The Seed of Victory (7.00)
January 4, 2017
Hello! Cory here, and this is my guide to Lone Druid. It’s also my first guide, but I don’t see that as a problem and moreso a challenge to overcome. I’ll go over all of the things I have learned about playing Lone Druid, and it will be updated as the hero and the game changes. At the very least, I’ll be trying to help new players learn the hero.
As it happens, an update which changes half of the content in the game just dropped, which makes a lot of this guide’s information change. I’d rather stay with the times, so I will be doing my best to keep it updated. Can't say I'm not annoyed at having to go back and rewrite things, but I want this guide to be good.
Before we move on, I’d like to emphasize that what I will share with you is not absolute. My understanding isn't perfect, the build is simply a suggestion, and the best way to improve is to develop your own understanding. I am limited by the skill of my fellow players, so at different levels of expertise my advice may become less relevant. And for the record, I am not an expert Lone Druid player.
Then again, most people barely know the hero exists, so as far as I’m concerned I might as well be. Let’s move on before that goes to my head, yes?
Long before the first words of the first histories there rose the druidic Bear Clan. Wise and just they were, and focused in their ways to seek an understanding of the natural order.
The arch forces of nature saw this, and so sought the most learned among them. Wise old Sylla, clan justiciar and seer, stepped forward for his kin, and to him was given the Seed with these words:
'When all of the world has dimmed, when civilization has left these lands, when the world is slain and wracked by the endless deserts at the end of ages, plant the Seed.'
As he grasped his trust, Sylla felt his years recede and his vitality returned. Vast knowledge burst into his mind. He found himself able to project his very will into reality and, with some concentration, alter his own physical form as well.
Yet subtle whispers and cruel ears brought word of the Seed and its power to other peoples, and a terrible war crashed upon the Bear Clan. As his ancestral home burned, Sylla took his burden and fled to the wild places.
Ages passed, and time and myth forgot the Bear Clan, forgot Sylla and the Seed, forgot wondrous civilizations that rose and fell in Bear Clan's wake. For millenia Sylla has waited, waited for word from his deities, waited for peace to come to the ever warring realms, waited in exile and in secret for the end of all things and for the conclusion of his sacred commitment, preparing himself always to face and destroy whatever would dare threaten his purpose.
Lone Druid is an Agility carry who is most known for his ability to push towers very quickly. He is defined largely by his first spell, Summon Spirit Bear, which gives him a companion capable of holding items. Lone Druid excels in lane presence thanks to the exceedingly tanky bear and can play largely independent from his team. The specialty of the druid and his bear are in physical damage-dealing and split-pushing, but can also gank and teamfight if itemized and played properly. In short, this hero is versatile enough to do whatever his team requires.
- Can have lots of early-game presence while being able to scale into the late-game
- Ruins the lives of enemy laners who can’t manfight or nuke early on
- Can destroy structures and clear waves in seconds
- Can take Roshan easily with lifesteal
- Has the third-highest base movement speed in the game (tied with three other heroes)
- Becomes quite tanky with ultimate
- Can gank well due to high movement speed, bear’s root, and Savage Roar as TP scroll canceller
- Has a pseudo-escape in Savage Roar that doubles as a teamfight spell
- Can disjoint some projectiles with ultimate toggle
- Doesn’t need to worry about more than one complicated spell
- Requires large amounts of farm
- Is useless without the bear
- If the druid dies, the bear dies too
- Bear has a bounty of 300 gold and a long cooldown
- Requires good micro to play properly
- Savage Roar shares cooldown on both units
- Can only do single-target physical damage
- Is squishy without his ultimate
- Bear can only attack within a limited distance of the druid
- DOT disables bear’s teleport like Blink Dagger
Spells & Skilling - Druid
The reason you play the hero. The Spirit Bear starts tankier than every hero in the game at level 1
, and with more points it gets spells and grows progressively stronger in almost every way. It has a 6-slot inventory
like a hero, and building items for it is your top priority. It can only attack within a limited range of the druid
, but the range is pretty good (far enough to attack just past the river at mid, if my memory is correct). The bear starts with 300 mana and 0.5 mana regeneration at all levels, so items with actives can be used on it.
Summon Spirit Bear should be maxed first due to the importance of getting its stats improved and unlocking its spells.
Some other things to note:
- It has a long resummon cooldown, so treat its death as one of your own. You do also take 10% of your maximum health as pure damage when it is killed, so that might do you in if you're not careful. It’s possible to deny the bear without negative repercussions however, so don’t be afraid to do so if you know it can’t survive.
- Most people don’t play Lone Druid for the same reason they don’t play other multi-unit heroes: micromanagement is tough. My tip? Use control groups. Hold Control and press a number while selecting at least one unit. Now, whenever you press that number, those units will be selected again. I use 1 for the druid, 2 for the bear, and 3 for both at once. You may also use TAB to cycle through your selected units.
- Do note that the Spirit Bear doesn’t benefit from Attributes (Strength, Agility, and Intelligence). Why? It doesn’t have any, it only uses base stats and whatever it gets from items. For the same reason, the bear can’t have illusions, and stat thieves like Outworld Devourer and Slark can’t take those away.
- The Spirit Bear isn't a creep, it's a creep-hero. This weird gray area of unit classification is only shared by the Primal Split brewlings, Warlock's Golems, and Visage's Familiars. Most spells will affect the bear like it's a hero, but not all. here's a Reddit post with one player's findings about how the Spirit Bear is affected by some spells. Some things may have changed since it was written, so I may do some testing myself and make a chart.
Pretty simple spell. It buffs movement and attack speed
for the druid and bear. You will want to avoid spamming this before level 4, as its mana cost doesn’t scale and the duration and effectiveness are reduced at lower levels. Just like most applied buffs, it can be purged by any dispel
. If your bear is killed, save it for when you can re-summon to re-apply. At maximum level, the duration equals the cooldown, allowing you to keep Rabid active constantly.
Rabid should be maxed second, since the added attack speed and mobility will speed up Lone Druid's farm and help him run away faster from potential dangers.
I love how unique this is: a short-range AOE fear spell; it prevents enemy heroes from acting (read: do anything
) for its duration and sends a move command to their fountain. It can break channeling spells, so that during a gank of your own they can’t just teleport away from you.
Savage Roar should be maxed last since it doesn't play into pushing very much, but with a value point at level 2 for safety and utility.
- Make use of this spell in teamfight to scatter your foes. This can split the battlefield into manageable conflicts or peel the enemy carries off your supports. Of course, most of your fighting will be done by the bear as you stay just close enough for it to attack if it’s unsafe, so be wary if you cast this yourself. Also note this only works on heroes, so don’t waste it if there are no enemy heroes around.
You mean I already have a bear and I can be a bear too? Yes, please. A transformation spell that makes the druid become a melee bear with loads of bonus health, armor, and slightly faster attack time
at the cost of reduced movement speed
. For someone so innately squishy as Lone Druid
, this is a great help in keep yourself alive. As soon as you have this, you can start playing more aggressively (do still be careful, though).
True Form should be maxed as soon as possible after Summon Spirit Bear because of Lone Druid's inherent fragility.
- There are few reasons you’ll want to turn this off (which can be done with a sub-ability), but it’s best not to be in bear form when you are moving around the map or regenerating health.
- The transformation time can also disjoint some projectiles, but make sure you know which ones can be disjointed before you try it. As of the 7.00 update, the transformation back to a druid is actually faster than that into a bear, so it's worth it to switch out to make a run for it, but it does make disjointing a bit harder. And of course, make sure to change back again if you think danger is coming.
You might be confused now, but Lone Druid
actually gets a sub-ability
from his ultimate. This one is a short duration buff that massively increases damage and armor
. This is incredibly valuable since you'll be up front hitting things constantly, especially if you have ways of locking down opponents or enough room to take towers.
- Be warned that Glyph of Fortification will negate nearly all of Battle Cry's duration and it has a very long cooldown, so be careful if you're using it to push.
- Another good use is on stacked camps (mostly Ancients), which I sometimes prefer to using it during a push.
- Try to use your druid and Spirit Bear when you activate Battle Cry. Sometimes you can only attack with the bear, but if no danger is coming move your druid into the fight to kill things faster while it's up.
Spells & Skilling - Spirit Bear
As if the Spirit Bear wasn't awesome enough, it gets spells too. I'll go over these like we did the druid's since I think you need to know both sets to use the hero effectively. You don't get to skill these since each only has one level, so the title is a bit of a misnomer.
... Let's move on.
Think of this like your bear’s global Blink Dagger
. When used, it teleports the bear right next to you instantly
, no channel required. There are two main drawbacks to Return: first, it is disabled upon taking any damage from a player, no matter the source or amount. Second, you can only ever teleport to the druid with Recall. If you want to teleport anywhere else, you either need to get a Town Portal Scroll
, Boots of Travel
, or get the druid to go there and have the bear Return right after.
