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Analyzing Competitive Plays with Tidehunter, by Peppo_o'Paccio

September 6, 2014 by Peppo_oPaccio
Comments: 19    |    Views: 191510    |   


Build 1
Build 2

Off-laner

DotA2 Hero: Tidehunter




Hero Skills

Blubber (Innate)

Gush

8 9 10 12

Kraken Shell

1 4 13 14

Anchor Smash

2 3 5 7

Ravage

6 11 16

Talents

15 17 18


Analyzing Competitive Plays with Tidehunter, by Peppo_o'Paccio

Peppo_oPaccio
September 6, 2014


Introduction

Leviathan the Tidehunter is a very durable STR Hero known for his gamebreaking ultimate, Ravage: many players think he's a dedicated initiator and doesn't benefit from extra farm after buying his Blink Dagger, but his built-in damage block and high natural STR growth make him a perfect candidate for risky initiations and chases. He can actually farm pretty fast thanks to Anchor Smash, which not only makes last hitting in the hard lane very easy but also deals damage to ancient creeps, and his playing style varies according to the item build: a Refresher Orb Tide can basically solo kill the entire enemy team, while going Blink Dagger into Force Staff makes you much more versatile as a scout and chaser (and sometimes makes you able to save your teammates, too!). Expensive auras like Pipe of Insight, Shiva's Guard and sometimes even a Mekansm are money well spent on such a Hero, and he's also a good carrier for a Gem of True Sight.

Support Tidehunter is still one of the strongest teamfight contributors between supports: as he doesn't need as much mana as an Earthshaker does, he's fine with brown Boots until buying a Blink Dagger, so he can come online much quicker than many other teamfighters. After completing Blink and Boots, his money are usually spent on Observer Wards, Sentry Wards and Gem of True Sight, but big plays with Force Staffs and Heaven's Halberds are still seen if he gets extra farm. And remember that Ravage usually grants many assists, so you'll rarely find a Tidehunter with no gold.

Abilities


Gush is the typical nuke that many supports have, but aside from dealing magic damage it is very physical damage-oriented: removing 3 armor points for 4 whole seconds is a big advantage with a laning partner that can deal a lot of physical damage in little time, but it's much less useful when solo laning.

As said above, since it's a single target spell and the slow isn't that good when trying to escape, it's usually skipped in the off-lane build. Also, you don't want to waste extra mana if you need to spam your Anchor Smash, and the Kraken Shell increases your chances of survivability much more.

Late game, use this ability on a key Hero (preferably a carry) that doesn't have a BKB or other forms of magic immunity: the magic damage is pretty low, but the negative armor still applies for a lot of time; this makes a fight between carries in your team's favor.



This passive is very underrated: it actually does a great job in the laning phase, as it deters a lot of harass damage, but remember it still makes you vulnerable to magic damage! Don't get caught in a 3vs1 situation feeling overconfident.

How does this passive work in conjunction with a Stout Shield? Basically, at level 1, it goes like this: has the Stout Shield procced? If so, you get a 20 damage riduction. Hasn't the Stout Shield procced? If so, you get a 10 damage reduction from the Kraken Shell. Because of this, the Shield becomes redundant after level 4, unless you want to skill Gush instead of your passive.

When maxed out, this skill basically gives you a free Vanguard that works every time: this is a huge advantage when playing support, as you won't be able to afford expensive items and damage block.

Lastly, don't forget about the best feature of this ability: after reaching a damage treshold, it removes all the debuffs affecting you! Again, this makes Tidehunter a perfect candidate for the suicide lane, since chainstuns will be much less effective. It won't always save your life, but it's a great survivability mechansim.



Anchor Smash is much stronger than Gush early on: as it deals physical damage and Heroes start with low armor, a maxed out Anchor Smash normally deals more damage than a maxed out Gush for the first 10-15 minutes.

It's an AoE spell, so it can hit multiple enemies, but it has very low range. Because of this, it's a perfect follow up after your Ravage.

As it deals physical damage, you can use it to farm ancients: if you're having a hard time in the off-lane, you can still stack your ancient camp nearby and farm it to get some gold and experience.

