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The Godlike guide for Vol'jin, The Witch Doctor


Guide to version 6.63x.

07/09/2009: Upgraded skill build, some descriptions and added Dagger item to item build.
07/15/2009: A lot of improvements and changes (mainly cosmetics). I recommend you to read it again =p
07/17/2009: Added Bottle and Rune Control section and the first FAQ.
07/20/2009: Reworked on the "Playing Witch Doctor" section.
07/21/2009: Took out Lothars from main guide and changed some cosmetic and little stuffs.
07/22/2009: Added Feared Enemies and Valuable Allies section.
07/31/2009: Added a replay.


Hello all!

I must say sorry before start, cause english is not my native language, so I'm not that good with this :P If someone wanna try to make this guide better, would be nice

I consider myself a experienced DotA player, I play it there is like 3 years :P I play privates/clanwars at Eurobattle and Garena under the nick "[EnC]Valasty" if someone wants to find me This guide is mainly made for experienced players, so I hope you know the basics of a DotA game before reading (like deny, last hit...).

Pros and Cons

[+] Fun to play
[+] Badass for enemies
[+] High Inteligence growth
[+] 8 hits bouncing stun
[+] AoE healing spell
[+] High damaging ultimate
[+] Amplifies the entire party damage
[+] Easily take down tankers
[+] Great attack animation (allowing to last hit/deny perfectly, turning him a good farmer).

[-] Low survivability
[-] Great dependency on items
[-] Channeling ultimate
[-] Unpredictable stun bouncing

Skills and Personal Comments

Detailed skill effects: Vol'Jin DotA Hero - DotA Allstars Official Websites

Paralyzing Cask

This is one of the most annoying skills and one of the best stuns of the game. With this skill you can easily take down 2 or 3 heroes at the same time (without creeps near) at middle/late game. The bounces make your enemies pissed off, his cast range is great, the mana cost is medium and the cooldown is awesome. Channeling heroes will fear you >D You can also use it for pushing creep waves and jungle (not early game...), since it does a long stun for them and some damage as well. It's almost a perfect skill! On battles, abuse of this skill as much as you can, cause it will help A LOT, but avoid using it against single targets.

Voodoo Restoration

It's a great healing and supportive skill, one of the best of the game. The only thing that makes it a non-perfect skill is his mana cost. It spends A LOT of mana, and this is the reason I prefer to get it later in the game, so you can be more useful with your other skills early game. For a nice spam of Restoration, you'll need at least one mana regen based item (Guinsoo, Bloodstone, Orchid...).


Wooo!! Here is your killing machine skill! You MUST masterize the use of this skill in order to be successful in a game. You also have to be careful when casting, cause his range is really short (opposing to his normal attack range), the AoE is small, the cooldown is not friendly and it have a little delay for casting BUT... If your enemies gets caught by Maledict, they will be punished for all the aditional damage they receive. In other words... as many damage they get when Maledicted, more damage will get from Maledict! It sounds odd, but you must see to understand, and when you understand... god have mercy of your targets :P

Death Ward

This skill is the Maledicts best friend. It does a great damage, and neither magical or physical, it's chaos damage, so it's independent of your enemy magic resistance, but still reduced by Armor, but not enough to make your enemies survive ;D The only problem of this skill is that it's channeling, you can't move or cast any other spells, but... you can still use items! Remember this, cause you WILL HAVE to do it.

*BKB is the only item that you can't use WHILE channeling, cause it'll break the Ward. But you still can use it BEFORE cast the Ward.

**Aghanim Staff boosts Death Ward, adding 30 more damage on all levels, with one more bounce as well (except on lv1).

Skill Choices

STANDARD skill build:

1- Cask
2- Maledict
3- Maledict
4- Cask
5- Maledict
6- Death Ward
7- Cask
8- Cask
9- Maledict
10- Restoration
11- Death Ward
12- Restoration
13- Restoration
14- Restoration
15- Stats
16- Death Ward
17-25- Stats

Casks and Maledict Lv1 are nothing but shit. Get them maxed as soon as possible, so you will be able to successfully score some kills early game. Death Ward is an awesome skill, and you should upgrade it always you can. Get Casks lv4 before Maledict lv4 cause 2 more bounces can be more useful at this part of game than one more Maledict level. Restoration shouldn't be get early game cause it will drains all of your mana. You can be more supportive to your team getting you other skills for now.

