Some Idiot's Guide to Zeus
February 22, 2017
HELLOOOOOOO ONE AND EVERYOOOOOOOONE! Safecyn here, bringing you...
Ow. What's with the yelling? Can't you see I've got a headache over here?
I'm excited, is all. I love it when Zeus gets buffed, man. He's the first hero I ever played. Properly. In a real match.
Huh. How'd you do?
Oh, I just went 17/10/15. Nothing too impressive.
No. I call bull on that.
FEAST! FEAST YOUR EYES!
Wow. 47 minutes in and all you've got is Arcane Boots, a Force Staff and an Aghanim's Scepter. Clearly you are the man to be writing a guide about this hero.
SHUSH! That was two years ago, man I'm... I'm a lot better these days, I swear.
Oh, very well. I suppose I'll let you get started.
Well... say the thing. The thing you said the last two times.
What? This was a guide?
Right! Zeus! This guy's awesome, you'll love playing him.
I can not believe you made that a thing.
Better believe it. Like I was saying, though, Zeus' voice acting and general air make him a riot to play, his lines are pretty dang clever, and he has one of the highest burst damage outputs in the game bar none, as well as guaranteed kill stealing if you're the sort of awful person who does that sort of thing.
No! I use my ult in teamfights in order to maximize damage like I'm SUPPOSED to, thank you very much! And to help finish off heroes who escape ganks. Like ya do. But yeah, if you want to feel truly godlike on the battlefield, definitely give 'Grandfather Mario' a try.
And do remember, this guide is just suggestions based on my own experiences and understanding of the game, and shouldn't be followed to the letter. Being able to adapt to your specific game is what separates the pros from us rank amateurs. Feedback is appreciated, as long as it's constructive!
> Zeus Ult Now.
Hurls a bolt of lightning that leaps through nearby enemy units.
Cast Range: 850
Bounce Distance: 500
Number Of Bounces: 5
Arc Lightning is Zeus' favourite spell to use against puny mortals.
Ignore the title text of this ability. This ability should NOT be your favorite spell to use against puny mortals. I will point out, though, that the title text is decidedly British! ICEFROG'S NATIONALITY REVEALED? Probably not. I probably just got the title text from a British website or something.
I want to draw your attention to the scaling of this ability. You should notice that it scales linearly up until level 3, and then at level 4 you get TWICE the normal additional damage and bounce targets. I don't know why this is, but it's a very unique scaling in Dota, as most everything tends to follow a linear progression and recent patches have done a lot to reinforce that.
This skill is picked up at level 1 for last hitting, because, as many people learn within their first month or so of Dota, Zeus is one of the worst last hitters in the game BAR NONE. His attack animation... it's awful... it's just terrible. It's like an old man slowly throwing his arm back in order to bowl. After level 1, though, the damage you get from it isn't worth it, and the additional bounce targets mean that you're guaranteed to push your lane, even more so then you already are. Best to leave it for later in the game when you've got bigger waves to mow down.
In patch 6.8 this skill was given a cast range buff, so that it now hits units 850 away. In addition, in 6.81, the cast point of this ability was lowered to 0.2, HALF of the cast point for Zeus' other abilities.
And? So what?
So what? SO WHAT? These two buffs, taken together, solve the most infuriating thing ABOUT Zeus, people getting away with barely any health! Pre-patch, it used to be that you cycled through your spells, got someone super low, aimed your last Arc Lightning
to pick them off, and then they'd disappear into fog before your animation was done. THIS. THIS FIXES IT. Thank you, Mr. Icefrog. Thank you, Gabe.
Gabe doesn't get a Mr.?
Gabe Newell doesn't NEED a Mr. Just saying his name evokes respect.
... Good point.
As a final note, I'll point out that this, like all of Zeus' ablities, bypasses Linken's Sphere
when used correctly. While Linken's will pop if you target the owner, if you target a unit NEXT to the guy, it hits no problem. Just something to keep in mind.
Calls down a bolt of lightning to strike an enemy unit, causing damage and a mini-stun. When cast, Lightning Bolt briefly provides unobstructed vision and True Sight around the target in a 750
radius. Can be cast on the ground, affecting the closest enemy hero in 325
Cast Range: 700
Apparently, this ability does not have title text. SHIKKA SHIKKA KABOOM!
