Dark Seer is one of the most flexible and effective utility heroes in DOTA. Often a phase one ban in Pro games, he offers his team a fantastic mix of escape, team fight and pushing power. He can work in almost any lane, solo or jungle.
While definitely a support hero due to his incredibly poor agility, he still has excellent farming abilities thanks to Ion Shell. Like a mini Sun-Tzu, he excels at helping team mates, starting and manipulating team fights, and turning the enemy's strength against them. He's a hero that's very strategic, team focused, and you can get creative with his unique abilities.
+ Good strength and intelligence growth
+ Very high starting armour
+ Extremely flexible laning options
+ Great multi-purpose abilities
+ Escape that also works for team mates
+ Strong team fight powers
+ Good pusher/farmer
- Terrible agility and growth
- Lacking any "proper" direct damage or stun abilities
- Difficult to deny creeps
- Not an ideal lane support for some heroes
As you can see, Dark Seer is a strong hero with few weaknesses. The biggest one is that he lacks the ability to do a lot of damage on his own - his right click is pretty awful, and only Ion Shell really allows him to deal much in the way of hurt.
Dark Seer is somewhat unusual among support heroes that he doesn't really lose impact as the game goes on - generally he gets plenty of farm and his abilities scale extremely well.
Your abilities can net early kills for your team when combined with other heroes' correctly ( Ion Shell and Rot anyone?), but your tanking abilities haven't really kicked in yet so be a little bit careful if the opposition has a lot of burst damage or disable.
Try to get some mana regeneration together, and ensure that your team has any essential support items. If you're laning with a partner, try to hold off using Ion Shell too much, maybe stack up some jungle creeps and get some farm that way instead. Also try to ruin enemy pulls where possible :)
Your wide range of skills makes you good at filling a range of roles in your team here. You make a great ganking partner for other players, but will probably struggle to kill enemy heroes on your own unless they're already hurt.
As Vacuum and Wall of Replica start to level up, you become more of a threat in team fights.
You're good at both pushing enemy towers or defending your own (remember to cast Ion Shell on the right type of creep for the job in hand), and can collect some decent farm for doing so.
Be sure to work with your team mates, as your skills and utility items really shine when combined with other heroes.
By now the enemy team should be sick of you - so hard to kill, a constant thorn in their side. Run rings round them, absorb damage for your weaker team mates and generally annoy the hell out of the opposition. You lack straight up damage, but have great team fight potential - every gold piece the enemy carry spends on himself just makes your ultimate better.
By now you should have some good items to further influence team fights and ganks, and be sure to continue warding and looking after your team.
Like all of Dark Seer's spells, this has many functions and small details that are worth noting:
- It has quite a short range, and targets the ground rather than a hero
- Any trees in it's radius are destroyed
- It has a mini-stun effect that will break channelling spells (including Town Portal Scrolls)
- It's most commonly used in combination with Wall of Replica during team fights
Usually you max this after Ion Shell so that it's available for team fights at around the right time, often with a single point put in early on so you can stop players tp'ing away.
Vacuum combines really well with a lot of AOE powers, as you can get the enemy team into a tight pack that's easy to hit.
Generally you should be initiating most team fights.
Your only real damage causing ability, it's also multi-functional as you can cast it on just about anything that moves. Contary to some people's beliefs, it only causes damage rather than increasing protection, and will not effect the unit it is cast upon.
Ion Shell inflicts rapid damage per second on any nearby enemy units as long as the unit it was cast upon is still alive. It's a great pushing and farming tool, and you don't even need to be nearby if the situation looks dangerous. Here are some examples of how you can use it:
- Cast on a friendly melee creep, ideally not the first one in the wave as he is likely to be killed sooner. This will rapidly push the lane forward, and hopefully get you some farm too. It's also very unpleasant for enemy melee heroes trying to farm, but good enemy ranged heroes will rapidly click them down, or deny their own creeps. Friendly carries won't be happy with you as they won't be able to farm effectively.
- Cast on an enemy creep. This is often more useful than casting it on your creeps - as the enemy heroes can't attack them unless they're very low on health, or have an ability like Sacrifice. Great for stopping enemy pushes, or cast on a ranged creep to try and keep their hero away from the front lines.
- Cast on an enemy melee carry. This can be very irritating for them, as they effectively farm for you if they go near the creep wave, and can also damage their partner. To be honest this only tends to be useful against bad players.