When off-laning, use it to hit creeps from a safer distance: as it deals much more damage than an average last-hit you should be able to get some gold even against a trilane.



The main reason why Tidehunter is picked is his ultimate, Ravage: having a huge radius of 1025 units, it's the biggest teamfight spell in the game. The damage at level 16 is a lot (450), and the stun lasts for more than 2 seconds even at level 1.

The biggest flaw of this skill is that it does nothing to magic immune Heroes: make every initation count, Blink in and stun before the enemy carry can react and activate his Black King Bar.

The damage and stun are not instantaneous: the more distant the enemies are, the more time it takes for the Ravage to hit them. Usually, this isn't that big of a problem, but versus Rubick players and careful Force Staff or Blink Dagger carriers positioning makes a big difference.

As the mana cost increases by quite a lot when levelling it up, you should consider keeping it at level 2 when building a Refresher Orb, unless you have a Shiva's Guard or Scythe of Vyse already: without counting Gush and Anchor Smash, the combo costs 1025 mana with a level 3 Ravage and only 825 mana with a level 2 one.

Don't be afraid to use Ravage to secure a kill in the early game! One or two kills usually mean a free tower, which lets your dominate the match for the following ~30 seconds (depending on the spawn time of the dead Heroes). And in those seconds, the enemies won't be so stupid to get hit by a Ravage anyway.


Items Explanation: Off-Lane Build

The off-laning position is the best way for a Tidehunter to come into fights as early as possible: if your team is very mid-game oriented a Tide in the suicide lane will do much more than a Clockwerk or Dark Seer. You'll get decent experience and maybe even some farm, and getting an early Blink Dagger shouldn't be a problem if roaming and getting towers past level 6.




Starting items







These items are different than the usual off-laning starting set of two Tangos, a Salve and a Shield: this is because Tidehunter already has a built-in damage block which, at level 1, has a 100% chance of blocking 10 damage. As the Stout Shield procs - basing on pseudo-random distribution - 53% of the time, the average damage block is 10.6 (thanks Xyrus). This means that you can pick up your passive at level 1 and save 250 gold.
Six Tango charges will keep your HP high after receiving harass damage; if you can't get shared charges consider buying another full Tango and delaying Boots.
With the remaining gold, buy a Clarity: Anchor Smash tends to consume a lot of mana and, since you'll be spamming it, some mana regen will come in handy.




Early game items







These items are more or less a no-brainer when playing Tidehunter: someone might argue that the Arcane Boots are not needed sometimes, but as you should be spamming Anchor Smash and the ultimate costs a lot of mana, it's vital for a Tide playing a core position.
A Magic Wand will clear your obstructed inventory and make you survive more ganks that you would expect, especially if used after the purge from the Kraken Shell. Burst mana also helps a little bit.
Lastly, the Blink Dagger turns you into an initiator: especially if gotten early on, being able to Blink- Ravage when there are no BKBs gives the upper hand to your team. A late Blink usually means a much less useful Tidehunter, and no Blink at all basically turns you into free food for the enemy team.



Situational Extensions



If nobody in your team is going to buy it, get a Mekansm as soon as possible! Off-lane Tidehunter is played to get an early lead, and the burst heal from the Mek is one of the best ways to force early fights.

This item is so good for early game-oriented strategies that people sometimes pick it up even before the Blink Dagger: you shouldn't do it most of the time, but if you're getting good farm (maybe you're off-laning versus a solo Hero?) it could be much more beneficial than a super early Dagger.



The Force Staff is simply a mobility item. Professional players like it because it offers a lot of utility and comes in handy in a lot of situations: for example, if there's a Clock with Power Cogs or a Furion with Sprout, being able to push yourself (or one of your teammates) out is vital.

Not only it helps you escape certain situations, it also makes you able to join or leave fights much quicker and adds mana to your relatively slow pool. It will save your life a lot of times, don't underestimate it.



This is a perfect item for Tidehunter on paper, but since the initiation has to be instantaneous to catch the enemies off guard it's very difficult to use. Also, if you don't have another nuker in your team at least, you'd better save money for a Refresher.

