“Moooo!” cries the Space Cow, as he charges across the battlefield. Enemies flee this rampaging blur; allies flock towards it. Chaos ensues, as always.
This is my guide to Spirit Breaker (known to non-peasants as Bara or Space Cow). He is one of my favourite heroes – not because of how easy he is to play, how strong his ganks are, etc. Not even because of the satisfaction you get as you type “Moooooo” as you charge across the map while your target tries, pitifully, to flee.
No; Spirit Breaker is my favourite hero due to his massive potential game-impact. Supports rely on carries late game, and in turn carries rely on the rest of the team to create space. Utility heroes require a non-******ed team, as do most mid heroes. It’s a circle of unity and harmony that IS Dota. However, if you want a hero that will thrive in the chaos supplied by a team of 5 different languages, Spirit Breaker is the cow for you.
Spirit Breaker mainly functions as an initiator, a tank and a ganker. He can dominate any lane, with any number of teammates. He doesn’t require last hits to be strong, but can still benefit from them, and can transition well into the late game. He can create space, he can destroy enemies, he can tank -- he can carry.
Spirit Breaker’s raw game impact is sourced from his ability to have global presence early game/mid, assisting allies and (hopefully) securing some kills – easily done at level 2. If this fails, he can simply bide his time and lane. Mid game, he has the potential to take down (most) lone enemies solo (or initiate ganks with the rest of his team). He can also dominate in teamfights, when played well. Transitioning into a carry late game is not impossible, with the right items and circumstance.
What I’m trying to convey to you, dear reader, is that Spirit Breaker, our humble Space Cow, is a hero you can use to win with coordinated and terrible teams alike.
Obviously, there are different ways to play a hero. “Guides” are, of course, mere suggestions. This is the way I play Spirit Breaker. I believe it works well. If you have anything to say about it, there’s a useful section below for that entitled “comments”. I’m sure you can help me as much as I can help you, or at least find some interesting things to say.
What to Do Early Game:
Spirit Breaker is a viable candidate for any lane. His large base health pool and positively unfair armour allows him to soak up damage, and with Charge of Darkness and Greater Bash, he can fight back. Experience is more important than last hits, but some early gold will be of great benefit to your team. You can use Charge of Darkness to escape a gank. It’s near impossible to completely shut down the Space-Cow. Moo.
Some might say “But Spirit Breaker mid? Are you insane?” or “Safelane Bara? **** off”. In fact, most will say that. You should probably think up some sassy replies beforehand. Space-Cow can easily mid; his aforementioned base stats and abilities are perfect for the role. Mid lane allows him to farm up and abundancy of gold and experience that will allow to him to gank other lanes with ease. His Charge of Darkness can be used to harass the enemy midlaner, possibly even allowing him to score a few kills. However, while Spirit Breaker isn’t a bad mid, there are some heroes that could benefit from this lane more ( Shadow Fiend, for example). Don’t steal it, UNLESS the enemy has a Pudge. Spirit Breaker is the ultimate Pudge-Dominator, outclassing him completely.
Pretty much the same logic supports Space-Cow Safelane. Take it if nobody else wants to, but offlane is where you’d rather be.
Oh, right. Early game you want to be ganking as much as possible. If there is an opportunity for a kill, in any lane, you should already be on the way. Mid lane is especially easy to gank from the offlane. Charging mid will likely get you a kill, and if not should still be enough to force the enemy midlaner to run away, which gives your mid free farm.
It is also ludicrously easy to charge enemies at your safelane from the offlane (in between tier 1 and 2 towers is generally a good position to charge from).
What to Do Mid Game:
Moooooooo. Mid game, you want to be dominating the enemy. If you fail a few ganks, no sweat. Go to a lane, get some farm, and wait for a better opportunity. If you did badly in the early game, it’s important to know your limitations in the mid game.
Say it’s 12 minutes in and you’re still level 5 (this can happen if you spend too much time ganking without getting kills). Searching for an opportunity at this point is most likely going to lead to you charging in, dying, and being reported for feeding. Spirit Breaker is strong even when underlevelled, but only to a point. By charging in to an enemy far stronger than you, you’re just handing them free gold.
You should be leading your team. In every fight, the enemy should expect to see someone shouting various bovine onomatopoeias in chat. Be a global presence, assist your team in every way possible. Look for ganks. If you see an enemy alone, check the map. If you don’t see any other enemies, they probably aren’t alone.
