Art by chevsy on Deviant Art
1. Introduction (Welcome to the Abyss )
2. Hero Statistic (Presence of the Dark Lord)
3. Hero Skill Explanation (Power of the Soul Collector)
4. In Game Strategy (Virtuoso of the Requiem)
5. Credits (Auxiliary of the Nevermore)
You might remember me from various guides, strategy articles and almost incredulous yet superb brevity in the forums. I can assure you that I have years of guide writing experience and DotA in general. A man once told me: “it does not matter how long you have played this game, if you still suck shit through a straw it means you are far from a veteran” – indirect quote. That man is a friend of mine, and I must credit him for his misunderstood brilliance that helped me a lot before.
In truth, this started out as an intended remake for LoveYueru’s most beauteous guide and tribute of the Shadow Fiend. He did a really good job for his time, and it is the best Nevermore guide I have seen to date, and is the benchmark that this one sets out to beat.
The reason why I decided against the remake was because no matter what one can say, you cannot apply 2010 DotA philosophy to 2012 without fear of being left behind in terms of strategies and game knowledge. This game is constantly changing, and I would much rather LoveYueru update it himself (which he unfortunately would not do) rather than me doing a half-assed job of pulling up his work and work on it.
This guide is for Nevermore the Shadow Fiend (DotA and Dota 2 alike), with some of the resources collected as well as my own, in order to bring the readers what they have been missing with the imminent changed in the game. The point of all of this is the updated materials on all front, as well as the impending adaptations to VALVe’s version of Nevermore in Dota 2.
This is going to be one hell of a project, considering how in my mind it is at least twice as long as my “Walking through the Ruins” guide, and that took me basically a month to write. I’ll try to complete this one as soon as possible, with quality, of course, and hopefully rack up all the credits for the update if 6.75 comes with the change for this hero.
Unlike my olders guides, I have been beginning to publish strategy articles and new guides alike on various non-PD sites. All of them would make it back to PD eventually, but those are for a different matter, considering how I would have to wait out and see what happens to PD when VALVe does decide to release Dota 2.
Alt-Tab Mini Guide
You can ignore the random captions.
This contains Nevermore’s statistics, without yet getting into all the nuts and bolts. As a player, one should learn how to judge the hero model THEN try to apply item and skill build into the fullest of its extent. By “hero model” I obviously do not mean the aesthetic aspect of the hero, but the raw numbers themselves. We can then pull out the important details in order to adjudicate the pros and cons of each.
[+] His Attack Animation as well as Missile Speed is excellent, meaning you can naturally sneak in more hit at the better time compared to some other heroes. It also allows you to change targets better during a fight and waste less time trying to position yourself.
[+] His damage is below average, if not downright small. This is to balance the fact that he would have a nightmarish (pun) deal of power later on. This would limit your early physical last hitting by a large margin (not being able to finish a ranged creep after 2 attacks and 2 tower attacks for example) but would largely become irrelevant a few minutes in.
[+] His Casting Animation is excellent for what it does, as it allows you to “chain” off Shadowraze and create gosu moments like no Rubick can. This would be explained in details later.
[+] His starting Armor is rather low, which means he is very prone to harass by physical attacks.
[+] He has 500 range, which is good as it allows you to just stand on the high ground and comfortably hit all the creeps at the mid lane without having to forfeit your position. This, however, gives him an inherent disadvantage against 600 range heroes, so watch your steps!
[+] He has 305 movement speed; which is something that wasn’t mentioned during LoveYueru’s old guide, simply because the change wasn’t yet made back then. His speed is slightly above the average of 300, and this gives him an excellent “buffer” against other heroes, in order to chase a lot better against most heroes.
[+] He has a BAT (Base Attack Time) of 1.7, which is the standard, so nothing else on that front.
[+] His sight range is 1800/800, which might makes little sense considering his name is Shadow Fiend, but it is also extremely normal.
On to his stats
[+] A decent Str gain for an Agility hero, but horrible starting Str (second lowest in the game, just one point above Medusa) which means combined with his low starting armor makes him horribly vulnerable at early stages of the game.
[+] A very average Agi gain for an Agility hero. This means he is not too hindered by his own stats in the physical dps department, but it would have a large impact on his ability to tank physical attack later on.
[+] An above decent Int gain for an Agility. Combined with his mostly cheap nukes, this also means that he is not hindered by his stats in the spell spamming – magical dps department.
A demon of the burning legion so abhorred that he makes the skin of even his fellow demons crawl, Nevermore is a creature of the shadows that consumes the souls of those around him. When the Shadow Fiend comes forth to battle, he augments his power with the souls he has consumed, bearing down on his enemies with spiritually enhanced attacks and powerful spiritual blasts. The Shadow Fiend is a terrifying opponent whom few have survived, and those who have perished under his tyranny have faced the most despicable fate of all.
It is said that Shadow Fiend has the soul of a poet, and in fact he has thousands of them. Over the ages he has claimed the souls of poets, priests, emperors, beggars, slaves, philosophers, criminals and (naturally) heroes; no sort of soul escapes him. What he does with them is unknown. No one has ever peered into the Abysm whence Shadow Fiend reaches out like an eel from among astral rocks. Does he devour them one after another? Does he mount them along the halls of an eldritch temple, or pickle the souls in necromantic brine? Is he merely a puppet, pushed through the dimensional rift by a demonic puppeteer? Such is his evil, so intense his aura of darkness, that no rational mind may penetrate it. Of course, if you really want to know where the stolen souls go, there's one sure way to find out: Add your soul to his collection. Or just wait for Nevermore.
