Valve just released the in-game guide system, so I've uploaded the builds. Find them in game or go here to subscribe and see notes IN-GAME!
Dazzle is commonly used as a Babysitter/Support but from reading around the PlayDota.com forums and playing him myself, I believe that his early game killing potential is vastly under-rated.
Originally this guide was created to showcase the hidden carry potential of Dazzle. However, after playing tons and tons of games and refining my playstyle, I've designed this guide to now encompass everything about Dazzle. From regular default support Dazzle, to ward *****, to semi-carry... this guide covers it all! As I get better at Dota and more experienced with Dazzle, things are bound to change.
Enjoy and please vote and comment! All feedback is welcome.
I'm a very wordy writer and love to explain things in-depth. For a quick guide to Dazzle, check out the Mini-Guide section... but for all the juicy information, grab a hot chocolate and prepare for a novel!
If you guys like Axe and Jakiro, then check out my other two guides...
Removed the 'What did 6.75 do for Dazzle?' section because it's out of date now. Put in the Poison Touch Level 4 notes into the Poison Touch section. Did some general clear up because some of the tangents were a bit distracting :)
Also considering trying out Armlet. It's been popular recently on a few Reddit threads and Dendi used it once, so maybe it's worth checking out. Stay tuned for updates.
Added Build 4, the Utility Build. Recently I've been skipping Weave in order to have a maxed Shallow Grave and Shadow Wave sooner. It's been very effective and it's definitely worth thinking about.
Added a little chapter for 6.75. No huge amount of changes but Poison Touch is now worth taking to Level 4 (although not early) in case you were skilling stats at 14. I'll update all the numbers for skills and stuff later, still at work ;)
Added the Mouz vs DK International 2 Qualifiers game to the Homework section. This is the only game where Dazzle was picked. Also threw in a game of my own from tonight.
I'm going to come up with a bit more theory on early game Dazzle and an alternative build which relies on heavy teamwork to focus on ludicrous tower dives coupled with Shallow Grave. His main weakness in competitive play is his need for experience (which gimps him compared to the Venomancer, Vengeful Spirit and Crystal Maiden style supports). The only thing he has is death immunity... so which Heroes can take most advantage of that?
OK so I finally caved in. Well it wasn't really caving in but after about 80+ games as Dazzle I found myself getting Shallow Grave before level 9 on most occasions.
I think that a Dazzle player should ALWAYS assess the situation before investing that crucial point. I still think that Shadow Wave is better in many situations and if you're playing with a teammate on Skype/Mumble/Ventrillo then you could have a much better time in lane without Shallow Grave. However, if the opposing lane is playing extremely aggressive you can completely turn the tables on any hyper aggression with Shallow Grave. See the laning phase in the 'Shallow Grave Replays' section of the skill to see an excellent example of when Shallow Grave wins lanes.
Probably the biggest round of changes yet. Mainly streamlining the item builds and separating Semi-Carry Dazzle from the default Aggressive Laning build. Removed a few Rare/Situational items that I found myself never ever building.
Made a LOT of changes to my recommended items and added a lot more analysis on Dazzle's place as a support and some more advanced tactics. To help break things up, I've added mini-guide style Summaries to the top of each Skill section.
Added a Ward ***** build. If you're buying wards, babysitting and roaming around... you're not going to get much farm at all. Screw the Phase Boots, you will be underleveled and missed your early game time to shine.
Poison Touch is Dazzle's primary ganking skill and what makes him such a valuable lane partner early game. It also makes him a superb chaser, giving him 4 seconds with which to catch up to and strike his target.
Summary Early Game
Use the long range and threat of a 4 second slow to force enemy laners to back off. Cast it to secure kills at the start of a gank and if an enemy pulls creep aggro.
Use it for chasing and on melee threats, allowing your team to kite them. Interrupt channelling abilities if you have no need for the stun & slow.
Use it defensively against carries to reduce their damage and ability to get into range. Target anyone attempting to attack your carry or anyone chasing a low-life ally (which you have usually Graved)
Skill Analysis & Tactics
The main use of Poison Touch is to give yourself and your lane partner more time to attack an enemy target. Dazzle is all about physical damage and Poison Touch is a perfect ability for applying maximum physical damage. The only ability that rivals Poison Touch is a 4+ second stun. The long range (longer than Dazzle's attack range) is something you must remember and exploit, allowing you to cast it without warning and from relative safety.
Like most powerful supporting Heroes, Poison Touch grants a high level of lane control and area denial. It allows you to threaten the enemy lane just with your presence and the risk of counter-attack. Magic Missile, Frost Blast, Frostbite / Crystal Nova are all along the same lines. They give your farming partner 700 range of freedom.
Poison Touch has very low damage, so relying on it to kill people is often unwise, however it's possible to kill on occasion as an enemy escapes into the Fog of War. Do remember that Weave and Medallion of Courage will amplify it's physical damage, so it can deal much more damage than you think. The cooldown is low enough that in an extended gank or skirmish, you can often cast it when the enemy is under the full effect of your Weave. Be careful with this if you're worried about kill stealing.
Late Game you will be using Poison Touch defensively against melee carries and as an interrupt to channelling abilities.
When skilling Poison Touch it's best to get it to Level 3 as soon as possible (for the stun) and then leave it until you're level 14 to put the final point in. The reduced cooldown means that it's a superb chasing ability, although rather mana costly for sustained use. 145 mana is very expensive. Still, a 600 range long duration slow, mini-stun and regular stun is excellent on a 7 second cooldown.
Match ID: 15591508
This is linked at the bottom too, because overall it's a really nice game. Throughout this game I feel that I use Poison Touch in some really good situations that showcase it as an extremely effective tool against melee carries and semi-carries ( Bloodseeker and Riki in this game) so that's why I linked it.
