"You wanna know what's better than one tank? Two tanks." - Me, just now
Aight grab a glass of water this is a long *** guide to Lone Druid otherwise known as the best and greatest hero in DotA 2. That's lesson one of Lone Druid school, hydrate or diedrate.
Who is Lone Druid? His actual name is Sylla, so that's how I'll refer to him in this guide. I won't just call him LD or Lone Druid because that refers to the whole hero, and the whole hero includes the Spirit Bear.
The Bear is the hero, make no mistake. He may technically be defined a "creep hero" by Valve's spaghetti code but he has all the pushing power, kill potential, and presence of a hero. He can use items, and even let you farm, fight and push after Sylla dies. At the moment of writing this, Lone Druid has a 54% winrate, so he's a strong hero, but don't let his complexity rating in the game confuse you. Lone Druid is easy to learn, but his incredible versatility and potential means that his skill ceiling is very high.
I choose to play Lone Druid as a mid hero, so that is how this guide is oriented with regards to item/skill builds. You can play him in other lanes and in other roles, but his need for quick gold and experience plus his solo kill potential means he is best suited to the mid lane.
In this guide I will teach you the ways of the Bear Clan, how to use the Bear effectively, how to manage him and Sylla, and what you should be thinking about during every moment of the game.
Lone Druid's strength comes from the fact that he is two units, Sylla and the Bear. Like Meepo this grants him the capacity to have twice the presence in fights and push/farm multiple locations simultaneously. However, properly managing these two units takes skill and practice, but we can take a few shortcuts through proper settings in the game.
In the Hotkeys menu of DotA, there is a Unit Actions category with two important keybinds. Select Hero and Select All Controlled Units. I bind these to keys 1 and 3 respectively but you may choose any easily accessed keys you wish. Select Hero will select only Sylla, and Select All Controlled Units will select Sylla and the Bear (as well as any other units you control like illusions of Sylla). The third keybind to take note of is in the Advanced Hotkeys menyu under Unit Actions there. It is Select All Other Units, which will select only the Bear.
The next set of keybinds to look at is back on the main Hotkeys page, under Control Groups. Next Unit and Previous unit let you switch between Sylla and the Bear very quickly. I bind these to my mouse wheel.
Proper control of both Sylla and the Bear is key. With these keybinds, you can switch from one to the other quickly. The Next/Previous Unit controls are especially important. If you have only one unit selected, they will let you select the other one. If you have both Sylla and the Bear selected, they will let you choose which one you are focused on. This is critical, because both Sylla and the Bear have items and abilities you will need to activate during combat.
The last order of business in the settings is on the Options tab. Make sure you have Auto Select Summoned Units enabled. This means that whenever you summon the Bear (you may have to summon it during a fight if it has just died) you don't need to waste precious time selecting the Bear.
With all these settings to your liking, it will be much easier to play Lone Druid right away.
The ability Summon Spirit Bear may be one of the most powerful skills in the game, and it is central to Lone Druid's kit. The first ability you get should be this one. In the early game, you will be building up your Bear more than Sylla because of its incredible stats, mobility, and capacity for immobilizing foes later on. The bear can hold and use items, including neutral item. It has a number of abilities including two insane passives.
Early on, the Bear has fairly poor stats. it has 1100 health, 300 mana, 97 attack speed, 20 damage, 340 speed, 3 armor, and 32% magic resist. While the Bear can use items, it cannot benefit from attributes (Strength, Agility, and Intelligence) which reduces the power of many items on the Bear. Each time Sylla levels up, the Bear gains 5 damage, and 75 max health.
The Bear has 3 abilities, two of which are passives, but it gains Savage Roar later on.
The Bear's first ability is Return. Return is a channeled teleport spell with a 3 second channel time. It teleports the Bear to Sylla. This is a commonly under-used ability, and can be extremely useful. In the early game, when you are CS'ing and trading harassment with the enemy Mid, the Bear may reach low health fairly quickly (we adress this problem by buying Morbid Mask as our first item but that comes later) and there are a few ways to deal with this.
The first option is to let the Bear die. When the Bear dies, Sylla will take 10% of his max HP as pure damage. In the early game where health is a precious resource, this is hardly ideal. Letting the bear die also grants the enemy mid gold and experience, so if you must let the bear die (for example, if Venomancer has cast Poison Nova on it) then it can be better to deny the bear yourself or let neutral creeps kill it.
