Bane is one of the most effective heroes in small scale fights, an incredibly effective ganker and disabler. Played correctly he can terrorise the enemy team, picking off small groups of enemies quickly and easily.
He is extremely single target focused, and very difficult to lane against as a solo hero. Later in the game he loses some impact as team fights grow in scale, but his abilities still allow you to stack the odds in your favour...
Bane is a ganker/semi-support hero, who can play as either a mid or a lane support. Personally, I think he's most dangerous as a mid where he can quickly level up and get roaming - however, he can work very effectively as a lane support against a solo hero, or if he has the right partner who can combine with him.
+ Very strong early game
+ Long disable times
+ Powerful nuke/heal
+ Dangerous ganker
+ Solid stats growth
+ Good movement speed
+ Not item dependent
- No AOE or pushing abilities
- Short attack range
- Expensive spell costs
- Relatively long cooldowns
- Loses some effectiveness late game
Enfeeble is a handy spell that reduces the right click damage of an enemy for a fairly long duration. This is most useful for casting on an enemy DPS at the start of a team fight (assuming you're not going to disable him), potentially reducing their damage down to almost nothing. However, it loses some utility late game as it doesn't scale past level 4.
As long as you cast it before a hero uses his Black King Bar it will continue to effect them, even when their BKB is active.
It's well worth considering getting an early point in Enfeeble against opponents in mid - losing 30 damage at the start of the game makes it very difficult for them to last hit and deny effectively, allowing you to get the advantage.
This doesn't work against everyone - heroes like Zeus and Batrider have cheap abilities that help them to last hit, in which case you might want to skip it until later.
It can also be taken early if laning against farm dependent heroes, ruining their last hitting if you can maintain it regularly.
Brain Sap is one of the best non-ultimate nukes in the whole game. Not only does it deal PURE damage to the enemy (i.e. their magic resistance has no effect), but it also heals you for the full amount! This can often swing a fight that was going against you decisively in your favour. You can use this ability to heal yourself from neutral or enemy creeps at a push, but ideally you want to use this on enemy heroes.
Sap has amazing synergy with Soul Ring - you get free mana from the ring, then get the health back from the enemy - it basically costs you nothing except cooldowns. This can quickly become very difficult to lane against.
Like all nukes, Brain Sap loses some of it's impact past midgame, although it's still a handy way of healing yourself. It's also expensive mana-wise and has a reasonably long cooldown. Try to get it to at least level 2 before you start using it, and max it ASAP.
Nightmare is a disabling spell with great strengths, but some potentially serious drawbacks. Even at level 1 it provides a 4 second disable(!), and also inflicts 20 damage per second. It makes it incredibly easy to catch and get position on fleeing heroes, to disable half a laning partnership while you beat on their partner, or escape.
However, the big problem with Nightmare is that it can backfire. If any hero (on either team) attempts to auto-attack the effected unit, they transfer the nightmare to themself for it's remaining duration, or until they are attacked.
For example, this allows enemy supports to transfer the effect to themself from their carry, or WORSE, one of your own team attacking them and getting disabled instead.
You can cast spells against a unit under the effect of Nightmare without taking it on to yourself, but this ends the disable.
You can cast Nightmare on your own team, creeps or even yourself. It makes a fantastic setup spell for unreliable abilities like Sacred Arrow, Meat Hook and Split Earth.
Be aware that Nightmare inflicts HP Removal damage, so is not reduced by magic resistance, but will also not reset the cooldown on Blink Dagger, remove Healing Salve etc.
Despite the strength of your other spells, this is the one that opponents will truly fear. It completely disables the target unit for up to 5 seconds (7 with an Aghanim's Scepter), inflicting serious damage per second, and also transfers some of their mana to you. The stun part can go through Black King Bar, but will be deflected by Linken's Sphere unless you use another ability on that target first.
There are two weaknesses to Grip however - it has a long cooldown, and it's channelled, so can be broken if another enemy has a stun or silence they can cast on you. This is the main reason we consider getting a Black King Bar on Bane, as this should allow him to fully utilise his ultimate during a team fight.
Grip scales reasonably well and is still useful late game, maxing out at ~1900 damage, but it's at its most potent during the early game. Once you hit level 6 you should be trying to gank and use it every time it's off cooldown.
Usually this will be in mid lane, or when you go to gank a lone hero. You need to be aware of how much damage your combination can inflict at different levels:
After standard 25% magic resistance, at level 7 you have:
60 from Nightmare
300 from Brain Sap
375 from Fiend's Grip
This means that with an auto-attack thrown in, you can do 3 bars worth of health damage before the enemy can attempt to escape. If they have less than this, you can take them down. If they have very low health, try to get the kill without using Fiend's Grip.
The main thing here is to communicate clearly and concentrate on one opponent at a time. Throw Nightmare onto the "non-priority" target, like a support, to prevent them helping their partner. Immediately follow up with Fiend's Grip on the "main target". Your partner can beat on this target and you should be able to take them out before your channelling ends - if not, hit them with a Brain Sap just before it finishes.
Ideally your partner will have some kind of stun or slow they can chain onto the back of Nightmare, allowing you to potentially kill off both enemies.
Team Fight Situations
These can be much more difficult for Bane as they won't want to let you channel your ultimate, and have the numbers to stop you.
- Start off by casting Enfeeble on an enemy who will be using their right-click attack (i.e. not casters).
