A thorough guide to Viper, the venomous carry.
July 27, 2012
Welcome to my guide on Viper
, the Netherdrake.
Viper was the first agility carry that I learned, and still love. Hes an obnoxious little carry that will completely melt a team with his venom if left alone. He is playable on every lane, but can do especially well on mid or the safe lane (bottom radiant, top for dire). It is possible to play him in the hard lane, but you can easily be ganked so try and avoid it. You are also able to pull off amazing 1v2 lanes, but you won't be as optimal as you will with a support or laner that can stun, or in mid.
In this guide I will try to cover every possible situation that I can think of, and make this a thorough as possible. Before I go over gameplay, let us get the skills and item explanation out of the way, as well as some pros/cons.
Very high damage
Very versatile due to item pathing
Still squishy even with his corrosive skin
High priority target, will be focused
Item dependent (it's a pro and a con depending on if you get your farm or not)
Intensifies Viper's venom, adding an effect to his normal attack that slows attack and movement speed while dealing damage over time.
This is Vipers bread and butter, the main skill that allows him to completely melt face. When activated you will place a damage over time on the target, as well as slow their attack and movement speed, allowing you to easily tail someone for a kill. It is also a great farming and harassing tool; you can orb walk very easily (will discuss orb walking later) to harass without aggroing the creeps.
Nethertoxin causes Viper's normal attack to deal bonus damage to units based on how much health they are missing. The bonus damage doubles for each 20% of health missing from the target. Nethertoxin deals half damage to creeps and buildings.
This is a passive skill that will add bonus damage to your normal attacks based on how much health the unit is missing. What does this mean? The more you harass, the more damage you'll be able to do when you finally go in for the kill because your normal attacks will deal even more damage. Not to mention, this skill works on towers (though the effect is halved) which can give you some pushing prowess.
Viper exudes an infectious toxin that damages and slows any enemy that attacks it. The acid exudate also increases Viper's resistance to spells.
This skill will cause anyone who attacks you with normal attack's to take damage, as well as slow their movement and attack speeds, and as an added bonus it increases your magic resistance. This skill is what can make viper a great "tanky" carry with the right items, though overall he is better used as a normal carry to deal as much damage as quickly as possible to melt the enemy team.
Viper slows the targeted enemy unit's movement and attack speed while also dealing poison damage over time. The slowing effect reduces over the duration of the poison.
Viper's ultimate can be matched to Venomancers, except it is a single target skill that can kill the enemy. When cast you will slow the enemy by an amount, this slow effect will reduce over the duration of the ult, as well as adding a damage over time effect. When mixed between all your other venom and poisons, you'll become a noxious little devil.
Your main three items will always be your Power Treads
, Manta Style
, and Shadow Blade
. These will give you enough damage, attack speed, and movement speed to make great use of your venomous attacks. Not to mention that with the Manta Style
passive you can make it even more confusing for the enemy to find you, or use it to help kill an enemy or take a tower down. Add in Shadow Blade
and have an escape mechanism, or a way to sneak up for ganks on other lanes. When used in conjunction, you can pop your manta and immediately stealth away while they deal with the clones. Watch out for AoE stuns though, if people catch on they may cast them right over you as soon as you use manta.
If you are having trouble managing your mana, or are still learning it, then picking up a Ring of Aquila
will give you some bonus armor and mana regen to help. Make sure to turn it off as not to affect your creeps. A Mask of Madness
is a great item, but it is harder to use effectively. The passive life steal, and your Poison Attack
do not stack, meaning that you can only have one active at a time. If you are getting harassed a lot, or want some extra burst of attack speed (that can come quite handy in a pinch) then nab this mask. Learn when to toggle your poison on and off to lifesteal health back. Note: In a teamfight the life steal should be ignored, it will not be enough to keep you alive if you're being focused, opt to use your poison over it.