Shallow Grave is an interesting ability. In certain situations it's pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. On most occasions it is delaying the inevitable or you're out of range when it is useful. Level 4 Shallow Grave is pretty damn awesome, with a low cooldown and huge range. Until then, it's rather lacklustre... but never underestimate it, especially when cast on yourself.
When do you skill Shallow Grave? I'm a big fan of delaying Shallow Grave until level 7 or 9. In the end, every game is different and you need to decide how you want to control your lane. If the enemy is super aggressive and the lane is extremely imbalanced, skill Grave. If you want an early push strategy or have an ally with an easy escape, skill Shadow Wave.
Summary Early Game
If you take Shallow Grave early (2, 4 or 7), save it for enemy gank attempts. Get this if you are against a very aggressive and nuke heavy lane, and your partner has no escape.
It will still have very short range, so cast it on yourself for baiting or on allies who find themselves in a sticky situation. Your heals are at maximum power at this stage, so Grave is perfect for turning the tide of a battle. Grave on your initiator is a good tactic in team fights, wasting enemy spells on a target that won't die... but don't get into close range unless you're 100% sure you can escape (this is what makes Phase Boots core on Dazzle)
The cooldown is still long, but it's short enough that a prolonged battle will have multiple Grave casts. Save it for your carry, let initiators die (unless you've started the battle with a double kill) and don't take chances.
Shallow Grave received a range buff for 6.77 which makes early maxing of Shallow Grave rather unnecessary. 700 range at Level 2 gives you a lot more freedom to leave it at 2 points and then max all your other skills... in situations when you would usually want to get Shallow Grave to Level 3 at least. 700 range is the same as Poison Touch, which is an above average range ability and safe from enemy attack ranges.
The cooldown reduction is always nice, but until late-game you probably won't need multiple Shallow Graves anyway.
Skill Analysis & Tactics
Levels 1 and 2 of Shallow Grave have such a short range that it's usually only cast on yourself until late-game. Getting into 600 range in a team fight is likely to result in your death on top of the inevitable death of the Graved target. Level 3 and 4 is when Shallow Grave becomes gamebreaking.
Shallow Grave works best on Heroes with lifesteal or healing abilities. It buys you time. Time to kill all your enemies or time for the target to heal up (as people generally won't target an enemy who is unkillable for 5 seconds). For Heroes that snowball while attacking (think Huskar and Ursa), Shallow Grave is pretty incredible.
A more advanced use of Shallow Grave is to bait ganks. At mid game, with 15 Magic Wand charges, Level 4 Shadow Wave and Mekansm you can go from 1HP to 550HP in 1 second. Run into a dangerous situation and take the flak your enemies throw at you (unless they can chain stun!). Cast Grave on yourself and run towards your allies waiting in ambush. There are many times when you can completely wipe an enemy team with this tactic. If you have cast Weave in advance, it's even more likely that this tactic will work (550HP becomes crazy effective with high armor). Of course, you can also use an ally to bait... just make sure you're in range!
Remember, Axe's Culling Blade debuffs before applying its execute effect. It will debuff Shallow Grave and kill enemies through it!
Also, you cannot cast Shallow Grave on a magic immune target! Make sure any allies with Black King Bar understand this and adapt their usage accordingly.
Match ID: 27229144
The laning phase in this game shows the incredible power of Shallow Grave, and this game is one of the reasons I've decided to pick it up at 4 or 7 rather than level 9 like I used to. In fact, I pick it up at level 3 here because a Gyrocopter missile was heading my way and I would have died without Grave. The rest of the game is pretty 'meh' from a Dazzle point of view (our team comp was really awful) but there are a lot of nice Grave saves and the laning phase is an excellent example of baiting kills with Shallow Grave
Shadow Wave is my personal favourite of Dazzle's skills. It's great for healing (early game at least), pushing, farming and killing. It's not going to save many lives at the 40 minute mark (although a maxed Weave gives a nice boost to Effective HP) but in the laning phase it's a godsend... especially when partnering with a fragile melee carry or when you play some heavy harass and want to negate creep damage.
Summary Early Game
Use it to screw up enemy last hits, nuke melee last hitters and keep your lane partner (and yourself) topped up. Always keep in mind that your healing will win you long term harass wars against other laners, especially if you skip Shallow Grave.
Pushing and farming. Dazzle isn't a big farmer but he does need items. Level 3-4 Shadow Wave can gib creep waves, giving you free Observer Wards, Dust of Appearance or the next part of your Mekansm. It also allows you to protect towers from pushes and solo push towers for mid game split pushing.
Sustained healing. That's it. While allied Armor increases late game, and Wave will provide strong Effective HP, it does not keep up with enemy damage very well. However, in a prolonged fight and with its short cooldown, the healing adds up. It's not nearly as effective as Necrolyte but it does make a difference! The damage component is useless late game.
Skill Analysis & Tactics
Early game, Shadow Wave can deal ridiculous damage. I added the maximum possible damage stats to the skill description above because it is very useful to know. 240 damage at Level 1 is enough to scare off any melee last-hitters. The psychological effect of chunking around 40% of an enemy's HP in 1 skill is not to be underestimated. At Level 8, it can cause 700 damage which does not include the amplification from Weave. Of course, this is often extremely situational... but people underestimate the nuking ability of Dazzle. Take advantage of that ignorance. Enemies like Tiny and Bloodseeker are completely and utterly screwed by smart use of Shadow Wave.
Shadow Wave also makes Dazzle a superb pusher from level 7 onwards. This is another reason why I often skip Shallow Grave. In the heavy push metagame, Shadow Wave is extremely useful for taking early towers and defending against pushes.
