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Lina Inverse, the Slayer Guide

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Thanks for that guide goes to PieMonger
Introduction

Lina Inverse is a hero that I have been playing since her implementation some years ago. Since that time I have fought against and alongside heroes that today have drastically been changed or removed entirely from the world of DotA, although some remain largely the same. Lina herself has changed little yet my view of how to maximize her power has altered greatly parallel to how I and my play environment has changed.

At this time I believe that I am able to play this hero with maximum effectiveness. The build I used has been changed drastically over time and now I am under the impression that I can play Lina Inverse at her best. I wish to share my build and experiences with others so that they may also develop a better understanding of the potential that this hero holds.

This guide was not meant to be short. I try to be as concise as possible as I do not like to ramble but, simply put, you can’t just skim through this and expect to get everything out of it. Before commenting on this guide or even playing the build outlined please read the guide in its entirety. Thanks in advance.

Table of Contents

I. Hero Overview

  • Stat Overview
  • Skill Descriptions

II. Skill Build

  • Skill List
  • Skill Explanations

III. Item Build

  • Item Build
  • Build Explanation
  • General Concept
  • Alternatives
  • Items Not To Get

IV. Strategy

1. Early Game

  • Levels 1-2
  • Levels 3, 4 and 5
  • Levels 6-9

2. Mid Game

  • Levels 10-12
  • Levels 13-1

3. Late Game

V. Notable Enemies

VI. Misc. Notes

VII. Replays

VIII. Closing

I. Hero Overview


Stat Overview


Refer to this reference for Lina’s statistical information, as well as a second reference for her skill information.


To put it as swiftly as possible, Lina’s stats are mediocre. Her movespeed is above average, her Strength gain is poor as well as her Agility gain and her Intelligence gain is extremely high. Her attack animation is exceptionally slow along with her spell animations and her base armor/Strength are both low.

Skill Descriptions

IPB ImageDragon Slave

AoE nuke that moves out from the hero like Shockwave. Relatively self-explanatory. However, many players underestimate the size of the spell’s radius. In order to quell these false beliefs, I’ve constructed a crude diagram to show the actual range of Dragon Slave.

IPB Image

The first line perpendicular to Lina with the X through it shows where I targeted the spell. The second line shows how far the spell actually goes. Like Carrion Swarm, Dragon Slave goes a lot farther than one initially expects. This is important to note, especially when using it to finish off a fleeing hero or to harass the enemy in your lane. The two lines running parallel to Lina’s sight simply show how large the area of the spell is. The area stays relatively constant, although the animation looks as though it would be much smaller coming out of Lina then becoming bigger as it moves.

As you play Lina you should learn that simply clicking on the hero that you wish to strike with Dragon Slave is not the most efficient way of using the spell. Rather, by learning how far the spell goes relative to where you target it you should be able to cast it from a much safer distance. By using the image given above and practicing this will soon come easy to you. When first I played this hero I underestimated the range of Dragon Slave, then as time went on I began to overestimate it instead. I do pretty well with it now but it’s taken me a while to get used to it. It will for you too.

Level 1 – Deals 90 damage. (68 with hero reduction) 90 mana cost.
Level 2 – Deals 150 damage. (94 with hero reduction) 105 mana cost.
Level 3 – Deals 210 damage. (158 with hero reduction) 125 mana cost.
Level 4 – Deals 280 damage. (210 with hero reduction) 140 mana cost.

8.5 second cooldown.

IPB ImageLight Strike Array (LSA)

Light Strike Array is Lina’s only disable. It’s characterized best by it being one of the very few aimable AoE non-ultimate disables and its relative difficulty of use. Here’s an example of the spell’s range:

IPB Image

What does this show? This is the farthest you can cast Light Strike Array without forcing Lina to move from her initial position. It’s the farthest the spell can go. This is a useful thing to keep in the back of your mind as you play. You’re obviously not going to memorize the range of this spell BUT this will give you a good mental image.

First I want to say that screenshots will not help you learn this spell. Replays will not help you learn this spell. Text will not help you learn this spell. Electroshock to your brain will not help you learn this spell. Practice is the only way you will become proficient with Light Strike Array. Period. That’s it. With every game you will improve, at first quite noticeably and then marginally as you practice. Practice is the word. It’s a beautiful word and it’s a beautiful thing.

As you play you’ll be able to hit with this spell with almost perfect consistency. Only by playing will you be able to gauge how fast your enemy is moving relative to where you are, how fast it takes Lina to cast the spell and how far away is too far away to hit with Light Strike Array. I have the potential to post dozens of screenshots showing me aiming, hitting, and missing with this spell and none of them will help you in the least. It’s just too intuitive to be learned by example, it can only be acquired through practice.

The only thing to keep in mind is that early it’s very difficult to hit with this spell, as your foe is going to be most alert at this point in the game. The best way to score an LSA hit early is to chain it with an allied disable or slow or to use it defensively when an enemy is attacking you. Otherwise it’s very difficult to do.

Light Strike Array destroys trees, which means you can use it to dismantle Eyes in the Forest or to eliminate Furion’s Sprout. On the other hand, be careful that you don’t cancel out ally Furion’s 5 second disable with your 1.5 second one.

Practice.

Level 1 – Deals 90 damage. (68 with hero reduction) 90 mana cost.
Level 2 – Deals 150 damage. (94 with reduction) 100 mana cost.
Level 3 – Deals 210 damage. (158 with reduction) 110 mana cost.
Level 4 – Deals 280 damage. (210 with reduction) 125 mana cost.

Stuns for 1.6 seconds. 10 second cooldown.

IPB ImageUltimate

Ultimate is what sets Lina apart from most heroes of her kind. Once this spell is sufficiently leveled it becomes a permanent (and sizeable) IAS increase as long as you remember to keep it activated.

Level 1 – 10% increase for 20 seconds.
Level 2 – 20% increase for 25 seconds.
Level 3 – 30% increase for 30 seconds.
Level 4 – 50% increase for 30 seconds.

IPB ImageLaguna Blade

A simple spell that deals extremely high damage to a single target, Laguna Blade is a powerful fixture in Lina Inverse’s arsenal. This spell will be the source of many of your kills for a large portion of the game. Note that there is a significant cooldown decrease when levels 2 and 3 of Laguna Blade are learned, and a very minor one (not listed here) when Aghamin’s is purchased.