- In lane, use Return to disjoint projectiles. All physical attacks and some spells can be disjointed. This is particularly useful in lane when the tower targets your bear as you harass. Your bear will always teleport to the top-right of your hero, so use it to move your bear around faster between areas. Avoid blocking yourself or your bear when moving to the top-right.
A handy root effect that is sometimes applied on right-click. (When I mention a root in this guide, assume I mean this.) It does physical damage over time to an affected unit, pierces spell immunity
, and lasts longer on creeps. If you do get a root on a jungle creep, focus your attention to the other creeps in the camp, and if it will die to the damage, feel free to go to the next instead of finishing it off.
- Root as a status effect was just buffed to prevent the use of most mobility spells, though it's not exactly a buff since it was supposed to do that anyways. At any rate, this makes blink heroes a lot more interesting to fight since you have a way to pin them down.
- When in lane, landing this on the opposing hero can sometimes be enough for a kill, especially if they were weakened beforehand. Focus on moving the bear in chases. You can get more hits in, and thus more chances for Entangling Claws to proc so you can secure the kill. Oftentimes, however, it won’t last long enough for Battle Cry, so don’t waste it for that unless you’re sure you can make use of it all.
- As an added layer of skill, the cooldown of the spell (along with all the others your bear has) refreshes when it levels up. Save your level 4 Summon Spirit Bear point so you get a fresh Entangling Claws to use right after the first. Two roots generally ensure a kill on any target.
- Do note that Entangling Claws has a 5-second cooldown and only 3 seconds of duration, meaning you can’t keep a target rooted forever. Furthermore, nothing stops them from fighting back, using items, and casting spells. Do be wary of hunting down enemies who have something that might be able to save them, such as a Town Portal Scroll or a Force Staff.
Your bear gets Savage Roar
too! How cool is that? The spell shares cooldown
between the druid and Spirit Bear, so using it on one means they both have to wait to use it again. Using it, your bear can scare away enemies while you are stunned
so you can escape. Most of your Savage Roar castings should be from the bear since it won't be risking as much by moving in to use it, due to its tankiness. Just make sure you've selected the proper unit when casting the spell, as its range is very short.
Most carries get a single vital spell that defines the way they scale into the late-game, and the best carries usually have more than one. For Lone Druid
, Demolish is that spell. After level 4, your bear gains 33% spell resistance
(most heroes have 25% for reference) and now deals 40% bonus damage to all structures
. Structures are any buildings and siege engines.
Of course, this isn’t really a passive for late-game
by this definition, since it gets very tough to take advantage of more structure damage if the entire enemy team will actively defend their high-ground. As such, try to start taking towers as early as you can, since the enemy team will eventually get to a point where they will no longer fear your bear.
It’s also for this reason that you should build lots of damage and attack speed on your bear; if your bear has 65 damage, hitting a tower makes you deal 91 damage instead. Combining this with armor reduction and even more items can make Demolish quite ludicrous. More on this in the Math Corner.
7.00 NEW: Talent Tree
This is an entirely new section dedicated to the new mechanic the New Journey update has introduced. Essentially, instead of the Attribute Bonus you’d end up skilling after you max out all of your spells at level 16, each hero now has a number of specific bonuses to choose from. I feel this is much more appropriate for the majority of the hero pool because it’s often something stats would not be able to compensate for, in addition to the fact that many spell-based heroes (especially supports) don’t benefit from stats all that much.
The way this works is that at levels 10, 15, 20, and 25, you have two options to pick as a specific perk for your hero. You can only pick one of the two, and afterwards the alternative options become unavailable, so you have to be careful in what you decide.
At level 10, you may choose between +250 health and +200 attack range. Honestly, given that Lone Druid’s so dependent on True Form to be able to function (which sets you to melee range no matter what), I think that the added health is always more useful. The armor, health, and DPS of True Form are far better than the attack range that you'll never be using; I personally only turn True Form off when moving around the map or healing.
Level 15 offers +65 damage for the druid or +30 damage for the Spirit Bear. After having done the math behind it, I can determine that the two perks do the same amount of damage to a tower if no other factors are at play. In theory, this would make it better for the druid to have the extra damage since he won't fall off as hard in the late-game. For the way I'm trying to have the hero win games (push early and often and try to win the mid-game before the enemy carries become relevant), the extra damage for the Spirit Bear will scale into Demolish and is safer to use, since the druid going into melee range to attack is risky.
Level 20’s options are either +7 armor for the Spirit Bear, or -50 seconds of respawn time. These are both solid options, so I would go with whatever suits the game best. If you're doing lots of skirmishes in the late-game, the added armor is an excellent way to give more EHP to your bear, especially against armor reduction. The lowered death penalty can be very important if you're the biggest contributor on your team, but becomes less important after Aghanim's Scepter. It can sometimes give the enemy the chance to kill you even more often, but if you're very far ahead and thus have a colossal death timer it can be handy.
Level 25 can add +1.5 seconds duration for Entangling Claws or -10 seconds to Savage Roar's cooldown. Both of these seem to be more teamfight-oriented perks, since your root is at its best against heroes and Savage Roar is useless without them.
Entangling Claws is just useful in a lot of situations by keeping your enemies locked down so your team can kill them. By now, if pickoffs and crucial kills are what you need, more duration for it is what you want.
A more frequent Savage Roar, on the other hand, is a much more utilitarian upgrade by letting you disrupt the enemy formation a lot more. If your root already lets you kill your enemies quickly enough, more Savage Roar will overall benefit the game by mucking with their controls. It's also useful for fighting evasive people like Windranger and Weaver with specific strong escape abilities that make hunting them down much simpler, since Savage Roar prevents action.
Again, do what you think is best and experiment with new ideas. There’s a good chance the accepted way to play Lone Druid won’t be exactly as I described. In particular, I think there's something to be said about a ranged style, but I need more data.
Item Build Justification - Spirit Bear
I get it, he looks cute this way. But please, don't build these items on your Spirit Bear. Except for the Pipe of Insight... That might be fine.
The Spirit Bear should be the focus of your items. Most of what you build should be damage per second
(if needed), and cheap effective items
in that order of priority. Aura items
are good too because they will affect both you and your bear.
Often you'll find yourself running out of room for the cheap stuff when building large items with several components. It's at this point you should consider giving the less valuable items to the druid instead
, to make space for the crucial ones.
A new in 7.00 feature is the backpack, a 3-slot inventory section where items are muted
. This helps in carrying utility items like Observer Wards, Dust of Appearance and components for your next big item. As if that wasn't enough, your bear gets a backpack too.
It does make building items for your hero a lot easier, since inventory organization isn't hell anymore (well, it still
is, but much less so than before). Unfortunately, your Spirit Bear still can't place wards of its own. Ah well, maybe someday...
Having this allows the bear to soak up a lot more physical harass than otherwise. Since the bear doesn’t have as much damage early on, it will probably take more damage than it deals, so this helps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t upgrade into anything useful to us other than Abyssal Blade, but if you will be buying a Skull Basher you may want to keep it for then.
Footwear is essential for everybody in Dota 2. Unlike mana-based midlaners who rush a Bottle or Ring of Aquila, Lone Druid rushes two sets of boots so that he can threaten his enemies with a very fast duo. You’ll probably also want to upgrade these as soon as possible, even if you could get your farming item faster. Don’t give in to greed, upgrade your boots.
Aside from elaborating on boot choices, I have one suggestion: Do the boot swap
. Once Summon Spirit Bear
and Rabid are level 4, give your bear the faster boots. This way, it will have more movement speed for chases and general mobility, and if they’re Tranquil Boots it should be at maximum
movement speed as long as they're not broken.
More damage and a unit-walking active. Generally the best bear boots, as it needs all the damage and movement speed it can get. After the boot swap, you will need the active to keep up with your bear, so be sure to use it! The unit-walking will often be more useful for you than the Spirit Bear by then because you'll be slower and bumping into other units more.
You’d think these would make good bear boots, but they don’t. Sure, they’re cost-effective and give attack speed, but the main thing that makes these useful is Tread switching. This does absolutely nothing for the bear, since it has no Attributes. Moving on.
More mana to use on what
, exactly? You don’t have any spells that cost more than 100 mana and the Spirit Bear starts with mana now, so even Dagon isn't an excuse. You usually want to keep your mana items on the druid anyways.
Just like any other item-dependent carry, your Spirit Bear needs one good farm item to help it get more money to start making core items. Most of these also help in pushing in some way, but you shouldn't build more than one unless the first was named Hand of Midas.
