Darkseer is one of the few heroes whom I predict will enter the competitive scene. The recent buffs he received is simply shocking. Vacuum has been improved tremendously. No more allies going wtf happened. Range improved as well. Shell is now stackable. Simply amazing.
In this guide, I will run you through a basic build for Darkseer. He is no longer the passive Int supporter who hides behind in teambattles. In many ways, you will see his playstyle similar to Axe. He jungles as good as Axe, if not better. He will rush in head-on like a man, just like Axe. Dual-Shells is his counter helix. Vacuum is his Berserker's Call. Like Axe, Hood and Vanguard shall be his Core.
In all honesty, my true motivation in writing this guide is hate and disappointment. Disappointed due to the fact nobody ever plays Darkseer and hate it whenever he is played, he is played wrongly. So yes, here I am writing this guide to create awareness. In the replay section, I have provided some 20+ replays for you to choose from. That is so unlike the usual "Replays Coming Soon" you often see, yeah? I can easily say, to date, he is the most fun and easiest hero to stomp with.
For full details of the skill, go here: Ish'kafel DotA Hero - DotA Allstars Official Websites
There may be missing information, but that will be included under the comments for each skills below.
At level 4 --
Mana Cost: 190
Vacuum, when used correctly can both destroy enemies' positioning and improves allies positioning. It is a great setup skill for AoE ultimates like Epicenter, Chain Frost, Echo Slam and such. You can pull them closer to your for your allies to land their AoE nukes, or throw them back to help your fleeing allies. A standard procedure will be to pull them towards you and let your dual-shell soften them up while allies go in for the kill.
~ Destroys trees within 200AoE from the centre
~ Can pull across Ridges and Cliffs
~ Pulls enemy in fog as well
At level 4 --
Mana Cost: 120
Ion Shell at level 1 can be devastating since it can stack now. Cast one before going in for the gank. Wait till the cooldown timer is about to expire and then run in to the enemy. Cast a new one once cooldown is over. For a duration of 7-8 secs, you will have a dual-shell. At level 1, that is equivalent to 60dmg/sec. At level 4, that is 150dmg/sec. Try not to land a hit on the hero or you might lose him. Just follow by his side to ensure a kill.
~ Stacks. A dual-shell will result in a brighter ion shell animation.
~ AoE is approximately that of Juggernaut's Bladefury.
Level 1: Grants Max. Speed for 3secs, 20 mana
Level 4: Grants Max. Speed for 7.5secs, 50 mana
Nice skill for chasing. One level of it is needed, to buff your allies with a stun or slow during a chase (eg. VS or Lich). At level 1 it cost a mere 20 mana. Helps you to get from camp to camp faster as well!
Wall of Replica
Level 1: 15secs, 200mana
Level 2: 30secs, 300mana
Level 3: 45secs, 400mana
Quite mana costly. At level 1 it lasts only for a measly 15 secs. Many would recommend to get it at level 10 and 11 but for me, if there isn't a need to level it, you can delay it till 14/15/16. Its primary use it to create confusion. At times, it works as a decoy as well but that rarely happens. Works great during a base push if done right.
~ The images have the same color as your hero. Enemies can visually identify your images but that's quite hard in the midst of a teambattle.
~ Wall grants vision! Around 1000 range. Therefore, if you cast at the slope in front of the base tower, you will be able to see uphill.
1. Ion Shell
3. Ion Shell
5. Ion Shell
9. Ion Shell
Basically, you will alternate between Ion Shell and Vacuum till they are maxed, with one point taken in Surge at level 2. Note that Vacuum will be maxed first. The larger AoE is more helpful than the extra damage for Ion Shell.
Wall is delayed till the point where it is needed. That is during the pushing phase. It usually occurs around the 20th min onwards. Focus in maxing your Surge in the meantime.
1. Game Start!
In most games, you will start off jungling.
1 stout is needed. The rest of the cash can be spent on tangoes/flasks/clarity potions, in whatever combination you like. If you are getting branches, Magic wand might prove useful since you can use the branches to upgrade it.
