Make Your Own Path
Run to Victory
Updated for 6.74c
Make Your Own Path
Run to Victory
Updated for 6.74c
Table of Contents
I. Quick Play Guide
III. The Philosophy
IV. Skills Description
V. Role Discussion
VI. Skill Builds
VII. The Toolbox
VIII. Advanced Tactics
XI. Final Words
I. Quick Play Guide
Windrunner is a quite unassuming hero in DotA. This is most likely because she plays as a hybrid of carry/support. There are only few true hybrids in DotA, and Windrunner is one of them. For those that don't know, a hybrid is a hero who has the capability to fulfill two roles at once. As an alternate example, Slardar the Slithereen Guard is often referred to as a Tank/Carry hybrid.
Basically, Windrunner strikes a hard to find balance between damage dealer and utility. She has one of the most unique skill sets that you can find, and each one of her skills can be used in a myriad of ways. This makes Windrunner extremely versatile and undeniably dangerous.
This guide is intended to be used by those players who have gone beyond the point of the beginner. If you are still a beginner, I highly recommend that you refer to the Learn the Game articles that IceFrog has made available to you before you continue reading this guide.
Summarily, the following are required to be able to play Windrunner at a high skill level:
-Last hitting, including denies. I cannot stress this skill enough. You will NEVER be a good player if you cannot do this.
-General map awareness. Just like driving, you should check the minimap every few seconds.
-Prediction. All of Windrunner's abilities require you to THINK. 2 of these abilities require you to aim, and all of her abilities require timing.
-Adaptation. If your game doesn't go to plan, you must be able to fix it. It doesn't matter if they have more cs, kills, whatever. You can win!
-Reaction. You have to devise a custom strategy based on enemy heroes, items in possession by enemies and teammates, your role requirements, game flow, and other factors that all come up every game.
I'm no impartial judge on my own abilities, but I believe myself to be at the very least an excellent thinker even if I'm not a pro DotA player. I will endeavor to explain my reasoning at all necessary points. I hope you find this guide both useful and fun to read. I know I had fun writing it.
Fair warning, lots of reading ahead! I go in depth almost to the point of absurdity, but I feel that it's necessary to get a complete grasp on the hero. Reading everything will definitely help out your gameplay. You never know what tidbit is the one that will give you some great insight. On the plus side, plenty of nice pictures to break up all the walls of text.
III. The Philosophy
My gaming philosophy is that the best players are those who do the following:
1. Formulate an initial plan.
2. Decipher the enemy plan.
3. Immediately throw out their plan and react to counter the enemy's plan.
But how do I make this accessible to you, the reader? It seems totally obvious to me how this works, but that doesn't mean it's obvious to you. Hence why I am taking the time to attempt to convey the thoughts behind the guide.
Endless adaptability. Know your options. Recognize synergy. Pressure a game's flow into your favor. Seize every opportunity. Create fear in your opponents. Strike without mercy. Never surrender. Become chaos.
These are the core components of my thinking when going into a game. I intend to make my enemies fear me and my teammates. I intend to be chaos unleashed. And while these things seem to be weighty thoughts, they are truly accessible by anyone.
Here's how I make this accessible. I don't bog you down with a list of things to accomplish and a timetable to get things done. That's your job as a player. Asking me, the writer, to do that for you is essentially asking me to think for you. Laying down your mind is the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself as a player.
My part and my intention in writing this guide is to inform you of the best options and to provide insight into when these options are used. Once you have the best options, it becomes your responsibility to analyze the game, it's flow, and it's players' tendencies and to then react in an appropriate manner. That manner being your best to crush your opponents without letting up. It becomes your job to cause them as much chaos as you are possibly capable of mustering.
Just as an example for you. Let's say that I lay out a pretty timetable going for my preferred items in a standard game, and leave it at that. I've handicapped you. I've not given you the tools I used to construct the timetable. What happens when it's not a normal game, and you need to figure out how to counter a 5 man push mid at minute zero? I fully intend for you to be able to pluck apart this guide and be able to come up with a solution to just such a problem.
In conclusion, the ability to think actively about the situation is what will define you as a player. Set this aside and you leave things to chance. I try my damn hardest to leave nothing that I have in my ability to control and affect to fate. To do so is the height of irresponsibility.
IV. Skills Description
This section is dedicated to showcasing Windrunner's abilities and discussing some of their characteristics and uses. Specifics and strategies will be covered in Advanced Tactics.
Effect: Stun for 1.50/2.25/3.00/3.75 seconds or 0.75 seconds at 600 Range
This is quite possibly the most deceptively difficult stun to land in the game. The reason for this is that Shackleshot is an apparent single target stun, but it has a twist. There must a target BEHIND the stun target in order for the full stun duration to have an effect. There are three different ways to land this stun, and each one is used in a different situation. If you fail to land the full stun, the ability will still incur a 0.75 ministun. It may not seem like much, but it has its uses. Overall, this will be the ability you end up using the most in teamfights. Specifics will be covered in Advanced Tactics.