This ability is a loooot more complicated than it might seem. I'm saying this assuming that it seems like just another nuke that you hit someone with to make them more dead.
It does seem like that, yeah.
And there's no doubt that that IS what it's intended purpose is. BUT there are a hell of a lot of additional mechanics to discuss, most of which are both recent and AMAZING.
1) This ability has a mini-stun, so you can interrupt channels with it. This is a big deal. We saw a HUGE upswing in Dazzle
picks back when Poison Touch
was given a mini-stun on contact, and an equally huge decline in picks when that was taken away. You can stop TPs with this now. As a matter of fact, this skill may be the ONLY skill in the game that can reliably interrupt a town portal scroll when you can't even see the target, because...
2) As of 6.81, this ability can be cast on the ground, and will automatically search for and affect a target within a (as of 6.81b) 325 range. This means that if an enemy ducks into the trees to try and escape, instead of getting vision on him and THEN using a stun to interrupt his TP, you can just call down a lightning bolt from the goddang sky over where you think he is, and interrupt it THAT way. It also makes it easier for you or your team to follow up on, because...
3) This ability gives both flying vision and true-sight in a 750 radius around the targeted area for 4.5 seconds. Put another way, this ability is a short range Rocket Flare
, but with a larger area of sight and about half the duration. It also only damages one target, but it USED to be a single-target only ability, so this makes sense.
4) In 6.81, they made it so that this ability was no longer blocked by Linken's Sphere
, provided you target the ground instead of the hero. But 6.82 has graced us with its terrifying presence, and now Linken's blocks this spell even IF you target the ground. You should still target the ground all the time though. Cause range.
5) The search effect will only search out enemy heroes. That's right! Even if it seems like it should hit a random unit in the area you target, it in fact only searches for heroes! Which makes sense, actually, because it IS a lightning bolt, and I don't think there are any heroes that are shorter than the creeps.
6) The addition of this search effect now effectively makes the range of this skill 1025. This means that even if you aren't technically in range of a fleeing hero, casting on the ground behind it might be enough to finish the job!
7) Because this ability gives truesight, and because you can now cast this on the ground, you can use it to de-ward. PLEASE USE THIS SKILL TO DE-WARD. You are quite possibly the only hero with a built in ability to de-ward thanks to both your AOE truesight and your status as a ranged hero. Abuse this like CRAZY.
8) As a matter of fact, abuse the true-sight of this ability like crazy in general. The 4.5 duration coupled with the 6 second cooldown means that your opponents will only have a 1.5 second period of darkness to try and juke in. Not only that, but the truesight from this ability can't even be purged! Use this in chases to keep sight of a hero, or just randomly, when you think that a Bounty Hunter
or a Riki
might be nearby. Bonus points if you mentally hear the Metal Gear Solid !!! sound when you get lucky and find one.
That it? You done?
I... I think so. Maybe. It really is an awesome skill. This is why we max it first and all.
Zeus shocks all nearby enemy units whenever he casts a spell, causing damage proportional to their current health.
Percentage Of Current HP Dealt As Damage: 4%
The air crackles with static when the Thunder God walks the world.
This ability is the reason you don't fall off too badly in the later stages of the game. 11% of health with every cast is nothing to sneeze at. It's also the reason that Zeus needs to be somewhat close to teamfights when they break out. 1200 radius is pretty big, but if you're staying far back at the edge of a fight you might not hit the entire team with your static damage.
The most important thing to mention, though, is that the skill does damage based on CURRENT health, rather than max health, like Midnight Pulse
or Heartstopper Aura
. This means that you can't truly kill someone with this ability, just knock them very low. It also means that, if you want to deal the maximum amount of damage in a teamfight, you need to cycle through your abilities in a set way.
Huh? Shouldn't the damage be the same no matter which order I uses my spells in?
(Sigh). Oh, you poor, uneducated little troll. I suppose this means it's time for:
SAFECYN'S MATH CORNER!!!!!
Always remember, boys and girls:
MATH! IS! ALL! THINGS!