When partnered with Broodmother, Enigma or Nature's Prophet, some teamwork can result in an overpowered combination of abilities as your teammate surrounds the target with creeps and then you apply the 700 damage chunk of Shadow Wave. This also makes Dazzle a great support pusher, as he can keep summons topped up under tower aggro.
Shadow Wave as a Hero killing tool does start to tail off towards mid-late game. The physical damage is often neutralized by increased enemy Armor values, so you'll want a good amount of Weave already active if you hope to deal serious damage with Shadow Wave. Or just use it to gib poorly positioned supports. It's not going to bring down an Anti-Mage.
Match ID: 15165352
In this game, I lane with Phantom Lancer vs Tiny and Bounty Hunter. A perfect lane for maxing Shadow Wave and skipping Shallow Grave. This was a pub game, so it's not the best example (we have very little coordination) but this game is an ok example of the power of Shadow Wave for pushing and dominating Melee foes in lane. Unfortunately we both had leavers so it ended as a 4v4.
You should always consider ignoring Weave until around level 10-11. If your team is not teamfighting in the early game, or does not have considerable early game physical damage (no Sven for example), then it's sometimes worthwhile to max Shallow Grave or Shadow Wave sooner.
Weave is one of the best ultimates in the game and, along with Guardian Angel, the best support Hero teamfight ability available in the roster (unless you count Tidehunter as a support I suppose!). After casting, any enemies caught in the massive area will lose 1 armor per second (up to -20 max) and any allies will gain 1 armor per second (up to 30 with Aghanim's Scepter).
So, yeah... that's a huge differential between Heroes in a team fight. Of course it does take time to become effective and that's half the skill in using the ability. Aghanim's Scepter provides extra damage reduction and, although Armor Reduction is capped at -20, the extended duration of damage reduction and amplification is what makes Scepter worthwhile on Dazzle. It also increases the radius which makes it basically unmissable.
If you are in a well-oiled team, you can even pre-cast Weave a few seconds before an offensive manoeuvre. As long as you have a team that can force a team fight, starting with 5-10 Armor is quite the advantage in a clash. In fact, if your back is against the wall and you're defending your Rax... having a pre-cast Weave is great for surviving a push through pure attrition.
The most important thing to remember with Weave is that it's only powerful after time has passed. It's often a complete waste of your ultimate if you wait until a clash has already started. In battles with powerful initiators like Tidehunter, Sand King & Enigma, the fight can often end before Weave even gets going. My advice with this ability is to just use it whenever you can. Try and get a few allies and an enemy or two in the radius before **** goes down.
3x Iron Branch - Cheap stats, ensures a GG and all that. Great for your Magic Wand
1x Tango - Cheap healing that doesn't cost mana
3x Clarity - Some nice early mana regen, helps with your harass and transitioning into a gank
1x Animal Courier - Even if you're not supporting, you don't really need much in the first 2 minutes.
Core Boots of Speed Sage's Mask into Medallion of Courage - Get the Sage's Mask after your boots Phase Boots - After MoC, take Phase Boots for awesome harassment. Phase Boots are the best boots on Dazzle in my opinion. Dazzle supports through harassment and nice damage supplementation. Phase Boots offer this better than any others. The Phase ability is also great for escaping and running into range for risky Shallow Grave casts (especially early game)
Magic Wand - Finish up your Magic Wand whenever you feel like it. The 3x Iron Branch are probably taking up too much space anyway, so you could even get it before your Sage's Mask
Most games will end with this... especially if you're on Warding duty
Core Continued... Mekansm - I used to never really get Mek on Dazzle, but since I've got better at farming and making money, I've been getting it in every single game. Start with the Buckler. The +2 Armor buff is amazing for pushing in combination with Shadow Wave, it also negates the -6 Armor of Medallion of Courage. In general, Armor rocks on Dazzle.
As a support with huge Intelligence growth and low mana abilities, you are a perfect Mek carrier. You can also pull off pretty crazy stunts with Shallow Grave and this will save your *** countless times in mid-late game skirmishes.
Observer Ward - I'm a bad warder. I know where to put them and I buy them often but I also tend to delay them until I get my Mekansm. Bad Warboys, BAD! We hear it all the time though, and if you're the only support you should be warding.
You should probably buy some after you get your boots in lane. You should probably buy a second batch before you upgrade your boots (after your Medallion of Courage). Then you should also get a third batch before your Mekansm. In the end though, read the game and decide. In pub games you can often get away with being light on warding, in high skilled games you should probably be a bit of a ward *****.
One thing to remember though, you're not Crystal Maiden. You are not a roaming support, you should only be using wards defensively to protect your lane.
With Dazzle's high intelligence and gain, Void Stone provides extremely effective mana regen. If you feel you need extra mana, and have a free slot... pick it up!
People hate on Bloodstone but a plain ol' Soul Booster is a surprisingly effective item. You get a free +100% mana regen when it's complete, it comes in very small parts which all give instant effectiveness to Dazzle and anything that makes you tankier is a blessing. When you find yourself between minds when selecting your post-core item (and don't have the cash to go for a luxury), Soul Booster is a great choice that gives you much needed survivability, mana and mana regen. Everything Dazzle needs.
Situational Eul's Scepter of Divinity - Sometimes you will have mana troubles as Dazzle. Dazzle spends his mana in bursts, when he has an opportunity to kill or to save a life. The only time I have mana troubles with Dazzle is when the game is just constant team fights... all the time. Team fights where you never die and respawn at fountain. Team fights where you have no time to courier yourself a Clarity Potion and you get no charges on your Magic Wand... so yeah, very situational. The speed boost is excellent, the regen is only beaten by Scythe of Vyse (which you'll never afford as Dazzle) and the active can save your *** on numerous occasions... especially after Grave. Not only that, you might be building a Void Stone as an extension anyway... so why not finish it?