Effect: Damage for 120/200/280/360 at 1800 Range in a 125 AoE on Units and Trees
*Damage is reduced by 10% per target encountered on subsequent targets.
One of the more absurd nuking abilities in the game. 1800 cast range, 360 AoE (area of effect) damage, and projectile speed of 3000. Use it for farming, harassment, knocking out fleeing heroes, getting sight and creating escape routes. In my opinion, the best non-ultimate nuke in the game.
Effect: For duration of 2.75/3.50/4.25/5.00 seconds grants complete physical evasion, 50% bonus movement speed, and AoE slow of 8%/16%/24%/30%.
Your signature move. And you can use it in many different ways. Turns you into a dodge-tank, chaser, spearhead, and sprinter. Simply marvelous.
Target: Unit or Building
Effect: Grants maximum attack speed with reduced damage of 50%/40%/30% on a single target for up to 20 seconds.
Your ultimate skill, and one of the more deadly ones at that. Not even the Troll Warlord can scratch your attack speed, and that's saying something. This imbues you with MAXIMUM attack speed at the cost of damage on one target for up to 20 seconds; it's worth it. A couple of special notes on this though. First, changing targets will negate your ultimate, so take care to finish off your target. Second, the damage reduction is accomplished via one of two mechanisms based on whether you have Aghanim's Scepter or not. The particulars and how to use this will be covered in both The Toolbox and Advanced Tactics.
V. Role Discussion
In order to play Windrunner well, you must play with your team. You must fill in the gaps for which your teammates don't account. I've prepared a quick walkthrough you can use for either pub games or competitive play to help you evaluate what role you fit best. What role you play heavily influences your skill and items builds, so this must be decided first.
Does our team have reliable carry type heroes?
If the answer is yes, you should focus towards supporting those carry heroes. They are highly specialized and can't extend too far past their role. If the answer is no, you will need to step up and be an active force throughout the game. You should aim to farm and gank where you can, but your focus must be on the late game.
If you opt for a carry role, you'll need to get some serious farming done. If at all possible, hog the kills where you can. You can put the gold towards better use than a full support hero. Your build will be geared towards farming, controlling your lane, and making sure you stay alive.
If you opt for a supportive role, you should get some basic farming done. Then, participate in every gank you feasibly can. This will protect your carry and make sure theirs is feeling the pain. Your build should gear towards mobility and maximizing your carry's potential.
Finally, you can opt for a hybrid build. This build specializes in maximizing Windrunner's personal potential. This build works well in most lineups and can be considered the base build from which to experiment. Additionally, this build is used when you are aiming for a lot of utility and aren't stressing your carry aspect overmuch.
VI. Skill Builds
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
This is the carry stress build. It's geared to make you hard to kill while you farm it up. The first level in Windrunner makes certain you can escape a first blood attempt, and maxing out Powershot maximizes your farming and lane control. You shouldn't be involved in too many team fights early on, so one level of Shackleshot is all you need.
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
Use this build when you're stressing support. Being a team player means that you aren't the star. Taking your stun first maximizes its effect quickly so you can get some easy kills. An early level of Windrunner helps with your positioning or can help you escape a gank gone sour. Getting Powershot as a secondary allows you to deal out some damage and finish fleeing heroes.
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
- Focus Fire
This is a real Hybrid build. Like the carry build, it has you max out Powershot first for maximum lane control and farming ability. Two levels of Windrunner makes certain that you stay alive when things go wrong. You get your Shackleshot at a much quicker pace and are that much deadlier by the time you have your ultimate.
Sidenote: You'll notice that all builds have you wait to take your ultimate until levels 10 and 11. There is a reason for this! At low levels, you have no real items and no real damage, so your decent damage gets cut in half to being something to ignore. If you wait, you'll have some decent items and better damage to utilize with your ultimate.
Pro-tip: You don't have to spend your skill points! It's actually a good idea to leave one point unspent for the first few levels. That way you can react a lot more effectively to what's going on in your lane. If you're getting ganked, you can invest into Windrunner to GTFO. If you're getting a gank in your lane, you can invest into Shackleshot to make sure the target goes down. If someone is getting away, you can put a point into Powershot to try for a final strike.
VII. Picking Items to Fit Your Role
This option gives you a courier, Stats, and necessary consumables. It's the way I always go in pub games, and it's viable in competitive play. Total Cost - 599 Gold.
This used to be my favorite way to walk out. It allows you spam Powershot quite effectively and still provides Stats and regen. However, you have to choose between the salve and tangos. Total Cost - 584 or 574 Gold.
This is a very stat heavy build. It comes with plenty of regen and 2 clarity potions. A very solid way to walk out of base. Total Cost - 581 Gold.