The Alternative Playstyle (Laning)
Indeed, DarkSeer can lane instead of jungle. He works well with most heroes which starts off with some kind of disable or slow, like Veno, CM, SK, Lion etc. You can aim for a first blood as well (just remember to double shell). Jungling is encouraged however, but if your jungle has been warded (ie no creep spawns), you might have to resort to laning.
If you are new to Jungling, proceed to read this guide: Creep Pulls and Jungling
Tips for Jungling
1. One shell, one camp. Do not waste mana with dual-shell.
2. Level 1 shell can kill most camps. Put Ogre camps on hold when you are level 1. You need 2x shells to kill them thoroughly. Avoid Big camps.
2. Level 2 shell can kill most Big Camps.
3. Avoid Furbolg camps. They deal too much damage. Leave them as your last camp before you make your way for a fountain trip.
4. Golems are immune to magic. If they spawn in the pullable camp, pull with creeps. If they spawn in the non-pullable camp for scourge, ignore them totally. The Sentinel's camp can be cleared if you do a double pull. If you want that is.
5. As stated in the Book of Jungling: Kill the creeps by the 42nd seconds. Or they will not respawn.
6. If it goes beyond 42 secs, you can attempt to draw them out of the spawn region (shown below) and kill them, to ensure a fresh new spawn arrives.
7. Additionally, if you are passing by a camp around the 50th sec, attempt to stack it. The magic number is 53rd secs.
8. Double/Triple pulls helps between level 1-3. Beyond that, don't bother.
A general walkthrough:
i) Camp near the small camp (gnolls/kobolds/banshee/etc) and kill them with shell when they spawn at 0:30.
ii) Immediately once they are dead (around 0:45) head to the pullable medium camp and stack the camp by pulling upwards, between 0:51-055.
iii) Wait and pull again at 1:12 with your lane creeps. At this point, your top lane will be deprived of creeps, so beware of enemy heroes coming in take you out in the jungle. Always prepare yourself with 1x shell, and dual-shell if you think you can take out the enemy hero. You teammate at top lane will have to play smart by luring the enemy creeps away from the tower of course.
iv) After killing 1x small and 2x med camp, you will be or near to lvl 3. You can gank the guys on the lane if you want.
v) Otherwise, go back and farm the small camp, and the medium camp to the bottom. If timer is nearing x:50, attempt to stack it.
i) Again, head to the small camp and wait. You may scout for runes in the meantime. At 0:30, quickly clear the small camp. You must distribute your attacks evenly so all of them die at the same time (ie you want to kill asap). Timing is critical here, cos once they are dead, you need to run to the medium camp to stack it, using the tango abuse.
ii) If you manage to eat the tree by 0:55, you are still in time to stack the medium camp. Now wait at the bottom to pull them into lane at 1:16. Use shell to clear them faster. If you still have some creeps left, you may want to pull them to the next medium camp above through the small passage you just made. The timing to pull; when you have a centaur/ogre/golem with about half hp. When the creeps come chasing you, you should right click them so your allied creeps will change targets.
iii) At level 3, you shouldn't have much problem anymore.
Note: Getting to level 3 fast is important. Firstly, it allows you to take out larger camps easier. Secondly, with surge, you can pull off a better gank.
So don't screw up!
Qn: What if the medium camp is warded?
You'll be left with 1x small camp, and possibly the other medium camp. You can still jungle, just a little slower.
Your main goal while Jungling is to gain enough money (1100 gold) to purchase your boots and bottle so that you can transit to ganking phase. It takes around 5-7min to get that amount. In between jungling, if there opportunity for a gank at the side lanes, go ahead. Earn that extra gold.
Spawn Regions Layout:
The latest updated one so far. You can view the enlarged version as well. It is going to be hard to memorize the exact size of each region so you have to go by prominent markers. For example, the Sentinel's small camp has a boundary just before the hill to the right. For the Scourge's medium pullable camp, the top boundary is marked by the small bush. etc etc
2. Ganking Phase
With Boots and Bottle, wreak havoc on the lanes. Aim for those with heroes pushing far away from their towers. Remember to prepare a shell first and wait for cooldown to be almost over. Then head in for the gank, and cast the other shell for double damage. Surge to chase when you lose them. Vacuum if they try to TP out.