Level 1 – Deals 450 damage. (338 with hero reduction) 2 minute 30 seconds cooldown(!!). 280 mana cost.
Level 2 – Deals 675 damage. (506 with reduction) 1 minute 30 seconds cooldown. 420 mana cost.
Level 3 – Deals 950 damage. (713 with reduction) 55 second cooldown. 680 mana cost.

II. Skill Build


Skill List

Level 1-

Light Strike Array


Level 2-

Dragon Slave


Level 3-

Dragon Slave


Level 4-

Light Strike Array


Level 5-

Dragon Slave


Level 6-

Laguna Blade


Level 7-

Dragon Slave


Level 8-

Light Strike Array


Level 9-

Light Strike Array


Level 10- Stats
Level 11-

Laguna Blade


Level 12-15- Stats
Level 16-

Laguna Blade


Level 17-20-

Ultimate


Skill Explanation

Dragon Slave and Light Strike Array are Lina’s primary early game abilities. They’re necessary in order for her to establish lane control, gank enemy heroes and basically do anything throughout the entire game. Hence, they are maxed first and foremost.

Ultimate is taken during the latter part of the game, as up until very late you’ll want Stats over it in order to increase your mana and HP. IAS is only useful when you have damage, remember that. Laguna Blade is obviously maxed as quickly as possible; although the mana cost is high the obscene amount of instant damage it does allows us to easily nab a kill early, albeit by sacrificing a good deal of mana. This is why it’s taken at level 6 and not 10.

III. Item Build


Item List


4x Ancient Tango of Essifation, 1x Mantle of Intelligence, 3x Ironwood Branches, 2x Clarity Potion

Bottle, Boots of Speed

2x Null Talismans

Boots of Travel

Pointbooster, Void Stone

Guinsoos (Mystic Staff, Ultimate Orb)

Aghanims Scepter


Item Explanations

The early game itembuilid gives a nice amount of mana for a couple of stuns + slaves before your bottle. Later on Nulls are made, or bracers if the enemy are packing heroes like NightStalker and Pudge.

After this a bottle is purchased, although it was nerfed in the last patch, the usefullness is not diminished if you are rune camping, and this is what I do with my Lina.

The blink nerf makes the dagger a lot less useful to Lina, as such, a fast set of Travels are the best aid to your ganking, meaning you can be all over the map and are faster than most other heroes.

A pointbooster and a voidstone provide you with some necessary mana regeneration and augments your manapool and hitpoints, both items lead on to your lategame build.

Guinsoo uses Ultimate orb and Mystic staff, and as such gives you a massive manapool, aswell as some necessary hp. Obviously the 3 second hex is the main point of the item, and this allows you to initiate more easily, disable key DPS heroes, instantly cancel channelling spells, and stop teleports.

General Concept

The idea of these items is to augment Lina’s power as a ganking hero. Bottle-camping runes is somethign we’re probably all familiar with, but it allows for very powerful ganks and almost permanent lane staying. She needs little if anything to perform her job well but the added mobility of Travels allows her to zip around the map and land her stun more easily, also allowing her to escape more effectively.

Guinsoo provides your team with hex and gives your hero more mana (which you really, really need).

Items after these can vary immensely, from physical damage builds (desolator + buriza), to a build more focused on taking heroes out fast (refresher). However, two things remain relatively constant:

You will need a platemail at this stage of the game.
Aganhims is going to make you pretty Nasty

As with all item builds this is very situational, if you’re not going to get your guinsoos then turn that voidstone into a euls. If the 2200 gold isn’t coming fast enough; build some cheaper items instead. If your team has mass-caster and you can push early, go for an arcane ring. However, this build is good enough to be staple, and should do you well most of the time

IV. Gameplay Strategy: Early, Mid and Late Game

Early Game

Levels 1 and 2

Laning with an ally is highly recommended. It is very important that you utilize your nukes to their fullest potential early on, and the only way to do that is to lane with a powerful ally. Soloing is possible in some situations but it’s simply not optimal. The best allies you can have are the ones that let you use Light Strike Array freely – namely, disablers. The hero that should come to mind first is the Crystal Maiden, and in cases like these you will want to max out Light Strike Array first so that you can chain it. Rhasta, Storm Bolting heroes, the Naga Siren, basically anyone with a readily accessible stun. General nukes are nice too. Simply blow up the nearest hero with a chained Bolt + Dragon Slave + Laguna Blade. You should get the idea. Examples of allies:

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Perhaps the prototypical lane mate for Lina Inverse, the CM comes equipped with a initiative disable, a finishing slow, and a buttload of burst damage to boot. The Lina + Rylai combo is the most common method of using Lina in higher level play, and this is because Bite + LSA + Slave + Nova is very powerful.

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Lina is a gank hero, VS is a gank hero, what’s not to love?! Missile will serve as a great initiative spell so that you can hit with LSA, then follow with Slave and physical attacks. On top of this, Swap serves as a powerful killing tool, bringing the enemy in your range so that you can immediately LSA after Venge thwacks with her stun.

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The Sand King is probably the prime example of a strong lane mate for virtually… any caster hero. Have him intitiate with Burrowstrike, then follow with LSA and Dragon Slave.

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I haven’t ACTUALLY done this combo before but yeesh, who doesn’t the THD lane well with? The slow from Breath should be all you need to score a hit with Light Strike Array, and from there the damage has been done. An early leveling of Ice Path will allow for even easier use of LSA, although I think that getting Path so early is STUPID.

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Voodoo or Impale can be used to initiate, then LSA comes right afterward along with Dragon Slave. The Demon Witch is very, very much like Lina Inverse in nearly every aspect, right down to having an identical ultimate. Yes, Finger of Death and Laguna Blade at the same time is pretty darned nifty.

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If you are with a powerful ally you should attack a hero at level 2. Have your ally disable, follow with Light Strike Array, whack and use Dragon Slave. Repeat. As your nukes level this will only become more and more damaging, although even at level 2 with the Crystal Maiden or a tri-lane you can kill pretty much everything that gets close enough.