If you're planning to go to a sidelane and want to get a Ring of Basilius, this is the way to go. You'll have enough regen to stay in lane so that you can farm enough to get the RoB quickly. Total Cost - 584 Gold.
Each option is completely and totally viable. The first option allows you the most flexibility and gives you a way to get your items faster; it is the most preferred option for soloing the middle lane. The second option is a bit of spammer build, but doesn't offer a great amount of anything else. The 3rd option gives you a solid plus five to all Stats, and none but the beastliest of combos will be able to take you out. The final option is the fastest way to get a RoB into your inventory while still being an effective laner.
Phase Boots really complement your ultimate well. The raw damage is something that Windrunner really needs and this is a wonderful way to get it. The phase ability also keeps you mobile, and it is a good utility power. These will bias you towards a carry role.
Power Treads pad your Stats and grant you attack speed. The strength and intelligence settings are all you should ever consider with Windrunner. The extra HP can definitely help and so can the extra mana. These don't really bias you towards a role.
Arcane Boots are a great team item and can really help your team sustain a push. This drastically increases your mana pool, but doesn't offer much else. I would say that they're very situational, but useful. These bias you towards a supportive role.
Tranquil Boots are pretty intriguing. These will help you stay out of base for longer periods of time and have a very high MS rating for very low cost. Definitely consider these when you're getting low farm. Getting these will highly bias you towards a support role though.
Boots of Travel are the most expensive boots in the game. They grant the highest possible MS of any boots, and they can be used to teleport to any friendly (non-hero) unit or building. These make a lot of sense in the late game when you need to save item slots, and it's a good idea to sell your current boots and swap them for these at some point.
I would almost always recommend the Phase boots for most situations. Power Treads are definitely a close second, but you have your ultimate for attack speed. Arcane Boots are useful in the right lineup, but otherwise don't help Windrunner very much. Tranquil Boots are interesting, but there are more useful options available. Boots of Travel are something that you should start considering around the 30-40 minute mark after you've gotten your main items; they are extremely useful in the late game. No matter your choice, you should stress maximizing your abilities and your team's strategy.
Getting a Flying Courier helps keep you in the field, and you could possibly talk teammates into buying it for you if you're pubbing. You should get a Bottle or Magic Wand if not both, these both provide great regen and emergency boosts. If you're having a little trouble farming, an early Bracer or Null Talisman can get you over your hump and into your late game.
Soul Ring gets a special mention from me. It doesn't have any really overpowered synergy like with Omniknight, but it is a feasible item for those that enjoy spamming. Its regen is nice on Windrunner, and while it's not core, it should be on your mind as an option.
Scrolls of Teleportation are a must at all times. Always have one on your person. You can use it to escape ganks after a successful juke, get to a team fight, respond to a call for aid for a teammate, get into position to defend, and retreat after a push. A complete necessity at all times.
Mekanzm has its uses if it is farmed quickly; in other words, within about 12 minutes. It provides some solid stat gains and the ability to heal yourself and allies. It also provides some needed armor. Mekanzm is effective as an item until about the 30 minute mark; hence the need to finish it fast or not at all. The longer it takes to make, the less time it will be useful. If you're past the 17 minute mark, I wouldn't bother. This will lend you towards a more Supportive role, but it has it's place in the Hybrid build if you follow up with good DPS items.
Urn of Shadows makes a lot of sense on Windrunner. It gives you a good boost to your HP, gives you mana regen, and lets you pick up charges to heal your allies. This is designed for gankers or roaming supports though, so it doesn't fit Windrunner as well as I would like. I would usually let the supports like Ogre Magi have first crack at buying this before I decide to pick one up.
Medallion of Courage has some serious synergy with Windrunner. The mana regen is something that she definitely benefits from and the armor is very nice. The active ability is the real trick here; you are able to reduce your armor by 6 in order to reduce the armor of an enemy by 6 as well. Combine this with your Windrunner ability and it only matters for a single second. Combine this with Focus Fire and the damage reduction doesn't hurt nearly as badly. I very honestly think that this is the item that every Windrunner player has to seriously consider buying every game.
Ancient Janggo (or Drum) of Endurance is a very handy item to get. If you ended up with a Bracer early on, this is a natural followup item that works well on Windrunner. It gives quite a few stats and some damage, and the aura and active effect are really juicy for you and your team. Make sure you use the charges!
With all the new items and considering the math, does Ring of Basilius make sense anymore? In terms of items, RoB is extremely valuable to Agility based heroes who need some regen and want to enhance their pushing ability, because it can now be combined with the Wraith Band to make a Ring of Aquila. Mathematically, a Sobi Mask provides more mana regen than RoB when your Intelligence reaches 38; Windrunner reaches this peak at level 5 without items, so it very quickly becomes a hindrance instead of a benefit. Ring of Basilius can still be a good cheap way to get some useful armor, mana regen, and damage, but I highly recommend getting it on other heroes.