SUPPORTIVE skill build:

1- Cask
2- Maledict
3- Maledict
4- Cask
5- Restoration
6- Death Ward
7- Maledict
8- Cask
9- Cask
10- Maledict
11- Death Ward
12- Restoration
13- Restoration
14- Restoration
15- Stats
16- Death Ward
17-25- Stats

This build is almost like the Standard one, the only difference between them is that you'll getting Restoration lv1 earlier, cause your mana pool will be larger. Make sure you'll share a lane with someone else if you chose this build. Restoration is AoE, so there is no reason to waste it with no one else. I don't recommend to you getting more than 1 level of Restoration until you reach level 12 cause your another skills are A LOT more useful early game, and also it spends a lot of mana.

Item Choices

Initial Core Items:


Choose between two Nulls or two Bracers. I personally prefer to get Nulls cause in my conception, with the stun and a boot, you can escape of the most dangerous situations on the beginning. But if prefer surveillance, go for two (or maybe three) Bracers. Important: Be careful with your mana!! If you're going for killing instead of the supportive way, you must be patient in the beginning, cause your first item in most cases will be BKB (explained ahead), so your mana pool won't be so good, but enough to score some kills.

The items you'll start with depends of which enemies you're facing. Bottle, Magic Wand, Clarity Potions, Tangos, Circlets, Mantles, Wards, Chicken... they are all viable choices, but is up to you to decide this. If you're going mid, I highly recommend you to get Bottle and watch for rune control (explained later).

DPSer Core Items:




BKB build: The role of the BKB in your inventory is for two reasons. One of them is because you have survivability problems, just a few attacks can bring you down. A BKB will provide some more HP and save you from the most of dangers, even a gank. And the second reason is to combo with your ultimate, activating Avatar BEFORE casting ult. If you activate it after, the Ward will break.

Aghanim build: This build is a little more risk. With the Aghanim you will have more HP and mana (combine a Ogre Axe + Staff of Wizardry, plx), but you won't be able to use Avatar due absence of BKB, becoming a easy target for disables or gankings. This build won't solve your survivability problems, but will provide a nice boost to your ultimate. You NEED a team to go for this build, they MUST protect you in battles or you will be useless, believe me. When using this build, only cast Death Ward on a defensive stance (on a "safe" place).

The boots choice is up to you. Both of them works very well for WD, but would be a good choice to get Phase Boots initially, and trade it for Travel late game.

I personally prefer the first build, cause the chances of you be successfully ganked are very low (what happens commonly on private/organized games...) and your ultimate will almost never be interupted. Even without Aghanim, your will still hurt... a lot.

Supportive core items:


Optional (and highly recommended):


Explanation: Based on your enemies, you must choose between Bloodstone or Guinsoo. Both are great items, and you should have both, but for now you have to pick one, it will really make the difference. If your team needs one more disable, go for guinsoo, else, go for Bloodstone. Bloodstone will provide a nice regen to your health and mana, allowing you to be a walking fountain with Restoration, while Guinsoo will provide one more disable for your team, plus some lesser mana regen. If you choose Guinsoo, don't get Bloodstone, cause it will take sometime to be made and until there you would probably already lose some charges, and there are another items waiting to be made. But if you get Bloodstone first, there is no problems on getting Guinsoo later. For the optional items, getting them would be a great support to your team, so I really recommend it if no one else of your team goes for it.

After Core:

Aghanim Staff should be included in your arsenal right after you finish your core (exept if you already got it. In this case, go for BKB). This is a item you MUST have! It's cheap, increases your mana, hp, base damage of your ult and make it bounces once more (making it 3 targets!). There absolutly no reasons for not getting it.