Note that Lina has a poor attack animation that will make competing for last hits somewhat difficult. If possible, move closer to the creeps so that your projectile reaches them more quickly. Unfortunately, against most heroes this won’t be possible, but if your enemies are weak then feel free to do this.

Staying close to your creeps also gives you the opportunity to use LSA in an offensive manner. Again, however, in most cases moving close like this will just get you killed. However, if it can be done then you can hit with Light Strike Array before the enemy even realizes it because you don’t have to move in closer. This is nice because usually you have to rely on an allied stun in order to hit with LSA due to the cast time, but if you’re already close enough to use LSA right where you’re standing then the hero won’t be able to get away in time.

How does Lina solo a lane effectively? I could say she doesn’t and that heroes like Viper are going to rip you apart but that’s not very helpful. Granted, it is pretty likely that soloing against Viper will get you ripped apart but there are ways to minimize your losses. First of all, you’ll want to have a very strong grasp of Lina’s attack animation if you’re thinking of soloing against a strong hero. In fact, it’s necessary that you do. Secondly you need to maximize your Dragon Slave’s potential. Get creep kills that you would have otherwise missed and put pressure on your enemy. DON’T TARGET THE HERO, TARGET IN FRONT OF THE HERO OR YOU’LL GET BEATEN ON WHEN YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE. Don’t miss either, make sure you make your mana points count. Lastly, gain an advantage through your nuking power. If Viper tries to kill you when he only has 3/4 HP then insta-gib him with LSA + Dragon Slave + Laguna Blade + whack. Make him fear your Laguna Blade. He knows that he’s dead if he hits a certain amount of HP. Keep whittling him down and make him edgy.
Levels 3, 4 and 5

Dragon Slave can be used sporadically to chip away at your enemy’s hit points and to snipe low HP creeps if you’re soloing a lane or with a weak ally. However, if paired with another strong early game hero it is possible to deal extremely large amounts of damage by chaining nukes and disables. For example, your ally the Crystal Maiden casts Frost Bite. Immediately you cast Light Strike Array and Dragon Slave, then the Crystal Maiden uses Frost Nova and you both attack your target. By doing this you can kill an unwary enemy instantly. This is Lina’s job at this stage in the game, so make as much use of your two nukes as possible.

The idea here (and before) is to establish total lane control through massive burst damage- every time the enemy hero gets near you chain nukes on him and he dies. If you’re able to do this successfully the lane you inhabit will be locked down, and the hero who is forced to remain there against you will suffer greatly.

If you are without a strong ally then Light Strike Array is best used only for defensive purposes, as it is very difficult to aim against a fully-alert enemy hero at this stage in the game and you really can’t do much with the stun by itself anyway. Dragon Slave can still be used to nab creep kills and deal damage to your enemy. Speaking of which…

IPB Image
Targeting a hero directly with Dragon Slave foolishly ignores the impressive range that the spell has.

IPB Image
This is how you’re expected to use Dragon Slave most of the time. This image shows just about the maximum range the spell can go and just how lovely it is not to have to go within 500 range to harrass with it.

IPB Image
This is the kind of manuever that makes you feel good to be alive. Perfect aim with Dragon Slave, brilliantly intuitive tower dive, animation cancel that puts you out of harm’s way practically by the time Clinkz is dead. Precision that makes 4k players jealous.

I’m bringing this up again because it’s important. Targeting the enemy hero with Dragon Slave is so very, very newbish. Now obviously if a hero is right up in front of you at melee range then feel free to just target him, but if you’re sniping him then putting yourself into harm’s way by targeting the hero rather than in front of him is stupid.
Levels 6-9

Level 6 means that another weapon is added to your arsenal: Laguna Blade. With it you can quickly annihilate your target with your ally’s help or use it as a finishing move after whittling your enemy down with Dragon Slave and your physical attack. The mana requirement is steep however, numbering at 280 at a point in the game where few (if any) spells reach that cost.

Don’t hesitate to pay a visit to another lane and try for a gank. Coming in from the forest is a feasible way to score an LSA hit or you can simply chain it together with a disable, then finish off your enemy with Dragon Slave and/or Laguna Blade. The most important part of the early game is, again, lane control. This means laning with a strong ally like the Crystal Maiden and chaining your nukes whenever an opportunityopens up.

Mid Game


Levels 10, 11, 12

Gank. Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank. Have an ally initiate because Light Strike Array is clumsy, then come in and unleash the full fury of your spell-casting power. Use Laguna Blade last because it costs a lot and you want to avoid wasting mana if possible. Still, don’t be hesitant to do so; the cooldown is short. Just don’t use it simply because you want the kill. That’s stupid.

Hopefully you have or are approaching your Blink Dagger shortly. This item should greatly increase your ganking ability through the mobility it adds. Now you can have an ally disable, then immediately Blink in and hit with LSA + Slave + Laguna Blade. This is useful because it eliminates any possiblity of error or chance for your enemy to escape. You can also get the jump on lonely, weak enemy heroes and insta-gib him with a combination of nukes, something that was difficult if not impossible before without Blink. Lastly, you can use the item to escape ugly situations that would’ve caused your death. Lovely!
Levels 13, 14, 15, 16

Not much changes at this point in the game. Just keep ganking, milk your nukes for all they’re worth because they’re what your hero is. Laguna Blade costs even more (680 mana!) but your mana pool is massive now, numbering at 1000+ at level 16 at the bare minimum (and you should be moving to Eul’s now). Laguna Blade’s cooldown decreases which is a very big plus.

Pushes may happen now and it’s important to know how to deal with them. Dragon Slave is useful in that you can cast it from a safe distance provided you understand the range (refer to diagram in Skill Descriptions) and it’s a nice way to whittle the HP of your enemies and to kill the advancing creeps, much like Carrion Swarm. Be careful when doing this though, as it’s possible you’ll get ambushed and quickly slaughtered. Just watch your map, keep a finger on Blink and don’t be stupid.

Light Strike Array is a powerful tool if used properly. If your enemies are foolish and bunch together you can cause a lot of turmoil with a well-placed LSA. If you’re able to coordinate a gank well on a large group of enemies then use Blink to quickly get close enough and chain your two AoE nukes, then blast a hero with Laguna Blade.

