Windranger is an intelligence ranged hero who is often used as a core but can also be an awesome support. Her abilities and talent tree along with her item build versatility make her a very useful ally and a powerful foe.
Although she has lost a bit of space as a core in the current 7.6 meta, this opened up a window for her on the support department. In her case, the roaming support 4 would the best option, though this is not an easy role at all as it is the one with the biggest impact on the team's overall performance throughout the match.
In this guide I will cover the hero basics, a LOT of roaming and how you can make the most out of it as well as explain how you can keep up with the game as it progresses.
This guide will focus on the Roaming Support 4 position, so I'll jump into that now. It'll be an extensive but VERY COMPLETE guide. If you think you already know a lot about roaming and ganking, you can jump into the next section :D
As a support 4, your primary objective is to enable your team to do what they need to do: farm, kill and push. You should not be too focused on ganks alone, but on what your team needs. A roamer will not only help his team dominate the lanes with ganks, information and stacks, but will also make the enemy team's life a living hell by killing couriers when possible, warding jungle camps, stealing some xp from cores when they farm the jungle, harassing, etc. It is the most active position in the game.
Some heroes have an affinity for that kind of job because they can go undetected (like Bounty Hunter and Riki); some because they are great nukers / disablers who can bully cores out of the lane or set up a kill (like Lion, Jakiro and Ogre Magi); some because their skills allow them to control enemies from afar and disable them for long periods (like Earth Spirit, Mirana, Earthshaker and Clockwerk).
It's important to know how to gank, but more than that, WHEN to gank. There are some things you should pay attention to before you start TPing behind a tower to gank. I'll list a few below:
- Is your team dominating the lanes?
If your team is dominating all lanes and the enemy heroes are playing too safely and close to their towers, ganking will be hard. Although you can't just wait around for them to make a mistake, you can do lots of other useful things like: stacking, placing wards for your team, checking for runes, killing the courier, maybe doing a pull to farm up some XP and gold (and make the lane withdraw so the enemy has to advance a bit). Think out of the box! Staying idle does not help anyone.
- Is your teammate ready for a gank? Is the enemy going to be taken down?
Before you gank you should know if your teammate can engage on your gank and if the enemy team can turn on you and counter-gank your a$$.
Take a look at your teammates items and skill build, as well as the enemy's items. Does your teammate have enough HP and mana to engage? Does the enemy have enough of both to respond or escape? What is your teammate's level? And the enemy's?
Where are the other enemy heroes on the map? Do they have a TP scroll available to help their ally?
Don't just jump into a gank whenever you feel like it. Going for a gank on a bad time or on the wrong lane will cause you to stay idle waiting for an opportunity while stealing your teammates XP. Analyze and WARN YOUR TEAM first. Set it up! Even if you can disable the enemy for a long time, it does not always mean your team will be able to kill it.
- Is the enemy aware of your position?
What is the point of roaming if the enemy knows where you are? You should be taking them by surprise so they won't have time to react. If you know the enemy has a ward on a certain location, don't just deward it and think that now they won't know where you are. A smart player will know you dewarded to gank and will be expecting it, so be careful. You can use enemy vision to your advantage. For example, you can pass somewhere you know they can see you as if you were going to gank and then quickly hide to TP to another lane to gank. And don't reveal your position on creeps when you gank. If the tower is being pressured, don't TP under it to gank, or the enemy will see you and retreat.
You can also show up in a lane and then TP to the closest tower so the enemy will see you doing it. He will think you left the lane and will not be expecting to see you coming out of the trees 15 secs later.
AND DON'T FORGET TO USE SMOKE EVERY TIME YOU CAN.
- Do you have enough resources to stay in the map after the gank?
Don't leave the base with just enough to gank. You might need extra mana after a gank, might need to regen your heath or TP home. Always carry items that will ensure that you can stay in the game for as long as possible. A trip back to the fountain means you lose XP, gold and opportunities to do many things.
That being said, sometimes it's ok to stay in a lane helping an ally for a bit more.
If your ally is having a really bad time on his lane, your job is to HELP HIM, NOT call him a noob for losing. Everyone loses BADLY eventually, and you're no exception. You should be helping him gain a foothold in the match by harassing the enemy so they can't farm anymore. You're a SPACE CREATOR, so DO IT.
And since we're talking about space creation, let me give you a few examples. The most common way to create space for your team is by ganking, but that's not the only one and it's also not the most effective. It all depends on the game, so learn to ADAPT.