28 Items are in my toolbox when I play Windrunner. Depending on my role, what heroes on are on my team and the enemy team, and how the game is flowing all determine what items I am eventually aiming to have in my arsenal. No item is exclusive to any one build for Windrunner, although some items lend themselves better to some roles than others.
You'll notice in the toolbox are what you could consider basic items. In particular the following:
These are what I would call fall back items. These are usually gotten for obscenely specific reasons or as a base item to boost you in the early or mid game. Gem of Truesight for invis enemies, counter warding, and Goblin Techies. Crystalys gives you a good damage boost for relatively low cost, so I sometimes get this item early and never get a Buriza. Vanguard should be in the back of your head in case you find yourself in need of a cheap tank item. Oblivion Staffs provide really good bonuses without ever needing to make an Orchid Malevolence; just one of these can give you great damage and mana. Kelen's Dagger helps when you're having trouble with positioning; of course, it's also great for running and ganking. Helm of the Dominator helps keep you in the field, and Satanic just doesn't always get finished. Perseverance by itself provides great regen and little bit of damage. If I can make any of these by minute eight to twleve, it's totally worth it in any game, and these are what you should be aiming to make when you're not getting any farming done for some reason.
These 10 items are what I usually pick from for most games. I'll break these items uses down here a bit for you.
If you choose to go for Orb effects, please be sure to only make one such item! I'm talking about the Stygian Desolator, Diffusal Blade, and Satanic. Stygian Desolator is a good way to push your damage to the breaking point. Diffusal Blade has two extreme pluses. The Purge is good for chasing after your Shackleshot wears off or getting ridding of bothersome summons or buffs; the Feedback (mana burn) is a totally diabolical thing to use with your ultimate. You may very possibly make someone rage quit with the Diffusal Blade in your inventory. Satanic (or just Helm of the Dominator) gives you some needed HP and lifesteal; however, this has a curious interaction with your ultimate which is discussed below.
Raw damage items are good ideas when you're stressing your carry aspect and need to provide your team with some much needed DPS. The Buriza synergizes very well with your Ultimate and also with lifesteal items or a Stygian Desolator. Divine Rapier can really be a game breaker. I would recommend this as a surprise for final pushes and after you've already obtained some defensive items. The Force Staff also falls into this category. It gives you some very nice numbers and one of the more versatile abilities in the game. Finally, the Blademail also provides you with some raw numbers as well as the Return ability. This is a cheap and effective way to increase your damage as well as tone down or punish attempts to focus you down in fights.
The Linken's Sphere is a great way to pop up some HP, get some regen and dodge the occasional spell; it definitely helps on a hero like Windrunner, who is best countered by nukes. Guinsoo will also grant some Stats and regen and gives you the Hex ability; Guinsoo will always be a game breaking item. I recommend considering this every game and usually end up with it if my team is low on stuns.
Aghanim's Scepter provides you with great Stats and base increases. The improvements to your ultimate include a Reduced Cooldown to 15 seconds and a mechanic change. Usually, damage is reduced via a triggered heal mechanic when damage is calculated on the target. With Scepter, the mechanic changes to a Defend mechanic that reduces your damage so that it is calculated first instead of last. This really only comes into play for players with lifesteal. Lifesteal is calculated off of a player's outgoing damage. So, having a Scepter REDUCES your lifesteal on the frontend, and not having a Scepter grants you full lifesteal even if you do reduced damage on the backend.
This block of items is full of utility powers and effects. These should be on your backburner if you need them, but you won't generally make these too often.
Shiva's Guard provides you with a Frost Aura and an AoE effect as well as fantastic armor. This is used best when team fights tend to turn into fisty cuffs match-ups between the heroes; in other words, the enemies rely on their physical attacks most of the time.
Mjollnir can be effective when your team either needs a way to push faster or more AoE effects in team fights. You also get a utility buff to discourage attacking a particular player or to punish the enemies for targeting someone. Not really a serious item in most games.
Orchid Malevolence is a questionable item on Windrunner. The attack speed, damage, intelligence, and mana regen are amazing, but you get zero survivability out of it. No HP, armor, or HP regen. Soul Burn is best for taking out disablers in team fights or chasing down natural Blinkers. It can replace another item for raw damage quite effectively if you need the Soul Burn earlier. A note here for use against a single target, it's better not to overlap this with your stun. You are best off using it as your stun is ending.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity. It provides a decent disable, extra MS, intelligence, and good regen. It's tempting in a lot of games where you can't quite save up for the Guinsoo, and is not a bad buy in that situation.
Now these are some very...oddball items. Each one of these can be extremely valuable under the right circumstances, but those circumstances are very rare. But let's discuss them anyway.
