When players see Visage they either think
"OMG a Visage on the other team! Easy game guys" or
"OMG a Visage player, we are so screwed D: everyone run away!!!"
Well hopefully after reading this guide you will start to make people think the latter.
Generally people do not enjoy playing Visage because they believe its a hero that requires extremely large amounts of micro. Well, this guide will teach you how to own with Visagewithout that large amount of micro. But be aware that this guide meant for public gaming and not the competitive scene (as I myself am a pub gamer who doesn't follow the competitive scene and thus I am unaware how Visage is used in competitive games).
+4 second cooldown nuke, extremely spammable +Able to steal both movement speed and attack speed from enemy units +Underestimated by many players, allowing easy 1v1s +Becomes effective in early game +Fun ganking style +Pushes down towers very easily
-Familiars grant high bounty (100 gold) -Requires mana management -Needs minimum micro-management -Needs to know where enemies are -Squishy when aimed at
Visage damages the targeted unit based on the number of soul charges. Visage gains a soul charge when damage taken by all heroes around him reaches the damage threshold.
Maximum Soul Charges
Extra Soul Damage
This is where most of your damage comes from
(60 x 6) + 20 = 380 damage, 4 second cooldown nuke
Has a long range so usually can be used as a finisher
Visage generates a layered barrier that protects him from physical and magical attacks. If he receives damage from a player, one layer is removed, and takes time to recover.
Armor per Layer
Magic Resistance per Layer
Makes you difficult to kill with initiation nukes making 1v1s against supports viable
You don't need to monitor the number of layers on you due to the relatively short layer recovery time
Layers are only removed by hero damage so you don't have to worry that creeps will remove layers
Conjures up two blind Familiars to fight for Visage. Familiars have high attack power, but each attack drains a charge of damage that recharges slowly over time. Familiars possess the Stone Form ability, that allows them to turn into stone, stunning enemies upon landing. While in Stone Form, Familiars are invulnerable, and rapidly regenerate their health and damage. Familiars grant high bounty when killed.
Familiar Movement Speed
Maximum Bonus Damage
Familiars grant bounty (100 gold) to heroes which kill them. So if Visage dies move your familiars out of danger and/or see if you can utilize the stun or damage to help/farm
Aghanim's Scepter provides 1 extra familiar So instead of 2, you have 3 familiars. The third familiar will not appear immediately when you receive the scepter. You will need to reuse the skill to obtain the 3rd familiar.
Stone form has a very small area of effect and thus is difficult to chain both of the familiar's stuns but not impossible
Approximately 1 second from activating stone form to when the familiar lands and stuns
7 seconds recovery time after landing stone form. Time that the familiars are immobile and unable to do anything.
Observer Ward are needed to block the creep pull and ward the rune spot (see How to play Visage). Ring of Protection is for the additional armor and later to be built into Ring of Basilius. You can get either 2 Tango or 2 Iron Branch. 2 tangos is the preferred build since you need to stay in lane to get to level 6 and you would be trading hits. 2 iron branches will allow you to have a very slight increase in damage for last hitting while being able to build them into your Mekansm.
You get Ring of Basilius because it adds extra armor to not only you but also your familiars and more importantly, it provides mana regeneration. Phase Boots are excellent on Visage since
You are a ganker and need to get around the map quickly. It is not very cost efficient to tp scroll everywhere and you might lose element of surprise if the enemy sees you tp-ing in.
Even though Grave Chill steals movement speed, there might still be lots of creeps or heroes in the way
Familiars' movement speed is 380-400 and Visage's movement speed is lower than that (at 345 with normal boots). Phase boots will allow you to keep up with you familiars while moving around the map without stopping every few seconds to let Visage to catch up.
What about Arcane Boots? Well Arcane Boots sounds like a viable choice for Visage since he is a nuker, however the mana that it provides is not enough since his nukes consume a considerable amount of mana and one usage of Arcane Boots is not enough for multiple casts of skills.
Visage gets Mekansm because in every game there should be a Mekansm and Visage can quickly farm the money from it by killing heroes. Mekansm heals familiars as well, making them survive longer thus preventing them from being farmed by the enemy. Orchid Malevolence is a great item on Visage because of the silence and damage amplification, both of which helps in the ganking process as well as in teamfights.
