While Puck seems at first glance a mischievous, childish character, this quality masks an alien personality. The juvenile form of a Faerie Dragon, a creature that lives for eons, Puck spends countless millennia in its childish form. So while it is technically true that Puck is juvenile, it will continue to be so when the cities of the present age have sloughed away into dust. Its motives are therefore inscrutable, and what appears to be play may in fact indicate a darker purpose or just its endless fondness for mischief.
Here I am!
Puck was first introduced in v6.48 as result of a hero creation contest for the Warcraft III: Frozen Throne fairy dragon model held by the dota-allstars.com forums and has been a playable and effective mobile initiator since then. One of the most versatile and well-designed heroes in the game, Puck's gameplay experience is a frantic and tight one, that allows for improvisation and requires quick-thinking.
Puck is an impossible hero to kill. With some combination of Phase Shift, Illusory Orb, as well as Blink Dagger, the elusive faerie dragon can get in and out of just about any given situation. This is what makes Puck such an effective initiator--the ability to get in and silence without any risk. (While dealing a nice chunk of damage in the process.)
Difficult to master but satisfying to play, Puck's limitless skill ceiling makes the blue butterfly a hero for the long haul. Much is to be learned from experience as well as trial-and-error, and you shouldn't expect to initiate perfectly and escape without a scratch every time. You've got to put the practice in to unlock the dazzling potential of this uber-fun hero.
Twitch reflexes and fast thinking are a necessity while playing Puck--so stay on your toes! But a cool head and creative play-style are just as important. Keep your focus and try and remember not to panic when five enemy heroes converge on you in a barbaric fury.
As Puck, your job is to get in, and get out safely while disrupting the enemy team as much as possible in the process. And with proper use the faerie dragon's abilities in swift combination, you can do it with near total immunity... all in the blink of an eon.
Illusory Orb is a unique spell in the way that it can be used either as a tool to harass, nuke, or farm with--but it also acts as one of Puck's escapes. It's important to be aware of whether this skill is up or not at all times. Be cognizant of how often you are using Illusory Orb in-lane. If you spam the spell too often, you run the risk of getting caught out with your metaphysical pants down.
Accuracy with Puck's Illusory Orb is of the utmost importance when it comes to playing effectively. The damage output this spell provides is a valuable asset to the skill, and landing it consistently makes Puck not just an initiator and disabler, but a threat. Get a good feel for the speed of the projectile and learn how to lead enemy heroes you aim for appropriately.
The Illusory Orb grants flying vision to the area around it while traveling. In the later game, this skill can be used as a great scouting method for the high ground and jungles. Awareness of the situation as Puck is key.
Much like Phase Shift, Ethereal Jaunt has the ability to disjoint projectile attacks and skills. There's a smaller window of opportunity, but it does exist. As a fun side-note, if Puck dies while Illusory Orb is mid-air, it's possible to Buy Back and then Ethereal Jaunt straight to the Illusory Orb. This comes in handy more often than you'd think, especially in critical teamfights!
Puck's area-of-effect silence Waning Rift is a very powerful tool in the mischievous dragon-child's arsenal. This is one of the skills which makes Puck such an effective initiation tool, and landing it on as many targets as possible is critical.
Keep in mind that this spell also deals magic damage with a range of 400. If a low-health enemy is fleeing, you can use Waning Rift as an instant nuke to try and finish the job.
Phase Shift is what makes Puck one of the most annoying-to-kill heroes in the game. While shifting, Puck is invulnerable to attacks and spells. Phase Shift can be canceled any time by any action--so be aware of erroneous spam clicks or button presses before it's safe!
This spell costs nothing to use--read that again, this spell costs nothing to use. So use it often! With a flat six second cooldown, you can feel comfortable casting Phase Shift whenever you can avoid damage or trip an enemy hero up. Timing is key, a skill you can't pick up by reading some guide. A word to the wise--when it comes to Puck, practice makes perfect. It's all about finding a rhythm and making sure you can execute properly in those tense moments.
One aspect about Phase Shift not many players know about is that Puck can heal while shifting. Pop your Bottle, Phase Shift out of harm's way into the dimension where Dota 2 is actually played on potatoes, and then return in a flash with more health and mana than before!