- Cast on an ally. Again, they won't thank you if they're trying to farm, but this is great for ganking and team fights. It effectively allows you to add all your damage to them, although it's obviously much better on a melee than ranged hero. If you're feeling especially evil, cast it on a friendly invisible hero...
- Cast it on yourself. Less advisable at the start of the game, but as you tank up, you can get in there yourself. Gives you absolute control of where your damage will be applied.
- Cast it on a jungle creep. Ideally you want to stack up a load of creeps, then cast it on the weakest one. Then run! The creeps will wander about back and forth, taking damage all the time and giving you gold. Try to stay in xp range if you can.
A very useful spell for chasing and escaping, it can be cast on any allied unit and will make you very popular with your team if used correctly. Surge gives the target a brief burst of maximum movement speed (the same as getting a Haste Rune, only much shorter lived), usually enough to get away from or finish off an enemy hero.
It's very cheap mana-wise so you can use it a lot just to get around the map.
Although it's pretty straight-forward to use, there's a few tips and tricks worth remembering with Surge:
- Combine it with Ion Shell to ensure you maximise your damage
- You can use it on ANY allied unit. One particularly hilarious use is to Ion Shell and Surge a friendly creep to chase down a low health enemy hero without tower diving.
- Maximum movement speed is only useful if you can actually move. Powers like Sprout and various disables can seriously eat into your escape time. Try to save it until enemy heroes have used up their abilities like this.
- Surge overrides any effects from enemy slows
- Generally use it to help allied heroes first if you're both in trouble. Firstly you're a support hero, secondly you're pretty tough, and third the short cooldown means you can use it again shortly afterwards.
Your ultimate, and as unusual as the rest of your abilities, Wall is a potent team fight power that gets better the stronger the enemy team gets. Each time an enemy hero walks (or is Vacuum'ed, or Force Staff'ed) through the wall, they take a small amount of damage, and an illusion of them is created which you can control (max of 1 per enemy hero at any time).
Try to micro-manage the illusions to focus their attacks properly, especially if there are enemy creeps nearby.
Unfortunately the illusions take 300% damage, but as you skill up Wall and maybe get an Aghanim's Scepter your illusions can end up able to inflict more damage than the hero they were created from. This makes them particularly lethal against glass cannons like Sniper, Bounty Hunter or Outworld Destroyer.
Generally you only want to use wall for team fights, although 2v2/3v3 fights can be worth using it on too in the right situation.
The cooldown isn't short, but isn't unreasonably long either.
Wall will always setup horizontally between you and the point where you cast it - try to position it to catch as many enemy heroes as possible, and then Vacuum to drag them through it. Ideally position it so that enemy heroes will have to keep passing through it in order to move around (e.g. across a choke point). You really need Vacuum maxed to get the most out of Wall of Replica. Remember that the 20 second cooldown of Vacuum means you should always use Wall first.
Wall combines really well with big AOE stuns like Black Hole ( Enigma will love you if you can setup properly for him), Disrupter's combo, Ravage and Entangle, as the illusions can really go to town on their dopplegangers.
Dark Seer has relatively modest needs in terms of farm, but often ends up with plenty - this is a nice situation to be in, so be careful not to take farm from more needy heroes on your team.
While your spells are not massively expensive in terms of mana, you do need to find some way of recharging, especially in the early game. This is your first priority after Animal Courier or Observer Ward.
I find Arcane Boots fulfil most of your mana needs, although some players like to get Soul Ring too. Most of the other types of boot are of very little interest to you - who needs Phase Boots when you have Surge?
Once your mana needs are met, continue helping with team support items, and also start looking at utility items. Get a Mekansm if nobody else on your team is. If they are, look at getting a Pipe of Insight.
Depending on how you're doing, Vanguard can be a good choice to further boost your tankability and make the most out of the health regen offered by Pipe or Mek. Any other utility items such as Force Staff and Eul's Scepter of Divinity are also good choices if required.
Aghanim's Scepter is worth mentioning again for it's general stats boost and improvement to your ultimate. Tanking items like Heart of Tarrasque and Blade Mail are worth looking at, as are active ability items such as Scythe of Vyse, Orchid Malevolence and Shiva's Guard.
Avoid damage and unique-modifier type items - you'd need a ridiculous amount of farm to make Dark Seer have a right click worth mentioning.
The secret to jungling well with Dark Seer is to stack camps - this way you can get far more farm and not have to take damage when doing so.