Khadgar's Pipe of Insight is a very smart buy for combating teams that are highly focused on burst magic damage. This isn't as intuitive, but it's also very effective for pushing. That is because it can shield your creeps; this prevents enemy teams from quickly clearing your creep wave with an area of effect spell or two and enables your team to take a more aggressive stance.
Black King Bar is a rare buy for Windrunner, because she usually avoids being close to the front lines of a teamfight. In the case where you are running on the front of your team's formation or heavily reliant on doing a lot of damage with your ultimate, then this is one of the best items for you to consider.
Necronomicon is a very tempting item for Windrunner that is often overlooked. It provides you with quite a lot of useful stats, and the minions are rather powerful. Unfortunately, this often gets set on the backburner because the item requires some teamwork from your allies to be extremely effective. For this item to be maximally useful, it needs to be used in combination with a large number of teamfights and pushes; it also increases in power if more than a single person on your team buys one. It also requires Windrunner to micromanage the minions in the middle of battle; which can be a bit tricky. Despite that, it's still very tempting in a lot of games.
Rod of Atos is a very interesting item for a few reasons. The buildup is very solid, and the active is fairly powerful. It can be quite a good buy for a followup to your Shackleshot if you're doing quite a bit of ganking with a low number of disables. As for when to get it, I see this as another Poor Man's Guinsoo (comparable to Eul's). If you're in a situation where you are considering a Eul's, I would urge you to consider this as an alternative. If you're after the Mana Regen, then I would stick to the Eul's. If you're after HP and a disable that lets you attack your target, then I would go for this item. The slow is quite honestly ridiculous (comparable to Viper's ultimate), but the item itself lacks a whole lot of punch. I would recommend this when you're playing a very utility based build.
Hand of Midas has gotten quite a bit of love in the last few updates, and that has brought the item out of obscurity. I have to give the nod to it when it's used in the Hybrid build, because it's just so damn good in that build. As a Hybrid, you get a conservative or moderate amount of farm, and this item can help you maximize the farm that you get. If you can make this within about 13 minutes of a game's start, then I'd totally agree with the purchase. If you want to get one past the 18 minute mark, then I would have to disagree with your choice.
And we come to the Dagon. Dagon is actually a fairly intelligent choice on Windrunner as a first major item after you've got your basics. It enhances your burst damage potential, and the stats enable Windrunner to use her abilities more often. Here comes the trick though; you should NOT upgrade this item much if at all. You will waste a lot of gold that could be better spent on other things like a Force Staff, parts for a Guinsoo, etc. The best way that I've found to balance upgrades with item purchases is to only upgrade the Dagon a maximum of two times if at all. A 400 damage nuke is pretty impressive in and of itself, and getting an extra 100 damage for each upgrade is pretty weak in my eyes.
Now, Lothar's Edge offers some very interesting options for Windrunner. You can look at it as an alternative to Force Staff in terms of what kind of utility and power the item gives you. Lothar does not give you an increased mana pool, but it does give you invisibility. A lot of people will say that this is easily countered, and they're right. However, it gives you a degree of control over an enemy team. By getting a Lothar, you are forcing them to buy Dust, Sentry Wards, or a Gem, or they can simply let you get a way. In a competitive arena, this is definitely a plus, because it wastes the few reserves of gold that support heroes will be getting. Getting a Lothar can also help you as a way to initiate or snipe heroes around the map; this can be especially effective if you don't buy it very quickly. If you buy the item as your 2nd to 4th item, the other team will very likely be caught by surprise and will probably be slow to respond to it.
Final say on items is all up to you. These are simply the items that work out most often and are typically effective. The items not on this list are not bad, but either offer less of what is needed for Windrunner or can be easily become detrimental to your gameplay.
Typical Item Sets
This is a typical DPS build. In this build, Force Staff is usually gotten first to get some extra mobility. Linken's is usually the next major thing to build followed by Helm of the Dominator; you can build these in opposite order. BKB is a good followup so that you can make sure to do lots of right click damage. Then, save for a Rapier. When your team is ready for a rax push, buy it at that point. Don't buy it early and lose it, or you'll ruin the surprise .
When you're game's not going well, you'll end up poor. A Jango is a great way to pick up a fat amount of stats. The Force Staff provides you with needed damage and nifty utility to keep up the fight. The Crystalys is a cheap way to give you a 30% boost in your overall damage.
This item set is geared for a supportive Windrunner. If you're a support, you won't have a great deal of farm, so your gold will be a bit limited. You should aim for some lower tier utility items that also complement your natural abilities. Mekanzm is great for prolonging team fights, Force Staff keeps your damage up to par and provides good utility if you have some imagination and timing. The Medallion is a really cheap way to get some mana regen and ramp up some damage indirectly. The Null Talisman expands your mana pool and provides some extra padding on your HP.
My typical gameplay lends me towards this item set. Gives you great mobility, great abilities for teamfights, plenty of damage, and a decent amount of survivability. In my opinion, a good all rounder, but definitely not the best. I almost never finish all these items in a game.