Puns, puns everywhere.
The Dota 2 section shall be added as soon as the game goes live.
Now, I'm not going to lie. I have to say that LoveYueru has done such a great job with this section in his old guide that it feels like it would be a waste to simply cast all that aside and try to re-write everything form the ground up. Thus, the section's main credits belongs to him and his guide. I do pitch in here and there to change a few wordings and update a few links & stuffs (it's still mostly my guide obviously) but my work is insignificant compared to his, at least in this particular section.
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.
Last but not least…:
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).
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.
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
That skill build is mostly concrete among the majority of games that you would probably come across. The explanations are rather simple.
You have three skills to pump up during early game. As I have elaborated on the mindset between the three, Shadowraze should obviously be the first to be prioritized, while Necromastery follows by a close second, with Presence of the Dark Lord taking the backseat most of the time.
At lvl 1, it is crucial to try and scrape last hits with Nevermore in order to improve his pitiful early game damage. This would require a decent skill at last hitting if you're up against comparable opponents because it is almost always the enemy who has the damage/range or maybe even both against you this early. You build up the soul count safely in order to ensure a success in domination later. Shadowraze is taken at 2 and 3 because it is very important to cross-harass the opponent with razes while nabbing a few creep kills in the mean time. Should you feel too pressured, it is these razes that would relieve yourself of that. Necromastery is to be taken along with Shadowraze whenever a skill point opens itself in order to stack up the most damage you can while not sacrificing the power of the razes. Raze at lvl 7 because it is the most powerful thing you would probably have at this point and helps immensely in all situations. Ultimate is not taken at level six because it hampers you mana severely, not to mention without maxed Necromastery its level 1 damage pales in comparison compared to Shadowrazes in mana cost/damage/cooldown ratio. However, you should have its lvl 2 by 11 so you can unlock its full potential. As previously said, Presence of the Dark Lord is a comparatively unimpressive skill, thus should be taken only when you have the skill points to pump it up a few levels, and Stats is to be taken over it at 10 to improve Nevermore's bulk a bit.
There are several alternatives (but not important enough to warrant an entire new build) to the mentioned one above. You can opt for Necromastery at 3 if you feel like you were unable to go offensive on anyone and were getting basically free farm, however, you still need that Shadowraze maxed at 7. You can also take ultimate before you max Necromastery if you feel like you can obtain an early Dagger and hopes to maximizes your AoE presence very early on. Presence of the Dark Lord could also be taken at 10 if you feel like it would make a significant difference (mass physical dps from your team). You can also delay ultimate until 10 to prioritize 1 level of Stats, but that is generally incomparable to such a powerful AoE nuke after maxed souls.
After some thinking, I decided to try out a whole different approach to writing this guide. Instead of having separate sections for item builds and strategies, I decided to combine the two into one giant section instead, integrating the two and outdoing every single guide before me. This idea first surfaced with TKC.Master's post and is being developed, so I must have a word of thanks. The following would have a situation-based directional format, which means it's kind of like a story where you choose the choices and see what happens next. I'm going to use the Anchor system exclusively for this section and even though it's highly experimental, I do have high hopes for it. Segments would be divided and documented to ease of reading.
Mini-Table of Contents
1. Early game
1a. Solo mid
1b. Solo safe lane
1c. Solo long lane
1d. Defensive dual lane
1e. Offensive dual lane
1f. Defensive tri-lane
1g. Offensive tri-lane
2. Mid game
2a. Hyper offensive tempo
2b. Offensive tempo
2c. Balanced tempo
2d. Defensive tempo
2e. Stall tempo
3. Late game
3a. Up front
3c. Back foot
4. Team fights:
4a. Match ups
Warning: Heavily text-based section ahead*
*Do prepare for leisure entertainment on your way forward
This is where I explain to you basically the most important thing of playing Shadow Fiend, practically more than any single hero out there. You don't go rushing into strategy if you don't understand what tempo is and how to control it. To be frank, you learn by practice more than listen, but this is at least the guide lines.
Tempo is basically the speed and pace of game flow (case in point). This is extremely crucial to a Shadow Fiend player and his/her performance, always has been and always will be. In this case, the tempo is how well your farm and exp progresses compare to the rest of the players in the game. I was originally planning to write tempo into a separate section, but realized that it wasn't entirely needed. Why? Because your tempo changes as you play, and it should be a part of your game play instead. Obviously, it is always better to get your tempo into a fast track, where the advantage you have gradually increases into a win game, but not too fast that you would fall too hard once that tempo is taken away from you (realizing your entire team is without farm even though you were so far ahead). Controlling tempo is essential, and whatever you do should reflect that. Now, continue reading on and you would find me referring to tempos (especially during the mid game) a lot.
Included at the very start. As you head out to different lanes, your plans in mind should also be different, whatever it may be. Go to each section to see corresponding builds.
1a. Solo mid
This is your classic (in every meaning of the word) Nevermore match up. I could say a million of things, but it's kind of awesome that I already did. Do forgive me for the cross reference, but it should be the best thing for me to do, much unlike trying to come up with a half-assed discussion about such a thing of which I've already pain-stakingly written about.
1b. Solo safe lane
Bottom for Sentinel[Radiant] and Top for Scourge[Dire]. Anyways,