Late Game:

The late game items should be a mix of your killing and the supportive build. Everything depends of the game that you're playing, the enemies that you're facing and the allies you have. Below I'll describe better the role of a bunch of items for Witch Doctor, supporting you on this decision. Those that I didn't list, don't even think about getting (or comment here, maybe I forgot =p).

Pubiers use to make Lothar a lot, but on organized games it's not recommended due being easily countered with cheap items or skills. If you go for it, just make sure you use it AFTER you place the Death Ward. If you use it before, the Wind Walk will cancel when you cast the Ward. You can also use Lothar to easily Maledict gathered targets, but BE CAREFUL WHEN DOING THIS! You won't be able to hide right after Maledict, so you must be REALLY REALLY fast! This is a tactic that you should use only with the help of your allies. It's ok to get it instead of BKB, but I don't recommend.

Dagger is a very nice choice for Witch Doctor. It will help you placing a better Maledict and Death Ward, while helps you on escapes as well. I recommend it if you're a Dagger fan, but personally I prefer to run into the enemies by myself to save this money/slot :P

Guinsoo is always good for support heroes. Maledict someone Hex'ed is the easiest thing you could do and it could provide you an easy kill. How I said before, getting or not this item depends of the game you're playing, but a Guinsoo is always welcome on the team.

It makes your Maledicting job easier, provides some mana and movespeed, plus a fast disable or protection. It's not a bad item to have for a Witch Doctor, but would just delay your important core, so no is my advice.

This is a nice late game item for Vol'jin, after your survivability and mana problems are solved. Remember you can use it while ulting!

Occasional item. If you're facing heavy magical damage, get it. If you're supporter, it's highly recommended.

This item is ocasional, but with BKB, I don't believe you would want it.

Great item for Witch Doctor, since you can cast it while ulting, which synergies very well, plus providing a nice aura and defense for your fragile body.

I'm not a good carrier of this item, so i never tried. But I believe it can be a good choice for supportive Witch Doctors, since would boost your damage and provide some nice auras.

Your main damaging skill is channeling and you will always be casting other skills, so Skady wouldn't be so useful, but it's not a bad choice if you have free slots and no items in mind (what I don't believe...). Anyways, i don't recommend it.

Probably some guys are saying "WTF YOU N00B! A VOL'JIN WITHOUT A DAGON??", but I'll say why I don't recommend it:

1- Dagon costs about the same price of a BKB or Aghanim. When you finish the Dagon you could be finishing another item that could be much more useful.
2- It drops 400 damage on the target. On early game its "omg I pwned!", but this 400 becomes almost nothing for some heroes at middle game. I don't think you would like to spend 5k of money upgrading it just for more 400 damage instead of getting better items.
3- On team battles you won't be so useful droping 400 damage to 1 target and also having to get close to him to do it. His team will pwn you and you'll be dead before you realize it cause you are defenseless.
4- Don't forget, a BKB will IMPROVE YOUR ULT AND SAVE YOUR ASS!!! Get it asap and forget about Dagon!!

I'm saying why I don't like it, but I'm not exactly saying it's a bad item. It's very good for 1x1, 2x2 or even 3x3 battles, but there are better ways to help your team and save yourself at the same time. DotA is a team game, not individual. Think about it before buying Dagon for any hero.

Bottle and Rune Control

Bottle is an special and excelent starting item for Vol'jin if you're going middle to keep the rune control. I personally don't like to buy Bottle to go bottom or top, but if you like it, it's highly recommended if anyone elses will pratice rune control (which is difficult...).

Just for information, runes spawn every 2 minutes on ONE of the two spots, initiating on the minute 0. But there are two occasions when a rune won't spawn:

1) If there is already an spawned rune on one of the spots.
2) If you get the rune with 5 or less seconds left for the next spawn.

Different of some heroes, Witch Doctor makes a great use of every rune he gets:

- Illusion: Increases your DPS providing some protection as well. Early game it turns you into a powerhouse combined with Maledict. Just Maledict the target, Throw the Cast if necessary, and attack attack attack. You'll score an easy kill if you do this right. Late game it's better to let the carries get it.