The second option is to re-summon the bear when it is low. Summon Spirit Bear has a 120 second cooldown (and no way besides items or ally spells to reduce that) but that is okay since the Bear is fairly durable and has no set duration like many other summoned units. Chosing to summon the bear when it dies or is close to death may seem like a perfectly fine option, but it has limited use. If the enemy mid is agressive, they will harass the bear again, forcing you into the same predicament, but now with the possible added complication of the ability being on cooldown. As Lone Druid, you always want your bear to be alive and active if you can help it.
The third option when your Bear is at low health is to use your Tango to heal the bear somewhat. You can give Tangos to the bear and then have it consume a tree to regain health. However, since the bear has high max health at level 1, this is fairly slow.
The fourth option is to utilize Return. Have your Bear walk (or teleport, if possible) back to the fountain, heal up, then cast Return to appear back in the lane. This takes the Bear out of the lane for some time, but it does not cost you a casting of Summon Spirit Bear. This frees you to use it at a more critical time, such as when the Bear and the enemy mid are both at low health, where you can cast Summon Spirit Bear like a heal, to restore the Bear's health and potentially get a kill. If you are up against a very agressive enemy mid like Sniper, consider buying an additional Town Portal Scroll for the Bear at the start of the game, which expedites this process. Make sure it is purchased on the Bear, as if it is delivered to Sylla's inventory then there is no way to give it to the Bear.
Demolish is the Bear's first passive ability. It grants the bear 33% magic resistance, as well as 10/20/30/40% bonus damage against Buildings which scales with the level of Summon Spirit Bear. This ability is very strong and supports both your offense and your defense.
Bonus damage against buildings is very potent for pushing towers and destroying enemy Barracks. The bonus damage from this ability is so much that you can often destroy the enemy Tier 1 Mid tower the moment you are left to your own devices. If the enemy Mid leaves the lane to gank or dies with a sufficient respawn timer, you can push the creep wave and reduce the tower's health very quickly. Later in the game this will be useful in pushing the enemy high ground, allowing you to knock down Tier 3 towers and Barracks while the enemy team is dead or distracted.
Free magic resistance is very valuable. Due to the Bear's kill potential, it will be a prime target for nukes and initiations in team fights. Ignoring one third of the damage from all nukes lets your bear power through and win the fight after absorbing enemy spells.
Entangling Claws is simply devastating in every stage of the game. On every attack the Bear makes, it has a 20% chance to proc EC. This ability is a Root, not a stun, meaning enemies can still attack, turn, and cast spells. They cannot move, use TP scrolls or cast spells like Blink that would move them. Entangling Claws has a duration of 0.75/1.5/2.25/3 seconds on heroes and a longer duration on creeps that maxes out at 9 seconds. It also deals 60 damage per second to the affected unit.
In the early game, EC lets you out-harass almost any hero. Harassment is when a hero decides to attack the enemy hero a few times with physical damage or spells, hoping to force them out of the lane. When a player decides to harass, they have a limit of how much health they are willing to lose before they will retreat to their tower and heal. Entangling Claws is powerful because it can force the enemy to take more damage than they would have liked, or potentially to die. At with 4 points in Summon Spirit Bear, Entangling Claws lasts 3 seconds on heroes and deals 60 damage per second, meaning the enemy will take 180 damage while also unable to move. With this, when the enemy comes to harass Sylla or the Bear, you can have the Bear attack them, and have a decent chance of getting an EC proc. This then gives you enough time to get several additional hits in. If you get an EC proc when the enemy is low, that could easily turn into a kill.
Later in the game, when you have built attack speed for your bear and gotten the level 20 talent that reduces the EC cooldown to 0, EC will ensure that your target is rooted as long as your bear is hitting them, netting you easy kills on anyone out of position. This is especially devastating to heroes like Anti Mage, Ember Spirit, Dark Seer, etc that rely on being able to escape from fights quickly. Coordinate with your team to ensure you get the most value out of Entangling Claws. Powerful AOE spells like Macropyre can be even more devastating if cast on an enemy that is immobilized by this ability.
As a creep-hero, the Bear has most of the capability of a hero with some limitations. It can pick up and use runes (most power runes are not effective for the bear. Only its 20 base damage is doubled by the Double Damage rune, the Illusion rune does not create illusions of it, and it does not have the spells to take advantage of the Arcane rune. Regeneration and Haste are very useful however) including bounty runes even if it is away from Sylla. The Bear cannot have any illusions, from items like Manta Style or even enemy spells like Wall of Replicate. The Bear cannot take outposts or place wards, and its attacks usually count as creep attacks for the purposes of destroying wards or the units created by spells like Phantom's Embrace. The Bear's presence will not break Smoke of Deceit or Blur. It has a host of other strange interactions, some more impactful than others, that I won't list fully here.