Laguna Blade has the potential to take a hero out of combat the moment the battle begins. Immediately zapping a Shadow Fiend with few HP boosting items means he has to retreat or die the moment an AoE spell is thrown. A Clinkz who fails to position himself properly can be killed almost instantly at around level 16. If no opportunities arise like this then just use Laguna Blade as a finisher.

Late Game

It’s likely that a number of heroes will be more able to defend against your nukes at this point in the game, but on the other hand a well-played Lina should have stomped enough face to make the enemy team weak, sniveling and pathetic by now. Laguna Blade also simply does too much damage to ever be ignored no matter how late the game goes (the removal of Aegis only further accentuates this) even if it does weaken somewhat. Aghamin’s will only serve to make it more powerful.

Lina’s nukes weaken as the game goes on, but they’re never useless. LSA is always an AoE disable and damage is still damage. The sooner the game ends for Lina the better, but remember that you’re never truly useless.

V. Notable Enemies

IPB Image
The thing about Pudge is that it’s very easy for him to kill you and almost impossible for you to kill him. You’re a tempting target for a good Pudge player and it’s important to be extremely watchful if you’re playing against one. Once you reach the later part of the game he’s a joke to you; the important thing is to not let him keep you down with his early game combo.

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The Oblivion is a very powerful hero in general and most dangerous to you because of Nether Ward for relatively obvious reasons. On the other end of the spectrum is his extremely low HP pool which will make nuking him an easy task provided you don’t kill yourself in the process because of his Ward. A good Pugna will know how to keep himself out of harm’s way and keep you under the influence of his Ward- this is what you’ll have to watch out for most.

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I’ve disliked this hero since his ultra-buggy incarnation back in the 5.xx versions (who didn’t love Epicenter randomly and inexplicibly dealing 4000 damage?) and I don’t like him now. His hit points are painfully high and Burrowstrike is a very, very powerful skill. This hero out-maneuvers, out-tanks and very nearly outguns you and will always be a threat to you. Rule 1: realize that Epicenter will always go off before you can hit with LSA.

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Another hero that’s frightening to virtually everyone and just as much so for you if not more. He sports more hit points than your nukes can hope to bring down and his powerful Brain Sap will only widen this gap. Fiend’s Grip decimates any hero and you’re no exception to this rule. Remember that the easiest way to kill Atrophos is to put him in a 2v1 situation.

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Sporting a great deal more hit points than would be expected from an Agility hero, a powerful telenuke and notorious damage per second without the need of any expensive items, the Morphling is a danger to just about everyone. There’s little to say about him in particular other than the fact that he’s, well, powerful. Be careful.

VI. Misc Notes

    -
    -

  • Lina’s defining aspect of her gameplay is her nukes. Dragon Slave, LSA and Laguna Blade are your primary offensive mechanisms for a very large portion of the game as well as Dragon Slave being a useful farming mechanism.
  • Lina sucks later in the game. Don’t sit around and farm when you should be ganking and getting the game to end for you as soon as possible. No matter how many items you farm there will be heroes that slaughter you late in the game, so make the game end before that point is reached.
  • Lina Inverse requires a lot of skill to use effectively, because her nukes require you to… aim and stuff. Lazy players may be better off with QoP, but no hero can control a lane with a competent ally like Lina can. Practice with Light Strike Array, practice! If you don’t perform well at first using this strategy don’t be discouraged, just keep practicing and it will open up to you.

VII. In Closing

I obviously wrote this to cater to you, the reader, and I’d be more than willing to answer any questions or respond to any suggestions you might have. Realize, however, that I’ve been doing this strategy for quite a while now and it’s going to take quite a bit for me to alter something.

I understand that a sort of mathcraft fad has arisen in this forum. I don’t like mathcraft. Mathcraft is limited. Many items that are justified by numbers are or aren’t useful for other, more obvious reasons. I notice that people tend to complicate a lot of things when the answer to their conflicts is right in front of them. For example, Battlefury. Battlefury sucks. Do you want to know how I know this? Because I’ve used it, many times, since it was introduced, and it sucks. It sucks after the buff, too. It’s just bad. See how easy that is? So other than spell damage after reduction there will be no math in this guide. Math is for smart people anyway, we’re video game players.

This guide looks a lot better now that it’s shorter, agleed?! I may add screenshots for ganking with Blink and LSA in the future, but I don’t believe that’s necessary.

Visage, the Necro’lic

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Great thanks to Beast_Pete(you can find him here) for that nice guide. I wish you good games. Let’s see how to play good with Visage, the Necro’lic

IPB Image

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├Introduction┤
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I’d like to greet everyone who is reading this guide. Originally I’ve written this guide because HiT0Mi stopped updating his. I learnt the basics from him so I want to thank him again for teaching me how to play this hero.
Back in 6.32b Visage was one of the scariest picks in leagues and tournaments. He was capable of farming up a Radiance, Travel and two Hearts in like 50 minutes in an even game. After that getting a Dr Aegis was a kid’s game.
Later his return-damage was nerfed (28% -> 20%), he was more easily killed and he didn’t own that hard in team fights as before. Also new viable picks came in (Chen era with early push, more ganks, less farm), that seemed to be stronger than building up your team around Visage.
In 6.50 he was redesigned into a much different hero, but with some similarities remaining to the old version. Soul Assumption was turned into a powerful passive ability, Grave Chill became a viable spell early game thanks for the lower mana cost. However, the biggest change was with Gravekeeper’s Cloak that became a team-healing aura instead of remaining a return-damage aura. In my humble opinion this remake was more of a buff than a nerf and allows Visage to become a more versatile hero.