Once you've picked up your main build you can start looking into what luxury or situational items you want. If you ARE NOT being focused (like you should be *cough*) then grabbing a Monkey King Bar
or a Mjollnir
are great. A MKB will give you a chance to mini-stun, making you just that much more OP. A mjollnir on the other hand will give you some interesting effects to say the least. Not only will it provide some good attack speed and damage, but it will provide you with a shield that will damage the attacker and surrounding enemies. This can be great because they will have to break through the shield before they get to you, and it also works in conjunction with your Corrosive Skin
. It also gives you a chance to cast chain lightning, which will overide your Poison Attack
when it happens, but it can cause a little AoE damage to help you reach fleeing enemies in a teamfight.
If you're being focused a lot by CC and stuns then a Black King Bar
is a must have. A few second of invulnerability will allow you to completely wipe any mage off the face of the earth.
Now, time to explain some of the odd situational items.
Mask of Madness
is actually included here. Grab it if you're being harassed a lot and want the burst of speed. It's a cheap and great item that quite a few people overlook on Viper because it doesn't stack with Poison Attack
. If you like the attack speed provided by the mask, but do not need the lifesteal, then another option to look into is the Hyperstone
instead. Not to mention, it will give you a jump on a Mjollnir
Hood of Defiance
and Linken's Sphere
are great if you're fighting a team compromised entirely of casters or an AoE ult team. They'll give you bonus resistance (Hood should stack with your Corrosive Skin
, I cannot confirm this just yet but I'll look into it soon and report back my findings), and the ability to block a skill every 20 seconds.
is another great item if you have one or two mages that focus you. Not only does it provide some extra damage and mana regen (If you get an orchid, skip a Ring of Aquila
), but a 5 second long silence and a 25% increase to the damage they take, which is more than enough time to take them down.
And finally, the oddest item on the list... a Refresher Orb
. This is the one item on the list you will probably never get. It gives you the ability to refresh all the items in your inventory, as well as your ultimate. Only get this IF and ONLY IF you are being focused so hard that a Manta Style
and Shadow Blade
aren't enough to get away. You can refresh both items for an extra chance to escape. That is, if you have enough mana... which you might not if you've been fighting with your Poison Attack
on. The only reason I'm even adding this item here is because while very situational, it is still a possible build item and shouldn't be /completely/ ignored.
I mentioned earlier that you can harass using "orb walking". For those who do not know what this is, it is using a unique attack modifier ability ( Poison Attack, Searing Arrows, and Arcane Orb to add a few) to attack and harass an enemy. Instead of having these abilities on auto cast (when you press alt + skill it will automatically activate it with each attack), you will active it yourself by pressing the skill key and clicking on an enemy. What this will do is allow you to attack the enemy with the skill but you will not draw creep aggro. It is a very useful way to harass without taking damage in return.
Gameplay - Early, Mid, and Late.
Side lane gameplay.
If you're going to play on a sidelane, try to lane with a partner with a stun on the "easy" lane (top for dire, bottom for radiant). You'll easily be able to secure first blood. Use "orb walking" to harass the enemy, but DO NOT let yourself fall below half mana. You will want at least half your mana if your team decides to go in for a kill. Farm up as much gold as you can, as soon as you can afford them grab your Boots of Speed
from the side shop. Then start purchasing the pieces for your two Wraith Band
s in your stash, and have the courier bring them to you once you have both. Now you need to decide what item path you will take.
If you are being harassed a lot and need some regen, then go for the Mask of Madness
. If you are having trouble with mana then turn one wraith band into a Ring of Aquila
(keep the aura off so it doesn't affect your creeps, you want the enemy to be able to push your creeps easily so that the lane stays even between the two sides). From here, you'll start farming your Manta Style
, starting with a Yasha
Mid lane gameplay.