Levelling up Summon Spirit Bear and casting Summon Spirit Bear have some interesting functionality. If you level up Summon Spirit Bear while the Bear has any kind of debuff, the new Bear will not be affected by that debuff. Since you cannot cast Summon Spirit Bear if the Bear has taken damage in 3 seconds, you may find it hard to lane against heroes like Venomancer who have long damage-over-time effects. If you level up the Bear, you'll be able to re-summon it immediately.
Lone Druid's second ability is Spirit Link, which works in tandem with your Bear. Spirit Link grants Sylla and the Bear 15/30/45/60 attack speed, as well as shared lifesteal. Once you get Spirit Link, Sylla will be healed for 20/35/50/65% of the damage that the Bear deals to enemies.
The increased attack speed is needed because it allows you to get procs of EC on enemies more quickly. The shared lifesteal allows Sylla to keep his health up and have little need for healing items.
The shared lifesteal can be utilized to great effect. Once you have built damage and attack speed items on the Bear, as long as the Bear is hitting an enemy then Sylla will be nearly impossible to kill. 65% lifesteal is frankly ridiculous, but that is balanced against the fact that Sylla is otherwise quite frail.
Use Spirit Link to keep Sylla alive when Legion Commander casts Duel on him, or to turn Sylla into a pseudo-tank to kill jungle creeps in the early game.
You'll be maxxing out Summon Spirit Bear and Spirit Link first, even prioritizing them over your ultimate at level 6, because these two abilities are so key to your performance.
Savage Roar can be cast from either Sylla or the Bear. When cast, it causes all enemy Heroes and units (not jungle or lane creeps) within a 375 range of Sylla and the Bear to have Fear applied to them for 1.2/1.6/2/2.4 seconds, and their movement speed increased by 20% for the duration. Fear means that affected units will be forced to move towards their fountain, which prevents them from attacking, casting spells, or using items.
When Savage Roar is cast, both of your units eminate the effect, but only the unit you cast it from suffers the mana cost. The cooldown of the ability is shared between Sylla and the Bear. Interestingly, if one unit is disabled (such as by a stun or silence) and the other casts Savage Roar, both will eminate the effect even though the disabled one can't cast it at that time. Additionally, if one of your units is invisible you can cast Savage Roar from the other one and it will not break their invisibility or show the roar visual effect to the other team, letting you initiate with a roar if the Bear is invisible.
This ability has fabulous utility, in that it makes the enemy heroes effectively helpless. It can disrupt channeled spells and teleports. If one of your units is targeted by a channeled disable spell, such as Shackles or Fiend's Grip, you can cast Savage Roar from the other unit, potentially causing the enemy hero to be affected by Fear which breaks their channeling of the spell. Extremely useful.
You can use Savage Roar after Entangling Claws procs, turning it into what amounts to a stun. Enemies rooted by Entangling Claws cannot move, and will be unable to do anything else because of the Fear. Use this combo if you are worried about enemies casting powerful spells or attacking you while they are rooted.
You can also use this spell during fights if you find that you are being surrounded by enemies, giving you time to breathe and refocus your efforts on specific heroes. This is guaranteed to throw the enemy team off by forcing them out of position and disrupting any spells or maneuvers they were attempting. If you are beset upon by illusion heroes, use this to make them back off while you either retreat or switch targets and let another member of your team handle them.
Use Savage Roar to force enemies to move. Break Meld, use it to force Sand King and Monkey King out of their Sandstorm or Wukong's Command. Use it when an allied Bloodseeker casts Rupture on a target to force them to take damage. You can also use it to force enemies to remain inside your team's AOE abilities, with proper positioning, or force an enemy to stare into your ally Medusa's ult.
Keep in mind that enemies will always flee towards their own fountain, not necessarily away from you. It also increases their movement speed, so using it on an enemy who is already fleeing may not be ideal. By the mid game, the Bear will have 445 movement speed with Phase Boots (or 470 if you chose the talent to increase its speed) and 534 (or 550) when you activate the Phase Boots. That is more than enough speed to catch and probably root the target before they can really escape, while they are also unable to cast spells or use items.
Also, casting Savage Roar momentarily interrupts the action of the unit you cast it from. In most cases, this means it is best to cast it from Sylla (unless he is disabled) so that you can recover the mana cost more quickly and to avoid stopping the Bear while it is chasing or attacking someone.
Lone Druid's ultimate, True Form, is an incredibly powerful defensive ability, but it has offensive potential as well. True Form grants Sylla 10/15/20 bonus armor, 500/1000/1500 bonus health, and the Bear's passive abilities which are Demolish and Entangling Claws.
