from the initiator at all costs, as if he gets his hands on you, you’re pretty much dead. Nevermore really doesn’t have enough HP to withstand a combo and still come out on top. My principles will apply to tri-lanes as well, except in that case you have to extra-careful when it comes to calculating your distance.
Part Three: Unleashing Havoc
I’ve decided to combine Nevermore’s Middle Game strategies with his various item builds, as the situation in-game can directly influence what items he’s eventually going to get or what items he’s going to get first. So let’s get started with his early-game items.
Early Game Items
Everything here is pretty much self explanatory.
The Bottle is important for some quick heals and grabbing the rune.
Boots of Speed need no real explanation.
Since Nevermore will be doing a lot of ganking, a Magic Wand can help you pull off some ridiculously awesome escapes, or give you that little bit of Mana for that one last raze. A Magic Wand is a MUST for Nevermore.
Always keep a TP scroll with you at all times, so you can either help you Allies defend a tower, or farm in an empty lane (the latter part is exceptionally important for Nevermore as he needs a lot of farm before he becomes effective in the Middle Game).
Personally, I prefer Wraith Bands over Bracers because I feel that if you do get ganked by 3 heroes, getting Bracers makes no difference to getting Wraith Bands. Wraith Bands help you get last hits and gives you a lot more damage. A lot of people WILL disagree with me on this, so get Bracers if you want. In fact getting Bracers is most probably the safest option out of the two, but I guess it just boils down to personal preference.
Middle Game Items:
Plus the items you already have:
Boots of Travel, Black King Bar and Kelen’s Dagger are probably the most common mid-game items you will see on Nevermore. On the other hand, Power Treads + Black King Bar and Manta Style is a newer build which is more focused on clan wars where teammate support is a lot better than that of pubs, and Nevermore is seen more as an AoE hero than a carry.
Boots of Travel gives him plenty of speed and much more farm, Black King Bar gives him magic invulnerability for a certain period of time and Kelen’s Dagger can be used as an escape mechanism, or used offensively as a blink to land your Ultimate right in the centre of a team battle. This is by far the most common build that I use with Nevermore, and perhaps it is the most common one out there as well.
Perhaps the reason why that you see Power Treads being opted instead of Boots of Travel in clan wars is probably due to the ever-changing pace of the game. Nevermore will probably take up to 12-15 minutes to farm a Boots of Travel in a standard clan war game, and Boots of Travel is really an utility item. The real difference between clan war and pub gameplay for Nevermore is that in a clan war, Nevermore will probably spend slightly more time doing ganks and participating in those small 2v2, 3v3 fights than just taking the time farming. Power Treads is cheap, efficient and contributes to Manta Style as well. Black King Bar is ABSOLUTELY neccessary in this build. To be quite honest, this build is not that optimum for your average pub game, since this build is an AoE build, rather than being carry-oriented.
There are a couple of alternative builds out there, such as:
Sometimes used when your game’s not going so well and you need BKB first, but the game does turn around after you get your BKB and a Kelen’s Dagger ‘seals off the deal’, so to speak. To be honest, I don’t really like this build because Dagger is most effective before the 30th minute mark, and most of the time it’s probably better to leave Dagger out of the build because it’s not as effective as before. I would much rather prefer this build especially when I play more serious games with my friends/clan mates.
The next two builds are the build you will see in a lot of professional replays:
This build is a very ‘safe’ build. It gives you a lot of DPS and the BKB ensures that nothing gets in the way of casting your Ultimate or simply carving some serious damage. The only problem is that a lot of the time you have to rely on your teammates to stun your opponents so that you can calmly walk in, activate BKB and cast your Ultimate. It is by far the safest build for Nevermore and possibly the ‘most boring’, but is probably a build most Nevermore player opt in most professional/serious matches.
