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~Table Of Contents
1. Story
2. Introduction
3. Info and Stats
4. Skill Usage
5. Skill Build
6. Item Build
7. Strategy
8. Hero Synergy
9. Conclusion
10. Replays
11. Credits
1. Background Story
Vol'Jin is a risk-taker. Anyone who has ever crossed paths with him can tell you that. As a voodoo priest, you need a certain degree of it. It's too bad he never learned the value of discretion. Vol'Jin's experiments in jungle magic yielded brilliant results- the ability to mend wounds, casks filled with paralyzing combinations of herbs that could scatter for miles, and even a curse capable of stripping the life force from a living being. Of course, no amount of power gained goes without notice. As Vol'Jin's experiments became more and more unstable and destructive, the Lich King made his move.
2. Introduction

Well first off, Witch doctor is one of my favourite heroes. I found that there is only one guide on this forum dedicated to him and I wasn't satisfied by it. So I decided to write my own.

Vol'jin is an INT support hero. His signature skill is maledict, which is the best damage amplifying skill in the game. His cask stun is one of the best stuns for holding down multiple heroes if no creeps are around. Vol'jin can be used in many ways, as a pure supporter, wardbitch, healer and semicarry ( through items, not physical DPS ). So I hope you enjoy playing him.
3. Vol'jin's Info & Stats

Strength: 16+1.8
Agility: 13+1.4
Intelligence: 24+2.9

Main attribute: Intelligence.
Witch doctor is found in the Neutral Intelligence heroes tavern.

[+] Vol'jin has an AOE ranged stun that can be very powerful when creeps are not around
[+] Maledict is imba.
[+] Death ward can do a shitload of damage.
[+] Has superb base damage and animation rivalling that of melee heroes- good for last hit or harass.

[-] Paper hero- has no hp or armour.
[-] Maledict can be countered by heal.
[-] Ultimate is channeling.
[-] Heal doesn't really synergize with the rest of his skills.

For complete stats, click below:
Witch doctor hero details
4. HERO'S Skill Usage

Paralyzing casks

Vol'Jin launches a cask of paralyzing powder that bounces between foes, stunning those affected for a short period of time

This is a ranged "AOE" stun with a huge casting range and no delays or anything ( other aoe ranged stuns like that of Lina have low range or casting delays ). It is most effectively used when you have two heroes standing close to each other so the casks will just bounce off each other, stunning them for 4 seconds each. It also does a decent dmg of 50 per bounce on heroes for a total of 400 dmg if all the bounces landed on heroes. The first stun lasts for 1.5 sec, the other bounces for 1 sec only.

This spell also doubles as your farming mechanism as it does extra dmg to creeps. It also stuns creeps for 5 seconds making it very useful for pushing.

Voodoo Restoration

Voodoo restoration is a healing spell. That itself is a bit odd as Vol'jin is not primarily a healer- atleast he is usually not used that way. But this skill is not weak in any way- it heals 40 hp/sec with not as much mana cost as most people think. Warlock's heal is also 40 hp/sec, but it is not AOE and can't last for ever. So you could use witch doctor as a primary healer if you wanted to, in which case his skill build would be significantly different ( heal maxed first ).

We get this last because casks and maledict is just better. It is still worth taking over stats ( almost every skill in the game is worth taking over some measly stat bonuses ). Because a portable fountain for your team is very nice to have, and at lvl 16+ with an urn and voidstone/guinsoo, you'll have so much mana that you can keep this permanently on. It's actual use for in-combat regeneration is somewhat debatable, as a stun of any sort disables this spell. Level 1 voodoo restoration is rather imbalanced, costing a minimal amount of mana, so get atleast one level even if you don't want the rest.


Ah, maledict. The ultimate-worthy signature skill of the witch doctor, it is the reason why Vol'jin is picked. It is the best amplifying damage skill in the game, good during all stages of the game. I have included a section explaining the details of maledict including some mathcraft and how to counter it, scroll below for the details.

Death Ward

Witch doctor's ultimate, and his effective "DPS" skill. It does a load of damage but sadly since it is channeling it can be countered by using stuns/ministuns - or simply running away from it ( though it has a long range of 700 ). You will need BKB if you want to get full use out of his ultimate.


Here are a few screenshots explaining the range and AOE of Vol'jin's skills

AOE and range of maledict

Max range of Voodoo restoration, Slardar is getting healed

Casting range of casks.