True Form is best used before a fight. It has a 1.93 second transform time (which cannot be interrupted by stuns and other disables to my knowledge) and a 40 second duration. By using this before a fight, you ensure that Sylla has the survivability to re-summon the bear if it dies and to increase your ability to disable enemy heroes with Entangling Claws.
The level 25 talent increases the bonus health of True Form by 1000, meaning it grants him 2500 bonus health.
Since Sylla has the Demolish ability in True Form, he not only gains 40% bonus damage against buildings but also 33% bonus magic resistance. Combined with his high health and armor in this form, he becomes extremely difficult to kill.
True Form has a 100 second cooldown, meaning it has 40% uptime with its 40 second duration. With the Level 20 talent (which you won't get until level 30 because the 0 second cooldown on Entangling Claws is still better) it becomes a 68 second cooldown, meaning it has 58% uptime. In the late game when enemies have lots of damage to throw your way, you want to use this before every fight if possible. Use its long duration to push towers after winning the fight.
True Form persists through death, making Sylla a good candidate to hold the Aegis of the Immortal. If you somehow die in True Form, you'll be revived with it still active, now with full health and the same incredible durability. If you die while holding the Aegis, the Bear will not be killed. The Bear cannot pick up the Aegis, but can pick up and use the Cheese.
Lone Druid has a strong set of talents that allow you to adjust your playstyle, based on how the game is going.
+25 Spirit Bear Movement Speed or +200 Health is a pretty fair choice. Basically, when deciding this you want to figure out if the enemy team is offensive or defensive. If they are offensive and will try to counter you with high damage, take the health. If they are defensive, using escapes and disables to keep you from attacking, take the movement speed.
+8 Spirit Bear armor or -10 Savage Roar Cooldown. Usually, I take the armor since the Bear usually needs it. If the enemy team is mostly dealing magic damage or you have supports that are doing a good job of keeping your Bear alive, take the roar cooldown to help disrupt fights.
0 Entangle Cooldown or -32 True Form Cooldown. The entangle cooldown is the clear choice here. Once you have a Moon Shard and this talent, your Bear can keep an enemy rooted as long as you are attacking it. The cooldown of True Form is only 60 for practical purposes since the cooldown starts the moment you activate it. Even without the cooldown reduction, you should be able to use True Form in almost every engagement.
+1000 True Form Health or -0.15 Spirit Bear Attack Time. This one is a decent tradeoff. The extra True Form health obviously makes you super tanky (with this talent, a Heart of Tarrasque, an Aghanim's Scepter and level 30, you will have 6495 health in True Form, the equivalent of a Pudge with about 35 stacks of Flesh Heap) which can help you endure the damage from enemy carries in the late game. The attack speed increase for the Bear helps bring down buildings in the enemy base and keep enemies immobilized with Entangling Claws. By this point you should have a Moon Shard so the boost to attack speed won't feel as impactful as the extra health. If you are stomping the enemy team and just want to end the game, take the attack speed.
The starting items to get are an Observer Ward, a Quelling Blade, and a Blight Stone.
If you can, ask one of your teammates to give you a Tango and then summon your Bear in the fountain and buy a TP scroll on the Bear (make sure you have the Bear selected not Sylla, there is no way to give one of Sylla's scrolls to the Bear). The Tango is for Sylla in case harassment is bad and you need some health before Spirit Link starts giving you the insane lifesteal. Healing the Bear with items is never very effective since its health pool is so massive. If the Bear gets low, use its TP scroll to send it to base, then use its Return ability to bring it back into lane. In most games you will only have to do this once since the Bear scales so quickly, and you might not have to do it at all.
Plant the Observer Ward to give vision of the enemy's side of the river. This will help you chase them up the stairs and give you some warning when they are about to attack or cast an ability from their side of the river.
Summon the Bear immediately once the game starts, then give it the Quelling Blade and the Blight Stone.
The Quelling Blade is to help with the Bear's weak base damage, only 20 at level 1. The Quelling Blade increases it to 38 against creeps, combined with Sylla's 40, meaning you can last hit for 78 damage total. With Blight Stone removing two armor, melee creeps will have 0 armor and ranged creeps will have -2 armor, so you hit for an average of 78 on melee creeps and 86 on ranged creeps. This is a very respectable amount of damage for last hitting but you may still miss creeps since your attacks from Sylla and the Bear don't hit at the same time, so another creep or hero may hit them first.