Whenever the game’s not really going your way (say you get ganked a lot) then by using this build you’re ensuring that you’re doing your part in team battles. Everything’s pretty much self explanatory and every Nevermore player will eventually have to buy BKB. Try getting Boots of Travel + BKB before the 22nd minute mark (if your team’s winning) and try aim for a 20 minute BKB if your team’s at a disadvantage. And one final thing: if you can’t or you couldn’t farm a Boots of Travel in under 18 minutes, get Power Treads instead. It’s cheaper, gives you a lot of Stats and you can push for that eventual BKB sooner.
I really don’t recommend this build. Spending your first 2150 gold on an item that only gives you blink, in my opinion, isn’t really worth it at all. You might then ask ‘then why do you get Dagger after you get Boots of Travel?’
The reasoning is simple. After you get Boots of Travel, your ability to farm increases a thousand-fold and it doesn’t really take that long before you can quickly farm yourself a Dagger and really start ganking and do your part in team battles. An experienced Nevermore player can easily farm a Dagger in 5 minutes and getting Boots of Travel first is a safer option.
If you choose to get Kelen’s Dagger first, however, you’re taking a risk because it’s going to take you the same amount of time that you’ve spent on farming the Dagger to farm Boots of Travel, and if you don’t rack up those kills and ‘get your money back’, then what’s the point of getting Dagger first? Secondly, a Nevermore with Dagger probably has the same effect in battle as Queen of Pain and it’s probably much better to do what Nevermore is best at: using his AoE abilities in team battles, rather than trying to chase someone down individually and get ganked in the process. That’s the job for Queen of Pain and Storm Spirit, not Nevermore.
If you ever plan on using this build, make sure that (1) you have the reflexes to maximize the effect of Dagger and (2) you have some VERY cooperative teammates, preferably clan mates or friends. It’s an interesting, sometimes exhilarating build to try out (since you’re in the middle of action all the time), but if you miscalculate and you blink in, nine times out of ten you won’t blink back out again.
What about Lothar’s Edge?
Lothar’s Edge used to be one of my favourite items for Nevermore, but its usefulness is decreasing steadily and while it remains a decent choice in pub games, Lothar’s Edge is quite rarely seen in Clan Wars or the vast majority of Inhouse Games (though I have seen MiseRy- going for Lothar’s Edge once in a while when he uses Nevermore). I hardly ever go for Lothar’s Edge nowadays. Now why is that?
One: Kelen’s Dagger gives you the initiative. If you have Lothar’s Edge and you try land a good Ultimate midst a team battle, you have to Windwalk in first—and if your opponents get Dust or Sentry Wards, you’re very vulnerable (even if you have BKB). With Kelen’s Dagger, you can stay well back and blink-ulti when you see the time is right (most likely after all those mass stuns have all been casted, such as Tidehunter’s Ravage).
Two: To some extent, if the player has enough reflexes, Kelen’s Dagger is far more useful as an escape mechanism compared to Lothar’s Edge (assuming your opponents are decent enough to buy Dust against you). You might ask: “But Kelen’s Dagger can’t be used three seconds after you get attacked!” That is true. But what’s the point of Windwalking away if they can see you with Dust and you die anyway?
Three: Kelen’s Dagger is far cheaper compared to Lothar’s Edge, and I would much rather prefer getting Kelen’s Dagger and almost a Boots of Travel than just Lothar’s Edge. In fact, I would even prefer BKB over Lothar’s Edge. Sure, Lothar’s Edge gives you a way of escape. But with Kelen’s Dagger and BKB, you can actually do something to change how the game is going and really contribute to team battles.
Hint: Lothar’s Edge does work wonders in pubs, so if you can farm it in less than 16 minutes, then by all means do so! The extra DPS really helps in most cases and most pub players are too lazy to buy Dust. You will find, however, that the better you opponents are, the more pointless it becomes to buy Lothar’s Edge. That’s just my opinion.
So if you ever consider buying Lothar’s Edge as one of your items, get it ASAP!