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├Pros and Cons┤
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    Pros:

  • Good soloer (high damage, high regen)
  • Good pusher (thanks for revenants)
  • Good tank (thanks for his aura and the farming abilities)
  • His revenants help a lot in observing the map
  • Noobie-friendly (in pubs with just auto-attack you can easily get a Relic in like 15 minutes)
    Cons:

  • No disabling abilities (only a slow)
  • needs survivalability boost or else he gets raped easily

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├Skill Build┤
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Skill build justification:

  1. Maxing Soul Assumption first: this ability allows you to last hit and deny more easily, harass heroes with high damage and regenerate HP fast. There can be no reason to delay this passive ability that helps your early game the most, especially as it’s mostly useful in your lane and lategame in teamfights when dozens of units die around you.
  2. Taking Grave Chill as second priority: this spell became much more useful since its manacost was lowered drastically. The amount of lanecontrol it gives early game and ganking potential it offers later is undoubted. It is much more useful than your second passive ability, which becomes more useful as your HP goes up and the amount of team-clashes increase.
  3. Putting points on Gravekeeper’s Cloak instead of Attribute Bonuses: at the time you can finally decide on wether to increase your attributes or put points on Cloak, the latter is to be chosen as team collisions become more frequent and your HP becomes higher as well, therefore Cloak becomes more beneficial regarding EHP (effective health points).
  4. Revenants all the time: revenants are crucial part of both your early game rune-control and lane-control. One of the most important part in the game is controling the runes and knowing when heroes are leaving their lanes. Revenants are similar to free observer wards, so you definitely have to get them as soon as possible.

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├Core Item Builds┤
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dota allstar item build images(bracer, boots of travel, monkey king bar, hex, heart of tarasque, platemail, cuirass)

2* Bracers (1020)
Radiance (5325)
PlateMail (1400)
Boots of Travel (2700)
Cuirass (+4720)
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Total Cost: 15165
2* Bracers (1020)
Desolator (4420)
PlateMail (1400)
Boots of Travel (2700)
Cuirass (+4720)
-==========================-
Total Cost: 14260

Item build justification: these two builds are identical to each other. The main difference is when to go with which build. The first one is for ideal games, when you are either let farm freely or when your allies own your opponents too much, which result in freefarm as well. An early Radiance will make a big impact on your late game inventory and will allow you to diss out more damage early on.
Desolator is a good alternative in case you are owned too much in the lane. It has much cheaper components than Radiance’s Relic and still it owns your targets. Now that Visage has no orb abilities, Corruption seems to be the best orb choice for him, especially if…
… you go with Cuirass as second main item. It allows him to tank much more. High armor and Gravekeeper’s Cloak gives a really high EHP lategame and nice auras as well. The -armor aura stacked with Corruption’s -armor is a devastating combo especially in ganks and teamfights. The high IAS plus Grave Chill’s IAS bonuses will cover your lack of attack speed, too.
Eventhough I said, Cuirass is the second main item, there is still one recipe to complete before completing the afformentioned item. Boots of Travel is an extremely useful tool in ganks and when you get ganked. It also boosts your farming and pushing potentials and is a much more benefical item to Visage than Power Treads is. Buying a Platemail before Travel could be well reasoned in case your armor isn’t high enough to survive.

2*Bracers (1020)
Mekansm (2434)
Boots of Speed (500)
Radiance (5325)
Heart of Tarrasque (5500)
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Total Cost: 14779

Item build justification: this build focuses on surviving in early game, letting you “spam” revenants and giving you and your birdies a really high armor and the ever-useful AoE heal. Later on farming out Radiance will become quite easy and from that on it’s like no effort to get further more items. No need for Guinsoo as you’ll have enough mana anyway. The Meka-Heal is quite useful for your whole team in team fights and it will be really hard to kill you in ganks. This build has not been tested by me in the new version, but others said it still works. The obvious synergy is there with Cloak-heal and Meka-heal, while RoB and Mekansm give you the armor, you may focus on HP more than with the former two builds. With this build you become more of a supporter and a tank in your team, while still having a nice DPS.
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├Other Items┤
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Mana Regen Items
For a very long time I dissed all kind of mana regen/INT items, even Guinsoo as well. I still think, that he really does not need such items, because even in early game, you should be able to handle your manapool especially now that Grave Chill costs less and Soul Assumption became a passive skill. Guinsoo is a nice and powerful item on you as for any other INT heroes. Skadi gives a nice HP boost, but it’s way more expensive than Heart. However now that Visage lost an orb, he may gain a new one, and the Frost Attack is a nice orb paired up with Grave Chill. Linken’s gives minor HP boost compared to Heart, and although the fast-cooling spellblock could be useful it just doesn’t block enough spells and you could spend that money on much more benefical items. Guinsoo for example gives way more INT and DPS overall. Necronomicon is a nice item, as it gives both STR and INT and the nice little necro minions, however it is to be gotten by one of your supporter teammates, as for DPS and mana Guinsoo or Orchid is far superior and to health, Heart is also a superior item over Necronomicon.
Damage and IAS items
Depending on game situation and how much you own should you get further more damage or IAS. Basically you need to have at least one damage item (Desolator or Radiance) and then if you are owning much, get even more items to boost your DPS. Recommended DPS items in order: Radiance, Desolator, Assault Cuirass, Guinsoo’s Scythe of Vyse, Monkey King Bar (against teleport escapes and channelers), Buriza-do-Kyanon (especially with the Deso+Cuirass combo), Orchid Malovalence, Skadi (antiDPS+gank). Choose one depending on your situation.
Hood of Defiance, Curiass and Other Damage Reduction Items
With the new Cloak you lost your return-damage and therefore you may increase your damage-reduction. Hood of Defiance is a nice item early game against nukers, however I would much rather get HP to compensate the lack of survivalability in early game as it is useful against physical harassment as well. 2 Bracers and/or a Vit Booster is much useful for you than a Hood. Ring of Basilius, Mekansm, Assault Cuirass or a simple Platemail on the other hand are great to your health especially as the game drags on.
Black King Bar
This is a no-brainer item: if you are chain-disabled and cannot diss out enough damage because of dieing too early, then the avatar is a much needed ability for you. BKB should be gotten after your first damage item against line-ups that consist of too many disablers.