The Blight Stone is to help with harassment. The armor reduction means a significant increase to your low DPS, and it helps take towers quickly. Later on, this will build into a Desolator to bring down the buildings in the late game which are sturdier. As Lone Druid, part of your job is applying constant pressure to towers, which you can do easily, in order to secure more space for your team and distract the enemy from farming or pushing.
The first item you will buy after your starting items is a Morbid Mask, then a Quarterstaff to make Mask of Madness. Give Morbid Mask and then the Quarterstaff to the Bear as soon as you get them. While Spirit Link helps to restore Sylla's health, it doesn't do anything to heal the bear. Once the bear has lifesteal, its survivability improves greatly. Mask of madness is ideal on the bear because of its active ability, Berserk. Berserk grants 110 bonus attack speed and 30 move speed, but -8 armor and silences the Bear, for 6 seconds. Use Berserk after Entangling Claws procs on the unit you are trying to kill. While immobilized, you'll be able to get several extra hits in, dealing even more damage while the enemy cannot escape. The silence debuff is no problem at all, since you can still cast Savage Roar from Sylla and it will eminate from the Bear. The armor reduction can be unfortunate, but the lifesteal means the bear should regain enough health to make up for it. You can also activate Berserk to quicken your tower takedowns.
You may be able to start jungling after you get Morbid Mask but you may find it easier after getting Mask of Madness. There are three easily accessible creep camps around the mid lane, which you can take advantage of to out-farm the enemy mid. On the radiant side, there is one to the south and one to the north of the tower. On the dire side there is one to the south of the tower. There is one on the north side of the tower for dire but it is farther from the creep wave so it may be less efficient to farm. You can utilize your lifesteal to use the jungle creeps as free healing. If you want to heal Sylla, have the Bear stand in front and take the damage from the creeps, which its lifesteal should mostly negate. If you want to heal the Bear, have Sylla stand in front to tank the creeps, so the Bear can attack them freely. This lets the Bear's lifesteal restore its health, and Sylla won't lose any heath due to Spirit Link. Lone Druid is one of very few heroes that almost never needs to buy healing items to keep themselves alive.
After you build Mask of Madness for the bear, you can buy yourself some boots. Lone Druid is unique in that he has to itemize for two units, which includes the need to buy two Boots of Speed. For Sylla, regular brown boots are fine (you can upgrade to Boots of Travel later) but the Bear should get Phase Boots for the increased armor, damage, and chase potential. If you are chasing an enemy with the Bear, you can activate the Bear's Phase Boots to catch up and get in a few hits to proc Entangling Claws.
There is some debate as to whether Lone Druid should build an Aghanim's Scepter. If you do not have this item, the Bear is somewhat limited. It can only move 1100 units away from Sylla before it becomes unable to attack (it can still use abilities, items, and pick up runes, so you can use it to grab early Bounty runes without leaving the lane) and it dies if Sylla dies. Aghanim's Scepter removes these limitations. While this may seem like a worthy investment, there are other ways of dealing with these issues.
Aghanim's Scepter enables greater split-farming and split-pushing, but Sylla is not very effective on his own. Even with the stat boost from the Scepter, his other items are likely to be a pair of boots and maybe some tangos, so he doesn't have the offensive capability to kill creeps quickly. The Scepter also allows the Bear to stay alive after Sylla dies, but with his ultimate and some good positioning, Sylla can survive most engagements. In the late game, if you have a massive surplus of gold and the damage output of the enemy team is outpacing your tankiness, an Aghanim's Scepter can be a decent purchase, but you should be pushing enough to ensure the game ends before that point. Your gold is better spent on items to ensure you can survive and win fights rather than investing in a safety net. Aghanim's Scepter is a 4200 gold item, more than the cost of MKB or a Moon Shard, and both those items offer a lot more benefits.
The bear can get a variety of offensive items depening on the enemy lineup, so I'm making a separate chapter for that.
Keep in mind that Sylla and the Bear are actually quite lacking in many areas. You have no long ranged abilities, no escapes, no nukes, and no initiation. Lone Druid must rely on items for all his needs that are not met by his abilities, but luckily you have a total of 12 inventory spaces, 6 backpack spaces, and 2 neutral item slots to work with.
One thing that the Bear suffers from throughout the game is a lack of armor. Since the Bear has no attributes, and therefore no armor to gain from Agility, it has little damage reduction in the late game. Assault Cuirass is a common item for the Bear, which increases its attack speed and armor, as well as providing the buff to Sylla. Other options include Crimson Guard, though keep in mind that the Bear cannot benefit from the active buff (you can build it on the Bear and have the Bear activate it. Your team will gain the buff but your Bear will still have only the stats of the item). You can also buy Pipe of Insight on Sylla to mitigate magic damage if the enemy team is nuke-heavy, as the active buff does affect the Bear. With Pipe of Insight, you will have 68% magic resistance while in True Form and your Bear will have 39% magic resistance while affected by the aura.