Another important aspect concerning Phase Shift is a mechanically-related one. For projectiles that can be disjointed (such as Vengeful Spirit's Magic Missile or Wraith King's Wraithfire Blast) Puck does not need to be shifting in order to avoid the attack. If you're attempting to disjoint an incoming projectile, all that needs to be done is a quick in-and-out between dimensions, which can save you precious time.
Here is a list of which projectile abilities can be disjointed:
: Can be disjointed
: Cannot be disjointed
Speaking of time, time is everything when it comes to using Phase Shift effectively. Get familiar with most enemy hero projectile start-up animations as well as projectile speeds--and always be ready for a lightning-fast press of that 'E' button. It truly is appropriate that Phase Shift lies on our trigger fingers...
With a radius of 375, Puck's ultimate Dream Coil is a game-changing (as seen at The International 3) ability that allows Puck to potentially lock down an entire team for six seconds. With Dream Coil, you're essentially giving your opponent a tough choice to make--stay in one spot, or try to flee and be stunned? Either way, the end result is usually messy...
If your Dream Coil lands and the enemies chained to it decide to stay in one spot, they leave themselves open for a massive initiation follow-up by your teammates. And if they decide to run, they'll scatter and be stunned, leaving your squad with easy pickoffs of lone runners. The one thing you can count on with Dream Coil is that it causes panic and indecision.
Puck has a myriad of quick and satisfying abilities to chain up--it's up to you how to best use them. The blue butterfly is a hero that allows for some creativity when it comes to play-style and ability usage. Playing Puck often feels like a game of Twister; throughout a match you'll be bending over backward and contorting your hands on the keyboard in yet another daring escape. Here in this section I'll cover some basic initiation and escape combinations, but don't feel limited to this list only! When it comes to the faerie dragon, you are truly only limited by the terrain, situation, and imagination.
Initiating effectively is one of Puck's primary responsibilities. Shutting the enemy team down in a quick and sufficient manner can give your team a huge advantage in the ensuing engagement and allow for a massive follow-up.
Blink Dagger is your primary tool when it comes to successful initiation. It's a must-buy for just about any match. Once you can afford to pick one up, blinking in should almost always be your first move while initiating. Before you have a Blink Dagger, Illusory Orb followed by an Ethereal Jaunt is your most effective way to initiate.
So, you've blinked into a full five-man enemy squad. How is an eons-old juvenile faerie dragon supposed to get the party of pain started?
Puck's area-of-effect silence Waning Rift is almost always a safe bet as a follow-up to a blink in. Popping off this skill instantly gives you the few precious seconds of near-immunity needed to survive and lock the opposing team down, as well as dealing damage in the process.
After disabling the enemy squad, your next move should be to cast Dream Coil to lock them in place and allow your team to wreak sweet, sweet follow-up havoc.
It's important to take into consideration both the terrain and the amount of potential damage you can output by sending the Illusory Orb through a pack of enemy heroes. Assess each situation uniquely and decide what's more important--damage or preferable escape destination. Sometimes, you can't have the best of both worlds. Or should I say dimensions?
Ganking works much the same as Puck's initiation process, however it can often be most effective to send out an Illusory Orb first, Ethereal Jaunt to it, and then decide whether to silence with Waning Rift or toss down the Dream Coil right away. Sometimes casting Dream Coil first is more desirable for the .5 second stun as well as the ability to hold each enemy closer for the ensuing silence. Decide at your own discretion based on the situation at hand.
Getting out of dangerous situations easily is another one of Puck's trademarks. Whether it's escaping a gank attempt or leaving a freshly silenced and Dream Coiled enemy team in the dust, your best Houdini impression is paramount when it comes to success as the faerie dragon.
You can generally open up an escape attempt one of two ways--tossing out an Illusory Orb to a safe location or Phase Shifting out of harm's way immediately. If you have your Blink Dagger, it's usually safer to Phase Shift first to eliminate even the slight chance of being silenced or disabled, and then blink to safety. (Which you can then follow up with an Illusory Orb to run even further away.) Keep in mind, however, Puck has a very slow turn rate at 0.4--be careful before making a blink in the opposite direction!