Ahhh...luxury items, these are the items you get when you are pwning everyone and everything (or the items you get after you finish your core). The preferred luxury items are Aghanim's Scepter or Bloodstone depending on whether or not you have mana problems. If you have mana problems, build bloodstone since you will be ganking a lot or participating in team fights so it will readily fill with charges.
But if you find that you are managing your mana very well, or some how some one is filling it up for you ( Keeper of the Light, allies' Arcane Boots), feel free to piece together an Aghanim's Scepter. An additional familiar will considerably bump up your damage output, allowing you to beat up higher level, more farmed enemies.
Basically the items in this paragraph are items which are less preferred compared to Bloodstone or Aghanim's, but of course if the situation arises that you need these items then go ahead and get them. Dagon is good as it provides extra nuke damage, Heart of Tarrasque is good because it provides you with extra survivability allowing you to throw more nukes, Rod of Atos is good because of the additional slow, Mjollnir is good as it provides more damage output from Visage himself, Scythe of Vyse is good for the hex, Boots of Travel is good because you gain global presence.
These items are gotten depending on the situation, hence the section name Situational Items :P. Black King Bar (BKB) is gotten of course if the other team is full of stuns, competent at using those stuns, or is just aiming you all the time in team fights. Ghost Scepter is a really useful item if the other team's damage is physical based i.e. auto-attacks and certain skills. Hood of Defiance and subsequently Pipe of Insight is gotten if there are lots of AOE magical damage since the hard support might not be able to farm enough money, but if he can, then let the support buy it. Lastly Veil of Discord is a decent item to get if your team relies heavily on magical damage.
Of course there are more items I haven't stated here that you can get, but of course there are a large number of situations that can occur.
This is what Visage is. If you take a look at his skills, he has very high burst damage, a slow and self speed boost, and damage reducing shield. These combined, make Visage an extraordinary ganker. Usually once you reach level 6 you begin to rape your lane, then you leave your lane and you start to rape other lanes and the enemy jungle. And since you are solo offlane, you have a significant exp, and possibly gold, advantage. You hinder the enemy team so much that they are unable to do much in team fights while you rape everyone with your spammable nuke.
You then transition into sort of a semi-carry being able to continue on with your set of items, not need much more farm other than from killing heroes thus helping to dominate the mid game.
In DotA 1, people used to look at Gravekeeper's Cloak and think automatically that he can be built as a tank. Well that is partially true since 5 armor and 16% magic resistance (at the skill's max level) is quite a lot but it only lasts for 4 hits... 4 hits is a very small number and will not allow you to survive long in team fights (if you are really the tank and start to lure all the attention) since auto attacks reduce the charges and you are left taking the full brunt of enemy attacks and nukes.
He can also be played as a 5th position support but his skills pretty much go to waste. He needs to get up at least half of his core items to be useful ( Phase Boots and Ring of Basilius) and you won't be getting them if you are playing support properly (constantly buying wards whenever off cooldown and giving all last hits to people of higher position) unless of course you're lucky. Let someone else support.
No, just no. Visage cannot be played as a carry. Or rather there are so many more heroes that fulfill the carry role better. Of course this guide is for pub games and anything can happen in pub games. So if you really want to play Visage as a carry or if no one in your team chose a carry then by all means, play him as a carry.
Ok now we get to part where we learn how Visage is actually played.
So after you tell your teammates that you're going offlane solo (or a different solo lane), buy your starting items and head to the lane. In terms of lane control and equilibrium, you will want to let the enemy creeps push as much as possible. Hence the warding of the pull spot, preventing the denial of one or more sets of enemy lane creeps.
Also you won't want to block creeps, hoping that the enemy safe lane heroes are attempting to block it, which will make the creep line appear at the bottom of their tower. This will make the enemy tower shoot your creeps making the lane push closer to your tower.
While the creep are engaged under the enemy tower, you are free to go into the enemy jungle to ward the rune spot and creep pull like so:
Radiant Team Offlane Rune Ward
Radiant Team Creep Pull Ward
Radiant Resulting Sight
Dire Team Offlane Rune Ward
Dire Team Creep Pull Ward
The position of this ward is vertically inline with the single white leafed tree, just below the dirt path. The picture below shows the extra vision given into the lane if you cut down the white tree (with a Tango). However the enemy might notice that the tree is gone and know that there is a ward there.