Sylla's tankiness, even in True Form, may be outpaced in longer games, so Heart of Tarrasque is a good sustainability item for him. Unfortunately the Bear cannot benefit from this item as much as it lacks strength, but it is good on Sylla nonetheless.
If you find yourself needing to move around the map often, upgrade Sylla's boots to Boots of Travel. They will increase his movement speed to keep up with the bear when chasing enemies, as well as allowing him to teleport to different lanes for split pushing. Use the Bear's Return ability to keep up.
One common tactic to combat Lone Druid is to jump him with lockdown and burst damage while his ult is not active. If the enemy team has heroes like Slark or Phantom Assassin that are very good at this, you may consider buying an Aeon Disk to help you survive long enough to activate True Form. The 2.5 second damage immunity will give you time to transform. Only invest in this if you are being constantly shut down and prevented from farming/fighting. If possible, invest in wards and stick with your team to mitigate the issue instead of spending time farming up a purely defensive item.
Generally, when building items on Lone Druid, you have to keep his dynamic in mind. Sylla is a support, and the Bear is a carry, but they need each other. Until you get Aghanim's Scepter, if one of them is out of the fight, they both are. The Bear's job is to get on top of people and kill them quickly. Sylla's job is to stay close, alive, and free from disables so he can cast Savage Roar or resummon the Bear if needed. If you have the gold, feel free to build
Lone Druid can carry two active neutral items, one on the Bear and one on Sylla. Here are some that work well and the reasons why.
Poor Man's Shield: An excellent tier 1 neutral item. The bonus agility means it is a bit better on Sylla but you should have this on whichever one of your units has no neutral item yet. Far better than nothing, but inferior to most tier 2 neutrals.
Iron Talon: The attack speed and armor is needed on the Bear. The Chop active is also useful for speeding up farming if you find it early.
Broom Handle: Damage and armor for the Bear, as well as melee attack range. Good for chasing and early game harassment to keep the Bear farther away from danger.
Trusty Shovel: Carry this on Sylla, use it while farming to slightly increase your income. You have little need for the flasks, but the occasional gold or TP scroll is useful to have. The Bear can pick up any flasks or TP scrolls discovered with the shovel.
Ring of Aquila: A good aura item for Sylla, it provides him with stats to support his survivability and provides armor to the Bear while it is nearby.
Imp Claw: Extra damage for the Bear, very useful especially if you get it early. Being able to take more health off the enemy mid during harassment is always a good thing.
Philosopher's Stone: One of the best items on Lone Druid. Have Sylla hold it, since his damage will quickly be overshadowed by the Bear. Since Lone Druid has to build items for two units, the extra gold from this item is invaluable.
Dragon Scale: Additional armor and regen on the Bear improves its durability. The bonus damage means that the Bear can hit an enemy once and deal 54 additional damage over 3 seconds.
Clumsy Net: A good item for Sylla, provides stats and lets you catch enemies more easily. In the early game when the Bear doesn't have much attack speed, it can be challenging to trap fleeing enemies if you don't get a lucky proc of Entangling Claws. With this, you can root the enemy from range and then activate your Mask of Madness on the Bear, letting it chunk them down.
Spider Legs: If you are struggling to get to the back line of fights, Spider Legs can help the Bear breach high ground or flank the enemy team. Be careful that you don't let the Bear get too far from Sylla, or it will be disarmed and become easy prey.
Paladin Sword: If you already have your Moon Shard, you can probably drop your Mask of Madness in favor of something like a Skull Basher and use this item to supplement your Bear's lifesteal needs. This is not a better item than Mask of Madness, it's a way to keep building items once you are 6-slotted on the bear. Another option is to build Vladmir's Offering on Sylla, providing lifesteal as an aura, and also freeing up a space on the Bear.
Orb of Destruction: Good on Sylla if you have Sylla targeting the same enemy as the Bear. It slows them and reduces armor so the Bear can lay on more attacks which will all deal extra damage. If you do not have a neutral item on the Bear, have it carry this item so the slow is stronger. The armor reduction from this item stacks with Desolator and Blight Stone. If you are against a very high-armor target you can have Orb of Destruction and Desolator on the Bear, and carry another Blight Stone on Sylla. This will reduce a target's armor by 13.