On the other side, it's a gamechanging item if someone in your team can disable the enemies before you come in, so you can use it on the enemies before jumping in: Enigma, Naga Siren and Disruptor are good examples, and most of them benefit from the magic damage amplification, too.



The Blade Mail is a very situational item, so don't buy it every game: it's half useless versus carries with a BKB, but if you're facing a farmed Anti-Mage or Slark you'll be very difficult to bring down, as long as they don't buy magic immunity.

Remember it also adds a bit of intelligence and a good amount of armor: being a STR Hero, Tidehunter has relatively low armor and not much mana, so they're the ideal stats for a Hero like him.



Lastly, another situational pickup is the Heaven's Halberd: much like the Blade Mail, it's a key item versus farmed carries with no BKB, but it also grants you more HP and a lot of evasion. If you have a lot of gold, always get this instead of the BM.

If you're lucky enough, you might be able to apply the maim on an enemy after a Ravage: by doing ultimate, Anchor Smash and an autoattack you have a ~15% (not exactly as it uses pseudo-RNG) chance to slow both movement and attack speed.



Late Game Items



This item is required if your team is having troubles pushing tier 3 towers: the extra HP regeneration and especially the barrier blocking magic damage do a lot versus the majority of teams. Don't buy it if the enemies have little to no magic damage, though.

The insane amount of HP regen and the magic resistance pair very well with your Kraken Shell and make you really hard to kill. If you're getting nuked down but your team doesn't need a full Pipe (maybe someone else is building one), consider getting a casual Cloak.



The Necronomicon is a core item in pushing lineups: many teams focus on pushing down towers getting an early lead and zoning the enemies out of their own lane and jungle, and in this case you're a perfect candidate for a Necro. Heroes like Lycanthrope, Nature's Prophet, Invoker and Pugna usually build a Necro, so you kind of have to buy a Necro yourself if they're purchasing it, too.

Another good reason to buy the Necronomicon is the true sight it gives: even though you're a good Gem carrier you're often behind your team when initiating, so throwing in the Necro warriors when pushing a tower grants more safety.



Do I really have to explain this? Double the ultimate, double the fun. As for all the other items, though, this isn't always the best choice: if the enemies are all squishy targets then take it, but if there are many BKB holders or tanky carries you might need to pick something that can help your carry like a Vlad's, Shiva's or Vyse.

Remember that Tidehunter doesn't have a big mana pool, so you have to check your mana before buying a Refresher. A rule of thumb is to keep your Ravage at 2 until buying the mana component for a Shiva's or Vyse, since a combo with a level 3 ultimate cost 200 mana more.



Shiva's Guard is one of my favourite items for Tide, ever: it gives the same benefits of a Blade Mail, just exponentially higher. What you're looking for is the extra survivability (and maybe mana), but the aura and active ability help your team a lot.

If you want to help your team but there isn't a precise enemy carry who dominates fights, lowering the attack speed of all of them is a really good way to give yourself an edge. Plus, the arctic blast works very well in conjunction with your Ravage.



Many players consider this the best item in the game, and though it may not be true it's one of the best late game items for sure: using the hex on a carry makes him unable to attack or run away and also removes all his buffs (including evasion). Always buy one if the enemy hard carry is too farmed, it's the only way to stop him.

This is a perfect item when you reach the very late game: by that time you should have a Refresher Orb, so the enormous amont of extra mana comes in handy. Extra stats also help in survivability.



Lastly, this is kind of a situational item, but at the end of the day every team needs one: 2050 gold for an aura that scales into late game and makes Roshan fights super easy, what else would you need?

Normally, people don't buy it when they have no melee Heroes in their team, but if one of your team's core Heroes (excluding you) can benefit from the lifesteal then you should always think about getting it. But still, don't but it if one of your teammates already has one! Two Vladmir's Offerings don't stack, so you would basically pay 2050 gold for 2 extra HP regen for yourself.