Try getting Lothars in any of those two orders—the BKB really helps when you try pull off a good Ultimate. Lothars does give you a more aggressive early-mid game, which is why it is so popular in pubs.
So When Should I Expect Myself to Get Those Items?
Since every game’s different, it is hard to say when someone would ‘expect’ himself to farm Nevermore those items. I’ve managed to get Lothar’s Edge, BKB and Boots of Travel in less than 23 minutes and in another game I only managed to get Boots of Travel + BKB by the 30th minute mark.
As a general rule of thumb, though, in a ‘normal’ game (there isn’t really that much ganking, you haven’t died a lot etc), one would expect Nevermore to have Boots of Travel, Dagger and BKB by AT LEAST the 30th minute mark. I think it is fair to say that if you can’t farm them quick enough, then you wouldn’t be as effective as you will be in team battles because team battles are a frequent occurrence after the 30th minute mark. So work on those last hits, learn how to combine farm with a bit of gank and soon you’ll be able to farm those items in no time.
Try get at least 150 last-hits by the 30th minute mark and at least 250-300 by the 1 hour mark. I've seen many players to a lot more than this and do I think that this is a reasonable amount of farm for a Nevermore player. Don't rush yourself too much on the first try though, and definitely DON'T overfarm.
Nevermore’s Role in Team Battles:
It is virtually impossible to list every scenario here, but a general rule of thumb would be staying back from your teammates until the initiators (such as Earthshaker and Tidehunter) have done their job. Nevermore is a poor initiator but is a brilliant hero for dealing huge amounts of AoE damage and mopping up the battlefield, so to speak.
I would usually check if there are heroes on the other side who have Ultimates that can go through BKB (such as Beastmaster’s Primal Roar, Doom Bringer’s Doom, to list a few). I would wait till those Ultimates have already been used, and/or they are already stunned, before I start off my combo.
First of all: make sure you have a cool head, because the next few seconds can decide the fate of your team.
Secondly: walk up to the battle, preferably at the maximum distance of your blink (which is around 1150) which corresponds to around two-thirds the length of your screen.
See how dmZ^hexOr does it! He’s one of my favourite players and this is taken from one of this DotA videos, DotA: The Truth. See how he activates BKB first?
Thirdly: Activate BKB FIRST. This means that you’re invulnerable to magic BEFORE you blink in, because you won’t want to get stunned and get totally trashed once you’re in there.
Fourthly: Blink in, then quickly press ‘R’ to active Requiem of Souls.
He blinks in and casts Requiem of Souls. His teammate, the brilliant dmZ^Kev, gets that vacuum in just in time…
Fifthly: Use your Shadowrazes to mop up any resistance, snuck in some normal attacks if possible.
And boom! Triple kill, and great material for a DotA video. HP doesn’t really matter when you have the right items, the skills and some very cooperative teammates!(Though I think there were some kill-steals!)
If you decided to leave out Kelen’s Dagger in your item build or decided to use Lothar’s Edge, then simply wait after those nasty disables have all been casted, then walk right in and cast your Ulti. This requires a lot of teamwork to pull off, however, especially if you leave out Kelen’s Dagger or Lothar’s Edge and go straight to Manta Style. That’s why this particular build is only seen a lot in Clan Wars where you have reliable teammates.
Follow up items/Luxuries:
Since every game will be different, I wouldn’t be going over any particular build or any sort of a list of ‘rejected items’, so to speak. I’ve seen professional players put Vanguard and Dagon on Nevermore and still get a decent score, so be creative! But I must remind you that 95% of Nevermore games stick to the Boots of Travel + Dagger + BKB formula, so if you are playing serious, play it SAFE!
A good item that increases your DPS by more than 2-fold. In most cases it’s going to be your first DPS item. You gain plenty of Stats, extra movement speed (on top of your Boots of Travel or Power Treads) and on top of that, a temporary-invulnerability activation that allows you to dodge most targeted spells in DotA. Your images do huge amounts of extra damage and the extra damage multiplies when you get other DPS items. The only downside is that your images don't benefit from the +60 damage from Necromastery, however.