Mind Breaker: Good on Sylla much like the Orb of Destruction, keeps enemies from fighting back with their abilities. If you are fighting an escape hero, this can keep them from running away until you can get a proc of Entangling Claws.
Witless Shako: Fabulous extra health for the Bear. It doesn't need much mana, but be warned that it will reduce the Bear's mana pool to less than 0. This means you will not be able to cast Savage Roar from the Bear, or use the active functions of Mask of Madness and Mjollnir. You can choose to swap out Mask of Madness for Satanic as it has no mana cost, or you can buy an Energy Booster for the bear which will give it a mana pool of 150 (If you buy the Energy Booster after equipping Witless Shako, you will probably have to send the Bear back to the fountain to get it's mana pool filled as it only has 0.5 mana regen)
Spell Prism: Not a great item on Lone Druid, this is probably better on your teammates that rely on their abilities to fight. But if no one else wants it, you can combine this with an Octarine Core you can reduce the cooldown of Summon Spirit Bear to 72 seconds and give True Form 100% uptime. Not a great investment, but it can be funny.
Prince's Knife: Like Mind Breaker, this lets Sylla get a short disable from range which can give the Bear time to root the enemy.
The Leveller: Attack speed is a top priority for the Bear. Lets you get extra procs of all your items and Entangling Claws.
Minotaur Horn: 400 extra health on Sylla, like a mini Heart of Tarrasque. The spell immunity can help you endure the worst of the enemy's arsenal. If you get ambushed, activate it right before you activate your ultimate to protect yourself during the transformation.
If your game lasts long enough on Lone Druid to start getting Tier 5 items, you probably didn't push enough.
Lone Druid builds items in such a way that he might seem like a glass cannon, all offense and no defense, but Sylla and the Bear still have massive amounts of HP and damage resistance due to Sylla's True Form and the Bear's default stats and abilities. Other than a few items to provide armor and lifesteal, you will be building items to increase the damage output of the bear.
If needed, you can change your itemization to adapt to the enemy lineup. Here are a few item choices you may wish to consider. For most games you will build MKB>Moon Shard>Desolator after finishing your Mask of Madness and Phase boots, but other options are available if you are having trouble against certain heroes.
Monkey King Bar and Moon Shard: This is generally considered the "default" build. Monkey King bar is an ideal item if you are facing naturally evasive heroes such as Phantom Assassin or if the enemy team is buying items like Butterfly or Heaven's Halberd. It also offers a staggering increase in damage output. Combined with the insane attack speed from Moon Shard, you should be able to rip through most heroes. In most games, you will want a moon shard on the Bear if you can afford it. The extra chances to proc Entangling Claws and other effects is simply too valuable.
Desolator: The follow up to MKB and Moon Shard. Good against high armor targets like Dragon Knight and helps in late game pushes against the buildings on the enemy highground. The damage increase is phenomenal, but this is better as a mid/late game purchase when the Bear will have more damage to combine with the armor reduction. You will want to build some attack speed and conventional damage first, then this item will be easy to farm.
Mjollnir and Assault Cuirass: Get this if the game is somewhat difficult and you need the survivability. Mjolnir's Lightning proc helps to farm but can also be effective against illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer. Use the active effect of Mjolnir in fights to punish enemies for attacking the Bear or Sylla. Assault Cuirass is good in almost any game after you finish your damage items, since this grants 15 armor and 55 attack speed to the Bear.
Skull Basher and Abyssal Blade: A good choice in almost any game, it further disables enemies and lets you interrupt channeled spells if Savage Roar is on cooldown.
Diffusal Blade: Get diffusal blade if you are facing enemies that rely heavily on mana such as Medusa or Storm Spirit. Diffusal Blade doesn't grant as much damage as other items since the Bear does not benefit from attributes, so you will want another damage item to make up for that. Do not buy this as your first damage item. The active ability is also good for catching fleeing enemies.
Eye of Skadi: Good stats for Sylla, and an effect to cripple enemies. This item can be a good choice against heroes like Huskar or Lifestealer that rely on regen and lifesteal to stay afloat.
Silver Edge: Against heroes like Bristleback that have powerful passive abilities, Silver Edge can give you enough time to initiate and kill them while the Break effect lasts. Like Diffusal Blade, this item doesn't grant as much damage so you will want another offensive item to pair it with. You can also use Silver Edge to get the bear to the back of fights to quickly dispatch enemy supports. If you have the Bear invisible, you can cast Savage Roar from Sylla and it will apply Fear to enemies around the Bear without removing its invisibility or showing the effect from Savage Roar to give away its position. This is a fantastic initiation since you can disable the enemy with the roar, then have the Bear attack them while they are disabled, ensuring they cannot immediately escape or retaliate. Additionally, since it does not remove invisibility, the Bear's attack after the roar will deal the bonus damage and apply Break from Silver Edge.
