Hello, I am Loveless and this is my guide on Drow Ranger. Any and all of my guides are built around my personal opinion of the Hero and how they should not only be built, but played. It is built off what I have done myself, which is a mixture of my own ideas and what I have seen others do, to make it the best I will be able to put forward in game with that Hero.
I will be going over the Hero Skills, Recommended Items and Play Style for each phase of the game. Again, these are all of my personal opinions and you can take them with a grain of salt. Start with the build and use it until you get used to the hero before you start to build differently for every match.
Updated on September 23rd 2013
Frost Arrows is one of the main reasons that Drow Ranger is good and at the same time, bad. The reason being that at max level they put off a 60% slow for 1.5 seconds on a hero and 7 seconds for a creep, but this is also an Orb Effect. For those new to DOTA, this means that you cannot use some of the better carry items that are in the game. Instead, she focuses on her flat damage and attack speed to make up for this. While you are able to put this ability on auto-cast, it is not recommended once you become mechanically proficient at the game. By manually casting it once per second, you should guarantee that the target will remain slowed unless they disjoint the projectile. A neat trick while laning is that by manually casting Frost Arrows on enemy heroes, you will draw no aggro from creeps and towers because they do not consider it an auto-attack/right-click.
Silence is the only real defensive ability that Drow Ranger has, but is also the primary reason, above all of her other skills, that she is picked for team compositions. Not much can be really said here, it's a silence and it makes her pretty good in ganks. You can always decide when you want to level skills on your own, but taking a point at level four or five is recommended.
Precision Aura in the later stages of the game gives Drow Ranger increased damage to not only herself, but every ranged unit near her, globally if it's for creeps. Since it scales off your agility, this has increased the desire to acquire more of it. Items like Butterfly and Yasha are great sources to get that from. My stance on Manta Style has changed a bit since her illusions no longer get bonus agility from her ultimate Marksmanship, it's still a good item on her. You will want to level this after Frost Arrows and Silence because it will cause your lanes to push, which isn't very favorable for Drow Ranger early in the game.
Marksmanship gives her straight agility and a lot of it. However you will lose all of it should an enemy get too close to you, so maintain distance and be very mindful of your positioning in fights. It is often best to come from your target's flank, rather than directly in his path.
Wraith Band is an item for early game if you are doing poorly and lasts until late game when you replace them for more damage. They are not really necessary unless you are doing badly as they can help you out a bit for their cost efficiency. With Precision Aura these bands are giving additional damage anyway, but the main reason is more mana for Frost Arrows and more health because Drow Ranger will typically never have higher than 1200 health in a standard game.
Power Treads are a must on Drow Ranger, while Phase Boots will work great, the extra attack speed from Power Treads and Marksmanship is what allows her to build straight into her core items, which are the best items she can get and still be very reliable.
Crystalys gives her a critical chance, which with her high damage output can be devastating at early levels and take chunks out of the enemy's health, even if they have a Vanguard or a high armor value. Not only is the item very inexpensive at a low 2150 gold, it can be built into a Daedalus to give the critical damage and critical chance a huge boost with even more damage, you should be landing critical strikes around 700 when you pick it up. However if the enemy team has even one person with dodge or they build a Butterfly, I would recommend getting a Monkey King Bar before Daedalus.
Helm of the Dominator is a great item on Drow Ranger but there is one small problem, lifesteal will not work when you are using Frost Arrows because they are both Orb Effects. So you will need to not have them active in order for Helm of the Dominator to be effective. The damage and armor it grants are superb, the ability to control a creep will allow you to stack neutral camps and provide additional support in fights. It can be built into a Satanic later which will give Drow Ranger some much needed health.
Picking up a Black King Bar is almost a must if you are against a typical composition, since Drow Ranger has a small health pool you will want to avoid being disabled or dealt magic damage because you could die with just a little bit of focus from the opposing team. This is also the reason I sometimes opt for a Heart of Tarrasque because the raw amount of health it provides over Satanic is substantial and it will ensure you enter fights with full health.
If the enemy team has a lot of gap closing capabilities or extremely mobile heroes, a Shadow Blade is always an option. With how Marksmanship works you will always want to be wary of your enemies and having the ability to break off from the enemy, even for a second, is not bad. The stats Shadow Blade provides are also pretty efficient and the build up is bearable.
Now someone is going to castrate me and leave them out to dry for saying this, but Sange and Yasha is actually really good on Drow Ranger now. The slow can be applied alongside Frost Arrows, the mobility is nice to help keep Marksmanship active, the additional health in comparison to Manta Style is nothing to scoff at and the overall stats aren't bad for how painless the build-up is. It also has a higher winrate on her than you would expect it to... A lot higher. The main purpose of getting this is how big of a boost it is when you already have an established lead since it gives you enough of everything you need to make a difference during the early stages of the game. It's not the best item late game, you will want to disassemble it and make it into Manta Style later down the road. The extra health from Sange isn't bad by any means anyway.
Personally I find Drow Ranger is a very reliable carry and even if she gets out farmed by a teammate, then taking the role of your team's carry she can still support him with her Frost Arrows and Silence. If they are ranged, even better, you can aid them with Precision Aura on top of that. Everything about her scales throughout the game, so that's also fantastic and just all around, amazing. Drow Ranger is also able to Lane or Solo without any problems in either, like a few other heroes, but can do both well and loses nothing by going to either.
Now the only thing I am sad about is that she cannot use Orb Effects in combination with her Frost Arrows. How I would love to get a Desolator or Helm of the Dominator on her without worrying about switching between orbs constantly. You technically could if you wanted, though you are spending money in a direction you do not need to most of the time and it would be more beneficial to throw that money elsewhere.
I prefer to take Drow Ranger into a side lane with an ally, as the ability to farm is increased and if a ganker comes to your lane, you are guaranteed a kill with two ganker-style characters in the same fight.
First wave spawns, your main role is to last hit enemy creeps and harass opponents that get near yours. It is best to have a lane partner that focuses on lane management like Omniknight or Necrolyte so you don't have to worry about denies, or getting hit by the creeps now and again. Focus on completing Power Treads and don't worry about pushing, just pull creeps if you can and if not, keep control of the shop and river. Lane Management is key with an early side lane Drow Ranger it's just annoying to deal with it yourself as the harassment you can offer is more.
Your Goals Early Game:
It can be tough to find a good median between Farming and Ganking, but if you can find the right balance in each game, your teammates will love you. While she is a good ganker, she is also a great carry, so you have to try and aim for both during mid game. If you see a lane that looks like its going to get pushed soon, buy a teleport or make your way there and gank them. Don't force the gank, and by force I mean waiting for the right moment or jumping the gun. If it doesn't look like a good gank or there is too many mia, don't do it. Return to farming. Having wards also makes this job much easier, you can see an enemy ganker moving on your teammates, teleport there and countergank with Silence/ Frost Arrows. You should easily be able to kill one or two enemies from that lane right there.
Your Goals Middle Game:
In the late stages of the game, you want to go for straight damage and focus on pushing with your team. Once your teammates initiate, follow it up with Silence to lock down their abilities and focus the rest down one by one with your Frost Arrows, which should be on auto-cast every time a teamfight starts. You should always be taking priority of heroes over structures because if you got the Daedalus, they should die in a maximum of five attacks.
Your Goals Late Game:
Well, that sums it all up for Drow Ranger. For now and forever, please leave any comments about the Guide with what was good and what was bad, it will improve this and any future Guides made by myself or even others.
If you have any guides you would like me to make, please feel free to PM me or post in this guide's comment section to discuss it with fellow DOTAFIRE members.