VIPER, THE NETHERDRAKE
A guide by DrDragun
Hero Stats and Abilities:
To learn all about Viper's skills and statistics, you can view his profile page at the link below:
Overall Hero Role and Commentary:
For beginner DotA players, Viper can be a great hero to learn lane control, last hitting, orb walking, and chasing. He is an easier hero to play and a solid pub stomper. On the competitive scene, Viper is used occaisonally as a lane dominator to hold a specific enemy down, and after his rework in 6.60 his potential is still being explored.
Viper is a hero with 2 non-scaling damage skills, 1 scaling damage skill, and 1 scaling defense skill. He is an extremely strong lane hero in the first 25 minutes of the game with orb harass, and a fast gold farmer with nethertoxin making it very easy for him to get the last hit on red-health creeps. His midgame can remain strong as a single-target DPS hero or a roamer with spammable slow, however in group fights he will always be a mediocre asset. He lacks a stun which means escape by teleport scroll is possible unless his allies can supply the stun. Toward the end of the game, he will become a much weaker fighter than DPS heroes that have better ability scaling such as native critical strike or lifesteal abilities.
-Extremely good last-hitting and farming
-Potent orb-walk harass
-Multiple stackable slows for chasing; spammable 40% orb slow
-Good early/midgame flat damage-over-time with ultimate and orb
-Complementary skillset with Naix/Huskar/Zeus->increasing damage as enemy life becomes lower
-Average str and int gain for agility hero - low hp and mana
Hero Level | Skill Point (Level of skill)
- Nethertoxin (L1)
- Poison Attack (L1)
- Nethertoxin (L2)
- Poison Attack (L2)
- Poison Attack (L3)
- Viper Strike (L1)
- Nethertoxin (L3)
- Nethertoxin (L4)
- Corrosive Skin (L1)
- Corrosive Skin (L2)
- Viper Strike (L2)
- Poison Attack (L4)
- Corrosive Skin (L3)
- Corrosive Skin (L4)
- Viper Strike (L3)
Skill Question 2: Why corrosive skin at level 9? Why not finish orb? Why not stats? Answer: Stats is also a good pick. It depends on your taste, but at level 10 having -10% enemy movespeed can be the difference between life and death in a chase, as can the magic reduction. Once the orb is at 0-cooldown, getting the last level is not a huge priority compared to boosting your meager defenses.
Skill Question 3: Corrosive skin vs stats in general. Answer: This is a matter of taste and stats can also be a valid pick. Corrosive skin really makes you impossible to fight 1on1, however this also MANDATES that you pick up plenty of early stat items before going for big ticket purchases. This should not be a problem as viper farms well.
The remake in Viper in 6.60 added one very critical change to viper: flat bonus damage that scales well with attackspeed. How ironic that his attackspeed skill, Frenzy, was removed. Nonetheless, we are going to build Viper to be a fast attacker so that we can get as many Nethertoxin touches as fast as possible while at the same time trying to remedy his mana and defense problems.
vsPower Treads vs Phase Boots:
There is a legitimate case for both forms of footwear and this may come down to player preference.
In terms of his statistical DPS in a stand-up fight, the attackspeed from power treads helps viper a lot. The hitpoints are also very welcome on our fragile Viper, especially as we aren't putting skillpoints into stats. Towards endgame and in teamfights, treads will generally give the best performance.
However, in practice, attackspeed is not as critical in the early portions of the game. As you know, viper is an orb-walker, which means he uses a technique of moving between each attack as he pursues an enemy. Using this maneuver, the hero is not attacking at full attack speed and does not benefit from attackspeed items. Phaseboots are a stronger pick for this portion of the game as you can chase through creepwaves and get faster movement overall. Most importantly, they are also cheaper so Viper can move on to his higher level items quicker. With some practice, Orchid and Manta combined with Corrosive Skin can be enough survivability to make up for the 190 hitpoints difference between treads and phase.
EARLY TO MID GAME:
Viper's influence on the outcome of a game is the strongest starting at Level 1 so you are going to be a busy guy from the time the first creeps collide. The goal is to utterly own your lane, both in terms of heavy farming and heavy harassment of the enemy. These two duties will put heavy demand on your regen of both health and mana, so bottle is a must and you will probably need your own dedicated chicken.
We are going to further enhance Viper's early game with 2 bracers to fix his meager hitpoints. Why not Wraiths? The extra damage and IAS from wraiths is trivial compared to the bonus damage of nethertoxin, and attackspeed isn't very important earlygame because you're going to be orbwalking or last-hitting creeps with a single attack. Bracers are much better.