Pipe of Insight - Pipe rocks. It can swing battles and when coupled with your healing and damage reduction your team can blitz team fights. However, never get Pipe and Mekansm on the same Hero!! You're already public enemy #1 with Shallow Grave! The reason I always tend to take Mek over Pipe is because of the Armor on Mek and the fact that Dazzle doesn't really need health regeneration at all.
Orchid Malevolence - This grants some pretty powerful stats but no survivability. Unlike Desolator (another offensive item), this isn't completely useless if you want to transition back to support Dazzle (mana regen and silence is very handy). If you're stomping but unsure if you can finish the game early, pick this. If Anti-Mage is crushing early game, sometimes you should just aim for this... it really helps out.
Other Possibilities Arcane Boots - 99% of the time I'll get Phase Boots, they fit my playstyle more and the speed boost is great for lifesaving Shallow Graves and for chasing with Poison Touch. When you're having an awful early game or if you are on Ward ***** duty, then you will miss your time to deal heavy supporting physical damage. When this happens, you might as well get Arcane Boots for the team mana boost.
Shiva's Guard - The only time I would get this is if I had bought the Plate Mail for Assault Cuirass before realizing it was a bad idea and going back to caster Dazzle. Shiva could work fine on Dazzle, but often you will not get the farm for a Mystic Staff
Scythe of Vyse - It's the best item in the game, if you somehow manage to farm up a Mystic Staff then you might as well get it. Can't say anything bad about this item.
Force Staff - I've actually never bought this on Dazzle, but it does seem like a strong item. It grants a nice escape. It used to provide extra damage and some attack speed but now it gives ****py regen. It's Force Staff, it works on everyone... but it's a little less cool than it used to be.
Blade Mail - I added this because both the stats and the active are all helpful for Dazzle... but only get it after your Pipe/Mek. If you're playing well, you will get noticed (pro Dazzle Shallow Graves are gamebreaking), so a Blade Mail can dissuade people from focusing you. I tend to get this when I have money to spare.
Semi-Carry Dazzle Core Items - Same as regular Dazzle. Your Medal, Phase Boots and Wand are all essential.
Desolator - Early game, semi-carry Dazzle can cause some major pain with Deso. It grants -6 Armor on top of your -6 Armor from Medallion of Courage on top of your Phase Boots and naturally high attack damage... on top of Weave and with the incredible chasing ability of Poison Touch. Early game the power is incredible... but it grants no survivability which is Dazzle's biggest weakness.
Heaven's Halberd - The only time you'll be semi-carrying as Dazzle is if you're completely and utterly stomping... so Heaven's Halberd is a nice mix of survivability (health and evasion on top of your Armor and heals... great!), damage and utility.
Assault Cuirass - More survivability + damage combined with slight support. You'll be an Armor Reducing machine which will allow your allies to carry better too.
Aghanim's Scepter - Survivability will be your only concern if you ever manage to get this far down the shopping list. Sell your Medallion or Magic Wand and then get Scepter. Health and mana on top of your massive Armor, Evasion, heals and Shallow Grave is all you'll need at this point. The Weave improvement is just icing on the cake.
Roles: Sidelaning Dazzle and why he isn't Crystal Maiden
The difference between Dazzle and a pure support like Crystal Maiden is that Dazzle can deal a **** ton of damage and his power as a support is from weakening enemies. He doesn't hold them in place, his heal is small and Grave costs a ton of mana and isn't effective until later game. Dazzle supports by serving up Hero kills on a platter. He stays in lane and gets experience and gold so that he can serve up even more Heroes. He should not be roaming around and ending the game at level 8.
See the pattern? Dazzle is just not a great Hero until level 5. Quite frankly, he's awful. All Dazzle contributes until level 5 is a very weak slow and a little lane sustain with Shadow Wave. Once he hits level 5, he has a powerful slow with a stun and either an average-powerful situational nuke (level 2 Shadow Wave) or a free life for an ally ( Shallow Grave... although at level 1 it's likely suicidal to use it on your part).
Dazzle can babysit reasonably well, but without some early farm and even a kill or two, he's missing out on his true potential. One way to think about Dazzle's early farm is that it's a long term plan. Yes, your Anti-Mage might not get 200g from an early gank in the first 5 minutes... perhaps he'll have to wait a little longer for his first luxury item, but an Anti-Mage with a well equipped Dazzle behind him is free to farm however much gold he wants.
Nothing will kill him, he has great sustain and if an enemy even thinks about stepping out of position... you'll drop them with 50% damage amplification and a 3 second slow/stun. And AM will get that kill. And the next one...
Secure free farming is much more valuable than first blood.
What first prompted me to write a Dazzle guide was the idea of semi-carry Dazzle. A bunch of threads on PlayDota were saying how Dazzle was being misused as a supporter. After playing a bunch of games (on around my 40th in Dota 2 right now), I'm of the impression that semi-carry Dazzle is pretty effective if you can get an early Desolator (like 20mins in). If you can't, you'll end up being too squishy to carry anything, even with Shallow Grave.
Just a warning for ya!
An offensive, semi-carry Dazzle is going to require a solo lane. Dazzle's ability to heal himself and cause massive damage to enemy melee last-hitters, make him an absolute nightmare for typical melee mids like Pudge and Tiny.
Every time they go to last hit with a packed creep wave, hit them with Shadow Wave. Early on, this skill can take off 50% of their health in one cast. One hit of this ability is enough to start the snowball rolling as you scare them out of range and force them back to their tower.