If your team is losing the early game badly and ganking isn't really going to work, you can help by pressuring one lane and making them worry about it, so their support has to go and help. This will give you a chance to gank their other lanes as they will be "supportless" or may enable one of your cores to farm easily. Force them to rotate, make them worry about what you're doing.
If you know that one of their cores is farming in the jungle and you can't keep ganking them to steal XP and farm, you can always ward their camps. Only 300 gold and you have 3 camps with no creeps for 4 mins! That screws up any jungler early in the game, makes them farm and level up A LOT slower or even be forced into a lane.
Now, what about mid and late game?
As a Support 4, you don't really have much space or time to farm, so make do with whatever gold you have. This means that you should go for utility items for your team that are easier to build and don't require a large amount of money for a single piece of it. Items that help your team stay alive and set up ganks, kills and team fights. Those are the ones you should be going for. Items your team lacks. If you already have a carry and a mid laner doing a lot of physical / magical damage, why would you purchase a crystalys or an aghanim's scepter for your roaming Mirana? Let THEM dish out the damage on the heroes that YOU will disable for them.
Shadow Blade x Glimmer Cape. Glimmer has a shorter duration (but a shorter cooldown), gives you magic resist AND can be cast on an ally. And it's easier to build. Sounds like a nice supporting item than the Shadow Blade, so this is a no-brainer.
Blink Dagger x Force Staff. Force staff is more expensive than the blink, but it's easier to build. It's range is shorter but you can use it to escape even when taking damage. AND you can cast on allies to help them chase/escape and on foes to pull them towards you. Although blink dagger is a great item, only buy it if the game calls for it or if you are the starter of your team. Otherwise, force staff if your item of choice.
Drums of Endurance x Urn of Shadows. Both are great items for your team as they give you survivability and affects your team. Normally, as a support 4, you will go for the urn as you can cure allies and yourself and most roamers don't have healing abilities. If another hero already has an urn or if the team doesn't really need the cure, go for drums.
Arcane boots x Tranquil boots. If your team REALLY needs the mana and the support 5 won't or can't purchase an arcane, go for it. Otherwise, go for Tranquil of Phase. As a roamer, you need to be moving around a lot and staying healthy to keep ganking without the need to return to the base every 2 mins, so the item of choice of most cases is Tranquil.
This should cover the basics of roaming and doing a position 4 support, for more advanced tips I suggest watching pro teams play on tournaments and watch their Support 4 playing with player perspective :D
Let's talk about her.
As most of you may know, Windranger may seem (and behave) like an agility hero because of her abilities but she is an Intelligence hero. This is VERY good for a roamer because you can rely on your skills to be effective since your base and core items will give you the mana you need AND the bonus damage you get from simple utility items (like Force Staff and Eul's) will help you a lot.
She was mainly used as a Core hero, mostly soloing lanes due to her ability to farm and nuke from afar and escape ganks. However she lost the soloing core position in the current meta for other heroes like Necrophos, who have a bigger impact in the game as a core or have more synergy with other common meta heroes.
So why even bother picking her now? Well, even though she lost space as a core, she is still one of the most versatile heroes in the game, being able to adapt to any position and to most strategies by simply changing a few items on her build. That being said, the most suitable role for her right now is probably the Roaming Support 4 position.
She basically has everything a roamer would need to be effective:
- She has a decent base move speed (295), which enables her to roam effectively with a simple Wind Lace;
- She is a ranged hero, so her positioning is a bit safer in engagements;
- Her skills don't consume much mana and she normally has enough to use them a few times before needing to regenerate;
- She has a very long stun even at lvl 1 (2 secs) which is not that hard to land. Plus, with a bit of skill you can disable TWO enemy heroes with one shot;
- She can move fast between lanes with Windrun and can even dive under tower with it to guarantee a kill. Plus, she can continuously steal Bounty runes from opponents and snipe couriers by abusing Windrun;
- Her Powershot breaks trees and provides vision behind towers to ensure that no surprises come to your gank and that no tree jukes will frustrate you.
So, what's wrong with her? Why do you not see many people using her this way?
Well, what I see is that people tend to focus on Powershot first, since it's a very strong and hard to dodge nuke for the early game, but that kind of screws up the roaming aspect.
Powershot consumes a lot of mana, so if you spam it you won't have enough to keep using Windrun and Shackleshot, your two roaming skills. Focusing Powershot first is only good for zoning enemies out of the lane and finishing off escaping heroes with low HP, meaning it's good for a Core Windranger. Also, people don't know what items to purchase early in the game to be an effective roamer.
