Welcome all to my first guide on one of my favorite support characters: Vengeful Spirit!
Vengeful Spirit is a powerful hero which is very item independent and one of the most effective gankers in the game.
Vengeful Spirit has two builds which are fairly effective, a push oriented build and a gank oriented build. Both will be covered in this guide, and it is up to the player's discretion based upon team composition and opposing heroes. The overall outline will be as follows:
Skills and Their Usage
Warding, warding, and more warding
Mid-game, late-game and beyond...
Vengeful Spirit Pros and Cons
So 3 of Vengeful Spirit's skills are fairly straight forward while her ultimate requires a significant amount more finesse than the description might indicate.
Q: Magic Missile - Vengeful Spirit's bread and butter skill. A targeted, moderate duration stun of 1.45-1.75s. The skill does not have a very long range (a mere 500), so it's important that you do your best to catch your opponent out of position and punish their mistakes. One important thing to note is that the stun duration changes very little between different levels of the skill; only the damage and mana cost of the skill increase significantly with level. When building VS early game this is important to remember, and is the primary reason why I prefer to max this skill second to her W skill - Wave of Terror. Also note that this stun is disjointable, and skills like PotM's leap will avoid the stun if well times.
W: Wave of Terror - Vengeful Spirit's damage amplification, utility, and primary pushing skill. This spell provides an armor debuff that fires in a straight line for a LONG range (1400)the area is 300 units wide. At max level, it provides -5 armor reduction and lasts for 20 seconds it also provides vision of the aforementioned area for a brief time. This skill has an incredibly low mana cost and cool down, making it a great skill not only for pushing the lane and increasing damage on a stunned target, but also as a scouting mechanism. Occasionally throwing this out for some sight in the jungle can thwart incoming ganks. The skill also provides minimal damage which is of the type HP removal.
E: Command aura - Just as basic as it sounds. Provides the rough equivalent of having an alpha wolf damage aura running around with your team. Much more useful late game than early game, but it is a nice skill in conjunction with wave of terror for both team fights and lane pushes. One thing to note - this skill amplifies base damage.
R: Nether Swap - Ahhhhh Nether swap, sometimes abused - often misused. This is one of the most versatile skills available in the game. It instantaneously swaps position between you and the hero unit of your choice. The range of this skill scales incredibly, going 600, 900, 1200. This skill can be used very effectively both offensively and defensively. Using this skill effectively requires both good map awareness and decision making. This is a useful skill for isolating an enemy hero or saving an ally who is in trouble. Note: It can be used on magic immune targets.
Notes on Nether Swap Usage
One of the things that I often hear people say is that in order to effectively use Swap, you have to throw out some conventional feelings about avoiding death. You should be ready and willing to sacrifice yourself in order to save your carry of provide an easy kill on an important enemy hero. While it is true that you should be ready and willing to swap yourself for the good of the team, do not get yourself killed if you cant be certain that you can either get a kill or save a teammate. Having a skill with high risks is a call for careful and strategic use - not trigger happy behavior with reckless abandon. Keep this in mind when looking to best utilize your ultimate.
Gauntlets of Strength
Animal Courier/ Observer Ward
Ring of Protection
Observer Ward/ Animal Courier/ Flying Courier
These starting items allow you to quickly get a Bracer or a Ring of Basilius and a Magic Wand. What you buy depends on how much you quickly you think you might push and how deadly the opposing lane may be. You should always buy wards, an animal courier, or a courier upgrade early on. Depending on if you intend to gank often or roam a lot, it may be beneficial to pick up mana potions or a Bottle early on. Coordinate with your team if you want to use a bottle. The 2nd starting item set is more geared towards the push strat where you will be looking to maximize your push potential early on; the armor aura from Ring of Basilius with the command aura leads to an eventual Vladmir's Offering and a very effective passive push mechanism.
As some people have commented, it is also safe to opt for 2 Clarity Potion and 1 Healing Salve over the Gauntlet of Strength and 1 of the Iron Woood Branch if you suspect you will receive a lot of harass or will be looking for kills often in lane. Decide based on your team's composition which is needed.
In terms of boots, I prefer to get Power Treads over Phase Boots because of the increased utility of attribute switching. Phase boots provide slightly increased mobility, but VS is very squishy. Boots of Travel are useful for mobility and ganking, but unless you are getting AMAZING farm - which you frankly shouldn't be, then don't get these. If you have that kind of farm get aghanim's scepter.
Medallion of Courage - The reasons for picking up this item are pretty straight forward. Providing additional minus armor on a target during ganks with the addition of wave of terror] will make short work of most heroes throughout the mid game. I usually prefer force staff, but [[medallion of courage is a solid item on VS when you are getting successful ganks off or opponents decide to start stacking armor.
another strong item when you are getting successful ganks off is:
Urn of Shadows - Simply put, if you are getting kills then this item is amazing. It takes a tremendous load of pressure off if you decide to tower dive, and allows you some additional lane presence as a support. Another versatile item that is strong throughout the early and middle portions of the game, and facilitates your roaming and ganking. A good alternative to bottle if you're middle player is a strong ganker and needs the runes.