Finish off your phase or treads (I strongly prefer phase) and then move on to completing a Yasha as your first damage item. Yasha adds great attack speed giving us more nethertoxin hits faster, is great for chasing, and has a pleasant and easy build for early game with several inexpensive pieces.
We choose Manta Style as a core item due to a number of reasons. Manta is decent on most chasers with a snaring orb, because the images can more freely chase and attack your victim. Including stats, Manta gives a total of +41% attackspeed which is going to boost up nethertoxin damage significantly, and the hitpoints and mana greatly help to make playing Viper more comfortable. Last but not least, Manta splitting animation can be used to make Viper invincible for a short period and dodge AoE or projectile based spells. The images can be used to fool enemies, soak nukes, or tank towers while you finish them off.
The Ultimate Orb tends to be miserable to farm but in the end you'll be glad you did.
ITEMS GOING INTO LATEGAME
Tower-diving item with decent stats. Orbwalk can be performed while Ethereal, and you might find yourself chasing enemies into their tower zone particularly if you like to roam a lot. If the enemy lacks a stun and is low on health, ghost form can help you tower dive safely. You will notice the mana boost as well, it is a nice bonus. Unlike the more expensive Vangaurd (another towerdiving item) this item gives you some damage as well and will still be effective against enemy DPS heroes late in the game.
Euls would be substituted instead of Oblivion Staff and MKB. It serves your mana regen early game and gives you a channel-break to prevent enemy TP-scroll escape. You can also Cyclone yourself in a close fight and wait for your ult to kill the enemy while you are invincible. This item is 2.9k while Oblivion is 1.6k, so for mana purposes it's quite overkill considering you are getting another 10 Int from Manta.
The PUB CRUSHER Lothar can be situationally handy on Viper. Windwalk is self-explanatory and quite good for the rare 1v1 gank. The new backstab effect adds some front-end damage to your gank, helping to get the enemy down to a higher nethertoxin bonus zone quicker.
lothar viper IRL
Shiva's isn't a bad item on Viper, though both the mana and armor are overkill. Viper already has physical reduction with his Corrosive Skin, and being an agility hero his armor will naturally become pretty good lategame, so he gets more ehp out of straight hitpoints than piling on MORE forms of reduction. Shiva gives him a little bit of a team presence with the aura and AoE, and for ganks the AoE adds some front-end damage to help you get more nethertoxin damage quicker. The problem is that there will usually be more suitable Shiva wearers on your team due to the item's popularity, and the stats just aren't fantastic on Viper which means it's overpriced for him.
If you aren't going to get a Manta, then some solid attackspeed for your money can be found in Hyperstone. Hyperstone is usually better suited to strength heroes, because their primary stat doesn't give them any speed. Viper's primary stat is agility, so if he wants attack speed you are generally best off stacking agility instead, which will boost your damage and armor as well (and help your images with our core Manta build). Personally I would suck it up and farm another 1k gold for Eaglehorn.
GOOD LUXURY PICKS:
Orchid: Grade A-
Oblivion staves are great on Viper if you're planning on making an eventual Orchid. Getting 1-2 Oblivions before your Yasha can make you a midgame terror and they are easy to farm. Once you have Orchid, the silence can be priceless to defend yourself, especially if you are going to skip BKB. Orchid and Manta combine for a total of +71% attack speed and +66 damage (also +67% damage with 2 images out), which will help our little Viper absolutely murder enemies toward the end of midgame. The silence from Orchid adds a useful element to Viper during teamfights and marginally boosts your images damage. The reason that it isn't a core pick though, is that images benefit from almost none of the stats on Orchid. Aside from the Soulburn, you are better off pursuing stronger agility items like Butterfly if your goal is to maximize Image damage.
Butterfly: Grade A+
Probably the best item on Viper, yet prohibitive to farm during the early portions of the game when Viper is strongest. You need to kill some towers early game to get the gold for this. If you are having a good farming time, you should definitely try to get a Butter which will make you godlike. Agility damage and evasion are given to your images, and the attackspeed given by this item will boost your nethertoxin touches significantly.
BKB: Grade A-
By itself, BKB would be an A+ item. However when you have Manta already to sponge, juke, and avoid spells then BKB becomes A-. If you have Manta AND Orchid to silence the enemy disabler, then BKB becomes a B.