Dire Team Resulting Sight
Above: With white tree
Below: Cutting the white tree down
You won't lose much experience since the tower + creep + hero damage will wipe out your creeps before they kill any of the enemy creeps. For me I like to ward the creep pull right after the creeps spawn (at 30 seconds) because it still allows for a single pull which, as most people don't know, will cause the enemy creeps in lane to double in size thus moving the creep line to your tower.
For Visage, it is ok if the creep line moves under your tower as getting experience is more important than gold (as it is slightly harder to last hit under the tower). Additionally if the creep line is closer to your tower, it is easier for you to zone yourself such that you have enough time to move away if you see more heroes in the jungle ready to gank you (due to the sight the rune ward gives you).
As for what to do in the lane? You need to survive.
As most heroes, the #1 goal of the offlane is to survive. This is not very much different for Visage as Visage doesn't have a guaranteed escape such as Bounty Hunter or Puck. However Visage still has Grave Chill and Gravekeeper's Cloak which gives him good survivability if you play according to the danger level of the lane.
Again like most ranged heroes, Visage does best against melee heroes regardless if there are 1 or 2 as you can harass with Grave Chill then auto attacking like so:
Harassing with Grave Chill
With 1 range 1 melee, see if the range hero (usually the support) is aggressive in his harass. If he is then you can either choose to compete in harass as you can tank with Cloak and throw out more hits with Chill. But make sure you lure him away from the melee as 1v2's at this stage can be deadly for you. If you're unfortunate to have 2 ranged heroes as your enemies, just try to avoid getting hit as harass exchange won't turn out well for you.
In the end you're aiming to get level 6 as soon as possible. Which by then you have multiple options.
When using Visage, you need to use control groups. This is so you have complete control over your hero as well as your familiars. I like to use 1 as Visage and his familiars, 2 as Visage only, and 3 for both familiars. Most of the time you will use control group 1 when moving around, ganking, attacking, etc. Use 2 when you want to attack creeps with Visage only as to not lose damage on your familiars. 3 is usually used when Visage himself is dead and you kept the familiars alive.
Once you hit level 6 don't summon your familiars yet as you still have the element of surprise (which is often times lethal). If the lane is pushed far enough that the entrance to the enemy jungle is not visible to the enemy, summon your familiars and enter it. By now your rune wards and creep camp ward have expired or are close to expiring which means the support might want to pull. Go and ambush him like in the following video:
Attempt to Kill Pulling Support
Unfortunately in that encounter my micro slipped and Visage ended up hitting creeps after I released Soul Assumption. I ran since I couldn't see the Gyrocopter who might have been on his way to help.
You could also go and kill the jungler or just right out try and kill one (or two) heroes in the lane.
Remember that when familiars are resummoned, Stone Form cooldown is reset reset along with their bonus damage. This mean that familiars can potentially do twice the amount of damage than previously thought. This concept can be used when taking down towers.
Resummoning Familiars to Take Down Tower
After roaming around and ganking, you might find that most towers are down and its difficult to find solo farming heroes. Or that its too dangerous to go and kill what seems to be solo farming heroes. Most of the time the whole of the enemy team has started to group up and move as one. This of course means the game has reached the latter stage of the mid game or the late game and fight are mainly teamfights.
The Visage Combo and What to do in Teamfights
Whenever familiars are on cool down you can use what I call the Visage Combo. The combo is based around the fact that when your familiars are resummoned, their Stone Form cooldown and bonus damage reset.
If grave chill cools down and the enemy hero hasn't died then of course Grave Chill again. Each part of the combo doesn't have to be aimed at one person. You can Grave Chill one person, auto attack someone else, Soul Assumption another guy and so on but this will of course most likely happen in team fights.
Grave Chill the person who isn't stunned (from the initiation) so that after you kill the guy who was stunned, the Grave Chilled guy is still around for you and your team to catch up and finish him off.
If you can, use Soul Assumption on a hero which has a high possibility of running away and can be killed in one Soul Assumption as Soul Assumption's range is longer than you/they might think. Soul Assumption of course has an extremely short cooldown however it should always be used when it gains full charge. Usually in teamfights the charge counter fills up right after you use it hence the spammability.
After the initial auto attacking, the familiars' damage is reduced to the point where you don't notice the damage. When this happens try to maneuver your familiars into the middle of the fight and Stone Form down. This way there is a high chance that you'll hit an enemy. Of course if you don't want to micro your familiars too much then after attacking just Stone Form where they are. They should be around the middle of the battle anyways so you might get some stuns off.