Force Staff - This is a really useful skill for both increased survivability as well as utility in ganks and for positioning. In addition to swap, this skill gives you some nice control. It's cheap and effective, and if you have excess money from buying wards and survivability - then this is a great item to get.
Aghanim's Scepter - This item deserves special mention because of what it does for your ultimate. This item will drive your ultimate cool down from 45s down to 10s at all levels. It provides great statistics, but honestly the price is probably too high for the farm you will get throughout the game. If you decide to pick it up, try to always buy the point booster first as it provides much needed HP and mana. This will be covered more in the next section.
Items not to pick up
Soul Ring - While this item does help with VS's mana problems early on, I find that her squishiness is a big concern with this item. Early on in particular, this item can often times get you killed. Use at your own risk.
Desolator/ Butterfly/ Monkey King Bar/ Sange and Yasha/[insert carry item here]
You're not a carry. I mean sure, you can...but it's really not what your hero is good at. VS's attack animation and MASSIVE back swing make her a very poor carry hero. While two of her skills do scale well in to late game, you have no escape mechanism other than your swap...which would come at the expense of one of your allies. You can run a build that uses these sorts of items for kicks, but it's not an efficient use of the hero.
Blink Dagger - Unlike in a certain other MOBA, blink dagger doesn't work on VS. Don't buy it. You can't use it. End of story.
When laning during early game, you should partner with an aggressive lane partner with a stun or slow. Even though Vengeful Spirit is not item dependent, she does not make a great support hero because of her incredibly small attack range. Upon hitting in the range of level 3-6, you might look to roam to other lanes in order to help score kills on enemy heroes. If you find yourself in a defensive lane, a strong combo to use is to bait your opponent into tower range, swap them into tower, stun them, and then auto attack them to death with the help of wave of terror. In general, your job is to roam, ward, and dominate the opponent through map control and effective ganking.
NOTE: This style of playing VS is seldom used these days, and should be used only in a push oriented strategy. VS is NOT a very strong pusher on her own, but can supplement an existing push strategy!
While not a direct role of Vengeful Spirit, she is very capable of assisting in pushing lanes quickly with both her Command Aura and Wave of Terror. The basic concept behind this build is to get a quick level of your stun, and then proceed to maximize Command Aura and Wave of Terror. This allows your creeps to passively push the lane via Command Aura damage and the lowered armor of enemy creeps via Wave of Terror.
It should be noted that this will gimp your main source of direct damage in Magic Missile, but will maximize your ability to assist in lane pushes.
As far as items go, Ring of Basilius is an important pick up to provide your creeps with additional armor, and should be followed up with a Drum of Endurance. This will maximize how quickly you can mobilize a creep wave, and can be put together nicely with other pushers in a push oriented strat.
Since you will also be maxing Wave of Terror first, it can often be beneficial to pick up a Medallion of Courage as it will allow you to significantly lower an opponents armor.
Finally, if for whatever reason you manage to generate enough gold, Vladmir's Offering is not a bad pickup in offering your creeps that extra survivability when pushing. Necronomicon is also a solid choice if your team is committing fully to a push strategy.
Observer Ward/ Sentry Ward - This is your job. All game, your job is to provide map control and awareness through effective warding and counter-warding with sentry wards.
You don't really need more than a magic wand, boots and a bracer or two, and the rest of your cash should be devoted towards the little things like wards and the courier upgrade that your team needs. Remember, your role on the team is one of utility, and you should focus your play as such. It is imperative that you maintain wards, especially going into late game.
Gso posted an AMAZING guide to warding on the Team Dignitas website which covers a lot of ward spots and the different times and purposes to use them for. His guide covers these in way more detail than I could ever hope to: http://www.team-dignitas.net/articles/blogs/DotA/1092/Dota-2-Ultimate-Guide-to-Warding/
Your role will not change much throughout the game, but you should be sure to maximize your team's damage through the use of your aura and wave of terror. Your single target stun should be used strategically to CC your opponents, and your swap will become used more defensively over time. You essentially will become the safety net to keep the important heroes on your team alive. You can also use your swap to break channeling on heroes from a long distance away. Map awareness is largely your responsibility late game, and you need to keep sight up at areas like Roshan, the jungle, and other team fight and gank areas.
Again, warding is key. You need to keep vision up at key areas as often as possible, and while all of the items I have mentioned are lovely to get...you will ultimately not carry the game. Keep wards up, counter when you can and look to help supplement your teams other heroes.
Have fun playing VS and stay classy :)