Bear in mind there are several goals you want to achieve through ganking:
1) To take down Towers ~ Every gank has a purpose. Killing heroes so you have an easier time taking down a tower is one of them. Darkseer can backlane as great as Axe, if not better. Shell yourself and kill the creeps behind enemy tower while your allies push down the towers.
2) Seize control of Runes ~ Search for runes everytime you had a successful gank. Besides Gold & XP, runes are your rewards as well.
3) Relieve pressure from your Carries ~ Sometimes you have carries like Spectre, PA, TB etc who can do nothing else except to farm during early game. Gank their lanes if they need help. Your offense is their defence during early game.
4) Control their Jungle ~ When lanes are impossible to farm due to constant ganks, some players might choose to hide in the forest. If possible, place wards as well. Gank them hard and steal their neutrals.
i. To prevent being juked (non-fog type like making a sudden 180-turn) while chasing, you can set your hero to follow with the move command (button 'm'). This is almost the same as right-clicking the hero, except that you hero will not attempt to attack.
ii. You can tower dive if creeps are tanking the tower hits. Remember not to click-attack the enemy or you will draw the tower aggro. Let your Ion Shell do the work.
iii. If you see a hero fleeing to the side shops, prepare to vacuum the area. They are most likely trying to TP home.
iv. When entering enemy forest, prepare a shell first. If you clash with an enemy hero, you get to dual-shell at the next moment. Do clear some neutrals with the existing shell if you can as well.
v. When they try to juke you, use vacuum and destroy the trees
vi. Surge is very useful for fleeing after a gank. Counter-ganks are quite common, so beware.
vii. Whenever you are not ganking, hide in the forest and farm. This is to keep the fear level high since they can't see you on the map.
viiii. Surge Orb-walkers, stunners, slowers, disablers during chasing phase.
x. Focus on ganking the lane where your allied carry is present. To help him farm easier. And don't shell away his creeps! Search the river for runes or gank elsewhere instead.
***xi. When you are going to TP-defend a tower, cast an initial shell on yourself first, wait 3-4 secs then start TP
ing. Once teleported, you can immediately cast another shell and start killing!
Items you should acquire is in the order above. After Boots + bottles, finish up a vanguard. It is highly useful for tanking nukes, creeps and towers. Play him like Axe, as aggressive as you can. Next is a Void stone. DS has a natural high Int, so he certainly can abuse the bonus from it. Generally, you will be getting hood as well to combat nukes. Always, get the planeswalker cloak first (400gold) before the rings + helm since your aim is to get more magic resistance. Phase boots is usually bought after vanguard has been built, and after you got a planewalkers cloak. Hood can be delayed a little for you to complete phase boots.
Remember to stock up on TP scrolls as well.
Note: I am assuming that your games will have high amounts of nukers and aoe on the enemy team. If you are faced with a purely dps team, you can choose to forego Hood for some other items.
The "Poor Man's Build"
For whatever reason, your early game didn't really work out well. Everytime you gank, you get counter-ganked. You can't make out money out of ganking. Then you have to resort to cheap items to tide you during early game. Boots and bottle (quite likely you already have it before you got screwed up) already gotten. You can delay Vanguard (since saving 1100 for Vit. booster might be a problem) and build a couple of bracers instead, like 2-3. Most likely the cause of failed ganks is from heavy nukers on the item team. If that is so, get a planeswalker cloak (just the cloak, $400 for 15% res. is quite a bargain).
The rest depends on your game. You could go complete your hood and/or vanguard or head direct for Shivas or whatever your team needs (like Wards/dust etc)
Magic stick can work well in higher level games. I'm not saying that the item sucks in low-level games but due to the differences in playstyle when you compare between both games, you will begin to understand why.
In higher-level games, early-games are packed with lots of ganking with much emphasis on nukes and spells. This is where your main source for charges will come from. Compared to lower-level/pub-games, early game are mostly passive games with people not leaving their lanes.
3. Pushing Phase
-- Shiva is the item for DarkSeer. Since you are playing him as a tanker, armor will come in handy. More importantly, it has great synergy with vacuum. Vacuum --> Shiva and you have a bunch of sitting ducks. The extra +Int helps your mana pool and regen as well. This is the preferred item if your team consist of mainly AoE users.