- Double Damage: It's not big deal, but just like Illusion, it helps you with DPS, but not with some protection as illusion does. Late game, let the carries get it.

- Invisible: This is the best rune for Witch Doctor, that you can make use for all the game. With invisible, to place a good Maledict or Death Ward is a piece of cake. If you have a Dagger, you can also Blink away from danger after Maledict to Death Ward safetly. And for who doesn't know, you can use one bottle charge before the fading out time.

- Regenaration: I don't think I have to comment this :P

Playing Witch Doctor

Now that you know his main items, builds and skills, you're ready to begin the pwnage. But... how to do it? Here are some tips, supposing that you know the basics about surviving, killing, denying and last hitting with any hero.

Early Game

Ok, lets suppose you followed my hints and bought a Bottle to solo mid. You will have a perfect lane control with nice last hits, denies, and you can also harass your oponent with a infinite mana and HP amount due rune control. If you're on top or bottom lane, the procedure is the same, except of the rune control part.

Some technics to help you:

Auto-attacks: You have a nice range, make it worth. Attack from distance and try to land some hits on your enemy. When you're up on the hill and he's down, go and land attacks until his creeps (or him) comes to you, then go back. If the enemy is Maledicted, try to land as many attacks as possible, for obvious reasons.

Casks/Maledict independent of enemy creeps: Against an smart oponent, to place a Maledict without a Cask is not easy, but if you are smart too, it's not difficult neither. The best chance you have to do it is when the guy tries to hit you with an attack or spell (believe me, he will try) and aggro the creeps. When he comes close, just cast Maledict, some auto-attacks, and when he runs, throw a Cask to hold him for some more seconds. If you don't score the kill, you'll at least make him retreat, and your mana won't care since you can just refil it with the bottle and rune control. If you have a DD or Illusion rune stored, this job will be a piece of cake and you will probably score the kill. If you're not with Bottle, just a few Clarities can solve your mana problem.

Casks/Maledict with 1 creep + hero or 2 heroes: This is the strategy I like most while your enemy don't senses the danger you provide, he will ALWAYS stay at the little mage side (or on another hero's side). Throw the Cask first on the hero (or on the creep, but on the hero you get 0.5 more stun time) and if you have lv2 Casks, it will bounce twice on them. It gives you enough time to hard hit them while Maledict does his job. If you have a DD or Illusion rune stored, this is the time to make a good use of this, probably scoring you a kill.

Death Ward against a non-disabler: Try to get the enemy from behind and/or on the top of a cliff to be totally successful on this, and be sure that the fog is far from you. Maledict first and cast the Death Ward as close as possible of the enemy. If you have enough mana, also throw a Cask before casting the Ward to grant the kill. From here, there are two situations:

1) The enemy runs. At low levels, he will survive only if he is lucky or if he's a counter to you (like Naix). If he enters the fog means that you didn't place a good Ward.
2) The enemy knows that he will die and try to kill you first. In this case, hold the Ward as much as you can, and run when you see that you're going to be killed. If the enemy runs after you, he will see his HP going down and will probably turn back (to not give you Exp), and you just have to auto-attack back. If he doesn't, just keep running and he will get killed by the tower or the Maledict itself. Remember... even if you kill him after you dies, he will be getting Exp while you won't. NEVER DIE!

Death Ward against a disabler: This part is not easy and it's very risky. You have to mindgame and make your enemy use his disable against you, and so you'll be able to successfully Maledict --> Cask --> Death Ward. The rest is just like the above described strategy. It can be made if you're facing an one only disabler (Venge, Sven...). If your enemy have more than one disable (Lion, Rhasta, Earthshaker...), try to avoid using your ultimate and go to another lane, where you can do a better job with a lanemate.

Death Ward against two enemies: Don't do that if you're soloing, please. Do it only if you're COMPLETELY sure you won't be killed (which is very difficult).