Casting range of Death ward, useful for defense.
5. Skill Build

Normal ( recommended ) skill build

Level 1 - Paralyzing casks
Level 2 - Maledict
Level 3 - Paralyzing casks
Level 4 - Maledict
Level 5 - Maledict
Level 6 - Death ward
Level 7 - Maledict
Level 8 - Paralyzing casks
Level 9 - Paralyzing casks
Level 10 - Voodoo Restoration
Level 11 - Death ward
Level 12 - Voodoo Restoration
Level 13 - Voodoo Restoration
Level 14 - Voodoo Restoration
Level 15 - Stats
Level 16 - Death ward
Level 17+ - Stats

Alternate ( healer ) build: For baby-sitting purposes, you get one level of voodoo restoration first and max stun.

Level 1 - Paralyzing casks
Level 2 - Voodoo Restoration
Level 3 - Maledict
Level 4 - Paralyzing casks
Level 5 - Paralyzing casks
Level 6 - Maledict
Level 7 - Paralyzing casks
Level 8 - Maledict
Level 9 - Maledict
Level 10+ - Death ward etc

For the normal build, you want to max out maledict ASAP since it is so imba and casks are good even with just 2 points in them. Then we get heal ( or you can really go stats if you don't want heal at all ). Of course ultimate is taken as often as possible. Level 1 voodoo restoration is rather imbalanced, costing a minimal amount of mana, so get atleast one level even if you don't want the rest.
6. Item Build
Core item build

You should get cheap and easy to build items. If you are playing any sort of organized games, you should be buying wards ( and courier, dust etc. ). In case you are playing as full time supporter, your item build basically stops here. Spend your money on wards and such.

The items are pretty self explanatory. I usually skip bottle altogether and go for urn and wand. But it depends on players.

Core extension

Dagon is an extremely good item for Vol'jin, because of it's burst damage and synergy with maledict. You should rush this ASAP because it gets less useful with time. You can level up the dagon if you like but I advise against it.

Black King Bar is needed for survivability and so that you don't get interrupted while channeling the death ward. And it also prevents WD from getting instagibbed by nukes which he is very prone to.

Boots of travel. Don't buy phase boots or treads. Save up your money to get boots of travel in lategame.

Late game luxury items

Aghanim's scepter works with your ultimate and improves it quite a lot. Guinsoo is great lategame item for any support hero, Vol'jin is no exception.


Buy these items if you got a load of money to throw away.

Special mention

Lothar's edge can be used as a 'substitute' for BKB, making you invisible while channeling ultimate ( use ulti and then lothar, it doesn't break the silence ). Be aware that it can be easily countered using dust and the extra damage is quite useless for you.

Blink dagger and force staff can be used for positioning your spells and situationally for escaping, so buy it if you want to.

7. General Strategy
Early Game

In general witch doc is good in any lineup, see the hero synergies section for details. A burst damage lineup is preferred. In a pub you can pick him whenever you like, as he isn't really dependant on his allies to kill.

Your starting items should be some combination of tangoes, healing salves, gauntlets, mantles, circlets, clarity potions ( doesn't matter exactly ). If you are playing an organized game as a supporter you might want to buy courier or observer wards. Do NOT buy boots first or bottle first. This is stupid.

WD can solo mid ( and you probably should in pubs ) quite fine, but his real strength lies in dual-stun lanes. Ideally you would be paired with a melee hero with a hard-to-land stun, such as Slardar or Centaur. These lanes are pretty beastly- with the use of your stun + maledict + your ally's stun + some hits, you can easily get kills. WD's physical attack is really good early on- huge base damage rivalling melee heroes, imba attack animation and range. Abuse it for last-hitting, denying, harassing.

Mid Game


Mid game for WD starts at around level 6-7. At this point you should basically be permanently roaming and ganging. Maledict is insanely useful at this point and will remain so for the rest of the game.

Understanding Maledict:

Here are a few calculations to understand how effective maledict is.

Maledict deals damage over time for 12 seconds, additionally there are three 'ticks' in maledict, which show up as red numbers. This deals bonus damage based on the difference between current hp and original hp at the start of the curse.

Damage dealt = ( initial HP - current HP )*0.4 ( or 0.1-0.4 depending on level)

Since it is based on hp difference, any kind of heal counters it greatly.

Now lets see how much damage maledict does along with burst damage.
Lets say the initial damage dealt was 300 dmg after reduction ( say from dagon ). Lets look at level 4 maledict which does 20 dmg/sec, on a normal hero ( 25% resistance ).