This leads me to her item and skill build, which I'll talk about on the next section.
You might find it strange that the item build doesn't include Maelstrom or Aghanim's Scepter as core items.
The reason for that is they are more useful to a Core Windranger, as it helps her farm and push faster, as well dish out more damage on enemies.
As a Roaming Support 4 you don't really need to think about any of that as you will have 3 cores on your team going for those things already. Plus, they are a bit expensive and only help you. You can't help an ally with a Maelstrom or an Aghs. You can't escape a gank with those items either. So if you're not one of the primary sources of damage of your team, don't focus on damage items at all. Again, focus on what your team lacks.
Now for the game. When leaving the base, your objective is to return only if you really need to. Every time you go to the fountain you lose at least 1 min of XP and gold, plus your team will have one less hero on the map. To avoid that, you should leave the fountain with items that will make sure you have the regen you will need to stay in the game, some stats and other items you won't find on the side shops.
For example, you can buy boots on the side shop so why purchase it as a first item? Sure, an extra 45 movespeed is nice early game, but it's not that much of an advantage for the first 3 mins and the 400 gold cost leaves you with only 225 to spend on other items. A wind lace is enough to roam since you have Windrun.
I would say the best combination is:
- A Tango for regen and to share if needed;
- 2 Clarity potions;
- 2 Iron Branches for stats, for your Magic Wand and better healing if needed;
- A Wind Lace to get the extra movespeed early on and Eul's later;
- A Smoke to steal first rune, snipe the courier or gank early.
It consumes the starting 625 gold, gets you stats, regen and ganking potential.
With those items you can jump into the Boots of Speed or even Phase Boots without going back to base or using the Courier.
Her skill sequence is also different from the Core build, where we normally focus on her nuke. To roam, you will need mobility and disable. Windrun provides good mobility and a slow, plus you can even dive towers for a bit to get that last hit. Shackleshot is a 2 secs stun on lvl 1, so land it and the enemy will be in trouble. That being said, you normally want to start with either Shackle or Windrun. I tend to start with Windrun to either try to steal runes or harass someone with simple auto attacks. Level 1 shackle is good to lock someone down, but your team normally doesn't have enough on lvl 1 to follow up, so it's more situational.
We're not focusing on her nuke, so get the two levels on both skills, a level on powershot to break trees / provide vision (and maybe helping finish off an enemy if you can) and then your ulti. Then, depending on how the game is going you either max out powershot or keep focusing on your disables.
Since you'll be roaming and not getting as much farm and XP as the other team's cores, normally you won't do much damage if you use your ulti on an enemy core so the Shackle + powershot + ulti combo isn't really the best option on a gank unless the enemy is alone and your team can follow up.
My advice is that you save your ulti for enemy supports. Most supports don't have much hp
/ armor, so your damage reduction won't matter much and you'll be able to do enough damage to bring them down.
When going on a gank or starting a team fight, always try to stun the hero your team wants to kill unless there's a longer stun than yours (which is hard to find).
The reason for that is because you will lock them down enough to be focused on and brought down, unlike most stuns which only disable for a moment.
Normally, the logical thing to do is to disable the supports so the cores stay helpless. This is still a very effective option, but with Wind this might not be the best option.
If you use your 3.8 sec stun on a support, he will be taken down for sure, but the core might escape. The best way to control a core who has a support nearby is by stunning the core and focusing your other skills on the support to either kill them fast or make them retreat.
Let your team deal with the disabled core hero.
Now for the mid to late game build.
Again, you're not focusing on your damage, but on your useful disables and evasiveness.
That being said, a utility windranger does not need a maelstrom or an aghs. Get as much disables and elusive items as you can. Her skills have fairly low cooldown, so you'll find that in most cases you always have one skill / item available to use.
What I normally go for is Force Staff and then Eul's Scepter. Eul's will give one more disable / escape along with some damage and mana / mana regen and movespeed. Plus, it'll save you one slot since the Wind Lace is part of its recipe.
And don't forget that IT PURGES A LOT OF THINGS!!!
Eul's can purge stuff from you and from you enemies! You can get rid of a lot of debuffs on you AND a lot of buffs on your enemies! There are actually very few things Eul's can't purge. Look it up.
It's a great disable item that suits Windranger very well.
