This is a detailed guide on how to actually carry the game to success using Viper. Some choices of building this hero may be objectionable, but it works. Use it to your taste but remember, this guide is based on buying these items in this exact order.
Viper is not a usual carry hero. Most of carries in Dota 2 are hard to play in the beginning but are really powerful in mid and/or late game, where as Viper is dangerous from the very beginning all the way to the end and most of the time the most dangerous hero on the map.
P.S. If you happen to have read this guide before, I have re-written it once more so use it to your advantage.
There are a couple of DONT's when picking Viper.
There are two item builds on this guide. The first one is a specific carry build to be able to carry the game no matter what, OP enemies and/or noob allies shouldn't be able to phase you too much. The second build is based for much more comfortable game, where your aim is to be a team player will destroy enemy team very fast if there is not too much focus on him. It is easier to build Viper with second build, but for a number of reasons I believe the first build is much more appealing to this hero.
Viper is a semi skill-based hero because he relies on his amazing Poison Attack to kill his enemies, which is why first build is mainly focused on how to survive and outlive your enemies instead of DPS and attributes. Because surviving means getting the gold for the next item. And a full built Viper is truly scary.
The starting items are quite typical, a couple of Slippers of Agility plus a Circlet. (which is a part of a
I prefer getting a Healing Salve instead of Tango as it lures the enemies closer thinking they can get that first blood off you, which gives you a chance to show them you're not ****ing around. It also forces you to play safer since you can't restore 100 hp every time you get harassed.
Core items (of the first build) are Boots of Speed + 2x Wraith Band, a Bottle and a Shadow Blade. Why them? Well, to survive.
However if you're confident in your skills to survive, you should consider skipping the Wraith Bands and going straight for the Manta Style instead of the Shadow Blade.
Boots of Speed will help you outrun some heroes or at least be around the same speed. However keep in mind Viper's base speed is 285, which is 15 points below the normal speed of 300. Wraith Bands keep your attacks sharp and HP reasonable, also fairly cheap since you already have most of the ingredients.
A Bottle is always good to help you stay in the lane and do solo ganking using the runes, also keeping your mana high.
And well, Shadow Blade. Many people can argue how easy it can be countered, but if taken early in the game players won't expect it and will be reluctant to waste money on Dust of Appearance or the Gem of True Sight until the later game, and it does an amazing job at escaping from a gank early/middle game. And you will be ganked, a lot, since your kill stat is likely to be higher than all of your team's kills put together. Be ready to be focused on and hunted.
If you don't favor the shadow walk ability, Manta Style is able provide a fair bit of help during escaping, whilst also boosting your stats and potential damage output quite a lot.
But coming back to the Shadow Blade, truth is, the shadow walk ability and speed boost costs you just 1000 gold, the other 2300 is the cost of damage & attack speed components of it. It will save you a lot of gold by keeping you alive when otherwise you would have been lying dead in the ground which helps you getting more easy kill since most players don't even dare to fight you because of all those "TRIPLE KILL" yells appearing every now and then. They try to flee and get slowed all the way to their grave.
Also, a Town Portal Scroll is good to have at all times to defend or quickly go to base before enemies find you hiding in that side shop.
Now, mid game items. Obviously, the Aegis of the Immortal is optional, however if you aim for 0 deaths it's something that might do the job. Just be careful with when it's expired, you might not get killed until then and be over-confident when it's already disappeared.
But the Heart of Tarrasque is the only item that can give you the edge to keep fighting and surviving during the mid game. You should get quite enough gold from kills to be able to get it and then you won't be so squishy anymore. With that much focus on you, you just can't afford to be squishy anymore.
You don't get any lifesteal, which means you'll often find yourself left with half your hp after finishing finished another gank. The Heart of Tarrasque will make sure you have full health for a new fight within seconds due to it's insane HP restoration.
Now if you managed to get so far, you probably don't die a lot. It's time to get your speed up to speed. Literally. Boots of Travel if you didn't go for Power Treads and Butterfly.
Boots of Travel will make sure you escape even the toughest ganks and catch up even with those enemies who run the moment they see you. And teleport ability will give you enormous amounts of gold by jumping to crowds of enemy creeps.
Butterfly means agility. That is more armor to stay alive during the focused fire you will get, especially if your team sucks, and most importantly, the attack speed to be able to kill a fed Ursa.
Obviously, evasion from Butterfly just makes sure it's impossible to kill you at all.
Aghanim's Scepter and Assault Cuirass are the items you are unlikely to get before the game ends, but if it comes to it, your mojo will get even doper from these items. Aghanim's Scepter reduces the cooldown of your ultimate to 12s and increases its range which lets you spamming it and be of more use in team fights and keeps enemies away from you.
Poison Attack (PA). Your aim is to reach level 3 PA ASAP. At that point it has no delay t all and you can just slow your enemy until they dissolve in your acid. The forth point in PA is not as important as first three.
Both builds use the same skill order.
Nethertoxin is the skill you max whenever PA is not available. The beauty of this skill is that it gives you a great farming potential through last hits. The less HP the creep has the more damage you output. Hence, making it much more likely to get the gold.
