Lion, the Demon Witch
As of version 6.62
1.1 Author's Words
Good day. This guide is intended to offer a wide, comprehensive view over the Demon Witch. Although it is my very first guide, I know that it will turn out a rather good one, since I enjoy writing in general and have put a whole lot of effort into this one. My native language is not English, but I doubt that one will find any mistakes whatsoever.
1.2 Hero Foreword
Lion is a hero with a great arsenal of spells, consisting of two disables (from which one is AoE), a channeling mana drain that can also be used to burn away an enemy's mana pool and a powerful, single - targeted, damage spell. From the first glance at the hero, one realizes his most useful advantage - the hero is item independent and only needs few to no items to fulfill his role. This will be the whole foundation of this guide.
2.3 Pros and Cons
[+] Good intelligence gain
[+] Has two disables (one is AoE)
[+] Has a skill for regenerating mana
[+] Powerful ultimate throughout the earlier parts of the game
[+] Item independent
[-] Low Strength and Agility meaning low Hitpoints and low Armor
[-] Can be easily killed (No natural escape mechanism such as Windwalk or Blink)
[-] Spells have high mana cost
[-] Lacks late game potential
3. Skills and Skill Build
3.1 Skill Information
This link will guide you to everything you may need to know about Lion's abilities.
3.2 Skill Build
4. Item Build
4.1 Item Build
4.2 Explanation (IB)
4.3 Rejected Items
4.4 Explanation (RI)
5.1 Choosing a Lane
5.2 Early Game
5.3 Middle Game
5.4 Late Game
6. Correct Skill Usage
6.1 Correct 'Impale' Usage
'Impale' is your basic AoE-stun spell. The wave of spikes will stretch forward from the casting point as long as there are enemies to be hit.
Harassing In-Lane - You should begin harassing when you reach level 3, using the level 1 'Impale' only for potential first bloods or for escape. When harassing, aim the spell so that both enemy heroes you are against are hit. Clicking on the ground may yield better results if the enemies are not moving hazardously. If you are facing only one hero, just click on him.
Escaping From An Attack - If you find yourself attacked by multiple enemy heroes, one possibility of escape is to lead them into a rather narrow passage, turn swiftly and impale the ground before them. The spikes will stretch, stunning them all. An example of narrow passage is the river canyon.
Using 'Impale' In a Chase - Just target the spell on the hero you chase. It is rather impossible for it to miss. Not too much to say on this matter.
The Basic 'Impale' + 'Mana Drain' - This shall be the primary harassing combination in the lane. Aim your 'Impale' as said before, trying to spike both heroes. Use 'Mana Drain' on the most dependent one. (e.g. Leoric, Sand King, Earthshaker, Treant Protector etc). Be sure to position yourself accordingly as to drain him for the maximum 4 seconds (So that he will not get out of range). Be sure not to miss the stun on the hero you wish to drain!
The Basic 'Impale' + 'Finger' - This is mainly used early game to cripple enemy heroes for the entire match. This combination will lend you most of your kills, but it is highly advised that one of your team-mates lands the last blow. If you have a nearby mate that would finish off an ~200hp hero, initiate with 'Finger' and let him earn the kill. Otherwise, start with 'Impale' for a sure victory.
Aiming Through the Fog - Fairly hard to use, because of the short cast range and of the actual mechanism of 'Impale'. Predict your enemies' movement, aim for the ground. In the following set of pictures I kill a Techies player. In the second and fourth picture the fog of war is removed for a better view. In the third picture I have marked with a red dot the place where the spike lifted Techies upwards. I was pretty lucky for the close range between us.
Initiating - Although another AoE stunner should do this, Lion can as well. Clicking on the ground will again, yield the most formidable of results. Just aim in front of the largest cluster of enemy heroes that you can find positioned in a rather straight line. In this case, this spell resembles Jakiro's Ice Path very much.
6.2 Correct 'Voodoo' Usage
Using 'Voodoo' to Inflict Heavy Damage, Chase and Eventually Kill - 'Voodoo' should be used when harassing, attacking or chasing a single enemy hero. In this case, use this rather than 'Impale', since it has a longer duration. In this time, your allies will be able to focus the enemy hexed hero. At need use 'Impale' as well (if the target is somehow trying to escape or some of his allies come to his aid). In the following picture I use Hex to aid my allied Rikimaru in inflicting heavy damage to Naga through his 'Back-stab'.