Arguably the best farming item in this list. A classic Lone Druid
item, providing a good damage boost and a burn aura
dealing magic damage in an AOE that inflicts a miss chance on enemy units. You will want to try for this every game if you can for the heavy impact it will have: most heroes can't take the literal heat at the 20-minute mark. But if you don’t
have the Sacred Relic by the 20-minute mark, it’s time to switch to another option.
- DO NOT SIT IN THE BASE AND FARM WITH A RADIANCE. Go push with all four of your teammates.
- Don’t get the recipe first, it's useless by itself and if you're desperate enough to get the recipe before the Sacred Relic you're better off giving up and getting something more affordable.
The second-most preferred option. Damage, attack speed, and a conditional effect that deals chain magic damage
to units. This isn't as strong as Radiance's burn aura, but the actual difference is minimal when backed up with attack speed. Buy Maelstrom if you need a farming item with better buildup
than Radiance. Otherwise, buy this if you need damage but don’t require lockdown or a situational item. Not a Unique Attack Modifier anymore, so combine it with any flavor of item you like!
The attack speed is nice, but you really want this for the active, which regularly gives 190 reliable gold
. Use it on large creeps and ranged lane creeps to get more experience and on small creeps for more money.
Unfortunately, you need to reliably use the active
to get your money back in good time, which also assumes you don’t die before then and always have it on cooldown. Midas is all about timing and uninterrupted farm: 6-9 minutes is your window, and it pays for itself in about 20.
If you're doing well enough to justify a Midas, buy Radiance next.
One of the most slot-effective items for Lone Druid: even more armor
for you and surrounding allies, attack speed
, and an armor reduction aura
. Buy this as soon as possible
after your farming item.
- If you don’t get it around the 30-minute mark, the enemy carries will probably be able to come online and you will be quite useless thereafter. If you can't make the timing, you should probably focus on helping in teamfights and getting cheap items to make the most of your money.
- If you’re going to build a core item in any game as Lone Druid, there’s little reason not to get this before anything else since every game has several carries. In high-skill situations, you will want to purchase this only when fighting strong physical carries.
An excellent offensive item that is also very slot-effective. It builds on what Maelstrom had by offering even more attack speed and an active: Static Shield
, which has a chance to shock nearby enemies for magic damage when the affected unit is hit by a physical attack.
This can serve as even more deterrent for physical attackers wanting to hurt your bear, and the attack speed helps you speed up farming and pushing. While a good option in many games, I only buy Mjollnir if I either purchased Maelstrom first (and even then only after Assault Cuirass) and that I don’t need another damage item with different utility.
Buying this gives your bear a 45% chance to stun opponents
upon attacking them, assuming Entangling Claws
is off cooldown. This can be helpful against slippery opponents and carries who decide to fight back.
This isn’t a core item for me in a lot of my games because Lone Druid
can often get a lot accomplished pushing by himself if the rest of his team is occupied fighting the enemy. If you will
be doing a lot of teamfighting, it becomes core. The Strength is regrettably wasted on the Spirit Bear, but it’s still best to have it carry the item.
This is the category for all the items that are cheap but effective. Most heroes can't get these because of item slot restraints, but since we basically have two heroes this isn't a problem. I generally buy mine either before my farming item if I'm having a hard time completing it. If you're in a Radiance game, you can afford to skip most of these until after it's assembled.
The added 24 damage you get from this will help in last-hitting early and pushing later on, especially since your Spirit Bear doesn't get stat growth (meaning no Agility for damage). It also works against Roshan
, so if your team plans to take it, keep it around for then. Consider an Iron Talon upgrade for the armor, if nothing else.
You know how I said Boots of Speed are needed for everyone? Well, Orb of Venom
is the anti-boots. The movement speed slow
will allow your bear to continually harass your opponent since they can’t flee; the poison damage
is icing on the cake. I usually get one of these in all my games. It no longer counts as a Unique Attack Modifier, so feel free to buy one with any of those!
Armor reduction is quite good since all the damage you can deal is physical, effectively makes you more powerful overall. Blight Stone also upgrades into Desolator and Medallion of Courage. Since it is a Unique Attack Modifier, be wary of getting any lifesteal except for Vladimir’s Offering.
The intermediate to high magic damage solution. It also upgrades into Hood of Defiance for more magic resistance, health regeneration, and the Barrier active
. There's not much else to elaborate on this, except that magic resistance follows the law of diminishing returns just like armor does.
All of the items below might be considered good in specific circumstances, but please use your own good judgement in purchases. Lone Druid
can farm many items, so build what you think fits the situation and however much money you have! (This is a slight reiteration from the start of the guide. Moving on.)
Those carries got you down with their Black King Bar
s? This item’s active will help by stunning them through spell immunity
. Of course, your bear can still root through spell immunity, but having a guaranteed stun in general works wonders. Abyssal Blade also incorporates Vanguard, which by itself isn’t worth buying on the Spirit Bear but does make it tankier.
If the enemy team has high armor, this is the way to reduce it. Combined with Assault Cuirass, they will lose 12 armor
, making them very easy to take down if you can hit them. Most of the time you won’t need this for the base, so get it against high-armor foes
if you plan to teamfight. The damage and armor reduction do
factor nicely into Demolish
, making you able to crush enemy structures with impunity.
Should you be battling anyone who has innate evasion
, miss chance
, or items that provide such benefits
, get this. You’ll never miss again unless you hit uphill. Its passive mini-bash will do well in disabling your foes when both Skull Basher and Entangling Claws
fail. The high damage
works great on the bear, since it’s so tanky that it can afford to purchase such an item without the risk of being squishy and it factors into Demolish
Ahh, the game-throwing sword of destiny. Sure, it’s the single most damaging item in the whole game, which makes me drool just thinking about how well Demolish
can use that. The problem with a Divine Rapier is that it’s easy to get yourself killed and lose it
. The Spirit Bear may be tanky, but you can bet everyone will focus it the moment they know it’s holding the thing, and no amount of items and buffs will save you from five people blowing all their spells on you at once.
With this in mind, I have three main tips on when and how to use a Divine Rapier:
- Only build one when you’ll lose the game otherwise and never push without your team when you have it.
- Keep an empty inventory slot on the druid to take it yourself should the Spirit Bear go down.
- Buy an Aghanim's Scepter so the enemy can't just kill you and get a free Rapier.
That said, if the enemy builds and loses a Divine Rapier of their own, you (more specifically, your Spirit Bear) are probably one of the best heroes in the game to carry it, right up there with Medusa
and Wraith King
. Don’t be afraid to take up the sword if the enemy loses theirs. Abuse Demolish
to punish them for their stupidity. Just remember that your bear and you can’t swap a ‘stolen’ rapier.
The old Mask of Madness wasn’t all that good to begin with. It gave the same benefits it does now, except that instead of the penalty being increased damage from all sources
, now you lose 5 armor
and are silenced
for the duration. Your bear needs as much armor as it can get. And sure, the Spirit Bear doesn’t have any big spells, but aren’t Return
and Savage Roar
Attack speed isn't the premium stat for early pushing on Lone Druid
, which is the only reason you'd consider a Mask of Madness to begin with: for early pushing. The movement speed doesn't help us like it would a Sven
because it's difficult enough to kite a Spirit Bear holding Tranquil Boots with max Rabid
, so we aren't getting any extra movement speed we desperately need.
Mask of Madness also competes too heavily with Vladimir’s Offering, which works for both units, gives us a damage percentage buff instead of attack speed, and also provides mana and health regeneration on the side. Mask of Madness is just too risky for not enough payoff
on Lone Druid
The critical hit isn’t as effective due to the Basic attack type conundrum
reducing our bear’s damage (and thus the critical damage). Criticals also don’t work on structures, which are really what the Spirit Bear should be attacking later into the game. Furthermore, Monkey King Bar competes with it by being a superior damage item at a similar price that also bashes and counters evasion.
This item is a joke… But fine, I’ll indulge the trolls. The bear can’t attack from across the map, but it can cast spells and use items. So, a magic nuke for kill-stealing. Everything but the active here is wasted, and unless you’re so far ahead you’ll win anyways you should really be building something else. There are better heroes and methods to pull this off, go play Nyx Assassin
I can see why some people would build this for the Spirit Bear. The double right-click and subsequent movement stop are good for most melee carries to keep their targets immobilized. Lone Druid
doesn't have this issue because of Entangling Claws
. Furthermore, all the Attributes it factors into are again useless for it, along with the druid. I'm also under the impression people who make this out to be a good bear item consider it a way to get double Entangles (which it isn't). There are other items that give more damage and attack speed without being as wasteful.
Item Build Justification - Druid
If the Spirit Bear is a carry, then Sylla the Druid is more of a support. He's usually behind the front lines, buffing his bear and staying just close enough to let it attack before moving in to get the kill. He won't need many items in the game, but what he should invest in is utility
. Getting items that do more than what your bear already does is key to scaling in the later parts of the game.