An example of a brilliant opportunity is if you see the enemy pushing a tower. They might have four of them, trying to take a tower, and your team is valiantly defending. How brave. You probably won’t be able to do much by charging into a push, depending on the situation. However, maybe the enemy’s tower-push is really a ploy to make space for the enemy Sniper, who is farming in another lane. That bastard. This is your time to shine.
If you want to take your game to the next level, you can buy a ward. I know what you’re thinking – “Buying wards? Isn’t that for somebody else? I’m a carry! I’m important!” You possibly have “>We need wards.” as part of your chat wheel. Instead of spamming it, use your brain. By purchasing a ward, you can place it anywhere you like. YOU have the power. Use this power benevolently – do good. Place the ward in the enemy jungle. Right in the middle. Do it.
This ward will hopefully allow you to spot a lone enemy jungling, allowing you (and maybe even the rest of your team) to organise a gank and destroy him. If you kill a single enemy from this ward, you’ve actually profited. And hey, even if you don’t, people will still think you’re cool for buying a ward as a Spirit Breaker.
**don’t die while placing the ward**
What to Do Late Game:
This is where it gets a little bit tricky. The enemy will probably be sticking together, because if the game has progressed to late game they’re most likely smart. This is where an inexperienced Space-Cow will charge off, looking for a kill, and die.
What an MLG Barathrum will do is probably something along the lines of offensive warding, team smoke-ganking, and using map awareness to determine where actual kill opportunities are. This is a good period of the game for Spirit Breaker - if you manage to gank an enemy hero successfully, your team will have a great chance of winning the next team fight. If you consistently manage to shut down the enemies, you’re winning the game for your team. Well done, you.
Explanation of Skills
I’m presuming that you, my dear reader, are not a complete buffoon. You know what all the skills are, right? You can even scroll to the top of the page, if you need to. So instead of talking about the specs of each skill, this section will be simply be a nice little explanation, with some cute strategies for utter annihilation.
Charge of Darkness:
“This is your bread and butter skill.” Spirit Breaker sometimes makes a truly impressive ‘moo’ sound when using this ability, so try to cast it as much as possible. Be map aware, put down some offensive wards, and charge the enemy.
It has an annoyingly long cast time, so quick-hands might be necessary. Once you cast Charge of Darkness, it provides vision on the enemy (even when they are invisible). Sometimes it’s useful to ping your charge target a few times, so your team knows what you are doing.
Remember that while you are charging, you are not invincible, nor are you invisible. If you charge the enemy across the map, and your path takes you through the enemy mid lane and bottom rune, they’re PROBABLY going to know. That’ll mean your target is prepared, the enemy might be teleporting in… anything could happen. To avoid this, make sure your charge path does not take you through too many places where the enemy could have vision. This will come with common sense, and experience.
Watch out for Roshan, he will hit you once or twice. Having your Charge cancelled by an unlucky bash is quite embarrassing.
This ability can also be used to escape. If you are in trouble, quickly look around the map for any enemy/neutrals. If you get the charge off, you will probably escape (unless the enemy has a Disruptor, damnit). Feel free to taunt the enemy as you charge away. “Calculated”.
Psychologically speaking, by being a global presence on the map, you can shut down the enemy farm without doing anything. If they know that they will be charged if they farm top lane, they won’t do it. Mission complete.
Finally, have your finger resting on “s” while charging. This is the default hotkey to stop all actions. Cancelling your charge is a vital personal skill that not all Spirit Breakers have, and could save your life. And the lives of your friendly teammates who follow you into the worst gank of all time. Don’t be an idiot.
Gives damage based on speed, making Boots of Speed quite useful. Haste is YOUR rune. You can activate Empowering Haste when attacking to minorly boost your bash damage.
17% will soon become your favourite number, especially when you bash 4/5 times in the flukiest gank of all times. It’ll happen, the enemy will say something sarcastic and self-pitying, possibly involving the key words “hacker”, “volvo” and “pls”, and you will cackle with malevolent glee.
Amusingly, the bonus damage that Greater Bash actually works with crits. If you have a Crystalys or Daedalus, you have a (very low) chance to do an unfair amount of damage.
Once you have Greater Bash and Charge of Darkness, you can gank. Spirit Breaker is quite strong.
Greater Bash allows you to fight back in lane, doing a large amount of damage. Attack the enemy as much as possible.
The Ultimate One:
This ability can be used to great effect. Sure, use it when ganking, bam, extra damage and stun, dead. It physically dominates squishy heroes (death to Snipers). In teamfights, it allows you to target the support / ranged hero who is standing on the edge. It has a long cast time, and can be cancelled. If the enemy goes out of vision while you’re casting it, it will cancel.