Please tell me you're not making that a thing.
There's too much interesting mathematics in Dota for that NOT to be a thing. As Pyrion Flax once so wisely said: "Numbers are big in Dota 2. If you can do more numbers to a man, you're winning."
Because Pyrion is DEFINITELY the example to bring up for pro Dota plays.
Shush. Anyways, with the importance of numbers in mind, let's run through an example to show why spell order matters. Our target will be an enemy Pudge
with 3000 health, and let's say our Zeus
is at level 16 with all spells maxed out. We'll also ignore the pesky 25% magic resistance that all heroes naturally have (on average, anyways: this can vary from hero to hero), and assume that our Pudge has all this health without skilling Flesh Heap
... somehow. Anyways, here we go, this is the total remaining health after the skills are cycled in this order: Q-W-R.
3000-(3000*.10) -140 -(2530*.10) - 350 - (1901.7*.10) - 475 = 1291.83
Total damage = 1708.17
********! That's in the space of like two seconds, too!
You'd better believe it. It's only 1368 damage after magic resistance, but still. It's a lot. Now let's do the same three skills, but in this order: R-W-Q
3000 - (3000*.10) - 475 - (2195*.10) - 350 - (1603.55*.10) - 140 = 1355.145
Total damage = 1644.855
Yeah. It's 1233 after magic resistance too.
Why... what? Why does it work that way?
Well, keep in mind that Static Field
does damage based on the current health of a hero. Because of that, the more health a hero has, the more damage you do. If you use your bigger nuke first, like in the second example, the hero has a lower health pool for static field to draw from, whereas if you lead with your weakest nuke, like in example one, the enemy's health is higher, so Static Field
So... that means that the skill order is actually different depending on what level you are, huh?
Right you are! If Thundergod's Wrath
is level 1, the correct skill order is actually Q-R-W to get maximum damage, assuming you're following this guide and you have Lightning Bolt
at level 3 by the time you hit 6. Once you get level 2 in your ultimate, either Q-W-R OR Q-R-W will yield the same amount of damage, and at level 3 of your ultimate the correct order is always Q-W-R. Also, keep in mind that by the time you cycle through these spells, Arc Lightning
will be up again, so hit that too! So... ready to say it?
Math... is all things...
You're goddam right.
Strikes all enemy heroes with a massive bolt of heavenly lightning, no matter where they may be. Thundergod's Wrath also provides True Sight around each hero struck. If an enemy hero is invisible, it takes no damage, but the True Sight is still created at that hero's location.
Sight Radius: 1000
True Sight Radius: 900
Sight/True Sight Duration: 3
The Lord of Heaven smites all who oppose him, near or far.
Aghanim's Scepter: Grants the Nimbus ability.
This is your ultimate ability, and the reason why Zeus
is such a popular hero amongst noobs, myself included of course. You hit everyone on the map for damage. That's amazing. You can kill steal like a pro with it, though I should add that you should NEVER DO THIS. What you should do, however, is use it during teamfights to maximize the amount of damage the enemy team takes, as well as use it when it looks like the target of a gank might get away.
The cooldown on this skill is pretty low at 90 seconds, so it might also be worth using this ability just to get truesight on a hero in order to lock them down and finish them off. The truesight from this skill can't be purged either, so if your team is trying to catch and kill a Riki
, all the Diffusal Blade
s in the world won't save him... at least, for the 3 seconds that the truesight of this thing lasts. While the damage from this skill doesn't go through Black King Bar
, the truesight does! I'm not... sure when this would ever be useful, because I'm not sure how many heroes would be both magic immune and invisible at the same time, but... you know. There you have it.
... That's it? You devoted like an entire screen to Lightning Bolt
There's... not much to say. It's a global team-wide nuke. That's it. I guess it's worth mentioning that the true sight radius and the sight radius aren't quite the same? But like... that's really it. It's not all that interesting, apart from your ability to feel like a freaking god calling lightning down on to your enemies. But Lightning Bolt
does that too, so... y'know. Thundergod's Wrath
, everyone. Yaaaaay.