-- Guinsoo is the other choice. It acts as a hard disable especially against a team with a strong/troublesome carry. Guinsoo is superior to Shiva when it comes to mana regeneration (you will never run out of mana!). Afterall, you have a voidstone already bought. For me, I have preference for guinsoo.
-- Heart is a very powerful item when coupled with Hood. Grants him immense survivability. With guinsoo, you neither need to heal your mana nor hp. Just keep pushing! (no joke, seriously powerful item on him)
-- Refresher is nice to have once you have gotten your Shiva or Guinsoo. By then, you should have ample mana to double wall but I considered this rather overkill. You don't really need 2 walls to get the job done... but pubs love it. If I don't list this as a possible item, I will receive low ratings.
-- Pipe for AoE shield. Quite a nice upgrade if you have Hood. In teamfights with massive AoE nukes, this item is a must have.
-- Darkseer don't really need BoT to fulfill his role but if your team lacks a strong pusher, BoT will be needed to pressure the other lanes. Alternative for phase boots.
There is no specific timing when the pushing phase will start. But you will feel it coming when you see heroes, on either team, starts to bunch up. Usually, if you keep the pressure on ganking, eventually they will start to bunch up to avoid being picked off alone. It is then time for you to push as a team (or gank as a team). At this point in time, Vacuum will be your biggest asset. It is you who will decide how the teamfight will turn out.
Synergies/Combos with Vacuum:
Sandking ~ you might want to wait for him to channel and blink in and then vacuum.
Kunkka ~ wait for his boat to appear, then vacuum.
Tauren Chief ~ wait for his ultimate to appear, then vacuum them in.
Earthshaker ~ Cast a wall and vacuum them in. ES will blink in to Echo Slam. Make sure ES is ready though.
Shadow Friend ~ Vacuum towards him as he raises his hands into the air.
Lich ~ Take timing from his Chain frost. Vacuum the heroes together.
Witch Doc ~ Vacuum them in so Doc can cask them, maledict and place his deathward.
Axe ~ Keep popping Ion Shell on him and try to Vacuum the enemies together as he attempts to berserker's call them.
Much of the combos are very obvious. Be sure to tell your allies what your plan is. In most cases, you are the one in control of the combo, the other guy is the initiator (eg you take que from Kunkka's boat, SF from his ulti, etc). So the burden is on you to pull it off correctly.
Pushing with Wall.
Wall creates major confusion during pushes and it takes a while for opponents to correctly identify the images from the real (from their color). There is a tendency that they will retreat to the back slightly to buy some time assessing the situation. Push the images towards them, but dont clump them to attack a single hero, it will be obvious. This will push them back even further, giving you some time to take down the tower/base. Images are worth nothing more than a distraction so don't count on them so much for dealing damage.
Generally, you will want to place a wall immediately after you vacuum. Chances are they will get stuck being surrounded by images. During base pushes, you might want to form the wall before you charge in. Wall grants vision, 1000AoE to be exact. If you cast it on high ground, you will be able to have vision of their base.
Top Ways Darkseer being played wrongly:
1. The "Battlefury" Darkseerr ~ Typical pub mentality. Battlefury on every hero. The tendency to build one arises when they player starts building a perseverance. DS already has shell to farm with, he doesn't need the cleave. Leave the item for better users like PA or Jugg.
2. The "Radiance" Darkseer ~ Less bad compared to Battlefury but some people insist to get it as a 1st core item. You have Ion shell which is 4x as powerful. Also, the extra 60dmg will come to no use since you have low attack speed.
3. The "Vacuumless" Darkseer ~ They exist! These guys max up surge and Ion shell first, only to max Vacuum at level 9 onwards. If anything, Vacuum is the first skill that needs to be maxed.
4. The "Mr. Combo" Darkseer ~ These players are fascinated with Darkseer's ability to combo-up with other heroes. They will bug you to no end if you are Bounty Hunter. Hear them preach on how awesome windwalk-shell combo is. But remember not to toss for the last hit, or they will get angry at you.
In the end, it doesn't really matter. Darkseer can do the same job. Alone.
5. The "Farmer" Darkseer ~ Amazed by his jungling ability, he will make his grand appearance 30mins into the game with Tier-4 items. Granted his team managed to hold the fort with 4v5.