He's pretty awful against a ranged Hero though.
At this point, you can start ganking other lanes with your Level 3 Poison Touch. Dazzle isn't a crazy good ganker very early on, unless enemies are standing in a bunch of allied creeps. But once he gets his Phase Boots and Medallion of Courage he can easily shred a target before they know what's happening
Unfortunately there are a lot of Heroes in Dota 2 that will have higher priority than you. 99% of the time, you'll be in a side lane.
Late-Game: Level 16-25 Weave amplifies and reduces carry levels of damage. Shallow Grave has a safe casting range.
Dazzle really starts to overtake early game supports in the mid game, and vastly out-supports them by late game (only Omniknight and Shadow Demon compare in my opinion). But in the current metagame of fast aggressive pushing, Dazzle can't get to that point without being a detriment to his team.
Level 4-6: Sustain a lane partner, Prevent death for 5 seconds
Level 7-9: Hold back a minor push, Sustain a lane partner, Prevent death for 5 seconds
So if we look at his strengths, Dazzle is useful in a extremely dangerous lane where himself or his partner is taking damage. Would he be viable in the suicide lane? I suppose he would... although his escape mechanism is severely lacking, it's like a poor man's Windrun. Plus, he'll be chain stunned before he can Shallow Grave in a 1v3 lane or an aggressive Chen / Enchantress jungle.
How about babysitting? Dual lanes aren't really in fashion right now. Lanes are usually out of balance, so you'll either be in a 2v1 safe lane (with a jungle supporting as a pseudo-trilane) or a 1v2 suicide lane.
There's only one dual lane combo which is played right now, and that's 2v1 dual mid... usually with Lich + a hard carry (such as Anti-Mage). Could Dazzle play the Lich role? No.
Lich supports his partner by denying creeps and keeping the mid lane creeps constantly near your own tower. It's a highly defensive combo. In a 2v1, your partner is going to be extremely safe... so you won't need to use your abilities defensively. But what if you use them offensively? What if you use Shallow Grave to repeatedly tower dive the mid lane opponent?
Which partners could effectively kill an enemy under the tower and escape with the help of Shallow Grave?
Omniknight - In theory, he's pretty much the best dude for the job. Repel means the enemy can't even stun or slow him, Purification is massive pure damage and Degeneration Aura means they can't even run if he manages to get in range (which he will with Poison Touch)
Undying - If Omniknight is the best dude, Undying is 2nd. This guy is built to play in ultra aggressive lanes and dive towers.
Riki - Deals plenty of damage, has his Smoke Bomb to prevent defensive crowd control. Just needs time to stab. Can Blink Strike back to you to escape.
Axe - Deals the best early game damage if he gets lucky with Counter Helix. Crazy dives are his specialty and he's tanky enough to reduce the risk of dying post-Grave.
Leshrac - Diabolic Edict is epic for tower diving. Just need to remove the creep wave. Not exactly reliable but it could work
Sven - Storm Hammer is the best level 1 stun in the game, so Sven's high physical damage and natural tankiness and speed (with a Warcry) should give him some killer diving potential.
Tiny - His crazy combo insta-gibs almost anyone. The problem is getting close to use it, but perhaps the 'safety' of the tower will bring down an enemy's guard.
Huskar - He's the king of Shallow Grave in any situation, but diving under the tower for extra Burning Spears stacks is very powerful... and his increased damage and speed with Berserker's Blood means that nothing will survive a Huskar dive.
Drow Ranger - Her orb effect and natural mega damage really help diving.
As mentioned above, Dazzle has very little going for him before level 6. Therefore, you will have to rely on your superior positioning, decision making and denial skills to get an early advantage.
Dazzle really shines when he has a good start because he reaches that level 7-8 mark and gets out of **** tier. That can be said for a lot of Heroes but Dazzle's high base damage, base intelligence, intelligence growth and attack animation give him a real advantage at early-mid game compared to other Heroes. All it takes for a Dazzle to thrive early game is a Medallion of Courage, Phase Boots and Weave.
Early game you want to get Poison Touch to level 3 as soon as possible while harassing like a madman. If you're at full mana, use your Shadow Wave to screw up enemy last hits and (if they're melee) make sure they're scared every time they try to take gold for themselves.
Dazzle really is an incredible harasser, be aggressive. Keep enough mana for one life-saving Shadow Wave and a defensive/counter-gank Poison Touch and let your partner get most of the last hits. After my Boots of Speed, I will usually pick up Sage's Mask just so I can harass more.
As soon as you get your level 3 Poison Touch, you can gank. Wait for an opportune moment (usually if the enemy harasses and attracts creep aggro) and then hit them with Shadow Wave and Poison Touch.
I will be trying to find a bunch replays that you guys can watch for examples of strong Dazzle laning. I pride myself mainly on my early game handling of Dazzle's aggressive laning so it should be easier than finding games where I rock the house for 40 minutes and don't fail any Graves ;)
After the general laning phase (when people begin roaming), Dazzle has two options.
At this point there is often no need to babysit, so let your carry farm in their own little dream world while you roam the map and assist other lanes. With Shallow Grave and Weave, you're pretty amazing at ganking. Lead with your Poison Touch, Weave the enemies and then finish them off. If any survivors move under their tower and are on 50% health, you can probably dive them with assistance from a teammate.
When killing, here's the order you want to go with...
Not much can survive that. Instant -7 armor which will be -11 by the time Poison Touch ends. That's 42% damage amplification (on a target with zero armor... so it's a little weaker in real life) and at least 4 seconds of you and your allies hitting the target
Push a lane
When not ganking, Dazzle can quite capably push a lane on his own from level 7-8 onwards. Level 3-4 Shadow Wave can obliterate creep waves and keep your own waves strong. After ganking, keep the pressure on the lanes by clearing a creep wave or two.