However, if you use this skill at the right time, you can destroy that pesky Anti Mage (and QoP, Weaver, etc). Perfectly timed, you can CHASE them when they blink / escape.
Use this skill as much as possible. Short (ish) cooldown, high damage and stun. Awesome.
(Note that I wrote this guide offline originally, and, amusingly, totally forgot the name of his ult.)
Some items are necessities, others are totally situational. These are the ones I use to kill other people. Feel free to pick your own.
Power Treads are a must have. They provide attack speed, for the Bashes, tankiness, and if you’re feeling particularly MLG you can switch them to int in order to charge out. Fantastic. Some might say Phase Boots, for the bonus speed and the chase-down. Power Treads are more beneficial, in my opinion.
Magic Stick is a great, cheap item, but you probably won’t need to upgrade it to Magic Wand.
Urn of Shadows is very important. Very cheap, provides strength and mana regen. As you’ll be present in every fight, this will fill your urn with plenty of charges. Healing yourself is important, as time running back to fountain is time that could be used mooing people. You can also use the Urn offensively – 150 damage is not to be shirked, especially early game.
Wind Lance, sweet.
Armlet of Mordiggian. Perfect item for Spirit Breaker. Incredible bonus health, damage and attack speed, great for ganks and teamfights. You can toggle it to escape with Charge of Darkness. It’s just perfect.
Mask of Madness was changed in 6.87. Damn. Now there's only a 25% damage increase, down from 40%... that's actually pretty good. Go bonkers, kids.
Blademail is excellent. Wonderful item for teamfights, as Spirit Breaker is an aggressive tank. It also means that if people try to fight back when you gank them, they only die faster. The added intelligence and armour is very useful, too. *Not necessary in every game*
Aghanims Scepter can be a great late game pick up. Provides you with some more health and mana, and makes your ult far stronger. Good against squishy heroes, but there can be better items to get, depending on the game.
Black King Bar is a must-have if the enemy has many stuns. You can tank through a Finger of Death, but those damned stuns will stop you every time. Besides, there’s nothing so satisfying as watching the life drain (sometimes literally) out of your enemies’ faces as they see a giant rampaging bull surrounded by golden swirly things mooing towards them.
Silver Edge. Ooh. Invisible-charge. Massive nuke and slow. You know you want this item. Perfect item against Bristleback, Phantom Assassin, Spectre, etc. Don’t get it if you have another invisible hero on your team. Use your brain.
Heart of Tarrasque is a fine late game item that boosts your tankability considerably.
Assault Cuirass can also be useful, if the enemy has high physical damage.
Town Portal Scrolls are another no-no. Don’t buy them. You can very quickly charge to lane. If you need to escape, you charge out. This is a general thing. If you're planning on doing something fairly stupid, you have a BKB, or you have excellent knowledge of juke-spots,Town Portal Scrolls ARE bloody useful.
Some games progress to the Late-Late Game. This might be 60+ minutes, and you have a tonne of gold and no idea what to do with it. At this point in the game, some items become more useful than others.
Boots of Travel -- far superior to ordinary boots. +55 Movement Speed, and of course the ability to teleport to any friendly units is excellent.
You don't need so much raw tank at this stage. Urn of Shadows, Armlet of Mordiggian - these items just aren't as useful.
Monkey King Bar is an excellent late-late-game item for Space-Cow, giving you a lot more damage -- and a chance to do a little bash with each attack. It's pretty OP. Note that if the enemy has a Windranger or Phantom Assassin, or any hero that bought Butterfly, you should probably pick this item up.
Satanic works to increase your tankability, as in this stage of the game you should be dealing copious amounts of damage. This should heal you to full health, as well as granting some nice strength. Awesome.
Moon Shard because bashes :)
I generally follow the in-game guide that suggests the starting items of Tangos, Belt of Strength and Iron Branch. Gives you excellent health, allows you to quickly build Power Treads. Simple.
Treads, Urn and Armlet are my core items. The rest are situational. There are obviously other items that you can get ( Mjollnir, Daedalus, etc), but I think that these items are the best.
You shouldn’t need too many last hits in lane to get these items. Get Boots of Speed, roam the map, get more items. If your kills are slowing up, get some last hits, too. It isn’t uncommon for me to win a 40 minute game as Space-Cow with only ~80 last hits.
Well. That’s pretty much it. Go win some games. This guide is dissimilar to our other guides. Go read those, if you want.
Any feedback or hate, just post in the comments :)