These all go in the same category because they all have a single common distinction: They’re consumable health regeneration
. I will generally buy one of each of these; I’d prefer to have more regeneration than I need in case the lane is hard. The bear can benefit from holding the Faerie Fire to get damage, but your druid should be using the consumables since the healing they provide will barely make a difference to the bear’s health.
Iron Branches are the most efficient stat item in the game by gold value. They give you a bit of everything for a low price, which helps immensely early on. They can also upgrade into a Magic Wand or a Headdress, a component for Pipe of Insight and Vladimir’s Offering. If you care that much, you can plant them and eat the happy little trees for more health. Just remember that the Spirit Bear can’t use Attributes
, so the druid needs to hold these.
You should probably get your bear's set of boots before your druid's, though ideally in a good lane you would have them both delivered to you at once. It's very important you do get them in good time, however: Your Spirit Bear still has that nasty attack range leash
to worry about. If you're chasing someone and your druid is too far behind, your bear will just sadly contemplate their backside with a broken sword floating above its head. Buy boots early and for both
of your units.
As I went over in the previous section, remember to do the boot swap.
This is usually the boot of choice for the druid; having the regeneration and extra movement speed allows him to maneuver the map more efficiently and regain lost health. Remember to switch out of True Form
to make them work faster and stay out of sight while the bear farms.
A very lucrative option late-game, allowing you to teleport to any allied unit except heroes and not waste money on Town Portal Scrolls. I generally buy these if the game doesn’t look like it can be won through a fight and then push, and that split-pushing is the only option
- You can teleport to your Spirit Bear, since it doesn’t count as a hero.
- It also counteracts the movement speed reduction from True Form.
The item you’ve all been waiting for. Scepter gives some stats, but that's an afterthought compared to the upgrade for Summon Spirit Bear
: Your bear will no longer die when you die, and it no longer has an attack range leash. Essentially, you now have two heroes to use.
This is absolutely game-changing
, since you could now be on the other side of the map farming while the bear takes barracks with the team. It also serves well if the enemy team tries to kill you instead of the bear to take you both out of the fight: they can't kill you because you're not even there. In order to effectively use Aghanim’s Scepter, you should (at the very least) have built a farming item and then an Assault Cuirass
That said, Aghanim’s Scepter is not a perfect item, just because of how it’s designed. Since you need to control both units to make the most of it, a Scepter can complicate micro
on an already difficult hero by requiring you to have higher map awareness as well. It's also pretty useless if you don't have the aforementioned items; if your bear's right-click doesn't mean anything or it can easily be killed, Aghanim's Scepter won't help you.
Another problem I have with Aghanim's Scepter is the fact that Battle Cry
is not global: it only affects units the druid controls in an AOE
. You need to be right next to your Spirit Bear for it to get the damage and armor, so for best results you should be there with it.
Auras also become less effective after this, since your druid will be holding most of them. For this reason, if you have an aura your bear won't be holding it might be best to accompany it in pushes ( Boots of Travel
come to mind).
Generally, you should gauge the enemy team’s ability to pressure your structures when thinking about buying an Aghanim’s Scepter. If your team is doing reasonably well
, it's not as necessary. But if your own base is being assaulted by the entire enemy team at once
, you should get the Aghanim’s as soon as you’re finished Assault Cuirass (which by now you should have).
Ahh, the double Basher build. Is it a good idea? I'd say it can be; there's quite a bit of latent power in having two agile units to perma-bash an enemy hero into oblivion, and it does give the druid a bit of reason to be helping his bear more.
For me at least, double Basher doesn't get much credit because I'd rather split-push while my team fights without me or prioritize the tower during the teamfight and then help my team. In these situations, having one Skull Basher isn't always useful
, let alone two.
The lifesteal method of choice for our dynamic duo, considering it’s the only lifesteal item that works through an aura. It also provides attributes, armor, health and mana regeneration, and a 15% damage increase
which helps the bear considerably. You’ll want to buy this if you and your bear are taking lots of damage, as you can then effectively heal while farming and pushing.
I feel like I am overselling its value somewhat, however. While the lifesteal does work with all the item damage your Spirit Bear is building, the 15% damage increase does not
, meaning it won't do much to increase your offensive potential. (This also applies to other similar buffs and auras, such as Packleader's Aura, Vengeance Aura
, etc.) As such, make it more of a consideration if you also have allied carries who would benefit from your carrying this item.
The reworked Helm of the Dominator is a very interesting generalist item I feel Lone Druid
can make good use of. For someone who won't be holding many items, the Attributes and attack speed are very useful overall. The Dominate active is still awesome, with creeps applicable for many situations (Ogre Frostmage, Satyr Tormentor, and Dark Troll Summoner are all good options).
What's interesting now is its aura: 10 attack speed and 8 health regeneration.
Attack speed is always nice, helping to speed farming, fighting, and pushes. The health regeneration makes a big survivability difference. Ideally, you don't want to go home as Lone Druid
, and without having some form of burst healing on the team it's tough to stay in the field forever (this is why Tranquil Boots are essential, among other reasons). The aura health regeneration affects both druid and bear, the latter of whom can't get enough of this because of its titanic health pool.
Do remember that Battle Cry
will affect all
units Lone Druid
controls, not just him and the Spirit Bear. This extends to Dominate units, Necronomicon units, and even illusions (though the latter only get the armor). If you want to have way more tower damage than you need, it also goes to the skeletons created by the Dark Troll Summoner's Raise Dead.
A good item overall, I'd make a special consideration for it if you need a jungle creep active (Satyr Banisher's purge for Omniknight, Ogre Frostmage for armor reduction heroes, Satyr Mindstealer for Medusa and Wraith King, etc).
Not much difference to how it is on the Spirit Bear. Do prioritize getting one for the druid first, since it's more likely to be targeted. Unlike the Spirit Bear, you should probably upgrade it all the way
to a Pipe of Insight to get a Barrier active that extends to your teammates as well.
A fairly typical buy on most heroes, but especially important in the mid-lane where your enemy will be throwing a lot of spells in your general direction. Forgo the Faerie Fire and Healing Salve to buy this if your enemy mid is this sort of hero. Save your charges for when you need to recover health and mana quickly, upgrade it into a Magic Wand if you’re going to be fighting early, and don’t forget to switch out of True Form before using it!
The other solution to magic spam, which doubles as a way to deal with mana issues. While it will only last so long against a persistent high-damage nuker in lane, at level 1 it will give you a total of ~40 mana over the duration of Rabid, which is nearly enough to cast it again. It doesn’t end up being useful beyond this, however, so build something else for long-term mana problems.
Honestly, I don't know why more people don't get their own wards. To farm and push, you need to not be dead, and wards help you see danger before it arrives. Of course, to use a ward properly you actually do
need to pay attention to the minimap when you have them placed down, so if you can't do this don't waste your money on them.
Situational / Luxury Items
This is meant to punish over-aggression by sending the damage back at your enemies; a little bit of Intelligence and armor isn’t bad either. Note that this works best on glass cannon heroes with a mixture of damage types; Pipe of Insight mitigates magic pretty significantly, and your bear's Assault Cuirass takes care of most physical threats.
Item meant for teamfights. More armor, enough INT that you probably won’t need to go home for mana anymore, AOE attack speed reduction, and the active Arctic Blast that damages and slows movement speed in a growing radius In most games, you probably won’t need more armor, and it becomes less efficient to build it after having so much already, but if you're in a lot of fights and have the farm, go ahead.
Should more defenses be unable to keep you alive, this is the ultimate survival item. A stack of health and its passive ability Health Regeneration, which should sustain your health for the rest of the game by itself. So long as you aren’t caught out of position, having suitable magic resistance and armor make you extremely tough to take down. The buildup is disgusting
, so make sure there is no other way to stay alive first.
The almighty sheepstick! If you do somehow have enough money and the enemy carry is out of hand, this is probably the best item you can buy. The Intelligence-related stats aren't the best, the Hex active is what you’re really after. You basically get a stun of your own, which should allow your team to get the edge on them in the fight.
If you need to prevent a specific right-clicking hero from doing their job, this is the way to do it. The 5-second disarm active cannot be removed, the Strength and damage are welcome, and the evasion helps your druid stay alive far longer. Avoid buying this if someone on the enemy team will be purchasing Monkey King Bar, as the evasion factor will then become totally useless.
A very good answer to invisible people. The druid can use the stats and certainly farm it up to level 3, but the active is where it’s at. True Sight as a passive on units nobody wants to kill is great, and if you don’t need them for detection they come in handy for pushes. Most notably, they benefit from Battle Cry. I wouldn’t get more than one, since that’s a lot of money going to an item you already have and whose stats are useless on the bear.