Straight +damage is low and does not improve your nethertoxin or images. Images will gain the small strength from this item however.
Buriza: Grade B+
Crit will apply to both your nethertoxin damage and images, which makes it a good pick for Viper. Too bad all of the +damage doesn't help images or boost toxin DPS.
MKB: Grade B
Your hero already has a high +damage value with nethertoxin, so really you are better off boosting attackspeed than more big +damage items, similar to problems with Buriza. However, MKB gives you the interrupt that you are sorely lacking to prevent enemy teleport escapes or save allies that are held in enemy channeled disables. This can be a decent pickup after you already have a good attackspeed value. Fake bash on images is not a big concern because ministun duration is short.
Heart: Grade C+
Honestly heart is a luxury item on every hero but a weak choice on Viper. As the game goes longer, he risks being ignored as his DPS really is not outstanding lategame. Getting a heart in the absence of at least 2 major damage items will further lower your priority to the enemy team.
At first, MoM seems sezy for producing a burst of attack speed to crank up nethertoxin damage, while providing a healing orb while laning between fights. One major flaw is that the lifesteal orb prevents you from manually casting your orb, killing your orbwalk ability. This might not be the worst thing in the world if the game is late enough that you aren't too worried about creep aggro, because you can still put your poison orb on autocast and do poor mans right-click orbwalk.
Dagon is mostly ridiculed as a pub stunt item, and particularly a Viper holding Dagon is about as respectable as a Naix with it. Naix suffers reduced damage near the end of his kill, so he can use a Dagon to finish, whereas Viper can use Dagon at the beginning of the fight to get more nethertoxin bonus damage quicker. This item might buy you a kill or two early, but come midgame you will wish you had your money back for better things.
Diffusal has been popular on any agility hero for a while now. On Viper, it simply doesn't bring much to the table. Purge is a fantastic slow, but Viper already has 2 great slows. It doesn't fix any of his weaknesses. The manaburn doesn't affect our Manta Images because Viper is a ranged hero, and in fact the manaburn orb conflicts with poison attack.
How to Play Viper:
Much of the commentary about how to play Viper has already been covered in the other sections, but I'll provide a brief recap here. For strategy purposes we'll divide this section into pubs vs team games.
In either type of game, the most critical basic skill that you need to learn is orb walking. Orb walking is the act of using manually casted orb to avoid creep aggro, animation cancel and chase (if you right-click an enemy to attack them, all nearby creeps will attack you to defend their hero). When you right-click to attack an enemy, your hero will perform a series of attacks according to their attack animation. However, you can attack faster than this and move between each attack using orb walking. See the video below for reference and instruction.
Public games really tend to have weak teamwork. Communication by typing, and playing with unfamiliar strangers really makes coordination mediocre at best. For this reason, you will have to play quite independently from your allies. Fortunately, Viper is a strong 1on1 hero and a brutal ganker in pubs.
One of your early game goals will be to get tower kills. Maxed nethertoxin is about +60 damage against red health towers, making Viper excellent at landing the killing blow (this is basically a free battlefury worth of damage). With a couple of early tower kills you will become a midgame terror.
You are going to look for enemy heroes that push their lane too far and become vulnerable to a long chase: Viper's specialty. If you have played Drow in pubs you know what I mean. You can also hunt the jungle if you suspect an enemy is neutraling. I would not begin this type of roaming too early in the game though. Viper is an efficient farmer and you will do best if you at least finish your Phaseboots first. Always take time in between kills to farm the lane.
When teamfights and pushing occur, your job will be to apply single target damage as fast as possible and slow runners. Try to keep yourself on 1 edge of the fight and avoid the middle of course. If you get an Orchid, use the silence to shut down their most troublesome spellcaster... Enigma, Rhasta or Lion are all good targets.
In general, always stick with your team because Viper is fragile and lacks a stun, unless you are sure that you're going to pounce on a hero 1on1 and kill him fast. During long chases, use your Manta images to tank towers if you need to tower dive.[/QUOTE]
A pub Viper game should look something like this (DRAMATIZATION).
Much of Viper's competitive potential remains to be seen after the 6.60 rework. He is typically used as a lane controller, anti-carry orbwalker and occaisonal roamer. Much like Venomancer his is a strong early roamer who lacks a stun, however unlike Venomancer he doesn't have a big contribution to team fights. Single target DPS with no stun is quite unpopular at the moment, despite Viper's lane control solo. Orchid's silence is probably key for competitive play to give him more team fight potential.