If you opted for tossing out an Illusory Orb, between right-clicks, your next move should be a Phase Shift to avoid any incoming disable (if the threat exists). Remember that Puck can use Ethereal Jaunt while shifting to make a clean escape.
As mentioned previously, smart positioning of your Illusory Orb is extremely important in both escapes and initiations. So what dictates a good location to send an Illusory Orb off to?
As with most things Puck-related, it can be entirely dependent on the situation. There are a few 'go-to' spots on the map, however. As a general rule of thumb, tossing the Illusory Orb somewhere off onto the high ground is the safest bet. This puts you both out of sight and the furthest possible walking distance from the enemy, using the ridge as a boundary. However, Ethereal Jaunting to the low ground can also be effective--just be sure to watch for any stuns coming down the hill and have your finger on that 'E' key for a quick Phase Shift. Another smart idea can be to send the Illusory Orb into the thick of trees and Ethereal Jaunting into the center. This can give you time to use a Town Portal Scroll to get out of Dodge. Areas with the most trees and elevation-shifts (i.e. the center of the river, around the Secret Shops) allow for the most options when it comes to the Illusory Orb. The treelines in both jungles also offer some unique vision possibilities for both escape and initiation.
Another useful tool in escape-artistry is Eul's Scepter of Divinity. This is a nice situational item you should pick up if you can afford to, as it adds Intellignece, Mana Regeneration, and Movement Speed, but most importantly it dispels silence. This gives you a chance to toss out an Illusory Orb and then disable your opponent before they get a chance to silence you from making the final escape.
It's no secret that Puck is a trouble-maker by nature. Mischief is of capitol importance in maintaining sanity when you live for eons and eons! This means that maybe more so than any other hero, playing Puck effectively relies so much on mind games. This is a less concrete and more metaphysical aspect of the game, but perhaps the most interesting and unpredictable one.
When it comes to playing mind games, it's all about playing on the expectations of your opponent. And usually, it's up to you to build those expectations. In the early stages of the game, your laning opponent is going to spend some time 'feeling you out'. Set up a routine (as far as your ability usage and movement patterns) and then break them later on. This applies as well to both your escape and initiation methods. Mix it up!
Illusory Orb is a skill that leaves plenty of room for potential tricks. Try tossing out an Illusory Orb and then sprinting in the opposite direction. The opponent chasing you has one of two options: follow the fleeing Puck or move to the eventual location of the Illusory Orb. This essentially pigeonholes your opponent into making a choice he simply can't win. If he gives chase to the floating Illusory Orb, Puck simply runs away. If he dashes after the blue devil himself, it can just Ethereal Jaunt out of sight.
Throughout the match, your opponents are constantly playing a teeter-totter game of 'will he/won't he' when it comes to Puck's escape and initiation capabilities. If the enemy team spots you, you can blink away to safety. The enemy team is more than likely going to assume you escaped, but if your team is in position to follow-up on your initiation, you can take them by surprise by re-entering the fray quickly with Illusory Orb.
Throughout the match, your Illusory Orb usage will start to condition the opponent. After a few initiations, any sight of an Illusory Orb is likely to send enemies fleeing, in an attempt to avoid an Ethereal Jaunt and Waning Rift. You can use this simple tactic to displace the enemy team, and create pick-off opportunities.
But this doesn't have to be used in just escapes--toss out an Illusory Orb that will travel behind your opponent and then blink away. Your foe, after seeing you blink away, will believe you were just casting the Illusory Orb as a scouting/harassment device. Little does he know, after blinking you Ethereal Jaunted behind him!
But this whole 'mind games' business is a double-edged sword. Skilled players keen on Puck's nasty tricks can cancel the animation of their attacks and abilities in an attempt to force out a premature Phase Shift. If you take the bait on an animation cancel, (especially without a Blink Dagger) you usually want to get out fast or silence with Waning Rift to avoid the incoming re-initiation. Your best defense against animation-cancels is a simple comfortability with the attack and windup animations for most of the nukes you'll be trying to dodge, and a level head.