Another evasion counter. The only issue here is that it’s got more Intelligence focus than Monkey King Bar, meaning part of it is wasted on the bear and you will need to put yourself at risk to use its active and defeat the evasion hero you're countering with it.
It also doesn’t give any damage at all and not very much attack speed, which isn’t very effective for our DPS. Critical hits also don’t work on structures, which Monkey King Bar does. I want to like this item, but for us it’s not good enough.
A cheap early-game item. Most supports buy this for inexpensive stats to stay alive more easily, but Lone Druid doesn’t have this problem after level 6 since True Form gives him more health. The real reason you buy this is to get more movement speed and attack speed for a short time with the active. Rabid and boot upgrades should make this a non-issue. I just don’t see the need for it.
After 7.00, it was reworked, so that it now offers movement speed passively and gives mana regeneration instead of health regeneration. This makes it a much more viable item for Lone Druid, and I will give it due testing and reconsideration.
Gameplay (Game Progression)
Lone Druid can lane anywhere on the map and still be somewhat relevant. My experience is that mid is the best place to spend the laning phase, as you will only have to deal with one person and be able to quickly take the tower if they leave. As such, I will assume you are mid-laning for the remainder of this section. I may perhaps expand the guide with gameplay sections relevant to other lanes in the future.
At the beginning of the game, you should immediately skill and cast Summon Spirit Bear
. Move in front of your bear so it won't slow you down and make your way towards one of the Bounty rune spots. Since it's best that you get your Boots of Speed as fast as possible, you should usually be the one to grab it when it spawns.
Offensive maneuvers towards the enemy Bounty runes are not recommended
as Lone Druid
, since you don't have a stun yet and your two units will make chasing difficult. Furthermore, if you or your bear die at this point you could well lose the lane.
The key to being a good carry is to last-hit properly
and always find safe farm. Lone Druid
is an excellent last-hitter because he has two units to use. Time your attacks so they connect at the same time. Freeze the lane by denying creeps when it pushes out and have your bear tank the wave to keep it out of tower range.
If the wave pushes too far anyways, go take some jungle camps while you wait for it to come back. In this situation, it may be wise to purchase Observer Ward
s of your own so you can keep an eye on areas just outside where you farm; nobody likes being interrupted.
The jungle is a sort of safe haven
for farm if the lanes are far away or heavily manned; the Secret Shop, several camps of various sizes, a Bounty rune spot, and a Shrine
to act as a regeneration area and teleport vector (right-click on it twice to activate). You can use Shrines to heal your druid and Spirit Bear, but they have a 5-minute cooldown
, so be sure to share. Don't underestimate the power of the Shrine active; Sanctuary can easily heal over 1000 health on a level 4 Spirit Bear.
Jungle camps now respawn every odd minute (1:00, 3:00, 5:00 and so on), so stack them when you can't take them. This is especially true for Ancient camps, which will be worth a lot of money when you can kill them and can be reached quickly with a Shrine teleport.
Here is a map that marks all of the camps, Shrines, and Rune spots on the standard Dota 2 map as of the New Journey update:
Spoiler: Click to view
If your lane is empty, try to take the tower
. As always, watch for the Fortification Glyph, since wasting Battle Cry
on it is unfortunate. Ganks
may also be incoming, especially if you have already taken towers and the enemy team realizes just how screwed they are if they leave you alone, so you might want to keep your druid back a bit so he has a head start if someone comes after you.
Before level 6, Lone Druid
is painfully squishy. Play carefully and try to keep your distance from the enemy. Get your boots and farming item as soon as you can; at this stage, offense is the best defense. After your bear gets Entangling Claws
, you can get kills, and after you get True Form
on the bear you can push effectively.
This period of the match is also crucial for your item build: If you buy the Sacred Relic before the 20-minute mark, complete the Radiance
. If you don't have it yet, switch to Maelstrom
instead. If you're free-farming, buy Hand of Midas
and proceed to either of the previous options. Buy your cheap items as the necessity demands, and always have Town Portal Scrolls on your druid.
You really start to shine in the mid-game, as it's when you have either won or lost the lane and start to move into the other lanes. You are a pushing machine
; if nobody is farming a lane and you aren't needed elsewhere, try to take the tower. If they teleport in, back the druid off and keep hitting with the bear until you need to retreat.
At this period, players of both teams may gather in lanes to teamfight and take objectives. On one hand, pushing objectives
is very important, and a whole team behind a druid and his bear are very hard to stop before the enemy carries come online. Then again, it's possible you will either be unable to turn the tides of battle by helping or simply be too far away to help. In this case, you should probably just keep pushing the lane to take a tower while everyone's distracted.
The decision is tough to make, but make sure you're in the right place at the right time
. Lone Druid
should ideally be farming the most profitable creep camp near where a fight is about to break out if he knows he can help win it. Always have a Town Portal Scroll
ready to be where your team needs you. It takes time and practice to figure out when a fight will happen and when you should be helping, and even I make mistakes at times. Practice
is the key word here.
This generally makes one of two things happen: Either the enemy team will keep fighting your allies as you take the tower largely without trouble, or they will teleport to the threatened tower
to defend it. Both of these are wins for you: The enemy's teamfight is weakened because one person or more had to go stop you, meaning the rest who are still fighting are easier for your allies to deal with. If they don't respond at all
, you get a free tower and farm.
Even if you're there, sometimes the best thing you can do is prioritize the objective
and hit the tower while the fight erupts around you. That way, you can either get back once it falls or stand your ground if the fight is going your way. Taking towers is the most critical thing
that will win the game. Heroes respawn, towers and barracks do not. Plus, you get money for destroying them, and who doesn't
You will also need to decide on your next big item. You should have a farming item and maybe some cheap trinkets between you and your Spirit Bear. Assault Cuirass
is pretty much core every game and should be next up, but after that it's open to the need. Monkey King Bar
for countering evasion, Necronomicon
for invisible units, Desolator
for high-armor heroes, Skull Basher
for teamfighting, etc.
You're not as strong by now, but depending on how well the early and mid-game shaped up, there's still a lot you can do. Keep on pushing out the lanes
and taking towers
when you can, be present for teamfights
your team can win, and try to take Roshan
if your team can effectively use an Aegis. You're not the best person to hold it, but your Spirit Bear can keep fighting as you resurrect and you come back in True Form
if you'd been in it before you died, so you're by no means the worst carrier. You should also take the time
as soon as Roshan dies, especially
if you're the one carrying the Aegis. The Aegis disappears 5 minutes after Roshan's death, and he respawns 8-11 minutes after being killed. Work within these parameters to win fights with a numbers advantage.
Cutting off the enemy's Shrines
is crucial by now. If the enemy can teleport and heal by their jungle camps, they will continue to farm, have a fountain away from home, and as such could potentially outcarry you. To kill them, all the T2 towers (every tower outside the high-ground of their base) must have been destroyed.
Do be wary that the enemy team will try to get rid of your own Shrines
as well if your towers are gone, so make sure to keep them safe
if this happens. Being cut off from your own jungle puts you at a big disadvantage, since you need to be able to take camps and access the Secret Shop without worry of being murdered to keep up the pressure.
No matter the game, at some point you will probably want to buy an Aghanim's Scepter
. It's just that amazing; you can keep farming your jungle (or the enemy's) as the bear fights with your team or pushes lanes. At this point, however, ganks
become far more commonplace, so make sure you can Return
your bear to save it or yourself.
In general, the game will probably be decided by this point, but there are matches that are just too even to know the end beforehand.
Don't give up!
Keep trying your best, defend with the team whenever you can, and take advantage of big teamfights. You should also avoid teleporting anywhere if you can, since you may need the item off cooldown to defend your base.
I originally wasn’t going to do one of these, but I decided having a bit of above-and-beyond thinking would benefit players reading my guide. Before you ask, yes, I also met Safecyn, and he was the one who suggested it, so I'm not stealing his idea or anything. Today, we’re going to discuss effective hitpoints and pseudo-random distribution. Onwards to learning!
Before we begin, do remember that all forms of armor in Dota 2 follow the law of diminishing returns: more armor will block less damage, so there isn’t a linear increase, as after about 20 points in either direction further efforts become less effective.
Effective hitpoints (or EHP) is the amount of health a unit has with relevance to a specific damage type. As an example, a level 1 Spirit Bear has 1400 maximum health and 3 armor. If we wanted to kill it with physical damage alone, we would need to evaluate how much physical damage it needs to take to bypass the protection its armor provides. Every point of armor gives roughly 6% protection from physical damage. 3 points will give a unit 18% protection, meaning in addition to its total max health (100%) the Spirit Bear can take 118% of its health pool in damage discounting regeneration.
1.18 * 1400 = 1652 EHP
As such, we can conclude a level 1 Spirit Bear can actually take around 250 more damage from physical attacks with its base armor than its health bar would suggest.