At 00:50 to 00:53 seconds in the minute (depending how fast the neutral creeps move - leave it later for faster ones), draw the neutrals out of their camp so that another group spawn. Do this every minute if you can, and you might even want to triple or quad-stack camps (although it gets trickier to do as the creeps start blocking each other on the way out) - depending on your mana situation. Try to stack camps with the better creeps in, and favour more numerous creeps over smaller groups.
Next, cast Ion Shell on the WEAKEST creep in the camp - this creep won't take damage from it, but all the others will. The creeps will move out of the camp to try and attack you, so just juke about out of their range, but make sure you stay close enough to get the XP. Go in and kill the last creep manually to allow the camp to restock.
Rinse and repeat.
In the meantime, cast Ion Shell on yourself, and go in and attack the camps. You'll have to tank some damage, but your high starting armour and the Stout Shield should absorb most of it.
Beware of the rock gollum creeps as they're immune to magic - all you can really do with them is stack them, but ignore them completely if you can. Don't stay in the jungle too long, get out there and start hitting the lanes.
Generally Dark Seer can be used in almost any line up as his laning is so flexible. You tend to get the maximum benefit playing him as a hard lane solo though. He combines extremely well with heroes who have big AOE spells, and melee carries who can get maximum benefit from Ion Shell and Surge.
Due to Surge, he's a great support when the enemy has a lot of slows (e.g. Venomous Gale or Gush), but a lack of stuns.
He's also a good pick against enemy teams which have a lot of carry, especially glass cannons (i.e. heroes who can dish out a lot of damage but are easy to kill). He's great when your team is in need of some support and team fight ability to round them out.
He's also a great anti-pusher, and well worth considering if the enemy team picks a Chen or Enchantress.
While flexible, you still need to consider who you'll be up against in particular lanes. Dark Seer struggles to get denies as a solo, so hard carries like Anti-Mage or Faceless Void will still be able to get the farm they need.
Due to his excellent starting armour, Dark Seer is more vulnerable to nukers than right-click in the early game. Still, with care you should still prove extremely difficult to bring down. Also beware of silences as you are nothing more than a damage sponge without your abilities.
Ensure that your team has plenty of damage output, as yours is limited to Ion Shell and a few karate chops.
Although capable of holding his own against almost any hero, Dark Seer can have a difficult time against:
- Enigma - his ability to convert either his own or enemy creeps means he can consistently get rid of Ion Shell before it does any damage.
- Doom Bringer and Lich can between them perform the same trick, instantly munching through your ion'd creep.
- Nature's Prophet - Sprout is one of the only spells to have a long disable time against you early on. Ensure you always have at least one tango handy in the early game to let you munch through.
- Shadow Shaman - once he has a few levels in Shackles he may be able to disable you long enough for his partner to mess you up. Keep your distance.
- Disruptor - his array of abilities is well suited to countering you, Glimpse and Kinetic Field can drag you back when you think you've got away.
- Keeper of the Light - his Mana Leak is pretty annoying when you're relying on Surge to escape, making you pay pretty hard to get away. Can also spam you with Illuminate once levelled.
- Anti-Mage - between Spell Shield and Mana Break he's resistant to your ion shell, drains your mana and is one of the few heroes who can chase you effectively.
While Dark Seer can work well in most line ups, he's especially potent with certain allies - specifically melee gankers and short radius team fight powers.
Pudge - you and him make a lethal combination. You Ion Shell him, he uses Meat Hook and Rot to annihilate them. They're getting away? Surge!
Night Stalker - Again, Ion Shell and Surge play to his strengths and your opponents will soon be a gloopy mess in the lane.
Enigma - Vacuum + Wall of Replica + Black Hole = Ouch. Great team fight potential when you initiate.
Disruptor - Vacuum gives him an ideal setup for Kinetic Field and Static Storm. Wall of Replica is the icing on the cake.
Riki or Bounty Hunter - it's almost unfair how nasty Ion Shell is on an invisible hero...
The build listed at the top of the page is fairly standard for Dark Seer and will serve you well in most games. Occasionally you might want to deviate from it a little - e.g. getting Ion Shell before Surge if jungling or taking solo mid.
While you almost always want to max Ion Shell first, Vacuum and Wall of Replica can both be delayed or moved around if necessary - more than anything they are team fight powers and become more important as the game progresses. You generally want at least 1 point in Vacuum though to stop TPs and other channeling abilities. More levels in Surge can help if you have a very tricky lane.
While the skill order for Dark Seer is generally the same every game, your usage of his skills will vary massively according to the situation. It takes some imagination and practice to get the most out of him, but he's an incredibly satisfying hero to use when you do.
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