Picking up a Bottle as soon as possible makes the early to mid-game transition much easier on the mana-starved Puck. Generally as Puck you'll be in the solo mid role, and as such Rune control is of vital importance. Keeping your Bottle filled with ensure you have enough mana to escape or initiate, as well as heal up after skirmishes.
As far as other early-game items, Null Talisman is a nice option at a cost of 470 gold. This item provides much-needed statgain early on and some even more needed survivability as a result.
Blink Dagger is Puck's go-to item, always. The added mobility and synergy with the blue butterfly's philosophy of 'in and out' makes this item seem like a true extension to Puck's set of abilities. Besides Power Treads, Blink Dagger is the only true 'core' item most Puck builds call for, and for a good reason.
Since Blink Dagger cannot be used if the bearer has taken damage in the last three seconds, Phase Shift at level four (which provides 3.25 seconds of invulnerability) should make it so you can escape from harm nearly every time.
Something to keep in mind is that while Phase Shifted, Puck still must turn to cast spells after the fact--this includes blinking. Puck has one of the lowest turn rates among all heroes, and those few microseconds you spend turning can matter!
As for boots, you're generally going to want to stick with Power Treads. They provide good stats (something which Puck sorely lacks) as well as bonus Attack Speed. Arcane Boots might seem like a good idea on the mana-hungry faerie dragon, but in truth the survivability and flexibility the Power Treads provides is more meaningful. In the late game, Boots of Travel are a viable option if you can afford them.
After grabbing a Blink Dagger, your options open up. Picking up a Eul's Scepter of Divinity is a relatively cheap buff to three things that matter to Puck--Intelligence, Mana Regeneration, and Movement Speed. But, as mentioned previously, the most enticing part is the active ability Cyclone which can temporarily disable a target, further allowing Puck to escape safely.
If you're feeling adventurous, or have a big lead in the match, purchasing a Dagon can add quite a bit of firepower to Puck's usual arsenal. Keep in mind that at 2,730 gold, it's a bit pricey. And disable items like Scythe of Vyse and Eul's Scepter of Divinity should be prioritized over damage-dealing ones such as Dagon. With that being said, Puck's high mobility combined with the instant damage of Dagon can potentially turn the blue butterfly from a disabling annoyance to a lightning-quick assassin.
There are a few key concepts to keep in mind while laning with Puck. Normally, Puck works best in the solo middle role. This is partly because of his high mobility (and therefore superior Rune control), his reliance on levels, and his elusiveness. However, Puck can still function in the side lane, again, preferably solo.
Rune control should be one of your top priorities throughout the laning phases. With an early Bottle, securing Runes provides you with a massive advantage over your opposing laner. And refilling the Bottle is just as important, providing health regeneration for the squishy Puck. Maybe even more importantly, mana.
Get to know how the Rune spawning system works: Runes will spawn at 0:00 and respawn every two minutes at one of two locations on the river, if there isn't a Rune already on the map. The last Rune must be taken in order for a new one to spawn.
As long as you are on top of the timing of the Rune spawns, Puck's superior mobility through Illusory Orb and an early Blink Dagger should make it easy to get to the Rune before your opponent can. Try casting an Illusory Orb towards one Rune spawn location, and run towards the other. If the Illusory Orb spots the newly spawned Rune, Ethereal Jaunt back to it. If not, you're already on your way to the correct Rune spawn location!
And when it comes to Rune control, vision is key. Observer Wards in the right locations can make your job all the easier.
So you've got the Rune bottled up. What's next? As Puck, you'll find that each Rune is extremely valuable (if not only for the Bottle refill).
These are the 'playmaker' Runes. If you can manage to bottle up Haste, try to set up a gank with your allies on the side lanes. The massive speed boost can allow you to dive with more ease and chase down fleeing foes with auto-attacks. It also allows you to get within range of a perfect Waning Rift.
Double Damage Runes can be extremely scary on Puck in the early stages of the game. This is especially true when paired with accurate Illusory Orb shots and auto-attacks. Even Waning Rift can deal significant damage under Double Damage.