In the late game, being able to teleport back and forth between base and lane might save your team from a gg push or make you reach the frontlines just in time to land a counter-initiation: after buying a Shiva's or Vyse you won't need Arcanes anymore, so you can buy a pair of Boots of Travel and save two inventory slots.

Consider buying it when all your towers are down and you already have a Shiva's and Vyse/Refresher, as you don't need much else to win the game. Usually, by the time you pick up BoTs you'll be 50-55 minutes into the game.

Items Explanation: Support Buld

Don't forget Tidehunter is still a good support: he can play the "hard support" role (the one who constantly buy Wards) and still find himself with enough money to purchase a Blink Dagger in the mid game, as he can get easy gold from assists by just using his Ravage in a clash. Too many players still buy Arcane Boots first, but after the Blink Dagger rework (which used to cost 75 mana per activation) they're no longer required for a good initiation. Saving 1000 gold for a quicker Dagger does change a game.




Starting items




Choice 1





As you should be playing hard support, most of the time you'll have to buy an Animal Courier and a set of Observer Wards. You might want to give a Ward to your team's off-laner(s), but it's not required if you're planning to roam a lot.
A Tango is always needed as it keeps your HP high and makes you able to cut trees to perform double pulls from the Radiant side; and if your mid or off-laner needs some, give them a Tango charge. As for the Healing Salve, you could substitute it with an Iron Branch and an extra Clarity if you want, though I don't think extra mana regen is needed and you wouldn't use the Branch anyway.
Lastly, a Clarity potion lets you regen a bit of mana after a gank. You shouldn't spam your abilities, so a single potion is enough most of the time.




Choice 2





This is the same starting build with some substitutions: if a support has already bought Courier and Wards, spending 300 gold on a Smoke of Deceit and a set of Sentry Wards is the best thing you can do for your team, especially if you want to roam.
If you aren't playing trilanes or your team's roaming duo isn't good, consider substituting the Smoke with Branches and Clarities. And if the other support bought a Courier but no Observers (or vice versa) substitute the Sentry Ward with the missing item plus a Clarity or Branch.




Early game items







A Flying Courier, though not listed in the build, is your main priority. Take it right after the 3 minute mark.
Boots of Speed are next: they're not Arcane Boots, but they give you extra movement speed and take you one step closer to the finished Arcanes. Besides, have you ever seen a player not buying Boots?
A Magic Stick is the cheapest source of burst mana and heal, never forget it. If you're having a good time, you could turn it into a Magic Wand straight away, though it delays your Dagger.
Lastly, rush a Blink Dagger as soon as possible: if you constantly buy Wards, you should be able to buy it right when teamfights start, about ~15-20 minutes into the game. Not buying Wards might make you get an earlier Dagger, but it would be useless anyway as there would be no teamfights by that time.
And for this reason, never forget about Observer Wards! As soon as the stock refills, try to save some money to buy them. Come on, they're very cheap and grant a huge advantage to your team, why wouldn't you buy them anyway? Sentry Wards are also a priority, but you will need a ranged teammate to come with you and deward most of the time.




Boots Choice



Arcane Boots are the most common pair of Boots on Tidehunter, and for a good reason: Tide is a STR Hero, and as such he doesn't have much intelligence. Also, Arcanes benefit your team, too: on average, you need at least two pair of Arcane Boots per team.



On the other hand, if your team isn't heavily dependent on mana or there are two pair of Arcane Boots (or a Crystal Maiden with her aura) in your team already, Power Treads should be your second choice: Tread switching allows you to save some mana when initiating, and the extra STR points make you a bit more survivable. More attack speed is a bit unnecessary, but it's still good when you're farming.



Post-Core Items



Most of the time, you should turn your Stick into a Magic Wand as soon as possible: many players like doing it before getting the Dagger, but I think it delays it by too much (it's only 300 gold, but you know it does make a difference when playing support).

If you feel the Stick is unnecessary, just skip the Wand and sell it whenever you need inventory space.



The Force Staff is simply a mobility item. Professional players like it because it offers a lot of utility and comes in handy in a lot of situations: for example, if there's a Clock with Power Cogs or a Furion with Sprout, being able to push yourself (or one of your teammates) out is vital.