A good combo when you’re playing against a lot of vulnerable spellcasters, or if you team is based around an anti-armour theme (such as Nevermore + Slarder + Lanaya Combo). Just make sure that you have BKB so that they don’t nuke you to death before you can even get your hands on them.
Lifesteal is something that every DPS-carry will eventually need. But try get Lifesteal AFTER you buy those DPS items e.g. The Butterfly.
A must for any Agility-carry hero.
Purge works wonders versus Broodmother’s Ultimate and Warlock’s annoying Infernal, so you might consider getting this item BEFORE you buy BKB and Kelen’s Dagger.
Best combined with Lifesteal OR Mjollnir, but Eye of Skadi is very expensive and doesn’t really give your DPS that massive boost that you really want. Gives plenty of Stats though.
Works wonders when you farm, but since you already have Shadowraze, Maelstrom and Mjollnir aren’t really worth their price. Best combined with Eye of Skadi.
Gives you massive amounts of extra damage. Divine Rapier is a particularly good item when combined with Satanic, and I’ve won several notable games with Nevermore thanks to a last minute decision of buying Divine Rapier. KuroKy has even recently gotten Divine Rapier as his FIRST ITEM in one game! So definitely get it if you have the Aegis of Immortal on you (and VERY good teammates), or if you know EXACTLY what you’re doing!
I actually stopped playing DotA before 6.67 came out, so it is hard to say whether Ethereal Blade is effective or not on Nevermore. So do experiment with it—maybe it will work wonders for you, maybe it wouldn’t. What’s so wrong about experimenting?
But I have gone Ghost Sceptre on Nevermore before and it works great against perma-bashers such as Faceless Void. Unfortunately using Ghost Sceptre and BKB at the same time does not work, but it is still a very viable option against perma-stuns and Ethereal Blade is a reasonable upgrade item as well. (And also watch when Faceless Void Timewalks in and uses Chronosphere)
An extra disable and some Stats is never bad, especially for a fast-farmer like Nevermore. But I won't prioritize this over the usual DPS items unless your team is really short of disables, or they have farmed-up, buffed-up guys like Troll or PA that you specifically wishes to target. Nevermore's farm means he can farm Guinsoos very quickly. I've seen Yamateh put Guinsoos on Nevermore quite a few times, combining Hex with Kelen's Dagger and the Stygian Desolator to easily take down vulnerable heroes such as Puck who would've else escaped quite easily.
While Linkens Sphere is relatively more commonly seen as a staple item on Nevermore, I've been toying around with the ideas of putting Euls, Refresher Orb and/or Shivas Guard on Nevermore as well. I've actually never tried them out in a real game (though I have seen ChuaN putting Euls on Nevermore and still get a decent score, even though his team eventually lost).
Shivas Guard gives lots of armour (which is always good), plenty of Mana, a very useful -IAS Aura in team fights and Arctic Blast which works in sync with Nevermore's Ultimate. I think it's a very interesting build on Nevermore. Refresher Orb can work wonders if you have good teammates. Finally, Euls needs no real explanation. Cyclone, activate your Ultimate and they will receive massive amounts of damage when they come back down.
There's a couple of interesting ideas. There's no limit when it comes to thinking up item ideas.
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The thing about Nevermore is that while he’s an insanely fast pusher and a very fast farmer, the items that makes him EFFECTIVE in battle are not those big DPS item you load on him, but things like BKB and Kelen’s Dagger that maximizes Nevermore’s ability to deal a huge amount of AoE damage in a very short amount of time. Try not to over-farm with Nevermore, even though it is a temptation for most players. His only advantage over other DPS carries, really, is that Nevermore is a great AoE hero in the middle game and the fact that he can pretty much out-farm every other hero in the game. And THAT'S IT.