We can apply this to magic resistance as well, which works in the same way. A level 4 Spirit Bear has 2700 max HP and 0% inherent magic resistance, but it gets 33% magic resistance from Demolish. If we add in a Hood of Defiance, which gives another 30% magic resistance, the bear now has 53.1% resistance to magical damage when we account for diminishing returns. This means it can take 153.1% of its own health pool in magic damage. We’re discounting regeneration for this again because my brain would hurt if we didn't.
1.531 * 2700 = 4133.7 EHP
... Okay, that surprised me, I didn’t expect it to be that high.
But anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that both overall health and armor factor into EHP. You’ll want to build mostly armor and magic resistance to surpass this, the Spirit Bear already has a huge health pool. Even magic resistance isn’t as much of a problem because spells have cooldowns, so more armor is usually the answer.
That said, armor follows the law of diminishing returns, meaning the more we have the less effective it is overall. This is also why we focus on offensive items for the bear: Damage doesn't follow the law of diminishing returns. We can build damage items all day long, but armor and magic resistance only get us so far.
This is also why the +7 Armor for the Spirit Bear perk in the Talent Tree is so useful: We get more efficiency than a Chainmail without spending a penny. That increased tankiness without further spending goes a long way, and while it is affected by the law of diminishing returns, it's not as bad since we aren't wasting any effort in getting that armor.
Unfortunately, the Spirit Bear doesn’t have it easy. Since Valve had to be sneaky when they made sure this thing couldn’t steal everyone’s left shoe, they gave it Basic damage and armor type. What does that mean? Well, every unit in the game has a secret armor and damage classification which affects how much of its damage will be dealt to a target before resistances. The hero damage type will do full damage to a unit with Basic armor, while a unit with Basic attack damage like our bear can only deal 75% of its damage to a hero.
If we assume our level 4 Spirit Bear has 65 damage only and it attacks a level 1 Ogre Magi, who has 8 armor, around 35% of that damage would be nullified by the armor. Therefore, we multiply the damage dealt by the remaining percentage, which is 65%:
65 * 0.65 = 42.25 damage
Unfortunately, we haven’t taken the armor type into account yet. Since Basic units only deal 75% damage to a hero, the math changes to the following:
(65 * 0.75) * 0.65 = 31.6875 damage
What I’m explaining is the reason why Lone Druid has a tough time scaling into the late-game: a lot of the damage it deals ends up being wasted on heroes. Over half of that damage was prevented by the 8 armor of the Ogre Magi from a Spirit Bear already as powerful as it was going to get without items, and late-game most carries will usually have twice as much armor. So in the end, Lone Druid isn’t the best at fighting heroes for this reason. By the ultra-late game, you will have to fight heroes to get to their structures, so do you really want to let it wait long enough that they can manfight your bear because it doesn’t deal enough damage to scare them anymore?
On the other hand, we do have Demolish to think about. As it turns out, Demolish only works the way it does because of damage types as well, so let’s run numbers for that too.
A Tier 1 tower has 20 Structure-type armor. Heroes only deal 50% of their damage to units with Structure-type armor, further reduced by their high armor, which protects from 55% of damage. If the same level 1 Ogre Magi tries to club the tower for 64 damage, the actual damage will be massively reduced.
(64 * 0.5) * 0.45 = 14.4 damage
As such, killing a tower early on is a pretty tall order, especially given its high attack damage which makes not dying a bit difficult to say the least. Now, let’s figure out what the Spirit Bear can do. A level 4 bear has 65 damage, Basic attack type which only deals 70% damage to structures. Since it’s level 4, it has Demolish, granting an extra 40% bonus damage to structures, meaning it actually deals 110% of its damage against the same tower.
(65 * 1.1) * 0.45 = 32.175 damage
Perhaps not a significant difference in the example, but it didn’t get reduced nearly as much as the hero damage. Demolish also accounts for ]ALL damage, not just base damage. This is why we build so much attack damage on the Spirit Bear. Lone Druid was literally made to be a pushing hero, so use him to take towers early! That’s not to say he can’t do other things (he can and does), but you need to take advantage of his strengths if you plan to win. And everyone likes to win, right?
Next up is the pseudo-random distribution system
. Essentially, this is the calculation type Valve uses for chance elements in Dota 2. Rather than actual chance, which can be a bit unfair in a video game, it balances the probability of likelihood based on previous successes and failures.
If you just got a proc from an ability or item that used pseudo-random distribution, it’s probably not to happen again right away. Conversely, if it hasn’t happened it will be more likely to occur. This is defined by a Bernoulli trial
, an event which either results in failure or success (either the effect happens or it doesn't). With each trial, the likelihood of the specific effect goes up or down by this system.
The exact formula employed for these calculations is P(N) = C * N
means that P
, or probability, is a function of N
, meaning we are plugging N into the equation. N
is the number of trials, while C
is the constant percentage of the occurrence for the event. According to this formula, the chance for our pseudo-random event to happen multiplies itself whenever it doesn’t happen, resetting when it does. I think an example is in order.
Let’s say we want to figure out how likely it is that a Spirit Bear gets an root after 3 hits. This means we’ve run 3 trials, so N = 3
. Since Entangling Claws
has a 20% average proc rate, 0.05570 is the decimal base chance of its occurrence (with 1.0 or higher being a proc), or about 5.57%. The maximum number of times a bear can hit without proccing Entangling Claws is 18, as after that it surpasses 1 and will always happen.
Therefore, P(3) = 0.05570 * 3 = 16.71% proc rate
The logical way we can take advantage of pseudo-random distribution is by hitting some other unit a few times before we go after a hero, but there’s no tell about when the proc will happen, so this is unreliable at best. There’s also the trouble of Entangling Claws
working on a cooldown, during which pseudo-random distribution does not apply because the chance will remain at 0%
until it’s ready again.
The only other way to influence it is through more Bernoulli trials
. The more trials we perform, the more often the event will occur. In this case, we should lots of attack speed to make more attacks that may proc a root.
While having a mixture of attack speed and damage is important in general, I feel that the low damage of Entangling Claws along with the aforementioned damage and armor type issues mean that prioritizing hero kills over tower destruction isn’t the best way to go about it. Lone Druid
also already has an attack speed steroid inherently through Rabid
, so you’ll have some to work with even if it’s best to build more. Focus on pushing if all things are equal.
Thanks for visiting the Math Corner, I hope you learned something. Back to your regularly scheduled guide...
Being isolated from the world for so long has made it tough for Lone Druid to find allies in the War of the Ancients. Similarly, his playstyle in a Dota 2 match is quite independent, in that he doesn't often need help to farm and push lanes. That said, there are still quite a few people he likes having around.
Having more armor is just great, especially if both you and your bear can have it. Since you both have high health and probably have all the magic resistance you'll ever get with dual Cloaks, more armor is the best way to stay alive later in the game. Of course, two of these heroes have a way to reduce armor instead, which is also handy because all of your damage is physical and single-target. Dazzle can do both at once with Weave
, so he's a great example.
These heroes all have a way to buff your physical attack, through raw damage or attack speed (or both if you're named Invoker). Wraith King is basically walking lifesteal, which adds on to Vladimir's Offering if either of you have one. The prize for aura variety
goes to Enchantress, Chen, and Doom for their ability to use creep abilities to help in pushes. Special considerations are the Frost Ogre, Alpha Wolf, and Ancient creeps. If you want team items, Drum of Endurance and Guardian Greaves are both great to have on an ally.
These heroes (though they are by no means the only) have strong single-target stuns with good duration and a magic nuke to follow up. These combined with Entangling Claws
should help you net a kill. They are regrettably fragile on their own, which is why you can help by keeping them safe.
I haven't tried it yet, but on paper this combination sounds like it would work quite well. Warcry's armor and movement speed are very helpful in pushes and teamfights, especially since they apply to the bear as well. Storm Gauntlet is an awesome stun in general, which will allow you and Sven to catch up to your target and potentially root them. Cleave makes Sven as potent a pushing hero as you, meaning he can help put up double the pressure in addition to scaling late-game far better than you. Finally, if Sven buys an Aghanim's Scepter, God's Strength will transfer to all allies in a 900 AOE, including your Spirit Bear.
Lone Druid might be capable of functioning independently from his teammates, but there are still a number of heroes who just make him cry... Know your enemy, right? Let's find out what you can do about it. And if you just got beat by a Lone Druid, here's a list of names and ideas he won't like seeing again.
Generally bad news for just about anybody who goes mid. Viper's Poison Attack
prevents you from winning the lane. Nethertoxin
makes him hurt even more when you're damaged, with particular regards to your Spirit Bear. Corrosive Skin
means you probably shouldn't make a Radiance against him since it will constantly damage and slow your bear. Viperstrike can also be difficult to deal with since it gimps your carrying powers while it lasts and does high damage. He's not as tanky as you, so close the distance and out-DPS him when you have high health. Consider dual Cloaks against Viper. A Heaven's Halberd
might also be a good pickup, since everything he has to directly damage you is based on his auto-attack except for Viperstrike.