HOLY SMOKES A 7.00 UPDATE
Creates a storm cloud anywhere on the map. The cloud casts the current level of Lightning Bolt automatically on a random enemy.
Cast Range: Global
Nimbus Radius: 500
Hero Attacks to Destroy: 8
Non-Hero Attacks to Destroy: 16
Kill Bounty: 100 gold
Strike Interval: 2.25
(scales with cooldown reduction)
Nimbus Duration: 40
There was a word I used to use to describe anyone who built an Aghanim's Scepter
on Zeus. One that I didn't put in the original form of this guide.
Pub-stomper? Because of how much more damage you got from...
Moron. The word was moron. Aghanim's Scepter
used to be the most useless waste of space possible on this hero, with sub-par stats and an increase of damage that was laughable unless you got it while you were still under level 10. Veil of Discord
made you twice as effective for half the cost, and I'm really
glad Icefrog saw things my way and completely reworked the Agh's.
R.. right. Ok then. So what's your take on the new Agh's, Safecyn?
There a few things I love about it: additional global presence for teamfights and pickoffs is great, plus it's yet another way to proc Static Field
, and more of those is never a bad thing. You can also use it during highground defenses or sieges to take control of choke points and make contesting your team's postion more difficult. It also provides a small bit of flying vision, and you could technically even use it to farm if you wanted. Additionally, the synergy this ability has with both Octarine Core
and Refresher Orb
is incredibly tempting.
Honestly though, all of that pales in comparison to one thing. Nimbus
casts Lightning Bolt
. Lightning Bolt
cancels channeling spells and TP scrolls, because it mini-stuns. Nimbus
has a global cast range. This means that Nimbus
allows you to cancel TPs and channeling spells from GLOBAL RANGE.
This could straight up win you a game. That single, solitary fact. Zeus is now the ONLY hero in the game that can cancel a TP at global range without committing his body. ... Except Visage
. Who is a hero. I think. Do you hear me, s4? THIS COULD BE LIKE THE MILLION DOLLAR DREAM CARL BUT WITH LIGHTNING
... Calm down.
My only qualm about it is the bounty: 100 gold for 4 hits from a melee hero would be fine if you could move the nimbus, or if the duration wasn't so long, but this thing is sitting out on the map for 40 seconds basically saying 'someone please farm me'. Grab this thing against Troll Warlord
and you're essentially just feeding them.
All in all I think Aghs is borderline core on the hero now, though. Once you pick up the trinity of Veil/Aether/Mobility, you can consider it as your 4th item.
That's something for the next section, y'know.
Fair enough! Let's continue!
Item Progression (Hint: GET A VEIL)
It would seem that my items section got deleted somehow. I don't remember whether I did that or not, but the fact of the matter is I'm writing this over for 7.00.
Is your personal item build... Veil/Aether Lens/Euls/Octarine, by chance?
... don't look at me. I don't have your password.
That is literally the only thing stopping you though, isn't it?
I would be remiss if I didn't share my personal item build on the hero, and its results. Since I first wrote this guide, I've gone on to earn nearly an 81% win rate on this hero. Granted, I play all of the heroes and so this is out of 31 matches but... still! And this is what my item builds look like:
BADA. BOOM. Veil/Aether Lens/Eul's/Octarine. This has been my tried and true way of beating the ever loving bajeebus out of people with this hero. Even against mega creeps! I may be replacing Octarine Core
with Aghanim's Scepter
soon, it's too early to say, but even then I'll be sure to go for Octarine 5th. Here's what this will look like, broken down:
This is the 'Bottle Rush' start, and it's what I used to go for. With this, you're entirely relying on Arc Lightning
for last hits and harass: luckily for you, it's a pretty damn reliable last hitting and harassing technique. There are times when you want to alternate your starting items however:
This is the 'I'm against Skywrath Mage
or some other spell spamming idiot and want a fast Magic Wand
' build. You won't go very often: rushing magic wand is something people tend to do AGAINST you, rather than something you'll do yourself. But it's still an option. There's also one more starting item build to discuss:
This is the 'pretend like you're Necrophos
' build, and it's something you can afford to do if you think you won't be harassed out of lane by your opponent. The increased damage means you can actually last hit using your auto-attacck and conserve mana, and it ALSO gives you the chance to deny, so I've been using it more frequently, and it's what I'd recommend. Getting denied by a Zeus
is something a lot of players don't have to deal with, so if you're able to do it with this build, you'll get into their heads and tilt them. Not too shabby. The extra tankiness from the stats it gives is an added bonus.