Nevermore is a good AoE carry, but he’s not that great of a DPS carry like Phantom Assassinwho can single-handedly turn the tide of the battle with a couple of crits. Your job, in the late game, is not to out-farm your opponent, but to act as a pusher and do what you can to make sure your team wins those important team battles. Sometimes you might even have to sacrifice yourself for a Tower so that you can buy back and push the other side. But really that’s out of the scope of this Guide.
Heroes with big AoE Ultimates that can help you pull off your Ultimate. Thanks to Magnus’s new ability, Skewer, it is possible to land a good combo with Nevermore without the help of Kelen’s Dagger. Magnus can also Empower Nevermore, which makes them a pair to be feared.
Heroes with mass-disables or Abilities can help you land that Ultimate or a couple of razes, so have them on your team never hurts. Ogre’s Bloodlust helps, too. Dark Seer’s Vacuum works wonders with Requiem of Souls. Omniknight's Repel gives you a free BKB and his Ultimate is a team-saver.
Great anti-armour synergy. Works incredibly well in a team, especially with Stygian Desolator and Assault Cuirass.
Heroes with some sort of ability that can go through your BKB. Be very careful in team battles when you see those guys around. With Treant Protector, however, you can actually wait till he casts his Ultimate, and if you then activate your BKB, you will no longer be disabled. Make sure you get the order right! Wait for Treant’s Ultimate, then BKB! (Manta Style works too)
Insanely fast pushers who can easily push back that massive creep wave you’ve just created/sent. Tinker is particularly annoying as he can push all three lanes at the same time and his Rearm can be very annoying when he starts perma-hexing you. Try ganking Tinker as often as possible and farm that BKB ASAP.
Remember: I haven’t listed every single hero from each category here. I’ve listed the ones I felt were the MOST dangerous to fight against (or the most helpful on my team).
Part Four: Dawn of Battle
I remembered when I was first introduced to DotA three years ago (version 6.48), and I’ll be honest with you guys, the first time I played it, I thought it was the most boring game on the planet and I thought I would never even touch it again. I was wrong. DotA became quite an important part in my life and I’ve played countless games of pubs and numerous Inhouse games. Clan Wars never really became a part of me but I’ve watched countless professional replays and I understand how professionals play DotA and how they are different from us, the amateur DotA community.
Nevermore the Shadow Fiend is one of the most unique heroes in DotA, not only in terms of abilities but also in terms of looks, because I rank him as one of the coolest looking heroes out there (okay, maybe Terrorblade looks just that tad bit better) thanks to his beautiful ‘tan’ and his gangster walk. Most importantly, however, Nevermore is incredibly versatile as a hero. Not only is he an excellent ganker, but he also excels as a pusher, has lots of AoE and DPS and can step up as a Carry should the need arise. He’s also incredibly fun to play, which means Nevermore is one of the most often seen heroes in DotA videos and various montages.
It is important, from my personal experience, to never over-farm with Nevermore. He can’t beat Phantom Assassin. He can’t beat Drow Ranger. In fact, he can’t even beat Sven. But dealing raw damage isn’t what Nevermore is BEST at. Nevermore can deal a huge amount of AoE damage and that’s what makes or breaks those mid-game team battles. Make sure you get those razes right, get your Ulti out in time, and farm that BKB ASAP. Trust me, that’s how it works. Please, don't overfarm with him. I see this A LOT in some replays. Don't do it.
Eventually, to get past a certain level of skill and competence, you’ll have to play every day with your clan mates/friends and I have no time for that. There are leagues out there such as AEDL and CDEC (the latter got a bit controversial thanks to 鱼神) There’s so much more to life than just DotA and I’ve enjoyed everything DotA’s given me. I’m looking for a rather ‘artistic’ career in the future and that demands a lot of time too. So DotA is definitely a no-no.
This is my tribute to Nevermore the Shadow Fiend. Play your BEST in every single game. Never rage-quit. Never blame it on your teammates. Practice makes perfect. And seriously, it’s just a game. Farming for 60 minutes is never fun.