One of the biggest questions I've had is, "What does a maxed out Windrunner look like?" Quite honestly, it is very dependent on the game you're playing, and that was the reason that I didn't include a complete item set previously. So, I give this example, but I give it with context. I'm in a very AoE heavy lineup (Windrunner, Tide, Queen of Pain, Jakiro, and Phantom Lancer) playing against a very powerful anti-push team (Anti-Mage, Earthshaker, CM, Silencer, Puck). The Boots of Travel gave me the ability to get into position from anywhere, and they are always a great item for late game. The Aghanims gave me the ability to use my Focus Fire twice during most of our teamfights; I usually used it on a hero followed by a building. I had to get an Orchid to deal with Anti-Mage. Since we were low on stuns, I ended up picking up a Guinsoo as well. Diffusal Blade was the money for shutting down several of their heroes; I was usually able to power down Anti-Mage or Earthshaker before they could do much in a teamfight. Necronomicon was a pretty good item for us since 4 of us ended up buying it. There was a funny moment where ES blinked into us to ult right as all of us used our Necronomicons and died to the 4 Blue Minions exploding on him!
VIII. Advanced Tactics
Early Game Options
1. What lane should I take?
Windrunner works well as a solo. She's a reliable farmer, she has some lane control, and she has an excellent escape mechanism. If you can, take a solo lane. However, you can work as a dual or triple lane hero as well. Your abilities lend you towards getting some early kills with some decent coordination.
2. Is my lane partner item dependent?
If you're with a hard carry, let him have at least half of the available farm and focus on harassing the enemy lane. You won't get any early kills with him for a lane partner. If your partner requires little or no cs, farm your damn heart out. The bigger your items, the more you'll have to offer your team.
3. Is the opposing lane lacking somehow?
This is a loaded question. Lacking how? If you can answer yes to at least 3 of these, bash their faces in and be hyper aggressive where you can: they have no regen items, their individual HP is 550 or lower, they have no disable (true disables, not slows or semi-disables), the opposing lane is all melee, they have no strong nuking ability. If the answer is no to at least 3 of these, then you need to be a bit more conservative but completely ready to spring on them if they screw up.
Pulling out Your Skills' Potential
To understand this move completely, you have to know its mechanics first. Here's a drawing (credits to the mechanics forum trolls for this one) depicting the variable AoE of Shackleshot.
When Shackleshot is fired, the game counts all available units available in the AoE referenced by the incoming direction of the shot and the area "behind" your target. Then, it prioritizes targets according to the following rules to see if you get the full stun or not. If there are zero targets, you get the 0.75 mini-stun.
Next, if a unit is present in any of the green shaded areas, the target and the closest unit become stunned for the stun duration. If there are no units, there is then a tree check. If there is a tree in the light green or yellow areas, then the target receives the full stun and a line is drawn to the reference tree.
Now that you know the mechanics, you can understand how to abuse them. There are in total 3 solid techniques to use with your Shackleshot. I'll illustrate each one.
First, the standard method. You line up yourself in relation to your target such that the area behind it is full of units and trees. Fire and enjoy the stun.
Next, the tricky method. By tricky, I mean tricky to anticipate. This is best employed in the lane or sometimes while chasing. The trick is to indirectly stun your real target by targeting a creep or another hero with your Shackleshot. The trick is to make sure the enemy hero is the only available unit in the AoE for your Shackleshot target.
Last, the efficient method. This is quite possibly the most difficult stun to land, but it is the most efficient use of your Shackleshot if you can master it. The idea is to target a hero with your Shackleshot and get another hero caught in the back AoE. Thus, you stun 2 heroes for the full stun duration. It's as hard as it sounds. You might be able to get 3 or 5 of these MAX in a game. Usually, you'll see 1 or 2 of these per game on average.
Harassing Powershot. This is for use primarily in the early game to assist you in with lane control and farming. The idea is to last hit 1 or 2 creeps and hit the enemy hero.
Farming Powershot. It's just what it sounds like. There are two ways to do this. First, fire it off at the creep wave such that it hits all the creeps. Then, last hit all the creeps. The second variation is to work all the creeps' HP down first, then to fire the Powershot and get all the last hits in one go.
Nail in the Coffin. Land the final hit on fleeing heroes. You have 1800 cast range on this thing; abuse at will to get kills. You must have minor powers of prediction to land this perfectly, but nowhere near as much needed for a Pudge Hook or PotM Arrow. The cast time (technically channeling) is 1 second, and the arrow flies off at 3,000 ms. You just have to predict their movement about 1.25 seconds into the future. Not too hard to pick up.
Powershot Recon. When you fire off your Powershot, you get vision in the area that it travels. You can use this to scout out risky areas like Roshan or use it gain vision through a tricky juke spot. This is another way to abuse your 1800 cast range, so take advantage!