Another mid destroyer. Burning Spears make him as bad as Viper in lane. Berserker's Blood
makes low-health skirmishes very threatening to you, while Life Break
takes a lot of health since it's percent-based. Huskar has low armor, but high health, so trying to take the offensive is not a good idea if you're alone. Build a Heaven's Halberd
, armor reduction, make use of Savage Roar
to save allies, and pray he never buys an Aghanim's Scepter.
Behold, the anti-carry. Static Link
reduces you or your bear's damage to nothing very fast unless you break it. Eye of the Storm
allows Razor to manfight you more effectively by reducing your armor, and Unstable Current
makes rooting him a bit of a double-edged sword since it purges Rabid and makes him much faster (and thus difficult to catch in the first place). Break Static Link with Return
and don't fight when Eye of the Storm is up. Since he can't really hurt more than one person at once without Plasma Field
, it's easier to handle him with friends.
Screw nightmares, Bane will give you migraines. Enfeeble
is absolutely crippling for your Spirit Bear and might as well make Demolish useless. Brain Sap
spam in lane will inflict Pure damage on your bear and keep himself in good health even if you harrass him. Fiend's Grip
makes either of your units helpless for its duration and deals heavy damage. Nightmare
will mess with your micro quite a bit. Try to keep your bear free from Nightmare and engage when he doesn't have spells left. He's mostly a teamfight problem, but if he tries to stop your pushes, get your team to take advantage of his absence.
will slowly take away experience and gold from your lane, which will inevitably put you behind. Frost Blast
spam is annoying and will drain your bear's health early on. Ice Armor
will make killing people with your bear difficult, and Chain Frost
takes advantage of your two units to do lots of damage. Try to switch lanes if you can and split your bear and druid apart when Chain Frost is cast.
More bouncing spell madness! Paralyzing Cask
is a really good stun, but if he catches you away from a creep wave it will have perfect efficiency. Maledict
is a very strong damaging spell that will hurt you the more damage you take; since it's a DOT it will also put Return
on cooldown. Thankfully, his Death Ward
channel won't hurt the Spirit Bear and can be broken with Savage Roar
or Entangling Claws
. Separate your units when Paralyzing Cask is out and you should be fine; he has low armor and is helpless without his spells.
Windranger's spells will make your life hell: Shackleshot
, a multi-target stun that can also use trees and prioritizes your druid. Windrun
, a spell that gives her 100% evasion and doubles as an escape. Powershot
, a high-range magic nuke. And Focus Fire
, a channelled ultimate that lets her push towers as fast as you by accelerating her attack speed. Consider Windranger a very dangerous and slippery opponent.
- It's usually best to try and shut down Windranger early, before she has levels and items. It will be tough for you since she can keep pushing the wave back and save herself with Windrun, but if you bring a friend with a stun you can employ Savage Roar to prevent spellcasting and kill her before she can use it.
- You should buy Cloaks if she is spamming Powershot, separate your units if she tries to stun, and build a Monkey King Bar to catch her when she stands still under Windrun.
- Fortify your towers when she channels Focus Fire. She hates it as much as you hate Glyph of Fortification on Battle Cry. Savage Roar can also drive her away from the tower if she's targeting it, with more effectiveness should she be under Windrun as it increases her movement speed.
Another potent anti-carry. Thunder Clap
gives Brewmaster a good laning presence and gets him farm while damaging your Spirit Bear and inflicting miss. Drunken Haze
is even worse since it slows and inflicts even more miss, to say nothing of Drunken Brawler
's passive critical and evasion. Under his ultimate Primal Split
, he's not
going down if you're the only one in the fight.
- The Storm Brewling can cyclone for an eternity and purge your buffs and the Earth Brewling is exceedingly tough to kill with an annoying ranged stun to spam. It's not worth the effort to kill them during the ultimate most of the time, especially if he's hit level 25 and picked the armor talent for his Brewlings. Instead, follow the Earth Brewling when he uses his ultimate to start targeting him when he comes back.
- Buy a Monkey King Bar. Drunken Haze, Drunken Brawler's evasion, and any other evasion/miss items he's build will become totally useless, making him a lot easier to take down. A Radiance will also deter Blink initiation and escape if he's unwilling to purchase a Black King Bar.
It has come to my attention that a Wraith King equipped with an Echo Sabre and Desolator can use Mortal Strike
to devastating effect against a Spirit Bear, since it counts as a creep. I would strongly
recommend against fighting a Wraith King so equipped, but if you really feel like it, messing with his right-click using a Heaven's Halberd will help your team kill him. Otherwise, avoid him at all cost.
Quite a few supports give you trouble, but the white knight of the All-Knowing One is especially good at it. Purification
allows Omniknight to heal his allies easily throughout the game and deters your bear from harrassing due to its AOE Pure
will dispel Entangling Claws
, potentially saving anyone you otherwise had locked down. Degen Aura
might not be a great passive, but it makes catching him or his teammates difficult. And finally, Guardian Angel
can swing any fight in favor of his team with proper use. Worse still, with an Aghanim's Scepter he can completely stop you from pushing the base. Your best chance is to pressure him early so he can't build too many items. You might also want to buy an item that purges to remove Guardian Angel in a fight, such as Diffusal Blade
or Eul's Scepter of Divinity
These heroes all have some way of dealing damage based on your maximum health pool. Lifestealer has Feast
, Necrophos has Heartstopper Aura
and Reaper's Scythe
(seriously, screw that spell), and Death Prophet has Spirit Siphon
. You should avoid them all and build magic resistance for the latter two.
These are all good ways to reduce the armor of the druid or his Spirit Bear, which also offsets the bonus armor you get from True Form
and Amplify Damage last for a very long time, so watch out for ganks while under their effects.
These heroes are in this list as examples of serious out-scalers. Given enough time, they will become stronger than you no matter how far ahead you are. Early on, they might not have the power to fight you off, but make it your life's mission to secure the game before they can become relevant.
Tanky enough to take the heat from you and can usually battle back in some manner, with reliable stuns and some manfighting capability. Unless you're sure you can kill them without any risk to yourself, it's best to avoid these guys. Consider purchasing a Desolator in matches against them.
is like a Blink Dagger in that it can be disabled by any damage which has a hero for a source (including summons, items, and spells). These heroes and items are especially difficult to handle because their effects will deal DOT that can keep it down, potentially long enough to get your Spirit Bear killed. Several of these also have secondary effects attached to their DOT in the form of movement speed slow, attack speed slow, or stuns among others. Just be careful of your health and don't be afraid to back off if the damage ticks start to add up.
might have a strong pushing factor, but if the enemy has a hero who is just as capable of pressuring towers as you, they may be able to offset your advantage, especially if you're not present in the teamfights you have to help with. Tinker and KotL get special mentions for their high burst damage and blinds
. Monkey King Bar
helps with blinds as does Cloak
for burst magic damage, but more than that you need to be ready to defend a lane at any time with a Town Portal Scroll or Boots of Travel.
Matchups: Bear Chow (Easy opponents)
These are heroes you will want to see on the enemy team. Lots of heroes fit into this category early in the game, since most are not strong enough to fight off two heroes with nearly 2000 combined HP and 80 damage at level 1. Of course, many in this list will eventually become strong enough that Lone Druid cannot bully them anymore, so your priority is to secure a strong lead for your team before this happens.
High Mobility Heroes (among others)
As of the New Journey update, the root status effect was buffed to disable many more mobility spells than only true blinks. Entangling Claws
is a root, so it now prevents escape for many of these heroes. It's especially useful for the likes of invisible heroes, since Entangling Claws also reveals invisible units while it lasts, and most of them are squishy to start.
Oh hey, another
single-target physical damage carry like us! Seriously though, she's a very common pick and is sometimes seen in the mid lane. You WILL
need to know how to deal with her. She has high armor, but low health and needs farm to be relevant. Kill her when you can and build a Monkey King Bar in good time to keep her down.
- A mid-lane Phantom Assassin will probably be spamming her Stifling Dagger to get farm. Make sure you buy a Magic Stick if you think she will be your opponent. She'll probably also be throwing some of those daggers at you, so it might not be a bad idea to stay where she can't see you in lane, especially before level 6. If you can harass her before she has Blur, do so with great prejudice to slow her down.
- Phantom Strike acts like a unit-target blink that buffs attack speed. Use Savage Roar to disrupt this when she tries to go on somebody (including you). You may also want to watch out for her ultimate, Coup de Grace, which will crit for high amounts of damage and can also be applied to her dagger. Evasion (especially in the form of Heaven's Halberd) can be effective if she isn't building a Monkey King Bar herself.