And be devious with Nevermore! Be different! And trust me, it will be worth your while.
№咏叹のべ瞳 @ Replays.Net, for his Nevermore guide that directly inspired this one. Thanks a lot.
Clan fRs—Me (epic gank), Drew (epic farm), Shel (epic support), J.C (epic feed). You guys aren’t just friends in DotA. You guys are my real friends too and even though we don’t play DotA anymore, we’re still the best of buddies. Thanks a lot, guys.
Clan Aced—fears0m, enternamehere, Frozenwaste, wheresthefun_09, Dark_X_Rogue, uandirfriends, bizzaround (only person who beat me in a 1v1) and many others whom I’ve played against.playing all those games of Inhouse and various Scrims have been very fun. Thanks a lot for you guys’ support! (says Feral the King of Ks.)
dmZ^hexOr, Tews, Sogovegeta, Nirvana.Kuroky (Say_43_plz) for their awesome gameplay and videos. You guys make DotA more accessible and much more entertaining to watch.
My parents: for allowing their son to play DotA all the way to 1 in the morning and not growl at him the next day.
Garena gamers in Oceania: Hey guys, remember FeRaL.Spirits and MiRaGe_? Yeap. That’s me. Most of you guys think I’m pro, some think that I’m just a ‘Noobferal’. But that doesn’t stop me from getting Beyond Godlike with Nevermore even when I’m on the losing team, LOL (okay, maybe I do feed once a while!).
The people at the PlayDotA forums: Thank you so much for your critiques! They really help to make this guide better than it is.
SPECIAL THANKS to ACECHILING: For his constructive criticism. Made the guide a lot more readable and accessible, plus a VERY detailed explanation of putting on tabs :D Thanks a lot ^^
The people on the SGamer and Replays.Net forums: For you guys, it's all about 'Spring Brother' and 'Blast spit at each other'. (春哥，对喷，之类).You guys really make me realize how much of a noob I am compared to the Chinese players in VS Platform. And you guys make the game funny too. And you guys have VERY NICE signatures.
Inspirational DotA Players such as: Loda (Lodalicious <3), LightOfHeaveN, KuroKy, plzgogame^_^, DemoN, H4NN1, AngeL, Kev, GK, ChuaN, Longdd, Snoy, YamateH, Hyhy, Travka, Dendi and last but not least, Vigoss. You guys have turned playing Nevermore into an art form! (Okay, Loda's SF definetely went downhill. But he's the one who started this whole SF craze, right?)
And last but not least, Icefrog, for creating a great game and the most interesting hero to ever exist. Who would think of making a hero who’s 100% black! Good work, Icefrog! Don’t let HoN take advantage of your creative ideas!
"Nevermore is all about courage, skills and experience. Farming comes after."
Typical ‘farming’ Nevermore in a professional match. He manages to farm Boots of Travel in 9 minutes and this is typical of many Clan Wars nowadays. Not particularly exciting to watch, but it’s still important you understand how farming works. Getting a blind raze might be exciting, but some solid farm can take you a long way.
Fear vs. Ksss. Both great professional players. See how Fear’s Viper completely dominates Ksss’s Nevermore earlier on, but Ksss’s still scrapes a decent game (even though his team eventually lost). Gives you an idea of why Viper is so dangerous versus Nevermore.
A top-ranking Chinese Inhouse game. See how Sentinel’s Tinker gets Beyond Godlike in 10 minutes and gets his 8 minute Boots of Travel, and see how Scourge’s Nevermore leads the charge to turn the tide. Nevermore works well in a team when backed by heroes such as Slarder and Shadow Priest who can take a lot of armour off their opponents.