The Lumberjack Powershot. Another abusable characteristic of Powershot is that it cuts down trees. You can use this to create escape routes or entirely new juke spots. You can also take advantage of this to initiate from unanticipated angles. This is the least intuitive use of Powershot, and this use requires a certain amount of creativity, precision, and luck to take full advantage of it.
GTFO Windrunner. You're getting ganked; you want out before you die. Turn on Windrunner and run as far as you can as fast as you can in 5 seconds to avoid death. To really make this work well, incorporate a juke or two and you'll be better able to assure your survival.
Tank Windrunner. This nifty ability also makes you immune to physical attacks. You can abuse this to "tank" to a certain extent. You can solo push a tower in this way, stand toe-to-toe with a hard carry, or any number of creative uses.
Spearhead Windrunner. You also have an AoE slow that happens when you use this ability. Use this to chase down heroes. You can also combo this with Tank Windrunner to initiate to a decent extent. Not the best initation, but it works out ok.
Focus Fire Timing
Tower Take-Down. You can target buildings with this ultimate, and it's really effective at mid and end game for this purpose. You can melt a tower or a rax down in 10 seconds or less solo with a DPS build.
Team Fight Focus Fire. There are three ways you can use Focus Fire in a team fight. You can use it to take out the enemy Tank quickly, you can use it to melt down a pesky support hero (Witch Doctor and Lion come to mind), or you can use it power down the enemy carry. Typically, taking the supports out quickly is recommended most of the time, as the enemy team's strategy tends to fall apart without them and leaves your carry free to roam around in Right Click Heaven for a minute or two.
1. You can initiate fairly well with Shackleshot from the shadows. Make sure your team has a clear chain stun set up and that you maximize your part in it.
2. Focus Fire on the gank target immediately! You step up your DPS to the danger zone when you do this at the start of the gank.
3. Save Powershot for a finishing strike. The cooldown is too long to be used twice for most ganks.
4. Use Windrunner for chasing. This can be useful for landing those last 1 or 2 hits you need for the kill or getting you into position for the Nail in the Coffin Powershot.
5. Mid game, you won't have the DPS to solo gank, but you only require 1 partner with a stun to kill most heroes with about an 80% success rate.
Your Role Through the Game
If you're a carry Windrunner, farm farm farm. Make sure you don't get ganked, and above all else finish your base items by the time you hit level 7 to 9. Call for ganks in your lane and get the kills if possible. If you're mid, consider hogging runes to keep your HP/mana up high. If you get a Haste or DD rune, use it to gank the near lane and get a quick kill or two. Don't waste a large amount of time ganking, you need to get your items done.
As a support, get a few last hits with your Powershot and keep your partner safe. Creep pull if you can, and go gank when you have a decent stun ready (level 2 at least, level 3 is better).
If you're hybrid, it's completely dependent on what your lane is like. Use your best judgement as to what style you should use.
This is where you're a true powerhouse as either a carry or support. As carry, participate in any gank you can and push with your team once you finish your first big item (Guinsoo, Orchid, Linken's or otherwise). Make sure you net as many kills as you can in this period, get last hits on towers, and keep farming (by which I mean continue to last hit while you push, don't EVER auto attack). As support, make sure you time all your stuns and ultimates correctly to net kills for your team. Stay with a group and force team fights. You're going to shine most at this point of the game in team fights.
Depending on how your game has gone, you're either turtling or turning up the heat on your opponents. If you're a turtling carry, make sure you keep finishing items and avoid death at all costs. You can't afford the time you spend dead or the gold loss. Your team will feel it when you're dead. As the support, stay out of the way of your carry's farm, his item is more important than yours in all cases. Stay close to the team and be ready to jump into team fights. Use your abilities wisely and time them all; don't shoot at random. Focus the designated targets down in order and stay cool. Panic at this point is your worst enemy.
If you're turning up the heat as a carry, farm any lane you can. Kill neutrals while you're moving between lanes. Keep finishing items. Every time you finish one, initiate another push or force a team fight. Don't get cocky and go off by yourself too often or into danger zones. Keep your head and keep stacking up. As a support, be ready for team fights to happen at any time and aim to pick off a hero if you can to initiate a push with a number advantage. Stick to the back of your team's pack and keep aiming your spells accurately. Consistent play from you is key for your team to achieve victory.
Extreme Late Game
Everyone's maxed out their level or is close to it. Each team is down a couple of raxes, and it's all about who can win the next team fight when it happens. 2 things are all important in this scenario no matter what role you are. First, stay with the team. 5 man ganks are normal at this point, so expect them at all times. Second, save gold for buyback. It might seem like a good idea to splurge on a luxury item or finish off a huge item to try and assure victory, but try to keep about 2,000 gold in the bank for an emergency buyback. If you get caught out of position, or a team fight goes sour, you can quickly get back into the action and continue to fulfill your role.