Death Ward on defensive stance: Sometimes your allies are being chased by the opponnents. If your Casks are on cooldown, you can cast the Ward directly on the way the enemies are going, what will make them retreat. Always choose a good place to cast the Ward. Top of cliffs, behind your allies, between trees (using allies vision) and far from disablers.

Remember... creeps are your friends! If your enemy aggro them, cast Maledict and throw a Cask. Believe me, it will hurt

Middle game

Assuming that you already built a BKB, there's no much secret here, just use it smartly. Throw a Cask to bounce at least twice in your enemy, it will assure a safe Maledict cast. Once Maledicted, use BKB followed by Death Ward. With your Casks on level 4, if you find the enemy team without creeps around, get your double kill (if you already have Death Ward lv3, remember that it hits 2 targets at the same time! Or 3 with Aghanim!)!! BKB should be used only while your ult or to escape ganks. At this point, maybe you have some mana left to spend. If so, use Vodoo Restoration always during a battle to assure that you'll be supporting your team while attacking. Use your mana smartly until you get some more mana regen items.

But if you're a supporter, your job is... to support! Always walk with your team, heal them when they need, throw Casks and drop Maledicts, and use Death Ward wisely, cause you won't have a way to protect yourself.

Late game

Nothing much different from Middle game, except that your enemies will be more powerful, but you will be as well with Aghanim and another support items in your inventory. The combo for ulting will remain the same, and you will need a team! Now that you have a lot of mana to spend, abuse of Vodoo Restoration to help your team. You can't win alone a late game against good players, your allies MUST protect you since you are a great supporter and a valuable DPSer.

Feared Enemies and Valuable Allies

I'm not putting single heroes here because there are A LOT of them, so I'll be just doing a general comment, and you use your DotA experience to tell you those who can fit each part.

Hated Heroes

These are the heroes that pisses you off. The mains are those which laught of your Maledict, such as Omniknight, Abbadon or Panda. The two first ones deserves even an highlight, cause they not only can avoid your damage as they can help their allies as well. Blinkers are also part of this, since they can get away from the damage when they get Maledicted.

Feared Heroes

These are the ones who can cancel your ultimate even with BKB or can easily remove your from battles before you realize it. Good examples of "removers" are Nerubian Assassin and Rikimaru... fear them, really. Heroes that can cancel your ultimate are those which have AoE spells that can "move" you from your Ward casting position or stuns that can go even through magic immune targets, such as Axe, Pudge, Treant, Enigma or Ezalor. Magic immunity means absolutly nothing to Axe =p

I'm not sure if Stratosphere cancels Death Ward... I'll make a test so I edit here.


These are the heroes who makes your Maledicting job easier. Those I like most are Magnataur, Enigma and Axe, cause they can "suck" everyone next to each other, making your Maledict a piece of cake, providing an easy wipeout for them. Another good synergy are those heroes who can keep the enemies starring to your Death Ward not being able to run or hide, like Earthshaker or Treant.


Why not Diffusal and/or Manta?

Since version 6.60, it became inviable the use of these items. Manta no longer gives you HP and mana burn, and Diffusal can't be used to multiply yourself to a better mana burn, and spend 2 inventory slots to combine both items would be stupid. Even if you team needs Purge, leave the Diffusal for another ally.


Attached in the end of the post is a replay from a CM game with some friends against a random clan where I played WD. That was not a good game for us due some stupid mistakes (and actually some of them were mine...), but with this you can see how to manage the basics of WD.


Thanks you all for reading all of this (or not :P) and please, make a comment. I really would like to know your experiences using this guide or what you think about it, and please, don't blame the guide before trying to follow it

And an special thanks for those who commented the guide. It have been very useful for me and helped a lot improving the guide, I'm very grateful for this!

Valasty ~

Vol'Jin the Witch Doctor
Author: Valasty
Map Vers.: 6.61

The Godlike guide for Witch Doctor

The Godlike guide for Vol'jin

Date Posted: 07/08/09
Last Comment:26/06/2010
Total Votes: 125
Current Rating: 7.88
Views: 131253

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