If you're still in a duo lane (because you're either rocking the house or your carry needs help), you can force the enemy team to deal with you by pushing hard. This lets other lanes push and can reduce the pressure on them (if they're doing badly). The enemy team has to deal with you & your hard carry. Use this to your advantage by warding defensively and counter-ganking, or by just pushing the tower down. Either way, it's a win-win situation.
Late game, Dazzle's survivability and game-breaking abilities (level 4 Shallow Grave and Weave) will make it difficult for you to be offensive. Even Semi-Carry Dazzle has to relegate himself to a more supporting role when the game hits the 30-40 minute mark.
Fortunately, by this point it's likely that you have Mekansm and/or Pipe of Insight so you still have plenty to do. Stay at a safe distance ( Shallow Grave now has a huge cast range) and concentrate on what's happening in the fight...
Focus on your Carry, if they are anywhere near close to death... stick Shallow Grave on them. Don't be tempted to wait until the last second. It's amazing how many times you get stunned when waiting for a last second Grave.
Try to stay within range for a Mekansm or Pipe of Insight cast. The most important thing is to protect your carry but if it's safe, you should try and hit everyone.
Save your Poison Touch for potential channelling abilities or, if there's no danger of being Black Hole'd, hit the enemy carry with it... especially if they're melee. Poison Touch is great for keeping disablers off your carry.
Probably stop activating your Medallion of Courage. Unless you're in a perfectly safe location (the back of a chokepoint or elevated ground), you could probably do with the Armor yourself.
The most important thing is to stay alive. Shallow Grave has a 15 second cooldown, if the fight drags on... you will most probably win if the enemy cannot kill your carry twice over. Late game you are very similar to Necrolyte, your heals will add up over time.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope that this guide has helped you and that you're ready to make your enemies pale when they see the face of Dazzle!
If you remember anything from this guide, remember this...
Early game, Dazzle supports through harassment and amplifying damage for your carry. Early farm is worth it and your carry will thank you later as you get the levels and supporting damage you need to be the ultimate side-kick. Late game, Dazzle becomes a gamebreaking support. Stay alive and make sure key targets are protected from damage and death!
Any feedback is much appreciated, please leave a comment and vote!
Just in case you're interested, here is a list of amplified damage numbers at every enemy armor value.
Because of diminishing returns, the increases in damage are much higher at the start of Weave. Waiting those extra couple of seconds to cast Shadow Wave or Poison Touch can mean the difference between a kill and those occasions when the target escapes with a sliver of health.
In my opinion, after 10 seconds it's not worth delaying an ability to milk the damage amplification. The 1 extra second after those first 10 isn't worth risking an enemy getting away... so the most important choices you make with your skills are in those first 10 seconds of Weave. Remember that using Medallion of Courage turns those first 10 seconds into 4 seconds. Medallion is so strong because it jump starts all your abilities instantly.
Skill levels are based on my skill order above
/ Poison Touch level 324.24 per second, 169.68 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2106 per unit, 318 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4148.4 per unit, 742 max
/ Poison Touch level 326.64 per second, 186.48 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2111 per unit, 333 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4155.4 per unit, 777 max
/ Poison Touch level 328.08 per second, 196.56 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2117 per unit, 351 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4163.8 per unit, 819 max
/ Poison Touch level 329.04 per second, 203.28 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2121 per unit, 363 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4169.4 per unit, 847 max
/ Poison Touch level 330.384 per second, 212.69 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2126.6 per unit, 380 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4177.24 per unit, 886.2 max
/ Poison Touch level 331.44 per second, 220.08 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2131 per unit, 393 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4183.4 per unit, 917 max
/ Poison Touch level 332.4 per second, 226.8 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2135 per unit, 405 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4189 per unit, 945 max
/ Poison Touch level 333.36 per second, 233.52 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2139 per unit, 417 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4194.6 per unit, 973 max
/ Poison Touch level 334.25 per second, 239.73 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2142.7 per unit, 428 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4199.78 per unit, 998.9 max
/ Poison Touch level 335.04 per second, 245.28 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2146 per unit, 438 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4204.4 per unit, 1022 max
/ Poison Touch level 335.76 per second, 250.32 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2149 per unit, 447 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4208.6 per unit, 1043 max
/ Poison Touch level 336.48 per second, 255.36 total
/ Shadow Wave level 2152 per unit, 456 max
/ Shadow Wave level 4212.8 per unit, 1064 max
/ Poison Touch level 337.2 per second, 260.4 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4217 per unit, 1085 max
/ Poison Touch level 337.92 per second, 265.44 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4221.2 per unit, 1106 max
/ Poison Touch level 338.4 per second, 268.8 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4224 per unit, 1120 max
/ Poison Touch level 339.12 per second, 273.84 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4228.2 per unit, 1141 max
/ Poison Touch level 339.6 per second, 277.2 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4231 per unit, 1155 max
/ Poison Touch level 453.44 per second, 374.08 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4233.8 per unit, 1169 max
/ Poison Touch level 454.08 per second, 378.56 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4236.6 per unit, 1183 max
/ Poison Touch level 454.72 per second, 383.04 total
/ Shadow Wave level 4239.4 per unit, 1197 max
I usually skip Shallow Grave until level 9 but there are some situations when Shallow Grave is borderline overpowered (or just very strong). In these cases, you should think about picking it up at level 4 or 7.
At least 5 seconds of hitting an enemy under the tower without risk of death. Of course, you wait for their health to drop before using it... so that's probably around 8-9 seconds. I wish I'd see more pros try this.