Sorry there is no parser. The old D-A parser broke down .
Replay 1: Darkseer 30-5 v1.23
Download here: replay_download
This game starts off with some jungling and ganking of side lanes. I kept the ganking pressure high throughout the game, and at times it feels like me 1v5'ing the other team. After the usual vanguard+hood, I opt for Guinsoo instead of Shiva. Guinsoo grants massive mana regen (200%) and it helps alot in long drawn out battles. After which I went for heart and saw the enemy team complaining how "hard" I was...Game ended after 1hr with a 30-5 Darkseer.
(Game could have ended earlier but our techies is quite a lol-player. He was level 3 at 20mins...)
Replay 2: Darkseer 19-2 v1.23
Download here: replay_download
I didn't get the chance to jungle cos we had 1 ally short. So I took the solo top lane for myself. Trying to kill potm /w leap is a problem, so you have to wait for him to make mistakes before attempting to strike. I had OD in this game. Essence aura is a powerful combination with DS since he can get free mana by repeatedly casting his surge (50mana cost). So instead of Shiva/Guinsoo, I went straight for heart.
Replay 3: DarkSeer v1.23
Download here: replay_download
A game with friends, versus friends. One of my teammate dropped but we still pulled it off with a win. Nice fights all-round. Item build wise, it's a little different. I was still in the midst of testing this hero. It still had vanguard and hood however. I opt for Refresher in this game though, after Shiva has been built.
Replay 3: DS ppx+bouncy+furryfish (v.1.22)
Download here: replay_download
This is a an old Darkseer game, from v1.22. So you need to do a version swap if you want to watch this. If you want to get an idea how the old Darkseer looks like, watch this. Basically I got caught up in a game with papaxiong (Kingsurf), Bouncy (Zenith) and furryfish (some girls team, can't remember the name). It is a pub-game and well.. there's some leavers in my team. But quite a fun one though.
Darkseer has yet to make his way fully into the competitive scene, so there isn't much replays floating around. I'll show you 2 replays, one good one bad. All I can say is: the Chinese (China teams) are way ahead in recognizing Darkseer as a competitive hero.
Replay 1:TeG vs Ravens(v.1.23)
Download here: TeG vs Ravens download
DS went to solo mid against Morph since jungle is usually warded. But it would be better to dual-lane at a side lane near your jungle for easier ganking. Surprisingly, the DS didn't get Magic stick. Quite a bad game, his team got rolled.
Replay 2:Ks.cn vs ddc(v.1.20, you need a replay viewer switcher, get it here:
Download here: Ks.cn vs ddc download
This one is better. China team vs China team. The DS soloes mid as well against OD (quite weird pick). He was able to farm pretty well, built his hood+vang, bought magic wand, phase boots+bottle. He was pretty well played overall.
Here are some v1.24 Competitive Replays from Asian Dota Championship (ADC):
Game 1: mski vs Mcity v1.24
Game 2: mski vs Mcity game 3 v1.24
Game 3:Cybertime vs Mcity v1.24
I can't remember the details of the games. 2 out of 3 of the games had DS's team winning.
Over the past few weeks, I've been playing tons of games with this hero over the past weeks. Really loved the hero. So I've gathered some 20+ replays of him. These are not clan war games or some super high level ones. This is not to brag as the point I want to drive here, is that the Darkseer you see today is way different from the past versions. He is insanely easy to stomp with now. The 20 replays are ample proof that anyone, noob or pro, will be able to own with Darkseer
(filesize: ~13mb, total 22 replays)
A preview of the games:
I did not upload all the replays into a parser. You can download this tool, Dota Replay Manager here:
DotA Replay Manager 2.03
It is an offline parser made by d07.RiV. Very useful tool, I can guarantee you that.
Darkseer isn't the kind of hero who will do great in the hands of a passive player. You need to play him as aggresively as you can. If it is your first time playing him, be sure to explore his limits. Don't be afraid to die. Because only then you will learn what he is capable of.
If you have any questions regarding this hero, do ask away. Admittedly, I did not cover everything regarding this hero especially when it comes to item discussion. If you have strong opinions regarding any item not being listed, or in disagreement, do voice it out.
Enjoy the thrill of killing~!