The third game in a 3-game match between two of the world's strongest DotA teams, DTS and Nirvana-int. See how one of my favourite DotA player, LightOfHeaveN, manages to really 'farm up' with SF and use BKB to great effect (see how he activated BKB then teleported away at the 41st mark and used BKB to activate Requiem of Souls at the 43rd mark). For those guys out there who also play Clan Wars, see how the wards from DTS dampens Nirvana's double roam. Great replay!
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Bonus content #2: Warding Locations for the Shadow Fiend
Credits to Heldarion for allowing me to use his images from his Warding Guide! Thanks a lot!
Provides good vision of the Scourge Mid Lane and some vision of the river to avoid any gankers from coming down from there.
Provides total vision to the Scourge Mid Lane and some vision of the other side of the river to avoid any ganks from the bottom lane.
For the Scourge Player
Provides a HUGE amount of vision-the vision includes the runes, a very large stretch of the river and vision between the Scourge and Sentinel Tier 1 Towers.
Similar to the previous example. This ward is also useful towards the late game when there are heros such as Luna and Dragon Knight on the Sentinel Side who can pull Ancient Creeps with their Helm of the Dominator creeps.
Offers vision on the Sentinel Side of the river, particularly useful if there's a Mirana or Pudge on the other side.
For Both Sides
Not so much of a ward 'just for the mid solo', this ward is useful for both vision and control of the rune.
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This Guide is for my Beloved 月如:
May Your Tranquil Beauty Never Wither with the Passing Sands of Time
Thanks to everyone who's read this guide. You guys have been great
Excellent guide! Keep updating and improving it. We are seeing a lot more players turning to treads and Lothar's nowadays instead of Dagger for more offensively early-oriented games, but Dagger still provides a lot of powerful range extension to Razes (and to a lesser degree, his ultimate) and safety.
Great guide! Very thorough with the solo explanations and just all in all a great guide. I would have preferred videos instead of images to explain some of the razing scenarios (you could have recorded the scenes just as easily).
And what Zeith said. Also iirc bkb breaks ghost, though I may be wrong.
Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.
Great guide, by the way you shoudn't quit dota if you really like it so much (as i do). You just have to play less and priorice other things first, like studies or work.
I work as a programer, i'm married and i still can play dota 3 times a week just for fun (ye you won't be next Merlini playing just few games as i do, but fun is fun, and its much better than waching tv)
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
You mentioned the skills in bold are the ones you would take since there's another option of putting skill points on another. If so why didn't you justify why you would prefer the one in bold?
You only talk about PoDL which bulleted points for explanation would be more than enough. Why straight two levels of raze at levels 2 & 3, and not one for raze and one for Necro? The advantages having two levels of raze when SF is level 3 compared to 2 skill points on Necro? Using level 2 raze to "last-hit" to fill up level 1 Necro in case you're facing a dual lane or some nasty spammer like tinker, plus (other than filling up level 1 Necro if you just can't go ear enough to last-hit), how to spam level 2 raze to quickly attain level 2 Necro, fill it up for lesser micro on last-hitting from level 4 / 5 onwards, and as well as with the anticipation of the rune spawn time to rune whore for control, mana / hp regen, stay in lane to farm up whatever core you might need to prepare for mid game.
If it's possible get an obs to plant on enemy side to allow see through the fog and aggro creeps to YOUR up slope for obvious advantage reasons. Use the remaining obs to plant on YOUR side to anticipate ganks - SF(Sent), plant on hill area on the right, upslope from the low-level creep camp; SF(Scourge), plant on the upslope entrance into Scourge jungle on the left. Of course the other sides can be warded as well, but judging from the terrain, ease of entry, space, creep traveling patterns, and exit points, those spots I mentioned are the times I died to ganks w/o having vision on those areas.
Btw, the Shadow Raze Aoe demo picture is not accurate. Thumbs up for the picture with the "A" and the 3 "X"s on killing Morph. Nice illustration on how to get SF to face in a direction you want your razes to propagate.
Else, add an alt-tab guide for skill and core item build? Plus a nice cleanup on some lengthy parts, you could be spotlighted. Great job!