Veil of Discord
is the single best item... possibly in the game right now, but definitely for Zeus
. +6 to all stats (well, except INT which gets +12), +6 HP regen, AND +6 armor? And the ability to increase the damage output of every single one of Zeus' abilities by 25%? I dare you to find a better item. Go on. I'm waiting.
I. DIDN'T. THINK SO. On top of all of that, Veil amps the spell damage of all your teamate's abilities too! So y'know. It's pretty great in a meta that's focused on early fighting, when nukes are the primary way of dealing damage, killing your opponents, and then securing objectives off won teamfights. Just saying.
You seem to have interesting expectations for the item.
I'm honestly thinking we might be heading into a meta where mid-laners with Veil of Discord
reign supreme. Necrophos
is great with it, Zeus
... heck, you can get the thing on Ember Spirit
and combine it with the spell damage amp increase, it's great.
Anyways, the other two items are Arcane Boots
and Aether Lens
which should explain themselves: Arcane Boots
keeps your mana up and can be disassembled and turned into said Aether Lens
, which will let you cast your spells from a safer distance as well as giving you a total of +14 HP regen when combined with the +6 you're getting from Veil. Not too shabby on the sustain department.
Mid Game (Mobility and Mana, mmmm)
By this point, you should be running low on mana a LOT. The addition of shrines in 7.00 will help with this to some degree, but it's probably about time you pick up a casual Void Stone
to keep yourself in the blue. You also have the option of taking a talent at level 10 to give you an additional +2 mana regen, which is pretty good. I recommend it if you're not in risk of being nuked down quickly, otherwise grab the +health talent instead.
Then, we make a decision on what mobility item to grab. As mentioned previously, I get Eul's Scepter of Divinity
a lot: the additional movement speed helps me chase people down, the cyclone is great for cancelling tps of players smart enough to wait for me to use Lightning Bolt
, and it straight up BUILDS from the void stone I get anyways. All around good stuff, but it's very much for the Zeus
that's consistently teamfighting and rotating with his team. Which... I mean... that's how you should play Zeus. But there are other options.
is for the Zeus that needs to make a hasty retreat, and it's an all around solid option on him as well. Not a lot of people play Clockwerk
anymore, but if you're against a Clockwerk? Yeah. Pick this thing up. Escape from the cogs with your life so you can nuke that bastard down.
is the best raw mobility item to get, but it is ONLY a mobility item. If you're in a position where your primary concern is that your enemy is getting away and you aren't really at risk of dying, then yeah. Grab this, jump on top of people, blow them up. And if you have the arcana like I do, marvel at the cool animations. Oooooh.
is now really, really good! I already talked about that earlier, but Nimbus
is a great skill and you should definitely look into getting this item once you've got your core set done. Against heroes like Nature's Prophet
, the Nimbus
ability can be used to interrupt their TPs from global range and keep them in one place for your team to kill, so definitely grab it against them.
is also a standard part of my build-up on a richer Zeus
: it single-handedly gives you sustain, tank, and an increase in DPS. It'll also make Nimbus
strike faster with its lightning bolts, which is just awesome.
gives a bunch of sustain. AND double ult. AND double Nimbus
. The sheer amount of damage you'll output with this is crazy, and the fact that you can store it away in a backpack while your not using it helps you manage your slots... though backpack items recharge their CDs at half rate, so you should probably only swap it in once it's off cooldown.
Scythe of Vyse
is still a good item, even if it doesn't break passives anymore. All the int and mana sustain you'll ever need, a good chunk of stats, and a great instant-point hard disable will really help against slippery opponents like Anti-Mage
is for when you need to man up and stand in the middle of the enemy team: the nuke is great, the aura that reduces enemy attack speed is great, the move slow is also great for keeping people away: not to mention the huge chunk of armor and intelligence it provides will keep you running smoothly.