Time Damage dealt Total dmg after reduction Event
1 400+20 315 Dagon
2 20 330
3 20 345
4 20 + 0.4*315 463.5 First tick ( red no 138 )
5 20 478.5
6 20 493.5
7 20 508.5
8 20 + 0.4*508.5 676 Second tick ( red no 203 )
9 20 691
10 20 706
11 20 721
12 20 + 0.4*721 947.8 Final tick ( red no 282 )

As you can see, from a mediocre damage of 300 from dagon ( or allied nukes/ physical DPS ), we have arrived at full 950 dmg taken from maledict after dmg reductions. And this is assuming no one has hit the target for extra damage during the period of maledict. If you assume extra damage being dealt during the period of maledict, its damage output bursts through the roof. This is why maledict is so insane and scales throughout the game. BUT however it can be countered by heal. If you heal back to your initial hp before the maledict tick, it does basically no damage to you.

Maledict has very low AOE and cast range. Casting a maledict is basically the most important part of playing WD.

Using your spells

Your role in a team battle is simple. Cast paralyzing casks first, then go close to apply maledict to 1 or more heroes ( who is gonna get screwed ). Then use ultimate and try not to die. Use BKB if you got one.

Late Game

Witch doctor scales decently in lategame compared to other intel heroes. Maledict is a very good scaling spell and rips apart tanks. His death ward does a lot of damage too. I suggest getting aghanim and BKB if you want to make full use of your ulti. Use heal for healing your team.

Death Ward

I decided to do some calculations regarding Death ward.
Level 3 with aghanim, deals 150 dmg with BAT of 0.3

Thus DPS = 150/0.3 = 500 DPS which bounces on 3 heroes.

Compare with a carry who has 300 dmg, +200% AS and 1.7 BAT
His attack time will be: 1.7/ ( 1+ 2 ) = 0.56

DPS = 300 / 0.56 = 529.4 DPS

Thus you can easily see that Death ward deals comparable DPS as a carry hero with items, of course not accounting for critical strike, lifesteal, bash etc. So it is worth getting BKB and aghanim on him, and these items also increase his survivability.

The name 'chaos damage' for the death ward is misleading. It refers to the WC3 damage types where different damage types deal extra/less dmg to different armour types ( for example piercing deals extra dmg to unarmoured ). Chaos dmg deals full damage to all damage types but that doesn't really matter in dota because everyone in dota has hero type armour ( except creeps but they don't matter ).

So for all practical purposes, it could be said to be physical damage, reduced by armour. It is not magical damage.
8. Hero Synergy

Best allies

Burst nukers help maledict to do a lot of damage.

Lategame, carries will do a lot of burst dmg that is amplified by maledict

DS and Magnus have pulling effects that have perfect synergy with casks and maledict.

Worst enemies

Heals are the #1 counter to wd as it reduces the effectiveness of maledict by tons. Chen is probably the worst, as with aghanim he has global heal with 30 sec cd ( maledict cd is 35 ).

If you are facing up against Vol'jin, make sure you have some healer hero and if not, get someone to buy a meka. Pipe obviously greatly counters maledict as well.
9. Conclusion

Witch doctor is a powerful support hero who greatly amplifies the damage output of his allies, while also supporting through stun and healing. He is not too item dependant but getting items is also quite worthwhile for him.
10. Replays

1. CH vs Deity

1.24b patch
GosuGamers DotA | Replay: CH vs Deity

I'm not going to spoil the replay for you, it shows a funny strategy and the power of level 1 voodoo restoration.

2. MYM vs OK

1.24d patch
GosuGamers DotA | Replay: MYM vs OK

Observe the good babysitting, warding and supporting from the WD player. Anyone wanting warding lessons, just see this replay.

2. PDGG game

1.24d patch
Attached at the bottom

Casual game between forumers, where I am playing WD.
11. Credits

Credits for Ramomar's guide template which I am using for this guide
12. Changelog
11 Mar 2010
- Guide nearly finished
19 Mar 2010
- Screenshots and replays added

Vol'Jin the Witch Doctor
Author: zaphodbrx99
Map Vers.: 6.66b

Guide to Vol'jin, the witch doctor

Guide to Vol'jin, the witch doctor

Date Posted: 03/06/10
Last Comment:18/12/2011
Total Votes: 38
Current Rating: 7.50
Views: 221080

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