Similar to Huskar, the longer Ursa is in a fight, the more powerful he becomes. Give him 5 extra seconds to rampage through an enemy team.
Versus Necrolyte Shallow Grave protects against an executing Reaper's Scythe. Necrolyte's level 4 Sadist grants 600 Mana upon killing an enemy, that's an incredible boost to his healing in a teamfight. You cannot allow this to happen. In fact, a Necrolyte will often position themselves very aggressively when they know they're going to get their mana back. If you wait long enough, you can ****block that ******* and he'll be in the middle of a team fight with no mana and no heals.
Versus Lina, Sniper and/or Lion
Waste their ultimates by predicting who they will cast it on. Or, discourage them from casting it on your carry by just pre-emptively placing Grave. It's not at all that hard, but preventing Sniper from securing a kill on runners always feels satisfying!
He will often use Mana Void to execute targets (he's allowed to kill-steal whenever he wants). If you see him jump your mages, Grave them when they drop to about 50% mana.
Greedy Zeus players will often want to finish off escaped allies with Thundergod's Wrath. It's difficult to time, but sometimes you can get lucky.
Dazzle is best friends with a LOT of Heroes. He's every carry's best friend (no-one makes them more effective... except perhaps an Invoker with an Alacrity build), but I'll list some good synergies so you can think about your lane composition.
Double stun lane with ******** ridiculous physical damage when he has God's Strength. An AoE physical damage reduction strat with Warcry + Weave. Sven, like Kunkka is a Hero that really needs a long slow on his targets. You are that slow and you boost his insane damage by up to 71%.
Undying is a superb teammate for Dazzle. First, you both have ridiculous damage amplification ( Weave and Medallion of Courage making Flesh Golem even more powerful). Secondly, Tombstone is great for pushing and counter-pushing in conjunction with Shadow Wave. Third, Undying likes to stand in a massive bunch of enemies and gets focused... so you Grave him and enemies have even more damage amplification that they can't do anything about for 5 seconds. During that time, he's healing from every dead creep and Hero... and he has massive Armor. Truly Undying.
The introduction of Slithice was HUGE for Dazzle. It's like she is custom built to work with him. Ensnare gives you 5 seconds to crush people with physical attacks and it cannot be escaped... if 5 seconds isn't enough, you've got Poison Touch. Mirror Image is Shadow Wave's ultimate ally, granting ludicrous pushing power as well as nuke damage on enemies surrounded by 4 Sirens. Rip Tide synergizes perfectly with your Armor Reduction strategy, add Medallion of Courage in there and 4 angry Sirens are dealing crazy damage to a rooted and slowed target. Song of the Siren allows Weave to set in (giving you 7 seconds of free Weave). Finally, Shallow Grave owns for carries... we all know that. But Song of the Siren is another guaranteed lifeline... so the enemy has to basically kill her 3 times to win the fight. If Naga is picked up in competitive play, I wouldn't be surprised to see her comboed with Dazzle.
For a nice Armor Reduction strat, his Acid Spray will add 3/4/5/6 instant Armor Reduction to your targets. You're a great babysitter and an Alchemist left to farm can quickly become incredibly rich. Late-game, you'll be slowing his targets and making them squishy. Overall a good ally... but Alchemist is a garbage Hero so yeah...
This is a combo I've recently learned to appreciate and what makes it so strong is the threat that you both cause. An invisible Bounty Hunter isn't that threatening early game. He's very item dependent. But Shadow Waveis very powerful early game and Bounty Hunter helps 'conduct' Wave extremely well from out of nowhere. -6 Armor from Medallion of Courage makes Jinada hit like a truck, and once he gets Track the damage is just ridiculous. All of this damage comes from absolutely nothing, so enemy laners often don't expect the havoc that you can cause from out of the blue.
Broodmother is the reason I want to find a partner to login to Skype and lane with me. The possibilities with Spawn Spiderlings and Shadow Wave are endless. You help them survive pushes and tank more tower hits, you also can use them for INSANE Shadow Wave nukes on enemy Heroes and creep waves. Broodmother is already an amazing tower pusher, you make her better. If she goes for a Carry build, your Armor Reduction will help her lifesteal more, and she's one of those lifestealing carries who can go from 1 HP with Shallow Grave and regen right back up to full. In lane you're an absolute menace as well. Invisible Shadow Wave bombs, constant harass, constant healing... it's a match made in heaven and I wish more people played Broodmother!
Another summoner who, with coordination, can really destroy lanes with his Jungle ganks + Shadow Wave. On top of that, a great Black Hole will give ample time for your Weave to set in (5 free seconds to increase your armor and decrease theirs).
2 extra instances of Shadow Wave damage with those wolves of his. He doesn't really NEED a slow but it always helps and he deals purely physical damage so Weave is great for him. Howl is also quite nice for your early game aggressive harassment and it's global so you don't even need to be near him.
Like Broodmother, his summons give you crazy nuking potential and he is undoubtedly one of the strongest pushers in the game. You supplement his powerful pushing and Grave + Teleportation can infuriate the calmest of enemies.
Double armor reduction, double stun, extra physical damage bonus and you can Shallow Grave her when she swaps. You guys are a support dream team, if your team can support two supports. I would love to tri-lane with this girl.
So this is a case where the synergy between DK and Dazzle's skills isn't blatantly obvious for Wombo Combos, but Dazzle's power with a fat Elder Dragon Form DK is very strong in a real game scenario. You probably won't lane with him, but late game you are an excellent pair in team fights. His AoE physical splash damage is ridiculous with your AoE damage amplification. His natural tankiness gives Shadow Wave and Mekansm surprisingly effective late-game HP regeneration. On top of that, you've got Shallow Grave which makes this already tanky Hero even harder to bring down.