Not only it helps you escape certain situations, it also makes you able to join or leave fights much quicker and adds mana to your relatively slow pool. It will save your life a lot of times, don't underestimate it.



This is a perfect item for Tidehunter on paper, but since the initiation has to be instantaneous to catch the enemies off guard it's very difficult to use. Also, if you don't have another nuker in your team at least, you'd better save money for a Refresher.

On the other side, it's a gamechanging item if someone in your team can disable the enemies before you come in, so you can use it on the enemies before jumping in: Enigma, Naga Siren and Disruptor are good examples, and most of them benefit from the magic damage amplification, too.



This is kind of a situational item, but at the end of the day every team needs one: 2050 gold for an aura that scales into late game and makes Roshan fights super easy, what else would you need?

Normally, people don't buy it when they have no melee Heroes in their team, but if one of your team's core Heroes (excluding you) can benefit from the lifesteal then you should always think about getting it. But still, don't but it if one of your teammates already has one! Two Vladmir's Offerings don't stack, so you would basically pay 2050 gold for 2 extra HP regen for yourself.



Is there a Hero that doesn't benefit from a Drum of Endurance? I don't think so. Tide is no exception, especially because it grants extra mana and a useful active ability: Blink in, use your Ravage and then pop the endurance.

This item is very similar to the Ghost Scepter in a sense that it gives you extra stats and has more or less the same price; but while the Scepter grants you immunity to physical damage, the Drums let you escape quicker. A Tidehunter doesn't need the Scepter anyway, as once he uses his ultimate he shouldn't be the main target of a fight (and even if he were, the fight wouldn't change much after his death).



If nobody in your team is going to buy it, get a Mekansm! It may come online much later than usual (like 35 minutes instead of 25), but if you purchase a pair of Arcanes and get assists from teamfights you should be able to afford it nonetheless.

Contrary to what you could do when off-laning, never buy it before the Dagger unless you want to be a sitting duck for the first half of the game.



This item is required if your team is having troubles pushing tier 3 towers: the extra HP regeneration and especially the barrier blocking magic damage do a lot versus the majority of teams. Don't buy it if the enemies have little to no magic damage, though.

The insane amount of HP regen and the magic resistance pair very well with your Kraken Shell and make you really hard to kill. If you're getting nuked down but your team doesn't need a full Pipe (maybe someone else is building one), consider getting a casual Cloak.



Situational Items



The Heaven's Halberd is a key item versus farmed carries with no BKB, but it also grants you more HP and a lot of evasion. The main problem is its price: 3950 gold is a big number, and unless your team is snowballing to victory you'll never be able to afford it. But nonetheless, the extra HP from the Sange component still helps you as a support, so don't be afraid to try it.

If you're lucky enough, you might be able to apply the maim on an enemy after a Ravage: by doing ultimate, Anchor Smash and an autoattack you have a ~15% (not exactly as it uses pseudo-RNG) chance to slow both movement and attack speed.



The Blade Mail is even more situational as a support Tidehunter: it's half useless versus carries with a BKB, but if you're facing a farmed Anti-Mage or Slark you'll be very difficult to bring down, as long as they don't buy magic immunity.

If you want this item because the conditions above are met you have to get it early, very early: Blink- Blade Mail is a common buildup for support Wraith King, but he can't do much if the enemies have too much HP. The same applies to Tide, even though his Kraken Shell makes this item more appealing.



The Necronomicon is a core item in pushing lineups: many teams focus on pushing down towers getting an early lead and zoning the enemies out of their own lane and jungle, and in this case you're a perfect candidate for a Necro. Heroes like Lycanthrope, Nature's Prophet, Invoker and Pugna usually build a Necro, so you kind of have to buy a Necro yourself if they're purchasing it, too.

If you need vision, most of the time a Gem of True Sight is better for spotting invisible Heroes: you're a good candidate because of your survivability and role (pop the ultimate and stay back, basically), especially if you have a Force Staff already. A Necronomicon is far too expensive unless you get it from tower gold in pushing lineups.