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├Techniques┤
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Last hit – Deny – now that Soul Assumption became a passive ability, it finally allows you to deny well even before level6. Doign both last hits and denies is ridiculously easy with Visage. For you last hits are more important, because you need to farm up fast and the only wayyour lane-opponent can prevent your Soul Assumption to proc is either making you retreat or denying his own creeps. From level 6 you can finally deny and last hit at the same time! Just order your bats to attack one creep, while you are attacking another one.
Harassing – because of the new SA, you are not able to do orb-walks anymore, but you can still harass well enough from level3. You need to make sure you’re not autoattacking your opponent, because the creeps will both attack and block you. Always attack, then move a bit to the side and then attack again, a bit like orb-walking, but not as agressively. With your high damage and your high HP regeneration, you are able to constantly harass your enemy, so don’t ever forget to do so.
Farming with Revenants – when a creep is on red/orange health, you can start hitting it with your bats and yourself. It’s nearly impossible to deny a creep that you started focusing (unless you screw up and attack too early/late). For more imformation move on to the “How to use your Revenants?” section.
Scouting with Revenants – have some of your revenants hold their position at a good ward-place. When you reach level6, then summon 2 bats and order them to move above the cliffs near the two runes. You can see the good scouting positions in a dedicated section for “Scouting with Revenants”.
Neutraling – as your revenants are going to be the focus of the creeps most of the time, you can stay out farming at the forest for a very very long time if not forever. Whenever one of them dies just summon another one to replace it. You can have your revenants farm neutrals while you are faring in a lane, but this is recommended only from level11. There’s also another exciting way of neutraling, creep pulling with your revenants. This way you can help your ally Lina or Leshrac farm a bit faster when they are going home for refilling their HP or picking up some items. For more detailed information refer to the “How to use your Revenants?” section.
Chill-Chase – at higher levels and especially if you have a Boots of Travel, chasing becomes quite easy for you. Just cast Grave Chill on one of the opponents and perform orb-walk, which will allow you to stand in the way of the fleeing rout and autoattack (chill gives IAS as well). You can as well use Grave Chill for escaping from ganks or other bad situations.
Meka-Heal – you’re probably going to have a lot of spare mana if you go for Basilius-Mekansm. When you are on low health and especially in a team fight your allies and you get dealt a lot of damage, then cast it. It’s a no-brainer. If you farm with your revenants, you might need it in early-mid game to use Mekansm on your creeps. From level16 they will rarely die while farming, so Meka-Heal is mostly useful when heroes like Leshrac or Lina nuke your bats while they don’t have magic immunity.
Multi-Farm – it means that you have to seperate your creeps from your hero. Especially useful and effective from level11 when your creeps can tank more and deal more damage. Have them neutral or farm on a lane, while you are farming elsewhere or participate in teamfights. It’s not that hard to concentrate on using them, just let them autoattack if you don’t have the micro to last hit with them while you are giving commands to your hero. If you don’t have to concentrate on your hero, then try to last hit with the revenants.

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├Strategies┤
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Laning 1v1 – try to concentrate mostly on last hits and denies at level1 and from level3 start performing the Orb-walk harass. If you manage to get your opponent back and eat tangos, you’ll have a free time farming in your lane. Until you reach level6, you should be sending back your opponent as much as possible, while you are collecting loads of golds. Once you have your ulti you should send two bats to scout the runes. 3 Revenants should be enough for you to collect most of the last hits and denies. It’s really hard to out-micro a Visage as those bats make it much easier to farm and deny. When you push too far away or enemies are coming to gank you then go to the forest and farm some neutrals. I prefer to solo at middle on the Sentinel side so I can get the two trolls and the kobold every minute, after two creep waves passed. When you reach level11 you should still stay at middle as you need to farm up loads of golds. If you are not ganked often, just keep going to the neutrals to evade ganks. If they try to push the middle lane then call your friends to help you out. After the push is over you are to farm on.
Laning 1v2 – this is a bit different situation than the 1v1 laning. In this case you might have an even easier time as your opponents will be on lower level and if they have no disable or not even a single nuke then basically you are free to farm. Try to harass one of them from level3 and see if does anything. If they are careful enough then don’t be agressive, they might kick you in the nuts. Especially against a lane with disables and nukes you should rather be concentrating on last hitting the creeps. This is all about farming instead fo dominating the lane-opponents.
Farming Up – if you prefer the Radiance rush and especially if you are playing against a less organized team, you may stay in your lane farming freely forever. It’s a no-brainer, just concentrate on last hits and don’t destroy the tower early on. It will push back the creeps all the time, so you don’t have to come out of the range of your tower, or at least not far away from it. From level11 you may send your bats neutralign or pushing a different lane while you are still doing the same old boring but extremely joyful last hits. Once you have Radiance you really should be performing the Multi-Farm technique as your immolation and high damage will already be enough to farm fast at a lane or in the forest.
Ganking – you are not really a ganker unless you get Guinsoo as your first major item. You don’t have a disable, but Grave Chill is an awesome ability for chasing (Chill Chase). When you can finally perform Multi-Farm then you may leave your lane to kill heroes without losing on much creeps to farm. Basically your role in a gank is to slow down the target and deal as much damage on it as possible. If you have Radiance then just stay nearby and let your immolation burn him/her to hell.
Being Ganked – this is a more complex part, so I’m going to write a lot. Evading ganks is very important, this is why bringing TP scrolls and farming in the woods with your hero is very important. Having some birdies scout or placing observer wards is crucial as well. But what are you supposed to do when you fail to notice the opponents coming for you, in time. You need to realise in the matter of 1 or 2 seconds what you are allowed to do. If you can hide behind the trees and teleport away, then do so. If you are far from a hiding spot or have no teleport scroll, then cast Grave Chill on one of the approaching heroes. Try to move away immediately so that you can either flee straigth away or juke them in the forest. Having your revenants may help you as they might get into the clicks of your opponents, so it becomes a bit difficult to focus you. Or if there’s a hook or elune’s arrow approaching then they might hit a bat instead of you.
Pushing – pushing with Visage is really easy. Especially once a BoT is applied on him his revenants push one lane, he pushes a second himself and the third is pushed by the rest of the team. When you have to join them, you just teleport in. You can put the opponents under big pressure by pushing multiple lanes and if you can keep them under strikes at their base, the revenants will push inside at another one. If one of the enemies leave to defend against the bats, you may go in 5v4. Having one bat with you all the time is recommended as it gives a huge line of sight and can keep track of your opponents’ move which is important when you try to jump on them.
5v5 Fights (Defensive) – try to push a different lane with your revenants, putting the opponents under pressure this way, so they can’t stay at your base as long as they want to. Let your AoE nukers in the front of the uphill or the side of an outer-tower so they can clear the creep waves. When the opponents initiate then jump in, so you can tank damage and return it back to your opponents and letting your Radiance burn them with immolation. Casting Grave Chill in prior of jumping in is crucial because first of all your DPS and MS will be boosted up, while the target of the spell will have a much less DPS and won’t be able to flee if you were to kill him. So to sum it up, just wait and let the opponents initiate unless you have a good initiater, and then you jump in.
5v5 Fights (Offensive) – you are quite good at initiating thanks for your tanking abilities and Grave Chill. If you are comfident enough then run in, cast Chill on their DPS hero or the hero with some nasty disables, so that your allies can follow you up and cast their ultimates. Gravekeeper’s Cloak is really powerful when you get focused between 5 enemy heroes. Nothing big difference between the defensive and offensive 5v5 Fights as you still have to initiate or run in after your initiator with a Grave Chill and meanwhile pushing with bats on another lane.