- Follow up with a Nightmare on a dangerous enemy - this could be another carry, or it might well be a big team fighter like Tidehunter. Ideally, there might only be one enemy with a stun on the enemy team - if so, Nightmare them and channel your ult.
- Once these two powers are used, you can consider using Fiend's Grip, usually this will be the enemy that your team most needs to focus. Ideally the enemy may have already used some of their stuns by this point.
- Use Brain Sap to heal from and/or finish off weak heroes. (you can use shift + hotkey to queue this up)
- Mirana - Nightmare provides an easy target for long range arrows, enabling a long stun time. Your combined burst damage is enough to finish most heroes.
- Pudge - a well timed Nightmare should quickly end with the target in the butcher's fleshy embrace.
- Lina / Lion - the two of you provide an incredible amount of damage and disable on level 6, easily able to melt both lane opponents with little chance of retaliation or escape.
- Nyx Assassin / Centaur Warrunner / Tiny - your combination is very unpleasant to deal with, and the two of you together are very difficult to kill.
- Pugna - yet more combinations, with Decrepify boosting your damage from Fiend's Grip. Your disables keep enemies in place for him to position and hit easily with his other spells.
- Crystal Maiden / Keeper of the Light / Outworld Devourer. Mana recovery is always helpful when your spells are so expensive to cast.
Bane is also a good counter to mobility based heroes like Anti-Mage, Queen of Pain, Weaver and Storm Spirit.
Bane most fears enemies with a strong Silence that rob him of his abilities.
You can also be vulnerable to being chain stunned and focused, or just burst damaged too fast - preventing you from saving yourself with Brain Sap. Omniknight can be a pain as Repel can block or interrupt all of your abilities.
While you are pretty competitive with anyone as a mid, Silencer can be a problem - his Curse of the Silent forces you to cast or get drained, and none of your spells are particularly cheap. Your best bet is to make sure you have Enfeeble level one, and quickly farm up a Soul Ring. Once you have that you can Brain Sap him whenever he tries it.
Nyx Assassin can also be a pain to lane against, usually I'll Enfeeble him and wreck his farm - use up your mana ASAP before he burns it, and get Soul Ring. If you have a fairly empty pool he can't do so much to you, but you still have mana available when you need it.
Broodmother is not a good hero for you to 1v1 with, as you have no effective way of dealing with her spiderlings and will have to start using Brain Sap too much just to stay in the lane. You're very effective against her when you have a good ally with AOE damage to lane with though.
Linken's Sphere is another item to be aware of - all of your abilities are single target and will get blocked by it. Use your least useful ability to draw the block, and then use the ones you want.
You have several choices for starting gear, mostly depending on your lane choice and opposition. As a mid I think you have 3 choices:
- Enfeeble build. Against a strong last hitter get plenty of mana regeneration and keep them poor until you can get a Soul Ring.
- Null Talisman build. This assumes you're not going to get harassed much and so don't need much in the way of regeneration. This gives you more damage and a faster track to more items.
- Fast Bottle build. A minimal set of equipment to allow you to get a Bottle faster, this works well when you're against heroes with poor mobility or who aren't particularly interested in rune whoring.
Arcane Boots are a pretty standard choice on Bane, and you're rarely going to make a different choice on a hero this mana hungry.
Null Talisman can be bought or skipped depending on whether you feel like you need the extra stats, or would rather move straight on to the bigger items. Generally I tend to get this more often as a support, and less often as a mid.
Magic Wand is a pretty standard choice on every hero, and again this depends on whether you want to skip straight on to bigger items or not.
Soul Ring personally I tend to get this as early as possible, or not at all. Usually this will be as a mid where you can have the farm to get this early on, and then just spam Brain Sap every time the ring is off cooldown. Later than this it's still useful, but you may be better off going straight for a Point Booster.
Aghanim's Scepter you will want in pretty much every game, it boosts your ultimate substantially and also rounds out your stats. However, depending on your role you have to bear in mind whether the team needs you to provide some utility items, or whether to go straight for your scepter.
Blink Dagger whether or not to get this again depends on your role - if you can get it relatively early - on the back of some ganking funds - then it's well worth it. This boosts your mobility and improves your ganking further. However, Bane is not really a team fight initiator, so this is not an essential purchase by any means.
Black King Bar is very handy if you do manage to get together the farm to afford one. This usually means you can become a consistent presence at team fights. Get instead of a Blink Dagger if you miss the window for it.
These items are only really for when you get unexpectedly rich - unlike a carry hero you shouldn't expect to be getting these items too often - just finishing your extension is tricky in most games. The good news is that you don't really need these luxuries to do your job effectively.
Situational items and whether to get them really depends on your role in the team, the composition of the enemy team, etc. I will give a special mention to Necronomicon though, as that's my usual item choice if I manage to complete my extension items, or the enemy team has invisible heroes. It gives you some pushing ability, and also some powerful minions who can beat on heroes while you cast Fiend's Grip.
You should be prepared to buy essentials like Observer Ward, Sentry Ward and Dust of Appearance as required, and some games it might be appropriate for you to build items like a Mekansm.
Bane is a scary hero to face, and you really have to make the most of his abilities in the early game. This may be enough to win the game, or at least buy time for your carries to get strong.
Unless you can definitely go mid, look carefully at both team's lineups before committing to Bane- if you can get the right lane partner, and/or the right opponents you'll be able to cause havoc. You can work as just a glorified babysitter for a hard carry, but will need some synergy with others on the team if you're going to get near your potential...
Remember that you are not a snowball hero, and be prepared to support your team even as you secure multiple kills.
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