Skill Builds

Skill-wise, this Hero is very versatile: both Gush and Anchor Smash offer good utility in the early game, depending on your needs. When playing support, Gush is normally your priority because of the armor reduction, but many players (including me sometimes) still prefer maxing out Anchor Smash because, since it deals physical damage, it usually does more damage than Gush early on. Another reason to max Anchor Smash first is because it's an AoE spell, so you can use it in conjunction with your ultimate and deal lots of extra damage. Kraken Shell is a core skill for off-lane Tidehunter, who needs at least one point in it (but I feel more comfortable with two points) and has to max out Anchor Smash to kill creeps from a distance and maybe farm ancients. Ravage should be taken at the standard levels unless you want to get a Refresher, in which case you have to keep it at level 2.






Kraken Shell
Anchor Smash
Anchor Smash
Kraken Shell
Anchor Smash
Ravage
Anchor Smash
Gush
Gush
Gush
Ravage
Gush
Kraken Shell
Kraken Shell
Stats
Ravage
Stats




This is the standard skill build for the off-lane: notice how you don't need extra levels of Kraken Shell after the laning phase, since you won't need to be a presence in the hard lane anymore. By level 7 you'll be able to deal a huge amount of damage with Ravage and Anchor Smash (remember the Anchor deals physical damage), so be ready to join fights by that time.





Gush
Anchor Smash
Gush
Anchor Smash
Gush
Ravage
Gush
Kraken Shell
Anchor Smash
Anchor Smash
Ravage
Kraken Shell
Kraken Shell
Kraken Shell
Stats
Ravage
Stats




If you feel the amount of burst damage in your lane is already high, you can switch Gush and Anchor Smash to have better teamfight potential. Basically, you sacrifice your early survivability and make every level count: the more early damage you can dish out, the higher your killing potential is. I usually put a point of Kraken Shell by level 8 so I can survive gank attemps or, at least, distract the gankers for longer (remember the damage threshold after which your debuffs get removed).

Friends and Foes

Many lanes benefit from a support Tidehunter, especially if stacking armor reduction; however, as Tide doesn't have any disables, you need at least one stun if you want to get kills. In teamfights, his ultimate pairs well with hard-to-land ultimates that deal high nuke damage or, on the contrary, can be used after another teamfight disable so you can get as many enemies as possible. Lastly, it's also a perfect counter-initiation tool, especially if the enemy spells don't disable for a long time.



Friends

Laning-wise, armor reduction is the way to go if you want to get kills: if you have a disable, stacking negative armor with Gush makes the enemies so easy to bring down. The following Heroes can either reduce the enemy armor or deal burst physical damage (the first line is for carries, the second line is for supports):

Lycanthrope





Teamfight-wise, pairing up with any of the following Heroes with high-damage teamfight ultimates (first line) makes clashes much easier; nonetheless, don't get too many of them in the same team, or you might end up being split pushed to death since your single target capabilities will be almost non-existent. The second line is for Heroes that can keep the enemies in place before you come in with a Ravage: they're not necessary, but you'll be able to use a Veil of Discord every time with one of them in your team:

Outworld Devourer




Heroes you're useful against

As said before, you're also a very good counter-initiator: most teams will not group up versus a Tidehunter, and even though Ravage has a very long range, landing it at the right moment may be difficult sometimes. If the enemy initiates first, though, they will rush at you: in this case, if you say behind, you can disrupt their plan and grant the advantage to your team. This Heroes like to initiate first, so stay back and be ready to save your team when facing them:




Foes

Tidehunter doesn't have many foes beside silences, but one of them is what made him look like a weak Hero in the previous patches: magic immunity. Basically, carries with a Black King Bar will laugh at you, and you won't be able to do anything unless you stun them before they can pop the BKB. Some Heroes also have built-in magic immunity, which makes things even worse:

Update History

9-6-2014: Improved the guide a little bit and edited the starting items of the off-lane build.
5-26-2014: Removed the Stout Shield in the off-lane build as suggested.
5-24-2014: Written the first part of the guide.

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