Also, in a situation you and your enemy have the same % of HP they might think they have a chance. Wrong. By the time both of you have ~20% hp - you have that edge to end them. So they will be forced to run slowed and die... or die trying to fight. Unless, you know, they have a good escape mechanism, like invisibility.
But 2-3 point in Nethertoxin is sufficient to farm and kill. After 2nd or 3rd point of it you should level up a couple of Corrosive Skins. It slows and poisons whoever attacks you. Their attack speed and movement speed slows, which means you don't have to be too careful around creeps, plus heroes that try to gank you will have a bit of a trouble catching you. Also, a great bonus is magic resistance. Magic is usually what kills the greatest and you have a good 10% to 25% shield now.
Obviously, the Ultimate ( Viper Strike) is maxed whenever possible. Don't be afraid to use it, but only to kill or to escape. Or save your team member from inevitable death. Otherwise keep it, you never know when and how many VSs you are going to need within next 30 to 80 seconds.
As I have mentioned before Viper is a semi skill based hero. His Poison Attack is a Unique Attack Modifier and it is a great one. Many players who are inexperienced with Viper don't realize that with 3 point in PA you can kill most of the heroes in the game with little effort.
A fed Dragon Knight walks into a bar.... he's in the middle of the lane, farming behind the creeps? Just PA him until he dies. Whether he runs straight away or tries to fight, he's not likely to kill you or reach the tower. Go behind Sniper to simply collect your gold. Or hunt a juicy Intelligence heroe who can't stun or silence you.
Getting a kill is only as easy as you want it to be. Since there is no cooldown on PA after the 3rd level up, you can each them not to play dota again. They are too slow to outlive you in a fight and too slow to get away. Their abilities and teammates are their only hope and it is your job to make sure those won't interfere with your malicious intents.
Your PA won't do too much harm against creeps, which means you only use it to kill and harass. However it does have a slightly further attack range (600 using PA vs 575 of a normal attack) which often helps with harassing, letting you deliver poisons blows after you already decide to go back.
You should harass whenever possible, and deliver the last hits to creeps. You are likely to have the creeps to yourself so if for some reason normal auto attack doesn't do the last hit you should wait around for a creep to be last hitted.
Don't forget that by auto attacking you're pushing the lane. Think whether you want it to be pushed or not.
It's best to go middle lane with Viper, however if there is Huskar your PA harassing is going to **** you up. And Pudge.... it's just hard to play against him. But doable. Be aggressive and hide behind the creeps. If you go to a side lane, there is a huge advantage in harassing. One of them is going to go to the base and you are going to kill the one who's left defending. Especially if your lane teammate can stun.
This, is how Viper a semi skill-based hero. But as much as he relies on his skills to kill, he relies on items to survive. He's not going to succeed for too long because of the ganks that the enemy team is going to throw at you whenever they see you. Viper's much more squishier than he may seem.
Which is why it's the most important to survive. Shadow Blade is there for you to survive all these ganks. Make sure you know how to use it correctly. The Heart of Tarrasque gets your damage up to speed with the other players but your PA is still a sufficient tool to end most heroes.
At this point it's most likely you can feel pretty safe killing any single hero, or even a pair. However staying in group for more than one on one kills is the best choice.
Closer to mid game it won't be a lane game anymore and you'll be the one to suffer from this. You are 1 on 1 hero. Which is why you should make sure your team stats acting as a group and you stick to it. You can be enormously dangerous if they begin to focus on something else. By the time they realize the true danger of the team they'll have to flee or die.
It's not hard to click Q and point to the enemy's *** all the time, but it is quite hard to escape when odds are against you. But after you get the Heart it's pretty much about that magic button. The number of kills you get is terrifyingly close to the number of heroes you meet.
Note: Viper IS likely to start attacking someone else once you can't see your enemy because of the fog, which makes it very easy to lose an easy kill because you didn't have too much control over the fight.
Also, try not to accidentally click on the minimap while getting away. This is responsible for 50% of my deaths as Viper. Which, however, is not that many.
Quite typical gameplay. Try to get the last hits, that's what you do best. Use your slow all the time, preferably on many enemies, ult the toughest player. Don't hesitate to turn Shadow Blade on and leave the battlefield to restore some hp or mana using the bottle or the Heart of Tarrasque if you feel like you're likely to die soon.
However look back and see if it makes sense to come back and slow low-hp heroes or help your teammate to turn another team death into a team kill. You're ranged, so you're likely not to get focused on straight away. Try not to go back to fight while your Shadow Blade is still on cooldown.
Everyone knows that most of all, you want to get the most kills with least number of death. Winning the game is secondary priority, however your amazing SWAG will run out once your team starts feeding your enemies. But Viper's slowing ability is so powerful that it can be that edge your team needs to win a team fight they're ought to lose.
Even if your team is outfarmed and outleveled, this ability can steal the win for you. And most amazingly you do this by focusing on your personal wins. Which in turn make it even less likely to die. My personal record is 27 kills to 2 deaths, which could be better, but still is a very good result.
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A shout-out to wilddeonpwn for his advice on improving the outlook of the guide.