When using control group 1 or 3, with familiars, quickly switch units using the TAB key on your keyboard. Since the TAB key is right next to the 'q' key, there is a technique which is very useful. This is using the finger which you use to press 'q' to glide from TAB to 'q'. If you are using control group 1, you can quickly access Stone Form on familiars by just:
Tab > q > Tab > q > Tab
The combo can also be used in teamfights when you notice your familiars have run out of bonus damage.
As you might have noticed, I accidentally used teleport scroll in the middle of the battle. This is because I forgot to move Orchid into the 1st item slot (where I usually put active items).
This sequence is also useful when you are being chased and you notice that your familiars are behind you. Just tab, q, tab, q, tab and your familiars will Stone Form, hopefully on the heroes that are chasing you, stunning them. Make sure after you maneuver Visage to safety, you move your familiars out of reach of enemy heroes who might have stopped chasing you to linger around the Stone Formed familiars hoping to gain some extra gold.
If you got your Mekansm and Orchid Malevolence, then feel free to use it when you feel necessary. I can't really tell you when to use these items other than use Orchid on the person who relies on casting or has a skill which is very important for their team and use Mekansm when you are in a team fight (preferably after initiation) or when pushing with lots of creeps.
If perchance you die, don't let your familiars sit idle in the middle of battle. Since you are dead you can give full attention to the control of your familiars. You can:
Use them to snipe off low hp heroes that escaped from the battle
Use Stone Form to stun heroes
Help dps down towers
Just make sure not to let them die to enemy heroes. This is a very important point on which people become careless. They die and just let the familiars fly above enemies not knowing that they are still there. Familiars give 100 gold. That is approximately 3-4 lane creeps in gold. and you have 2 of them.
Killing with Familiars Only
In this video, I died. Then I used my familiars to kill the unsuspecting Rubick. Familiars are pretty small and you don't really notice them in teamfights until its too late.
Well Visage is not that difficult to kill. For examples if he is up against 2 stunners in lane and they coordinate well (not stacking stuns and orb walking) then he is surely dead (as most heroes would be).
Visage also benefits a lot from wards as if you knows where enemies are, you can single out lone heroes and kill them. However if Visage doesn't have wards then its very dangerous as you can't go into the fog without knowing if the whole team is in front of him ready to kill. Of course you can go solo into the fog looking for solo heroes but your success depends on your game sense and sometimes luck. So dewarding with Sentry Ward or Gem of True Sight can hinder Visage.
The main way to shutdown Visage, if you so happen to meet him alone, is to quickly kill off the familiars as the familiars' damage is what charges up the damage for Soul Assumption. Without his familiars, Visage can then only rely on this auto attack which is frankly not enough to send a powerful enough nuke to kill. You will also get 100 gold for each familiar you kill.
For this purpose, cleave and other spread physical dps own familiars. In other words Sven, Medusa, Templar Assassin, heroes with Battlefury, etc will pick off his familiars.
Silence will also temporarily cut Visage's damage output and utility in half as he won't be able to launch Soul Assumption or slow with Grave Chill but he can still attack you with his familiars.
A special mention about hero damage over time (DOT) (such as poison, Huskar's Burning Spear, etc), it will wear down Gravekeeper's Cloak with every tick of damage. Only with hero DOT will Gravekeeper's Clock wear down, not with the Gnoll Assassin's (easy jungle creep) poison attacks or any other creep based DOT.
Visageisreallyafunhero to play once you get your core items you go around the map ganking. You see people melting away helplessly while you erase their existence.
Again I must mention, as I did in the Introduction, that this guide is meant for pub games. Of course there will always be different ways to play Visage which might be better than the method I have stated here in this guide. Hence you can always give recommendations and suggestions about the different way that you have thought up or know about.
I will hopefully try to add more skill builds, item build and explanations in the near future and try to improve on the general layout or aesthetics.
If you liked (or disliked) this guide please be obliged to vote. Feel free to leave comments as I would like to see people responding and hopefully learning.
My group of friends which play DotA 2 everyday :P
(except for a few which went ape**** on the small details of this guide)
Special Thanks to MobiusLOL, who helped me test out some Visage mechanics. Here is a shout out to his Youtube page and more importantly his DotA videos where he uploads different set plays:
"Fails, LOLs, Montages and more DotA 2 content for your viewing pleasure. This show consists of both short clips focusing on certain memorable or significant moments, as well as longer form highlight montages."