Example Match ID: 29067265
This game had some really excellent team fights with DK and Dazzle. It was 4v5 for most of the game, then our Enigma trolled and quit when it was safe to leave after having a hissy fit. The best part was when we were forced to use Enigma to initiate a fight (he'd disconnected) and we completely wiped them in one huuuuuuge Black Hole + Weave + Chaos Meteor + Elder Dragon Form mega combo.
Pure damage Impetus isn't effected by your awesome Weave bonuses. Not a huge counter but be wary of it. Untouchableis a massive pain in the *** for physical attackers though, and with no nukes you'll have to rely on someone else to deal with her.
This dude pretty much counters everyone, and early game his Last Word and Global Silence can really screw you if you want to attempt a close range Shallow Grave. Remember not to spam spells near him in a team fight, Grave is too important.
He counters everyone, but especially a squishy spellcaster like yourself... who tends to have a bunch of active items. However, if he doesn't Doom you, you're actually a very powerful counter to Doom Bringer.
Keeper of the Light
This dude is absolute hell for Dazzle. He pushes harder than you with Illuminate, which can deal so much surprise damage that you won't even have time to Shallow Grave someone. Keep your eyes WIDE open and Ward more than usual. His Chakra Magic gives his lane partner nuking power that you cannot outheal. On top of that, he can Mana Leak you which prevents you getting into Shallow Grave range until you've maxed it out. To top it off, Blinding Light is the ultimate counter to physical attacks... neutralizing the offensive component of your Weave.
If you play Dazzle a lot you're going to probably think the same way. It's a *****. Huskar and Ursa are the prime culprits, as they require some form of protection against stuns... but the 10/9/8/7 seconds of Magic Immunity is more than enough time for them to be focussed down and killed. A good player will realize this and stop being suicidal (especially when they know a Dazzle has their back), but in pub games you're often going to be cursing BKB until its duration drops to 5 seconds and you can hit them with Grave in the last second.
The low armor crew; Doom Bringer and Tiny in particular
With high physical attack, 2 physical damage abilities and massive armor reduction, Dazzle tears low Armor Heroes to pieces.
While he counters your Shallow Grave, you counter his playstyle. He loses his Armor advantage with Berserker's Call and his early game strategy is to surround himself with your allied creeps to trigger Counter Helix. As long as you can stay out of his range (which is easy with Poison Touch), he'll be food for your Shadow Wave.
If he jumps you, you're dead... but that's what he's designed to do. If he doesn't jump you, you reduce his ability to catch anyone with Poison Touch from far outside his Smoke Screen. On top of this, he's often a sitting duck when he tries to kill someone who you've graved. Riki is extremely squishy, so slap Medallion of Courage on him and he'll drop in about 2 seconds of focus fire. Killing him through invisibility with Shadow Wave is always hilarious too.
Here is some material for you to go over if you want to rest from playing and see some of the situations in this guide played out.
Reading Material ESFI World - Why not Dazzle?
Read from "Razzle-Dazzle in play". An excellent article on Dazzle's place in the current game. This will only really apply to competitive games, in pubs everything is viable.
Replays Pro Games
Dazzle is not picked up much in pro games. But recently DK picked him up in a game against Mousesports in The International 2012 Qualifiers.
Match ID: 36036525
Admittedly, it's an awful game by Dazzle. DK.ZippO just plays badly, simple as. In fact, this game really highlights what is wrong with Dazzle as a support in competitive games. DK run him as a pure support, wards, dust and smokes a-plenty. But anyone can do that... Crystal Maiden can do that.
He contributes a couple of good Shallow Graves but he really brings nothing to the table all game. They do not play him to his strengths and it just baffles me how bad his positioning is on a number of occasions.
This game has really made me think about the viability of Dazzle compared to other supports. The one thing he can bring to this super aggressive metagame is hyper aggression through use of Shallow Grave for ridiculous tower dives. Unless you do that, what are you really doing that a Shadow Demon, Crystal Maiden or Vengeful Spirit can't do?
High Skill Games Purge Plays Dazzle
(Skip to 6 mins)
Check out Purge's channel too, it's a great place for all kinds of awesome Dota information and videos.
PS: I'm super jealous of Purge... This guy is so much better at last hitting than me...
So I'm not that good of a player (I know the theory better than the practice) but here are some games which I think I played pretty well and that showcase some of the things in this guide.
Match ID: 15591508
A long one, 54 minutes. I get 3 kills very early on but our teams total lack of coordination against the early push (they had a Furion) meant that we were on the back foot most of the game. Some really nice and extended team fights where Grave comes into play, Shadow Wave is used liberally and I think overall it's worth a watch!
Match ID: 36766344
This one was interesting. It was the first game I played after watching the Mouz vs DK Dazzle game at the International. After stating that the only thing early Dazzle is good for is Shallow Grave tower diving... we had a distinct lack of tower diving! I spend early game roaming the jungle but not really finding many openings, so I just act like a ward ***** and try to keep our Sand King out of trouble. It's at this early to mid game point where we get crushed. Our Enigma states that his hotkeys are messed up, so it takes him about 25 minutes and 3 failed Black Holes to get into the swing of things. We start arguing as a team and our Templar Assassin abandons the game (we have 2 mins of pause but the enemy team were impatient).
At this point, I thought all was lost... but our Morphling had been free farming most of the game. Once he got his Ethereal Blade the game switched. Enigma and SK started uniting very nicely for Black Hole + Epicenter combos. I got my Mekansm and there are around 3-4 extended team fights where my heals start stacking up and Shallow Grave saves the day on a few occasions. I felt I played pretty well, although there was one excellent Fissure by Earthshaker that punished my risky use of Grave.
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