After that it really depends on the game. If you want to be the most annoying hero on the map you can go for Atos and have like 4 disables. If your team needs more help, Glimmer might do. Need to initiate more? Blink dagger. Want to catch that pesky elusive hero? Maybe Orchid will help. It really depends on the game.
So I understood the items and skill sequence part. What do I do in the game?
I normally try to steal the first rune with Smoke + Windrun. High level supports normally smoke up, TP right away and go ward on your side of the map. Sometimes the teams gather to try a first blood. You have to observe their lineup to see if they have first blood potential, where the supports might ward and if you think you can smoke up, run at the rune at the 10secs mark and get out alive by using Windrun, do it! Just make sure it's safe and they don't have like 2 disables to keep you down for the duration of Windrun.
What you normally want to do is analyze their lineup and decide where you are going to start.
Is your mid laner match up hard for him? You can start by harassing their mid laner for a minute to ensure some early last hits for your ally.
If their offlaner is a lane dominator like Sand King, you can surprise him by going for an early trilane and pushing him out (since he doesn't have shrine to heal).
If you see that their mid laner started with cheap items and a shared tango, it probably means he started with some remaining gold to purchase an item on the first minute. That means the courier is going to come early, so go around the mid lane and snipe it!
Do they have a jungler? Go steal some of his XP and maybe last hits if you can, or buy some sentry wards instead of the wind lace and one of the iron branches and ward the camps. Junglers normally don't have more than a tango to regenerate, so harassing them and stealing XP / gold is VERY bad for them.
After that, focus on the Support 4 stuff I listed on the second chapter.
It is usually much more effective to push an enemy out of the lane by stunning him for a long period than by harassing with nukes. If you shackle someone to a tree or a creep, your allies will attack them too so it's more damage than a powershot hit. Plus, you don't push out the lane and there's no risk of accidentally last hitting a creep. Come out of the trees and shackle them, then harass.
A VERY IMPORTANT thing is to always ATTACK AND MOVE. Never just stand where you are auto attacking an enemy while they're stunned because they'll just walk away when the stun ends and you'll have to chase. If you stun someone, start attacking but also walk between your attacks to the direction they'll probably go to escape. This will make sure he is always in range of your attacks and reduces the chances of escaping with low health. So if you shackle someone, start going to where they'll move after the stun and when the stun ends, try to body block them! Wind is a GREAT body blocker because Windrun slows enemies down when you go near them! So stun, walk forward while attacking and then use windrun + body block to keep them down!
You don't have to always aim for the hero to shackle. If he's behind some creeps, you can aim on the creep that's directly in front of him and you'll get the hero behind the creep! Just make sure they don't see it coming, so don't stay on sight or always on the same spot on the lane.
Remember, powershot breaks trees, so you can use that to break hiding spots near your enemy's towers to gain vision and make it hard for them to escape or surprise you.
Also, you can break trees to escape (like good old Funn1k here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQIC3RB1wZs).
Windranger is a VERY elusive hero due to windrun. It's actually better for her when heroes chase her in the trees because if she shoots a shackleshot it WILL HIT on a tree. Plus, if the enemy doesn't have a magic damage source available, windrun will allow her to turn on them while they're stunned or simply break trees with powershot and escape. A little tip is to save the healing salve or bottle for when you have Windrun active. If the only thing they can do for some seconds is auto attack you, use windrun and heal back up!
And don't just cast ALL of your skills at once. Think a bit if you really need to cast one more spell or use an item. It might make a difference.
A lot of times greedy enemies will chase me because I'm low on health, so I just lure them out of the fight pretending I'm running for my life (while my cooldowns reset), and when they least expect it they're shackled to a tree and I still have my ultimate up + Windrun for when the shackle ends.
To close it all my advice is that you get your positioning right. Since you will always have some skill or item to use, try not to stay in the middle of the fight so you can keep helping. If you get focused, don't be afraid to run a bit with Windrun, just make sure you can reengage if necessary.
You are a support, but that doesn't mean you must always die to save an ally or get the enemy's attention so your cores can do their thing. Your job is to keep doing something! Either disabling enemies, nuking them or helping your teammates escape, so make sure you stay alive for as much as you can.
Stay just in range of your skills, but in a good escaping position in case the enemy team turns on you.
I hope you can get many useful things from this guide, not just for Windranger but for Roaming and Supporting as well!
THANKS FOR READING AND BEARING WITH ME ON THIS VERY EXTENSIVE GUIDE!