As a ranged hero, Puck benefits slightly more from Illusion Runes, which can add a nice damage buff with a volley of auto-attacks. However, most likely your best use of Illusions Runes will be scouting information--send them all around the map!
Invisibility Runes can be extremely nice to set up early ganks with. While invisible, you could walk within range of Waning Rift in the safe lane undetected, and then cast it immediately and follow up with Illusory Orbs to the face.
A great Rune to pick up which will provide you with much more staying power in the lane long-term. But you don't just have to use the Regeneration Rune to survive! If you and your opponent are both low on health, you can heal up out of sight with the Regeneration Rune, then toss an Illusory Orb in to initiate and surprise your weakened foe! In the midst of a battle, you can pop the Regeneration rune and then Phase Shift out to heal up safely!
A mobile and elusive target, Puck is a tirelessly annoying foe to lane against. Using this to your advantage is exactly how you can get an early edge that could carry you into the mid-game.
You can easily trade auto-attacks with your lane opponent by simply auto-attacking, then Phase Shifting away from the response, and attacking again! If you can bait out abilities from your opponent and dodge successfully with Phase Shift, even better. And with an attack range of 550, Puck can safely tickle enemy laners from behind the creep wave.
When cast accurately, Illusory Orb can be a very strong nuke in the early game. As stated previously, keep in mind this is also your escape--so save mana for it! But harassing occasionally using Illusory Orb can really put the hurt on whoever is on the other end of the lane. If you land the Illusory Orb on a weak foe, you always have the option to dive with Ethereal Jaunt and finish the job. Be wary, though-- Puck is very squishy and can easily die to Tower hits early!
After the early game has passed and you've gained a few levels, it's time to take advantage of Puck's vast mobility and fledging disables. Be active in setting up gank attempts with your teammates, and keep in mind that Rune control is still important!
As soon as possible after reaching level six and skilling Dream Coil, you should start to coordinate ganks with your teammates. That first level of Dream Coil tethers foes in place--which is huge for nabbing early kills. One more time--Rune control is also of vital importance when setting up ganks! A Haste or Double Damage Rune can make your job a hell of a lot easier!
Communication with your squad while ganking is imperative. Too often are there Pucks who initiate without any backup or word to their team, and then freak out after they've paid the price! Don't be that guy. Work with your team and only go in when you know that a follow-up will arrive promptly.
Refer back to the 'Combination mischief' section of the guide for more information on how to properly chain up your abilities for a successful gank.
In the late-game, Puck's primary responsibility is to initiate on and disable the enemy squad quick and efficiently. With proper timing and execution, a full Puck combo can give your team an overwhelming advantage at the start of a teamfight.
It's your job to be present at every teamfight. Don't get caught AFK-farming the side lane with Illusory Orb when your team is halfway across the map grouped up! Again, it cannot be overstated how much of an advantage a good Puck can provide in a teamfight. One or two won teamfights can change the course of an entire match.
Refer to the 'Combination mischief' section of the guide for more information on how to properly chain up your abilities for a successful initiation.
The International 3 Grand Finals game 5 (Na'Vi versus Alliance) Fantastic Puck play by s4 in the most pressure-packed situation imaginable.
A Fistful of Tangoes finals game 4 (s4 ( Queen of Pain) versus Fear ( Puck)) A nice 1v1 match between s4 and Fear, particularly the engagement at 7:20. Na'Vi Dendi - Puck vol. 1 A very tight montage of Dendi's Puck skills. Cool to see his perspective. Notice how he quickly disjoints projectiles with a tap of Phase Shift. Dendi plays Puck Some more really clean Dendi Puck gameplay. Na'Vi Dendi Puck DOTA 2 gameplay Even more Dendi plays!
Dota 2 - s4's amazing Puck plays A ridiculous escape from s4. He reacted so quickly and orchestrated the escape perfectly. I recommend watching this whole series for some of s4's Puck, which you can find here.
Dota 2 Wiki The extremely helpful Dota 2 Wiki, which I use countlessly in the process of writing guides like this one.
DotaCinema Love the content these guys create, check them out.
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