Rod of Atos
got interesting. It roots now, which is super cool, and the fact that it gives you more intelligence and health has always been a great benefit of the item. It's in the mid-tier when it comes to expenses, too, so if you're pressed for cash and can't afford big-ticket Mystic Staff
-laden items, it's not a bad choice.
!! Some games you just want to silence someone. Sure. The attack speed might be wasted on Zeus
, who does no real right click damage, but the mana regen is certainly nice. Built it into Bloodthorn
to show off how rich you are to the enemy, and give your carry guaranteed crits! Woowooooooo!
Allies and Enemies
I'll admit it. That WAS a shorter item section that usual.
Well, it IS the first hero I've done who doesn't have that flexible a play style and lacks carry potential. It's nice! Simple. I liked it.
You enjoy it when things are simple and you don't have to think too much. I'll keep that in mind.
Anyone who can further amplify the magic damage being dished out is alright in Zeus' book. Magic amplification DOES stack multiplicatively, with the notable exception of Decrepify
/ Ethereal Blade
. Either way, though, get one or two of these guys with Zeus
and the numbers you can do to a man will skyrocket.
These heroes can tank like crazy, and make it so that noone decides to focus the mustacheod gentleman raining down lightning from the sky on everyone. In the case of everyone here but Bristleback
, these tanks can even provide hard disables that make it actually impossible for anyone to focus you! And that's nice.
Any hero who does a boatload of magical damage and might ALSO pick up a Veil of Discord
is a good ally to Zeus as well. They don't stack, so don't pick one up if they're going to get it, but the fact that they're getting it frees your gold up for other items, which is always nice. Of course, it works just as well if you get the Veil and they get something else... either way, man. Either way.
So, uh... you remember how aaall the way back up top I said that silences make you literally useless?
These guys can silence you. Plus, they can all kill you really, really quickly. If you have the option to sidestep playing Zeus
against these heroes, I'd highly recommend it! It's not fun.
These heroes all have built in magic resistance or spells that provide magic immunity: heck, Rubick
even gives resist to his entire team. Rubick can also steal your spells, and if he gets Thundergod's Wrath
, your team is NOT going to be happy. Pudge
can also pull you out of position and murder your face, so... there's that. Anti-Mage
both burns your mana AND punishes you for using all of your mana, so you hate this guy. Smite him. HARD. If you can. You probably can't, and shouldn't have picked Zeus
, ya dummy.
Speaking of mana burners, I'm a bit surprised I completely forgot to mention them the first time I published this thing.
Well you ARE an idiot, so...
Shush. But yeah, anyone who makes it more difficult to cast your spells makes gods cry. They're all nasty in their own way, too: Nyx Assassin
will sneak up on you and burst you down insanely, the Nether Ward
will tear through you before you have a chance to stop casting your spells (unless you have really, really good reflexes) and KotL... he's not TOO bad, because you can just stand still when he tries to mana drain you? But if he does it when you're trying to get away and you use your Force Staff
... hilarity ensues. Deadly, deadly hilarity.
Even just a casual Cloak
pick up from an enemy hero can really cut down on your effectiveness, and all the upgrades that follow really do hamper you a good deal. You can almost guarantee that a competent team will pick up a Pipe of Insight
if you're doing well, which'll block a VERY decent chunk of your damage, so be careful of that.
And THIS item actually makes you COMPLETELY useless. Granted, only the enemy carries will likely be picking this up which still gives you free reign to stomp their supports, but... still. It's most definitely one of your biggest enemies.
Aand... that does it! Yeah. Huh.
I don't know. I'm happy about how it turned out and all, it just seems... shorter than usual.
If it's any consolation, I appreciate that you kept the electricity puns to a minimum.
Well, you know, if I ever do Razor I've got to save all my material for that, since he's by far the WORST punner in game.
Yeah? Well, I suppose you'd know... I don't pay attention to such things.
On a serious note, thanks all of you for reading this guide. I'm open to suggestions and constructive criticism, so feel free to call me out on what I messed up! I'll just say a quick prayer that you don't all downvote me and... there we go. Safecyn, signing out.
God Zeus... slipping into something more comfortable.