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├How to Counter Visage┤
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Eventhough the Necro’lic is a feared enemy in a long game, the fact is that he is an INT hero without disables which makes his survivalability quite low against disablers and chasers in early game. He is prone to ganks especially if noone is placing wards and if he is using his creeps more on farming than on scouting (which is a bad decision from the Visage player but it may happen). Of course they still help him out a lot by increasing his line of sight (LoS), but once caught by a disable and some nukes follow up, he is dead. He is item dependant, so try to gank him as many times as possible or it might cost the loss of the game.
For 1v1 situations AoE nukers or heroes with better harassing (not too much examples) are going to outlevel him. Heroes like Tinker, Leshrac, PotM, Lina, Shadow Fiend, Viper have the chance to beat him in 1v1, although only Tinker and Viper are the really feared heroes, the rest can be outplayed a bit more easily.
However if someone picks Visage, send a dual-disabling lane against him (i.g: SandK + Lina or Sven + Leshrac).
For late-game Necrolyte, chain-disable and permbashers (Void) are the ones that will be able to take him down. Necrofather’s ulti is a great spell against heroes who are stacking HP. Void is a great lategamer who can beat anyone in 1v1 fights and with his Chronosphere he is deadly in teamfights as well.
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├When to pick Visage┤
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In my humble opinion, Visage became a viable pick for league and tournament play after 6.50 was released. His potential of farming up items fast, scouting the whole map, giving a huge ganking advantage over the other team by the revenants, being a good ganker thanks for his target-slow and countering massive AoE line-ups… well if that’s not enough to be a league-star then nothing will ever be. In public and casual games, he is an even better hero to use.
So when to pick Visage?

  1. If fragile nukers are being picked that can be easily chased down with Grave Chill.
  2. No Viper, Tinker or Enchantress are being picked.
  3. Earthshaker is picked!
  4. If you think that the AoE damage-potential of your enemies would be too high in teamfights
  5. If you join a public game and want to win for sure

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├How to use your Revenants?┤
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Scouting – it’s very important that you always have at least two if not more of your bats on scout over some of the more busy areas of the map. I’m going to show some of the best places to send your bats to. Of course you may find newer and better places all the time depending on your opponents.

SENTINEL
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
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SCOURGE
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image

Rune-control – I have been doing this for quite some time, but Nova’s thread reminded me that this should be included in my guide as well not just in replays. If you hit the runes twice (or once with level16 bats) then you can easily control who picks it up. If you see an enemy approaching it, then hit the rune and it gets destroyed. It will be very annoying for your opponents. tongue.gif
Neutraling – during the early game while your revenants are still fragile and especially if you don’t have armor giving auras, you need to micro with your bats. If one of them falls to red-health then move it back and let another one get hit. Of course you may sacrifice one or two of them as you will be able to resummon them and their sacrifice will mean bonus health regeneration to you thanks for Soul Assumption. Later you will be able to go on your own while your bats go to the forest to own, the neutrals. Don’t send them to the ancients alone as they will be too powerful for them. With this, you can farm constantly and really fast.
Multilane-pushing – this is an easy and rewarding strategy. Select 3 or more revenants and get them push a lane, while you are pushing another one on your own or with your allies. It allows you to put your opponents under heavy pressure (less pushing, less ganking) and earn you hundreds of golds in like no time.
Microing against AoE-nukers – heroes with AoE nukes will be a nightmare for you in early game as they will terminate all your bats easily and get rich fast. With only one spell they may hit you, your bats and your creeps. You have to make sure, this doesn’t happen. Of course with Soul Assumption you will regenerate a lot of HP and get a higher damage, but it’s better if force your opponent to decide. To decide wether to hit you, your bats or your creeps. This can be done if you order your bats to – let’s say – the left, you go to the right while your creeps remain in the center position. This way your enemy needs to decide what to hit (most of the times it will be you), so you will have less creeps dieing and less gold being given to your opponents.
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├Visage’s Role in the Team┤
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I wouldn’t say he is a tank anymore although with Cloak he still has a high EHP, this role of him disappeared along with his return-damage. He is a pure carry with extremely great scouting and pushing powers which allow his team to gain control over the whole map very easily.
He is to solo and level up as fast as possible, so that he can summon revenants for your team. Also with a fast relic/radiance he can become unstoppable lategame, so allowing him to solo and farm a lot is crucial for your whole team.
After leaving lanes, he still needs to farm as much as possible, mainly in the forest while potentially becoming a ganker. This means, that you should stay around your allies and run around in the enemies’ forest while killing all the neutrals. Of course you are to farm on lane as well, it is up to game situation.
In team fights he is a pure DPS hero and anti-aoe element. End of discussion.
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├Suggested 5v5 Line-ups┤
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Line-up for 6.50 – coming in the near future
Dark Seer + Lich | Visage | Enigma + Magnus for 6.48b
I think this a very strong line-up in the current league map. The Seer+Lich lane is very tough with a slowing nuke, a pulling nuke and an AoE DoT ability. The bottom lane has a stun and a nuke for controling their lanes, while Visage is possible to dominate many kind of lanes or just simply stay alive farming up.
The ultimate combo is Vacuum+Reverse Polarity+Chain Frost+Black Hole and Visage running in dealing out a butt load of damage thanks for Grave Chill and Radiance. If some opponents are still alive, then you can easily chase them down. Especially with the now so much liked massive AoE line-ups, Visage is a thrilling hero.
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├Replays┤
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FFS th_hu.png vs th_de.png hb
DOWNLOAD REPLAY
[ Clan/Team Name - Sentinel ]
potm.gif th_hu.png rr.angel TOP
qopa.gif th_hu.png Marco_ TOP
visa.gif th_hu.png FaP.m0ngEr MID
pugn.gif th_hu.png FaP.Covercat BOT
sven.gif th_hu.png ghjkl_ BOT
[ Clan/Team Name - Scourge ]
ursa.gif th_de.png takido.hb TOP
ssha.gif th_de.png Zulkayhren.hb TOP
sfie.gif th_de.png Monday.hb MID
tsou.gif th_de.png sncR.hb BOT
lina.gif th_de.png remqdeniz.hb BOT