Radiance: Good if the enemy team has more defense than offense. If they aren't able to deal with your Bear, the passive damage from Radiance can wear them down. The miss chance also helps your whole team survive physical attacks.
Lone Druid has a high winrate in every rank at the moment, and very few bad matchups. Since you will not always be able to play Lone Druid, it is important to know how to fight him.
The best way to deal with Lone Druid is to start fighting him during the Draft phase.
Lone Druid is weak to illusion heroes such as Naga Siren, Phantom Lancer and Chaos Knight. This is because the Bear is geared towards bringing down single targets quickly, not dealing with crowds. If you can surround him with illusions, you'll usually be able to bring him down with the help of your team before he can start tearing through your lineup.
Heroes who have strong defense, like Huskar, Bristleback, or Medusa, are also good counters because they can tank the Bear's damage output while simultaneously working to lower Sylla's HP.
Another way to combat Lone Druid is to keep him from latching on to targets in fights. Slows and other disables work well for this, since it keeps him from taking advantage of his lifesteal to stay alive. Drow Ranger and Venomancer have strong slows to help your team stay away from the Bear.
If you're playing support, Dark Willow, Enchantress, Jakiro, and Phoenix all have good damage and disables to throw Lone Druid off his rhythm in fights.
Winter Wyvern has a number of tools to help her defeat Lone Druid. The percentage-based damage from Arctic Burn works like a Spirit Vessel to reduce the large health pools of True Form and the Bear, as well as providing an escape if you are not rooted. Winter's Curse is a powerful way to turn the Bear on Sylla or his allies, letting you take advantage of its high damage.
If you are laning against Lone Druid, it can be difficult to win the lane. The Bear has 1100 HP at level 1, it can use Entangling Claws right off the bat, and has 33% magic resistance with no items. There are however a few ways of dealing with him. Firstly, there is the question of whether you should focus your harassment on Sylla or the Bear. If you are not capable of hurting both at once, the answer is to primarily target the Bear. Spirit Link allows Sylla to recover any lost health quickly, while the Bear has to wait for a lifesteal item before it can get any meaningful regen. Use your abilities and attacks to punish the Bear when it comes to CS, until Lone Druid is forced to pull it back. If you manage to kill the Bear you will be rewarded with a good deal of Experience and 300 gold, which goes a long way in the early game.
The most important thing to keep in mind when fighting LD is that Sylla is not the hero, the Bear is. The Bear has all of Lone Druid's items, damage output, and lifesteal. If you can kill the Bear efficiently, Sylla is just going to be walking around with a pair of brown boots. In True Form, Sylla might look like a key target with his huge health pool and resistances, but he still has fairly low base damage and attack speed, and is relatively helpless if the Bear is dead.
The other thing to be aware of is that Lone Druid is a greedy hero. He can function in fights after building Mask of Madness, but he wants space to farm his big damage items. If you can control the map, denying him the ability to farm the jungle, and constantly push lanes and pick on his supports, he won't be able to build things like his Moon Shard and Desolator that make him scary. Ward the jungle, block his camps with wards if possible, and keep Summon Spirit Bear on cooldown. Summoning the Bear has a 120 second cooldown, but if it is off cooldown then the Bear essentially has two lives since Sylla can re-summon once it dies. If you can keep Sylla re-summoning constantly, you'll have a much easier time in fights.
Lone Druid is a powerful and versatile hero, without many counters, and with a high skill ceiling. He has to be played slightly differently to a normal hero, but once you have the proper mindset and strategy you will find great success.
If you are reading this guide as a player who is new to Lone Druid, please do not be intimidated by the idea of controlling two units at once. For the most part, you can play with Sylla and the Bear always close to each other, having them target the same units, so your management load is reduced. If you are an experienced player looking to improve your Lone Druid game, practice with more difficult maneuvers like farming one part of the map with Sylla and another with the Bear, or pushing two lanes at once, or even fighting in two fights simultaneuously.
Lastly, a word of warning. Lone Druid's Bear is considered a creep-hero. That means some spells treat it as a creep, and others treat it as a hero. Some buffs will not aid the bear, and some enemy spells cannot hurt it. Visit the Dota 2 wiki for a more in-depth explanation of creep heroes and a full list of all the spells that treat it strangely.
Good luck. Stay hydrated.
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