If you end up in the mid lane I suggest starting with two tangos over getting the Iron Branch
es. This will help with your regen and allow you to stay in lane long enough to farm your boots of speed] and [[wraith bands before having your courier bring them to you, or going back to base. I also usually take two levels of Corrosive Skin
early for the bit of resistance since you will probably be harassed a lot. Try and take over your lane if you can, push the enemy back with orb walking, and farm. If in mid lane you will really want to know how to manage your mana so you can harass optimally. Because of this, I usually skip the Ring of Aquila
and Mask of Madness
, and rush for my Manta Style
as quickly as possible. Though if needed you can still pick up one, or both of the regen items.
I also suggest grabbing a bottle (another reason I skip the ring and mask) and going rune hunting when you can. Depending on what runes spawn (try to get one of the first rune spawns) I play offensively or defensively, or even gank another lane if I nab a double damage, illusion, or invisibility rune. Other than that, focus on your farming, while trying to orb walk to harass the enemy so another team mate can gank for a kill, or you can even try and take them on alone with the slow from your Poison Attack
Side lane gameplay.
By now you should have a few kills, and of been able to farm up your Power Treads
and Manta Style
. You can attempt to gank mid and push down their tower easily if you pull it off. If not, work on farming up your Shadow Blade
so you can drop in and surprise other lanes. Start working with your team to push down towers and kill the enemy team. If you decided to go down another item path, this will still apply, try to help your team as much as possible. You'll want the kill and assist gold.
Mid lane gameplay.
You should also have a few kills by now if you're playing with the midlane. Ganking top and bot when needed can easily lead to a kill and a tower taken down. Continue to farm mid while helping your team to take down the other first towers. Once they're all down you will want to stick with your team and start looking for teamfights, pick up kills if you can but don't deliberately steal them. You should easily be able to grab your Manta Style
and Shadow Blade
and start looking into your lategame build.
By now you shouldn't be confined to a single lane, if you are then something's wrong. Your main focus will be to work with your team to take down towers, farm when you can, but it isn't your main goal anymore. By now you should have your three core items, and have enough damage to take down the enemy. All that's left is to work on your lategame items depending on the enemy, and to win.
When in a teamfight, you'll want to position yourself like any ranged agility carry. Behind your team a bit, let them take the front of the damage. You want to stay far enough away so that you won't be hit by any AoE attacks, but not far enough to where an enemy with a blink can blink next to you and try and take you out while you're away from your team. Once the first few enemy spells are burned out, go in and start melting face. Focus on the enemy carrys and mages, you will be able to melt them very quickly.
Friends and foes.
Pretty much anyone with a stun or another form of hard CC is a friend of Viper. Earthshaker, Crystal Maiden, Windrunner, Lina, Ogre Magi, and Disruptor are a few great laning partners to name a few.
Anyone who can spam harass as much as Viper can will be trouble for you, as well as heroes with stuns that can aim them well.
Silencer can counter Viper with his many silences. You won't be able to use your Q, meanwhile he will drop a few auto attacks on you and force you back.
Lion can also be hard to lane against. If he lands a stun on you he can easily absorb all of your mana, leaving you with nothing but normal attacks while he continues to stun and lay waste to you.
Tinker has even better lane control than you, and will burst you down quickly completely shutting you down.
outworld destroyer is another hard counter to Viper. True damage > Viper's damage. He can out orb walk you with his nearly infinite mana, meanwhile you can't attack back otherwise he'll astral you. Not to mention that one ult can completely screw you over.
If you see one of these main 4 on the enemy team, it may be better to play another carry.
Viper can have some of the highest continuous damage in game, but he can also be one of the hardest to master. If you're newer to DoTa, I suggest you take a look at other heroes to learn how to play agility carries before you try him.
Overall, Viper can fit into nearly any team composition, as well as any lane combination. He is quite versatile depending on what items you choose, which is also his one flaw. He is very item dependent, though at first glance you wouldn't think so. On his own, Viper has high damage, but he will be focused and destroyed. You have to find the right combination of items to counter the enemy and allow you to escape if need be.
Thank you all for reading this guide, and good luck!