- The real problem Phantom Assassin poses is in her Blur passive, which makes her very hard to hit and lets her split-push unnoticed from the minimap. For this, you will need to build a Monkey King Bar as soon as you're finished Assault Cuirass. The invisible-on-minimap component of Blur requires good map awareness, since you need to check every creep wave pushing to your towers for her presence. As with other hard carries, end the game before she can become relevant.
A textbook mid since the dawn of time. Where so many people go wrong with this guy is when they leave him in his lane, and then 30 minutes later he has an Aghanim's Scepter and starts slaughtering your entire team with his massive spell potential. Lone Druid
aims to win the lane, and that's precisely what Invoker can't fight if the other guy is being pushy. His Strength and armor are very low
early on, and without quick access to every spell in his repertoire he won't be able to fight back effectively.
- Buy Orb of Venom in lane with your boots and use your bear to harrass him whenever he goes to last-hit. Deny as much as possible when not taking last-hits yourself to slow down his leveling speed. If you manage to kill or drive him out, he'll play a lot safer around you.
- Destroy his tower so he can't farm there. If you snowball before he can come online, he'll have a tough time recovering, but when he has all his spells, the crowd control he will then possess is too great for you to nail him down by yourself.
- Should he kick you out of mid, watch for Sun Strike if you walk back to base.
- Tornado will purge Rabid and Battle Cry.
- Forge Spirits don't treat the Spirit Bear like a hero, so they won't reduce its armor with Melting Strike.
While not even as good of a mid anymore, people still play the Butcher there a lot. Against Lone Druid
, he will regret everything. Pudge is slow, has low armor, and very little manfighting capability outside of his spells, which you can disrupt. He also relies on positioning to get kills, whereas you can use his spells to get kills on him.
- Pudge's combo will kill most heroes early-game. Before you get True Form, Lone Druid is no exception. Stay on top of your micro by always keeping the bear between you and Pudge. If he does Meat Hook the bear, he probably won't try to kill it since it's too tanky and can hurt him a lot more. Once you have a level 3 Spirit Bear, proccing Entangling Claws lets you dish out some serious hurt.
- In the event Pudge does land Meat Hook on you, it's wise to quickly Return your bear and use Savage Roar to cancel Dismember. You may also want to build dual Cloaks against a Pudge, but as the game goes on he will fall off even harder than you unless he snowballed. If you're that worried, take an Observer Ward with you to place on his side of the river.
- Rot will take away Pudge's health when active. It does do a lot of magical damage, but your bear will have nearly double the health Pudge does early on, so it doesn't care. Harass him when he uses it to get last-hits; if he doesn't bother to turn it off you get free damage on him and maybe even a kill. It adds up very quickly and Pudge starts with pitiful armor.
Most of Silencer's kit isn't really that important for Lone Druid, but Glaives of Wisdom
is a pretty strong Pure damage orb effect that scales with his Intelligence. This makes laning against him bothersome (again, especially before level 6). Silencer does has even lower armor than you to begin with, so harass him in lane
to make sure he can't start ganking and making your team stupid with his passive Intelligence theft.
- Avoid casting Rabid when you're hit by Arcane Curse. Should he be spamming it, buy a Magic Stick. Conversely, when affected by Last Word, cast a spell as soon as you can (unless it's Summon Spirit Bear) to mitigate the damage over time. Global Silence really doesn't matter to you since you don't have any big spells it'll prevent you from using. At worst, it'll delay your recast of Rabid.
- Whatever you do, don't let him kill you too much, not even in 1 for 1 trades. Silencer will always get the Intelligence as long as an enemy hero dies before he does. If you're losing too much Intelligence, consider buying items to rectify that, and Aghanim's Scepter to push lanes without worrying about him ganking you.
Another midlaner who is weak early game and requires lots of farm to become relevant. He will have Shadowraze
to farm with, gets more damage through Necromastery
, usually buys armor reduction, and Requiem of Souls
will unleash unspeakable horrors on your team. Needless to say, we must stop him early.
- Shadow Fiend relies on Necromastery for most of his damage in the early parts of the game. If you use your two units to get as many last-hits and denies as possible, his damage won't be nearly as consequential. Killing him actually eliminates half of his Necromastery stacks, so try for Entangling Claws if you can; he doesn't have very much health to start with. After he gets his Shadowraze, expect him to use it to secure farm and harass you, so don't stand still so that he can hit you and buy a Magic Stick.
- Presence of the Dark Lord reduces armor, which can make it harder to keep your bear alive near Shadow Fiend. He also tends to build Desolator, the combination of which will make your bear very sad. Several other big items on him such as Black King Bar, Shadow Blade, and Aghanim's Scepter will result in some potent teamfighting on his part. Do try and win before this happens, his flash-farming will allow him to recover later even if he dies.
- Do remember that Requiem of Souls casts again when Shadow Fiend dies, so if your health is low, it might not be worth killing him if it'll somehow finish you off.
Wrapping Things Up
Take a seat, children: It's storytime.
I first fell in love with Lone Druid long ago, back before the hero became relevant. This was when Synergy existed and Juggernaut ran rampant in every game, so you can imagine my difficulties. While the hero himself was tough to play, I started to practice where I could, though I was nowhere close to what I had to accomplish to truly become a good player.
At the time, Lone Druid needed to hit at least level 10 or so to be truly relevant since, since he needed Synergy and Summon Spirit Bear maxed and a point in both his ultimate and Rabid. Otherwise the bear would have too little health, not enough damage, or not enough speed. This wasn’t even when Lone Druid became relevant as a mid, since this was before all the truly disgusting mid-laners were nerfed, so the only way to go was safe-lane, or offlane if you knew how. Summon Spirit Bear’s cooldown was also ridiculously high, making it easy to be bearless at any stage of the game.
I languished at these difficulties, though I still longed for a time when I could pick him freely. Recently, Lone Druid has been subject to a few groundbreaking balance changes: Summon Spirit Bear’s cooldown is a constant 120 seconds at all levels, Synergy’s stats have been incorporated into the spells it used to affect, and Synergy itself has been replaced with Savage Roar.
This has an enormous impact, since Synergy was just holding the hero back and the cooldown on Summon Spirit Bear was quite costly after it got a bounty. Along with some new items added to the game, these changes have made the hero a whole lot more interesting to play and much more viable than before. There's no way I could properly express how thrilled I am at the fact that Lone Druid is viable again.
I decided I’d start looking into some guides to see if some people smarter than me made guides to compensate for the improved viability, until I set my mind on writing something of my own. A few of the popular guides were outdated, so I felt there was something I could contribute in improving the hero in general as far as player understanding went. In particular, I feel like Aghanim’s Scepter isn’t being given the credit it deserves.
I called this guide “The Seed of Victory” because of two reasons: First, it comes from a Lone Druid quote, and it seems to be a weird tradition here on DOTAFire to name your guide after a voice line. Secondly, it carries meaning for how I believe the hero should be played. Lone Druid’s job is to push down enemy towers before anything else, to gain an advantage for the team and not just yourself. Your ultimate goal is to lock the enemy in their base so your team can out-farm them.
This is sowing the seed of a won match; either you take down everything the enemy has protecting their farming carries, or you make sure your own early game is strong enough to start taking objectives before they can fight back. Your job is not to get kills or farm constantly, but to help your team get an advantage that by pressuring the enemy.
I'd like to thank all of the wonderful people in the DOTAFire Discord for their advice and support in this endeavor. Particular thanks go out to Cuttleboss, Safecyn, and Sofa for their exemplary guides. AdmiralBulldog is also deserving of my thanks, since he made the guide that initially helped me understand the hero and sparked my interest in him.
Well, at least for now, this is all I have. Thanks so much for reading, I hope you learned something about Lone Druid from my guide, or at least that you had something interesting to think about when read it. As I said before, I will be expanding this guide in the near future: I plan to refine the content I already have, including a section with examples of well-played games with the hero.
Cory signing off!
- Add more items to the build & rejects (Eye of Skadi, Moon Shard, Crimson Guard)
- Test new ideas (Lotus Orb, Drum of Endurance, Solar Crest, Dragon Lance for range build)
- Add more heroes in matchups (Luna, Juggernaut)
- Find a smaller Medic Bear picture
- Expand guide to include offlane and safelane positions, as well as a warning to jungling
- Add considerations for the ranged build at some point
December 17, 2016 - Version 1.0 - First version of guide, published early to get advice
January 4, 2017 - Version 1.1 - Revisions to account for Helm of the Dominator, aura items for Aghanim's Scepter, Talent Tree update, admissions to previous overrating of Vladimir's Offering and similar percent-based damage buffs on Spirit Bear