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FaP vs IaD clanwar – version 6.48b
Attached File FaP_vs_IaD_Visage.w3g ( 591.19k ) Number of downloads: 939

    Sentinel:
    Magnus + Dark Seer top
    Visage mid
    Lich + Magina bot
    Scourge:
    Sven + Leshrac top
    PotM mid
    Zeus + SandK bot

This one was a friendly clan war between FaP and IaD.
I solo against Mirana. I manage to outmicro her and from level6 my revenants help in watching the runes which allows my allies to get them. Whenever the creeps push too far I go to the nearest Sentinel neutral creeps to kill them, which allows me to farm constantly. I get Ring of Basilius and Mekansm quite fast which allows me and my revenants to stay alive for a very long time and getting my Radiance at the 30th minutes mark. I call it the oldschool Visage as I used to play with this build in 6.32b. Watch how Cloak owns the Scourge once. smile.gif (not just once tongue.gif )
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DotA 4v5 Visage Retech Game triheart – version 6.43b
Attached File DotA_4v5_Visage_Retech_Game_triheart.w3g ( 1.47mb ) Number of downloads: 1414

    Sentinel:
    Prophet + THD (+ Leshrac) top
    Visage mid
    Silencer bot
    Scourge:
    Bristle + Omni top
    PotM mid
    Panda + Ogre bot

Link to the replay parsel for some interesting datas.
This game was an IH where the regular posters of the Hungarian DotA Site participated. I solo middle against Priestess fo the Moon. Unfortunately our Leshrac gets dropped at around the 12th minute, which made it clear we have really low chances to win this game, but we still wanted to continue, or else we could not rehost as some of the guys would have went to bed sleeping instead.
But this replay is still worth to watch and actually this will teach most of you the most efficiently as I manage to make a 44-40 creepstat at around the 18th minute getting my Relic a bit later and the Radiance at around the 24th minute mark. Here you can see how effective the revenants really are even on their first level. Basically I was twice as effective in farming/denying than my opponent which wouldn’t have been possible without the bat companions.
Note that my K/D ratio wasn’t 2-10 but 4-3 not dieing until about 58 mins or so. The replay parcel is off sometimes and it even mixed up the teams this time with some colours as well. It was an -sprd so I bet that’s why.
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Note, that the next replay was played with previous Warcraft patches and with the 1.21b patch you can’t watch them anymore, unfortunately. Refer to this topic to see how you can watch it.
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ToG vs Fakkerz scourge won – version 6.32b
Attached File ToG_vs_Fakkerz_scourge_won.w3g ( 933.26k ) Number of downloads: 1561

    Sentinel:
    Rhasta + Morph top
    Maiden mid
    Chen + Jügger bot
    Scourge:
    Lich + SandK top
    Visage mid
    Bane + Pugna bot

This one was a group match in the Second Hungarian League.
I’m soloing against Maiden at mid and outmicro her. When I nearly had the money for Midas my hero gets stuck and I was really afraid of dying, but “luckily” I gained control back over my hero and go back for a fountain trip and buy Midas. In early game we do 2 effective ganks at mid and I am free to farm. We defend middle lane successfully and I manage to farm up for Radiance by level 14. My first death occurs at the bottom lane when we try to take out the second outer tower. After some nice kills we manage to take control over the map and destroy all their other towers. Then at the 44th min you can see a really nice kill, check it out. tongue.gif
After that kill we manage to take out their 3rd tower at top, but unfortunately our Pugna gets dropped out. From that on we won’t win any team gang bangs and we need to stay back to defend. But then suddenly everything goes upside down… thanks for the imba tank Visage.
Final item build: travel, midas, radiance, heart, heart (sacred relic in chicken, ~4300 golds in pocket).
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├Questions I won’t answer┤
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QUOTE

Q: Do images benefit from Gravekeeper’s Cloak?

QUOTE

A: No, they don’t. They have a fake aura.

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VIII. Concluding Thoughts
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├Replays┤
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If you think my guide is not working and there’s a better build and strategy please provide a replay to prove your arguments or else noone will believe you. Also I don’t want to waste my time on people that critize my guide just to critize and not for helping out me and the readers. I’m open to any build and playstyle recommendations.
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├B. Latest Updates┤
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  • Updated the whole guide accordingly to the changes in 6.50b (2008.04.20.)
  • Added a new build and a replay (2007.09.10.)
  • Removed some sections; added IV. Counters and Usage (2007.05.22.)
  • New replay; strategy walkthrough revamped; some further updates (2007.05.08.)
  • Many many many updates with a new replay as well (2007.01.18.)
  • Many typos fixed; made the alternative items/skill-builds more easily recognizeable (2006.11.14.)
  • Guide is complete (2006.11.13.)

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├Final Words┤
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I hope that I can help out many players with this guide in the tournaments and inhouses they are participating. I think that Visage is a very good pick for clan wars and IHs and I know that you, the reader will think the same way too after trying it out. Please let me know what you think about my guide. Constructive comments are always appreciated.

    Credit goes to:

  • HiT0Mi for his Visage guide which taught me how to use this hero
  • the NPC guys (Grujah, whifrA, Jagan, harby, nekdolan) for the games we played together
  • clan ToG for the cool games in the second Hungarian League
  • clan compLexity; I have always liked your strategies and gamestyles
  • theMaelk for the constructive feedback

Beast_Pete
2006.11.13.