Using 'Voodoo' In a Large Battle - You will have to build up some priorities. You want to disable the single hero that will deal great damage to your team. First and foremost come the powerful AoE spell-casters (Earthshaker, Enigma, Rylai, Magnus, Rooftrellen, Leshrac, Leviathan and the likes). Disable them as fast as possible, and make sure your team tears them apart! Use your ultimate if needed. Next in the list come the other team's stunners, that can hinder your allies' potential through their disables. In late game, consider disabling a powerful enemy carry.
Escaping Through 'Voodoo' - 'Voodoo' has a great synergy with the Scroll of Town Portal, the spell lasting 3.5 seconds while the channeling of the Scroll lasts 3 seconds. Use this to your advantage to prevent a potential stun interrupting your teleportation.
'Voodoo' versus 'Impale', When to Use Which? - 'Impale' should be used whenever possible both in lane and in any frequent battle. 'Voodoo' should be used more sparingly, targeting only key members of the other team or ones that are escaping. If an enemy is teleporting away through a Scroll hex him. If he is channeling a spell in a battle 'Impale' him and be sure to hit his team-mates as well.
6.3 Correct 'Mana Drain' Usage
'Mana Drain' Maximum Range
Using Mana Drain to Replenish Lost Mana - When desperately needing some more mana, just target an enemy Necromancer or Druid, a creep with a mana-pool of 300. An alternative is to Drain a creature from the forest. Only in dire need Drain an enemy hero for mana replenishing.
Using 'Mana Drain' as a 'Mana Burn' - Quite simple and effective, usable both while in lane and in greater battles, Drain the most important, mana dependent hero of the enemy team before he would act. Usually non-intelligence heroes bearing a costly ultimate will have great trouble with 400 mana almost instantly gone. In this case, use 'Mana Drain' coupled with some disables (either yours or your team-mates'). Watch your positioning as well! You will not want to Drain the hero for 1 second before he gets out of 800 range. Examples include preventing Sniper from an Assassination or any perilous double-ultimates with Refresher Orb (Tide,Treant).
6.4 Correct 'Finger of Death' Usage
Using 'Finger' to Finish Off an Enemy - You should not do this after the early stage of the game with one exception. Since the spell has a particular large casting range, you will use it to kill a fleeing enemy if your team cannot catch him through disables or they do not have long-range spells (Alleria's Powershot for instance). This is a rule of thumb. Earlier in the game, use it to kill everything that moves. If you have allies with you, cast it so they would get a last-hit and thus the gold. Otherwise, go directly for the kill (tower-dive if necessary).
Using 'Finger' Properly Throughout the Rest of the Game - The whole purpose of this spell is to remove a great part of hit-points from the targeted enemy. Since Lion does not need mounds of gold piled around him, do not use this skill selfishly, but for your allies' sake. 'Finger' an enemy when your allies are nearby so that you will not entirely kill him, but your allies will. To leave your enemy with low health, use the Health Bars and cast your ultimate so: If against a strength-based hero, your ultimate will roughly empty a quarter of his Health Bar and against more fragile heroes around a half to three quarters. To be sure that you will not get the kill, cast it at orange to red health (for strength heroes) and green to orange and orange health (for others). This statement is mostly true from mid-game forwards, considering the target is the same level as you are. A couple of pictures will follow, the only enemy hero being the one that I had left at red health (this is how it should look if done correctly).
Correct Usage in a Larger Battle - Use it as explained above on the key enemy hero after you have cast 'Voodoo' upon him and your allies are focusing on him. This will probably win the battle fairly easy. You may consider assaulting the carry as well in this manner. Another thing to note is that a low-health enemy hero will not linger too long in the heat of battle, one being more reluctant to fight with red health rather that green. You might use 'Finger' for such mind-games but since the aim would be to make the target fall back with red health your team might as well kill him.
7. Good Allies
Lion is a great asset to any possible team, that means he has no specific 'good allies'. I will still list some heroes which would benefit most of him and make his role easier.
7.1 AoE Spell-Casters
8. Bad Enemies
The worst thing Lion can do in a fight is to die without doing anything. These enemies will either kill you so swiftly you do not even realize, or prevent you from aiding your team through your magics until you die. Either way, these are the most dangerous foes you shall encounter.
8.2 Mana Burners
8.3 Burst Damage Heroes
Lion is a great asset to any team. His powerful disables coupled with a strong ultimate and a mana regeneration mechanism make him a constant threat in battles. Still, as proven through this guide, his exceptional prowess is the small need for gold. Even though he is a rather easy hero to master, this guide is meant to make the reader comprehend most of his aspects.
This is a rather short game. Powerful item build, not such an offensive solo lane as I would have expected though. Good line-up, aggressive playing through the early-middle game transition. One of the enemy players gets disconnected but they announce their surrender to the observers.