Make sure no one goes go 1v5 or overextends themselves. Play smart and seize any opportunity for victory you find. Kill a Roshan and force something with the Aegis or mount another push as soon as you win a team fight. Also, don't get lazy and let them respawn without capitalizing on the time you have while they are all dead. Make sure you at least get a tower down while they're dead if not a rax or throne.
In this video, I go step by step to explain my thinking and decisions in a real game. In this particular scenario, I am heavily focused on support, but I do it in a very interesting way.
Another pub game with myself on Windrunner. This is from when I was play-testing builds and items for Windrunner in preparation for writing this guide. I am doing an early version of the Hybridized skill build and Hybrid items. I buy an Aghanim's Scepter, Diffusal Blade, and Force Staff.
00:00:00-00:06:00 - Plenty of good last hitting and harassment. The harassment isn't completely effective because it's Bane Elemental and he just heals himself.
00:08:38 - Practice what you see here. I'm hitting a catapult and Bane is waiting to deny. I fake an attack. Bane falls for the fake and attempts to deny the catapult. I attack after Bane attacks for the last hit.
00:09:25 - I call mia on Bane and my team decides not to retreat. Bad decision; they end up dying for it in the bottom lane.
00:11:25 - Attempt a solo kill on Bane. It goes sour, so I use Windrunner to make my escape with only 2 HP remaining.
00:14:40 - I respond to a gank call, but they anticipate it and wisely retreat. I don't try to force a fight and go back to farming mid.
00:15:10 - Solo kill on Krobelus. Powershot, then success on a trick [COLOR="rgb(0, 255, 255)"]Shackleshot[/COLOR] and a couple of hits. She's still not dead, and I don't sk a tower dive. I wait about 3 seconds for Powershot and land the Nail in the Coffin for the kill.
00:15:25 - Because I'm checking my minimap every 5-10 seconds, I see my team pushing hard on top lane and run to assist. I get lucky with a Haste rune, and we net another kill on Lord of Avernus.
00:16:50 - My team is having a tough time with a gank in the bottom lane. I run to help. After some finaggling around, we fight for the tower. When Bane ults Tide, I use [COLOR="rgb(0, 255, 255)"]Shackleshot[/COLOR] even though it will only get the ministun. Pit manages to save himself and Bane, but Gondar is food.
00:20:35 - Extreme range Nail in the Coffin.
00:25:25 - Watch Gondar's mana during this fight. This is why I like Diffusal Blade on Windrunner .
00:31:10 - Diffusal Blade on Windrunner and an allied Anti-Mage. This just allows Anti-Mage to ult that much sooner and effectively. Very good synergy here.
00:42:38 - Double Force Staff on Dark Seer when he gets caught by Pit Lord. Pretty funny.
00:49:50 - Gondar is stalking me although I don't know it. As soon as he pops out, I use Focus Fire, position myself for a [COLOR="rgb(0, 255, 255)"]Shackleshot[/COLOR], and kill the little bastard.
IceFrog for such dedication to this game for so many years.
The DotaCash community for being such a good place to enjoy myself.
Greenmtn for inspiring several parts of this guide.
Juggernaut for his comments leading to the formation of my Gaming Philosophy.
SirNoble and murs for some good criticism.
XI. Final Words
Congratulations to anyone who made to the end of this guide. I hope that you learned something or took something away from this guide. I would like to say a special thank you to all readers, and I ask that you rate the guide. If you have any comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, etcetera please leave a message here. I check back on my guides at least every couple of days and try my best to address any and all messages that you guys leave for me.
9-12-2010 - Guide begun.
09-12-2010 - Initial outline formed.
09-12-2010 - Introduction, Philosophy, Skills Description, Role Discussion, and Skill Builds complete.
09-13-2010 - Toolbox begun.
10-8-2010 - Toolbox finished.
10-8-2010 - Advanced Tactics written.
10-8-2010 - Added some images.
10-20-2010 - Some minor editing.
10-21-2010 - Guide finalized and submitted for publishing.
10-21-2010 - Yet more editing.
10-22-2010 - Minor change to Damage Dealer skill build.
10-22-2010 - Added an item set reflecting a Support role.
10-22-2010 - Final Words added.
10-22-2010 - Minor edit.
10-22-2010 - Added 2 replays with 2 different playstyles.
05-23-2012 - Update to 6.74C started.
05-23-2012 - Pro-Tip add to Skill Builds.
05-23-2012 - Walkout items revamped.
05-23-2012 - Boots Section rewritten.
05-23-2012 - Early Items expanded and RoB removed.
05-23-2012 - Expanded Toolbox started.
06-05-2012 - Toolbox updated.
06-06-2012 - Advanced Tactics updated.
06-13-2012 - 1 Dota 2 replay added.
06-21-2012 - Powershot Techniques updated.
06-21-2012 - Color Coding finished.
06-21-2012 - Update to 6.74c complete.